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Is there only a Googlezon in our future


By Scott Bradner


The 'Net changes everything.  Observers keep saying that the  'Net changes everything.  Well, maybe not everything - the net does not change the temperature you have to heat the raw materials to in making steel -- but it does change a lot of things.  In most cases changes are underway but it is not yet possible to predict with any likelihood of being right what the state will be in, lets say, 10 years.  But that should not stop people from thinking about possible scenarios.


Lets take for example the printed news business.  Newspapers, news magazines, and other printed publications including trade journals like this one, have been furiously trying to figure out how to live with the Internet even though some of them fear that it will kill them in the long run. recently published their second annual review of the state of the news media. (  The report is not all that encouraging, and not just because of the impact of the Internet, although that is a major factor.  They found some major trends in journalism in 2005; they found a tendency to move to "faster, looser and cheaper" modes of operation, that the rise in partisanship was less than expected, and that mainstream media were not increasing investment in web-based news distribution.  They came to the conclusion that journalism has to move from being a barrier to news to taking on the role of a transparent and expert authenticator or referee.


Most of the more than 1,400 daily papers in the US have not done all that much to explore the power of the web.  A few, including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, have been attempting to figure out some way to make money and protect their revenue stream from their printed versions.  These two papers have taken very different paths.  The Times requires a free registration but almost all of its content is free on the web.  The Journal on the other hand, charges for its web content.  (The Times is about to start charging for some content but news will stay free.)  Both have been successful, but with the Times getting about 2% and the Journal about 3% neither gets a significant part of their annual revenue from their web operation.


The best you can say about the efforts of the news media to date to embrace the Internet as a change agent is that the efforts have been cautious.  Neither the Journal's closed fee-for-access (which blocks Google and other search engines so you donŐt know that there is an article you want to read) or the Times's mostly open mode can be seen as inspiring visions of the future.


One vision of what the future might hold is a mock documentary that came out late last year and predicts that by 2015 Google & Amazon will have merged to create Googlezon, a provider of individualized news, and will have driven the Times off-line. (


"All The News We Think You Want" -- that does not have quite the same ring to it.


disclaimer: Harvard can not limit itself to the information Harvard thinks a student wants and actually do its job but the above review is mine alone.