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Mon, 10 Jan 2005

Who knows what is happening in the world today, we may all be too busy to find out - 20:25
On Crawford Killian's diary there was a link to an article discussing whether journalism can stay alive as the number of current news aware people dwindle. Newspaper editors in the US got together and started talking about the figures published regarding these dwindling numbers. "in 1964, 81 percent of Americans read a daily newspaper, while today that figure hovers around 54 percent." The other figures presented by this are to some extent even more alarming for purveyors of news media. Even TV Newscasts have seen ratings plummet in the last 20 years.

Interesting article, it had me wondering about some of the further reasons it may have missed. I myself an a culprit of not following current news media assiduously. In the case of newspapers I quite enjoy reading them, however I do not have the time to dedicate to this activity and thus don't. For TV news I hardly watch TV and definitely have never found the TV newscasts that interesting to watch. Part of this is the TV newscasts exaggerate the middle ground more than print media, and print media already cater to a lower denominator to some extent. I would not be surprised if this trend is evident throughout the rest of the developed world.

By this what I mean is I do not make an effort to watch the TV coverage as it does not interest me, and in subjects I do not take an active interest in already (ie cycling, computers and computer science) I do not have the level of interest necessary to find out what is happening (using valuable time). For those subjects I have an active interest in, no broad spread journalism (print or broadcast) is going to be in depth or focused enough that it will hold my interest when I already know the subject so well.

My behaviour, and that of others who have forgone the reading of newspapers and even following news could as the article suggests be in part due to the push for commercial productivity in modern society. In the modern time poor world many enjoyable past times may fall by the way side. This could indeed be a really bad thing. An essay I read a few weeks ago talks about the virtue of idleness. As people are pushed to be more productive and the time to sit around doing nothing focussed and pondering whatever the heck they want disappears society will become less productive not more.

This is because the time to sit around pondering whatever allows your brain to process and mull over previous input information, kind of like composting, something good comes of this, we learn by experience and being able to incorporate our experience and knowledge into a greater whole is worthwhile. If we are all kept busy all the time we do not have time to think up new stuff.

On the point of society becoming less productive if people do not have time to think and be smart it is worthwhile having a look at some of Paul Graham's essays on hackers and smart people and productivity. For example his essay Great Hackers, where he links variation in productivity, and the smarter people being far more productive to wealth and success. This is very true, however if you look at the smarter people they spend a lot of time doing things not at all related to being smart or their work or whatever, they spend time relaxing and doing fun things, or sitting around enjoying their leisure, this gives their brains the time to be smart.

So following the news is decreasing, to some extent because people are time poor, and given a choice of what to spend time doing they will often choose other activities rather than following the news. The cjr article does point out some other interesting suggestions about problems in the news coverage industry, such as that some research indicates that the light readers or youths that appear to be ignoring news in their droves are interested in the following topics "health/fitness, investigative reports on important issues, the environment, natural disasters/accidents, and education", and yet many news programs or papers are covering celebrity news or similar fluff due to marketing or perception of public interest reasons.

Anyway no real conclusion on this stuff, just throwing the links out there with some of my own rambling thoughts, what more can you expect from a diary entry. (oh and yeah I started writing this while sitting in a meeting about mtb stuff last night, but did not finish it until Tuesday afternoon)

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Enthusiastic kids - 17:44
Saturday I got a lift to Sydney with Jaymz, dropped off at my Sister's place in order to pick up my car. I hung around for lunch and played Trivial pursuit with Jane and some of her friends, hopped in my car around 7pm, thus did not get home until after 10pm. Sunday I did not go out riding as I had a bunch of stuff to get done (lca, house stuff, corc, etc). Two days off the bike, I thought I would head out for an hour or so after lunch today. It rained after I finished the work I was doing until around 2pm, thus no rides since Friday morning. I am right now somewhat keen to get out and do some exercise.

Mikal saw a performance of The Tempest (found with the google search "tempest"), performed by 11 year old children with only one week to learn their lines. According to Mikal it was fantastic, and although he had bit of difficulty seeing kids he has babysat as characters in the play he really enjoyed it and thought it may be worth seeing it done by professionals.

I would not be too sure, it is a good play to read, one of the more interesting/entertaining non comical Shakespeare plays. I have seen it performed by Bell, read the play, seen movies that have been loosely based around it etc. However I would posit that the performance by 11 year old kids may be one of the best ways to see this play. Two years ago a theatre group with many teens or younger in their troupe performed some Shakespeare plays at the Gorman House arts centre. Sitting around on the grass in the courtyard seeing a selection of little people (teenagers and such) perform Shakespeare with their enjoyment and enthusiasm shining through was fantastic. I saw this with my non cycling friends I often go to the theatre with and they shared my view that the enthusiasm and fun the performers had or were having being so obvious was a good thing. One of my friends (Prue) was even tempted to join a theatre group and get into this herself.

On the other hand professional actors such as the bell troupe, though they are probably having fun (otherwise they probably would not be actors) learn to act to the extent that thy hide the enthusiasm and fun. Sure the performance is more polished and all that, but I think the kids have some spark that makes up for that.

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