Ever since the web was invented, newspapers and other media entities have had to continually expand their view of who their competition is: in the good old days it was other newspapers, and then TV, and then after the web it became other news websites, or maybe Yahoo or Google. But even now, their perspective on that competition may still be too narrow — as my friend Om has argued, they are competing with anything that captures a reader’s attention. And I would argue that they are competing with any service that fills an information need.
I started thinking about this again earlier this week, when a link to an old blog post by journalist/programmer Stijn Debrouwere showed up in my Twitter stream, posted and retweeted by multiple people. I couldn’t track down exactly where it came from, but I’m glad it appeared, because it reminded me of how much sense it made in 2012 when it was first published — and how much sense it continues to make.
Debrouwere’s essay is simply called “Fungible.” Fungibility is an economic term that is used to describe products or services that are interchangeable; in other words, if consumers don’t really care whether they get Product A or Product B, then those two things are said to be “fungible.”...
Via Jeff Domansky