spesh || danny || writing || fourwaves

The Four Waves

Back in the Graduate Loser days, Dave and Ed and Kev created this shorthand to track new trends. We thought that most matters that we tracked had four media waves.

The first wave was the discovery: when a small group of people do something for the hell of it.

The second wave was the initial media discovery. A couple of journalists write about it, because they are intrigued by it, involved in it, or are paid by evil media organisations to track down promising new methods of maintaining the tawdry allure of the capitalist conspiracy.

The third wave is journalists writing articles based on what they'd read in the second wave articles. These journalists have no experience of the phenomenon. They just read a lot.

The fourth wave is journalists writing articles in the absolute conviction that they are first wave journalists because they have noticed that people are doing it on the streets. These people are doing it because they've read the third wave journalists.

To pick an example. Absinthe. People have been drinking Absinthe in this country for years, I suppose. I can't imagine that no-one did, given that the hallucinogenic properties of Absinthe has been up there on the "Idling Party Brains" conversation list (along with "Hey Let's All Smoke Pipes" and "Aren't Childrens TV Conversations Repetitious?") for years. That's the first wave.

Second wave: the guys at the Idler decide to team up with some of their pals to import it. Cue bunch of articles on Absinthe, written by that gang. (Good articles, mind. Nice people.)

Third wave: everyone interviews Tom Hodgkinson, etc, about their Absinthe concern. Front page of Guardian. Back of Evening Standard.

Fourth wave: Local TV stations run "and finally..." pieces on the Absinthe craze that's sweeping the country. Interview people who bought some because they read about it in The Face.

Note that we never really made any value judgements about these waves. And we weren't setting out to document the behaviour of phenomena themselves: just the media coverage of it. We realised that, with Graduate Loser, we were doing Second Wave stuff. We thought there was probably no money there (we were right), but we thought it might be good training for Wave Three stuff, which might be better at. Latterly, I discovered that the real money is in Wave Four, but you have to be spectacularly self-delusional to ever reach that peak.

Also note that we never did produce an edition of Graduate Loser, and the Idler kids did loads of their zine which was about exactly the same thing, only they didn't spend so much time creating meta-media theories, and wrote good prose instead.

Last modified: Mon Apr 12 15:32:19 1999