It’s wonderful to see my friends at the Guardian taking the ballsy move to produce full-text RSS feeds. I know this is somewhat nerve-making in media: Why shiould we put all our content out there on a feed without getting people to come to our pages and see all our ads? A few answers. First, many people won’t click through. Take ’em when you got ’em. Second, think distributed; that’s my first WWGD? rule for news organizations. You have to go to where the people are. RSS is home delivery 2.0. Third, the feeds will have ads and though there’ll be fewer of them, the potential for more audience reading more stories is great. It’s a bold experiment and I hope they do well with it. (Disclosure: I write and work for the Guardian.)
Posts about guardian
My Guardian column this week reprises discussion on the blog about moving past the article as the fundamental unit of journalism.
My Guardian column this week is a columnization of the post I wrote last week rebutting Paul Farhi’s absolution of journalists in the fall of journalism. The point remains:
My purpose in rebutting Farhi, Greenslade and Monck is not to flagellate journalists but to empower them. To take responsibility for the fall of journalism is to take responsibility for its fate. Who’ll try to save it if not journalists? There’s not a minute to waste whining.
It never fails. I’ll be talking with a group about the amazing opportunities of the internet age and inevitably someone will pipe up and say, “Yes, but there are inaccuracies on the internet.” And: “There are no standards there.” Or: “Most people just watch junk.” There the conversation stalls. I take it as personal failure, not keeping everyone’s eyes focused on the future. Suddenly, we’re spinning our wheels in the present or sliding back to the past, missing the chance to explore and exploit our new reality. Once and for all, I’d like to respond to these fears and complaints. They won’t go away. But at least I could, as the prime minister does in question time, refer the honourable curmudgeon to the replies I give here.
There’s junk on the internet. True. There’s junk everywhere (even on bookshop shelves). The mistake is to think that the internet should be packaged and perfected, like media. It’s not media. Blogger Doc Searls, co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, says the web is instead a place where we talk and connect. In his 1996 Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace, John Perry Barlow called it “the new home of the mind.” The internet is life. Life is messy. Get used to it.
Most people watch junk. True. But “most” is a measurement that mattered only in the mass media economy, which is over. In our new mass of niches, we each may seek out and support what we like. Yes, we’ve all watched our silly flaming cat videos (not to mention Big Brother). But we’ve also watched moments of genius made possible by the internet. Why concentrate on the crap when brilliance is only a click away?
Anyone can say anything on the internet. True. And God bless it for that. That cacophony you hear is democracy and the free marketplace of ideas.
There are inaccuracies on the internet. True. But the web enables us to correct our mistakes – because nothing is finished there. With a link or a comment, we can also correct others. And thanks to Google, we can look up facts from many sources in an instant. I’d say the internet has given us a greater respect and facility for facts and has made us as a society more accurate.
Wikipedia has mistakes. True. So does this newspaper. Both are better at making corrections than books and encyclopedias. Wikipedia, like the web, has enabled an unprecedented collection of knowledge, passion, creation, and collaboration.
We need a seal of approval for internet content. False. The last thing we need is a system for certification. For who should have the authority to do it? Who would wield that shield in China, Iran, or Saudi Arabia? The web is not one-size-fits-all. Neither is knowledge.
Bloggers aren’t journalists. True and false. The Pew Internet & American Life survey says only a third of bloggers consider what they do journalism. But today any witness can perform an act of journalism, giving us more eyes on society – which journalists should celebrate.
People are rude on the internet. True. They’re rude in life, but perhaps more so online, thanks to anonymity. But we all know who the idiots are. The smart response is to ignore the stupid.
The internet has no ethics. True. It no more has a moral code than a telephone wire, a car, or a knife. We who use it bring the ethics and laws we live under already.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s please return to the full half of the glass and examine the many new opportunities the net presents from these challenges. When you see nothing but junk, create quality. Where quality is hard to find, curate it, adding your own seal of approval with a link. When you read inaccuracies and misunderstandings, add facts, corrections, context and journalism. If people on the internet get things wrong, educate them. When you hear the noise of people talking online, listen. I know I come across as the internet triumphalist. Somebody has to. Somebody needs to be the contrarian’s contrarian.
My Guardian column this week is a reprise of the discussion here about Google and its size in the market.
My Guardian column this week is an interview with the Googliest author I know, Paulo Coelho about the power of free and friendships online. The lede:
Paulo Coelho certainly has nothing against selling books. He has sold an astounding 100m copies of his novels. But he also believes in giving them away. He is a pirate. . . .
This one confuses me: Peter Barron, editor of the BBC’s flagship news program, Newsnight, where he has done by all accounts brilliant work, is leaving to work for Google — that part wouldn’t be surprising but it’s Google communications (read: PR) that he’ll be doing. I’ll be eager to see the Media Guardian explanation of this one.