Web 2.0, the all-encompassing term that stands for enhancing creativity, communications, information sharing, collaboration and functionality on the Web, is dead.
And, in case you've missed the last 10 years of your life, printed newspapers also are dying.
Clarification. Web 2.0, the term, is dead. Because, if a Web site isn't about creativity, relationships, content sharing and collaboration, it's a dinosaur. And, newspapers are about as far from these forms of interactivity that you'll find.
I'm not alone in calling newspapers dead, so I realize that I'm not breaking ground here. And, full disclosure, I read a printed newspaper regularly. But I mainly use the dead tree version to hunt for advertisers that should, in my humble opinion, be working with OnMilwaukee.com or, at the very least, spending their money in places that are more accountable. Most everything else (from box scores to movie listing to investigative content) in a daily paper can be better found and consumed elsewhere, specifically online.
Time magazine recently offered ideas on how to "save" newspapers. It's been years since I read Time, and while their story didn't offer any major insight it did continue the death beat drums for printed papers. Read it for yourself here.
The story also led to Jon Stewart's proposal to put some kind of narcotic on newsprint to get readers addicted. Instead of ink rubbing off on your fingers, he said, it would be traces of a drug you would ingest. Creative, indeed, and obviously sarcasm. This is how far newsprint has fallen.
Yet, it's still hard to convince people that newspapers will die completely. I do think they will eventually. Probably in 20-30 years, if not a bit sooner.
Consider this, we're only 10 years into the Relationship Media era and look at how much your media consumption habits have changed. Leap forward 20 years and it's almost scary what the future holds.
Every thing today is about making information easier to share. When media companies do this, revenue and readership expand. Newspaper companies are finally figuring this out as they build out, invest and expand their online products and properties.
Seth Godin hit the nail on the head with a recent post titled, "When newspapers are gone, what will you miss?" His conclusion? Nothing. I agree.
Enjoy Godin's "dead on" thoughts about the pending death of newspapers. I've cut and pasted his post below. After you read it, use the OnMilwaukee.com talk back feature to react.
Years and years after some pundits began predicting the end of newspapers, the newspapers themselves are finally realizing that it's over. Huge debt, high costs, declining subscription rates, plummeting ad base--will the last one out please turn off the lights.
On their way out, though, we're hearing a lot of, "you'll miss us when we're gone..." laments. I got to thinking about this. It's never good to watch people lose their livelihoods or have to move on to something new, even if it might be better. I respect and honor the hard work that so many people have put into newspapers along the way. If we make a list of newspaper attributes and features, which ones would you miss?
Woodpulp, printing presses, typesetting machines, delivery trucks, those stands on the street and the newsstand... I think we're okay without them.
The sports section? No, that's better online, and in no danger of going away, in fact, overwritten commentary by the masses is burgeoning.
The weather? Ditto. Comics are even better online, and I don't think we'll run out of those.
Book and theater and restaurant reviews? In fact, there are more of these online, often better, definitely more personal and relevant, and also in no danger of going away.
The full page ads for local department stores? The free standing inserts on Sunday? The supermarket coupons? Easily replaced.
How about the editorials and op eds? Again, I think we're not going to see opinion go away, in fact, the web amplifies the good stuff.
What's left is local news, investigative journalism and intelligent coverage of national news. Perhaps 2% of the cost of a typical paper. I worry about the quality of a democracy when the state government or the local government can do what it wants without intelligent coverage. I worry about the abuse of power when the only thing a corrupt official needs to worry about is the TV news. I worry about the quality of legislation when there isn't a passionate, unbiased reporter there to explain it to us.
But then I see the in depth stories about the gowns to be worn to the inauguration or the selection of the White House dog and I wonder if newspapers are the most efficient way to do this anyway.
The Web has excelled at breaking the world into the tiniest independent parts. We don't use this to support that online. Things support themselves. The food blog isn't a loss leader for the gardening blog. They're separate, usually run by separate people or organizations.
Punchline: if we really care about the investigation and the analysis, we'll pay for it one way or another. Maybe it's a public good, a non-profit function. Maybe a philanthropist puts up money for prizes. Maybe the Woodward and Bernstein of 2017 make so much money from breaking a story that it leads to a whole new generation of journalists.
The reality is that this sort of journalism is relatively cheap (compared to everything else the newspaper had to do in order to bring it to us.) Newspapers took two cents of journalism and wrapped in ninety-eight cents of overhead and distraction. The magic of the web, the reason you should care about this even if you don't care about the news, is that when the marginal cost of something is free and when the time to deliver it is zero, the economics become magical. It's like 6 divided by zero. Infinity.
I'm not worried about how muckrakers will make a living. Tree farmers, on the other hand, need to find a new use for newsprint.
A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.
He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.
Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.
He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.
He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.