My time is like a piece of wax, falling on a termite, that’s choking on the splinters. –Beck, “Loser”
The latest Chicago Web startup is Newser, a new innovation in vaporware that combines the cost of old media with the tail-devouring metaness of new media. The Sun-Times article about it sums up as well as anything why journalism is probably doomed:
Over the last five years, information aggregators including Google News and MyYahoo have introduced a new formula for news delivery that caters to our ever diminishing attention spans. Relying on mathematical algorithms that “spider” links from countless sources, these services efficiently deliver news based on search terms, locality and other individual preferences we provide. What they lack, however, is a human voice that puts everything into context.
Now, I use the Web a lot, and one thing that’s never occurred to me is “blog posts are too substantial, but RSS summaries are too skimpy. What we really need is something in between.” I’m also a little perplexed as to why you’d hire a team of farmers to milk your cows when you can convince people milking cows for free is fun.
But this may be why I’m not
a millionaire a many-thousandaire technically solvent. The one lesson we’ve all learned from RedEye is that the last frontier in media is attention spans, which can be targeted with ever-increasing specificity; if Zeno is right, the market is infinite.
Newser’s one grand innovation, however, is a qualitative content slider, which is totally genius and lamentable only in its lack of ambition.
I await the day when reading the news is like editing images in Photoshop. I’ll sit down in front of my personal news aggregator, adjust the sliders for analysis vs. reporting, tragic vs. funny, foibles of rich people vs. struggles of the underclass, afflicting the comfortable vs. comforting the afflicted, and I’ll get The Perfect News Story For Me: