Objective media (cont…)

Deigo responds to my previous post, and clarifies what he meant by the term “the mob”. He eloquently outlines his position, and makes the (quite valid) point “I wasn’t talking about intellectuals and non-intellectuals, involved or not involved, concerned or apathic, etc. Not that Grant said this, but I think it’s within a hair of going in that direction.”

I just wanted to amplify the “Not that Grant said this” bit, nor did I intend to imply that Diego meant that either, although I can see how the wording of my post may lead someone to interpret my comments that way.

Diego clarifies the (somewhat problematic) term “the mob” as a dynamic collection of individuals, of which we are all a part at times, and this is pretty much exactly how I see it too. Diego continues by positing that “movement” within a given community is “an indirect process that implies creating something that affects individuals in a way in which their subsequent actions will say something both individually and aligned with the mob.” This, IMO, is spot on.

This is a great explanation of what I was trying to get at with the (far less eloquent) words “how does decentralised media get to the broader audience?”. With this clarification what I meant to say was, How does decentralised media encourage movement within the community? In particular, I am interested in how “movement” can be created around social issues, although the general question applies as well.

As I interpret Diego’s post, he presents the (not uncommon) idea that as communication technology becomes ubiquitous, the decentralised media channels will become more prevalent and more influential. I agree to an extent that this is the case, and perhaps digital TV may provide the answer (although with the recent Australian Broadcasting Corporation decision to drop it’s two digital media channels due to funding constraints, this runs the risk of going the same way as current free-to-air broadcasting, in Australia at least). And in this sense I also share Diego’s optimism that “given choice people will embrace [decentralised media], comparatively reducing the power of big media outlets.”

Although we are seeing cracks in the big media approach (where key stories emanate from weblogs and factual inaccuracies are identified quickly), in my experience decentralised media sources are still only gaining traction in a minority of the community. Until the influence of decentralised media increases to present a clear and significant threat to big media, I fear that we will continue to see mistruths and ommissions, particularly when coming from the mouths of big corporate interests and government (one could argue that government is a big corporate interest, but I digress) taking sway in the community psyche. That is not to detract in any way from the work already underway – even if not providing majority sway it is vital that such information be made available. I’m just saying that this is still a relatively marginal phenomena.

Using a recent Australian experience as an example, looking at the so-called debate around asylum seekers, so little of the alternative view has been presented through the mainstream, and thus we see a great majority of the community supporting what amounts to a racist government policy. There is plethora information available, whether it be through the Refugee Council of Australia, Amnesty International and many others that clearly show how fundamentally wrong the government’s approach is in relation to international law, as well as presenting humane, just and cost-effective alternatives. And experience indicates that when a humanised message, presenting an alternative view actually makes it to the mainstream opinions change.

However, such alternative viewpoints haven’t really entered the mainstream dialog in any significant way, and as such they have done little to change mainstream opinion despite being readily available to anyone with a computer and internet connection. In an age when opinion polls and popular sentiment drive government policy, this becomes an increasingly problematic issue.

Obviously such fundamental change won’t happen overnight, it may take perhaps decades. What we are seeing in blog-land and other decentralised media spaces is really promising. I think it’s important to continue to prod and to try to make sense of how technology, particularly communications technologies, impact the community, and how that power can be harnessed to facilitate a more informed understanding of what are sometimes complex and nuanced debates within the community. To achieve that movement Diego describes to achieve positive and constructive change in the mediascape, and the political and social policy landscape too.