There’s no question that the internet has changed the world for the better. Individual voices now have as much reach as the dominant political and cultural voices had when every broadcast medium was controlled by gatekeepers. Aggregate enough individual voices and the power to dispute if not disrupt corporations or governments anywhere on the planet becomes real, in real time.
This feeling of empowerment was a critical factor in mass adoption of the internet. For the first time in history individuals were no longer limited to yelling back at their televisions and radios, but could immediately broadcast their own responses. While most such responses proved to be inane, some were, shockingly, no less informative or entertaining than what the cultural gatekeepers were shoveling. In short order these unknown but insightful individual voices validated the internet not simply as an email delivery system but as a democratic medium of mass communication. If you wanted incisive commentary on the web about anything from a film to a political battle you were as likely to find it on an obscure blog as you were on the website of a mainstream media outlet. Those mainstream voices, saddled as they were with bureaucratic restrictions and marketing directives, were outgunned by individuals who had no axe to grind except the facts of a matter and no audience to pander to but themselves.
While this revolution prompted a virtual land-grab by individuals eager to set themselves up as online experts, watchdogs or counter-culture trendsetters, not everyone wanted to manage their own site. What the revolution did confirm for everyone, however, was something that had long been suspected. In the media universe of programs and publications authored by other people, each of us was the content we’d been waiting for. [ Read more ]