The Old Frames the New

I came home yesterday to be treated to a rant from my wife about a radio show she’s suffered thru. Apparently these amazingly clueless these dudes were speaking about blogging. Then later that evening I got to listen to a portion of the show while driving in the car; right she was!

Boy did I enjoy her rant! Mostly since I choke down similar rants on a daily basis.

Technology keeps changing the way the world works is such fundimental ways. Each round in this game we play out similar patterns. At first we have no idea what’s happening. But we fool around with the stuff, we try assorted things. After a while there emerges some patterns in the new stuff. Patterns that those playing with it begin to understand. Those playing with it begin to be certain about what the facts are. They have the certainty that comes from experiance, learning from trail and error. This knowledge has the legitimacy of real experiance.

At the same time there is a large crowd of folks who are hanging back. They
watch what’s unfolding. They tell each other a story about what it means. These stories, like all stories observers tell, are framed in the terms of what they understand. Using the vocabulary of their personal experiances. The vocabulary has the legitimacy of the ages compiled into it.

At this point we get a collision. At some point those hanging back begin to announce that they have the phenomenon parsed, diagnosed, and explained. So often they are entirely wrong. All they have done is taken the phenomenon and shaped it so it fits their models. They dismissed the parts that don’t fit; usually heaping a bit of critism on them at the same time. They heightened the parts that do fit.

The voice they speak in is pompus; while the voice of those exploring in the new world is curious, doubtful, and playful.

At that point the folks that know the facts on the ground laugh, snort, and get angry. “Don’t be silly!” “Pompus Fools.” “Dust bin of history!”

The representatives of the old paradigm smile dismissively and say “angry young men.”

It’s really hard to bother to waste breadth on people so clueless. The world has changed and they will come along in due course. So in a inverse of the usual epilog of a blog posting.

Don’t bother to listen to it all.

Go read my wife’s blog instead.

0 thoughts on “The Old Frames the New

  1. Adam Hertz

    Against your fine advice and my better judgement, I listened to some of the broadcast. Enough to get the thrust of Packer’s argument, I think. I also fast-forwarded to hear some callers protesting what Packer had to say.

    While I recognize the patterns that you describe in your post, I have to say that I think something more overtly adversarial is going on in this case.

    Obviously, many mainstream journalists don’t like blogs. I think there are several reasons for this, some conscious and some not.

    Journalism is something of a priesthood. Priests typically don’t take kindly to the laiety performing the sacraments. Of course they’ll say that they’re doing it wrong, denegrating the tradition, etc. But at the root of it, they are losing their monopoly, and they know it.

    While I believe that those who say that blogging will replace traditional journalism are overstating the case considerably, there is no doubt that the game is being fundamentally changed.

    One great example of this is Technorati’s NewsTalk, which indexes blog posts that respond to news stories in the mainstream media. When I heard David Sifry speak a while back, he claimed that journalists are being trained to do searches like this from the moment their stories hit the wire.

    This illustrates the fact that journalists now have to suffer the public comments and challenges of their readership, and that a story can engender a vigorous public debate. What a fine thing for our democracy!

    The “tradition” we’re losing is the presumption of legitimacy and omniscience of journalists. Ding dong, the witch is dead!

  2. Ben Hyde

    Adam – Oh yeah. I agree with all you say. There is certainly a dose of the “arrogance of the elect” there as well as the nervous undertone of those who fear a displacement. When you mix in the host’s desire to create a controversy – nothing draws a crowd like a fight – you get a, ah, advisarial brew.

    See also:

    The media empires are classic distribution bottlenecks; it’s what feeds their business models. The disintermediation from blogging is a given. A burst of bewildering transparency. The interesting question is where the hubs will emerge that create new intermediaries; or will technology change move fast enough to preclude any durable hubs.

    Their fixation on political blogs was thus right, but not for the reason they thought. It’s right because those are today’s giants; are these the precursors of hubs?

    I’m much more interested in the vast number of tiny blogs.

    Lance – Sorry, that’s up to her :-).

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