Our minds on media.

Musings on the effects of media on cognition.

CNN’s Situation Room Embodies the Media Riff

In “Interface Culture,” Steven Johnson identifies many programs of media that aim to imitate a new form of media. His most eloquent example was that of the radio drama. The radio drama, the form of the drama itself, the theater, was “stripped down to meet the limited dimensions of radio” and would have been much more suited to the new media of television. [1] And just as television outpaced the radio and the radio attempted to imitate it, so the television has attempted to imitate the next generation of tactile media found on the Internet. CNN’s “Situation Room” is the latest of an incarnation of television that only barely captures the power of the next medium and manufactures a disjointed interface in the process. Even in the opening line of the Wired article regarding the Situation Room, the author states, “Your impression when tuning in to CNN’s The Situation Room for the first time is likely to be, ‘Geez, there’s a lot going on here’.” And it’s true. There is a lot goin on for a show that hopes to imitate the level of interactivity or tactile media that occurs in a simple RSS feed browser. The ability to jump from story to story, from reference to reference, within an RSS aggregation application is far beyond what television could deliver to any individual. In that sense it is stumped (for the moment) by its linear nature and the necessity of delivering simultaneous content to its audience.

[1] Johnson, Steven. “Interface Culture” 1997. pg 36

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