The world we live in is riddled with distribution and aggregation processes. Distribution can describe any type of sharing, arranging, organising, disseminating and so on. Similarly, aggregation can refer to any method that involves bringing together distributed material. The most significant aspect of distribution and aggregation is that when distributed things are aggregated they are brought into a new relationship. New media networks have radically altered distribution and aggregation processes and have as a result created new relationships that have changed media, society and culture.
The benefits and disadvantages of modern distribution and aggregation was the main theme of this week’s exploration. David Gauntlet (2010) argues that new media networks are a positive development. Thanks to the Internet people have the power to create and distribute their own content. In doing this interaction with social and physical environments is deepening and our thought processes are broadening. In short, new media networks are the pathways to a more democratic world where engaged citizenry is the norm.
Conversely, academic Danah Boyd and others alike argue that there are many consequences of living in a world rife with information networks (Guillaud 2010). Firstly, just because anyone can create and distribute content does not mean other people will give this content due attention and aggregate it into their personal networks. For instance, just because I have created this blog does not guarantee I will garner a solid readership (woe is me). New media networks are not leading us into a new era of democracy neither are they encouraging meritocracy rather they are encouraging a world were attention is the main power. As we know what people give their attention to is not always wholesome, beneficial or informative. Another important point is that although the move from broadcast to networked media has created change, content creators are still at the mercy of intermediaries; they now just come in a different form. Think of iTunes and BitTorrent.
The changes new forms of distribution and aggregation have wrought on the book publishing industry are exemplary of the new relationships these processes create.
- Authors are increasingly self-publishing their work on the world’s biggest aggregating and distributing mechanism- the Internet.
- Publishing houses are creating books filled with already published web-content (transversal distribution?). (click here for a related article)
- An interactive social dimension has become incorporated in the book writing process. Authors have begun ‘making’ ideas for, and excerpts of, their future books and ‘sharing’ them via blogs and websites. The Internet has therefore allowed authors to distribute their work to the public while it is being created enabling real-time feedback. (click here for a related article).
- Books are no longer bound by the confines of paper, they can distributed digitally and their contents can be aggregated into a variety of interactive formats. (click here for a related article)
Gauntlett, David (2010) Making is Connecting (watch the video) <http://www.makingisconnecting.org/>
Guillaud, Hubert (2010) (on Danah Boyd) ‘What is implied by living in a world of flow?’, Truthout, January 6, <http://www.truthout.org/what-implied-living-a-world-flow56203>