Since I’m visiting the MIT Media Lab this week, I have much occasion to ponder where the zeitgeist might be going in multimedia. Clearly those at the forefront of technology are increasing our collective abilities to transmit our presence remotely, create new and powerful forms of sensory interaction, build ever more wonderful interfaces for virtual and augmented reality, and in general blur the distinction between bits and atoms (to borrow a well-quoted meme from Nicholas Negroponte).
And yet when we all pile in to see Avatar in IMAX 3D, immersing ourselves in a sensory world only made possible by the very latest and greatest of cyber-capability, how do we communicate our enthusiasm with each other? What is the preferred medium for this brave new world of future connectedness, for the hive mind communicating with itself?
Ironically, our tech-savvy new generation turns to Twitter — 140 characters of bare text, sans image, sans video, nothing but the pure naked words.
Perhaps there is a collective instinct to turn back to the most purely unadorned expression of the human mind. To reject the intermediaries of Flash and YouTube, to turn away from 3D graphics and the like. When we really just want to reach out to each other, to find a sense of immediacy and connectedness, we ditch the hi-tech trappings, and go back to our roots.
Presented with all the possibilities brought about by twenty first century technology, we instinctively circle back to where it all started — the written word.