The Tom Sawyer Effect — Old Media Fallacy?

Just when you think the traditional media is getting over their jealous gripe with new media we hear of the snarky Tom Sawyer Effect, websites that avoid the arduous task of painting the fence (creating content) and instead convincing your friends (customers) to pay for the priviledge of painting it themselves.

Point taken, some lame sites do ask too much of their customers. But after consulting to several different established media firms in my career I sense a lack of appreciation for the power of the application. Flickr doesn’t just succeed because people contribute photos — Snapfish and others did that long before. Flickr enhances that experience through use of design and enhances the photographic network through its API.

And the longer the publishing-centric companies ignore this fact, the longer they will fester in old business models that become increasingly irrelevent. A website that allows visitors to contribute content is a far cry from a platform like Daylife that allows customers to manipulate content.