16
Feb
11

There’s a little leak in all of us

Ever since blogging became a large enough phenomenon that such new words as ‘blogosphere’ and ‘blogroll’ and, well, ‘blog’ became widely accepted nouns, ‘news’ and ‘journalism’ and, obviously, ‘publishing’ were nevermore the sole property of established news agencies. In small but myriad ways, the nature of internet-based newscasting, journalism and marketing has changed. With the dawn of blogging communities – Blogger, WordPress, LiveJournal, etc – people’s personal musings were less personal than in the era of mere personal web sites. And these days it’s already stereotypical of an affronted customer to yell, as he storms out, ”You will be sorry! I will write about this on my blog!”

publicise (Br.) / publicize (Am.)
1844
: to bring to the attention of the public : advertise

In the beginning – as I remember it – web logs started out as public diaries, people writing mostly about their daily lives and thoughts, but it wasn’t too long for topical blogs to start emerging. From thereon, it was a small step for the first book rights to a blog or a blogger. Traditional media tried to fight the phenomena, calling for unbiased reporting and professionalism of journalism (a rather feeble argument in the face of today’s Fox News, don’t you think?), but before end, blogging found its niche. People did not stop reading the news, and, I believe, most people can differentiate between a rumour in a blog and an actual verifiable investigation or research. Traditional news agencies have blogs of their own and they encourage people to write about their experiences – in other words, blogging found comfortable surroundings where everybody wins. Personal ‘diaries’ didn’t go away, and, to the relief of traditional media, the newsworthiness of blogs is much diluted by their sheer numbers.

The line between a professional journalist and an innocent bystander has been further blurred by the onset of social media (another new and already accepted term) such as Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, et cetera, where the ‘news’ have been condensed to a sentence or two. No more is publication limited to sitting at your desk, either – it’s equally easy to pick up your phone and log your message to your chosen media. Different medias now also speak to each other: post to Twitter and you can get it to appear simultaneously on almost any number of other networks.

And, since you are reading this blog, it’s likely that the short history above is all very familiar to you.

Today, I came across (through a link shared on my Facebook) a tool called Scoopshot, where you can send a photo directly from your smartphone to a site where newscasters can buy it for the price you set. It suddenly reminded me of Agents in the Matrix films: suddenly, we’re all potential journalists and ‘mini’leaks.

Big Brothers want to indict Julian Assange of Wikileaks for – actually, what for? For making unjust, unclean or simply corrupt actions of politicians – who are supposed to work for the people – public knowledge. I am for Assange and for increased transparency of politics. Many (if not most) politicians seem to think that the power is theirs by right, and the definition of good and bad is theirs to make. A lot of them seem to have forgotten the meaning of democracy and the fact that they have been elected by people to represent their best interests. If the voting majority doesn’t know what the elected politicians judge to be their best interest, democracy as we have today becomes nothing but a farce.

Power is where the money is.

So here we have, on one hand, the Big Brothers, who want to keep running the world according to their own and long-established rules; in countries which operate to so-called Western principles, they strive to keep the free market afloat; decisions are being made based on where the money is – don’t let me get started on this – and one of the great and mostly untapped resources is the social media. It didn’t take long after the Blairwitch Project for corporations with lots of money to realise the potential of getting consumers to market their products for them – for free – and it didn’t take long for social media to be harvested for market research to enable more customised marketing.

There’s a picture floating around the internet, which is made of tubes, Wikileaks vs Facebook:

Which says it all, really. So, kind of like the US training Afghani troops and supporting the Taliban government, the politics of ”free market” are now supporting the growth of social media, which has the potential of becoming the new Source Of All Evil.

If I wanted to be paranoid (and it’s, oh, so easy!) I would say that according to what can be learned from history, we, the consumers, are being immersed in the instant availability of media and information, and trained to use it with the carrot of instant reward (another pet peeve of mine, but for another time…). I’m half expecting there to be a real or generated ‘act of terrorism’ (as Wikileaks’ actions are trying to be defined as), which will in turn justify the Minileaks in all of us being turned into Agents. So people are turning against the idea of being tagged with RFID chips? Let’s sell them mobile phones instead…

It’s a good thing I can have an argument all by myself, because this is not where this blog post was supposed to end up at!

My point is this: I want people to realise – even further! – that social media is a right, and it’s our right. One pen is not mightier than the sword. But dude. Take the pens of a bunch of Egyptians (to use a random example), and check back. If knowledge is power, then transparency increases democracy.

My point is this: I advocate people to be educated in critical media literacy. Most kids are already learning this as they grow up, but I think media literacy should be added to general curriculum since elementary school.

I love my gadgets. I lust for the latest Android phones as much as anyone, I’m willing to admit I need to control my amount on Facebook and I’m absolutely addicted to Google, Wikipedia and other forms of instant availability of information (useful or not). I’m not preaching for the good old days where we knew what we knew and we knew it was good. My point is… my point… Yes. My point. My point is this: I want people to stop and think why capitalist politics want to convince us that anything stemming from the word ”social” is bad. So, I’ll part with three more clichés: If ”knowledge is power”, then ”with great power comes great responsibility” but also ”power corrupts”; therefore, the power we have to collect and share knowledge, isn’t it our responsibility to keep doing so and make sure the knowledge doesn’t get to consolidate into one place long enough to corrupt?

Ha. That’ll be the day.

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