March 3rd, 2006

Web 2.0 And Media 2.0 Are Still In the 1.1 Phase


I’ve read A LOT about Web 2.0 — I haven’t seen so much Koolaid since I was at summer camp. And I’ve taken a stand that Web 2.0 is a long way from Media 2.0.

Kent Newsome has the latest antidote to Web 2.0 hype, invoking Monty Python’s Holy Grail to show that most Web 2.0 apps don’t have a “mandate from the masses.”

Alex Barnett, with the help of Mark Devlin, may have had a Web 2.0 “awakening,” meditating on the Web 2.0 Uncertainty Principle — the transition from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 is like the transition from Newtonian physics to quantum physics. It’s a Zen thing — it’s a different state of mind.

This is why I completely disagree with Jeff Jarvis and everyone else heaping praise on Tom Glocer, CEO of Reuters, who gave a keynote at the Online Publishers Association. According to Jeff, Tom has three ideas for how media companies can create value in Media 2.0:

Media companies will be a “seeder of clouds.”

The second role is to be a “provider of tools… We need to produce open standards and interoperability to allow” disparate people to create content of disparate types. “Let’s not make the same mistakes newspapers did with the protectionist online strategies that characterized Internet 1.”

The third role, he says, is that media companies will be “filter and editor.” He says that “the good stuff will rise to the top” online.

Here’s what I think of this — Tom Glocer has fooled 2.0 advocates like Jeff Jarvis into thinking he’s drunk the Koolaid, but the truth is, he hasn’t. This is Media 1.1 at best, and it still represents a formlua for perpetuating the entrenchment of Old Media at the center (which 2.0ers like Pete Cashmore accuse me of doing).

First, let’s get one thing straight – blogging is an evolution, NOT a revolution.

Bloggers are independent publishers, and the best bloggers are successful and effective because they do what the best Old Media publishers do — consistently provide quality content that is interesting and useful to their readers, and by passing along scoops from other media sources.

The ability to comment on blogs is no more revolutionary than the ability to comment on any online publication.

Blogging is only an evolution because the value is TOO distributed — blogging has dramatically increased the amount of quality content in the network, but nobody has yet figured out yet how to create an efficient marketplace for this content. This is why blogging hasn’t attracted a mass audience — because 30 million difficult-to-differentiate blogs is not a useful value proposition.

With that (contrarian) context, here’s why Tom Glocer is not really a revolutionary:

1. Media companies already seed the clouds — they create content that gets passed along by bloggers AND Old Media companies (and aggregators like memetrackers)

2. Media companies don’t need to provide the tools — thanks to the blogging software innovation, independent content creators already have the tools. Some Old Media companies, like The Houston Chronicle, are providing the tools for bloggers WITHIN their existing publishing infrastructure. And why would any bloggers go this route? Because Old Media companies still have the AUDIENCE.

3. Media companies are ALREADY filters and editors. So are bloggers. But this is still editing and filtering 1.0

So Tom Glocer hasn’t laid out a vision of a Media 2.0 — or a real media revolution. He’s laid out a DESCRIPTION of Media 1.1 as it ALREADY exists.

Media 1.1 is about empowering audience participation and independent content creation.

Media 2.0 is about creating an efficient marketplace for content that enables media consumers to find the highest-yield content from an ever increasing diversity of sources AND enabling content creators to efficiently collaborate.

This is why Media/Web 2.0 needs Marketing 2.0 — we need a new economic paradigm for valuing attention, which will create a new paradigm for value creation in Media/Web 2.0 and enable the “the good stuff will rise to the top,” as Tom Glocer puts it.

So what is this new paradigm? I don’t know, but if Alex Barnett is right, it involves letting go of the Old Media paradigm completely. It involves realizing that blogging is more 1.0 than 2.0, and that the economics of Web 2.0 are still utterly 1.0.

So open your mind, close your eyes, and chant: I am 2.0

Paging Werner Heisenberg.

I categorically apologize to anyone else whose name I misspelled. That’s what happens when you take the copy editors out of these system!

At the very least, Media 2.0 needs a network spell checker that can handle proper names.

  • Jeff:

    It pains me to say this, my friend, but what Scott points out in comment #35 is also what disturbs me.

    First, it doesn't matter who 'gets it' because getting it isn't doing it.

    There's the old story about Steve Jobs after the first Macintoshes shipped and became a big hit. He was looking for what to do next. His executives were coming to him and saying, 'You should hear this guy's great idea because it's genius' or 'You should hear that guy's great idea because it's genius.' But Jobs said, 'No, you folks don't understand: Having great ideas isn't genius. True genius ships."

    Grocer can say whatever he wants (particularly if his speechwriters tell him hip stuff to say), but the proof is in the pudding and there's no pudding there yet.

    Second, arbitrating who 'gets it' and who doesn't is so old media. This isn't People or Vogue magazines or a discussion about Clara Bow.

    Whatever 'it' might be best for Flickr, MySpace, or BoingBoing might not be the best 'it' for Reuters or (god forbid) the AP. There are a few old media companies that will do quite fine for their consumers in 2010 what they did in 1910, and there also are a few startup companies that way. Contrarily, there are a few old media that must radically change from what they've done up until now and also quite a few startups that must. And there's a continuum in between those poles. There is no one way -- no 'it' -- in all this.

