Social media is about social agency, not ‘just’ gossip, entertainment or power…

If you didn’t hear it, it is still very much worth listening to this week’s moral maze programme on BBC Radio Four… The whole thing is worth listening to (even Michael Buerk’s introduction, which almost visibly drips with contempt)…

Padraig Reidy from Index On Censorship, probably came as close as any of the respondents to getting close to the nub of the problem with the often glib comparisions made between traditional media and the new platforms which seem to be in a state of constantly arriving

Michael Portillo: Do you think the rules for the internet, the blogosphere are any different than for newspapers, television radio?

Padraig Reidy: I will be entirely honest with you, I don’t think we know yet Michael. I think we are in an entirely new world now where we do not have a top down newspaper which is responsible for what appears in its papers, in its pages, a television station which is responsible for what it puts out in its broadcast. Social media is entirely different.

It is people talking. That is not something that radio or television with all the phone ins in the world have ever really managed to do. It is groups of people talking to each other, picking up debates, having arguments, being, often, quite abusive, but being often quite supportive.

With my day job hat on, I’ve been getting a chance to look at this from a new arrival’s point of view… And it seems to me that whichever media hub this is viewed from the same mistake gets made over and over again… New media is (like old media has been for most its time) a means to an end.

Those ends were once, in one way or another, primarily about the exercise of influence over power. In the hands of the masses, the ends are as mixed as the people and the situations (Stella Creasy from 7.20) that they find themselves in.

Meanwhile in ‘the decadent west’, Will Self is rather hoping the whole thing would just go away and just waiting waiting for Peak Twitter (defined as ‘a short burst of inconsequential information’)… I’m reliably informed that’s an end also eagerly anticipated by the same guys who set it up too who are surfing for the next big thing…

The medium is the message… and it is not going away, peak Twitter, or no peak Twitter… The agency is the thing…

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