“Authorship” and “Mediation” – Battelle on Disintermediation in AdAge… and My Comments

Here are the self-explanatory title and subtitle: “ARE YOU BECOMING IRRELEVANT TO YOUR CUSTOMERS? Why Marketers, Agencies and Media Execs Need to Understand Disintermediation“. Here is a link to the full article (AdAge requires registration). Here is a link to John’s posting on his own SearchBlog.

Among the many good points by John or as he calls them “ground rules for media in a Web-dominated world“:

  • join the ‘point-to’ economy,
  • make your living in the long tail,
  • creative no longer driver,
  • writers go directly to readers,
  • rise of the new middlemen – meaning Yahoo, Google, IAC, etc.

I would like to comment though on something John says:

“Publishers are born connectors, they bring like-minded people together. They are also conversationalists of the first order. They foster the interaction between the three key parties in commercial media: the audience, the author/creator and the marketer. This facilitation is still very much needed. And as much as the folks at Google would beg to differ, when it comes to true value, nothing beats human communication. Figure out a way to be part of the conversation, and you will always prosper.”

I would question a basic assumption underlying the discussion – the “author-audience” relationship – as a given… as something that still needs facilitation by marketers – even in a conversational framework.

I would argue that – on a deeper cultural level – we live through (for quite some time already) a crisis of the idea of “creation” itself as a mode sustaining its terms: “author” and “audience“. Our culture is steadily re-telling the hierarchical “one-to-many” structures through “many-to-many” network models. In a conversation, we don’t really have a “teller” and an “audience.” Everybody is both “talking” and “listening” in a peer to peer environment.

So, what kind of mediation such a conversation needs. “Moderating” comes to mind… which may be as good as Ted Koppel’s televised town square meetings, but is that the conversation John is having in mind? Ted will be retiring soon.

Then, there is the “creative” in the “mediation” business itself. Once you are “creative”, you stop being “part of the conversation” – you try to take “the center” of it. And this, again, reminds me somewhat of Ted sitting pretty on a high chair.

My point being… I am not sure that “authorship” and “mediation” are sustainable values in the context of a real non-moderated conversation.