Scott Karp over at Publishing 2.0 has a juicy rant against the Old Media doomsayers, arguing passionately that “most people are drowning in an ocean of infinite media (the blogosphere being the perfect storm)” and that Old Media (or mainstream media, or traditional media, or whatever) still has a place, because it packages this infinite cornucopia into parcels that real people (as opposed to unreal people like you and me who subscribe to thousands of RSS feeds and then complain that their heads hurt) are comfortable with:
Let’s say I’m the average person who wants to see what blogs are all about. I’m interested in health and wellness. Where do I go to find the best blogs on this topic? Technorati? Even in the very unlikely event I’ve heard of Technorati (the name is so off putting), a search of Health and Wellness produces a list of random blog posts, including many in Asian languages. (Did you know there is an entire blog about thrush?) I’m going to give up Prevention magazine for this?
It’s not the democratic web. It’s the anarchic web.
I take his point (and I’ve posted here before about not getting ahead of the curve in our enthusiam for the technological cornucopia which has opened up before us). And, like Scott, I’m beginning to find some of the more Messianic voices of “open media” a little tiresome.
But on the other hand, don’t put the cart before the horse. We’re in a phase where new content is being created at a furious rate, but the tools for indexing and packaging it for a mainstream audience simply aren’t there yet. I believe they will come, and mainstream media will be a big supplier of them.
Take podcasting. I find it acutely difficult to find really good podcast juice without wading through an awful, awful lot of garbage. Somebody needs to package this stuff up. Somebody needs to make a podcast brand which I can associate with and give some trust to, that I can rely on to find me the good stuff and let me get on with my life. Google isn’t doing it. iTunes could do it, but doesn’t seem to have the resource. And I don’t want to have to wait until all my friends are sufficiently into podcasting so that they can share their good stuff in some social media stylee. I want the Guardian (or the Times, or the Telegraph, or the Sun, choose your colour) to do it for me.
And someday, they will. In fact, media companies might change the way they look at themselves to put this “indexing” behaviour at the heart of what they do. Newspapers already organise the day’s events and replay them to me. Why shouldn’t they organise this cornucopia and replay it to me? Why shouldn’t the best “amateur” content creators accumulate around their media hub of choice? Assuming, of course, that you think they have to accumulate around anything. I do, and I suspect Scott does as well, otherwise this mighty new media universe looks like a jellied mess.
Of course, this looks like anathema to the super-independence offered by mass amateurisation. But how’s your granny going to find the podcasts she likes? By using a social recommendation engine like Loomia? I don’t think so. She’s going to want her equivalent of the Radio Times, and who can blame her?