Undermining the Idea GateKeepers

Love this interview with LeVar Burton on Building 43 - Communities without Gatekeepers.

We should not be afraid of “more accountability and integrity in our communicating.”

Broadcast media & commercial communication are one-way conversations bundled with sales messages, actors, branding, and entertainers. Often it is marketing made to look like authentic human interaction.

The goal of most mass media communication is to generate revenue.

When you unpack Broadcast media messaging we find it is often a partial hollow representation of human communication. In the age of mass media, companies and large organizations have controlled, or at the very least influenced, the messages that people receive in the broadcast channel.

Mass media messages have been tightly controlled. With revenue protection in mind,  the distribution channel owners and funders have acted as the message gatekeepers. 

No more.

Check out LeVar's thoughts in the video above. He has has been a champion for challenging people to think, discover, and ask "what if?" for decades now.

In the Web 2.0 Social web, we are increasingly able to find and choose messages that make sense and resonate; conversations that enhance our perspective and our understanding. And ironically, it is technology that is extending our authentic conversations beyond our local reach.

The many-to-many Social Web now matches and extends beyond the reach of one-way broadcast media.

More than ever we are able to choose an alternative to the status quo of how we hear, understand, and discuss issues that involve all of us. With broadcast messaging declining and non-commercial communication increasing, we are finding connections with new people and forming new communities – along the way uncovering those things that make us more alike than different. We are able organize around different commonalities and undertsandings. It is here that we are collectively remembering that there is more to life than selling, consumption, and commercial agendas.

The hegemony of the idea gatekeepers is eroding every passing day. And it is in this sharing of stories of being human, Levar Burton says, we have an opportunity for imagination ... An opportunity to say “what if ...?”

We should not be afraid of “more accountability and integrity in our communicating.”

That, friends, is our starting point and ideal worth evangelizing.

Communication as Power

An observation from Desmond Tutu: "Language not only describes reality, Language creates the reality it describes."

Language is powerful. Communication is a human arrow in the quiver of power. The communication of the meaning of a reality is a powerful act. I think Marshall McLuhan had it right, the way one communicates is as important as what he communicates. How people receive information is as important as the information they receive.The medium is the message.

How does technology, web 2.0, and the cloud impact and accelerate the communication of reality, identity, culture, nationalism? What is the impact of "many to many" communication upon "one-to-one" and "one-to-many" communication? It too soon to tell the final results of how the web transforms the ways people learn, communicate, and define reality, and ultimately create meaning.

The typographic mind is fading. The story telling tribal mind is challenged. Is the group think dying? Today, the birth and death and new creation of realities is growing exponentially; Expanding and splintering at the same moment.

What holds true is this: Shared experience remains key to humanness.

Socratic method is dying. We once gathered around campfires; Jesus used parables, and so it goes...

The Arc of Celebrity in the Post-modern Digital Age

The recent deaths of Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, and Billy Mays created the usual hyper-slop of television coverage. It was coupled with the new reverberating social media echo chamber that reached a deafening cacophony of inanity. Some are calling it the Jackson effect. Twitter tracked 100K tweets per hour at its peak. Google mistook the onslought of Jackson searches and web traffic as a DDoS attack. The icon-loving mass-media mob culminated in a Lottery for tickets to Jackson's funeral. (If you don't understand why The Lottery is ironically spooky read a little Shirley Jackson re: public stonings.) This is the first of 100’s of celebrity icon deaths that the hyperventilating media will bury us in.   

Is the media coverage driven by the fact that Jackson was an instrumental force in people's lives? An outsider to our culture looking on would assume that Jacko was a god, or a deified hero. In reality, Michael Jackson was a terrific musician and dancer, who reached the pinnacle of his career almost 30 years ago. He was a man who seemed to struggle with identity in public; a man who's quirks bordered on shocking; a man with an unseemly fetish for youth and young people. No this man was no statesman, no god, no oracle.

Here is the root cause of the media feeding frenzy in my estimation: He was a man who lived nearly his entire life in public.

The private became public - the line between the two blurred by analogue and now digital media. By 1960, 90% of Americans had televisions. The saturation of the internet into family homes took less than 15 years. One of the by-products of the entrenched mass media into our culture is a new Iconic Celebrity status. “Always On” broadcasting and the speeding up of communication velocity and frequency over the last 50 years brings people into our lives who would never have been there previously (think 1910).

The medium is the message. 

The impact of living in a real life Truman Show is more powerful than the actual outputs of the artist. We ignore that he was an “alleged” a child predator. Pick a foible, we ignore it. The "we of society" love him because he is familiar. We love him because he is an icon in our mental maps. We love him because his public living for 43+ years runs parallel to our own personal history. We love him because we've seen him, we “know” him.

The electronic mass media creates 1000’s of iconic celebrities in our culture, transforming them into guideposts for how we see the world, meter our history, and relate to our own lives. First kiss songs, random movie lines, “didja see that Seinfeld where …”. Celebrity icons act as comfortable fixed points of reference that anchor the unpredictability of living. It is a by product of what Marshall McLuhan called hot and cold communication mediums.

Communication mediums alter and shape cognitive organization.

The icon of “Michael Jackson” is interchangeable with 1,000's of other celebrity icons already rooted into our mental maps. We see celebrity icons created, ascend, peak, and decline – sometimes all in a week. Now that mass media is over 50 years old, we will witness the final denouements of more Celebrity Icons as their lives come to an end, natural and unnatural. The Jackson Effect is not over, it is only just beginning and accelerating.