Still reading.


Interesting grab from an article written by Clay Shirky, lifted from his blog.

To pick a couple of examples more or less at random, last year Barry Diller of IAC said, of content available on the web, “It is not free, and is not going to be,” Steve Brill of Journalism Online said that users “just need to get back into the habit of doing so [paying for content] online”, and Rupert Murdoch of News Corp said “Web users will have to pay for what they watch and use.”

Diller, Brill, and Murdoch seem be stating a simple fact—we will have to pay them—but this fact is not in fact a fact. Instead, it is a choice, one its proponents often decline to spell out in full, because, spelled out in full, it would read something like this:

“Web users will have to pay for what they watch and use, or else we will have to stop making content in the costly and complex way we have grown accustomed to making it. And we don’t know how to do that.”

Shirky, I imagine, would loath to be described as a ‘futurist,’ and actually I’m not too happy using the term either. The argument about the future of news isn’t one between futurists and luddites. Rather, it’s the arrival of a new technology – a new way of life – that’s being described by the likes of Shirky for the first time. The established practice of media companies hasn’t dealt with an affront like this before. Anyone with a computer, an internet connection and a social media profile can network out a piece of journalism about anything they choose.

So, rather than oracles talking about theories about what may become habit, these people – people like Shirky – are merely articulating, with near scientific zeal, what media is becoming. In this way it shares a simpatico with the current climate change Vs climate change denial debate: The debate about the future of how media is made and sold is being peer reviewed. Vast media companies, like vast power companies, are not happy with what has been said to them for years about what’s happening to them now.

In the context of my own thesis, the original idea of a direct comparison between a progressive example and a regressive one seems a good one:


A news publication which embraces the causal effect of change brought about by the world wide web. They typically see this change as a means to take advantage of available technology to stimulate readership and increase circulation by catering to an increased expectations for broader and full context coverage. By this I mean an expectation to have visual, audio and written excellence to any given story.


A news publication that fails to understand the premise of the argument put forward in the excerpt taken from Shirky’s blog (above). Making news publications is now cheaper and the tools for doing so – in all facets from design and layout to distribution – are available cheaply to everyone. Enforcing potential customers to make a choice to pay for content or not, will perhaps castigate customers needlessly, driving them into the arms of amateur, or perhaps more accurately, progressive, commentators.


2 Responses to “Still reading.”

  1. 1 mandy

    If only I could harness the power of your brain as a form of progressive ecologically sound and carbon neutral power!!!!!

    As always with you really interesting stuff but from where I am sitting it looks like you are still shooting rockets out into space without having laid the foundations of your launch pad on earth…if I could just do an Aarron for a minute!!

    We need to get you pinned down on specifics ..have U attempted any of the “homework” I suggested last time

    Now I think I will go and sit with the baboons for a while and you let me know what I can do to help.

    Cheers Me

  2. 2 coraltrout

    Hey Mandy,

    Hope you are feeling better.

    I did do those chapter headers, but then decided to put them to one side and read more to get a better grip. These blog posts are merely abstract musings. The next few days will be about structure. I’m going to boil the bastard down to a thick paste.

    But yes, mission captain to ground control: wilco!

    have a good weekend.

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