No gatekeepers — just a bunch of turnstiles

by Mathew on January 20, 2006 · 12 comments

First of all, I want to make it clear that I’m not linking to Scott Karp of Publishing 2.0 again just because he linked to me and mentioned my name right after using the term “great bloggers” — although I can’t deny that I was flattered :-). I think his latest post about new media “gatekeepers” raises some good questions, just as a similar piece by Justin Fox at CNNMoney does. Even though I ranted a bit in a previous post about Scott, I think he is on the right track, and I think it is a debate and a conversation worth having.

The question is, who replaces the newspaper or radio and TV — the old-media gatekeepers? In other words, who do we look to for advice on what is relevant? Scott asks:

Who decides what’s worthy of your attention — a Web 2.0 application, a newspaper columnist, a talk show host, an editorial staff, an influential blogger, a community of thousands, a community of millions?

He also mentions how the A-list of bloggers, such as Dave Winer and Jeff Jarvis and Steve Rubel, seem to be a little like the Old Media gatekeepers, in that they (with the help of tech.memeorandum.com and other sites) help determine whose voice is heard and whose is not.

On that point, I would have to disagree with Scott yet again. I haven’t been blogging that long, and I haven’t been actively trying to get traffic or links — apart from linking to and commenting on posts that I find interesting — and yet I’ve appeared on tech.memeorandum.com many times. I think the barriers are lower than they might appear to Scott and others, such as Kent Newsome, who has also written about how difficult it is to start a blog and get past the new media gatekeepers.

As for Scott’s question about who decides what is worthy of attention — a Web 2.0 application, a newspaper columnist, a talk show host, an editorial staff, an influential blogger, etc. — I would have to agree with someone who commented on Scott’s post and say simply: Yes. All of the above, and more. As Matt McAlister suggests on his blog, the relevance of the “gatekeeper” role is quickly fading. Aggregator? Yes. Filter? Yes. Gatekeeper? No. I tend to think Stowe Boyd is right — there are a blend of voices filtering and recommending, from individuals to institutions, and even machines.

Update:

For more thoughts from Scott and I, as well as my friend Stuart MacDonald, please see the comments below — and Kent Newsome also has a perspective on the whole thing that’s worth reading.

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