The irony of a “democratized” media is that some content producers have more power than others. In a media without gatekeepers, where one’s real identity is often hidden or disguised, the truly empowered are the big companies with the huge advertising budgets. In theory, Web 2.0 gives amateurs a voice. But in reality it’s often those with the loudest, most convincing message, and the most money to spread it, who are being heard.
cannot be relied upon to keep us informed. When our individual intentions are left to the wisdom of the crowd, our access to information becomes narrowed, and as a result, our view of the world and our perception of truth becomes dangerously distorted.
The most disturbing thing of all about social news sites is that many influencers are gaming the engines to promote their own agendas. According to the Wall Street Journal report, some marketing companies are now selling “front-page exposure” on Digg. Others openly pay influencers to push stories. In October 2006, for example, User/
In 1841, a Scottish journalist called Charles Mackay wrote a classic critique of the irrational crowd called Extraordinary Popular Delusions.19 Mackay used the Dutch Tulipmania fiasco and the South Sea Bubble to show that “whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object and go mad in its pursuit.” If Mackay were around today, he would add Web 2.0 to the list of extraordinary popular delusions that have gripped the crowd. There is a twist, however, to today’s grand digital delusion. With Web 2.0, the madness is about the crowd falling in love with itself. Is that really the wisdom...