I’m oversimplifying the point of Steven Johnson’s article about what blogging could become, but I found this gem of a quote:
“The beautiful thing about most information captured by the bloggers is that it has an extensive shelf life. The problem is that it’s being featured on a rotating shelf.”
Substitute ‘news sites’ for bloggers in the above sentence, and you understand the challenge for all internet media: there is no obvious sense of the depth of material available. Online, every book is judged by its cover, or its thousands of individual covers (pages, posts, etc.). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it stands out in contrast to the clear volume (physical and otherwise) of, say, a magazine. How do you know what is important?
On a different note, Johnson goes on to suggest that we “Think of [bloggers] as less like a newspaper substitute and more a kind of guardian angel, hovering over your shoulder as you surf.” In the not-too-distant past, I worked at a company which could have implemented ‘search communities’ — you are like this person (based on your search queries, and choices within the results, all anonymous), so your results are weighted in a similar manner. The marketing idea (mine, at least) which never got any traction was to pitch it as celebrity search: “Get results like Tom Brokaw” or “Search sports with Michael Jordan”. The gap between the idea and the reality never closed, and the company went out of business long before fully exploring the concept. But there is something there, and various people appear to be working towards similar concepts, explicitly or otherwise. I hope someone gets it right.
I hope the article survives, in whatever form.