Choose your own adventure:
A brain eating parasite has just taken over half of the world which turns its victims into flesh eating zombies. You need to find out more information on how to fight off the parasite, find safe houses, and what to do when face-to-face with your infected neighbours corpse.
A) Turn on the television
B) Read the newspaper
C) Log onto the internet
If you chose A or B you’ve unfortunately run out of time waiting for “up-to-date” news and have been consumed by a horde of the living dead.
If you chose C hooray! You escaped the parade of zombies heading for your house because you looked at a forum for minute-to-minute updates about the world’s impending doom!
Why choose C?
Introducing: The Hive Mind! A bi-product of humanities latest ever growing, mind boggling invention: The internet. ‘Hive mind’ is not a new term, its origins are of course in the insect world but the term is now being applied to forums, blogs, sites like Wikipedia and social news media websites such as Reddit and 4Chan. These sites not only distribute information (not always created by the submitter) but also provide up to date information and sometimes minute by minute updated threads which can be seen in cases like the Boston Bombings.
These websites employ the collective intelligence concept, which is based around accepting that nobody knows everything but everybody knows something. Which brings us to citizen journalism; Jay Rosen describes citizen journalism as: ‘when the people formerly known as the audience employ the press tools they have in their possession to inform one another.’ By using collective intelligence we can all take part in citizen journalism – by being a produser.
Is this threatening the role of legacy media and traditional journalism in today’s society? Abso-freaking-lutely. The internet comes at a low cost, and once you have access to the wider web, submitting and accessing content is free. Bugger paying $3.20 a day for a newspaper! This again reminds us of the open vs. closed debate: “if you universally make people pay for your content it follows that you are no longer open to the rest of the world, except at a cost” – Alan Rusbridger. Why pay for free information?
Even though Reddit and 4Chan had minute by minute updates during the Boston Bombings, the sites users did end up accusing a completely innocent man of committing the bombings and there in lies the downside to the hive mind, kind of like lemmings or sheep the hive tends to jump on board with a popular opinion.
In saying that it was interesting to see how speculation and observation on the internet gained so much attention from the rest of the world. Though controversial when accusations were thrown around this was an excellent example of FREE crowd sourced information.
So if ever faced with impending doom, be sure to check the internet to increase your chance of survival. The Hive Mind is alive, buzzing and full of free information.