Feb 12

The shift of power from print to digital: a hinge moment

Buried on page 11 of this week’s Spectator was eloquent evidence of a slow but inexorable shift with large consequences: the transfer of power and influence from printed newspapers to digital publishing.

Oh that, you may say. Old news. Isn’t that already blindingly obvious? Doesn’t this blog go on about just that all the time?

Yes, but that doesn’t mean that everyone sees it. Big, slow changes are hard to trace and measure when you’re living in the middle of them. And newspapers still have a central role, clout and readers. But have a look at Charles Moore’s short note about the importance of Conservative Home and its owner, the Tory peer Michael Ashcroft. Moore describes Ashcroft as on his way to being “the Beaverbrook of the internet age.”

I pick this example of because it is hard to imagine a magazine less likely to fall for hype based on a techno-fad than the Spectator. The same applies to Moore, who as a political commentator is interested in power and its use. What he is observing here is a redistribution of political influence caused by the technological revolution of the last fifteen years. Old powers will wane; new ones will use the opportunities to rise. Digital is transformative and not adaptive change.

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Jul 10

Wikileaks Afghan war logs: update

I was going to add these links to earlier posts about the Wikileaks Afghan war logs but interesting new items keep appearing, so I’ll group them here.

  • Will the disclosures bring the war to an earlier end? Alexander Cockburn of firstpost.co.uk asks whether disclosures end wars and, having consulted (that dispassionate and disinterested witness) Noam Chomsky, he concludes they rarely do.
  • The Times has developed its earlier story that the documents put the lives of Afghans in contact with the US or British forces at risk. Plus angry editorial. (Payment required for both). Update 30/7/10: free version of this angle from Channel 4 News.
  • It might be expected that one of the best in-context reflections on the significance  of the leaks would be from Ahmed Rashid, and so it proves (from The Spectator). The opening of this piece also sorts the new material from the not-so-new in the leaks.
  • In her comment on my post looking at the implications for journalism, my City University colleague and our Visiting Fellow Heather Brooke thinks I was underselling what we already do on data journalism.