Mechanic

“Is it really broadcasting if there is no one there to receive?” – Shellac, The End of Radio

I got a CD last week as a late birthday present. It was fabulous. The friend that’s responsible for The Girl and I getting together gathered a bunch of my friends to record a radio show all about me. While clearly the experience was a huge ego-boost it also proved to be exactly as surreal as it sounds. Hearing Jamie and Kieron ripping the piss out of me alongside popular music beats by LCD Soundsystem and New Order actually felt like broadcast radio. It was an amazing one-off gift.

I’ve been thinking since about the only missing element of the broadcast mechanic that this live-recording didn’t have; an appointment to listen. Digital technology strips away some of the time-box-pressure of experiencing culture, but that time-box is a very human trait. Often things in our lives occur with exactly the right infrequency to encourage us to feel precious about time with friends and family; there is no on-demand service for dinner with friends.

Today’s Guardian, Phil Gyford‘s application, uses The Guardian’s Open Platform to throw an easy-to-read/navigate edition of stories featured only in today’s Guardian newspaper. You can’t get yesterday’s news, there is no archive, it just delivers a section-by-section digest of today’s newspaper content. There’s something of the appointment-to-read in that, although you could argue that that’s endemic to the content anyway, it being ‘news’. But The Guardian website doesn’t get rid of this stuff; there are platform’s for accessing this content that don’t have the quality/threat of discarding a newspaper.

Pretty much all of my projects “live forever” at the moment, even ones I don’t want to. How easily could that change? Who might tune in to a limited broadcast?

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