Webby Connect Thoughts

I’m at the Webby Connect confernce (or summit) for TakingITGlobal and here’s some thoughts that I’m putting up on The Digital Divide Network:

The Webby Connect conference has a lot of smart people attending it, and that’s putting it mildly.

Today’s lineup of events started with looking at commercially generated content to increase brand exposure and ended with Ariannia Hufifington expressing her views on the sad state of American journalism. Don’t worry she has hope for the future – and rightly so!

As far as the digital divide and today went, there was some interesting things said. When discussing online brand strategies there was a lot of talk of using online video. The popularity of YouTube and other video sites has clearly shown that people want to watch streaming videos (particularly user-generated videos). After the talk, I went up to ask a few of the panelists if they ever thought about broadband constraints.

“I haven’t heard anyone bring up broadband concerns in like two years” was one reply. Indeed, it marked the attitudes for the rest of the day – to those in the industry broadband access is not a concern anymore. This is good news in terms that there is now a noticeable increase in people who can make full use of the internet.

Huffington didn’t speak directly to broadband issues, but she did tell me after her talk that at least having access to the internet is a concern. Sure enough, broadband is not such a concern for The Huffington Post as their content is text. Huffington is a fan of the OLPC and other plans to increase access to technology. She also told me that we shouldn’t be thinking that these devices are only practical for the 3rd world as it can be equally as useful in the USA.

This, in a roundabout way, brings us back to why we should have faith in American journalism because it is actually related to the digital divide. Huffington believes that the future of journalism lies in blogging. She cited cases that bloggers have ousted mistakes in the more acclaimed old media. Bloggers allow for a more diverse group of people speaking “the truth” that they gather from “evidence”. First though, Huffington admits, there is a need to increase media literacy so more people can be included with the conversation. Her faith in blogging as a panacea seems idealistic (and that’s not a bad thing) which means that she inherently supports more access and increased media literacy on the internet.

Apparently, with more people online contributing to a political discourse more (and good) change can happen.

Read a slightly different version of this post at my DDN blog.

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