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Analysis: The Rise Of Open Media

JonKatz posted more than 13 years ago | from the future-of-information- dept.

United States 200

Media hotshots and junkies were breathing heavily last week after Salon and CBS.com announced layoffs and APBNews.com had a near-death experience. These and other new media "setbacks" prompted some gleeful, almost poignant predictions that old media might return from the grave. Don't put any money on it. The media war of the future isn't between "old" and "new" media, already meaningless terms, but between Open and Closed media.

What's the future of media? What are all the rumblings about struggling online media?

Pundits and gossips and entrail-readers were asking one another (and me) these questions last week. It was a nervous few days, the jitters touched off by announcements of layoffs at Salon and NBC and CBS.com and by the near death experience of the strange crime-news site APB News.com, which dismissed its staff, then brought some back unpaid in an attempt to keep publishing.

Was all of this a watershed moment for new media? The ubiquitous analysts were warning that in the wake of the NASDAQ panic, money for new sites was drying up. Maybe old-time journalism could rebound, after all? Maybe these hordes or raucous digital pests would finally get their comeuppance, or even better, go away completely. Maybe the media universe would right itself.

Dream on. If there is a central idea that conventional media have willfully failed to grasp, it's that the future of information belongs to Open Media, even when AOL/Time-Warner gets its lawyers and lobbyists lined up. The meaningful distinction isn't old-versus-new, it's open-versus-closed.

What exactly characterizes the Open Media? Open Media sites embrace interactivity; they reflect ideas, commentary and information from a wide range of sources, especially their readers. They were shaped by the distributed architecture of the Net. Their agendas and political philosophies are rarely static, but continuously evolving, a gift of interactivity. Each reader becomes a highly-wired researcher and reporter, foraging for information. Stories can be reported originally, but most often stories are posted from other sources or posted and readers are given links. Links are a universal signature of an Open Media site, a way to use Net architecture to maximum advantage. Revenue comes from advertising or other sources, because the information itself is always -- always -- free.

Open Media are ascending all across the information spectrum. Closed Media -- newspapers, evening newscasts, even pay-per-use news websites -- have been in decline for years, facing aging audiences, shrinking revenues and marginalization by ferocious (and usually free) competitors. Open vs. Closed, shared vs. proprietary - these conflicting impulses have divided Net users for years, the Linux challenge to Microsoft being one of the more dramatic examples. Now that conflict is intensifying throughout media.

There was considerable if short-sighted rejoicing in old media offices with the spate of so-called "new media" problems. Conventional media has been battered for years now by new competing technologies like the Net, abandoned by younger consumers, struggling to re-define itself. There was more than a little glee in reports that new media was bleeding as well.

"For some people, online journalism is a path to interactive enlightenment and economic liberty," gloated the New York Times. "But to the puritans of the old media world, Web journalists are apostates who have confused liberty with license and whose delusional disregard for profit can only end in self-immolation. It was hard for the puritans not to act smug last week."

What an interesting statement. When exactly did "disregard for profit" become a journalistic liability as opposed to an ethical standard? And who conferred on mainstream journalism -- as greedy, non-interactive, incestuous and elitist an institution as exists in American public life -- this high moral ground?

The reasons for the smugness extended beyond the layoffs. Media watchers also cited Slate.com's struggles to become viable (it's massively subsidized by Microsoft and promoted on MS sites from MSN.com to MSNBC, and is still struggling for audience) and they were obsessively monitoring the super-hyped launch of Inside.com, a mega-media gossip and news site from a company that actually calls itself "PowerfulMedia, Inc."

You can check out this lavishly-funded site for yourself (www.inside.com), but all you really need to know is that its readers get to vote on what Inside.com considers most critical; the daily media "Power Index," which tracks whether Sumner Redstone of Viacom is gaining on Michael Eisner or Ted Turner on any given day. Part of Inside.com is free, but that's a lure. The part with the supposed original reporting is subscriber-only. This anomaly -- charging money in an environment where the volume of information grows by the hour and the price steadily drops -- is both arrogant and astonishing.

What was most interesting about last week's New York Times sneer was its focus on the rather few Web sites familiar to journalists. With perspective-narrowing narcissism, the Times described Slate as "the online magazine with probably the highest profile in online journalism?"

Slate - interesting though it can sometimes be - is actually one of the lowest profile sites on the Internet - except for New York or Washington journalists. They tend not to notice mailing lists, messaging systems or the countless individual sites far from media consciousness. Thus when Slate or Salon hits trouble, media pundits instantly conclude that online journalism must be failing. That's a big mistake.

"So who's winning?" asked the Times, "the puritans or the apostates? It may be too soon to tell, but certainly last week's upheavals were enough to try a Web journalist's soul." This bizarre framing of the issue -- a win/lose battle between worthy traditionalists and whacked-out rebels -- is silly, but it helps explain conventional journalism's problems in coming to terms with its favorite story: itself.

Mainstream media are fascinated with themselves. No story is more interesting than the people who publish or broadcast it. The press can't stop writing about itself, launching whole new publications -- Brill's Content magazine, Inside.com, much of Slate -- to chronicle its heroes, power-brokers and adventures. The media have a bizarre and shrinking geography in the 21st Century, despite the fact that we are all in the midst of an explosive information revolution. They pay rapt attention to certain aspects of life in Washington, New York and Los Angeles. No place between gets much attention unless a terrorist blows up a building, a plane crashes,or a river floods its banks. If you gather information on the Net, of course, your experience couldn't be more different, since you're connected to new kinds of journalists located in all sorts of places - college campuses, the bowels of companies and governments (as opposed to the executive suites), private homes in "flyover" land, foreign countries, hi-tech environments. The agenda is stunningly different. And there isn't much interest in the people who run media or their daily power standings.

How did the traditional media, once a populist, working-class information medium, fall so totally, even suicidally, in love with themselves? Or waste so much money and time chronicling their own comings and goings while missing so completely the real economic and cultural boundaries emerging between old and new forms of information distribution? Sometimes it seems that the real competition isn't between purists and renegades but between Narcissistic (and thus Closed) versus Open Media.

This narcissism is harmful because it shrinks the creative universe of media workers and disconnects them from the new global conversation taking place online. Open Media operate in striking contrast, thanks in part to the distributed architecture that makes up the Net's infrastructure. Instead of handfuls of editors closeted in offices dictating agendas, successful online media tend to be highly interactive, informal, diverse, often amateurish, yet quick, newsy and, therefore, useful.

Open Media can't claim anything close to perfection. These sites are often hostile, chaotic, and unreliable. But they're open in the most literal sense -- online, anybody with a computer and a modem can be a journalist and use the open protocols of the Net. In the techworld, people bring one another news, links, URL's, and information obsessvively -- the most basic definition of a journalist and of journalism -- and in a never-ending stream.

The architecture of the Net -- designed mostly for research -- was designed to be open. The architecture of conventional media, designed mostly to sell information, has been closed for generations. This has caused the widening rift between the two cultures that plagues the so-called "traditionalists" to this day.

When journalism comes online, the first mistake most editors and producers invariably make is to replicate the closed forms they know -- as Slate did when it tried to charge customers to subscribe. One of the first Web sites run by mainstream journalists -- its editor is Michael Kinsley, former editor of The New Republic, Slate became synonymous in many traditionalist's minds with Web journalism. It was the first and only site many reporters visted regularly, then and now. And the fact that it didn't have to break even or attract large numbers of readers -- Bill Gates made it clear that Slate had years, if not forever, to succeed financially -- gave it further license to practice traditional journalistic values rather than confront the Net's raucous interactivity. Slate never really had to come to terms with the Net -- it had a gazillion dollar safety net anyway. As a result, the magazine has always had a sort of grafted-on quality to it, although it has grudgingly become more inter-active.

Open Media have thrived on very different principles -- they offer decentralized, digitally-empowered media populism. Why are the conventional media so hobbled with it comes to grasping this?

Until the l960's, journalism was a distinctly unglamorous profession, a working-class, blue-collar alternative to civil service jobs or manual labor. But as the Boomers went off to college in increasing numbers, and encountered social struggles like the anti-Vietnam and civil rights movements, journalism began attracting a different sort of practitioner. It became a more elite profession. People who go to Harvard and Yale tend to believe that what they're doing is important, at least in part because they're doing it. Being a journalist, producer or magazine editor was suddenly fashionable.

And as information became a valuable commodity and entertainment a global, multi-billion dollar industry, media executives became more visible and powerful. The media industry itself became a huge story, especially as entertainment, news, information and popular culture began overlapping. Conventional media coverage of pop culture is either tepid, or still ghetto-ized in the back sections of magazines and papers. Landmark evolutions in new media culture -- gaming and animation, for example -- aren't yet considered culture at all in the traditional press.

Journalism has paid dearly for this endemic myopia. Many of the smartest, best-educated reporters in America seemed not to notice that an information revolution was bearing down on them like a tidal wave.

Even as the net spawned thousands of new kinds of sites -- including this one, started not coincidentally far from coastal media encampments -- the traditional press continued its focus on itself. Successful new media sites seemed more likely to spring up in places like Holland, Mich., or Portland, Ore., than in New York, L.A. or Washington. Rather than embrace new technologies, much of media began sounding alarms about them, from pornography to addiction. On the Net, Open media offered sites, reporters and commentary drawn from increasingly far-flung sources on an ever-widening variety of topics.

