Further reply to Cheryll Barron


It is a shame your blog does not allow comments, because that might be an easier place to have this conversation!  I cannot disagree with anything you say in your reply – it is plausible support for how you might create a keiretsu cooperative.  My issue, however, is not how one might do this, rather why one would do it – or rather why one would do it to create a “publishing and discussion site designed to attract the indie writers we call bloggers”.

One of  the consequences of the separation of information from distribution is that the information then tends to live in digital spaces rather than digital places.  For example, you didn’t come to my blog (digital place) to find my piece on Gutenberg and the social media revolution – you found it “out there” in digital space.  My article lives in a Google search (which is a space) much more than it lives in my blog and its visibility in this space is determined by how people have shared or distributed this article within their own digital spaces not by how many have come to my blog to find it.

In reality, the concept of information living in, or being published by a “site” is dissolving as, indeed, is the idea that there is any collective interest (monetary or otherwise) in the act of publication.  However, there is an emerging collective interest in the act of information sharing and thus there may well be relevance in the concept of  a community (or site) to share information.

Thus, my advice to you would be to take your work on creating a kieretsu coopoerative, which remains relevant, and apply it instead to the act of information sharing, rather than the act of information publication.  There is no longer money to be made in publication, because publication costs nothing.

(Also note: by ‘walled garden’ I did not mean pay-walled garden.  The walls are there to stop the information getting out, not to prevent people getting in.)

Happy to continue the discussion.


  1. Cheryll Barron

    Ah yes, guilty as charged, I have no comments section. That is part of the reason why I am so keen on the idea of monetising a large, loosely-affiliated, blogging collective – that keiretsu-cooperative, for instance. When you blog in a group and cannot reply to reader responses because you are travelling or unavailable for other reasons, the conversation does not grind to a halt.

    I was part of a wildly diverse group blogging and commenting on each other’s sites. I found that people kind enough to contribute ideas and information compare the responses that they and other contributors get. That is only human. But it can become awfully hard work, keeping everyone happy. The biggest problem by far turned out to be that I found the discussions and my companions addictive. Blogging with them began to consume so much of my life that I realised I could not continue unless we could all find a way to make money doing it.

    Until we do, the simplest solution is to do without the stimulating chat and encouraging clicks and keep commenting turned off.

    … I have just seen the UK Press Gazette report about The Guardian shrinking its sports and arts pages. I have suggested on my blog, post-gutenberg.com, a _possible_ solution to their problem and mine – I mean, the obstacles I’ve just described, which I surely have in common with hundreds of thousands of others. But the people on that paper will not give it the smallest whirl. (See ‘Wanted: a brave newspaper for an experiment in which readers become stakeholders’

    Where you refer to as ‘the concept of information living in, or being published by a “site” … dissolving,’ I confess that I am puzzled by your dichotomy. At the start of my outline of the keiretsu-cooperative, I used karaoke as a metaphor for post-Gutenberg publishing. That was to convey that the process is being altered beyond all recognition by digitisation and the net – whose historical inevitability you demonstrated so well in your paper on the subject … which happens to be the reason why we are talking to each other at all. So, please do tell me, what have I missed?

    Why do you insist – implicitly – that we must choose between old-fashioned ‘publishing’ in its state of flux, and the neverending chatter on the social media sites? Why can’t they co-exist?

    I would suggest that AND rather than OR is the key word for most of these discussions about the exploding possibilities the technology shifts are giving us. Why not sample everything – separately and in combination?

    You, for instance, have this particular set of coordinates on the vastness of the net, where I have paused to comment. People who want a long, deep soak in your ideas can find that here, which is terrific. But you’ve implied that you are also tweeting and probably updating at least one Facebook page – and surely you don’t envision any of this forcing you to shut down your blog — ?

    If you say, oh, but blogging here isn’t a serious occupation because it could never help to support a family, I will risk being a bore and repeat myself. As there still haven’t been enough experiments with monetising blogging through new ‘publishing’ structures, how could you or anyone else know that for certain?

    Why not encourage some old media enterprise you are advising on social media to try – simply beta-test – a keiretsu-cooperative? Since sharing the costs of such an experiment with a keiretsu partner is part of the scheme, it will hardly break the bank.

    Happy Christmas! … if I can’t talk again before then.

    • richardstacy


      The money question. I would dispute your contention that blogging can only be justified or validated through the receipt of money – this idea is a hangover from the world of traditional publication which was something you could only do if you made a living from it. Blogging is like conversation – something you don’t get paid to do, but is no less important for that fact. (See this for a further attack on the idea that creativity can only be validated by receipt of money http://richardstacy.com/2010/08/23/i-earn-therefore-i-am/ )

      You are right – we don’t live in an EITHER / OR world – both models of media co-exist and will continue to do so for the immediate future. However, one is shrinking and having change forced upon it – the other is expanding. The mistake is to believe that grafting social media concepts onto traditional media, or dragging concepts from traditional media into social media, is the way to cope with this.

      Lastly – I don’t quite understand you issue with my contention about the shift from places to spaces. We will continue to have digital places, but their function will shift from being destinations to being a launch pads and thus influence (and the source of trust and expertise) will shift from places and institutions and even individual people/experts into spaces and processes. I hope this clarifies what I am saying here.

