The Rise of Decentralized Expert-in-Field Media or How Fred Wilson Killed Inc Magazine
Today after browsing Inc Magazine’s website, I came to the realization that I haven’t read anything on Inc Magazine in quite some time. Right afterwards I tweeted that Fred Wilson killed Inc Magazine:
Max Chafkin, a writer at Inc Magazine, came to Inc Magazine’s defense and, quite understanably, asked for me to clarify:
Since what I tweeted was a bit of an over-generalization, as Inc. is not really dead nor killed by Fred Wilson alone, and since I was at one time an avid Inc. reader (and subscriber), I believe I owe Max an explanation.
What I was referring to the Rise of Decentralized Expert-In-Field Media.
For many years, Inc. Magazine was the place to go for information and articles for entrepreneurs and those working in early-stage companies. As someone working in the early-stage web space, each month I would look forward to the next issue and spend the day reading it cover-to-cover. Then everything changed. Many VC’s and entrepreneurs began popping up with their own blogs. Aggregators/Curators like Hacker News and Silicon Alley Insider popped up providing people with fast and wide distribution, and all of a sudden I didn’t have to wait each month to get this information from Inc.
This is all part of a larger movement going in media, that isn’t really new to anyone in the field. It is stronger in some verticals than others but two main characteristics of this movement are affecting nearly every vertical:
Decentralized Content, Better Distribution
The new experts are building audiences on their own sites rather than simply publishing on sites or in magazines like Inc. Magazine. Aggregators and Curators as well as Social Media are allowing them to quickly and easily distribute their content. For example, I follow @IncMagazine on Twitter but still rarely go to their site anymore, as it is almost impossible for them to stay ahead of the story when the story is coming from decentralized sources that are distributed quickly.
First Person Expert-In-Field vs. Third Person Expert-Of-Field
It’s incredibly easy to post online now starting to get even easier to access distribution to the masses. Why read a story on a person or company when you can hear directly from the person or company? If you’re the expert-in-the-field, why go through a middleman when you can control your message? Maybe 3 years ago the audience you could reach would make the difference but not these days. There is still a big place for third person, exposé-type journalism, as first person journalism introduces an inherent bias, but that can also be accomplished by experts in the field as the blogosphere is one ongoing conversation and who has better information than those in the field.
At StockTwits we are taking advantage of this trend in the finance vertical through all the amazing traders and investors on the streams, Chart.ly, and StockTwits.tv, and on the aggregation curation side with Abnormal Returns. I believe we are still in the early innings of this movement and, unfortunately, most of the incumbents are not going to escape alive. So while Fred Wilson certainly hasn’t “killed” Inc. Magazine yet, they are slowly dying by cuts from a thousand Fred’s.