Internet: We can't plead ignorance

The monotone of the evening news has been replaced by the cacophony of a million web voices. No longer can the network anchorman wrap up the news and expect it to stay wrapped. The education of Dan Rather by bloggers is best recent example. My father used to yell at the television screen to no effect. Today people don’t trust news if they can’t talk back and be heard. A free market of ideas is replacing centralized control. Everyone has the power to ask questions and to speak truth to power. We all have the power now, although not everyone knows how to use it.

Free markets are usually better than centralized control, but they look messier and more chaotic. Information consumers must be smarter and take more responsibility for their own educations.

Remember - you don't have the right to know. You have the right to try to find out. Nobody is going to give you the news without a spin because nobody can. Everyone understands the complex world using his own simplification, mental model and when he gives you the news he gives you his model. All models are NOT created equal. Some work better than others and the only way to know which are best is to compare them.

We at Watchblog know this well. All of us have an equal opportunity to write, but not all of us are equally heard or believed. We have seen ideas evolve and consensuses develop and be dashed. Writers have no obligation to tell the truth or be honest, but marketplace of ideas disciplines us. If we are wrong too often, nobody believes us. This is the future of the news and it is not a bad future.

Of course, the establishment is less enthusiastic about these changes. They decry the new media and even seek to limit and control it

In the political world my belief is that the new media has largely benefited conservatives because it enabled them to go around the traditional media. I am convinced that without bloggers, John Kerry would be president of the U.S. today. Dan Rather would have had the last word on the National Guard story and the networks would have judged George Bush and found him wanting. This will not always be the case. As conservatives become the establishment, liberals will be able to use the same tools to push them off the pedestal. As in the free market economy, the free market of ideas allows for innovation. The quickest and the best innovators win.

Thanks to Beagle for the inspiration to write this article.

Posted by Jack at March 24, 2005 5:44 PM