Yesterday, when talking about celebrities and Twitter, I rather flippantly threw both Stephen Fry and the term disintermediation in without giving much context beyond Fry’s popularity. Now, disintermediation at it simplest form means taking the middleman – or middle person – out of the chain; this could mean the automation of the telephone exchange (no more person connecting the various cables) or celebrities being able to address their fans directly online, removing the need for celebrity gossip columnists, paparazzi and others who make their living as informatic vultures. Today I was reading a transcript of an interview with Stephen Fry in which he expressed this point a great deal more eloquently:
If people want to announce their new this or their new that, they’re going "I’m not going to do an interview, I’m not going to sit in the Dorchester for seven days having one interviewer after another come to me, I’m just going to Tweet it, and point them to my website and forget the press".
And the press are already struggling enough – God knows they’ve already lost their grip on news to some extent. If they lose their grip on comment and gossip and being a free PR machine as well, they’re really in trouble.
So naturally they’re simultaneously obsessed because they use it (as it fills up their column inches) but they’re also very against it.
So you’ll get an increasing number of commentators going "Aren’t you just fed up with Twitter? Oh, if Stephen Fry tells me what he’s having for breakfast one more time, I think I’ll vomit."
They really will have a big go at it because it attacks them, it cuts them out.
Also, while not directly about Twitter, Fry also reiterates the point that all new media forms tend to be seen as the devil for a while:
I doubt you can find any sentence describing how human learning has degraded now that isn’t congruent to a similar sentence written at the time of rise of the novel – about how people were no longer reading sermons and classical literature, but were reading novels from subscription libraries instead.
The literature at the time in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, describing the contempt that the learned establishment had for the rise of the novel – and then of course later with the rise of the penny dreadfuls and sensational literature as more and more people came to read it – again there was a great cry of despair at how there would be nothing but illiteracy in the world, or at least a kind of refusal or inability to engage in proper, serious study.
And we hear the cry again.
Indeed, case in point, The Daily Show’s Twitter Frenzy segment …