Home > Culture, Digital Life, Economy > Digitize or Die- but Show Me the Money

Digitize or Die- but Show Me the Money

How fast is the digital arena changing?  Billionaire entrepreneur, Mark Cuban recently blogged that Google is so 2008.   Well, actually, the exact quote is:  “Having to search for and find news in search engines is so 2008.” Now I know Mr. Cuban can be rather provocative in his comments and they do generate a lot of reaction (and see I just linked to his weblog), but geez, we’ve still got a month and half to go to 2009- and something can already be so “2008?”

Well, yes.  Fox Corp mogul, Rupert Murdoch wants to charge folks for access to Fox News web sites. Murdoch recently said he wanted to de-index Fox News from Google- that they were basically stealing from him- and Cuban thinks there is a method to the madness.    Cuban says Murdoch doesn’t actually need Google anymore because Twitter and Facebook have basically eradicated the need for search engines.  Why type words in a box when you can just sign up for branded news feeds, click on a link and, boom, you’re there.  And if you sign up for a specific brand, you’re obviously a loyal customer and therefore more valuable to advertisers.

Now, I do have friends who, unlike me, are very digital-savvy.  Twitter, some of them argue, is influential in many ways but still pales in usage compared to both Facebook and Google.  And there are a lot of skeptics out there who think Rupert is nuts about charging for web content.  It’s one thing for the Wall Street Journal to successfully charge for its products because it has truly differentiated and unique content.  But Fox News?  You can get the same stuff that’s on their web site on dozens and dozens of other major news network-branded sites.

I don’t know where this is all going but I do understand why Murdoch wants to charge for his news products.  It’s the same reasoning Walter Isaacson, head of the Aspen Institute and former CNN President and Time magazine honcho suggests an I-Tunes model in which people pay a buck to read a newspaper article.  The traditional advertising-based business model for broadcasting and print is not working anymore.  Newspapers, television & radio news networks, not to mention local TV and Radio stations, will soon become extinct if somebody doesn’t figure out something and soon.

I am no expert in the digital arena and don’t pretend to be.  But I do get a sense that digital technology is now changing the patterns of consumption of information exponentially.  It really IS possible that something CAN be “so 2008.”  The pace at which new media is changing our lives is breathtaking.  Stand still for one second and you’re left in the dust.  I know a lot of people who used to ply their trade in the mainstream media who are covered in that dust and are figuring out that there are now two options; Digitize or Die.  But exactly how will the digital trail lead to money?  I guess when every media corporation does exactly what Rupert wants to do.  When you no longer have a choice of paying for something or getting it for free.

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