The Consumer as Publisher

3 Mar ’06

Jeff Jarvis live blogs what sounds like a rousing keynote by Reuters CEO Tom Glocer at the Online Publishers Association Forum for the Future:

Glocer said a year ago, the focus of Reuters was on “the consumer as editor,” with tools such as RSS to allow consumers to consume differently. Now, it has gone far beyond that:

They’re consuming, they’re creating, they’re sharing, and they’re publishing themselves. So the consumer wants to not only run the printing preess, the consumer wants to set the Linotype as well….

Our industry is facing a profound challenge from home-created content…. If we create the right crossroads, provide the consumers with the appropriate tools… we can harnass what otherwise from the outside would look like a punk revolution….

“Technology is creating a kind of weird, hybrid world” of mashups, he says. He recognizes a “demand for this new kind of creativity” and there is also an advertising demand for it.

: What’s great about Glocer’s talk is not only that he gets it but he gives us respect. Standing in London, he compares bloggers to the great diarists. He says that people will turn to the Rafats of the world to interpret news. He says that bloggers were important in coverage of the last U.S. election. He says that citizen journalism has a long tradition, comparing citizens’ reports of 7/7 with a survivor’s account of the Titantic crash.

The “punk revolution” comment is of course a back-of-the-hand comment at the elitism in some mainstream writing about the great unwashed qua writer (see here and here, for example). But the remark suggests to me a lot more than that Glocer sees opportunity where the elitists feel fear – what I found particularly startling about Jeff’s summary was Glocer’s apparent clarity of mind about what’s happening in Web 2.0 and the promise it offers; in a time when so many in the mainstream are struggling to make sense of the mayhem, Glocer seems to have a clear vision of the opportunity available for those who seize it. Example:

“If the user wants to be both author and editor, and technology is increasingly enabling this, what will be the role of the media company…?” He has three answers: Media companies will be a “seeder of clouds.” Nice analogy. I call it a magnet and would recommend that to him for he says that just creating content is not enough; they must attract the people. The second role is to be a “provider of tools… We need to produce open standards and interoperability to allow” disparate people to create content of disparate types. “Let’s not make the same mistakes newspapers did with the protectionist online strategies that characterized Internet 1.” By that he means not recreating the old content in the new medium. The third role, he says, is that media companies will be “filter and editor.” He says that “the good stuff will rise to the top” online.

We are truly witness to one of the great eras of creative destruction, folks – this is a remarkable time to be alive.

Update: Jeremy Wagstaff also has a great post on Glocer’s speech.

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