At yesterday’s Association of Alternative Weeklies web event, NowPublic founder Len Brody gave insights on the web’s affects on human behavior and the belief that a larger social graph can prove a positive asset.
Says Brody, “Facebook never promised that your online friends would be your wedding invite list.” But the reality is that those with a larger social graph are more likely to have better news/learning filters, greater access to jobs, and a greater pool from which to forge meaningful “real friend” relationships. Says Brody, “By 2012 sixty percent of marriage ceremonies will mention the word "online”.
Juxtaposed against a post-panel conversation with two traditional journalists lamenting the death of what they saw as “real social interaction”, I found the entire afternoon fascinating. As Brody says, “there does appear to be a fundamental shift in how we act and a fundamental failure in our institutions to serve the people we’ve become.”
Why is the common assumption amongst old school journalists that online interactions are a threat to society rather than a more up-to-date learning funnel? At a time when papers are closing and schools are instigating Furlough Fridays, shouldn’t we be defending access to as many learning opportunities as possible?
Traditionalists who lament the death of old news are correct in believing that the old world is crumbling. You can see by the traffic spikes on good news sites that readers don’t interact in the same way as the one to many model of old outlets. But rather than seeing this as a threat, it’s a much better professional survival mechanism for journalists to embrace gaming, online social networks and web news production. This “new wave” of communication has been crashing on their shores since the mid-nineties.
Modern society is moving beyond brick and mortar intellectual elitism for their everyday news in favor of something more participatory and fun. But just because it’s fun, doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. The vast majority of readers are intelligent, but want their information in a way that is customized, offers a feedback loop and is socially filtered.