Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives
The Dustbin of History, my ass.

JD Lasica, senior editor of Online Journalism Review, offers an interesting rebuttal to The New York Times' recent article, "'New Media': Ready for the Dustbin of History?" by Steve Lohr. Both pieces are interesting reading, and a discussion well worth having.

Like Mr. Lasica, I am agog at the Times' exclusion of weblogs in the piece. This strikes me as a deeply disturbing oversight, especially in the wake of such notable events as Google's purchase of Pyra/Blogger, Six Apart's successful round of financing and subsequent expansion, and the rumblings of AOL working on a weblogging tool of their own. What disturbs me even more, though, is the way that Mr. Lohr says first that "It's now obvious nobody yet knows how to create a successful, and truly new, medium", and then, near the end of the article, says this:

So the promised wonders of new media may yet arrive. In the meantime, the Internet has changed daily life in ways most people could not have imagined in 1994. People manage their lives and relationships via e-mail and instant messaging, and second-graders are skilled Google searchers.

It looks to me like it's already here. Further, saying the Internet isn't a "truly new" medium is like saying that television wasn't a truly new medium because we already had motion pictures, or that radio wasn't a truly new medium because we already had performance halls. The Internet most certainly is a truly new medium because it takes previously existing components (text, video, sound) and introduces new ones (interactivity, exponentially lower barriers to entry, an almost-utterly obliterated line between user and creator, and global community tools the likes of which we've never seen).

New Media on the Internet isn't a failure. New Media is the Internet, and it's epic. If you must adhere to the magazine metaphor, the most beautiful thing about the Net is the democritization of publishing, something previously only seen on a small scale in the zine industry. The only major differences between most zines and their big corporate counterparts were money and distribution. In many cases, it sure as hell wasn't the quality of the content. Now, weblogs are the new zines. Think of these half-million webloggers as columnists and their blogrolls as a big, huge table of contents, and you'll be getting close.

The deepest ridiculousness of Mr. Lohr's article is in his assertion that the Internet isn't a "new medium" and then his subsequent judgement of it as a failure because it doesn't adhere to the rules of old media. To truly understand the success of the web, you must surrender the idea of an advertiser-driven, encapsulated, quarterly/monthly/weekly collection of work being the only form of media -- the web is boundless, ever-growing, creator-supported and being updated every second. I'd call that a fantastic success, but then, I don't write for The New York Times.

I need to work on fixing that.


I hear Jayson Blair's position is open.

Please don't go work for the Times. I recently read an article about music downloading that seemed as though it could've been paid for by the RIAA. It had a little map, with places marked on it like "the bog of guilt" and "the desert of moral ambiguity". Not those exact words, but for once I'm not exaggerating. I don't need to. What's happening to the liberal media, huh?

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