The Death of the Media: Remember Clay Tablets?

May 24, 2024

dinosaur30a_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dinobaby. Unlike some folks, no smart software improved my native ineptness.

Did the home in which you grew from a wee one to a hyperspeed teen have a plaster cast which said, “Home sweet home” or “Welcome” hanging on the wall. My mother had those craft sale treasures everywhere. I have none. The point is that the clay tablets from ancient times were not killed, put out of business, or bankrupted because someone wrote on papyrus, sheep skin, or bits of wood. Eliminating a communications medium is difficult. Don’t believe me? Go to an art fair and let me know if you were unable to spot something made of clay with writing or a picture on it.


I mention these older methods of disseminating a message because I read “Publishers Horrified at New Google AI Feature That Could Kill What’s Left of Journalism.” Really?

The write up states:

… preliminary studies on Google’s use of AI in its search engine has the potential to reduce website traffic by 25 percent, The Associated Press reports. That could be billions in revenue lost, according to an interview with Marc McCollum, chief innovation officer for content creator consultancy Raptive, who was interviewed by the AP.

The idea is that “real” journalism depends on Google for revenue. If the revenue from Google’s assorted ad programs tossing pennies to Web sites goes away, so will the “real” journalism on these sites.

If my dinobaby memory is working, the AP (Associated Press) was supported by newspapers. Then the AP was supported by Google. What’s next? I don’t know, but the clay tablet fellows appear to have persisted. The producers of the tablets probably shifted to tableware. Those who wrote on the tablets learned to deal with ink and sheepskin.


Chilling in the room thinking thoughts of doom. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. Keep following your security recipe.

AI seems to be capable of creating stories like those in Smartnews or one of the AI-powered spam outfits. The information is recycled. But it is good enough. Some students today seem incapable of tearing themselves from their mobile devices to read words. The go-to method for getting information is a TikTok-type service. People who write words may be fighting to make the shift to new media.

One thing is reasonably clear: Journalists and media-mavens are concerned that a person will take an answered produced by a Google-like service. The entering a query approach to information is a “hot medium thing.” Today kicking back and letting video do the work seems to be a winner.

Google, however, has in my opinion been fiddling with search since it “innovated” in its implementation of the approach to “pay to play” search. If you want traffic, buy ads. The more one spends, the more traffic one’s site gets. That’s simple. There are some variations, but the same Google model will be in effect with or without Google little summaries. The lingo may change, but where there are clicks. When there are clicks, advertisers will pay to be there.

Google can, of course, kill its giant Googzilla mom laying golden eggs. That will take some time. Googzilla is big. My theory is that enterprising people with something to say will find a way to get paid for their content outputs regardless of their form. True, there is the cost of paying, but that’s the same hit the clay table took thousands of years ago. But those cast plaster and porcelain art objects are probably on sale at an art fair this weekend.


  1. The fear is palpable. Why not direct it to a positive end? Griping about Google which has had 25 years to do what it wanted to do means Google won’t change too much. Do something to generate money. Complaining is unlikely to produce a result.
  2. The likelihood Google shaft a large number of outfits and individuals is nearly 99 percent. Thus, moving in a spritely manner may be a good idea. Google is not a sprinter as its reaction to Microsoft’s Davos marketing blitz made clear.
  3. New things do appear. I am not sure what the next big thing will be. But one must pay attention.

Net net: The sky may be falling. The question is, “How fast?” Another is, “Can you get out of the way?”

Stephen E Arnold, May 24, 2024


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