Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Move Over Software Engineers It's The Era Of Media Engineers

Posted by Tom Foremski - July 28, 2009

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Software coding is becoming a much more common skill and it is a skill that is losing value. You can find coders in developing countries and contract the work for a fraction of what it used to cost.

But there is going to be a need for a new type of software engineer, or better described as a media engineer. Let me explain.

This next phase of the Internet, Internet 2.0, (rather than Web 2.0) is a media Internet. It is all about publishing data and content to any computer screen -- and with any computer screen -- desk or pocket -- having the ability to publish back.

A media Internet requires media engineers rather than plain software engineers because there has to be an understanding of the value of the content and its presentation and distribution.

I define a media engineer as part journalist/editor and part software engineer. A media engineer would look at the media publishing activities of an organization and perform tasks such as setting up feeds and the the feed infrastructure to enable those activities. Also, because we now live in a two-way media world, there is a need to be aware of the collection of conversations and comments and their integration into an overall media architecture.

A single journalist can write a single story but a media engineer can leverage that work across the Internet, enabling distribution of content across large numbers of communities, combined with real-time commercialization through multiple revenue channels. That's what media engineers can do. But it requires a knowledge of journalism and software engineering skills. It requires a knowledge about quality of content and who is likely to read that content. And it requires a knowledge of the culture of their society and that of individual communities. (Ultimately, it's about hacking the brainstem.)

Currently there aren't that many media engineers around. That's because there aren't that many journalists with software engineering skills. Or software engineers with journalism skills. But we will get them and they will be paid much better than software engineers.

In today's world where every company is a media company there will be plenty of work for media engineers of all types.

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Please see: The programmer as journalist: a Q&A with Adrian Holovaty

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