‘The web is NOT a publishing medium: it’s a customer service medium’

A great post from Paul Ford at ftrain about ‘the fundamental question of the web’.

He considers media in terms of “questions answered”.

“Here’s one question: “I’m bored, and I want to get out of the house and have an experience, possibly involving elves or bombs. Where do I go?”

“The answer: You could go to a movie.

“Here’s another: “How do I distract myself without leaving the house?”

“You might turn on the TV.”

Each medium has a niche – sitcoms work on TV, long-form investigative writing in newspapers, for example.

“When it arrived the web seemed to fill all of those niches at once. The web was surprisingly good at emulating a TV, a newspaper, a book, or a radio… people in the newspaper industry saw the web as a newspaper. People in TV saw the web as TV, and people in book publishing saw it as a weird kind of potential book.

“But the web is not just some kind of magic all-absorbing meta-medium. It’s its own thing. And like other media it has a question that it answers better than any other. That question is: Why wasn’t I consulted?”

Later in the piece he talks about the web NOT being a publishing medium.

“The web is a customer service medium. “Intense moderation” in a customer service medium is what “editing” was for publishing.

“Create a service experience around what you publish and sell. Whatever “customer service” means when it comes to books and authors, figure it out and do it. Do it in partnership with your readers. Turn your readers into members. Not visitors, not subscribers; you want members. And then don’t just consult them, but give them tools to consult amongst themselves.”

A recommended read.