This is one of those blindingly obvious revelations that make you feel a little dumb in retrospect. It occurred to me over the weekend, as I leafed through the Economist's special section on new media that, it is impossible for a magazine that depends on wide circulation to efficiently deliver insights to a professional audience. I love the Economist for many reasons but when reading about a subject that I spend most of my waking hours thinking about, I found little that was new. But of course that would be true. Because the economics of the paper based media business dictate that they write for a broad audience, they inevitably frustrate anyone who is deeply immersed in a particular subject.
The corollary of that observation is that blogging and the micro-chunking of media are here to stay, at least as a means of communicating among professionals. Bloggers invite a dialogue with a much larger audience that they could ever interact with personally. But they are under no obligation to provide context for their musings or insights. They can just throw them out and let their audience self select. That means that posts can be small focused observations. The blogger themselves can efficiently extend their knowledge about subjects they already know well by posing pointed questions and inviting a response. For blog readers by using tools like blog search, delicious and by navigating the link ecology of blogs, they can stay current and informed about narrow subjects they care deeply about.
The continued growth of blogs and of micro-chunked media is driven by the attention economics of a society populated, increasingly, by time starved, curious people looking for efficient ways to learn more about subjects they already think about every day. This does not suggest that mass media will go away. We all need to know about breaking news and general interest areas like art and science, and few of us have time to be expert in these areas. But it may make it difficult for specialized industry publications to survive as a one way paper medium.