Friday, January 25, 2013

Complaining About Content Changes

Theo Adomo writes in A Social Critique of Radio Music that "standardization in radio produces a veil of psudo-individualism." He also critiques the taste of people's music saying people stop listening for high-quality music and begin consuming music that is easy to consume. He calls it "the same ideal as Aunt Jamima ready-mix for pancakes extended to the field of music."

By these critiques, I believe Adomo is saying he feels music composed in 1945 was still high quality, but he was surprised by what music was making it on radio most often and how popular it was getting because of it. In 1945, the top artists included Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday.

The same case can be made today about popular music. According to, researchers, including Princeton sociology professor Matthew Salganik, find that people with to many options gravitate to media used by others because there is too much to try every song out one-by-one.

"People are faced with too many options, in this case 48 songs. Since you can't listen to all of them, a natural shortcut is to listen to what other people are listening to," Salganik told the site. "I think that's what happens in the real world where there's a tremendous overload of songs."

Adomo's critique is not that different from others we've heard in our readings thus far. I would be interested in his critique of cable TV and the most popular sites on the Internet now.

For example, when TV was at its golden age there were first only three channels. That number grew slowly to 50 over 15 years. Now, there are an average of 119 channels in each house and almost 100 more than that exist in a vacuum. The programming has evolved from old variety shows and family sitcoms to cable dramas, reality TV and raunchy comedies in addition to old-fashioned talk shows, family programming and news.

Internet site have changes vastly since the early 1990's through today as well. Look at the Internet in 1997. According to, the top sites in 15 years ago were comprised of various search sites like Geosites (#1) and informational sites like Yahoo! (#2) and CNET (#8). In 2007 it was Yahoo (#1) Google (#2) and various social media sites like YouTube (#5), Facebook (#7) and Craigslist (#9).

The point is that media changes. Mass communication changes. Through these changes come content changes and becomes more diverse. It is a trend since the radio first made it happen and it will continue into the future. Popular music in 1945 did not sit well with Adomo. Popular music today wouldn't either. However, with those changes in mass communication came the ability to completely individualize the experience of radio, TV and the web.

How many of us use a phone or an iPod as our radio in the car or office? How many of us have Netflix or Amazon or another form of streaming video? And which of us bookmark various niche sites like Rotten Tomatoes and

Finally, here is a video that somewhat represents the change from old media to a new media controlled by the users. It shows the shift from Adomo's "psudo-individualism" to almost complete individualism.


  1. Two quick thoughts while reading your post: 1) I completely agree with the music notion that we all listen to the same media because it would take years to listen to each song. That is always why I like Pandora a lot. It knows what category of music I like and then bring me new artists on it's own without me searching for them. It's one of the biggest ways I find new jams.

    2) Watching the second half of that video make me envision the next generation or two sitting at computers their entire life, playing various aviators instead of experiencing the real world themselves, much like Jane Addams concerns with theater and and getting kids outside on playgrounds and active. Although I think the internet has brought about amazing change, I hope it doesn't completely overtake each individual.

  2. Wow, I prefer the Jetson's view of the future. It's a little less dystopian. This video is the same old argument, anything other than sitting in a dark room in contemplative thought ruins your brain.
    2 questions. Who snakes my basement drain in the future and since when can you can call CNN a 'content producer'?