"We’re collectively living through 1500, when it’s easier to see what’s broken than what will replace it."

"There is no general model for newspapers
to replace the one the internet just broke."

The post title, as well as quotes above and below,
are excerpts from Clay Shirky's

Like the previous information from Russell Davies--see first post with "We've broken your machines. Now we want your business."--I am reprinting these (and hope you will read both in entirety, for a better viewpoint) because they are germane to issues at hand. We are in the midst of a revolution, and it is thrilling and uncertain and unsettling. What revolution isn't? And, like any revolution, what will happen when the smoke clears is quite unknowable right now. Mr. Shirky, though, has marvelously salient points about what has happened. In the first sentence, below, he has taken us back to Gutenberg's time:

"During the wrenching transition to print, experiments were only revealed in retrospect to be turning points. Aldus Manutius, the Venetian printer and publisher, invented the smaller octavo volume along with italic type. What seemed like a minor change — take a book and shrink it — was in retrospect a key innovation in the democratization of the printed word. As books became cheaper, more portable, and therefore more desirable, it expanded the market for all publishers, heightening the value of literacy still further.

That is what real revolutions are like. The old stuff gets broken faster than the new stuff is put in its place. The importance of any given novelty isn’t apparent at the moment it appears; big changes stall, small changes spread. Even the revolutionaries can’t predict what will happen..."

"Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism. For a century, the imperatives to strengthen journalism and to strengthen newspapers have been so tightly wound as to be indistinguishable. That’s been a fine accident to have, but when that accident stops, as it is stopping before our eyes, we’re going to need lots of other ways to strengthen journalism instead.

We don’t know who the Aldus Manutius of the current age is. It could be Craig Newmark, or Caterina Fake. It could be Martin Nisenholtz, or Emily Bell. It could be some 19 year old kid few of us have heard of, working on something we won’t recognize as vital until a decade hence. Any experiment, though, designed to provide new models for journalism is going to be an improvement over hiding from the real, especially in a year when, for many papers, the unthinkable future is already in the past.

For the next few decades, journalism will be made up of overlapping special cases. Many of these models will rely on amateurs as researchers and writers. Many of these models will rely on sponsorship or grants or endowments instead of revenues. Many of these models will rely on excitable 14 year olds distributing the results. Many of these models will fail. No one experiment is going to replace what we are now losing with the demise of news on paper, but over time, the collection of new experiments that do work might give us the reporting we need."

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