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Video blog: week one - Arianna Huffington and rockets in the desert

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Aleks Krotoski | 13:08 UK time, Thursday, 17 September 2009

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  • Comment number 1.

    Aleks seems to have given the kiss of death to the forum, so in the interests of getting things going again....

    Talk about the web enabling ordinary people to experiment with wierd stuff and learn how to do things the average local library couldn't help much with. (Q: What has been the impact of the internet on local library services?)

    Do we have any other examples of very specialised interests being enabled by the connectivity the net offers? What's the benefit to society of having geographically diverse people share information on their pet topics? Wasn't there some big amateur astronomy achievement recently?

    And on the same theme, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer was one of the financiers of Burt Rhutan's efforts to get into space without government support. And several internet billionaires have spent some of their winnings on trips to space. Does the 'instant billionaire' effect result in a breed of younger more imaginative mega-rich people doing new things that push back borders in other ways? Here's an eccentric digital nouveau riche playing a role not dissimilar from certain nineteenth-century aristocrats.

  • Comment number 2.

    @TaiwanChallenges thanks for those links (and for comments elsewhere - I will get back to those asap). I think you might mean Galaxy Zoo when mentioning the amateur astronomy achievement. A phenomenal success story for crowdsourcing.

  • Comment number 3.

    @TaiwanChallenges --- Aleks Krotoski seems to have given the kiss of death to the forum?

    OK, so it's not quite "The Internet causes cancer" (Aric Sigman, https://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/02/20/social_networking_heath_threats/%29 which would get us all commenting, but Aleks' vblog does raise some issues for those of us familiar with Huffington Post and other political (aka quasi-entertainment) blogs.

    "The thing I came away with was how much of a true believer she is in the Web Space, in citizen journalism. Yes, you can have lots and loads of people out there who are providing information, evidence and content, and that ultimately makes it a more robust news service." --- Aleks on Arianna Huffington.

    That's interesting because just earlier under the Nicholas Carr post about the Web's possible effects on the contemplative mind (comment #38, https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/digitalrevolution/2009/09/will-the-web-mean-the-end-of-t.shtml%29, I cited President Obama like so:

    "I am concerned that if the direction of the news is all blogosphere, all opinions, with no serious fact-checking, no serious attempts to put stories in context, that what you will end up getting is people shouting at each other across the void but not a lot of mutual understanding."

    (Source: https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/59523-obama-open-to-newspaper-bailout-bill%29

    The missing word in the "information, evidence and content...." sentence is CONTEXTUALIZATION. Who is providing this? The editor? The comments moderator? The crowd? Who ultimately is responsible for shaping the key take-aways? Who are ultimately the key influencers in a thread that might span 10,000+ comments which ends up with the voter ticking a box in a ballot paper or not?

    There are some interesting comments about "Off the Bus" and the other types of citizen journalism on HuffPost here:

    * https://www.cjr.org/feature/get_off_the_bus.php

    * https://gawker.com/5131784/arianna-huffington-lays-off-12000-citizen-journalists-hires-godson

    This returns us to the question of elites, haves-havenots and whether Web crowd-sourcing does actually have inbuilt hierarchies or, ultimately, end up with imposed hierarchies (the Ivy League / Oxbridge graduate whose offline social connections to XYZ lands them an online editorship).

    Didn't Jimmy Wales himself note previously that, "Wikipedia IS elitist."

    So then the question is: "What kind of crowd-sourcing tool could be consistently and permanently democratic rather than hierarchy forming?"

  • Comment number 4.

    I like HuffPost, sometimes the Media and Business pages carry interesting features. However, there are "no-go" areas on some of the threads. Many of the commentators aren't there to provide intelligent analysis. They're there to troll, flame, do character assassinations of politicians, business people, entertainers or post fake links for SEO reasons.

  • Comment number 5.

    On 'is the Web changing us' + African perspectives the first comment in Rory's dot-life blog post certainly expresses fears as to how introducing the Web could change Rwanda's society, and offers a comment about changes it has brought to some UK families.


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