January 30, 2004
Pardon the self-promotion, but I just linked something up in Convergence Chaser that I think is crazy interesting.
The context is online journalism. The speaker is Martin Nisenholtz, CEO of New York Times Digital. And the really interesting part is this:
But imagine taking a world like Ultima Online — designed for massive numbers of videogame players — and apply it to the real world, where the players are reporting from all corners of the planet. This is a vibrant, interactive real-time view of the world. Users in this context can zoom into the ongoing storyline taking place in dozens or even hundreds of locations. In this context, there is not a simply John Burns reporter in Bahgdad. There is a kind of ongoing John Burns channel that brings with it a continuous record. […]
I’ll admit, I don’t know exactly what this means. But I like the way it sounds, and I love the fact that it’s coming from someone at the NYT. If it were, say, Howard Rheingold proposing a game-like news-o-sphere with “journalist channels” sprinkled around the globe, that would be one thing. But this is the top guy at one of the top online news companies in the world.
Now, Nisenholtz isn’t a journalist. He’s been an academic and an interactive advertising guy. So his vision could be met with scoffs and sighs by the people who actually do the reporting.
But I don’t think it ought to be. As I explain in my Chaser post, I think the idea of journalism as a flow of information — not as a discrete story, which is the “work product” that gets all the attention and acclaim in today’s business — is a strong one. (And I think that’s what Nisenholtz is talking about.)
The popularity of blogs points us in that direction. One of the things (certainly not the only thing) that draws people to blogs is their frequency — they’re like electronic IV drips of information (or opinion, or weirdness) that are always going.
I think the world could use some better drips; just imagine, as Nisenholtz suggests, a “John Burns channel” out of Baghdad, with frequent notes and updates from the man himself.
Somehow I doubt John Burns would actually go for that. But I suspect a new generation of journalists might. Count me in.