Your Own Views of the Media Shift

    by Mark Glaser
    August 25, 2006

    i-49d67bb17642d06bcc858ad3b7377229-Reflections photo.jpg
    A couple weeks ago, I was trying to come up with a way to sum up some of the many concepts I’ve been illustrating on this blog. How could I do that in a simple, catchy way? The result was the Oldthink vs. Newthink post, where I simply listed the old ways of doing things in media and the new ways that were being explored.

    The list wasn’t just about which technologies were new and which were old, but more about the mindset and the way we think about things as a society. As I said in a recent speech to a (very cool) old media company looking to get the new religion, “Breaking your addiction to old media doesn’t mean giving up on newspapers or television; it means breaking out of your mindset, breaking out of the old hierarchy and control system and letting the audience in to be co-creators.” They were very receptive to the idea.

    Anyway, I was impressed at the tremendous feedback and input I received from MediaShift readers and from around the blogosphere to my blog post. So I’m going to highlight some of the more interesting and thought-provoking entries that you added to my list.


    I will also cop to the comment by Diane, who said the list reminded her of the old Wired/Tired lists from Wired Magazine. I know it is reminiscent of that to some extent, but I also cringe at the comparison because I didn’t want to come off as some sort of snarky trend-master. Thus, opening this up to your own ideas should help alleviate any tone from on high. My comments below are in italics.

    David Hutchins of Nomads Land Films

    Oldthink: Relying upon film festivals, commissioning editors and distributors to tell us which films are worth seeing and which are not based on a limited amount of airtime and shelf-space that only reward the few.
    Newthink: Uploading a film to Google Video or MySpace in order to reach a niche audience directly — a platform that can allow interactive reactions to the film, viral promotion and watching the film anytime — like passing along a good book.


    Phil Shapiro of Digital Divide Network [gets award for most entries]

    Oldthink: Go to the public library to sign out a children’s book.
    Newthink: Compose an original children’s story and with the help of others in your community release a rich media, Creative Commons version of the story in more than 10 languages, including sign language.

    Oldthink: Use the op-ed page of the newspaper to print the tired old “professional thinkers” point of view year after year with nary a new thought or idea ever surfacing.
    Newthink: Use the op-ed page to quote excerpts from the best of bloggers writing about issues of the day, using a Digg-style system to have the public identify some of the most cogent comments.

    Brilliant idea, Phil. Are you listening, newspaper editorial page editors?

    Oldthink: Make no use of volunteer citizen journalists to do legwork that will help professional journalists write better articles.
    Newthink: When appropriate, tap into the energy of volunteer (or paid) citizen journalists to do legwork that could assist professional journalists to write better articles.

    Oldthink: Giving newspapers subscribers a take-it-or-leave it subscription price.
    Newthink: Allowing subscribers to name their own subscription price, Priceline-style. Newspapers, eager for subscribers, can either choose to accept or not accept these subscription offers.

    Howard Owens

    Oldthink: Stickiness — trying to control the audience by not linking out, not sharing your content with third-party distribution channels (RSS, MySpace, Yahoo!, YouTube), trying to be everything to everybody while being nothing to nobody (and if you have RSS, using only summarized feeds hoping to trick people into clicking a link to your site).
    Newthink: Linking to all sorts of sites with content relevant to your audience — even competitors’ sites, and uploading your video to YouTube and your classifieds to Google Base, etc. and making your content open enough so that users can do, and are encouraged to do, what they want with it.

    I like this idea, because it encapsulates the new openness of media vs. the old closed systems and closed thinking.

    Oldthink: Competitors.
    Newthink: Partners.

    Oldthink: Only we know best.
    Newthink: Our audience knows best.

    Oldthink: Only we publish content on our site.
    Newthink: Anybody can publish content on our site.

    Davis Freeberg

    Oldthink: Not allowing someone to see a baseball game just because they happen to be traveling out of their own ZIP code.

    Newthink: Being able to watch content that you’ve purchased anywhere you’d like, whether or not you happen to be at home.

    This would be called the Slingbox Theory, as Slingboxes allow you to place-shift your TV content to any Internet-connected computer.

    Scott Shawcroft of Open Road Trip

    Oldthink: Congratulating yourself on a job well done while fighting to keep things the way the are.

    Newthink: Stopping only for a second to admire the work done while continuously fighting to make things better. In the time we spend admiring YouTube and MySpace we could be brainstorming and implementing ways to make culture better.

    Erik Sundelof from In The Field Online

    Oldthink: We create the content on our websites.

    Interimthink: Everyone contributes to the site.

    Newthink: Everyone can contribute to a site with “some slight editing.” This “slight editing” can be done either by the community or by a selected group of editors [chosen] from the contributors. Many forms are available but still the editing part is crucial for most websites.

