Friday, February 13, 2009

The inmates are running the asylum

Charlie Rose hosted a segment on the future of newspapers earlier this week. The guests? Someone from the Wall Street Journal, someone from the Daily News, and the former CEO of CNN and managing editor of Time.*

What's wrong with this picture?

If you were doing a story on the future of the prison industry, would you only invite prison administrators? Or would you invite people from think tanks or wall street analysts or people who were experimenting with innovative methods of incarcerating and reforming convicted criminals?

To find the future of the news business, we have to stop looking to the inmates.** We need to understand that the answers might come from -- probably will come from -- people whose worldviews have not been shaped by the system in need of reform.

* WSJ: Robert Thomson; Daily News: Mort Zuckerman; CNN/Time: Walter Isaacson.

** No pun intended. The title of this post comes from a book of the same name, a classic in the world of software design, about why technology products designed and built by software engineers without input from the outside world result in devices no one can actually use.

Photo courtesy of insunlight. Creative Commons license.

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