Lava lamps won’t save newspapers

Spend a little time at the Googleplex and you begin to believe that business is all fun-and-games and that The Life Google serves a better world.

Paul Allen’s personal spaceship hangs from the ceiling of Building 43. An organic garden supplies produce for healthy cafes across the Mountain View, Ca. campus. There are foosball tables, ping-pong tables and volleyball courts for creative play. There are massage chairs for relaxing; gyms for yoga, dancing and workouts. There are bikes and scooters for people-powered travel between buildings, and a winding path through a whimsical sculpture garden for dog-walking and contemplative jogs. The cubes, yurts and huddle rooms are filled with whiteboards, laptops, lava lamps and large, inflatable balls. Even the men’s rooms are Googlized; messages about groups working on complex problems hang above urinals as if to divert attention from the mundane business below to more Google-worthy issues at eye-level … and the organ between the ears.

I like the environment, but The Atlantic’s James Fallows so loves the the place that he believes Googlers can solve the problem that’s on so many minds these days. He writes that he’s spent a lot of time at the Googleplex over the past year talking with Google strategists and engineers about saving newspapers.

No doubt he passed the garden where
a bronze casting of a T Rex fossil,
a gift from founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, forages among the plants. Fallows has so thoroughly bought
into the cult of Google he reports the company is devising ways to save newspapers from becoming the next dinosaur in the garden.

“Most Internet and tech businesses have been either uninterested in or actively condescending toward the struggles of what they view as the pathetic-loser dinosaurs of the traditional media,” he writes.

Which is entirely wrong.

“Everyone knows that Google is killing the news business. Few people know how hard Google is trying to bring it back to life, or why the company now considers journalism’s survival crucial to its own prospects.”

Which is incredibly naive.

Fallows loses his balance assuming that Google can actually save newspapers. Or wants to. He bought what Google CEO Eric Schmidt sold to newspaper editors at their convention last month: the survival of high-quality journalism is “essential to the functioning of modern democracy.” Like newspaper editors didn’t already believe that?

Fallows acknowledges Schmidt is a family friend and an Atlantic reader. You don’t need a weatherman to know which way that wind blows. He spends many pages arguing that Google is trying to save newspapers rather than killing them.

Okay, Google is working with some newspapers planning to put their content behind paywalls. Those Google engineers are such good friends of journalism and democracy. And their “permanent beta” culture is so innovative ….

But there are a few other reasons, too.

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Spend a little time at the Googleplex and you begin to believe that business is all fun-and-games and that The Life Google serves a better world.

Paul Allen’s personal spaceship hangs from the ceiling of Building 43. An organic garden supplies produce for healthy cafes across the Mountain View, Ca. campus. There are foosball tables, ping-pong tables and volleyball courts for creative play. There are massage chairs for relaxing; gyms for yoga, dancing and workouts. There are bikes and scooters for people-powered travel between buildings, and a winding path through a whimsical sculpture garden for dog-walking and contemplative jogs. The cubes, yurts and huddle rooms are filled with whiteboards, laptops, lava lamps and large, inflatable balls. Even the men’s rooms are Googlized; messages about groups working on complex problems hang above urinals as if to divert attention from the mundane business below to more Google-worthy issues at eye-level … and the organ between the ears.

I like the environment, but The Atlantic’s James Fallows so loves the the place that he believes Googlers can solve the problem that’s on so many minds these days. He writes that he’s spent a lot of time at the Googleplex over the past year talking with Google strategists and engineers about saving newspapers.

No doubt he passed the garden where
a bronze casting of a T Rex fossil,
a gift from founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, forages among the plants. Fallows has so thoroughly bought
into the cult of Google he reports the company is devising ways to save newspapers from becoming the next dinosaur in the garden.

“Most Internet and tech businesses have been either uninterested in or actively condescending toward the struggles of what they view as the pathetic-loser dinosaurs of the traditional media,” he writes.

Which is entirely wrong.

“Everyone knows that Google is killing the news business. Few people know how hard Google is trying to bring it back to life, or why the company now considers journalism’s survival crucial to its own prospects.” Leer más “Lava lamps won’t save newspapers”

Tabula Rasa: Onward to the Conceptual Age

At Tabula Rasa NYC we asked a stunning group of innovators, developers and visionaries to consider five questions at a pivotal moment for media and the people who create it:
How does moment of opportunity look?
What has been created in just a few weeks?
What should be created?
What are the challenges?
What problems can we solve?

