23 October 2010

Here Comes Everybody

Clay Shirky's basic argument is that the advent of social media (email, FaceBook, MySpace, bulletin boards, Flickr) has fundamentally changed people's ability to form and act in groups, because it has reduced the cost of doing so effectively to nothing. This is a similar argument to Chris Anderson's in The Long Tail and FREE: The Future of a Radical Price - that modern digital technology has created a new set of tools and zero-cost opportunities for people to do things that hitherto were the province of small, rich elites. The classic case, now well known, is that of newspapers. When individual bloggers started breaking news stories, the first thing newspapers did was to pour scorn on them. Then, as the tide of 'citizen reporters' grew, the newspapers started their own blogs - written by paid journalists (which is not the same thing of course). Then, when they saw advertising revenues switch from print publications to the online world, they started panicking. And that's where they're at now. Almost all national daily newspapers (in the UK anyway) make a loss. They are what blogger Guido Fawkes calls 'vanity publishing'. The Guardian newspaper for instance has a daily circulation of only 280,000 copies, and operates at a loss of £171 million per year. (It is subsidised by profits from Auto Trader ... more >>

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