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The Media Transformation | Insight and commentary on the transforming content economy - Part 30

Screen shot 2009-12-01 at 3.55.48 PM.jpgSaturday evening, sitting through previews at the 9:30 showing of Pirate Radio (not recommended, btw), I checked the Twitter stream and was struck by a strong Tweet from @jayrosen_nyu.

Rosen, for those of you who aren’t touched by his wide-reaching social graph, is a professor of journalism at NYU, as well as an early and active adopter of interactive and community-driven information platforms.

Rosen is a prototype for using Twitter: his streams are structured around a core idea, then aggregate disparate perspectives around the idea, ideally creating dialogue and engagement among his followers. He clearly believes that arguments should be out in the open, and that citing your sources and supporting your points are basic requirements of intelligent discourse.

In that vein, his tweet jumped out at me, at 9:30 at night, in my seat in the movie theater. (To make sense of this, reach the second Tweet in the graphic below first.)

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A blanket statement, with no context in that tweet, to rebut people who make blanket statements, with no content or source. That’s ironic. And, that’s one of the challenges of managing the 140-character constraint of the Twitter protocol.

Now, if I’d been more active on Twitter during that Saturday after Thanksgiving, I would have seen that the Tweet that I was struck by was part of a thread that had begun at 11:30 that morning, with specific links to the sources of information that he was critiquing.

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Rosen sent me a direct tweet to clear up my misperceptions. The first, at 10:30 that Saturday night, while I was working hard to stay awake during the movie, pointed me to the original link of the story that he was commenting on throughout the day.

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The second came the next afternoon as was an elegant and detailed rebuttal to anyone who felt like he was being what Bill Simmon’s calls in The Book of Basketball a Grumpy Old Editor. (Note: Rosen, who I don’t know, is probably the same age as I am, if not a little younger.)

Click on the link in the direct message and you’ll got to Rosen’s Tumblr account, where he has aggregated a collection of examples of people referring to the great “information wants to be free” cabal with no specific sourcing.

What can you take away from this, besides the fact that I was ill-advisedly critical and firmly corrected? (I mean, it’s not like I was getting into any kind of intelligent debate here…I was making a point that had even less context that Rosen’s single tweet.)

First, the challenge of Twitter is maintaining the context of your Tweets when you are one of a multitude of voices flowing through assorted Twitter streams. It requires work and commitment of the type Rosen brings each day, and even then, you can be misunderstood, misquoted or mis-cited.

Second, a commitment to intellectual honesty can build stronger foundations of information and knowledge. Engagement with honesty creates more understanding.

And third, the level of confusion around the underlying media models that is discussed and debated among different intellectual camps is creating an incredible amount of content, which generates a high degree of traffic. That’s media, for certain.

Economic conditions are improving slightly and optimism about ad spending is rising alongside.

According to Advertising Perceptions, Inc., a media industry research firm, optimism about future ad spending is at the highest level its been for 24 months.

That’s a good sign.

The most recent survey, which was fielded this month, shows that ad-spending sentiment is now improving for every medium tracked — even for some traditional media such as newspapers, magazines and broadcast, which continue to have an overall negative index.

“They’re still negative, on balance, but they’re improving. They’re moving in the right direction now,” says Pearl.

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Thanks to MediaPost for promoting the research.

Content has to find its way to us, not rely on us to find our way to it. That’s the new way of the world.

It’s no secret that news isn’t dying. Traditional news business models are. As I’ve pointed out before, this matters for two reasons: first, a lot of people care about the independence and integrity of news and information; and second, even more people make their living by producing content. They don’t really care about the big-picture business model stuff: they care about making a living, having a career and doing work that they can feel good about.

In the debate about “information wants to be free,” the emotional crux isn’t whether traditional institutions will continue to survive the revolution of information proliferation. It is whether people who love to create the information that gets consumed will be able to get paid.

Steve Shuler at Compete turned to the analytics to get derive some insight into what the changing pattern of information consumption looks like.

I know that I’m exposed to more information because of social news services. For example, as political debates rage in Washington this fall, I’m often learning about events from my Facebook News Feed. I have a very liberal friend and a very conservative friend that post articles, with dueling points of view, from sources like Forbes or the New Yorker that I never visit on my own.

As people like me migrate to online news sources, what are the trends worth noting? has a set of news categories that can help us examine this question.


So, are newspapers really dying? No doubt media companies must address social factors, like American’s busier lifestyles, and improve their business plans, but the audience for news is not evaporating; we are simply finding other methods to get the same information. The stories are even written by traditional sources, but the delivery methods suit our changing needs bette

The shift is in the way information is moving around, with individuals sharing and commenting in a real-time soup. Does this ultimately benefit an information hegemony or cripple it?

Jeff Jarvis took a break from his Google ruminations to write a very good summary of how “the web site” is a anachronistic concept, and that true media distribution will be a constant stream referencing an archival foundation.

(As an aside, this post is a reminder of how solid and perceptive a thinker Jarvis is.)

