News 2.0: Can Journalism Survive the Internet?

By Martin Hirst | Go to book overview

1
Convergence,
journalism and
News 2.0

Welcome to the brave first decade of the twenty-first
century, a decade which will destroy more science fiction
futures than any ten year span that preceded it.

Charles Stross

In the introduction to Toast, a collection of short stories, science fiction writer Charles Stross writes that a ‘fogbank of accelerating change’ seems to ‘swallow our proximate future’. He also writes that the pace of change in the period from the late 1960s to the present has been faster than at any other time in history. He adds that today ‘if anything, it’s accelerating’ and that technological change is ‘one-way’. There’s no going back. Stross speculates, as sci-fi writers are encouraged to do, that the world may be heading towards what mathematician and computer scientist Vernor Vinge describes as a ‘singularity’. In astronomy, a singularity would occur when a star dies, creating a high-density black hole. It would be the end of time for anyone near the star at this moment as enormous gravitational forces suck surrounding matter into the vortex.1 In Stross’s fiction, and in News 2.0, singularity is used as a metaphor for a spectacular and almost catastrophic event that—in a sense—ends one period of history at a single stroke. But it’s not the end of our world; in dialectical terms it’s the beginning of a new phase of history. Stross writes: ‘At the singularity, the rate of change of technology becomes infinite; we can’t predict what lies beyond it’ (Stross, 2003, p. 13). For cultural studies theorist Henry Jenkins, this singularity—the birth of

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