Monday, February 20, 2006
More on Powell at Silicon Flatirons
I'm slow on the uptake. Sometimes it takes me a month to understand what I've learned and why it is important. Susan Crawford is a quicker study. She homed right in on the big story of Mike Powell's talk at Silicon Flatirons: his complete buy in to the "Daily Me" concept. She writes,
[Powell] said (paraphrasing here): "My argument is that the problem with media is not concentration, it's hypercompetition. We're fragmenting media, so we're getting 'me tv.' Do we really want this much diversity? This is a social problem. We are losing community. In the Walter Cronkite area, because the media market was so concentrated we had a communal media experience -- we had no choice but to talk about the previous night's broadcast. Our minds were opened because we had to listen to stories we might not have chosen to hear."That Daily Me meme has been widely studied and not exactly confirmed. Yochai Benkler cites research whereby the Long Tail has structure, mini communities, cyber-small-towns where people know each other and participate in the conversation. I'm heartened that Powell would cite Walter Cronkite, somebody bipartisan, or nonpartisan, somebody we all trusted, but who elected Walter? Who's to say that Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity wouldn't be the next anointed one? I wonder if Powell isn't pining for a good old days that only improbably existed. David Weinberger's essay on echo chambers seems newly relevant.
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