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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Where are the young entrepreneurs pointing the way? They can't all be writing columns

The trade magazine Media Week closed this week. It was started by friends of mine twenty-five years ago. This being an average week in the midst of media meltdown the story of its closure was bundled in with arguments about the Times paywall or the BPI's attempt to disconnect file sharers to form the narrative of the hour. The narrative of the hours broadly goes like this. The old fools of traditional media are tearing around trying to plug the holes in the hull of their sinking ship while enormously clever commentators, of whom there appear to be an unlimited supply, point out that what they're doing is inappropriate, inadequate and too late.

I'm beginning to find the commentariat more wanting than the dinosaurs they come to mock. At least said dinosaurs are saying 'we don't know how things are going to work out but we know we can't go on giving everything away'. The commentariat, on the other hand, seem to be saying 'we don't know how things are going to work out but we know that whatever you decide is definitely wrong. Meanwhile, keep giving everything away and, er, something will turn up.'

That's fine in principle. People committed to change have always pointed out the shortcomings of the powers that be. The difference this time is the new generation have no skin in the game. They're all either working for monopolies or charities or making their living peddling their blithe certainties to confused companies. They have no personal investment in the future. Indeed the thing they have a huge investment in is the present uncertainty. If they were realy confident the future was going to work out the way they predict they wouldn't be wasting their time trying to preach about it. They'd be out there starting the News Internationals and Dreamworks and EMIs of the future. But they're not. That's the one thing missing in this present uncertainty - examples of small independents doing things in a completely new way. And making money by doing it.