John McCann

Anticipating the dawn

In Uncategorized on February 2, 2006 at 5:54 pm

I have been interested in this topic since 1990 when I read a comment by George Gilder in his book Microcosm:

The power of the chip grows faster than the power of the host processor running a vast system of many terminals. The power of the individual commanding a single workstation increases far faster than the power of an overall bureaucratic system. The organization of enterprise follows the organization of the chip. Rather than pushing decisions up through the hierarchy, the power of microelectronics pulls them remorsely down to the individual..

I was so fascinated by the ideas contained in Microcsom (probably because they were congruent with my own values) that I devoted my sabbatical year (1991-92) to the study of how digital technologies will enable us to change the ways we work, live, educate and use media. It was during this sabbatical that I became re-acquainted with the Internet (I had been a USENET user in the early 1980s) and could see that it would play an unimaginable role in our lives.

Then I read another Gilder paper:

Computer networks give every hacker the creative potential of a factory tycoon of the industrial era and the communications power of a TV magnate of the broadcasting era.

From 1994 through 2003 I used these notions in a series of courses about the Internet and how it will change the way we live, work and use the media. One of the themes of these courses is the rise or empowerment of the individual.

Much more recently, I read Terry Heaton’s article titled, “Participatory Journalism” in which he used the phrase Age of Participation. I incorporated quotes from this paper in the most recent rendition of a lecture titled Dawn of the Digital Media Age, a lecture I have delivered to thousands of MBA students and corporate managers and engineers since 1995.

This blog will contain some of my past work as well as the latest incarnations of my research into how digital technologies enable, and human wants & needs drive, the emergence or dawn of the Participation Age. I have been thinking about writing such a blog since I retired from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University in 2003 and became a Professor Emeritus.

It was a USA Today article on January 31, 2006 that provided the nudge that caused me to start this blog. David Leiberman’s “Papers take a leap forward, opening up to new ideas” that contains the following:

We call it a community in conversation with itself,’ says James Currow, Morris’ executive vice president for newspapers [at Morris Communications].

The article focuses on how newspapers are experimenting with new formats, some that include articles written by amateurs … individuals who are participating in journalism; individuals who are participating in the community conversation in a new and exciting way.


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