The Washington Post Company reported (see story in Paid Content) that it has acquired iCurrent, a company in the business of helping internet users assemble and organize online information according to their specific interests. As described in a couple of places, iCurrent is to news and information what Pandora is to music.
The iCurrent business model appears to be in fairly vivid contrast to the notion of content mills, which have been stabbed at in this space several times (here and here, for instance). Content mills create more supply in a market that doesn't need help creating supply. Content mills are a disguise hiding the desire of producers to control information. In contrast, iCurrent wants to help users control information. It is supply v. demand. It is push (old media) v. pull (new media).
Let's skip over all the arguments in the middle of that conversation, and cut to the assertion that Aol. should have bought iCurrent. Or, Yahoo should have bought iCurrent instead of Associated Content. They are two substantial new media brands that could, thus, have been aligned with new media user value. Except, they don't really want to be in the "new" media business. They want to be in the "old" media business. Push vs. pull.
This is the only factor that makes the rise of the online industry different from the rise of the cable industry. Fundamentally, cable was always going to grow-up to be TV. The fact that new media giants such as Aol. and Yahoo, and all the rest, have also always wanted to grow up to be TV has been a critical hindrance to establishing a unique online selling proposition aligned with what users want. So, instead, we sell audience data at a discount to the media space.
Congratulations to iCurrent and the Washington Post Company.
Old media is dead. Long live old media.