At the risk of disagreeing with Jay Rosen…

I’ll admit that I’m out of my league here debating with Rosen, but i’ve watched my partner blog with a baby with a full Maternity leave. It’s really hard to make the time to make that happen… the citizen, i think, is a bit more complex than mr. Rosen is letting on.

I’ve been called back to the blog today by an article that i came to through Stephen. Jay Rosen wrote a rousing article that came out of, apparently, his bloggercon presentation. It’s entitled, the people formerly known as the audience and talks in broad tones about the the coming of the revolution, how the people have been empowered, and how the world will change along with the media.

Now… Mr. Rosen is in wikipedia. According to the description linked to above, he’s a strong supporter of citizen journalism. He’s also a professor of journalism at NYU. Dude is way smarter than me. And, realistically, I spoke too strongly in the first paragraph (although his tone does remind me of those many writers over the last couple of centuries who foresaw the revolution brought on by the elite) what he’s actually saying is this..

  • You [media bigwigs] don’t own the eyeballs. You don’t own the press, which is now divided into pro and amateur zones. You don’t control production on the new platform, which isn’t one-way. There’s a new balance of power between you and us.

I, myself, am a lover of the revolution. I’d love to see the emancipation of the masses from the dull glow of the television set, and, in my own field, from the painful inheritence of the mid-1800 british school system specifically designed to create robots (and reward robots) that we’re still fighting with today. And, in my incarnation as the lover of the revolution i say YAY! I say, hey, i have a blog. I’m in several podcast/webcasts. I’m trying to start a company by the people for the people. YAY. Call Che. Bring back Voltaire. Sartre’s gonna love it. TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!

oops. what’s that i smell? It’s the smell of napalm in the morning. you know. victory. The victory of the citizen journalist. The victory of web 2.0. The victory of the people against BIG BUSINESS. against BIG BROTHER.

But here’s the question. Is the guy who just quit and devoted his life to curing sickness in the world (Bill, say it ain’t so) BIG BUSINESS. or is it Mr. O’reilly and his slow slide over to doubletalk.

The bloated fatcats that Mr. Rosen tars in his blog post for ‘owning eyeballs’ and for their general misunderstanding of the ‘real people’ are not stupid. They do not make millions of dollars a year for sitting on their butts and accepting all the eyeballs thrown at them. There will be a rebuttall, and it will not be televised. It will be subtle. People will be bought out… they will slide as Mr. O’reilly has slid. People who were leaders of the revolution will blog for the poeple they once fought against. History has done this again and again… and change comes but rarely. Big media is made up of people who want to be heard, the same as Big Blogging.

And change comes when EVERYONE is in on the revolution. How much time do the single mothers have to blog? We did get a call from the western sahara on a brainstorm the other night… magical for its rarity. (and not exactly culturally representative of the rest of the people in that camp) You work all day, you see your kids, kiss the husband/wife have a beer, go to bed. Oh, and probably turn on your TV. Do you spend three hours configuring your RSS feed? not so much.

If change is going to happen, everyone needs to be emancipated. Emancipation, in the sense of empowerement to publish, to have voice, to be able to control your destiny, is a very, very long way off. The revolution, if there is ever to be one, is going to take years of concerted effort. I applaud mr. Rosen for his manifesto, I worry that too many people think we have already won. And that, exactly that conviction, will guarantee that we never do.

Author: dave

I run this site... among other things.

3 thoughts on “At the risk of disagreeing with Jay Rosen…”

  1. Good points, Dave. It’s hard to lead a revolution when you’re trying to pay the bills.

    One factor that may tip the scales is that big business is constantly downsizing and shaking off its excess personnel. Many people see this and find an exit strategy, though not yet the majority. The more who escape and create alternatives, the better the chances for the revolution. Kind of like the American revolution – there was a core of dedicated revolutionaries but most people would have gone either way. Once things got rolling, the revolutionaries were able to turn the tide.

    If this picture speaks the truth, then this is where the revolutionaries will come from:

  2. “I’ll admit that I’m out of my league here debating with Rosen”. I think the beauty of the revolution is that no-one is out of their league any more. A cat may look at a king. Dave may disagree with Jay. I know how you feel, though – I have felt that way myself a few times, as I have nervously taken issue with some or other heavyweight. Sometimes I have been put in my place, other times I have been pleasantly surprised to have someone say, “good point” as Harold has done for you. And let’s face it, Harold is no lightweight!

  3. Jay, whilst I agree with your tone of caution, this reminds me of a discussion that has been going on elsewhere on the web where a few people critical of Web 2.0 are pointing to the fact that only a relatively few people blog or contribute to Wikipedia or vote on Digg etc. as evidence that collective intelligence, community involvement, power to the people etc. isn’t really working.

    But it only takes a few dedicated bloggers to keep politicians honest, fact check what mainstream journalists are saying and keep an eye on corporations.

    We don’t all have to do it for the revolution to occur. I’m happy to let others do it.

    We don’t have to, but the point is that now we can if we want to.

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