Closed media have at best only a vague sense of this transformations.

In a medium where amateur news and information sites routinely draw hundreds of thousands of hits a day, Slate was unable to get more than a relative handful of people to pay a modest subscription fee despite the movement of tens of millions of people online, and sooned abandoned the idea of charging readers. In fact, many "old media" sites on the Web, from Slate to Washingtonpost.com, remain subsidized media, a luxury rarely afforded new or Open Media. If Microsoft hadn't been so generous and rich, Slate would have folded long ago. In any other context, in fact, it would be considered a disaster. In the surreal world of media narcissism, it's failure somehow becomes virtue, even a triumph.

Salon, also founded by conventional journalists (in this case mostly from San Francisco) was always livelier and more Net-savvy than Slate, and is a different, more complex story. From the first, Salon established itself as a digital bastion of culture and literacy, which also understood interactivity. As good as the site can be -- its technology coverage is often outstanding -- one gets the sense that it has failed to grow creatively. The magazine seems stuck, almost marginalized, long on attitude but short on new ideas. Selling criticism, cultural and political commentary and point-of-view in a medium driven by cheap and plentiful information is rough.

That doesn't mean that Salon won't survive, or even prosper, despite the recent layoffs, but that it may have to reinvent itself. In media, this often seems the hardest thing for pulications to do, online or off.

Now, as those sites seem more and more like early prospectors overrun by a Gold Rush, there is no more meaningful distinction between "old" and "new" media. Almost every major paper, magazine and TV network has a Web site, and their reporters and producers continually cross-over frome one form to the other, as do their consumers.

On the Internet, there is no workable definition of what a journalist is. That's a good thing. Anybody who sees him- or herself as a journalist becomes one, which is the way it ought to be and, in fact, used to be. The kind of press conceived by Jefferson and Paine had much more in common with the present-day Internet than with the corporatized behemoths dominating the mainstream media. The press was always meant to be open, "point-to-point" in the Net sense, individualistic and outspoken. Journalism was never meant to be an exclusive elite, and the Net has re-democratized it. Online journalism may be adolescent and chaotic, but it is freer, more diverse and participatory than its offline predecessors. And a hell of a lot more fun and interesting.

Thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands, of people write and gather information on Web pages, sites, Weblogs, mailing lists and messaging systems. They post stories, start topics, engage in discussions and debates. By New York Times standards, they don't count as journalists. But they are the personification of the new journalism, and of its rebirth. The fact that they are practicing journalism in the most literal sense is precisely what's causing problems for the conventional media -- online or off -- still organized around outdated and nonsensical models of information dispensing.

These amateur journalists offer information on everything: weather, quilting, sports, movies, music, politics, and, of course, technology itself -- the seminal story online. Sometimes their coverage is brilliant, sometimes dreadful, just like old-style journalism. One Slashdot editor e-mailed me a list of just a few of the sites he visits regularly for news about software. These sites are bad news for traditional media practitioners -- newsy, teeming, useful, vibrant, telling examples of the ferociously interactive, information-stuffed open media mushrooming all over the Web. [His sites: cpureview.com; rootprompt.org; kuro5shin.org; macrumors.com; macnn.com;ompages.com].

On such Open Media sites -- there are thousands devoted to diverse topics ranging from teen women (www.chickclickers.com) to sports topics to music, TV, movies, consumerism, books, politics and Star Wars. Readers spot and suggest and link to stories continuously. Information moves in several directions -- top-down, laterally, and bottom-up. Readers have access to the reporters and editorial figures on the Web site. Through story ideas and discussion forums they have a say in how the site operates. And they are truly heard -- no Open Media site would last long otherwise -- in opposition to the pretend interactivity of Closed Media ("E-mail Peter Jennings. He wants to hear from you!")

Open Source is, of course, different, a technical term that applies to the sharing of software, not to media or culture. But it has far-reaching implications that go beyond code. OS was a significant, prescient idea. Like Dorothy in the final moments of the "Wizard Of Oz," OS pulled back the curtain on the biggest story in the world - the rise of computing technology, which is making information cheaper and more available by the hour. And transforming media.

Any successful media site of the future has to begin with that understanding, since it affects news consumers so directly. People in significant numbers won't pay for access to general news sites that charge for information. Nor should they have to. They will, however, regularly visit sites that organize some of the vast amounts of information now available online. And they especially value the opportunity to contribute -- to comment on articles, posts and features, and to contribute links, ideas and pieces of their own.

The media are dramatically affected by (and quite vulernable to) the wave of openness, much of it architectural rather than political, which OS helped fan. Open Media are not only the wave of the future, but the hot information commodity of the present. Open media are the only media that can thrive in the 21st Century, that can connect with young consumers, incorporate new information technologies, draw large numbers and make money in the Digital Age. Unlike traditional media, they don't have to adapt to the Net. They literally grew out of it.

Open Media sites grasp that online, news is organic, continuous, participatory. Open Media editors can be plenty autocratic, and they make lots of decisions. But they make more of those decisions in the open, and readers are taken much more genuinely into account.

Open Media aren't uninterested in profit - quite the opposite. Their advocates, understanding how new technologies operate, have simply perceived a radically different priniple with which to make money - by sharing information rather than controlling it.

Proprietary sites on the Net have particular problems with this idea. As Slate learned early on, and as Inside.com will learn soon enough, it's difficult to charge money in an environment awash in timely information available for free. Closed media -- online or on paper or on cable or on the airwaves -- try to set agendas rather than permit agendas to be set by others. They don't trust their consumers to really participate, and aren't willing to share the power such an ethic requires. Instead they project an outdated image: a formal, rigid environment occupied by people holed up in offices, preoccupied with increasingly irrelevant formats.

Like The New York Times, they don't seem to grasp that the very definitions of media are really changing. Until last year (when she tired of the workload), a housewife in Akron created a free-coupon/quilting Web site that drew more than a half-million visitors a day.

In the 21st century, Closed Media can't compete either economically or creatively with the vibrant culture of open information sites. When a handful of editorial instincts compete head-on with tens or hundreds of thousands of editorial instincts, the rabble may just win every time.

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200 comments

Is Katz a Real Person? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#983945)

Can a human being actually write this bad? Is he a Slashdot Perl script?

We want to know.

thank you.

Re:Parodying oneself.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#983946)

Dude, it's long as hell and most of us are at work, give us a while to read it. :)

Where does the news come from in the first place? (1)

Have Blue (616) | more than 13 years ago | (#983949)

So on an Open Media site, the news flows from altruistic visitors, much as comments and stories flow here? Where does the news come from in the first place? 99% of the news here contains a link to another site, more often than not a "Closed Media" site like NYT.

Katz seems to believe that news is there for the taking, as ubiquitous as web pages. He's ignoring the actual process of obtaining news from the real world, which is where it happens; this is as different from finding web pages and submitting them as talking about cars is from actually building one. There's a reason "journalism" is a profession, not a hobby.

[insert IANAReporter disclaimer here]

Re:Er..? (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 13 years ago | (#983950)

Posted by 11223:

Did you read the Time collumn about the Salon layoffs? He/she/it (at work, don't have the issue of Time) talked about how the Salon people were only layed off for failing to attract enough eyeballs. Is that the future of this new media? Will slashdot sites be the same way? (You didn't get enough comments, therefore you get the boot?) No thanks, I'll take my hard-copy of Time anyway.

Re:Isn't Slashdot still Closed Media? (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 13 years ago | (#983951)

Posted by 11223:

No, Slash is also tweaked to generate banner views. For instance, if you're not logged in (or just created a new account), you view in threaded, which means you have to click to view comments, insuring the maximum possible ad-views. The /. eidtors aren't dumb. They don't take the ad-gluttony to the max, but they sure now how to tweak a little bit.

Re:No, no, no (we seem to repeat titles here.). (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 13 years ago | (#983952)

Posted by 11223:

I don't think so. Bandwidth is expensive. Ratings were never part of the hard-copy media model, which to a certain extent the closed-media model is a copy of. But the 'net throws a twist into it either way. Open or closed, on the net, the Salon layoffs (which you made reference to, and I was trying to address) were part of an inherent flaw of the medium - that the number of eyeballs can be judged, and the medium can be turned into a TV.

To tie this in, I think the Open Media model is a recipie for disaster. Bandwidth is expensive. Advertising is needed. Soon, sites only posts stories that generate alot of interest. (Notice how the front page of slashdot is decidedly biased towards Linux. The editors aren't stupid - they know that they generate readings of the articles - and thus ad eyeballs by Linux articles). It stays "open", but it defeats the purpose.

You claimed that the Open Media model leads to links of all kinds of information. But that ain't so, because the ad-eyeball-phenomenon (as witnessed by the Salon layoffs) is a big problem. You end up catering to specific types of articles that generate the most interest from people, instead of covering it all. I think mixing content coverage and Open vs. Closed is mixing issues, myself.

But of course, I could be very wrong. (Thanks for replying to the comments. You seem to be more interactive lately, and it helps!)

Re:Is Katz a Real Person? (1)

pen (7191) | more than 13 years ago | (#983955)

I've looked over a recent Slash code, and there are a few snippets referring to a JKatz object. For example:

JKatz::GeneratePost("Linux=1,Apple=0,Microsoft=-1, BSD=0,Slashdot=1");

From further analysis, I was able to deduce that to generate an article, you have to call the object with similar parameters. The values that have a 1 next to them will be shown in a positive light, and you get the rest. However, I wasn't able to find the actual code for the object. It seems that Rob has tried to remove all traces of it from Slash, and only a few snippets remained.

