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Lack of Pubs and Comm Skill of Engineers Spell Trouble

Be sure to check out the latest blog by Lou Covey: Lack of publications is filling up email boxes [Just for the record, I think engineers can communicate as well as most other professionals. What engineering professionals lack is an understanding of the bigger and interrelated issues - aside from merely the technical ones. Also, good communication - especially in the written word - requires more time and practice than most working engineers can afford.]

The discussion on Lou’s blog heralds back to my recent blog about DAC relaxing the press rule for bloggers (both independent and corporate) and marketing folks (as press). Those few of us left in the traditional press know exactly what I mean – remember the denial of access to the press room for all but full-time press folks?

From the responses on both Lou’s blog and mine, it seems clear to me that most bloggers don’t understand the “legacy” of the issue, namely, that with the decline of the established press most companies and conferences are desperately looking for any coverage they can get. This problem certainly isn’t the fault of the bloggers, who are happy to find growing acceptance as “press.” But not all bloggers are bloggers, if you know what I mean. This coverage-at-any-cost (not dollars but integrity of content) issue will greatly muddy the waters for legitimate and independent content provides. That’s the long term issue.

6 Responses to “Lack of Pubs and Comm Skill of Engineers Spell Trouble”

  1. Sean Murphy Says:

    I am a blogger and I don’t seek acceptance as press. And companies have always been looking for coverage. I can lament the collapse of the print based trade press, but I have to look forward to the next fifteen or twenty years, and I want to say this as respectfully as possible but I don’t see much in the way of constructive suggestion from either you or Lou.

    I think Clay Shirky’s “It’s not An Upgrade It’s an Upheaval” http://www.cato-unbound.org/2009/07/13/clay-shirky/not-an-upgrade-an-upheaval/ offers a useful context. He opens with

    “The hard truth about the future of journalism is that nobody knows for sure what will happen; the current system is so brittle, and the alternatives are so speculative, that there’s no hope for a simple and orderly transition from State A to State B. Chaos is our lot; the best we can do is identify the various forces at work shaping various possible futures.”

    The reason why I am engaged by this topic is that I believe that the fundamental challenge is an entrepreneurial one: we need new business models to support our shared awareness and sense making at both an industry and societal level. I think until you frame the problem in that context, the nostalgic discussion of what’s been lost is really just reminiscing. Shirky’s conclusions are equally pointed:

    “Journalism is not a profession — no degree or certification is required to practice it, and training often comes after hiring — and it is increasingly being transformed into an activity, open to all, sometimes done well, sometimes badly, but at a volume that simply cannot be supported by a small group of full-time workers. The journalistic models that will excel in the next few years will rely on new forms of creation, some of which will be done by professionals, some by amateurs, some by crowds, and some by machines.

    This will not replace the older forms journalism, but then nothing else will either; both preservation and simple replacement are off the table. The change we’re living through isn’t an upgrade, it’s a upheaval, and it will be decades before anyone can really sort out the value of what’s been lost versus what’s been gained. In the meantime, the changes in self-assembling publics and new models of subsidy will drive journalistic experimentation in ways that surprise us all.”

  2. John Blyler Says:

    Sean. This isn’t about bloggers seeking acceptance as press or the fate of the Fourth Estate. It is about how vendors and conference promoters are dealing with the vacuum caused by the collapse of the business model that has supported content creation and delievery in this country for almost a century.

    The way they are dealing with it, namely, opening the gates to anyone who promises coverage, gives us some idea of what the future will hold.

    Also, having experience the collapse of the media markets from the DotCom burst, I thought it important to record the changes that I deem as important but not covered by either the few remaining press or more numerous bloggers. One of those changes is the loosening (or shifting, in deference to KarenB’s comments – more on that later) of the standards that conference promoters use to decide who will be allowed to cover their events as “press.”

    This change will have serious implications, many of which will not be fully appreciated until some time in the future. That’s my point – emotional discussions and rightous indignation aside on both sides.

    Since no one else was marking this particular change, namely, the changing of press requirements at DAC, ESC and other shows, I thought I should do so. It may be a moot point, since traditional trade shows are shrinking almost as fast as traditional trade journals. But the change may give us a glimpse into our future.

  3. Sean Murphy Says:

    I agree with you that the labels “journalist” and “press” should not be re-purposed, at least while there are still some walking around. And I agree with you that many good things about the old system have been irretrievably lost, many we have yet to fully appreciate.

    But as an entrepreneur–after an appropriate period of mourning for the legacy media ecosystem–I have to focus on opportunities created by this new media ecosystem. When can we have a serious discussion about those?

  4. John Blyler Says:

    “Discussion about new media ecosystem?” You’re soaking in it.

    Yes, we – all of the content providing community – will continue to have discussions. And I will continue to record how that world is shaping up, both from the prospective of a long time writer (now they call us bloggers) and from the established media. And I know you will do the same.

    See you at DAC.

  5. SKMurphy » A Conversation with Ed Lee on the Changing Media Landscape for EDA Says:

    [...] July 17: Lack of Pubs and Comm Skills of Engineers Spell Trouble [...]

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