Chances are you’re already creating media. If you have a Facebook account, you’re a media creator—at least in the sense I’m talking about here. If you send emails to more than one person at a time to let them know about interesting things, or participate in any kind of online forum, you’re a media creator. If you post photos or videos anywhere online, you’re a media creator. If you do any number of things with the digital tools at your disposal, count yourself in the creative ranks.
Using media actively this way, in contrast to consuming it passively, as was the norm in the last half of the 20th century, means more than being a better consumer. The Digital Age brings us new opportunities to be fully literate—and the creative act is an essential part. The chapters in Part II will help you make the most of being an active user of the media that the Digital Age has thrust upon all of us.
As I’ve said earlier in this book, I’m not expecting you to become a journalist. But I’ll strongly suggest, even at the risk of being a little pushy, that you learn the principles of journalism. This will bring you enormous benefit, especially in understanding our messy media landscape.
These principles are also useful, of course, if you are going to make your own media at any level. They’re useful, that is, if you are trying to help other people understand their world (or yours) a little better—and if you want them to trust what you say. They’ve provided a bedrock for the best news and information from the folks who get paid to provide it, and they’re just as helpful for you and me.
Whatever the level of your contribution to the new media landscape, even it it’s just among friends, it’s good to think about some issues beyond the obvious ones, such as whether to blog or just use Facebook. I want to help you understand why I believe you need your own presence on the Internet beyond just a Facebook page, and a few of the wrinkles to consider in establishing your own presence in cyberspace.
I’ll also try to fit your creative activity into the overall landscape of tomorrow’s information ecosystem, and offer some ideas on how it’ll evolve. Hint: It’s going to be messy, but also exciting.
The chapters in this part of the book present options for creating media that range from the simple to the quite sophisticated. If you’re not very far along, and a chapter goes beyond what you want to know, just skip ahead to the next chapter. But mark your place—after you’ve been active for a while you might very well want to come back and read about the next steps. I certainly hope you will.