This has already been widely blogged, but I didn’t pick it up in my scan because I misread what it was. The tag is as follows:
In the year 2014, The New York Times has gone offline.
The Fourth Estate’s fortunes have waned.
What happened to the news?
And what is EPIC?
This is a lead in to a very cool history of the future of journalism. It took me a while to get to this because, figured it would be a promo for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, but it’s not.
Instead, it suggests that over the next decade, Google and Microsoft continue to acquire and interconnect various aggregation systems (Tivo, blogger, Google News, etc.), until they become the dominant sources of information in the world. It’s compelling and interesting, and will make for a great introduction if I teach Media in the Information Age next spring. It’s also a great way of showing how much impact audio/visuals can have over text.
That said, I think it gets some things wrong. First, will this really take 10 years. That seems like an awfully long time. Consider the changes since 1994. There will have to be some significant speed bumps for things to go that long.
Second, I don’t buy that the world is a worse place without the New York Times. They don’t give any compelling reason to believe that news constructed entirely from amateur reports will be significantly “shallower and narrower.” Indeed, I suspect that if it were, people would choose to read the Times — as they do today. I would be very surprised if more people didn’t read the New York Times today than did three years ago. They may not be paying for it, but that’s just another issue.
Perhaps what I find least likely is the one merger that does not appear in this ten year history, the Times company with Google or Microsoft. Indeed, if the Times were smart, they would already be using Google to generate advertising revenue for their newspaper. I imagine that it would make them a whole lot more money than drawing from their own ads department.
So an interesting framing for something a lot of people have been thinking about (I’ve held it under the label of Todo, both suggesting that it encapsulates all mediated communication and that it is something we should be working on), and puts it in a simple, easily understood form, but it also suggests that there is a simple conflict here that should be addressed. The change in how we think about news is not at all simple. At present, news media and microcontent (blogging, etc.), form a symbiotic relationship. If you want to suggest one is killing the other, you need to fill in some of the blanks.