Take a look at this picture of Barack and Michelle Obama at one of the inaugural balls. Everyone in the audience has a hand up with a cell phone pointed at the stage, but nobody is actually looking at what's going on. The scene is puzzling: If the guy next to you is taking a picture—one that you can be reasonably sure will end up on a photo-sharing site somewhere—why do you need one, too? But we do this often these days. Win Butler, the lead singer of the band Arcade Fire, once told Terry Gross that he and his band mates have stopped going out into the crowd to perform because nobody pays attention to them—everyone's got their cell phones and cameras in front of their faces.
--Farhad Manjoo, Slate, on the dilutive effect of wanting to record everything