musings of a mediabot

Posts Tagged ‘conversation

I am not a fan of trends.  If I were, what would happen if I were to miss the memo that metallic snakeskin and excessive cleavage was no longer in?  Bad news, I tell ‘ya.

Some trends are worth a nod, and for the business moguls, it can mean millions of dollars in profit.  This is good for corporations and various business entities.  When are trends good for the average Joe?

Robert Scoble and Shel Israel are adamant that the online explosion of blogging is a trend worth celebrating, particularly for business reasons.  The basic message of their book Naked Conversations is You, whoever you are.  Do Not Miss the Blogging Train.  Get on board; start writing; start exchanging stories.

Scoble and Israel challenge the idea that a formal marketing/public relations department can positively promote, disseminate information, and maintain a top-of-mind presence about a featured product or service from Company X on a consistent basis.  Instead, they argue that members of the bloggers can.   A simple exchange of dialogue can do more for a product than mistargeted direct-mail pieces or one-time ad placements in a local newspaper.   It can create buzz, start an unstoppable wave of conversation that reaches a tipping point, and make Company X the topic of the day at the water cooler.  The key is that the buzz is born from blogging.

I am not anti-blog.  I agree that the power of blogs to connect people, to strengthen relationships between consumer and company, to strip CEOs of false authority and have them talk to their customers in pajamas (and let’s not forget the dramatic potential it has for opening doorways of communication in international spheres that we would otherwise have no entry) is something to treasure and to make the most positive of changes with its use. 

When blogs serve their purpose, and stir conversation about topics like Sarah Palin’s apocalyptic worldview, then I’m all for them.  This is why we should blog about what we see or read, and start important conversations. 

My concern for Scoble and Israel’s taking the bullhorn and advising companies to blog is that it sounds like they’re pumping steroids into the art.  If every single company were to start their own blog, wouldn’t they just get lost in the already cluttered Internet?  True, there are tools we use to filter through the dense digital information highway, such as RSS, but I’m not the only one to question the authors’ overzealous love of the online pastime.

If we’re blogging simply because we have “tool lust,” penned by Yossi Vardi, then we’re no more than following a trend.  But, if we’re blogging to contribute something worthwhile, then the trend is necessary for our survival.  Yes, survival.  What are we as people if we do not communicate and that communication does not enhance our lives?

The question is What is worthwhile?  For me, some days this works.

Someone has been picking up my haggard criticisms of the Internet and technological gizmos that keep us connected to others even if we don’t want to be.  Am I really wrong for being suspicious of the possibility that giving people more freedom will reap digital unicorns and rainbows (and maybe, just maybe, actual news I care about?), and not this crap?

Gillmor takes the hopeful stand that “the audience will make the decisions,” and that online media sources will be the cornerstone of our daily news-getting because the audience demands it.  How?  By reading, listening, and watching it, by posting comments about it, by writing their own blog posts about it. 

Gillmor concludes that we make our own news.  Sometimes, we do it consciously.  Sometimes, we do it without knowing we’re doing it, and then have to face the consequences.   Sometimes, it’s not really news at all, but important to Mom and Aunt Sally, and dammit still news because we deem it so.   So, what makes news newsworthy?  Does it even matter anymore? 

The Internet-loving people are taking over web caverns by storm and news is now whatever the hell we want it to be. Some of us still read newspapers (What are they? you ask), or piece together what’s going on in the world by scanning headlines of the Express. Some of us even find out about serious happenings such as the presidential debate by reading our friends’ Facebook comments.

I am all for unity and for people from around the world to participate in a conversation. But, if the conversation is considered newsworthy, I want it to be important and to affect more than a handful of people who have time to banter back and forth about whether or not the iPhone is better than Google’s Android. Ok, maybe more than a handful of people are interested, but still…What happened to critical thinking?

To answer such questions as:

  • What is the role of journalism with all of the changes in the digital media landscape?
  • Who is the reporter when anyone can make news on the Internet?

I offer one direct and simple answer.

To the journalists: Don’t stop working your asses off to help us be informed citizens. Don’t stop engaging us and making us think.

To the readers: Keep reading what the journalists say. Read a lot and from different sources. Read, period. Think.

So do I think the definition of audience and reporter should be considered one and the same?  No way.