Dave Winer said something the other day during the latest “Newspapers are dead” meme that I can’t get out of my head:
“In the future, every educated person will be a journalist, as today we are all travel agents and stock brokers. The reporters have been acting as middlemen, connecting sources with readers, who in many cases are sources themselves. As with all middlemen, something is lost in translation, an inefficiency is added. So what we’re doing now, in journalism, as with all other intermediated professions, is decentralizing.“
I remember the whole disintermediation discussion from around 1998 when people debated which markets would be crushed by the Internet first. It was obvious then that just about any job that functions like a broker or agent would at least be challenged if not destroyed completely. It was amazing to watch the travel agency business disappear as fast as it did.
But there are subtleties to the form of disintermediation playing out today that seemed impossible 10 years ago. Umair Haque and John Hagel have suggested in their investigations of edge economics that any job function that makes money off the friction of distribution of information is threatened.
This kind of ends the whole debate about whether or not content wants to be free. That doesn’t really matter. The question is more about how else can we remove friction in the flow of information. What other kinds of information will be decentralized and when?
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