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Squawk Box March 31

Today we talked about a news story that made the rounds last week about the evolution of news consumption. The original piece appeared in the New York Times and talked about the impact of social networks on the current election campaign.  Both Mathew Ingram and Mark Cuban seized on one of the prominent quotes in that story, which was from a college student who said: "if the news is that important, it will find me".

We started by discussing the social implications.  It's been said that the computers and the internet have changed us from being a society of learners to a society of researchers.  It's not necessary to know all the facts about a subject, but merely to be able to find them. Willingly choosing to filter information based on a social filter could be another profound change, and part of me wonders whether this is in fact a good thing.

We also discussed the business of news.  We all know that newspapers are in trouble as their advertising revenues shift to the internet.  What happens to the business of news when the most important stories aren't consumed by readers of a publication, but simply passed around from one interested reader to another?  And what about the process by which people who desire to become newsmakers make the news?  Public relations has been a well understood business for well over half a century as politicians and corporations have sought to shape public opinion.  How do we adapt that discipline to a world of socially spread news?

Another really interesting story this morning is about the tightly guarded Apple Design process – the process that has produced hits like iPod, iPhone, and the MacBook Air.  I'm interested in the impact that industrial design has on purchasing decisions.  A lot of mac people buy the mac because "it just works", they say.  How many do you think buy it because it makes a statement?  After all, isn't that what the macbook air is?  A statement?  If you really look hard at it, it's an expensive underpowered, feature deprived computer that's ultra light weight.  Yet they're flying off the shelves.  Why?

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