Book Review - We, The Media by Dan Gillmor
In my book reviewing, I occasionally come across a book that tilts my world view. We, The Media by Dan Gillmor (O'Reilly) is probably the best and most important book I've read in the last couple of years. It's a must read for serious bloggers and journalists, both "professional" and "citizen".
Chapter breakout: From Tom Paine to Blogs and Beyond; The Read-Write Web; The Gates Come Down; Newsmakers Turn the Tables; The Consent of the Governed; Professional Journalists Join the Conversation; The Former Audience Joins the Party; Next Steps; Trolls, Spin, and the Boundaries of Trust; Here Come the Judges (and Lawyers); The Empire Strikes Back; Making Our Own News
So why is this book important? Because the balance of media power has shifted, and it's no longer in the hands of a few publishers who can make or break public perception. Via the power of the internet and the new tools such as blogs and wikis, anyone with a point of view and an interest becomes a reporter and has a voice. Those who are consumers of news no longer are restricted to controlled media outlets. With the use of RSS, you can "roll your own news" and assemble a collection of media feeds and outlets to get a more balanced view of events. During the Iraq war, people followed the blog of Where's Raed? to get a view of real life in the country as opposed to what we were permitted to see on mainstream news. Gilmore does an incredible job of revealing the power shift, as well as looking ahead to what this many-to-many approach to media might be in the future. In addition, he explains many of the legal issues surrounding electronic media that are being hashed out on a daily basis.
This whole subject recently became very real to me and a group of bloggers in my circle of interest. An IT analyst firm known as The Radicati Group engaged in some behavior that was viewed by many in the blogging community as unethical. For the whole story, see http://vowe.net/cgi-bin/wiki.cgi?RadicatiGroup. But rather than have the story restricted to a small handful of individuals, the independent blogging community picked up the story and exposed the "anonymous" behavior. In short order, the mainstream IT media ran the story and discredited much of the firm's defense. The power had shifted from corporation to individual, and the individuals made the news. Even two or three years ago this couldn't have happened. Now with the new electronic media, the ethical behavior of individuals, companies, and goverments can be examined and exposed when necessary.
If you're a serious blogger or a journalist, this should be the next book you read. Your viewpoint of what you do "for fun" will be forever changed, and you'll have a much richer appreciation for exactly what it is you represent.