Jeff Jarvis discovers
North Americauser created content
OK, his post-9/11 postings were the direct inspiration for my blogging, and I find his old journo crossover views on this medium fascinating. But occasionally Jeff Jarvis fluffs one, so I’m going to have to diss my blog-daddy. In this case, he happens upon the revelation that about 2/3 of AOL users’ time is spent with other users’ contributions, and riffs from there. Fine to speculate on the implications, but I’m here to tell you this is old news. Similar distributions of user time date well back into the proprietary days of AOL, CompuServe and Prodigy. Remember, I used to read usage time and income reports from the entrails of the CompuServe accounting system. This isn’t anything novel, nor does it have to do with the advent of blogs, social software, or anything else trendy. Same thing happened with crappy old ASCII forums, CB, and proprietary e-mail. It’s related to human nature, not the specific technology – so long as it’s two-way – and that in many ways is very good news.
We now return you to your previously scheduled new media speculation. [Due Diligence]
Glad to see someone out there who has been paying attention all along. You have to be very careful not to get caught up in the news business’s need to pretend there’s something new every day. Couple that with most people’s aversion to anything resembling a sense of history and you get breathless commentary on old news.
I once had the chance to hear the late Herb Simon give a speech on what constituted news. He walked the audience through a funny sketch of his gradual abandonment of the daily newspaper, the nightly news broadcast, the weekly newsmagazine, and monthly magazines as devoid of anything that resembled news. He finally settled on reading the annual update volume to the Encyclopedia Brittanica as being about the right frequency and perspective for his getting updated on what had happened that mattered during the year.
Staying in this context, I’m quite certain that Simon’s primary sources of information about stuff that mattered to him was his network of colleagues and friends, not “content providers” offering to keep him up to date.
What I think may be relevant today is that new tools (weblogs, wikis, etc) are pushing forward along the dimension of context management instead of content. Perhaps what we are building with weblogs, RSS, and the rest is the infrastructure for personalizing and managing context on a new scale.