Perplexing. Baffling. Those are a few of the less than effective words to describe my thoughts about the New World... the digital world.
I'm pretty good at it. I've been ahead of the curve on several occasions. I love that in the past, I had the same access to "publishing" (digitally) as did any major corporation. I know the answer is never to stick one's head in the sand, but to somehow find a way to work with the New World and not whine about it.
I've been watching the newspapers struggle and like everyone else, I have no idea what the answer is. Fine, newspapers are old-school. Advertising has always seemed lame to me anyway, something I've never quite grasped. I do grasp when things go viral and grassroots. I GET IT.
What I don't get is how these new models can generate any income if no one pays for anything anymore. Let's face it, "exposure" doesn't pay the mortgage. And is a blogger every bit as qualified to write about something as an educated expert?
Um, sometimes. I can't get behind the concept that every reporter is somehow above the rest of us. I've met some reporters who really are all that. I've also met a surprisingly large number of prancing boutique snots. Would a blogger (me?) have more insight into Kuwait City than a Middle East stringer, for example? Or into how to maneuver through Barcelona on a shoestring, moreso than a Spain-beat reporter? Damn straight. I have self-interest in both these areas.
But do I know more about local education than a local public radio reporter? Absolutely not. Do I know more about what books are coming out than a cultural critic? Nope. More science than a science expert who has been translating scientific terms for mass consumption for 40 years? No way. And who pays the salaries for these experts? Advertisers, who hope to influence the buying decisions of the audience of the expert.
My assumption is that things will be rocky but will eventually work out as a new model.
But what about books? The eReader and the Kindle have blazed new ground... what about when Apple produces something like the Kindle and it gets through to the masses? When digital book downloads become common? Pirated editions are already out there.
In short, we're next.
But you know, at my level, the income generated from book writing is so miniscule that giving away content for free is barely different...