February 17, 2005

Does Michael Wolff get it or not?

Michael Wolff understands new media. He understands that information has become devalued, that if someone wants to find something they can, that the gatekeepers of old, to use Jeff Jarvis's favourite term, can no longer control what people can and can't read. He even gave a speech about it recently:

I first gave the "information wants to be free" speech 12 years ago... I gave this speech and everybody said no, no, no. You're crazy, content is king... Well, we all know that they were wrong, that I was right...
A profound change has happened. The ecology of information has altered, and virtually nobody (at least nobody who has a job) has been willing to really examine the implications of information flowing not from its usual source but from so many other sources. The implications of one person having this remarkable control. I mean, that's the reversal. It used to be that if you were an information provider you had control. Now you have no control. Control has absolutely passed to the consumer.

The speech was transcribed by IWantMedia, who put it up on their site. And then took it down. Wolff explains to FishbowlNY:

It wasn't an interview. It was a talk I gave that somebody recorded and then transcribed. Beyond being purloined, it was poorly transcribed, unedited, and not meant to be a piece of written work, so I asked that it not be published.

But doesn't he know that you can't unpublish information any more? If you still want to read it, the transcription is here. Just understand that it is poorly transcribed, unedited, and not meant to be a piece of written work. (BTW, I made the decision to host the page myself, and I've posted it on my personal site, not on MemeFirst.com. If anybody's liable here, it's me, and no one else at MF has anything to do with this.)

UPDATE: I've taken down the page. But Google Cache still has it.

UPDATE 2: The page has magically appeared at cryptome.org.

Posted by Felix at 08:13 PM GMT

I'm always a little wary of sweeping statements such as "Control has absolutely passed to the consumer."

OK, you are proving his point by posting what you want from him. But surely distribution still matters. I don't know how many people are going to read his speech as a result of it being on MemeFirst. Surely it is a smaller number than if CNN.com decided to make a meal of it. Yes consumers have control but they have to be actively interested in something first to bother with finding it. Although people surf the web, I suspect that most people have a list of sites they visit regularly, and the rest is random. It takes a branded site to widely disseminate something; we can rant all we want on MemeFirst but is it meaningful to the content's creator? Maybe somewhat, if he or she is aware of MemeFirst, but not as much as if it ended up on the homepage of Yahoo.

Posted by: Jame on February 18, 2005 01:37 AM

None of the links above work now -- Cryptome has some corespondence about a DMCA threat that forced them to disgorge. Google cache isn't permanent and expires after a month or so; it's gone. Wayback machine also has no record.

Very thorough -- for the moment it appears you CAN unpublish it. We have always been at war with Eurasia.

Posted by: Alan on April 1, 2005 09:24 AM