Quasi-socialising with Will

My good friend and long-time colleague Will Davies, originally at The Work Foundation and more recently at ippr, is inteviewed by John Sutherland in today’s Guardian, talking about the dangers of putting our faith so completely in technologies whose current primary purpose is to make the world ever more “flexible to the whims of consumers in egocentric and irrational ways.”

It’s an argument he’s been making for some time – as he points out in his usual self-deprecating fashion on his blog – but no less valid for that. I recall standing outside Demos one evening some time ago as we argued that text voting was making it all too damn easy for people and devalued the democratic process…

For ‘We Media’ read ‘They Media’

Just surfing around, as I do, when I came across an interesting piece on the Media Guardian website about Reuters’ plans to partner with Global Voices to provide blog comment around major stories.

The final paragraph noted in passing that ‘Global Voices Online will be taking part in the forthcoming London-based We Media event forum that will examine trust in media and citizen journalism’, and since I’m interested in this area and teach journalism I thought I’d find out more.

A quick search led me to the programme for the event, which is taking place in London May 3-4, and I was intrigued – a joint BBC/Reuters production with lots of cool speakers and some interesting material. So I clicked on ‘register’ and got a complicated registration form that included a request for ‘Supervisor information’ asking ‘who made the decision enabling you to attend this event’… not very inclusive, I thought. If you need permission, you probably have to pay, I realised – this wasn’t just another one of the range of policy seminars that I regularly attend, or something the BBC was doing to promote grassroots activity or inclusion.
And indeed you do have to pay – $795 in fact, for two days. I love the way it’s just under that psychologically signifiant $800 barrier 🙂
How wonderfully inclusive, how empowering for the average citizen.. I think I’ll pass on this one. It’s depressing that the BBC thinks it’s reasonable to partner up with commercial conference organisers like this and is willing to field senior people like Mark Thompson and Richard Sambrook for a high-paying audience who will mostly be concerned with ‘monetizing’ this new area.

I suspect there’ll be little blogging from the event itself, either, for the poor outsiders among us to read. After all, if you’re paying hundreds of dollars for some information you’re going to want to keep it to yourself.

[Updated: Thanks to Richard Sambrook for pointing out that it’s not quite as bad as I thought it was going to be, with decent online coverage and some subsidised places.  I still think that calling it ‘we media’ is a bit rich, but I’m happy to see that the organisers are at least being more open than it first appeared.]