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We Media Remixed

By kpaul in Media
Wed Jun 01, 2005 at 07:56:56 PM EST
Tags: Books (all tags)

This is a review of Chris Willis and Shayne Bowman's great online book 'We Media.' An earlier version was published here. In this piece, I use the terms participatory journalism, grassroots journalism, citizens journalism to all describe basically the same thing - journalism as conversation, or what Dan Gillmor has called the read-write web.

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Chapter 1: Introduction to participatory journalism

Willis and Bowman start with the beginnings of personalization online. While companies were at one time hesitant and worried about allowing readers to choose what news they were interested in, a lot of the big players now let readers customize their information experience, at least online. Is personalization, though, the be all and end all for participatory journalism? Watts Wacker says no when it comes to making consumer decisions. Will people wanting more 'perspective' also apply those feelings to the news/information world? Wacker says to find out you must find the people who use future news today - that is, the early adopters.

Willis and Bowman go on to bring up OhMyNews. (On a side note, it's interesting that OhMyNews is not only still around, it's making money.) They wonder if "The Daily Me" is being replaced by "The Daily We." For perhaps the first time in journalism's history, not only is it threatened by competitors and new technology, but readers are also a new force to be reckoned with, a new part of the equation.

Next is the rise in power of weblogs. They say blogs are the most visible form of citizens, the readers, getting into the information game. As the technological requirements for blogging are lowered, more people are doing it. They also note that blogs (often) attract very focused niche audiences (Jay Small has some thoughts on this.)

Blogs aren't the only way citizens are taking an active interest in journalism, though, as witnessed by increased activity in forums, newsgroups and chatrooms. Willis and Bowman define participatory journalism as:

The act of a citizen, or group of citizens, playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information. The intent of this participation is to provide independent, reliable, accurate, wide-ranging and relevant information that a democracy requires.

Participatory journalism is a bottom-up, emergent phenomenon in which there is little or no editorial oversight or formal journalistic workflow dictating the decisions of a staff. Instead, it is the result of many simultaneous, distributed conversations that either blossom or quickly atrophy in the Web's social network.

See Graphic for bottom-up news...

The authors mention that the idea of inviting readers to participate isn't new - that in the early 90s, the whole civic journalism meme was very popular. According to a report by Pew, "at least 20 percent of the 1,500 daily U.S. newspapers practiced some form of civic journalism between 1994 and 2001. Nearly all said it had a positive effect on the community."

While civic journalism is similar to participatory journalism, it still relies heavily on the idea that journalists should have the most control over the content and process, that they're the most integral part of the equation. Even so, most modern ideas of participatory journalism strive to take the best from civic journalism. Namely, the idea that a conversation between readers and journalists is important.

From the report:

...each time there has been a period of significant, social, economic and technological change, a transformation in news occurred. This happened in the 1830s-40s with the advent of the telegraph; the 1880s with a drop in paper prices and a wave of immigration; the 1920s with radio and the rise of gossip and celebrity culture; the 1950s at the onset of the Cold War and television.

The arrival of cable, followed by the Internet and mobile technologies, has brought the latest upheaval in news. And this time, the change in news may be even more dramatic. Kovach and Rosenstiel explain, "For the first time in our history, the news increasingly is produced by companies outside journalism, and this new economic organization is important. We are facing the possibility that independent news will be replaced by self-interested commercialism posing as news."

Whatever started it, Journalism is at a crossroads. I've said it before and I'll say it again - it's an exciting time to be a journalist, no matter which side of the battlefield you're on.

Willis and Bowman then go into the definitions of journalist. They talk about the revulsion on both sides of the fence - of MSM journalists for bloggers and that of bloggers for mainstream media. One interesting point they bring up about bloggers is that editorial judgement happens after the fact, not before. Is that necessarily a bad thing?

See Graphic on newsfiltering and fact checking in the new media ecosystem...

