Saturday, September 1, 2007

Blogs and the Media

The Daily Bellwether has an interesting thread up reflecting on Jill Miller Zimon's post concerning relations between bloggers and the print media. This relates to rumors of the PD planning on hiring several bloggers including Jill.

It's going to be interesting watching how old media handles the growth of the semantic web. So far they've been mainly reactionary, which is always a dangerous sign. Both the New York Times and the Washington Post have been adapting in interesting ways.

I'm thinking that eventually we'll see things adjust to a multi tier approach... blog feeds giving up to the minute information and old world print existing to provide overviews. The problem with adding more and more information into a system is that it gets harder and harder to process that information. Old media could do a much better job helping people with that. The problem is that they'd first have to understand what's actually going on, which means dropping a lot of their 20th century definitions for what news is.

One of my favorite examples of this is the Dayton Daily News' Get on the Bus blog that focuses on education. They haven't done a very good job of promoting it, but it does provide a lot of valuable up to the minute information.

One of the key steps of leveraging the semantic web in order to take on corruption in areas such as public education will be in creating standards for reporting public budgets at all levels of government. I can think of few things more important. Follow the money.

If print media wanted to cement their place in 21st century information streams they would work together to provide such semantic web reporting services. The Washington Post's US Congress Votes database is a start in this direction, even if it's crude and doesn't dive below the surface of what's really going on on Capitol Hill. Maybe I'm just super cynical, but I've always felt that the votes made in Congress are just misdirection in the 3 card monty game that is public governance.


Jill said...

One thing that's always bothered me about law-making via Federalism is the amount of time it takes, after something is an issue, for government to address that issue. The media - in the broadest sense of the concept - could quicken the pace if it wanted to, and if people wanted to know.

This last phrase is also part of the problem: people get on with their daily lives and remain in denial about whether something is affecting their life enough that they should be concerned and tell someone. And those that govern us think that once we elect them, they won't hear from us again and they're free to do as they think we would think they should.

I just had a terrible experience of my mayor trying to intimidate me. Now, he probably wouldn't call it that, but that's how I view it.

That is wrong. Just plain wrong. And it's part of what holds up change.

Anyway - great topics so far Chris. I love these kinds of ruminations. Thanks.

b l u e m o s a i c said...

It's difficult to change a paradigm. Think about the early days of TV. Many of the programs had people crowding around a microphone singing songs. Why? Because that's how things were done in radio! In a similar fashion, our transition to the online world looked remarkably like TV. Likewise, much of the print media is also rooted in the past. The smart ones have figured this out. The others are running out of time.

Jill said...

Excellent point. Again, hate to get too existential here, but it's Plato's cave analogy all over the place.

b l u e m o s a i c said...

I have to admit I wasn't familiar with the Plato's Cave analogy. Interesting!

Jill said...

The Republic is one of the political writings I go back to over and over and over. Probably partly because in college I had to read it, over and over and over. But there is an amazing amount of stuff in there, and in Plato's writings, that resonate still. Definitely worth a few minutes in Wikipedia, if you aren't familiar, and more time when you have time, if you can.

Chris Baker said...

It bugs me that we have a Representative form of government and yet we still have to constantly hammer our representatives in order to get them to represent us. Wasn't the whole point to avoid having to do all the work ourselves?

The big problem is that it's next to impossible to monitor what our representatives are actually doing. That's where I think that the semantic web comes in. We need to create feeds and tools to make it easy to generate reports of what our "employees" are doing. We're their managers and yet they act like they're the boss and keep everything from us.

b l u e m o s a i c said...

Hmm...the wheels are turning. Instead of big brother watching us, we can amass a network of little brothers (uh, and sisters) to watch over them!

Chris Baker said...

LOL I like that.

Jill said...

Chris - do you keep up with the National Conference of State Legislatures at all? They have had some posts about how different states are dealing with credentialing bloggers to get into statehouses. California, I think, has been the most progressive in letting bloggers in the same way as press. Also, there's the Media Bloggers Association.

But there have been a few threads about the Ohio blogs, not recently though, that have talked about access. We really should think about how we can leverage the interest to make it happen.

Chris Baker said...

Jill, no I'm not aware of that. Interesting.