Crash Course in New Media

February 9, 2009

Yikes!  Reading this material was truly like “trying to drink from a fire hose” (sorry for the miserable Harvard cliché’).  For someone as uneducated and uninitiated in New Media and the digital world as I am, these chapters have given me a lot to think about.

Gillmor speaks of the myriad of ways that the former “audience” is being brought into the loop and what their contribution is going to mean.  I marvel at the chance to draw on the collective intellectual resources of the world, to transform political systems (or at the very least, the way politics are done), to transform journalism and traditional media, to transform civic involvement and provide ways for citizens to more effectively augment and aid government—for example, helping during times of crisis and maybe even helping to avoid crisis.   

As a promoter of citizen activism this quote provides some of the most encouraging thoughts:   “An audience that participates in the journalistic process is more demanding than passive consumers of news. But they may also feel empowered to make a difference. As a result, they feel as though they have a shared stake in the end result.”   As society has become more diffused, more cynical, and more disengaged, the digital world gives the opportunity to possibly reconnect and reverse the cycle.  Exciting stuff!

I note the urgency and the almost race-like quality of the efforts on the part of business, government, politics, journalists, etc.  all trying to stay ahead and utilize the tools that are evolving.  I might also mention my own personal sort of “panic” as I realize I’m so far behind in understanding what the tools are and how to use them.  There can never be a return to the traditional ways of doing business, politics, journalism, or even social networking.  I realize that is not a new thought for Nicco Mele, but the rest of us have been slow to get it. 

Gillmor also mentions the voyeuristic nature of social networking and blogging.   “It’s not a new world. We all have been able to create our own websites for years. This is just a content management system, verticalized for diary entries. That diary-like format has caught the attention of the voyeur in all of us.”   Hmmmm…  Is it voyeurism or a return to the conversations across the backyard fence?   Is it born of a desire to connect, understand and have some kind of meaningful interaction with others?  Or is it a desire to search for something scintillating or useful for self-serving purposes?    I do laugh when I read some people’s blogs; they often remind me of a perpetual family Christmas card newsletter—sometimes spiced up with political opinion.

Finally, Gillmor gives lots of examples of good weblogs.  He mentions Sheila Lennon’s Subterranean Homepage with lots of media-related topics and Earth911 for the greenie in all of us.  Not without mention is the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page blog which Gillmor calls a “classic.”  He goes on to say:  I don’t agree with much of the conservative doctrine he highlights, but he does it with great style.”   I have them all bookmarked. 

So here’s to voyeurism and blogging with great style!

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