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April 17, 2007

The Way We Live (and Die) Now

At BookTruck.org (a group blog for librarians), Mimi notes that with the nightmare at Virginia Tech, mass-media coverage has been almost entirely conditioned by the new-media "surround":

The public spaces on the internet served as the most important arena for exchange of information on the events yesterday. Almost every news story cited a Facebook or Myspace page or a livejournal entry as a source. The Wikipedia entry and discussion on the event hashed out validity of sources and the semantics of tragedy. And then the jarring cell phone footage on Liveleak was among the realest indicators that this gruesome event had actually happened. The events as documented on the social web became the authority.

MTV was among the first to track web reactions, and the Washington Post has a fairly full blog roundup. Mydeathspace.com, a site that tracks online profiles of the deceased, has links to Facebook and Myspace profiles for many of the victims at Virginia Tech. The New York Times is soliciting comments and photos of the victims. After 9/11, the print edition of the NYT ran photos and profiles of victims, which at that point felt immediate and personal--it's clear now that rapid coverage is essential, and that anything not interactive would be useless. These past two days have made it ever so much more apparent that our social lives on the web are intractable, crucial, and part of the news and the historical record.

See the original post for various links that I wasn't able to copy.

This sort of moment bears noting, because it is otherwise so very easy to take it for granted as we grow accustomed to the shift of media "ratios" (to clip an expression from McLuhan).

(crossposted from CT)

Posted by smclemee at April 17, 2007 7:50 PM