One of the subjects that come up frequently in discussions about the role of blogs is, “Are bloggers journalists?” Clay Shirky,author of “Here Comes Everybody” explains it through some insightful observations which I’m paraphrasing here (really, you gotta read this book!)…
A profession exists to solve a hard problem, one that requires some sort of specialization. They exist because there is a scarce resource that requires ongoing management. The scarcity of the resource itself creates the need for a professional class. “The old dictum that freedom of the press exists only for those who own a press points to the significance of the change. To speak online is to publish, and to publish online is to connect with others. With the arrival of globally accessible publishing, freedom of speech is now freedom of the press, and freedom of the press is freedom of assembly.” And THAT explains why the Chinese government is so paranoid about Google.
For journalists, the resource (access to the means of distributing information, news, opinion) is no longer scarce, so we’re seeing the mass amateurization of the profession. And to make matters worse, when the resource was limited, an editor’s role was necessary to determine “Why publish this?” Now, the question isn’t why, it has become “Why not?” So where previously, scarcity of the means of distribution meant journalism’s function was to filter information BEFORE publication. Now filtering comes AFTER publication (think Search, Google Alerts, RSS feeds).
Another way Professor Shirky phrases it is, “If everyone can do something, it is no longer rare enough to pay for, even if it is vital.” And that’s the conundrum journalism…and many other professions created from the old constraints face.
Translate this to marketing and you can see the difficulty many command and control organizations face: “in the open source world, trying something is often cheaper than making a formal decision about WHETHER to try it.” Yowza! The result, lots of 25 year old entrepreneurs eschewing the plodding slope of corporate advancement for the philosophy of “Just Do It.”