As a former freelance, I was interested in yesterday’s Media Guardian article, ‘I’m seriously trying to be more cynical’, about Craig Newmark, the founder of the classified advertising site, www.Craigslist.org (and its many regional offshoots, such as http://london.craigslist.org/).
Newmark is rumoured to be considering an online newspaper, which may roll out this spring, and "collaborative filtering technology … to help people find the most trustworthy versions of big stories". He likes the idea of "community truth" derived from a global army of well-meaning fact-checkers – rather like the Wikipedia, where the scale of its readership enables errors to be quickly spotted and fixed. The article doesn’t say journalists will be squeezed out (quite the opposite: "it’s the writers who can adapt to the new technologies … journalists are going to come out of it with better careers") but it does predict the end of traditional paper and print newspapers. The analogy with the music recording industry ("people who sell plastic circles with the music on it") is thought-provoking.
In a way, this idea fits quite neatly with the predicted demise of traditional software ("people who sell plastic circles with computer code on it" perhaps). In the Software as a Service (SaaS) or on-demand software era, as Phil Wainewright wrote (see previous post), "since it costs nothing to make a copy of a software product, the only way vendors will be able to make money is by delivering functional services and business processes."