My pal Hugh McGuire — you probably know him from Librivox, he swears on his blog too — wrote a post with some words to the wise: Defining What You Are For (just like porn). He explains how one of the reasons porn is so darned profitable is “[b]ecause the porn biz understands exactly what it is for” and then wonders if other institutions like newspapers and libraries really understand what they are for. It’s not primarily a post about libraries, but since Hugh is the president of the Board of Directors of the Atwater Library (a library with a drupal website and an apartment inside it, those who know me know that I hyperventilate as I type this) this is a topic near and dear to him.
But the real value a newspaper performs is not giving me good articles, itâ€™s putting it all together. The mere provision of information is worthless now, because anyone can do it (even me).
This is why blogs – at least in the techno-intelligencia – win. Blogs are excellent selectors of information, while newspapers are pretty clunky at it – because for the past 300 years they existed in an ecosystem where information was scarce. Now information (and access to it) is abundant. So a site like BoingBoing becomes one of the most popular on the net: their craft is not providing information, itâ€™s selecting it. And theyâ€™re good at it.