I get the Seattle Times news feed in my reader...it's a good "paper" and it makes me feel connected to the Emerald City. Several days ago Brier Dudley crafted a piece entitled "Newspapers as Social Networks" where his central thesis seemed to revolve around an adamant claim that newspapers (and "traditional" news sources like NPR) still matter and that they can be construed as social networks. This seems right-headed and I buy in, but I can see how folks might now assume the term social network to mean what used to be referred to as online social network (OSN). This is, of course, fair play since language leaks, changes, and morphs in response to shifting contexts and paradigms. Web 2.0 has certainly fostered many shifting contexts and practices...realities do look differently these days.
In reading Dudley's piece, namely where to responds to Mark Anderson's tacit claim that newspapers are dead, I could not help but think of the video Googlezon EPIC 2014.
The faux documentary profiles the demise of print media and the acceleration of web-enabled hyper-consumption. Check it out.
While form has certainly changed (i.e., print) the utility of content has not. Analysis and information that comes from content is still valued and sought after, maybe now it's just in digital form. Who authors such analysis has changed too. Sure Web 2.0 allows unlimited authors, some dopes and some well-qualified pundits, but the best analysis does still matter. This assumption is akin to the claim that Google is making us "stoopid" (see previous post); and, it assumes that when authorship was a function of power and access and print was the dominant medium that people were enlightened and ever-critical. Now that the form has changed and there's more content all of a sudden everyone's confused, lazy, and more doltish than ever. That's a tough sell for me.
My take on Dudley's reminder that newspapers still matter, though they matter differently, is buttressed by a belief that "reading" as a discursive practice still happens and the communities that do this are increasing (not decreasing). I guess, I'm arguing that "reading" matters and its definition (like that of social network) changes too. Indeed, it should also be noted that merely "reading" is not a cure-all for ignorance or unenlightenment; critical engagement with any text happens beyond mere deployment of a technical literacy act. I hope and believe that people do want incisive commentary and useful information, they just forage differently for it. The social network is still there, it's not new--just sustained by a digital form now...one that requires new acts and practices of reading, and of community.