Media Meltdown = Chaos = Innovation?

This is one of those follow-the-thread things: interesting commentary/reporting about newspapers from Dr. Denny at Scholars and Rogues, who quotes from a post written by Dan Conover, who engages in some fascinating future-casting. Dr. Denny quotes one of Conover's main points, and so will I:

A client looking to invest in media asked me earlier this month for advice on what might replace failing newspapers. My response? There are plenty of interesting ideas in play, but the first meaningful test won't come until a major American city loses its only metro daily. So wait.

Methinks he has a point. Indeed, his point is so obvious that I suspect all of us have overlooked it. Anyway, take a look at his entire post if you have time. He's gone waaaaaaaaaaaay beyond the "how we gonna charge for online content" debate and into some serious thinking about the actual technologies (intellectual and otherwise) that might be used to create new models of "journalism." As Conover says

Journalists tend to think of the future in terms of their jobs, and from that perspective "What's next?" is another round of layoffs. Sorry, folks. Do the math. But take a slightly longer view and "What's next?" is a decade of experimentation, opportunity and chaos

Make sure to hang on to the end of his essay for his cartoon cartoon rendition of the Media Meltdown of 2008. And when you're finished with all of that, check out the excellent comments posted in response to Conover. So --- whaddya waiting for? Get on over to Scholar and Rogues and Xark and get reading!

Newspapers, Print, Future of Democracy, Etc.

Forgot: Dexter also tipped me off to this essay in a locale I would have gotten to eventually, but am glad he directed me to sooner rather than later. Always good to hear the contrarian view. Speaking of which, I gather that Congress is holding hearings on the future of newspapers, and this testimony today caused a bit of a fluproar. The entire testimony thus far is here.

Man, the age of the internet is amazing. For the past two days, I've been trying to track down some congressional committee testimony from 1878, and I'm here to tell you: it's a hell of a lot easier now to keep tabs on who says what in Congress.

More On the Kindle/E-Books/Etc. (Thank you, Dexter)

Earlier today, Astute Reader Dexter pointed out to me, via email, that, no, Ambitious Brew is not available on Kindle. Or, for that matter, in any e-format. (*1)

That's 'cause, way back when --- oh, 2001 or so ---  when my agent and I signed the contract for the book, no one was thinking much about e-books or the future of the book.

Of course we're all thinking about it now. And I'm sure as hell hoping my forthcoming book will come out in an e-format at the same time as it comes out in the old-fashioned format. (When Agent and I signed that contract in 2007, all concerned were more aware of the changing reality. Although at that point, none of us had heard of the Kindle.)

In any case, Dexter sent along a link to this article pondering the new-as-of-48-hours-ago version of Kindle. I'm hoping, and have been for some time, for a viable e-reader.

So far, am not wowed enough to plunk down money. But I can tell: it's coming. And soon. As Andrew Keen pointed out recently, 2009 will likely be regarded at the Year of the Tipping Point for publishing.


*1: Note to Loyal Reader Dave: the link leads to the Amazon page for Ambitious Brew.(*2)

*2: Dave has hounded me for not including a link to a place where people could buy my books. I explained that I didn't want to load the website with ads or favor one book-buying site over another, so I didn't include links to a "buy it here" site. But I finally caved today and added a book image and link in the sidebar.

Boston Globe to Stop Revolving?

This via the Washington Post: The Boston Globe will likely cease to exist --- and sooner rather than later. Which reminds me of my ruminations/fretting a few weeks back about what would happen to a newspaper's electronic site, and especially its digital archive. (I've relied extensively on the Globe's digital archive in my research for my new book about meat.) (Gustavus Swift started his career as a cattle trader in Massachusetts and he launched his "dressed beef" empire in New England.)

Tip o' the e-mug to Rebecca Skloot at Twitter (@rebeccaskloot). (Notice how my Twitter reference rolls right out of my keyboard. Ah, how quickly things change . . . .)

The Race for a Viable E-Reader Heats Up

More news today worth reading on the race to create a viable e-reader. This from the New York Times. Today's Wall Street Journal also contains an interesting report on the subject.

As always, there's no way to tell if this is one of the WSJ's freebies or not, although you can always try googling to see if it's beyond the barricades elsewhere. The title is "Publishers Nurture Rivals to Kindle," written by Shira Ovide and Geoffrey A. Fowler. One quote:

Gannett Co.'s USA Today and Pearson PLC's Financial Times are among newspapers that have signed up with Plastic Logic Ltd., a startup that is readying a reading tablet, the size of a letter-sized sheet of paper, that can displays books, periodicals and work documents. The device, which uses digital ink technology from E Ink Corp., the same firm behind the Kindle, is slated to be rolled out by early next year, and will offer publishers the chance to include ads.

Finally, this cautionary tale worth reading about the way in which Amazon uses its clout with authors.