We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

For years, particularly with the advent of the Internet, people have been griping about lessening attention spans. But if someone can watch an entire season of a TV series in one day, doesn’t that show an incredible attention span? When the story is good enough, people can watch something three times the length of an opera.

Kevin Spacey

30 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Tarrou

    Anti-internet scolding is just the “get off my lawn” of our generation. The general crankiness of older folks for the generation that follows. It’s as old as civilization. Fifteen thousand years ago it was “The goddamn kids with their hafted tools, in my day we used a rock, and you know what? It built CHARACTER!”.

  • NickM

    I have a standing invite to watch the entire HD, extended editions of the LoTR movies with no breaks. In Poland. And why not?

  • RRS

    All “entertainment” and “Educational” presentations in whatever formats and whether for commercial, political or “social” objectives seem to depend for their “success” (utility?) on what people decide to use their brains for – and how.

  • “I have a standing invite”

    I have done this, although not in Poland.

  • NickM:

    “And why not?”

    Because it’s the Lord of the Rings movies? ;-)

  • Laird

    I take it that no one here has ever tried to sit through a Ring cycle?

  • I would also point out that Spacey is banging his own drum as his Netflix series “House of Cards” (which is excellent by the way) was released in February as a single drop-shipment of all 13 episodes.

    Series 2 is expected in exactly the same way early next year.

    I regularly binge on a TV series or movie trilogy (including the 11+ hours of Lord of the Rings Extended Edition), but that’s because I’m self-employed and between projects.

  • Antoine Clarke

    John Galt said:

    but that’s because I’m self-employed and between projects.

    I take it you’re “going Galt”…

  • TomJ

    I know someone who is preparing to watch all of the Bond movies, back to back, in a 39 hour marathon. I know this because he tweeted it. Plus, anyone who thinks internet == short attention spans has never heard of nethack…

  • A key skill of that same internet age is the ability to write computer code. One of the things that makes you good at writing computer code is really intense skills of concentration.

  • PaulM

    Laird wrote:
    August 25, 2013 at 3:18 am
    I take it that no one here has ever tried to sit through a Ring cycle?

    I can’t even sit through the rinse cycle :-)

  • RAB

    PaulM ;-)

    Laird, as someone once said of the Ring ” you sit there listening for an hour then look at your watch and find that only 20 minutes have elapsed.”

    The point was declining attention spans, yes? Well I’m not sure attention spans are declining, but patience spans definitely are. Where once a ten part drama would be shown once a week and the audience expected to retain the plot till the next week’s episode, now the demand is for the whole series on consecutive nights. We now demand instant gratification or we don’t even bother to start watching a series.

  • That made me chuckle RAB.

    I must admit that when I’m at home in Malaysia, I wait for a whole series to finish and then download it. With the BBCiPlayer – I download each instalment each week and only when I have a whole series will I sit down and watch them.

    There are some exceptions like Lewis, Endeavour and stuff which are sufficiently episodic that I am happy to watch them as they turn up, but certainly for the connected series (House of Cards, Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, etc.) I prefer to binge on an entire series and will often re-watch the previous series before starting a new one.

    However, I have plenty of time on my hands as bank balance is high and overheads are low.

  • In 1980, the Royal Shakespeare Company mounted a production of Nicholas Nickleby in the West End that lasted for more that ten hours (including intermissions and a dinner break). Does watching ten hours of Dickens in some way trump a ten-hour marathon of “Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo?”

    Truly a question for the ages.

  • Dyspeptic Curmudgeon

    The complaint about ‘short attention span’ is really a comment on the lousy crap which is intended to hold the viewers interest but which does not.

    A ‘short attention span’ is more often a symptom of boredom, but tv execs and others refuse to recognize the possibility that their stuff is crap *and not worthy of much attention*.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    I’ve been off work for over a week with a rather unpleasant attack of vertigo. I did watch some of it before I got ill, but I’ve watched most of all 5 seasons of Stargate Atlantis on Netflix in that time. By my reckoning that’s 75 hours of TV.

