Change is good. But dollars are better.
That was a catch-phrase printed on some T-shirts as part of a “team-building” exercise folks from Miami/San Jose corporate offices at the late Knight Ridder Newspapers media megalopoly brought to town back in the good old days. You know, before Google Ate the Earth.
If memory serves, this would date back to the early 1990s. I was a newbie middle manager at the Myrtle Beach, S.C., (NOT Florida or North Carolina, For Cryin’ Out Loud) Sun News. The change these folks from corporate wanted to talk about was small potatoes compared to what waited just around the corner. But seeing corporate suit-and-tie folks wedge themselves into cheap T-shirts was worth the price of admission.
I don’t remember if anything of material use came out of that particular exercise. Given what came to be at Knight Ridder, I kind of doubt it. But there was a very real truth in that “kicky” little phrase.
Change is good.
But dollars are better. Because we have seen change, largely without the dollars. And that part sucked.
Now, as 2009 draws to a close amid convulsive change among all sorts of media, the recently restructured and spun off AOL has a new kid in its content corner. And guess where he came from? Yup, the new media content guy at AOL comes from one of the oldest of the “old media,” The New York Times.
Calling Saul Hansell “old media” is a bit of a misnomer. He’s been covering “new” media such as AOL for the last dozen years, roughly the span during which we watched AOL soar to dizzying heights, crash under unsustainable burden (and creaky, underpowered servers), get out of the ISP business (I was an early adapter to AOL, back in the days of 1200 baud dial-up – oh, it makes me shudder!), then revive itself, swallow (and choke on) Time Warner and finally, mercifully, get cut loose to fend for itself and reinvent itself yet again. In all the muddle, I’ve lost track of Steve Case. Where is he now? Oh, that’s right, we have Google. Here he is! And here!
Steve Case, of course, was one of the Wonder Boys of the ’90s who helped kick the Internet Revolution into high gear, even before Al Gore invented it (Sorry, Al. It’s just too easy). Pretty soon everybody was spawning dot-coms, except those who weren’t. And we went a little “ster” crazy for a spell – Monster, Napster, Friendster and so on. Some ‘sters prospered (Monster), others did not.
Now Steve Case is more or less no longer in the thick of it, and Google has reached middle age and the new (ish) kids at Facebook, Youtube and Twitter are positioning themselves to find the elusive “monetizing” formula that has eluded so many content providers.
Let the games begin!
Prepare to be assimilated.