Overlapping, partial, competitive, cooperative attempts

All of this seems to offer the grandmotherly option between Starkman and the FON [Future Of News] crew — ‘You’re both right, dear. We need institutions and we need experiments.’ Even given this hybridization, though, our views diverge: Plan A assumes that experiments should be spokes to the newspapers’ hub, their continued role as the clear center of public interest journalism assured, and on the terms previously negotiated.

Plan B follows Jonathan Stray’s observations about the digital public sphere: in a world where Wikipedia is a more popular source of information than any newspaper, maybe we won’t have a clear center anymore. Maybe we’ll just have lots of overlapping, partial, competitive, cooperative attempts to arm the public to deal with the world we live in.

Some of the experiments going on today, small and tentative as they are, will eventually harden into institutional form, and that development will be as surprising as the penny press subsidizing journalism for seven generations. The old landscape had institutions and so will the new one, but this doesn’t imply continuity.
— Clay Shirky, Institutions, Confidence, and the News Crisis, December 2, 2011