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February 18, 2007


Paul Montgomery

With all due respect Chris, it is always dangerous for a heavy technology user to assume that their preferences are shared by the majority of the public.



José luis

No tienes una versión es Español?

Anil Dash

Ah, while I enjoyed Rich's post, I was trying to be careful *not* to conflate platforms and people. I was a bit oblique with it, but that's what I meant when I said, "We're all either too lazy to actually differentiate between the technologies and types of media..." Which probably would have been clearer as "distinguishing between the technology/packaging of media and its contents, audiences, and participants".

I was being approving because I was really glad to see Rich being confident enough to articulate some accurate and honest assessments of a space that hasn't seen much success yet, at least from a business standpoint.

Mike Stenhouse

I think it's both important and valuable to have aggregators that don't fit all. I'm becoming increasingly worried about my own media consumption... I also have a 'totally idiosyncratic RSS subscription list', a list that I've compiled over the last few years consisting of stuff I have an interest in. But what's great about the Sunday papers, or even the dailies, is that I get exposed to stuff that I didn't know I was interested in. My general knowledge of current affairs is as bad as it's ever been and I have an uphill struggle to get back on top of it. I want more serendipity and less group-think so a service with some element of push would be very attractive to me.


What's important/attractive about news aggregators, be they websites or feeds or newspapers or magazines or tv shows, is not as much the news stories (every one has access to virtually the same stories, unless it's an exclusive, which is exceedingly rare these days), the writers (they're all professionals and most are very good at plying their craft), or the ads (again, no differentiation). What CAN make a difference is the Editor. In this world of too much information to sort through ourselves, we must depend, to some degree, on someone who shares our views of what's important or newsworthy (and one does not always equal the other, by the way), someone who serves as a filter for the world's info deluge. As a blogger, I try to write about not what I feel important or newsworthy, but what I think my readers will resonate with. A writer/editor, if you will. That is something that has real value. It's why I read what I do, including Wired, and why I don't read what I don't.

Evan Krasts

Ditto. I have a "totally idiosyncratic" RSS subscription list as well. Funny thing though. Half of my subscriptions are to old-school news outlets like NYT, Reuters, Business Week, etc. The other half are to aggregators like Digg or blogs like this one.

So wait, why do we need new news aggregators again? I'm glad that the major outlets have embraced RSS. I'm also glad that there is such a diversity of opinions expressed on individual blogs out there.

But I have to say that the value I get out of the aggregators is limited. They help me discover new sources once in a while, but in my little world, these services don't end up replacing or dis-intermediating the sources themselves. Go figure.

Mary Warner

We can argue about news aggregators and blogs and old media and where we get our news 'til the cows come home, but here's what I've noticed with my idiosyncratic RSS subscription list: There's a heckuva lot of repetition in the stories. One day, on three completely unrelated blogs, I saw the story about the percentage of Republicans who believe that global warming is a result of human activity vs. the percentage of Democrats who believe the same. If I skim two pages worth of reddit stories and check my RSS feeds every day, I've gotten most of what I'll see on the national evening news. Sure, there's long tail stuff mixed in, but the big news gets through. It's the local stuff that seems to be missing online. I get that via our weekly newspaper and state news broadcasts. While we're all living in our own little long tail worlds, we're still human beings and we love commonality.

Kevin H. Watson

Is it really as simple as new media and old media?

Isn't You Tube just a Bob Saget free validation of the media business model pioneered by America's Funniest Home Videos?

Old and new is simply a matter of perspective. To my friend's grandma, new media is the notion of hundreds of TV channels being available to her because a giant pie plate on her roof talks to some spaceship.

The manner in which content is created and delivered to the masses has always evolved with changes in the technology associated with content delivery.

The business model behind television has changed dramatically with the advent of subscription based media delivery systems like cable and satellite. The film industry was rocked by, and eventually adjusted to the development of home based content delivery, ala VHS.

The internet not the first new medium for content delivery and won't be the last. As with innovation in any industry, some will adjust and benefit from change and others will be left in the dust.

Most importantly, what is new will soon be old.

alan herrell - the head lemur

Now if we can get the Social Media folks to play

Hugh Brown

Uncharacteristically, Chris wrote two things I think are missing the point:

"Old media is all about building businesses around content"

Sorry, but I disagree. Old media is all about building a business around the *package*, not the content. That's why Old Media institutions initially had a lot of trouble commercialising their websites - same content, different package. As Dave Kusek puts it (referring to music): "the labels were never in the business of selling music, they were in the business of selling plastic disks ..." and now they're in trouble because plastic disks are increasingly redundant (music is definitely not). Newspapers and magazines sell pieces of paper, radio and TV sell access to synchronous events.

But in new media the packages can't be monopolised or limited to synchronous access - no scarcity, so there's a problem with the business proposition. And, yes, few *institutions* have yet figured out how to resolve this viably. Call that what you like, the problem lies with the phenomenon.

The other thing was:

"When it comes to the web, I have no interest in someone else trying to guess what I want to read or 'help' me by defining what's news and what isn't"

I'm shocked that an editor would say this. No, you don't use the news "site", but you use one of its sub-aggregations (the RSS feed by category), and someone else decides what goes into that. If no-one else decides that you might be interested, it's not there. Gatekeeping is alive and well. Of course you're not buying the news package but you're using the aggregation *service*.

Individuals have always used "idiosyncratic" collations of media input. But before the Internet they had to buy lots of packages of content to get what they need (other than from friends). Now they can access more refined streams of content via various services and put it in their own package ... news, information, entertainment, porn, prayer, whatever they choose ...

This is the most significant difference that all of this overlooks: new media are in a *service economy* not a manufacturing economy. You still use the old insitutions' service (part of it), just not all of the product.

The problem for "we media", as outlined above, is that they still think it's about content. It's not, it's about the service, and if you can create a valuable new service around citizen journalism, as Oh My News has done in Korea, then you will have a viable "we media" business.

This is the Long Tail of media *services*.

Mary Warner

Update: A few weeks ago, I saw an article, with photos, of a German guy who's raising GIGANTIC rabbits. Korea is looking at the rabbits as a food source. My husband thought the rabbits were photo-shopped. Not so. The story aired on Keith Olbermann tonight. Real bunnies. The really important news will somehow make its way to the people, no matter the media source. :)

Shahar Even-Dar Mandel

In a sense this post reminds me of the time, 12 years ago, in which a student who took some courses with me told us about this cool new application he was working on with three friends, letting you see which of your friends is online right now, and then chat with them. My reaction was mocking him, telling him I can do the same right now by running finger, who, talk and a bunch of other trustworthy unix commands. He shrugged and admitted there's nothing new and revolutionary in their product. They named their product ICQ. Ant it was the dawn of a new era.
What I'm trying to demonstrate here is what Paul Montgomery said in the first comment, I guess. The fact that you are perfectly content with the current situation, whether it's chatting with friend by running talk on the command line or carefully building your RSS feeds, there are masses of people out there who'd be happy to get some help. If you find the way to help them it will probably be worth a lot of money.

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The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

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