How to Pick Hits

Surprise: you can’t. Well, at least the computer can’t.

Even if you think most people are tasteless or ignorant, it’s natural to believe that successful songs, movies, books and artists are somehow “better,” at least in the democratic sense of a competitive market, than their unsuccessful counterparts, that Norah Jones and Madonna deserve to be as successful as they are if only because “that’s what the market wanted.” What our results suggest, however, is that because what people like depends on what they think other people like, what the market “wants” at any point in time can depend very sensitively on its own history: there is no sense in which it simply “reveals” what people wanted all along.

Everyone Loves Cord-Cutting

More excitement and anger about cord-cutting in “the town” this weekend.

There’s a huge fight between the paranoids who think cord-cutting is going to kill the TV business and the deniers who say TV is invincible and it’s not happening and we’re just as big as ever.

The data supports the deniers.

But, the thing is, everybody knows in their heart that the paranoids are going to win.

Charging for news is idiotic

Hey, you, guys who think you should charge for access to your newspaper: you’re insane. And all this reporting about how everything is going to be fee-based from now on is driving me crazy. Why does it seem everyone so easily forgets that “news” is mostly a commodity?

Here is what you are saying to your customers:

“Hey consumer, want to find out if Michael Jackson is dead? You have to pay.”

“Hey folks, want to find out who won that election last night? You have to pay.”

Who are these crazy people that seem to think we are all going to pay a bunch of sites something like $5/mo so that we can get a few pages of occasional “news”?

Hopefully, there will be an economic model for actual investigative reporting and value-added content. But it’s not the “news”. It’s something else entirely.

Michael Wolff says it well: “News has always been free.”