Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Internet: too much information at too low a cost

Is the Internet a valuable tool for knowledge-seekers? Not according to Rupert Murdoch:

Instead, we are engulfed by a tsunami of unmediated content too often resembling a stream of unpaid free associations. Digital advocates promise individuals can now unleash their inner writer or publisher. In whose interests might that be, apart from all the too busy therapists or burgeoning creative writing programs?

That might sound like Murdoch but it's actually Melbourne University Publishing (MUP) CEO Louise Adler, who, despite being a left-winger, expects readers to pay a premium price for a "superior" product:

Readers have long depended on a series of quality controls: editors in publishing houses sifting the gold from the dross, a vibrant critical culture, a community of readers, and the unscientific yet powerful market force of "word of mouth". These tools for discernment and discrimination will be more necessary in the e-book era.

Yet no amount of MUP editing was able to turn this dross into gold. Crank out a few more books like that and "the unscientific yet powerful market force of [Internet] 'word of mouth'" will kill MUP.


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