We’re all media outlets. We’re all media channels.
But Mat Balez is sounding alarm bells over the idea that each of us can be media:
I know, on the surface, bringing the freedom and power of the press to every voice imaginable seems very democratic, empowering and ideal. But we cannot simply champion the ushering in of this new media landscape without pause and consideration of what it means more broadly for our culture, the future of journalism and, to cast the net as wide as possible, our ability to make sense of the world around us.
People are thinking about how the new media landscape affects everything around us. There’s plenty of interesting discussion and debate over citizen journalism and sites like NowPublic and NewAssignment. We’re not diving into the new media landscape completely blind.
But it’s all such a mess!
Mat’s not completely wrong when he writes:
Simply put, this means that the multiplying social media tools at our disposal just make it too brain-dead-simple for anyone to pollute the channel to the detriment of everyone else in the system, effectively sending the SNR [Signal-to-Noise Ratio] to near zero. The implication is that soon it becomes impossible to tease out the “good content” from the “noise” and we’re left listening to static on the line.
There is a ton of noise out there. And the mechanisms to filter that noise aren’t great.
Having said that it’s also very easy for those of us living in the tech/Web 2.0 world to emphasize this problem more than others. Our niche is the loudest out there. We’ve got an untold number of sites tracking tech news. On any given day you can visit GigaOm, CenterNetworks, Techmeme, TechCrunch, VentureBeat and Valleywag and read the same stories. They publish unique stories too, and each has its own perspective, but there’s certainly tons of overlap.
It’s all overwhelming but…
None of it is really bad.
And all of it is very niche. As early adopters we get to bang our heads against the wall and figure out what works. We get to overwhelm ourselves, destroy our attention capacity and move on. And in the process no one is really harmed too severely.
You still have a choice
Not all content is created equal. We know that. But there is an audience out there for almost everything. People like all sorts of stuff. Take country music for example. I could live without it, but millions of raving fans would not be too pleased.
It’s pretty easy to turn things off. You can reclaim your attention and set personal standards for what you’ll consume and how involved you’ll be.
Exploration and Testing work
It’s important to have a balanced approach to things. Anything to an extreme is problematic. Moderation is key. But you don’t get serious advancement by playing it safe. We need to be exploring all aspects of media, social media, micro media, etc. Someone has to push the envelope, including the development of new technologies. So we play at the edge. That includes figuring out ways of organizing data and content more effectively, to help cull what you feel is noise (cause remember: One person’s noise is another person’s front page story on digg…)