The Not-So-Normacy of Big Media and Much Else

One of the things that the past decade of computing has taught (that’s been at times hard to swallow) has been this idea that much of what I consider as normal isn’t. I mean this in respect from everything to engagement rings, to typing mannerisms, to even literacy. For the most part, a lot has happened in the past, and what’s loud today isn’t necessarily because it always was – nor that it was always dominant. This was made clear again as I read an article tweeted by Excapite on Twitter. First, the snippet:

The largest media companies on earth are big. Really big. Time Warner is worth $30 billion dollars, Viacom $20 billion. Meanwhile, companies like Sony and Apple, who are hybrid media and hardware companies, are worth even more (especially Apple obviously). Furthermore, a company like Comcast, who both produces and delivers content, is still worth over $100 billion dollars. These are the size of many small countries’ GDP’s.

But think about the core of what makes these companies so big. Television’s massive revenues stem from fact like this: the average American spends 34 hours a week watching TV. Most Americans had a choice of but one or two major newspapers. If you wanted to buy music in the past, most people focused on the four big labels.

But more to the point, this limit in the choice of available media had a monopoly on people’s time. If you had four hours in a day to entertain yourself, you had to mainly pick from these huge companies’ offerings.

Yet, there’s more than that, because after we got used to mass media like TV, radio, newspapers etc., media fit well into people’s lives. People worked 9 to 5 jobs and then, upon returning home tired to their suburban homes, did little else than consume media. Driving back into the city took an hour. And the suburbs were just huge stretches of houses – it’s not like you could pop down the street to watch a play or go to a coffee shop. There was symbiotic relationship between the structure of our lives and media. We toiled at this place called ‘work’ and then came home and experienced media.

Ok. So that’s a large snippet. But the entire article is worth reading slowly – and probably should have been read and commented on when it was written – ah, the fun of the way media is now versus the way we think or act as if it has always been.