Grokking Googlezon

Written by Adrian Holovaty on November 21, 2004

At a Poynter workshop I went to earlier this year, Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson did an incredibly cool and thought-provoking presentation about the future of online media, which culminated in a discussion of Googlezon and Epic -- Google and Amazon's future foray into media. Now, I'm particularly excited to see they've posted the full presentation online.

Check it out -- and be provoked.


Posted by roger on November 23, 2004, at 11:15 a.m.:

Brilliant. slick, thought-provoking & frightening. Well spotted, Adrian.

Posted by Stanton on November 23, 2004, at 4:46 p.m.:

I'm e-mailing this presentation around the company right now. Thanks much++

Posted by Dave Moreman on November 29, 2004, at 2:24 p.m.:

An amazing piece - thanks for the link Adrian. It kind of makes me think of a comment from Arthur C Clarke - somewhere in the first "2001" novel I think, where he spoke of the transfer of all of human rational thought and understanding into computers. This was what was supposed to liberate humanity from the constraints of our physical bodies and allow for a development into creatures of pure thought, similar to the transformation made by Dave Bowman in the movie. Perhaps EPIC is just the beginning .....

Some more thoughts and links are at :



Posted by Bob Schmidt on November 30, 2004, at 10:26 a.m.:

The revenge of the printer, eh?

Of course, the media has been killed off before, many times. Radio killed the newspaper, TV killed radio and the movies. Cable killed the networks. The Internet kills, uh, oh yeah, the newspaper, the tv, the movies, the magazine, the retailer, the post office, the intermediary, soon the telephone, what the hell, everyone.

Blogs kill, what was it? Oh yeah, the newspaper. All this has happened already, or so the story goes. So now we have to wait another ten years for Google and Amazon to, what was it? Oh yeah, kill the newspaper. Anyone see a pattern?

Anyone did. It was McLuhan. But the story he told was of a flashpoint occuring at ubiquity. Thus, when Google or its successor Internet technology heats up, reaches saturation, it will become "invisible" and rapidly neutralized by its polar opposite. The killer app will kill itself, its algorithm a victim of its own computation.

Ah, but somehow the old media never die. The paper is dead! Long live the newspaper!

Empowerment and self-service are two sides of the same coin, opposites really. You're empowered to pump your own gas, bag your own groceries, be your own bank teller, write your own programs, write your own "page." But how many of us really want to spend our time this way?

The search engine, the news reader, empower but force you to be your own editor. What may be a welcome experience for the deprived can easily become an onerous task for those forced to fend for themselves in a swamp of serps and feeds. The blogger is like the cb'er and the bbs sysop of yore - raising a voice out of a love of words, not because it's a new business model. It turns out that the odds are about the same that the more search engines and blogs there are, the safer the journalist's and editor's jobs at the newspaper are as that they are doomed to extinction. And which journalist will be the first to cover nothing more than the blogosphere throughout his entire career?

I think blogs are great. But has anyone taken a look to see what percentage of blog posts are either reproductions of news stories, references to news stories, or corrections or comments on something read or seen in a news story? I'd guess about 80-90%.

Anyone contemplating the demise of the media has to ask, where would the blogger be without the media? About the same place Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity would be. One group reproduces the media and checks its facts. The other two rant and rail against it, and careers are made thereby. But try surviving on your earnings as a blogger.

Not to mention, how much news could Google search if there were no news media for it to feast on?

Now I'll give you a prediction: by 2014, Google, which wants to be the Berkshire Hathaway of the Internet, will have the great distinction of being the world's single largest payer of copyright royalty fees to authors, artists, photographers, and publishers and indeed their largest source of income. Far from killing it, this parasite will feed its prey.

Posted by A.R.Yngve on November 30, 2004, at 1:15 p.m.:

Look up Marshall McLuhan again (he has a website, of course)... he has (had?) some great insights into media which are still valid today.

The medium is the massage.


Posted by Jeffrey Glamm on December 1, 2004, at 6:12 a.m.:

Is there a download option for a presentation. My dialup connection can not handle a stream. Thnx, I post again when i manage to grasp and hear it all.

Posted by Aby Rao on February 3, 2005, at 1:19 a.m.:

Wow! Great script...These guys should be in hollywood making movies....

Posted by Samia on April 2, 2005, at 8:58 a.m.:

Extract from personal blog:

Just found out that a news story - I produced and posted to Googlezon - got a 73% approval rating and that means we have the go-ahead for Indonesia.

Like most charities now - our income is highly dependent on our impact on the online mediascape. Thousands of individual supporters donate as the result of my article meaning we now have match funding for a project developing the communications infrastructure to track environmental degradation in a remote community in Indonesia.

Samia - charity worker, 2013.

Posted by Big Fan on June 6, 2005, at 6:01 p.m.:

I believe this is what the world needs. A warning to what may happen because of our devotion to the internet.

Just look at us today, relying intirely on it. But in a way, your presentation also represents an amazing time of growth, innovation, and discovery. It does state: "It is the best of times; it is the worst of times..."

And that, in a nutshell, is exactly what it is.

I would like to see any other movies/animations you have made in the past.

P.S. AMAZING vocabulary. It must have taken you guys atleast five hours to write that thing. And yes, that's long to me to make a script for an eight minute show.

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