A really stimulating 24 hours at the Berkman-Annenberg conference on Journalism and the net.
Also being blogged by Ethan Zuckerman, David Weinberger, Charlie Beckett, David Cohn, and Martin Moore among others. This was a campfire gathering of some of those most engaged in the challenges of serious journalism and participation/collaboration.
Headlines for me.
The link between power, democracy, communication and the media.
Power is asserted through the construction of meaning in people's minds - it is a relationship and democracy is the set of rules by which it develops. Communication delivers meaning - emotions are fundamental in the construction of meaning. (Examples, "War on Terror" the Green agenda, the way women think about their social role) Media is the battleground where politics is played out.
The rise of social media (self communication) has become a decisive instrument in society - but paradoxically it is owned by corporate media (eg MySpace). Corporate media has to commodotise Freedom of Expression or face being subverted. Social Media has the ability to overthrow governments (cf: Spain 2004). The amount of content is so huge that even if the high value/quality material is a very small proportion, it's still significant.
Need to focus on outcomes not Needs - does journalism have outcomes that make democracy better?
Journalism's social functions reflect time and place and evolve, affected by the way information is used, relations between journalism and government, journalism and the public. Should the goal be to produce highly informed elites or to move the masses? This has been a dilemma since the Founding Fathers (citing Hamilton v Jefferson) and is still reflected in bloggers denouncing media gatekeepers and the professional media citing the importance of their specialist skills.
Revolutionary fervour now in decline and we can recognise that social media and professional media can co-exist and support each other.
Many metaphors or frameworks for the web are too comfortable: "Ecosystem" suggests a natural balance where there is none, "Pro-Am" suggests money is key where really it's quality, "Info Flow" - news and journalism is about more than pure information.
He prefers "Abundance": We don;t know how to deal with an abundance of the good, control doesn't scale. "In an age of abundance of good the struggle is over metadata". We now have an abundance of metadata (where in old classification systems there was very little). This places more power in the hands of the reader, the public.
Metadata affects the mix of sugar and castor oil - how you tempt people to take the medecine, news that they might not choose but which an elite think is good for them. (Hammocking in TV) Those days have gone.
Showed his work in mapping blogs and their relationship to other media and the links between them all. It reveals unexpected concentrations and pockets of interest. His maps show a network structure around what people are doing and talking about online.
He's mapped a number of languages including the Iranian blogosphere - main clusters of interest: poetry, secular - expat reformists/ conservative-religious. Most Iranian blogs are visible in spite of the authorities blocking some.
Ethan took better notes:
His analysis shows that different types of media have different attention patterns: mainstream news stories tend to peak very quickly, while wikipedia articles are linked over very long periods of time. YouTube videos tend to peak as quickly as mainstream media, with a small exception for videos that truly go viral. Kelly believes it may be more common for videos to be put on YouTube by people attempting to set agendas in mainstream media - they seed YouTube, then point to it as a way of arguing that “the bloggers are talking about a story”, even though they’ve planted the story.