A wolf in aggregator clothingKorean news site Oh My News has an thought-provoking piece on categorisation and the processes of organising news. It draws the following conclusion:

"If you think people are stupid and require direction, then you'll tend towards hierarchies, organised categories and closed distribution. This was Walter Lippmann's view of people, and it is reflected in the 'professional' press that he birthed.

"If, however, you believe people will generally get it right, if given the chance, then you'll be comfortable with all that a free, searchable and open system has to offer. This is vital as we attempt to innovate the business models of tomorrow, for if you can accept the latter position, the lust for aggregation being expressed by the institutional media looks short-sighted and foolish."

The truth is somewhere in the middle, probably. The popularity of soul-rotting car crash entertainment like Big Brother, Celebrity Love Island and Heat magazine illustrates the questionable side of DIY information. Some people might, for example, choose to bypass hard news entirely and stick to celebrity gossip.

But I confess to being rather misanthropic on the quiet, so perhaps I just don't have enough faith in people. Ultimately, I believe there should be an information democracy where we are all free to read what we want without having it handed down from on high. And that's what the internet age provides: enormous discussion.

Incidentally, if you haven't heard of Oh My News before, it's become well known for pushing citizen journalism. Another big discussion...

Comments? Email me.


From Holly Noseda, 11:39 25 May 2005

I found your piece on the categorisation of news really interesting. Being a shade misanthropic myself I tend to agree that if something is not immediate, given the massive variety of news sites online, people will go somewhere else.

I also think that it's interesting to look at favourite news sites like BBC Online and News Now and see how well structured and 'hand holding' they are.

Besides, people are pretty dopey and everything - especially online - is about immediacy and getting where you want to be as quickly and clearly as possible.

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