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    « participatory design | Main | I made a hallway today. »

    October 05, 2008



    I am a big fan of both Robert Kennedy Jr and especially his father, and I have been paying close attention to RFK Jr's speeches as well. There is one element that RFK Jr apparently did not mention in the speech where you were at (or you just didn't blog about it): the demands of the new media age are different. In the 1960's presidential candidates (for example) would be followed by journalists in the travelling press pool, just like now. At the end of the day they would make their 5 minute video or radio piece, or write their article for next day's newspaper. Nowadays, the same travelling press pool is filled with tv crews that broadcast EVERYTHING live, that not just write stuff for next day's paper, but blog within seconds (!) after the candidate has said something, etc... On tv then, there is no more time for investigation, depth, serious analysis... because everybody has to comment immediately after a debate or speech or townhall meeting. Again, within seconds they have to say something insightful, even though they haven't even had the time to think about it themselves... It's all crappy journalism, and it's all over the place. Putting some pundits on a show is cheap and easy. Sending out investigative journalists to seek out serious issues is not only expensive and slow, every story is forgotten within days anyway... so why bother?

    All media outlets want more viewers, more listeners, more readers... no matter how. And getting them requires to be the fastest. Being the fastest means your work will be sloppy.

    And there's your problem.


    Hi Kirsten,

    Thanks for visiting. You're right about the problem -- so given that we can't go back in time, what's the solution? Effort is sacrificed in favour of speed because the cost of communication is low compared to a Cronkite on a sound stage in a studio or an investigative series in the Washington Post. Or is it? I keep thinking (perhaps naively) that the solution must have something to do with the actions of large, decentralized networks of thinking people who are receiving these instant messages and responding to them. But that assumes that we're all engaged citizens in a democracy. Which assumes a lot. How do you make more people care about what is happening? And why don't more see how urgently their participation is needed?


    take away their savings, their homes, their stocks, their retirement funds, and they might start to care.

    Goodness, that's a lot to hope for! It could never happen!

    wait a second...



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