The Metaphor Isn’t Hierarchy

API President and Executive Director Andrew Davis gave this presentation yesterday afternoon.

He doesn’t get it, though he is a great speaker in a way, polished, professional, at home in front of all these people. But he showed us slides that were so boring none of us at the blogging table watched, though I did look up to see the slide of hierarchy:


And he doesn’t see that it’s obsolete, hierarchy. The internet is horizontal. Ditch the hierarchy. What if the metaphor is chaos, the chaos of all your users in the future, breathing the internet for dear life, it’s air, experiencing media as wearable, livable, be-able, recombinable. What if my eyeglasses are my newsaggregator, designed by Armani as Dan Gillmor heard from a conference recently. How do you sell that news? It’s one possible path, and it’s an extreme metaphor to contemplate, but the point is, the metaphor he’s working from is old media. And it’s stagnant. Get one that reflects what is happening, and one that is not just a reaction to one that no longer works, cause reactionary metaphors don’t cut it.

I’m sure he’s a lovely person, but this is not about an incremental upgrade. This isn’t the addition of sound to what was formerly the silent picture biz. What is happening now is comparable to 40 years earlier, where the second industrial revolution was hitting hand made crafts people and manufactures with interchangeable parts. This is a paradigm shift. This is everything you know, changing, upside down.

This presentation missed the point. I’m sorry to say it, because API invited me here to blog this, paid for me to come, but I cannot in good conscience not say anything about this. I know journalism is a religion, and the practitioners are hardcore, but your friend is openness and a willingness to go to the next step, reframe your metaphor. Right now old media is working with homemade hammers and were talking air compressor hammer guns.

Frankly, yesterday, we could have stuffed the whole day into the first two hours to get everyone up to speed, and then gotten on to the real deal which is, your current metaphors only work in analog media, and you aren’t in the analog biz anymore, so let’s brainstorm what the new metaphors are, which lead to the new questions, which lead to new answers. Instead, we sat in the binary morass (as Howard Rheingold stated doesn’t work) they still think it is: either traditional media or new, either edited or blog, either paper or online, either either either, argue argue argue, blah blah blogs. They’re a crude tool anyway. Who cares. Let’s get down to chaotic, horizontal, citizen, not organized, not controllable media. That’s what we should be forging ahead on.

Does it matter that I say this? No. Does it matter that old media doesn’t have a clue? No. Because the reality is, this paradigm is here. Whether we like it or not. It’s what is, and we can talk or not, get a clue or not. But this new paradign will keep rolling along. With or without us.

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