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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Bloggers Would Send Karl Marx Back to the Drawing Board!

More fall-out from the Harvard conference, thanks to Slate's Jack Shafer who came away from the gathering thinking there has been too much ado about blogs. You can read his column here. As soon as Shafer's column hit the cyber road, folks responded and it isn't pretty. But read it anyway, starting with Ed Cone who thinks the Slate guy needs to get a clue, then The Professor, who finds a certain absent decency.

Also commenting is Captain's Quarters who makes a fundamentally important point that he thinks Shafer missed completely. The real revolution wrought by the internet and the blogosphere is that the key question is no longer the Marx-inspired query about who owns the means of media production, but who has access to the means of media distribution. By making that access so incredibly affordable for millions of folks and thus empowering them to become part of the conversation, the internet obsoletes most of the advantages claimed by the MSM.

Here's how CQ puts it:

"Now, however, that fast Internet connection renders all sites essentially equal. Once one has toured the Internet, the fact that all sites are essentially equal becomes quickly apparent. The CNN page differs only from Captain's Quarters in the amount of product they can distribute -- but we're sharing the same distribution channel now.
"The distribution, not the product, is the revolution -- and bloggers thrive off of their ability to out-pace and out-react the mainstream media, which for the most part remains stuck on the notion of a full-day news cycle.
"In fact, now that the distribution channels have opened up to the end-user as well as the media moguls, that long-awaited video revolution may not be far behind. Videobloggers have already popped up, promising not just opinion and news but also independent entertainment.

"As the capacity for broadband increases, filmmakers will have the ability to download their latest movies direct to consumers over the Internet, without having to spend money on the physical media or kowtowing to theater-chain owners.
"We may see this in the next five years -- and citizen newscasters may push today's bloggers to a subsidiary position in the Internet hierarchy.