"We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it any more!"

25 Apr 2003|Darrel Rhea

I’m listening to the BBC news while driving on a very bad dirt road in Costa Rica while looking for a word-of-mouth surf spot. The dust is thick and my little Japanese rent-a-car is rattling like crazy. Roaring around a corner covered by palm trees, I swerve to avoid a huge old Coke truck that is half way off the road with two of it’s wheels way up in the air. The driver is lying peacefully on the road ignoring the fact that my wheels came inches from his head. I just missed a Brahma bull a ways back that challenged me, not far from the place where I negotiated the Police checkpoint. I am starting to feel like Indiana Jones in an exotic, isolated corner of the planet.

What’s this? The BBC is encouraging the world to respond to their program via text messages. “I mean, right now, send us a text message and tell us what you think, where ever you are in the world. Here’s what Juan in Bolivia says…” Not only are they getting instant feedback and participation from a huge cross section of the world, they are reading those messages on the air. The sense of being connected to world opinion while being two hours from anywhere on a jungle road in central America …is just weird. It makes me want to turn around and ask to borrow that Coke truck driver’s cell phone and tell the BBC just that.

And now AT&T is doing a promotion for selling cell phone services based on text messaging. Yes, get an AT&T phone free and you can text your vote to America’s Idol. Over 20 million voters select the winners. While the internet has always promised this type of borderless inclusion, the way that it is unfolding and converging with mainstream media is impressive.

Can’t you just see the world scoring the next Olympics? Or the results of the Super Bowl instant replay challenge determined by 50 million viewers voting? Or CNN giving the instant polling results from the current bombing raid…are they being careful enough? Is this acceptable collateral damage? Is our General making the right decision to attack?

It’s a brave new world. Reality TV shows. Reality movies. Reality news media. Reality real-time entertainment.

Now, …where’s that beach?

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