April 03, 2014

What a time to be alive - The great opportunity of new media journalism, Ctd

Shane Smith (@ShaneSmith30) co-founder and CEO of Vice (@VICE)

Shane Smith (@ShaneSmith30) said at Internet Week NY 2013 here:
"It’s the best time ever in history to be a content creator."
He also said here:
"It’s shifting towards the content-creator - it’s literally the best time in history... creating content is the best business model out there at the moment."
Interestingly, he sees India as the measure of the future, by grace of its booming youth population:
"As goes India, so shall go the world."
Jonathan Ives, Apple designer, said:
"We are at the beginning of a remarkable time, when a remarkable number of products will be developed. When you think about technology and what it has enabled us to do so far, and what it will enable us to do in future, we’re not even close to any kind of limit. It’s still so, so new."
Shane explained the VICE media model during his Internet Week talk:
"We didn’t start out to be a news company... we started out as an entertainment company. We were sort of pushed into news. A, we enjoy it. B, our audience pushed us into it."
He gave some wider cultural context:
"I think what happened is Gen Y grew up during the Iraq war and the invasion of Iraq. And I think that what came of that - there were no weapons of mass destruction, anyone with half a brain knew that Saddam Hussein and the Ba’ath Party were actually the enemies of Al-Qaeda because they were a secular regime. All of the lies that were told, and knowingly by the media, it was the failure of the Fourth Estate."
He explained how legacy media failed, on two points. One:

"I think that when you grew up through that you realized, A, they’re not doing their job."
"And B, now this sort of op-ed, talk-radio mudslinging, who’s worse - Fox or MSNBC - like we do it through snide comedy and they do it though Glenn Beck - but it’s become a joke. It’s not news anymore, "This is what I think! And you’re wrong! And I’m right!" And you’re like I don’t care."
Shane explains the future and where he and VICE are going:
"I want to go there to where it’s actually happening. To talk to the people that are actually doing it and see what they have to say and I think that’s the way forward, to say I don’t give a shit about the Left or the Right... You don’t have radical critique, which there should be. It’s fine that there’s a Right and that they have their publications and their TV shows, and we have a Left. But we don’t have the sort of centrist, pure news, we don’t care about any paradigm. In fact we’re going to ridicule both. Going forward that is the appetite, therefore there will be more. What young people want is not mainstream news."  
And in an interview with BBC, Shane Smith said:
"Vice will be 10 times the size of someone like CNN. Even if I don't do it, the chance is there. If people roll their eyes, then great. It means I'm the only one going for it. Why can Vice be bigger? Because of the internet. The internet is global, and we aren't limited by anything."
For all the economic challenges, we are truly living in the age of opportunity. It was also said here:
"Moore’s Law is the observation that over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. Scoble has noted that there is a corollary to this with the Age of Context. (Video here on the age of context here.) The number of social media posts and location-based pings are doubling every 18 months. Currently there are over a billion Tweets sent out every 36 hours and Facebook posts are far greater. 
We are on the verge of an explosion in technological change, happening at a much faster rate than anything we have seen previously. I am not exaggerating when I suggest that this is going to be a far more impactful era than what we saw with the internet boom over the last 20 years. The reason for this is that it will be much more integrated into our lives. Companies have had two decades to learn how to use the internet to their advantage. Now they will have hundreds of entry points into our lives that will give them access to us 24/7."

In contrast with the optimism above, there is always a prevailing climate of skepticism. Pessimism propagated by people who are wired to see the worst and lament the times. But this is nothing new. People have always lamented the times and the age they live in, its decadence and a moral decline. 2000 years ago Cicero said:
"Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book."
The Book of Judges is directed under a main theme, the lament that "in those days... Everyone did as he saw fit." Edmund Burke said:
"To complain of the age we live in, to murmur at the present possessors of power, to lament the past, to conceive extravagant hopes of the future, are the common dispositions of the greatest part of mankind; indeed the necessary effects of the ignorance and levity of the vulgar. Such complaints and humours have existed in all times; yet as all times have not been alike, true political sagacity manifests itself in distinguishing that complaint which only characterizes the general infirmity of human nature, from those which are symptoms of the particular distemperature of our own air and season."
Martin Amis rightly said:
"It is the summit of idleness to deplore the present, to deplore actuality." 
It truly is lazy to lament the present. It is simple, small-minded-ignorance. Gustave Flaubert said:
"[Their] ignorance of history causes [them] to slander our own times."
The words of Benjamin Franklin are apt here:
"Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do."
People will always do bad. And violence and moral depravity will always exist. As Alain Finkielkraut said:
"Barbarism is not the inheritance of our pre-history. It is the companion that dogs our every step."
But these momentary drops and declines are not an indicator of a wider rise in standards. My earlier post in the series on 'What a time to be alive' with Christopher Hitchens here. He said:
"At this present moment I have to say I feel very envious of someone who is young and active and starting out on this argument. Just think of the extraordinary things that are happening to us.
Also video here on the age of context here.

My previous blog on the great opportunity of new media journalism here.

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