Jeff Jarvis on what I’ve been beginning to call “The Content Creator’s Dilemma”

Screen shot 2012-03-02 at 5.08.27 PM[From a previous Amplify curation post.]

Jeff Jarvis is pointing out several excellent recent examples of changing journalism practices in the age of the Real-Time Web, and ever more rapid Content Decay (that’s why they call it “old news”…). Is the news article becoming a luxury, and mere byproduct of other, larger reporting and #Curation efforts?

I’ve been meaning to write a longer post about what has been forming in my mind under the preliminary heading “The Content Creator’s Dilemma”, but… I haven’t found the time yet given the rapid-fire progression of topics in technology, in social media, in #dinomedia, etc. that I also wanted to at least curate here on Amplify to stay approximately “caught up”.

So shall we now add to the recent idiom “TL;DR” (Too Long; Didn’t Read), its mirror, “Too Long; Didn’t Write”?!

Because that’s how I’ve been feeling in regard to an increasing array of topics over the last 12-18 months. And why I’ve been so much more active over here on Amplify curating than on my own long form blog. Why in fact I’ve been arguing consistently for Curation as a concept:

It avoids reinventing the wheel, and dispenses with the cost of, as Jeff Jarvis calls it here “adding background paragraphs…those great space-wasters that can now be rethought of as links to regularly updated background wikis…”.

Because rather than create endless rephrasings of the same basic, introductory points (that no matter how well crafted in a single piece, are still subject to the same unforgiving new “laws” of rapid Content Decay), I would rather add those in “en bloc” from my own, or other people’s writing and clippings, and keep my own writing restricted mostly to the “tip of the spear”, the most relevant, most current, most novel or insightful take or connection of dots possible.

Because that is where value, if there be any at all, can still be created. That is why I firmly believe that Curation will “win”, that it is the nearly only sane stance to take in this digital new media reality. Maybe the only thing that anyone will still pay for.

As Jeff writes: “An article can be a luxury. When a story is complex and has been growing and changing, it is a great service to tie that into a cogent and concise narrative. But is that always necessary? Is it always the best way to inform? Can we always afford the time it takes to produce articles? Is writing articles the best use of scarce reporting resources?”

That is the essence of The Content Creator’s Dilemma: Too long, didn’t write… given the pincer-like twin threat of Content Overabundance and Content Decay.

Clipped from Buzzmachine – The article as luxury or byproduct:

A few episodes in news make me think of the article not as the goal of journalism but as a value-added luxury or as a byproduct of the process.

… At South by Southwest, the Guardian’s folks talked about their stellar live-blogging. Ian Katz, the deputy editor, said that live-blogging — devoting someone to a story all day — was expensive. I said that writing articles is also expensive. He agreed. There’s the choice: Some news events (should we still be calling them stories?) are better told in process. Some need summing up as articles. That is an extra service to readers. A luxury, perhaps.

The bigger question all this raises is when and whether we need articles. Oh, we still do. Articles can make it easy to catch up on a complex story; they make for easier reading than a string of disjointed facts; they pull together strands of a story and add perspective. Articles are wonderful. But they are no longer necessary for every event.

I’ve been yammering on for a few years about how news is a process more than a product. These episodes help focus what that kind of journalism will look like — and what the skills of the journalist should be.

… In a do-what-you-do-best-and-link-to-the-rest ecosystem, if someone else has written a good article (or background wiki) isn’t it often more efficient to link than to write? Isn’t it more valuable to add reporting, filling in missing facts or correcting mistakes or adding perspectives, than to rewrite what someone else has already written?

From Kevin Kelly’s The Satisfaction Paradox: On why Curation will be the only thing you’ll still pay for

Walkman_Im_your_fatherBrilliant stuff from Kevin Kelly on the situation were are increasingly finding ourselves in with regard to Content Overabundance: There is more than you will ever be able to consume.

(Compare: The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We’re All Going To Miss Almost Everything – NPR ).

This is the fundamental equation you have to understand about the information economy, and Attention being its only scarce resource: While supply of content of all types is going to infinity, the total amount of available Attention remains essentially static. Thus, the price for content must by necessity trend toward ZERO.

As for Curation, here is the money quote from Kevin: “Instead you will pay Amazon, or Netflix, or Spotify, or Google for their suggestions of what you should pay attention to next. Amazon won’t be selling books (which are marginally free); they will be selling their recommendations of what to read.”

We are beginning to see many examples of this already, e.g. here: “Not #free, but close: Amazon is selling digital downloads of Lady Gaga’s newest album for 99 cents -> “.

Also, there are plenty of enterprising young artists that are bypassing the old structures entirely, and are going straight to FREE + Social Media Marketing + Monetizing the value-added back-end in the ways that are the only ones predicted to work with FREE (See: Gerd Leonhard on The Future Of Selling). E.g. here: “Stanford-educated rapper embraces fan piracy – Video – CNN Money ->

And Apple has been busily buying up deals with most of the major music labels, to presumably offer an Apple-branded “cloud-based” music streaming service very soon [this was unveiled as iTunes Match in the fall of 2011]. If they are smart, they will price it within what I call Impulse Purchase Territory, ideally somewhere between $1-5/month.