Additional Reading:

  • Being Digital ( Nicholas Negroponte, 1995)
  • The Promise of the Daily Me (JD Lasica, OJR, 4/2/2002)
  • The Deviant's Advantage: How Fringe Ideas Create Mass Markets (Watts Wacker, 2002)
  • Citizen Reporters Make the News - ( Leander Kahney at Wired, 2003)
  • The Elements of Journalism : What Newspeople Should Know and The Public Should Expect (Bill Kovach and Tom Rodenstiel 2002)
  • News Values : Ideas for an Information Age - (Jack Fuller, 1997)
  • Journalistic Pivot Points - (Dan Gillmor, 2002)

    Chapter 2: Cultural context - Behind the explosion of participatory media

    When the telegraph was invented, newspapermen of the time saw their eventual doom. It didn't happen, but it's getting closer to a time when 'news' printed on paper is going to be of less value than that delivered by other mediums, specifically the Internet, the combination of the other mediums into one.

    Newspapers in the past have always managed to survive when new technology came along. Unlike the telegraph and other technological inventions, though, the Internet is a bigger force to deal with. It's adapt or die. And so far, traditional media haven't adapted very well. Willis and Bowman say that the Internet will change journalism fundamentally, but they aren't sure how far that change will go.

    In this chapter, they go into social networks, how we as humans communicate. And as I was telling my former journalism prof the other day, the social networks of teenagers today are even stronger because they have so many methods to keep in touch and communicate with their friends.

    They cover a lot of the tremendous growth of the Internet in a mere 10 years, with a brief history of the Internet.

    See Graphic of Internet Backbone traffic growth, 1990 - 2002...

    The authors continue with what they call the post-information age, noting that objectivity may be one casualty as people rely on getting their 'news and information' from people second and third hand. Yes, credibility is still important, but objectivity may not be as important as it once was. Subjectivity will have a role in the new journalism.

    Willis and Bowman wrote:

    In their book Information Rules, Carl Shapiro and Hal R. Varian suggest an altogether new axiom for the news business and its future. "The old industrial economy was driven by economies of scale; the new information economy is driven by the economics of networks."

    Indeed, our traditional notions of economics are being disrupted and transformed by the power of distributed collaboration through our computer networks.


    The network economy and the proliferation of media are presenting a tremendous challenge for mainstream media organizations, such as newspapers, radio and television. Not only will they have to adapt organizationally, and perhaps philosophically, but their products, over time, will be transformed in unexpected and unforeseen ways.

    That's the $64k question - will old media (again) be able to adapt enough to survive in the changing landscape? I'm not so sure. Old media has a great business sense, but all too often the businessmen (suits, beancounters, etc.) are the ones calling the shots. This isn't necessarily a good thing for journalism, especially when the landscape, the battlefield, is evolving as fast as it is.

    Additional Reading:

  • Connection Age - (Groove Networks, 2001)
  • Smart Mobs: Computation Nations and Swarm Supercomputers - (Howard Rheingold, 2002)

    Chapter 3: How participatory journalism is taking form

    Willis and Bowman point out that since the beginning of the Internet, participation has been a large, fundamental component. With that in mind, they take a look at some of the current forms of participatory journalism.

    They talk about discussion groups (one of the oldest forms of online community), user-generated content, weblogs, collaborative publishing, peer-to-peer, and XML syndication. The question of open versus closed then comes up. That is, how much can people contribute. For this, they define it in four different models: open communal, open exclusive, closed and partially closed.

    Personally, I like the first - open communal communities. I see K5 as one of the best examples of this form - proof that it can work. (More on this in another article...)

    Finally, in this chapter they go over the different forms of participation that can happen at sites, including: commentary, filtering and editing, fact-checking, grassroots reporting, annotative reporting, open-source reporting and peer review, audio/video broadcasting, buying, selling and advertising, and knowledge management.

    All of these are important roles citizens can play in any grassroots journalism project. Go read them more in depth.

    Additional Reading:

  • Broadcast Institutions, Community Values - (Clay Shirky, 2002)
  • Community-friendly advertising - (Derek M. Powazek, 2002)
  • Top Ten Trends for Online Communities - (Jim Cashel, 2002)
  • Symbiotic Media - (Glenn Harlan Reynolds, 2002)
  • Puzzling Out Google's Blogger Acquisition - (Chris Sherman, 2003)
  • Here Comes 'We Media' - (Dan Gillmor, 2003)

    Chapter 4: The rules of participation

    Willis and Bowman wrote:

    For media organizations and businesses to understand how to engage their empowered audience, we must consider what motivates the audience to take on their new roles and what kinds of rules yield the most fruitful participation. Finally, we look at reputation systems and the balance of trust that's struck between buyers and sellers or content creators and their online peers.
    This is a very important piece of the puzzle. On the one hand, you want to encourage people to participate. On the other hand, you don't want participation just for participation's sake. That is, you want the citizens to add valuable content.

