Monday, April 03, 2006

Nielsen on Web Hype 2.0

Finally a 2.0 story we can all agree on. Web Hype 2.0!

Nielsen does not go into the technology level at all but still finds plenty of irrelevant hype. During the dotCom boom the standard modus operandi of Venture Capital was to have the companies they invest in spend most of their time and resources chasing the latest technology fads rather than making intelligent technology choices. Which is better Ruby on Rails or ASP? If you already have your site 90% implemented in LISP or PHP and you are not suffering an immediate problem as a result the answer is stick with what you have.

I think that his comments on Bloggers vs the mainstream media and Wikipedia vs Britannica are less on target. Even though the commercial relevance of the stories may not be very strong their social importance is vast.

Nielsen's argument that newspapers face a bigger threat from the loss of classified advertising than the threat from bloggers is probably correct. In the end the loss of classified advertising is going to cause most of the local print media to fold entirely. If Google opened up a version of Sidewalk it would be game over for any local newspaper in their covered area.

In Clayton Christesens's terminology the local newspapers face a disruptive technology change. The local newspaper does not add enough value to the content it produces to justify separate publication of a newspaper in every small town in the country. The national newspapers in the US face a rather different threat, there the issue is very much credibility. The mainstream media in the US has been set on a disaster course since before the O.J. Simpson trial persuaded CNN to get out of the news business and promote soap operas instead.

The problem isn't bias, its the triumph of punditry and opinion over actual news reporting. The problem with punditry is that the people who want to watch raw partisan punditry are much more likely to want to watch a fight where the scales are tipped so that their side is certain to win. A news station cannot deliver a show like Hannity and Colmes without losing the non-partisan audience. Fox news knows that it doesn't have many liberals watching.

The CNN management made the mistake of thinking that the distinguishing feature of Fox was the direction of its bias. They shifted to the right in an attempt to hold on to their right wing audience. A more logical response to Fox would have been to chase the opposite end of the spectrum. The best response would have been to do some real political journalism. The Abramoff, Noe and MZM scandals were all potential gold mines.

No comments: