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An exploratory journey on the edge of newspaper evolution

Lunch ladies (and lads) May 6, 2008

Filed under: innovation,journalism,social media — contentninja @ 4:48 pm
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Braun HF 1, Germany, 1959Image via Wikipedia

I had lunch today with John and Sandra Hudson, a lovely retired couple from Iowa City who know exactly who they are, what they want for information and what they want from news sources. They also know a lot about the sociology of groups and creativity and structure building. It was a fascinating lunch.

We talked a bit about Facebook, and Sandra expressed the very real concern that it (and by extension, other social media) gets in the way of self-actualization.

With thanks to Jay Rosen, who blogs at Media Shift Lab about it, author Clay Shirky makes some rather interesting points along these lines. In a Web 2.0 Expo speech (see it here), Shirky talks about what he calls the “cognitive surplus.”

Shirky, author of “Here Comes Everybody,” argues that we can find the time for social media and wiki projects by taking it from the millions of hours spent watching TV, which he cleverly calls a “cognitive heat sink.”

He goes on to say that 20th-century media was conducted as a race (we produce, you consume), but today’s media is a triathlon — consuming, producing and sharing. Media must provide all three experiences for consumers or lose them. Because,  he argues, as any 4-year-old can tell you: “Media that’s targeted at you but doesn’t include you may not be worth sitting still for.”

(Emphasis is mine.)

Now, I suspect Sandra and John don’t watch a lot of mindless sitcoms, so Shirky’s argument may not ease Sandra’s mind. And Sandra’s point about the obstacles to self-actualization are valid. This turning point in history, which Shirky argues is on par with the Industrial Revolution, will undoubtedly provide fertile soil for years for academic research and musings on the ramifications.

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