Last day to prepare for next week's conference in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. As in many other places, the Dutch news media industry are up in arms. Although several local media have opted for participatory journalism (see Amsterdamse Buurten in Haarlem or Nieuwslokaal in Groningen), the concept of 'flattening' the institutionalized hierarchy between newsmakers and newsusers is not embraced by journalists themselves. During online discussions between Dutch reporters and editors on the so-called Mediadag of May 18, 2005, several expressed that giving equal voice to the voiceless - and wasn't that the original ideal of a democratic press - will unleash the irrational rants of the disgruntled.

Whatever your view, what seems to be missing from these current debates is an analysis of the societal trends and developments that enable/drive the contemporary shift towards a more or less problematic networked society where media culture is becoming participatory, and where the success or failure of this 'participation' is based on collective intelligence and 'reputation metrics'.

If media are both a director and a reflector of the way society organizes itself, what exactly is it what media show of this process? Key terms - that I will address in my talk on the 24th - seem to be (for now): hyperindividualization and the reflexive self (see Anthony Giddens); the erosion of the authority once wielded by social institions and the emergence of massively networked types of social order (from Everquest or World of Warcraft to swarming, from p2p networks to global media enterprises like NewsCorp and multilateral organizations like the United Nations). The world is not necessarily a dangerous, but an at once fragmented and highly integrated - and thus: confusing - place.

As always I think the bottom line for media is connectivity, not content; and in connectivity we increasingly only listen to ourselves.