Monday, February 28, 2011

The internet delusion

I have already mentionned the seminal book from Evgueny Morozov on the "Internet Delusion". His focus is the complex relationship between Internet and Democracy and he shows, very convincingly, that the Web is just an instrument that can be used for or against freedom of speech.
The same delusion exists when I look at the interaction between Internet and Information. In the last issue of his, Frédéric Filloux delivers the last figures of the Washington Post Company. It shows, once more, that the prestigious daily has been losing money and circulation (less 7.5%) in 2010. What saves the Post is the earnings from its television branch and its huge education subsidiary, Kaplan.
And yet, people are eager for news, world news, local news but they are highly reluctant to pay as they already subscribe to an internet provider such as Orange or Free in France. The providers refuse to finance the news because they represent just a tiny share of the Web traffic. And advertising is present all over Internet and not only on news sites.
However, I am optimistic on the future of news services. They will be less on paper. It is possible that the system of daily newspapers is about to collapse and print publications will simply be offered once or twice a week. It is likeley that the way journalists work will change drastically as they are asked to provide both instant news on the Web and more in depth analysis on paper and Internet. The financing will include various contributions from advertising (display ads are thriving these last few months), subscriptions, private foundations that begin to play a role in the US. We'll find the money for doing other things. To morrow will be very different from to day.