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Is free the future of our business?

Another thought-provoking piece (soon to be a book) by Wired editor Chris Anderson examines the future of free, as a defining element of a digital economy.

"It’s now clear that practically everything Web technology touches starts down the path to gratis, at least as far as we consumers are concerned. Storage now joins bandwidth (YouTube: free) and processing power (Google: free) in the race to the bottom. Basic economics tells us that in a competitive market, price falls to the marginal cost. There’s never been a more competitive market than the Internet, and every day the marginal cost

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The Oscars – the last of the common cultural appointments?

My old former boss, Kirk Lapointe, used a New York Times piece to poke around in the meaning of the Oscars as a cultural event:

"Sunday’s New York Times featured a David Carr argument that the Oscars remain one of our last collective cultural appointments, but today his defence is wearing a little thin. Maybe we’re witnessing the end of yet another societal bond."  (Read the rest of his post here)

Kirk suggests the Oscar show itself (and the Olympics) are "ripe for decline" and in need of a digital facelift. The Oscars – the

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Slideshows versus videos – what do readers want?

Spectator associate editor Howard Elliott reports that online editors at the recent  American Press Institute seminar were reporting that their slideshows were out polling videos online: no data, no research, but just the buzz in the room. I found this hard to believe. I’ve always thought the slide shows (and sound/slide shows) were the favourites of photographers and photo editors because that’s about the only place on line that their core skill — still photography — gets a workout. Videos seem to have a clear, broad and growing audience.Take a look at ComScore’s latest video

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The number – and story – of the Beast

Acerbic media critic and NYU journalism prof Jay Rosen (PressThink and Assignment Zero) says right out loud what most thinking journalists merely, well, think: our campaign coverage sucks and it’s nobody’s fault but our own. Our horse-race approach to election coverage yields a diet of ‘news’ that is shallow, misleading and quite often ends up being just plain wrong. Meanwhile critical issues about power and policy, about right and wrong, and often about life and death, go unexamined, unreported, and so remain out of the public sphere precisely at the moment when the public has a voice in those issues and desperately needs information. 
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It’s not a new complaint — and it’s one often voiced by members of the political press themselves — but Rosen’s piece goes deeper than complaining, and takes a run at explaining what seems like mindless behaviour: we all know it’s wrong, but we do it over and over and over.

"By mindless I generally mean: No one’s in charge, or “the process” is. Conventional forms thrive, even if few believe they work. Routines master people. The way it’s been done “chooses” the way it shall be done."

Rosen points to some of the usual reasons: fear (of missing ‘the’ story), arrogance (believing we have some special expertise or knowledge about politics) and a convergence of judgement among journalists on the campaign trail.
But then he makes an insightful addition to our understanding of the problem: we focus so much on "pre-empting" the voter’s decision because it’s the only safe thing to do, the only easy way we can maintain our distance from the process, and cling to our much-vaunted objectivity.

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