After the Great War, France erected a line of defence on its border with Italy and Germany, hoping that it would provide a funnel for attackers wishing to avoid the line itself, or that invaders would simply get made into hamburger by the many many guns. Unfortunately, like many reactionary measures, it was built to deal with the tactics of yesterday, and then advanced around by the thinkers of the time.
Instead of traipsing up to the line and getting cut down, the Germans who invaded in 1940 got smart. They set out decoys, picked a target carefully, even sent the Luftwaffe straight over the line (which was not intended to defend against aerial targets so much less common in the previous war). Within five days of their approach to the line, Germany was in France. Maginot’s Line failed. But not the way most people believe it did.
The common misconception is that the Germans just went around by going through Belgium. It’s a limited myth; the actual attack was surgical and presented a scenario the wall was not meant to deal with.
I hope you can see where I’m going with this.
Not just speaking of news, there’s been a big kerfuffle for the last little while about monetizing services on the internet. Subscription-only news sites, limiting traffic from non-direct sources, any number of tactics in defence of digital turf – all of this becomes inherently futile once people figure out, in critical mass, how to avoid he need for access to the turf itself. The erecting of these walls – even the really small, annoying ones lime between-page ads – is a tactic that assumes those coming your way have no other savvy, that they’ll hit the wall and behave exactly as you want them to. The trouble is, we content invaders have already found our Luftwaffe, and it’s flying over your head right now.
Jeff Jarvis talks a lot about hyperlocal news. To an extent I agree with him. The idea that anyone, anywhere near an event can riff on it and get the word out to a place where it’s ready and waiting for an audience is a big deal. It won’t always be blogging or twitter, something else will eventually evolve in addition to the tools we have now, but the behaviour is already there.
You – as a content producer – are no longer defined by what you’re trained in, or what you’ve exposed yourself to in the past. Now, you can easily redefine your knowledge and gain new perspective with nothing more than thirty seconds and an internet connection. Like the scene from The Matrix, when Trinity needed training to fly a helicopter, and all she did was hit up the operator, hold her phone to her ear for a few seconds and download. Ok, so that’s an extreme example, but the analogue is there, isn’t it? I haven’t failed to answer a question in probably a year and a half since I got my first BlackBerry, mostly because I was already search-savvy, and suddenly had fairly universal access to snackable information.
Using monetization schemes as a barrier (even if the barrier is click-it-away like with interstitial ads) is a failing prospect from the get go, for the same reason as the Maginot Line was broken. Tactics never remain the same; that’s why they’re tactics and not practices.