Tuesday, April 28, 2009

We like this new marketplace much better

This is my entry concerning thesis #72 from the Cluetrain Manifesto. It is: "We like this new marketplace much better. In fact, we are creating it."

In this little screed, I will focus on the marketplace of information, and how the landscape has changed in the last 10 years. As a librarian, this is what I am most attuned to.

The general public has taken a much greater interest in creating and distributing information of all sorts. With the advent of the Internet and Web2.0, it is much easier and cheaper to distribute digital information to a global community.

In the past, the gatekeepers at the small number of media outlets considered themselves to be the main filters of quality information and entertainment. If the editor of a newspaper didn't like a story, it didn't get published. If a TV executive didn't like a show (or it didn't get enough advertising revenue), it didn't get aired. There was only so much space in a printed resource, and only so much time on network TV. They operated on the premise of scarcity, but that problem has gone away.

Compared to traditional print media, there is now essentially unlimited digital space for magazines, journals and newspapers. While there is only so much time in each day, there is more choice in the number of television channels.

Concerning news, Craigslist has killed off the need for many people to advertise their used junk in printed newspapers, and this has really reduced their revenue. Blogs have created an outlet for the average person to publish an information source. Google has made the search for relevant news and information much easier to find.

The print encyclopedia industry is dead, but Wikipedia does a very good job, and it is getting better by the minute. The "wisdom of the crowd" is replacing the wisdom of the few.

The academic journal market continues to be a huge problem for libraries, but there are more and more Open Access outlets for researchers to get their articles published. Many authors also post their articles in subject-based repositories, and that makes it much easier for readers to find and read their research.

The book market continues to be heavily print based, but some publishers are printing books on demand for authors that would normally never see the light of day. It will also be interesting to see how much the Kindle (or even the iPhone) impacts the printed book market in the next 5-10 years.

We are creating our own entertainment with YouTube and other video sites. Many are mashing up video games software and scripts to create machinima.

We are creating virtual photo albums using our digital images. We no longer need to rely on the corner photo lab or drug store to process our film.

While the main television networks are still around, the big four networks are getting less and less viewership. People simply find other things to be more interesting, such as reading and writing blog entries, reading books, playing videogames, creating YouTube videos, watching other cable channels or playing frisbee.

While some see problems with too much choice in the information landscape, many others demonstrate that there are positives in the long tail of information and that having more options is a good thing.

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