I also feel a little uncomfortable about drawing attention to such accolades as do the majority of former newspaper reporters. We don't mind if someone else blows our horn but it feels crass doing it yourself. In today's media world that attitude is a handicap because if you can't handle a certain level of self-promotion no one will see your work.
The early Blogosphere...
When I left the Financial Times more than ten years ago to become a "journalist blogger" I suddenly fell into a very small, very strange community of writers I hardly knew before. It felt great to be part of this tiny and very feisty band of bloggers with Robert Scoble, Om Malik, Renee Blodgett, Dan Farber, Anil Dash, Doc Searls, Craig Newmark, Andy Lark, Dennis Howlett, Nick Denton, David Galbraith, Dan and Steve Gillmor, Jeff Clavier, etc (please see: Original Thinkers list).
Charlene Li, founder of the Altimeter market research group, has a new book coming out in March, "The Engaged Leader." She spoke about the book and her views on social media's impact on marketing, at an event organized by the local chapter of the American Marketing Association, at Weber Shandwick San Francisco.
Here's my notes:
Charlene Li gave a presentation that focused on a message of engagement between brands and consumers. She argued that brands should seek "intimate" relationships with people. The theme of "engagement" in marketing is a signature idea at Altimeter. Li's colleague, Brian Solis also pushes this idea in his book, "Engage!"
Sam Biddle at ValleyWag from Gawker Media, confidently predicted that for the first time in five years, Mike Arrington, the co-founder of Techcrunch Disrupt conference, would not make an appearance at this year's New York conference.
(Bill Nguyen - founder of Lala.)
Reports that Apple has purchased streaming music startup Lala is bad news for companies in the crowded streaming music sector.
Apple does not have a streaming music service and has been struggling to defend its lead in online downloads. By acquiring Lala, Apple is signaling that it intends to be a major player in the fast growing streaming music sector.
It also shows that Apple is betting on a unique approach towards streaming music services and one that better fits into its current iTunes business model.
Lala offers customers a lifetime license to stream songs from its extensive music library for 10 cents per song. This is a complimentary model to Apple's iTunes store that offers downloads of songs for 99 cents each.
Apple moves against Microsoft and Spotify
The Lala deal is Apple's first major foray into music since iTunes music store was established in April 2003. And it shows that it won't give up a leading position in the music industry to numerous competitors, such as Microsoft with its Zune music subscription plan, and Spotify, the formidable European music streaming company, which is preparing to enter the US market.
Spotify has become very popular in Europe with a monthly subscription plan and an advertising supported free-option.
Ad supported music trouble
In the US there are numerous startups offering advertising supported music streaming services. Advertising supported music streaming, however, faces challenges as license fees rise.
With a paid-model such as that offered by Lala, Apple will be able to offer better licensing deals to the hard hit music industry than revenues from competitors with advertising supported music streaming services.
This will be a key differentiator in the forthcoming battles over subscribers to music streaming services. While free services may initially win listeners, it is not a viable long term model.
Lala's user interface is already very similar to iTunes, which will make it easy for Apple to win new customers. And the 10 cent lifetime streaming license will appeal to people that like to own music, as iTunes customers like to own music downloads.
Unlike music subscription plans where access to music stops when payment stops, Lala users retain full access. Why waste $15 per month on a subscription plan when for the same money you can have lifetime access to 150 songs a month, and build a growing library of music?
Again, Apple has a key differentiator that competitors lack.
The Lala acquisition is an indication that large numbers of Internet users have grown comfortable with streaming music as a viable way of listening to music. The educational effort that Lala and other startups have done, now enables Apple to use its clout and take advantage of its long partnership with the music industry.
- - -
Please see my interview with Bill Nguyen, founder of Lala Oct, 2008:
LaLa Launches Next Generation Music Web Service
Also from Dec 2006:
Congratulations to Nick Denton, the founder of Gawker Media based n New York city, for record breaking traffic to his network of media sites.
The former Financial Times reporter has 9 media sites, such as the gadget oriented gizmodo, media focused gawker, and science fiction site io9.
Mr Denton has often said that these are not "blogs" but in a memo obtained by Poynter.org, he writes:
Just a shade off 400m pageviews in November. Damn. Close. To put that in perspective, Los Angeles Times is somewhere between 100m and 200m. New York Times is about 1bn. In web traffic, we're somewhere in between. Not bad for a bunch of scrappy bloggers!
What's not clear is if advertisers value the traffic to Gawker sites the same as those to the newspapers. Even so, with traffic in between the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, the Gawker Media collection is doing very well and with much lower operating costs than at the two newspapers.
Gawker's writers are rewarded based on pageviews, a model that other online news sites have also adopted. But it looks like the metric is shifting towards increasing the number of unique visitors.
In the same memo, Mr Denton writes:
...we do need to recognize that not all pageviews are created equal. A slideshow view is not worth as much as a click from Twitter or Facebook or Digg which brings a new reader to us. Expect more emphasis in 2010 on clicks through from external sites -- and the "uniques" which measure of the number of people that we reach. We can't just satisfy our existing regulars; we have to recruit new ones.
Here is a list of Gawker sites and their latest traffic numbers: Gawker Media Network
John Byrne, the former editor-in-chief of BusinessWeek, has launched his own company C-Change Media. He writes that this is a good time to launch a new media company because there are significant advantages.
He says there is no future in these media business models:
1) Print advertising will never come back. There are just too many options for advertisers today and too much pressure on rates. Sadly, success in print will be measured in single-digit declines, forever.
2) Online advertising will never offset those declines nor save print. There's far too much competition online and far too much available inventory; and
3) Users will not pay for content, unless they're convinced it has immediate and tangible value.
Yet he points to the success of: "Huffington Post, Politico, Drudge, GigaOm, TechCrunch, and other media enterprises on the web have shown us a path forward."
The last time I looked those media companies rely heavily on advertising.
Mr Byrne does not say how his new company will make money:
Focusing on a business audience is smart because they already pay for information. But how will C-Change create a competitive advantage over Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and other business oriented media publishers? They have considerable resources and access to timely information. He will need a real-time capability. [Please see: Groovy: Real-Time Data Could Aid Media Companies - SVW]
C-Change can move more quickly than larger publishers and it could potentially attract enough users that it might one day be a good acquisition candidate.
But matching a top BusinessWeek editor's salary (est. over $500K) with the revenues from online content will be challenging. Not to mention salaries for his team of editors and technologists.
I wish Mr Byrne well but even new media is suffering along with the old. Most new media sites have to branch out into conferences to pay the bills, plus research reports. It's not easy to make a decent living --- even if you aren't old media and loaded with legacy costs and legacy thinking.
Many of the latest new media companies are taking a low-end approach to content creation, such as Demand Media which tries to commission articles related to popular search terms and pays rock-bottom rates because that's the value in media content these days. In an advertising pageview world a pageview is a pageview whether it is quality media or low-end machine generated media.
Business media markets are far more lucrative than for general media but even there we will see companies competing heavily and undercutting each other. Because they can.
C-Change's operating costs will certainly be lower than for incumbent competitors but there is still one very large cost: marketing.
Getting attention is harder today than ever before and the noise level is going to increase exponentially because everyone has access to the same publishing tools.
As Mr Byrne says:
Launching a new media startup today is very challenging. It will be interesting to see what C-Change will come up with.
It's always good to see people trying out new media business models. Because if they are successful it means others can follow and that means quality journalism is preserved -- we all win.
- - -
AOL has an uncanny knack for making all wrong decisions at critical times.
There was a time when America Online, as it was known back in the early 1990s could have become the Internet if it had opened up its platform. It was the largest online network and had incredible momentum under the leadership of Steve Case.
Later, in 2006 when AOL opened up its platform, at a time when creating a safe walled-garden for its users would have been a great service, a great time to build a social network.
And let's not mention the acquisition of Time-Warner. That was a huge disaster and its announcement in 2000 signaled the end of the dotcom boom and the start of the dotbomb.
Now AOL has a new content strategy. Emily Steel at the Wall Street Journal reports:
Instead of waiting to sell ads until an article or Web video is produced, AOL--which has scores of niche sites, such as beauty and fashion site Stylelist, in addition to its AOL brand--says it plans to offer marketers the chance to work with its editorial team to create custom content.
AOL says that its ad model will allow advertisers to be affiliated with the content but not control what is written or created.
This isn't going to work. There is no way advertisers will want to pay for being "affiliated" with content if it is critical or is negative in sentiment, and over which they have no control.
If it works at all, it will result in bland, beige content that will not get a second click from readers once they get a first look.
And this is CEO Tim Armstrong's best plan to revamp the company as a content powerhouse?
Why doesn't he just republish press releases and advertorials? There's tons of those and they are free.
A low-end content strategy
The Wall Street Journal says that sources report that Mr Armstrong owns a 20% stake in Demand Media and Associated Content. These companies are trying to produce niche media on a mass scale by paying attention to what people are search for and what advertisers on Google Adsense will pay for.
He is attempting to bring a similar system to AOL. It will pay freelancers to produce specific articles based on how much advertising it can sell next to the content.
Mr Armstrong joined AOL in March 2009. He was previously head of Google's North American and Latin American advertising group. It's not surprising that he favors an automated news gathering and production system closely coupled with advertising -- that's how Google's AdSense system works.
But Google AdSense is not that great at monetizing content. But that doesn't matter too much because it doesn't have to pay for the content it automatically matches content on third-party sites with contextual ads.
How will AOL's system improve the monetization of content? Freelancers will be expected to produce content for free and then get paid later. Will they receive more money than if they published the content themselves and used AdSense to monetize it? That's clearly the promise.
But why would advertisers pay more to advertise on the AOL platform if they can use an ad network such as AdSense and advertise next to similar content? And they wouldn't need to become involved in the creation of content, as in the AOL approach.
It doesn't make sense.
- - -
Business Insider gets a copy of AOL email welcoming new writers:
The email, from an editor at AOL site RentedSpaces.com, encourages writers to produce 300-500 word stories fast in a style that's "colorful, concise, [and] opinionated." But he doesn't want them to go too far.
"We're not Gawker, so be friendly and authoritative."
He tells them stories don't have to be based on original reporting. He writes, "All we want to know for a pitch is: what's the story, who broke it (AP, NYT, BW, Bloomberg,etc.), and how you will advance the story if you are following someone else's reporting," reads the email.
When writers file their copy, they're expected to "Include 140 characters for a Tweet or Facebook update."
AOL wants its editors to write in a way that will help Google will find their stories -- that they're "search engine optimized." For example, the RentedSpaces editor tells his staffers to "make sure the first few words and first graf contain the critical keywords."
The Financial Times reports that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp has had discussions with Microsoft about payments to be able to index its content.
The impetus for the discussions came from News Corp, owner of newspapers ranging from the Wall Street Journal of the US to The Sun of the UK, said a person familiar with the situation, who warned that talks were at an early stage.
However, the Financial Times has learnt that Microsoft has also approached other big online publishers to persuade them to remove their sites from Google's search engine.
This is inline with my analysis from a week ago: Murdoch Will Negotiate Payment For Access To Basket Of Content With GOOG et al
The way this story has been leaked means that Rupert Murdoch is likely setting up a bidding war between Microsoft and Google. Will Google allow Microsoft to walk away with the index to News Corp. content and quite possibly the index for other large media companies?
Google will have to bid against Microsoft because it has more to lose than News Corp and other media companies have in losing Google traffic ( it's traffic that holds little value because they can't easily convert it to revenue.)
If Google is perceived to be lacking in its index then it risks losing trust among users that it is the best place to go for search. That's risking its most valuable asset -- its brand.
For News Corp. and other newspaper companies, charging for the index and also putting some content behind a paywall, could offer a way to stop the slide in their print business. Free online newspapers are competing with their own print version.
Some newspapers are experimenting with making online subscriptions more expensive than subscriptions to the newspaper.
For example, the Newport Daily News has begun charging more for the online version of its 12,000 circulation newspaper. Nieman Journalism Lab reports:
Want home delivery of the print paper? That's $145 a year. Want home delivery and online access? That's $245. And if you want just online access -- to an electronic edition that duplicates the appearance of the print product -- it's a whopping $345.
Just because news has been free for many years doesn't mean it will remain that way. The Internet used to be advertising free and people said that users would never accept online advertising.
If charging for news content doesn't work then there will be fewer news stories being produced because free news doesn't pay the bills. The only "free" news available will be that produced by organizations representing a client -- advertorials in various disguises.
Spotify is one of Europe's most successful startups. It's a streaming music service with a large number of enthusiastic customers, and a business model that is already producing revenues.
Spotify is coming to the US and it is building a war chest. Recent reports say that it is close to securing as much as $50 million in new funding, giving it a valuation of around $250 million.
On Monday, The Conversation Group set up a "Blogger Roundtable" for Microsoft's Online Services Group that invited leading bloggers to offer their advice on how to improve communications (please see end for who was there.)
It was an interesting exercise and although MSFT executives were quick to admit they had poor relations with bloggers I question how serious the software giant is in improving relations.
For a start, there was no one from Microsoft's several hundred strong global communications team present. I recently spoke at a large internal conference of its communications team and got great feedback and great questions, so I know they are many great people within Microsoft thinking a lot about blogger relations.
Also, Microsoft pays a fortune to its long time PR firm Waggener Edstrom yet there was no representation from this firm. I mentioned this to Ron Markezich, Microsoft VP and in charge of Online Services. "There was a guy from Wagg-Ed at the back of the room but he got bored and left a while ago," he said.
Seriously not serious . . .
Which makes me think that this exercise was not a serious attempt by Microsoft to figure out how it should relate to key influencers. This is a shame because Microsoft got some excellent advice from the group. But you can lead a horse to water...
How will that advice be translated into action if the people ultimately responsible for MSFT communications weren't present?
Another reason why Microsoft is not serious about soliciting advice: If it were serious it would pay for it.
Why is this incredibly rich corporation seeking free advice on how to better promote its products and services and to tell its stories to the world? It wants us to help it continue to make huge amounts of money (nearly $6bn in operating profits in its most recent quarter.) but is MSFT helping any bloggers to pay the rent? As far as I can see MSFT does not sponsor blogs. So if it doesn't support the blogosphere how come it is asking for support in return?
Learning from Intel . . .
Intel has assembled a group of influential bloggers of which I am a member, they are called the Intel Insiders. Intel, however, does support the blogosphere. [Intel is the main sponsor of Silicon Valley Watcher and asks for nothing in return except to host its Intel widget (see sidebar).]
Also, Intel rewards its Intel Insiders and that's what Microsoft needs to do. It needs to be like Intel and use its wealth to support the blogosphere through sponsorships and pay for the advice it gets. After all, if the advice is free then that's how it will value that advice.
If we are being asked to help Microsoft pay its rent then it should help us pay our rent and support my work and those of my colleagues in the new media. That's how Microsoft can continue to engage this community.
Social media insiders . . .
From my experience with the Intel Insiders and now Microsoft's attempts to corral a similar community of influencers, there is a business opportunity here to create an independent "social media insiders" group that could provide very valuable advice to many corporations on how to communicate in this new world.
- - -
People present today:
David Spark (as moderator)
Ron Markezich, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Online
David Howell, Director, Microsoft Online Engineering
Bharat Shah, General Manager, Microsoft Online Engineering
Eron Kelly, Sr. Director, Microsoft Online
Alex Payne, Director, Office Client Product Management
Andrew Kisslo, Sr. Product Manager, Office Client
Jigsaw is taking the issue of data portability to the extreme by declaring June 4 as "Data Independence Day" and allowing people to search and download data on one million company records in its database.
Jigsaw has trodden on plenty of toes because of its open data policy regarding people's personal contact info disclosed on business cards, which is part of the open data portability debates currently fashionable among the digerati.
I like Jigsaw, and I like the founders, they are tapping into an interesting vein regarding data and the issues around private and public ownership. And they are yanking a chain...
Here's Jigsaw's cheesy vid if you are in the mood, otherwise don't. (You can thank me later.)
Here is a short video from the session "How social networking innovations change the way people consumer media?" with moderator Irina Haltsonen from Finland, Harry McCracken, PC World and Carolyn Pritchard, GigaOm.
Here is Harry McCracken talking about why he is leaving PC World to start his own venture:
Top tips for moderators...
It must be tough to moderate a panel when you are the smartest one on the podium. It's not yet happened to me but I imagine it must be agony knowing that the audience would rather listen to you.
If you ever find yourself in such a position it is your duty to your audience to do something about it. Yesterday, I saw an innovative approach to such a situation at the Innovation Journalism conference at Stanford University.
Faisal Rehman Malik, a TV anchor man from Pakistan, was the moderator for a panel on "Innovation in broadcast journalism for the 21st century." He spoke for 24 minutes out of a 30 minute slot about his new TV project and then asked his panel to ask him questions about it. Brilliantly innovative because as a moderator you can still include your panel for a few minutes while having spared your audience a tiresome 30 minutes.
And what is Mr Malik's new TV project? It's a talk show about innovation.
(BTW, he was chewing gum throughout his talk.)
Afterwards, I asked Mr Malik if guests would be allowed to talk on his talk show. He said yes, they would. I said good luck with that.At the conference social mixer I had an interesting chat with one of his panelists, Cheryl Frank about innovation journalism, it's too bad the rest of the conference didn't get a chance to hear some of her insights.
I think that in this crowded media world where it is so tough to keep up with so much information, it is good to know that you can rest easy when it comes to Mr Malik's new TV show.
Next time you find yourself at the St. Regis Islamabad, tune into the News One TV channel and search out Mr Malik's program. You might be rewarded with a great talk show - otherwise, I find that monologues work far better than melatonin for the jet weary.
- - -
Thursday afternoon at the Innovation Journalism Conference:
Are startup media companies better at covering innovation than traditional newspapers and magazines?
Moderator: Johan Anderberg - INJO Fellow '08 hosted by Fortune.
Panelists: Anders Olofsson - Head of Digital Media; Sydsvenskan, Sweden; Thomas Frostberg - Editor-In-Chief, Rapidus News Agency, Sweden; Tom Foremski - Founder, Silicon Valley Watcher; G. Pascal Zachary - Journalist / Visiting Lecturer, Department of Communication, Stanford University.
Buzzlogic is an interesting company to watch. It tracks who is influential in the mediasphere, whcih can be a movable target. What is interesting is how Buzzlogic is trying to combine that with online advertising so that advertisers can target influential sites and the audience that they influence.
As part of that strategy, Buzzlogic has announced it has acquired Activeweave, which offers the browser companion application BlogRovR. (It fetches related stories while you browse.) The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Here is more info:
How should big brands manage their online reputation? Certainly not the Wells Fargo way...
Even though Wells Fargo has a blog page "Join the conversation" it doesn't.
Last April I had a really bad experience with Wells Fargo and wrote about it. Within minutes I had people commenting on their bad experience! It was the fastest response I had ever had to a post!
I wrote about my bad experiences several times actually. I was wondering how long it would take for a Wells Fargo representative to notice and leave a comment. As I pointed out, I'll get over my rant but the search engines will continually bring up my story and you would think that Wells Fargo would want to leave it's side of the story, at least say, "Sorry about that, here's a toaster..." or something.
But nothing came from Wells Fargo.
Sure enough, every few weeks someone finds my rant and and leaves another story about Wells Fargo. You'd think after about a year, someone might notice at Wells Fargo and "Join the conversation!"
(BTW, last month I met one of the bank's directors John Chen, the CEO of Sybase and mentioned that someone at the bank should keep an eye on what is going on online.)
Here is a recent comment about Wells Fargo from NKB that I received on March 18, 2008. I've got quite a collection and I know I will get more.
I thought I would just add my 2 cents regarding the WF's outrageous policies regarding holds.
I deposited a bonus check for in excess of $5K from my employer via an ATM and received an email a day later saying that WF will hold $4900 for a week and the remainder for 2 weeks.
1. I am WF customer of more than 30 years.
2. The deposited check is drawn on BofA.
3. The same BofA account is used to make a direct payroll deposit into my WF account twice a month.<
4. I have had balances in my checking acct in excess of $100K over the last few years.
5. I have never had a deposit not honored.
6. The BofA check will clear overnight, I am sure. So how can WF hold my money for up to 2 weeks?
7. Spoke to WF by phone, and got nothing but policy statements.
I will probably sever my long-standing relationship with WF over this outrageous behavior. Wanted to put this on the record. Thank you.
Another commenter provided an interesting web site address: Wells Fargo Injustice
This site has been established to serve as a centralized resource which will publicly document individual instances of real or perceived employment discrimination or disability discrimination at Wells Fargo or any of its subsidiaries. In addition, ethical, information security and data privacy issues at Wells Fargo will also be addressed and discussed.
The site has a blog: http://blog.wellsfargoinjustice.com/
There is a recent post from that blog about a potential security vulnerability that could expose Wells Fargo customer bank records and social security numbers.My Wells Fargo posts:
From Wells Fargo: Blogs are interactive online forums that allow us to communicate and share ideas with our readers. We're here to start a conversation with you. Wells Fargo Blogs Join The Conversation I have a conversation I'd like to...
Posted in Silicon Valley Watcher - the business of disruption on April 28, 2007 02:37 AM
My RantWatch yesterday about Wells Fargo's poor service could become an interesting case study in how large companies manage their online reputations. Or how they don't. The post was hardly complimentary. I complained about depositing a check into my threadbare...
Posted in Silicon Valley Watcher - the business of disruption on April 25, 2007 12:29 AM
I used to be impressed by Wells Fargo, professional and with great service. My local bank manager even used to call and invite me to barbecues. That was when I had money in various accounts. He never calls anymore, now...
Posted in Silicon Valley Watcher - the business of disruption on April 23, 2007 03:27 PM
Over on my column/blog at ZDNet: Tom Foremski: IMHO, I asked:
The topic of trolls, people who take time to leave inane, usually abusive comments, that kill conversation on blogs, and forums, and other types of social media is interesting.
Although I haven't snagged any trolls yet, (I've got an upcoming post that I'm sure will reap a harvest) I did get some excellent comments:
Calling a troll a 'redneck' would be entirely too gracious
While one can make the argument that trolls and rednecks might not "know no better" when it comes to minding their manners, I have a troll who deliberately visits to make pointed comments that show he's stalking my blog and collecting data on me before launching a nasty comment-missile. Trolls are, to me, the Debbie Downers and Grim Reapers of the social media space.
Posted by: dcwriterdawn
RE: Are trolls the rednecks of the social media world?
Sometimes those at enmity with us can be spun to the good.
Our friends will often spare us, cause they love us, while our enemies are often fiendishly foot loose and fancy free, savagely unfettered from any such fine sensibilities. The same trappings of civilization that most of us deliberately cultivate. Because we know where to go for the real gold. Riches still reside in the golden rule. Corny as that may or may not sound.
Slashing, sniping and shoulding on us is their standard schlock. They're happily or not mostly unmoved by the need of normative social constraints of the civil.
I've gained a lot sometimes from harsh, hateful unrelenting, unsparing, marauding, murderous criticism. I figure that where there's smoke, there's usually a fire.
Some of these storm clouds huffing and puffing impending doom have silver linings, quite contrary to the uncouth and nefarious stuff they spew and spray.
Sometimes I find it easy to love my enemies for the kindness they certainly didn't intend to do my way.
Posted by: preachjohn
RE: Are trolls the rednecks .... Oh Yes but
I think they should be called childish rednecks.
Of all the sites I read, there seems to be an inordinate amount of trolls in Zdnet.
Critism is fine, trolling is not.
I think a lot of misinformed posters "troll" in error due to their lack of knowledge and then end up defending the themselves against the trollish anti-trolls.
But then again, some bloggers write "troll" blogs as well due to their own bias.
Posted by: rtfa
Well done ESPN! It says it won't use advertising networks: From Media Week.
"We're heading down a path where it no longer suits our business needs to work with ad networks," said Eric Johnson, executive vp, multimedia sales, ESPN Customer Marketing and Sales.
Advertising networks are used by large publishers for excess inventory and that's how they pitch themselves to the publishers.
I know for a fact that the ad networks tell advertisers: We can undercut the ad rates of the large publishers!
The ad networks are not the friends of publishers. In the past, I've seen New York Times running Google ads on its front page, and at the bottom of the ads it says "If you'd like to advertise on this site click here." Click and you go to Google. NYT has handed over its advertiser relationship to Google. Madness.
The problem is that ad sales staff at the large publishers don't know how to sell online ads. They have to sell more, for less, and that means a lot more work to make the same commission.
Solution: Hire new sales people that don't have a legacy commission infrastructure to protect.
Ad networks commoditize content. And so do news aggregators.
How long before large publishers cut off news aggregators such as Google News, etc?
Sure, distribution is nice, for now. But if you rely on traffic coming from search engines and aggregators you are getting low quality traffic. It is fly-by-night traffic. It is web surfers killing time.
The best traffic is the traffic that comes to your site directly through bookmarks or RSS. People that know where you are, they don't need to find you.
That's quality traffic and that is traffic that advertisers want. I predict that advertisers will pay a lot more for sites that get their traffic direct and not through search engines and news aggregators. It's the same as advertising on free magazines compared with subscribed magazines.
However, most news sites rely on search engine traffic for as much as 60 per cent of their traffic, often more. They invest heavily in making their content discoverable through keywords, tagging, metadata, url structure, and a dozen more parameters.
This is a big burden and it does nothing to improve the quality of content, only the quality of discoverability.
When I look at my server logs I see that about 94 per cent of my traffic comes directly to me from bookmarks and RSS. The rest from search engines.
My advice: Optimize for your readers and not for the search engines.
But if 60 per cent or more of your web site traffic comes via search and news aggregators you can't change. It's an addiction.
At some point, large publishers will severely curtail the news aggregators and search bots because:
-The quality of the traffic they send is poor, it doesn't lead to ad conversions.
-The constant barrage of spiders and robots slows down the web site and harms the user experience.
It becomes very expensive to attract search engine traffic.
For example, about one third of my server resources and my bandwidth is used by a multitude of spiders and bots hitting my site every day. Yet they bring only 6 per cent of my traffic.
That 6 per cent of traffic cost one-third of my publishing resources. It's not much money for me, but for a large publisher?
At some point, a large media company such as ESPN, will notice that its traffic is stable, that search engines and aggregators are bringing lower quality traffic, and that that traffic is not worth the large hit it takes on its servers, bandwidth, and people required to SEO its content.
This scenario won't happen soon but I guarantee it will happen, and that's when GOOG, et al will pay ESPN and other content producers to carry their content. GOOG constantly needs "new" content but it doesn't know how to create it, it just knows how to scrape it. And that's a common technology these days and it is getting to be a commodity.
Halting the commoditisation of news and journalism...
ESPN gets it and so will others. The content that media companies create is hard to do and it is expensive - it is not a commodity.
The technology of ad networks and search engines is increasingly a commodity and its value is falling at the speed of Moore's Law. Content is immune from the commoditizing power of Moore's Law.
I know where I'd rather be.
Mike Arrington, publisher of Techcrunch says that it should be possible to roll up the top tech blogs into a "big fat CNET crushing $200 million/year in revenue business."
Dan Farber, editorial chief of CNET's News.com, says bring it on:
It's pleasing to have Mike and others targeting CNET. It must mean that we are at the top of the heap. Competitve envy comes with the territory.
In his post: The blogosphere's Napoleon Mr Farber points out a simple fact that gives CNET an edge over blogs such as Techcrunch.
...importantly, our troops across CNET News, Webware, Crave and Reviews are in the field as I speak, getting after the important stories.
Blogging is not reporting...
I agree. I'm out nearly every day and often in the evenings too, getting original content, scoops, news, and analysis. Most of the content on Techcrunch, and other blog sites is commentary on the news.
Techcrunch does get some great scoops from time to time, but that's not its main business, which is profile of web 2.0 startups. And that is true for the other high traffic blog sites.
You can't crush CNET with blog posts about news stories and profiles of online service companies.
And there is another reason a rolling up the top layer of the blogoshpere won't work: it's a personality driven business and the egos can barely fit on the Internet let alone within a single company. Would Om Malik work for Mike Arrington, or vice versa? No way. That's true for every other A-list blogger.
Roll-ups and consolidation are a natural trend within all industries. Companies acquire other companies and reap economies of scale and other competitive advantages.
You can roll up companies but you can't roll up personalities.
Also, the roll up has already been done. FM Publishing did it and continues to do it. It signed up many top blog sites to its advertising network.
And Dan Farber already did it too. When he was over on the ZDNet side of CNET, he collected some of the top bloggers in the tech sector (see my blog over on ZDNet - Tom Foremski IMHO.)
Cult of personality...
My strategy with Silicon Valley Watcher is to gradually move it away from being associated with my personality and towards building a strong editorial team staffed by media professionals - reporting on the business and culture of Silicon Valley. If that sounds like a traditional media firm that's because many traditional media principles still apply.
Today the distribution channels are different and the business models for media companies are different. But there is a lot that hasn't and won't change.
What hasn't changed is the fact that teams of media professionals create great media consistently. That's a far more effective and scalable business than personality-based media (i.e blogs).
Giant blob strategy flaw...
Also, Mr Arrington's analysis of the CNET crushing capability in creating one giant blob of a blog site is seriously flawed.
The disruption to CNET and other large media companies is coming from search engine marketing, not from blogs. Quite simply, it is more effective to advertise on a search engine than on a news site.
GOOG's quarterly financial results show this very clearly. Each quarter revenue growth from its own sites outpace revenues from content-partner sites such as the New York Times.
It is search engine marketing that might eventually crush CNET. It certainly won't be a blog site, no matter how many blogger egos are crammed into it.
It always fascinates me to see how stories move through the blogosphere and into mainstream media. It is always interesting to watch what I sometimes term the "trajectory of ideas" within the mediasphere and the ripples of influence.
I like to watch these things because they sometimes reveal an underlying nature within society. One of my observations is noticing that the timing of the publication of a news story can make a big difference in the attention it gets. And the reason can seem counter-intuitive.
For example, I published an analysis of my scoop on exploratory talks of a possible merger with Oracle, about 5.30pm on a Saturday evening.
Clearly, it's not the best time to get out in front of a large audience. Yet there were enough readers and bloggers out there to quickly bring attention to the story. Within a couple of hours 15 sites linked to the post. By Sunday morning it was approaching 40 sites, which included links from key sites such as Techcrunch, Mashable, Techmeme and also my ZDNet colleague Dennis Howlett.Au naturel linking...
The distribution of the snews tory continued to spread throughout Sunday on numerous blogs. I especially love to watch such viral distribution when it happens au natural, without any of the many promotional techniques available. I didn't email my blogger and journalist buddies to get their attention, or mass email my contacts, there was no "Digg" button, or any clever attempt to use keywords to attract search engine distribution.
It is always far more interesting to see how news stories get picked up and distributed by the Internet without using the promotional toolbox of technologies and techniques available. It reminds me of the early days of the blogger/journalist Internet community, when there was nothing much available to promote content except for the intrinsic value of the content itself, and the respect of your peer groups.Buy the distribution...
These days, it is far easier to manipulate the distribution and reach of a blog post, news story, or video. These days, it can be easier to buy the traffic and the distribution reach, instead of doing the hard work in creating content that wins because its value.
