Friday, 21 March 2008

The Web: Telecoms or Media?

I interviewed Clay Shirky this week for a new TV programme I am presenting for the Spectator. More on that later. Clay has a fascinating new book out on the impact of social media called 'Here Comes Everybody'. It's full of well-tuned insights into the web. One that struck me as telling was his point about use-generated content. Lots of people - particularly in the mainstream media - complain that the postings on blogs, the clips on YouTube, the homepages on MySpace etc are rubbish. And, of course they are, at least compared to professionally produced material. But Clay's point is that we should think of them more like phone calls than broadcasts. The fact that they are amateurish doesn't matter, becuase they are only intended for a few people anyway. There's a lot of truth in that. The point about the web is that it is really a development of the telephone. Once you take that on board, everything becomes a lot clearer.

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