Conversation vs Information
Adina Levin has a fascinating post building on a theory of Dave Weinberger's called The End of Information, The Return of Conversation. In it, Adina persuasively argues that Information - who has it, who doesn't, and how it is distributed - is no longer the primary mover of our culture.
Now it is Conversation, through the form of social media, that is in the driver's seat. Rather than engaging the world through Information obtained from a single reliable source; the world is increasingly understood through the context of Conversation. Comments on blogs and Facebook, tweets and retweets, Google Wave and Wikipedia are more than just crowd sourcing information; they represent a fundamental values shift in perception. Asking the question, and hosting the conversation, have primacy over providing a single answer.
In her excellent recent post The Future Of Politics Is Mutual, Hannah Nicklin issues a call to arms for the creation of an open sourced WikiPolitics, something my friend Matt Cooperider has been advocating for at Open Government NYC. As Hannah argues, the structures of social media are ideally suited to creating a more open, participatory democracy.
What does this mean for theatre? Primarily, it means that if you claim to want Conversation, it can't simply be your old Information dressed up in social media's clothing. Flux is taking steps towards this by directly soliciting feedback for The Lesser Seductions of History, but this is only a start. As WikiPolitics and Open Government movements increase the access and leverage of engaged citizens, we must encourage a similar level of direct and meaningful conversation with our stakeholders. What theatre companies are doing this well? Please post any good examples in the comments field; especially those that move beyond using new media as a platform for old content, and instead let their audience sit in some meaningful way at the table where decisions are made.