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A distinct lack of cumulative learning

Note update after the jump...

A bunch of Big Thinkers got together recently to chew about the intersection of Big Media and Social Media,and concluded the following:


The overwhelming flow of information, crap, or junk cannot be stemmed, [NYU Journalism professor Jay] Rosen noted. "The way to make yourself valuable on the Web is: you edit the fucking Web," he emphasized, sending smiles across the crowd's faces. Journalists should serve as intelligent filters and middlemen if they hope to keep their jobs, Rosen added.

Now, I love Jay Rosen, but this makes me nuts. The idea of editors as filters of new media is not, like, new. That last link dates from 1995, and includes this:

But how do you distinguish the McCullaghs from the Rimms, the c00ld00ds from the surgeons general? Either everyone spends time getting smarter about the way information is gathered and distributed or we have some entity-a person, a bot, a committee-look at the stuff and put imprimaturs on it.
Of course, we already have people like that, who pass judgment for other people on the quality of available information. They're called editors. Their imprimatur is frequently called a publication. And again, we're back to the question of branded vs. unbranded information.

The media may change. The lessons don't. And I'd be happy to make that point at a conference.

Update: Jay wrote this morning to protest -- justly -- that he wasn't claiming to be presenting anything new at the Mediabistro shindig, and so shouldn't be pilloried for repeating verities. It's a reasonable objection. My detailed response:

Apologies if you got splashed by spew. But don't people go to conferences to learn stuff that's new -- at least to them? I find it enormously discouraging that, more than 25 years after it started to become possible to disintermediate the media -- and I'm dating it (probably inaccurately) from when Steve Bellovin released cnews and essentially created Usenet -- media professionals apparently stiil need to be told what their authority is, let alone how to use and capitalize on it.
It's better, I suppose, that someone should tell them if they can't figure it out on their own. Better still that it come from someone who's clued. (Being an academic, I'm sure you'd agree.) But why isn't this the water that they swim in, the air that they breathe?
So, no. No reason to be mad at you. No reason, really, to be mad at the attendees, because ignorance is not a sin and going to seminars is a fine way to cure it.
What bugs me isn't that you said it. What bugs me is that it still needs to be said.

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