Posted from the U.S
Being on Fox's The O'Reilly Factor tonight was an odd experience. So what the heck was I doing in the bowels of mainstream media? Where is this river flowing? It was a bit like going into the Death Star, looking around, and understanding how it all works. The machinery of Fox, CNN, NBC - much of mainstream media, is the same. Going on O'Reilly is like going to visit an iron factory, or a paper mill. They produce news. It's a product. Tonight, I was a product. A one-time use, disposable product, like tissue paper. Not an unwilling participant, but a pretty curious observer. The mainstream media can also be like a drug - news, radio, tv calling - what do you do? It's easy to fall into the dark side. Very, very easy.
Bill was actually pleasent to speak with - I thought that when he figured out that I am not a right wing conservative, but an independant thinker with a pretty liberal outlook, that he would chew me up. He didn't, and it seemed to go well. In his preamble there was some respect given to CNN as a network, but NBC got a kick in the pants. Having been on MSNBC a few nights before, they seemed to be decent people, but there is obviously a rivalry. Seemingly decent people, building news as a product. Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, it is all sugar water to a degree. Pulling the curtain away from the Wizard is an experience in and of itself.
The blogs. What to make of all of it? It's not a product. I stated in an earlier post that it simply is. I am not sure that O'Reilly understood this, but he did seem aware of a new force making its presence known. What of this force? What is it?
It is the people. The formerly passive people, watching, digesting, being fed what a powerful few want to feed them. People being manipulated into believing what a powerful few want us to believe, and people being influenced to buy what powerful corporations want us to buy. The blog world is the people screaming back, maybe even vomiting back, with a veangence.
This is not a left or right wing phenomenom. The story is much, much bigger than Eason Jordan. This is John Lennon's Power To The People, but turbocharged and amplified. The people are sick and tired of being used, manipulated, bought, and sold. Sick of being a number, a metric, and a marketing statistic. The people want a voice, and now they really have it. Their own voice, unedited, and unfiltered. It is not pretty. The people are quite irritated, mad, and upset. A great quote I saw today (if someone knows who wrote this, please write me):
Mr. Jordan, meet the Internet. He never forgets, and he is a big blabbermouth.
What does the future hold for us? The technology of the internet, the massive, parallel connectedness of it all, means a widespread, global redistribution of the control of information, and with that, power. The 21st century may mean the end of centralized control, of a powerful few having a tight hold on the masses. This is not my philosophy, but rather a simple observation. It is happening in front of our eyes, in real time. Like the greenhouse effect, it may build up over time, showing itself here and there. It could also just precipitate in one massive shift, like an Ice Age. I have no idea how society will cope with such a change, and what it means for all of us. Not just the end of mainstream media as we know it, but the end of society as we know it.
This is not a social revolutionary idea, like Communism or Socialism. I think that it is bigger. This is an organic, technological revolution. It simply is a byproduct of empowering most of the world, linking the world, and doing it all at very high speeds. No one can stop it, and I doubt that it can be controlled. Eason Jordan is an early bump in a major systemic shift, like the first wave of a giant tsunami. Is it good to empower the masses in such a way? Good or bad, here it comes. On the one hand you have the shiny happy people in the Linux world, all working together is some Utopian harmony. But in Easongate we saw a mixture of that idealism with the angry mob, the mob wanting nothing less than a hangin'. Good people, but still a mob. Many good people participated in and watched lynchings in the early to mid twentieth century in the U.S. We see the same thing happening in the Middle East today, with bodies burned and dragged in the open street while bystanders cheer and throw rocks and bottles at the ragged corpse. We are all being connected, good and bad, and we need to deal with it.
I've been credited with a "clean kill" on Eason Jordan. Clean kill? Who asked for that? He is paying dearly for his words - does that mean that for everyone else it is a free-for-all? Many of us asked for simple honesty, evidence, and clarity. In the end we got a head on a platter. Is that what we ordered? Revolutions are messy, sloppy things. Where is this one going? This one is not a regional event, it will be global. It will be huge - and no one understands it. This is revolution without real leaders, another concept hard to understand. It is just happening, and there is high level system behavior at work. The uncontrolled integration of most of humanity is at our door. The old way, the powers that be, will fight hard to stop it, but I doubt that they can, or should. Dinosaurs being overrun by nimble, dinosaur-egg-eating mammals. Who can stop this hurricane? There is no idealogy here - it is a giant, biological, interconnected system. Well beyond partisan politics, but ready to consume anything in its path.
Hugh Hewitt is an early leader in showing the right and center how to use the blog world as new tool to amplify political views and drive change. He is an innovator in this regard, ahead of many people. You have to admire that, regardless of liking or disliking his politics. The left has no equivalent at this point, but give it a bit of time and they will. In the early days this is all fine and good, but I am taking the position that everything will change and that it will be well beyond anyone's control. You can surf the first waves, but the when the big ones come you need to get to the high ground.
Some advice to politicians & media leaders: go hire some teenage hackers and a few twentysomething new media grads - they have some clue as to what is going on. CNN had no concept as to how to handle the bloggers, and the effect of their feeble attempts was just chumming the water. Don't wait - the blogging world has tasted flesh and it wants more. Right now, despite the noble attempts of many, I see no real ethical mechanisms, only the very primitive outlines of a global morality. Things are just happening. Be prepared. If you try and stop it, it will only react badly. This is more of a Zen thing - understand its flow, become one with it. Relax, and float downstream. Struggle, and it will only tighten its grip. This is a new world.
No answers tonight, who knows if ever. But a discussion worth having (I think).
Being on O'Reilly? A last ride on a horse and buggy. Fun, interesting, hopefully enlightening. But a much bigger wave approaches, and this is a good time to understand what it all means.