  2. Pingback: A reply to Richard Stacy: the keiretsu-cooperative is at the opposite pole from a ‘walled garden’ « post-Gutenberg
  3. Cheryll Barron


    Nowhere have I said that either ‘creativity’ or blogging ‘can only be justified or validated through the receipt of money’. … Hold your horses, please … have they been at the caffeine again?. 🙂

    Here is what I actually did say:

    + I found the discussions and my companions addictive. Blogging with them began to consume so much of my life that I realised I could not continue unless we could all find a way to make money doing it. +

    Just my experience, and my conclusion for myself: no more than that. All we can do in this great transition is sample these new forms of communication and see where our sentiments about them overlap for clues to their future evolution. I know that I am far from alone in finding it impossible to devote much time to putting unmediated texts on the net — ie., blogging — without developing a way to get paid for doing it.

    What system should that be? For its design, I am not interested in theories about shifting places and spaces — or any other abstract desiderata. I would like to see it shaped from the ground up, by considerations of human needs. How can we allow the largest possible number of people a say in what information, opinions and works of art enter the public domain? … There is growing support for the idea of co-owned media that I find most promising: http://post-gutenberg.com/2011/12/30/will-2012-be-the-year-of-a-great-leap-forward-into-medias-future-even-at-the-new-york-times/

    Now, about your perspective… If you want to characterise media as turning into a nonstop ‘process’ of communication rather than the succession of discrete events publishing was in the past, that seems fine for what you do. I am guessing that you, as a social media consultant to businesses, might need your clients to agree to a different system of compensation than for the old ‘public relations’ as piece work. Am I right in guessing that you now have to charge them for helping to manage their reputations round the clock — since on the net, the chatter about them, or anything else, never stops?

  4. richardstacy


    It may well be that you are “far from alone in finding it impossible to devote much time to putting unmediated texts on the net — ie., blogging — without developing a way to get paid for doing it.” But that doesn’t stop you from being in a minority – a tiny minority in fact. The vast majority of all the content that now circulates through the digital space was put up there by people with no desire for, or expectation of, the receipt of money.

    This leads onto you next question, how to design a system to “allow the largest possible number of people a say in what information, opinions and works of art enter the public domain?” To which the answer is, the system is already there – its called the social internet. And the principle reason it came into existence and operates effectively is because of the removal of the barriers that, hitherto, prevented mass participation – primary amongst these being the requirement to generate money from the act of publication.

    Social media is not something you own, (or co-own) it is something you participate within. Therefore your desire to construct an effective system for public participation, plus your requirement that this involve ownership (co or otherwise) and generates money, are irreconcilable. You have to drop the ownership and money bit. If you don’t, you will, at best, simply end up shoring-up a fundamentally failing business model.

    Just on your last point – I charge people to help them manage their reputations. To do this is the social digital space, you have to help them work out how to do this in real-time / round the clock. I don’t charge them round the clock (as nice as that might be, that is a requirement that is irreconcilable with the desired objective).

    I really would recommend reading Clay Shirky’s “Thinking the Unthinkable” piece. Within it you may find answers to the reluctance of the traditional media to engage with some of the models you have been suggesting. http://www.shirky.com/weblog/2009/03/newspapers-and-thinking-the-unthinkable/

    In particular I commend this section, where Shirky is looking at how newspapers have tried adapt to the internet:

    The curious thing about the various plans hatched in the ’90s is that they were, at base, all the same plan: “Here’s how we’re going to preserve the old forms of organization in a world of cheap perfect copies!” The details differed, but the core assumption behind all imagined outcomes (save the unthinkable one) was that the organizational form of the newspaper, as a general-purpose vehicle for publishing a variety of news and opinion, was basically sound, and only needed a digital facelift. As a result, the conversation has degenerated into the enthusiastic grasping at straws, pursued by skeptical responses.

    “The Wall Street Journal has a paywall, so we can too!” (Financial information is one of the few kinds of information whose recipients don’t want to share.) “Micropayments work for iTunes, so they will work for us!” (Micropayments work only where the provider can avoid competitive business models.) “The New York Times should charge for content!” (They’ve tried, with QPass and later TimesSelect.) “Cook’s Illustrated and Consumer Reports are doing fine on subscriptions!” (Those publications forgo ad revenues; users are paying not just for content but for unimpeachability.) “We’ll form a cartel!” (…and hand a competitive advantage to every ad-supported media firm in the world.)

    Round and round this goes, with the people committed to saving newspapers demanding to know “If the old model is broken, what will work in its place?” To which the answer is: Nothing. Nothing will work. There is no general model for newspapers to replace the one the internet just broke.

    With the old economics destroyed, organizational forms perfected for industrial production have to be replaced with structures optimized for digital data. It makes increasingly less sense even to talk about a publishing industry, because the core problem publishing solves — the incredible difficulty, complexity, and expense of making something available to the public — has stopped being a problem.

  5. Cheryll Barron


    Clay Shirky seems to be your favourite prognosticator. A friend sent along this encouraging scrap from CS’s most recent blog post, last week or so, and believes that the ‘keiretsu-cooperative’ proposal could fit well with CS suggesting,

    ‘… maybe we won’t have a clear center anymore. Maybe we’ll just have lots of overlapping, partial, competitive, cooperative attempts to arm the public to deal with the world we live in. …Some of the experiments going on today, small and tentative as they are, will eventually harden into institutional form,’

    All very close to the way I am looking at this transition. Again, I think it’s important to be an AND-ist, not an OR-ist. I would like to see experiments in which readers of old media web sites become co-owners, as a reward for their contributions, and to enlist their support for future expansion and development.

    . … To the extent that I care about who owns what, it is the possibilities of _co-ownership_ that strike me as most promising.

    Thanks for an enjoyable discussion. Perhaps we can revisit this subject in a few months.

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