Doc Searls: “What if the roles we play are not to pass along substances called ‘data or ‘information’ but rather to feed hungry minds?”

Doc Searls: Beyond mediation: We are all media now, right? That’s what we, the mediating, tell ourselves. (Or some of us, anyway.) But what if that’s not how we feel about it? What if the roles we play are not to pass along substances called “data” or “information” but rather to feed hungry minds? That’s different.

I believe that we truly are the media now.

When we criticize ‘the media’ we are criticizing ourselves. Media is intermingled. It’s everywhere and each of us take part from the smallest of web forums to the largest of social networks. That implies a civic responsibility.

People hate that word – responsibility – but there it is. And when it comes to media – the responsibilities that spring from it are now shared by us all.

3 responses

  1. This is so true. Even what we say in a blog can have profound results — and often unintended ones.

    Take for example a photo I took of the Gap Fire west of Santa Barbara last summer, and where it shows up:

    http://polizeros.com/2008/07/04/gap-fire-santa-barbara-mission/

    It was a fine photo, but it suggested to people that the mission was on fire. Never mind that the fire was 8 miles beyond the mission, and the Sun was 8 million miles beyond that.

    I spent a lot of time afterwards explaining that no, the Mission was not on fire, and not in any danger.

    Should I not have taken the picture? No. But I should have made it as clear as possible in the caption that the photo was more artful than documentary.

    That ended up being a relatively innocent error of sorts, but it brings up how important it is to be responsible for your work, and careful about possible consequences.

  2. Thanks Doc, though I don’t think you did anything wrong there Doc. However, I admit to being confused about all of this.

    How much do we self describe what we are doing – this is an opinion piece versus a factual account for example? I know quite a few folks who think it is all a matter of media education. That if we were simply better educated (in other words – smarter) about what we are seeing and reading, these kinds of misunderstandings would just go away – put all the blame on the person trying to listen instead of shared responsibility on the other person trying to convey the thought.

    I think responsibility tends to flow both ways. But go too far in that – and then you don’t get art – you don’t even see stunning pictures like yours. And I happen to like being moved too much for that.

    I think the heart of this post wasn’t about that though – it was more about criticism and that when we are dealing it out – we need to take a close look at ourselves first.

  3. I’ve also noticed a problem with criticism. We’re used to treating works in progress as though they were finished. Because, in the past they were. Now they’re not. We can, and should, update and revise, while trying to maintain a kind of revision trail where it makes sense.

    Meanwhile, reviewers and commenters come along and say “that’s shit” when in fact some constructive help would have made more sense.

    I noticed that with the Public Radio Tuner project, with which I have some involvement (more to come, though not much so far). The 1.0 release had to go out by a certain date, and there was plenty of information about how it was certain to change and improve. But some early reviewers crapped all over it, rather than holding fire to give revisions a fair chance. As a result, its star-rating is still dragged down by those early reviews.

    Anyway, this is good dialog. And it’s still early. Folks should look at their own motivations and responsibilities in the ecosystems to which they contribute.

    Or so it seems to me early on a Tuesday.

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