Thursday, 2 August 2007

The medium isn't the message

Will people ever calm down about the allegedly world-changing capacity of the internet? Well when I say "people" I really mean members of my own profession, many of whom seem to be gripped by a perpetually childlike wonder at every development in cyber-interactivity, while taking rather less notice of its actual substance. It's time we ditched both the techno-evangelism of the web's cheerleaders and the apocalyptic doom-mongering of those who think 'citizen journalism' will Destroy Our Noble Profession. Both exist in numbers within my own profession and union, and it's time for a sober perspective.

Especially as it's leading to a type of journalism that struggles to distinguish between woods and trees. Take this story in today's Guardian, or this one last week about the US and Democrat presidential contest. Yep, the apparently fascinating thing, even to an audience mostly fully conversant with their way around the web, is that it's taking place on the internet. Well fuck me ragged. The world stops on its axis. The fact that the actual content of these online debates offers little evidence that the US's domestic politics, or anywhere else's, is becoming any more representative, any more relevant, any more radical as a result of these technological advances doesn't seem to matter. That establishment politicians are merely trotting out their same old tired old trials and triangulations in an extra medium seems no longer to matter to the besotted technophiles.

The internet is a useful tool - politically, socially and personally (I've learnt a lot from some of the forums listed on this blog, and met some thoroughly decent people), but it's precisely that - a tool. A means, not an end. Sometimes it seems people forget that.

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