    On a tangentially related point, can anyone name another first world healthcare system where if you go to the doctor complaining of hearing loss in one ear with increasing bouts of dizziness, it takes you over 6 months to get a referral to a specialist? I still wont get a hospital appointment for my hearing and balance problems till next month, even though I first visited my doctor about this in March.

    Seems to me a lot of people who wax lyrical about “our NHS” have never been on the sharp end of it. Nothing colours your view of it quite like being sick and desperate to see a doctor, and instead receiving either no or substandard healthcare.

  • RAB

    You have my complete sympathy Jaded. I too have hearing loss in my right ear and raging and continuous white noise tinnitus. When I first went to my doctor (Years ago) I was asked what I did for a living. Rock Critic I replied. Game over and boxes ticked as far as they were concerned. Oh it’s nerve damage they said glibly and shoved a NHS hearing aid at me. This is a miracle of the age by the way. I know sound engineers who can mike up a stage so you can hear a flea fart at half a miles distance, yet the crap hearing aids you get from the NHS make sound seem like you are inside a biscuit tin with Keith Moon playing a drum solo on the lid. I have just gone private. Much improvement and the aids you can get from Specsavers, of all people, are well worth considering.

    Oh and yes, it took bleedin’ months to see a Specialist, er who, in my opinion, were not very special at all. Utterly disinterested in fact.

  • Dr Weevil

    I’m surprised no one’s given the obvious contemporary reply to this two-line post: tl;dr!

  • I expect my specialist to be disinterested, but was he (she?) also uninterested?

  • Mr Ed

    I’d prefer a longer QotD.

  • RAB

    Er yes Cats, perhaps uninterested was the word I was groping for in the first place. Ears just ain’t cutting edge sexy medicine like Cancer or sight or full face grafts you see.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Why are QotDs so long??? Couldn’t read it all- what’s it about?

  • Veryretired

    When I was in college a bunch of us signed up for an all night deal in which the school theater showed all the episodes of the old movie serial “Flash Gordon” back to back. If I recall, there are 36 or so episodes at about 30minutes each, so it lasted 18 or more hours.

    After a dozen or so, we were so punch drunk that we started hooting the opening segment, which repeated every single frisking episode, and hollering out bits of the formulaic dialogue which repeated also regardless of the new peril or perils the heroes were in.

    By 3 or4 in the morning, a lot were asleep, but some of us more deranged types made it all the way through.

    I couldn’t do it today, but it wouldn’t be my attention span that would fail, it would be my bladder and my back. Such are the joys of age.

    I think kids are fine, it’s us adults who are screwed up, and who have failed miserably in our responsibilities to the young.

  • Agree with Spacey. That said, a pet peeve that I am, I suppose only recently, cultivating is the tendency of directors to make frequent cuts. I really appreciate long, lingering shots, when I find them.

  • I only now read the transcript in the link, and it is one of the most insightful and inspiring things I’ve read lately. It is longish, but well worth the time.

  • Keith

    Jaded, that sounds very like Meniere’s syndrome (which I have). The “treatment” is to cut salt intake and take a mild diuretic. In my case this seems to have helped. Diazepam (alias Valium) is good for vertigo attacks. I’m in the US with a good insurance plan so can at least get to see specialists.

  • David A. Young

    RAB — Anymore, I very often wait for an entire season of a show before I dive into it, no matter how interesting it may sound, simply because I have been burned so often by getting deeply interested in a show only to have the network drop it in mid-season — never to be finished. Perhaps this is a particularly American ailment, but it certainly is an annoying one.

  • Yes, I know exactly what you mean.

    I was really getting into Jericho when they cancelled it pretty much mid-season. They cobbled together a half-assed ending, but it just wasn’t the same.

    At least the Brits ensure they have financing for a complete season.

  • RAB

    At least the Brits ensure they have financing for a complete season.

    Yeah, and we know the suckers they got it from, don’t we boys and girls? And to pay for 6 figure pissoffs for execs who can’t find their ass with both hands, let alone produce a programme.