Maybe we're writing for Google??
Sunday, April 08, 2007 by Dave Winer.
Last month I went to Boston to be part of the Public Media conference, which I described to everyone I saw there as the NPR conference, even though most of the people there didn't work for NPR and I knew it.
I was actually trying to make a point, one that otherwise would have taken a lot of words to express, but could be said simply if I was willing to look a little inept and uninformed. The point is this -- the distinction between the different parts of the public media ecosystem are lost on people outside the ecosystem. I tend to think of it all as "public radio" -- more today than in the past -- and eventually, I think they will too.
Before the Internet, I listened to KQED. That meant listening to shows I wasn't interested in, like Pacific Time or Latino USA. Now, after having lived in Seattle, Boston and Florida, I'm an NPR listener. I found shows on WBUR that KQED doesn't carry. My favorite show comes from WNYC. I'm a fan of DIane Rehm who does her work at WAMU, but I first heard her on WJCT. I still listen to Fresh Air from WHYY, but I only listen to the podcast, and only when the program interests me.
In a few years, the transition to the Internet will be so complete that the link between the call letters and a local area will be meaningless. The stations won't even broadcast. Then someone at NPR will swallow the hard truth that the distinctions mean so little to anyone outside their industry that they might as well just collapse it down and call the whole thing NPR.
Which brings me around to the lecture that my friends and colleagues in the blogosphere have tried to deliver in the last 24 hours to Mr Zell, the new owner of a bunch of big important newspapers.
It could be that Zell is brilliant, and is saying something that simplifies the truth to make a bigger point, and he doesn't mind if you think he's inept if some people get the bigger picture -- which is he thinks of the Internet and Google as being the same thing, and you know what -- I bet a lot of other people do too, and they have a point. Like the public radio stations, maybe we're fooling ourselves if we think we're not writing for Google, as they are fooling themselves into thinking they're not creating for NPR. We want to cling to our theory that each of us is independent of the others, but what if he's right, and it's us vs them. What if his friends in the newspaper business decide they want to compete against us directly. What if my pointers into the LA Times and the NY Times stop working? Or what if he offers you a job to come write for his company so your pointers do work?