Steven says I’m insane. OK, but I’m still right.

Steven Berlin Johnson, the clever fellow who suggested that TV and video games often make kids smarter and we should stop fretting so much over screen time, is now defending the indefensible – mainstream journalism.

Here Steven suggests that all sane people would agree that Mainstream, top-down, professional journalism will continue to play a vital role in covering news events, and in shaping our interpretation of those events, as it should. [emphasis added ].

Well, it should NOT play that role because mainstream journalism’s commercial focus, though natural, is NOT healthy. In fact it’s tragic because the interpretations are so misguided and narrow. Blogs can help fix this, and they will.
I replied:

I think, therefore I’m insane?

Your first point – that professional journalism “should” play something like the powerful role it currently plays is as misguided as a Fox News analysis and simply absurd. Mainstream journalism stinks, and is getting worse. Blogs will help fix this deficiency, and hopefully will replace mainstream superficiality with in depth, smart coverage of complex events.

Although blogs are only beginning to challenge the absurd commercial sensibilities of mainstream journalism I have much higher hopes than you that blogger journalists will prevail over mainstream celebrity journalism which reaches new lows every year. (cf many great mainstream journalists who are impressive but stifled by forced brevity).

Mainstream journalism has fallen very far from reasoned analysis of current events. It no longer pays more than superficial attention to critical news events (e.g. “Oral rehydration therapy saves millions”, “Congo War”, “Global Child Welfare”, etc, etc.

Can the long tail wag the big internet dog?

Obviously niches of human interests will be a very powerful force in the shaping of the online world, and it would seem the best way to serve niches, especially a small one, is more along the lines of medium or  small business rather than big biz.  However the mega sites seem to be increasing their share of the action, and are shaping the new access and community tools.

I’m wondering which of the following models, if any, will be most prevalent in the future.  How much will the long tail wag the internet dog ?
Big Corporate Website model:  Yahoo, Myspace, Google, MSN as giant info, tools, purchasing portals, community centers.
Medium Website model:  I see this as content aggregator sites like technorati that serve large niche markets and use Web 2.0 sensibilities to help users slice and dice the overwhelming amounts of online content.

Mom and Pop model:  Local or niche specific info-rich sites where users will spend most of their time researching/buying/socializing.

Obviously there will be all of this and more, but I think the trends are important and it *makes intuitive sense* to me that onliners, especially the next generation, will seek niche specific social interaction that is not handled well by anybody right now.   Big sites mostly lack enough of a human element and sites like Myspace that do have a powerful human element fail to deliver a high quality or info rich experience.

With that in mind I’m off to Silicon Valley to hear 1) pitches from the Search Engine Strategies vendors about how they can get me to the top of the search heap (thanks, but I’ll just take the T shirt for now).  2) Google Party!   Always fun to talk to the search and labs teams there.  They be clever folk.