We used to talk about the meritocracy of content as a core value of the blogosphere and the evolving Internet, and that now it didn't matter who could pay for the loudest voice. That is less true today and will continue to worsen over time.
Fortunately, meritocracy is still strong on the Internet, it is even there when you least expect it to find it, such as on a Saturday evening. BTW, it's wonderful and humbling to know that there are people reading and writing about Silicon Valley Watcher news stories on a Saturday evening when they could easily be doing something else...
I'm glad that my work gets the attention that it does. And the influence it has often astounds me. Plus I'm doubly glad it happens without having to dress up my news stories with any of the many promotional techniques and technologies that are available...
By Monday morning, the blogosphere had widely distributed my news story, and there had been plenty of time to analyze and debate the merits of a potential deal. The work of the blogosphere then helped investors reassess the value of the Salesforce business. At the opening bell Salesforce [ticker:CRM] gained about 9 percent in market cap value, or more than $500m. This was good news for CEO Marc Benioff and other Salesforce longs. Mr Benioffsells at least 10,000 shares of Salesforce every day, and has done so since mid 2006 (the power of dollar cost averaging). It was bad news for the large community of short sellers that Salesforce had recently accumulated [ticker:CRM.]
Interestingly, there is another aspect to Saturday publishing. I've noticed: the mainstream media is not very good at following up breaking stories at the weekends because of its skeleton staffing levels.
That is why the blogosphere often drives the news agenda on Saturday and Sunday because there isn't much mainstream media content to blog about and link to.
For users of Facebook, inadvertently spamming your friends is one of the annoying features of using some of the Facebook apps. It is also embarrasing to share some personal stuff with a friend only to find that you sent the same message to everyone.
Plus there are things like Mortimer the travelling bear and other such nonsense that people accidentally spam their Facebook friends with. To put a stop to this, we now have the "Magic Hobo" which is an educational "spam" that explains the basic ways on how not to spam your friends.
I sent a "Magic Hobo" to my Facebook friends and now I have half-a-dozen more sitting on my walls and super walls, etc. It's funny to fight spam with spam, and the picture of the Magic Hobo is hilarious.
Here is the text that goes with it (BTW, send me a Facebook friend request, it is one way for me to get to know my readers.)
This is the Magic Hobo!
He will do STUFF ALL if you forward him on - But it's a great opportunity to send him on and spam all your Facebook Friends to say STOP sending me STUPID CRAP!
The stuffed dog does NOTHING when you forward him on...
I don't give a shit about Mortimer the Travelling Bear...
Unicef will NOT donate 5c for every forward that little starving child gets...
You CANNOT tell how many people visit your profile by spamming forward and pressing altF4 afterwards...
THINK BEFORE YOU FORWARD! Ask yourself: "Could this actually WORK?"
Chances are... No - It's just a stupid-ass ploy to clog your walls full of the same old crap again and again and again...
Join the fight against aimless spamming by spamming this forward to say "Just Say No!" to stupid-ass forwarding.
I was fortunate to meet Frank Shaw from Waggener Edstrom. He used to work with my former boss at the Financial Times, Paul Abrahams. There is an interesting story here...
Paul Abrahams works very closely with Microsoft and is in Seattle on a regular basis, advising the software giant on many strategic aspects of its operations. I haven't heard from Paul in a while, so it was a delightful surprise when he called me just an hour ago.
What he wanted to tell me was that he had written a column for the UK PR Week trade publication on blogging. "I've mentioned you in it," he said. "But I've basically said, regarding all this stuff about blogs, I just don't get it..."
Fair enough, some do, some don't. However, I asked if it was a good move on his part to advertise such a a lack of understanding of blogs!?
I saw it as an opportunity for discussion. However, Paul went on vacation for two weeks immediately after publication of his "I don't get blogging column." Clearly Paul didn't want to have a conversation about it...
Frank Shaw didn't hesitate and jumped right in, in what is now a text book case of how to deal with such situations: posting in his blog and doing all the right things to defend the reputation of WaggEd.
Even more impressive was that Frank was in the middle of moving his family from Portland to Seattle yet he dove right in...(Paul was on vacation.)
I was out and about Tuesday evening at various events, Eye-Fi and UberGizmo and the subject of Chris Anderson, Wired Magazine's super talented editor came up again and again. Specifically, his outlash at PR people, publicly criticizing those that have sent him bad pitches by publishing their email addresses.
I've had it. I get more than 300 emails a day and my problem isn't spam (Cloudmark Desktop solves that nicely), it's PR people. Lazy flacks send press releases to the Editor in Chief of Wired because they can't be bothered to find out who on my staff, if anyone, might actually be interested in what they're pitching.
SORRY PR PEOPLE: YOU'RE BLOCKED
From tired to inspired
I'm a huge fan of Mr Anderson, he turned around a sickly magazine and made it into a powerhouse. No question about it, he turned Wired from tired to inspired.
Bad time of the month?
I know the pressures of a monthly magazine, you are going to press, and there are a million details to pay attention to...it is not the best time of the month to deal with useless emails, however... I discussed Mr Anderson's reaction with many people, some PR people, but especially with many veteran journalists. We all receive bad pitches, that's part of our job. We ignore or delete, and then we move on with our day. Not for Mr Anderson, things became personal:
There is no getting off this list. If you're on it and have something appropriate to say to me, use a different email address.
The list has about 370 plus emails. What puzzled colleagues and myself, is that Mr Anderson took the time to sort through and list his long tail of misbehaving PR people, it must have taken many hours. And he felt so personally injured by their behavior that he took steps to publicly shame them. Serious stuff indeed.
However, it remains a puzzling incident. I could understand this if he were a blogger, a novice, unaccustomed to the life of a journalist--and bloggers do get upset about press releases in their e-mail box that have nothing to do with their interests. Mr Anderson is a veteran journalist, ex-Economist, these should be petty annoyances at best--we all deal with them without a second thought.
But all great achievers exhibit occasional falls from grace, which is their humble way of reminding us that they are human.
(I hope to have the opportunity to demonstrate the same one of these days.)
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Technorati Tags: Long tail of bad PR
I was in a bit of a grumpy mood early this morning because it was early morning... I was in Palo Alto to be part of a Silicon Valley Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) panel on the subject of Ethics in Media and PR. And they had misspelled my name on everything(!)
Some coffee quickly improved my mood and we got into a spirited discussion on the panel, and among the attendees. I enjoyed it and I think we covered a lot of ground.
I also enjoyed meeting my fellow panelists:
Jerry Ceppos, former Executive Editor, SJ Mercury News; currently a fellow in media ethics at Santa Clara University's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.
Jon Greer, media trainer and editor, 21stCenturyMediaRelations.com
Joel Postman, EVP, Eastwick Communications
I talked about my sponsors (Intel and Tibco) and said that they support what I do and don't ask for anything in return, which leaves me free to write abut anything I please. And if I do write about them, it is tagged as sponsor watch, and people can make their own judgement about the posts. I have to admit that I like the two companies a lot because they like me, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't write a juicy story if I got one related to my sponsors.
For example, I was asked by Jerry Ceppos, if someone within Intel leaked to me that Paul Ottelini, the CEO of Intel, would soon announce his resignation, would I publish the story? Heck, YES!!! That's a killer story, I'd publish it in a Silicon Valley nanosecond.
There was some discussion about a recent Wall Street Journal article that I missed, which was about Yelp, the online recommendation site based in San Francisco. The WSJ had discovered that some of its restaurant reviewers had received free meals in return for a review. I remarked that I often see top WSJ journalists at swank San Francisco restaurants being hosted by companies that they cover, at so-called "media roundtables" and other events that I attend.
Mr Ceppos was astounded and said he didn't believe it. Nevertheless, I said, it is true. He said that wouldn't fly at the San Jose Mercury.
I go to a lot of dinners, and sometimes I write about the companies and often I don't. When I do, I often say "I was having dinner with...". It would take more than a dinner at a nice restaurant to buy coverage at the WSJ, or here on SVW.
Journalists get to choose to write about companies and people because they believe it will make for a good story--there is no money exchanged. PR people have to do it because they are paid to do it not because they want to.
I also pointed out that journalists are less influenced by money than PR people because journalists chose a profession that pays very badly.
There were some very good contributions to the discussion from our audience and there was strong support for being direct and transparent in PR corporate blogging. All good things...
- - -
If you'd like to join in on the subject, Jon Greer set up a blog: http://digitalprsa.wordpress.com/2007/10/29/agenda-online-ethics-panel/
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I was running late to Sun's Java update briefing for the media at the W Hotel for 5.30pm. By the time I found parking I'm really late and that's when Tom Abate, my buddy and business reporter at the SF Chronicle calls me.
I'm just a block away I tell him. Good, he says, I'll meet you outside my office. I meet him but tell him we have to walk across Yerba Buena Gardens and pop into the Sun event, they've already called me to ask where I am...
Fine, he says, but then we get into a long discussion about the media business and it gets later and later. Finally, we are at the W and I'm bounding up the stairs to fulfill my Sun commitment. I see a table with name tags and I recognize some of the people milling around and so I walk in, Tom follows me.
Jeff Clavier's Mom
I'm running into a lot of familiar faces. First up is Jeff Clavier, a current rising star Silicon Valley investor. I recently profiled Mr Clavier as one of the most successful angel investors around ( Silicon Valley's Rising Star VC: Jeff Clavier .) He has sold 5 companies out of 20 investments in less than 4 years, some with $50m tags. Who else has recently matched that performance I asked in my post?
"You caused me a lot of embarrassment with that article," he said. "But my mom loved it, my VC buddies didn't."
Too bad for your buddies, I said, maybe one day they will make it into SVW. Jeff, did I say anything that wasn't true?
He slowly shook his head (sadly and with great humility). Let's follow up with a proper interview I said. He nodded. (Coming up on SVW...)
John Marcom and Bloomberg
Then I ran into John Marcom, who used to be my boss at the Financial Times. To be accurate, he was everyone's boss, he ran the Financial Times business group in the US. I was always really impressed with John Marcom I felt he really understand the complex cutlure of the Financial Times, and the changes in media markets.
When he left the FT to join Yahoo in a senior marketing position it was a blow to me because there seemed to be no one else that had a measure on what was going on in the media industry. And the FT needed people such as John. So it was a rare pleasure to trade views on the media business. He's currently consulting with Bloomberg on strategic projects.
The Glam Crowd
There were a lot of people from Glam.com at the party. And I ran into Samir Arora, chairman, founder and CEO of Glam.com, a truly dynamic media business that hasn't yet gotten the full attention it deserves.
I met with Mr Arora about a year ago, at the Lucky Penny Diner in San Francisco, one of my favorite meeting places. It's a true retro diner, this is not a fake diner chain.
Mr Arora is always a dapper dresser, and I spotted him right away as I walked into Lucky Penny, sitting in the corner at a booth, in an immaculately tailored dark pinstripe suit and pink shirt.
It was a great interview and I kept waiting to write it, I kept saving it for just the right slot slot when I could make a big spalsh with it, not wanting to waste such a great interview on a heavy news day. But I never wrote it, which is my loss. I apologized to Mr Arora and asked for a second chance. He said sure, but it has to be at Lucky Penny... :-)
This is not Sun...
After a couple of hours I realized that this was not the Sun event that I had been aiming for at the W Hotel. This was the VC firm Accel's party. Tom Abate said he knew all along, but didn't want to say anything because the company was good.
Kahunas don't get bigger than this...
I snuck out of the party and went home so I could write this post and then go back out to the SF Museum of Modern Art for a party celebrating the opening of the San Francisco office for MySpace. The event was due to start at 9.30pm, which is very unusual. Office openings generally don't happen at the SF MOMA, and most events stop at 9.30pm.
I had walked past SF MOMA earlier in the evening, workers were taping lush carpet to the sidewalk and wrapping the building in cloth. Then I hear Rupert Murdoch is in town. Clearly this is no normal office opening.
I'd love to interview Rupert Murdoch, he is the savviest media tycoon around. No one else can match his investment instincts when it comes to media. No one.
And he will not ruin the Wall Street Journal, the editorial pages cannot get anymore conservative. And anyway, he can scale that business across his worldwide channels. If I were the FT I'd be very worried.
I have to go now, I''l be back. Hopefully with a Rupert Murdoch interview.
[I recently received an email from a reader in reference to my infamous post: "Die! Press Release! Die! Die! Die!"]
By Harry Zane
I am retired from a career that began in journalism, turned to PR, then to marketing, and finally to consulting. And I agree wholeheartedly with what you said in your column. However, I am astonished that in 2007, PR is still slogging lower and lower into a press-release and press-conference tactical miasma.
I think the media, despite their constant carping about their dislike of press releases, are largely responsible. Many years ago, while working at a major university, I can recall a meeting of journalists and educational PR pros when the biggest complaint was that we PR folks sent out too many press releases. So we cut back, and the first complaints came only weeks later – from reporters, who couldn't understand why we were pitching stories without sending them "press releases."
I recall as well some 25 years ago working at a then major technology firm in Massachusetts when I had to fight endlessly with my peers and executives to keep the self-absorbed, self-unaware nonsense out of press releases. My "reward" was praise from the editor of the biggest industry trade journal. He really liked my releases because, as he said, they were brief and contained "no bullshit."
I took little comfort from his attaboys, however, since he ran unedited the competition's endless column inches of yammering right next to, or well above and ahead of, mine (the longer copy, rather than concise content, better fit his need for lead story layouts), creating the impression to casual readers (most trade journal readers are) that the competition had more to say than my company. Needless to say, this didn't sit well with the puffery-spouting peers and execs I'd just vanquished, either.
The reason, of course, for his actions are entirely explicable. His was a labor-intensive business, and he needed the free copy. Such is the fate of all media today: copy, no matter how untrue, uninformative, or unbecoming the author, trumps solid content.
PR people won't stop creating press releases because PR people, be they consultants, or employees will not stop serving the pleasure of their benighted bosses and clients; most media will continue to take content anywhere they can find it for little or no cost; and reader expectations for something better will continue to spiral downward with the whole sorry mess.
You are obviously a dedicated journalist with healthy amounts of skepticism and ambition. Your idea is sensible, laudable, and intelligent, but I don't see it happening. Ever.
But the date doesn't really matter. I've noticed that happen with some of my other posts. Search engines will kick them back into view and others will reference them and they live again in the mediasphere.
It's interesting to watch what I call the trajectory of ideas. Sometimes I will write something I think is significant and 2 people will tell me they thought it was important. Yet I can write the same piece a year, sometimes two years later or more, and 20, or 200 people will pick it up and discuss it.
That's a totally understandable phenomenon because more people now understand the ideas and conversations that emanate from Silicon Valley about the changing nature of media and its changing mediums. With simple technologies such as RSS we can now create totally new forms of media, and totally new ways to distribute and generate media.
- - -
Ross Dawson's Trends in the Living Networks: Deconstructing the press release: how tagging will change journalistic workflow
Brian Solis: Future of the Press Release - Acceptance
Technorati Tags: puppy
For a couple of years I've been working on this idea of a Holy Trinity of media. This is my model of how the media industry is transforming itself, and also how it is being disrupted.
The Holy Trinity of media is my way of forecasting the 3 key characteristics of all future media companies. But it is not a precise prediction.
The interesting aspect is that right now, there is no media company out there that is taking advantage of all three components. Which means that there is a very good business opportunity here.
The Holy Trinity of media is represented by the combination of: professional media; citizen media, and smart machine media.
The combination of professional journalists working within their communities to bring out the citizen stories, combined with savvy algorithms harvesting Internet content, will produce very successful media companies.
This Holy Trinity of professionals, plus citizens, plus machine collected media a la Google, will become the model for every future media company.
But it is not that simple. What is the killer formula?
Is it 30 per cent professionally produced media, 30 per cent citizen/blogger media, and 40 per cent machine media such as Google News? Or as my friend Tom Abate over at the SF Chronicle points out, is the formula for a media company different in different industry sectors? We don't know, which is great because we can figure this stuff out, and in the process, figure out new types of media businesses.
A related metaphor for what is going on in the media industry is gunpowder. It consists of three simple components, each one is stable and inert on its own: Charcoal, sulphur and potassium nitrate. If you get the formula wrong, it fizzles, when you get it right it is explosive.
If you can get the 3 components of media just right, you can build very valuable media companies very quickly.
We went through a multi-media world in the early 1990s, which meant documents that mixed text, with hypertext, with photos, with video, with sound.
We now live in a many-media world in which we have all of the above but fragmented into many unique media channels and formats we could not have imagined just a few years ago. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are some of the latest but by no means the last of the new forms of media. Technologies such as RSS will create many more.
Today's media companies have to support many-media publishing: podcasts, vidcasts, sms, blogs, social networks--in addition to print, web sites, email, etc; all the traditional forms of media. That adds to the costs of doing business because print is not enough, TV is not enough, radio is not enougth.
All media companies have to become many-media companies. And what makes these times interesting is that all companies are media companies. To a greater or lesser degree, all companies are media companies because they all publish to their communities: customers, employees, etc. And now they need to master the new media publishing, and the technologies to create the many-media formats. Video is a key one right now.
These days media comes in formats that we didn't know would exist. Toolbars are part of this many-media world. I rarely give free permission to use my quotes in a news release, however Conduit are an interesting part of this new media world. They recently announced more than 12m users for their white-label toolbar:
Earlier this year I wrote a post arguing that Google and other search engines should offer a link next to each result that offers a "right to respond." Because search engines will continually dredge up a post for ever, even if the original information is incorrect.
Even if a separate post corrects that error, if it isn't on that first page of search results individuals and companies, will have no way of clearing their names or correcting inaccurate information, because searchers rarely venture to second or third page results.
A few months ago I wrote a post about Google's hiring practices in its corporate communications team. A senior Google PR executive asked me to clarify a few points. I made the changes but he wanted more changes. Unfortunately his follow up email got lost in my inbox and I didn't see it for several months, and so I didn't make the changes.
In his email he wrote:
"I don't think the follow-up edit you posted is a sufficient recalibration of the reality in Google Communications. And leaving the original post out there simply leads the misperception to be repeated..and repeated."
He is right. If there was a "right to respond" available, and GOOG could easily offer such a service, then the problem would be solved.
- - -
At the Newcomm Forum in Las Vegas this week, I kept hearing a lament that is all too common: how to deal with with negative or incorrect content about a company and its products on search engine results? Especially if...
Posted by Tom Foremski on March 10, 2007 4:16 PM
Tom Foremski, Silicon Valley Watcher Blog software creator Mena Trott criticizes BlogoSphere. BlogoSphere (BS) turns on blogging software creator Mena Trott. Mena Trott Implodes Onstage. News at 11 Has the BS itself imploded? It is all marvesouly entertaining, in a... -Posted by Tom Foremski on December 9, 2005 4:31 AM
By Tom Foremski
The conventional wisdom as espoused by the aggregators and search engines is that there is no value in news except in the aggregate, as Google News, Digg, etc.
That's why these are tough times for newspapers and news organizations.
However, I believe the long term outlook for journalism is excellent and that there is considerable value in journalism, much more than in the aggregators of news because the technology to do that is now a commodity. News is a value add that cannot be produced by algorithm and machine.
The problem is that we don't have a good way to recover the value that journalism produces. And there is considerable value in journalism.
Let me give you an example. Tuesday evening I posted a story that Wind River was for sale and IBM is the likely buyer. The story has yet to be proven but it came from an excellent source and one that has proved extremely reliable in the past.
Wind River stock jumped 9 per cent at the market open and by the end of Wednesday locked in a gain of nearly 7 per cent, or about $55m. That piece of information created a tremendous amount of value for a lot of people.
And business journalism continues to create a tremendous amount of value. It levels the playing field, it distribtes important information that is used to make business decisions that affect millions of people. There is a tremendous amount of value in professional journalism.
Yet professional journalism is under seige, the San Francisco Chronicle cut 100 newsroom jobs recently, 25 per cent of its newsroom. Because it can't recover enough of the value its journalists produce. This is true at other publications around the world.
What is the future? The future is the privatisation of news to those that can afford it--unless we can develop a way to pay for it. Google AdSense and other ad networks don't come anywhere close to covering the costs of news organizations.
Unless we can solve this problem--and it is one of the most serious issues confronting our society--the news will be financed by small groups of wealthy individuals that can make money from the news, and the news will be kept private.
This is the future: Subscribe to my 10K Silicon Valley Watcher Deal Flow Newsletter--launching soon. It's $10k per year and only 100 subscriptions are available. Call now and reserve your subscription.
By Tom Foremski
In March 2007 I proposed that a fundamental right of the Internet should be a right to respond to anything on the web.
There should be a tiny Right to Respond widget or link next to any content. The widget is fed by a central Right to Respond.org server.
If there is a response filed by a company or individual, it will indicate it, in the same way as my Technorati widget found at the end of each article shows readers if there are other blogs mentioning this post.
- Companies would pay to use this service, individuals would have free access.
Google News has started to offer something similar but related to news stories. If you are mentioned in a news story or have any relationship to the news story Google will publish your response right next to the story. [Hat tip to Chris Knight...]
Josh Lowensohn over at News.com explains:
Users of the U.S. version of Google News will now be able to comment on a story, that is assuming they're somehow involved in it. The process is not for everyone, and in fact requires a lengthy verification process of sending off your comment and credentials to a special Google e-mail address, and later verifying your identity via domain name and an e-mail follow-up from Google staff.
Foremski's Take: The verification process would likely be lengthy. News is quickly consumed. By the time a response is approved few people reading the news will see the responses.
Also, this verification process cannot be done by machine because people will spoof it. GOOG always wants to use machines rather than people. Google News is completely published by algorithm. Printed in tiny type at the bottom of Google News:
The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program.
Chris Tolles, co-founder of Topix.com said that Google got the idea from Topix. Speaking at a panel at KQED on Thursday evening, Mr Tolles said that Google would have a hard time trying to moderate comments on news stories.
Google could get pre-authorize people to comment on news stories but that would benefit corporations over individuals. It is easier to pre-authorize company spokespeople and machine-match them to a keyword in the news copy.
Individuals, and small groups and organizations, would have a weaker right to respond because their response would not be as timely as that of large business groups. They would have to go through the lengthy verification process.
Google could be trumped
News organizations could potentially trump Google by offering a similar right to respond right next to their news stories. They could pre-authorize people and organizations because they are in early contact with them during the journalistic process.
I've been saying Silicon Valley has turned into media valley for more than two years. So it is good to have some backing.
Today at a fascinating VC panel, Roger McNamee, one of the top Silicon Valley investors, said Silicon Valley is doing great (despite the lack of exit strategies, and a mediocre IPO market.)
"For the first time, Silicon Valley is now represented in every form of media except television," he said.
About two years ago on a visit to New York, I wrote that someone should tell Mayor Bloomberg that the center of the media industry is moving to Silicon Valley and the West Coast. Because Google, Yahoo, EBay, (and now YouTube, FaceBook, etc) are all media companies.
New York is very cool partly because of its large media industry. The largest news and magazine companies have a heavy presence in midtown where I was staying. You can't avoid seeing their ticker tape news headlines whirl around their buildings, and their giant logos at night.
My alma mater, the Financial Times US HQ is there, and so are large offices of Reuters, CNN, Time-Warner, Hearst, etc.
But it's a shame that the center of the media industry has moved to Silicon Valley and nobody told New York :-)
GOOG, YHOO, EBAY, etc, publish pages of content with advertising around it. They are not technology companies, they are technology-enabled media companies.
Yes, GOOG et al would rather not represent themselves as media companies because they republish content for free from media companies. Media companies will let a "technology" company do this but not another media company...
A Report From New York City...
I'm at the Stanford Summit for much of this week:
. . . I ran into Dan'l Lewin MSFT VP of emerging businesses and his sidekick, Doug Free. This dynamic duo is the face of MSFT around here, and also the eyes and ears for MSFT as to what is going on in Silicon Valley. Mr Lewin tells me he has been traveling all around the world recently, India, China and also Brazil. The goal is to involve startups in the MSFT platform. I have an interview with Mr Lewin lined up for Thursday.
. . . John McCain was surprisingly good in his keynote address. Admittedly, expectations had been set very low. Tony Perkins seemed starstruck, sitting on stage next to Senator McCain, watching him being interviewed. Can Senator McCain pull out of his dive? He could.
. . . The panel on software patents was interesting. IBM said it is a big supporter of the peer-reviewed software patent process. And also said that the software patent process needs to be reformed, adding more patent examiners is not the answer.
. . . There was much discussion about the poor quality of software patents. I had just had an interesting chat with a software patent lawyer who said: "Often when a startup gets funding, they come to us and ask us to find five software patents among what they have so that they can keep their VC investors happy. We look through their technology and try to find what can be patented, they are paying us for five patents."
By Tom Foremski
I really need to wear my tin foil hat more often these days because I've always wanted to host an event in the tower of the fabulous DeYoung museum in Golden Gate Park. I've been hosting First Fridays with Foremski at the DeYoung but never in the tower. . .
My good buddy Om Malik (BTW I am T+Om . . . a value ad :-) beat me to it Wednesday evening.
I turned up with my friend Kathryn and rapidly ran into lots of my favorite people. First was Gaurav Dhillon, former head of Informatica, now leading Jaman.com.
Vivek Randive, CEO of Tibco (Tibco is a sponsor of SVW) turned up looking very rock star, with dark shades, in leather and black. Plus, the delightful Oceana Rain was on his arm. (The shades were related to an unfortunate dust storm on the ranch of Tom Siebel in Montana (the ranch is 25 miles from end to end. Ask Vivek for the story...)
Om got up and spoke and mentioned me, and I told him to go to hell, just for the hell of it. Then Jim Louderback, the new CEO of Revision 3 (former head honcho of PC Magazine) got up on stage and said Revision 3 was sponsoring a GigaOm video show. (I'm always happy to see GigaOm following in the footsteps of SIlicon Valley Watcher . . . :-)
I teased Jim Louderback about leaving the sinking ship of media at PC Magazine. As the new CEO of Revision 3 he said he is going back to his roots. He has an MBA.
The Digg founders are behind Revision 3 and Jay Adelson was there. I managed to button hole him for a bit and ask him about the deal Digg announced today with Microsoft, ditching long time partner Federated Media for advertising services.
I asked what kind of deal MSFT was offering? Jay wouldn't say except to say that it was very competitive. Is MSFT offering 100 per cent of ad revenues? Is it more than 100 per cent? He just smiled.
My guess is that MSFT is trying to buy all the big web sites with ad revenue sharing deals that go beyond 100 per cent. Why not? Microsoft has the money. It can cut off Google AdSense ad network at the knees, or considerably higher--it is nearly 50 per cent of GOOG's revenues.
Shannon Whitley is behind the very interesting PRX Builder, a way to produce company press releases that include many-media, links, etc.
PRX Builder now has a feature that allows companies to use Google AdWords to advertise the "news headlines."
Although news releases should not be advertisements themselves, there’s nothing wrong with hawking your headlines to get peoples’ attention. That’s why I developed NewsAds™ for PRX Builder.
What’s a NewsAd?
NewsAds are advertisements that are published to the Google AdWords network. You know, the ads that appear besides the Google search results and on web pages across the internet. PRX Builder now offers NewsAds as an additional feature for each news release. Publish your release through PRX Builder and then create a NewsAd about your release on Google AdWords.
This is an interesting development because parts of the PR industry thinks it can do quite well by getting around the media and publish directly to potential customers. Yes, they can, but few people ask if this strategy makes much sense.
Morgan McLintic, over at Lewis PR recently wrote about an event discussing the successful use of search engine optimization to get a high Google ranking for a press release.
I asked a few people after the session what they thought. Everyone said you want people to find your content online. Agreed. No-one said they'd ever bought anything based on finding a press release.
Everyone agreed a PR team should know which media might be interested in a press release, and that they should be approached directly. No-one felt that media would spend much time reading releases they'd stumbled across on the web.
A high Google rank should not be confused with a successful news release. Readers know when something is from the company. Readers respect independent media articles over those from a company. Much better to promote those independent media pieces than press releases, imho.
But with independent media rapidly disappearing, what are the PR firms going to do? Publish to Google it seems...
This is the place to be Tuesday evening, listening to a fireside chat with Andrew Keen and his cult of the amateur...with some special guests.
Tuesday, June 19 (7:00pm): BARNES & NOBLE, CAMPBELL, CA
Debate with Keith Teare, Nick Carr and Steve Gillmor. Moderated by Dan Farber of ZDNet.
Barnes & Noble Booksellers
1875 S. Bascom Avenue Ste 240
Campbell, CA 95008
On the corner of S. Bascom and E. Campbell Avenue in the Pruneyard Shopping Center.
Al Saracevic is the deputy business editor at the San Francisco Chronicle and responsible for tech coverage. I caught up Mr. Saracevic at a recent conference on innovation journalism at Stanford university. In this segment, he is on a panel and talks about the Silicon Valley beat and how to get original news stories. It all comes down to "follow the money."
Download From Podtech.net:
Cisco is reinventing itself as a media technologies company...
This is where I'll be for much of Tuesday.
Catch me on the 11am panel:
The Changing Media Landscape: Convergence of Traditional and New Media
- John Earnhardt - Blogger in Chief, Cisco
The rest of it isn't too bad either :-)
Here are details from Cisco:
By Tom Foremski
I use Movable Type to publish Silicon Valley Watcher although many other bloggers moved to Wordpress a long time ago. I like it because I know it and I don't want to learn another platform if I don't have to, plus it works. So I was very interested to get a briefing on the new Movable Type, Version 4.0.
I spoke with Chris Alden, EVP and General Manager of the Professional Division at Six Apart. He said that version 4.0 represents the largest investment of engineering years that the company has ever made in Movable Type. And it answers critics who said that Six Apart was spending more time building its hosted services businesses, than on Movable Type.
I can't wait to try it. It has social/community features built into the platform. Users can rate posts and each other; they can be given special publishing rights, they can be given permission to write posts without moderation, they can even publish their own blogs on the blog.
There are a lot of new content management features built in, favoring large scale deployments. It is designed for four types of users: large publications such as New York Times; Universities and academic uses; Marketing and promotional; and internal blogging within large organizations.
A lot of features, previously available as plug-ins, are integrated into the platform. And Six Apart will release "functional packs" that are targeted at different types of users, such as large media companies, that contain specialized functions that don't need to be in the base platform.
Also, the look and feel of the software has been completely redesigned--the first time in five years.
And, Movable Type will be available under an open source software license in Q3. The open source version will be based on Movable Type 3.x series with some Version 4.0 features.
"It will be a similar model to that of MySQL, which offers an open source licence as well as a commercial version that is supported," said Mr Alden.
The current Movable Type version 4 is beta, but the shipping version is just 6 to 12 weeks away.
Wordpress is a good blogging platform and popular among individual bloggers but Movable Type, with its ability to run multiple blogs from a single installation is gaining ground in enterprise applications.
I'm looking forward to trying it out and moving SVW to the new platform-- after the beta period.
Additional Info from Six Apart:
By Tom Foremski
The first of 100 job cuts took place at the SF Chronicle on Monday. About 20 managers were the first to receive news they no longer have a job.
