A timely reality check -- BTW if you haven't read "Amusing Ourselves to Death", you should
THIS is hardly new — we’ve already come a long way from the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 for a Senate seat, which held the audience rapt, on one occasion, for three hours — then everyone dispersed for dinner and came back for the four-hour rebuttal. The contrast with the public’s attenuated attention in the age of television, which Neil Postman pointed out in his 1985 book “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business,” was great. The contrast is all the greater today, with the advent of the short, nonlinear clips of YouTube.
It is easy to forget that this is YouTube’s first presidential campaign: the company was founded in only 2005 and acquired by Google in 2006. By the time the next campaign cycle rolls around in 2011, YouTube’s influence on the culture may be so complete that a 45-minute linear video of a question-answer session will seem to most people to be about 43 minutes too long.