November 29, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Future, Society, Web

If opinion is the social equivalent of creating a theory or model and information is what you use to form an opinion, a theory or a model, then the mainstream media has pretty much given up on providing information.  It provides opinion.  Where do we go to gather the information to form an opinion or our own personal theories of how the world works?

To the web.

Before the election, listening to the NPR show Talk of the Nation, a radio hour was devoted to the character of the candidates.  Listeners were told to go to the candidate websites if they wanted to know their position on the issues.

It strikes me that the decades-old trend to dumb down the news to keep viewers always entertained is being accelerated by an Internet that provides an additional excuse to the mainstream media to not spend time sharing information.

The mainstream media is shifting to behaving like they assume that the web is where information lives.

There are repercussions.  Eventually, services similar to Google News will offer a selection of video excerpts from stories emerging across the country and around the world.  The selection services will pitch information from a variety of perspectives, far Left to far Right.  The Left services will provide stories on Palestinians and histories of areas of the world in potential conflict.  The Right services will describe the ways the world is frightening, conditions which we as individuals are powerless to change.

The Left services will show the ways that we are in danger that necessitate we help each other, that require government intervention to make the change.  The Left services will suggest how challenges are interconnected, have histories and can be resolved.

The Right services will describe ways that we are in danger.  They will define “we” as those of us with something to protect within the confines of the United States borders.  The Right services will describe how we can lose our freedoms and our standards of living.  The Right services will emphasize that we have something that we can potentially lose, that there are people that want what we have and that we need the government to protect us.

Web users will be able to select assortments from a number of different positions on the Left to Right spectrum.  Perhaps the same services will provide a variety of different perspectives.

Perhaps users will flip back and forth between left and right, reveling in the relativity of information.

Information is rarely just information.  Information is embedded in a webbing of associations and contexts providing connection to opinions, viewpoints and gestalts.  Information is presented in a context of presuppositions and assumptions that inform the user of the importance of the information in a hierarchy of what comes first in the narrative of presentation.

In other words, as viewers turn into users, becoming refugees from mainstream media, they will be introduced to information packaged inside contexts providing variety to the realities they choose.

If we’re lucky, we’ll become relativists.  Gathering our information off the web, maybe we’ll learn to consider the source.


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