The Independent has posted a must-read article by Robert Fisk about ISIS. It speaks to how the eradication of borders in the Middle East is leading to new communities, new states and new identities. Marshall McLuhan has said, identity is born of violence.
Borders, all borders, are things of the past. British hiphop star M.I.A. has a new track available, on it she raps "Borders, whats up with that, identity, whats up with that?" Its a question being asked a lot by a young net-savy generation. It is also one answered by McLuhan who said the Book gave birth to Nations and electronic media would create new gatherings and erase those traditional ideas of Nation. We have seen it happen. The Website is makes nations obsolete and replaces them with Communities. We at SlowCity.ca have documented how artists are exploring a world with no borders in their creative endeavours and have been doing so for quite some time. Artists create the future by showing us the present while most of us live in the past.
Newspapers such as the Independent are also dealing with their own version of a borderless world. Their borders were the limits of paper-based circulation. So they choose the borderless world of the online space. But in the online world values define communities not space. What does a newspaper once defined by geography become when it moves online.
The Toronto Star has created a new product StarTouch to define its online space. However what media fail to realize is watching a stream of information pass makes narcissists of us all. Keeping those eyeballs on the stream is the job of newspapers because advertisers can be added to the stream easily enough. As readers we stare into the stream but we have learned to ignore the flotsam and jetsam of ads. We are looking instead for our reflection, in the best case a reflection of our values, in the worst case a reflection of our physical selves. (Selfies anyone?)
We at SlowCity treat the stream of information as what it is, a stream. One will never see all of it but one doesn't visit Niagara Falls to see every drop of water. One visits for the effect, the rush, the experience, and its story, that is the Frame. Old media moving online must endeavour to provide a frame. One that is also artful so one comes back again and again to visit, metaphorically, the Falls, for its story, its values, its frame. Oddly where once we framed our national, cultural stories within the physical realm by borders, in the digital realm we still require borders and we still require framing. That is the purpose of newspapers moving online, to be the frame that reflects the values.