Sunday, September 21, 2008

not yet a revolution

Jay Rosen, talking about journalism (video , blog):
The means of production have been distributed to the population at large ... press tools which were once owned by companies and operated by professional journalists are now firmly in the hands of anyone who wants them ... people have blogs, digital cameras, editing systems, video cameras, audio recording ...

This meets the technical definition of a revolution, the definition that Karl Marx would have used ... the means of production have changed hands ... from the Media to the people out there ... almost all internet hype derives from this single fact ... there was a revolution ... (my emphasis) ...

We are still struggling with the consequences of this , but there was a revolution ... the means of production changed hands
This raises an issue I've been thinking about for a few years and with the collapse of the American economy is brought into sharp relief today. What Jay says has truth in it but is not quite correct. He talks as though the revolution is over and that the contradictions were non antagonistic. In the section preceding the above he says:
There are now closed and open editorial systems: they are different animals.

They don’t work the same way, or produce the same goods. One does not replace the other. They are not enemies either
By contrast a Marxist revolution or even the capitalist revolution against feudalism (which Marx supported), the new system overthrows the old system, the new system is antagonistic, is an enemy of, the old system. There is simply no point in continuing landlord-peasant relationships of production in an industrialised agricultural system. The landlords and peasants were wiped out and became capitalists and wage slaves. By contrast, as Rosen says, there is still a place for professional journalism in the post web world.

It might be more accurate to look at the tremendous enhancement in peer to peer connections opened up by the internet / web as a precursor to a real revolution that has not yet happened. What we have now is seeds being planted that have yet to fully blossom. The web is quietly corrosive, rather than fully revolutionary. Disruptive technology and creative destruction is all to the good but is not the same thing as a revolution which comprehensively transforms power, economic, philosophical and other relationships

I have only addressed a small section of Jay Rosen's blog here. Worth reading his full blog, his links and listening to him talk.

update: Jay's answers to the "constructive dialogue" and "truth" questions in the last 8 minutes of the video are really interesting (33 minute mark)

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