Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The marketplace of ideas

Messy image of an idea light bulb I made with a mimeograph machine in the early 1980s.

Children were taught not to take candy from strangers. Then when they became adults and started working in the publishing field, they were told:

"Do not take unsolicited candy from strangers who don't have literary agents."

Now the Internet has opened floodgates. So much candy, so many strangers.

Now there are newspapers with open access forums attached to each story, like the Bellingham Herald on-line. It's amazing how many ideas are out there. So many articulate and good discussions in the various forums. Also, of course, a lot of fairly thoughtless stuff, but it is amazing how much is good.

Good, of course, can be in the eye of the beholder.

Now it seems like just about everyone has a voice. Forums, blogs, groups, tribes.

Some miss the "common ground culture" we had before, like when just about everyone watched the Beatles on Ed Sullivan.

Not everyone watched the Beatles. We have a big world and most of the time it has been silent. Also most people who are alive today were born after the Beatles.

Now that there are so many voices, one wonders if anyone is heard? Yes, even the concept of "heard" is questionable. Heard by who?

As long as you are heard by someone, I guess it's okay. I've heard people say, "if I can just make a difference to one other person, it's worth all the effort."

Audience fragmentation is on. Many voices, smaller audiences, but having just about everything defined by the big networks and publishers had it's drawbacks also.

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