Some had worked there for decades, some are among the top practitioners of their profession earning the respect of colleagues across the industry. Some have serious health issues within their families and now face a bleak future without healthcare.
Next in line are 80 reporters. By the end of the summer the SF Chronicle will have made one of the largest newsroom cuts of any major newspaper.
It's an extremely unpleasant 80-20 rule. Hopefully the management measured twice to cut once.
It was a somber scene Monday evening at The Tempest, the bar that serves as a favorite watering hole for the SF Chron workers. Editorial teams that had worked together for years gathered to say goodbye to some, while many were still awaiting their own fates.
The Tempest is an ironic name for a bar catering to our local media. It's very descriptive of how quickly change is happening in our industry.
At no other time in our lives will we be witness to such massive, disruptive changes in the media industry. And as media professionals, at no other time in our lives will we be part of such historic, disruptive changes.
Such times will deliver great opportunities for some, and great challenges for all.
I am confident that we will see rise from the ashes a soaring, roaring phoenix. Journalism will once again become a valued profession. And we will see a new enlightenment, a new Venice. New media, in its many-media forms, will usher in new age of reason and logic. We will leave behind the dark thinking of religious fundamentalism, and dark ignorance, here in the US and abroad.
The movie "300" reminded me that a few people can make a big difference. The Greeks, representing the roots of our civilization, were defeated in that battle. Yet their culture of reason and logic won out over time.
And so our culture of professional journalism, in the service of reason and logic, will win out over time. And time is now highly compressed, it won't take hundreds or thousands of years.
After the cuts there will be 300 editorial staff remaining at the SF Chronicle.
What happens if the old media dies before the new media learns to walk?
Media is how society solves its problems and it requires a professional media class. A fragmented and generally lower quality media will not help us figure out our problems--and we have some big ones ahead of us.
I'm confident we will get to the new Venice, but the next few years will be scary, painful, and dramatic. Because the economic models that supported the media industry are being torn apart and the new economic models are still being formed.
The new business models can't support the cost structure of the "oldstream media" with its printing presses, pension plans, delivery trucks, administrators, office buildings...
The new media business models can barely support a blogger journalist, with a notebook, sitting in a bedroom.
- - -
The San Francisco Chronicle, reported to be losing as much as $1m per week, is to cut 25% of newsroom staff by the end of this summer.
"This is one of the biggest one-time hits we've heard about anywhere in the country," said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, in Washington.
Eighty reporters, photographers, copy editors and others, as well as 20 employees in management positions are expected to be laid off by end of the summer.
And from SVW - September 2005:
A report from New York city . . .
Whenever I'm in New York I feel like I'm in the coolest city in the world...this time it also felt like the hottest and most humid city in the world.
The warm, moist air stirred up by hurricane Katrina, made me melt into a walking puddle, especially when drenched by occasional torrential downpours.
New York is very cool partly because of its large media industry. The largest news and magazine companies have a heavy presence in midtown where I was staying. You can't avoid seeing their ticker tape news headlines whirl around their buildings, and their giant logos at night.
My alma mater, the Financial Times US HQ is there, and so are large offices of Reuters, CNN, Time-Warner, Hearst, etc.
But it's a shame that the center of the media industry has moved to Silicon Valley and nobody told New York :-)
I should write Mayor Bloomberg a letter about that. It would point out that many Silicon Valley companies such as Google, Yahoo, and EBay, are in fact media companies. They are technology enabled media companies.
They publish digital rather than paper pages but they carry content and advertising just like a newspaper or magazine paper page.
And our media industry is growing like gangbusters while New York's is not. Our media industry is hiring like crazy (Yahoo has 700 new positions to fill, Google a similar number) while New York's media industry continues to cut jobs and budgets.
I am spending Tuesday afternoon at the Innovation Journalism conference at Stanford University. I spoke on a panel and am listening to many more panels, filled with a lot of my media colleagues.
Here are some quick, notes and quotes (please come back and refresh the page for more...):
Al Saracevic, deputy business editor, SF Chronicle:
Other panelists and comments:
John Furrier-Founder of PodTech.net (an SVW content partner):
Mats Johansson, managing editor of TT, Swedish newspaper:
Michael Kanellos, Editor-at-large CNET News.com:
Charles Wessner, program director, NAS Board on Science, Technology and Economic Policy:
Greg Pascal Zachary - Journalist and visiting lecturer, Stanford University:
Siri Schubert, freelance journalist for German publications:
Daniel Kreiss, Researcher, Stanford University:
Rachel Konrad, Silicon Valley correspondent , The Associated Press:
Tina Bjers: Injo Fellow 2007 from TT:
David Nordfors, program leader and one of the key organizers of the conference:
Miriam Olsson, Injo Fellow 2007 from Goteborgsposten, Swedish newspaper:
Last year, in the wake of the LonelyGirl15 mystery, I asked:
Link to: We badly need a way to verify sources of online content - we need a trust trackback
LonelyGirl15 was found out to be a fake video blogger--scripted by a Hollywood production team--many millions had watched it, and many thousands tried to find out who was behind it.
What happens in a future world where phishing is applied to news sources rather than spoofing banking sites? And where there aren't enough watchdogs to spot the fakes?
Today's LA Times has a front page story about the "new lonelygirl15."
Again, my son Matthew Foremski was involved in this story. But this time in another way, testing the viral nature of trust and mistrust. It's a fascinating account pulled together by Los Angeles Times staff writer David Sarno.
In late March, a striking young brunette going by the nom-de-Tube of 'GreenTeaGirlie' posted a 10-second video on YouTube.
"Hey YouTube viewers!" said the hopeful ingénue, "I'm new. I hope you welcome me. I'm actually going to be making some videos, and I hope they're going to be really neat, so I hope you check 'em out."
Before anyone knew what was going on, "I'm New" had rocketed to the front page of YouTube's daily Most Viewed section, where it raked in more than 170,000 hits on its first day — an extraordinary showing for a maiden video blog.
Again, it is worth asking the question, what happens when there aren't enougth watchdogs to spot fakes and test the veracity of online content?
Will the viral nature of mistrust be our only protection? Or should there be a clear way to test the source of anything published online? Is it even possible?
Outcast PR's CEO Dinner was good this year, much better than last year. I didn't write about it last year because I had nothing much to say about it, this year was different.
I've got lots of interviews, lots of video to publish from the event. And I have lots of stories to tell too, which will appear over the weekend and over the following days.
Here are some teasers:
-ZDNet advertising/marketing services will unveil a new business model. Buy our marketing services and we will write your corporate blogs as part of a sponsorship deal.
"It is going great," said Chris Jablonski, a former ZDNet blogger, who is now in the marketing department at ZDNet. "We've set up blogs for Computer Associates and other large IT companies. If they don't have a writer we will write their blogs for them." The blog posts are not identified as ZDNet authored. It is similar to how public relations companies ghost write for clients.But will it work in this context? Is it a new and viable media business model? UPDATE: The blogs are labelled as sponsored blogs. Here is an example: http://blogs.zdnet.com/Dice/ The blog is written by ZDNet on behalf of Dice. ...
-Sam Whitmore from Sam Whitmore's Media Survey. This time I interview Sam instead of the other way around.
-Come back to hear Sam's take on the implosion of the East Coast IT trade media.
-Plus, there is an upcoming merger in the works for Sam.
I'm still getting used to toting a video camera around with me, so some of the interviews might be a little experimental in quality. I will do better next time around, and the time after that too, I promise :-)
James Miller From VNU Global Media launches his blog today: "Collision Media." There aren't very many perspectives in the mediasphere from people such as James, who brings with him experience in the revenue generating end of publishing. Plus a mix of European and US experience in online markets.
The first time I met James we talked non-stop for hours about media and the disruption within the industry. I'm glad he's decided to share some of his insights and launch his blog.Collision Media
FAST Search and Transfer, the leading European search firm, introduced a search based business platform for media companies and said that search traffic from its customers has surpassed Yahoo! and will overtake Google in 2 years.
Foremski's Take: Should media companies run their own ad networks? GOOG and YHOO will argue that joining their ad networks means greater liquidity, more customers, which means more ads.
Yes, they can sell more ads but at what price?
Not only do media companies give up a big share of the revenues but the price of online advertising is kept low because the media partners have to compete with what GOOG and YHOO charge for advertising on their own sites.
This sets the price for all ads on the same network. Which means that unless media companies can reduce their operating costs to the same level as the search giants, revenues from online advertising through the search engine ad networks will never be enough to cover their costs.
Media companies have to pay content producers, Goog and Yahoo! don't.
By running their own advertising networks media companies will have a smaller pool of potential customers but they keep more of the advertising revenues. And they can gain better control over ad prices.
There are many media companies that have local markets cornered, and are well positioned in many niche markets. GOOG and YHOO and MSFT are way behind in targeting local markets.
If media companies run their own advertising networks they will have a far more favorable ad pricing environment plus opportunities to sell additional services. I can't see the downside.
FAST Search and Transfer, the leading European search firm, introduced a search based business platform for media companies and said that search traffic from its customers has surpassed Yahoo! and will overtake Google in 2 years.
The Norwegian based company said its FASTMedia software platform is the first to match content to individual users, in addition to supporting all types of online advertising models. The suite of applications is designed specifically for media companies and enables them to run their own ad networks.
FAST said that its top 35 media customers already generate search traffic that exceeds that of Yahoo!.
The market research firm IDC estimates that 70 per cent of search queries do not come from search engines.
Instead, people are choosing to bypass search engines and are going
directly to their preferred information sources, retailers, and other
websites and searching there.
FAST recently completed a survey of its top 35 media customers:
Together this "FAST Media Network" is generating as much search traffic as Yahoo!, with search traffic growing more than twice as quickly. At the current pace, searches within the "FAST Media Network" collectively will surpass Google in two years...
FAST wants media companies to "turn search from the disrupter of their worlds" and use the technology to grow their businesses.
For example, newspaper publishers have stood by and watched Google and Yahoo sell massive amounts of advertising based on their content without any direct benefit--unless a reader clicks through to their news site, and then happens to click on a Google or Yahoo text ad.
FAST wants to cut out the middle-men by selling search-based business software to media companies to run within their own data centers and operate their own adverting businesses.
Global Media Warming
The competition is for a very lucrative business--running massive advertising networks for global media companies. The search giants keep about 20 per cent of total advertising revenues.
But this revenue share is skewed towards a handful of large media companies with the clout to negotiate better deals. Most publishers receive far less, between 60 and 40 per cent of ad revenues.
The FASTMedia software supports pay-per-click, contextual, classifieds and all other types of online advertising services, plus self-service, and unique features. It's "Featured Content" technology matches content on-the-fly with online users' searches. Publishers can use this for targeted premium content services.
Tomorrow, Gov. Christine Gregoir will sign a bill adding Washington to the list of states with reporter's shield laws. California's shield was written into its Constitution into the 1970s. Washington's shield law is notable for including the Internet in its definition of news media and explictly protecting non-news sources against subpoenas. But state shields offer no protection for journalists in federal court, as the incarceration of Judith Miller - and to some degree Josh Wolf - show.
I talked today with Bruce Johnson, the Seattle-based attorney who drafted the Washington law. He said the addition of Washington to the list of states with reporter's shields is important not just for Washington state reporters but for the drive for a federal privilege for reporters.
Reporters are increasingly being jailed or under threat of jail time when under federal subpoena. Both Judy Miller and Josh Wolf went to jail because they refused to reveal sources to federal judges. The Chronicle's Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams came close to being jailed but escaped at the last moment. Certainly in the BALCO case and Wolf's case the fact that the proceeding happened in federal court is highly suspect.
"The filing of those cases in federal court was a subterfuge to get around shield laws," Johnson said. "It's an abuse of process to drag cases into federal court that really don't belong there."
"There are two ways to create a federal shield," he said. "Congress can pass a statute, but there have been bills kicking around in the House and Senate for years and Bush opposes them. Or the federal courts can recognize the reporter's privilege as a creation of common law. This second way is quite interesting," he said.
Under Federal Rule of Evidence 501:
[T]he privilege of a witness, person, government, State, or political subdivision thereof shall be governed by the principles of the common law as they may be interpreted by the courts of the United States in the light of reason and experience.
In other words, the federal system doesn't enumerate specific privileges, such as the attorny-client privilege, unlike most states. It's up to the federal courts to decide which privileges will be honored in the federal system. The Supreme Court can look around at the states and decide in one blow that the reporter's shield shall be federal law. It's happened before, Johnson said.
In the 1996 case of Jaffee v Redmond, 518 U.S. 1 (1996), the Court ruled that the psychotherapist-patient privilege existed in federal courts.
That it is appropriate for the federal courts to recognize a psychotherapist privilege under Rule 501 is confirmed by the fact that all 50 States and the District of Columbia have enacted into law some form of psychotherapist privilege. We have previously observed that the policy decisions of the States bear on the question whether federal courts should recognize a new privilege or amend the coverage of an existing one. [Citations.] Because state legislatures are fully aware of the need to protect the integrity of the factfinding functions of their courts, the existence of a consensus among the States indicates that "reason and experience" support recognition of the privilege. In addition, given the importance of the patient's understanding that her communications with her therapist will not be publicly disclosed, any State's promise of confidentiality would have little value if the patient were aware that the privilege would not be honored in a federal court. Denial of the federal privilege therefore would frustrate the purposes of the state legislation that was enacted to foster these confidential communications.
A long quote, but the sense is clear: the Court is willing to look to the states, find widespread support and create a privilege.
Would the Supreme Court do such a thing? "I don't know," Johnson said. "Scalia and Thomas have actually written some of the most pro-First Amendment decisions. And Alito wrote a pro-First Amendment decision when he was on the Court of Appeals."
Washington's law is much more up to date than California's. It defines "news media" as "any entity that is in the regular business of news gathering and disseminating news or information to the public by any means, including ... internet."
So what's an entity? It's a very straight-forward definition. If the organization has some legal status as a corporation or an LLC, etc., it's an entity. If it disseminates "news and information," its' covered. That would include SiliconValleyWatcher as well as the NRA.
While California's shield says nothing about bloggers or the Internet (it was written in the 1970s), this law encompasses publication by any means. It offers a bright line definition who is a journalist. That's a great development.
Still, young Josh Wolf probably would not be covered in Washington, either, since his footage was not done under contract for anyone; it was just his own freelance videography. If he had registered Josh Wolf LLC he probably would have been covered. It's a low bar. Johnson represented Josh Marshall, who set up TalkingPointsMemo as TPM Media LLC for a cool $100.
"At a certain point you to come up with a definition of news media. I think this is a very workable one, although it doesn't cover everyone you might like to see covered," Johnson said.
Brand management is a tricky thing. How do you know who is blogging or writing about your brands, and if the sentiment is positive or negative? There are millions of online "conversations" happening every day.
BuzzLogic, based in San Francisco has developed tools that allow corporations to track conversations across thousands of online sites, blogs, mainstream media and anywhere else online, in almost real-time.
And those tools can also determine how influential a site, a blogger, a writer is. And who they influence. After all, there is no sense in galvanizing a response team to an unfavorable post on a blog if its influence is zero.
The company recently completed its Series A funding, raising an impressive $9.6m after bootstrapping the venture for more than two years. "Its good to have a salary," smiles Rob Crumpler CEO. It is also good to have the validation that a VC investment brings.
BuzzLogic recently moved out of beta and in mid-April launched its BuzzLogic Enterprise service. More than 160 customers, many Fortune 500 companies, collaborated with BuzzLogic in the beta phase to refine the service.
"Companies are interested in knowing about themselves, how they are perceived and how their products are perceived," says Mr Crumpler. "And companies want to be able to spot potential problems before they grow into much larger issues."
There are many examples where a complaint online can mushroom into a major public relations disaster. Jeff Jarvis, a prominent New York blogger and his complaints about Dell is one such example.
The company's two key features are its algorithms and its visual display of the results which gives users an excellent view into the influence of a particular site on a specific topic.
Todd Parsons, the chief product officer explains: "Just because someone is influential within one sector doesn't mean that they are influential in other areas. Our algorithms can analyze influence and allow companies to focus on those sites that really matter. We can also track the rise and fall in influence of a particular site."
The algorithms cannot measure sentiment, but users can quickly tag online content according to positive or negative sentiments, which can be shared with colleagues.
Email alerts will warn of possible trouble in real-time. But each customer applies their own response. This can include contacting people and also getting involved in the online conversations.
BuzzLogic's technology also learns from its users, which should mean that the service continues to improve over time.
Foremski's Take: BuzzLogic's visual presentation of its data is excellent. The visual data is presented within a user interface that provides a view into who is participating in each conversation, over a specific period in time, alongside summaries of the content.
It is a service that could be used in many ways, not just for brand management. It could uncover new types of buzz bubbling up that could provide business opportunities for some companies. And it can also be used to test the effectiveness of a public relations campaign.
The role of search engines is one that is not yet part of BuzzLogic's measurement. Search engines can dredge up negative comments time and again, and can help sites gain influence despite other factors.
Services such as BuzzLogic's can give organizations an insight into how they are perceived without requiring focus groups. But most organizations don't yet know what to do with such data and what the appropriate response should be. But they will figure that out over time.
[Wells Fargo should take notice...]
- - -
Jason Calacanis is a successful journalist turned media entrepeneur, having sold his Weblogs Inc, a collection of blog sites to AOL for a reported $20m. He was recently asked by Wired magazine to comment about Mike Arrington, publisher of TechCrunch, which has been very successful reporting on the emerging Web 2.0 startups.
Mr Calacanis, clearly not wishing his words to be misrepresented and possibly upsetting the influential Mr Arrington, and a partner in a joint conference venture, he wanted to do interview by email.
A WIRED journalist pinged me for some comments on Michael Arrington and his A-list blogger status. I told the journalist to send me the questions by email and he refused.
On one of Wired's blogs, Mr Calacanis was called "Cowardly." And this unfair comment by Fred Vogelstein prompted much discussion in the comments section and on other high profile blogs.
Fortunately the matter was happily resolved within a few days.
Mr Calacanis seems to have emerged controling the highground in this particular case. He managed to use Wired's mistake in calling him cowardly to his advantage, and build his reputation as a new media prince taking on an arrogant mainstream media icon.
Did Wired unknowingly, cluelessly, lob a softball to Mr Calacanis to belt out of the park? I think so.
If this spat had originated with Business 2.0 magazine I might wonder if this was a case of linkbait designed to drive up traffic. The reporters at Business 2.0 get paid extra according to the level of traffic to their blogs. I don't know if Wired has a similar setup.
My RantWatch yesterday about Wells Fargo's poor service could become an interesting case study in how large companies manage their online reputations. Or how they don't.
The post was hardly complimentary. I complained about depositing a check into my threadbare account and the bank sitting on my money for ten days. I was also told that the delay was longer because I had used an ATM.
I said I use an ATM because it is faster for me and faster for the bank.
I had no idea it was better to engage with a bank teller--clearly bank automation is far less efficient than we supposed. Don't be surprised if millions of ATMs start to be pulled out of walls leaving ugly patched holes along streets and on corners.
I'm angry because I can't pay my family support or pay my writers. I'm angry because I know that the bank can clear the funds in a microsecond if it chose to.
With all the massive amounts of tech investments the banks have made over decades, they insist on taking ten days to clear a check. Incredible.
I even added a link to a web site that documented some shady practices by Wells Fargo.
The Wells Fargo Watch - Apr 23
Inner City Press / Community on the Move (ICP) and its Fair Finance Watch have become increasingly concerned with Wells Fargo's predatory lending, ...
And this very visible online complaint is happening in its back yard, Wells Fargo is headquartered in San Francisco. Yet the bank doesn't respond in any way, doesn't even leave a comment.
Does it know what is going on? Does it care? It doesn't seem to, at least that's what any readers will clearly conclude.
I'll get over it. But my complaint will live on in the permalink concrete of the Internet for as long as the Internet exists. Search engines will dredge it up again and again and again.
You'd think that Wells Fargo would be keen to address a customer complaint at the point of complaint and leave a comment--so that its point of view would also be recorded in the permanent Internet archives.
I'm certainly not asking for special treatment or favors. I did not stride into my local branch and demand special treatment otherwise I would write about it. I think the bank should deposit funds into all of its customer accounts within a day or two of a check being presented.
And if I can help it make such a wise decision I would be extremely satisfied. In fact, that's how the bank can make things right with me.
Blue Lithium Labs just released a 9-month study that found advertising on user generated content sites does better than other sites.
When comparing ads shown on non-UGC sites to UGC sites, the ads shown on non-UGC sites had a 32 percent higher conversion rate. However, due to the lower cost of advertising on UGC sites, the cost per conversion for non-UGC sites was 58 percent higher. Therefore, on average, UGC sites generally provide a considerably lower cost per conversion.
"Marketers are interested in social media but there have been no quantitative studies of the performance differences conducted by research houses," said Dakota Sullivan, CMO of BlueLithium.
"Based on the results of this study, we believe that UGC is worth exploring, since it appears to provide a better place to invest your advertising dollars to drive conversions."
The price of UGC site advertising is likely to go up following this study and so the arbitrage opportunities here will diminish. Also, Mr Sullivan points out that finding the right UGC sites is key because performance varies, not all UGC sites are alike.
Many companies are wary of UGC sites because there is little or no editorial control and they don't want their ads next to content that is in bad taste.
If online advertising does shift more towards UGC sites then that could make life harder for newspapers, which are already finding it tough to find advertisers.Newspapers losing online ad growth plus selling the Gray Lady
A couple of articles in today's free section of the Wall Street Journal are worth reading if you follow the (mis)fortunes of newspapers.
The first is by Donald E. Graham, CEO of Washington Post arguing against shareholders trying to dismantle the New York Times's two-tier stock structure, used by other newspapers and also by Google.
Why? Because if the stock structure were eliminated, a line of buyers eager to purchase the company would form within minutes. No one could say no. The line would include private equity firms, high-ego billionaires, international media companies lacking a famous property and lots more.
The other article is about growth in online advertising for newspaper site is slowing as advertisers seek other types of sites.
New York Times Co. warned Thursday that online advertising growth this year won't be as strong as the 30% it had projected. On the same day, Tribune Co. reported that the growth rate for first-quarter interactive revenue was sharply lower than a year earlier. Gannett Co. likewise said online revenue growth slowed in the first quarter from a year earlier.
Both are worth reading. I was encouraged that my long held position, that search marketing is to blame for newspaper woes is being recognized more widely.
Quite simply, it is more effective to sell products and services next to a search box than next to a column of journalism. I sometimes use the example: You can sell shampoo next to a search box but not next to a news story about beheadings in Iraq.
Underlining this pressure is a shift under way within Internet advertising. The ad formats that have so far proved strongest for newspapers -- banner ads, pop-ups and listings -- are losing ground to formats such as search marketing. Ad buyers say automotive, entertainment, financial-services and travel companies -- all major newspaper advertisers in print and online -- are aggressively shifting dollars into search marketing.
"There is a dramatic shift going on," says Eric Bader, senior vice president, director of digital connections at Publicis Groupe's MediaVest. Marketers like search advertising because it leads customers to exactly what they are looking for, and is easy to measure, he says.
I couldn't make it to Podcast Hotel, the video blogging conference on Friday and Saturday. But I heard that Justin Kan from Justin.TV, the 24/7 live vidcaster with a hat mounted camera and microphone, was on a panel.
About five or six people from the audience protested that he had recently shut off his camera for a period of time.
I am broadcasting live video of my life 24/7 to the internet. I started Justin.tv because I thought it would awesome for people to see what it was like to be Justin.
From his website.
Mr Kan defended his action by saying that he was having sex and videoing it should be by mutual consent.
Fair point but the answer implies that his partner objected otherwise the camera would have stayed on. What happens if Mr Kan's next partner doesn't mind if the camera keeps rolling?
We already know Mr Kan has exhibitionist qualities, how far will he go? (That's being saved for sweeps week :-)
Interesting Craig Newmark interview over on the excellent IWantMedia.com site:
Newmark spoke earlier this week with undergraduate students in a digital journalism course at New York University instructed by I Want Media founder Patrick Phillips. The students had many questions for the king of free online classifieds.
Craig Newmark Craigslist Isn't a Media Menace - I Want Media
Q: Is Craigslist a threat to newspapers, as people say?
Newmark: Not in a significant way. We do drain some revenue from some papers that rely on ads. But I have spoken to the industry analysts, and there is a bigger threat from the niche sites and niche papers. Sites like Monster are more of a threat because they suck away a lot more job ads. An even bigger threat is the pressure from Wall Street to get like 10 or 20 percent profit margins.
I would agree that Craigslist is not the problem for newspapers but it certainly doesn't help matters.
It is a very useful service to many communities. But services such as Craigslist can offer cheaper online advertising because they don't have to pay salaries for the journalism that traditionally accompanies classified ads.
It is all a function of the economics of digital media, not Craigslist.
A small selection of today's headlines from IWantMedia:
Newspaper Web Sites Deliver Slower Growth
Newspaper publishers are betting the Internet is the key to their survival, but a worsening classified advertising slump is hampering efforts to make good on their digital strategies. Says Outsell analyst Ken Doctor: "Rapid online growth appears to be dimming. That's a big problem."
LA Times Expected to Cut 5% of Staff
Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times is expected to announce a plan to cut about 150 jobs, as profits at the newspaper and its parent company, Tribune, continue to slide. Most of the cuts, including nearly 70 newsroom positions, are expected to come through voluntary buyouts.
Facebook May Launch Local Classifieds
Facebook, the social networking service for students, is said to be considering the launch of a local classifieds service. Under the proposed system, it would be free to list items in a user's own network and cost a few dollars to post to each additional network.
Classified Ad Decline Weighs on U.S. Newspapers
A sharp drop in classified advertising sales brought on by free Internet listings is helping push financial results lower at Gannett, Tribune, Journal Register and other newspaper publishers. "The theme here is severe, almost unprecedented declines," says Benchmark analyst Ed Atorino.
NY Times Plans to Outsource Functions
New York Daily News
The New York Times Co. plans to outsource some functions and is looking at opportunities across the company. The Times is hiring a consulting firm to help it find ways to cut costs, says CFO Jim Follo. "We expect those projects to bear fruit in the second half of the year."
Tribune to Cut 100 Jobs Through Buyouts
Tribune, facing declining revenue and pressure to cut costs, is said to be planning to offer employee buyouts, with a goal of eliminating 100 positions. If the offers don't generate enough savings, the company may resort to layoffs. Tribune's results are seen as behind its peers.
FAST Search and Transfer, a leading European enterprise search company, said it will build an advertising exchange for its media company customers, who between them have an online audience that rivals Yahoo! in size.
The move will help to establish it as serious contender in the battle for large media advertising accounts. Yahoo and Google have recently signed big ad distribution deals with some of the largest newspaper, radio, and TV companies.
The difference with FAST's approach is that media companies use FAST software to run their own advertising networks within their own data centers. And they get to keep all the revenues instead of paying advertising networks such as Google and Yahoo as much as a 40 percent share.
FAST's advertising exchange would link together media companies that use its advertising network software. The value of the ad exchange is in providing publishers with opportunities to sell excess inventory and gain the liquidity of a much larger network.
There would also be opportunities for advertising alliances and new types of ad services between publishers.
The FAST software can be configured to run many types of advertising models, such as pay per click, impressions, classified, and auction based models. It includes self-service features. Customers install and run the software within their own data centers rather than using third party networks.
From its founding in 1997 in Norway, FAST has been steadily building a strong name in enterprise search within global corporations, It has about 800 staff in the US, and about 200 in Norway, with offices around the world.
Autonomy in the UK, is the market leader in this sector but FAST has managed to win some large customers and also large media companies. IBM and the New York Times are among its search customers.
It's expansion into advertising software builds on its core search technologies, which are used to match advertising with content and users--the same as Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft advertising services.
Don't expose the customer
But using Google AdSense or Yahoo Publisher Network, not only reduces revenues, it exposes customer relationships that the ad network giants can target with additional services. Their publishing partners get none of this extra revenue.
"We think that newspapers and magazine publishers should keep more of their advertising revenues, and their customers, " John Lervik, CEO and co-founder of FAST, told SVW during a recent visit to San Francisco.
Mr Lervik said that FAST will also partner with some of its media customers in joint ventures around online advertising. One of these is a joint venture with Softbank in Japan.
The details of the FAST media enterprise software suite are under embargo. It builds on its FAST AdMomentum product.
Recently I wrote "Is Search Broken" about the amount of help search engines need to find and index web pages. Now Matt Cutts, GOOG's chief evangelist in the blogging community, has asked people to report web sites which are selling paid text links.
Those web sites would then be given a lower pagerank and might even be banished from GOOG's index.
It seems a bit rich for Google, the world's biggest seller of paid text links, to ask for help in identifying sites that sell paid links.
Threadwatch.org, a leading site about search, weighs in:
If Google doesn't CLEARLY mark their own paid links, encourages publishers to blend them into content, and doesn't police their own network, why do they think they have the right to police other sites?
Paid links can confuse Google's pagerank system which pays attention to links in web pages to help find relevant search results. Mr Cutts says that Google has some technology in the works that will identify paid links.
In the meantime, he wants webmasters to clearly identify paid links, and also content that has been paid for.
You could put a badge on your site to disclose that some links, posts, or reviews are paid, but including the disclosure on a per-post level would better. Even something as simple as “This is a paid review” fulfills the human-readable aspect of disclosing a paid article.
Does this mean if a magazine publisher pays a freelancer to write a review and to mention specific companies this has to be clearly marked? Does it make the review less trustworthy or less worthy of being indexed? There's a potential Pandora's box of issues here if you start applying this to mainstream media...
Over at Threadwatch.org, the paid links issue continues to rankle:
The more I think about it the more I realize why Google doesn't like the various flavors of paid links. It has nothing to do with organic search relevancy. The problem is that Google wants to broker all ad deals, and many forms of paid links are more efficient than AdWords is. If that news gets out, AdWords and Google crumble.
Here is a useful site for helping people make and post Internet video:
You Make the News
This guide has step-by-step instructions for creating video feeds that can be easily subscribed to and have the potential to be watched by millions.
There is a nice intro video, I'd like to repost it here, however, there is no way to share it!UPDATED: Here is the video (thanks!)
Intro to: Make Internet TV
This project was funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
as part of the Knight Citizens News Network.
A study by comScore finds that measuring a web sites audience using cookies can lead to counts of "unique visitors" by a factor of more than 10. This is because many users clear their cookies on a regular basis, resulting in new cookies being installed on subsequent visits to a web site.
...Web site server logs that count unique cookies to measure unique visitors are likely to be exaggerating the size of the site’s audience by a factor as high as 2.5, or an overstatement of 150 percent.
Industry experts said:
These findings mean that there will be downward pressure on revenues for top online sites as ad agencies seek improved collection of audience numbers. This adds a further issue for web publishers who already have problems in audience measurement because of RSS, AJAX, and caching technologies.
[The study is very self-serving because comScore offers services to count audiences. "Measuring the digital world" is its tagline.]
