Media for mah mind, mah body an' mah soh-wul.
You are what you eat. My primary medium is therefore food – the medium that carries life from the eaten to the eater. Or is it? In the Information Age, surely you are what you read. You can tell a lot about a man by the company he keeps – or the book under his arm – just as you can never really know a woman until you've seen her bookshelf. Would you count as your friend someone who got all their news from the Dow Jones Online News headlines and CNN? Garbage in, garbage out...
As a freelance journalist with no other source of income, information sustains my physical body. If I don't inform, I don't eat, pay the rent or get my hands on fresh information. I expend as much thought – more – on deciding what to read as what to eat. I find The Guardian International provides me with my daily requirements, covering all the major information groups. I augment this diet with a range of weekly and monthly magazines and books, fiction and non-fiction. Not much poetry as it's the nouvelle cuisine of information – too pretty to eat.
Amsterdam is cabled, so I watch a lot of TV, with a varying degree of interactivity from creative grazing mode (reading, cooking or talking over it) through active vocal annotation to total absorption. I recently caught a couple of the BBC'S fascinating Cine Memo series – home movies made by European families between about 1910 and 1950 edited according to themes (The Family, Travel, etc). The most noticeable theme of the series, however, was not one made explicit by the programme makers. All the films, particularly, the urban shots, were remarkable for their extreme barrenness of sensory and linguistic information. The past looked, well, a bit boring really.
I realised how much I'd miss the data-rich sensory environment – the real-life MTV – of modern urban life. Not just the fly posters, commercial transactions, concerts, bar-crawls, advertising and access to printed matter but the additional bytes of sensory titillation for the rest of my body: the colour, the movement, the smells, the house parties, the sudden blasts of hot air from shops on a cold day and noises of the city streets (of Oxford, Cardiff, London and Amsterdam) I've lived and walked in for ten years.
It's the buzz, that feeling that condenses on my skin like city sweat, that augments and makes coherent the other information in my media ecology. I resist the cyberpunk assertion that I am becoming little more than an appendage to a terminal, the meat, no longer the master of my machines but a mere partner in an organo-silicate symbiosis. The cult of info-tech underestimates the role of experience and pre-existing knowledge in the processing and generation of new knowledge.