“ A decade from now, it has never been easier for people to make their lives part of the media landscape . . . The press, as you know it, has ceased to exist. After the News Wars of 2010, The New York Times loses a supreme-court battle with Google and eventually goes offline as a print-only newsletter for the elite . . . 20th-century news organisations are a remnant of a not too distant past. ”
— EPIC predictions made in 2004
❚ SUCH UNWELCOME FORECASTS of global media convergence were made in 2004 by two young Americans, Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson, alumni of the Poynter Institute. EPIC 2014 was the title of a flash slideshow made by Sloan and Thompson for the fictitious Museum of Media History. Set in 2014, it charted the history of the internet from 1989, and envisaged an evolving mediascape and the impact of online technologies on print and on daily life. It coined the word “Googlezon” from a putative merger of Google and Amazon to form the “Google Grid”, and predicted “news wars” after which the online New York Times reverted to being a print-only paper for a literate, elderly elite.
The emergent media mechanism was dubbed EPIC — the Evolving Personalised Information Construct — which spookily anticipated Google Maps and GPS matched to personalised data capture, all too familiar to us today through Google, Facebook and mobile phone apps.
Epic 2014 was prescient and unnerving in 2004. As superfast broadband was rolled out many of its prophecies came into existence, and a year later MySpace was being bought by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Epic 2015 was an updated sequel in 2005 only marginally less dystopian than the original. Its vision will certainly rattle the confidence of all affected by the latest concerns at Guardian News Media (GNM) in the UK.
THE GUARDIAN “LOOKS TO AMERICA”
FOR ITS ONLINE FUTURE
“Andrew Miller, chief executive of GNM’s parent company, Guardian Media Group (GMG), told staff in a series of briefings yesterday that the group could run out of cash in three to five years unless it underwent a ‘major transformation’ . . . The Guardian will continue to publish in the morning, but will focus on analysis and opinion instead of reporting widely available news.”
“Alan Rusbridger, the editor of The Guardian, has repeatedly had to dispel rumours that the title might stop producing printed papers altogether and become an internet-only business . . . Andrew Miller’s commitment to a ‘digital first’ strategy relies partly on launching an online-only New York office later this year, which he hopes will help take The Guardian’s website into the top 10 most read in the US, where advertisers would automatically include it in major national campaigns.”
“News mimics the architecture of the internet: end-to-end, witness-to-world, without a central gatekeeper… Reporting is our highest journalistic priority. Telling stories will always have a role. But journalists have more roles to play today. When working in collaboration with the public — which can help news become at once more expansive and less expensive — it may be useful to help collaborators improve what they do: journalist as community organiser, journalism teacher, support system. At every turn, the question must be where can I add the greatest value? Is that necessarily in writing articles?”
➢ “We’ll all have voices in our heads by 2040” — View video of Ray Hammond, the futurologist who coined the term “online” back in 1984, discussing eight key drivers of the future as seen from June 2011. Download his latest book free