Accenture's annual survey of media execs:
Media and entertainment executives see the growing ability and eagerness of individuals to create their own content as one of the biggest threats to their business, according to results of a survey released today by Accenture (NYSE: ACN).
More than half (57 percent) of the respondents identified the rapid growth of user-generated content — which includes amateur digital videos, podcasts, mobile phone photography, wikis and social-media blogs — as one of the top three challenges they face today.
User generated content is also an opportunity to make money:
...two-thirds (68 percent) of the respondents said they believe that within three years their businesses will be making money on user-generated content. Sixty-two percent said they believe their companies will make money through advertising and sponsorships of social media. Other sources of profits cited were subscriptions (21 percent) and pay-per-play offerings (18 percent). However, a quarter (24 percent) of respondents said they do not yet know how their businesses will profit from user-generated content.
So, how to tackle this challenge? Here is advice from top industry execs:
Looks like they are all holding their cards closely to their chests because their comments state nothing but the very obvious.
Tom Yager, chief technologist of the test center over at InfoWorld (no more paper InfoWorld) wrote an interesting column recently about creating "an unbreakable link between media and its delivery end point."
During a visit to AMD, a representative said new chips "will “block unauthorized access to the frame buffer.”
In short, that means an unauthorized party can’t save the contents of the display to a file on disk unless the content owner approves it.
There is a short list of parties who will be unauthorized to access your frame buffer: You. There is a long list of parties who are authorized to access your frame buffer, and that list includes Microsoft, Apple, AMD, Intel, ATI, NVidia, Sony Pictures, Paramount, HBO, CBS, Macrovision, and all other content owners and enablers that want your machine to themselves whenever you’re watching, listening to, reading, or shooting monsters with their products.
The death of DRM might be a bit premature, as with all the iTunes and EMI coverage seems to imply. (BTW, DRM-free doesn't mean it is legal to share it.)
Mr Yager says that there will will be a distinct benefit to IT from the DRM efforts.
It’s easy to write off entertainment content owners and distributors as a money-grubbing cartel; for the most part, they are. But the technical work they do to protect what they own matters, even that work which we find distasteful given needless extremes of use such as pay-per-single-view. They’ve got the money to drive the science of data and content protection. If they perfect that unbreakable link between the media and the delivery end point, if there’s never another DVD image splattered all over the Internet, then IT will be able to make a promise that, to date, it couldn’t: Nobody can view or copy your data without authorization.
News aggregators and bloggers that carry third party content should carry at least one advertising link associated with that content.
It would be the fair thing to do and a large aggregator such as Google News could help establish this practice.
Google News publishes the headline and the first paragraph of a news story on its site. Since news stories are written in an inverted pyramid format, the headline and first paragraph contain most of the value of a news story.
Therefore, it's only fair that if you take most of the value of a news story, then also publish one advertising link from the original site.
And if you are a blogger and blog the content or quote it, then the same would apply: publish one advertising link from the original site alongside the content.
- For example, if you'd like to republish part of this article, you might agree to publish one of my three advertising links alongside the content:
-Silicon Valley Watcher-reporting on the culture of disruption.
It's your choice which one of the three to carry, and your choice to do it or not.
But over time, it's a practice that would be seen as a mark of respect to the original content creator.
And it would help the original content creators recoup some of the cost of producing it--and it would encourage good content.
Google News doesn't monetise the news content it harvests from other news sites. If it carried one advertising link along with every news story it features on Google News, it would be respectful of the original content producers. And it would be in a leadership position that would influence others to do the same.
Also, many of the news sites run Google AdSense advertising links, Google would be bringing more clicks into its realm and do it for a good cause.
Also for RSS syndicators too:
- If you syndicate my content then please syndicate my accompanying AdLinks--don't strip them out. It's only fair.
If you re-publish my content -- then publish my AdLink.
This should also be an option for a new type of Creative Commons license.
- Feel free to make money by republishing this post or anything else on SVW.
- As long as you make sure you preserve my links in the copy.
- And give attribution to SVW through a live link.
- And publish one of my AdLinks alongside each piece of content.
It should become the new "Fair Use."
Maybe Technorati could be the first to adopt this New Fair Use--it has been a champion of the blogosphere for many years.
Or maybe Digg will do it.
Whoever does it first will gain a spot in history, and a permalink spot in Wikipedia.
As for Google, do no evil is fine, but do some good is better, imho.
Please see SVW
April 7 - 2006
April 4, 2006
Here is an interesting post from BizReport. It shows that publishers aren't making money from their online operations.
Out of 350 international newspaper and magazine executives gathered in Hannover, Germany, for a media conference, only one was able to claim making a profit from their online operations.
Furthermore, despite investments totalling millions in marketing dollars, only a handful of the industry players present could claim more than 3 percent of their sales came from online.
The economics of publishing online can't support the people and processes that are needed to produce it.
This is a serious issue because as the "paper" based economic models get trashed, it is clear that online publishing isn't going to save old media publishers anytime soon. Even if their online revenues were to double tomorrow, it still wouldn't be enougth.
It is another example of "you can't get there from here" when it comes to old media transitioning to the new media world.
It's because publishers have to compete against online publishers such as Google whose costs of publishing a page of content and ads is miniscule. The reason GOOG or YHOO or Craig's List can sell advertising cheaper is because they don't have to pay for their content.
Mostly, their content is machine-generated, or harvested by their spiderbots roaming the Internet, or it is user-contributed as in Craig's List.
Online advertising rates reflect this economic reality and thus are held down at low levels. These are levels that won't be able to support old media publishers.
It costs tens of thousands of dollars for newspapers and magazines to produce, market and distribute a "page" of content.
There is no way that they can compete against competitors whose comparable costs are pennies per page.
Therefore we have to figure out a new economic model for media--it has to be something more than online advertising.
I spent much of Monday and Tuesday in San Jose at the VON (Video on the Net) trade show and conference. This conference was founded by Jeff Pulver, the pioneer of voice on the net, and it is big. It was strange to see a "big" trade show, many have become "former" or have become tiny.
For much of Monday I was at the Hollywood and Internet Video conference track organized by Cynthia Brumfield (IP Media Monitor). I moderated the last panel of the day:
My panel:Nizar Allibhoy, Principal, MediaEnable, LLC
Mike Pascarella, President and CEO, Gotuit Media Corp
Herve Utheza, Vice-President and Executive Producer of TV Properties, Orb Networks
It wasn't a simple topic because we have so many ways to upload, share, tag, and watch entertainment. But the panel did well, pointing out that while much of the day had been spent talking abut how media companies were using technologies to bring interactive entertainment to people, not much had been said about how people are using technologies in new ways.
Mr Pascarella's company has several interesting technologies, the main one being the ability to tag parts of an online video and just share clips of just a few seconds long. He believes that advertisers will pay much more for the chance to advertise around popular clips from longer videos. Gotuit only hosts licensed content from large media companies
Mr Allibhoy has worked with some very large media companies including Sony Pictures Digital. He has a new venture coming up and is confident that new business models will be developed around video on the net that will be complimentary to the mainstream advertising models used by TV and Cable.
Mr Utheza said that audio is still a very large component of what users want to share on the Internet. He noted that if users are given the ability to share their media they spend much more time involved in online media of all types.
Dan Scheinman, the mastermind behind Cisco's acquisitions of WebEx and many more, was on a late morning panel. He said that Silicon Valley has a very bright future ahead because of all the media technologies that will be needed to support the human network.
It was encouraging to see an enthusiastic Dan Scheinman. When I interviewed him two years ago for Silicon Valley Watcher, he was worried about Silicon Valley's future because innovation could be done anywhere in the world.
Rafat Ali, from PaidContent moderated a panel on "Who is making money with Web-Based Video?" It was a tough question to answer, and "porn" was one of the answers.
He said that IP communications is finally part of the mainstream communications architecture and that the "IP" part could be dropped.
Vinod Khosla, Silicon Valley's top VC spoke about some trends. He is a big proponent of the "cloud" and said that "virtual" devices will replace actual devices. The mobile phone will become an interactive client to access your PC, phone, etc, which will live on the Internet as virtual devices. One of his startups is Mocka5 which makes such things possible.
He also mentioned that wireless USB might turn out to be a better solution than WiFi because of fast speeds and low battery power usage.
Skype founder Niklas Zennstrom announced new Skype features. One of these is a tie up with PayPal that enables Skype users to send money to each other. And also Skype Find, a business directory that users can build and rate. Plus Skype Prime, selling services over Skype. And Skype Extras, for developers creating Skype based applications.
These are all natural extensions of Skype and nicely leverage its 175m registered users. And now there are some clear synergies in EBay's acquisition of Skype.
Jeff Pulver said that in his startups he tends to hire people with very little or no knowledge of a particular industry. He says that such people can apply their skills to solving problems without being encumbered by what they "know" about a sector or topic.
That is very true. I like working with people who haven't been taught how not to do something. I don't want to hear 50 reasons why an idea or project can't be done, I can do that myself. I'm more interested in hearing how something could be done. That's when there is the potential for doing something new, for breakthrough thinking.
Bram Cohen, founder of BitTorrent, says his company is ahead of other online video sites and has made headway in licensing content with Hollywood.
"BitTorrent.com has ten times more Hollywood content than iTunes. We have been talking with Hollywood for a long time and we have the jump on things," said Mr Cohen.
Mr Cohen invented the BitTorrent technology which allows peer to peer systems distribute files. This works well with large files such as for audio and video. He founded BitTorrent.com as a site for distributing high quality online video and audio content.
He said that other online video sites are hampered by outdated licensing agreements. For example Netflix has a streaming licensing agreement which has different conditions.
"We've pioneered a new online licensing model and that is where a lot of innovation has taken place," he said.
I asked about YouTube and the online licensing rights. Mr Cohen said: "Yes, YouTube could make use of some of the online download rights but they need to get Hollywood's trust and that will be hard because You Tube is coming from an already bad situation."
Mr Kluth pointed out that Mr Cohen was not in Hollywood's good books a few years ago, because the BitTorrent technology was often used to share Hollywood copyrighted content.
BitTorrent.com uses Microsoft's DRM technology but Mr Cohen said he is not happy with the product because of performance issues.
Blogged content could carry advertising links...
In the SF Chronicle this week there was a lot of discussion about old and new media. Dan Fost had a great front page feature and daily notes on the geek part of the South by Southwest festival which featured top bloggers such as Robert Scoble from Podtech.net.
And leading columnists Jon Carroll and David Lazarus discussed the economics of new media and how old media could fit into that landscape.
Mr Lazarus was encouraged by the Viacom suit against YouTube as this showed that "content is king" and that the economics of online media will shift from aggregators such as Google, to creators such as Viacom, and newspapers.
Content will be king
From my view as an online publisher, and coming from a mainstream media background, I would say that "content will be king" but it will take a while.
Right now, even if all the creators took away their content from Google, Yahoo, etc it wouldn't do much good. Because revenues from online advertising cannot support mainstream media's legacy infrastructure costs--buildings, layers of management, pension plans, trucks, printing presses, etc.
The billions that Google and the other new media companies make, are a fraction of the billions lost in conventional advertising markets. That's why it costs less to advertise online because the operating costs for a Google or Yahoo are far less than for old media companies.
A blogger with a laptop
Online advertising models can barely support popular bloggers, and that is the cost of one bedroom plus a laptop plus an Internet connection plus coffee.
Online advertising models are best at supporting technology-enabled media companies: servers and algorithms cost less than journalists, editors, printing presses etc.
Even if online advertising revenues were to double, it still wouldn't meet a fraction of the costs of running New York Times' global network of news bureaus.
As the saying goes...
"You can't get there from here" is my favorite American saying and it aptly describes the economic chasm separating old media from new media. I'd like to see how Geoffrey Moore thinks we could cross this one.
What we need is a better value recovery mechanism for content creators. Google or Yahoo ads are not returning enough value to the content creators. And locking up content behind a subscription firewall doesn't work because it cuts off the distribution power of the Internet.
Carry adLinks with blogged content
It would be better to offer content for free distribution provided it was shown along with its advertising links.
For example, you can freely distribute this post and make money from it, as long as you maintain all links in this article, a link back to the original, fully attributed--and you carry three of my text advertising links such as these:
-Silicon Valley Watcher-reporting on the culture of disruption.
If you blog about this post and quote some of it you would agree to carry at least one of my advertising links alongside your blog. As a blogger you wouldn't be forced to do it but it would be considered respectful to do it, and it would be seen by readers as such.
This might get a bit cluttered if blog posts are quoting each other and their advertising links, but that means people will go back to original sources for quotes to cut down on the advertising links.
A better value recovery mechanism
In this way, more value is returned to the creators which allows them to make more content. And it might even help old media transition over to new media economics. It is something I first proposed nearly one year ago. Let me know what you think.
Please see SVW
April 7 - 2006
April 4, 2006
Please see San Francisco Chronicle:
And by Richard Koman for Silicon Valley Watcher.
Yesterday my colleague Richard Koman wrote that a federal judge ruled that Google, Yahoo, Time Warner and Microsoft could refuse advertising.
Search engines are constitutionally similar to newspapers, the decision says and they have the same limited First Amendment rights as newspapers to accept or reject advertising.
Interesting. Google says it is not a media company yet it invokes legal protections granted to newspapers.
Here is Rachel Rosmarin from Forbes:
Is Google a media company? Its officials often skirt around the concept, for fear of offending potential partners or competitors.
Yet under the Communications Decency Act (CDA) Google and other search engine companies are not considered media companies and are protected from legal liabilities arising from what they publish--newspapers have no such shielding.
Could this recent legal ruling lead to the loss of CDA protection for Google and similar companies?
That's interesting. This dismissal decision actually has it both ways. Google is given the free speech protections of a newspaper and the court cites Miami Herald (newspapers can't be required to print candidate responses to editorials), Daily Nebraskan (decision not to print gay ads protected as free speech), Associates & Aldrich Co (newspaper can't be compelled to print ad as is; right to edit).
At the same time, Google is an online service provider under CDA. So they are protected from the liability that newspapers have for the editorial decisions they make.
That's a sweet spot to be in. I think the thing to realize is that the First Amendment right not to speak is not a press freedom but a commercial freedom. The cases are newspaper cases because newspapers are traditional ad publishers. As an ad-running business, GOOG has the right not to run ads.
But they don't exercise any other editorial discretion, so they are very much an online provider. In fact, since all they do is aggregate others' content, they really have no editorial liability.
You could argue they should have a responsibility for the content they carry (ie Google News), but that's where CDA steps in to say: No liability.
But can Google have its cake and eat it?
Google News is produced by human editorial decisions--they are merely expressed in different ways, through the design of the Google News algorithm. Otherwise Google News would pick content at random and publish it, which it doesn't.
An ISP can argue that it is just a pipe, a bit carrier, and therefore has the protection of the CDA. However, the Telco/Cable ISPs want to climb up the value chain and add their own services, content, and advertising. Will they run into similar legal issues?
And If there is no net neutrality, and they are choosing which services/content to carry, could such editorial activities affect their DCA protection?
The Telco/Cable companies are government regulated which means they have some powerful friends. My cell phone bill comes with 13 different taxes and fees, and my landline phone has nearly as many. That makes for a lot of government, state, and regulatory agencies that are stakeholders in these businesses.
Or does being in a government regulated industry increase business risks? There is greater exposure to changes in political climates. And the will of the people can be expressed in unwelcome ways...
Either way, I'm sure the newspaper publishers and their lawyers would love to have a more level playing field against Google and the rest--it costs them a lot of money to police media content.
Democrats and Republicans are cosponoring yet another bill that requires technology companies to deploy DRM technology that would hamstring their users' legal uses of copyright material in order to prop up the Hollywood's business models.
Under the Platform Equality and Remedies for Rights Holders in Music (PERFORM)Act, reintroduced today by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Joseph Biden (D-Del.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), both Internet and satellite music broadcasters would have to pay "fair market value" for the use of copyright music libraries, News.com reports.
The bill is a direct assault on the young satellite radio industry, as well. It would stop satellite providers from allowing users to store a copy of broadcast songs.
The proposal says that all audio services--Webcasters included--would be obligated to implement "reasonably available and economically reasonable" copy-protection technology aimed at preventing "music theft" and restricting automatic recording.
"New radio services are allowing users to do more than simply listen to music," Feinstein said in a statement. "What was once a passive listening experience has turned into a forum where users can record, manipulate, collect and create personalized music libraries."
Not all recording would be banned under the bill, though. The sponsors seem to be particularly offended by any sort of active searches on the part of users.
Radio listeners would be permitted to set their devices to automatically record full radio programs on certain channels at certain times. But allowing users to program their devices to automatically find and record specific sound recordings, artists or albums would be prohibited. So-called "manual" recording would be allowed, as long as it's done "in a manner that is not an infringement of copyright."
And the bill mandates that providers deploy technology to prevent people from "separating component segments of the copyrighted material" contained in broadcasts. And they would be required to restrict users' "redistribution, retransmission or other exporting" of all or part of copyright music to other devices.
Opponents say that users have a perfect right to time-shift and even program-shift music they listen to on broadcasts by storing broadcasts for later listening and even editing.
The proposal "remains a fundamental assault on consumers' reasonable rights and expectations about home recording and fair use in any modern context," said Robert Schwartz, general counsel to the Home Recording Rights Coalition.
Gigi Sohn, president of advocacy group Public Knowledge, said the bill attempts wrongly to equate download services like iTunes with radio services.
"This bill looks to the past rather than to the future," she said in a statement, "by limiting the ability of consumers to use material to which they have subscribed and by limiting future innovations in electronics."
Dan Gillmor, the dean of citizen journalism, sold (or gave) his BayoSphere citizen journalism project to Backfence, a once-promising citizen journalism startup. Backfence, however, has run into problems as Amy Gahran, over at Poynter.org describes:
Backfence (which runs a high-profile family of hyperlocal citizen-media sites) announced a substantial retrenchment. CEO and co-founder Susan DeFife resigned, citing differences with the company's board of directors. Also, 12 of 18 employees were laid off.
Ms Gahran runs through many possible reasons why the venture has failed to succeed. Please see: Backfence Backpedals: Money Lessons
Tom's take: Citizen journalism is hard to do without a considerable involvement of professional editors. It is similar to trying to run a high school newspaper and requires a lot of work. Dan Gillmor discovered this with Bayosphere, which had a very small community involvement.
It is not enough just to put up a site and have a grateful army of citizen journalists populate it with great content. Journalism is not that simple.
Dan Gillmor's favorite refrain is that his readers know far more about the subject he writes about than he does. That might be true, but that doesn't mean they know how best to tell a story.
Often, they are not able to tell a story because they are too close to it--they might get into trouble. And journalists get to talk to a lot of people, they can add connections and relevancy, and improve upon news stories.
That's why we have professional journalists (and professional PR communicators). The job at hand is to help individuals, communities, organisations, and companies tell their stories in a compelling way. And the most compelling stories are true - and not spun.
I was over at CNET on Tuesday being interviewed on video, about mobile video. I spoke about the trends, digital rights management (DRM), the role of wireless carriers, media producers, and content owners.
DRM is pivotal in the digital media world, it protects content. Whoever owns the dominant DRM will rule the world because DRM is the gatekeeper, it protects and collects. It protects the content and it is how the content is monetised, transformed into individually targeted media services.
Because of the strategic importance of the DRM, lots of companies want to own it. Yet no content owner wants one company to establish a dominant DRM because they could lose substantial controls.
That's why we face a future DRM hell as these things battle themselves to a conclusion, imho.
After the interview, I started thinking about our old analog media technologies, and their marvelously effective DRM features, all built into the physics of the medium. Analog protected against piracy and enabled profitable media business models--a perfect DRM. In media, the medium defines the DRM.
Consider conventional TV broadcast signals. Analog TV technology could be described as a very effective streaming video technology. It transmits massive amounts of video information through hundreds of channels simultaneously and wirelessly.
Each analog TV channel represents a wireless broadband system that can support any number of users, from ten to ten million--with no loss of performance from increased user load.
Analog TV has a broadcast range of more than a hundred miles. Try doing that with digital distribution technologies such as cellular networks, or WiMAX, all of which seem terribly constrained in range and capacity.
Despite the ease of distribution, and the lack of controls over who could access video content, piracy was never much of an issue in the analog TV world. TV content could be copied through video tapes but it was not feasible to distribute it much beyond individual or family circles. The DRM was built into the physical nature of the medium.
Digital DRM gets hacked all the time. Digital media can be pirated and distributed widely in a click or two.
The nature of digital technology has no inherent DRM capabilities. It is used in the media industry precisely because content owners want an easy way to produce perfect copies of their content. Exactly what they don't want their customers doing with the same content and technology.
I do a lot of talking about media, blogging and what it all means. I talk to groups of marketing, PR/comms, journalists, entrepreneurs and executives and I like doing it. I like talking about media even if I haven't been invited to talk about media such as at parties, bus stops and similar ad hoc opportunities. It's difficult to stop me on this subject, I've bent many an ear.
I was recently invited to speak with a large group of Hewlett-Packard people alongside Eve Batey , San Francisco Chronicle's new blogging supremo. It went well, it was the second time we've spoken on a panel together, this time sans Sam Whitmore of the excellent Media Survey.
The event was HP's Horizontal Influencer Summit and Eve and I spoke and answered a lot of interesting questions. I think we made for a good double act.
I left old media for the new media when I left the Financial Times to be the first mainstream reporter to become a full-time journalist blogger--without the safety net of a day job.
Eve went from new media to old media. She used to work in PR at Porter Novelli and at the award winning SFist.com blog site. She was recruited by the legendary San Francisco Chronicle publisher Phil Bronstein to help the newspaper in its blog publishing.
So between us, we have experience in several sides of the mediasphere. And what's interesting is that we provide a consistent view on media developments even though we get there in different ways.
What I tend to find is that talking with media and PR professionals who are active in the new media often means speaking a common language. There is an intuitive understanding of media and communications in this small community that is absent among media professionals and PR people that do not participate in new media, and its conversational forms.
- - -
If you'd like to inquire about speaking opportunities, or anything else about Silicon Valley Watcher you can contact my colleague Kristie Wells, the Diva of Details. kristiewells at gmail.com
In 2003, led by ZDNet veterans Dan Farber and David Berlind, the site launched blogs and later in 2005 original podcasts, adding context and perspective to the day's news in a way that only experts and well-connected insiders could offer. Farber and Berlind quickly amassed a network of more than 30 bloggers that today includes some of the most authoritative and well-respected voices in the IT community.
I'm proud to be part of Dan Farber's blogger corp over on CNET's ZDNet IT news site where I publish IMHO (in my humble opinion). The ZDNet blogs have grown from strength to strength, largely because of Dan's leadership.
It is great to work on Dan's team because he exhibits a tireless pursuit of news. I don't think I've ever seen him without cameras and laptops attached. I wouldn't be surprised to one day see him with a SNL Al Franken satellite upload dish on his head because that is how tenacious he is as a journalist to file a news story first.
Dan is everywhere, at many of the events that I go to. And I tend to avoid the obvious daytime news events because there are dozens of other journalists covering them. I go to the evening roundtables, the salons, because the journalists with day jobs are home with their families. That's when I get a chance to come home with exclusive content--except that Dan is often there too.
The ZDNet blog section has just had a new coat of paint, it has been relaunched with a new design-- everyone had to submit new photos of themselves. It is an experiment in media publishing that is well worth watching.
I've no idea if the venture is profitable. I and my fellow ZDNet bloggers are paid based on pageview numbers. The more pageviews the more money.
How much money? Well, I have never cleared the $500 per month base rate and I think that many of my colleagues there are in a similar pay bracket. The Apple guy has been the top performer, $4k per month and sometimes much more. It's pocket money for most since nearly all of the ZDNet bloggers (except me) have days jobs in well paid professional sectors (i.e not journalism!).
The money-for-traffic payments are becoming common at other publishers. Business 2.0 for example, has such a system for its recently launched staff blogger section.
In theory, such a system of reward for content performance could encourage sensationalist headlines and posts. Or encourage posts that goad the Apple community, which reliably responds in large numbers and with a lot of passion. (This is John Dvorak's favorite way to boost traffic on a slow day :-) But so far, that hasn't happened to any obvious degree over on ZDNet.
Although the financial performance of the ZDNet blogger group is not known, I will bet it is far more profitable than ZDNet's dwindling group of salaried journalists. And Dan's blogger elite is far faster in covering breaking news than the salaried journalists.
Look at the coverage on ZDNet on Yahoo's reorganization. The news was released late in the day, about 6pm Pacific Time, which is just about heading home time for the salaried journalists. But the ZDNet bloggers kicked up a storm of coverage, well into the night and early morning.
I like being part of ZDNet's blogging experiment and I think it is well on its way to becoming a Wikipedia section on how old media ccompanies can create a viable new media group.
My two cents on the project is that I could do with some basic support on the production side of things, such as a copy editor to look over my shoulder and correct those things that we become blind to because we have to edit ourselves.
And a production assistant would be great too. Putting in those links, adding images, pointing to other relevant and worthy content is something that adds value and richness to a post but is often difficult to do as a standalone journalist, when it is late at night and the analog world of sleep beckons.
Also, we know from the hundreds of years of producing news: great journalism is created by teams and not by individuals. Just as everything else in the world that is consistently good, is the product of teams... IMHO.
Yahoo's hastily engineered reorganization does away with key leaders within the company:
Chief Operating Officer Dan Rosensweig and Lloyd Braun, the head of Yahoo's media and entertainment group, are leaving the company, Yahoo spokeswoman Joanna Stevens said. John Marcom, senior vice president of International Operations, is also leaving the company "soon," she said.
Dan Rosensweig has earned a tremendous amount of respect in this industry. He is one of the few top executives that is able to garner so much positive sentiment from other senior execs. My ZDNet colleague Dan Farber at ZDNet worked with him and is one of his staunchest supporters:
I worked with John Marcom at the Financial Times and he was easily the most impressive executive in that organization. He had a keen understanding of what was achievable and realistic. When he left the Financial Times and joined Yahoo, that shook my confidence in the remaining management team.
I met with Mr Marcom late last year, he spoke about life at Yahoo, how the growth of the business was exhilarating, it felt like being on top of a galloping horse without a saddle. Clearly, that galloping horse somehow slowed lately and the reason seems to lay within Yahoo rather than in the broader market.
Yahoo's leadership crisis and reorganization is directly related to Google's fast paced growth. YHOO's performance would be considered very good against any other metric, but in comparison with GOOG it seems lackluster.
Google's business model is far more efficient because it has shown that using servers and software provides a far more scalable media business than that of Yahoo, which has pursued a hybrid approach relying on a human-plus-machine business model.
Several times, Yahoo has ventured into producing some of its own content, such as its Yahoo Finance video Internet channel several years ago. And more recently, with Patrick Houston, and other journalists brought in to create original content.
[Please see: Yahoo gets content . . .but can it make content?]
Google prefers to create content with machines. It sends out spiderbot armies to harvest content from the open Internet--content created by people but not by Google's people. Someone else is paying their salaries.
What is very troublesome about all of this is this: If Yahoo has trouble competing against Google then what hope have traditional media companies?
Remember, Google is a media company, it publishes pages of content and advertising.
The place to be Saturday evening was the Vloggies Awards in San Francisco- the best of the best video bloggers.
Organized by PodTech, co-founded by John Furrier, the event brought together an eclectic, and very much a San Francisco crowd. PodTech's Valerie Cunningham did an excellent job in getting people to come out...and dress for the occasion.
Silicon Valley generally likes to dress as if they just crawled out of their parent's spare bedroom - T-shirts and jeans - even though they have been dressing themselves for many years. That's why it was fun to see lots of people dressed to the nines for the event.
This was not your typical Silicon Valley event, that typically starts at 6 and ends at 8. Yes, it's true, this event did officially start at 6 but everybody was fashionably late and it was almost 8 before things got going.
Andy Plesser from Beet TV was there (how come Beet didn't win anything?!) plus Nick Douglas from ValleyWag was looking very dapper; of course Scott Beale, Laughing Squid with his camera; Renee Blodgett turned up ready to have fun; my pals Chris and Kristie Heuer were freshly deplaned from Boston which did not slowdown Chris; the indefatigable Dan Farber was there; Steve Gillmore my fellow ZDNet blogger, Nick Aster representing Tree Hugger was there (congrats on winning a Vloggie!)and lots and lots of familiar faces - it was a very good evening.
Here is a smattering of gossip: Gabe Rivera, the TechMeme maestro, has finally escaped the dungeon of Mike Arrington's Atherton house, he's currently in the Peninsula. (I told him he should keep moving north and get a place in SF.)
I will post pictures and video as soon as I can locate my camera . . . I hope somebody did(!)
Scott Beale has a good Vloggies wrap here...
Buzzlogic introduces on-demand software service to help companies identify key online influencers.
. . . BuzzLogic calculates and surfaces the influencers who are shaping and driving specific conversations in social media with algorithms that analyze relationships, such as who connects to whom, about what is happening and who is listening.
. . . A key feature of the service is the ability to draw social maps of influencers in a conversation, essentially a critical path of the relationships between key influencers.
BuzzLogic also enables marketers to engage with key influencers through the service, and to monitor and track the results of their actions.
SVW take: It is an interesting service to find influential bloggers and others. However, shouldn't every company already know who is influential in their space?
I'd be interested to find out if mainstream media journalists are as influential as PR companies think they are. Quite often a lot of work goes into influencing a publication such as BusinessWeek to write about a company or product, yet that effort can produce small returns in terms of influence and sales. Yet some journalist bloggers can weave a much more influential network.
Once the key influencers are identified what is the course of action? To smother them with love and presents?
In another context, a repressive government could use this technology to smother dissidents . . .
- - -
My son Matt is exhausted from telling the story of LonelyGirl15 to the media so many times.
He did well, I'm not sure I could have handled that kind of attention at 18 years old. Right now, he doesn't want to to talk to anybody about anything LG15 related. He just wants to go away somewhere and be anonymous.
Matt bore the brunt of these interviews, nearly three days of talking about the LG15 media story. I always find it strange to be interviewed by the media while being in the media.
But I love talking about the media, to the media, while being a part of the media--and writing about the media. It is an Alice-in-Wonderland-inside-out feeling at times, but one that is part of this changing media landscape.
This front page New York Times article on Tuesday sparked enormous worldwide interest:
Here is some related coverage in other publications:
Lonelygirl: a Rose by any other name
Sydney Morning Herald - Sydney,New South Wales,Australia
Her true identity was flushed out by Matt Foremski, the son of Tom, a former Financial Times journalist who now writes a blog called Silicon Valley Watcher. ...
Now, the Sequel to Lonelygirl15
TIME - USA
... than the portions of our personalities that we choose to show (or hide) when we interact with the people around us.'" - The SiliconValleyWatcher, Sept. 12. ...
Red Herring - CA,USA
... The father-and-son team behind SiliconValleyWatcher, Matt and Tom Foremski, revealed Tuesday that they’d tracked down Ms. Rose’s identity. ...
At SVW we're lucky to break the story of the identity of LonelyGirl15 before others. We were fortunate, thanks to the work of my son, Matt Foremski, to connect the dots ahead of others--maybe by just a few hours.
