Jim Manzi of Lotus fame has a new interest in the reinvention of media. Below are excerpts from an an essay, (The End of the Literary Industrial Complex) that he published at the Boston startup Gather.com. In the essay Manzi both laments and celebrates the fracturing of the mass audience:
We might retreat into information ghettos . . . societies also require a shared understanding of key precepts; shared values at some level; and a willingness to search for, debate and ultimately invest in a societal common ground . . . a common information experience in the last thirty years is the demise of the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite where more than half the nation might gather for their daily dose . . . People have been looking for some time for new, personal centers of gravity to replace other centers that have been marginalized or destroyed . . . No longer must I accept much of my content from what I have called the Literary Industrial Complex, that group of concentrated media organizations with their small elites and self-reinforcing arbiters delivering my news and information ‘top-down.’ . . . Gather, with its member-contributors, has an opportunity to create a new kind of community.
Manzi goes on to talk about creating an Information Republic. I am not sure what that might mean but having been introduced to the thought (thanks to Rosemarie Moeller) I’ll look into this further.
I have my own ideas on how to re-aggregate the scattered contributors to online media forums and, being a conservative sort, I prefer to adapt rather than invent. I wrote a series of essays a while back that looked at content producers much like Prairie farmers. Content producers stand at a disadvantage to network providers, much as farmers were once held hostage by railroads. So the farmers formed producer cooperatives — assemblies of individual producers bound together in a legal way to increase their clout. I laid out that vision in a three-part series titled: Food for Thought. Please take a look if you have the time. I think my job at this point, is to reduce those three essays to a quick slide show.
Thanks to my sister, Rosemarie Moeller, for bringing this to my attention.