The Return of Public Discourse

We are living in a time wherein the sound bite is the modal and most influential form of public discourse.  Which is unfortunate because of its unidirectional, one-to-many nature.  I’m happy to report though that I see the signs of a return to more meaningful conversation in the form of online video.

This month’s Wired Magazine Jargon Watch features a telling harbinger:

Sound Blast n. A supersize sound bite, blasted over the internet by a tech-savvy politician.  Barack Obama’s campaign  speeches, uploaded onto YouTube and viewed by millions, have defined the form.  The average sound bite is 10.3 seconds; a typical sound blast is 10 minutes or more.

Additionally, the popularity and virulence of TED and Pop!Tech videos should give us hope that it is possible to convey nuanced ideas and deep new insights to a large audience.

The one thing that’s not quite there yet is the closing of the informational feedback loop such that we have real, organic, meaningful and creative conversation in the public sphere.  But I believe that is coming.  The ability to comment (textually and in video form) certainly suggests the potential.  What’s lacking is a way for true crowd wisdom and substantive individual voices to percolate up from the cacophonous babel.

When that happens, the superorganism will have achieved a critical developmental milestone akin to when a child acquires language and begins to exhibit conscious thought.

  • Daniel

    I agree?