Dangers of Web 2.0

Channel 4 news is doing an Internet special package and I got a call from one of the people behind it asking me for some broad advice.

They were interviewing Esther Dyson and also some French bloke who, I understand, is behind the French-funded Google hopeful, Quaero. So I pointed him in the right direction for people to speak to.

The next day he asked if I knew anyone that would be good to interview about this and about Web 2.0, in particular the dangers of people getting more and more information from blogs and so on – in effect the flipside to the argument that blogging, wikis and so on are enabling people to share information outside of the mainstream media.

He asked if I would be prepared to do an interview, which ultimately didn’t happen but I ended up having a pint in Notting Hill pondering the dangers of Web 2.0, in particular with regard to information and news and since I wasn’t able to tell Channel 4, I thought I’d tap it up for my blog. Here is:

Dangers of Web 2.0

  • Because individuals don’t have the resources or access to the decision-makers that media organisations do, they spend most of their times dissecting existing stories, and hence rarely produce original content.
  • Blogs and so on provide a useful balance for a modern media that often appears to be colluding in deciding what the situation is when people on the ground have a different perception. But this approach can also have its own distorting impact, and the contrast on quite complex stories can be turned up even higher – the few greys are lost entirely to black and white.
  • One of the most noticeable traits in people that don’t make a living from journalism is a tendency to believe conspiracy over cock-up, and cynicism over reality.
  • The move from wild rumour to established fact in people’s minds is dependant only on the number of times they have heard it before it is challenged. If all of your friends read and report the same rumour, even if it subsequently falls down, there is a natural tendency to continue to believe it.
  • That said, the laughable premise of the mainstream media that only it can fully comprehend and relate complex issues can be more fully exposed than ever before by the tens of thousands of experts out there who, rather than irritate their spouses or tear their hair out, simply post their thoughts on a blog for the whole world to view.
  • Subjects that the media isn’t aware of – and sometimes will refuse to cover – are often laid bare by people who are personally affected. In that sense, the eternal question of ‘what is news?’ doesn’t fall to small number of people to decide. Instead the individual gets far greater opportunity to decide what they are interested in.

Just a few short thoughts. Not properly formed or co-ordinated but I thought I’d get them down while they were still fresh in my head.

  1. “they spend most of their times dissecting existing stories, and hence rarely produce original content.”

    Totally unlike The Register then?

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