We Media Conference – interesting things

There's some interesting things going on for the next few days I think in London at the BBC studios – the We Media Conference.

The BBC is heavily involved, as is The Guardian, Reuters and assorted others. Speakers come from Google, Technorati, Global Voice, Qualcomm etc etc. I note also that Nitin Desai will be there. And it's lovely to see that Graham Holliday is there, also applying his unique Noodlepie food-seeking talents to London.

In fact, I should be there but I'm not. But there is an interesting video stream [link updated] that the BBC is running that is a great indication of the future of TV on the Internet. It is being run professionally – just as the BBC runs any live programme. There's no way this conference would be worth sticking on a main channel, its appeal is too small, but thanks to the BBC's refreshing online philosophy you can effectively view a We Media Conference TV channel for while the conference is going on. The BBC's webpage for the conference is here.

Or you could… as I type this, the connection has dropped. I don't know whether that's me at my end of the BBC at its end.

Somewhat disappointing is that the We Media “Global Forum” comprises of a HTML comment form – what's the point in that?

And from what I've seen there is this ongoing disparity between what powerful media people say and what they really think.

They say for example that they love bloggers, and this technology is opening up new possibilities and they want to interact more with the audience and allow people to change and form the media. But the truth is that they want the information from people so they can do their own professional job of it. The last thing media organisations want to do is hand even the slightest amount of control over to these ranting, frothing hordes on the Net.

They are partly right as well. If you are a journalist you have a long and deep set of skills that 99.9 percent of “citizen journalists” will not have. And that includes the ability to unravel a situation, use extensive experience to balance what you believe to be happening to what is most likely *is* happening, and to recognise that it is extremely valuable to include official bodies' viewpoints in any report – something that is almost never done by non-professional journalists.

Another thing is the constant harping on about how the Internet is allowing the poor people, the disadvantaged etc etc to interact and get their voices heard. This is then nearly always followed by someone **who actually comes from Africa** who says that is total bollocks. And everyone sort-of mutters and carries on. The fact is that if you live in the US or Western Europe you don't really care what is happening elsewhere.

Equally if you live in Africa, you don't really care what happens in the UK or Germany or Alabama. Human beings have very little interest in things that don't impact on them.

I've seen this argument played out on a global scale in the UN. The poorer nations say they want the same infrastructure as the West but they can't afford it. Everyone has a very long meeting in which developing nations do everything they can to get more money, and everyone else does everything they can not to have to give to them. And then we all arrive at a consensus that the principle of equal access is very important and should be looked at immediately. And then little is done.

What Western media organisations mean when they say they want to interact with more citizens in developing countries is that they want access to raw material rather than the government-supplied version when there are those rare moments of news interest. And that means war and famine. It's unpalatable but it's true.

I do wish that someone would get up on stage and start firing off a few home truths rather than jibbering on in management speak and cooing about the latest technology and how it relates to the media.

That said, the conference looks interesting. I should have gone really.