Sunday, August 26, 2012

The one big thing that newspaper visionaries didn’t foresee B

gigaom reporting:
A memo written by the managing editor of the Washington Post in 1992 says a lot about how much of the future of media was obvious even then, but it also misses the most disruptive force the industry has seen — namely, the rise of social media.
It’s easy to forget sometimes that the world wide web has been around for more than two decades now, or that it has caused massive and ongoing disruption of almost every form of content from books and newspapers to music and movies. In the early 1990s, only a few really foresaw that kind of revolution occurring in media, and as former journalist Mark Potts notes in a recent blog post, one of those who looked into the future with some accuracy was the former managing editor of the Washington Post, who wrote a memo to the paper’s executives describing what this future might look like and how it would change the industry.
Even more interesting than what this former editor got right, however, are the things that he and almost every other visionary completely missed — and one of the most important was the way that the news industry would be transformed by social media. From blogs to Twitter, that transformation (or what Om has called the “democratization of distribution”) has probably been more disruptive than any other technological development since then, and it is one that many media entities still have not fully adapted to or taken advantage of.
Potts, a former technology writer for the Post, explains that managing editor Robert Kaiser was invited by Apple chief executive officer John Sculley to attend a conference in Japan about the future of digital media, and the memo (which Potts has posted on his site as a PDF) was his attempt to sum up what he learned for the newspaper’s senior managers. Much of what Kaiser says seems blindingly obvious now, but as Potts notes:

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