The Broadband Brain Behemoth

A torrent of hard ink and data streams from every corner of the planet encircles us. With the Internet, our media messages are able to travel anywhere, reach anyone, and through translation engines like Babelfish, we can decipher any linguistic code.

"Then they said, 'Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.'" (Genesis 11:4)

Once again, we appear to be in a time of biblical prophecy. The tower-top is the satellite and the broadcast tower; it is now possible for the transmission to be understood by all. So why the sordid rhetoric, propaganda and confusion? Increased communication has not brought us peace and unity. Rather, it has brought war to a new platform; the global chess game is played with ideas, and checkmate yields the ruling paradigm prize.

The problem may lie with the scope of our transmissions. Broadcast is a behemoth, slouching and shuffling over an ever-increasing audience, swallowing continents, dividing people ideologically while unifying them under brands and products. We have Pepsi in Papua New Guinea, Boston Celtic jerseys in Sierra Leone, and West Coast gangsta rap in Matanzas, Cuba. The winning brand takes the market share, and modern tribal allegance is manipulated by competing corporations and outdated religious institutions. It is akin with capitalism, and its appetite demands limitless accumulation.

So if broadcast is divisive, is a narrowcast any better? Narrowcast is defined as a transmission of data to a specific audience - an important issue for a student paper whose mandate is to serve a small rainforest campus. By necessity, we fall into the latter category. This stream of thought came from a recent conversation with Roger Farr, Creative Writing prof at Cap (see the Special Features section for more). Farr speculated on the true worth of the broadcast and emphasized the narrowcast for its ability to unify a group of people. When a message aims at a small group, it has the ability to unify their interests according to shared experience. In short, it strengthens community. Farr described the poetic writing circles, like the Liar (also in Special Features) as a powerful example of this, providing a shared experience and community of artistic support that can persist long past the duration of the messages delivered.

Despite its localized audience, the Courier has a powerful legacy of community as well. Many of the current editors and writers met in Creative Writing courses, cutting their teeth on the intense workshop environment. We form integral bonds on the cutting room floor, and surprisingly, they continue, long past our Cap experience is over. Our alumni reporters and editors-in-chief are still close friends and collaborators, encouraging our progress and offering lifelines into new arenas of writing, like the Nation in New York, or the Buenos Aires Times; even Maclean's and the Tyee.

//Kevin Murray

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