I saw an interesting talk at CSAIL today by Nick Bilton, the lead technology writer for the New York Times Bits Blog.
He talked about a lot of things – data visualizations, the multi-tasking lifestyle, Internet-enabled journalism. He left an impression that the New York Times is way ahead of the curve in terms of news in the Internet Age. While their flagship offering may still be traditional ink on pulp, they have a fully-staffed R&D lab dedicated to prototyping new ways of finding, composing, and distributing news with technology. For an organization that uses old English text for its logo, that’s impressive.
But what struck me as most interesting, given his position, was his matter-of-fact attitude toward the changes in news: Newspapers will become extinct. Maybe in five, ten, or twenty years – whenever flexible OLED screens become cheap enough to use instead of paper. And in the face of the free-for-all publication platform that is the web, the traditional model of a select few organizations providing news to the masses will likely die out too. Yet there will always be news. And there will always be a market for news organizations and journalists, just as there is a market for experts in any field. They just won’t interact with us the same way they do now.