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Technology changes what we know and when we know it

The September 11th terrorist attack on America shocked the world. Itsnuffed out the lives of more than 6,000 innocent civilians anddestroyed forever the naïve notion that America, somehow, wasimmune from the random assaults of terrorists that have alreadydestroyed so many other lives in locations around the globe.

No doubt the terrorists responsible for the September 11th attackson New York City and Washington, D.C. hoped to draw attention andsympathy to their cause. Instead, they have brought the wrath of theworld down upon their heads. For the first time in history, thecountries of the world are united in an unprecedented coalition, acoalition determined to rid the Earth of those who would deal interror.

In the coming weeks and months, the strength of that coalition willbe put to the test as tough words are replaced with the reality ofbattles and engagements and possibly more terrorist attacks that takean additional toll in human lives.

Media’s New Role

As we here at Video Systems contemplate the challenging timesthat lie ahead, we are struck by the important role that today’smedia, in all of its forms, will play in shaping our perceptions andunderstanding of events as they unfold.

If Vietnam was the first war that television brought into our livingroom, this War on Terrorism will be the first war covered,communicated, and dissected in realtime via the power of the Web andthe proliferation of high-quality, low-cost digital cameras.

As we’ve already seen in these last few weeks since theinitial attack on September 11, today’s new media technologieshave changed the nature of crisis news reporting. It changes what weknow, how much we know, and when we know it. It changes the waytraditional news outlets cover fast-breaking news events, and itchanges the way we, the general public, discuss, digest, and shareinformation.

Today, news, as well as opinion, rumor, and propaganda, can spinaround the world at the speed of light, shaping perceptions andstimulating emotions within moments of an event.

In the coming weeks, it will be our goal in this section of ourwebsite to bring some perspective to the social, cultural, and ethicalimplications of this new age in media communication as well as providesome details on the practical challenges faced by traditional newsoutlets who are striving to employ the latest media technologies.

We invite you to join us in our coverage of this important topic bysharing with us your own thoughts on the changing role of media.Whether you have thoughts about how the traditional news networks havecovered recent news events, or thoughts about how the rise of the Webas a medium for information distribution is impacting our perceptionsof events or impacting the role of traditional news outlets, we areeager to hear what you have say. Just drop us an email, andtell us what’s on your mind. We will happily share your thoughtswith others in a bulletin board section on this site.

Stephen Porter is executive editor of Video Systems.