Movies are intended to be, and are taken to be, larger than life. One does not imagine that what one is seeing is real, or the opposite, that it is all too real. In both cases, a legitimate and understood distortion. Television is another matter. Television news holds a mirror up to the world in a way that print media never can; and the world, to some extent, believes it can recognize itself in it. Life is not made up of dramatic incidents-not even the life of a nation. It is made up of slowly evolving events and processes, something print can explore from day to day. But television news jerks from incident to incident. For the real world of patient and familiar arrangements, it substitutes the unreal world of constant activity, including something of a nihilistic element, and the overall effect is apparent in the way in which the world behaves as it composes with this ever pervasive “noise.”
It is almost impossible, these days, to consider any problem or any event except as a crisis; and, by this very way of looking at it, it in fact becomes a crisis. Television, by its emphasis on movement and activity, by its appetite for incident, has become by far the most potent instrument in creating this over-excited atmosphere, this barely recognizable world. The medium, to a large extent as McLuhan theorized, has become the message; and this message is perpetual stimulation, agitation, anxiety and change.The world it creates is a world which is never still; its an industry of producing unnecessary anxiety about the way in which we live, about the fearful things that may happen to us, and an overall shedding of any morsel of responsibility it has.
However paradoxical it may seem, the only immediate answer to most of the problems of TV, especially news, lies not in pictures but in words. Given the powerful impact of the pictures, the words covering them must provide the corrective, instead of simply reinforcing them; a need to dsitract from the pictures and to supply qualification and complication. Pictures involve; the object of words should be to detach the viewer, to remind them that they are not seeing an event, only an impression of one, and that the actual truth is a vague idea mediated by images that may be several standard deviations away from the truth.
(see link at end)…After the voters returned Obama to office for a second term, his campaign became celebrated for its use of technology—much of it developed by an unusual team of coders and engineers—that redefined how individuals could use the Web, social media, and smartphones to participate in the political process. A mobile app allowed a canvasser to download and return walk sheets without ever entering a campaign office; a Web platform called Dashboard gamified volunteer activity by ranking the most active supporters; and “targeted sharing” protocols mined an Obama backer’s Facebook network in search of friends the campaign wanted to register, mobilize, or persuade.
But underneath all that were scores describing particular voters: a new political currency that predicted the behavior of individual humans. The campaign didn’t just know who you were; it knew exactly how it could turn you into the type of person it wanted you to be….
…Few events in American life other than a presidential election touch 126 million adults, or even a significant fraction that many, on a single day. Certainly no corporation, no civic institution, and very few government agencies ever do. Obama did so by reducing every American to a series of numbers. Yet those numbers somehow captured the individuality of each voter, and they were not demographic classifications. The scores measured the ability of people to change politics—and to be changed by it. Read More:http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/509026/how-obamas-team-used-big-data-to-rally-voters/