The radical decentralization of the means of cultural production and distribution it has brought about, that I mentioned in the slidecast in my last post, "Social Begins At Home," has changed the very nature of the audience--of what an audience is.
Social media is so hot right now. At least I think it still is. As I pointed out yesterday, in my blog post, "Cultural Latency," things that get suddenly popular have a tendency to become less interesting just as rapidly.
There is a correlation between the amount of time it takes to distribute something, and the amount of time it takes for that thing to have an effect, and consequently the amount of time that thing stays relevant and interesting.
When music was distributed as sheet music--a literally laborious distribution mechanism--popular hits stayed at the top of the charts for years.
Language is in a state of constant flux, evolving at the edges, occasionally ruptured by dramatic and rapid changes in culture. It contains fossils and fractures that hint at what has been or will be important.
The word "computer" provides a convenient example. The first computers were all female, not in the anthropomorphic sense that boats are, but because they were all women, using slide rules to do calculations before we had "difference engines" [which are what evolved into the computers of today].