Saturday, September 17, 2005

More on the AOTO-I

Here's a succint but insightful article from Technology Review about Katrina bloggers. Let's think about Jeff Greenfield's construct of the Army of the Over-Informed, discussed in my previous post, and apply it to people with very specific knowledge about, say, controversies in competitive horse shows or the history of engineering challenges in New Orleans. And more importantly (and unlike the Web-nascent mid-90s when Greenfield wrote his book) those people now have the ability to share their specialized knowledge with anyone -- or everyone -- in the world who has Internet access. Excerpt from Tech Review:

With Katrina, however, news crews were on the ground, witnessing and reporting the destruction -- and the undeniable ineptitude of the early rescue and recovery efforts. So when blogs highlighted the fact that FEMA Director Michael Brown had little previous emergency management experience, for example, the MSM pounced on the information that blogs were supplying, calling spin for what it was.

Likewise, when President Bush said that "no one could have predicted" the levees would fail and New Orleans would flood, the blogosphere jumped into action, producing dozens of articles, studies, and video files that predicted just that, sparking a new round of mainstream news stories.

"The so-called 'memory hole' that many politicians of all stripes have relied upon is now closed," says Clay Shirky, an adjunct professor of interactive telecommunications at NYU. "The blogosphere has become the institutional memory for the country."

Through the terrible aftermath of Katrina, we are witnessing the legitimization of a new medium, one that provides alternatives to or supplements what's available through the MSM. Blogs have made a leap toward legitimacy: a story is now a story whether it originates on a blog or on CNN. The medium is no longer the message. The message, in fact, is now the message.

On a related note, check out this post from I, Reporter on the first anniversary of Rathergate.


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