Posts from February 21, 2004

Old vs. news: I

Old vs. news: I
: Yesterday, by fate — or kismet — I attended two panel discussions at NYU that tried to see what’s next for media from two perspectives: the past and the future.

As I mentioned below, I was on a panel for MBA students from across the country called “Beyond the Printed Page.” Some heavyweights — Kelly Conlin, president of Primedia; Bruce Hallett, president of Sports Ilustrated, Paul Rossi, publisher of Ecnomist.com; Thomas Carley, president of NYTimes News Services — shared their valuable experience with extending their products, brands, and revenue in the internet, TV, and such.

At the end, Eric Garland, the moderator, asked the obligatory question about the fate of print. We’d all been joking that the students — faced with a choice of sexier panels about music, TV, and children’s entertainment — wouldn’t show up for dusty old print (many did). So Garland cued the whither-print discussion. Hallett said that these are not mature businesses and are still developing and growing; the rest nodded.

I’d said earlier that we are in for a fundamental restructuring — with an endless supply of content that could be viewed as competition or, better, as a new source of diverse viewpoints and deeper relationships; I did my citizens’-media boogie (you’ve watched that dance before so I’ll spare you).

And as I left, I got email from Jay Rosen saying that he and Anil Dash would be speaking to a group at the NYU Law School on how weblogs are changing the world (I blogged it, below). Jay talked eloquently, as always, on the fundamental restructuring of content. There was a lot of excitement about the Iranian and Iraqi bloggers. The place buzzed.

When I got home, I told my wife about it over dinner and said it was a rather stark contrast: old v. new, big v. small, drone v. buzz. She nodded but also chuckled and said it’s too bad there’s no money in this blog thing. She’s right (she always is).

And so now it hits me that the big boys aren’t going to take this phenomenon seriously until they see its economic power. They’ll think it’s cute that citizens’ media powered Howard Dean or will power revolution in Iran. But what they care about is money.

They will notice when a Denton steals an advertiser from them or shows up in market research as a better competitor or sells his company to one of them for a few mil.

It’s about money. If we want this new medium to be taken seriously and if we want it to get the resources it needs to develop with more tools and talent, then we do need to get serious about money (which means, among many other things, creating standards for measuring the size of the medium).

I don’t want to see the buzz of the second panel turn into the drone of the first (that will come in a generation or two). I just want to see the buzz grow.

Old v. news: II

Old v. news: II
: A few days ago, I posted excerpts from and arguments against Eli Noam’s Financial Times article arguing that we are in the midst of a market failure in the information and entertainment ecomies. The comments here had some great refutations from wiser economic minds than mine. Om Malik, Ross Mayfield, Kevin Werbach, Steve MacLaughlin, Jennifer Rice, and others joined in.

(What I like about all this is that I knew Noam’s piece was bull but I don’t have the econ-class chops sufficient to argue — but my fellow bloggers do. You make my arguments for me. You fight my fights for me.)

Now Fred Wilson, who really has the econ chops to argue — having helped build this economy — adds another citation to the argument:

I don’t know what world Eli is living in, but its not in the trenches. There is opportunity every where I look in the information economy right now. Maybe I should go up to Columbia and offer Eli a tour of it.

What is happening, as so brilliantly described by another economist, Carlota Perez, in her book “Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital” is that we are at the end of the “installation” period where building infrastructure was the recipe for making money and at the start of the “golden age of IT” where using it in innovative ways will be the key to making money.

Apple isn’t making a lot of money on iMacs anymore, but they are making a ton of money right now selling iPods and Airport Extremes. Soon, those cash cows will pave the way for new Apple businesses built around Garage Band and iTunes. As Jeff Jarvis said in his post, “There’s somebody using Apple’s Garageband in a garage right now creating a future hit that will surely be sold at Apple’s iTunes store.”

Eli should come down from his ivory tower and hit the streets and see what crafty entrepreneurs are doing with commoditized infrastructure. They are building the “golden age” of IT before our very eyes.

I like the idea of taking Noam on a tour; I’m emailing him.

: Om puts together excerpts of many of the bloggers’ comments linked above.