In New Media, Will Middlemen Matter?

Question: What will the media landscape look like in 10 or 15 years?

Josh Cohen: I mean, I think increasingly there is just so much more -- you know, to use a tired term -- sort of metadata on top of the news and information. I mean, I think it can be -- location is certainly a big buzz now with Twitter and various different devices that are aware of your location. I think that's -- that's -- but that's really just sort of one example of ways in which you can filter information to get specifically what you're looking for. And so, increasingly, as you can have that ability to sort of filter by information that's relevant to you or to where you are or to who your friends are, I mean I think that level of personalization is going to be really exciting. You think about how you -- I mean, how I get my news these days -- sure, I go directly to certain publishers, and I also look what's on their home page or all the different coverage. I'll go to Google News, not surprisingly, to sort of see what's there.

But just think about how the information that you get today has sort of changed. I mean, whether it's links that are in Twitter streams that you're following, or Facebook updates, or just e-mails -- I mean, just simple e-mails that people send to you and say, hey, did you see this article? That -- like how that distribution of information has changed and really sort of exploded. So there is no -- I mean, it used to just be the source, and then it was just sort of search, and now it's sort of the social component to it, and I think that's only going to continue to fragment in a good way, because it just -- it offers so many different ways for you to get information that's more and more relevant to you. So how can we -- we, collectively speaking: Google and publishers -- do a better job of trying to offer as many different ways to I guess sort of filter or tweak those results that are specific to what I want?

Question: Will new media remove middlemen in favor of direct communication between individuals and audiences?

Josh Cohen: I mean, I think brands still matter on the Web. I mean, I think it's -- I don't see them disappearing, but I think the role might certainly change. I think that the voice of God that you sort of would see before with editors sort of saying, this is the important news of the day; this is what you should be reading -- I mean, that still has a place, but I think people want so much more than that, and I think they're looking for so many different sort of authoritative voices. And authority can be defined in very different ways, depending on who you're asking. And so there's no longer that single source of information that's dictating this is what matters to you. And it's really much more of a dialog than it ever was before.

Will search engines and social media kill the "gatekeepers" that stand between individuals and mass audiences?

Live on Monday: Does the US need one billion people?

What would happen if you tripled the US population? Matthew Yglesias and moderator Charles Duhigg explore the idea on Big Think Live.

Big Think LIVE

Is immigration key to bolstering the American economy? Could having one billion Americans secure the US's position as the global superpower?

Keep reading Show less

Mars pole may be hiding salty lakes and life, find researchers

Researchers detect a large lake and several ponds deep under the ice of the Martian South Pole.

Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Italian scientists release findings of a large underground lake and three ponds below the South Pole of Mars.
  • The lake might contain water, with salt preventing them from freezing.
  • The presence of water may indicate the existence of microbial and other life forms on the planet.
Keep reading Show less

In praise of nudity: The nudist beaches of Central and Eastern Europe

"Nothing but naked people: fat ones, thin ones, old, young…"

Photo by Jessica D. Vega on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
They lie on towels, blankets and mattresses, without wind screens, but under umbrellas.
Keep reading Show less

Mystery anomaly weakens Earth's magnetic field, report scientists

A strange weakness in the Earth's protective magnetic field is growing and possibly splitting, shows data.

Surprising Science
  • "The South Atlantic Anomaly" in the Earth's magnetic field is growing and possibly splitting, shows data.
  • The information was gathered by the ESA's Swarm Constellation mission satellites.
  • The changes may indicate the coming reversal of the North and South Poles.
Keep reading Show less

Crows are self-aware just like us, says new study

Crows have their own version of the human cerebral cortex.

Credit: Amarnath Tade/ Unsplash
Mind & Brain
  • Crows and the rest of the corvid family keep turning out to be smarter and smarter.
  • New research observes them thinking about what they've just seen and associating it with an appropriate response.
  • A corvid's pallium is packed with more neurons than a great ape's.
  • Keep reading Show less