Sending Ripples

Personal Web of Ideas

This is not what my internet looks like:

It’s like Einstein’s theory of space and time – everything is relative. Each person’s internet is quite small, which is the only useful image we should think about. It might be fun to think about the ‘six degrees of separation’ experiment, but for blogs, business, anything, an analysis of personal webs is more useful. If each user sees a different thing, a semantic web has no relevance for marketing. See:

Facebook tells us they want to make our experience more tailored, but I think what they are offering is the same experience you can get in the ‘blogosphere’ (sorry- had to use the word). The Internet you create for yourself usually does not comprise many sites, and you save the ones you like. If you’re a blogger, you’ll mainly read blogs. If you’re a stockbroker, you’ll check the markets. If you live in North Korea, you don’t have the internet (gasp).

This is the tailored experience that results from what Harry Jenkins  described as ‘Convergence Culture’ (2006), whereby the medium no longer determines the message. Instead, information from newspapers, songs etc. can all be found online.

Axel Bruns’ theory about produsage should explain why this blog will work. ‘Produsage’ and the ‘gate-watcher’ theory hold that media outlets are moving towards content that relies upon the collective knowledge of its audience.

Bruns says:

“Gatewatchers keep a constant watch at the gates, and point out those gates to their readers which are most likely to open onto useful sources.”

Bruns was talking about news outlets but I think we can stretch the theory into friends and networks. Not only is every citizen a reporter, everyone is becoming a gate-watcher.

Assemblage Theory is the way things are going… According to an OECD report, new media is driving communication towards P2P rather than the traditional news outlet -> consumer dichotomy. We are sorting out the web ourselves and passing on what is relevant to us. This is the relativity of the personal web I was talking about before.

It may be misguided, naive, and you may be cynical, but I see this project (or at least this ideal) as a site to keep the gate-watchers honest. The size of a media organisation corresponds to their power. As someone who works part-time watching how selective reporting and dodgy ethics can influence people, a blog seems the perfect way to lodge my (feeble) protest.

Of course, that fits perfectly with Lovink’s nihilist impulse:

“What’s declining is the Belief in the Message. That’s the nihilist moment and blogs facilitate this culture like no platform has done before.”

Well so what? He’s saying we can’t trust the gatekeepers, or the gatewatchers, and we can’t. Instead we trust our friends and networks. His theory is more like a warning: plenty of blogs have ‘zero comments’ so make yours stand out!

Bruns is right about produsers:

“In becoming active publishers, commentators, and discussants, then, bloggers turn into what we can usefully describe as produsers—a hybrid of producer and user.”

But I’m not satisfied with just describing what is happening, I want to be optimistic about blogging. I know we spoke about sensationalism in class, so I’ll refrain from being web-vangelical… Lovink argues that blogs just create niches of like-minded people who all nod and agree with themselves. True, but I this imparts enormous benefit to that group of people. It allows them to argue, share information, and prepare their arguments for when they enter another media (the real world).

That’s the transmedia storytelling model that Henry Jenkins spoke about – not only are stories getting remediated and changed by users, but ideas and concepts have entered this domain.

If I were trying to make money, I’d go for viral stories. Just after we studied viral campaigns in class I tested it out by writing about the biggest story at that time: Catherine Deveny getting sacked from The Age. It was only my blog’s third post but nearly 200 people saw it on one day. For news blogs, and news in general, this technique of keeping your finger on the pulse of society works best. Tapping into Twitter proved useful here.

Reflecting on my creative commons post, it was pleased to learn that RadioHead released their album for free where people could donate as much as they want.

It makes it a kind of charity instead of the old business model. Ideologically, it suits me and my niche so I think it would work here. Like a voluntary subscription.

Anyway, I’m gonna send ripples through another medium now!

(Thanks for the subject – it was supremely useful. And now for my ONLY 1990s style reference..)

This is me right now:

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