    This idea plays well on the recent push/pull over open collaborative systems and hybrid approaches that include editors and citizen contributors.

    Mark Fletcher from Australian Newsagency Blog

    Oldthink: It was smart to pay to get to the top of a search list or on the front page.
    Newthink: Be where people will want you — they will ignore those who pay extra to be noticed.

    Oldthink: People trust the masthead [on a publication] and all it carries.
    Newthink: People trust people more — now that people have their own voice.

    Oldthink: The price of a classified ad is based on the number of gatekeepers.
    Newthink: The price of a classified ad is based on the cost of providing the service.

    This might also be known as the Craigslist Rule of Classifieds.

    Ruben Ortiz

    Oldthink: English is THE universal language in the marketplace (just like in the movies).

    Newthink: A translation option on a web page can open new market niches for your products. Multiple language bands for the same program can aid in the creation of a true “pluribus unum” for PBS programming.

    Nice idea, Ruben. Hopefully the PBS brass are listening.


    Oldthink: Setting up false dilemmas to make one’s specific predictions look truly egalitarian and cutting-edge.

    Newthink: Recognizing that “the media” is not a monolithic entity/enemy and concentrating how to bring the best of successful media — immediacy, credibility, editing and curating raw data into a coherent narrative thanks to a combination of knowledge and story-telling fundamentals — into increasing communication channels. All without attributing one or two outlet’s practices to an ENTIRE FIELD.

    Point well taken, Lisa. I realize that this type of list can’t avoid looking a bit stereotypical and monolithic. That’s why I opened up the list to all of you to set the record straight(er).

    Ross M. Karchner [who claims he really isn’t a pessimist…]

    Oldthink: The forces of openness and decentralization will ultimately win.

    Newthink: Verizon, Comcast, Clear Channel, etc. have the resources to compel governments to restore their birthright — false scarcity and easy money.

    This is perhaps the corollary to everything we’ve said here, or perhaps the contra view of what might happen if Net neutrality fails in some type of nuclear option by regulators.

    Thanks to everyone for playing along and adding your smart ideas to the list. If you’d like to add even more Oldthink/Newthink entries, do so in the comments below. Who knows, maybe I’ll create a wiki or some collaborative way to keep this open and evolving on a regular basis.

    [Photo by Eugene Zhukovsky.]

    Tagged: new media
    • Very smart idea, Mark. Here’s my two bits:

      Old think: Learning a language required textbooks and going to awkwardly scheduled night classes. The system required everything from printing presses, mass distribution outlets (for the textbooks) and high-rent, low-margin language schools (with variable quality) where learners could interact with the teachers for a few hours per week. This required the learner to make a huge lifestyle change and could take years to reach fluency.

      New think: A blog, a podcast, just one good teacher, and a million students in the virtual classroom, all of this for a fraction of the cost. The input comes to you. It’s mobile, time-shifted, and on-demand. The supply of lessons is endless with a new one every day. You mould your study into your lifestyle, not the other way round.

    • Oldthink: Publish newspapers daily or twice a day.

      Newthink: Publish newspapers 3 times a week, with higher quality articles that are more carefully researched, are more accurate and do not stress reporters to work ungodly hours. Truth is something that emerges in the mind. It doesn’t emerge any better under deadline — and can easily emerge half-baked under deadline.

    • Oldthink: Publish articles with inaccurate information and then publish a corrections column that nobody reads.

      Newthink: Devise ways for the people being covered in a news story to have some feedback ability on factual matters before a news article goes to press.

      This fits into the 3 times per week newspaper publishing schedule. With less deadline rush, more thoughtful and accurate articles can be written. Everybody wins, including the trees.

      It takes too much effort to distribute breaking news on stone tablets, papyrus, or dead trees. Use the web for that. Develop printed newspapers into the thoughtful, long-form, accurate medium. Make newspapers the news of record.

    • Dave Brooks

      OLD THINK: Reporters made a living by reporting.

      NEW THINK: Almost nobody makes a living by reporting, but many more people do it part-time. The question is, will enough part-timers come forward to serve the role once filled by all those full-timers?

    • rozlen

      I like on classifieds that payment be made base on results. Some online advertisers do that and I wish the newspapers would too.

    • becky rotenberry

      Thank goodness for creating new ways of thinking that involve the interested humanity, not just the same old heirarchy of professionals.

    • OldThink: Presidential candidates and their writers construct their own questions and answers. Topics become stagnant.

      NewThink: A global digital forum where text, image, and video construct the ultimate debates.

      OldThink: The things that surround us are not connected.

      NewThink: Every piece of fiber, every article in your home, every couch, every appliance can be digitally enhanced to better the quality of your life. Begin to see the world around you becoming ever digital.

    • Esmeralda

      Old Think: Think they’re still in control.

      New Think: Control who needs it?

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