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  1. The New Atlantis- The Age of Egocasting- Christine Rosen
    http://www.thenewatlantis.com/archive/7/rosen.htm
    From the remote control to TiVo and iPods--this is a fantastic essay, ending up not at interactivity and some drive towards it, but egocasting.
    "What ties all these technologies together is the stroking of the ego. When cable television channels began to proliferate in the 1980s, a new type of broadcasting, called 'narrowcasting,' emerged--with networks like MTV, CNN, and Court TV catering to specific interests. With the advent of TiVo and iPod, however, we have moved beyond narrowcasting into 'egocasting'--a world where we exercise an unparalleled degree of control over what we watch and what we hear. We can consciously avoid ideas, sounds, and images that we donít agree with or donít enjoy. As sociologists Walker and Bellamy have noted, 'media audiences are seen as frequently selecting material that confirms their beliefs, values, and attitudes, while rejecting media content that conflicts with these cognitions.' Technologies like TiVo and iPod enable unprecedented degrees of selective avoidance."
    It's actually a fairly technology-centric thing to say, that we're all changed by tech, but I guess you can see it as a drive towards X (which is to consume) which requires mediation - as a by-the-by - but the mediation is having this other effect, which is to turn us all into critics:
    "In his 1936 essay, 'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,'? Benjamin argued that technological change (particularly mechanical reproduction) fosters a new perspective he called the 'progressive reaction.'? This reaction is 'characterized by the direct, intimate fusion of visual and emotional enjoyment with the orientation of the expert.' Benjamin compared the live stage actor to the film actor to demonstrate this point: 'The film actor lacks the opportunity of the stage actor to adjust to the audience during his performance, since he does not present his performance to the audience in person. This permits the audience to take the position of a critic, without experiencing any personal contact with the actor. The audience's identification with the actor is really an identification with the camera. Consequently the audience takes the position of the camera; its approach is that of testing.'
    Today, an increasing number of us consume culture through mediating technologies--the camera, the recording device, the computer--and these technologies are increasingly capable of filtering culture so that it suits our personal preferences. As a result, we are more willing to test and to criticize. As we come to expect and rely on technologies that know our individual preferences, we are eager as well to don the mantle of critics. And so we vent our frustrations on Amazon.com and are in turn ranked by others who opine on the helpfulness and trustworthiness of our views. We are given new critical powers to determine the fate of television plot lines; recently, the show Law & Order: Criminal Intent allowed viewers to vote on whether a character should live or die (the masses were lenient--53 percent said the character should survive). Programs such as American Idol encourage a form of mass criticism by allowing millions of viewers to phone in their choice for a winner."

    Ha, and for 'critic' you have to read: an audience passively consuming the spectacle. What alarms me is that we insist on occupying this role, and resist involvement, even as interactivity is gaining ground. Is interactivity really just a watered-down restatement of Being in the World for an age where we always stand apart, as a critic, with an air of ironic detatchment? Irony didn't go away, it got into the groundwater.

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