Value Can Be Found Beyond the Blue Boxes

Photo by Vik407 /flickr

If you’re involved in any kind of project these days chances are you make use of Facebook in some way or another. If you don’t, a few clicks on the internet or a few pages in your local newspaper, and you’ll probably get hit with an article about how “you should” in order to reach “the people”.  In the publishing world it is the same story multiplied by 1000, as the world’s largest social network site is considered the be all end all of doing anything online. If you’re not making full use of facebook, you’re somehow a failure or a fool.  Why? Because in the publishing world it is all about the numbers, and if there’s one thing we’re told over and over again, facebook has the numbers.

But what real value do these numbers have? The truth that few want to admit, is that we don’t know. What proof is there that all those likes, and all the times your post gets shared on facebook, that these things amount to anything beyond a brief 2 sentences that are constantly being buried under the feeds of the insatiable scrolling machines we have all become.  Companies pay a full time staff to control their social media presence, to keep an eye on the social networks and make sure they’re “talking about us.”  Somewhere along the line of all of us going online, “talking about” something stopped meaning real conversations of any substance, and became the act of copy pasting without having to read or remember anything.  Entire books and traveling guru’s (even more irritating versions of me) are dedicated and revered because they give institutions advice as to what they “should” be doing if they really want to be down with the social media thing.

We have lost and are now at risk of losing even more when it comes to real content, genuine thought, and meaningful understanding. When it is more important that you have a facebook page than it is to actually researching and writing articles; when its more important you go viral than actually capture the war criminal your video was about; when its more of a priority that your facebook page have lots of likes instead of real debate and discussion; that is the point where the world of journalism and media is proudly wrapped in a fog of stupidity.  One where trends and expert tips are given way more credence than they deserve, and where original content  is left in the dust.  Somewhere along the line we stopped being original and authentic, and we became apostles of that iconic blue masthead that says “this is what matters, not your hard work or your unique individual creations, but your ability to do exactly as we say you should. Why? Because we have the numbers. And in today’s publishing/business world, numbers trump humanity. Over and over again.

(yes I realize you’re likely reading this from within facebook, but I look forward to after the rebellion, when even less of us will)

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Mark D on Media Work

Struggling to recover following my panel discussion gig at the European Parliament, my speech at the international school here in Amsterdam, and the last 3 days of nonstop ultimate frisbee filming during our gigantic tournament/circus known as Windmill Windup.

Thanks to all this, I was not able to meet up with my friend and thesis supervisor back in my University days, Mark Deuze. Mark was in the Netherlands visiting from his new home in Bloomington Indiana. You may recall his appearance on a previous podcast talking about trends in journalism. Throughout my “career” as a crusading podcast journalist, I’ve remembered alot of lessons that I learned during those school days, especially my many conversations with him. Just this past week at the EU, as I stepped off stage, several people came up to talk to me and often said “you seem to know your stuff” (referring to media and the media landscape). I thought to myself, well… Ive been milling over these issues for years, I do believe I know some stuff.

Book

I digress, still not functioning at 100% after all these activities, but I wanted to post a link to Mark Deuze’s new book “Media Work” which focuses on exactly what it sounds like; the work of people in media and what is happening therein. Read the book and of course, subscribe to his blog.

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Prison Writing

I’ve recently tried to get in touch with Josh Wolf, citizen journalist recently released from jail. Obviously since his release he’s had nonstop places to be and people to talk to, but I figured I would get in line and see about interviewing him.

The purpose of my interview was NOT going to be his case and the whole question of journalist-blogger rights. That topic, while important, has been well covered by the alternative media online.

Instead I want to talk to Josh about prison life. Especially about the conversations, the thoughts, every aspect of prison life and the experiences of other prisoners. He had lots of interesting things to say while he was in prison about what things they did have a right to and what things he thinks they should have a right to, and I wanted to explore all that and hopefully learn from it.

Well I still haven’t heard back from the man, but I will remain patient. In the meantime, I was excited to hear about his project “Prisonblogs.net“. Free blog hosting for prisoners, a space where they can communicate their thoughts and experiences. Over my 7 years of publishing on the internet, I’ve come across many letters from prisoners republished on a few blogs. I glad to see that someone like Josh is helping to make this more possible and will be reading along with great interest.

Northern State

ps- Do watch his appearance on Colbert.. it’s fun.

**UPDATE: Just recieved an email from the man. thank you internets.**

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