The Chaos Scenario

Monday, August 03, 2009

Bob Garfield, Advertising Age editor-at-large and co-host of On the Media, documents how the digital revolution has separated the 350-year connection between mass media and mass marketing, and prescribes a new way for business and institutions to go forward in the changing media landscape. His book The Chaos Scenario looks at what happens when the traditional media world order collapses and there's nothing in place to replace it.


Bob Garfield

Comments [28]

Allan Hoving

This debate cries out for a technological solution: a paid content architecture that EASILY enables publishers to monetize their online content - while enabling readers to pay for or otherwise support the sites they value and enjoy. See a demo of a user-centric tool at

Aug. 03 2009 07:55 PM
mozo from nyc

The only problem with Jgarbuz's argument is that these communication channels currently do not want to pay for content. Look at Huffington Post -- none of the bloggers are getting paid. None.

Aug. 03 2009 02:57 PM
Jgarbuz from Queens, NY

In the end, the owners of the major communication channels, i.e., the owners of the "pipes" and satellites will "own" the major talent working in every communication and entertainment field. Just as all the talent who once worked for a handful of movie studios, recording labels, book and newspaper publishers, TV broadcast stations, all of them will work for those who control the digital pipes.

Aug. 03 2009 01:26 PM
mozo from nyc

sm -- you obviously don't know anyone who is a musician or works in a newspaper or a magazine. You can write a blog but odds are you aren't making a living at it. As to the objectivity and intellectual integrity of these blogs... I have had several reporter friends who have been laid off from their jobs and it's doubtful that they will work in this business again.

As for musicians, they have to do more gigs in order to make any money. They aren't selling their music online -- it's being appropriated for free.

Hegel said that intellectual capital is the best capital to have. In those fields of employment that require it, they have been severely devalued thanks to the negative democratic aspects of the digital age.

Aug. 03 2009 01:00 PM
Jgarbuz from Queens, NY

I knew well over decade ago, that you can multiply the number of communications channels ad infinitum, but you can't multiply the amount of natural talent! Decades ago, all the talent that existed wrote and worked for a fairly concentrated handful of broadcast, print, radio and other communications channels and venues. Today, the masses are exposed to everything and anything, whenever and from wherever they want it, leaving the limited amount of genuine talented workers much diluted and forced to dumb down their work to reach the lowest common consuming denominator. It's hard to say if the downward spiral reaches down to absolute ZERO, or something comes along that will break the death fall.

Aug. 03 2009 12:56 PM

Get over it! things change, technology change...minds change...people change.

great minds will always find a way to resolve and compensate for changes. Just because a newspaper go away...does not mean it's all together a bad thing...Journalists make mistakes, fail to follow through...editors make public decisions based on personal views all the time, past or present. If a better model can be had to replace an old...let it be and make it better.

Good riddance to the major networks if they dont know how to embrace new technology and keep up with time.

Aug. 03 2009 12:50 PM
Jgarbuz from Queens, NY

Your guest is 100% right! I cancelled my cable nearly 2 years ago, and get all my NEW as well as older movies and TV shows from Hulu and a vast host of pirate movie websites, and the music I WANT via Pandora - and so on and so forth - all for the $21.95 I pay Verizon for my DSL connection! I'm happy majority of the public has not caught on yet, because I know the government will come down on the pirate sites and crush them. But being on a small fixed income I am very happy to be able to get all this entertainment for $21.95 a month while I can, not counting my telephone bill. I don't even watch TV except what I port from my PC to my TV screen. Cheers!

Aug. 03 2009 12:43 PM

Chicago, this is so true. It reminds me of corporations that refused to do business online until 1994 (remember that SNL skit?).

Aug. 03 2009 12:42 PM
Karla from Inwood, Manhattan

I just saw that Bob's book is only available as a Kindle edition on Amazon.

What's up with that?

Aug. 03 2009 12:42 PM
eric henderson from brooklyn

turns out the long tail is a pretty darned unmanageable one. aggregate it for a sec then it dissipates. we may not need a replacement of the old model as each entity attracts the people (formerly known as the audience) who at one time or another agree for a moment or some sustained moments to listen. that is the model - money follows it down those very local paths. glad to see this diversity of problem-solving and idea generation.

