"Digital Nation": Too Much of a Good Thing?

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The PBS Frontline program "Digital Nation" explores the phenomenon of people spending an ever-increasing amount of time on their computers. It goes about this in a number of ways. There are many interviews, with students from grade school to grad school, professors, researchers, parents, experts, and average joes. These interviews do a pretty good job of capturing different sides of the stories. For instance, while investigating the digital multitasking habits of MIT students, producer Rachel Dretzin interviewed a prominent researcher in multitasking brain activity, as well as professors and students. One student in particular, Lauren, had a strong opinion on multitasking and students' use of laptops in MIT classes: "...and so if they try and, you know, restrict us from doing it, [multitasking] it's almost unfair because we are completely capable."
I did feel, on the other hand, that the program tried to encompass too much. Of course, the digitization of modern society is a huge topic, but "Digital Nation" seemed to leap rapidly from topic to topic. It examined classroom habits, brain functions, gaming addiction here and in South Korea, virtual worlds for gaming and business, to name a few. While all of these topics had interesting components, many were glossed over with only 1 or 2 interviews and a few clips with a voice-over.

Kevin Smith Too Fat to Fly

ABC News reported today that actor and director Kevin Smith was kicked off of a Southwest Airlines flight Saturday in accordance with their "customers of size" policy. Smith had purchased two tickets for his flight as per the policy, but was on standby for an earlier flight. The earlier flight had only one seat available, however, and Smith was seated but then forced to disembark. Smith responded to this treatment via Twitter when he eventually landed in Burbank, sarcastically remarking "Hey @SouthwestAir I've landed in Burbank. Don't worry: wall of the plane was opened & I was airlifted out while Richard Simmons supervised." Southwest apologized, also via Twitter, saying that its "customers of size" policy had been on the books for 25 years. They then offered Smith a $100 voucher, which he vehemently rejected with the words : "F*** your apologetic $100 voucher, @SouthwestAir"

This story has prominence because Kevin Smith is a well known actor and director of films such as "Clerks" and "Mallrats". It also has impact for overweight Americans, and emotion for those who feel strongly that they are being discriminated against due to their size. It has immediacy because it occurred yesterday, and it also has novelty because it is very unusual for celebrities to be kicked off of flights.

The Washington post reported Monday that Vice President Joe Biden and former Vice President Dick Cheney held a virtual debate on Sunday. The debate centered around national security issues such as President Obama's decision to close Guantanamo Bay and his stance on the use of torture when interrogating terror suspects. Cheney acknowledged that such decisions are "tough", but criticized the Obama administration's failure to recognize terror attacks as acts of war. Biden retorted that Cheney was "misinformed" and cited the President's commitment of 30,000 troops to Afghanistan as proof of his resolve to combat terrorism.

This story has impact for every American because it deals with national security, a big concern at the moment, as well as emotion for those who feel very strongly about the issue. It also has some degree of immediacy due to the recent Christmas day bombing attempt. Since the story involves two Vice Presidents, it has prominence, and also novelty, because a debate between the current and former Vice President is unusual.

Pepsi picks social media over Super Bowl ads

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Saturday that The soft drink company Pepsi will not air an advertisement during the Superbowl for the first time in 23 years. Instead, the company opted to use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to promote its product. By doing this, Pepsi will avoid paying nearly $3 million per 30 second s of airtime, as well as be able to provide more interactive advertisements.

This story has impact for those who use social networking sites; they will encounter an increased number of Pepsi ads. It also has novelty because Pepsi has had a Superbowl commercial every year for 23 years running. It has a conflict between traditional television advertising and interactive digital advertising, and it has timeliness because the Superbowl will be played the day after this article has been published.

Va. officials: Digging out will take days

The Washington post reported on Saturday that it could take days to recover from the record snowfall that D.C. and the surrounding area has received this weekend. Conditions are expected to worsen, and Governor Martin O'Malley of Maryland said it is a storm which "we anticipate will be the biggest snow in Maryland history." Plows have been unable to move quickly due to the record amount of snow, and the streets may remain snow-covered as late as Thursday.

This story has proximity because the snowfall is occurring in Washington D.C. and the surrounding area, and it has timeliness because when this blog entry was published, the snow was still falling. It has a huge impact on the audience because they may not be able to leave their homes or go to work for days. It has novelty because this much snow is very rarely seen in this part of the country, and it also has the conflict of the city, it's workers, and the citizens against the continuous snowfall.