Opening session: Re:Public

Starting up at Re:Public with about 175-200 attendees, many from the non profit and progressive media worlds, many from academia, a few from big media ( Guardian UK, BBC), and many from the hyperlocal and citizen journalism worlds. Totally missing in action: big news portals ( Yahoo, MSN, NYT, etc), tech platform companies, and trade press (no GigOm, Paid Content, etc.) Of course, this is not about building and flipping media companies, so no one seems to care; the attendees are bright, engaged, and trying to think about the future of news, media, community and information exchange.
Sociologist and Professor Manuel Castells, an expert on identity and USC Prof, is talking about democracy and media and power and how politics and emotions are linked. He’s doing an academic rundown of others’ research, but I feel removed from his talk, seems very abstract (though now that he is referencing George Lakoff I am perking up). Good quote: “Social movements act on the mind and are cultural revolutions that act on changing the way we think, for example, the environmental movement has transformed our consciousness to let us think we have a relationship with the planet beyond obtaining resources for material well-being.” More on how media drives these changes; he’s talking about the past 30 years of feminism and pariarchy and says this is a revolution for women, more than for men, and that the changes are profound in how women think about themselves. (His sound bites on feminism are not impressively worded). More on wireless, always on behaviors, mass level of communication systems totally integrate into society. Also, endless capacity for hackers to create new levels of communication that big media has to adjust to.