Clay Shirky: „The Internet is really the first thing ever invented worthy of the name media“

Clay Shirky hat dem Columbia Journalism Review Ende Dezember ’08 ein sehr spannendes Interview gegeben. Ich wollte schon länger darauf verweisen, bin aber nicht dazu gekommen. Gut, dass O’Reilly Radar mich eben noch einmal daran erinnert hat.

Ein paar Auszüge:

Zur Debate „Niemand liest mehr!!“:

What the Internet has actually done is not decimate literary reading; that was really a done deal by 1970. What it has done, instead, is brought back reading and writing as a normal activity for a huge group of people.

Was das Internet bewirkt und warum es jetzt erst richtig losgeht:

the deep effects seem to me to be that when people are given media that isn’t interactive, they invent their own interactions around it.


And what’s happened now is that the Web has gotten boring for a whole generation of teens and twenty-somethings. And so, because they can take it for granted, they’re using this platform to add interactivity around regular media consumption.

Zur Debatte „Das Internet führt zu einer kurzen Aufmerksamkeitsspanne!!“:

One of the things the Internet does by removing the old constraints—it’s really the first thing ever invented worthy of the name media, because it’s the first general purpose media we’ve ever had—is it almost never moves us from a world of one effect to another effect. It almost always increases the range of all effects.


But we don’t tell stories about long-form writing that couldn’t have thrived in the existing constraints of print media because print media squishes things down to be too short because it doesn’t match this narrative that was first set up for TV, which is “Oh, all this new media is shortening people’s attention spans and distracting them.”

Zu den (auch in Deutschland öfter anzutreffenden) Aussagen, dass das Internet uns in ein dunkles Zeitalter führe:

But when you look at the actual use of the Web, it is through the roof. And it has continued in an unbroken growth from the early ’90s until now. So, in fact, almost everybody thinks it’s a good idea because they’re embracing it and they’re experimenting with it and they don’t really care what we think.


If you want to point to more proximate harms, it would be very hard to argue, for example, that innovation, inventiveness, new intellectual discoveries had slowed as a result of the Internet, and so people are left with these kind of mealy-mouth cultural critiques, because nostalgia becomes the only bulwark against change. The actual effects of making more information available to more people have been enormously beneficial to society, yet not to the intellectual gatekeepers in the generation in which that change happened.

Zur Debatte „Information Overload!!“:

the information overload people are the most narcissistic because information overload started in Alexandria, in the library of Alexandria, right? That was the first example where we have concrete archaeological evidence that there was more information in one place than one human being could deal with in one lifetime, which is almost the definition of information overload.


So there is no such thing as information overload, there’s only filter failure, right?


The reason we think that there’s not an information overload problem in a Barnes and Noble or a library is that we’re actually used to the cataloging system. On the Web, we’re just not used to the filters yet, and so it seems like “Oh, there’s so much more information.” But, in fact, from the 1500s on, that’s been the normal case.

Über die Zustand und Zukunft des Journalismus und der Nachrichtenbranche allgemein:

So my nightmare is that every city with less than a quarter of a million people in it sees its only daily newspaper vanish.


But I think that the current newspapers, although they talk civic responsibility, do not seem to be turning themselves into nonprofit business models very quickly, which is what I think it’s going to take. So I think, essentially, to get the right mix of both publicly subsidized—not just in terms of money but also publicly supported in terms of time—journalistic organizations is really going to take a catastrophe.


A lot of working journalists, and especially print journalists, are in the position of being sort of kept women. They don’t really understand where the money comes from but, you know, their particular sugar daddy seems pretty flush, so they just never gave it much thought. And then one day the market crashes and they suddenly discover, “Wait a minute, we were a business? And our revenues had to exceed our expenses every year? Why wasn’t I informed?”


If there’s any lesson in all of this, it’s that you can breed an entire generation of really smart people to not think about existential threats to the business if you want to. We happen to be in an environment where, I think, it’s really damaged the print journalism world’s ability to think through the problems, because half the house hasn’t been invited into the conversation until just recently


It’s just what happened to photographers with the spread of cameras. There’s just many, many, many, many more photos than there used to be. But it’s harder to make your living just by owning a nice camera and setting up in town and taking pictures of people’s kids. So, you know, I think that changed. And I think journalism is essentially next in line to see that change, to go through that change.


Five years ago, I think I would have bet on the newspapers as they exist today being a big part of that new equilibrium—but, you know, they’ve done very, very little and been really unimaginative. So now, I think, if I had to make the same bet, I’d say most newspapers aren’t going to survive. Every bit of concern around the Web is, “How can we raise revenues to our existing cost structure?” rather than “How can we lower our cost structure to meet our existing revenues?”

Sehr viel mehr im sehr lesenswerten Interview:

Teil 1

Teil 2

Eine Goldmine an Aussagen über das Netz.

Clay Shirky ist neben Tim O’Reilly, Umair Haque, Laurence Lessig und Yochai Benkler einer der sehr wenigen Intellektuellen, die das Internet wirklich verstanden haben. (Oder es zumindest weit besser verstehen, als der Rest von uns Normalsterblichen.) abonnieren und keine Artikel mehr verpassen!

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About Marcel Weiß

Marcel Weiß, Jahrgang 1979, ist Gründer und Betreiber von
Er ist Diplom-Kaufmann, lebt in Berlin und ist seit 2007 als Analyst der Internetwirtschaft aktiv. Er arbeitet als (Senior) Strategy Analyst bei Exciting Commerce, schreibt für verschiedene Publikationen, unterrichtet als Gastdozent an der Popakademie Mannheim und hält Vorträge zu Themen der digitalen Wirtschaft. Mehr zum Autor.
Marcel Weiß auf Twitter und auf Facebook abonnieren. (Mehr)