Well, as least it is dead for me. Last night it was running a special report on the major power outage of eastern United States and Canada. Minutes into the program I became impatient as they were repeating the information. So I turned the TV off and went back to the web for more in-depth report.
So far TV is considered by people the first source to get breaking news. I never watch much TV and have not owned a set for some years. People believe you need TV to get most up-to-date information. Nevertheless I consider myself well informed in public affairs without it.
The breakthrough comes when news media begin to publish on the web, first as an online version of the printed materials, and later serve as real time update on breaking news. This gives printed media the same instantaneousness as other electronic media.
One may argue a picture worth a thousand words. On the scene report let you see things as it happens. I counter that. Seeing things through the camera can only provide one, possibly narrow, perspective. It is not the same as understanding the event. Video is also most susceptible to the sensational, infotainment style reporting. Watching the TV repeatedly replaying the collapse of World Trade Center in the 9/11 terrorist attack provides audience quite little information other than leaving a traumatizing effect. Words can express details and concepts beyond the scene of action that is necessary for true understanding. And when words are not enough it can often supplemented with pictures, illustration and even video clips.
The real power of the web is that users can play an active role as oppose to being a passive recipient. The web provides an immense depth of information and different point of view. One can enrich the understanding by following related-links of the story. Some articles provide reader's feedback, which give extra information or even contrarian's view. One can do their own research on related topics or to seek out alternative outlets.
So what caused the power outage? How can a single incident brought down a power grid that is designed to be robust? There is no definitive answer yet. Some articles points to chaos theory, where in a complex system, a minor incident can trigger much larger effect in the whole system. An interesting topic to pursue.
2003.08.15 comments -