Saturday, May 14, 2011

More "chaos" theory

The full article is behind The New Yorker's %$#&ing firewall.

Starkweather, and his compatriots at Xerox PARC, weren't the source of disciplined strategic insights. They were wild geysers of creative energy.

The psychologist Dean Simonton argues that this fecundity is often at the heart of what distinguishes the truly gifted. The difference between Bach and and his forgotten peers isn't necessarily that he had a better ratio of hits to misses. The difference is that the mediocre might have a dozen ideas, while Bach, in his lifetime, created more than a thousand full-fledged musical compositions. A genius is a genius, Simonton maintains, because he can put together such a staggering numbers of insights, ideas, theories, random observations and unexpected connections that he almost inevitably ends up with something great. "Quality," Simonton writes, "is s probabilistic function of quantity."

Simonton's point is that there is nothing neat and efficient about creativity. "The more successes there are, the more failures there are, as well."


Tulkinghorn said...

The firewall is the essence of the thing these days, according to this morning's WSJ. If the website is the product, your complaint is rather like getting upset at not being able to walk away with a copy from the newsstand without paying....

Cool quote:

The result is a new ecosystem of pricing that turns aspects of the old model upside down. For many years, publications charged for print and gave away their digital content free.

Increasingly, publishers are charging premium prices for digital content, betting on a new breed of media consumer willing to pay for content on devices such as Apple Inc.'s iPad, and throwing in print at little or no additional cost.

Last week, for example, the New Yorker introduced a subscription that includes the magazine online and on the iPad for about $60 a year. For just $1 more a month, subscribers can get the magazine in print, too.

David Chute said...

I'm sure they're smarter than me in this area.

And additional factor is that stories behind firewalls can't be linked. That much harder for stories to go viral and redound to the glory of the publication. Variety, for instance, essentially no longer exists as far as readers of my day job website are concerned.

Tulkinghorn said...

That's an important consideration and I think is especially meaningful to daily papers that want to have an impact on the national conversation.

The New Yorker has always been diffident in this respect and I think with pieces by Malcolm Gladwell, whose books hit the best seller list and stay there for years, they are pretty secure that the word will get out.

The impact of digital distribution on Variety and the Hollywood Reporter is interesting. I read that the Reporter has become more influential since dropping the daily print edition and that Variety, as you note, has maintained influence only among the same 10k or so readers it had back in 1945....

Christian Lindke said...

A story isn't really "going viral" in a beneficial way if it can be fully cut and pasted all around the internet either.

The ability to link a story and require payment for full access allows the best of both worlds. Besides NYT allows a certain number of free looks a month before you have to pay. It's going to take a while for the advertising model to fully compensate web distributed content, so we have to pay for now. Add to that the fact that if these people had been charging from day 1, we would never have complained, and I think it is all moot.

The iTunes store, and others, are getting people used to microtransactions (as are a number of "free" MMORPGs), and Hulu and the CW online are getting people used to commercials in their web content.

It's all for the good if you want to access stuff, and for the stuff to be of high quality. I'd rather my screenwriters worked 9-5 5 days a week trying to come up with ideas to entertain me, than work 3 hours a day after work on an amateur basis.

David Chute said...

It's just change, which some of us have more problem with than others.

BTW: Is The Gaurdian behind a firewall in England and free here?

Tulkinghorn said...

No. The only firewalled British paper is The Times.

The Guardian, especially, is after an international audience and now has more internet readers in the US than in the UK. Hard to make people in LA buy a daily hard copy paper.

This might change if tablet subscriptions get traction.

Tulkinghorn said...

From Peggy Noonan's column this week about Newt Gingrich:

He had bad judgment, which is why he famously had a hundred ideas a day and only 10 were good. He didn't know the difference and needed first-rate people around to tell him.