05 May 2009

Consequences of the internet

In case you missed it, Clay Shirky has an essay that's been getting a lot of play, about the crisis in the newspaper industry. In a recent post about the challenges of thinking about the problem he quotes newspaperman Gordy Thompson with a good observation about a lot of pre-internet businesses facing the current era.

When a 14 year old kid can blow up your business in his spare time, not because he hates you but because he loves you, then you got a problem.

He then goes on to some really good observations about the Guttenberg revolution, and says something that strikes at the heart of the matter.

Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism. For a century, the imperatives to strengthen journalism and to strengthen newspapers have been so tightly wound as to be indistinguishable. That’s been a fine accident to have, but when that accident stops, as it is stopping before our eyes, we’re going to need lots of other ways to strengthen journalism instead.

I find that observation very comforting, actually, since newspapers are doomed.

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