I’ve said previously that e.g. Sony is making a huge mistake by not going the $1/month route for complete/unlimited streaming music access with their own new offering:

Because “that would put it in the complete impulse purchase, don’t-need-to-think, will-likely-never-cancel-for-any-reason category. What if they could thereby garner 100 Million users, thus spending about $1.2 Billion, or in other words about 20% of what still is left of the global music industry?!”

If Apple doesn’t do it, then someone else eventually will. Only then will some in the #Dinomedia come to see, that the race was not about who was still going to eek out some residual “crumbs” profits from the Old System, but who was going to wholesale import the masses into their Ecosystem…

Instead of dumb ideas like the New York Times Pay Wall…I mean Fence, that only prove the deep denial that many from the Old Guard still find themselves in, because… well… the good old days, they were so very nice…

While they lasted. Looking at all of these examples I can’t help but be reminded of one of my favorite quotes by SciFi author William Gibson: “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet.”

Better wake up quick, because, as Seth Godin says, “Whining isn’t a scalable solution.”

The Satisfaction Paradox

…What if you lived in a world where every great movie, book, song that was ever produced was at your fingertips as if “for free”, and your filters and friends had weeded out the junk, the trash, and anything that would remotely bore you. The only choices would be the absolute cream of the cream, the things your best friend would recommend. What would you watch or read or listen to next?

In theory, you would not choose since it does not matter. Leave it to serendipity, since every option is wonderful. If your filtering/recommendation system really is working, then anything you accept from them should be satisfying.

This is the psychological problem of dealing with abundance rather than scarcity. It is not quite the same problem of abundance articulated by the Paradox of Choice, the theory that we find too many choices paralyzing.

…what outfits like Amazon will be selling in the future. For the price of a subscription you will subscribe to Amazon and have access to all the books in the world at a set price. (An individual book you want to read will be as if it was free, because it won’t cost you extra.) The same will be true of movies (Netflix), or music (iTunes or Spotify or Rhapsody.) You won’t be purchasing individual works.

Instead you will pay Amazon, or Netflix, or Spotify, or Google for their suggestions of what you should pay attention to next. Amazon won’t be selling books (which are marginally free); they will be selling their recommendations of what to read.

You’ll pay the subscription fee in order to get access to their recommendations to the “free” works, which are also available elsewhere. Their recommendations (assuming continual improvements by more collaboration and sharing of highlights, etc.) will be worth more than the individual books. You won’t buy movies; you’ll buy cheap access and pay for personalized recommendations.”

[ Originally curated/published here (find additional curated quotes and links in the comments), slightly updated/edited. ]

Blog Is Back In Action

Strategic PlanAs I’ve mentioned previously, I had been doing a lot of Curation over at, but the community there due to various issues is now nearly defunct (the arrival of Google+ for Interest Graph related discussions was partially responsible). And more importantly, the response time of Amplify has gotten so slow that I feel I can no longer even use it as an archive.

In the last 7 months most of my blogging and curating has happened on Google+ (find me here and add me to your Circles), but for various reasons that I will explain later (one of them is that the affordances for longer, more serious posts with multiple images or screencaps are still very poor there), I’ve come to the conclusion that I want to revive this blog.

As a first step, I am going to republish (and update) a number of key posts from both my Amplify and Google+ streams, those with the most evergreen value to refer back to in future posts, of which I have quite a few in the pipeline.

Here are the topics I have been writing most frequently about, designated by #hashtag for easy recognition on all services (Blog, Google+, Twitter, asf.):

#Dinomedia – issues around Old Media still trying to resist the digital age, and is still confused about the problem of

#Freeconomics – how to still charge for something when everything digital is trending toward $0.

#Content – the overall problem of Content Overabundance and the Content Creator’s Dilemma, and how they relate to #Blogging and #Curation.

#MobileWars and #TabletWars – Apple’s iOS against… well, mostly it’s just Android now, even though as I predicted, the going is much tougher for Android on tablets than on smartphones.

#PatentWars – especially in Mobile, but in general in technology and software. In the past I have also filed many items under #PatentlyAbsurd, and sometimes under #CopyWrong, where we are dealing more with the issues of Copyright in the Age of Freeconomics and Moving The #Freeline.

#GeoWars have been a subsection of Mobile topics, and while they aren’t burning as brightly as they did in 2010/2011, we’ll keep our eyes on the developments there. Basically, Foursquare has been pulling away in the space, in part due to its keen understanding of #Gamification.

Last but not least, I always collect and write about #Mindhacks (especially Business Mindhacks such as #Pricing and #Branding psychology that has reared its head in a big way for the would-be iPad competitors), #Lifehacks, and Productivity / Getting Things Done ( #GTD ).

I will very likely include a new/updated detailed “pillar post” for each of these. The Business Mindhacks blog is also going to get a visual redesign in short order, including an overhaul for better rendering/readability on Mobile devices.

By the way, today 31 / 366 = 8.5% of your year have already expired. Time to get busy. Tick tock…

Best wishes – Alex Schleber