Decline of the Gatekeepers

Good article on Otis Chandler, founder of Goodreads. Sites like this are gradually eroding the authority of established arbiters as they are more suited to sift through the dross of independent/self-published works. They’re also proving that human networks provide more accurate and more diverse links than computerized, market driven simulacra (the absurdity of Amazon’s “Frequently Bought Together” or “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought”). Old gatekeepers will be winnowed down, consolidated, repackaged, mutated. But attempts to monetize the human network (as the article describes) could very well erode it’s intrinsic credibility (the only real asset such networks posses), leaving only the (non-unique) network shell, and  leading to the rise of other social models.

via The Los Angeles Times:

On the Media: Goodreads.com founder pushes print on the Web, not on paper
by James Rainey


He has built one of the biggest sites on the Internet for book lovers, one that has been growing steadily since its inception in 2006. Goodreads.com hosts reading clubs, gives away books, sponsors author chats, offers literature quizzes and generally dissects and celebrates writing. The website has 3.5 million members. It has more than 1.7 million unique visitors a month, a 65% jump from a year ago, according to the Nielsen Co.

Chandler, 32, has built a substantial audience and considerable good will. But he must confront the central challenge that faces most other media companies, old and new: how to make money off the audiences they have built on the Web.

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