Impressions on the Social Age

Bai Bai Birdie

Posted in Reading Response by Trace on May 24, 2010

Reading The Argument by Matt Bai this week reminded me of reading another verbose publication. Then I realized Bai worked for the other, the New York Times. I enjoyed Bai’s book, it was an interesting topic and is a relevant book for those interested in working with politics. It’s important (and fun) to learn the behind-the-scenes of a political sphere, but when looking at the old democrats we can always find lots of interesting characters. Speaking of characters, I enjoyed how Bai often used literary designs usually relegated to the fictional writer to describe non-fiction characters; some of whom are still quite prominent in media and politics.

Bai’s book was far from an eye opener, and closer to a narrative, but the book itself described many considerations sometimes readily apparent to the casual political observer. For example, people are more important that constituency. When asked who influences politicians, its not just the people of the district, state or country who elected the officials, but often¬†other officials, lobbyists, friends and colleagues.

This comes as no surprise to many of us, but the reasoning behind it (while not surprising) is not often put forth. Insecurity. Doubt. Confusion. Not to say politicians are stupid, but they are people. In our society of strong media personalities, public relations, media relations and highly sensationalized and celebritized figures, it’s strange to think that famous Americans are just another odd kid in a suit.

My favorite part of the book was the exposure of these celebrity leaders as not just politicians with talking points, but people who can be influenced by direct and purposeful information. People who can be spoken to like any other, befriended like any other, and argued with like any other.

As I like to tell my friends, “Even Obama has sit on the toilet to take a poop.”

Here Comes Shirky & Friends

Posted in Reading Response by Trace on May 17, 2010

My friend Becca recently moved to Australia to study. Before she left I asked a question that may have been ludicrous ten years ago, but no longer, “What is your blog?” What young-person moves to a new place without keeping a blog of their adventures? Becca updates her blog occasionally with short stories and insight about her experiences down under, but there was a catch. Becca asked me never to share her blog address, even with other co-workers. Becca was limiting her audience to only those she was interested in reaching – i.e. she filtered. Using one of Shirky’s points, Becca is doing exactly what he said, writing for her friends, but posting in public view.

The fascinating thing is, Becca doesn’t think of her blog as a public space. The question is, why? She grew up during not just the Internet age, but the Google age, where everything is searchable, and even posted her blog on Google’s Blogger platform, instantly searchable via Google. Perhaps there is a deeper meaning here. Becca is using the same principle a spy in the movies would use… Speak freely in crowds. Perhaps Becca feels private, because there is so much else going around the Internet, who cares about one girl studying in Australia? She’s lost in the murmur of the collective. Then again, perhaps she just doesn’t care.

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