(I don't really hate Jon Katz. In fact, I enjoy a lot of his articles. Oh yeah, and I'm not very good with Perl, so the code above may not be syntactically correct.)

--

Absolutely... (1)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#983956)



...you should have gone running rather than pretending to have read the piece. Is e-fibbing a sin?

actually... (1)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#983957)



...i'm pretty fond of this one. And I didn't write the Hellmouth series alas, a lot of kids around the country did. Still scrolling for one sign anybody's actually read the column..This one didn't, for sure.

What Jon Katz doesn't get... (1)

Cool Hand Luke (16056) | more than 13 years ago | (#983964)

...is that "closed" media tend to hire better column writers, have better distrubition channels, better access to people involved in the news (through on spot reporting and interviews), better overall professionalism, etc., and, IMHO, produce a better quality product that I'm willing to *buy*. Capitalism at work. The reason online "closed" media has been taking hits is the cost of producing content is more that the profits made off of them. Pure capitalism.

"Open" media tends more to consolidate stories from various sources into one place; "Closed" media either writes its own stories or get them off the AP. (I suspect it's cheaper to post stories from other sites and have readers submit their own stories than hiring professionals to write orginal stories.) I'll go to Macnn.com to find out news about Mac software, but I'll read the Wall Street Journal to find out how Apple the company is doing.

(BTW, why didn't Jon just come out and say "./ r001z. 51@73 5uX."?)

George Lee

Er.. ? (1)

mezzo (20109) | more than 13 years ago | (#983966)

People who go to Harvard and Yale tend to believe that what they're doing is important, at least in part because they're doing it.

And people from other schools don't? Look at your own article, you are basically trying to say how good and important your own work is.

OpenLeft (1)

Chris Croome (24340) | more than 13 years ago | (#983970)

This project needs some work more work on it - OpenLeft.org

slashcode is running and the plan is a international non-sectarian left wing discussion web site.
--

perspective... (1)

cjsteele (27556) | more than 13 years ago | (#983973)

Okay fellow /.-ers, I think we need to step back and gain a bit of perspective here... entering rant mode. (moderate down as flame-bate or inciteful, as you see fit.)

First of all, Jon is a journalist by trade -- he sees things through the tinted glasses of a journalist. As a journalist and free-lance author, he has to have a habit of being a bit winded. To blame Jon for being winded would be comprable to blaming one of us when we go off about how this latest technology is so cool because of ___...

I like Jon's work, even though it's a bit long quite a bit of the time. My thoughts are, if you don't like Jon's style, then you probably ought save yourself the time and effort of reading the articles. The second part of not reading Jon's work is, don't post unless you've got something incitful to say. Generally speaking Jon's articles are written to pormote constructive communication between people with like minds that wouldn't otherwise have occasion to communicate. That being said, I think the bitching and moaning over Jon's articles are a complete waste of space. (I'm eager to see who will follow this with a, "You're a complete waste of space you trashy ass-fucker!")

...and I'm spent.

-C
-C

Re:Why can't you? (1)

Tyriphobe (28459) | more than 13 years ago | (#983976)

I hate to be a party pooper and ruin these wonderful trolls, but those of you here with *nix experience may be familiar with case-sensitivity.

jonkatz != JonKatz

It's not new media, it's GNU media (1)

ThePlague (30616) | more than 13 years ago | (#983978)

Jon, you missed an opportunity to expand your buzzword catalog.

Re:Is Katz pandering to us now? (1)

Wah (30840) | more than 13 years ago | (#983979)

Not to be too squishy, but sites like /. and k5 might very well be the future of news dissemination. The content for news, is just that, news, all the extra fluff is just that, fluff. So with new media (Defined in the article as /.) the fluff comes from the viewers or readers and not the producers of news. This has two effects, first: it cheapens the news creation process (no need for an attractive talking head), second: it cheapens the value of the product (both for consumers and sellers).

So, Katz is pandering, but only because (like many people here believe) Slashdot is really, really, cool.
--

Re:*brain seizure* (1)

Tower (37395) | more than 13 years ago | (#983981)

Sounds like Dan Dierdorf doing football analysis...

"I think the keys to this game are moving the ball, and playing tough defense. The team that can dominate the scoreboard will come out on top."

Ah... so whoever scores the most points wins... that's deep...

Re:Er..? (1)

Tower (37395) | more than 13 years ago | (#983982)

>levels of testosterone, since I don't have any.

Well, you must have *some* level of testosterone... regardless of other factors...

Summary (1)

titus-g (38578) | more than 13 years ago | (#983984)

To save lives, 20 000 * 10 minutes, people are dying out there!

Recently several 'Open Media' companies have suffered setbacks and some have laid people off.

Old media companies think/hope this means that they are unlikely to survive, this thought makes them happy.

Jon Katz doesn't believe this is so.

Open media is interactive and dynamic and of the net not on it.

Closed Media is smug and anochronistic and think they can succede by replicating themselves online without adapting to the new environment.

Re:What Jon Katz doesn't get... (1)

titus-g (38578) | more than 13 years ago | (#983987)

True in general I guess, but there are quite a few 'Open Media' sources that do get their information first hand and have high standards, these are mostly very specialist, although The Register is one great example of an online news source that sends its reporters out onto the battlefield, and as far as I know they still have no corporate owners, just relying on bribes (prices on the site) and advertising.

Of course I don't know what their chances of survival are, there is a real problem in that Open media doesn't have any obvious source of revenue (banner adds?, pull the other one).

I'd imaging that eventually Open Media is going to run out of cash, Closed Media will fail through not adapting to the medium, Closed Media (they have huge cash reserves) will buy Open Media and close it up a bit.

Mediocracy always wins

Re:No, no, no (we seem to repeat titles here.). (1)

titus-g (38578) | more than 13 years ago | (#983988)

You could only be wrong if there appears some new method of sponsering sites other than advertising...

The exception to this could be sites where the journalists have day jobs and do the work in their spare time, e.g. Declan McCullagh's Politechbot site, but these are likely to remain fringe affairs.

In this light it seems very fortunate that the traditional media is slow in moving forward (?!?) onto the internet, as when it does the chances are that all media is going to tend towards the lowest common denominator, democracy in action. Add this to the fact that there are plans afoot to add banner adds to free movie downloads to pay for the developement...

Possibly a bit of a bleak outlook, but I'd think there could be a real danger that the media is going to become seriously dumbed down, and from there it becomes a vicious circle, with a widening gap between the general populous and the technocracy needed to keep the system running.

once read (well ok several times) a great book on a similar theme, set in Britain, and largely written in the second person, also there were Gypsies?

Re:difference between open and closed media (1)

Rader (40041) | more than 13 years ago | (#983990)

--When you hear news on ABC, CNN, etc. you tend to believe that it is true, --

While I agree with what you say, I'd like to point out one important, opposite idea. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but I do believe that the NBC news company (and others) are owned by corporations, and damn well know that certain stories either end up on the cutting floor, or possibly tamed down.

I'm not going to blame them or anything. Back in the days when I was printing, and started a magazine, do you think that i'd have a breaking news story that damned my best advertiser?

I read Slashdot, TomsHardware, Anandtech, and Sharky Extreme, because I can get the REAL dirt. Want to read some extreme stories on why Intel and Rambus are evil? Go to TomsHardware for a step by step technical review! Open up a fucking magazine owned by Ziff Davis (Oh wait, what else is there?) and you'll reading stories talking about how awesome RAMBUS is, and we should all buy this Intel matchup crap! See that is mainstream influenced by big bucks. (Wait, not that example... that is mainstream influenced by Intel hype.)

So, although there are trolls on slashdot, and Jon Krapz posts here once in a while, and ABC can spend the bucks to investigate some evil lawyer or something, I still know that on certain subjects I can get an unbiased opinion ONLINE instead. Whew!

Rader

Re:Parodying oneself.. (1)

Rader (40041) | more than 13 years ago | (#983991)

Do you reallllly think that people just wake up and want to trash talk your articles for fun?

--Does anybody here actually have any specific comments about the article--

Yea! Your article was a waste of our time. Why don't you post this crap to a main-media source? Oh.. because they'd reject it? I see. Well, we're rejecting it here. It's a little different, see, because you get a 100% chance of the editors posting your crap. They say, "ooh, Jon Katz, we have to publish some 'mainstream' artist to look professional". This article is proof. So if the editors won't reject your trash, then we have to. I hate troll responses in articles I care about, but today, I'd rather read all the responses about your article than the article itself.

If you really really really want some good responses, post something intelligent. You article is so noncommital that there's no chance of a discussion.

Rader

Re: Not altruism.. (1)

Rader (40041) | more than 13 years ago | (#983992)

Ok, but where does it start? Where does it end?

If new media isn't going to fail despite the hopeful predictions of old media, then will it succeed? And if so, will old media fail because of it?

Since we all seem to agree that old media starts the stories, and new media links or takes or talks about the story (and in a better way, since we can post about it, link to better sources about it, and simply discuss it), that it has to begin somewhere, old media may still have 2 legs to stand on. Obviously they'd rather have their finger in the pie of new media too. But why have they failed so miserably in that aspect? Are their standards of success too high? They're not getting a billion dollars online like they do on TV, so it's a failure? Must be, if they're directly relating it to hits and banner ad hits.

