Round and round this goes, with the people committed to saving newspapers demanding to know “If the old model is broken, what will work in its place?” To which the answer is: Nothing. Nothing will work. There is no general model for newspapers to replace the one the internet just broke.
With the old economics destroyed, organizational forms perfected for industrial production have to be replaced with structures optimized for digital data. It makes increasingly less sense even to talk about a publishing industry, because the core problem publishing solves — the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public — has stopped being a problem.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Ok, so this is seriously off topic, but Clay Shirky's post about the impact of the web on newspapers, and the revolution in how we manage information more generally, is an absolute must read. Shirky argues, in brief, that there is nothing natural or inevitable about how journalism is current conducted -- it's simply a product of the economics of the printing press. And, rather disconcertingly, we simply don't know -- can't know -- what system will replace the current one. A snippet: