I am an optimist, and I believe that people are inherently good and that if you give everyone a voice and freedom of expression, the truth and the good will outweigh the bad.
So, on the whole, I think the power that online distribution confers is a positive thing for society. Online we can act as a fifth estate.
It’s fascinating to think this way especially with all the power and opportunity we all have to create value and influence others but as Matt mentions and as a lot of those in attendance discussed, the possibility for abuse and misuse is also prevalent.
Sure, this isn’t a new concept as the 5th estate has been something discussed many, many times and especially blogs as being central to this discussion:
These blogs can help organize the public to take a stance on an issue, be used in political campaigns, help cultivate grassroots movements, and assist in fundraising.
Furthermore, blogs have several unique features that give them potential influence in policymaking: a lack of editorial supervision, low barriers to entry, difficulty for governments to censor or control content, and the ease of responding to events in real time.
Blogs can affect policy-making by providing insider information, facilitating communication between experts, promoting grassroots efforts, discrediting political figures, and setting policy agendas
I wonder about this often and whether we are doing this thing “right” – at times I know that we are and other times I’m not so sure, even if we have the noblest of intents.
What we have as bloggers, publishers, and creators/sharers of content is a daily choice to publish for the “good,” as best as we know how and to not stop or quit because we know that those who have malicious intent won’t stop either.