Beyond blogonomics

©Blogads

In 2002 Henry Copeland, chief of Blogads and Pressflex.com, wrote about how blogs, largely unknown at the time, would change web writing and publishing forever. He was right. Then in 2008 in these pages, he told us to bet on Twitter several months before it took off (the OECD opened its first accounts in April 2009). So where is the information world taking us now? Henry provides some fresh thoughts.

We’re heading for more of the same, only faster. The old gatekeepers–the publishers who owned printing presses and broadcast towers–are being squeezed from two sides. Individuals now create far more content, whether on blogs, Craigslist, Instagram, Rapgenius, Wikipedia or Youtube–than traditional publishers. And people increasingly rely on peer judgments–via the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Google– rather than consuming what publishers and broadcasters can afford to serve them.

Publishers are starting to realise that the game is now “out there” and not inside their walled gardens. Readers want to be catered to via the platform or functionality of their choice. In short, if tweets are the new headlines, then retweeters are the new editors.

So what about print? The other day I heard a management consultant say, in all seriousness, that “print will survive because we need something to read while the jet is taking off.” A narrow niche indeed, and probably too narrow. Sadly, the looming collapse of print hurts more than those who own printing presses–many studies indicate that people remember more from the printed page than the screen. So maybe printed objects will stage a comeback as a status fetish among connoisseurs, just as vinyl has for music records. I doubt we’ll see a proximity print-on-demand boom… who wants to buy more printer cartridges?

Looking at media five years ahead, I take a Marxist view: the means of production and consumption will continue to dictate the shape of our knowledge and interactions. And the main factors of production will be labour–which means there will be increasing employment of people who create content in finer and finer niches. And finer and finer technology, with microqualities that meet niche demands, such as a device that allows you instantly to glean and share your favourite pullquotes– a perfect device for a journal such as the OECD Observer!

But let’s recall how this model of media history has played out online to date. Starting more than a decade ago, blogs excelled because they were the first content format to fully embody the qualities that distinguish the web from print: easy publishing, plentiful linking to other web sources, infinite page scrolling, and a constant streaming information for readers craving news and excitement throughout the workday which they could comment on directly. More recently, Twitter and Instagram have exploded because they’re perfectly configured for creating, sharing and consuming snack-size content on smartphones.

Even Google is being squeezed, not by the sheer volume of content, but by the number of new modes of cyber activity– likes, retweets, shares–which create a universe of online conversations that lie beyond the reach of Google’s robots.

Next up, the tablet. In the next decade we’ll see one or more of the tablet’s unique qualities–its large-yet-portable form factor, swipability, and bed-side convenience –fertilise some amazing new tools or knowledge formats.

That new micro-targeting technology to grab out pull quotes will help journalists and researchers for instance. If pushed, I’d bet on something like DoodleorDie, which is a drawn variation on the old parlour game Exquisite Corpse.

And history won’t end with the tablet. Ten years from now smartphones and tablets will have been replaced by some new configuration of form, factor and functionality, and we’ll see the emergence of entirely new media configurations and idioms, to fill those vessels.

Visit www.blogads.com

Copeland, Henry (2012), “Blogonomics, ten years on”, available at Blogads.com, May 28.

OECD Observer (2008), “Internet time”, Interview with Henry Copeland, No 268, June.

©OECD Observer No 293 Q4 November 2012




Economic data

GDP growth: +0.6% Q3 2017 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 2.3% Sept 2017 annual
Trade: +1.4% exp, +1.7% imp, Q2 2017
Unemployment: 5.7% Sept 2017
Last update: 14 Nov 2017

E-Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive paper editions delivered to you directly


Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • Papers show “past coming back to haunt us”: OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria tells Sky News that the so-called "Paradise Papers" show a past coming back to haunt us, but one which is now being dismantled. Please watch the video.
  • The annual OECD Eurasia Week takes place in Almaty, Kazakhstan 23-25 October. Writing in The Astana Times, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría urges Eurasia countries to stay the course on openness and international integration, which has brought prosperity but also disillusionment, notably regarding inequality. The OECD is working with this key region, and Mr Gurría urges Eurasia to focus on human capital and innovation to enhance productivity and people’s well-being. Read more.
  • When someone asks me to describe an ideal girl, in my head, she is a person who is physically and mentally independent, brave to speak her mind, treated with respect just like she treats others, and inspiring to herself and others. But I know that the reality is still so much different. By Alda, 18, on International Day of the Girl. Read more.
  • Globalisation’s many benefits have been unequally shared, and public policy has struggled to keep up with a rapidly-shifting world. The OECD is working alongside governments and international organisations to help improve and harness the gains while tackling the root causes of inequality, and ensuring a level playing field globally. Please watch.
  • Read some of the insightful remarks made at OECD Forum 2017, held on 6-7 June. OECD Forum kick-started events with a focus on inclusive growth, digitalisation, and trust, under the overall theme of Bridging Divides.
  • Checking out the job situation with the OECD scoreboard of labour market performances: do you want to know how your country compares with neighbours and competitors on income levels or employment?
  • Trade is an important point of focus in today’s international economy. This video presents facts and statistics from OECD’s most recent publications on this topic.
  • How do the largest community of British expats living in Spain feel about Brexit? Britons living in Orihuela Costa, Alicante give their views.
  • Brexit is taking up Europe's energy and focus, according to OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. Watch video.
  • OECD Chief Economist Catherine Mann and former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King discuss the economic merits of a US border adjustment tax and the outlook for US economic growth.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at www.oecd.org/careers .

Most Popular Articles

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2017