2009′s Most Influential Media About Media

Earlier this month, I asked for thoughts on the most influential media of the year.  (Here are the lists from 2007 and 2008; [edit: and thoughts on Chicago-specific 2009 media happenings.) The following is a summation of what I heard. Thanks to everyone for sharing-- [here's my list for the year.]

The most significant media event of 2009 wasn’t Barack Obama’s inauguration or Tiger Wood’s fall from grace, but Michael Jackson’s death. Twitter reports and TMZ drove the coverage. Jay Smooth collected a set of links on Jackson, and posted this commentary about “the mix of deep human connection and weird media circus.”

2009 saw lots of discussion about the challenges of journalism, in case you missed it. Several high-profile reports were mentioned:

Conferences also took up the future of news question. Mark Hallett of the McCormick Foundation liked Richard Rodriguez’s Final Edition: Twilight of the American Newspaper, originally presented at the New American Media conference. Michael Skoler, Reynolds Fellow at the Missouri School of Journalism, pointed to Steven Berlin Johnson’s South by Southwest speech, Old Growth Media and the Future of News, “a brilliant summation of what the future of news will look like and why it will be better than today’s news.” Ruth Lopez flagged this NPR debate, “Good Riddance to Mainstream Media.”

And blog posts:

Facebook. Siva Vaidhyanathan liked the First Monday article Facebook and academic performance: Reconciling a media sensation with data by Josh Pasek, eian more, and Eszter Hargittai, and danah boyd’s Facebook and MySpace Users Are Clearly Divided Along Class Lines.  Beth Kanter pointed to boyd‘s Streams of Content, Limited Attention: The Flow of Information through Social Media. WFMU’s Benjamen Walker shared A Fan of Big Brother? Facebook Launches Government PageIt’s SO over: cool cyberkids abandon social networking sites (“The percentage of 15- to 24-year-olds who have a profile on a social networking site has dropped for the first time – from 55% at the start of last year to 50% this year.”) and Sarah Palin Turning To Facebook To Spread Her Political Views. Rich Gordon of Medill likedFredVogelstein’s Wired article, Great Wall of Facebook: the Social Network’s Plan to Dominate the Internet– and Keep Google Out. Mark Hallett tagged Dan Schultz’s In Search of a Community that Takes ‘Me’ Out of Social Media.

Perennials. Several tech thinkers are mentioned every year, including:

Seth Godin was mentioned frequently, for his books Tribes and What Matters Now, available as a free e-book, and for his TED talk.

Tunji Lardner highlighted another TED Talk,  Pranav Mistry‘s on his SixthSense technology.

Platforms

Policy.

Other links:

Twitter. For the first time, several people mentioned favorite Twitterers, including @beyondbroadcast@iwantmedia@zoecello@NASA@Sciam and @timoreilly.

Audio. “I’ve been in a more aural mode for new ideas lately,” wrote Joe Germuska, and he wasn’t alone. A couple of you mentioned WNYC’s On the Media. Anonymous pointed to BlogTalk Radio’s GameChanging a weekly podcast about new development in social media, flagging the episode Recommendation Engines and Predictive Marketing. From Books to Baseball. Kyle Reis of the Ford Foundation wrote that “some of the most amazing ideas that are entering my brain these days are coming in through the auditory channels in the form of Radio Lab podcasts.”
Books. Rich Gordon tipped me off to The Curse of the Mogul. “The best book I’ve found on the business of media. We should have no more meetings about the future of the media business without requiring all participants to read this book.”  Two chunks from the Introduction that stood out for me:

[There] is a peculiarly American paranoia about the media industry’s ability and inclination to mold the national psyche. This suspicion is reflected most prominently in articulated fears about the diversity and independence of news but extends to broader fears about potential cultural indoctrination by massive malevolent media conglomerates….As broadcasters represent a smaller and smaller part of the media that the public consumes, these regulations become more and more irrelevant and the massive regulatory infrastructure that supports them becomes more and more anachronistic. The fact that these rules persist and new ones continue to be proposed is a reflection of just how deep-seated and irrational these fears about the media are.

Bonnie McEwan liked The Chaos Scenario by Bob Garfield. Alberto Ibarguen of the Knight Foundation suggested Elizabeth Eisenstein’s, The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe, saying it “put our media transition in a much bigger, historical context for me… made me think longer range [and] stamped out any remaining inclination to whine about the impact of change that I may have had left over (I didn’t have much) from days near a newsroom.” Eric Steuer of Creative Commons suggested Dave Cullen’s Columbine. Steve Rhodes went old school, point to A.J. Liebling’s The Press; Timothy Crouse’s The Boys On The Bus and Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing On the Campaign Trail. (It doesn’t quite fit my parameters, and he didn’t respond to my solicitation, but last week Mayor Daley praised Marcus Jacques’ When China Rules the World. The Center for Social Media’s Pat Aufterheide liked Bill Patry’s Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars–here’s the blog.

Pat also recommended a novel, Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Golden Tattoo. Other novels mentioned: WWW: Wake by Robert J. Sawyer; One Second After by William Forstchen and Cory Doctorow’s Makers.

Other nonfiction books on the list:

  • Stephen Baker’s The Numerati
  • Jessica Clark and Tracy Van Slyke’s Beyond the Echo Chamber: How a networked progressive media can reshape American Politics
  • Way of the Turtle: The Secret Methods that Turned Ordinary People into Legendary Traders, Curtis Faith
  • Total Recall: How the E-Memory Revolution Will Change Everything, Gordon Bell and Jim Gemmel
  • Free: : The Future of a Radical Price, Chris Anderson
  • Honest Signals; How They Shape Our World, Alex (Sandy)Pentland
  • Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, P.W. Singer
  • How We Test Software at Microsoft, Page
  • Imagining India: Ideas for the New Century, Nilekani
  • Crowdsourching: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business, Jeff Howe
  • And Then There’s This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture , Bill Wasik

I’ll end with Michael Wesch’s Anthropological Introduction to YouTube– I tageed most of the links above “2009” on Delicious.

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9 thoughts on “2009′s Most Influential Media About Media

  1. Wow, John, this is going to keep me busy for quite a while!

    I was wondering about that anecdote about the impact of “United Breaks Guitars” on the stock price, though, and I think it needs a critical eye. UAUA was at $3.34 on July 6th, the date the video was posted. In fact, the price has been on a pretty steady upward trend since July, and is now close to the highest price it’s been in a year ($13.09)

    I don’t know much about the airline industry, but from stock price alone, it seems wrong to assign too much impact to the viral impact of the UBG video.

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