Setting the table

Posted on 12. Oct, 2008 by in Business Summit, Presentation

Here is a first draft of a presentation I plan to give at the start of the conference to set context. Fear not, I don’t go through it line-by-line; I added more detail because I’m posting it here. The slides at the end are the assignments for the groups, which I’ll also flesh out more in posts here on the blog. Please leave lots of comments, corrections, questions, arguments.

New Business Models for News

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: cuny news)

One Response to “Setting the table”

  1. Steve Gorelick

    13. Oct, 2008

    Seeing the slide presentation and musing more on the distributed model and the news as process model, I am again struck by the magnitude of the shift in world view this asks of audiences. I am not saying they won’t or can’t adapt, or that they aren’t already doing so, but consider this:

    For thousands of years the nature of story telling and narrative has wired us to think about knowledge as something that is sought, discovered, described, and then put to bed. First you are paralyzed in the darkness of Plato’s cave, then you watch The Today Show or read the New York Times, and finally you get to walk outside into the light. From confusion you arrive at received wisdom. You feel good. You have some bedrock facts and assumptions you can bank on.

    Story over. Narrative complete. Except that it isn’t and never was.

    Because while we all knew that this settled knowledge wasn’t really settled at all, and knew that events continued to unfold and facts continued to emerge, we still opted for the comfort of believing that events had a beginning, middle and an end. Who wants to live guided by a more realistic and unsettling cosmology in which social change is ongoing and that what was true yesterday may not be true today?

    Who wants to live in a world where you can wake up and find that the settled ending of yesterday’s story might actually have only been the beginning of another new story that has no end in sight?

    A distributed, non-stop model of news as process forces a reckoning with a much more realistic view of how the world works. We just have to acknowledge how uncomfortable some audience members will find that world.

    Telling an audience that they now can choose to engage with an organic and constantly changing news universe when they want, and that they can and should participate in that changing universe, will not necessarily be cause for them to celebrate. Because you are also asking them to forever forfeit the security of linear, sequential, and received wisdom that comes with some seal of authority.

    Again, this is no big revelation. But every so often I realize how wedded people are to an infinitely more secure, fictional world in which narratives and stories proceed predictably and provide a place for the fatigued and the faint of heart to stop and rest.

    Narratives do stop. But the world doesn’t.

    Narratives do answer questions. The world sometimes simply asks more questions.

    Of course we have to embrace that complexity. We just can’t forget that the nuance we celebrate is often someone else’s nightmare.