As is often the case, things tend to come at me in ironic pairs. This week it was a video of Jeff Jarvis' introduction to the New Business Models for News conference at CUNY, followed a few hours later by a link to a December 2007 TED Talk by Kevin Kelly about the next 5,000 days (give or take 700) of the Web. And as is so typically the case, I found myself angling away from what appears to be the most reasonable and likely future.
For those of you not inclined to watch such videos, here's my short synopsis:
Jarvis: The Knight Foundation funded this exploration of what might happen if a major metropolitan newspaper vacated its monopoly and was replaced by a new media ecosystem (an eventuality I've discussed here and here). The study found evidence for a lively and profitable ecosystem including a healthy local-news blogosphere and a new-style news organization. In the spirit of this new enterprise, they've provided a freely downloadable spreadsheet for anyone who wants to tweak the numbers.
Kelly: Two years ago, when the Web was about 5,000 days old, Kelly wondered what the next 5,000 days would look like in retrospect (one of my favorite ways of exploring futurism, btw). 5,700 days ago, most futurists thought the Web was going to be "like TV, only better." He suggests that no one then would have taken seriously the development of the Web-based culture we enjoy today, with free and/or low-cost tools that would have seemed like foolish Utopianism had anyone suggested them in the early 1990s. As for the future, he sees a unifying trend toward a cloud-based "one machine," plus a number of developments that will be familiar to people steeped in quality science fiction.
Even shorter? Jarvis is pointing toward a new media economy that looks an awful lot like a steady-state extension of the old media economy, only better. Kelly is suggesting that we need to get better at imagining things that seem impossible.