The New Gatekeepers: Reactions

Here’s a summary of reactions to The New Gatekeepers series– and some brief responses back from me. Also see reactions froom delicious as well as Technorati.

February 11, 2006: The number-one ranked site for "The New Gatekeepers" is no longer this series but a thousand-word essay with that title that Tristan Louis posted last Friday. I have a lot of respect for Tristan as a guy who has contributed a lot of critical thinking and original research on Internet and media over years. And we correspond somewhat, not as much as I do with Seth, but I would have figured that he might have Googled the title, to see whether it has an active promoter of it. Dave Rogers was first to comment to Tristan’s piece, sending him the link to this series.

David Weinberger took issue with the term "gatekeeper" as indicative of old model which no longer applies when "everyone is a publisher." I’ve sometimes been bothered by that term myself. What if I had titled this series "The New Mediators"? That probably is more fitting, and it nicely parallels "new media." I wouldn’t be surprised if a major media publication does grab that title for a popular article on the subject. And certainly they should seek out Tristan for comment. But given that I’ve been honing this theory forover a year now, I hope they ask me too.

On June 5th 2005, Seth summarized a number of the recent gatekeeper-related observations.

“I’ve been reading through Jon Garfunkel’s New Gatekeepers writings, something that has left me doing more reading and thinking, with less writing. Or rather, less linking. Not the same thing.” Edward Bilodeau, 5/18/05.

Bilodeau, a lecturer at McGill’s Career and Management Studies program, has indeed done less writing and less linking on his blog. Instead he has put up some pretty spring pictures from Montreal, which I appreciated.

“You may not agree with everything Jon lays out, but damn, there is a lot of food for thought here.” — Nancy White, 5/18/05.

“I don’t nessarily agree with everything said, particularly in Part 7, Solutions, but it is excellent reading.” — Ernest Miller, 5/16/2005.

I am waiting for someone to actually disagree with something. Part 7 is actually the least disagreeable part, it’s not about how things are (fairly subjective), but how things could be. Miller, an Internet Law researcher, actually went on to disagree with my quoting Seth, who picked up the dialogue from there.

“Further, he notes, people are more likely to read the derivative post, usually shorter, than the original piece. (How many of you will actually click through the links I’ve provided to read his five-part piece. No summary, such as I’m doing here, can ever do such a lengthy and multilayer rhetorical work justice. It must be examined up close and in its fullness.)” — Doug Fisher, University of South Carolina Professor of Journalism, Garfunkel on the ‘The New Gatekeepers’ 5/6/05

I’ve added Doug Fisher’s Common Sense Journalism to my bloglines, and have found it highly informative, examining it up close and in its fullness. I won’t try to peg him as a booster or critic– he does both at times– but what’s delightful is that he follows up with responses to my comments (see this example). The blog/website over at the other USC, that would be the Online Journalism Review of the Annenberg School of Communications, doesn’t quite foster a dialogue, and that’s been a bit of a disappointment.

“Garfunkel groups four values as pointing toward ‘quantity over quality.’ He also notes that the values cited are those that press critics dislike, and that (some) blogs are exacerbating the flaws of 24-hour ‘news’ channels. ‘This wasn’t supposed to be how journalism was saved.’ That’s true, and I’m inclined to believe that blogs won’t ‘save’ journalism or that it necessarily needs saving. Still, despite my nitpicking (and despite Garfunkel’s tendency to leave out words–he’s no better a proofreader than I am), this essay is well worth reading and thinking about. That’s particularly true if you do believe weblogs have some relation to journalism.” Walt Crawford, 4/27/05 “Weblogging Ethics and Impact

This was the conclusion to five pages of review of several Civilities articles, which was rather astonishing to behold. Walt did find stuff to disagree with, and some of it is in the passage above. Why I used journalism as model was explained in Part 6, the Summary. In short, much of blogging that is written in the public interest overlaps with journalism. Much of the blog ethos is framed as contra to journalism; contra to Crawford’s field, library science, is the tagging challenge to ontologies (see Clay Shirky’s excellent essay on this).