Lies, Damn Lies, etc

Thomas Baekdal advises his clients on how to communicate in the 21st Century. He has posted an analysis of current sources of information and his predictions for the future on his blog Market of Information: Where Is Everybody?.

Here's the graph that everyone's raving about ...

According to Thomas Baekdal, our society is already getting almost 75% of its information from the internet. By 2020 it will be 90%, according to Baekdal.

The surprising thing about this nonsense is the number of people who believe it.1 The Web 2.0 cult and its various sects have grown into a kind of social movement populated mainly by people under thirty years old, as far as I can tell. These people are predicting that the world will be radically changed in just a few years as newspapers, books, television, and radio die off. They believe that most citizens will be getting all their information from social networks, social news, blogs and websites.

It's reasonable to ask how such predictions are made and, to their credit, some of the people commenting on have asked. Tom Baekdal replies in comment #30.
The graph was based on combination of a lot of things, a number of interviews, general study, general trend movements, my experience etc. I cannot give you a specific source though, because I used none specifically.

The graphs before 1990 are all based on interviews, and a large number of Google searches to learn about the history of Newspaper, TV and Radio - and more specifically, what people uses in the past. The graphs from 1998 and up to today, is based on all the things that have happened in the past 11 years, of which I have probably seen 1000 surveys ( it is what I do for a living). And the graph from 2009 and forward is based on what I, and many other people predict will happen in the years to come.

One very important thing though, this is not a reflection of my opinion. This is the result a careful analysis. There are always variations, and different types of people. But I believe that this graph accurately reflects consumer focus.
That's it folks. This "careful analysis" is what he does for a living and it is NOT just a reflection of his personal opinion.

It sounds to me a lot like the Oprah Winfrey sort of reasoning that we all respect so highly (not!). This is a dangerous trend. What we're seeing here is the abandonment of rational thought in favor of personal experience, wishful thinking, and pseudo-intellectual, scientific-looking analyses.

Nobody doubts that the internet plays an important role in the lives of many people—this is a blog, after all, and it's really, really important.

Nobody doubts that the internet will take up a larger percentage of people's time in the future. But the change will be incremental and supplemental, just as radio, television, email, and cell phones, became part of our lives without transforming them. Newspapers, magazines, and books did not disappear when every home acquired a radio in the 1930s or a television set in the 1960s and they won't disappear when every home has a personal computer.

I tell by students to look at those big boxes hanging from the ceiling in their classroom. They're from 1969 when everyone predicted that television would take over the classroom. My building was even designed with a television studio on the main floor. It's now offices for research administration.

If it's true that in a few short years we will get 90% of our information from the internet then we need to be afraid, very afraid.

The business world will adapt to incremental changes in the way we communicate and gather information. But the proper response is to base business decisions on real scientific analysis of current trends and behaviors and not on the wishful thinking of someone who makes a living by promoting the death of traditional media.

One of the advantages of being an old foggy is that I've lived through several cycles of so-called "futurists" who are convinced they are the prophets of change (e.g. Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock, 1970; and George Gilder, co-founder of the Discovery Institute). It gets a bit boring after the first fifty years.

1. That means you, Bertalan Meskó of ScienceRoll
nature science for kids,nature science definition,nature science articles,nature science jobs,nature science museum,nature science projects,nature science magazine,nature science journal nature science for kids,nature science definition,nature science articles,nature science jobs,nature science museum,nature science projects,nature science magazine,nature science journal