To err is human; therefore, to schism is fine


When I used the analogy of an Amish barn raising yesterday to reintroduce the idea of forming a media cooperative, I didn’t have the presence of mind to mention one of the prime reasons for this choice: I assume from the outset that any assembly of creative/political people will be unstable. “Like herding cats,” one critic said in a note explaining why he doubted such a media coop could ever form, much less amount to anything.

Fair enough. It’s inconceivable to me that one massive organization would somehow win the cooperation and allegiance of thousands of media-makers who are not only geographically disparate but represents a range of different ages, ethnicities, temperments, and beliefs.

So rather than assume that a cooperative would become some gigantic cult led by a messianic guru what if we instead imagined that it was a loose framework for common action. The coop would identify the tools to enable common action; but it would also be founded on the shared assumption that any group, at any time, could walk away from the main body and establish a smaller network of folks who are more like-mined. These disparate mini-coops might  only need get together once a year at an annual gathering designed to share tools and ideas and discuss common business problems. I think there might be enough cordiality — and self-interest – to sustain that much central cohesion, even in cyberspace.

Hence I used the example of the Amish, who represent many sects. But I could have mentioned almost any religious group. Humans need to believe; but the stronger that belief the less tolerant it is of deviation. Media communities — that is information media as opposed to entertainment media — are likely to behave like religious groups. Let’s accept that and create structures that allow us to cooperate — without requiring that we adhere to any orthodoxy.

Everybody’s a critic: Turning to other topics, J.D. Lasica offers this snippet from a Zogby Poll:

“In the national survey of adults, 72% said they were dissatisfied with the quality of American journalism today. A majority of conference–goers who were polled on the subject agreed – 55% said they were dissatisfied, and 61% said they believed traditional journalism is out of touch with what Americans want from their news.” 

I hadn’t visited J.D.’s site in a while and it is gussied up and starting to look for advertising sponsors. Good luck!

Big Blue endorses mashups: MediaPost had a fascinating item today about an IBM study. Here’s a tease:

“In its new report, “Navigating the Media Divide,” IBM says that mainstream media companies need to loosen their grip on proprietary content in order to capture young, tech-savvy consumers . . . The study advises content owners and media distributors to cooperate in allowing the legal reuse of content for mash-ups, overdubs and other ways.”

IBM makes its possible to download either the full report or an executive summary.