Fast Company

Can the Wisdom of the Crowds Help Us Through the Downturn?

As mainstream media becomes more open to tapping into the blogosphere and even the Twittersphere during this collapse; news and analysis are becoming two-way conversations.

My Name is Kyle Austin and I'm an expert blogger for FastCompany.com (as of today). I can promise there won't be any ten step programs in our ensuing conversations. Unless, it is ten steps on how to survive the market meltdown and ad budget cuts, which surrounds us.

I'm happy to be joining a group of expert bloggers with the likes of Dr. Alex Pattakos (he's brilliant) and Allyson Kapin (she's rad). With "Channeling Media," I plan to look at the media corporations, entrepreneurs and technology that are changing the way we view, read and interact with media on all three-screens (TV, computer and mobile device.)

Of course, with the market tumult, taking a look at how the "crash" (we can call it this now - Maria Bartiromo told me) is affecting the media landscape (even close to home) will become part of the daily beat.

However, as mainstream media becomes more open to tapping into the blogosphere and even the Twittersphere during this collapse; news and analysis is finally becoming a 2-way conversation. This as my Fortune-friend David Kirkpatrick posted on Facebook recently, makes me wonder if "Our new communications media, could help us emerge faster and stronger from this disaster?" Need an example of this? Well there are thousands of entrepreneurs and start-ups out there that are worrying that we could be headed toward the Web 2.0 bubble bursting. If it were 2000, a lot of these entrepreneurs would depend on the council of those closest to them. There first reaction was not, "well I need to go online and see what people are saying."  Yes, the Internet was there, but it wasn't the communications tool that it is today.

So earlier this week when uber-connected blogger Om Malik broke news on a secret meeting that top venture firm Sequoia Capital was having with its portfolio companies, I took notice. The news quickly spread and we started to learn more about the advice that some of the brightest minds in the Valley were giving their top portfolio companies. Yes, the part of the story that everyone wanted to cover was how fearful the valley is (queue up illustration:"RIP Good Times" slide). But what people failed to really jump on, was that as the meeting became more-and-more transparent, entrepreneurs (worried about what they will do during the downturn) got access to the full slide show (insight & analysis), which Sequoia was planning to give only to its portfolio companies.

In addition to this, entrepreneurs could compare this advice online with equally insightful analysis from Jason Calacanis, Fred Wilson and Paul Kedrosky, to name a few. All before getting together with other members of their team to decide what ideas they have. Knowledge is truly power, and there is no shortage of financial power across the Internet, blogosphere and Twittersphere.

This is just one example of many. What about those tweeting to each other during the presidential debates? Or the influential bloggers who now influence how mainstream outlets cover key topics on the campaign trail.

With the situation that this Nation is currently facing, due to gross errors made by this administration, we can't afford to be ignorant anymore. I would argue that the "wisdom of the crowds" won't let us or the mainstream media be that way anymore.

Are you finding the insight and analysis that you need to survive the downturn online via blogs, through Twitter, or are you still tuning into mainstream media for insight? Let me know.

kyledaustin at hotmail.com or @kyledaustin2440 on Twitter.

Follow my other musings on media @ www.racetalkblog.com.

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