You might well think that, in a recession as bad as the one we’re facing now, one of the first things to go would be subscriptions. Well, newspaper and magazine subscriptions are definitely flatlining…but as it turns out, subscriptions for cable and internet and video games like World of Warcraft and even DVD series like Netflix are still holding their own, and in some cases, increasing.
Now, on the surface, one might call this a push toward a post-literate America that’ll be indistinguishable from Idiocracy in about twenty years or so.
But I think the issue is really one of value rather than literacy. A magazine subscription, the product arrives once a month. The newspaper, once a day. But the rest of these might deliver as many as eight items in a single day, and might run continually all day every day. The internet provides everything a newspaper does, and in much more rapid fashion, with constant updates. A magazine can’t compete either.
The internet is rapidly becoming America’s dominant communication medium, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find the rest of the world sharing in that assessment.