There are many that worked on this story from the beginning when it was discovered that LG15 was a fake. Some were "citizen journalists"; some were mainstream media professionals. SVW straddled the two; and there is still more to be discovered about this story.
There are many who deserve credit for figuring out that LG15 was a manufactured product, especially those who tracked the IP address of emails to a Hollywood talent agency.
But this is not a story about an actress acting out a script. This is a story with a larger message: it shows how a partnership between mainstream media and blogger media can produce real results, real fast.
Both groups took the story further, building off each other's work.
This was in no way the blogosphere versus the mainstream media. It was a great example of how the two groups can work together, to uncover information that others tried to hide.
Yes, the subject matter of this story was not about anything that matters that much. But imagine this same type of cooperation on really important stories--that's what excites me.
There is always intense competition to be first with a story--but that is good. And it is complimentary competition rather than adversarial. There is no such thing as bloggers versus mainstream media.
This is the media model for the future: a mediasphere that uses the best qualities of professional media combined with relentless pursuit of information by citizen journalists. That's a potent formula that bodes well for our society, IMHO.
. . .
Mark Glaser at MediaShift: Matt Foremski’s Sleuthing Leads to Jessica Rose
SVW Exclusive: The identity of LonelyGirl15
LonelyGirl15 faked . . .
When we broke the news of the identity of LonelyGirl15 late Monday evening, we knew it would be a big story.
I purposely did not send alert emails to my colleagues in the mainstream media or the blogosphere, because I wanted to see its natural progression through the entire mediasphere.
When I woke Tuesday morning, I checked Technorati and Google, and it seemed that very few people had spotted and linked to our story: SVW Exclusive- The identity of LonelyGirl15.
But by mid-day several large newspapers had picked up our story and were adding to it, a great demonstration of how such things work. I spoke with Steve Johnson from the Chicago Tribune, Virginia Heffernan from the New York Times. Mark Glaser from PBS' MediaShift also contacted me, and I spoke with Tom Abate at the San Francisco Chronicle.
My 18-year old son Matthew Foremski had done the online sleuthing. I'm very proud of his diligence and his nose for a great story. He had been working on the investigation all weekend, following up on various leads and sifting through online discussions, looking for clues.
He was fascinated by the fact that millions of people had watched LonelyGirl15 videos yet none of her friends, family, school friends had come forward to reveal her identity.
There were lots of other people also trying to uncover her identity. Matt's break came when he was following up on a posting about a discontinued MySpace page that might be linked to LonelyGirl15. By searching through online caches of web pages, and Google's index of images, he was able to pull together the identity of LonelyGirl15.
Monday evening he called me with the information. I was at my first US football game, the Oakland Raiders game in Oakland. [I was enjoying it immensely, a truly pure American experience, I loved it.]
I was excited that we had the story; but I wanted to make sure we had everything we needed before posting. I couldn't get back to my computer for a couple of hours, which was frustrating; but I didn't want to publish the story until I had checked Matt's links and images.
Everything looked good and we published the story. What was interesting was the scuffle the next day over who wanted to claim the scoop.
"Hey Dad, it looks like LonelyGirl15 is a fake," said Matthew, as I'm still bleary eyed from just having woken up. It is 9.30am on a Friday and I'm at the computer moderating comments and checking links for Silicon Valley Watcher, so I'm only half hearing what he has to say.
Matthew is 18; and he just spent the entire summer hanging out with me, the poor guy. My summer held no romps in the woods or lazy days on the beach; it was all about reporting and publishing.
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree; and Matt spent the summer involved in his own media enterprises: buying and selling domain names, setting up forums to build online communities, and spotting arbitrage opportunities in online advertising networks.
"Who is LonelyGirl15?" I asked. Matt told me she is a 16 year-old vidblogger on YouTube called Bree who talks about her home-schooled life, her parents, her friends, her boy interests, etc. He told me to log onto YouTube and take a look.
I took a look; and Bree is picture-perfect in her looks, in a picture-perfect bedroom, from where her vid posts are cast.
I was so into my little corner of the world this summer that I hadn't realized what a huge following she had built up. She became the top vidstar of the summer, attracting a diverse following, and growing media attention, with articles in The New York Times, LA Times, and The Times (London).
I took a look at some of Bree's videos; and to my eye, I saw a highly professionally executed product. But then again, Matt had already told me it was a fake, so I cannot claim any special talent in spotting fakes.
Many others didn't have my hindsight and had gotten sucked into Bree's dramas, and story line, and believed it was a real person. That has to hurt, to be suckered in so publicly.
I saw a lot of anger and resentment in comments and vidblogs when it became clear that there was a group of people, professional Hollywood types no less, who had helped to create the fiction of LonelyGirl15.
The jig was up when some online sleuths had tracked the IP address of one of Bree's emails to Hollywood's huge Creative Arts Agency. The producers of LonelyGirl15 quickly took down her web site and discussion forum, leaving a post that called it a "new art form" but did not name any names.
Here is an excerpt:
Lots of upset fans of Bree a 16 year old girl known on YouTube as LonelyGirl15. It turns out the teenage drama queen video is a fake, written by a production team.
I took a look and it is obviously professionally produced.
And check out her quote to The Times newspaper in the UK Aug 19:
That should have tipped off the hacks...
“I was usually stuck studying the Treaty of Versailles or Occam’s razor — making videos was much more fun,” Bree said when she was contacted by The Times this week.
Mystery Fuels Huge Popularity of Web's Lonelygirl15
Los Angeles Times, CA ... Lonelygirl15 appears to be an innocent, home-schooled 16-year-old, pouring her heart out for her video camera in the privacy of her bedroom. ...
I'm always happy to keep this kind of company :-) I hadn't noticed it until Eric DeRitis at AMD pointed it out to me.
It's a short list of eight reporters and includes stellar names such as Walt Mossberg of the WSJ, Ken Auletta of The New Yorker, the extremely talented Geeta Anand from the WSJ. Plus Harvey Levin of the top celeb gossip site TMZ.com (Mel Gibson scoop), Washington D.C watcher Charlie Cook of the Cook Report, and the dynamic team of New York Times reporters Eric Lichtblau and James Risen.
I appreciate the fact that PR Week calls me a journalist rather than a blogger because that is what I do. I work as a professional journalist and I publish an online magazine about the business and culture of Silicon Valley. There is no need for the "B" word :-) . . . Some other PR Week stories (subscription site) and Silicon Valley Watcher:
My post yesterday about my former boss at the Financial Times, Paul Abrahams, and his confessed difficulty in "getting" blogs caused a bit of stir. Mr Abrahams is a very senior figure in the PR world, he runs Waggener Edstrom's European headquarters and is one of Microsoft's strategic consultants.
Frank Shaw, a senior colleague of Paul Abrahams, and a noted blogger with his Glass House blog jumped into the fray very quickly, leaving comments on SVW, and other places, including his own blog. [This is exactly what you do in reaction to any potentially unfavorable publicity, (even if you are in the middle of moving house and family). It is a good case study.]
This follows hot on the heels of Colin Farrington’s shock declaration that he was not “that keen” on blogs. He is director general of the CIPR, the UK’s major PR support organisation and clearly does not have his finger on the pulse. His comments sent shockwaves among leading PR bloggers. Here is an extract:
“I’m not that keen on ‘blogs’.
“But then I wasn’t keen on DVDs, mobile phones, Ipods and Blackberries until they suddenly became an essential part of business and social life. I guess there’s a special marketing category for middle aged male professional ‘catchers-up’.
All very interesting stuff. I see this all as part of how things move forward, this is how progress is made. The pushbacks are all part of the process to achieve understanding.
I would sometimes tell people that blogging is the next big thing, and they would laugh. I say, don't confuse the content of many blogs with blogging. Blogging is the most visible part of a two-way media technology.
Internet 1.0 allowed us to publish to anything with a browser, now, with Internet 2.0, anything with a browser can publish back. It is a two-way Internet now, it is the Internet on steroids.
But as with all important concepts/ideas, the first stage is laughter and derision; the second stage is grudging acceptance; and the third is that it all becomes damn obvious.
We are all at different stages when it comes to blogging. But what I do know, is that if you have been blogging for any amount of time, and involved in the blogosphere, leaving comments, etc, then you and I have an understanding, and we are at the third stage.
And the beauty of all of this, is that there is no need to argue with Mr Abrahams, or others about the value of blogs and blogging, and the powerful nature of these media technologies. Because we can see a little bit into the future and we know what the future will bring. I know Mr Shaw at Waggener knows the future, and I know that Paul Abrahams will know it too.
- - -
Please also see Robert Scoble, the former MSFT champion blogger:
Speaking of good and bad PR, did you see Frank Shaw’s blog? He runs the Microsoft account for Waggener Edstrom and he had to clean up a mess by another PR guy in the UK who said “I don’t get blogs.” If a PR person said that to me I’d say “I don’t get why you’re still employed.”
It seems to me that if you don’t understand something you should work hard to understand it.
My former boss at the Financial Times Paul Abrahams, heads up the sizeable UK office for Waggener Edstrom--Microsoft's long standing PR firm. Microsoft is WaggEd's largest client, and also it's largest cash cow, a very close relationship now well into its third decade.
Paul Abrahams works very closely with Microsoft and is in Seattle on a regular basis, advising the software giant on many strategic aspects of its operations. I haven't heard from Paul in a while, so it was a delightful surprise when he called me just an hour ago.
What he wanted to tell me was that he had written a column for the UK PR Week trade publication on blogging. "I've mentioned you in it," he said. "But I've basically said, regarding all this stuff about blogs, I just don't get it..."
Fair enough, some do, some don't. However, I asked if it was a good move on his part to advertise such a a lack of understanding of blogs!?
After all, MSFT lost its top blogger Robert Scoble not too long ago, and there was much discussion about whether the software giant understood the value of Mr Scoble's incredible work in presenting the company in a favorable light.
Mr Scoble created many millions of dollars in positive publicity for Microsoft, on a salary of less than $100K. I don't think WaggEd could have done a fraction of that, for 100 times the payment Mr Scoble received.
Maybe WaggEd does understand the value of blogging and wants to shut it down before it cuts into its lucrative earnings from Microsoft?
Either way, I don't think that Paul Abrahams, head of Waggener Edstrom's large UK office, and also a senior member of its nine-strong Leadership team, should be seeking publicity from a journalist blogger (me) about how he doesn't get blogs! And also broadcasting that fact to the entire PR industry, which is desperately trying to "get" blogs and setting up "New Media" practices by the boatload. I guess he knows what he's doing, he is a professional practitioner and in an elite position within the PR industry. But it still puzzles me...!
From PR Week (Subscription required.)
Blogs: Smokey and the Bandit Part 4?
Paul Abrahams - 31 Aug 2006
Is blogging the 21st-century equivalent of citizen band radio, the personal radio technology that became so popular in the late 1970s that it was included in a Coronation Street plotline and spawned a generation of bad Burt Reynolds 'Good Ol' Boy' movies?
Please also see related:Microsoft's ROI on Robert Scoble - the disruption of PR by blogging
Update: Please see comments....
Sean Garrett from the 463 writes:
Abrahams should be free to expouse his learned opinion (and I don't completely disagree with all of it), but more ironic is that at the guy who runs the global Microsoft business for WaggEd (Frank Shaw) has a good blog of his own called Glass House.
William Jolitz over on The Start-up File has a good take on NYT using ad server technology to block a news article from its British audience because of British laws. He argues that courts could force other publishers to do the same.
Back when the Internet started, it was like the "wild west" - nobody really knew what you could or couldn't do. Which laws governed a transaction - where it was viewed, or where it was served, or both.
I myself did a legal paper on the subject - "Jurisdiction and the Information Superhighway", which examined a porn case that overreached across the US. At the time, the argument against self-censorship like the NY Times has chosen to do was that there would be a great cost in negotiating the rules for each readers jurisdiction, so by default the serving jurisdiction should be the only one that mattered.
Things have changed...
Now publishing (as well as other businesses) potentially can be compelled by a judge to use the same technology to require that local jurisdictions all be treated the same, in place of the serving jurisdiction. All it takes is a follow-on case where this technique is used to rewrite recent case law, and then suddenly everyone has to track and deal with local jurisdictions!
NYT moves us forward (backward)...
Truly, the NY Times has pioneered a masterpiece of regulation, and discovered new ways of limiting the use of the Internet.
SVW: Interesting take on this issue. I've no doubt that we will have a Balkanization of the Internet in many and varied ways simply because we have the technology to do this. The Internet is not something that cannot be controlled, as popular understanding would suggest. It is something that is extremely easy to control and to track...
In today's New York Times.
Forbes.com is number one...
Its own ads proclaim that “more people get their business news from Forbes.com than any other source in the world,” saying that its sites drew about 15 million unique visitors in a single month earlier this year. It was a well-heeled crowd, according to Forbes.com, which says that the average household income of its users is $149,601.
There is also the question, given Forbes.com’s user figures, of where those visitors were going. According to comScore, 45 percent of its February traffic went to ForbesAutos.com, a companion Web site heavy on car reviews and photos. About three-quarters of the ForbesAutos.com traffic came from outside the United States.
Since February, comScore said, Forbes.com’s traffic has tumbled. In July, Forbes Web sites drew 7.3 million unique visitors worldwide, almost a million of whom went to ForbesAutos. That put Forbes.com slightly below Dow Jones (whose online properties include The Wall Street Journal’s Web site and MarketWatch), CNNMoney.com (which includes the sites of Fortune and Business 2.0 magazines) and sites affiliated with Reuters, each of which comScore says had some 7.6 million visitors that month.
Does it matter?
James Spanfeller, chief executive of Forbes.com, is not backing away from the contention that Forbes.com is No. 1 in its field.
“Are we leading the pack?” Mr. Spanfeller said in an interview on Friday. “Yes.”
Mr. Spanfeller said comScore’s latest figures clashed with the company’s internally generated data, which still showed about 15 million visitors a month, with ForbesAutos.com accounting for about 2 million of those.
“Forbes.com is not the biggest,” Vivek Shah, president of digital publishing for Time Inc.’s business and finance network, said in an e-mail message on Friday.
His comment was seconded by L. Gordon Crovitz, publisher of The Journal and executive vice president of Dow Jones, who is responsible for Dow Jones’s consumer brands, including The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and MarketWatch. Both Mr. Shah and Mr. Crovitz pointed to figures from Nielsen/NetRatings, which they say undercut those from Forbes.com.
Some competitors argue that Forbes.com’s popularity derives in part from racy, provocative or wealth-obsessed lifestyle features that have little to do with traditional business news — examples from this year include “The Hottest Billionaire Heiresses,” “Top Topless Beaches” and “America’s Drunkest Cities.”
It's the little people that suffer ...
Forbes’s Web prowess is a big reason Elevation Partners, a private equity firm that counts Bono of U2 as a managing director, agreed on Aug. 4 to buy a minority stake in Forbes’s publishing business. “Forbes has already won the first round” in the battle for Internet supremacy, an Elevation founder, Roger McNamee, said then.
Pinger just came out of private alpha and now anyone can join the beta of this innovative voice messaging service. Send a voicemail to anyone, even to someone's email address...
High Tech Trash: A book written by Lizzie Grossman.
First investigation of the worldwide health and environmental impacts of technology -- investigating not only the problem of electronics recycling (or lack there of), but also the damage being caused by the mining and toxic chemical production necessitated by tech manufacturing. The book doesn't just identify problems, but also details solutions. And it even offers "how-to" advice for consumers who want to properly dispose of electronics.
My friend Tony Seba has just published his book: Winners Take All: The 9 Fundamental Rules of High Tech Strategy.
Rule 1 – Feel the Pain. Then Develop Your Product.
Rule 2 – Focus, Win, Grow, Repeat.
Rule 3 – Add Value Not Features.
Rule 4 – Have a Story. Communicate Clearly.
Rule 5 – It’s A Risky World. Sell Confidence!
Rule 6 – Convert Champions Not Deals.
Rule 7– Choose the Right Partners. Manage Them With Clarity.
Rule 8 – Design Products and Services That Are Easy to Adopt.
Rule 9 – You’re Doing Well. Congratulations. Now Change or Die.
Steve Yahn and Jake Whitney over at Editor & Publisher have written an interesting article on newspaper legal issues and blogs.
One of the few surviving stanchions of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, Section 230 holds that "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider." The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), one of Section 230's most ardent proponents, says it "preempts any state laws to the contrary."
Paul Alan Levy, a prominent internet authority and attorney at Public Citizen Litigation Group, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization in Washington, D.C., declares: "What Congress said back in 1996 was that to encourage the development of the Internet as a means of communication, people who offer interactive computer services should not bear the liability for nasty comments posted by other people.
Stanford University has a ton of resources for entrepreneurs:
- Listen to Podcasts of Silicon Valley's most influential venture capitalists, CEOs and other experienced executives, including Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Carol Bartz (Autodesk), Michael Goldberg (Mohr Davidow Ventures) and Joel Peterson (Peterson Partners, Trammell Crow).
Top-ranked Video Clips
- John Doerr (Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers) on How to Negotiate Valuations
- Guy Kawasaki (Garage Technology Ventures, Apple) on Making Meaning, Not Money
- John Thompson(Symantec) on Core Mission, Focus and Simplicity
Newest Video Clips
Link to DivX Stage6 -
Mark Glasser over at PBS's MediaShift blog has been writing about Mark Cuban's media project:
Sharesleuth.com , to provide “independent Web-based reporting aimed at exposing securities fraud and corporate chicanery.” Cuban hired St. Louis Post-Dispatch investigative business reporter Christopher Carey to be editor of Sharesleuth.
The revenue model is that Mr Cuban will short the stock of a company that is covered by Sharesleuth and use the proceeds to fund the site. A report by Sharesleuth on Xenthanol, a company founded to produce alcohol from wood waste hit paydirt:
On the day that the Xethanol report was published on Sharesleuth, its stock went down 14% to $5.95 — and that’s way down from the price of $12.65 when Cuban shorted 10,000 shares of Xethanol stock back in May. Yesterday, the stock was at $5.09.
Yes, we do need to find a business model to pay for journalism but this is not it. Journalism cannot be seen to be profiting from specific types of stories. This is completely unethical. Journalism should profit only from the quality and the timeliness of a broad range of news stories, and other reports.
This type of issue is not confined to Mr Cuban's adventures in media. To a lesser extent, it will become an issue at news organizations that pay journalists on the basis of how many pageviews their stories receive. This type of compensation encourages sensationalism and it discourages journalists from working on important stories that benefit society.
I only know of one major news organization that pays some of its writers on the number of pageviews but this model is increasingly used in small media companies such as Gawker Media.
UPDATE: I just realised that Mark Cuban is out in the stratosphere, he doesn't have anyone to tell him "it's a really bad idea, it really is." That is not a good place to be. Look out...
Plaxo, the "smart address book" company has been peeking into its 10m members' address books around the world, to come up with a list of which country's residents have fatter address books. The Plaxo "Connected Index" showed:
The survey, based on anonymous, aggregated data from over 10 million members, found that Argentina led the Index, with an average of 479 contacts per address book. The Argentinean average is nearly 100 contacts greater than second place Austria whose Plaxo members had an average of 384 colleagues, friends, family, or other contacts in their address book. The United States tied with the Dominican Republic for 29th place, with an average address book size of 293 contacts.
Given the recent scandal over AOL's release of search data, and the departure of AOL's CTO over this issue, I'm not sure Plaxo's release of such data is a good idea. Although there is nothing identifiable in the Plaxo information, it shows that Plaxo user address books are wide open for analysis by Plaxo staff.
When does a Foundation start acting like a bank? Is media a charity case? This loan helped MediaNews buy The San Jose Mercury...
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was among a few dozen banks, insurance companies, mutual funds and other entities that loaned $350 million to MediaNews Group Inc. for its purchase of four newspapers from publisher McClatchy Co.
The Seattle-based Gates Foundation, the world's largest philanthropy with an endowment of about $30 billion, contributed an unspecified amount of money toward the transaction, according to an Aug. 8 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission by MediaNews Group. Others listed as contributors include General Electric Capital Corp. and Blue Shield of California.
The website of the SF Bay View newspaper was recently attacked by hackers, it is now back up. The newspaper is one of the best in the US and isn't afraid to tackle tough stories on tough issues. It has been named "National Black Newspaper of the year."
Here is a letter from the editor to readers:
No, the Bay View is not dead. Wounded - but still very much alive and kicking.
Yes, our website, www.sfbayview.com, is still down. It had grown popular beyond our wildest dreams - to around 2 million hits a month - but apparently not all the folks who hit us up liked what they read.
There's now good evidence that we've been hacked by a very sophisticated hacker. A few days ago, our server was taken down - and it stayed down for 26 hours. The server rep says they've never been hit so hard, that recovery time in the past has never been more than about three hours.
But help is here. Bay View webmaster Terone Ward put out a call to web savvy people around the world, and a team from South America is now working with him to repair our site and make it as invulnerable as possible. Anyone with helpful suggestions is welcome to email [email protected]
At a time when so much is wrong in the world and heroic resistance is on the rise, we're flooded with crucial news and views that nobody else will publish. How frustrating to be limited to the printed Bay View paper! We're deeply grateful, though, to you who have enabled us to keep publishing in print during our ongoing financial crisis.
The long tail concept has been back in discussion lately because of the release of the book by Wired Mag Editor Chris Anderson. Web design guru Jakob Nielsen has come up with a drooping tail version that uses a logarithmic analysis of long tail type data. It's a surprisingly effective approach, at least for analyzing web site page views. Wag the Drooping Tail is his conclusion.
Take a look at it here on UseIt.com.
Introducing a couple of new bloggers, this time from Wall Street roots, (I guess the East Coast has started noticing the influence of blogging!). I've always said that blogging is by far and away the most honest form of self-promotion out there, because if you can't walk your talk online, it becomes readily apparent.
Check out Tom Berquist with one of the first CFO blogs, and also insider Wall Street perspectives from Roger Ehrenberg:
Jay Rosen, over at Press Think - Ghost of democracy in the media machine is proposing a hybrid form of professional and citizen media. And Craig Newmark of Craigslist is offering $10k from his foundation to test the idea.
In simplest terms, a way to fund high-quality, original reporting, in any medium, through donations to a non-profit called NewAssignment.Net.
The site uses open source methods to develop good assignments and help bring them to completion; it employs professional journalists to carry the project home and set high standards so the work holds up. There are accountability and reputation systems built in that should make the system reliable. The betting is that (some) people will donate to works they can see are going to be great because the open source methods allow for that glimpse ahead.
In this sense it’s not like donating to your local NPR station, because your local NPR station says, “thank you very much, our professionals will take it from here.” And they do that very well. New Assignment says: here’s the story so far. We’ve collected a lot of good information. Add your knowledge and make it better. Add money and make it happen. Work with us if you know things we don’t.
There is more about this on the site, tons and tons more. I think this approach would work only for select stories that would benefit from a large number of people helping in researching the story.
This is not a solution for creating news on a daily, hourly, minute schedule. This is overly complex, it is news editing by committee, and the funders will likely always have agendas.
Also, the business model issue is not addressed.
Craig Newmark's support for this project is interesting. I'm a big fan of Mr Newmark and regularly bump into him at events in San Francisco but I'm puzzled why he often appears as a commentator on the topics of mainstream media and citizens journalism. As far as I know, he appears to have no special credentials or expertise to comment on these topics, anymore than anyone.
Mr Newmark is a software engineer and his site, Craigslist, is an excellent online classified ads site without the journalism. How does this make him into an expert on "the media?" He is certainly an expert on classified ads.
My recent conversation with IBM's top strategist, Irving Wladawsky-Berger, about the disruptive effects of PC technologies reminded me of a key insight I had about the Internet, that almost made me faint(!)
Two years ago, on a sunny afternoon walking along Geary Street in San Francisco, I was thinking: where was the disruption from the Internet? The Internet is an incredibly powerful technology, surely more powerful than the PC, yet where was its disruptive effect?
PC technologies caused a lot of disruption, and forced so many tech companies out of business. But where was the same carnage caused by Internet technologies?
Surely, this was a more powerful technology than microprocessors and PCs? Yet the same tech companies were still there, HP, Intel, Cisco, etc. Yes, some had disappeared but that was more to do with mergers and acquisitions that are common in maturing sectors.
And the dotcom dotbomb startup failures were a creation of those times, so they don't count in accounting for disruption. Where were the established industry sectors, whose business models were being taken apart?
As I walked and pondered this, I had a realization that almost made faint, it literally made me feel weak at the knees. I realized that I was looking for the disruption in the tech sector, but I was looking in the wrong place.
I realized that the disruption was happening in the media sector. Year after year media companies were continuing to layoff thousands of people, advertising revenues were falling 30 percent every quarter, and things continued to get worse.
This was were business models were under attack, this was where an entire industry was being forced to change to a new economic reality, this was where we can see the Internet as a truly disruptive technology: you can see the train wreck happening in front of you but you cannot get out of the way.
The disruption is happening in the media sector because the Internet is a media technology, it enables publishing and distribution. Google, Yahoo, Ebay, Amazon, etc, are all media companies, they publish pages of content and advertising.
This realization has become important in my thinking and analysis of trends. And now, with this next stage, what I call Internet 2.0 (not web 2.0 because it is more than just web) the disruptive effect will be even larger.
It will affect more companies because we now have a two-way media technology. During Internet 1.0 we were able to publish outwards to any computer with a browser. This time, our media technologies such as blogging, etc, enable us to publish back inwards from any computer screen with a browser. We get to play on either side of the glass computer screen.
And this time around, every company is a media company to a greater or lesser degree. Because every company tells stories, it publishes to its customers, to its staff, to its new hires. We now have two-way media technologies and those that can adapt and master those technologies, and become technology-enabled media companies, will survive.
Because every company is a media company, the disruptive effects of Internet 2.0--a media technology on steroids--will be so much greater than from Internet 1.0. And we've only just begun.
The fast-moving digital media world basically cleaves into two parts: those that license, sell or pirate traditional, label/studio-generated content, and Web 2.0 stuff - media created, sampled or collected by people for other people. Apple clearly belongs in the first camp, YouTube clearly in the second.
(Yahoo uncomfortably tries to split the difference, simultaneously pursuing studios and labels, while buying up social networking sites. Not too much has really changed with Yahoo since I wrote about them last year - see 'Yahoo unveils Media RSS spec and elaborates on its schizophrenic strategy'.)
The cleavage becomes apparent in coverage of Chad Hurley's appearance at the AlwaysOn Summit yesterday. Hurley was speaking on a panel with Yahoo, Sony and Michael Robertson, but all eyes were on Hurley as Bubble-blowers continued to salivate over the way-cool vidclip service.
People like the WSJ's Kara Swisher, who moderated the panel, are calling on hot companies to show their profits. Wall Street won't get fooled by a tech bubble again! A typical exchange went roughly like this.
Hurley: We already are generating revenue and developing a new ad platform and building out our sales team.
Swisher: So not profitable, huh?
Hurley: No, not yet.
Robertson: Give them a break, they just started.
Swisher: It's back to the dot-com days!
The real juicy issue is media, not profits, though. `We are not trying to stream full-length programming. We have developed a new clip culture," Hurley said. The site limits videos to 10 minutes. Or as Tony Perkins has it, a "personal content revolution."
Hurley thinks he has protection against liability because the clips are limited in time and because they're responsive to copyright holders demands to remove material. Presumably, he has some legal advice to that effect, but it won't really matter because the business proposition will be so strong.
NBC demanded YT remove clips of Saturday Night Live sketches, which they did, but now NBC wants to use the site to promote its fall lineup, says the Mercury News. There's tons of Jon Stewart on YT but you don't see Comedy Central complaining.
Let's throw all the buzz words at this baby. Clip culture is a powerful long-tail economic engine that wind up wagging the dog of traditional media. YT's energy is from its contributor-users. Right now, unlike Napster in its heyday, YT is anything but a cesspool of copyright rip-offs. Stuff ripped off from TiVO is there for sure, but it's still overwhelmed by Mentos, the history of dance, and cyberspace's funniest home videos.
Hurley can monetize the crap out of this engine, as he plans: "We are in discussions with all of the networks, studios and labels to leverage what we have built." And as long as he keeps what he's built on the Web 2.0 side of the media divide, leaving the Sonys to deal with Steve Jobs, YT will do just fine.
Verne Kopytoff suggests in the Chronicle that it's just a matter of time until YT gets bought up by some needy multibillion-dollar search engine. Hurley's avowal that staying independent is "the best place" for YouTube "undoubtedly convinced few in the audience," Kopytoff wrote. Perhaps it's not the best place for Hurley but based on Yahoo's buys of Flickr and Delicious, it's probably an excellent place for the clip culture.
Nicholas Carr over at his blog Rough Type points to a discussion about Chris Anderson's Long Tail theory:
In his column in the Wall Street Journal today, Lee Gomes tries to debunk Chris Anderson's Long Tail theory, and on his Long Tail blog today, Anderson tries to debunk Gomes's debunking.
One point of contention is Mr Anderson's assertion that sales in the long tail could be as much as 25 percent of sales in the head of the tail, thus sales of "misses" can be substantial when compared to sales of "hits." (A music sales example is used in this case.)
IMHO, the focus on sales of a product misses the point of the viability of the long tail. When talking about the *business* of the long tail you have to use profits as the metric and not sales.
The long tail could do double duty in describing the rapidly declining profit margins in selling to niche markets. In fact, margins in the tail most likely fall at a steeper rate than the long tail describes because of proportionately higher marketing costs.
- - -
I went to Mr Anderson's book launch last Thursday and had a quick chat and picked up a copy of the book but haven't read it yet. I told Mr Anderson I was encouraged by the brevity of the book at some 200 pages. I said that many of us probably have about 150 pages we could write on a topic and stretching it to 200 pages instead of 400 to 500 pages was an encouragement to all.
Mr Anderson smiled and said that the magic number of words was 78,000!
The event was fun and the local in-crowd turned up for drinks and food at the hot (temperature) Varnish Gallery south of Market. Six Apart was the sponsor and Anil Dash VP at Six Apart introduced the event.
However, the microphone failed during his rendition of a long anecdote. Ignoring the divine intervention in the proceedings, Mr Dash decided to continue on, using his natural vocal abilities :-)
I recently participated in a podcast with Todd Defren from Shift Communications, where we discuss the new media release format, also in the discussion was Chris Heuer, who is coordinating the project, and master podcaster Shel Holtz.
The project is moving along nicely. We've also been chatting about what to call the new format. I'm not a big fan of the use of the word "social" in this context, I prefer a more neutral term. And "new media" is in danger of being overused somewhat, while "press" refers to a printing press.
A plainer and more accurate term might be simply, "media release." Then others can qualify the term if they want, depending on its use.
What's important is that the tags/labels that are used, are standard.
But the format, the way companies present their media release, is where distinctions can be made. And of course, in the content.
You can hear the podcast here. And you can subscribe to the new media release podcast RSS feed here.
I'll be discussing the format during my Ragan teleseminar tomorrow: What's in store for the future of PR?
