I remember growing up in St. Paul, there was a donut shop on University and Dale that made the best raised donuts in the world. They were big and my favorite was a chocolate with crushed peanuts on top. We would take a special trip there every few months and only get one donut for each of us. The donut would take forever to eat.
We had the same relationship with the Dairy Queen on Rice St. We would visit the DQ on the Sundays our family drove down by the Mississippi to watch the barge traffic. We didn’t go for those drives often and we would always only get a small cone per kid. No matter how hot it was, that ice cream would last for a long time.
I was fourteen or so or so before I ever ate at a McDonalds. My first experience there was with a friend and his uncle after seeing Star Wars. I can’t remember what I had but I remember thinking I wanted more of this stuff.
We grew up where usually the only day we ate meat was Sunday. It was either chicken or beef roast. If we had meat, it was hamburger (pâté chinois) or liver. The other days were mostly pasta meals. And there was almost never enough for the seven of us, though my mom did the best she could stretching with mashed potatoes and dumplings.
We had three channels on a B&W television. Our shared media collection were vinyl LPs consisting of Hank Williams, Hank Snow, a Disney collection of children’s songs that included a version of “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” Teresa Brewer, a 45 of the Brown’s “I Heard the Bluebirds Sing” and old 78s of a Nun’s Choir.
My first apartment consisted of a large carpet, an over-turned laundry basket for a tv stand and an old color television that took forever to warm up. Cable was still something rich people had.
Now we have an almost unlimited number of television choices, Netflix, YouTube, iTunes, Facebook, millions of blogs and we’re always craving to see what else is on. We hardly get through one song on a playlist when we’re itching to switch to the next track. I shudder to think of how many movies get watched only halfway on the Netflix before the clicker is in hand, searching for something more stimulating. I suspect about half of my readers only got this far on this post before clicking off and reading the next article in their RSS reader.
We’ve spent the past ten years of so building rapid distribution systems that shove content at us faster than we can consume it. Judging from my NetFlix queue and iTunes list, I think we are fast approaching that point when we have caught up with consuming all the older, quality content we missed on the way to getting older. And the current selection of content is thinning.
Making distribution systems is easy. The creation of content still takes the same amount of time. You can’t rush human inspiration and creativity. It still takes time to work through a story line and character development. Editing a quality piece of writing takes time. Shooting video is a linear process. So is editing. The “good enough” rarely is. “Good enough” is code for a user will click off at :16 instead of 1:38.
We live now in the land of plenty where lots of people are creating more stuff in record time than at any other point in history. I wonder how much of it is good enough to savor, crave more or last beyond the next fashion season.
I suspect not much is.