Being run over by the Cluetrain

Randy Holloway talks about Microsoft blogs and improved direct access changing the communication chain via [The Scobleizer Weblog]

With the whole gamut of Internet-based communication (Websites, newsgroups and mailing lists, Google, email, and blogs), the typical path between technical question and answer has become much more direct. Was a time when a technical question might have to wait for a magazine article or a book to get answered. No more; I was embarassed a few weeks ago by the realization that I'd actually waited a full hour and a half before Googling the answer. This is a good thing for the community as a whole.

It's a bad thing for me. Independent authors and teachers have traditionally exploited the very inefficiencies that are being paved over by these technologies. The community no longer has the same incentive to pay money for magazines, books, seminars, and mentoring / consulting: they get the same substance faster and cheaper, if perhaps not with the same style, context, and specificity. I submit that there still is at least some value in the independent voice and that value sometimes manifests in non-obvious ways (even though I depend on Microsoft technologies and mostly write about .NET, of course as a non-Microsoftian I'm free to criticize InfoPath's licensing model and OneNote's lack of an API, but less obviously, the official Microsoft line on Borland's C#Builder is "great product, solid competition." My pan of C#Builder only saw print because Alan Zeichick, Editor of SD Times, said "Call it like you see it; I can take the heat.") but I think its obvious that current channels for independent technical voices will face ever-increasing alternatives and, logically, declining revenue from those channels.

Is there a way to exploit these new channels in terms of revenue? Or is the best that can be achieved participation in what is essentially an Open Source model, by which I mean participating for the "gift culture" aspects or participating based on corporate sponsorship?