Winter Sunlight

Kismet worldbuilding

I'm trying to figure out what the news media would be like in Kismet (my webcomic).

The problem with stuff like this is that Kismet is space opera, not strictly sci-fi; it's not meant to be a plausible extrapolation to what things would actually be like 800 years in the future (which would probably be, let's face it, incomprehensible to us now). It's for fun. But at the same time, I don't want it to be too blindingly contemporary-feeling. So really it's not so much "what would it be like" as "what can I get away with, in the way of reporters and newspapers, that wouldn't feel too anachronistic".

Here's what I know:
  • Kismet, like most cities in its era, has a city computer that runs the city’s infrastructure. Kismet, being a small city and a rather anarchic one, is a lot less networked than on a planet like, say, Zahali, but there’s still a central AI that has “eyes” and “ears” throughout the city. Most people have uplink devices to the computer and use them in similar ways to cell phones – for communication, to check in with their personal data storage/email/whatever, and so forth.
  • Therefore, everyone in the city is data-collecting all the time, in a passive kind of way.
  • Given current trends, future news media is probably going to look more like Twitter/blogs than like the centrally organized newsmedia we have now.

And there I've kind of stalled out. I want reporters, and newspapers, and things of that nature, but I'm not sure to what extent I can get away with them. Would there be centralized news media at all? Would people run blogs, or curate the existing data into some kind of newsfeed, or what? Hmmmmm.

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I think even in the future, people are going to want 'news they can trust' - something that's sourced by some reasonably reputable outlet/person, so you don't have to verify everything yourself to find out if it's true. Be it individual bloggers or a network of bloggers who do research, write-ups, and reporting of a sort; or aggregators that only link proven blog posts/messages (probably archiving them in the doing so they can't be re-edited later) or it'll be more like a wiki with strict confirmation rules. But I think having blog-reporters isn't that unlikely. Especially as blog posts of the future are probably going to be more video-blogs - and a lot of those (and podcasts) actually do do interviews with people and tours of places and things - so I think having 'reporters' of some sort isn't that unbelievable!

--Also, not sure how much government or corporate control there is, but there still will be propaganda of some sort, and some of it will almost definitely be in the form of biased journalism...

ETA: also, for what it's worth, most of the space opera I know (my favorites, anyway!) feature news networks and reporters - they're an accepted part of the genre, whether or not they make sense with projections from our current now!

Edited at 2015-04-23 12:44 am (UTC)
Regarding the latter, it depends on where you are ... like, Kismet has literally no government at all (which makes it surprisingly difficult to figure out, for worldbuilding purposes, how some things like utilities actually operate), but there are some worlds that definitely do have official media and it's all controlled by the government except for the underground stuff -- Tertia, where some of the main characters are from, is like that.

But yeah, I think you have a good point that there will always be a desire for reputable sourcing, and that SOME kind of system would need to exist for that.

As far as independent, non-government-controlled journalism is concerned, there are probably corporate news media like we have today. But, springboarding off what you said about a bloggers' network, I like the idea of ... maybe some kind of international bloggers' association, where membership is voluntary but being a member means you've been vetted and you're considered trustworthy, so then you get to put their little logo on your blog and that means you're a trustworthy news source. And there are membership dues to support investigations into allegations of wrongdoing and such things. They don't have any legal standing, but they will kick members out if they are found to have doctored footage, for example. You have to adhere to their journalistic standards to be a member.
A vetted blogger association sounds like a plausible thing - actually I'm surprised there isn't one already. The one question would be how do these bloggers make money (it's probably a part-time hobby for some but I'd expect some to do it professionally, since professional bloggers exist even now). Advertising fees and donations as per the current model? Or something else? (This world-building stuff is fun, I like coming up with non-existent systems for stuff!)

Edited at 2015-04-23 01:01 am (UTC)
hmmmm, making money - that IS a good question. And yeah, I was thinking of people doing this professionally, so money would have to come into it somewhere! It's probably supported largely by advertising, which after all is how most traditional media is supported too ... which makes me realize that I really should be sticking more advertising into the background scenes. I should have ads floating all over the place in VR!

