Sunday, November 21, 2004

Top-down, bottom-up

I read We, the Media recently. The book is available at the website for free download.

This is an interesting and thought-provoking look at how new media is changing the equations on content and news.It talks of, among other things, the rise of of RSS news feeds, which allow you to have a greater say in the news you get, and its relevance to you. (similar to the push vs. pull case I made a few weeks back - it was probably before I read the book. Great minds do think alike.). Importantly, it talks of grassroots journalism, and the rise of blogs and things like the Wikipedia, online content that is driven from the bottom-up.

Adding to this theme, I now realize how easy and cheap it is for anyone to really get information out there today. Two technologies on the Internet make this cheap: the first is, of course, freely available blog sites like this one. The second one is BitTorrent. While most people associate it with downloading pirated movies, and software, it is turning out to be an amazingly effective tool for distributing content on low budgets. (I got my latest linux isos, and firefox downloads via bitTorrent - almost as fast, and a bit less server load for the orgs.)

Note: If you don't know about BitTorrent, do check the official FAQ. The protocol's darn impressive. According to some studies it accounts for one-third of the traffic on the Internet today

Imagine an incident like the Rodney King incident happening today. An ordinary person could get the word out, and if s/he has a digital video of it, it could be downloaded by millions without grief to his/her bandwidth bills, simply by posting a BitTorrent link online. With official media increasingly reluctant to take on the government in the US, especially on anything related to "security", this may be prove increasingly important in the future.

For an insight into how news-reporting is giving way to increasingly biased reporting, watch this interview footage from Outfoxed.

NOTE TO SELF: I am beginning to sound like a radical left-wing loonie here. But I 'd like to think I stand by facts, and I like my news like the beeb delivers it. Give me healthy skepticism over "You're with us, or you're with them".

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