Tag Archives: daily show

The Web and the End of Forgetting: the upside of down

A reader recently pointed me to a fantastic article in the New York Times entitled The Web and the End of Forgetting which talks about the downside of a world where one’s history is permanently recorded on the web. It paints of the dangers of a world where one can never escape one’s past – where mistakes from college rear their head in interviews and where bad choices constrain the ability to start anew.

It is, frankly, a terrifying view of the world.

I also think it is both overblown and, imagines a world where the technology changes, but our social condition does not. Indeed, the reader sent me the piece because it reminded him of a talk and subsequent blog post I wrote exactly a year ago on the same topic.

But let’s take the worse case scenario at face value. While the ability to start anew is important, at times I look forward to a world where there is a little more history. A world where choices and arguments can be traced. A world of personal accountability.

Broadcast media fostered a world where one could argue one position and then, a few months later, take the exact opposite stand. Without easily accessible indexes and archives discerning these patterns was difficult, if not impossible. With digitization, that has all changed.

The Daily Show remains the archetype example of this. The entire show is predicated on having a rich archival history of all the major network and cable news broadcasts and having the capacity, on a nightly basis, to put the raw hypocrisy of pundits and politicians on display.

The danger of course, is if this is brought to the personal level. The NYT article identifies and focuses on them. But what of the upsides? In a world where reputation matters, people may become more thoughtful. It will be interesting to witness a world where grandparents have to explain to their grandchildren why they were climate change deniers on their Facebook page. Or why you did, or didn’t join a given political campaign, or protest against a certain cause.

Ultimately, I think all this remembering leads to a more forgiving society, at least in personal and familial relationships, but the world of pundits and bloggers and politicans may become tougher. Those who found themselves very much on the wrong side of history, may have a hard time living it down. The next version of the daily show may await us all. But not saying anything may not be a safe strategy either. Those who have no history, who never said anything at anytime, may not be seen relevant, or worse, could be seen as having no convictions or beliefs.

I loved the New York Times article, but it looked at society as a place where social values will remain unchanged, where we won’t adapt to our technology and place greater emphasis on new values. I can imagine a world where our children may say – how did you have friends with so little personal history? It may not be our ideal world, but then, our grandparents world wasn’t one I would have wanted to live in either.

Too… much… irony… must… share…

Okay I’m dying. So many ironic twists to share with people.

Ironic moment 1:

I think this picture says it all…

Ironic moment 2:

So last week I briefly felt what it must be like to be a writer on the Daily Show after showing that at the same time Vancouver Province Editorial Page Editor Gordon Clark was attacking me and those who opposed the decision on the long form census in his column he was simultaneously bragging about his paper’s readership using data that depends on the long form census. Yes, it really was the fun.

Sadly. It gets better. Today, a mere eight days later after his anti-census piece, Clark has a new column about rising teenage happiness levels (this is, of course, a bad thing). But the kicker? Apparently Clark hates StatsCan’s invasive survey’s up until he needs them to write a story. It’s about a statscan survey.

Ironic moment 3:

It looks like Maxime Berner’s has taken over talking about the census for the Government. He’s penned a piece in the Western Standard in which he argues there was significant public support for the change:

Most people don’t want to be called or be visited at home by a census bureaucrat pressuring them to answer the questions and threatening them with sanctions. They understandably do not want trouble with the government and when they get such threats, they simply comply. Few will officially complain to the government, although when I was Industry minister in 2006 during the previous census, several thousand email messages of complaint were sent to my MP office. (Some people have asked me to show proof of this. It was evidently part of an organized campaign, as my Parliament colleagues and I sometimes receive vast numbers of messages on controversial issues. They are one way among others to gauge the level of public support or opposition to a decision. These messages were obviously not filed for future use by my staff and were deleted.)

Okay, so just to understand. There was a huge protest. But you didn’t do anything about. Didn’t mention it. Didn’t ensure that it make it into the 2006 Census Review. Didn’t even raise the issue in Parliament.

But despite this we should believe and it would all be obvious to us if only you had all those letters still. In short, if only you had… the data. But you stopped collecting and saving it. Just like you want to do with… the census.


Ironic moment 4:

And on CBC radio on Saturday, while explaining why the mandatory long-form agricultural census was not scrapped, Minister Clement said the agricultural census is used for valuable measures “that will help farmers” and “The argument obviously to farming associations and to farmers is, ‘You fill out the form, it’ll help the government help you in your farming activities.'”

