Just a few thoughts:
Interesting sidenote: Bezos’ involvement in the 10,000 year clock, buried deep in a mountain.
In American life, a tremendous amount of wealth has shifted hands from industry and manufacturing over to technology. Like the industrialists who came before (too often maligned as robber barons), these tech entrepreneurs have added value to all of our lives, driving down the costs of their products in an extremely competitive marketplace.
Naturally, with all that money can come the desire for influence, or to achieve other social aims. Print media’s model has been dying, and it’s doubtful how successful a business model journalism, news-gathering, and opinioneering has ever really been.
Technology has been changing business, politics, learning, higher education and culture quite dramatically.
Furthermore, Americans yearn for explainers, and many people nominate themselves to fill the role. James Fallows, former speech writer for Carter, opines:
‘For years anyone thinking about the future of news has realized that, completely on its own, what we consider “serious” journalism has never been a viable business. Foreign reportage, serious investigative or government-accountability coverage — functions like these have always been, in economic terms, parasites that need to ride along on some profitable host body. In the old days, that was the fat, bundled newspaper, which provided a range of information to an audience with no technological alternative. We’re in the un-bundled era now, and serious journalism has been looking for new host bodies — much as higher education, museums, the fine arts, etc have also needed support beyond what the flat-out market would provide’
This blog has been tracking similar developments, especially with regard to the eroding influence of print media. There’s a rush to fill the public square, and thousands of new voices have sprung up, with everybody knowing something each one of us may not. Many individuals and groups of individuals desire to either acquire or maintain influence over our institutions, our political economy, and shape public opinion.
From a previous comment on this blog:
‘Opinion and news are now a commodity in this age, hard to extract money for that with the internet.’
We live in interesting times.
If you have a few minutes, it might be worth checking out Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappo’s online, putting $350 million of his own money into downtown Las Vegas to change the city. From his original company LinkExchange which he sold, to Zappo’s customer focused business model, to Las Vegas itself, Hsieh is after scalability of interaction. He wants to create a live/work environment that puts people densely enough to continue urban growth and human interaction.
At least he’s putting up his own money to achieve his vision:
Big Data And Filthy Lucre: Neil Irwin At WonkBlog-’Here’s What The Bloomberg Data Scandal Reveals About How The Media Really Makes Money’
Remember The Maine! The good old days…by malik2moon
Related On This Site: Jack Shafer At Slate: ‘Nonprofit Journalism Comes At A Cost’..
A Free Lunch?-Megan McArdle At The Daily Beast: ‘How To Get Ahead On Facebook Without Really Trying’
Malcolm Gladwell argues here that apart from the information/journalism divide, the technology still ultimately costs something as well…”Free” is a utopian vision, and I suspect Gladwell knows this pretty well: From The New Yorker: Malcolm Gladwell’s “Priced To Sell”