example, it's extremely difficult these days to make a living
as a writer. There's simply too much good writing available
on the net at no cost. Most zines can choose their content
from a rich supply of material that is never paid for.
however, the key word for getting paid in cyberspace is
interaction. The software giants are now demonstrating this
with a vengeance. They recognize that the number of bootlegged
copies of their programs is enormous. So they lower the
cost of software, but raise the rates for technical support
services. Borland's Paradox, for instance, dropped from
$500 to $100 for a vastly improved product. But to get access
to an 800 technical support number that someone will answer
in less than five minutes will cost you $250 a year, every
year. In this way, they might even sell the program for
$10 and still make money.
therefore, has to begin viewing his or her writing differently.
The article or essay or video clip is given away; it's not
the product, it's advertising for a related but a different
product. On the basis of the appeal of your article, you
go on to sell yourself as a speaker or seminar leader or
editor of a specialty newsletter. You get paid to the degree
that you can establish an ongoing, preferably person-to-person,
back-and-forth communication with your customers.
successful journalist of the future, therefore, will not
simply be an employee of a large city newspaper or TV station.
With the shrinking number of major dailies, this is an elite,
restricted job market anyway. A writer would do better as
an independent contractor who develops a niche, an area
of expertise, in which he or she can become a consultant
and teacher as well as a writer. Nor should writers limit
themselves to the printed word. A variety of new skills
will be needed-- the ability to combine text with graphics,
sound and video; create documents in hypertext; format documents
for Home Pages and CD ROM, etc.
the impact of the creative energies bubbling up from below,
the importance of the media giants in shaping the media
of the future will still be decisive. The simple reason
is that the massive amounts of resources involved in assembling
the architecture of the global information infrastructure
are far beyond the reach of local entrepreneurs. Inner city
youth may make ingenious use of beepers and cellular phones,
but the economies of scale needed to launch a network of
satellites to sustain cellular communications is far beyond
there is one arena where the small scale, hand-held new
media technology can have a magnified impact: politics.
If we proceed from Tip O'Neil's maxim that "all politics
is local," then the usefulness of the technology already
in the hands of young people becomes quite apparent. Imagine
what happens when the street-based beeper-cellular mini-networks
are used to get out the vote. Or think of the Rodney King
video and imagine what happens when homegrown rock videos
shift into the realm of political documentary and agitation.
Then think of the synergy unleashed when creative breakthroughs
in one part of the world are posted on the Internet, a la
the Zapatistas and their Home Page on the World Wide Web
beamed up to satellites from laptops in the jungles of Yucatan.
it’s going to be hard to predict just how these insurgencies
and experiments will bring themselves to fruition. But I am
fairly certain that the future of media is not going to be 500
channels of home shopping. Even if the media giants wanted to
move in that direction, the dynamic interplay and conflict between
the young and the establishment is bound to move things in directions
that can be both more creative and more destructive at the same
time. So fasten your seatbelts; it's going to be a bumpy ride.