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Fear of the future

About Magnus Lindkvist - Pattern Recognition.

I have just attended a fascinating presentation in Berlin by a young futurologist from Sweden, Magnus Lindkvist. The YouTube below is of him speaking (less well, in my view) at a TED event. His blog "Pattern Recognizing" is here.

Today, he was addressing a group of leaders in the real estate industry. In trying to analyse and explain social trends he mentioned blogging as an example of "bottom up" change. Arguing that no-one would set up a news operation today based on inked paper distributed by vans, he ridiculed attempts to prop up newspapers with subsidies and argued that new media were the future. This provoked reactions ranging from concern as to how readers can evaluate information from blogs to outright hostility.

One lady in the audience said that if she needed an operation, she would want - not a "citizen surgeon" - but a trained and experienced professional. Similarly, if she wanted information, she wanted it from a trained and experienced journalist. In doing so, she neatly illustrated Lindkvist's earlier comment that people tend to believe "normality" is the way things were when they first became adults and that everything that has changed since then is an irritating exception.

In the discussion that ensued, I did what I always do when someone ridicules blogging; I gave out the address of "Burning our Money." After all, Wat Tyler holds government to account for its use of public money far better than any conventional journalist. I was pleased to see many present noting it down. I hope Wat sees a spike in his numbers.

Those of us at home in the blogosphere forget how strange and frightening it seems to those intellectually nurtured on conventional media. Lindkvist simply dismissed "citizen surgeon" as a poor simile, but I am interested to know how you would have refuted the analogy in his place.

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