Posted by: structureofnews | September 28, 2011

The Way We Were

Remember when SEO has the hot new thing?  When humans organized the index in Yahoo?  When social media didn’t exist?  A time before Twitter?

If you don’t, here’s a handy graphic to jog your memory.  It’s a nice walk through memory lane and a reminder of how much the industry/technology has evolved in less than two decades – from Lycos, Altavista, Yahoo through the invention of Google and page rank and then the age of Facebook, Twitter and social media.

What’s amazing isn’t how much has changed in that time – it’s how well we’ve accepted what in any other industry would be revolutionary changes every few years.  Which is an important reminder that today’s conventional wisdom may well be tomorrow’s old technology, and that we should be careful about taking as gospel whatever is the new new thing.

I’m sure all of this will settle down at some point, and we’ll have the kinds of rules of thumb that helped generations of newspaper editors and publishers run their businesses efficiently.  But until then happens, we’re in for a roller coaster ride – from learning how to do SEO right to getting a social media strategy and so on.

That’s not to say that what news organizations are doing to adapt to the realities of the marketplace are wrong; it’s that we need to remember that we’re in a hugely fluid environment, and that the landscape is apt to be overturned at any moment.  Which means we shouldn’t take as a immutable law any current received wisdom – whether it’s the importance of social media or the value of links or whatever.

We can’t ignore them, of course; but neither should we be building too-permanent structures around them.  Unless we want to become the Infoseek of 2011.




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