You’ll Never Silence The Voice of the Voiceless – The impact of media regulations in Australia on Blogging Sites
You’ll never silence the voice of the voiceless.
“Voice of the Voiceless” – Rage Against The Machine – Battle of Los Angeles, Oct 1999
When I was asked to give a presentation entitled “You’ll never silence the blog – the impact of media regulations on blogging sites” (slides) at the Inaugural Media Regulations Forum in Sydney, I immediately thought of the Rage Against The Machine lyrics.
The agenda was put together on the back of the proposed media regulation changes detailed in the Finkelstein Report [PDF] which meant that blogs would fall under the jurisdiction of a government oversight body if they exceeded 15,000 “hits” per year. An incredibly low threshold.
For me it was a great topic to explore 2 concepts I love, that when combined, explain why the web and technology is such an incredible platform for change and why blogs will never be silenced.
Before the concepts – a quick story:
Adam and I had the fortune of meeting Chris Brogan, the Godfather of blogging, in the US recently. Here’s how he started blogging:
When Chris was growing up there were 2 choices of interests: cars or baseball. If you didn’t like those, then you were trapped. Uninspired by cars or baseball, Chris found the web. Found bulletin boards. Found people with other interests that he too was passionate about. He started to connect with them, started to write a blog (before it was even called a blog). More than 15 years later he’s one of the top marketing blogs and web consultants in the world.
Chris first found the tools, then he found his voice.
Concept 1 – Tools (The Long Tail):
In his book The Long Tail, Chris Anderson (yes – a different Chris!), explains the impact of the long tail power curve (right). Once upon a time only the most popular items were available – think Top 100 songs, books, products etc because of the limit of physical space in a shop. That’s the green area under the curve.
Now, because of online shops like Amazon and iTunes, the less popular items are available because physical space in a shop is no longer a constraint.
This same theory applies to who can actually create and publish content like blogs. One of Anderson’s central themes is the idea that nearly everyone can now access the tools and the knowledge to create content.
For example, information sharing has moved from being handwritten books and scarce, to printed on a press and readily available, to being created in WordPress for virtually no cost and genuinely abundant. Now you don’t even need to print anything and yet potentially billions around the world can see it on the web.
Or another example – hugely expensive video cameras have become high definition video cameras on our mobiles that we carry in our pockets and use everyday.
The extraordinary reduction in the cost of the tools and their ease of use have created near infinite diversity of content:
As of 16 February 2011, there were over 156 million public blogs in existence. (Wikipedia – Blog)
And that’s just blogs. What about YouTube, FaceBook, Twitter… This diversity of content reflects the diversity of human interest or demand as we fill the gaps with the tools so readily available and in this case specifically blogs.
These became Brogan’s tools.
Concept 2 – Voice (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs):
The second core concept is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It is something that was reintroduced to me recently by Chip Conley‘s fantastic book Peak. The journey from physiological needs (food, water, sleep, etc) to self-actualistion needs (creativity, morality, etc).
With the tools so readily available, people like Chris Brogan can develop a voice on the topics they are passionate about. In discovering their voice, they have the opportunity to move themselves up through Maslow’s Hierarchy, to be connected to a community, to build confidence and ultimately move into self actualisation through creativity – as just one example.
The combination is a powerful thing:
So our irrepressible drive, to move from satisfying our Physiological to Self-Actualisation needs, is now coupled with powerful tools that are free or so close it doesn’t matter. The previously voiceless, now have a mechanism like none we’ve seen in history, to find their voice.
How can you silence that?