June 18, 2015

The Media Revolution: Ken Auletta at AWF15

syndetics-lc                             Auckland Writers Festival

Ken Auletta's session at the Auckland Writers Festival reminded me somewhat of the historic "Crisis in a nutshell" rubric in his home publication The New Yorker, the one subtitled "A digest of last week's prophetic and interpretive thought". It doesn't feature Ken Auletta, as he has his own rubric, "Annals of Communication" (and has for 23 years), but I couldn't help being reminded, at this session, of that mix of quotes from lawmakers, activists, writers, and even Beauty Queens, this last I suppose for light relief, though they more often brought despair. Take away the Beauty Queens and I think Ken Auletta represented the rest of the thinking just fine.

"The New York Times is putting content straight onto Facebook. They did a report and found that half of the readers of The New York Times online come via social media. Facebook has 1.4 billion users. This makes The New York Times and Facebook frenemies, competing and cooperating."

"No one has yet been able to make money from online newspapers. The big question is, can I make enough money from online? Can I jettison my paper newspaper? The answer right now is still no."

"Every newspaper in the world is going to throw stuff at digital and see what sticks."

"Digital is a worrisome thing, in that they can see what people are reading. The guys in green eyeshades will see that people aren't reading the political news, the reporters who follow City Hall. They are reading about Kim Kardashian."

"The 6:30 newscasts in the US have 25 million viewers. That's half of what it used to be. And the big problem is that the average age of the watcher is 61."

"Google engineers are very good at thinking outside the box, at finding a way to get what they want. But what is the problem? The problem is that they can only work with things that they measure. When they come across things you can't measure, that's a problem."

"In 2001 Google had zero income and Page and Brin were told they needed a professional manager. They couldn't think of who, and then they heard about Eric Schmidt. They liked Eric Schmidt because he'd been to Burning Man. So they went with him."

"Non-digital people saw Google as a problem. Digital people saw Google as an opportunity."

"What's the biggest threat to Google now? Facebook is the biggest threat."

"When I was interviewing Bill Gates, I asked him what he was worried about. I thought his answer would be Netscape, or Oracle. Bill Gates said, I worry about some guy in a garage inventing something I hadn't thought of. Someone did. Brin and Page did. Google. And now Google is worried about Facebook."

"The positives of digital journalism are journalist-citizens, eg the Arab Spring. No question that the digital world democratises information, and that's both good and bad. But there's no question that totalitarian governments hate digital information, digital news."

"I once watched a panel where a Norwegian was saying that the Internet would bring democracy, all very rational. An Egyptian got up and said they weren't enthusiastic, that they had a different concept of democracy. 'We worry about protecting our culture', he said, meaning, 'our interests'."

And to finish, a noteworthy exchange initiated by a member of the public (and this might be the right moment to note Shayne Currie's inept interviewing, AWF, please don't use him again!) : "Are we going to go back or are we going to just keep trucking on towards 'Everything is out there, nothing belongs to anyone'?"

Auletta: "I don't think that will happen, but it's good to have that prognosis to scare the hell out of us, because we should be scared."


Ditulis Oleh : Karen Craig // 18:30


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