Wednesday, July 13, 2005

What's a Blog to do ....

There's lots of hype around Blogging these days. I was recently at a conference where Jeff Jarvis of Buzzmachine was promoting himself and how he and Blogs will change the world. Listen, I've been in this biz for 20 years and here's my point of view...

Blogs were there in 1985 - they were called NewsGroups then
Blogs were there in 1992 - they were called AOL Chatrooms then
Blogs were there ion 1994 - they were called Websites then

There's nothing new about having an opinion and expressing that opinion. This forces us to explore questions of human agency and democratic process in the technical sphere through the example of "virtual community." The formation of relatively stable long-term group associations--community in the broad sense of the term--is the scene on which a large share of human development occurs.

As such it is a fundamental human value mobilizing diverse ideologies and sensitivities. The promise of realizing this value in a new domain naturally stirs up much excitement among optimistic observers of the Internet. At the same time, the eagerness to place hopes for community in a technical system flies in the face of an influential intellectual tradition of technology criticism. This eagerness seems even more naive in the light of the recent commercialization of so much Internet activity - read: BLOGS.

Adding to the theoretical challenge, let's discuss the generalizing about patterns of media power - the core question of just what we mean by media these days.

With the fragmentation of mass media channels and audiences, and the proliferation of new digital communication formats, it is difficult to draw sharp boundaries around discrete media spheres. As various media become interactively connected, information flows more easily across technological, social, and geographical boundaries. Which brings us to yet another chapter: the rise of global protest networks aimed at bringing social justice to the neo-liberal world economic regime.

These activist networks have used new digital media to coordinate activities, plan protests, and publicize often high quality information about their causes. Considerable evidence suggests that global activists have not only figured out how to communicate with each other under the mass media radar, but how to get their messages into mass media channels as well. They are doing better than most. Communication and media professionals - watch this channel - there's something here that we need to learn.

Many activists are sharply critical of mass media coverage, often charging that the press and officials have criminalized their protest behaviors. However, it is also clear that global activists have neither been isolated nor destroyed by mass media filtering.

The dense information networks of the Web offer ample evidence of internal communication. Large numbers of mass actions around the world have received extensive, if generally negative, media coverage. At the least, such coverage signals the presence of a movement that is demanding a say in world economic policies and their social and environmental implications. Finally, numerous campaigns against corporate business practices, trade and development policies have received favorable coverage in leading media outlets.

All that said, Blogs are being sourced and quoted all the time - look at the Nike uproar over Indonesian slave labor, Dan Rather, - Iraqs first blog - what are we going to do about it? Are we going to speak up? Like I said - freedom of speech isn't new but in this dense landscape of information - be smart, be precise, be intelligent.

Present a balanced view, invite challenges and let the games begin!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that Bird Flu is expected to arrive in the USA or Canada this fall.
It said it killed almost 60% of those who got infected.
Is it true ?
What can we do to avoid it ?

5:34 AM, August 14, 2006  

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