Sounding The Alarm For Publishing's Demise

Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0 notes that the publishing and media businesses are changing dramatically, and not necessarily in a good way for old media. And before bloggers get too smug about being on the forefront of new media, he summarizes some great research being done by Umair Haque as follows:

The proliferation of media is destoying the economics of Old Media, which depended on a finite media universe.

The proliferation of media is a bubble because it’s being driven by speculation — the 20 million bloggers and dozens of Web 2.0 sites popping up everyday are speculating on the unbundling of content and distribution.

As a result of the speculation in media, there is now too much media competing for too little attention... The speculation in media that is being driven by the technology industry and blogging is still based on old media economics — it assumes that each site can gather a sufficiently large slice of the attention pie to finance its existence. But if media attention becomes completely fragmented and chaotic, no one will have sufficient scale or a sufficiently coherent audience to capitalize on their investment in media creation — even if the only real cost is time.

If all of the advertising dollars pass through Google, the only one who will be left with a meaningful share of those dollars will be Google. Same with content fees.

Blackfriars has seen this coming for a while. Almost two years ago, we reoriented our company strategy to offer services that deal with the tyranny of too much in modern life. But we have a different view that Haque's about how it will play out, because we believe people 1) aren't entirely driven by economic theory, and 2) often tap off-line resources like other people to deal with technology overload. But we do agree with one of Haque's conclusions -- that content quality will become more of a differentiator and driver of media acceptance.

The bottom line: There is a great land grab going on now to capture enough quality content under a brand today to survive the coming deflation of media value. We can be pretty sure it won't be the old media companies that do this because of the challenge of The Innovator's Dilemma. The open question is, who will?

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