Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Getting past the Gatekeepers: Blogging and the reform of the Fourth Estate

Well, okay: mmmmaaaayyybbbeee not exactly the reform of the Fourth Estate. But media has been so much a Corporation these last few decades that they've seemingly forgotten why they heck the existed - and came to be regarded as a full "Estate" - in the first place.

Everytime I read , hear and/or see "mainstream" media, everytime I interact with media personnel, I always, always, go back to that one class in Journ 101 where Doreen Fernandez herself popped the bubble of idealism keeping afloat the rosy view of the media that we Atenean Comm sophomores still had. (Most) Media exists, even if they operate at a loss, not becuase of any idealism or even altruism, but because having your own media is having power. It would only be when P.R. class in fourth year started introducing us to Strategic Constituencies and the term Gatekeepers of Information that it all started to make sense, especially as it all dovetailed nicely into the modified Sender-Reciever models of modern communciations theory.

Blogging changed all that. Okay, that and the Internet. The former would probably have not flowered if not for the... insinuation of the latter in everyday human life. But no one today who has constant access to the Net can deny the... liberating power that blogging has brought to the whole system of information transfer that the 21st century is based on. William Gibson's near-prophetic vision of a humanity centered around information is here (albeit without the graphical complexity and granduer of a VR web, nor the dystopian atmosphere of his future. Well, not yet.), and now more than ever is the access to that information crucial to day-to-day living.

While channel surfing last night, I chanced upon an interview of Manolo Quezon on ANC, and he said there that he wishes more people would express their opinion. In a very real sense, this is what blogging does. Even those "simple", diary-like journals found among Friendster users are as important as the cutting edge blogs of known pundits simply because they add to the collective trove of information and experiences of the human race.

In essence, blogging is tantamount to staking one's very own real estate in the VR realm of the Worldwide Web and doing with it what you want, how you want it, and showing the rest of the world how you percieve reality. As a liberal, that is not only good, but truly astounding. Liberals revel in information. We seek the alternative viewpoint, no matter how offensive it can be to our sensibilities. We may hate what we see from someone's else's PoV, but at least we've seen another take on the issue.

And that's important. In an increasingly digital world whose backdrop is the increasing trend to security-over-freedom following 9/11 (augh! It's so... Gibsonesque! Why the hell must there always be some catastrophe or another that defines the future?! Can't it be something glorious instead like the Fall of the Wall? Why is Buffet's giving away NEARLY ALL of his money, and making a statement against "dynastic wealth" not as earth-shattering as the rise in oil prices?), keeping information from being interpreted by a single or select group of Gatekeepers is asking for trouble; in fact, controlling information is the true first step to the dark world Gibson portrayed in his books, most eloquently in the seminal Neuromancer.

Blogs - ironically, its rise is a by-product of the second Iraq war! - allow ordinary people to bypass an increasingly-monolithic Fourth Estate that is increasingly coming under the control of the First and the Third. As alternative sources of information to the traditional Gatekeeper that is mainstream media, they ensure that information stays free, dynamic and multi-facted. Sustaining a single worldview is Orwellian, just as the suppression of dissent and differing opinions (like some people I know and you know who you are!). Blogs - yes, even Friendster blogs - actually help keep Big Brother, in whatever forms or even gender it chooses to be, at bay through its affirmation of that essential cornerstone of demoracy which is the free access to information and the freedom to say what is in one's mind.

With increasingly-cheaper webspace available, and the blogging community not only constantly striving to better the medium but insistent in helping others get into this brave, new world, democracy has a new tool in its arsenal, one that is well beyond the capabilities of Government, Religion, Big Business and Mainstream Media to control.

And I don't know about you, but that is perhaps the best thing to happen since the Wall fell.

Blog owner's note: this post was inspired by the second seminar on blogging courtesy of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation's Manila Office. I was a participant in the first seminar they conducted last January, and although I have been blogging for quite some time now - two years this month! - it was only after the seminar that I started blogging seriously. Although many of the lessons I learned about blogging there were things I was doing for some time by then, the seminar gave me the drive and the confidence to at least be constant in posting.

I really owe a lot to the FNF and its wonderful Resident Representative, Dr. Ronald Meinardus, who's more like a mentor to me than anything else. Guess I never got around to thanking them fully for everything, so this is a nice opportunity to do so, hai?

5 comments:

meinardus said...

thanks for the "flowers", rob. i gather you are yourself becoming a mentor of sorts. blogging seems to be picking up with kalipi, and - i hear - you are a part of the drive ...

Azure Phoenix said...

Hi sir; I'm glad you liked the "flowers." It's the least I could do.

I've always enjoyed sharing skills and information with other people, sir. I don't believe that the things I learned elsewhere should be confined to me but echoed to as many people as interested in the information as I am. Besides, I learn from them too (",)

You should be thanking Donna, sir. She's the one who did so much with her blogs with minimal input from the IT "experts" like Erick Mante and me, and its getting the kids interested more than any prodding I've been doing.

Donnabee said...

Ahh... kuya rob, all of you in the HQ inspired me and that is enough to keep me going.

You have the brains, I have the patience. Haha.

Donnabee said...

Dude, Rey is not evangelista (refering to sidebar). It's De Guzman. Haha. Or, is it meant to connnect him with Brother Eddie? Hehe.

Azure Phoenix said...

@ Donna

Oops. My bad.

Actually, I had a feeling I was wrong. I just couldn't remember Rey's surname.

TY for the correction