Amanda Congdon, who started as a presenter on Rocketboom, has become the very visible and successful face of the video blogging boom. She just announced she is leaving to work from her own site. Our culture editor, Lucaso recently spoke with Amanda Congdon. . .
So, Amanda is leaving Rocketboom.
I interviewed her recently at vloggercon and asked her about her superstar plans. She seemed committed to Rocketboom at the time, so I wonder what changed in the past few weeks?
The interview is below:
I recently interviewed Amanda Congdon, host of Rocketboom, a popular video blog. I was hoping to get a taste for the "real” AC, not just the one we see every morning in front of the camera, spewing interesting web stories and quirky political satires.
But as Amanda Congdon was ‘headlining' the conference (and every geek and their crackberry was ogling over her) it was a bit difficult to get the real deal out of this once out of work, off-off Broadway actress turned vlogging superstar.
I've been working with the PR industry to figure out a better way to create press/news releases that are more useful to reporters and others, in this multi-media channel world we live in. Why limit press releases to the standard text only format and with only one link, or none?
We need a vehicle that can easily integrate podcasts, vidcasts, text, and company information that is labelled and tagged so that the right information can quickly be pulled together. We have the technologies to do that, to partly preassemble the information needed in preparing a news story.
The key, however, is to have all the PR agencies and media/comms departments in corporations to agree to a baseline standard new media press release format. We need to make sure that everyone uses the same labels/tags for things like "company founded date" or "CEO today said" etc. And agrees on other aspects of the format.
To help things along I've agreed to offer a neutral third party platform. The PR companies are very competitive and won't take the lead from each other and so we will end up with a tower of babel of different labels/tags and different formats, and we won't be much better off than before.
I've found someone with the ideal abilities to coordinate this new media press release project, Chris Heuer. Chris knows the business world, he knows the marcoms world and he knows the geek world. He's a new media renaissance man and he has agreed to coordinate this project.
I have already received many requests from people to join me in this project, and I will pass those onto Chris but please sign up again just in case. And anyone else that wants to be involved please join this discussion newsgroup.
Chris will choose the collaborative technologies we'll use to take this project further. By the way there was a nice write up about the new press release in BusinessWeek and Shift Communications' efforts, Julie Crabill and Todd Defren in pushing things forward.
Richard Edelman, head of the largest independent PR agency in the world is a strong supporter of the new media press release. Winning the support of global giants such as Edelman is key because it validates this new approach to communications. Edelman and the other giants such as Ogilvyetc have the muscle, and the influence to educate companies and individuals on how best to communicate in a multiplicity of media worlds and communities.
What will be interesting is how the PR companies and others, use the new media press release format to differentiate themselves; how they make the content compelling and available in a multiplicity of media; and how successful they are in explaining to their clients the need for new ways of communicating. Here is Chris Heuer to explain more.
I had dinner with Om Malik tonight, Om has been a close friend and advisor in my blogospheric adventures and I'm glad to see that he is finally free of his former life at Business 2.0.
(Yes, Nick Douglas did get the scoop. Well done Nick, hey, come work with me, I can beat anything that skinflint Nick Denton pays you. Seriously, you've demonstrated a hunger for a scoop and that is key to this job. Call me 336 7547.)
Here, you can read Om's tearful farewell to the magazine (Business 2.O) that he continues to love and will continue to contribute a column. But, it is great that now he can unleash the GigaOm to its full potential.
As we talked tonight, I remarked that as media professionals we are in a truly unique point in the timesphere. At no other time in our lives will we be witness to such disruption in our media industry and such opportunities to carve out a media niche.
I sometimes tease my colleagues in the media that we will become the Venetian princes of the new age (I have the dotcom!). But they don't believe me yet and I might very well be a little ahead of myself :-)
Whether that is true or not, it doesn't matter because we are all at a major transition that will affect our society, our way of life for many years to come. Media is how our society thinks things through and that is changing dramatically...
In the meantime, Om says that he has some seed funding. He will invest that money in creating editorial media platforms. And I can't tell you about the rest, I'm on embargo :-)
Om is heading off to London for a week, finishing up a piece for Business 2.0, then he has book projects, GigaOm and ...
Here is Om's: It's Time to Transition
"I have written about start-ups for so long, and have always wanted to see if I had the chops to build something from scratch. With well wishes and support of my community, I hope I can."
Please read the rest here:
Photo by Scott Beale of Laughing Squid.
. . .I usually try to keep my weekends geek-free but Sunday afternoon I popped into VLoggerCon, the conference for video bloggers. As soon as I walked in Robert Scoble almost walked right into me, which was handy because I was instrumental in breaking the news that the top blogger in the tech community was leaving Microsoft after Andy Plesser from Beet.tv called me with the news and published it on Beet.tv..
He looked very happy. We walked outside and talked for a few minutes. I welcomed him back to Silicon Valley and congratulated him on his move to PodTech.net, the leading podcasting network.
Filed: 2006-06-10 17:27:26
Andy Plesser from Plesser Holland and the videoblog Beet.tv just called and told me Robert Scoble is leaving Microsoft and will join PodTech.net, the podcasting network. He will be moving from Seattle to Silicon Valley.
Use the term Web 2.0 and you could get a nasty letter from lawyers representing the interests of O'Reilly Media, the Sebastapol, California based publisher owned by Internet 1.0 pioneer Tim O'Reilly, and CMP Media. The target for now, is an Irish conference organiser:
One of these events - the upcoming Web 2.0 half-day conference is the target of a cease and desist letter (below) from the legal team of O’Reilly publishers. Basically O’Reilly are claiming to have applied for a trademark for the term “Web 2.0″ and therefore [email protected] can’t use the term for its conference. Apparently use of the term “Web 2.0″ is a “flagrant violation” of their trademark rights!
Ironically I invited Tim O’Reilly to speak at this conference last February and his response (which I received on 15th of February) was
I would love to be able to do it, but my schedule is just too full for an additional international trip.
So Tim was aware of the event in February but decided to wait until 2 weeks before the conference to set the lawyers on us.
As I mentioned, [email protected] is a not-for-profit organisation and doesn’t have the resources available to O’Reilly - what do people suggest we do?
Bad news for the gazillion of me-too Web 2.0 startups out there. But great news for everyone that is absolutely sick of hearing the term.
At SVW, we prefer Internet 2.0 because this next stage of the Internet is about far more than web browsers. RSS, for example, has nothing to do with web browsers and all to do with Internet 2.0. There is no trademark on Internet 2.0. Jump ahead of the Web 2.0 pack and use the term Internet 2.0!
You can even use this catchy phrase in your business plan: Xyz.com moves beyond Web 2.0 and is an Internet 2.0 company.
As more and more business products and services become digital, they become vulnerable to what I call "cherry pickers." Competitors can target highly profitable businesses because those businesses provide a high price umbrella.
IBM for example, spawned a massive "IBM mainframe compatible" industry three decades ago, because of its high price umbrella on mainframes.
Those companies with highly profitable business groups are sometimes using those profits to help support less profitable, sometimes rarely profitable, business groups.
Hewlett-Packard, for example, has over the years managed to use its highly lucrative printer business to help it support its PC business, and its information technology business. It could be said that H-P's sales of printer ink, at various times over the past decade, have subsidized its other business groups for many years.
And that's why H-P's most valuable intellectual property is the design of its printer ink cartridges--which prevents copycats providing printer ink at sharply lower prices.
H-P has managed to stop cherry pickers from running off with its printer ink business and allowed it operate large, rarely profitable business groups. Those business groups have provided a lot of value, to customers, to employees, and to their surrounding communities around the world.
But other companies, other industries, haven't managed to stop the cherry pickers. That's especially true for the media.
Google News is a good example of a media cherry picker. When launched in 2001 Google News quickly became a fabulous success. It was the first aggregation of news stories copied from thousands of news organisations, and published in a very accessible user interface. Google News scans thousands of mainstream media news sites, copies and publishes the headline and the first paragraph and a photograph. It is a very good service.
It's an extremely low cost for Google, the news stories are harvested by machines, and they are presented by machine. At the bottom of the Google News home page you will find this text proudly displayed:
The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program.
Google News was one of the first services it launched, one of many dozens today, yet it does not monetize this service. At last week's GOOG press day, its executives were asked if they would monetize news, the answer was that it was on the list, but that there were some more important projects that would be monetized first.
One of the journalists asked, where on that list is Google News? Eric Schmidt showed a little exasperation when he answered, saying, that it is obviously below the cut off point...
An electronic "Times Reader" was announced by the New York Times and Microsoft (MSFT). And, it is designed to look very similar to the newspaper. Why?
A little while ago I wrote that you will know the new media because it will not be like the old media. What's the point of making an electronic NYT look like a newspaper NYT?
This shows that these two venerable old organizations don't get it.
I can think of several different ways you could craft a new type of media entity/product, and you'll see some of them in upcoming projects. And they won't look anything like a newspaper...
It continues to amaze me that NYT and other media companies identify with their distribution channel rather than what they are: these are news organizations!
A newspaper is just one way to distribute news, online is yet another. TV and radio are also excellent distribution channels. If you identify as a news organization then you can take advantage of ALL these channels. Why limit yourself?
I'd be happy to give NYT a bit of consulting advice, clearly needed.
A blog post is one very good example of one form of the new media. A blog post is a page of content that is separated from its format (thanks to cascading style sheets) and, very importantly, it carries its own communications (!)
It is a read-and-write document, a totally unique media entity. We have finally connected up the other end of the internet--it's a two-way medium now, with a host of easy, (nearly) one-click publishing tools and very easy media application development tools.
BTW, that post (January 3rd 2006) itself was an example of something that couldn't be done with the old media: it is a column that I published across three different web sites. When you click on "continue reading" it takes you to the next part of the article on a different web site.
It's an example of thinking "outside the page." :-)
Wednesday morning I took part in a PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) teleconference organized by Barbara French of the head of Tekrati, which tracks industry analyst firms. On the panel with me was David Schatsky, president of JupiterKagan--the new company recently formed when KaganResearch acquired JupiterResearch.
The topic was: The Changing Influence Of High Tech Analysts in a New Media Age and we discussed some of the blurring distinctions between analyst, journalist, and industry bloggers. Ms French shared some interesting statistics: only about 5 per cent of the analyst community are engaged in blogging out of more than 4,000 analysts.
The number of analysts blogging seems very low to me and indicative that the analyst community does not appreciate the value of publishing their own blogs. I'm sure that will change over time, but for now, Ms French says that the number of blogs is steady although there is some churn as new blogs replace ones that have become dormant.
I'm surprised that more analysts are not blogging because it is by far the best way to establish your thought leadership and expertise. And I think that the analyst community does not yet understand this fact: blogging is by far and away the most honest form of self-promotion because if you can't walk the walk, talk the talk then it will be very readily apparent.
So is it that many analysts are afraid of being "found out" as being less expert than they really are?
I've been thinking a lot about the many ways companies can engage in new types of competitive battles for the pole position on that first page of Google's search engine results--which is defined by your PageRank.
Over on ZDNet, I've been writing about the potential for PageRank assassination and other nefarious acts of information warfare:
I'm not an advocate of search engine optimization techniques--beyond the basics. Because I believe you should optimize your site for your customers and not the spiderbots. Let the search engines optimize themselves to find the right content--it's their job.
However, the techniques of search engine optimization have potential application in the reverse: they can be used for PageRank assassination. [PageRank is the relative importance Google assigns to a web site] You can apply SEO techniques to potentially cripple an online competitor by making it seem as if it is engaging in forbidden SEO practices.
Google has strict policies on what you can and cannot do to make yourself visible to its spiderbots. And other search engines also try to root out web sites that are using SEO techniques to try and trick them into a higher PageRank.
Google will dumb-down the PageRank of a web site if it believes it is engaging in non-prescribed SEO practices. And it has even banned the web site of a large corporation, BMW in Germany, to show that small and large companies can be banned from its index.
The potential for competitors taking potshots at each others' online reputation is just too tempting. And such activities can be easily disguised.
And there are many other strategies of online competitive warfare that could tempt companies, such as renting a zombie network for an afternoon or two to mount a DNS attack on a competitor.
But it doesn't have to be sneaky. Public companies are vulnerable to scrutiny by the media and investors. A competitor could encourage the scrutiny of certain weak business groups, as an example. Bringing attention to problem business groups within a competitor can be easily done in many ways . . .
[Please continue reading . . .]
In a San Jose court room Thursday morning, Apple Computer's lawyers will launch the next stage in Apple's efforts to muzzle journalists and to remove journalist protections from prosecution.
Silicon Valley Watcher is part of the Amicus brief in support of the defendants in the Apple v Does case. SVW stands firmly against Apple's moves which are detrimental to society and its need for high-quality media.
Here is more information from Derek Slater, an activist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) whose lawyers are in the front lines of this fight:
Dan Gillmor's Bayosphere citizen media project has been acquired by Backfence, a Vienna, Virginia based company that intends to use local communities to generate all online content and sell advertising around it.
It is a logical move but it also shows that citizen media is not easy to do. Bayosphere did not become the runaway success that characterized Oh My News, the Korean citizen media venture.
In my view, Bayosphere suffered from a lack of professional media involvement. Dan Gillmor, blogged there semi-occasionally but he has always been more interested in lecturing and talking about citizen media than in the work of creating it.
Mr Gillmor had been looking for someone to takeover Bayosphere since December 2005. And at one point, he approached Silicon Valley Watcher. However, SVW did not have the resources to run Bayosphere.
In my view, citizen media projects will be difficult to create unless there is strong involvement from professional media. News media is difficult to produce and citizens often lack the basic training to produce high quality media.
The best solution is to combine professional media, with citizen media and with what I call smart-machine media (SMM). In the SMM category are online ventures such as Gabe Rivera's Tech Memeorandum.
Newspapers need to get away from thinking that their distribution mechanism (newsprint) defines them. The distinction between print and online has to go away.
News organizations should see themselves as content creators. Print and electronic media are the distribution channels for their news content.
And there is no sense in locking up the content by asking readers to pay for it because we live in a world that is one big scramble for attention. We've realized that in a world with 500 cable channels, a gazillion Internet channels (web sites) and our families, friends, boss, colleagues, (and our internal) clamor for our attention is huge.
That is why if I can get two minutes of your daily attention on Silicon Valley Watcher that is great. But there is a responsibility here. Attention is a scarce resource that is why I feel a responsibility to provide something of value because I am taking time away from your family, friends, boss, etc--all these very important people in your life.
I don't want a "sticky site" I want readers to come in and out as quickly as possible. I want them to always leave feeling they got more than their time investment.
Old rules still apply
I don't want to add to the noise, I want to provide original, you-can-only-get-it-here scoops, interviews, insight and sometimes, fun stuff. And I want it available to everyone and anyone with an interest in such things.
These have been the traditional goals of newspapers for hundreds of years. The new media operates on the same principles, it is just that the distribution channels have multiplied; newsprint or online--it should not matter.
Yet in most newspapers or news magazines--the online journalists and editors have been a separate group and very much second-class citizens. That is changing rapidly but the ingrained discrimination means that many print journalists dislike becoming "online" journalists. And the blogging revolution now means that these journalists have to interact with their communities--which is even more work on top of already low salaries.That is why this transition to the new media world is tearing apart the professional media sector.
It will regroup, and it will reform, and it will become a better professional media sector because we will realize media is all about the battle for attention and professional media people are good at grabbing attention. This is a valuable talent for any business and that is why news groups will be valuable businesses--once we've gone through this transition.
Some of the new rules
In order to grab attention you need unfettered distribution and easy access. Newspapers should be available for free in public places such as restaurants and coffee shops. In fact, they already are--a lot of diners and coffee shops have a central basket of newspapers that were left behind by patrons.
But the format of newspapers and news magazines will have to change. They have to become showcases of their overall content available through any and many electronic means of distribution.
The business model can still include subscriptions, and news stands can still sell newspapers and magazines but that will be just one avenue for revenues. The business model will include many different revenue streams, of which some we know and others will be invented.
News organisations will sell attention instead of papers. And the electronic forms of distribution will enable them to sell far more different types of products and services than just printed adverts...(that's the secret of the new media :-)
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[PS: I'm away most of this week at Tibco's user conference in Florida--full report when I get back.]
Startups and large corporations are crying out for "new media communications" and PR companies are happy to offer their services. However, very, very few of them have the domain expertise in-house to work in the new media world of blogging, and other online "conversations."
Bottom line, while there are some exceptions, IMHO *very* few PR firms today can effectively balance and execute an integrated comms program -- meaning one that blends new and old media. It's not a dig, I just think a lot of people, a lot of firms are grappling with a changing media environment, a dearth of in-house expertise and evolving client needs/expectations -- basically, industry transition.
Some questions to ask your PR company to evaluate its ability to work in new media communications:
I've been really enjoying my job lately. I've been writing a lot about the open source movement and the changes it is having on the enterprise software market. Ingres is an excellent example of how the most innovative business model thinkers are taking advantage of the market opportunities.
I feel that I am often in a unique and fortunate position to move quickly on stories. And that is great for a journalist blogger--which is how I define myself.
What is also very interesting is that I don't have a business model to defend, or a boss looking over my shoulder. That means I am free to call things as I see them.
For example, I've been taking on the least progressive elements of the PR industry in my attack on the press release in its current format. I've offered a design for "new media" press release which has inspired many people to create totally new types of news releases.
The role of journalism - professional and citizen
It's not that I'm the only one that sees things "as I see them" because many others understand my positions. But I often am able to give voice to those that cannot speak directly. And that is one of the major failings of "citizen journalism."
There are members of our society that need to have independent journalists tell their stories. And that is what professional journalists do every day--they help our communities tell their stories.
That is our mandate as journalists and nothing has changed in this new media world--except that the delivery mechanism doesn't rely on a newspaper delivery. It's all about the content not the delivery mechanism: paper or plastic (or digital)? It sounds ridiculous to make such distinctions when you think about it.
Dan Gillmor, the great champion of citizen journalism is right when he says his audience knows more about a news subject than he does. But they cannot tell the story. They would get in so much trouble if they wrote about what goes on at work under their own names. That is why journalists cultivate contacts over many years, so that those contacts feel safe in telling their stories.
Yes, there is no transparency in such cases, I will not reveal sources to whom I have pledged anonymity. But it is an important way that journalists can communicate news and information that could not come out into the open in any other way. And the more information is open and shared, the better it is for all.
Media is how society solves big problems
Media is how society thinks, it is how it debates and discusses important issues. That is why it is important to have a professional media class--supported by a citizens media army in the form of blogging and fact checking. That is a scenario for a high quality mediasphere.
And we need a high quality mediasphere because we have some towering problems ahead to solve. Avian flu is the most immediate, but there is a long line of equally disturbing challenges ahead for us that require high quality information widely distributed.
We have one Mediasphere
A couple of Sundays ago, Al Saracevic, deputy business editor at the San Francisco Chronicle was at the CyberSalon in Berkeley. He asked the assembly, [which featured many of the blog/media demi-gods of our times,] can you figure out a way to pay for him and his editorial teams? Al is now a blogger, and he understands that both blogging and newspaper journalism share one mediasphere--and they share the lack of a viable business model.
Blogging is not disrupting journalism--that is a false comparison. Blogging enhances journalism, it contributes to journalism, and it helps disseminate important information in a way that no other way has managed before. This combines to produce a higher quality mediasphere -- at least for now. The problem is the decimation of the professional media by the marketing money flooding toward search engine marketing.
Our current media business models cannot carry the information load because they are being decimated faster than the ice caps are melting. What happens if the old media dies before the new media learns to walk is something that I have been warning about (thanks to Sam Whitmore) for almost nine months. And it is getting worse.
I know we can solve the challenges that face us, because humanity has incredible capabilities. But we must solve the most important Internet problem: how do we recover (pay for) the value of high quality media content? Right now, all the money is in aggregation of news/content, such as Google News, and pennies for the creators of content.
This is the Gordian knot of the Internet, figure out the value-recovery-mechanism that rewards high quality content and pays for more high-quality-content. Are there any Alexanders out there?
This is a virtuous cycle--one that Google AdSense took a baby step towards solving and then stopped.
We need a Super-duper-supercalafragalistic-AdSense that can reward quality content with real $$$ that can lead to investment in yet more quality content.
We don't have that value-recovery-mechanism and without that we are in serious trouble. Because we have no sponsor for journalism.
Selling products by advertising around journalism used to be a cost of sales. Now, it is far, far cheaper to sell products/services around the search box.
How will we pay for the professional journalism that we need? Solve this problem and you will inherit a chapter in Wikipedia. And I'll commision a statue in your (best) likeness.
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- What about a virtuous trackback? - Could this be one way to pay for content?[Read]
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Tom Abate, my long time buddy from the San Francisco Chronicle stopped in for a visit a couple of days ago. His boss Al Saracevic, a senior business editor at the San Francisco Chronicle recently launched The Tech Chronicles--a business tech blog. [Here is a link to a post about Howard High]
I'm a big supporter of newspapers launching blogs and Al is really enjoying it and he says his team is exploring this new kind of printing press, that is always-on.
Tom was saying that the traffic to the Tech blog isn't that great but I disagree, the numbers are very good especially since this is launching a new media brand and it takes some time to build--even when you leverage the San Francisco Chronicle brand.
Also, I remember telling Al that he should not look at the numbers of comments as an indicator of the blogs' success. Because most people are often more comfortable discussing things in their own peer-groups rather than on a very public forum. It can be very intimidating to leave comments on a very visible mainstream media blog but less-so on lower profile sites.
You can often follow the trackbacks and Google Alerts and Technorati links to see where your posts are creating discussions. That's a far better metric to see who is discussing the posts and where those discussions are taking place.
. . .
A Pod of Bloggers
Tom Abate and I were wondering what would be a good collective noun to describe a group of bloggers? A gang? A collective? A guild? None of those terms seemed quite right.
But how about a "pod" of bloggers? Pod usually refers to whales and bloggers sometime carry whale-sized egos, and some have assumed a whale-like profile :-) and we also have the iPod generation...so "a pod of bloggers" hits on several relevant cultural points. What do you think?
. . .
I am not Strumpette
Some have asked me if I am Strumpette, not I am not despite the coincidence that Strumpette went off-line at about the same time SVW went off-line.
[BTW Strumpette is back-online and here is the latest: Church Ousts Dominatrix from Vicarage
The thorny subject of gender is raised in the whole Strumpette venture. Which is a loaded gun and nothing good comes out of this debate as everyone heads for the moral high grounds or prefers not to engage.
I wish we didn't have the gender wars. Yet I regularly I see feminism used in exactly such a way.
I'm exploited by this system too, yet why am I "the Man" becuase I'm a man? Why do we have such a divisive form of feminism instead of an inclusive and collaborative form of feminism?
Any form of discriminiation in society is discriminatory and should be done away with, imho.
. . .
Self-esteem and PR
There is a tendency for people that work in public relations to have low self-esteem, and that's because they have low esteem for their work--at least in its current form.
PR people are asked to spin and that doesn't make anyone feel good. I keep saying that PR shouldn't be about spin. It's supposed to be about truthful communications.
And PR or for that matter corporate communications, should not be run by marketing.
Let me say it again: PR or corporate communications should not be run by marketing.
Marketing is not communications. Marketing is spin. Marketing is clueless when it comes to communications.
. . .
I went off-line on Friday because I ran out of my bandwidth allocation for the month thanks to 20-odd robots hitting me multiple times a day and sucking up a third of my bandwidth and then returning less than 5 per cent of my traffic.
Could somebody do a study of how much bandwidth the spiderbot armies are sucking up across the internet?
And every week there are more and more of them, at some point they will gum up the entire internet. They reduce server performance and negatively affect the internet experience for everyone.
Yes, I could put up a robots.txt file and tell them to bugger off--but there has to be something in between. How about a Robots.txt file that only lets in spiderbots that have made a payment, to cover the bandwidth costs at least.
(Hat tip to Dan B.) Bite Communication's unaffiliated (responsible) drinking club Thursty Thursday (TT) is hoisting a few to toast "Strumpette" the latest sensation in the PR BlogoSphere (BS). Come join TT president Steve Kerns at:
Steve "I promise to not use the term blogosphere seriously in one of these invites" Kerns
President, Thursty Thursday, Inc.
The "A Toast to Strumpette" TT
- Date: Thursday, March 30, 2006
- Time: Happy hours starts at 5 pm.....I'm shooting for sometime close to there
- Location: 90 Natoma (Natoma is an alley off of 2nd Street close to Howard)
. . .
If you use quotes around "Silicon Valley" SVW gets a number 3 rank out of 87.7 million results That's not dang bad...for a guy with a notebook.
I love having this top association with this region which I consider the world's greatest engine of innovation. And I love being immersed in its stories, its people, and in helping to create the future.
If you live and work in this part of N. California you are part of an elite group. And whether you are working in the trenches or in the executive suites, you are helping to create a future world that will impact the lives of billions of people. That's not dang bad...
. . .
My TotalChoice Hosting service or as I prefer to call it TotalUseless keeps sending me emails that I am about to run out of my monthly bandwidth allotment. However, to purchase a gigabye or two ($2.50 a piece) I have to contact the sales department during normal business hours. I can't even click an online box to purchase the gigs. My apologies if SVW goes dark at some point today... If I can't get my order through on time they will shut me off until April 1! As soon as I can manage it, I'm going to transfer over to Dreamhost which hosts my other projects.
. . .
I've been writing a fair amount this year about what I see as a strong cultural lineage between the writers of the Beat generation and the Blog generation. Both celebrate a rawness and passion in their literature. I've attended some of the events organized by the newly created Beat Museum in North Beach.
Fellow beatblog fans might be interested to hear that the Beat Museum is moving temporarily to The Cannery at Fisherman's Wharf while it looks for a permanent home in North Beach.
From the announcement:
A year ago I wrote that Jupiter Research was up for sale only to get significant push back from Jupiter itself.
Here is the original: Jupiter Research is up for sale with multiple bidders
Here is Jupitermedia CEO's Alan Meckler's response contained in this post from Rafat Ali at the always excellent PaidContent.Org.
[BTW, it is interesting to note Mr Meckler's pump of Jupiter Research on his own blog. It is a good job that those days of pump and dump are long gone.]
This interview appeared in Bulldog Reporter's Daily Dog. It's well done, but I needed to correct a few points. [My comments and corrections are in bold and in brackets.]:
Blogger and Tech Scribe Foremski Shares Seven Timely Tips for Building Relationships with Influential Bloggers in Your Market
“Because I blog, I am sometimes introduced as a ‘former journalist,’” [I'm a "former FT journalist"] says Tom Foremski, editor, publisher and founder of Silicon Valley Watcher (www.SiliconValleyWatcher.com). “But my advice to PR people is not to distinguish between the two. If something looks like journalism—then it is. There’s no seal of approval,” says Foremski, who used to file columns for The Financial Times[I used to work full-time as a news reporter for the Financial Times before leaving in mid-2004.] “Those distinctions don’t make that much sense these days. For example, a lot of newspapers ask their journalists to be bloggers in addition to their usual assignments.” [So then are they temporarily no longer journalists if they are writing their news blogs at work?]
His point: “The real issue isn’t whether someone is a blogger or not—but whether they’re credible. It doesn’t matter if they write in AP style or grandma style,” he jokes. “What’s important is who they reach and if they’re influential in your market. You can look for reciprocal links to determine that. But links don’t show where conversations are actually started. It’s more complicated than that. There really is no silver bullet other than getting involved.” Foremski offers these blog-savvy tips for doing just that:
1. Start small—simply visit relevant blogs. “You don’t have to launch your own blog to get involved in this,” says Foremski. “Just start by reading blogs in your market. Then move up to leaving your comments on other blogs. The danger with starting a blog is that you have to feed it every day—and that can be stressful [...if you are not a professional journalist--the monster has to be fed and fussed over everyday :-) ] It also might not be the best use of your time.”
2. Treat bloggers like journalists—with these exceptions. “While bloggers shouldn’t be treated that differently, you do have to make the rules more clear,” Foremski says. “That includes being very specific about what you mean by things like ‘off the record,’ ‘on background’ and ‘embargoed.’ Make sure the definitions are very clear on both sides first.”
In addition: “It can be hard to find blogger names and contact information. The only advice I can give is to follow the links. Another difference is that bloggers get really, really upset if they find something in their email inbox that wasn’t requested. The rest of us are used to getting pitches that went to everybody. But bloggers resent it. They will blog about lame PR practitioners. You can become the story in blogs if you’re not careful,” Foremski warns.
Microsoft A-list blogger Robert Scoble says he wants to be off the A-list blog roll--things are getting way too mean. Yep, that's true. I try not to be, it's too easy.
. . .
I went to the "6 Poets at 6 Gallery" event Friday in North Beach because of my interest in the Beat Generation and its historic lineage to blogging, and thanks to Allison and Erica who got there early, we had the best standing room in the house, right next to the poets. It was a fun event and I met a lot of interesting people.
The rest of the evening, however, is less easily recalled. I remember something about expressing my own personal "Howl" at the world towards the end of the night...
I could claim to have been aroused by the passionate poetic visions so wonderfully recreated. But I think forgetting to eat during the extended social part of the evening had something to do with an interesting, but highly unrecommended odyssey back home.
. . .
Strumpette: A naked journal of the PR business is the new chick on the blogging block, smart and se.x.y, and that's just her writing. Her physical description of herself promises pert parts and other fine qualities of a pertinent nature.
And she has the top male PR bloggers eating out of her hand and she just launched(!) Amanda, don't you just feel some days that it is all just too easy :-) Or, are you really A-Man-Da!
Personally, I try to go for the more challenging muckraking--I figure I can do the easy stuff later...
[BTW, Steve Rubel couldn't, wouldn't, and doesn't need to take on Richard Edelman. He'll be there a long time...that's where I'd put my 25 bucks. I'll even put 25 on you making it to Edelman within the year, if you can build your pagerank :-)]
For a long while I've felt a strong connection between the culture of the Beat generation and the Blogging generation. Both celebrate a raw and passionate expression and a use of language that is both novel , and designed to snag your social sensibilities.
Both cultures have found themselves at the forefront of major changes in their societies. And both cultures have taken advantage of the momentary freedom in the controls that society's interests usually place on ideas and personal expression.
In October 1955 Allen Ginsberg performed his "Howl" poem for the first time in public, an event commemorated tonight (March 24) at the Beat Museum in North Beach, a recreation of the "6poets at 6 Gallery" performance.
The original performance was in a dilapidated storefront on Fillmore street in San Francisco. Yet this small event eventually led to a show trial on obscenity charges and propelled the small writers colony of New York and San Francisco writers, dubbed by SF columnist Herb Caen as the "Beatnicks" into media superstars.
This period of the late 1950s was a tumultuous one. The Beatnick writers were ahead of their time, they were developing their ideas and their works in the late 1940s and now their seed fell on fertile ground--the rest of society was ready.
These were mostly white middle and upper class kids but completely out of odds with the confined culture that limited expression in those times.
The long second world war had created an oppressive government propaganda machine that seemed necessary during the time of war--but it kept on going after the war finished. It quickly became the Cold War and ideas of any political kind were punished in show trials such as the McCarthy hearings.
