20 April 2006

Do not be too afraid of the coming age of mass participation [The Economist]

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The coming age of mass participation
The era of mass media is giving way to one of personal and participatory media, says Andreas Kluth. That will profoundly change both the media industry and society as a whole.

The Economist this week contains a special survey on new media. In an editorial, it phrases the central issue:

“Mass media used to be one-way traffic from media to audiences. Readers, listeners and viewers, as a murmur besides the pontification of professionals, were consigned to call-in shows and the letters pages.”

“The shift to an era of participation challenges this. The infrastructure for delivering media content—the internet—is fast becoming ubiquitous. Ordinary people are creating their own blogs, wikis and podcasts, because it costs almost nothing to do so. […] Since the audience is made up of people who are themselves sounding off, new media are more of a hubbub than a homily. […] “

“The ease with which the internet spreads wrong-headedness—to say nothing of lies and slander—is offset by the ease with which it spreads insights and ideas. To regret the glorious fecundity of new media is to choose the hushed reverence of the cathedral over the din of the bazaar.”

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Read background story (links to special survey on the right)

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