Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Return of the Chuck

Jaron Lanier writes a regular column in Discover magazine. The recent issue contained an article that referred to an op/ed piece he wrote for Edge earlier this year. I went back and read the Edge article as well. They both deal with collective intelligence and how crowd theory relates to our current age of collaborative web pages like Wikipedia. I think they are both very interesting articles and relate somewhat to the discussion Adam, Ana and I had on the last podcast. I highly recommend reading them in their entirety but will reprint a couple of highlights here.

From “Digital Maoism” Jaron Lanier published on Edge

“Compounding the problem is that new business models for people who think and write have not appeared as quickly as we all hoped. Newspapers, for instance, are on the whole facing a grim decline as the Internet takes over the feeding of curious eyes that hover over morning coffee and even worse, classified ads. In the new environment, Google News is for the moment better funded and enjoys a more secure future than most of the rather small number of fine reporters around the world who ultimately create most of its content. The aggregator is richer than the aggregated.”

“The question of new business models for content creators on the Internet is a profound and difficult topic in itself, but it must at least be pointed out that writing professionally and well takes time and that most authors need to be paid to take that time. In this regard, blogging is not writing. For example, it’s easy to be loved as a blogger. All you have to do is play the crowd. Or you can flame the crowd to get attention. Nothing is wrong with either of those activities. What I think of as real writing, however, writing meant to last, is something else. It involves articulating a perspective that is not just reactive to yesterday’s moves in a conversation”

I think that there are some good questions here. If we are moving to a digital media source for news then where are our reporters going to come from? Just as important, who is going to pay for their contributions? Finally, if we are going to be using collective sources then how do we know the true value of the information we are getting? If we are going to have reliable and trustworthy sources of information on the Internet replacing the traditional newspapers and networks these are questions that will need to be addressed.

--Chuck

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