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The Inevitability of Newspapers' Downturn

In a post at Boing Boing, Clay Shirky takes issue with the newspaper industry’s slow adaptation to digital and its propensity for playing the victim:

I’d only arrived on the net in ’93, a complete newbie, and most of my opinions about newspapers came from talking with Gordy Thompson of the NY Times and Brad Templeton of Clarinet. Instead, what struck me, re-reading my younger self, was this: a dozen years ago, a kid who’d only just had his brains blown via TCP/IP nevertheless understood that the newspaper business was screwed, not because this was a sophisticated conclusion, but because it was obvious.

Google, eBay, craigslist, none of those things existed when I wrote that piece; I was extrapolating from Lycos and it was still apparent what was going to happen. It didn’t take much vision to figure out that unlimited perfect copyability, with global reach and at zero marginal cost, was slowly transforming the printing press into a latter-day steam engine. [Emphasis included in original post.]

(Via the Reading 2.0 list)

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  • bowerbird

    mac, it’s nice that you included the emphasis from the original,
    but why didn’t you include _all_ of the emphasis from there?

    the word “still” — just 4 words after “lycos” — is also italicized.
    and is a very important word to be emphasized, for its meaning.

    ***

    > not because this was a sophisticated conclusion,
    > but because it was obvious.

    so true. for book-publishing too…

    ***

    here is another quote:
    > It didn’t take much vision to figure out that
    > unlimited perfect copyability, with global reach
    > and at zero marginal cost, was slowly transforming
    > the printing press into a latter-day steam engine.

    again, this obviously applies to book-publishing too.

    ***

    and another:
    > And once that became obvious, we said so,
    > over and over again, all the time.
    > We said it in public, we said it in private.
    > We said it when newspapers hired us as designers,
    > we said it when we were brought in as consultants,
    > we said it for free. We were some tiresome motherfuckers
    > with all our talk about the end of news on paper.
    > And you know what? The people who
    > made their living from printing the news
    > listened, and then decided not to believe us.

    well, at least they “listened”.

    i’m one “tiresome motherfucker” here and elsewhere
    – saying the same things about book-publishing –
    and not only are “the people who make their living
    from printing books” not _listening_ or _believing_,
    they are actively calling me names and banning me
    from speaking on any platform which they control…

    i don’t complain, since it’s so pathetic that it’s funny. :+)

    -bowerbird

  • http://toc.oreilly.com/mac-slocum Mac Slocum

    @bowerbird:

    > mac, it’s nice that you included the emphasis from the original,
    but why didn’t you include _all_ of the emphasis from there?

    Total oversight on my part. I have edited the post to include the additional emphasis. Thanks for the catch.