Aug

3

Slashdot.org is giving its readers highly granular control over its feed. I was struck by the elegance of this:

Play with the color slider to find the level you enjoy reading most at.

My daughter, 8, will likely never have to memorize the fixed formats of pre-printed periodicals to home in on regular features of interest. As a former newspaper layout geek, it's interesting to see generations of habit suddenly rendered moot.

Stefan Jovanovich extends:

When I left New York 35 years ago the New York Times had the presumption that it was like the medieval church or the compulsory public school, that the common folk had to accept what was preached at them whether or not it was of any use or interest to them. Apparently, that presumption endures even with the changes that have occurred in the world of information.

There are 14,000 radio stations broadcasting today, twice the number that existed in 1970. This does not include satellite radio, which in the six years since its launch has acquired 13 million subscribers nationwide. Eighty-six percent of American households subscribe to cable or satellite TV, receiving an average of 102 channels; many receive two, three, four, and even five times that number. As of 2005 there were 18,267 separate magazines with regular publication schedules; in 1993 there were 14,302. The Internet Systems Consortium says that in 1982 there were 235 Internet host computers that allowed people to post content on the web; in 2006 the count was 400 million. Technorati counts more than 63 million blogs on the net. They believe 175,000 new ones are created every day.

Welcome to debate whether the Sulzbergers and the Times's staff are more or less honest than Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch, and Fox News; but that is truly an academic question. What is incontrovertible is that Mr. Murdoch's team has been amazingly more successful in gathering a paying audience. They have, in a matter of years, gained more viewers and readers than the Times acquired in the half century after the Herald Tribune stopped publication.

Gutenberg's movable type made writings that had been accessible to thousands available to millions. It did not guarantee that anything written would be honest, but it did mean that the judges in the competition for the truth would be all who took the trouble to learn to read, not just those lucky people who had been anointed by official learning. 


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