New media: The scarcity of original content in a sea of copies

With the advent of the Internet and the “new media” tools available, everyone can create content and become his own publisher. We may have though that this would lead to a lot of original views of the world and original content, but when you look on a day to day basis, there is actually an abundance of rehashing of the same content.

For me, it was best highlighted last year when I noticed (through their Facebook profiles) that some people I know were attending a “TED” conference. I was intrigued and wanted to learn more about the specific session they were in. Since there was no real time broadcast on the Internet I turned to Twitter and sure enough I was able to follow the talk in almost real-time, almost line-by-line… times 20 at least! Yes, as incredible as it appeared, there was at least 20 people tweeting the conference line-by-line… the same stuff which was not their original thoughts but what they were hearing live!

Actually, when you think of it, this is not that new. When I first lived in San Francisco (2004) I tried for a while to read the local newspaper (I know, a quaint notion now, but allow me) for a while. I was really annoyed by how much little original content was in that paper and how much it was just content from news agency. Maybe I was surprise because the main US newspaper I have been reading in Montreal was the New York Times and they are one of the few press organization that have a high ratio of original content. Thinking about that more deeply, actually, most of the newspaper in the world are more about repeating news from other sources than original content. They have some local content for sure, but how much interesting news on any given day?

I think that it was fine twenty years ago when your local paper was your window to the world. However, in this day where you can access the original news source in a few milliseconds (ok, maybe a few seconds if you are using IE), why do you need organization to repeat that source?

For sure, I do understand why people (journalist or not) repeat information, they want to feel useful, they want you to notice them, they want their 15 seconds of fame. In some cases, it is actually useful to have people you trust point to you towards an interesting news bit, but if they do it all the time and everybody’s is doing it than it becomes noise.

Longer term, I think we will see a gradual fading of the “repeaters” maybe through technology similar to spam filters. Also, media organization will have to find the right scale and focus on original content which in all likelihood they will distribute themselves to consumer or through a limited number of aggregators.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Danny Skarka says:

    People having the tools to do something doesn’t mean they have the skills. Fortunately, this is a self-cleaning system. As the majority fail, the truly talented rise. Those that linger try to stay relevant through “sharing”. I believe this too will self-clean over time because in the end, people want content. The best material will continue to be shared over time, but new content will come along.

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