Saturday, November 27, 2010

Old Media, New Media: Man Bit Dog, Dog Bit Man

That is an old dictum from journalism school, that man (sic) bit dog is news, but dog bit man is not. How new media has changed that and turned it upside down! If a dog bit man, and that man is your friend, that is not only news, that is big news. If that man walked his dog, and sent out a tweet about it, that is still news, to you. How things have changed!

This paradigm shift gets vastly more interesting when you scale it. What if news coverage gets more and more realistic because the people who make the news are very much part of the process of news creation? What if you as an individual have the power to decide what news you will watch, how long you will watch/read it, and as to how deep you will go into that news? That is huge. There is no more national and global news, there is only your news. Your local high school sports team makes news on top portals like Yahoo. That is quite a shift.

What if some people you are very interested in never get out of the picture? You don't have to wait until a major magazine profiles them. You don't have to wait for them to get on and off TV. What if they have a blog they update daily? What if they tweet daily? What if they told you what they had for breakfast?

The shift from old media to new media is huge. First it was about technology. Then it became more mainstream. This march will go on until there is no more the distinction. There is no old and new media. There is only media. And it is all what we call new media today. It is all too real.

That paradigm shift will impact every aspect of life. Industry after industry will have to go through rethinks. Primarily things will change for the better.

An eye opener for me - a Third World guy - was the earthquake in Haiti. If people only knew the gory details of all the human tragedy out there, they do care, and they do respond. These are not uncaring, racist, glum white people, I thought.

What got applied to the devastation of an earthquake can be applied to issues like malnutrition, and clean water, and dollar a day survival, and corruption, and pollution, and primary education, and all sorts of daily emergencies. Microfinance - a zero trillion dollar industry, to use Vinod Khosla's metaphor - could see paradigm shifts through use of social media. I say no more faceless lending. Between social gaming and mobile phone banking, many bases could be covered.

If you think about it, the internet is but one vast telephone. It allows us to communicate.

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