opposites are stupid

Rough Type: Nicholas Carr’s Blog: The amorality of Web 2.0

“I’m all for blogs and blogging. (I’m writing this, ain’t I?) But I’m not blind to the limitations and the flaws of the blogosphere – its superficiality, its emphasis on opinion over reporting, its echolalia, its tendency to reinforce rather than challenge ideological extremism and segregation. Now, all the same criticisms can (and should) be hurled at segments of the mainstream media. And yet, at its best, the mainstream media is able to do things that are different from – and, yes, more important than – what bloggers can do. Those despised “people in a back room” can fund in-depth reporting and research. They can underwrite projects that can take months or years to reach fruition – or that may fail altogether. They can hire and pay talented people who would not be able to survive as sole proprietors on the Internet. They can employ editors and proofreaders and other unsung protectors of quality work. They can place, with equal weight, opposing ideologies on the same page. Forced to choose between reading blogs and subscribing to, say, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Atlantic, and the Economist, I will choose the latter. I will take the professionals over the amateurs.

But I don’t want to be forced to make that choice.”

I found Jeff Jarvis’ rebuttal a little extreme
“So Carr is really saying two things: He is saying that the professionals are better than the amateurs because they are paid. I don’t buy that. And he distrusts the amateurs, which is saying that he distrusts the public those professionals supposedly serve..”

I’m pretty sure Carr isn’t saying that, at least, that’s not how I read it.. what I read was that professional publications can afford things like editors, copyeditors and fact checkers. And that makes their work better– which it typically is. And that the death of these organizations’ ability to fund themselves means the death of editing and fact checking. Which would be sad.

Why do people involved with the new media feel like they need to take such an extreme positions? Why do big media’s faults have to mean we though out big media’s virtues? (baby, bathwater people?)
Tagging good, taxonomy evil! Blogs good, New York times evil! It’s all rather random, since most bloggers love some form of big media, be it New York Times or the tiny but still quite professional Onion.

It’s clear we are in a period of change… bloggers are growing in power, which increases their operating costs, which means going professional, which means advertising, which means a number of advertising networks have been created to serve them, which means soon they’ll be changed into… big media. or medium media. “Hey, if you would just stop swearing, Downy will give you 80 thousand dollars this year” “Can you tone down the Iraq war stuff? We’ve got blockbuster looking to give you 120 thousand over the next two years”

Then they’ll face what the big guys have had to for a long while– separation of editorial with sales to keep integrity, or they’ll sell out. They’ll add a few people to their staff to make sure the copy is up to snuff, to draw in more users, more advertisers. They’ll get better in some ways, worse in others.

This is not a revolution, this is the seventh wave, and it may be the biggest one now, but not bigger than the 14th, or 21st wave coming next. Some will get swept out to sea, and others will survive. We’ll see who is who. Now our big media is fox, the times, knight ridder, in a few years it may be the times, kottke and boingboing.

Looking forward to it.


Add Yours
  1. 1
    Joshua Porter

    The Hazards of Watching Fox News

    Not all “big media” is what Nick Carr would make it out to be.

    Christina, you know when you’re a kid and you think that adults have it all figured out, that they’re sane and worry-free?

    And then you grow up and you realize that they’re just better at hiding their flaws? Sure, they have more money, but they’re just as screwed up as everyone else.

    That’s what big media is like. We need a revolution, and we’re getting one. Surely big media will survive, and it will be better than it ever was before.

  2. 2
    Chris Baum

    When there is no discussion about a topic, Jarvis’s kind of hyperbole may make the debate begin.

    At some point, continuing to argue the poles ad nauseum impedes real progress. Maybe because, at some level, we’re afraid to dig in and figure out how to make change happen?

    Also, nice comment Joshua.

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