Saturday, August 19, 2006

Associated Press Finds Chris Woods

An Associated Press story out of Des Moines reviews the role of Iowa's blogs in state and national politics. Associated Press, "More Blogs Pop Up As Caucuses Draw Closer," Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 19, 2006, p. 9A.

The final paragraph reads, "Iowa's political blogs run the spectrum from Republican-leaning sites like [Kevin] Schmidt's newest blog,, to sites that focus on liberal issues, such as, a Web site run by Drake student Chris Woods."

The story, and the cites to sites, is just one more -- of by now many -- examples of the fact that something very profound is changing in a mediasphere in which a few-to-many model has morphed into a many-to-many model. The change would be taking place whether the mainstream media recognized it or not.

It's the product of machine copiers (instead of printing presses), computer graphics that puts manuscript (or brochure) design in the hands of all, relatively cheap video and digital still cameras, and then the multiple distribution systems made possible by the Internet and the Web: Web pages, blogs, sites for display of photos or video, Facebook and MySpace, listservs and groups, even multiple-addressee emails. All of which was preceded by the public access channels on the corporate cable television systems that enabled anyone to distribute his or her own television program to the community.

This decrease in prices, this reduction in what the economists call "barriers to entry," I have dubbed "the 99.9% off sale." [See "Orders of Magnitude and the '99.9%-Off Sale," in Nicholas Johnson, "Law of Electronic Media: Concepts, Perspectives and Goals" (1999).] That is, instead of the 20% to 50% off sales we're used to in January and from time to time throughout the year, these are "orders of magnitude" (10, 100, 1000 or more-fold) reductions. For example, satellite receiving dishes that were once major industrial items at $3 million apiece, dropped in price to $300,000, then $30,000, then $3000, to now $300 or less. Ditto for "printing presses," computers, video cameras, video tape recorders, and so forth.

But the mainstream media has been paying attention to the blogosphere.

I wrote earlier [Nicholas Johnson, "What is 'the press'?" August 9, 2006] of my experience of having a blog entry [Nicholas Johnson, "Caution: Wide Load, Rain Forest Ahead," August 7, 2006] turn into a newspaper's op ed column [Nicholas Johnson, "Caution: Rain Forest Ahead," August 9, 2006], and expanded in the "What is 'the press'?" piece on the many ways in which both the imput of "news," and the critique of that news, now flows both ways.

This morning's Associate Press mention of Chris Woods, Kevin Schmidt, and the Iowa political bloggers generally, is just one more example.

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