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The flash movie that shocked America

2014 - BREAKING NEWS: The New York Times has become a print newsletter for the elite and the elderly. 8 minutes about the end of the news media as we knew it in the 20 Century

«The point of our movie, if anything, is to show that tools like Google & Amazon could, in the not-too-distant future, make an end-run around traditional news organizations, leaving them without much of an audience»

An interview with Robin Sloan, the movie author, by Jorge Nascimento Rodrigues, editor of Gurusonline, February 2005

America was shocked. An eight-minute flash movie produced for the Web predict that the year 2014 will be the end of the Fourth Estate as we knew it. Two online reporters wrote the argument for the Poynter Institute & News University in Tampa Bay, in Florida. The movie got quite surprising a meteoric popularity around the web. Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson argue that the 1989 invention of the World Wide Web opened a new era, with music of Aaron McLeran. The sons of Tim Berners-Lee creation in the last 15 years - Amazon.com, Yahoo!, Google, TiVo, the blog revolution, and various other web-related innovations - will end the news media business as we knew it in the 20 Century. Sloan and Thompson talk about a new kind of media platform - EPIC, that goes for Evolving Personalized Information Construct. The main thesis: the change of the centre of gravity of where common people get their news.

Robin Sloan talked with Gurusonline.tv about the movie. Robin now works at IndTV.tv, a cable company of San Francisco, California, founded by Al Gore. Robin is a graduate in economics from Michigan Sate University. He worked for Poynter as an "online" reporter.

See the movie here


INTERVIEW

Do you think Google's IPO was the turning point in this decade since Netscape's IPO, or even in the last 15 years since the World Wide Web?

No, it wasn't necessarily "the turning point"; but it was a pretty big shift for Google, and I'm sure it will accelerate their plans, whatever they are.

The print media incumbent groups born in the 19 Century and until the 1970's and 1980's of the 20 Century are aware of the emergence of the role of the new popular aggregators like Google, Amazon or even Microsoft?

They are, but I don't think they necessarily see them as a challenge to their role. The point of our movie, if anything, is to show that tools like Google & Amazon could, in the not-too-distant future, make an end-run around traditional news organizations, leaving them without much of an audience.

We are used to think that knowledge distribution was something that only the traditional printed media (since the 1990's with its web "extensions") were able to do. Do you think that the rules of the knowledge game changed like with Gutenberg in his times?

Oh yeah, definitely. DEFINITELY. We've gotten used to the power of the Internet now; but if you stop and think about what you're able to do -- the information you're able to summon up, the way you're able to share stuff -- it's really mind-boggling. I mean, EPIC itself is a great example: It's this little computer file created by two young guys, totally unknown, but thanks to the power of the internet -- and nothing else -- hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of people have seen it.

How you evaluate the role of the blog movement? Do you think blogs can define a new type of journalism, or it is mainly a teens' artefact for intimate and personal things?

Definitely not just a teens' artefact, although the fact that teens have glommed on to blogging should give us some clues about what the future will be like. Blogs don't necessarily "define" a new kind of journalism; they can certainly contain it, though. But a traditional news organization could just as easily do journalism that way -- quickly, open, responsive, transparent. (Although I guess if they did they probably wouldn't be a "traditional" organization anymore...)

«It's a no-brainer than one day -- not that far in the future -- you'll go to the web for real-time video from the big news event happening across the world. Absolutely.»

How you evaluate the role of TV, more and more a global just in time news media with a huge power of image? Do you think the web-based reports can surpass the TV impact?

Not yet, but soon, as video becomes more of a normal thing on the web. It'll happen more and more in the next couple of years. It's a no-brainer than one day -- not that far in the future -- you'll go to the web for real-time video from the big news event happening across the world. Absolutely.

Do you expect a wave of consolidation in the new emergent actors? "Googlezon" (the fictional merger of Google and Amazon in 2008) is a pure fable or the definition of a trend?

Googlezon's just a fable. I think there are other centers of gravity besides Google -- Yahoo! and MSN are both still players, and Amazon really do have some great ideas -- and you only need two or three really strong players to create healthy competition. Regardless of what WILL happen, I certainly HOPE we don't see massive consolidation as depicted in EPIC. I think that would be a terrible thing.

The image of the NYT becomes a print newsletter for the elite and the elderly is also a definition of a trend?

Again, more of a fable. The New York Times is just such a good avatar for, you know, the ENTIRE news business. But in fact, in all honesty, the NYT is doing a really nice job with Internet stuff -- some of the best work of any old-school org, in fact -- and I expect them to continue it & be successful.

«I actually think EPIC will help, by making a space for more voices to pipe up and say, "Hey, that's manipulated! That's sponsored!" -- as, in fact, we have already seen, with the CBS forged documents story and others.»

EPIC brings a new risk of manipulated information? Or also a wave of "sponsored" information? The traditional deontology of journalism developed in the last 200-250 years will gone?

Well, I don't think manipulated information or sponsored information will be a new thing. We've always had those in the news and media, and of course will continue to have them. I actually think EPIC will help, by making a space for more voices to pipe up and say, "Hey, that's manipulated! That's sponsored!" -- as, in fact, we have already seen, with the CBS forged documents story and others.

Do you think the center of gravity where people get their news has already changed with the broadband expansion?

Certainly it's begun to shift, but most people still get their news -- if they get it at all -- from TV. It'll take a while for that to change. But I think it will change, and broadband & wireless will
drive it.

What will be the impact for the news business model, mainly for advertising?

Still LOTS of opportunities to advertise in the EPIC future. In fact I think the opportunities get better and better. It'll require some new technologies & new ways of thinking about ads, though -- and so far Google seems to have done a LOT better job with those two things than ANY old-school media org.


© Gurusonline.tv, 2005

 
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