First draft of history

Journalism has been described as ‘the first draft of history’ and both history and sociology have been
described as ‘slow journalism’ (by historians and sociologists respectively, who no doubt wanted to feel that their work was relevant to the ‘real world’). Another term perhaps appropriate for this day and age (of speed) might be ‘fast history’. The history of journalism is not really that different from the developments that we have had with weblogs, though the latter cannot be easily equated to journalism in its current state.

Compared to the beginnings and rise of journalism from the 1600s, blogging is perhaps a more democratic form of reporting and commenting on the world, one that offers the tools (at least for those with the time, skills and money) provided via the internet and new communications technology, which enable people to act as ‘citizen journalists’ or ‘commentators’ and intervene in public discussion, without being mediated by ‘gatekeepers’: eg owners, managers, editors.

Yet, people often mistake the symptoms of technological developments for the causes and offer explanations that are technologically determinist when it is the people organising and engaging in concerted action against entrenched elites or powerful ruling groups (otherwise known as ‘politics’). Not that technologies do not have an impact or shape us, because they do very clearly (in both positive and negative ways).

Or they might just use the tools to engage in their own endeavours which are largely outside the realm of shaping contemporary power structures. The use that we make of these tools, however, may help give voice to people as well as open up the range of opinions to which they are exposed outside of our limited media system. I hope that we would see a more just, socially progressive and equitable world: but it is us (or those who have power over us) and not the technologies themselves that will make the world into how we (or they) imagine it should be.

I have recently re-started my twitter account after a lapse of one year and as part of my efforts to act on my values, experience, expertise and knowledge. My dear friend, Martin, was able to take me through it (I’m a kind of techno-peasant) and it made sense to me in terms of the use that I might make of it. However, while I see the use of twitter, I am also aware that there is more that I wish to express and so I have taken a further dive into the world of weblogging or blogging.

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