Sunday, December 06, 2009

A Story in a Sound Bite

Last night we participated in the most global broadcast of Litpoia After Dark. Its 98th show and one which brought together panellist from Cathy Murphy in Norway, Donna Ballman in Florida, Dave Bartram in the west country of England, Peter Cox in London and ourselves in Pune, India.

There was an interesting discussion prompted by Dave Bartram who on watching this clip of a car being hit by a wrecking ball in the Daily Telegraph, questioned whether we were being de-sensitized and losing our ability to empathize with others. Whether we start to get comfortable with real suffering, pain, and even death as a part of the entertainment spectrum we are beginning to lose some essential part of our humanity.

He questioned whether writing has been going the same way and whether authors are forced to push the same boundaries to find ways to stay ahead of their competitors.

The boundaries have always been pushed by artists, writers, movie makers, musicians. It is part of the evolution of expression. The challenge today is whether we are now living in the 140 character, 2 minute world of the snippet, the sound bite world of politics, the spectre of instant gratification and the power of channel hopping choice? Do we now lack the understanding of the contextual wrap that gives us the background and greater understanding? Do we jump from the narrative to the one liner?

It is interesting that technology is giving the increased capacity to store and retrieve but at the same time the greater power to sample and skip the detail. It’s like a multiple choice world where we know the question and just want to skip to choose ‘a’, ‘b’, or ‘c’.

Will writing shrink back from the economically defined 250 pages to the 10 page short story, or will it go further and live in the 140 character world of tweets. Extremes give us a wake up call and this is certainly one to watch as the YouTube world tries to now accommodate longer film and TV footage. Will their audience change and absorb, or will they click and go for the instant gratification?

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