The U2.com Steve Lillywhite announcement as an excuse for a very abstract cultural comment

For the first time in weeks an actual piece of U2 news was released yesterday - that Steve Lillywhite (producer of U2's earliest albums in 1980-1983) has stepped in as producer on U2's new project. There's lots of speculation as to what this says about their year of work on new material with Chris Thomas, as to how far back to the drawing board they're going, how much longer a delay it will mean, and so on. I have no interesting theories on any of that, but a really amazing thing about the news is that U2.com had it posted the same day. As many people have already pointed out, when an official site makes it into the same news cycle as blogs and fansites, you know something is up.

On a more personal level, I've been doing a lot of thinking these past couple days about those kind of divides -- not just the lugubrious formality of most official sites versus the interactive, professional relevance of many unofficial ones, but in a much more basic way the divide between people/organizations whose worldview is still based in print (or controlling, one-way broadcast) culture and people/organizations whose worldview isn't. (I'm not saying U2 as a corporation are the former - they're pretty savvy about things like offering multiple access points and viral marketing and added value - just that their main site does not normally behave as if it were on the Internet.) I guess what I'm wondering is this: Does the gulf ever get successfully bridged?

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