How long before we have Google Adwords-like advertisements in the next Crichton novel? Try, "It's already happened".

I never knew how important in-content, relatively subdued advertising would become when I watched the World Cup back in '92 or so. Remember that? When Coke (or whoever) would have a constant image at the bottom of the telecast while the game was played? Certainly product placement has grown a bit, which Disney has masterfully taken to such heights that, for Disney, the product is the headliner of the show (Wiggles, Doodlebops, though they too learned from the capitalist's petri dish which is educational TV -- Sesame Street, Barney, etc). Still, these "unobstrusive" ads, unobtrusive only due to the over-conditioning society has received from TV (minus World Cup) and radio, are growing pretty quickly.

As an aside, I've got the first volume of the Seasame Street "nostalgia" release on DVD, which includes the very first episode of the show to air. I was struck both by the new intro, where a cartoon character warns me that the show might not be applicable to the needs of today's pre-schooler (they've got to have a reason to make more, right?) and with the speed with which industry inserted a commercial into children's TV via the government, in this case, government grants for the show. In the episode, there's a five minute or so commercial for drinking milk that boggles my mind. I'll likely comment more later, but there's your typical 1960s film strip, deep, masculine voice explaining why milk is good for everyone involved laid over a soundtrack of a 1960s style folk singer quietly extolling the benefits of milking to the happy cows, eating under shade trees, making the milk. This is something that deserves transcription, certainly.

To end the aside, The Electric Company's early episodes rock. I could only wish for a show this educational to be released now. Between the Lions doesn't come close to the unabashed, direct, almost unconscious approach to learning to read The Electric Company provides. That, or, more likely, it did one heck of a job enculturating me. In either event, thanks, Cos, for taking on the job of being the godfather of a generation.

I fear the demise of the printed book, though I'm intrigued by the possibility of ads to possibly provide books for free. I'm not sure you can ever kill the medium of the codex. It's simply too cheap to produce, too easy to transport, and inexpensive enough to replace that it can go anywhere with anyone. It is an extremely low-cost alternative to the Game Boy and Blackberry, and will on this point alone continue to exist for quite some time. But how will it become remediated by digital media, and for what effect? There, I'm extremely curious and suspicious.

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