As popular culture becomes more presentist, we move away from entertainment as the vicarious experience of a narrative - as watching someone else's story - and much more toward enacting one's own story. Moving away from myths and toward fantasy role-playing games, away from movies and toward videogames.
Since the 1960s, mainstream media has searched out and co-opted the most authentic things it could find in youth culture, whether that was psychedelic culture, anti-war culture, blue jeans culture. Eventually heavy metal culture, rap culture, electronica - they'll look for it and then market it back to kids at the mall.
Social media is itself as temporary as any social gathering, nightclub or party. It's the people that matter, not the venue. So when the trend leaders of one social niche or another decide the place everyone is socializing has lost its luster or, more important, its exclusivity, they move on to the next one, taking their followers with them.
Whether it's watching a $4,000 laptop fall off the conveyor belt at airport security, contending with a software conflict that corrupted your file management system, or begging your family to stop opening those virus-carrying 'greeting cards' attached to emails, all computer owners are highly leveraged and highly vulnerable technology investors.
Grunge was so self-consciously lowbrow and nonaspirational that it seemed, at first, impervious to the hype and glamour normally applied swiftly to any emerging trend. But sure enough, grunge anthems found their way onto the soundtracks of television commercials, and Dodge Neons were hawked by kids in flannel shirts saying, 'Whatever.'
Part of an icon's power comes from its indivisibility. The swoosh cannot be further deconstructed into its component parts. Just as golden arches mean McDonald's, and the little red tab means Levi's, the swoosh is Nike. The product is its icon, inseparably and without exception. To buy a pair of Nike shoes is to buy the Nike swoosh.
We Facebook users have been building a treasure lode of big data that government and corporate researchers have been mining to predict and influence what we buy and for whom we vote. We have been handing over to them vast quantities of information about ourselves and our friends, loved ones and acquaintances.
I don't think tablets are where we should be focused. But I do think they could end up being an efficient way of delivering textbooks. They're just not really that, yet. There's all sorts of poisons and mined minerals and carnage that goes on to make a tablet. Way more than to print a book. Or a bunch of books.
In the digital universe, our personal history and its sense of narrative is succeeded by our social networking profile - a snapshot of the current moment. The information itself - our social graph of friends and likes - is a product being sold to market researchers in order to better predict and guide our futures.