Platforms vs. Publishers: A Big New Theory
All of a sudden, the distinction between publishers and platforms on the web is hazy. Twitter is a publisher now? Gawker, a platform? Figuring out the difference reveals a lot about how content is made and consumed on the internet these days, and it's a lot different than just a few years ago. Media brands, from Facebook to BuzzFeed to the New York Times, used to be pure platforms or pure publishers, but now they position themselves somewhere on a spectrum between the two. And the spot they choose reveals a lot about their business strategy, sense of selves, and ability to innovate in the future. These are existential questions, but the answers point to very practical strategies for making stuff that people might actually want to read and share, even pay for.
Zach Seward is the senior editor of Quartz, a business news venture from Atlantic Media, where he leads editorial strategy and visual storytelling.