The revolution promised by the Internet of turning people into producers of information, rather than merely being consumers of it, is coming true with the advent of the weblog or online journal. We no longer need to passively absorb content served up by the media barons as the technology now easily allows us all to publish content. Some bloggers from non-traditional media outlets are even gaining prominence as legitimate sources of fact and opinion.
Teasing out the issues with the relationship between weblogging and the mainstream media is explored in We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People for the People by respected Silicon valley commentator Dan Gillmor.
At the core of Gillmor’s thesis is that media is shifting from talking at the public and engaging in a conversation. Gillmor is hopeful that:
“The lines will blur between producers and consumers, changing the role
of both in ways we’re only beginning to grasp. The communication
network itself will be a medium for everyone’s voice, not just the few
who can afford to buy multimillion-dollar printing presses, launch
satellites, or win the government’s permission to squat on the public
There are lots of potential impediments, including corporate and goverment gatekeepers seeking to undermine the surge of active and watchful netizens.
You will have to wait until I actually read the book before I comment on Gillmor’s prognosis. This could be sooner than I imagined as I have just downloaded a copy. The author has made a PDF version freely available online under a Creative Commons license (which I’ve written about previously, see “A new way of thinking about copyright”). Gillmor also took the unusal step of providing a draft of the document for public comment. Brave man indeed.
We have a few bloggers in New Zealand with a high profile, but I’ve yet to see anyone consistently influence the corporate media juggernaut. Maybe I’m so jaundiced, I can’t see the wood for the trees.
- We the Media reviewed in the Guardian by Simon Waldman, “All the news that’s fit to blog” (6 November 2004)
- We the Media weblog
- Full PDF version of We the Media, provided freely on the book’s publishers website
- Online Journalism Review interview by Staci D Kramer, “Connecting With Dan Gillmor: What’s Next For the Web” (11 September 2004)