The Authority Revolution

Writing of the recently concluded BloggerCon III at Stanford, Jay Rosen notes that there’s something a whole lot bigger going on than just a communications revolution. I concur, and I especially like the illustration he uses.

The producer revolution in media is related to a possible producer revolution in politics, and both are related to a broader revolution in knowledge, the one that confronts medical doctors with patients who have researched the medication the doctor just prescribed and talked via the Internet with other patients who have done the same thing. Medical authority doesn’t disappear in this new world. But it has to take sudden account of knowledge-producing patients who have their own ways of finding out what works.

Interactive authority in medicine is not going to be the same kind of authority–I know, you don’t, so listen to me. The search for what replaces do-what-I-say medicine is an important search. I see blogging as partly about that. In the field I know best, journalism, it could not be clearer that the terms of authority are changing. It’s not that “no one trusts the press.” It’s that trust is not going to be established any longer on the old terms that “traditional” trust-me journalism thought immutable and just.

I’ve written previously about the stranglehold the medical community maintains on knowledge. In the early days of the Web, the AMA created a lobbying group to insure medical knowledge Websites would always be under its purview. Such self-serving crap is a part of what’s driving people to search out things for themselves. And no fatted calf needs whacking like that of health care.

One day, the insurance companies will get smart on this and find ways to ENCOURAGE people to do their own research. Better to serve an educated public than one that relies on (élite) doctors and lawyers to make things work for us. Me? Take responsibility for my own health? Prescribe my own medicine? Oh the sanity of that thought.

What the people of the world are discovering is that there’s a deep difference between stupid and ignorant. Stupid is forever, but ignorant can be fixed. We’ve been treated like the former when actually we’re the latter. THIS is the revolution underway.


  1. Matt C. Wilson says

    Amen, Terry… a‑men. I ran into this with my pediatrician. The lady’s sweet, bless her, but she continued to diagnose my daughter’s skin irritations as allergies. This was after the battery of anti-histamines, then the visit to an allergist who confirmed a total lack of allergies.

    After all that, she prescribed a topical cream. I did a quick google search and turned up, voila, this was a topical allergy medication. I did another search for eczema medications and found out about tacrolimus and pimecrolimus, which are steroid free (very important for kids) anti-fungal creams. We asked to try that, and golly, it worked!

    It’s sad to me when a wary disposition and a Google search can best years of medical experience. We’ve since switched pediatricians.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.