    So, why do people participate in online communities? (This, again, is a question that has come up again and again recently - how to get people to continue participating...)

    See Graphic of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs in Online Communities...

    Why are citizens motivated to contribute? To gain status or build reputation in a given community; to create connections with others who have similar interests, online and off; sense-making and understanding; to inform and be informed; to entertain and be entertained; to create.

    Willis and Bowman say the first may be the biggest influencer in getting people to participate - ego. That is, knowing that a lot of people look to them as an expert in any one field. The thing with traditional journalists is that while some may have a specialty, most have a very shallow understanding of a lot of various topics. By inviting 'amateurs' into the mix, journalism gains better access to lots of experts that can sound-off on various issues.

    For the second reason, they admit that a lot of information on the internet is junk, so called noise, but people need to understand that what is noise for one person is signal for other people. Grassroots journalism offers the ability for people interested in a niche to reach out and communicate with others that share their interests. This fact alone will get people to contribute.

    As for the third reason - a lot of people see traditional media as so much spin. Sure, they're going to get spin in online communities as well, but it's from their peers rather than people (journalists) who think they're above and better than the common man. People will contribute to help put the pieces of the puzzle together for themselves and, in doing so, they'll be helping other people as well.

    The fifth reason, to entertain and be entertained, shouldn't be taken lightly either. Willis and Bowman wrote:

    According to the authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto, the Web is not a natural vehicle for prepackaged entertainment. "Unlike the lockstep conformity imposed by television, advertising and corporate propaganda, the Net has given new legitimacy -- and freedom -- to play. Many of those drawn into this world find themselves exploring a freedom never before imagined: to indulge their curiosity, to debate, to disagree, to laugh at themselves, to compare visions, to learn, to create new art, new knowledge."

    Online participation is simply fun -- whether a political riff by a deeply committed weblogger, a casual forum discussion, or a one-off album review posted on Amazon. As futurist Paul Saffo notes, "In the end, much of what passes for communications actually has a high entertainment component. The most powerful hybrid of communications and entertainment is 'particitainment' -- entertaining communications that connects us with some larger purpose or enterprise."
    If it's seen as 'fun' and not work, people will voluntarily participate.

    Finally, the simple act of creation is a big part of why people will participate. By creation, one gains self-esteem, which, hopefully, will get people to continue to participate even more.

    The last section of this chapter deals with another big topic - moderation. With anonymity, people tend to 'let loose' and say and type things they'd never say to other people in person or if other people knew their real names. (I believe here we call that the blackboard effect.) In old media models, this wasn't a problem because a system existed where editors, down a chain-of-command, looked over all content that was published. With the changing landscape, though, new rules need to be formed for content that is published.

    This is a real tricky part to Participatory Journalism. In my experience on a newspaper forum, you have to walk a fine line between letting things go and clamping down. If you give the readers too much freedom, they'll abuse it and see how far they can 'take it' before there are any consequences. On the other hand, if you clamp down too tightly, people will be less apt to participate. The magic is in finding a good medium between the two extremes.

    Willis and Bowman go into great detail about different types of policing that happen in online communities. This is probably one of the more important sections of 'We Media.' Instead of dissecting it, though, I'll let you go read what they've come up with. Read it slow. Read it carefully. It's important.

    Additional Reading:

  • Community Building on the Web : Secret Strategies for Successful Online Communities - (Amy Jo Kim, 2000)
  • Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution - (Howard Rheingold, 2002)
  • Virtual Connections: Community Bonding on the Net - (Stuart Golgoff, 2001)
  • Online Communities: Networks that nurture long-distance relationships and local ties - (John Horrigan, 2001)
  • How Weblogs Can Turn an Idea into an Epidemic - (John Hiler, 2002)
  • Unleashing the Idea Virus - (Seth Godin, 2002)
  • Consumers and Interactive New Media: A Hierarchy of Desires - (Paul Saffo, 1992)
  • Reputation Systems: Facilitating Trust in Internet Interactions - (Paul Resnick, Richard Zeckhauser, Eric Friedman and Ko Kuwabara, 2000)

    Chapter 5: Implications for media and journalism

    Lots of good lines in this chapter:

    To say that media will undergo a "paradigm shift" might be an understatement.