One thing I did like about these Old Media's web sites were the video clips. Now that's something that the new media guys can't do well. Takes bandwidth, space, etc. Plus, the old media owns these clips! And lots of them. Copyright-able too I'd imagine. New media might steal the story, but probably can't steal the broadcast clip of it.

Rader

Re:Won't you ever learn? (1)

Rader (40041) | more than 13 years ago | (#983993)

Are you kidding?
Newspapers are HURTING! They're hemorraging! The cost of printing is up, the cost of paper is up, and without a doubt, if you can only get one thing from this: the cost of postage is up.

The distribution of online news is a nickel compared to mailing paper. The post office is an evil place. They're REALLY hurting the small guys too. If aren't U.S. News with 2,000,000 subscribers, then screw you, you don't get the preferred 2nd class discount, you just get the normal 2nd class mail discount, which goes up 14% every other year!

Every time the stamp goes up, people get interviewed and say...yea no problem, it's been years since the stamp was increased. But they put "rider clauses" on it and tack on all kinds of other postage increases that the masses don't care about. Ooh, 1 penny for a stamp, but $1000's more for a small newspaper or magazine.

Rader

Journalism for free? (1)

bigbird (40392) | more than 13 years ago | (#983996)

Open source relies on professionals contributing their time and skills freely.

"Open media" a la Katz won't be a reality until journalists are doing the same thing.

Until then much "open media" just leeches information from closed media sources. This is particularly so for genre such as news reporting.

Re:Why can't you? (1)

meadowsp (54223) | more than 13 years ago | (#984000)

Perhaps, Jon, because of the last of substance, people are left to comment on the form.

Open & closed (1)

vinay (67011) | more than 13 years ago | (#984010)

man. everything's open and closed. I can see the next jonkatz article: the war in the fashion industry: open or closed clothing! fashion designers refuse to see the revolution in their industry started by linux. open clothing allows the skin to breathe easier, something linux advocates and geeks everywhere have been saying is important for years.

It can only get worse from there. I mean, what else can he do? do they just pickwords with a random number generator and then feed them into the katz-script??

-V

Open Media to be feared? (1)

crystal dragon (69701) | more than 13 years ago | (#984011)

Isn't part of the problem with the old/closed media is that it is often controlled by corporate interest? That alone is reason enough to fear the new model. It is hard for corporate America to control open media and is perhaps a reason why many of the amatuer media sites are prospering. People want the fresh perspective, not pandering.

Catch the News... (1)

Phule77 (70674) | more than 13 years ago | (#984012)

<p>News at it's heart is really just an important event that somebody felt like sharing. The fact that there are institutions out there that exist soley for sharing and "creating" news doesn't alter the fact that for the most part, it's humans trying to communicate important ideas to each other.

<p>Net news is hampered more than any other news form, I think, by advertising. Where advertising is absolutely necessary on television and perhaps print, Net users are used to not having to wade through mind boggling amounts of garbage to get where they're going.

<p>But the Web, which is the basis for most current online news, has been turned almost entirely into a forum for advertising, solid spam, and this seems to me to conflict directly with most older attitudes on net travel.

<p>Add to the constant advertisement that most sites seem to pundit directly from a certian viewpoint (moreso than most newspapers, which while certainly accusable of being "conservative" Or "liberal" still tend to avoid a lot of the high minded views or pretentions of the web) and you've got yourself a selection of flavors...not necessarily news, or even communication.

<p>Sift through Katz as you choose. Or CNN.com. Or any of the other sites, salons, etc. I often think that The Onion is perhaps the best on the net, because their only real objective is to be funny, and they always succeed fairly well. Actually finding news organizations that succeed across the board in a pursuit seems rather difficult.

<p>Must they all have agendas? Politics to support? Apparently so. Would they be so naked, so pointless, without them? We may never know.

Re:Well (1)

Eil (82413) | more than 13 years ago | (#984015)


Good question. Why did you read it then if it didn't hold your interest?

Undefined adjective error (1)

epeus (84683) | more than 13 years ago | (#984017)

John, you are trying to split media into two categories withut really defining them, which is a classic 'us and them' trick of demagogues (see Tony Blair's 'tforces of conservatism' speech, when he defined the latter as anyone who disagreed with him).
You say that subsidised media is anomalous, but surely slashdot is subsidised by Andovers stock float. Also, many online news sites are subsidised by sales of print versions (and the ads therein), such as the excellent www.telegraph.co.uk, which has great UK and international news and editorial, derived from large UK sales.

Nice Article (1)

lalas (85981) | more than 13 years ago | (#984018)

Online journalism may be adolescent and chaotic, but it is freer, more diverse and participatory than its offline predecessors. And a hell of a lot more fun and interesting.

I agree with this idea; I think that its a great description of the current situation in journalism. I think people don't even realize how much they are tied to "closed" media just because they always have been. Many critics dismiss online journalism as being unreliable and adolescent, but how often do these people make critical decisions solely based on what they read in the local paper?

"Mainstream media are fascinated with themselves." (1)

Memophage (88273) | more than 13 years ago | (#984020)

I must admit, this article does seem like a perfect example of media being fascinated with itself.

Re:difference between open and closed media (1)

Rand Race (110288) | more than 13 years ago | (#984029)

Given recent developments, like the New York Times, Boston Globe, and Washington Post agreeing to not print dissenting opinions in exchange for a scoop (see this article [fair.org]) from United Airlines and US Airways, I certainly can't trust traditional media. Just peruse the Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting site [fair.org] and see how much your trust is deserved.

How can you trust an organisation you tacitly admit picks and chooses it's stories not necesarily on the basis of newsworthyness, but on the basis of what they (corporate interests... liberal my rosy red ass) want us to know. The buyer beware aspect of online, 'open' news is there but at least the 'buyer' can, and is encouraged to, research the thing himself rather than relying on the word of some pompous ass on the evening news backed not by an interest in the truth but an interest in the bottom line.

Re:Oblivious and ironic.. (1)

timbo_red (112400) | more than 13 years ago | (#984031)

Still seeking a specific comment, criticism or sign of actually reading and/or comprehension. Coming via e-mail, as usual, and perhaps later...

Ah, the old "lurkers agree with me in email" argument. Very good.

Open Media Promotes Good Media (1)

ClubStew (113954) | more than 13 years ago | (#984034)

I don't know about everyone out there reading this, but most people I know, despite what the media thinks, hates the liberal media's idea of good media, when they're beating down the doors of public figures and even some private figures and defend their actions with "we have the right to get into their lives since they're public figures." Whatever (Maybe someone should tear into their lives and see how they like it)

My point is that on many web sites that are open media like Jon Katz defined, people do have a chance to voice their opinion and if there are columnists and editors who do post stories people generally don't like (And I've seen some pretty nice figures - however much they've been molded - to support people don't generally like gossip), the people will let them know.

So maybe the new open media will put a stop to bad stories or reporters / paparazi chasing around unwilling people and driving princesses off the road.

missed the boat... (1)

tensionboy (115662) | more than 13 years ago | (#984038)

TALK RADIO is definitely OLD media, but is probably the closest thing i can think of that has the same level of interactivity as NEW media. Sure, you can't really email Peter Jennings and expect him to read it or respond, but you sure can talk w/ Rush Limbaugh or some local talk show host if you don't mind pressing redial a bunch of times.

The main problem w/ Katz articles is that they don't say anything new. But then again, this is new media, and you get what you pay for.

Scale of Authenticity. (1)

ZenArcher (120237) | more than 13 years ago | (#984039)

After watching coverage of the WTO protests at indymedia.org [indymedia.org] I can no longer watch broadcast news in the same way. The patterned speech, the hypnotic and emotionally-charged images differed in an eerie way from the raw video footage that I viewed from the Independent Media Center in Seattle.

In contrasting these two types of coverage I have inoculated myself from the propaganda techniques of mainstream broadcasting. Mainstream broadcasts come with a specific agenda, a determined spin that filters the information down to sound bites and images. These impressions are targeted to leave an emotional charge. The goal of this emotional charge is to impress upon the viewer viewpoint of right/wrong.

A most interesting contrast was the "60-Minutes" shmear job of the independent media at the WTO. They aired raw "indie" footage of the protests sandwiched between discussions with skinheads and images of previous Oregon violence, and they labeled the whole episode "The New Anarchists." Anyone paying attention would quickly get the sickening message that the WTO protesters were terrorists-to-be. It was cleverly crafted and it's emotional impact was further heightened by following with a horrific story on the atrocities in Khmer Rouge.

When discerning media messages I ask myself "What is the goal of this communication?" and "How does this make me feel?" We can fine tune our internal lie detectors, but we must first turn them on.

I don't pretend that the Indymedia reporters were not holding the point of view of the person on the street. My point is that the coverage was authentic. It felt real. Open media/closed media: I'm not sure this is especially critical when compared to authentic media.

Who's gloating? (1)

carlos_benj (140796) | more than 13 years ago | (#984041)

"For some people, online journalism is a path to interactive enlightenment and economic liberty," gloated the New York Times. "But to the puritans of the old media world, Web journalists are apostates who have confused liberty with license and whose delusional disregard for profit can only end in self-immolation. It was hard for the puritans not to act smug last week."

