I started being fascinated by blogs, and the way new media was changing the publishing industry, about four years ago. I find now that I'm fascinated by something far bigger--by the way new media is changing LIFE.
I started thinking on the subway ride home yesterday--hours before we had any certainty as to how the election would turn out--about the fact that so much of this election has played out, and been influenced by, the power of new media. Not just in obvious ways, like the text messages and emails that in essence replaced old-fashioned print campaign literature this time around, but by the imperceptible side effects that so many new kinds of communication are beginning to have on our culture, and our world. It seems to me that the presence of new media as an ordinary part of life has caused people, especially young people, to THINK more than ever before. Because of blogs (and Twitter, and YouTube comments, and Facebook groups, and Ning communities, and etc.), people have claimed and embraced their right to have and share opinions--about everything. And in order to have an opinion, you have to be informed--unless you want to get flamed or laughed off the internets. And people en masse having access to information and ideas and developing opinions as a result is a the first step toward capital-C Change of any sort, I think. And then we get to watch as that Change becomes history.
When I shared these thoughts last night with my friend who's a former history teacher/history buff extraordinaire (and thus my unending source of fascinating/interesting/random political trivia over the past few months), he took it a step further and said that media hasn't had this much influence on an election since 1960--when the first presidential debates were televised, totally changing the relationship between people and politics. And (interesting trivia fact alert!), where did those very first televised debates take place? Chicago. Now there's an intriguing sort of full circle.
All that added up, I can't help but feel that it's a fascinating time to be working in media/communication/the world of ideas. And it's a fascinating time to be living, too.