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Teaching Online Journalism

Meme: The iPod Moment

I used Google to try to track the usage of this compelling phrase.

From Forget Blogs, Print Needs Its Own iPod, by David Carr, The New York Times, Oct. 10, 2005:

The newspaper business is in a horrible state. It’s not that papers don’t make money. They make plenty. But not many people, or at least not many on Wall Street, see a future in them. In an attempt to leave the forest of dead trees and reach the high plains of digital media, every paper in the country is struggling mightily to digitize its content with Web sites, blogs, video and podcasts.

And they are half right. Putting print on the grid is a necessity, because the grid is where America lives. But what the newspaper industry really needs is an iPod moment.

Carr’s article appears to have the first use of the phrase.

“Vint Cerf, a k a the godfather of the net, predicts the end of TV as we know it: Web guru foresees download revolution,” by Bobbie Johnson, The Guardian, Aug. 27, 2007:

The 64-year-old, who is now a vice-president of the web giant Google and chairman of the organisation that administrates the internet, told an audience of media moguls that TV was rapidly approaching the same kind of crunch moment that the music industry faced with the arrival of the MP3 player.

“85% of all video we watch is pre-recorded, so you can set your system to download it all the time,” he said. “You’re still going to need live television for certain things — like news, sporting events and emergencies — but increasingly it is going to be almost like the iPod, where you download content to look at later.”

At the same conference where Cerf spoke (the Edinburgh International Television Festival), Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger reportedly said: “For the newspaper, there will be an iPod moment where someone creates a device that is so brilliant at reading text, the newspaper becomes irrelevant.”

Rusbridger’s remark inspired Charles Arthur, who wrote, on Sept. 4, 2007:

The “iPod moment” — which happened, let’s guess, was underway around the beginning of 2004, when the Guardian’s G2 section had a piece about “the iPodders”, noting how people had these things — meant that suddenly people began to realise that they could carry huge tracts of music with them, rather than being tied down to playing small amounts on a portable CD or MiniDisc, or having the full lot at home on their hi-fi.

(And in passing, the iPhone is not the “iPod moment” for phones. It’s too big; it doesn’t redefine what we do with phones. It’s a smartphone with a cute interface.)

Arthur’s blog post, in turn, inspired me (Sept. 21, 2007):

What happened to the music business will — will – happen to the news business.

It’s already happening. But the device (whatever it’s going to be) will accelerate the process so much, it might just knock us flat to the ground. This is the future we are preparing for now. This is the future we must be ready to meet — or else, what happens to journalism?

Anything earlier than Carr’s 2005 article?

(There’s also The iPod’s Moment in History, by Charlie Bertsch, Tikkun, Sept. 27, 2006. This essay looks at the after-effects of the introduction of the iPod.)


Categories: ideas


6 Comments

  1. [...] >> Mindy McAdams Googled the use of that phrase (”iPod moment”) and found some interesting quotes. [...]

  2. John Cokley says:

    Hi Mindy — we’ve been experimenting with meme research but can’t work out how to gauge frequency on the meme miner at realmeme.com? Don’t suppose you know? John

  3. Mindy says:

    Never laid eyes on it, sorry!

  4. Craig says:

    You didn’t quote Ken Paulson’s speech from here a couple of weeks ago, “The newspaper is the iPod of the 17th century.” (I probably have the date part wrong).

  5. JohnN says:

    Where will this ipod moment come from? I am not sure, but it seems a matter of time. Old media is dying. Fast!

  6. [...] iTunes – made doing so convenient, user-friendly, and even hip. (Mindy McAdams traced this meme back to 2005 but it has begun to appear with increasing [...]

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