Thursday, August 23, 2007

The news is like the opera and the exercise bike

I just got home from a Silicon Valley Social Media Club meeting at Yahoo! in Sunnyvale. It was really interesting. The topic was social news sites, and featured a fantastic panel:
Karen Brophy, Yahoo! News
Amy Dalton, Topix.com
Steve Huffman, Reddit.com
Jay Adelson, Digg.com
Dan Gillmor, Center For Citizen Media

I learned a lot about this type of social news, something I have not really looked into much so far. Now I need to try out each of these sites a little more and see how they work.

The most interesting comments, I thought, were from Drew Curtis of Fark.com, who spoke via Skype. Fark is not like the other social news sites because it is intended to be funny. A way to laugh at the news. Curtis said that real news does not get as much traffic as entertainment and humor, unless there is a major news item such as a space shuttle crash. He did say however, that the Michael Jackson verdict got as many hits as 9/11 did.

"People treat news like the exercise bike in their basement," he said. "They like that it is there, but they rarely go check it out."

He also said that news is like the opera. Everyone says that they like opera, but when it comes down to it, they would rather go to see Kiss than the philharmonic.

I think his comments are true, but sad. Dan Gillmor said that he fears that media literacy is falling in younger generations. But he also said that he thinks that social news sites like these are on the way to make a big difference in out society as they help people become more informed, better educated and more involved in the news.

Hopefully he is right. I love the power that the Internet gives people to be able to get news and information from a variety of sources. The opportunities to learn and express one's self are endless. But we need to teach younger people to love to read and learn, to ask questions and voice their opinions. Otherwise, we could end up with a generation that thinks that who their favorite celebrity is dating is more important than the coming presidential election. Scary thought.

1 comment:

Adpet said...

This is probably one of the better posts you have had in a while. An enjoyable read...