Interview - Barry Parr


Interview: Barry Parr, Analyst & Publisher, Media Savvy: 1st October 2003


In this interview we garner further evidence that blogging has gone mainstream.

Technology and media gurus, and punters, around the world are using blogs to communicate more effectively with their audience.

Barry Parr discusses some of the world's most impressive technologies, and biggest issues with us.

This interview will also be mentioned on the Media Man Australia blog.

What's your background?

My background is eclectic. I have an MBA from Harvard; experience in magazine, newspaper, and online publishing; I was a product manager for DHL; I set up two big news Web sites; and I was an ecommerce analyst for IDC. I try to bring that broad business experience to bear in thinking about network media problems.

What are the 5 most impressive technologies you know of today, and why?

Cellular, for its untapped potential.

WiFi, because it immerses us in the Net and whacks the hell out of the economics of cellular.

Content management, because we're only beginning to see what these tools can do in the hands of "ordinary" people.

RSS, because it's fast, cheap, and out of control.

The Segway scooter, because it's just brilliant. But it doesn't belong on sidewalks.

How has the internet been both a good and bad thing for publishing and broadcasting? - eg immediacy of information, freedom of speech, however propaganda reigns in some places.....elaborate if possible, with examples.

So far, the impact has been neutral, because it hasn't really changed their strategies or finances.

Medium term, newspapers will be completely remade into smaller products because of online assaults to news at the global level and classifieds at the local level. Medium term, magazines will have to rethink their audiences and missions, with some not making the transition. The long term impact on broadcast should be neutral because broadcasting serves a different social function altogether.

What do you consider to be your career highlights do date?

Bringing the San Jose Mercury News to the Web was the most fun and revolutionary. CNET was revolutionary, but not as much fun. I loved being an analyst because I didn't wake up every morning worrying about the same business.

What should a good website consist of?

That depends on the audience. But the main thing a website needs is a reason to exist.

What should a good blog consist of?

The best general model is personal, focused, smart, and able to tell me something I didn't know already. But the very best blogs can't be categorized that easily.

What technology news sources do you trust, other than yourself?

Slashdot, CNET, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and IDG. Walt Mossberg is the best product reviewer of all time. Clay Shirky is just brilliant.

What were the most instrumental developments than lead to Goggle's enormous success?

Just one: focusing on being the best search site on the Net and not trying to be anything else.

Is Yahoo! loosing steam?

Yes, in the sense that it has lost its original vision. No, in the sense that it's pretty well run for a company of its size and market share.

Amazon.com - how long will turnover be looked at more than profit, or loss, whatever the case?

Amazon.com contains a profitable business. I don't know how long it will take to strip away the rest of the nonsense.

When has internet censorship gone too far?

First, no special case should be made for Internet censorship. If something is legal in one medium, it should be legal in another. The only arguable case for censorship is child pornography, but that argument is based on physical exploitation, which is difficult to apply honestly in cases of possession.

What do you see being the end result of the "big 5" recording labels war on consumers using file sharing services?

Medium to long term, the labels will be disrupted by independent distribution. It's just going to take longer than we thought and will involve some ugly detours into digital rights management.

Will file sharing operations like Kazza (Sharman Networks) continue to flourish, or will file sharing go further "underground"?

I don't see how filesharing can continue to exist as a worldwide network, but the underground, personal networks (and networks of networks) could be more effective anyway and will certainly be harder to kill.

Are "white lists" the ultimate solution to stop spam, or is there a better, more practical solution?

White lists don't work, but fortunately they're not the only tool. I've become convinced that we need multiple solutions to spam; criminal law, civil law, blacklists, voluntary industry standards, Bayesian filters, filtering and tagging by the ISP, local filtering by the user, and other approaches. One single solution isn't going to work, and it would give everyone the excuse to say, "the ultimate solution is over there, not here." Spam is everyone's problem.

Do you see Government agencies wanting to step in an further regulate internet broadcasters?

They'll try. It will be difficult, but not impossible in the US, especially if the Republican keep picking our judges. I'm less confident about the rest of the world.

In the United States, have any internet publishers, broadcasters or bloggers been sued for defamation or the like? eg they printed or broadcast some true, damaging news etc

This is too broad to answer and not my area of expertise.

What motivated you to start your own blog?

I wanted a reason to write every day and I had something to say. But it wasn't until I had the right tool (Movable Type) that I was able to make it work for me.

How does your blog help you and your clients, associates and contacts?

It forces me to gel my ideas and to explain them. I hope it give my readers new ideas. I don't know if my clients benefit. It also tells anyone who's dealing with me a lot more than I probably know about them.
So far, I'm comfortable with that imbalance.

What are the main advantages or a .org domain?

Dot-org domains make sense when you're really a nonprofit, or if you can't get the dot-com. Otherwise, it's an impediment. I used parr.org because parr.com was already taken. I own both mediasavvy.com and mediasavvy.org, but I promote my site as mediasavvy.com.

What are your current projects?

I'm working on creating a web site for my community. I want to be able to apply what I've learned about micropublishing to address serious community issues that are being ignored by the print press.

How do you make a positive difference?

That's a major goal for my community site. I'm less certain about MediaSavvy's positive impact. Sometimes I think it should be called MediaCassandra.

...end.

Editors note: A reader friendly friendly interview with a technology, media savvy guru!

Links:

Media Savvy

Parr.org