Back in 1998, when Amazon was just a classic Internet company, full of bits and vinegar, it got into some scrum with Barnes & Noble (more would follow) and issued a press release saying: “Goliath is always in range of a good slingshot.” Real talk! “Your company,” responded Barnes & Noble, “is now worth more than Barnes & Noble, Borders, and all of the independent booksellers combined.” Amazon replied with a memorable one-word press release: “Oh.” It’s not so puckish anymore, because it doesn’t have to be.
For years, people who write about TV have been wondering just what the tipping point would be, when DVR usage, online streaming, and pirated viewing of TV broadcasts would become so significant that networks would essentially have to invent a new business model. The networks aren’t at that point yet, but they’re so close that everybody’s talking about it with great confidence, as if the Internet hasn’t thrown a great fear of the unknown into their souls. There’s still far more money to be made in the old model, the sort of money that can still afford to produce big, ambitious shows like Revolution, as opposed to smaller-scale things like reality series and multi-camera sitcoms, than there is to be made under any new model. But the tipping point is almost here.
We get bullshit turf battles like Tumblr not being able to find your Twitter friends or Facebook not letting Instagram photos show up on Twitter because of giant companies pursuing their agendas instead of collaborating in a way that would serve users. And we get a generation of entrepreneurs encouraged to make more narrow-minded, web-hostile products like these because it continues to make a small number of wealthy people even more wealthy, instead of letting lots of people build innovative new opportunities for themselves on top of the web itself.
Amazon is special. Wall Street has essentially granted Bezos the right to operate an extremely forward-looking charitable venture on the theory that at some future point it will acquire monopoly pricing power and start screwing us all. Personally, I’m skeptical that theory makes sense, so I’m just going to enjoy the ride. But don’t hate on Amazon’s competitors for not offering as good a value proposition. Pity them. I’m sure the bosses here at the Washington Post Company would love the opportunity to just deliver products regardless of profit, never pay dividends, and get hailed as geniuses for figuring out that the key to running a great media brand is for expenses to be unrelated to costs.
Jennifer Egan’s storyboard manuscript for her Twitter story, “Black Box”
As discussed at @codemeetprint’s #twitterfiction event last night. Analog creation of a digital artifact that was also printed in the physical magazine.
Sad to see them go; I started reading at issue three and always enjoyed it.
Wait, the author who is profoundly irritated by Hipsters herself exhibits Hipster tendencies? Isn’t that just a little bit ir—*ALANIS MORISSETTE PRESSES COLD BARREL OF PISTOL AGAINST BACK OF BLOGGER’S SKULL, SLOWLY SHAKES HER HEAD*
The previously-anonymous creator of the popular Tumblr blog Hollywood Assistants has sold a sitcom to CBS inspired by her blog, which airs the day-to-day grievances of Hollywood assistants, illustrated with GIFs from television and movies. Some recent posts include “WHEN PEOPLE ASK HOW I AM FIRST THING IN THE MORNING” and “WHEN SOMEONE TELLS ME TO BE THE BIGGER PERSON.” As many have noted, it’s similar to many other GIF-centric blogs such as What Should We Call Me.
Canada’s Torstar reported fourth-quarter and fiscal year results Wednesday, and the performance of Harlequin fits the general pattern of other publicly-reported trade publishers: sales were down a little, and operating earnings rose. This is what the digital transition looks like.