WeMEdia Session on "Soft Power"

This panel, held Feb. 8 at We Media Miami was about the distribution of power and what it's like to live and work on the internet. Here are the sound bites that caught my attention:

Jay Rosen
Teaches journalism at NYU.

"a traditional view of power sees power as a scarce resource (i.e. power of government or microsoft). power of guns money or institutions. soft power is not a scarce resource. it is an arrangement of people to get things done. the cost for like minded people to locate each other, share info, collaborate and make things is going down continually. people can do all kinds of things together that they could not do before."

"it's distributed because you can't go to where it's located to find it."

"lots of communities that didn't know they had numbers can now discover themselves and come together on the internet."

"the blog was just the leading edge of a self-publishing revolution. But it's the self-publishing part that is going to change the world ... because the publishing part used to be owned by big media."

"blogging was just the 1st thing that emerged that alerted us to this power shift."

He added that the audience is no longer atomized and can come together.

"let's take that and figure out how we do real reporting and have thousands of people come together and work on one story."

He added that in order to create online communities, you have to have a shared original vision. that shared original vision is what makes wikipedia work.

To the question "can soft power be sized up?" he answered no; the number of comments does not signify the extent of soft power.

David Sasaki

Latin-America Editor, Global Voices

Moderator Chris Nolan's words of introduction: "GV has become a kind of blogger's foreign news services. One of the more reliable foreign news services out there which is one of the reasons Reuters has decided to partner with them."

David's sound bites:
"soft power is the power to make yourself heard. 10 yrs ago that was reporters and columnists now everyone gets to make themselves heard because of google."

" I am against the echo chamber. what we really want is dialogue."

"a GV article is a collaboration of various stories." (example of jay rosen's point that future of the article is collaborative.)

Sure enough, the question whether GV supplements or replaces tradtional news came up and david explained that we are the aggregator that edits, unlike technorati.

Val Prieto

Babalu.org, conservative cuban site

has contributors from all over the country. didn't want cuban diaspora's story to be lost. has been doing babalu for 4 years. "we are now publishing stories from people in cuba who don't have a publisher or a blog." "we get their voices through email, text, voicemail etc."


two commentors in the audience stressed that having more diverse information online does not mean that things are being done about the information. (in other words, old-fashioned activism is still needed for the issues people care about.)

More of my WeMedia notes:
Internet & Community Panel

Photos by CarribeanFreePhoto

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