I am an avid consumer of digital technologies, which makes this course very relevant as we struggle with how content should be distributed and how to monetize it. In the beginning of the quarter I presented myself with this question, “Is there an instance where something touches digital networks and doesn’t feel the effect of falling costs?” This is in response to Moore’s Law, but do I feel I’ve reached the answer? Maybe. It is obvious that as a digital immigrant I still hold onto the “atoms” of production in some sense, meaning I still feel there is a physical representation of everything, but I need to alter my thinking. Today everything touches digital networks, with maybe a few exceptions in developing worlds that haven’t been gifted technology yet. Ayush Agarwal from Madrona Venture Group said in an October lecture “we don’t till farms, we till information.” This is very true. We have evolved into a society that relies on the combined knowledge of the collective. In Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody he speaks about the dissolution of specialized trades like the scribe; today we see journalists shrinking away with the advent of user generated content and citizen journalism. We even see the whole structure of marketing changing with the shift of content creation going to the common man.
Traditionally we’ve relied on advertising to learn about products, today we have user reviews on Amazon, Gizmodo and many other places that tell us what real consumers think of the products. In fact, companies like Amazon and even the Super Bowl rely on their consumer audience to produce advertisements for them. This is something that would have never happened prior to the Internet for many reasons. First, we’ve proved over and over in the MCDM that the cost of technology is so low, anyone can make a video, do some graphics, create a song, or use other’s content to create something completely new like a mashup of a Britney Spears and Gwen Stefani song. What is even more fascinating is that people enjoy creating content with limited or no monetary reward; this provides a real authentic look at consumerism, but is very challenging for companies trying to make a profit. Because of these few reasons, (but surely not just these two reasons) blogs are so popular.
When Tracy Record, the Editor of the West Seattle Blog came to talk with our class in October, she emphasized that hyperlocal journalism is just touching the edges of capability. Prior to her discussion I often didn’t think of blogs vertically, I just thought of them in categories like sports, local, pets, etc. She opened my eyes to the breadth still available for blogs. For example, she feels there is still tremendous opportunity in her immediate community for additional blogs that focus on the youth. This could be anywhere from teen issues around sex, education and after school activities, to a place where elementary children can come to engage in games, pictures and stories. They sky is the limit, and I was interested to hear Tracy’s opinion on hyperlocal journalists teaming up with the Seattle Times. I agree with her view that these should be separate, with some courteous connection for the sake of reporting honest news. It seems that larger media corporations are trying to dangle the idea of “exposure” to journalists who have already found their new niche outside a failing journalism career. Continue reading