We saw awe-inspiring work, a renewal of the creative passion that helped launch the Internet and its period of technical, entrepreneurial and societal achievement. Old-school publishers such as Popular Science, Zagat and Thomson Reuters rediscovered their game with sharp-shooting apps aimed at connected audiences. NPR and ESPN enhanced experiences that were already compelling online. There were untethered virtuosos, too, such as Electric Literature, the Ghost in the Machine (under development) collaboration, and soloist Rob Kelley’s BeatPad. We’ll revisit and follow the development of their apps in subsequent posts, examining the qualities that make them successful.



At Tabula Rasa NYC we asked a stunning group of innovators, developers and visionaries to consider five questions at a pivotal moment for media and the people who create it:
How does moment of opportunity look?
What has been created in just a few weeks?
What should be created?
What are the challenges?
What problems can we solve? Leer más “Tabula Rasa: Onward to the Conceptual Age”

WeThink



I am excited to announce the launch of a new project that we are calling WeThink.

What is it? WeThink is a conversation about innovation and the future — an effort to explore new ideas and promote solutions to the challenges that our society is facing.

What’s the big deal? If you follow our work here at all, you’ll know that We Media is a movement – a concept – that helps explain how we know what we know, who we trust, and how we learn. It’s about power of the community. We Media is part of the infinite quest to harness the power of media, communication and human ingenuity for common good. And, well, We Media changes everything.  We Media changes the way we innovate.  We Media changes how we create, sustain, and grow successful ventures. We Media enhances the structures, models and economies that support human communication, interaction and achievement.  And through that, We Media challenges us to review our existing ways of operating, break apart our established structures, and re-build our approach to the future.  These changes impact all of us, and they are forcing each of us to find new ways of thinking about… well, everything. Leer más “WeThink”

Relevence, relationships and the ridiculous dominate opening day of We Media ‘10


Alan Webber and Michael Wolff at We MediaAlan Webber and Michael Wolff at We Media. ‘Journalism is not a public service, not a public good,’ Wolff said. ‘Journalism is not social work.’ Photo by Chelsea Matiash

By Steve Klein
and Suzanne McBride

Almost nothing may have been invented yet, We Media founders Dale Peskin and Andrew Nachison like to say.

But that doesn’t mean that a lot of people aren’t trying.

On Wednesday, the first full day of the 2010 We Media Conference at the University of Miami, “Game Changers” like Byron Reece, chief innovation officer of Demand Media, were celebrated and challenged to help define the approach of the Digital Renaissance.

“The Internet is becoming increasingly self corrective with the ability to determine between right and wrong, what’s good and bad,” said Reece. “Nobody saw the Internet coming. When new technologies come out, the only frame of reference people have are the technologies they are replacing.

“People are willing to help people on the Internet and get nothing in return.”

The anonymous — and not so anonymous — community of the Internet was a feature of the first of the two-day conference, which included a discussion on the changing face of news with Tom Curley, CEO of the Associated Press, and Alberto Ibarguen, CEO of the Knight Foundation, moderated by John Hockenberry, host of “The Takeaway.”

A pair of morning sessions, however, provided a sharp contrast between Newser founder Michael Wolff and Tom Stites, founder of the Banyan Project, which emphasizes relational journalism to strengthen democracy.

“Journalism needs to serve a huge, ill-served public and encourage deeper civic engagement,” said Stites. “This journalism would be more relevant to the public it serves to make sounder life decisions.

“We need to stretch boundaries and enlarge the discourse. The future of journalism discourse is what is important. What are the problems that democracy demands we pursue?”

Wolff’s approach is not as grand, however.

“Journalism is not a public service, not a public good. Journalism is not social work,” said Wolff, emphasizing the community theme. “When it’s healthiest, it’s about having a relationship with your readers. You’re trying to find what people want. That sends you in directions that are both profane and ridiculous. Leer más “Relevence, relationships and the ridiculous dominate opening day of We Media ‘10”

Rising: Nonprofit media


By Suzanne McBride – March 3, 2010

When Suzanne Turner begins the discussion at next week’s We Media Miami conference about the game-changing journalism nonprofits are doing, the spotlight will be on four groups who’ve found some creative ways to navigate the ever-changing media landscape.

Turner, who heads Washington, D.C.-based Turner Strategies, will serve as moderator of a panel that includes Jonathan Aiken, a former CNN reporter who’s helping the Red Cross runs its own news service from ground zero of the world’s worst disasters, and the Sunlight Foundation’s Ellen Miller, who’s leading the way in exploiting social media as the foundation works to make government more transparent. Jim Barnett – a top strategist with the AARP, which for years has used grassroots techniques to energize millions of seniors – and Andrew Sherry – a key online strategist at the Center for American Progress, known for its cutting-edge digital work – also will share their strategies. Leer más “Rising: Nonprofit media”