Tribune Co. which is the parent of the LA Times, among other media holdings, has now filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. While this is doubtless sad news for the employees and their families, each time we see a story like this I wonder once again whether or not the tale of EPIC 2014 wasn’t more prescient than entertainment. For those not familiar, EPIC was a flash presentation published in 2004 by Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson which examined the rise of the blogs and new media, projecting the impact that the Internet frontier would have on traditional, dead-tree publications. Their target date was 2014, by which time they predicted that the New York Times would go offline, existing only as “a print-only newsletter for the elite and the elderly.”
They also foretold a future where users around the world would be supplying news content to a massive, Internet grid, with blog postings, videos and live reports being delivered in customized packages tailored to the preferences of the consumer. Unfortunately, the content would be shallow, partisan, sensational and wildly inaccurate. But, as they point out, “that’s what we wanted.”
I enjoy going back every year or so and watching it again to see how sharp their prognostication skills were. If you’ve not seen it before, click through the link above and check it out for yourself. Be prepared for a short chill to run down your spine, though. We’re about 40% of the way through the time-line they projected and, frankly, they’re not that far off the mark.