    That's a revolution already underway, but it's one that's easy to miss. It's quiet. Revolutions on the Net happen at the edges, not at the center.


    A.J. Liebling once said, "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one." Now, millions do.


    A democratized media challenges the notion of the institutional press as the exclusive, privileged, trusted, informed intermediary of the news.


    In a digital medium, reputations form through a synthesis of consistency, accuracy and frequent comparison by the reader.


    Citizens are also taking up a media watchdog role when it comes to chronicling perceived evidence of the news media's political bias, censorship or reporting inaccuracies.


    The assembly-line nature of broadcast and print media is not well-suited to developing content for smaller, more targeted audiences. Content will likely be published in a more continuous manner by teams or communities acting as an extention of the enterprise. Eventually, licensing and copyright policies will need to be reexamined to come into harmony with a collaborative audience model.


    Arrogance and aloofness are deadly qualities in a collaborative environment. To be successful, reporters will need to be more than skilled writers. They will have to hone their skills in growing communities around specific topics of interest.


    Universities will also need to shape their journalism curricula to help students prepare for working in this new media ecosystem and the fast-changing tools needed. (NOTE: I imagine that the 'top journo schools' of the future will be the ones that take this to heart....)


    Increasingly, audiences are becoming stakeholders in the news process. Rather than passively accepting news coverage decided upon by a handful of editors, they fire off emails, post criticism of perceived editorial shortcomings on weblogs and in forums, and support or fund an independent editorial enterprise.


    Again, though, go read the whole thing. ;)

    Additional Reading:

  • Brain Trust: Mining the Community Mind - (Sylvia Lacock Marino, 2001)
  • Hartford Paper Tells Employee to Kill Blog - (Carl Sullivan, 2003)
  • Kevin Sites and the Blogging Controversy - (Susan Mernit, 2003)
  • RIP THE CONSUMER, 1900-1999 - (Clay Shirky, 2000)
  • The Second Coming of Personalized News - (JD Lasica, 2002)
  • Random acts of journalism - (JD Lasica, 2003)
  • Where Net Luminaries Turn For News - (JD Lasica, 2002)

    Chapter 6: Potential benefits of We Media

    Willis and Bowman say, and I agree, that participatory journalism isn't going away anytime soon. Participation has been part of the 'net for the last 30 years. In this chapter, the authors look at why traditional media companies should embrace the future instead of fighting it.

    For one, communication, starting a conversation with the audience, goes a long way in rebuilding the trust that citizens have in media. And the reasons for building the trust should go far above and beyond just the survival of the company. Participatory journalism gives old media one more chance to re-connect with their audience. I seriously have to wonder if reconnecting (other than with the readers' pocket books) is important to big media, though.

    Willis and Bowman wrote:

    Time magazine media critic James Poniewozik explains how this is possible, when he describes the perception gap between the audience and the media about trust. "Journalists think trust equals accuracy. But it's about much more: passion, genuineness, integrity." Honest conversation and passionate collaboration could instill respect and trust into the relationship between both parties.

    Involving an audience, either small or large, in the creation of content also gives them a sense of ownership -- an affinity with the media brand that they believe they are not getting today -- as well as a more intimate relationship with the storytellers.

    Also, old media wants to know how to reach the younger market - the elusive 18-34 year olds? Well, participation is the key.

    "Kids today expect to interact with their media," according to Steve Outing, a senior editor at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, and an interactive media columnist for Editor & Publisher Online. "From playing interactive online games, to using instant messenger (IM) services to communicate with friends, to interacting with their television (by having control over when programs are watched, and skipping commercials with devices like TiVo and ReplayTV), today's kids expect their media to offer a two-way street of communication."

    "A safe assumption is that when today's children and teenagers reach adulthood, they'll not be tolerant of media that's one-way, that's not interactive. They expect to be able to manipulate media content, and to share it with others. The one-way conversation of a printed newspaper won't do -- thus print's prospects for the young digital generation are not promising. Newspaper Web sites and other newspaper digital media formats likewise cannot afford to perpetuate the one-way model. They've got to become more interactive."

