I think we might be seeing the last supernova of scale. Scale was required in the age of mass media but that age, my friends, is at its dusk. Every last newspaper trapped in the evil hedge-witch's cabin & pureplays all huddling against the cold are last-ditch efforts to be big.
Will mergers to scale make these companies better able to compete with Google, FB, et al? I think not. The platforms & the rollups will all fight over what is left of the attention-based ad market. That scrabble will go on for awhile.....
In the meantime, others try for scale outside of the ad market: Spotify trying to buy up all the podcasts; Substack trying to lure all the newsletter writers. Apart from some marketing advantage, I see no necessary role for scale in subscription products.....
In a sense, WordPress is the most successful effort to gain scale in a creator economy and it doesn't try to exploit that scale in terms of advertising or subscriptions; it is a service to a market that scales itself.....
So what would a post-scale media market look like? Now that's what interests me. That's why I'm working on a new initiative in internet studies to get students to explore what might be.....
I'm also working on a book proposal that is ostensibly about something else but is actually about the roots of mass media and scale. It shows me how recent the imperative for scale is. I don't think it's forever.....
At the end of the 1800s a similar phenomenon occurred: Suddenly, it was possible for many more people to start magazines. Many did. Many failed. Then came consolidation.
In a sense, @cmcilwain tells a similar story in his wonderful oral history, Black Software: Suddenly, people could open new spaces for Black culture online. Some failed. Consolidation followed (AOL). But as @DocDre recounts in Distributed Blackness something new followed....
In the manuscript for my not-yet-published book on the Gutenberg Age, I posit that @DocDre's Distributed Blackness might offer us a model for conversation (formerly known as media) controlled by communities. That could be a radical new future for media....
When we start talking about distributed and federated models for media, it won't be long before somebody brings up the blockchain. I have no idea whether that will have a role because I don't start with the technology anymore; I start with the need and opportunity.....
I see many possible futures for post-scale media & public conversation. I see few futures for agglomerations of old and not-so-old media companies trying to reach scale. They will just fight for the scraps of what's still growing after the meteor called the internet struck Earth.
To be clear, I greatly admire @Bankoff, @BenjLerer + @peretti. They are our greatest business innovators in media. They are doing what they need to do in the market they are in. They do need scale. What I'm saying is that that market is changing.

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More from @jeffjarvis

8 Dec
In a few minutes, @APettegree & @A_der_Weduwen will be discussing their new book here:
The Library: A Fragile History | LIVE from NYPL via @YouTube
Jane Kamensky asks the authors about collaborating on books (they've done 3 together). @APettegree is a generous scholar He is surprised there are not more cowritten books in the humanities (as in science). His partnership with @A_der_Weduwen has produced such impressive work.
.@APettegree said his one rule working with @A_der_Weduwen is that each accepts the track-changes made by the other with "no sulking." That is checking one's ego at the keyboard.
Read 15 tweets
8 Dec
Morning Joe's constant beseeching of "whither conservatism," would be pathetic if it weren't so delusional. We know what happened to the right. It is purely authoritarian and racist. There is no reclaiming a conservative movement or Republican Party. Get over it.
Now David Brooks sees an apparently positive future for "a Republican party that serves people without college degrees across race." The party of the uneducated. That is to say: those who can be duped. Thus the right's war on science, intellectualism, and the academy.
What's pathetic is that the media keeps propping up Trump as a newsmaker when he says nothing and makes no news. If they ignored him, his stock would fall. He is a phantom, that is all.
Read 4 tweets
6 Dec
@APettegree is the dean of book historians; I've devoured all his books. He & @A_der_Weduwen just published The Library: A Fragile History in the US. This Wednesday they'll be talking with @LIVEfromNYPL. I highly recommend signing up. I'll be there:
Here is the book: The Library: A Fragile History. I'm digging in now and loving it.
.@APettegree & @A_der_Weduwen were to be on book tour in NYC this week. I was so looking forward to meeting them & thanking Andrew for all he taught me while I researched The Gutenberg Parenthesis. Damned COVID: the tour is postponed. But I will watch their talk Wednesday.
Read 4 tweets
30 Nov
I am SO confused. Does this mean that if I take a picture of, say, a concert in Central Park, I need the permission of everyone in it? We diminish the sense of the public to the detriment of the public.
Would this policy, for example, require receiving the permission of George Floyd and the police who murdered him to post video of the crime? The policy seems quite unclear to me.
Since when did Twitter become a German company? Since yesterday?
Read 4 tweets
26 Nov
My heart breaks. Stephen Sondheim is dead at 91. I am so grateful for the joy, wisdom, art, and light he brought to American culture and my life.
Rest in eternal admiration, Stephen Sondheim.
Finishing the Hat.
Read 4 tweets
20 Nov
Ah, yes, remember when Tristan Harris said no one got upset over the bicycle? Here is Publishers Weekly in 1895 lamenting the state of bookselling and "the wheelman is blamed."
Note well that PW also fretted about magazines and newspapers (the line between them & books was not distinct), discounting department stores, and cheap books for the masses. Edison's audio inventions also worried them. See here podcasters circa 1894 via Scribner's:
In 1910 the Springfield Republican warned that cheap books would bring the culture what magazines had: "the peril of impermanence."
Read 6 tweets

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