    And, third, why do you launch ad hominen attacks (as started in comment #30)? Counter his arguments, not him. Any time you have to retreat into ad hominen attacks, it signals that you cannot counter what he has said. Counter the message, not the messenger.

  • Jeff,

    You appoint yourself the arbiter of who "gets it" and who "doesn't get it" -- I said I think you're wrong, that Glocer doesn't "get it" as much as you give him credit for. And you're insulted by that? Talk about glass houses.

    If I thought you were a "fool" or an "idiot," I'd say "Jeff Jarvis is a fool and an idiot." But I DIDN'T say that, because I DON'T think that. Perhaps I would have done a better job walking on eggshells if I used the more polite "I believe Mr. Jarvis in this instance was incorrect in his analysis of the speech by Mr. Glocer." Give me a break -- you throw rocks day in and day out -- I hit you with a pebble and you're insulted?

    I've inadvertently insulted people before, and I've always felt terribly about it and immediately apologized. But in this instance, you're putting words in my mouth, and I'm offended by your righteousness.

    And let's be clear -- I critiqued what Glocer said. I didn't critique Reuters or its actions. This blog is open -- he's free to come and debate ME if he wants.

    Since you seem convinced of your moral high ground regarding disclosure, why don't you help me out with this. I had originally intended to put the following in my About, but chose not to. Was that a mistake?

    NOTE: I removed the name of my employer because I was too often being cited as the company's public representative, which I'm not -- it's not a secret where I work, but it's my hope that the views expressed on Publishing 2.0 can stand or fall entirely on their own, and not as a function of my resume. Whatever risk I assume in publishing my view should not be shared by my employer, who has no association with this site. While it may be useful to know that I work in publishing, if you're inclined to agree or disagree with me, you should do so regardless of what my day job is. (I'm no a lawyer, so that's my best shot at a disclaimer.)

    I take comfort in what I found in your About: "Now he is working as editor of a new news startup, still in stealth." I'm sure it would help your readers to know all about your startup, but I guess you just have to protect those corporate interests.

  • Scott,
    I don't think that Glocer was saying he'd solved everything. I quoted the bits that I thought were significant. Maybe I didn't quote his caveates. And, yes, the glass house is relevant in this case because you are comparing his words to his company, and so if I were Glocer facing this criticism in person, I'd ask -- to paraphrase the late Mayor Daley of Chicago -- what trees you've planted. Wouldn't you? I note that you've now taken out of your "about" page the name of your employer. Is that transparency? Is that fair to Glocer, who should be able to compare your words and corporate deeds? Is that 2.0 of you? I understand why some people do that, but if you do, then I think you should be prepared for people to ask. I'm no friend of Glocer's, never met the man. But I don't think you were fair to him and, along the way, you insulted me -- acting as if I'm an idiot for praising what he said. You say he "fooled" me, which makes me the fool. Further, when it comes to snarking, I think the snark bullets are better spent on those who are not even trying, and there are plenty of those. You say now that you have "nothing critical to say about where Reuters is inthe learning cycle." Sure didn't sound like that to me. If, in the end of your response above, you say it was about the style of how he expressed himself, then I'd say the same to you.

  • Jeff,

    If Publishing 2.0 is a glass house, I will gladly smash all the walls -- I didn't build it to worship in it. You can drag my day job into it, but I'd much prefer have a debate on the substance and the merits. And regardless, I speak for myself and myself alone. (I don't own a media company -- just a blog.)

    And speaking of glass houses, I would point out that you tote one of the biggest snark guns around when it comes to criticizing media companies who are struggling to figure it out. Part of what bothered me about your post, as constructive as it was, is it that it was so dissonant along side some of your ripping and tearing posts. But what I admire about those sharp edged posts of yours is that you're pushing and challenging and dragging forward -- it's tough love.

    Look, I have nothing against Reuters and nothing critical to say about where they are in the learning cycle. As you well know, there are some deeply entrenched economics that make it much harder to actually do what you can envision.

    My beef is with the vision thing -- I just don't see it yet. And I certainly don't have an answer myself.

    It's such a messy, tangled web at this point (no pun). I think I would respect more a media leader who doesn't claim to have it boiled down to three easy steps, but instead gets up and says -- We just don't know yet. Here are some baby steps we're taking, but like everyone else, we're feeling our way in the dark.

  • Scott,
    Glass house, man. I know you don't like to mix blog and job but before you go getting out the snark gun on other guys doing their jobs, I suggest you ask whether every other media company, including thine own, is doing as much. Is Reuters the leader? Absolutely not. I can name lots of companies that are doing good things but, sadly, many more that are doing too damned little. But I will say that Reuters is doing more than many. That's not saying much but it's saying something. And it's saying what I was saying: He gets it, he's trying. Understanding that the goal is to empower the people is getting the point, in my book.
    You accuse me of saying that Glocer has drunk the Koolaid (to be accurate, by the way, it was Flavr-Aid). But why turn this into such a binary attack? Take the victories where we can find them, anywhere we can find them.

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