Everybody take a seat in the auditorium. Turn off all phones, smart phones and any other distractions. No drinking or eating, with the possible exception of water and glucose tablets for diabetics in the audience. No talking. No texting – well you already turned of your devices, right? In any case, focus, focus, focus. Focus on the speaker, the slides, the message, and take good notes. Well, that’s the old way. The traditional way. Not the way to start a new media conversation, because you can’t have a conversation while sequestered in a dimly lit room. New media is about disruption, except that you can’t be disruptive while focusing on one thing.
This may or may not be the message from a presentation at Minnesota Public Radio’s “Wits” series. The featured guest was John Hodgman, an author, editor, actor (as a PC in Apple commercials) and self-described cheesemonger – he dreams about cheese. Hodgman touted the value of distraction and digression – the brain chemistry during social media distraction is the same as the brain chemistry during combat. Instead of a straightforward storytelling style, he embraced his inner absent-minded professor, wandering from topic to topic – don’t give a man a free computer, he’ll only use it for a day; attack ads could be good for winning a fight but henchmen, widely available in a bad economy, shouldn’t be ruled out.
Meanwhile MPR allowed audience members to use various devices to Tweet and Text about the conversation in the auditorium. While some complain about today’s excessive distractions, Hodgman and others at the presentation claim that there have always been distractions, and that said distraction is the food of creativity. Of course, John Hodgman is a humorist and has a way with presenting material. But ultimately, the audience at the event was quite engaged and entertained, and they were able to use social media to spread the word across a much wider audience in the Twittersphere. If only distraction didn’t require so much time.
- New Media
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