What an interesting statement. When exactly did "disregard for profit" become a journalistic liability as opposed to an ethical standard? And who conferred on mainstream journalism -- as greedy, non-interactive, incestuous and elitist an institution as exists in American public life -- this high moral ground?

I think that the more interesting statements here belong to Mr. Katz. Why use the term 'gloated' to describe what appears to be a statement of fact without value (either negative or positive) being ascribed? I think the Times' characterizations of the two sides are fairly accurate and balanced.

As far as disregard for profit being a journalistic liability, that battle has been waged in editorial meetings from the dawn of time (in the early days, profit meant you kept your skin intact by using discretion). The only publishers who have a total disregard for profit are those who have an agenda to push that they see as greater than their own well-being. That agenda may well be the unbiased, balanced reporting of the facts, but usually is not.

carlos

Re:And where's Matt Drudge (1)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 13 years ago | (#984042)

Matt Drudge would not fit JonKatx definition of "open sou.. opps.. open media". Matt Drudge decides what will be on his web page, and does not actively seak the contributions of his readers. He is the writer and editor. Slashdot works using a system of open contribution, editors, moderators, and trolls.

Re:Open Media Promotes Good Media (1)

OpenGL (158318) | more than 13 years ago | (#984047)

I agree with you except that "Open Media" (aka Slashdot) brought us Katz/Katzbot.

Re:Er..? (1)

yankeehack (163849) | more than 13 years ago | (#984050)

But then again I don't make great proclamations about how nifty new/open net media is and then write for an old/closed format. You're the guy who wrote the sentence about the AOL/TimeWarner attorneys.

If that's a troll, then so be it.

BTW, this is coming from a /. reader who isn't the archtype, alienated haxOr. No need to blame inflated levels of testosterone, since I don't have any.

Open Media movement (1)

shoji (168463) | more than 13 years ago | (#984053)

I was extremely excited to read this article, especially on slashdot; let's take a moment to reflect on the fact that what you're doing right now -- engaging yourself in a public discussion about a public essay -- is an exciting, important, and actually very old phenomenon that has been almost entirely negated by the rise of the mass media (Katz's Closed Media).

I can see why people are suspicious of Katz's assertions: we still live in a world where most people come to understand the world through a few standard troughs, peppered with sensationalism and corporate values.

But let me tell you: there is an Open Media movement. Slashdot is part of that movement. Hundreds of other sites are part of that movement.

But I hear you still: reporters reporting, for free? photographers photographing, for free? video reporting, for free? It's not happening.

Let me tell you, then, it is. Let me give you one example that I am involved with and excited about. During the Seattle protests, the Indepedent Media Center of Seattle (www.indymedia.org [indymedia.org]) drew a tremendous amount of web traffic because it provided a simple clearinghouse for news, editorials, photographs, audio, and video regarding the protests that were going on. Much of the corporate news at the time was confused and slanted; generally people wanted to know what was actually going on, and there were others that wanted very much to tell them what was actually going on. To be clear, the Independent Media Center was not a political organization, nor was it affiliated with an explicitly political organization. On the other hand, the IMC was an Open Media source; those who felt that they did not have an outlet in the mainstream media did use that opportunity to tell their story.

That precedent has been very exciting. There is now momentum behind the idea, and there are now quite a few (non-affiliated as such) Independent Media Centers throughout the US and, in fact, the world. The DC IMC, which largely covered the WTO/World Bank protests, was a vast success; many journalists convened and produced quite a few pieces of real quality and thoughtfulness.

We're hard at work, right now, extablishing a Philadelphia Independent Media Center; our jumping off point will be coverage of the Republican Convention in early August. There are a lot of tricky issues related to Open Media that we're struggling with -- the issue of moderation, for example, is important and hard to face with an effective but appropriately "open" solution. I'm on the web team, and -- let me say -- thank goodness for open source technologies. We're beginning an intensive coding process now, and we're actually thinking of trying to adapt the slashcode for our purposes. (Anyone interested in helping out with this effort would be greatly appreciated -- e-mail me at the address above.)

Keep your eyes out for the Open Media movement -- you're already a part of it, and it's not going away. --j

wrt /. (1)

LoonXTall (169249) | more than 13 years ago | (#984054)

I see a future for both open and closed media.

With open media like /., you're dealing with people. This ranges from those who always get (5; Insightful) to those who get (-1; Troll) and everywhere in between. With any matters on law, the comments do more to obfuscate than enlighten. (/. should put sound in the background to chant "IANAL" over and over. It would save posters the trouble.) All news on /. is secondary, often taken from the NY Times or Wired.

Closed media has the reporters and the funding to give us news about the Foreign Enemy of the Week, but it loses a lot of the flavor of open media: there aren't any "real" people involved. The price of this is that the news is denser, and usually believable because of journalistic review. Also, you don't miss the news if you're working late. Their major problem is that when they put up a "partners" subdomain for their partners to get stories without an inconvenient login, thousands of karma whores start their Karma Generator auto-posting the link on an open media site. (Sorry, little sarcastic there.)

So what will happen is that closed media will have a certain audience, and so will open media. "Both" is also a viable option for many, especially when taking into account that /. is for geeks and doesn't carry any local news.


-- LoonXTall

Interactive media != good journalism (1)

darkbabbit (172002) | more than 13 years ago | (#984057)

So, let me get this straight. Interactive media is open (and thus better) than closed media.

If this is true, then why does it seem that everytime that /. posts a story on their own, as opposed to linking to a closed media site such as CNN or NYT, they have to add a retraction or correction?

If this is true, then why does is seem that /. often uses misleading headlines and editorial commentary that doesn't even resemble the story that they are linking to?

If this is true, then why does the majority of /.'s stories involve linking to some closed media site?

Closed media, for all of its faults, is still the best source for news. They check the facts and actually write the news stories.

Katz is cool! (1)

helstar (172465) | more than 13 years ago | (#984058)

I wish i could smoke as much crack is Katz. The inane ramblings of a mad man that doesn't ever see the sun or have any idea what he is talking about impresses me. Congrats Katz, keep that crack pipe lit.

Yawn (1)

SbooX (181758) | more than 13 years ago | (#984062)

Well this guy makes a helluva case against the first ammendment with his boring weak ass article. Free Press/Speech should not allow such crap.

Re:Open Media to be feared? (1)

jherndon (181776) | more than 13 years ago | (#984063)

But people will always rely on the "corporate" (ie- reputable) media to confirm the information. and though they may deny it, the corporate world has one bottom line: making money... this means that they are willing to simply entertain the masses if it will sell commercial spots.

False Dichotomy (1)

ichimunki (194887) | more than 13 years ago | (#984066)

The fundamental question seems to be Open versus Closed Media. This is not the real question. There is a solid answer to what is the future of Media. "Hyper Media"-- of course, this doesn't sound so edgy since we've all been fairly hyper for years now. The problem is not that "closed" news solutions are failing. The problem is that business managers in larger media companies have not figured out how to generate ad revenue the way they did so easily in print and television.

This article lacks in the very thing which gives strength to the Slashdot approach, an abundance of hyperlinks to relevant information geared specifically to maintain and sate the interests of the readers/participants. Generally-- and this is why so many portal and search sites have problems-- it's the quality and usefulness of those links to your target audience that create worth in online. Being a general news source doesn't work as well because that is not a restrictive enough information filter.

Not to mention that the ability to chuck your own two cents into the public arena, replete with any relevant hyperlinks of your own, is a compelling participatory experience (though somewhat illusory-- "if I can't be in the news, at least I get to yack about it...").

Well (1)

tssm0n0 (200200) | more than 13 years ago | (#984069)

That's another 10 minutes of my life I'll never get back. Too bad I couldn't have spent it reading a good article.

Re:Absolutely... (1)

tssm0n0 (200200) | more than 13 years ago | (#984070)

"Is e-fibbing a sin?"

JonKatz coins another 21st century internet phrase!

Next article: "Open vs. closed e-fibbing. Has the open e-fibbing community destroyed our need to lie to each other in person?"

But seriously Jon, I read this article, and I've got to say it sets new standards in crappy. Lemme tell ya. It seems all my posts on slashdot these days are about how bad yer articles are. I think its because the rest of the authors are good writers.....

Re:Why can't you? (1)

tssm0n0 (200200) | more than 13 years ago | (#984071)

What are you talking about? Every post I've read (well, besides the usual "f1rst p0st" type articles) have been useful comments about the article. You have to realize that people aren't commenting on the specifics of the article because its a big pile of steaming BS that means nothing to anyone who doesn't have their head up their ass.

I'm always struck at how many times JonKatz posts one of these articles and pretends he has any idea what he's talking about.

Re:Why can't you? (1)

tssm0n0 (200200) | more than 13 years ago | (#984072)

I'm experienced with unix and familiar with case-sensitivity.

slashdot != unix

I dunno if there was a flaw in the code or something before, but it appears to be(I just tried a few times) that slashdot's account names aren't case sensitive.

Weather a real jonkatz or not, he was defending JonKatz's work, and I can't let that go unchallenged.

Say More With Less (1)

Goblin80 (200263) | more than 13 years ago | (#984073)

I think Katz could have summarized his article in a lot fewer words because his point is pretty simple.

People don't want to pay for their news any more than they want to pay for their internet service. The internet has provided users a way to gather a wealth of information and offers them the choice of what and who to listen to. Open Media is a success because it offers users a choice which closed Media does not. An example: The evening news. Not every one really wants to hear about British royalty or new ways to lose fat.

