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Just One Question for Greg Beato
Jan 28, 1998 :: Michael Sippey

Since I borrowed the one question interview format from Greg Beato's Soundbitten, I thought it would be only fair to subject him to a taste of his own medicine. Beato is a San Francisco-based freelance writer.

MS: What is it about the web that makes it such a great medium for soundbites?

GB: A question like that mandates a more incisive answer than I'm able to devise. Read for as long as your attention span permits:

The computer is the most powerful remote control ever built. With a TV, we can watch approximately 50 - 200 channels serially (unless, of course, you have picture-in-picture or multiple TVs). With the web, not only can we surf millions of pages serially; we can have several browsers open at once, along with email and other applications. So the ten seconds we traditionally devote to a given channel on TV is potentially a rare moment of concentration in this medium. If you can't communicate in soundbites, you may not communicate at all.

But we can't attribute the soundbite solely to the viewer's atrophying attention span. Technology erodes the producer's patience as well; because the web allows one to immediately disseminate one's work to the entire world (there are no intermediary steps of duplication or shipping, and program schedules are far more flexible), the urge is to get something out - anything out - quickly. Why work three years on a novel, when some dashed-off musings may prompt feedback today?



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