The gist of my argument is that Wikipedia is actually a very good model for producing freely accessible content at virtually no cost—and most of the time, it ends up being nearly as accurate as commercial sources (as a recent study in Nature found when it compared Wikipedia to Encyclopedia Brittanica on scientific information).
It’s generating as much reaction as anything I’ve written in a while, lots of it negative—see this post on CBS’s PublicEye blog—but some of it positive, including a mention in the Wall Street Journal today.
In any case, I think the real story is how people are learning to assess the credibility of information for themselves. It’s not just limited to the Internet, though the fact that so much more information is available is driving it. The reality is that people are getting smarter about all of the media they read/watch/listen to. That, I think, is what’s really changing about the news/information business—not that readers are shifting from print/broadcast to online (though they are, and media organizations need to adapt), but that peoples’ bullshit detectors are becoming much more sensitive.
ClearChannel Entertainment—the part of the company that controls music venues and is almost universally reviled among concert-goers for its infamous arena fees—has spun off into a subsidiary named to SpinCo. (The name change happened a few months ago, but the near-news hook is that the spin-off was finalized last week.)
I think that may be the most Orwellian re-branding since Phillip Morris became Altria (which sounds ever so friendly and giving and non-carcinogenic).
Maybe the Bush administration should hire that firm to re-brand the war in Iraq?
For those of you in New York who might be interested, I’ll be moderating one of my ongoing series of panels this Tuesday night featuring Maud Newton, Sasha Frere-Jones and Terry Teachout, on “The Art of Online Criticism”—how the Web is changing the nature of literary, music and arts criticism. 7 PM, at Makor, the Upper West Side branch of the 92nd St. Y (More info and tickets on their site.)
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