Open Media is a time-saver so the user can pick and chose the stories that he/she really wants to read about while the Old/Closed Media only offers the user a selection of news that the Media has chosen.

Here we go again (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#984077)

Stories can be reported originally, but most often stories are posted from other sources or posted and readers are given links.

Katz, What you describe as "open Media" is slashdot. And it has it's place. But /. reports almost exactly zero original news stories. What of Reuters and the AP and the other 'closed' media outlets that do such a good job of gathering and distributing news? What would /. have to report if they didn't exist? Not nothing, certainly, but there would be much less easily-available info to report.

As usual, your post is over-dramatized.

Steve

Re:Can someone please ... (2)

phil reed (626) | more than 13 years ago | (#984079)

That option is available to you, if you care to take advantage of it. You can go into your preferences and deselect the Jon Katz category, and you'll not see any more articles written by him.

If you choose not to do that, then it just shows that you're more interested in bitching about his writing than avoiding it, all your claims to the contrary.

If you don't like it, don't read it. Nobody's forcing you to.


...phil

Re:Won't you ever learn? (2)

phil reed (626) | more than 13 years ago | (#984080)

Why he insists on preaching to the choir like this is beyond me..

Did you ask him?

Personally, I think he's trying the articles out here before he sends them on to a more mainstream publication. If he gets feedback which makes for a better article, then when he submits it to Rolling Stone or some other old-style media outlet that gets more attention, it has more impact there. (Of course, if he's not sending the articles, then I'm blowing hot air. I haven't asked him either.)


...phil

Gee, no stretches or anything (2)

Proteus (1926) | more than 13 years ago | (#984082)

Does anyone else find it intriguing that "Closed" is defined in this article as Newspapers, Broadcast news, and pay-per-use News sites? If the intent was to draw a parallel to OpenSource/closed source in news media, this article fails badly.

What makes an OpenSource project bear that name has largely to do with allowing public contribution to the project -- thus, a more accurate defintion of Closed Media would include free sites that do not publish public comments (aside from letters to the editor). Since this covers even most "new" media, most of the points in this article become moot.

Besides, this seems like a sad attempt by the author to gain favor with Slashdot readers. As an earlier poster said (I paraphrase) - 'Gee, a Slashdot columnist says Slashdot is the best.' This would be like Nintendo publishing an article by one of thier engineers saying "the N64 is better than any other console." Regardless of wether that statement is accurate or not, it would come as no surprise, considering the source, and would probably be categorically ignored.

I bet if you asked your local newspaper editor which form of news media was the best (on record), [s]he'd plug his/her own media...

Besides, Slashdot is not exactly a News site, per se -- rather, it is an editorial site. The editors choose which stories (which come mostly from news media) to publish, and often contribute thier own opinions right on the front page. Readers are then allowed to make editorial comments as well. Yet another reason this article is moot.

--

Isn't Slashdot still Closed Media? (2)

pen (7191) | more than 13 years ago | (#984083)

I'm a regular reader of Slashdot, and not a regular one of Kuro5hin, but wouldn't Slashdot still be considered Closed Media, because the articles are still posted by a select few? Sure, we can comment on them, and once in a while the Slashdot editors will even listen, but the main page is still largely dependent on that closed few.

OTOH, Kuro5hin is pretty much 100% user-maintained. The site's owner only has to write and tweak the scripts, and the rest is handled by the users. This is what I consider Open Media to be. What differentiates Slashdot from ZDNet anyway? The average IQ of the readers, and the way the scripts are designed. (Slash is designed to be more-or-less comfortable to use, while ZDNet was designed to generate banner views.)

--

Parodying oneself.. (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#984084)



is a self-parody as opposed to a complete parody. Does anybody here actually have any specific comments about the article, or are we doing to dance all day?

Why can't you? (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#984085)



..smoke as much crack as Katz? Money. Note that this far into the topic, there still isn't one comment that would even remotely suggest anybody has read the column or has a specific criticism of it. Or even an intelligent thought about it..I'm always struck at how much time these people have to pretend that they've read things.

Oblivious and ironic.. (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#984086)



Topics like this one are a good example of why /.s threads are so often a laughingstock all over the Web. If you look at the length of the column and time of posts, it's obvious people post without reading...I know this is a Troll characteristic, and that they think they're showing tude. But there are actually lots of people online who come just to laugh at posts like this..Sad, sort of, and requiring a sort of warped sense of humor.
Still seeking a specific comment, criticism or sign of actually reading and/or comprehension. Coming via e-mail, as usual, and perhaps later...

Er..? (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#984087)



Am I missing something here? I'm a hypocrite for commenting on a story in Time, but you are not for reading it? Troll logic? I'm going to come on Threads more from now on in the hopes of encountering an actual reader..doesn't look promising though, but I'll stay with it..

EUREKA! This is life affirming.. (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#984088)


Finally, somebody who actually read the column and posted an intelligent thought about it..Here we go, maybe even to the point of having an intelligent discussion (we can dream) A miracle..Thanks, dude. I think the pundit point is interesting. I think pundits have completely lost their power in traditional media and there really aren't any pundits on the Web. It's just not possible to dominate discussions that way.

No, no, no (we seem to repeat titles here.). (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#984089)



You're mixing two different issues. The corporate media model reduces workforces over ratings. That's not a new or open media model. Salon ambitiously expanded to try and be a major commercial media player. It overextended. Most open media don't make that kind of investment in staff and resources. They link to informed from all sorts of sites, closed and open.
(do I have to sign off three times?) THanks, thanks, thanks.

Not altruism.. (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#984090)



This is sort of the point, though..Open Media takes info from lots of new sources (traditional media included). The NYTimes isn't interested in posting your comments. Slashdot, bless it's heart is committed to giving teens a release for their violent impulses. This probably saves lots of windows.
But it isn't a matter of altruism. On the Net, the news is there for the taking, for better or worse. That's what makes old info distribution models so difficult. And makes competitition so challenging. Anybody here can take this column and have their way with it..It is already, in fact, being linked all over the place, judging by my e-mail. So it is there for the taking.

Defined conceptual error.. (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#984092)



No, that's a silly argument, I think. Slashdot was successful before Andover bought it, which is WHY Andover bought it. Open Media isn't more virtuous than closed, just more timely and successful. Both mean to make money. But I'm not into the Andover/Slashdot paranoia thread, though it's a perfectly legitimate line of discussion. I've worked for too many true corporate beasts.
And I did define them, if you read the column. And at considerable length, according to some people here.

This is a very smart post... (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#984096)



...and I thank you for it.A perfect example of what I was writing about from somebody who actually read it. Can I send you a box of Twizzlers?

Encouraging.. (2)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#984097)



..that people are posting inaccurate, self-righteous posts under their own names. If you read the comments of the choir, I don't see how you can argue that they are converted. And you are dead wrong. CNN, MSNBC and newspapers and magazines have very serious ratings and audience problems.Mainstream media audience's are aging an advertising markets are fragmenting. CNN's audience share problems have been extremely well publicized. Why would you make statements that are so demonstrably false as if you knew them to be true. These problems are widely known and discussed in the media industry and the media.

Re:Why can't you? (2)

Rader (40041) | more than 13 years ago | (#984109)

It's because we only read the good articles. And don't forget that 10,000 words of drivel is hardly a reason to continue on. I think the first 5 paragraphs would be sufficient for anyone to realize what a waste of time it would be to read on.

In fact, let me save everyone the trouble. I worked all the way through it, don't bother.

It's hard to post an intelligent response to such an unintelligent article.

Rader

*brain seizure* (2)

Rader (40041) | more than 13 years ago | (#984110)

Hey, I love it when my mom sends me clippings from Newsweek. The last one was a huge one on Napster. Of course, I already knew every word in there long ago, but I like to see how main stream media tries to cover the computer world (and quite slowly too).

The reason I like it is because I know that the sheep are reading, and just might learn something, or atleast become aware of it.

But why does this crap have to be published here? Go publish this crap in the old media world, where you might have a chance. We're not sheep, we're already a part of what's happening. We already know about it. I want a techie's perspective on it!! Know why? Because I'm one too, and there's a good chance that they'll explain something that I don't know about. And not only that, but they'll talk about the points that interest me too.

---These and other new media "setbacks" prompted some gleeful, almost poignant predictions that old media might return from the grave. Don't put any money on it--
--What's the future of media? What are all the rumblings about struggling online media? --

What a waste. Let's write 10 pages of nothing, hype it up with *big* words, and then ask rhetorical or meaningless questions. In fact, this whole style reminds me of the local newscasters here in Indiana that did their own pre-show for the Indiana Pacers in the NBA Finals:

Idiot #1: Well Harv, what do we have to do to win this next big game?

Idiot #2: First off, we have to score more in the first half, and then we should pump up our defense throughout the game.

Idiot #1: Great idea. What about Shaq, well he be a factor today?

Idiot #2: That's right Merv, the Pacers will really have to stop his game if they're going to have a change to bring it back to Los Angeles.

(Continue on for another hour--ack!)

Rader

Re:Here we go again (2)

British (51765) | more than 13 years ago | (#984111)

I can take a look at the local newspaper here, and many of the storys are straight from Knight-Ridder or AP. They are just reprinting it for me that I could otherwise sift through on wire.ap.org and read myself. So there's only 5 different reporters that are getting worldwide coverage? Heh.

