Will kill medium blogger

About "dead wood media"

Deadwood media. I read this term again and again and every time it bothers me. I will briefly explain why.

»Deadwood media«Describes classic paper-based media such as newspapers and books, especially in blogs and on Twitter. You can get a good impression in the blog article "Deadwood Fantasies by Matthias Horx", picked out as an example:

Of course, articles in the Springer press are not about clean thinking. That would be rather out of place there. It's about demagoguery. However, that is the main task of all German deadwood media and their offshoots on the Internet. The fear of this kind of demagogic “journalists”, or perhaps better demagogues who pretend journalism, has been observed all the time recently.

The term degrades these media by a double point: on the one hand it assumes the (senseless) killing of trees and at the same time emphasizes the anachronism of paper. It is a battle term that is used to discredit the (mass) medium of printed paper and its producers and contents across the board.


cc licensed (BY NC SA) flickr photo shared by Jaydot

It's a good term, admittedly. The double play of “dead” (old) and “dead wood” (meaningless) is self-explanatory. »Dead wood media« transports an entire discourse condensed into one word. And yet it can be easily deconstructed if one applies the criticism it implies to the term itself.

To the materiality

When the ecological comparison is opened, it may still seem pedantic to ask whether non-deadwood media are better off without felled trees, but we want to touch it briefly. One would have to determine the energy footprint of a blog, eBook or even tweet. It is not just about the power consumption for the reading process. The partial production of the computers involved, the use of network infrastructure and the long tail, such as the mining of rare earths, all add up to a lot. If you take the energy consumption of a search query as a simplified example, an average user comes to 180 watt hours per month according to Google:

Google equates the energy consumption of a typical user per month with that which a 60-watt lightbulb needs for three hours. The search engine giant announced that an average Google search consumes 0.3 watt hours. With Google's estimated number of more than a billion search queries per day, these contribute 12.5 million watts to energy consumption.

I am not going to write about my head and shoulders and adhere firmly that books are preferable to electronic publications from an ecological perspective. My only concern is that the technological network for the reception and distribution of electronic texts is gladly taken for granted. Here, too, it is ultimately a matter of a structure of artifacts, which in their entirety consume a not inconsiderable amount of energy.

To kin liability

But enough of the quibbles. My actual reproach is that the term is clan. »Dead wood media« reduces a medium to its materiality and at the same time calls into question any right to exist. As if the printing of an electronic text would suddenly turn it into "lies of the system press". As a media scientist, I am definitely a fan of reflections on the materiality of media and the last person who flatly refuses to accept “The Medium is the Message”. But if paper-based media pre-structure content as a dispositive, then the result is certainly not a mountain of anachronistic lies. That would be surprising given that many bloggers ultimately bundle their topics in books or have increasingly spoken in newspapers in recent years. What do you call this chimera? Holzbloguntoten?

I think the criticism is good, but why always a book? Do you hate the trees so much? They give us shade on sunny days.

- Anatol Stefanowitsch (@astefanowitsch) March 8, 2013

At the same time, the term makes a mistake that is attributed to the print media, especially in blogs: generalization and flattening. One likes to accuse the press of flattening the discourse when it comes to net-related topics. Certainly not entirely wrong. You don't feel taken seriously. But when we refer to these media as deadwood media, we are subsuming every printed word. That is unfair and at the same time it prevents an exchange.

One could even repeat Derrida's criticism of Plato's Phaedrus: In Phaedrus, a dialogue by Plato, scriptural criticism is exercised. Oral culture is lamented and written culture is condemned. Derrida deconstructs the text, among other things, by pointing out that Phaedrus itself is a document and only functions as such. It is analytical, logocentric thinking in text. When it comes to the term »dead wood media«, the time axis rotates: the new medium criticizes the old one. But the accusation can be repeated: One forgets that one's own form of discourse is deeply permeated by what has been criticized. Analyzing, quoting and linking are cultural techniques that have been worked out on paper over the centuries. You don't have to fall on your knees in fear. Simply calling it an unnecessary legacy does not do justice to the matter.

Category: Media