Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Times they are 'a-changing

Well, we know that Newspaper are going to die, and we'll have to see about print media in general. In fact, my current guess is that the next decade of iPhones and Blackberries and Kindles and podcasts and audiobooks will signal a "paper reversal". In no way do I expect "paper" copies to go away, instead I expect them to slowly be limited to only specific, revered content.

But hey, I'm already receiving my bank statements and pay stubs electronically. So the amount of paper-only content is fast diminishing.

However, I have two great links about paper today.

Time Magazine talks about the End of Excess. Which opens with a great line:
Don't pretend we didn't see this coming for a long, long time.
A few other choice quotes:
We cannot just hunker down, cross our fingers, hysterically pinch our pennies, wait for the crises to pass, blame the bankers and then go back to business as usual...This is the end of the world as we've known it. But it isn't the end of the world.
Which echoes things I've been saying for a long time. The US is going to change and it's going to change very dramatically. The "middle-class" is no longer going to be the center of this giant bell curve, things will tier much more. The US will need a broader base of producers, of people working dirty jobs.

Of course, with such a small population (on a global scale), the only way the US can stay ahead of the curve is to become an intellectual mecca for the new generation of problem solvers and thought leaders. Of course, with such a small realy population base and an underfunded education system, there will be a need to import these people.
Further increases in productivity and prosperity require ingenuity and enterprise applied at the micro scale... As China and other developing countries finally achieve the industrial plenty that we enjoyed 50 years ago, the U.S. can stay ahead once again by pioneering the next-generation technologies that the increasingly industrialized world will require...And no other nation assimilates immigrants as successfully as the U.S.
Those are just my choice quotes, the whole article is a good read.

And here's a good summary about the death of the newspaper. I think this one quote really sums it up nicely:
It makes increasingly less sense even to talk about a publishing industry, because the core problem publishing solves — the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public — has stopped being a problem.
He goes on to mention that we don't really have a good replacement model for all of these journalists we're putting out of work. Personally, I get the feeling that between ease of publisher, ease of search/aggregation and ease of rating, it's quite probably that the future of news will be a truly distributed network. Not an Associated Press style of "distributed network", but rather a loose network of data collectors and aggregators and researchers. Each of which can produce data for the next set.

In the article he makes a mention of reporters attending a town hall meeting "just in case". But in this new era of data, it's quite possible for one to film the event, have it edited for highlights, transcripted and then reviewed, blogged, twittered & pod-casted by multiple people all within hours. And unlike the previous model, these people don't even have to be the same the same people or the same group.

Of course, none of this is very conducive to being done with paper, which may be why Time is calling for changes and the Times will be changing.

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