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The traditional media organizations may have structural inefficiencies – middle management bloat for instance – but they do one thing right – aggregate and package content for large audiences and mass consumption.
The ever thoughtful Nicholas Carr, in his latest column in The Guardian draws that parallel, and points out that just like in the old world, on the web big are getting bigger, using examples of Wikipedia, MySpace and Google.
In the end, though, the Internet seems to be following the same pattern that has always characterized popular media. A few huge outlets come to dominate readership and viewership and smaller, more specialized ones are consigned to the periphery.
But this is where the similarities end. Traditionalists try and keep the audiences locked into their content, while folks like Google and Wikipedia are spring boards for people to continue their journey. Nevertheless, Carr’s argument holds true today, though I believe that in the future, the big-getting-bigger model is going to mutate – just a tad!
The diversity of content (web or video) increases, the focus will shift on density – in other words on specialized focus areas that aggregate highly focused content. Sort of like the shift from broadcast channels to cable TV channels, settling at a happy medium between the big-n-bigger and the so-called long tail. (Robert Young called it the Fat Belly.)
For some of the young new media start-ups, it is a vital lesson, one I argued for in my column for Business 2.0 about the Hyper Aggregators – websites that aggregate content from aggregators like YouTube and Flickr – for easy and quick consumption of copious amount of information.
“Since the dawn of the Web, we’ve been plagued by too much information and too little time to consume it. It’s impossible to keep up with dozens of social networks, millions of videos, and thousands of blogs. Hyper-aggregation is simply a way to do in the new-media world what old media has done for centuries: neatly package information.”