This is the first in a series of posts that will explore our world of disappearing boundaries – from geographic to linguistic to time to organizational – that create new opportunities and challenges to agenda setting and influence. Wikileaks, as an exemplar non-state actor in this world of “now media,” requires analysis beyond the superficial and polarized debate common in today’s coverage of both the organization and the material it disseminates. The MountainRunner Institute is working to convene a series of discussions with experts across the spectrum, including (ideally) someone from Wikileaks, to discuss the role and impact of actors like Wikileaks and the evolving informational and human landscape. If you are interested in more information or in participating, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 1927, H.G. Wells wrote that modern communication “opened up a new world of political processes” where “ideas and phrases can now be given an effectiveness greater than the effectiveness of any personality and stronger than any sectional interest.”* Nearly ninety years later, this remains true with both the speed of communication and the consequences of failure far greater than possibly even Wells could have anticipated. Influence has become democratized with nearly anyone potentially capable of setting the agendas of world leaders – take for example a pastor in Florida or a person with a camera phone capturing the death of a woman in Tehran. So to has disruption become democratized to the point governments no longer need to be involved to severely impact economic, political or military interests. “Sectional interests” once divided by geography, culture, language, nationalism or ideology can be now convened and aligned with great effectiveness as the past barriers often become little more than footnotes.
Today, it is difficult and often impractical to distinguish between news consumer and creator, between mediums of information, or between audiences that have evolved to “stakeholders” and “participants.” Technology made “old media” and “new media” now quaint artifacts of a past struggle of segregation based on first platforms and then business models. Instead of “old” and “new”, we have Now Media operating across evaporating borders of technology or distance and time, within and across fluid associations and affinities, and flattens (even obliterates) hierarchies while bypassing and even co-opting traditional gatekeepers of information.