    I couldn't agree with this more. I mean, how can you fail to realize that if you look at how teenagers communicate these days?

    Again from 'We Media':

    Traditionally, media companies have viewed the concept of online community no differently than a section of a newspaper ( la Letters to the Editor) or a segment of a newscast. It is something that has been segregated from the news -- a closed-off annex where readers can talk and discuss, as long as the media companies don't have to be too involved. Such an architected virtual space is not a true online community. Real communities have leaders, moderators and involved participants who care about their space.

    Participatory journalism helps develop real community around reporters, stories, and the media company's brand experience. With a weblog, for example, a reporter has a place to extend reporting, interact with readers, exercise personal conscience, and share some level of personality that might be absent from his "unbiased" reports. These are elements that attract real community.

    This is a big problem that I've seen first hand. There's no money in 'forums and communities' so very little (if any) resources are given to those areas. And yet, ironically, community is the future - without community, media companies will find it difficult to survive in the changing media landscape.

    Additional Reading:

  • The media titans still don't get it - (Scott Rosenberg, 2002)
  • Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory of the Web - (David Weinberger, 2003)
  • Amazoning The News - (Ellen Kampinsky, Shayne Bowman, Chris Willis, 2001)
  • Newspapers: Don't Blow It Again - (Steve Outing, 2002)
  • Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means - (Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, 2003)

    Well, there you have it, my quick overview of Willis and Bowman's great work on participatory journalism. You really should go and read the entire thing on your own, especially if you care, at all, about the future of news. Journalism as conversation is the future. Adapt or die.

    And, yes, the revolution will be blogged...

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    Related Links
    o Google
    o We Media
    o here
    o read-write web
    o OhMyNews
    o Jay Small has some thoughts
    o Graphic for bottom-up news
    o civic journalism
    o report by Pew
    o Graphic on newsfiltering and fact checking in the new media ecosystem
    o Being Digital
    o The Promise of the Daily Me
    o The Deviant's Advantage: How Fringe Ideas Create Mass Markets
    o Citizen Reporters Make the News
    o The Elements of Journalism : What Newspeople Should Know and The Public Should Expect
    o News Values : Ideas for an Information Age
    o Journalist ic Pivot Points
    o Graphic of Internet Backbone traffic growth, 1990 - 2002
    o Informatio n Rules
    o Connection Age
    o Smart Mobs: Computation Nations and Swarm Supercomputers
    o K5
    o Broadcast Institutions, Community Values
    o Community- friendly advertising
    o Top Ten Trends for Online Communities
    o Symbiotic Media
    o Puzzling Out Google's Blogger Acquisition
    o Here Comes 'We Media'
    o Graphic of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs in Online Communities
    o The Cluetrain Manifesto
    o blackboard effect
    o newspaper forum
    o Community Building on the Web : Secret Strategies for Successful Online Communities
    o Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution
    o Virtual Connections: Community Bonding on the Net
    o Online Communities: Networks that nurture long-distance relationships and local ties
    o How Weblogs Can Turn an Idea into an Epidemic
    o Unleashing the Idea Virus
    o Consumers and Interactive New Media: A Hierarchy of Desires
    o Reputation Systems: Facilitating Trust in Internet Interactions
    o Brain Trust: Mining the Community Mind
    o Hartford Paper Tells Employee to Kill Blog
    o Kevin Sites and the Blogging Controversy
    o RIP THE CONSUMER, 1900-1999
    o The Second Coming of Personalized News
    o Random acts of journalism
    o Where Net Luminaries Turn For News
    o The media titans still don't get it
    o Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory of the Web
    o Amazoning The News
    o Newspapers : Don't Blow It Again
    o Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means
    o Also by kpaul

    Display: Sort:
    We Media Remixed | 41 comments (24 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
    Don't remind me of WE Media (none / 1) (#4)
    by NaCh0 on Tue May 31, 2005 at 06:27:38 AM EST

    I saw the WE TV channel. It was awful. Who's the genius who ordered 24/7 Murder She Wrote marathons?

