Monday, July 6, 2009

Amster: Noise competes with information

As a professional propagandist I have to admire the establishment meme that the online world is all noise compared to the corporatist bunk that passes for big-market journalism. While I wouldn't say that Randall is totally falling for it here, readers might be excused if they take away that message, thanks to some cloudy writing and the ever-undermining headline writer.

The really amusing part is that the darksiders claim to believe that free-market competition can solve all problems, yet since the Internet began freeing our information market, they consistently denigrate it as worthless. That sorta smells of vested interest to me.

I look at it through the other end of the telescope. Just as more stuff to buy at big-box stores has generally reduced our quality of life, the vast expansion of information access we've experienced has had decidedly mixed results in terms of informing and educating the electorate, because so few people have the media savvy to separate jewels from junk. But it's inescapable that more choice has opened space for higher-quality writing and thinking, in large part because the lower overhead of the Net (you don't need a printing press anymore!) reduces the media's dependence on monied interests. That's truly independent thought. Darksiders hate that.

For me it's both positive and negative that just as anyone is allowed to get their message out, everyone's accountable now and anyone can throw bricks at it. This is the sort of lively media environment that would have been more familiar to readers of the yellow-journalism days early last century, when specialized political-issue papers multiplied like bunnies, sold on the basis of sensational headlines and their rhetoric was often over the top. Eventually government and corporate interests got a handle on that, just as now they're trying to get a handle on the Net. You'll want to keep an eye on that.

I'm sure the Courier isn't paying Randall enough to make him happy to bend over and take the regular tongue-lashings he gets from readers. But Randall, that's how it is now, you knew the job was dangerous when you took it. Whining does not help.


Chris Bergman said...

Steven! There you are! I like your analysis of Randall's article, though I agree with his premise (I think he could have done a better job of expressing it, though). A deeper issue which concerns me is the confusion of "information" with "knowledge." I have found that the overabundance of information has given some, primarily the young, a false sense of knowing. As you say, there is good and bad in the internet. It allows the average person to "fact check" the information they receive but at the same time, with the flood of information available, people aren't taking the time to consider the meaning and consequence of the information they have. What do you think?

Steven Ayres said...

I have not experienced any more 'false sense of knowing' than ever. For most people it's always been that way, whether it was Cronkite or Drudge. It's not that people in general aren't taking the time, but rather that they wouldn't know what to do if they did. It takes real commitment to penetrate the prestidigitation of the daily media bombardment, even once you've realized just how much lying and manipulation is going on. It's too depressing for most people to contemplate. that's why I demand more from our local media, and work hard to help make voters smarter.