CNET – the tech canary in the internet coal mine?

Mike Arrington points out over at TechCrunch that CNET’s traffic is going down, and fast.
For many years CNET was the top spot for tech news and it still is a superb source for technology news, reviews, and more.

Yet as the web moves to what you could call “power niches”, e.g. Technology news, where a certain group of sites dominate and thousands of other sites participate, the traffic is logically getting spread among a rapidly growing number of “good” blogs and websites.

I haven’t looked to see how the growth in viewership compares to growth in number of blogs, but I’m guessing the later is happening at a much greater rate, especially in the tech sector where you’d have pretty much every tech person now online and spending a lot of time online.

Thus the potential total tech page views are levelling off as the number of tech blogs skyrockets. The result? Less traffic to *former* key tech resource and more to the new kids on the block, though this may indicate they can never attain the status, or traffic, CNET once enjoyed.

This is really speculative but if it’s true then we might expect similar things to happen in other sectors as the number of participants levels off while the number of resources and blogs increases.

Freemont Street Light Canopy, Las Vegas

Freemont, Las Vegas

Originally uploaded by JoeDuck.

Just booked for WebmasterWorld Las Vegas coming up next month. These Freemont Pics are from that trip a year ago and make the downtown area look spiffier than it does in person. I’m glad I saw the spectacular light show but the Las Vegas Strip hotels and casinos and general “feel” is much fancier and “cleaner” than the downtown area.

You call mainstream “news” Journalism? I call it an intellectual wasteland.

Over at Jeff Jarvis‘, as well as all over the world, there’s a debate about how online news will affect offline news.
An anonymous comment notes:
>>news organizations AREN’T the ones keeping democracy alive. And maybe they haven’t done so for awhile<<

Exactly correct. “News organizations”, even at their best, reflect a highly commercialized, narrow focus on events of usually superficial and passing interest. More time’s been given to the Yankee pitcher plane crash than, say, the recent study suggesting an enormous death toll in Iraq or developments in Darfur.

Even politics is covered by almost all major outlets as scandal and personalities more than issues and substance. The stories of the century, often in the developing world and rooted in the life and death struggles facing *hundreds of millions* are eclipsed by Michael Jackson and Madonna. A notable exception has been Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN with an outstanding effort by that team to cover the African nightmares of war, famine, and AIDS.
The journalistic high road, for the most part, was left far in the distance decades ago when Ed Murrows were replaced by Geraldos and Bill O’Reillys.

Modern “journalism” … isn’t journalism. It’s a wasteland of superficiality and celebrity ruled by ratings, circulation, and money.

The internet may not make things better, but it can’t get much worse.

More on this story from:
Dave Winer
Dan Blank

Time Warner to Google: We spell your merger “SueTube”. Battelle to TW: Lookout!

John Battelle thinks Time Warner is mistaken to attack Google on copyright, writing over at Searchblog:

a shot across the bow may bring a broadside from the other side

I usually agree with John Battelle but I don’t really follow his logic here. I agree with him and Bob Dylan that “The Times They are a Changin”“, and that we need a new song to show how the old media empires don’t get the internet. I’d call that song “The Time Warner’s .. They Aren’t a Changin’ “.

However, I don’t see how bringing out the big legal beasts will hurt Time Warner. Frankly, I think they just want Google to throw money at them. As the Napster buyout proved all this has little to do with “rights”, it’s a money grab, sung as usual to the tune of that great O’Jay’s tune of years and years ago “The Love of Money” :
Money money money money ….. money!
The HUGE winners in this are the clever YouTube founders who really just created a very clever distribution system at an opportune time. The user community, and then the GoogleBucks, followed. One thing that irks me about all these mega deals – including Google itself – is that they are built on the backs of the swelling supply of (mostly) user generated content and in the case of YouTube a lot of illegally obtained copyrighted stuff. There will be little or no compensation to the *key components* of the YouTube environment other than a distribution vehicle. Now, one might argue that that exposure is enough compensation for an average YouTube uploader but it still seems…”wrong” to me.

I’d agree that those who create and then monetize these efforts should make a lot, but it’s unfortunate that people, like sheep, choose not to aggressively explore all our online alternatives. I think if we did do more exploring and innovative thinking we’d have a stronger ecosystem of companies rather than a few big players and a plethora of “also rans” standing around drooling at the prospect of a Google or Yahoo buyout.

$1,600,000,000 + 100,000,000 videos = lawsuit!

Mark Cuban must be snickering “I told you” even though he’s already posted a note suggesting the initial lawsuits will be against small video players to set precedent for an attack on Google.

However Time Warner  is already threatening to sue over videos at YouTube. Presumably Google knew all this was coming and I’m guessing they think they can sweeten the advertising revenue pot enough to keep all the copyright hounds at bay. As the best monetizer of online content I think Google will be able to buy their way out of almost all the lawsuits simply by offering to either 1) remove the offending videos, which are currently making nothing or 2) monetize the content and give the copyright holder 70% of the revenues. In most cases Google’s 70% is going to be more than 100% of what the producer could get with their own efforts.

That said, many producers are going to see this as a great legal way to shoot for Google’s deep, deep pockets. They’ll have no interest in small payouts per download or ads or anything related to their own content, though they’ll disguise that in the complaints.

I’d be very interested to know how the Google team factored this cost into the YouTube equation.