Editor's Letter — December 2017
There’s this misguided belief that you can find absolutely everything on the Internet. We’ve come to believe that knowledge is only a Google search away. Yet, the original content and information we create every day still requires humans to push the buttons and publish it. I’ve observed that many of us regularly interact with someone else’s conscious decision to share something. I see this akin to uploading a memory and helping share an important—or sometimes not so important—slice of humanity.
There’s a suggestion that 211 million minutes worth of content is created every minute. Despite this statistic, it’s worth remembering to perceive the Internet as a very curated place. Conscious human decisions based on a sense of creativity result in what gets shared.
This is an idea that’s consumed for a while, especially when I stop to consider the role of media companies as powerful storytellers in society. Are we simply satisfying a means to an immediate end or are we striving for something much nobler to be found in an uncertain future?
We’re lulled into a sense of security believing that everything of value is already available and accessible digitally. But the reality is that until they’re preserved as data as well as maintained, many of the stories and experiences around us are at risk.
The experiences of the convenience store owner in your neighborhood, how your family wound up in a new country, and even the way your parents met are all stories worth remembering, sharing, and conversing over. And for every untold story or simply undocumented bit of information that departs this world with a person, the loss is inconceivable.
What we do with MAEKAN is but one diverse but potent community of voices. Even while we seek to amplify other voices, we’re still a comparative whisper in cyberspace.
Yes, we do invest more time and polish into our stories than say, a spontaneous tweet sent by a commuter who happens across something interesting, but that’s not the point. The point is that we all have the ability to converse, dialog, and document the past and present.
Sharing and self-publishing have never been easier. What’s missing, however, is a pointed desire to tell a story and share an experience beyond an image that may lack context. There’s often a sentiment of “Nothing interesting or exciting happens around me.” I’m compelled to call bullshit. I find that too frequently, that sentiment lingers and subjects and topics are only viewed through a superficial lens. Things in the real world can be assessed from a full 360 degrees of opinion, and yes, it takes a bit of genuine effort to root around and find out what’s the takeaway, but a good starting part is “this could be important because…”
Unfortunately, mainstream media isn’t seeking to bring many of the untold stories around us to a bigger audience because these stories lack baked-in viral hooks, which make them financially unappealing. But for those of us with an internet-ready smartphone and no bottom line to look out for, real-world documentation on a grassroots level is what allows us, all of us, to simultaneously do what humans do best: connect and socialize.
By doing that around meaningful stories, we can challenge ourselves to preserve the past, inform the present, and define the future.
Until next month,