If a page (and a site) become anything, it will be a repository, an archive, a collecting pool in which to gather permalinks and Googlejuice: an article plus links plus streams of comments and updates and tweets and collaboration via tools like Wave. Content will insinuate itself into streams and streams will insinuate themselves back into content. The great Mandala…

..So imagine this future without pages and sites, this future that’s all built on process over product. If you’re what used to be a content-creation – if you’re Stephen Fry, post-media – you’re all about insinuating yourself into that stream. If you’re about content curation – formerly known as editing – then you’re all about prioritizing streams for people; that’s how you add value now.

This is a future that we can embrace: a media universe that rewards focus, engagement and expertise. Content flows from multiple sources, through human and machine filters that sift and prioritize in terms of relevance, quality and timeliness. The filtering process enriches the content, creating annotations and enhancements by virtue of the intelligence and perspective of each gating event. Brands can be anchoring elements in this ecosphere, aggregating the financial wherewithal to reward the content creators and curators.

There will be one of three payments made: a payment by a marketer to incorporate their selling message into the media stream; a payment by a consumer to consume parts of the media stream; or a payment by a consumer for applications that facilitate the delivery or organization of the media stream.

As in the old media world, the economic future of the stream will rely on support and investment of marketers.

Just as we’re beginning to conceive of content creators, curators and consumers in the media stream, we’ll need to envision the opportunities for marketers to participate in a way that drives their financial returns.

OK. Social media works. But, how does it work? Peter Kim of The Dachis Group has developed a wiki that lists more than 1000 examples of social media marketing programs. This is terrific starting point to browse through and see what companies, including some of your competitors, are doing using social media tools.

An avid follower did some sorting to show how different tools were deployed in the programs.


Screen shot 2009-11-29 at 6.19.38 PM.jpgI just finished reading The Book of Basketball. Apparently, it’s a mammoth work, some 700 pages long. I didn’t have any sense of its heft — I read it on my iPhone using the Kindle reader — although I was well aware of how substantial and significant the book was.Screen shot 2009-11-29 at 6.19.17 PM.jpg

One thing that I was really struck by was how satisfying the experience of reading the book on the Kindle was. Simmon’s is a discursive writer whose style has been shaped by the Internet, where the space for your thoughts is infinite, but your organization is key to keeping a reader’s interest. In print, Simmons uses footnotes to capture the entire breadth of associations that connect with key points (and key points occur every couple of paragraphs.)

In print, the footnotes are subordinated, in smaller type and, appropriately, at the foot of the page.

On the iPhone Kindle app, each footnote is indicated by a hyperlinked number. Press on the number and you go directly to the footnote; press on the number again, and you return to the place where you left off in the text, although the page has been reformatted so that everything before the footnote is on the prior page.

The result was that I could move between the text and footnotes seamlessly. The footnotes had equal weight to the main text, and as a reader you were moving back and forth between concepts with the nimbleness of Simmon’s mind.

It was impressive.

Of course, I’m going to go out and buy the hardcover. I want it on my bookshelf. It’s a great book and one I’ll want my kids to read.

As regular readers know, I’m a fan of John Mauldin’s weekly letter on economic trends and projections. Mauldin writes clearly and approaches issues with a quiet dose of common sense.

This week, when I opened the letter, I was captivated. There was something different about the tone, something very personal and passionate. He was writing about optimism, expressing his confidence in the power of people and ideas to create solutions to even the toughest problems.

Let’s look at some changes we are likely to see over the next few decades. My view is that we have a number of waves of change getting ready to erupt on the world stage. The combination of them is what I call the Millennium Wave, the most significant period of change in human history. And one for which most of us are not yet ready.

Some time next year, we are going to see the three-billionth person get access to the telecosm (phones and internet, etc.). By 2015 it will be five billion people. Within ten years, most of the world will be able to access cheap (I mean really cheap) high-speed wireless broadband at connection rates that dwarf what we now have.

That is going to unleash a wave of creativity and new business that will be staggering. That heretofore hidden genius in Mumbai or Vladivostok or Kisangani will now have the ability to bring his ideas, talent, and energy to change the world in ways we can hardly imagine. When Isaac Watts was inventing the steam engine, there were a handful of engineers who could work with him. Now we throw a staggering number of scientists and engineers at trivial problems, let alone the really big ones.

And because of the internet, the advances of one person soon become known and built upon in a giant dance of collaboration. It is because of this giant dance, this unplanned group effort, that we will all figure out how to make advances in so many ways. (Of course, that is hugely disruptive to businesses that don’t adapt.)

Of course I think he’s right: I share a lot of his world view and have seen groups of people create value out of ingenuity and necessity.

You can subscribe to Maudlin’s Thoughts from the Frontline by clicking here.


Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

I hope that you have a moment over the next few days to cherish those things that make your life special: your friends, your families, your passions.

Te Deum
by Charles Reznikoff
Not because of victories
I sing,
having none,
but for the common sunshine,
the breeze,
the largess of the spring.

Not for victory
but for the day's work done
as well as I was able;
not for a seat upon the dais
but at the common table.

Have a wonderful day tomorrow.