The Hudson River plane crash, and the dimming "congregation effect" of media

by phil on Friday Jan 16, 2009 7:58 PM
amazing moving things, dlog, mainfeed, theorizing about mediums

There's two things I want to touch on with regard to this Hudson River plane crash. The first is about generalizing my media consumption experience to the rest of society. And the second is simply a link to a stunning video.

So, on that first point, I want to mention I don't have TV. I'm not an anti-TV snob (StuffWhitePeopleLike highlighted "Not Having a TV"), but more that my Internet media consumption has crowded out TV. Initially, after I canceled my Time Warner subscription, I had random fits of regret. Since then, I've started to appreciate the newfound increase in TV-watching parties among my friends.

This behavior matches the current trend. This study that came out last month said young people watch less TV but spend more hours consuming media.

One consequence, I find, is the reduction of the congregation effect of TV. In the early 90s, I felt we could count on everybody having seen the same important happenings on TV. "Auntie Jane, did you see such-and-such on TV." "Yup, sure did."

The Hudson River crash, in my opinion, occupies a gray area of almost being noteworthy enough for me to watch video commentary. It's almost interesting enough for me to wish I knew all the names and details. But somehow, I've unconsciously chosen to not pay attention.

Having said that, it hasn't been absent from any of my media consumption routine. Digg, Slate, Drudge Report, and The Huffington Post have all given the story top billing. And yet, in spite of all the opportunities, I've consistently danced around the links and headlines.

And then, a little bit later, I got snagged. My favorite blogger, Jason Kottke, went to town on the whole thing, posting all sorts of random bits, some directly related to the story, others two or three degrees away from it.

I got really enamored by one shard, this video of a plane landing in water.

The way the plane swoops in and comes in real close is very eerie. It seems like something that could only be concocted in a dream.

That video peaked for me. And I'm not really sure what I'm saying by using the word "peak." But I saw that video maybe ten, fifteen times, and then I dared myself to search YouTube for more airplane videos. I then became mesmerized, in the way that people usually get mesmerized by a captivating news story on television.

All-in-all, I think I collectively spent about five minutes on the actual Hudson River plane crash story, and about an hour on indirectly-related media-hunting. It's the kind of trickle-down media experience that wouldn't have happened in the 90s or 80s. If it was the early-90s, I would have probably spent 30 minutes hovering on the CNN commentary in the middle of channel-surfing. Just like almost everybody else would have.

(Also cross-posted on Dlog where you can see the keystrokes that made this post)

Update: It appears, based on the YouTube comments, that this amazing video I posted is fake. It won't take you long, though, to find some real ones.


Squidhelmet said on January 16, 2009 9:32 PM:

That video is pretty amazing, but they debunk it in the youtube comments as the work of an animator. It makes sense because it passes over the cameraman's head twice before it comes around for a landing.

It really is eerie and dreamlike though. I bet it looks good on his resume :)

It leads me to wonder if the sound of a little kid shouting 'Ernesto! Ernesto!' is voice over as well :P

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