The writers of the Beat generation were initially apolitical, amoral ,and hedonistic. It was all they had to rebel with. They couldn't rebel politically in those times--but they could rebel in the classic way youth has always rebelled: in the pursuit of intellectual juice, the joys of physical attraction, and the exploration of the edges of our mortal beings.
In the mid to late 1950s there was a thaw in the Cold war. It showed itself in the Hungarian uprising in 1956, and its brutal suppression brought with it a momentary lifting of the Cold War hostilities. It was as if the ruling powers on both the US and Russian sides felt guilty or realized their populations needed to let off some steam and there was something of a cultural renaissance.
This is exactly the time when my parents managed to leave Poland. This momentary and minute raising of the Iron Curtain meant that for the first time some Poles could take vacations abroad in Austria. My parents lined up for three days to get on a package trip to Vienna, Austria. None of the people on that trip of 60 some persons came back to Poland.
During the night my parents skipped out of Vienna, took a train to Salzburg and were housed in one of the refugee camps still in place from the war. Six months later I was born in Salzburg and six months later we were in London, where my grandfather was living.
This period of my parents escape and my birth was when the Beat Generation and their ideas hit fertile ground because in the US there was also a thawing of the oppressive culture of the 1940s to the mid-1950s. Despite being black-listed by McCarthysm or prosecuted for obscenity, here was a culture and an intelligentsia that felt able and confident to challenge the rules of the day--and win.
Today Blogging challenges the rules of today--is it journalism? Is it rubbish? Is it a new literature? It is all those things...it is all other things too. I used to think blogging might be a subset of literature, a cousin to journalism. Now, I sometimes wonder if it is a superset of all other forms of writing because all other forms of writing can fit into its format.
We are entering another period of big changes, just as in in the mid-to late 1950s and blogging is the most revolutionary and most exciting literate art form to emerge since the Beat generation, imho.
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Written in one take :-) Try it . Just put this Technorati Tag in your post: beatblog
and it'll be easier to cross-link.
Please also see: The Beats: Celebrating the obscenity of literature
The Beat Museum
1345 Grant, San Francisco
Please also see SVW: The new and old Beatnicks celebrate Neal Cassady's birthday
Please also see Evelyn Rodriguez:
Join me in celebrating the literature of the Beat generation of writers and the 50 year plus link to the literature of blogging.
Both these forms of art celebrate this: words delivered with passion and truth.
On Friday, March 24th, the Beat Museum in San Francisco recreates the infamous 6 Poets at the 6 Gallery Reading.
In the days leading up to October 7, 1955, postcards circulated in San Francisco inscribed with the slogan, "6 poets at 6 Gallery." The Six Gallery was a run-down art gallery at 311 Fillmore Street, and the six poets were: Philip Lamantia, Michael McClure, Philip Whalen, Gary Snyder, and one unknown poet from the East Coast, Allen Ginsberg.
Organized by Ginsberg and his good friend Jack Kerouac, the poetry reading became one of the most notorious literary events of the 1950s. Wine flowed freely from jugs and crowds cheered during the reading. It was in this energized atmosphere that the 29-year-old Ginsberg, having published little up to that point, unveiled an early version of his poem, "Howl," to a mesmerized audience whose relentless cheers of "Go! Go! Go!" brought him to tears by the end of the performance. The poem begins:
"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night"
Society's response to Ginsberg's "post" was a trial on obscenity charges, one of several brought against the writers of that era. It's wonderful that words can evoke such a response, and these were apolitical words at that...
Join me in an online beatblog celebration this Friday March 24, 2006. Just Technorati tag your post beatblog and let's see what we get. [Include this link in the body of your post:
Use your imagination, use your instincts, produce something or point to something Beat/Blog-like--and share your experience of being a mortal being. Remember: The Gods envy us because we are mortal :-)
And come along and let's meet up at the Beat Museum at 8pm and/or at Speck's bar (sp?) around the corner off Columbus, after the performance...(and before...) Maybe Speck will tell you about his time with the Beats, Malcolm X, and the rest...he is part of living history.
The Beat Museum
1345 Grant, San Francisco
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Please also see SVW: The new and old Beatnicks celebrate Neal Cassady's birthday
Please also see Evelyn Rodriguez:
I'm sick of all this criticism of the content on MySpace.com. All the fuddy duddies are warning of hell in a hand basket again.
I peeked in on MySpace more than a year ago and I was very impressed with the writing, the tone that teenagers could set with very few words. I found some great writing and I found some writing that could only be described as Joyceian in its form and ambition. I was super impressed. Yes, I didn't understand a lot of it--but I'm not the target audience.
Let the kids express themselves in the manner and way they want to. We are lucky that they feel able to express themselves in such a public way that we can occasionally look at it. They could lock it up and share it only among themselves.
I wonder what they would say if they read our ramblings about Web 2.0, and online business models, and Google this, that and the other?
Here is Scott Karp: Ticking time bomb.
Here is Nick Carr.
Update: Here is Dana Boyd on MySpace.
Here is some wisdom from a Lebanese writer K. Gibran:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You really do have to read this!!! It's an excellent discussion of blogging and the Beat writers and Salons by Evelyn Rodriguez on her excellent Crossroads Dispatches site.
Evelyn is also writing the piece as she creates it...in a raw form but one that carries powerful communication of ideas and feelings. This is exactly why this blogging format is so fantastically wonderful and important and game changing and mind changing and life changing, imho.
[Here is some of my writing about the Beat generation and its connection to blogging:
Evelyn quotes a few lines from Jack Kerouac's "Essentials of Spontaneous Prose" but I think that it is worth reading the entire Kerouac piece because it is the best advice you can find on finding your "blog voice."
Here is Jack Kerouac:
It was a glorious Sunday afternoon and I was taking a rare trip across to the East Bay to catch a panel on elitism in the media. Normally I try to stay away from such things on a sunny Sunday but my friend Suzanne Hartman, a well respected top PR maven from Seattle was in town, and she was delighted to take part in this gathering of our local blogger/media elite, discussing the elitism of mainstream media and the challenge from blogging.
I have to say that Sylvia Paull, the organiser of the CyberSalon, was very impressive in how she handled what very nearly became an anarchic free for all...:-)
Here is the setting, 5pm at the Hillside Club, open to anybody with $10, and hosting a collection of some of the most influential people in the mediasphere--on and off the podium:
A Cybersalon panel of experts – including NY Times technology reporter and author John Markoff, BlogHer cofounders and bloggers Jory des Jardins and Lisa Stone, blogger/podcaster/digital reporter Steve Gillmor, and freelance trade journalist Joshua Greenbaum -- takes a critical look at the concepts of expertise and elitism in the dynamic Web 2.0 world. Our moderator is Andrew Keen, founder of the AfterTV.com podcast.
But we could have picked randomly from the audience and assembled 20 similar panels from the people in the room.
. . .You start getting pitches from PR folk and companies.
Here is Robert Scoble--Microsoft's A-list blogger:
Who made me a gatekeeper? I don’t want that job.
Don’t send me more email pitches please. Don’t beg for me to try out your software. Don’t wait for me to blog about your company or your team or your product or you. That’s what comments here are for. You have direct access to anyone who is reading this post. Pitch in the comments! If your stuff is good, someone will try it out and say so. Maybe even me.
BTW, I am always amazed when bloggers such as Mr Scoble and others, start becoming very irritated at the hundreds of emails they start getting from PR people and others wanting a plug. Welcome to the world of the journalist--we have to deal with this stuff every day, it comes with the territory.
And as for journalists who now have to blog for their employer:
Editors at the Washington Post are wrestling with discontent from reporters who think they should be paid extra for contributing to a group Web log. The Washington City Paper reported staffers on the Post's metro section asked for extra money after learning some prominent byliners were being paid for Web logs while they would not be.Please read more at Bloggersblog...
I used to tell my colleagues in the mainstream media "start blogging as soon as you can otherwise you will have to blog for your employer and build its media brand instead of yours!" I don't like to have to say I told you so...
And as for extra cash for extra work? Forgetaboutit. It would just accelerate the decline of your newspaper because your newspaper cannot monetise your extra work anyway.
I enjoyed writing the tongue-in-cheek news parodies announcing that Dave Winer, the Original Blogger, and inventor of the key technologies that make the BlogoSphere possible is shuffling off to the offline afterlife....
Al Saracevic, a senior editor at the San Francisco Chronicle has launched a tech blog called The Tech Chronicles. Take a look at www.sfgate.com/blogs/tech and get involved.
. . .
Dave Berman, who runs media communications for HP Labs has launched a blog called HPLablog to help disseminate information on HP Labs projects.
Mr Berman says:
I've launched HPLablog, http://h20325.www2.hp.com/blogs/hplab, with the intent of providing you with timely information about what's going on in HP Labs. I intend to post entries weekly, if not more often. Over time, other HP Labs researchers will also contribute to it.
The blog is intended to inspire ideas for stories, either about HP Labs or a technical trend in which HP Labs (I hope) will play a part. This first entry, "The Silence of the Labs," will give you a sense of what I'm up to. Don't say you weren't warned.
I know that last thing the world needs is yet another blog, but a long time ago, in a galaxy far away, I used to write a newspaper column. I hope you'll find HPLablog stimulating, or at least entertaining. For me, it's cheaper than therapy.
. . .
When there is not much news around, create a Ruckus :-) Here is some creative corporate blogging from Ruckus Wireless: So we then began matching up CEOs, trying to predict the outcome of an 8-round, industry-sanctioned bout. Here were some of our match-ups and decisions:
Meg is a better technical fighter and breaks Carly's nose with a hard left early in the fight. But Carly has a quicker jab and a stronger will to win. After the nose incident in the first, Carly gets to work in the second. She goes to the body then to a voracious jab. Fiorina's long reach and stamina just can't be matched by Whitman. This fight goes the length with the judges scoring the bout: 5-3, 6-2, 5-3 - Fiorina.
Read the rest here...Fight Night at Ruckus
. . .
Tom Vendetta tests out the mediasphere by issuing a fake press release announcing that he is Google's youngest hire--and huge numbers of media outlets fall for it.
These are the new script kiddies, the new 15 year old media hackers. And it is only going to get more interesting...
There is a current mania among corporations and PR companies to figure out which tools to use to find the influencers in the blogosphere. They are combing through the PageRank and Alexa rankings of online news sites and blog sites, figuring out who has the audience, who do they try to engage in a conversation about their clients. It's PR 101.
I am often asked "which blogs are the important ones, which ones should we be paying attention to, which ones should we be reading?" I can give you a decent list, but you should be able to figure that out yourselves.
In fact, you will come to know the important bloggers because they will be the ones that your peers share with you. As blogging moves out of the Geek communities and into many more sectors, that sharing principle is how influential blogs become created and distributed and that is how you will recognize the leaders.
Finding the right metrics to measure a blog's value as an influencer will never be as simple as measuring numbers of links, comments, trackbacks, Alexa rank, Technorati rank, etc. Because you have to understand the context of each blog and how it fits into its online communities. And you can only do that by being involved in those communities, online and offline.
Let me say it again: the best way to figure out who the important bloggers are in your sector is to go into the online communities as a participant. It'll become apparent very quickly.
I'm lucky to be be publishing a popular and influential news blog. Yes, I'm happy that the numbers are very good, but I don't look at them that often. The metrics that please me the most is when I hear back from readers, from emails, from comments.
What I love the best is when I meet people, from the trenches to the boardroom, and they tell me "I read you and I share you with my team." That's the kind of feedback that energizes me and makes me feel that I have one the best jobs in the valley.
Media organizations/blogs are already very transparent. You can see who is advertising and you know who the blogger works for. Thus when Robert Scoble blogs about MSFT, the monetary connection is transparent yet it doesn't detract from his passion or his views.
Do people want to peek into the PR pitching and story-production-process? I doubt it, it's boring but hey, if they have the time on their hands let them check it out.
I often write and speak on the topic of how news is written and how PR companies attempt to manipulate the press through many strategies. I think it's useful to know how the media sausage is made, and this is a form of media literacy that we should be teaching in the schools.
But I'm not sure there is much usefulness in having access to every minute of my day--who I interact with, where I ate lunch (today at Town Hall--guest of Horn Group and their clients RightNow Technologies, Collabnet, and MySQL.)
I sometimes publish the pitches sent to me, but only if they are well written. Sometimes the pitches will be better than the press release that is sent out. And I will publish more about how the sausage is made because there is a tremenous amount of misunderstanding at how media is produced.
One of the ways PR companies manipulate the press is through granting or refusing access to their top executives. This is part of the belief that they must control a company message and punish those that seem hostile. Let's make such processes and attempts at manipulatin transparent.
This is very much old rules thinking and doesn't work anymore. The new rules approach is let go of trying to control the client's message and the interaction with the media.
I don't like to be manipulated and I don't know any other journalist who likes that kind of behavior. I get fantastic access to Silicon Valley's top executives which is great, but I don't require it to do what I do.
Fortunately, top execs seek me out, they want access to my readers, which is wonderful. But smaller publications are easier to control through granting access to interviews and pre-briefings.
Unfortunately, there is no level playing field, there is no universal right to access to top management. And there cannot be, there is not enough time in the world.
That's why most of the blogosphere has to comment on the work of others, because they can't get the access. Unless they can boost their PageRank. It's a cruel law that affects every publication, online or offline.
I nearly got to speak with Anil Dash, vp at Six Apart, the publisher of Movable Type--which we use here on SVW--but we kept missing each other.
Basically it boils down to a hosted solution for corporations and a way to do an end-run around a slow moving corporate IT team. Why wait for the IT department to implement your corporate blog! You can set it up in minutes...
Here is the press release for more info:
Why not use a volunteer network of computer users to examine millions of satellite images of the areas where Osama Bin Laden and others accused of terrorist acts are believed to be hiding?
It would be a communal search for gangs that have carried out extreme acts of violence on our populations and vowed to commit further acts of mass violence. And our response against this violence has been yet more violence, with seemingly no end in sight--a perpetual war. This cycle has to stop.
The digital satellite images of suspect areas of the world could be distributed over the internet in a random fashion, they might not need to be identified as to location. Volunteers could be told and trained what to look out for.
Over a period of time volunteers would probably be able to identify suspicious patterns. And that might lead to the arrest of the terrorist gangs and we can get back to finding peaceful solutions to global problems.
Such a project would have appeal across the political spectrum and across many countries because if we can get rid of the terrorist threat, we can get rid of the laws that seek to restrict civil rights, and we can get rid of the hundreds of billions of dollars that are being spent on military and police measures. Instead, that money could be used to invest in a solving some very major problems we are facing collectively such as avian flu, energy issues, poverty, illiteracy, and hunger.
And we can get back to the business of globalization--the largest redistribution of wealth we have ever seen on this planet. This has lifted billions of people out of poverty.
Let's remember that global trade encourages peace--because wars disrupt trade. Let's have trade and not war.
By Tom Foremski, Silicon Valley Watcher
It's a warm Wednesday evening in North Beach San Francisco and it is Neal Cassady's 80th birthday and the remnants of the Beat generation, Jack Kerouac's remaining drinking buddies, are inside a small storefront.
It is also the opening of the Beat Museum, and I'm there with my buddy Paul Hrisko to chat with Neal Cassady's son John, and visit with a slice of San Francisco's history from the late 1950s.
I've become very interested in the Beat generation, the mostly East Coast/New York intellectuals that came to San Francisco, and were chosen by the media to represent the rebellious youth of those times.
From Wikipedia: "The members of the beat generation were new bohemian libertines, who engaged in a spontaneous, sometimes messy, creativity. The beat writers produced a body of written work controversial both for its advocacy of non-conformity and for its non-conforming style...
. . . Echoes of the Beat Generation run throughout all the forms of alternative/counter culture that have existed since then (e.g. "hippies", "punks", etc). The Beat Generation can be seen as the first modern "subculture"."
The Beat Generation created a literature that was passionate, raw and emotional. This was a time when a poem, Allen Ginsberg's Howl could spark arrest, and trials for obscenity. The poet Czeslaw Milosz said of Ginsberg: "Your blasphemous howl still resounds in a neon desert where the human tribe wanders, sentenced to unreality".
I've become interested in Neal Cassady, who was somewhat of a mysterious character to some degree, because his writings are rare. Yet Neal Cassady became the muse, an influencing force on the writers, poets, and cultural icons of those days. People such as Jack Kerouac, Michael McClure, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and later, Ken Kesey, Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson and many, many more.
Tom Foremski, for Silicon Valley Watcher
I've worked as a software engineer, granted, it wasn't for long, not much more than a year. But I know what the work is like and the challenges within that profession.
However, I wonder if software engineers, many of whom are also bloggers and critics of mainstream media, know much about journalists and how they do their jobs?
If people think journalism is much like blogging, then anybody can be a journalist. I often tell people if they can write an email, they can become a blogger, as a way of encouraging them to start blogging.
But journalism is definitely nothing like blogging, and it requires a professional class; I don't think an army of bloggers with day jobs has the ability to can fill the shoes of professional journalists and provide society with the type of high-quality media that it needs.
Yes, anybody publish but that doesn't mean a thing. It's the same as the fact that anybody can be their own courtroom lawyer, and we know the punch line to that one...
Similarly, society would be foolish to be reliant on just anybody producing its media, imho.
Here's a description of some of my work as a journalist at the Financial Times--working as part of a team with the ability to report and publish high quality news in minutes. . .
[The following is a reply to a post by Dave Winer, the father of blogging, on his blog scripting.news, which doesn't accept comments, which is fine because we have hyperlinks :-) That's the beauty of the new media.)
Dave, your question is spot-on: "is the publishing industry the new technology industry?" Yes, the publishing industry is indeed, the new technology industry.
The publishing industry that has been forming the last few years is a technology-enabled publishing industry made up of technology-enabled media companies. It is not the publishing industry of the New York Times, or Dow Jones.
The first wave of technology-enabled media companies are corporations such as Yahoo, Google, AOL, Amazon, EBay, and Craigslist. They publish pages of content and advertising. Except that most of their content is obtained for as low cost as possible; it is harvested by servers and algorithms or their content is contributed by their communities of users, such as at EBay or Craigslist.
Content can also be spidered from other sites, collected, and spun into an index. Publishing the index provides Google and others with cheap content, much cheaper than the New York Times using its journalists to produce a page of content.
[BTW, my web site is spidered by 17 bots every day (a number that is increasing.) The bots suck up one third of my bandwidth and deliver about 5 per cent of my traffic. More than 90 percent of my readers come direct, they know where I live, which is a great position to be in and not have to rely on search engines for traffic. The bots slow down my server, so that means they must be slowing down the internet experience for millions of people as they visit sites like mine. I wonder how long that situation will last.]
Yahoo has tried to produce its own content in the past, such as its financial news channel, which was scrapped. And more recently, Yahoo has tried again and hired editors such as Patrick Houston from Cnet, to create some content in-house.
By and large, this first wave will give way to a second wave of technology-enabled media companies because of the effect of what I call "you can't get there from here." (This is a characteristic of all important transitions in industry.)
Obviously, the second wave of successful companies will not be any of the web 2.0 companies we read about--they all seem so very 1.5 . . . don't you think?
This is from a comment left on AlwaysOn in response to my article about Time's choice of person's of the year.
From Symph402nd | POSTED: 12.23.05 @18:21
This is such a sad thing to post. Rather than waste your time complaining about the moral caliber of Bill Gates, why don't you look into what is really going on in the world with a heart. I never liked the things Gates did but I felt a lot better about him after I found out about his involvement with Bono and all that he has contributed. Whether so wealthy or not, the fact is he doesn't have to give but he choses to give and he gives a lot which is more than you might even be able to say about yourself. You could service the world a lot better by talking about what really matters rather than this kind of idiocy. This is an example of an American Idiot. Bono has great plans, ideas and programs and Gates is smart enough to see that. You dull the enthusiasm of those, like myself, who have worked so hard to actually do something about a real serious health crisis. Why would anyone want to do that? You obviously have a voice in the world, use it to say things you want to be remembered for not this kind of nonsense.
My sincerest apologies, I did not mean to sound mean, or to dampen your enthusiasm for doing good things. I encourage you to continue with your mission and disregard my piece.
I applaud the charity work that Time's people of the year winners have accomplished, and I hope they continue to be successful in giving away billions of dollars for many, many years to come.
I, too, want to make a difference in the world, and help the world solve serious problems. I lack material resources but I have no lack of digital ink.
And the judicial application of digital ink can be used to great effect. The power of the pen can now be mightier than the checkbook.
The blogosphere is an important addition to the mediasphere (as long as we can keep some professional media.)
I view the blogger and blogging, as ways that will help our society to "think" our way through some serious problems ahead.
The blogosphere is an aggregation of billions of links--not unlike the neurons in our brains. If you examined just one neuron, or one blog, you would find nothing very remarkable. Yet in aggregation--both are phenomenal.
That is why I say, that the humble blogger, and the not so humble blogger, have made and will make, a much larger contribution to the world than any three rich people that you can fit on the cover of a magazine.
And I am truly shocked that Time magazine did not realize the incredible value that the blogosphere has already provided.
Tom Foremski, Silicon Valley Watcher
Blog software creator Mena Trott criticizes BlogoSphere.
BlogoSphere (BS) turns on blogging software creator Mena Trott.
Has the BS itself imploded?
It is all marvesouly entertaining, in a cultural sense, don't you think? Not to mention the ironic sense too.
It's at times like this that I think: Ironic Design within the universe, is a far greater proof of the existence of the Supreme Being, than the weak Intelligent Design argument.
By Tom Foremski, Silicon Valley Watcher
This post on AlwaysOn , about the need for a better term than blog or blogging, got me thinking.
I really like readwriting as a term for blogging. A blog is readable from anywhere and it is writable from anywhere. It is readwriting.
We get to play on both sides of the glass display screen. This also gets us away from the constant debates on what blogging is or isn't.
Each blog "document" is unique because it is an interactive publication. In the same way that AJAX applications carry their processing within them, a blog document carries comments, trackbacks and links--it carries its own communications.
Here is an emotionally neutral definition:
...must everything be embedded in the permalink concrete?
Dan Gillmor and I were involved in what could be described as a momentary publishing incident just a little while ago. We had both published posts on a particular story starting to make the rounds.
I had requested a Dan Gillmor bat signal to be shot into the muddled brown smog of the San Jose sky, because I needed advice from Dan. Dan is like the Pope of this new media world, and I value his advice.
It is not usual for "standalone journalists" to do this; but we had a chat about it , because we both felt it required a second look. It was the way in which the information was leaked to us that looked a bit strange, and warranted a fourth and fifth look.
Because Dan and I were able to swap notes and step through the timeline of the leak, we both felt uncomfortable; and Dan said he was immediately pulling his post down for further review.
I was about to leave and run down to the Peninsula; but I started thinking about the post, and I felt uncomfortable publishing it too, even though it was in a questioning format. So I took it down. I want to chat more about this with Dan and other buddies in the SV hack pack.
This incident of momentary publishing is interesting, because it is unfolding right now as I type. It might provide a lesson for the future practitioners of this artful craft--at least it provided me with an interesting point to write about.
Standalone journalism does not work
And this is also why teamwork in this new journalism is very important. Standalone journalism does not work, you need a team. I have an editor, Mike Faden, old school and very good. He edits for clarity and errant late night great ideas :-)
And I have an illustrator, Chris Dichtel; and I also have a head geek, Nick Aster, when he is able to surface from under the the heavy load of his his green MBA studies. I could do with more people--especially a business manager and a lawyer on the business side, but also people on the editorial side.
Working with other journalists is the best way to keep the juices flowing, and also to swap notes and be able to double check each other. Working in a editorial team is the best way to maintain consistent editorial quality.
In my profession we've been producing news sheets/newspapers for more than 400 years; and in many cases, there is no need to reinvent the wheel in terms of best practices. If we can take what we've learned from the centuries of news journalism, and apply it to this incredible medium without legacy issues standing in the way--then that is a killer combination.
That's my goal in a nutshell: use what we have useful from the traditions of journalism, and then technology-enable-it with tools such as blogging, wikis and a whole slew of what I call two-way media technologies.
Tuesday evening I was trying to find my way to a class room in South Hall, a building on the massive, meandering UC Berkeley campus where Quentin Hardy, a senior editor at Forbes is teaching a journalism class.
Quentin invited Dan Gillmor, John Shinal from Dow Jones' CBS MarketWatch, and myself a former mainstream journalist, to speak to his class about the new online media and how it affects our sense and understanding of self.
There were about 30 students and we chatted about a lot of things, and the word "community" kept cropping up, and up and up; not among the students, but from my fellow panelists.
It reminded me of my dislike for the term "community" because it is charged with an almost sacrosanct cultural meaning, to such an extent that it defies and discourages challenge. It is a revered word/term/concept and it is one that has become broadly appropriated by commercial interests, and deliberately so.
In the blogosphere and the larger mediasphere, community is used in ways that clouds meaning and cloaks commercial enterprise.
During a chat after class, Quentin noted that he heard the word community constantly at the recent Web 2.0 conference, where the $2800 per seat audience applauded "community" business models and services from the $30K per vendor pitches.
I think this sacred cow needs to be slain and we should not use highly charged words or terms unless we mean them to be used that way.
We should use more culture-neutral terms which don't engage society's sensitivities.
Here's my contribution to slaying the cow: I pointed out to the class that commercial interests love online communities, because they are an aggregated blob into which you can more cheaply throw marketing messages.
And let's not forget the "conversations" of the online communities, which are collected and diced and sliced and packaged and sorted and sold. By Technorati, Feedster, and a gazillion others--because it is all out in the open, in the commons.
Commercial interests are acceptable--after all, everyone has a landlord or banker that needs to eat--but cloaking commercial interests behind sacrosanct terms and ideas and concepts is beyond the bounds, imho.
My buddy Paul Hrisko and I were wondering if Geeks and Bloggers will be the main survivors of any flu pandemic?
Staying in the bedroom coding or blogging away may be the best way to protect against infection. And the minimal social contact of the Geek/Blogger Life is another protectant.
The Omega Geeks will have their run of Fry's...! And the Omega Bloggers will blog it.
. . . here's my secret.
As a woman I've got a lot to say. And let me be frank, I'm tired of saying all the things I'm supposed to say. I want to say the things my mother told me not to say, so I started a blog.
It gave me the opportunity to speak my mind without any trepidation. Coincidentally, so did about a gazillion other people. Blogs are the new black.
I learned fast that the competition is fierce. But I'm a writer dammit. My MFA says so, and when I started my blog I wanted readers, and I wanted them instantly. (We are a society of instant gratification right?)
The question was how do I drive traffic to my site? Real traffic. Significant traffic. Not 10 to 15 readers at a time. And I didn't want to work for hours researching blogs to generate readership.
So I did it. I went from zero to 200 + readers a week within the first two weeks of creating my blog. I now have an average of 1000 hits a month, and I've only been blogging for three months. My readership is steady and growing.
Want to know my secret?
. . . and Robert Scoble
I should be writing an end of week wrap but I'm exhausted from running around all over Silicon Valley. Summer is usually slow regarding news but this time it's not. And everybody I know seems to be the same way, busy.
I did gatecrash the Microsoft sponsored Business Blogging Summit reception Thursday evening and ran into the indefatigable chief editor of ZDNet Dan Farber, New Communications Blogzine publisher Jen McClure, and Phil Gomes (now blog czar at Edelman).
I didn't go to any of the sessions, but, it seems that Robert Scoble, Microsoft's "Geek Blogger" seems to have come out of the marketing closet. Check out these sessions on the first day:
In the session "In Building Traffic: Posting isn’t Enough!" Robert Scoble and Dave Taylor promise:
In this session, you'll learn some of the best ways to build blog traffic quickly, increase interest in you and your product or service, and improve your bottom-line results.
Tips and tricks to keep your visitors coming back for more.
Later in the day Robert Scoble and Janet Johnson provide tips and tricks in the session: "Dealing with Bloggers: Partnering and Defense Strategies." Which includes:
* How to get the bloggers to deliver the right positive message(s) * Prioritizing the bloggers * The power of linking to your critics * Saying you’re sorry—what the Lawyers don’t know.
Then on day two, Robert Scoble and Dean Hachamovitch provide the keynote: "Why Microsoft is Betting Big on Bloggers and RSS." And they promised to reveal:
where the world of blogging and syndicated content is going as they create the largest single platform on which business bloggers will deliver their messages.
I'm a big fan of Robert Scoble, who writes the popular Scobleizer blog.
One of my recent posts kicked off a debate about monetizing the content of blogs and revealing it for corporate eavesdropping. There is a large industry forming that is making money off of the Blogosphere.
I caught the tail end of it, but Blake Barbera over at the Wetfeet PR blog, caught most of it, and he discusses an interesting issue. Are blog posts really forever? Suppose someone posted in their youth on a topic that is embarrassing in later life? The search engines will keep churning up that older post.
Take a look at Blake's post here:
A blog post’s shelf life; when will search engines let it go?
Coincidentally, this an issue I've been thinking about lately and the answer is increased use of pseudonyms. In fact, we older people should take our clues from the younger generation where made up nicknames are used all the time online.
It is similar to Burningman, where the participants generally have a "playa" name. The goal is not to hide identity, but to portray persona. By which I mean personas come and go :-).
My 16 year old persona was not the same as the one I had when I was 26, or 36. Personas represented by nicknames are one way to avoid the problems of your past coming back to bite you.
And, increasingly, there will be a less public world of the internet visible/searchable.
SiliconValleyWatcher is a proud media sponsor of the BlogHer conference, the first conference highlighting the emerging elite of women bloggers.
As far as I know, tickets for this conference are already sold out; unfortunate, as I would like to take my 11-year-old daughter, Sarah. I've no idea if Sarah wants to be a BlogHer, but I'd love to expose her to a new environment and dynamic role models.
BTW, wouldn't you almost think that a blogging conference focused on women, or anything gentrified as such, is more of an artefact of the 70's, 80's and 90's? Along those lines, I'm interested in the vibe they'll try to extend, if it'll be a NOW-type one.
I often say that blogging is about meritocracy of content. I never check for gender bylines. And blogging is about authentic voices and a viral distribution system. Women bloggers will surely find their way into the limelight. I meet more of them every day.
The BlogHer conference organizers want to publicize the best women bloggers and encourage more women to climb into the top echelons of the blogosphere.
I'm glad somebody is encouraging more women to become bloggers, because we need some fresh voices. It is always the same A-list bloggers, you know who I mean. At every conference I go to, and every panel I moderate or take part in, it's the same group. It's people like Robert Scoble, Doc Searls, John Udell, Ross Mayfield, Marc Canter, Jeremy Zawodny, Dan Gillmor, Mike Manuel, Om Malik, etc.
It is a group I like because the company is never dull. But it is all men, except for Charlene Li, Forrester's superstar analyst, who seems to be on every panel on blogging in the western hemisphere :-).
I've no doubt that the male dominated geek blogger community would do everything in its power to encourage women to blog, and to attend their geek conferences in large numbers.
And I'm happy to accelerate the building of women blogger media brands - if you'd like to send me a guestblog.
