Posted by: lunacouture | February 2, 2008

(Jan. 30-Feb. 5)- A Changing World

The readings for this week were particularly interesting for someone like me who knew very little about blogs. Blogs have brought about a new reality that has already begun to change the world we live in.  This week I was also introduced to Webb Alert for the first time. I had no idea that it was an individual production that was broadcasted informally everyday. Not only is it a brilliant idea, but I find it so incredibly useful for keeping up to date with what goes on in the media realm. What a great initiative! 

Getting into discussing the readings, We the Media by Dan Gillmor paints a clear picture of the current issues associated with the diffusion of communications. The author explains that there is a rapidly emerging digital world that too many people are still unaware of. He explains that people would be savvy to get educated in this topic, and take advantage of the new opportunities available to them. One of the most important points Gillmor makes is that many people refuse to acknowledge the new media world, and articulate their opinions. 

 In the first chapters of his book, Gillmor highlights the important contributions made by Tim Berners-Lee that revolutionized the way the internet worked, through his invention of the World Wide Web and HTML documents. I found it particularly fascinating that this man chose NOT to copyright his invention. In one of my other classes, we just had a big discussion this week about the importance of copyrights and how much gray area there is with regards to the internet legal issues.  Many agreed that although it is important to preserve the integrity of intellectual property rights, taking it to the extreme can also inhibit creative advancement.  I found the buzzmachine.com blog assigned for this week to be particular relevant. Professor Rosenberg had some excellent advice for avoiding potential legal issues, and delivered the tips in a manner that is very clever. By drawing out a quick list of 10 important items, he makes the communication effective for his readers.  

Another important point made by Gillmor was the preoccupation of journalists with being replaced.  I’m sure Gillmor would tend to agree with me that the best way to approach this problem is by acknowledging that there are now other writers out there (professional or not).  Rather than fighting the trend, it would be more productive for journalists to use it to their advantage. Many have already begun to do this by accepting feedback from the public.  I was amazed upon having discovered cyberjournalist.net. The site gives a comprehensive listing of journalist blogs, as well as wiki formats of the blogs to enable citizen feedback. I encourage you to visit the blog, if you haven’t already (www.cyberjournalist.net) or (http://wiki.cyberjournalist.net/jblogs) because it is truly overwhelming.  The section published by independent journalists is particularly interesting and diverse. You can find blogs from independent journalists all over the world.  

Photojournalism is obviously at risk also, with all the images that can easily be uploaded from phones to the web within seconds.  People will always be willing to pay money for a good picture, but having a good photo is not necessarily the aim anymore.  People want to diffuse important messages to the largest number of people in the shortest possible time.  I would guess that posting pictures on the web in an informal manner is also more cost effective, which surely contributes to the decline of photojournalism.   

Gillmor also explains how government and policy makers are now using blogs to better determine what people want.  Blogs are a good way to hear honest views from citizens.  Gillmor emphasizes that one of the most important factors people often tend to forget is the importance of LISTENING! I don’t think this can be emphasized enough.  It is by listening to others and accepting constructive feedback that we maximize our potential. 

The chapter “Essential Blogging” Doctorow et al. takes a more light hearted approach to blogging. Their chapter conveyed the image of a virtual world in which there are no rules, other than the ones that the individual creates. The authors state that everyone has a slightly different definition as to what constitutes news. They also point out the importance of copyright issues when posting items such as pictures or photographs that are not your original images.  This goes back to the whole discussion on new media and intellectual property rights issues mentioned above.   

Both authors make valid points.  I feel Gillmor is trying to point out a more realistic view, while Doctorow et al. writes on blogging issues that may be more self-evident. The utility of a blog also depends on what type of information you are blogging on.  For instance, the “Essential Blogging” chapter mentions posting personal information on a blog. While this may be read by millions of people because humans are naturally inclined to curiosity, I don’t think it provides valid insight to others. Gillmor proposes a more innovative, scary approach, attempting to open people’s eyes to the new media world.  He suggests that whether you like or not, you’d better learn about it because it’s coming!  

There are those that highly oppose blogs and by consequence the diffusion of new media. As I was searching for blogs via google, I came across this message on the following link http://google.blogspace.com/archives/000914.html by a columnist who clearly feels blogging is a waste of time. This goes against some of the ideals of digital advancement underlined by Gillmor in his book.  

Having discussed my new awareness on blogs, I am also starting to consider the flip side of the coin.  I predict that the emergence of blogs will cause unprecedented competition between people entering the workforce. Although this is not the case now and won’t probably be for a long time, I can foresee blogs becoming more important when considering people’s professional profiles.  May be I’m getting carried away, but I have a feeling that being a good blogger will have an impact on providing employment opportunities in the near future.  

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