If you look at most "hax0r" security related 'zines, you will find it's often reprinted news clippings that were already covered on Hackernews for the past 5 months.

The one thing that slashdot adds to the "recycled news" is the ability to comment on it.

this is nothing new (2)

LocalYokel (85558) | more than 13 years ago | (#984114)

If Open Media is supposed to reflect heavily on its readership, why are you still boring us to tears? Why are "Closed Media" institutions more reliable and trustworthy? There is no such thing as open/closed media -- every media source listens to its readership and the outside world, the only question is how much they do it. This is not new.

Open Media or Open Mouth? You decide. Jon should try the former and give up the latter sometime. He has done work for any number of "narcissistic" "Closed Media" entities, including Rolling Stone and Wired, but now you have "seen the light" that this style of journalism is wrong.

For a long time, newspapers and magazines have been "open". They're called LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, and are written by people who have taken the time to compose a note and drop a few cents on postage, rather than the knee-jerk reactions found so often in "Open Media". They pick the best, and print them -- even if your comments weren't published (ooh, you'd hate that, wouldn't you, Jon?), that doesn't mean you haven't contributed.

--

Re: Not altruism.. (2)

Mark F. Komarinski (97174) | more than 13 years ago | (#984116)

>The NYTimes isn't interested in posting your comments.

Then why a "letters to the editor" section? They certainly post letters. Maybe not all (there are space requirements that /. doesn't have), but it's not like the NYT says "here's the news, nyah".

>Slashdot, bless it's heart is committed to giving teens a release for their violent impulses. This probably saves lots of windows.

What the heck does this mean? Here we (as a community) are, trying to get rid of the image of Quake-minded, hack-your-computer-even-when-it's-off, pimply, anti-social people, and you throw this comment in. How is ranting on /. different from writing a letter to the editor? How is blowing off steam on /. different from complaining to your friends? And how in the heck did this discussion turn from open/closed media into a bunch of kids breaking windows?

But what about NPR... (2)

mcgregorj (114352) | more than 13 years ago | (#984118)

Huh? What about NPR? Is it closed? Is it open?

Sure, they do toot their own horn once in a while, but I think that while traditional in some sense, it is a stark contrast with "closed media".

Katz says: How did the traditional media, once a populist, working-class information medium, fall so totally, even suicidally, in love with themselves?

NPR beats this criteria to a pulp. News with a populist bent. Relying on no single source, doing their job because they enjoy it. Look, I'm studying journalism as a possible career path. Even top NPR people like Daniel Shorr, one of the most respected journalists in the world, make peanuts compared to the majors.

Not everyone in "traditional" media, as if NPR could possibly take that label, falls into your "open & closed" categories Jon. It's not that cut and dry. Some of the best quality journalism is what you'd call "closed".

Geez, it [NPR] was even founded in Wisconsin.

An example of Open News sites? (2)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 13 years ago | (#984119)

Back when the net was still young, there were few sites offering good gaming news.

Then came along a little site called VoodooExtreme.com [www.voodoo...argetblank]. I've watched it grow from a small Provo, UT based "Isn't 3DFX a cool company?" to a full fledged "We got 50 billion news updates made every day".

Almost all of their news is reported from the readers, eager to be famous for 5 seconds with the tag line "Soandso reported this story to us...". The site had grown, and it now one of the biggest gaming news sites on the Internet. (It and Blue's News [www.bluesn...argetblank].)

I'd say both of these sites demonstrate with Mr. Katz is talking about - sites where the readers are the journalists, and the editors function as an error and fact checking system against them.
John "Dark Paladin" Hummel
We don't just like games, we love them!

Many Dot-Com's are BBLLOOAATTEEDD (2)

NetFu (155538) | more than 13 years ago | (#984120)

In the beginning of this "story/post" by JonKatz, he talks about new media setbacks due to layoffs and "near death experiences". I call it survival of the fittest -- have you seen the number of people working at some of these places??? I mean, 150 or more people in some of these companies and what were there revenues again??? IMNSHO, they NEED to lay off about 1/3 to 1/2 of their staff because they are just-plain over-bloated!

I mean, I work at an electronics distributor/manufacturer (9 years) and we have about 75 people producing revenues of about $75 million per year. We could EASILY have 150 people, but it's just not economically feasible because we're not a Dot-Com and we have to live by real rules like, we can't hire another person because we don't have the money!!!

It's not like it's that bad any more (it was back when we had 4-20 people), but you get the point -- most of the Dot-Coms are simply being forced to live by the same rules as other companies and it's hurting. It may kill off the weak ones, but it can only be good for everyone in general -- from my own experience, I don't think they produce a better product by being so over-bloated, if anything they produce a worse product.

Is Katz pandering to us now? (2)

OpenGL (158318) | more than 13 years ago | (#984121)

Instead of giving us his standard useless article filled with errors, Katz with this article and the last is giving us a useless article filled with errors that panders to us. It is any suprise that his description of "open media" is basically slashdot. Who can seriously like long lines at goverment offices? I think he is actually worried about his job, or at least the Katzbot has more AI functions than we thought.

Katz===hypocrite! I read him in TIME!! (2)

yankeehack (163849) | more than 13 years ago | (#984122)

Dream on. If there is a central idea that conventional media have willfully failed to grasp, it's that the future of information belongs to Open Media, even when AOL/Time-Warner gets its lawyers and lobbyists lined up.

Uhhh, I just seemed to remember that I read a Katz piece speculating about who was responsible for the LoveBug virus a few weeks ago in TIME MAGAZINE (the bastion of closed media).

I guess we should be happy that Katz is an equal opportunity "journalist", and doesn't discriminate against old media.

Re:Absolutely... (2)

Golias (176380) | more than 13 years ago | (#984124)

I'll come clean, Jon. I stopped after three paragraphs and quickly skimmed the rest in an optimistic quest to find content.

Maybe I'll read your next article, and have something to say about it, but I'm not going to comment on this one, other than to say it lost my attention.

A proliferation of sources makes a BIG difference (2)

ParticleGirl (197721) | more than 13 years ago | (#984127)

"closed" media tend to hire better column writers, have better distrubition channels, better access to people involved in the news (through on spot reporting and interviews), better overall professionalism, etc., and, IMHO, produce a better quality product that I'm willing to *buy*.

Excellent point, but who's to say "closed" media will be the only ones when some open media take off a bit more? The vast majority of people in the US who bother at all with the news do so via the TV; even CNN Headline News spends only 3 minutes on headlining stories. News reported online is often more up-to-the-minute and often more complex in its detail (links make that very easy to accomplish.) Many people whose primary sources of news are tv broadcasts are turning to the web instead or in addition, and many people who read the papers are turning the the web to augment their daily intake, or to get more depth.
The proliferation of news sources makes for a market where writing quality is held in high regard (the Economist, the Sunday New York Times and Wired should continue to do well, but watch out USA Today!) and so is instant gratification-- immediate and accurate reporting (Reuters, CNN, and BBC online should do very well, especially since they add more depth than your average radio or television 10 second news flash.) Open media is changing the nature of the market, not replacing it. Closed media will be in a different sort of demand.

The old media will survive. (2)

Lita Juarez (201217) | more than 13 years ago | (#984128)

I am not convinced by Jon's reasoning that the empowering of readers via the "New Media"/"Open Media" will result in the death of the "Old Media". If Jon's argument that the " agendas and political philosophies [of the New Media"] are rarely static, but continuously evolving, a gift of interactivity" is correct, then this seems like a reason for why the New Media will never replace the Old Media.

Not everyone is as open-minded as Slashdot readers, and even Slashdot readers are not as open-minded as they would like to think they are - just look how fast someone is moderated down for saying "Linux sucks". Advocates of the new media underestimate the inertia of the "establishment" and its desire to maintain the status quo. The average person does not want to encounter challenging ideas and shifting agendas and philosophies. People will read whichever newspaper agrees with their own philosophies and agendas, to give themselves that warm self-righteous feeling. Anything which challenges their own philospohy will be rejected as a heresy.

Although the new media will certainly be important (at least until the New New Media comes along), the old media will always remain more popular.

Very close, very important (2)

Xoro (201854) | more than 13 years ago | (#984129)

I can't believe how negative the comments are to this piece. I've been trying to define this distinction for a long time, and this is close, though using the "open/closed" metaphor may be a reach by a hard core opensourcer. Maybe micro/macro is better? Here are my experiences.

First indication that something was bad wrong with the media: During the tank assault on the Russian parliament some years ago, CNN was able to carry the video live over the air. Excellent. However, this exchange took place between the anchor and the reporter on scene:

Anchor: Amazing that we're able to see this story live as it unfolds.

Reporter: Yes, but it's a little scary that these images are being sent directly into people's homes without us to interpret for them...

Now can anybody tell me what that means?

Much later, I was building my first pc at home. Armed w/ the net, I thought it would be no problem. Search ZDNet, TechWeb... I got prices, but could I really make decisions based on what these sites have to say?

Then I discovered tomshardware, anandtech, even sharkyextreme and the lower tiers of tech sites, and the information was 1000x more useful. Now I go to techweb for press releases, and nothing more.

Now my primary source for entertainment news is aicn. Would anyone seriously refer me to e? Or Entertainment Tonight? I still get hard, international news from nytimes & bbc, but how long before that changes?