There wasn't much in the way of burgers and beer for Jay Allen and his colleagues this past barbecue weekend. As product manager for Six Apart, the publisher of Movable Type, Jay faced a big problem: an upgrade to a popular third party software application was causing tens of thousands of Movable Type blogs to behave erratically.
Movable Type engineers (Brad Choate gets a special mention) worked with the third party software engineers to fix the problem and so everything should be fine once the software gets updated at web server hosting facilities.
On top of that, it was Jay's birthday too, and the poor guy says he won't see sunlight until he gets version 3.2 of Movable Type out the door--that's the Geek Life and it's not for the faint of heart. But we wouldn't want it any other way...
An update to the DBD::MySQL driver has been posted by the developer.
Movable Type users affected by the problem because of the automatic CPanel updates will also be automatically fixed within 24 hours.
Update also posted to the Six Apart ProNet and MT News blogs.
My apologies for the comments section still being down, but it is a much wider problem and tens of thousands of installations are affected. Six Apart, the creators of Movable Type are working on a patch which is to do with strange interactions with an updated version of CPanel, a utility for managing server installations at many web service providers. But, it has been several days now and no patch has appeared...
Six Apart risks losing more users to competitor WordPress, an open-source weblog platform.
In the meantime, you can send a "letter to the editor" to: tom @ siliconvalleywatcher.com (ommitting the spaces) and I will compile and post your comments manually as a seperate entry. Thank you.
Here is info from Anil Dash at Six Apart about the problem.
I continue to spend a lot of time speaking on the subject of blogging, and I've heard many of the same questions from different audiences. There is a lot of confusion about how best to respond to blogging, and in general how to adapt to a changing and very fragmented media landscape.
I don't pretend to have all the answers — but it's fascinating being in the middle of this, and being part of the still relatively small group of people trying to find answers to these questions.
In recent weeks I've spoken with representatives of the Semiconductor Industry Association, with the Seattle chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), and most recently at an event presented by the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and TheNewsMarket. These events usually attract mostly corporate communications and agency people, they are in the front lines in trying to get to grips with the blogging phenomenon.
At each one of these events I try to freely share as much as I can about this blogging phenomenon and the medium's unique aspects. And it is always worth it, because I come back with a ton of stories about how other people do things within their organizations, and the cultural and other obstacles that they deal with in their work. Also, I meet other bloggers from other sectors and compare notes.
Differences in political blogging
Our scoop on the Google 3D mapping truck last week generated a large number of trackbacks and they continue to come in, nearly a week later.
They show the viral nature of some stories. Some spread very quickly yet are soon gone, while others have a steady momentum that continues to generate trackbacks.
Here's the original story: Scoop! Smile for the Google 3d mapping truck.
We actually have a little bit more information on the 3D mapping truck: here is a low res Treo 600 photo of the hut where the Google truck is hidden. The location is Palo Alto.
In countries where the press in under the direct control of the government, blogs provide the equivalent of a free press. That's why Reporters Without Borders asked Internet users around the world to pick the best blogs defending independence and freedom. Now the results are in. The winners hail from Maylasia, the US, Afghanistan, Europe and Iran.
Most notable of these bloggers is Mojtaba Saminejad, an Iranian blogger who was sentenced this month to a two-year sentence in Iranian prison because of his writings. Other winners were:
I'm often asked how a blog differs from a website. I usually say that blogs are websites that are organized like journals, generally created with software that lets you make frequent posts and supports things like reader comments and trackbacks, which aren't typically found on business sites. Blogging connotes a lot of other things, of course, like strong opinions, brutal honesty, and an ongoing conversation. SiliconValleyWatcher, for instance, uses Movable Type even though it is organized more like a news website than a traditional blog.
Bubbler, a new service from Palo Alto-based startup Five Across, really blurs that distinction in interesting ways. Founded by graduates of Apple and Adobe, Bubbler is a database-driven service that lets creators toggle between blog and website conventions, does away with ftp'ing files to a server, and even removes the concept of a broken link (except for outside links).
This is pretty much inside baseball, but Josh Hallett has done the casting on "Blog, the Movie," which I guess is the story of the saints and sinners who built the blogosphere. With Rob Reiner as Dave Winer, Dr. Katz as Steve Rubel, McCauley Culkin as Jason Calcanis, Kevin Spacey as Dan Gillmor and introducing Wonkette as herself. Pretty funny. (via John Paczkowski's always amusing Good Morning, Silicon Valley)
Here is a version of an entry I wrote for New Communications Forum, in which I postulated that one of the most important cultural questions facing society is: Are bloggers journalists?
It is an important question; because the media is part of the trusted channels of communication that society uses to think, distribute ideas, and exercise its right to free speech.
It's an important question; because the answer carries with it considerable responsibility. If bloggers are indeed journalists, then they deal in the same currency of ideas and influence as the established media.
Bloggers with jobs were all a twitter when Mark Jen, the "Google blogger," was fired from his job because he posted some complaints about Google's compensation package, compared to his previous employer Microsoft. Mark has landed at Plaxo, a privately held company that offers electronic address book updating services.
Mark is taking the lead on drafting a blogging policy for Plaxo, the current draft of which has been released for public comment. "We want community comment," Mark told me in a phone call. "One of the draws of blogging is to connect directly to the community and open lines of communication. If companies want to use our policy or modify it, that's great."
I was at HP Labs Tuesday morning, chatting with Josh Tyler and Philippe Debaty about their work in trying to determine how people will use camera phones. A primary goal of HP Labs is to be able to predict novel uses of consumer technologies and develop supporting computer products or services.
But in today's world, these researchers are realising that they cannot do things the old way, and that they have to get out of the labs.
I just arrived in San Diego for the O'Reilly Emerging Tech con, running Tuesday through Thursday, and I picked up the LA Times to look at over my burrito touristo here in Old Town SD. There are two stories of interest. A study from the Project for Excellence in Journalism which is associated with Columbia U, carries the headline "Study Warns of Junk-News Diet," and it's really a mixed bag. On the one hand the study warns that people are getting too much "journalism of assertion" from blogs and cable news; on the other it notes that journalism need to become more transparent. The first trend leads to the second, the report said.
[It's important] to document the reporting process more openly so that audiences can decide for themselves whether to trust it. ... Since citizens have a deeper range of information at their fingertips, the level of proof in the press must rise accordingly. In effect, the era of trust-me journalism has passed and the era of show-me journalism has begun.
The study looks at the election and the war and tries to figure out if the media have been pro- or anti-Bush. The results are not particularly interesting (election: 30% anti-Bush, 12% anti-Kerry; war: 25% neg, 20% pos). The LA Times notes the study "did not try to assess whether the outcome reflected partisan bias, ... a tendency to view incumbents more harshly, or some other reason." (Such as ... Bush's policies deserve negative coverage, far more than they received? But I digress.)
Really interesting, and really dismaying to anyone who might have thought newspapers might have a clue as to how to save their asses, is the news that "62% of those working for Internet news outlets said their newsrooms had suffered cuts in the last three years, far greater than the 37% of news people at traditional outlets who said their staffs had been cut."
That is just astounding, when you realize that the report also noted that online advertising increased 30% in the past year to $10b and blog readership has increased 58% in the last six months.
While the Project for Excellence in Journalism thinks that citizens are guilty of "news obesity -- consuming too little that can nourish and too much that can bloat them," we need just surf over the New York Times' boffo story that hit on Sunday: "Under Bush, a New Age of Prepackaged TV News":
Under the Bush administration, the federal government has aggressively used a well-established tool of public relations: the prepackaged, ready-to-serve news report that major corporations have long distributed to TV stations to pitch everything from headache remedies to auto insurance. In all, at least 20 federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Census Bureau, have made and distributed hundreds of television news segments in the past four years, records and interviews show. Many were subsequently broadcast on local stations across the country without any acknowledgement of the government's role in their production.
This winter, Washington has been roiled by revelations that a handful of columnists wrote in support of administration policies without disclosing they had accepted payments from the government. But the administration's efforts to generate positive news coverage have been considerably more pervasive than previously known. At the same time, records and interviews suggest widespread complicity or negligence by television stations, given industry ethics standards that discourage the broadcast of prepackaged news segments from any outside group without revealing the source.
It's gettng harder and harder for the news establishment to claim they have some special claim to integrity, independence, or ability. The study's dichotomy that journalists report facts and bloggers spew opinion is just entirely the wrong way to cut it. Even the notion that "bloggers" is a single group that can be characterized is really hogwash.
That said, bloggers are not journalists; they're people. Blogs reflect the range of conversation that people have, largely opinionated. Some of us blogpeople are journalists; some of us make an effort to gather and break stories. And we reserve our rights to have informed opinions about the topics we cover.
...does anybody blog it?
In the first part of this essay, I asked how will PR communications teams apply media relations to the blogosphere? The traditional methods of influence can't be applied to such a fragmented media landscape. (Part I is here.)
The normal means of spin-control cannot be applied either, because in this new world where everyone can be a blogger, be a journalist, there would be no way to monitor and address all the unexpected issues. There would be just too many bloggers to deal with, and each one is a potential friend or enemy, able to broadcast praise or contempt to potentially millions of people.
This is a nightmarish situation for PR communications people, because if they cannot influence the unruly blogosphere then what role remains for them?
Yes, there are going to be new ways of communications, new methods, new procedures. We know what some of those will be, but there is a heck of a lot that we don't know yet on how best to use media technologies such as blogs and wikis in the enterprise. The new rules are being forged right now and that's what makes things interesting.
Media technologies are changing the established media world too. Print publications won't go away but there are a lot of zombies out there--media companies not quite dead but not quite alive, continuing to stagger along. Many print based publications won't survive the new media sector that will emerge from these changing times.
Yes, the blogosphere is a mighty media beast, uncontrollable, it does what it wants, it can wreck havoc and wreck careers. But, if an individual blogger blogs in the blogosphere does anybody blog it?
That depends on the relationships readers have formed with the blogger, the "brand" experience that is created, the trusted relationships formed. These are exactly the same things that media brands such as BusinessWeek or CNET News.com focus on every day and it takes time to build media brands.
Ten more years of hard slog for Cnet
I met with Shelby Bonnie, CEO of News.com last summer, and he told me that after more than ten years of hard work building the CNET News.com media brand, there was probably another ten years to go before the media brand could be properly monetized.
"We just have to remember that building a media brand is a long process. The New York Times was not built in ten years," he said.
Individual bloggers have to build their media brand, just like the traditional media, and that takes time.
Negative and positive comments made by bloggers carry little weight either way--until a blogger establishes their credentials, their media brand. And that is a long process requiring a lot of diligent writing and reporting.
If you look closely, you'll find there are lots of experienced journalists, editors and publishers within the blogosphere such as Om Malik, Dan Gillmor, Chris Nolan, Nick Denton, who runs the fast growing Gawker Media blog empire out of his HQ loft in New York; so is John Battelle; and Jason Calcanis with his Weblogs, Inc collection of blogs.
Raising the bar
Growing numbers of media professionals within the blogosphere raises the bar for all because the competition for reader attention will be that much fiercer and editorial standards will be that much higher.
Building a personal blogging brand and cultivating a key readership within such an increasingly noisy media landscape will become increasingly difficult for individuals. We will see consolidation as blogs become group blogs and then become fully-fledged online news magazines.
There will be lots of these Internet 2.0 (net-two) news mags, in every area of human endeavor. There will be a worldwide flowering of the media landscape--at least that's what I see in my crystal (8) ball :-)
And consolidation will eventually make it easier for PR communications teams to apply standard methods of influence.
The rise of blogging has a nightmarish quality to it --if you are in the public relations or corporate communications fields-- because of the fact that anyone can become a blogger. And that means that anyone can become a journalist.
There are millions of bloggers, and thus the media landscape has shattered into a million pieces. Each blogger shares in the power attributed to journalists and the established media: the power to influence, and cause, change in society and markets.
And that means a public relations nightmare; because how can a public relations firm or corporate communications department manage its media relations?
Before the rise of the blogosphere, it was easy to know where journalists worked, their names, what beat they covered, the size of their readership, the demographics of their readers. That made it easy to target the journalists with press releases, with invitations to events, with story pitches, and to establish working relationships with them.
The more contact with journalists, the better chance of media coverage, and the better chance of having a specific message communicated.
It's astounding how much effort goes into influencing journalists. I always knew it was a lot; but I never realized how much until I left the Financial Times in June, and started doing some reporting on the Silicon Valley PR sector, through the Silicon Valley Watcher.
For example, PR firm Waggoner Edstrom, mostly known for its chief client Microsoft, will plan a media campaign in extraordinary detail. It decides which journalists will be offered exclusives, and which ones will be snubbed. It even prints up dummy front covers of BusinessWeek and other magazines with the images and story angles it wants communicated to its readers.
And it doesn't want a rosy, super-positive story; it wants a balanced, neutral-to-slightly-positive news story/feature/interview. That's because a balanced, slightly positive story carries more weight: the reader respects that the journalist offered contrary views, yet the subject came through mostly unscathed.
How can that level of highly-detailed media control be applied to the blogosphere? Do you start with a mock-up of the Slashdot headline you'd like to see?
Here are some answers in part II of "If a Blogger Blogs..."
We are very pleased to see that Mike Manuel has received the due recognition he deserves for his ground breaking blog Media Guerrilla. He is the winner of the 2005 Business Blogging Awards for Best PR Blog.
It takes a lot of work to consistently produce great copy and Mike does that while also staying on top of a demanding job at Voce, the Silicon Valley public relations firm.
Jeremy Popper, of POP PR, just sent us an email informing us of the 2005 Business Blogging Awards:
Ask Jeeves' acquisition of Bloglines became official at the stroke of midnight this morning, with a press release and FAQ posted to the Bloglines site. No financial data was released. Here's the meat of a letter to subscribers from Bloglines founder (now an AskJeeves VP) Mark Fletcher:
Mary Hodder at Napsterization has the scoop: Ask Jeeves has bought Bloglines and will announce the sale on Tuesday. Right now, however, check out the Ask Jeeves blog and you'll see that all the blog links go to Bloglines.
Is this the beginning of a blogging buying spree?
If you are interested in blogging from a sociological standpoint, there is an online conference Online Social Network 2005. It's happening Feb. 9-23, and registration is $35 before Feb. 8.
BLOG. It's an awful word. Clunky and unsexy, for me it conjures up images from the '50s sci-fi film The Blob. The Blog is coming to get you, or maybe it's a blog monster clamoring up a slick green slope . . .
We'll have to get used to it. THE BLOG is here to stay, and if you believe what you read (yes, here and elsewhere) it will revolutionize online communications to the point of affecting the very core of our social fabric.
Alan Meckler noted in his blog last week that Jupiter Research's blogs are "reaping business."
Our JupiterResearch team has been writing blogs for close to two years (JupiterResearch was the first Research company to offer blogs). Readership has grown dynamically (Close to 70,000 page views per day). And we now have several cases of gaining sales leads as a result of a reader becoming interested in our research because of being impressed by analysts' comments.
Other areas of Jupitermedia have blogs as well. In addition to my blog, Danny Sullivan's blog has been growing significantly as well. Danny and his news editor Gary Price now garner near 30,000 page views per day. When combined with our SearchengineWatchforum and Searchenginewatch.com site we have daily page views in the Search field of over 200,000 per day (and growing).
(Our good buddy Tom Abate at the SF Chronicle brought this one to our attention.)
This is fantastic news because Bacon's is the gold standard in the media industry. And we are barely three months old!
Check out the third paragraph in this story from Media Post's Media Daily News (I added the bold type):
Bacon's To Track Blogs By Gavin O'Malley Monday, December 27, 2004
Bacon's Information, the provider of media research, distribution, monitoring, and evaluation services for public relations and corporate communications professionals, has endeavored to light the depths of the Blogosphere. In January, Bacon's MediaSource will begin sharing with its clients the names of what it considers to be the 250 most reputable blogs, the messages they contain, and the frequency with which client-relevant information appears on them.
Ruth McFarland, senior vice president and publisher for Bacon's, said she vacillated about the significance of blogs, but was sufficiently convinced this year to assign three of her 56 editors to monitor the Blogosphere. "We're adjusting our network because no one is accurately monitoring these guys as their influence continues to grow."
Bacon's is keeping tight raps on its blog list, which covers technology, politics, business, travel, and religion. The racy Wonkette, the Miami Herald's Dave Barry, and the Silicon Valley Watcher are three well-known blogs run by "reputable, credible professionals" that McFarland said will be on the list.
Voce Communications is a PR company that likes to go against the grain--a quality that never fails to catch my attention. When its competitors were fawning over dotcom clients in 1999 (many accepting payment in shares), Voce was snapping up big enterprise clients. These were companies that already had a business model, rather than dotcoms in search of a business model.
Now Voce is moving against the grain again. Local PR companies such as Outcast, Text 100, Bite PR and Horn Group are intently focused on winning large enterprise clients. Voce revealed to SiliconValleyWatcher.com that it is working with the biggest dotcom of them all: Yahoo, the world's largest Internet media company. And what is it doing for Yahoo? Helping set up its blogs, helping it publish internally-generated content and involve thousands of readers.
My colleague Dida Kutz and I stopped into Voce on a recent Friday lunchtime (10-Dec). It's something I like to do, visit with local PR agencies, chat about what we're doing, what they are working on, the mood of the industry, etc. Voce is also the home of Mike Manuel of Media Guerrilla, one of our favorite PR bloggers.
We met the three founders of Voce, Richard Cline, Dave Black, and Matthew Podboy (cool name) and many of the team, plus the man himself, Media Guerrilla Mike Manuel. (This is a great example of the power of blogging; I would never have noticed Mike if he weren't writing his blog--- this shows that you have to publish to your communities.)
We had no idea that Voce would reveal its relationship with Yahoo--it had not made it known before. We met Nancy Evars, who is working at Yahoo running the Yahoo Search Blog. And we met one of the superstars of the blogosphere, Yahoo engineer Jeremy Zawodny, who writes a hugely popular blog from his vantage point within the engineering group at Yahoo Search.
We talked about blogs, and what blogging means, etc. And it wasn't long before I realized that we were all talking about the same thing: how to produce compelling, high-quality content; how to be editors and reporters. We were all, essentially, talking about how to produce quality journalism. Because you can't fool the readers.
At Yahoo, Nancy was saying that the Search Blog has had a tremendous response from readers; but also, has been extremely well received internally by senior management. Nancy also said that Yahoo has collected lists of the most influential blogs, and that it pays particular attention to what those bloggers are discussing.
When Jeremy spoke about his blogging, it sounded like good old-fashioned journalism to me. It was about how to tell a story, and tell it honestly. In journalism it's fine to have an opinion, which lends itself well to blogging; but the content also needs authenticity. And you can't fake authenticity for long; your readers will know when it's not there, or not coming back. "Do you always keep it real?" Jeremy asked. (Did I tell you that Jeremy is a natural journalist?) Let me put it this way: if you can't keep it real, don't say it (...or use a pseudonym!).
Richard Cline spoke about how Real Networks hired Voce to engage in online discussion groups on the subject of Apple's refusal to open up the iPod platform to competing digital music vendors. This was a successful project because the media spotted the debates and took up the Real Networks angle on the story.
Matthew PodBoy and Dave Black spoke about how they managed to persuade their client, JotSpot (very cool application BTW---more on that later), to use the power of the blogosphere for their recent product launch. Joe Kraus, the CEO of JotSpot, initially resisted, but finally gave in. What they got from Kraus's blog was a far higher response from the target market---software developers and corporate IT experts---than through any media coverage. This is a key point here because JotSpot received a lot of media coverage when it announced its wiki-like enterprise application in the summer, largely because Joe Kraus was the first president of the early 1990s search firm Excite.
(I remember meeting with Joe in about 1993, Excite was one of the leading contenders going after Yahoo's success. Excite promised a search engine that had semantic capabilities: it could distinguish the search term "bond" from "James Bond," "chemical bond," or any other bond out there. That never came about...and it merged into [email protected], which just seemed to sit there, next to a very bright, electronic animated billboard on 101... .until it went away and its former office became a "see-thru" building, one of many.)
Back to Voce... Matthew Podboy said he is working on putting together a committee to create a collection of best practices around blogging for PR professionals.
There's a lot more to say about Voce and the work they are doing. And it's very similar to what we are trying to do at SiliconValleyWatcher.com: figure out how to use the blogging format and the blogging software to publisher compelling content and, very importantly, maintain ---at all costs--- that trusted relationship with readers.
(More on this topic in numerous future articles...!)
By the way, in real-life Mike Manuel does not look gritty or grainy like his photo. He is clean-cut and mild-mannered, although he says he has come under pressure to replace the photo. Dida said he looked like a heroin addict; a colleague agreed; and his wife wants him to change that photo, too. I think he just looks a bit hung-over. I sometimes feel grainy in the morning too.
Tom and I met with the founders of Voce Communications last Friday, 10 Dec., for an informal lunch meet and greet (see Tom's companion piece). Among the guests were Nancy Evars and Jeremy Zawodny of Yahoo, who worked together to put up the Yahoo Search Blog.
This pairing in itself was interesting to me, as engineers (Jeremy) and marketing types (Nancy) have traditionally been allergic to one another. (I've seen this many times from my former vantage point inside many startups.) So I found it fascinating they have managed to work together to create a succesful blog.
For at least a year, I've harbored ambitions of becoming a micro-media mogul. So much so, that I even bought the URL: MicroMediaMogul.com. This would give me the option of at some point, using [email protected] as my email address. I think it would look good on a business card. (I also have ThinkTankThinker.com, which looks great on a business card.)
However, I am not yet a micro-media mogul. I need a lot more content. And so while I try to recruit others to join me in this innovative venture about the business of innovation, in the innovation capital of the world, I have devised a process where I can nearly double my content without increasing my workload by much.
Which is why you will see us repackaging some of our content in various ways, and continuing core themes in future entries, columns, and e-books.
Also, you will see a lot of guest bloggers. Think of these as guest columnists from people you probably already know, and others such as you and your colleagues.
Would you like to blog but can't find the time to do it?
Those RSS news readers are a vicious way to root out the weedy bloggers. If there haven't been any new entries on your blog for a while, it's likely to get deleted from the news reader. So then you lose your audience. Which is why you should send a guest blog to us. And then you can have a life too, because blogging is extremely time consuming.
Your guest blog doesn't have to be long, you can keep it under 800 words, or cut it into smaller chunks. The content should be meaty, original and fluid. Shoot from the hip style, one-take journalism! Or use your own compelling style in your voice. This way, you can get your name out into your community. Because these days, if you are not publishing to your community, you are not known by your community.
For software engineers, this has been the case for a couple of years now; you can't get hired if you are not blogging. And your page rank had better be good too. Jeremy Zawodny, the Yahoo engineer that runs one of the top tech blogs, got his job at Yahoo largely because of his blogging. It is the best and most honest self-promotional tool out there--bar none.
That's why you should consider becoming a guest blogger for Silicon Valley Watcher. You can directly address your community, and we will feature you on our "watch" sections focused on tech, PR, media, VCs, Angel and many other Silicon Valley communities.
Also, you'll be reaching an international audience. The Silicon Valley name is a huge global brand that has acquired a mythology that rivals that of Hollywood. The world is very interested in what goes on here, and it wants to listen in on what you and your colleagues are thinking, saying, doing.
So send something to us. Think of it as "letter to the editor" or a column or, better yet, an e-mail. Over at Voce Communications the other day we were chatting about how some of our best writing is often in our emails. Those quick, off-the-cuff, one-take emails are probably your best blogs! Send me an email on any topic. You can also send in news stories, or reports from a conference, or anything you think that will interest your community--you will know best.
In return, we'll look through your copy to check for clarity and typos. And we might or might not suggest a cut or an edit--but only to make you look even better!
So send something in, and keep sending it in. Then, with your help, I will be well on my way to becoming a micro-media mogul--and I can print it on my business card.
In an exclusive interview with OhmyNews founders, Dan Gillmor says he is starting a venture to publish an online citizens' newspaper along the lines of the South Korean citizens newspaper OhmyNews.
Dan Gillmor: Leaving the San Jose Mercury News
And it seems that Dan might be leaving the tech beat too. In the interview, he hasn't said much about tech, or continuing to cover tech.
I'm not sure if that's a good idea. If I can remember the do's and don'ts of Personal Brand Building for Journalists 101, you use your employers brand to build a personal brand associated with a specific expertise / viewpoint / industry. Then you have a better chance of monetizing it later.
I would advise Dan not to give up coverage of the tech beat unless he has exemplary skills as an editor because a citizens newspaper means working with thousands of very enthusiastic amateur journalists. And that means lots, and lots of editing, coaching, and teaching. There is no such thing as "free" content.
Also, why is Dan playing with us? Consider the following:
December 9, 3.59 pm: Dan's decision to launch an online venture is announced first by fellow Merc Silicon Beat bloggers. (This is classic two-bites at the cherry launch strategy: give a pre-brief and exclusive to one publication in advance of the launch.)
December 9 at 7.41pm: Dan announces his departure on his own blog and says the following:
"My colleagues Matt Marshall and Mike Bazeley beat me (and everyone else) to the punch on posting about my departure -- here's their own blog entry. Seems in keeping with the blog world that they got it first."
My good buddy Om Malik on GigaOm points out that Mr. Gillmor is not the first top-tier journalist to leave his job for the blogging world. Some chap called Tom Foremski apparently did it first.
What's next for Dan Gillmor? The OhmyNews interview.
More priming of the pump by Dan at pjnet.org:
July 25, 2004 Gillmor: An OhMyNews Could Have USA Success
June 25, 2004: Media Guerilla (aka Mike Manuel) from Voce Communications runs the results of an informal poll asking which leading tech journalists would leave for the blogging world first:
"Dan received about 60% of the votes, followed by brother Steve Gillmor at eWeek with 22%. Surprisingly, Tom Foremski (despite recent speculation) only garnered 11% of the votes. Neither Jon Udell at InfoWorld or Hiawatha Bray at the Boston Globe received any votes."
I hit it big on Friday: I got a very decent-sized mention on Jeremy Zawodny’s blog, in an entry titled Tom Foremski on Google and Yahoo Culture.
Jeremy, an engineer at Yahoo, is a big, big name in the blogosphere and is a natural journalist. He has been one of the leading advocates within Yahoo for corporate blogging, and for Yahoo's adoption of blogging related technologies such as RSS. He also works in the Yahoo Search division, which makes him even more interesting.
Around about middle of 2003 something interesting happened. I can't quite put my finger on what exactly it was, or what caused it, but the internet business timeline started reversing.
Maybe it was talk about the Salesforce.com IPO that signaled the reversal. Anyway, it started to be increasingly clear we were going to re-run the last seven to nine years in reverse with a few twists.
I've dubbed what's coming as the Greenfield Enterprise Economy. The following will happen:
--Dotcoms will slowly start coming back into vogue, eat the lunch of the established companies, and go on to eat the companies themselves while spitting out the crunchy infrastructure legacy costs and sucking out the fatty stuff-- the IP and brands.
Some of the new Dotcoms will be web services vendors, currently acting in the traditional enterprise software model of "arms dealers," selling their technology to others. And some of these web services companies, while selling their technology to others, will begin using it themselves in new markets and in regional applications. Sometimes this will occur in partnership with other web services companies. For example, suppliers of say, e-commerce ASP services, will establish a regional shopping mall.
The logic will be clear: why spend millions marketing technology, trying to convince potential customers of the gain of large operational efficiencies when instead they can invest that money into establishing new ventures that take full advantage of the technology.
Such ventures would not necessarily compete with potential customers because they will be focused on specific regions or used to develop new types of services. The focus of most of the new Dotcoms will be on cracking the regional business market - currently the single largest commercial online opportunity.
With this strategy, sales to customers will be boosted because those ventures will serve as technology showcases, demonstrating how to combine technologies and business models to recreate profitable ventures in other regions or niches.
Also, those ventures can be flipped -- sold to customers. This generates new capital and sales at the same time.
The best business opportunities will come from the emergence of Greenfield Enterprises -- these will become the true new Dotcoms of the new economy (yes, the term new economy will return).
The Greenfield Enterprises will be absent most of the legacy costs of competitors. The correct application of technology combined with business model innovation will mark the successful Greenfield Enterprise.
The Greenfield Enterprise Economy Dotcoms will then eat lunch. I will explain how in Part II of the Reversal of the Internet Timeline...
I recently ran into Chris Nolan, who writes the popular political "blog" site Politics from Left to Right at ChrisNolan.com. Chris was looking fabulous, she looked wealthy, relaxed, and ten years younger.
What could be going on? How can Chris looks so good, look so prosperous and relaxed? Isn’t she a stand-alone journalist, a blogger? That means she makes hardly any money, doesn’t it?
I asked her, have you discovered the blogger’s El Dorado? What is your secret? I’m running around all day trying to chase down stories and I’m bleary eyed from staying up most of the night researching and blogging and trying to make a living. I look ten years older not ten years younger.
Chris was happy to share her secret and here it is:
In my “blogging” I try to be as up front as possible. If I have a business relationship with someone I will reveal it. If I mention someone and that person is a friend, I will tell you about it.
I think it should be perfectly fine to color code online content to reveal types of relationships. For example, if you see a name of a person or company and it is green, it denotes a monetary or business relationship. A person’s name in yellow might denote that person is a buddy, a cronie, somebody I’m unlikely to say bad things about. A name in brown might indicate a bit of brown nosing. A name in red might mean a “special” friend (!)
Should bloggers avoid advertising as much as possible, because that is another potential route to influence their writing?
There are organizational structures within newspapers and magazines that create a separation of “church and state,” the separation between editorial and advertising.
Because bloggers are trying to do everything—write, edit, publish and canvas for advertising—they are in a very tricky position.
One of the practices used to influence media coverage is controlling access to a company’s top executives.
For example, a reporter for a large newspaper or magazine needs access to CEOs of important companies. However, before that access is granted, a relationship has to be developed to ensure that a reporter understands their business, their strategy, who their competition is, how they differentiate themselves, etc before they give access to the valuable time of their top executives. This is all perfectly reasonable.
But, this is also where there is opportunity for leverage, where there is potential to influence media coverage to a larger or lesser degree, because reporters need that access. Why? Because editors will scream at them if their competitor got an interview with the head honcho and they did not.
Companies can demand that questions must be submitted in advance, that final drafts of stories be approved by them, that some subjects cannot be mentioned etc. This varies from company to company and larger publications are able to refuse such demands and still get the interview.
I have to say at this point, that in my time at the Financial Times I was never subjected to such demands. But all journalists are aware of this point of leverage, and some have been denied access for good and bad reasons. The good reasons are that they might have been sloppy journalists with little understanding of the company or their sector. The bad reasons are obvious.
The value bloggers have in the media landscape is their vantage as independent commentators. If they are brought into the “system” they will be compromised.
As companies and their public relations organizations ponder how to react to the “blogging” phenomenon, I’d like to point out some tricks of the trade used in the business of influencing media.
Forewarned is forearmed some say, and maybe some of the following will help bloggers who are not professional journalists.
I believe that some bloggers are in danger of losing their independence and their unique voice within the media landscape—if they become pulled into a sphere of influence. This is the “sphere” that professional journalists operate in every day and cannot avoid.