I was sorry to have missed the Web 2.0 Summit this year. Over the weekend I watched a couple of the session videos. The panel discussion titled Whither Journalism, led by John Battelle with Robert Thomson of WSJ, Eric Hippeau of Huffington Post, Marissa Mayer of Google and Martin Nisenholtz of the New York Times. Two things I found interesting:
1) Martin Nisenholtz said something to the effect that “In 1995, everyone knew that newspapers’ classified businesses were going away.” I was at Knight-Ridder in 1995 and I can assure Martin and anyone else that as an organization, Knight-Ridder grossly underestimated the impact the internet was going to have on their classified businesses. And I don’t think Knight-Ridder was alone.
2) Robert Thomson accused Google, via Marissa Mayer, of promoting “digital promiscuity” by devaluing “digital loyalty” ostensibly because the font size of the source in Google News is so small. I thought Robert made an interesting point, but the issue is that the content creators, which are the “victims” of such promiscuity, have not created switching costs for their readers. This is why metro newspapers have been hurt the most: they don’t provide the depth that a specialist publication can, be it for local news, sports, fashion or business. The WSJ or the FT have created some measure of switching costs for their users, and therefore might be able to successfully charge for content. But without any implicit or explicit switching costs, digital promiscuity will only become more prevalent.
From what I heard and read it seems as if the 2009 edition of Web 2.0 was terrific. Hopefully I’ll be back next year.