Dear reader, I have an admission to make.
I got caught up in all this talk of the end of days.
I know, it was foolish but like many others, I gathered all my belongings, closed up shop and headed for higher ground.
I ran from the instagramocalypse.
The news that Instagram was going to take all of my pictures, photoshop Kim Kardashian and Justin Beiber in to them (drinking Bud) then sell that on Facebook was just too much to take. So I downloaded my pics and went to Flickr until someone explained the point of Kim Kardashian to me.
Silly me, some would say. All you have done is run from the frying pan in to the fire. ‘Fool, we told you this would happen’ said the smuggers who never went on Facebook in the first place because it is evil. (and wander round comment threads like the bloke with the ‘end of the world is nigh’ sandwich board around their virtual necks).
The truth of it is that I was an avid user of Instagram. I don’t know why, it just tickled my fancy; I’d grown quite attached to it. What made me move was not the idea that they were going to sell my pictures but that it wasn’t clear what they were going to do (and the tech commentators made it no clearer). A communication problem then. One that’s still food for thought as Tim Worstall over at Forbes said…
Is it really true that a business valued at $1 billion just recently cannot in fact find someone able to draft a clear explanation of their terms and conditions? I have to admit that if the answer to that is “Yes”, well, it doesn’t make me any happier about Instagram to be honest.
It’s funny isn’t it. When one person starts something that’s a lot of brain for a small thing – makes them look like a genius. When it turns in to a huge corporation that is still run by one person, that brain begins to look pretty small. Like putting Einsteins brain in a whale. Big stuff often acts really dumb! But I digress.
Social quid pro quo
We all know that in the social media world there is a quid-pro-quo. You give me the service and I give you my content. As long as we are both open and honest about what we get from it then I’m happy. I get what I want and, well, good luck making anything from the drivel I produce.
When you don’t like what I do you can ban me from the service. When I don’t like the way you work then I can withdraw my labour. And that’s what I did.
Some people cited the heavy hand of the evil Facebook empire behind the changes (Some easy tech-commentator maths here - (Flop share float / platforms to monetize)*Facebook = evil corporate sell outs) But trust or respect for Facebook was not the issue for me here. My main worry for Facebook’s involvement is always that they would just render the whole thing unusable with their shitty user interfaces and api’s. If I sense anything it’s a huge corporation that doesn’t really know what it’s doing (see Forbes quote above).
So, I’m not the naive idiot that some commentators would paint those of us who left Instagram. When I talk about ‘open and honest’, that has some pretty strict limits. I just played the game and made the point.
And that’s what got me thinking about newspapers.
Print’s instagram moment
When was the Instagram moment for the newspaper industry? At what point did they cock-up communicating what they did so badly that people just upped and left? When did they change the T&C’s of what they did?
Was it the threat of a newspaperpocalypse? Whilst the high priests of journalism where sacrificing another celebrity, could we all see the countdown of the ABCe’s getting close to zero and the end of times (democracy)?
And look at the way they have dealt with it. Whilst Instagram (and others before them) took to their blog to explain their thinking, the press got the Leveson Enquiry. The (probably equally expensive) equivalent of eavesdropping on the Instagram/Facebook lawyers meeting where they cooked-up their ill-conceived changes.
You’ve got to think differently in this day and age. Where is my ‘we are listening’ article from the owners and editors of newspapers? Where is the quid-pro-quo?
Maybe we need to draft some new T&C’s for the newspaper industry.
You need me to put effort in to finding you online, to helping you with community/social material. I’ll do that. Every so often you do some proper democracy protecting stuff that’s useful for me so I’ll maybe even keep buying your product once in a while. But like Instagram it’s got to work for me. Work for me enough that I’ll even come back when you make stupid mistakes. And like Instagram it’s got to come with a little openness and honesty.
I’m not being naive here by using a word like honesty when it comes to newspapers. I know the corporate strings get pulled, the few bad apples etc. etc. Like Facebook, I’m less worried about evil empires (Murdoch etc.) than I am the apparent ease with which newspapers seem to cock-up every possible opportunity with corporate cack-handedness and closed-shop mentality.
So, dear reader, I’ll be going back to Instagram in the New year. Confident that my pictures could just as easily end up being sold without my knowledge, still with no idea what the point of Kim Kardashian is but confident that’s what they intended all along. I want to say the same thing about newspapers.
Happy new year.