The media pyramid

maffew .at. purplebark .dot. net
Written April 2007 for

I've been thinking lately about how people use media. Sometimes people say we shouldn't watch junk TV like Big Brother or Lost, or read junk magazines like Who. Somehow that annoys me, and I realised it's like people whinging about eating dessert.

A little dessert is good for you. The problem is when you eat too much.

So that got me thinking about balanced media diets and the media pyramid.

Of course this has been talked about before:

What is Your Media Pyramid?

Creators, Synthesizers, and Consumers

The Indian Media Pyramid

But I think the media diet should really include personal communication. Media is just communication over long distances.

Content is not king

The long tail

So my media nutrition pyramid would read like this, top (eat sparingly) to bottom (lots is healthy):

1. mass produced popular TV, newspapers, and websites with audiences in the millions: network TV entertainment and news

2. specialised yet still mass produced media, or presentations with large audiences: ABC, SBS, talkback radio, concerts, newspapers

3. online communication in groups: independent media, blogs, mailing lists

4. one on one electronic communcation or face to face communication in groups: phone calls, email, texting, parties, family picnics, team meetings

5. one on one face to face communication with friends, family and colleagues: sharing a meal, walking the dog, even chatting across the TV

Notice how small groups (3) and (4) would be if it didn't include electronic communication. The anti social design of Australian and American cities means there is very little opportunity for hanging out with groups of people unless you pay money. I think there's a good reason people have rushed to create communities on the web.

What happens if your diet is unbalanced? If it's food, you get obese. If it's media, maybe you get depressed:

Just like our food diets, people know when they're eating too much junk, but it's a guilty pleasure. And diversity and variety is always good.

So what's your media diet? Is it balanced?