I was at the bookstore, thumbing through books I can’t afford and got the chance to read a chapter of Media Virus by Douglas Rushkoff before my ass couldn’t handle the chair anymore. In that chapter he was talking about the ‘datasphere’ which is everything in the world of media and all the channels. He (and Noam Chomsky, I got to read a chapter of his stuff too) talked about how the roots of PR came from the government president Woodrow Wilson used it to influence public opinion about military action. There were a lot of other interesting details as well, but regarding Rushkoff’s ‘datasphere’, in the past it was completely controlled by the tradtional institutions of power. However, as we have all experienced, web 2.0 has allowed everyone to control and exert influence in the ‘datasphere’ and that challenges the influence and power that government and big business once had.
Ironically, the ‘datasphere’ works kind of like a business in it of itself if you think about Turner Broadcasting and Clear Channel and the such. While college radio, independent press and public access TV brought some sort of democracy (another debatable concept has I’ve recently learned) to the ‘datasphere’. However, the internet’s low cost of entry seems to have changed everything.
Just recently, BusinessWeek published an article about how a viral campaign for the PSP backfired. Sony hired a PR company to create a blog to spread buzz, but people found out that it was fake (because it was so poorly written) after checking out who registered the blog. This incident not only shows the dynamics of Rushkoff’s ‘datasphere’, but it also hints at the possibility that this might be the place for the next great power struggle.
These fake blogs and viral campaigns are just ways to hijack the most trusted media channel (word of mouth) and the most trusted media source (everyday people). In addition to the current battle over net neutrality, I believe we are starting to see nervousness in these institutions of power as they try to imitate and limit the influence that everyday people are beginning to wield.