Traditional journalism is static. Its basic units are the article, the story, the piece. The new journalism is live. It doesn’t have a basic unit any more than a river or a storm have a basic unit. It’s process, not product. Even these things we call posts, texts, tweets and wikis are less unitary than contributory. They add to a flow, which in turn adds to what we know.
In 1959 Peter Drucker coined the term “knowledge worker” and compared managing in business (a subject about which he remains the canonical authority) to leading a jazz band. You surround yourself with skilled folks who only get better at what they do. Drucker lived a long time, but it’s too bad he’s not around to see what the Live Web is doing both for knowledge and the work that increases it constantly.
To bring this into focus, dig Jeff Jarvis’ Replacing the Article. Specifically, Jeff is looking for a new “unit of coverage” that includes at least three subunitary components: 1) “Curated aggreagtion”, 2) “A blog that treats the story as a process, not a product”, and 3) “A wiki that give us a snapshot of current knowledge”. He’s looking for discussion as well (as he must, else all he’s got is another article, no?). “Where do you think the best – most intelligent and illuminating – discussion is going on?” he asks.
Problem is, the Live Web is getting more and more flowy and decentralized. The unit Jeff wants may be all of the above and a lot more that isn’t here yet. Somebodies have to go invent them. And they will. When they do, it’ll be in the river, not alongside it.
I found my way to Jeff’s piece through my FriendFeed, which I visited after scanning Twitter Search; and from Jeff’s post I pivoted off to MoneyMeltDown, Calculated Risk, Monitor Credit Crisis Blog and Inman blog, all off Jeff’s links. None, he says, do the job he wants. “Can anyone point me to a reporter or expert who is using a blog to both report and discover?” he asks?
|If you follow Robert Scoble at all — and you sort of have to unless your DSL is dead — you know he can’t help overproliferating everything he does. While the entire staff of Vanity Fair takes months to assemble its 100 most powerful list, Fast Company’s token webhead spews 165 names in one pass for his “hand-picked list of the people who provide the most interesting tech blogging/tweeting/FriendFeeding.” Robert, let me put on my old Condé Nast editor’s hat and redline this back to you: GREAT START, BUT PLS TELL US WHO THE FK THS PPL ARE…|
Jeff’s point exactly. (Aside: I once had lunch with Jeff at a cafeteria in the Condé Nast building, where Jeff worked at the time and that our kid called “The Candy Ass building”.)
Here’s what’s even more new: Scoble isn’t managing the people who inform him. It’s the other way around. He’s being managed by the jazz in his band. Scobleization is more like what happens in Being John Malkovitch, where all these people take trips down a portal into Malkovitch’s head. Those of us being FriendFed are all being Scobleized, but (as Dame Edna says) in a nice way. That is, we’re being fed knowledge even as we flow with the river as well. Process, not product.
Yet we aren’t subordinating ourselves to the process, unless all we want to do is SEO and AdSense fishing. We’re increasing the worth of ourselves as the sovereign and independent units we call human beings.
To be Scobleized is to be human, and to grow. Because that’s what we do at our best.
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