March 2, 2011 § Leave a comment
MediaBistro’s FishbowlNY points to an article in Fast Company by Steven Rosenbaum, the author of Curation Nation, who is seeing signs of the past in the curating, blogging, sharing media world of today. In this case, Rosenbaum makes note of the early days of Time Magazine, which began life as a news digest. He writes:
“Now, 90 years later–the magazines of Time Inc. are among the elite of publishing–the top of the content creation food chain. But that wasn’t how it all began. In fact, as Luce biographer Douglas Brinkly tells the story–there were sliced-up copies of The New York Times and piles of foreign magazines everywhere around the offices. Luce’s idea, and that of his business partner, Briton Hadden, was to condense all the news busy people needed to know into one weekly read. The magazine, Luce wrote, would ‘serve the illiterate upper classes, the busy business man, the tired debutant, to prepare them at least once a week for a table conversation.’ There was not a lot of brooding about other people’s intellectual property rights.”
The next paragraph of the story offers a more colorful description from Michael Kinsley taken from an article by him in the Atlantic:
“Time was intended from the start to be what we now call ‘aggregation’ or (if we’re being hoity-toity) ‘curation.’ Although it later succumbed to bureaucratic bloat–an insane system of researchers feeding material to reporters that fed it to writers–at the beginning it was just a lot of smart-ass Yalies rewriting The New York Times. “
Happy? What’s old is new again. So much for all the angry, resentful talk from the content creators of today aimed at the content curators.
Except that as sure as history repeats itself, today’s curators all want to grow-up to be Time Magazine – or any similar vestige of the bureaucratically bloated media era. In fact, at the beginning new media had another word for it besides “bloated.” The word was, “portal.” It makes you feel bloated just to say it. Bureaucratic and portaled.
Same as it ever was. Count on it.
July 13, 2009 § Leave a comment
The Wall Street Journal reports that Rupert Murdoch said MySpace “needs to be refocused as an entertainment portal.” I have mostly stopped reading stories about MySpace, or other social networking companies or initiatives because I just can’t take it anymore. Social networking has been clubbed to death. It needs to stop. We need to let the poor animal escape off the beach and prosper as it might, or might not, in nature.
But Mr. Murdoch’s comments stopped me because I haven’t seen anyone reportedly aspire to build a portal in years. To double-check I went to HULU to see if they use the word portal given that HULU seems to be a well-adjusted, functioning portal. There is nothing obvious that I could find. The mission statement says:
“Hulu’s mission is to help people find and enjoy the world’s premium video content when, where and how they want it. As we pursue this mission, we aspire to create a service that users, advertisers, and content owners unabashedly love.”
The explicit use of the word “where” in the mission is anti-portal. In the section about distribution, HULU goes further, saying:
“We take a lot of pride in making it easy for Hulu.com users to find and enjoy great video, but we also realize that one website is not enough. It’s just as important to make it simple to find premium videos at millions of other places around the web. Wherever people spend their daily lives on the web, we want hit shows, movies, and clips to be just a mouse-click away.”
HULU may be comfortable as a video portal, therefore, because it has no plans to remain one; it envisions a media world with millions of other places that may matter equally in the eyes of consumers. This is well-adjusted thinking.
According to the Journal, Mr. Murdoch is thinking of MySpace as a place where “people are looking for common interests.” This is portal-speak, and we should pay attention to it. It is really very important in regards to what it says about the challenges we keep having retro-fitting offline media to online media. If a place is about people with common interests, those places, on balance, are going to be small(er). But, this is not likely what Rupert Murdoch is thinking. No, indeed, when media industrialists such as Rupert Murdoch talk about places where people are looking for common interests they are thinking BIG – so big as to equal all common interests.
All common interests describes the Internet. It is a place of near infinite common interests. Given that, a place of common interests inside the Internet is superfluous. It is unnecessary. Hence the history of AOL, the on-going identity crisis at Yahoo!, and the fact that we don’t hear much talk of portals anymore – because they failed the value test.
Offline we talk about “general interest” media, such as general interest magazines, which have been among the biggest players in the traditional media world. No surprise that we should seek to emulate them online. But, we don’t need general interest online. The common interest is so accessible that aggregating enough of what enough people are commonly interested in is – again – unnecessary.
The Internet is the place for common interests and no other places need apply.