    K5: Your daily dose of socialism.
    i think you're thinking of another 'we media' (none / 0) (#20)
    by kpaul on Wed Jun 01, 2005 at 11:53:15 PM EST

    but you knew that, didn't you? ;)

    2014 Halloween Costumes
    [ Parent ]

    www.we.tv ;) -nt (none / 0) (#21)
    by NaCh0 on Thu Jun 02, 2005 at 12:10:27 AM EST

    K5: Your daily dose of socialism.
    [ Parent ]
    oui? ;) /nt (none / 0) (#22)
    by kpaul on Thu Jun 02, 2005 at 01:17:35 AM EST

    2014 Halloween Costumes
    [ Parent ]
    good stuff (none / 1) (#6)
    by dke on Tue May 31, 2005 at 08:19:39 AM EST

    read it, liked it.. though the numerous links were a hell to chew thru ;-)
    Nothing is ever easy
    What's Missing (3.00 / 3) (#23)
    by bobej on Thu Jun 02, 2005 at 09:24:49 AM EST

    The problem with both mainstream media and bloggers is that it's way to easy to find some commentator or blogger who fits your slanted worldview and regurgitate your own tired sylogisms back at you all day long. People like blogs cause they like themselves.

    What's really needed here is a framework for fitting together all these differing opinions into something that isn't overwhelming (forcing everyone to read everything) and doesn't fall into the "loudest argument wins" trap. Maybe a universal karma system for journalists.

    do you do that? (none / 0) (#24)
    by MikeWarren on Thu Jun 02, 2005 at 06:44:45 PM EST

    Do you personally seek out and exclusively read blogs, etc. which match your own worldview?
    -- mike warren
    [ Parent ]
    not sure if he'll come back, but personally, (3.00 / 2) (#32)
    by kpaul on Fri Jun 03, 2005 at 01:39:52 AM EST

    i don't. i like to read both sides. i usually find the truth resides somewhere in between both extreme view points.

    i guess, though, that you need a really good editor/gatekeeper to get a good mix, though - one of the lessons new media can learn from old media models...

    2014 Halloween Costumes
    [ Parent ]

    Not On Purpose... (none / 0) (#33)
    by bobej on Fri Jun 03, 2005 at 02:44:31 AM EST

    Not particularly, but it's easy to start watching, listening or reading a particular commentator, and most often these are merely reflections of your views rather than an expansion of your horizons. How many dems do you know that regularly tune into Rush Limbaugh, or how many reps tune into MoveOn.org?

    [ Parent ]
    As a hardcore Republican (none / 1) (#36)
    by LilDebbie on Fri Jun 03, 2005 at 12:22:30 PM EST

    I never watch Fox News or read conservative opinion papers (well, except for the Economist, but they're just so damn funny). That is, I have a big enough penis that I don't need my views constantly validated.

    Instead, I read the diehard local leftist rags in a desperate attempt to understand the opposing mindset. It is difficult.

    My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
    - hugin -

    [ Parent ]
    Culture reinforces the trap.. (none / 1) (#25)
    by vhold on Thu Jun 02, 2005 at 10:33:15 PM EST

    I don't know if there is any way to get around that trap without some kind of cultural shift.

    I wouldn't even call it the 'loudest argument wins', it is something more along the lines of.. 'the quipster wins'.  Whoever can take their viewpoint and turn it into the shortest and most quotable nugget will prevail in the culture of short attention spans and passive viewing.

    The most amazing thing to me in this context are the concepts behind the applause and laughter tracks.  Think about how long ago we figured this out.  You are watching something that is supposed to be funny..  Sometimes the funny is clever.. and often.. people don't quite catch the quick humor.. solution?  Laugh track.  The laughter cues the brain to think.. wait.. was something funny?  Thinks back... oooooh thaaat..  oh yea.. I guess that was funny.. HA. HA. HA.

    Well, we now basically have the applause track at the political level.  Oh.. wait.. he said something people like? what was that? oh.. I get it.. yea.. right on brother!

    How can we escape that effect?

    Allow me to say something very cheesy..  but I think satire is the closest we have come as a way to make people aware of this.  I hold the Simpsons in fairly high regard because of this.. they've made fun of all these concepts.. but.. maybe all those jokes totally go right over the heads of the people I wish could see the situation.. because the Simpsons doesnt use laugh tracks..

    [ Parent ]

    i like the shows without laughtracks more. also, (none / 1) (#27)
    by kpaul on Thu Jun 02, 2005 at 10:40:45 PM EST

    jon stewart is a great source of news, imho, even though it's slanted a little to the left perhaps.

    with the internet, though, we should be able to have a lot more than we're getting now for news...

