How Not to Think About New Media

Here are two examples of exactly how NOT to think about new media:

Violet Blue files restraining order on Wikipedia Vandal Goes out Business (with a staff of 15 people)

If you take Tyler Cowen’s parking ticket parable totally of context, it makes sense here. He said that government diplomats (when they had blanket immunity) from countries with illegitimate governments received exponentially more parking violations than their colleagues from democracies and republics. The thinking is that if you got your position from somebody who killed their predecessor, you don’t really have all that much respect for “the rules.”

All this is pretty typical for how people think (and fail) online: They don’t legitimize “context creators” enough to bother learning how they work. Stuck in a distribution paradigm, they assume the burden of discovery is on the customer. Lastly, they can’t keep overhead low enough to compete with people who do it for fun. Why? Because their whole careers have been about exploiting distribution monopolies and exclusive access to the press.

That’s exactly how NOT to think about new media. Regardless of how you go where you are (or how you plan on getting there), the people that made “the rules” now have an enormous amount of influence. And you don’t have any leverage over them. Wikipedia is the number 1 place for finding information about bands, above Myspace and their own homepages. You better fucking learn the rules.

BlueCollar didn’t do it. “What could be so hard about making a website?” So they hired 15 people, filled it with the stuff not good enough for TV and figured people would like it. To their credit, that’s a working strategy in the rest of the entertainment industry. When distribution is a limited, 90% of success to getting distributed. But it’s like they didn’t even both to realize that NO OTHER site has that kind of payroll. It’s actually even more embarrassing for Violent Blue. She doesn’t have a generation of tradition to hide behind.

It’s way easier to figure out the rules and their loopholes than to get mad and act like your above them. That’s what Seth was saying, the web doesn’t care.

The wrong way to think about new media is “how can I get it to do what I want?” The right way, just like Alinsky was saying, is to think “How can I work within the system to accomplish what I want to accomplish?”

That gives you one crucial task: Figure out how the system works.

Written by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying, The Obstacle Is The Way, Ego Is The Enemy, and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared everywhere from the Columbia Journalism Review to Fast Company. His company, Brass Check, has advised companies such as Google, TASER, and Complex, as well as Grammy Award winning musicians and some of the biggest authors in the world. He lives in Austin, Texas.