Friday, July 08, 2011

The end of The Age of Being Told What To Do

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The end of one of Britain's oldest newspapers marks the end of the Age of Being Told What To Do.
British politician's must be privately sighing with relief (or more likely laughing themselves dizzy). Because this spells out if not the end of the power of press barons, a very significant reduction in it.
The News of the World is one of NewsCorps. Part of the vast Murdoch media empire. It is an empire which has given the Murdochs huge power. They have used it to threaten, cajole, instal and topple Governments. They backed one party or another - and went on witch hunts and mud-slinging exercises to attack those who they did not annoint. Through this they have seeked to control how we are governed.
Successive generations of Britain's leaders have cow-towed to this power. It's been embarrassing to see them cringe before Rupert and Co.
Now politicians are waking to the realisation that Murdoch's media power has gone - and that learning has to impact every press baron remaining on the planet.
The rapid and angry response of the people took down the News of the World - destroying the brand. And that response was only able to grow, aggregate and self-organise to impressive effect because of the social tools now at our disposal - the social media. We didn't need to be told how to think, or what to do.
A community of purpose organised and created change, fast. The web lowers the cost of group forming. But the important bit is that these aren't any old groups. These are groups of people with shared purposes: Communities.
And communities lower the cost of getting things done.
No longer is the power at the centre - it is at the edge.
We, the edge, the self-organised, have achieved what Governments could not - we have brought the press barons to heel.
Of course there will be emergent clusters and clumps of influence, flocks to be turned in the peer to peer world where influence now resides. We don't all have equal influence - power if you like - all of the time. But it is us, the edge that will do the flock turning.
Messages are no longer done to us, but done by us - or at the very least with our considered consent. We will share what we choose to share - and that is the only way in which information will flow in this space. We will no longer be told what to think by a huge source of power at the centre - we will influence each other.
But before the politicians raise a glass of champagne to the demise of the media baron, they must also note that their fate remains in the hands of exactly the same forces. They may believe they are the power at the centre but unless they take rapid steps to open up to the people they represent - and relinquish the control that dominates the current model - they will go the way of the News of the World and of the press barons.

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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?