Thursday, July 14, 2005

Traditional Media has now lost it's Edge

Change? Check this out ... when former Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael K. Powell watched television coverage of the London bombings last week, he noticed that most of the significant pictures didn't originate from professional photographers employed by news agencies. They came from witnesses at the scene using cell phones and digital cameras to document the tragedy.

"Journalists are trained not to be emotional, like a doctor doesn't fall in love with his patients," Powell said on CNN. "But people experiencing a tragedy can convey what actually happened while at the same time express deep emotion and engage in spirited storytelling. A photo of someone climbing up through train wreckage is extremely powerful. A reporter rolling up to the scene behind a police line can rarely give you that."

Before, blogging was largely fixated on the failure of mainstream media, ya, that's what I said - failure. Now it has become a necessary supplement, and in some cases, a substitute. But let's take this further - London showed that blogging has morphed into the art of raw, personalized storytelling.

As opposed to watching CNN or reading, which are fine for the facts but stale and bit removed the blog posts and Flickr photos beat them at their own 'all day, every day' game.

If you think about it, Technorati a real-time search engine for blog content, has become a public utility on a global scale.

While Google didn't invent the internet, it made it easier to navigate by organizing billions of web pages. Today there are about 12 million blogs, with 10 new ones created every second.

Since March, the number of posts has increased 40 percent a month, from about 350,000 a day to 850,000 a day.

At its essence, Technorati may be a search engine, but its approach is vastly different. Google, for instance, views the web as the world's largest reference library, where information is static. Instead of the Dewey Decimal System, Google employs its PageRank technology, which orders search results based on relevance. Google uses words like web page, catalogs and directory, which are more than just words: They convey an entire worldview.

In contrast, Technorati sees the, internet as a stream of conversations. This makes it much more immediate. Google requires two to three weeks to input a site into its search engine. (Although it does post frequently updated content from news sites.)

For Technorati, it takes about seven minutes to index a post. Those who use complementary tools like LiveJournal, AOL Journals and Blogger can expect their posts to pop up on Technorati almost instantaneously.

With Technorati, you know what is being said, when it is said, and who is saying it - you can track the metamorphosis of an idea, not only who commented on it last but who came up with it first.

In meme epidemiology, knowing the first person to say something is the first step to understanding the contagion, why some memes are contagious while others aren't - when you stop thinking of the web as pages and documents, you begin to understand it's all about people - read this line again - it's important.

I like to think of a blog as the record of the exhaust of a person's attention stream over time, you actually feel like you know the person. You see their style, the words they use, their kids, whatever there is.

Although I believe the emergence of Technorati and the rise of blogs may threaten mainstream media, the reality will probably be different. Both the established incumbency and radical innovators make the mistake of thinking they will replace the other. Just like cable news hardly writes news, instead broadcasting the front page of The New York Times, blogs and traditional media will become mutually dependent on each other.

In fact, they already are. Earlier this week, CBS announced it would launch a web log to comment on newscasts, joining a long list of cable news outlets, magazines and newspapers that have assimilated blogs into their websites.

Someone has to cut through all the contemporaneous smog, however, and that would be Technorati, which includes information about every poster in each search result. That way you can gauge bloggers' "net attention" -- calculated by the number of people who link to them -- so you can locate the most authoritative views.

One indication that the phenomenon that spawned three years ago has worked itself into the fabric of internet life is that in China, bloggers are using Technorati tags to get around government censors.

The Adopt-a-Chinese Blog program works by volunteers announcing their intention to host a blog on their server by employing a special Technorati tag. That way, bloggers in China can locate the blogs through a special page.

Since the pages are served outside of China, the government can't censor them. Isn't that was the digital devide is about - transfer of power - certainly traditional media can't claim that position anymore.


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