Thursday, November 12, 2009

Baron von Tollbooth: Murdoch, Google and money

Cory Doctorow's article in today's Technology Guardian is a lovely piece of writing, even though it's about a newspaper proprietor whose company gave up trying to publish magazines after realising they just couldn't hack it.

It's all speculation and opinion, of course, just adding to the virtual Niagara of comment about Rupert Murdoch's various pronouncements on paywalls, denying search and the legality (or not) of "fair use".

But there is one paragraph that has a definite ring of truth about it:
Rupert isn't a technophobic loon who will send his media empire to the bottom of the ocean while waging war on search engines. Instead, he's an out-of-touch moustache-twirler who's set his sights on remaking the web as a toll booth (with him in the collector's seat), and his plan hinges on a touchingly naive approach to geopolitics.
The idea of being a toll collector must be appealing to a businessman who staked his empire on being able to collect tolls (Sky).


And none of this starts to touch on the fact that most traditional media co web sites are dull one-dimensional experiences (article + advertising - any decent community engagement (inc useless closed comment systems, ahem) = yawn), that really just mimic the newspaper in an online environment, without bringing any significant additional value to the party. So unless Rupe (and others) sorts this rather fundamental issue out then he's doomed anyway (if managing the digital business transition doesn't kill them first; maybe ereaders will save the day). Better get good at creating compelling and valuable consumer internet experiences, and not just being all about publishing articles online (otherwise they'll just get displaced by a new generation of way more innovative media companies who can fuse content + community + services + utility + monetisation).

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