Poynter InstituteÂ librarian David SheddenÂ has written an essayÂ about the changes in media during his lifetime from 1968, when he watched theÂ Walter Cronkite cover theÂ presidential election on a black and white television, to this year when he caughtÂ “part of the YouTube/CNN Democratic presidential debate live on the CNN Web site.”
Shedden usesÂ theseÂ reminscenesÂ toÂ draw readers intoÂ a new media timelineÂ that beingsÂ in 1969Â whenÂ the Arpanet and videotexÂ debuted. Year-by-year he marches through the innovations that have brought us to where we are today, pausing occasionally at now-forgottenÂ inflection points –Â such as inÂ 1980, when the first newspapers went online through CompuServe, led by the Associated PressÂ andÂ The Columbus Dispatch.)
Shedden’s point is that new media really isnt new at all but rather a steady progress that happens to have accelerated just now — trueÂ enough, perhaps, but neither comforting nor useful if the trend line has hit what investors call the “hockey stick” point at which changeÂ occurs not gradually but exponentially.
Nevertheless the timelineÂ is eitherÂ a great review or a wonderful primer depending on your familiarity with the technological trends. Bookmark it and scan it whenever you need to catch your bearings.
Shedden also suggests that some things never change, notablyÂ the reader’sÂ appetiteÂ for gossip. HeÂ writes:
“The audience for Poynter Online expanded significantly when Jim Romenesko joined the site. Editor Bill Mitchell invited Jim to become part of Poynter Online after reading about Jim’s “mediagossip.com” site in The New York Times. In October 1999 Jim’s site moved to Poynter with the new name “Romenesko’s Medianews.” (The name was changed to “Romenesko” in 2003.) It quickly became one of the most visited journalism sites on the Web.”