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Bottom Up and Top Down

Jeff Jarvis, commenting on a couple of stories in the New York Times, says:

The problem is that they still think the internet is something the powerful use to affect the rest of us. Wrong. It’s what the rest of us use to affect the powerful.

It’s both, actually.

The bottom-up (or as I prefer to say, edge-in) activities are clearly changing the rules of engagement for the powerful, and we can all be thankful for that. But the same tools that let us have this new impact are available to — and are being used by — the powerful, too.

No, they can’t control the message as they once thought (and mostly succeeded). They can, however, help steer the conversation in directions they prefer, and certainly can do a better job dealing with their various constituencies.

In this new world, transparency becomes a vastly more important facet of the “messaging,” if you want to call it that. Why? Because deception can be punished with viral, web-like efficiency when detected.

But to think that the rich and powerful won’t find (and aren’t already finding) ways to put the conversational tools to work is a mistake. They may be slow on the uptake, but at least some of them will surprise us with their adaptability.

2 Comments on “Bottom Up and Top Down”

  1. #1 think mojo » Real epidemiology
    on Apr 5th, 2006 at 8:55 am

    [...] With all the talk here and elsewhere about virology and epidemiology, I thought I’d point to a site that’s the real deal. [...]

  2. #2 NBN - Nothing But Net » 當黨政軍擁抱部落格…
    on Apr 10th, 2006 at 12:23 am

    [...] Dan Gillmor – Bottom Up and Top Down No, they can’t control the message as they once thought (and mostly succeeded). They can, however, help steer the conversation in directions they prefer, and certainly can do a better job dealing with their various constituencies. No Tags Posted in blog | | April 10th, 2006 | Print [...]