Isn’t that the same argument for why the census is important for non-farming activities? Like say planning where to build highways, hospitals, offer new services and pretty much everything government does?

The only difference between farmers and ordinary Canadians is that farmers know how valuable and important the census is. Most Canadians often don’t realize how pervasive census information is in decision-making.

There is of course, another interpretation. Maxime Bernier says the government won’t bend on the census decision to special interest groups like The Government of Quebec, The United Way, the Canadian Medical Association, the Toronto Board of Trade, the Canadian Jewish Congress, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (and many, many others), but maybe they are willing to bend to the Farmer’s lobby?

At some point I think we’ll wake up from this collective nightmare of poor decision making and worse arguments. At least some of the country’s most prominent thinkers are trying to do something.

Re: The Daily Show, Post-Bush

Andrew Sullivan chimes in on the future of the Daily Show in a post-Bush era. Apparently, some people don’t think it can survive – that they simply can’t or won’t take on an Obama presidency.

I think this grossely misunderstands what the Daily Show is about and who it targets.

My sense is that politicians are not the target of the Daily Show. It’s the media.

Jon Steward didn’t go an plead with the DNC and RNC to pressure their politicians to be nicer to one another or to behave differently, he went on CrossFire and berated the hacks and pundits. My sense is that it is the Media – with its inane low quality, unidimensional and uncritical reporting – that is the real target of the Daily Show. Politicians (plus celebrities, and whoever else is unfortunate to get in the way) are simply the topic they use to launch these attacks.

Consequently, I don’t think the Daily Show is going anywhere. While the discourse coming out of the White House is probably about to get a whole lot more nuanced and interesting those reporting on the activities of the White House are probably going to be just as inane tomorrow as they were yesterday. Jon’s target is no less juicy. More importantly, I think there are enough people who don’t trust the MSM that an audience will be guaranteed…

Why Hillary can't stick the Daily Show

For those that missed it, Hillary Clinton dropped in – via satellite – for two thirds of the Daily Show last night (US readers click here).

On the one hand this was a clever (or desperate?) move by Hillary. It was an opportunity for her to look young and hip to older voters, and possibly even cleave into one of Obama’s core constituencies – America’s youth. Remember, this is a candidate who picked up 11% of the youth vote in Iowa. Contrast that to Obama’s 57%.On the other hand, the Jon Stewart interview revealed why Hillary can’t dent this demographic. Jon Stewart almost only lobs softball questions to politicians on his show. But that doesn’t mean being a guest is easy. To pull off a Daily Show appearance an interviewee must be prepared to a) be themsleves; b) concede that the circus exists and c) admit to their role in said circus.

Take for example this exchange during McCain’s interview on the Daily Show after he announced he would be giving the commencement speech at Liberty University (the right wing, born again college founded by Dr. Jerry Falwell). 

Stewart: You’re not freaking out on us? Are you freaking out on us? Because if you’re freaking out and you’re going into the crazy base world — are you going into crazy base world?

McCain: I’m afraid so.

Stewart: All right, sir. You know we have great regard for you here, and I hope you know what you’re doing there, I trust that you do. When you see Falwell, do you feel nervous, do you have vomit in the back of your throat — what does it feel like?

McCain: No, but I’ll give him your love.

Essentially, Stewart calls out McCain for pandering to the worst part of the Republican party – and McCain basically concedes “Yes, but I have to do it.” This type of authenticity (I can almost feel Andrew Potter breathing down my neck right now) plays well with young voters. As the most media savvy generation they know the candidates have to jump through all sorts of stupid hoops. If the candidates aren’t going to stand on principle and not do it, they should at least admit they are playing the game.

Sadly, this is not how Hillary played the Daily Show. Instead she stayed scripted to the end and never strayed from her lines. Nor did she seem human. Instead she was just another politician too scared to be personable and too controlling to do anything but campaign in the traditional sense for the audiences votes. This is not a critique of that style per say, but it is exactly the type of performance that makes Hillary unappealing to the young viewers who watch the Daily Show.

Check out the comments section of the Indecision 2008 website. By and large, these young Daily Show viewers were not impressed.

Maybe Hillary will win today,  but if she does, I’m fairly certain her performance last night will have had nothing to do with it.

As an aside, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my main man Beltzner who saved this post from being an unthinking ramble.