Monday, January 17, 2005

baltimoresun.com - The new digital democracy

Sunday's Baltimore Sun contained an excellent article on the revolution that we are all part of -- even if we're not always aware of it.

The emphasis is on the impact that the digitization of communications tools — from blogs to digital movie cameras to Apple's GarageBand — is lowering barriers to participation in all form of media and creative arts.

Here's a couple of paragraphs that give a flavor of the article:
Those who study changes like these - changes that transform societies - believe it may be decades, even a century, before we are able to truly understand the time we are living in and the impact of the changes that the digital revolution is spawning.
"I don't think we're capable of grasping the significance," says [Andrew] Nachison of the Media Center, which studies the intersection of the media, technology and society. "We get caught up in the day-to-day minutiae. It misses the bigger deal that's going on."

He doesn't believe the digital age will make life universally better. The same tools that allow for freer communication and unfettered connection can also be used for less lofty purposes. At the low end of this spectrum, for instance, the ubiquity of camera phones has led some gyms to ban them for fear that members would be photographed in various states of undress in locker rooms. Of greater concern are more fundamental issues, such how to weed fact from fiction in the flood of information now available online.

"Individuals and organizations which seek to distribute disinformation and misinformation have new tools at their disposal," Nachison says, "and that means everything from corporate disinformation to government propaganda has a new means of distribution."

Still, Nachison is optimistic about what the digital revolution will mean.

"The empowerment of individuals to share information is ultimately going to be a democratizing force around the world. Or, to put it another way, [it will be] a means of disrupting any institution which attempts to repress or control freedom, whether that is a corporation or a government."
Check out the entire article. It's thought provoking says a lot for a newspaper feature.

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