    2014 Halloween Costumes
    [ Parent ]

    TV is to laughtrack as internet is to .... (none / 0) (#28)
    by vhold on Thu Jun 02, 2005 at 10:50:05 PM EST

    ... ??

    Comments and voting systems, as far as I can tell.

    Not many people are willing to take a stand against a majority commenting against them.  It's an extremely difficult endeavour because your opponents seem to exponentially grow and as you become unable to dedicate time to each and every one, they all consider themselves the victor.  I think this leads quite a few people back into sites that are more along their own lines so that they can be part of the cheer squad, the 'winning team', so to speak.

    [ Parent ]

    that doesn't really work, though... (none / 1) (#29)
    by kpaul on Thu Jun 02, 2005 at 11:36:27 PM EST

    people can't vote on a laughtrack being played or not. it's one or two people (a few at most - most likely the writers) plugging it into the show.

    as for being on the 'winning team' it's unfortunate but cliques do form. i wonder if some sort of anonymous voting/moderation system would work better?

    2014 Halloween Costumes
    [ Parent ]

    People want the attention... (none / 1) (#30)
    by vhold on Fri Jun 03, 2005 at 12:17:55 AM EST

    Basically I think the reason a totally anonymous system wouldn't get far is because people really like the idea of having their homies (so to speak) behind them...

    Like I was saying earlier, it may be an entirely cultural concept.  People don't seem to be as nearly as interested in exposing their opponents to new ideas as they are to having the largest number of people agree with them.

    That's kind of why I responded to the original poster, I question the idea of a technological solution, when the real problem could be a fundamentally social one.  We're not nearly as interested in changing other peoples' minds as we are in having people say we are right.

    Then again.. at the same time, I did propose the origin of the problem to be somewhat technological in nature.. So.. hmm..

    Even if you did make a technological solution, it's nothing unless people use it, and as long as they have their cheer squad somewhere else, what is going to draw them away from that?

    Fundamentally we need to gain the value of seeing things from other peoples' perspectives.  When you are arguing with somebody and you think they are totally wrong, how often do you just stop and say to yourself ".... wait.. what if they are right? They obviously think they are right, why is that?"

    How do you shift people into -that- ?  

    I can't claim that I always do that 100% of the time, but I'll definitely say that it is an advantage to be able to do that.  If I had to explain where I got that from, I'd say it was from being really good friends with people I don't often agree with.  My best friends growing up were those that I could get in the most bitter arguments with but afterwards we'd still be good friends, because we knew we had each others' backs, even if we didn't see things the same way.  I really don't think you can get through the computer or television, you have to experience some real shit with other people to get that sort of connection.

    Maybe the real problem is that we shelter kids so much that they don't experience those sorts of profound moments that transcend logic and allow us to still get along even though we would otherwise hate each other according to our differences?

    And then.. with all of that.. when you argue with people without your pride attached, and you suddenly realize you are wrong, it is an awesome feeling, not a humiliating one of defeat, unless the other person totally lacks humility or compassion.  These human virtues, they still exist, but perhaps at a large scale they don't?

    [ Parent ]

    human virtues on a large scale - (none / 1) (#31)
    by kpaul on Fri Jun 03, 2005 at 01:37:30 AM EST

    probably not.

    and yes, i think it has to be a social change rather than a technological solution. the problem with technological solutions is that no matter how complex they are, they're gonna get gamed eventually. i mean, look at Google's algorythm...

    maybe the problem is in (like you said) internet communication not being 'real' in the sense that it doesn't allow for physical connections between people.

    the other day for example, with the whole spammer fiasco. i eventually realized that yeah, it was kinda hypocritical for me to have blatant 'begging links' in my sig. i think i admitted as much in a comment here or there, but the other person continued to tear into me. although, i think that was more about him not being serious about his accusation - merely trolling for a reaction.

    so, i guess the question is, could you construct a community with enough of 'those types' of people so that others could be taught the value of that type of behavior in an online community?

