REVIEW: "We the Media", Dan Gillmor
- BKWEMDIA.RVW 20050610
"We the Media", Dan Gillmor, 2004, 0-596-00733-7, U$24.95/C$36.95
%A Dan Gillmor dgillmor@...
%C 103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol, CA 95472
%I O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
%O U$24.95/C$36.95 800-998-9938 fax: 707-829-0104 nuts@...
%O Audience n+ Tech 1 Writing 2 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
%P 320 p.
%T "We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the
Lord Northcliffe noted that "[n]ews is what somebody, somewhere wants
to suppress. All the rest is advertising." Somewhat more famously,
A. J. Liebling wrote that "[i]n America, freedom of the press is
largely reserved for those who own one." Gillmor attempts to stress,
and expand, the point that the rise of the personal computer and
(particularly) the Internet provides everyone with the power of the
press and facilities to avoid suppression.
Chapter one provides a brief history of citizen journalism, or
personal media, extending back roughly 250 years and culminating with
experiences following the destruction of the World Trade Center towers
on September 11, 2001. Various communications tools are described in
chapter two. (It probably isn't surprising that Usenet is not noted,
but it is rather ironic, given the similarity to P2P [Peer-to-Peer]
distribution, and the fact that RSS [Really Simple Syndication]
clients are called "newsreaders.") Chapter three reiterates the idea
that individuals are reporting news, but it is difficult to see a
specific thread or point to the material. Newsmakers, the people
normally being reported on, can also post their own stories, and
chapter four also makes some suggestions for those who wish to do it
effectively. "Citizen reporting" on politics is covered in chapter
five. Chapter six notes some attempts by professional media to use
the same tools, and also to use the material generated by citizen
journalism. Chapter seven looks at early adopters and leaders in the
grassroots journalism field. On the one hand, this simply provides
more examples of areas already discussed. On the other hand, it seems
oddly oxymoronic: if reporting and blogging is the ultimate in
democracy, why does it need "leaders?" A grab bag of "emerging"
technologies makes up chapter eight. Instances of misleading (or
outright fraudulent) postings are examined in chapter nine. Various
legal issues are discussed in chapter ten, ranging through censorship
to intellectual property to domain name cybersquatting to encryption.
Chapter eleven examines actions by the government and media
corporations against free and personal journalism. A brief reprise of
the basic idea of the value of grassroots media closes off the book in
The work certainly is readable, enjoyable, and informative. Part of
the enjoyment comes from the anecdotal style, which does limit the
analysis of the content. Not that Gillmor avoids analysis, and he
usually does a reasonable job, but the historical perspective is
limited (what have we learned from mailing lists and Usenet news?) and
serious constraints (blogging versus Wiki versus mailing list
partisans, technical limitations) on discussion receive only cursory
attention. This volume examines this issue in breadth, but possibly
copyright Robert M. Slade, 2005 BKWEMDIA.RVW 20050610
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- Kevin Marcus
http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade