Reading this discussion by my friend Jamie, regarding Jaron Lanier’s “You are not a gadget,” I was reminded of a discussion I had with folks back in my podcasting days regarding building networks of trusted information out the white noise of infinite media.  I haven’t read Lanier’s book, but from the post it appears to be another voice of old media dissent arguing for the life and lamenting the loss of the media gatekeeper.

You can read Jamie’s post to see in what ways the loss of the gatekeeper is allowing the introduction of new ways of organizing culture and even how we think, but it reminded me of a few ideas that have just sort of been jumbling around for a while:

  • The dissemination of media as a broadcast is only in its infancy in the scope of human culture.
  • The dissemination of media through peer-to-peer social networking allows a conversation and investigation of ideas that crosses social and political boundaries in entirely new ways.  I don’t know about you, but simply because of the demographics of my Facebook friends list (friends, coworkers and family!) the idea of a political monoculture in my daily reading is preposterous.
  • Everyone will have access to infinite information, but we will find among our peers trustworthy filters whose work will be functionally no worse than that of traditional media.
  • Old media has largely been a failure. Growing up, my local paper rarely served the interests of my community beyond a few select readers.  My local TV station provided little worthwhile coverage of news beyond “if it bleeds it leads” and extreme weather coverage.

Finally, a huge problem in all of this is some kind of schism between people who grew up with traditional media and those of us who have been connected for most of our lives.  I can’t recall a time when I found the news media particularly trustworthy.  Poorly sourced reporting and outright lies have been the culture of professional reporting for as long as I recall.  For people of a certain age, that distrust may not exist.  Look no further than the emails I know your parents and relatives send you!  If you are a parent, consider the source of the email you’re sending!  Many of us have been exposed to email forwards, the most incessant and annoying version of spam there is, since we began using the internet, but some people of a certain age don’t seem to pick up on the fact that they are all terrible lies! No matter how many times we point them to, ask them not to send any more email forwards, they simply do not get the message.

Why?  People of a certain age were raised in a media environment where the consumption of news was unquestioned and the newsmakers were the paternal providers of trusted information, justified or not.  Those of us raised connected have learned to demand a more broad spectrum of information, from which we can assemble a version of the truth that is closer to our understanding of reality.  We don’t need the old media, and while we may be missing out on the aesthetic pleasures of reading a paper we are building a network of trusted news providers out of the people around us.

A Man of A Certain Age

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