At the Accelerating Change Conference 2004, Dan Gillmor spoke about his book, We the Media,along with some of his observations about the increasing amount of information available to individuals through new forms of mediation. His main argument, that journalism had once been a lecture but is now a conversation, is one that those of us in the blog world have taken to heart, even if some in the traditional media are less enthusiastic. Weblogs (along with mailing lists, discussion boards, and the like) have become a critical part of the media complex, as they allow for rapid (and global) fact-checking, and make it harder to keep stories hidden. (You can download We the Media for free under a Creative Commons license, so there's no excuse for not reading it.)
One story he told struck me as emblematic of the effect of wireless, mobile information systems. He was shown a demo of a system combining a bar-code reader and an Internet-connected handheld computer; when a product's supermarket bar-code is scanned, the handheld does a Google search for the product. In the demo, the first link for a box of cereal pulled from the store's shelf turned out to be a product recall -- the box didn't list an ingredient that some people were allergic to. As Dan put it:
Every object can tell a story, and if the story is "if you eat me I will kill you," that's a story you want to hear.