    2014 Halloween Costumes
    [ Parent ]

    Annonymity != Disreputability (none / 0) (#35)
    by bobej on Fri Jun 03, 2005 at 03:13:07 AM EST

    I think annonymity is fine, it's just that a side effect of being faceless is it makes it difficult to build a reputation, which I feel is really the key aspect to whether a journalist is core or not. I imagine it wouldn't be very hard to find the users on this website that are worth listening to based on their reputation, even thought they are for all intents and purposes annonymous.

    If a scientist wants to check on the reputability of a paper he/she comes across, what do they do? They check the published literature, find other examples of the author's work. What if you could click on my name here on Kuro5hin and get a summary of my karma at /., a list of all the forum posts I've made, articles, books, etc.? Add to that some kind of review system, and I think you've made a fine start.

    Such a system would need mainstream approval. (Think CNN editorial staff using it to background check contributors.) And if it could make that leap, then I don't see any reason why people would avoid it. Indeed, it might even become the case that people that don't use it are judged as disreputable out of hand.

    [ Parent ]

    The Opposite of Annonymity (none / 1) (#34)
    by bobej on Fri Jun 03, 2005 at 02:58:11 AM EST

    I think what's needed is the opposite of annonymity, something quite hard to enforce on the Internet. Imagine a website where people could establish an Internet persona that would cross-index all their articles, posts on forums, blogs, news sites like Kuro5hin, even emails. People could leave comments about these identities, pick favorites, rate, discuss them or whatever.

    The trap with something like that would be falling into a situation where people just rate up people they agree with, rather than those that have integrity. Anyone have any thoughts in that line?

    Your problem domain really is: What makes a journalist a good journalist? Honesty? Fairness? And how do you keep people accountable to that standard?

    It works in mass media because they're all watching each other's backs and if someone skirts the line (think Dan Rather) or crosses it, they are punished by being effectively blacklisted.

    I think the solution for the internet has to involve creating accountability and, if possible, create a way to empiricly judge intangibles like credibility and balance.

    [ Parent ]

    maybe something like the amazon recommends (none / 1) (#26)
    by kpaul on Thu Jun 02, 2005 at 10:39:03 PM EST

    system for news?

    also, i remember the BBC experimenting with a 'smart' homepage a year or so ago. they tracked what sort of stories you read and the homepage would change, highlighting what the algorhythm (SP) thought you'd be interested in.

    what i really want to see if a mainstream K5 where the readers get to vote on the news. can you imagine journalists having to wade through the queue rather than just satisfying one or two editors?

    2014 Halloween Costumes
    [ Parent ]

    you'd get Michael Jackson news 24/7 (none / 0) (#37)
    by Delirium on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 03:14:52 AM EST

    Average people are interested in inane crap, which is why the news these days is Michael Jackson, kidnappings, runaway brides, and so on.

    [ Parent ]
    i'm not sure that's true if they were given a (none / 0) (#38)
    by kpaul on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 12:07:02 PM EST

    choice. currently, though, they're not given a choice. media companies/journalists have somehow gotten the notion that they know what's best for the public. so, instead of finding out what the community wants to know about and reporting on it, they try to set the agenda.

    participatory journalism is gonna change that, though, by starting up a conversation with the readers, imho...

    2014 Halloween Costumes
    [ Parent ]

    they do seem to get a choice (none / 0) (#39)
    by Delirium on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 02:50:56 PM EST

    There are a number of magazines and newspapers people can subscribe to. For example, in the UK, you have magazines ranging from serious quality ones, like The Economist, to tabloid rags, like The Sun. Unsurprisingly, the latter sells far more copies.

    [ Parent ]
    i guess so, for print. (none / 0) (#40)
    by kpaul on Wed Jun 08, 2005 at 03:36:04 PM EST

    here in USia, for TV news we have NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, which is great, then on the other side tripe like CNN and Fox, etc.

    good points, though...

    2014 Halloween Costumes
    [ Parent ]

    A mainstream K5 (none / 0) (#41)
    by Drog on Fri Jun 10, 2005 at 11:57:48 AM EST

    what i really want to see is a mainstream K5 where the readers get to vote on the news.

    That's what I've tried to build with my site. It uses Scoop so anyone can contribute stories, which are usually timely news stories, and vote on them. The idea is that every day, there are enough interesting things happening in the world to generate a great discussion or debate.

    Looking for political forums? Check out "The World Forum". News feed available here on K5.
    [ Parent ]

    We Media Remixed | 41 comments (24 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
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