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Facebook is eating the world

Here is a definite must-read for everyone. Pondering the long-term viability of publishing when they are no longer in control of the distribution channels. How you get to read or who gets to decide what you see?

Illustration: AP | 9m read |original

Our news ecosystem has changed more dramatically in the past five years than perhaps at any time in the past five hundred. We are seeing huge leaps in technical capability—virtual reality, live video, artificially intelligent news bots, instant messaging, and chat apps. We are seeing massive changes in control, and finance, putting the future of our publishing ecosystem into the hands of a few, who now control the destiny of many.

Social media hasn’t just swallowed journalism, it has swallowed everything. It has swallowed political campaigns, banking systems, personal histories, the leisure industry, retail, even government and security. The phone in our pocket is our portal to the world.


Source: Facebook is eating the world | Columbia Journalism Review

+Commentary: A tremendous read, and what we’ve been saying since Day 1. This is the fabled “walled garden” scenario playing out in an accelerated way. Watching so many complain about the media daily, especially in an election year creates irony. Where so much power is held in the hands of a few. With the condensing or consolidation into just a few conglomerates holding all the power. Now the journalists are getting spooked by the fact that for distribution, which they fail miserably at they are having to rely on others & fly blind:

In truth, we have little or no insight into how each company is sorting its news. If Facebook decides, for instance, that video stories will do better than text stories, we cannot know that unless they tell us or unless we observe it. This is an unregulated field. There is no transparency into the internal working of these systems.

What this does not say, while making very valid points, is that they have tried all these things, but they tried them in compartmentalized ways. They have built apps, paywalls, and native advertising. They most certainly in this decade have had people on board who would & could explain to them what the metrics & analytics could reveal to them. They don’t care, for all they’ve cared about is making their advertisers happy at the end of the day. They did not have the hunger or drive, let alone resources in a dwindling economies of both attention and revenue, to invest in the pivot to mobile.

Facebook or Twitter can try new things, can in their unregulated way, completely go out on a limb to reshape the landscape. They had a long view as well. When it came time for them to try any of these schemes to recapture lost revenue (thanks, Craigslist) and reshape themselves for a changing paradigm, they instead of doing it sleek, simple, or effectively ~ relied on loading up their code, making already slow connections slower. Even as speeds have increased they chose to bog that down with multiple addons only designed to deliver you into advertiser’s hands. Getting you to click away from the content to the paycheck they get to keep the lights on.

It was doomed to fail, they can’t compete with the four horsemen of the apocalypse (Google, Facebook, Apple, and …) have such reach, many more users than the average journalistic outlet, and they have resources and a nimble unregulated abilities to circumvent them all. They also have the ethics of only the marketplace. Just as Apple loses a SCOTUS ruling on the long drawn out antitrust suit about their strong-arming the industry around ebooks, when they introduced the iPad. They also have the resources to drag out any punitive or corrective actions beyond any media empires in existence today..

The iPad worked, they were fighting the behemoth Amazon, and as such used tactics it is hard to imagine seemed ethical to anyone. Yet we’re going to instead focus on their stance against the government because, and support that blindly, because we don’t want our data shared with the government. Okay, but you “trust” these companies who are under much less stringent guidelines, whom you sign away your ability to sue when you click “I have read” on the ToC keeping you from using your phone/computer.

Again there aren’t any easy answers to this predicament, this is a terribly complex issue, full of nuance, and no one answer. Yet, who can challenge them now? What pivot or disruption could divert the status quo? These are issues we have to review & plan for in the ever-shifting sands of technology. These big moves are indicative of many swift changes that will come to pass very soon. Are you prepared, are any of us?



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  2. dakrólak · March 8, 2016

    Reblogged this on astound me: D.A. Królak and commented:

    Thoughts on the behemoth swallowing the world & you with it…


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