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Posts Tagged ‘community

Weekly #8: Position Unchanged

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After our discussion during Class 9, my position on Wikipedia remains unchanged. I still think it’s a great initial source for all topics, including breaking news. Two things in particular stuck out to me from Garrett’s lecture:

  1. Wikipedia values both the crowd and the community.
  2. Journalism is not so much a profession as it is an activity, and that notion is consistent with the interpretation of the First Amendment.

When it comes to breaking news, I find that the traditional media outlet rarely has the facts totally correct in the first hours of the event. Neither does Wikipedia, for that matter. However, what Wikipedia does have that a media outlet doesn’t is the collective wisdom of people who have the common purpose of wanting to spread information as it unfolds. And the amount of contributors can be well into the hundreds within an hour, some of whom are on the ground witnessing the event first hand. These early contributors tend to belong to the crowd, and not each contributor is equally engaged or factually accurate. That’s not a problem, however, because soon the community members of Wikipedia take over. They edit the facts, put them in chronological order, and add visuals to produce systematic coverage of a news event. These are the superusers who are dedicated to making sure the facts are not only accurate but also tell a complete story. They are natural, truth-seeking storytellers.

That same description could be ascribed to journalists. Their professionalism is dependent upon the verifiability of the facts they present in their news stories. So if Wikipedia contributors, specifically the dedicated superusers that make up the community, rely upon the same verification process for news entries, are they not considered journalists too? Even those in the crowd reporting the facts as they receive them for breaking news are acting as journalists. Garrett’s point that the Supreme Court has interpreted the First Amendment in a way that is consistent with the argument that we can all be journalists was well argued. And it is proven true through Wikipedia every day.

I suppose the next logical question is, should we all be journalists even if we can? I enjoy reading the systematic coverage of a news event on Wikipedia because not only have community members verified the facts, but they have also edited the page and made it a comprehensive story. Professional journalists have the training to create a grammatically correct and engaging story. I’d say that the community members of Wikipedia have this same capability and desire. And they aren’t even paid! So yes, Wikipedia is just as credible as a traditional media outlet, if not more given the multiple sources cited per page.

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WEEKLY #1: And Then There Were Four

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Markets, markets, markets!

After careful analysis, I have concluded that the authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto actually present four theses. I’m all for making grand allusions, but their rallying cry was 91 theses too long.

Here’s what it all boils down to:

  1. Markets are multi-directional conversations. These conversations are among real humans, are in real time and are about real issues. They create positive relationships and powerful networks.
  2. These networked conversations enable new forms of social organization and knowledge exchange. Networked markets are smarter than ever before, relying on each other for information instead of companies. These markets have made the formal hierarchy irrelevant.
  3. Despite their best efforts, companies are no longer in control. Networked markets are immune to robotic sales-speak and can find better alternatives. Companies need to stop fearing these markets and start building relationships with them. If companies do not engage in authentic conversations, they will perish.
  4. Earth to companies: You can engage in authentic conversations by using your most valuable asset – employees! Intranetworked employees are powerful because they know you and, more importantly, because they are us. Employees want to talk to us in the human voice. We want to talk back. We are building a community inclusive of markets and employees, and “The Company” is the only thing standing between the two. Relationship is the new currency, and if you want to survive in this economy, you’ll let your starters off the bench.

These main points all speak of the unique “community of discourse” that was blossoming on the internet 11 years ago. Social media, specifically the blogosphere, allowed consumers to take the reins and force companies to open up like never before. Companies had to focus less on the bottom line and more on relationship and community.

Nowadays we take these multi-directional, anti-hierarchical conversations for granted. We the consumers expect companies to blog and tweet. We expect them to respond to our comments and complaints. We expect the power that was then unprecedented for newly networked markets.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that today companies are embracing authentic conversations. It turns out history isn’t made simply by showing up. Sure, they’re on Twitter and Facebook, but many companies still don’t view conversations as worthwhile for the sake of building community. Instead, conversations are just another path to increased profits. Money drives their conversations, and it shows.

Rosenberg’s Say Everything speaks to the effects of money on a medium that was meant to be social, conversational, human. Yes, blogging can earn you money. But what happens when you blog purely for the sake of money? What happens when conversation becomes a job? I think it stifles the human voice. It makes you think twice. Censorship is sensible when money is at stake, and openness takes a backseat to a full bank account.

Written by taryou

September 22, 2010 at 1:41 am