The Internet – Evolution or Revolution

Rupert Murdoch, global media owner, had an interesting take on the changing world in a recent speech to other media moguls. He encouraged the editors and owners to bridge the gulf between the “digital immigrants” of older generations and young “digital natives”. Two quotes show how he was thinking.
My two young daughters, on the other hand, will be digital natives. They’ll never know a world without ubiquitous broadband internet access.
They don’t want to rely on a God-like figure from above to tell them what’s important. And to carry the religion analogy a bit further, they certainly don’t want news presented as gospel.

Fine sentiments but perhaps Mr. Murdoch hasn’t realized the full extent of the changes wrought by the Internet. I believe it’s more Revolution than Evolution. That’s Revolution as in the French Revolution. The French Revolution occurred and the monarchs were no more. This was true even though you had monarchs such as Louis XIV of France who is often cited as an example of a benevolent dictator. He is the one who supposedly said, “L’état, c’est moi!” The State, it’s me. Well the French Revolution changed all that.

The Internet provides essentially free communication so that no one has a privileged position. Money can achieve a certain visibility but does not give power. Equally it is very much more difficult for anyone to control information now. There’s just been a striking example of that in Canada with the Gomery Commission into the Adscam affair. Judge Gomery attempted to put a communications ban on the proceedings, even though the hearings are open to the public. So the Internet quickly had all the information posted on a US blogger’s site outside the good judge’s jurisdiction. Power now only comes through the strength of ideas. This is the stuff of Revolution.

Mr. Murdoch went on to see a new role for newspapers, seeing a promising future for both printed and digital versions. He didn’t choose to get into the current discussion on the possibly conflicting roles of journalists and bloggers. He even sees an expanded role for newspapers.
But our internet versions can do even more, especially in providing virtual communities for our readers to be linked to other sources of information, other opinions, other like-minded people.
That’s great, Mr. Murdoch. However remember that on this new level playing field, which is the Internet, you’ll find there are already a host of players. So by all means, come join the Revolution.

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