The adventures of an analog engineer and digital storyteller who studies emerging networks and their impact on the great game of business.
Jul 14, 2008

Yesterday’s New York Times article In House, Tweets Fly Over Web Plan illustrates the intense emotions that surface when the “Get its” run into the “Traditionals.”

Since anyone can now operate their own printing press (blog), radio station (podcast) or television station (qik, Ustream, YouTube), average people now have extraordinary access to traditionally hidden events. The article centers on the ramifications of such access. Today, a Senator with a Nokia N95 camera and a service like qik can take his constituents behind the scenes to broadcast live interviews from the steps of the Capitol. Or, a Representative listening to the opposition’s arguments on a particular bill can Twitter live comments from the House floor. It doesn’t take much imagination to conceive how compelling it would be for C-SPAN to grab those Twitter feeds and scroll them below live video of a House debate! Technically it’s simple. And it’s just the type of thing to give the Traditionals aneurysms.

Traditionals in every walk of life are grappling with the fact that they’ve lost control of their messages. Marketing and PR folks are terrified that rogue content creators can make their lives a living hell. Politicians, who’ve traditionally been able to hide their discussions behind closed doors are afraid that their sausage-making techniques may not play well in Peoria. And the debate isn’t just limited to Washington DC.

Other battles are brewing in corporate America — such as in the area of Industry Standards. For those not familiar with standards and standards committees, they’re simply organizations that help companies build products that play nice with one another. For example, have you ever plugged something into the USB port on your computer and it worked flawlessly? Well, that’s because the manufacturers of the two devices you connected built their products to an agreed upon set of standards — an “Industry Standard.”

Although the nature of a Technical Standards Committees is altruistic, the members that make up those committees are anything but. The only reason high-tech companies invest time and effort into these non-profit organizations is to push their technology as the future standard. And just like a baby-kissing politician, they’ll do whatever is necessary to achieve that goal — independent on the benefits (or pain) it causes the end user.

But what happens if you drop a blogger into an Industry Standards committee? Pioneering Electronic Design Automation blogger JL Gray describes such a scenario in his post, Public Discourse and Open Standards, where the threat of losing control has the Traditionals running scared.

Marketeers, Public Relations professionals, Legislators, Governors, Mayors, Dog Catchers and Standards Committee members can no longer hide behind closed doors. The light of transparency is shining too brightly and is seeping through the cracks of their motives. They will lose control and ultimately lose power — I have history on my side to back up that prediction. But the only question this New Media Evangelist has is how hard they’ll fight before losing the battle? Power isn’t something that people relinquish that easily, and our bloodied past has shown the lengths that people will go to in order to protect their power.

If character is revealed through an individual’s actions when NOBODY is watching, what happens to everyone’s character when EVERYBODY is watching?


Filed under: Content Development

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