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More Anxiety, Other Obsolescences

I had a great IM chat with Stephanie Booth this morning. I met Stephanie at Blogtalk back in October, and she pinged me today to tell me about an article of hers that’s just gone up, on MySpace and online predator paranoia. In the course of our conversation, she mentioned her attempts to find journalists in Switzerland who were interested in covering such issues from angles other than the “my god, won’t somebody think of the children?” tactic that the vast majority of coverage adopts. I linked this to what Bryan Alexander has referred to as the “[Fill in Name of Web 2.0 Phenomenon]: Threat or Menace?” narrative that abounds in most news venues these days — and then realized that the argument I made in The Anxiety of Obsolescence may in fact be more applicable here than it was to the novel’s relationship to television. As traditional, mainstream sources of information — newspapers, radio, television — feel themselves being eclipsed by the newer forms of communication that the digital provides, their characterizations of those new forms reveal far less about the digital itself than they do about old media’s anxieties about its future.

Interestingly, just yesterday I found out about what I believe to be the first review of The Anxiety of Obsolescence, which appeared in the June 2007 issue of Choice. I’ve, erm, quoted rather liberally from the review here. Needless to say, it’s gratifying to have the book be referred to as “essential”…


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