I just love the sort of ex-post realization, or even re-realization all over again, we all get when a powerful agent in the blink of an eye moves a market so profoundly and yet so easily and even obviously. In this case the our market is the broader market of information about the world, the news. The powerful agent is Google. And the move in the market is letting the subjects of the news have their say—and from a mighty platform indeed. (See here for a very enthusiastic response, one to which I’m deeply sympathetic.)
It doesn’t strike me that letting the subject of an article have a special way to respond to an article is wildly innovative. But with power comes responsibility comes wonderment from those over whom a market-mover wields real, substantive, everyday power responsibly.
On the one hand, newspapers had their chance. The New York Times had its chance. But they missed it. They won’t be the innovator, though they may now follow—and may have to follow. (It might be cheaper for them to do it too, since their reporters, who will have often interviewed an article’s subject, can more easily verify a commenter’s identity.)
On the other, online outfits like Newsvine and Topix didn’t have gravity to pull off the move seriously. They could make the play, but they aren’t market-movers. They don’t project the gravity that informs the seriousness of the decision.
When Google moves, even if simply or predictably, it brings the world with it. This is just more proof, again, of how just how much influence Google has on our lives.
Plus this: There are those who think Google’s decision will bloat up with PR bullshit, who doubt Google realizes how labor-intensive its new moderation project will be, and who doubt whether it’s even possible for Google to make the (editorial) decision in any way nearing efficient about who’s even part of the news and thus deserves to comment.