Archive for Thursday, September 20, 2007

Misdirected missive

An object lesson in Internet power

September 20, 2007

Several folks have e-mailed us lately to take us to task for running suggestive ads promoting a certain unnamed fast-food emporium.

The e-mails -- which vary by hardly a word, one from the other, by the way -- claim that the ads violate local community standards.

We are enjoined to place a copy of the e-mails in the public file to which the FCC inspectors can refer when the time comes to renew our broadcast license -- oops! FCC? Broadcast license?

The folks who forwarded these e-mails (not the creators, certainly -- as the messages are so uniform, the creators surely were some organization far away) have obviously gotten their wires crossed. These misdirected missives should have gone to a television station (presumably one that aired the offending ads), not a newspaper.

It would all be just a humorous aside, a sort of footnote to the workday world's tedium, except for the point that it makes about the way technology, and especially the Internet, have forever altered the means, manner and scope of communication.

In bygone days, an interest group would have needed to send thousands of postcards to its supporters, in the hope that some of them might copy the message and send it on to a network or a television station. Now the message goes out to thousands of e-mail clients who, with a few keystrokes, can forward it on to hundreds, even thousands, of recipients.

If some of the recipients are the wrong ones -- such as newspapers who don't have to apply for broadcast licenses -- well, no matter, the inefficiencies are covered up in a mountain of mailings.

That's all well and good, but one wonders if anyone has thought to question what impact such "managed" communication might have, in comparison to letters from people who have obviously thought about a problem and taken the initiative to write?

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