Thursday, April 19, 2007

Virginia Tech, the non-shocking part

Yeah, it's bad. That dude was psycho. That's really all I have to say about that part.

A psychology professor of mine once quipped that a majority of psychological experiments only gave significant data on the psyche of the collegian (she was most serious only when joking). This is because college students are the most frequent participants in psychological experiments. There are a number of potential causes for this, all of which are unimportant to what I'd like to write about today. The effects on the studies are increased ambiguity about the population as a whole, coupled with a more specific knowledge on a particular group. Today's college students will wield most of the power and money of my generation. This will remain true as long as society is being tag-teamed by an increasing percentage of college graduates and a widening in the high school graduate/college graduate salary gap continue(as current trends suggest).

What's my point? My point is that studies inundated with college students are efficacious predictors of what will become mainstream in the future. Collegians (as any parent or psychologist will agree) are not quite done growing up, but they are quite established as people and personalities; they still have a lot of changing to do, but are psychologically representative of who they will be in a couple of decades. No, I'm not saying we'll all become loner assassins.

Welcome to the part where I try to tie all this together. Have you followed the Virginia Tech story at all? At first, I wasn't really planning on it. I read that it happened, I thought, "well that was stupid," and went on about my day. By the time I get back to the US, this will be ancient history (read 4 months old), and it won't affect my life in any way. I was however, drawn back to the story. Not by a particular interest, but because of the way it has been documented. Tragedy strikes on a large college campus, a place where pagers and copiers and camera film are relics of an ancient past. The minority do not have mp3 players and/or camera phones.

I apologize for the recent influx in pontification over future cultural trends, but this is the future of our news and media. Less "reporting on-site" hours or days after something happened. More video, shot by those affected; photos, by those with the best vantage of the news maker; actual sound bytes, no more dramatized re-creations; and a new breed of reporter whose job is to compile all the evidence into a compelling story line and included clarification and analysis of the abundant primary sources at their fingertips. If you haven't checked out the story go poke around a little bit and see if you agree with me.

Thanks for reading.

Sources:
US Census Bureau: macro stats on graduates by region, and salary
Random google result: salary gap, and a little blurb on change over time

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