By Ryan Skinner (email)
Go to LinkedIn and search for maritime groups, or shipping groups. Then click on something like the 50th page of search results. It's a sorry sight. Groups are started with love, or self-love, if you will. One member, maybe two. How are those discussions, you think?
The same thing can be encountered on twitter. Mark Warner of ShipServ (@mdwarner) has recently noted that Clarksons is on twitter. They're tweeting index moves to a hearty dozen people or so. I recently chatted with a marine media type who explained that the shipping titles simply don't know what else to do with twitter than churn out headlines.
And churning out headlines has become the new virtue. Shipping actually now has its own content farm, a la Demand Media (no, I won't link to them, damnit). I've had not a few sources point out that their articles are fallacy-ridden. How many other publishers can truly claim to be much better online - cranking out the texts, either in the hope or conviction that this will pay off.
It doesn't. For most of the smaller media entrepreneurs in shipping, it's a matter of leapfrogging from pivot to pivot (the term for failing your way into a new business model).
Go to the App Store, and you'll find a new app called "Shipping Professional". I've been told it's a premium app, where you get access to an RSS feed of headlines. Click on any of them and you hit a paywall. Nice. They're ready for a pivot methinks.
Not surprisingly, when your average shipping dude encounters all this, he rolls his eyes. "It's just what I told you. The Internet's full of trash. There's no value in it." (Ironically, most shipping dudes feel the same about print shipping magazines and newspapers, but that's another story for another day).
So, I ask: Are we drowning in digital chaff?
Jeff Jarvis is a role model for me - he's an astoundingly smart guy when it comes to media, and I read his blog buzzmachine.com like wine. He recently posted about one of the (few) interesting presentations at Davos by a guy who argues convincingly that, no, there is not too much content in the world. There's too little.
It's a tough concept to swallow after reading an error-riddled article about shipping emissions. But it's true.
New media has opened up the sluices of information, opinions and analysis. This blog, among many others, poured through. And each of those microgroups in LinkedIn. And the spammers, content farms and bot-feeds.
From this dreck, quality rises. That's what Google helped us figure out. Do you think, a decade ago, that there would be so much content on the Internet, and that it might be possible to navigate it somehow? You know, back when Yahoo! was indexing the web with people at the levers. Filtering and consumption improved. Radically.
The point is this: So many things can now start. Most of it will fail. Some of it will succeed. And the failures will learn, and come back a little wiser. That's the metaphorical pivot.
So, if you feel pissed or astonished at the pure volume and/or misery of content you find online, think this: Thank god. From this pile will come some great things, and I don't need to do anything more than ignore what I don't like.