Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

“Most people are morons”

My ‘old media’ mates think I’m a raving, lunatic radical. My ‘new media’ mates thing I’m a closed-minded dinosaur. For our part, how anyone can not understand that Squash is clearly the voice of reason, is quite simply beyond us.

However, the torrent of comments that my recent post Why RSS will never “break through”, showed me once again that people who have worked in the mass media and those who work in ‘new media’ are generally worlds apart.

A bunch of you, the new media one’s reckon I’m a goose or as Chuck Houghton put it in his blog “[Squash]’s taking a pretty good beating in the comments”.

Kevin Leversee, of Web 2.0 consulting company Pandora2 said:

Phil, man what an arrogant statement, bro. Get out of the stoneage. RSS and other technologies that support the remixing of information to that user’s selection and relevance is exactly the whole meme behind what we are all doing…

Of course, Kevin would say that.

Kai Turner made an interesting point..

Whether or not people ‘get’ the technology is a moot point. The technology will be integrated behind the scenes and people won’t notice the difference… I think your assertion that ordinary people don’t need media filtering is a bit short-sighted. You’re speaking in terms of the text/blog space. When downloading television programmes and movies becomes commonplace, people will want to tweak their feeds as part of the discovery of “what’s on tonight”

While ‘drx’ argued:

RSS has already broken through in this field, even people who don’t use a newsreader read information edited by people who do so.

Meanwhile, all the people I know who work in the mainstream media and who dropped by with comments agreed.

For example, Simon Sharwood commented:

The problem with so much of this debate is that we assume Everyone is Like Us.
But not everyone is… Tabloids and “current affairs” shows… that’s where the audiences are in truly significant numbers. There’s little evidence [average consumers] are interested in trawling the blogosphere to find weight loss technqiues or tales of plucky kiddies beating the odds. Until online media meets their needs, most of Web 2.0 will remain avant garde.

Indeed, as David Flynn noted:

Interestingly, I believe it’s journalists like Phil (and Simon and myself) who have enough experience in dealing with the ‘real’ world (rather than a more closed-circuit community of peers) that we can balance our own RSS rapture against the reality that for most people, rabid world-changing RSS consumpion just ain’t gonna happen.

I think the ‘real world’ experience David is talking about, relates to the reality that it is almost always harder than anyone ever expects to effect change. How many entrepreneurs actually hit those numbers they put in their business plan. How many editors manage to grow circulation by the numbers they originally forecast. Dot Com Episode I surely showed us that.

At the moment, a revolutionary is happening – down in this corner of the world. One day, the rest of the world may catch up. I just won’t be holding my breath for it to happen – I value my oxygen far too much.

All, of which can be summarised by Matthew Ingram’s brilliant comment:

True, Phil. But that’s because most people are morons


Filed under: Big Media, Feeds, New Media, XML/RSS/Atom

Marxism 2.0 – has Karl finally got it right?

Scott Karp this week initiated another interesting meme, this time on media economics, basing a post on the work of Mr Plastic Fantastic himself, Umair Haque. Karp called Haque “possibly the most brilliant mind looking at what’s going in media, and thus in technology”. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t but Umair is certainly the dude most capable of extrapolating the most graphs and buzzwords per theorum. Undisputed.

I have no arguments with most of what Haque has to say, although I think he’s dressing up a lot of conventional wisdom in bedazzling terminology just so as to wow and amazie and I also think he comes from too much of a technology-oriented point of view. I think concepts like community, voice, and authority are too difficult to plot on a graph yet essential to any modern media analysis and therefore go MIA in Haque’s PowerPointing.

But the one point I did want to make is that Karp uses the Haque-isms to suggest there is a bubble in the media forming that will in turn spill over to the wider tech sector.

To which Squash says one man’s bubble is another man’s bust.

If we’re going to talk economic models here, let’s revisit a classic oldie – Marxism.

Blah, blah, blah, to cut a long story short, the ruling class rules because it controls the means of production which enables it to exploit the labour of the working class to create “surplus value”. In media terms, this means Big Media contols the printing press and the broadcast stations, which enable them to create surplus value, ie profits, from the sweat of its content creators.

Fast forward to “media 2.0” (quite amazing that this is the first major upgrade of hundreds of years of media thinking isn’t it?). The Internet means big media no longer control the means of production. The content creators themselves can blog, podcast, videostream. They can outsource their advertising department (and their accounts receivable department for that matter to Google). All they need is to be able to market on an equal footing. That’s where content aggregation comes in. When Big Media company ceases to control the gatekeeping mechanism, all content creators are reduced to a level playing field.

Big media now has to rely primarily on its superior content produced by their superior content creators. However, as Haque notes, the democratisation of media makes the role of Big Media more difficult. Their costs increase, their revenues decrease – profits slide. The only place they can cut costs are their labor costs (if you’re in Australia, does this sound like Fairfax people?).

Suddenly, those superior content creators find that they can strike out on their own as mini-media and snatch a slice of the surplus value themselves thereby increasng their overall share. Quality at Big Media sinks and falls behind micromedia. Slippery slope ensues. Big Media dies. Micromedia flourishes. Capitalism is dead.

And the means of production? Maybe we exist in a socialist world; ie the means of production is controlled by the people’s elected representative – Google?. Maybe, we operate in a communist world, wher the means of production is owned communally – Open Source? Long live the revolution, Comrade.

So what the hell, hey. If we must insist on slapping a 2.0 suffix on the end of every word in the dictionary then here’s mine: Marxism 2.0.

Filed under: Big Media, Content Aggregation, Media Models, New Media

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