“Do you think I could have a blog?”
And my answer is always the same and unequivocal:
“Yes, not only that, but I think you should”
Increasingly, I’m adding:
“in fact, you really ought to, it’s your duty!”
The model of communication enshrined in national newspapers and magazines is a 20th Century phenomenon. It was born of an industrial world, one where we were coming to terms with mass production, transportation and electrification. National newspapers used the very latest ideas to create a modern system of communication where suddenly people all over the country could read national stories everyday. Combined with education for a vastly increased proportion of the population, news, national (even…gasp…international) news became popularly accessible and with increased supply, the appetite grew. The successful products that emerged were those that mirrored the great idea of the day – centralisation.
Now things have changed again.
We (in most of Europe and the U.S.) no longer live in a predominantly industrial society. We now primarily deal with knowledge, ideas and information. We have created very powerful computing machines; software for recording words, pictures and music and then connected all the machines together so that we can talk to each other. Education has continued to increase and improve. In the UK, Government has a target of getting 50% of young people leaving school each year to go on to Higher Education. According to DfES, 539,900 qualifications were obtained by students at Higher Education institutions in the UK in 2003/04.
So what are these half-million newly qualified people supposed to do with their improved ability to think and learn for themselves? Well according to the established media, they should just sit back and open wide. Carry on taking the medicine; accept the status quo; continue to live with a hundred-year-old system of communication that was invented for a very different society, because we’re too scared to do anything different. Yes, perhaps it means that we’ll have some brighter journalistic stars and more intelligent readers who can critically appraise what we produce, but they should stay in their place and we will stay in ours.
No. People have a voice, they’re taught to use their brains more and how to express themselves well. They are given tools to express themselves easily and to communicate globally. So now the term ‘mass production’ can have a new meaning. Instead of meaning that a few produce for the masses, it can come to mean that the masses produce for themselves and for each other, thank you very much. The successful products will be those that support today’s big ideas – decentralisation and disintermediation.
So do you think you could have a blog? What on earth is the point of taking three or more years out of economic activity getting yourself educated at the expense of your family and the rest of society, developing your thinking and critical faculties in ways that your grandparents would have killed for and then sitting and watching Big Brother for the rest of your life?
How about we create something better? You can, you should and it starts with writing “Hello world, well here I am with my little blog – who’d have thought it!? lol”.