I think the article's most important point is that old/new media is a false dichotomy. Most "new media" sites (as they are commonly described) are just old media in a new medium. An online magazine is still a magazine. But there really is new media out there, and it's growing.

A similar thing happens with e-commerce sites. Sure, reel.com closed up shop, many front-line e-commerce co's are struggling. But a quick search at pricewatch reveals an enormous number of small, focused, cheap suppliers for anything you want.

When the story of the "internet revolution" is finally written, I don't think anyone will be buying it at Amazon.com

Compared with Usenet (3)

phil reed (626) | more than 13 years ago | (#984131)

Random thoughts...

I remember back in the Usenet glory days. It was like watching an amplified intelligence. Something would happen involving some topic, somebody would post something about it, and immediately (in usenet terms), people were all over it: reporting other instances, disecting and analyzing. I especially liked watching things like Urban Legends migrate around the country, and various reports popping up in the folklore newsgroups as the mainstream media picked them up.

To me, that's what the New Media ought to be in it's finest instance - totally decentralized, a billion eyeballs all on an equal basis. It was also self-selecting - you decided what news was important or interesting to you. You didn't get your news on a plate.

Slashdot is like this a little, at least in the area of the eyeballs and the analysis. It suffers the bottleneck of editorial picking and choosing of the topics, but it has the advantage of an attempt to reduce the noise level in the discussion by moderation. (Anybody notice an ongoing pattern of attack meta-moderation recently?)


...phil

Brevity is Godliness (3)

JonKatz (7654) | more than 13 years ago | (#984132)



No doubt I could have written it shorter, but we thought it was important to go into some history here, even though it strains some attention spans..But it isn't just about cost..People are willing to spend money in different contexts for information that is useful to them. So are advertisers. The larger point made in this post is true though..The closed media model works less and less well in an environment where the price of information is dropping and the availability of information is going up...People have always been willing to pay for useful information, the change here is that it's free.But new media like the Industry Standard, which has a print and e-component is making a lot of money, and charging as well. It isn't insider info, but useful info. Big distinction.

Internet Media Lacks Credibility (3)

Leghorn (44886) | more than 13 years ago | (#984134)

I mostly agree with what you're saying, Jon, but I think there is one big thing missing in much online media: Credibility.

Deserved or not, "closed media" has credibility and the users of "closed media" trust the reporters and editors to root out the facts.

I'm no fan of conventional media, I work for a huge broadcasting conglomerate, and they do almost everything wrong when it comes to reporting the news.

"Open media" sources must be checked out for errors, omissions, and bad information. In the "open media" there is no one to do this except the individual user. This is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because there are so many sources of information, but a curse since many users take what they read online at face value without doing any background research. Other users want to check out the information, but do not have the skills to root out the facts like someone with newsgathering or editorial experience.

Personally, I wouldn't cry many tears if "closed media" went away in favor of "open media", but in order for this to happen, users must become skilled in self-editing or online sources will never attain the necessary level of credibility.

Maybe he really is a bot after all (3)

Junks Jerzey (54586) | more than 13 years ago | (#984135)

You know, I've always been down on the people who are down on Jon Katz. I always thought they were being too whiny, too negative. But in all honesty, this piece could have been written by a program designed to generate articles Jon Katz-like fashion. It's such a complete parody of his writing style and attempts to make pop culture and mainstream events seem underground and hip.

Open media == free? (3)

Phizzy (56929) | more than 13 years ago | (#984136)

Ok.. so Jon is saying that we should kill off the old media/new media buzzwords and replace with open media/closed media.. while I personally beleive that this is just an attempt for Katz to somehow tie himself in with the Open Source movement, by becoming an Open Journalist for the Open Media... I'll overlook that for the time being.

Now, Kat'z argument is that closed media has to be purchased, open media is free.. well wait a minute there Jon.. I can walk into my neighborhood coffee shop and pick up a newspaper and read it with my coffee in the morning... without paying a cent. I can also walk to my desk in the morning and read similar news on the web. I do not pay for the content in either of these cases. I can also read the newspaper at home, where I pay a small fee for delivery, content and the physical medium on which it is printed, OR I can walk over to my desk and read similar information on a web page. I pay for my internet access... I pay a fairly signigicant amount per month for the delivery of this content and arguably for the electronic medium on which it is printed.. and the company makes money off me with ad revenues. I don't see so profound of a philosophical different as Mr. Katz between Open and Closed media.

So quit trying to create more memes, do some research, actually give us some CONTENT.

Thank you,

//Phizzy

Open Media? (3)

Ozone Pilot (61737) | more than 13 years ago | (#984137)

If you have to make an investment of at least $600 for a decent internet capable computer, plus maybe $20/month for internet service to visit Open Media sites, how is that "open" to anyone except the priviledged?

there is no difference (3)

kootch (81702) | more than 13 years ago | (#984138)

Open Media, Closed Media, what the hell's the difference when someone else is paying the bills?

So CNN is closed media. CNN relies upon advertising revenue to fuel its content and stories. It's supported by "corporatism"

/. is now supposedly "open media". /. is now a publicly traded company owned by VA Linux. /. derives its revenue by selling banner ads and affiliate programs. It is also supported by "corporatism".

So what does it matter if one directly functions off of user feedback and commentary, or if the user feedback and commentary is more subtle?

/. directly functions off of the users reading the site, CNN functions off of determining the content that people would like to see and trying to show as much of an unbiased opinion based on the content available in the world and tracking "readership" to determine how much time to alot to a subject and what spot to give to that content.

Open, Closed, it's all the same. Just in different ways.

Highly-wired (3)

Plastic Puller (135870) | more than 13 years ago | (#984140)

"Each reader becomes a highly-wired researcher and reporter, foraging for information."

Sounds like my graduate school days, where to keep up with my research, my teaching, and my classes, I was snorting coke, popping speed, and guzzling coffee like it was good beer. Of course, when the weekend came around I would be so wound up that I would start drinking beer like it was coffee just to slow down my shaking. Somewhere along the line I found myself with a diploma and no marketable talents. But now I have found my calling in the new Open Media. Jon, once again you've changed my life.

Flame on

Won't you ever learn? (3)

chrome koran (177357) | more than 13 years ago | (#984141)

I limit Katz articles to 2 minutes of my time. Wherever I get to when the 2 minutes is up, that's where I quit.

Why he insists on preaching to the choir like this is beyond me...although in deference to the newspapers (not this NY Times article in particular) all the recent stats show that they are not losing their audience to online news, only network TV news is suffering. That's because most newspapers are loaded with a lot of important, factual stories that continue to captivate those who want to know what's going on in the world, whereas network news is nothing more than ratings-driven entertainment with a thin veneer of content on top. CNN, MSNBC, et. al (on cable) are also not being hurt by the millions of people who are reading news online for the same reason.

Jon has a point (4)

Stiletto (12066) | more than 13 years ago | (#984142)

Although I didn't have the patience to wade through that huge article, one thing Jon mentioned early in the artical was right on. The media's #1 priority is promoting itself.

Turn on your local news station one night and grab a stop-watch. It's funny, but also sad, to compare the length of time they spend talking about themselves with the length of time they spend on news. You will more than likely find that your local news station spends more seconds saying things like "LIVE! LATE BREAKING! CHANNEL 7 NEWS!!" than it spends talking about the story.

Jon, Jon, Jon. (5)

gavinhall (33) | more than 13 years ago | (#984143)

Posted by 11223:

I think it's time you stop, now that you've just compared the Open Source/Closed Source movement with media. Step back, realize that not everything is related to this little political movement, (quite like the 60's movement, anyway). Then attack the issue again (which I'm going to do here).

In Time (this week or last, I can't remember) it was said that the Salon example was a foreshadowing of the state of new media - fired because the number of hits to the article wasn't high enough. It's almost like the TV-isation of journalism - just like TV anchors can be fired for not attracting viewers, 'net writers can be fired for not attracting readers (and thus ad hits). That doesn't happen in a traditional media format. I gets my subscription to Time, I reads the articles. You don't selectively browse a magazine, or read just parts "because you like the author". (Some people do, but that usually defeats the purpose - you bought the magazine, so at some point most people read it all). And nobody fired a magazine author for not being popular enough. That would manifest itself in other ways - writer isn't interesting, writer writes horribly. After a time, you get to know the regular columnists, whether or not you always agree with what they say.

The model of the new journalism is the model of the TV - getting rid of authors because their ratings aren't high enough, trying to attract eyeballs for advertising. It's not about openness. My static copy of Time is more vaulable to me than any article on Slashdot, simply because it's a well-thought out piece that's not incomplete without feedback (like this forum). And there's always a letters to the editor section.

[Insert good closing here...]

Slashdot columnist concludes slashdot is best!!!!! (5)

streetlawyer (169828) | more than 13 years ago | (#984144)

Stop the presses! In a story today on Slashdot, a Slashdot employee compared Slashdot with other media and concluded that Slashdot was best!!!

Strangely, the stock price of andover.net failed to react to this ringing endorsement of Slashdot by Slashdot.

Jon, the fact that /. editors get their news from "Open" media means damn-all, because where do these places get their information from? By and large, "Closed" media. How many links do you get from Slashdot to the New York Times in a typical week? And how many going the other way? To me, that says that people still want to know that their media is coming from actual journalists, with fact-checkers, standards, and all the other desperately "OLD" standards that stop, to take a wild example, stories about GNOME and KDE being integrated from being posted while they're about a quarter baked.

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