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Technology will soon transfer the power to set the national conversation from a few in NY/DC to a multitude of opinion leaders 8/27/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in Uncategorized.
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It is no coincidence that each day in America there seems to be only one set of national news stories and angles reported by every outlet, despite the infinite number of stories and angles available. It starts the night before, when the most authoritative papers in the country’s centers of money (NY Times) and power (Washington Post) swap drafts of front pages, agree on what the public ought to be talking about, then publish their synchronized stories. After that, it’s all a game of follow-the-leader as TV networks, daily metro papers, and local TV affiliates mindlessly defer to the decisions of these revered papers. No one ever seems to be bothered that this process: 1) is undemocratic, giving a handful of people enormous power over what we talk about amongst ourselves; 2) is not necessarily good at selecting the most noteworthy or popular stories; or 3) crowds-out others’ ideas regarding where the public’s attention ought to be directed.

But very soon, more democratic and open methods of setting these so-called “national conversations” will be with us. Former Microsoft technical evangelist and popular blogger Robert Scoble demonstrates in a series of videos how new companies like Mahalo and TechMeme are developing software that identifies the most popular and noteworthy stories by tracking online conversations among a “fabric” of experts and opinion leaders.

Ultimately, we will come to understand that our “national conversations” have never been “national” in regards to who has been selecting them, nor “conversations” in the sense that the public’s feedback was ever solicited or weighed. Instead, we have been receiving lectures on which stories we ought to be most concerned about, based on the liberal views of two newspaper founding families – The NY Times’ Sulzbergers and the Washington Post’s Grahams. Technology will deliver a true national debate and a true national conversation.

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