Aug. 03 2009 12:42 PM
gregb from NJ

I've done a careful analysis of the economics of advertising- turns out they pretty uniformly support ALL media at about 25 cents/HOUR. Radio, TV, cable, books and newspapers are all in this range. If your business can't make money at this rate, advertising won't help. See slide 11 at

Aug. 03 2009 12:41 PM
Chicago Listener

most newspapers don't know how to do interactivity. how many years are we into the "interwebs" thing? and yet most newspapers think "interactive" means putting a click poll at the end of a story.

Aug. 03 2009 12:41 PM

Also, the cable companies have brought their troubles on to themselves with ridiculously-priced monopolies and the tier system.

Aug. 03 2009 12:40 PM
mozo from nyc

#13 -- "quality of advertisements" sounds like an oxymoron but I know what you mean!

Aug. 03 2009 12:40 PM

The internet hasn't "destroyed" anything - music and journalism simply need to adapt. As far as TV commercials, I suppose agencies will have to step it up to come up with campaigns that will actually have to entertain people.

Print has its place, and publishers need to identify appropriate content for situations in which you prefer the physical page.

Aug. 03 2009 12:38 PM
Stephanie A Heacox from Brooklyn

I take issue with your characterization of reading papers online vs. in print. A good online paper (like the NYT) gives you many, many more opportunities for serendipity than the paper version! You see many more headlines, blurbs and videos on the home page, as well as Most Read, Most Blogged, etc.

I say this as an web usability consultant who came from the library world many years ago...

Aug. 03 2009 12:38 PM
Chicago Listener

people avoid click ads on websites because most click ads are horrible. but i bet the click results for apple are pretty good, as is the eventual click-through to the apple site.

what the digital revolution ought to lead to is a revolution in the quality of advertisements.

Aug. 03 2009 12:37 PM
Erik from NYC

I tried to comment earlier but the NYC website went down. Meantime my paper version of The Chaos Scenario chapters I printed out were still up and running.

Print still has value. Is there a model for print on demand?

Speaking of search, why can't other media outlets also capitalize on search?

Aug. 03 2009 12:37 PM
Victor from Ramsey, NJ

i was listening to this show and reading nytimes online. they have an article about local news on youtube. any comments?

Aug. 03 2009 12:36 PM
Dorothy from Manhattan

How about radio? I'm saving up for an internet radio and a wireless connection. I'll be able to listen to Paris, London, Berlin, etc.

Aug. 03 2009 12:36 PM
Taylor from Brooklyn

What a great discussion about the digital revolution with the very smart and thorough Bob Garfield. Now I think I'll buy the book; irony?

Aug. 03 2009 12:35 PM
Patrick from Brooklyn

Can you ask Mr. Garfield about the proposition to give newspapers/media companies non-for-profit status, in lieu of being able to endorse politicians?

Aug. 03 2009 12:35 PM
hjs from 11211

ask about micromarketing please

Aug. 03 2009 12:34 PM
spencer from midtown

How about the Economist? I hear they are doing fine. Can Bob comment about that?

Aug. 03 2009 12:33 PM
ceolaf from brooklyn

Why are online ad rates so much lower than print ad rates?

Why are ads rates on Hulu so much lower than ad rates for the exact same shows on TV -- especially considering that ads cannot be skipped?

Aug. 03 2009 12:32 PM
Gary from UWS

Television is so bad now, I threw out my old analog and haven't bothered to buy a new TV. I now have the radio (WNYC) on constantly.

Aug. 03 2009 12:18 PM
Ken from Soho

I still watch some commercial TV, but only the few good shows. The so-called "reality shows" are all junk that I would never waste my time watching.

Aug. 03 2009 12:16 PM
mozo from nyc

The Internet has destroyed the music industry and now journalism. See the movie Idiocracy. That is where we are heading if we aren't already there.

Aug. 03 2009 12:15 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.