This kind of thing is fun to think about for me, too. :D I think that I tend to be on the conventional end of things when it comes to worldbuilding -- that is, it's hard for me to think outside the box and come up with really new ways of doing things. Which is why these brainstorming posts are so helpful!
.... also, about the ETA: ha, yeah, I know. XD I mean, really, for space opera, the answer to "can I?" is usually "yes". XD But I really like the idea of a voluntary bloggernet; that feels very Kismet, somehow.
I'm picturing people consuming the news by being transported to a virtual reality where they can actually "see" the news happening (together with smells/feel etc). Complete with "Doesn't get any realer than this!" slogans... hehe. Also probably something to do with biological integration since that's where everything computerized is heading now.

I do think there will always be some form of curation (just like we currently "curate" fanfic by writing/consuming rec lists, even in a completely decentralized location like Internet communities around issues/topics will generally form because people like to discuss things with other people who are relatively like-minded).
I have GOT to use VR more than I do, because it is totally a thing for them, but I don't really do much with it. (Originally there was actually a reason for this, as I'd planned a lightspeed delay on communications, then kinda went "screw it" after a certain point and decided to give them instantaneous communications because it was easier to write. XD)

Anyway, yes, this makes a lot of sense, and I particularly love the analogy to fannish curation - because, yes, rec lists and so forth are always a thing, and will certainly be a thing in the future as well.
Just to say, I now wish this is what people would talk about when I attend panels about the future of journalism.
I have to go along with the idea of wanting a vetted news source vs some random blogger venting his/her spleen
On Kismet, every syndicate would have its own newsfeed.

I can also see there being a number of newsfeeds for highly specific audiences, similar to cable TV. (I keep thinking about a newsfeed dedicated to smugglers, for example. "News Break From SmugglerNer: Andorian Pigeons Declared Illegal on Secuba, Prices Double Overnight")

And there would be a perfectly boring and bland newsfeed from the City AI, of course.

And a Secuban propaganda network. And a Tertian propaganda network.

And I think it would be fun to have a newsfeed generated from Fleetwood's AI, about All Things Fleetwood, or at least Only Things that Fleetwood Finds Interesting.

And an AI's Rights propaganda newsfeed.

That's all.
aahhhhhhh, these are BRILLIANT. Given the nature of Kismet's AI (and lord, I need to do the all-AI side story I've been plotting out in my head), the city AI's feed would be an equal mix of bland content and TOTAL FUCKING CRAZY, but presented completely deadpan.

Also, the "all things Fleetwood" network, heeheeheeeeee, of COURSE he would have one! (It offends everybody. In another town it would have been the cause of a dozen lawsuits already.)

And yeah, the individual interest networks ... although looking over at some of the suggestions on the DW side, I think a lot of these might be self-curated, where you can create your own feed tailored to your interests (but you have to subscribe for the premium content). Of course custom feeds would be offered if you just wanted to click on a thing and have it presented to you, without needing to make your own ...

I am TOTALLY snitching xparrot's idea about a newsblogger vetting organization, too.
Don't forget the Daily Show angle as a possibility - entertainment based on vetting news sources, or (as per Last Week Tonight) bringing to light public interest issues that are often overlooked. My dad pointed out that humor as a news source goes back to court jesters (and that it's sad that we're in a place where the court jester is again our best source of news...)
Oooh, I think the Daily Show is a perfect example of the kind of multimedia bloggers they'd have in a Kismetian future - a sort of collation and commentary service, like people were suggesting in the comments elsewhere (I think that might've been more on the DW side), sometimes directly reporting the news, sometimes picking it up from elsewhere and presenting it with entertaining analysis.

I'm really glad you brought it up, because I hadn't even thought about Daily Show/Colbert Report/etc type of stuff -- I think I was focusing mainly on Internet media -- but yes, that is exactly what they would have!

Edited at 2015-04-24 06:55 pm (UTC)