This has been my year for pushing social media and learning — developing use of Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter.
Diary function and sharing snippets is probably best done by Facebook, news by Twitter, recce information about places for exploring by Foursquare.
Where does that leave the humble Blog?
As what people used to call a commonplace book, with occasional comment, it’s unbeatable. I need to invest more in it. Some of the comment threads it stimulates turn are fascinating, and it becomes a focus for a form of community. It’s brought great joy this summer to meet a few of the people whose comments I most respect and like. That and the occasional diary or policy reflection does make it worth some effort.
The key to them all is interactivity and human value. Up on my electronic watchtower three convictions have stood out this summer:
(1) There is no such thing as “Cyberspace.” Value comes from people interacting, not trips into space. The technology is hidden to most practitioners. The speed and availability of new media have implications, but the silly old idea there is a place somewhere beyond the blue called “Cyberspace” flies in the face of McLuhan’s observation that any form of human expression is a “medium.” The whole notion may just be the place memory of the obsolete commercialised information kitchen we used to call “the media.” Like the Urban Spaceman, it don’t exist.
(2) Interactivity and relationships have driven the crumbling of old media power. What contemporary media do give us, along with an invitation to waste time, is multiple small opportunities to add value to each others’ lives. Everyone is more naked now, for good or bad, but attentiveness encourages, heals and strengthens people. Facebook is more immediately effective for this than a blog.
(3) Quality stands out. Unexpectedly perhaps, old fashioned correspondent virtues of accuracy and painstaking research carry a premium. The role of professional journalists is to check facts and assure information quality, not to spin titillating or terrifying stories out of thin air. Good information sources prioritise researchers and journalists not marketing. That's why the FT and BBC have heads above water, and Murdoch doesn’t.
What we each need to work out is how much time we’re willing to invest in what particular media when...