22 Mar Journalist warns against late arrival to the tech party
With the age of the network economy upon us, media companies do not have the luxury of being late technology adopters, according to the president of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Speaking Wednesday on the future of interactive media before the Milwaukee Press Club, David Carlson said newspapers and other media outlets already have ceded too much territory to the likes of eBay and Craigslist. They cannot afford to wait as other industries quickly move to deploy emerging voice, automatic syndication and other technologies.
There is a school of thought in the corporate world that being a late adopter is preferable to “taking the arrows” of early adoption. But Carlson, who also directs the University of Florida’s Interactive Media Lab, suggested that as information becomes increasingly digitized, media outlets should be on the bleeding edge of adoption. “I think it’s already getting late in the game,” he stated. “We’ve already given up huge amounts of territory to lots of people.”
The University of Florida’s Interactive Media Lab focuses on technology that exists now, or will exist in the near future, and Carlson, citing author Nicholas Negroponte’s assertion that “bits are in, atoms are out,” described several technologies that could transform the economy in a few years. One of them is a computer that consumers can talk to and that talks back, making it possible to have the computer read the newspaper to people as they drive to work and eliminating literacy as a factor in transmitting knowledge.
“Very rapidly,” he said, “all the knowledge of mankind is being digitized. All of the literature, art, plays, music, and all the accumulated knowledge of mankind will be digitized.”
In five years, Blockbuster Video could cease to exist as a brick-and-mortar business and instead sell the rights to watch movies in cyber space. “Within five years,” Carlson predicted, “Blockbuster will only exist in a world of bits, not a world of atoms.”
Carlson compared the Internet to a rifle being “pointed at the head of every middleman,” but added that one hope for journalists is that people might still want edited information and might still rely on professionals to decide what news they should know.