The FG Snipers Draw a Bead

November 22, 2017

Facebook (hereinafter “F”) and Google (hereinafter “G”) are the part of the new sport FG sniping. Favored by the Guardian and other “real” publishers, F and G are plump, apparently arrogant, and seemingly clueless targets. The horrible companies do not “give back” to the “real” magazines and newspapers which have been eroded by the flow of clicks flowing to F and G.

A fun example of this blood sport appear in “Why Magazine Mogul Tina Brown Is ‘Angry and Upset’ at Google and Facebook.” I highlighted three comments Tina Brown (Oxford graduate and traditional print journalist) allegedly made to a “real” journalist who has gone over to the dark side of online content creation.

Number One:

I [Tina Brown, Oxford graduate] am very angry and upset about the way advertising revenue has been essentially pirated by the Facebook-Google world

Ahoy, mates. Google indexes. “Real” publishers tried this; for example, the New York Times and its fumbling with LexisNexis and its own Jeff Pemberton led initiative decades ago. Google succeeded; the NYT and other “real” publishers failed. Sour grapes?

Number Two:

When you don’t have human beings who have judgment, who have taste, who have a sense of responsibility, you can have any old Russian hacker dishing it out to the American public.

Not just any “human beings.” The “right” type of human being is a trained journalist like those who do the “This Week in Google” podcast perhaps? Plus, last I knew, F and G had human beings. Mr. Brin, for example, allegedly behaved in a human manner with a certain Google Glass marketing maven. The disconnect is that some human beings are more adept at applying technology to content processing and delivering what users want. On the other hand, “real” publishers certain knew how to generate “yellow” journalism and engage in other fascinating human activities.

Number Three:

People don’t know what’s important or where to find it.

To be clear, some people do know what’s important and where to find it. The problem is that People Magazine or the grocery store tabloid the National Enquirer are not much different from “real” newspapers and magazines.

What the issue is, of course, is the fact that traditional publishing has found itself marginalized. The arbiters of taste and judgment from places like Oxford and Yale are a bit overwhelmed because they don’t get traffic or a sufficient number of likes.

Where in the modern economy is the “law” which says that F and G have to give back to the outfits which have failed to adapt to the new world.

I guess Darwinian principles (Darwin was a Cambridge graduate) don’t apply to those Oxford graduates  who wish to enshrine dead tree methods. From my vantage point in Harrod’s Creek, Darwin (a Cambridge graduate) is alive and well. Just look at those informed individuals living in trailers living by the creek. Also, in forward leaning  places like Palo Alto, one can observe on the way to F and G the lines of SUVs and motor homes which provide safe havens for Facebook posts and Google searches.

Life would be so much better if time stood still. Are F and G clueless? Should large companies “give back”? One could consult Adam Smith I suppose. Oh, Smith was an allegedly unhappy Oxforder. Nasty intellectual environment my economics professor observed as I recall.

Failure can be unpalatable. Zeros and ones leave a bitter after taste on the tongues of some arbiters of taste.

Stephen E Arnold, November 22, 2017

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