Info

A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Here’s an interesting data point in the discussion of publishing content natively into social media. A magazine that is published on Instagram:

Angie explained to me that Instagram perfectly suited her vision for The Shade Room: image-centric and interactive. For her purposes, Instagram was the equivalent of WordPress. When she started the feed a year ago, her goal was to accumulate 10,000 followers in the first year. She accomplished that in only two weeks.

#VivicaFox joins the cast of #HollywoodDivas !!

A photo posted by The Shade Room (@theshaderoominc) on

And how does she make money?

Since its start in early 2014, The Shade Room has grown into a lucrative enterprise. Angie told me that advertisers pay several hundred dollars to run ads on her Instagram and Facebook feeds, which might help explain why The Shade Room isn’t the only tabloidy Instagram account to gain popularity in the last year or two.

That’s enough money to employ writers and a brand manager, by the way. I’ve worked for smaller magazines than that…

[via MacStories]

Last Friday’s rather cryptic post (I even tagged it as such) was about more than just the switch to WordPress. I’ve been keen to slightly switch around my approach to writing One Man & His Blog for a while now, but a quirk of my personal psychology means that it’s easier to do at a point of discontinuity. A shift in blog platform is certainly that.

Last year, one of the most personally profound moments I had was at the Dots conference, arranged by Brilliant Noise and curated by Neil Perkin, both friends of the blog. Neil did a superb job of curating an event without a single weak speaker, but two in particular resonated with me.

Great artists steal – from a long way away

Mark Earls at Dots

First of all, Mark Earls made a compelling case that innovation is, in effect, stealing from far away:

Look a long way away from what you’re doing if you want to reinvent it. The man that invented boutique hotels took the idea of a nightclub and built hotels in that way. Marginal advantage is an idea from sport which borrows as many sources as possible. The sign of a good poet is someone who copies from far away, said TS Elliot. It’s easy to copy from next door…

Stagnation through introspection

That resonated with me because I’ve had a growing feeling that the discussion about digital journalism is stagnating, because it’s all happening internally to journalism. We’re looking at Buzzfeed and paywalls and what each other are doing, instead of casting our eyes outwards and seeing how technology and culture are changing. The former leads to copying, the latter to innovation.

Martin Elliott

The power of that idea was driven home by the brutally compelling talk by Professor Martin Elliott, about how the cardiac surgeons at Great Ormond Street Hospital radically reduced death rates by borrowing from Formula One:

The Formula One teams always meet at round tables, they plan for what goes wrong and they mentally rehearse what’s going to happen. They mapped the process – and found the surgical one was 10 times more complicated. They tried engineering a new bed – but it was too expensive. So they focused on human factors. And every situation is a web of complex relationships that could go wrong.

So they focused on leadership and choreography. Leadership is transferred via a checklist as needed. The most important person they hired was a dancer. No-one knew where to stand. Ballet had the knowledge they needed.

Formula One saving children’s lives in hospital? That’s stealing from a long way away – and that’s innovation.

Mental reset

At some point over the last couple of years, I’ve drifted into thinking of One Man & His Blog as a journalism blog, rather than Adam Tinworth’s blog. Now, the majority of my work currently is in journalism, so it’s always going to be heavily flavoured with journalism. But I’m granting myself the mental permission to write about wider issues that are informing the working part of my brain.

If we’re going to reinvent publishing and journalism, we need to get back to stealing from far away, as we did a decade or so back, rather than the circle-jerk of copying each marginal digital improvement that a particular site manages to create.

So, reboot time.

Euan Semple perfectly articulates a phase I go through regularly: social media weariness.

Some days I get wearied by it all. The latest tools, the latest memes, the constant updates, the selling, the PR, the self promotion, the cats. I wonder if we’ve lost the plot and the opportunity the web gave us to change the world. I sometimes feel like giving up.

The good bit, though, is why he bounces back.

Talking of “influencers“, here’s some very good questions about the use of “influencer” marketing in travel:

Out of curiosity I requested the international visitor numbers to Costa Brava on either side of the 2012 TBEX event in Girona. Arrivals the following year were virtually static: 2,953,097 in 2012 to 2,965,649 in 2013.

TBEX is the largest gathering of digital influencers in the travel space, which makes it (even if it’s not publicly billed as such) by far the biggest “blog trip”. Ready for those big numbers? The event generated 26,967 hashtagged tweets with just under 150,000,000 impressions on Twitter alone. (Google TBEX Girona for an entirely unscientific snapshot of its wider exposure.) So if not in visitor numbers how did Tourism Costa Brava gauge their returns?

How indeed? (Spoiler: “branding”.)

And what does this do for the bloggers and the brands involved?

I honestly wonder if we even know what “credibility” is anymore. Does plonking that standard disclaimer at the end of a post promising that “as ever all opinions are my own” really count? If so it’s a remarkable stroke of luck that bloggers never seem to have a shitty time when they’re travelling on someone else’s dime. Do we know what this is doing to the legitimacy of our messages, and therefore our potential to “influence” consumers in the first place?

The Telegraph takes a sceptical – if not quite cynical look – at the world of the online influencer, especially those with a Klout score of over 70:

John Stuart Mill once remarked that it doesn’t matter if you’re influential: what matters is that people think you are. Companies are willing to pay hand over fist for UYK insight. Some of these high Klouters get paid for speaking or advising companies about “doing social”. Thomas told me that he can earn £500 an hour by training top CEOs “how to use Twitter” and how to set up decent LinkedIn accounts. Seemed to me like an awful lot to pay for what is, fundamentally, very simple.

Online influence sometimes looks suspiciously like a pyramid scheme: those at the top get more influential by building legions of acolytes who also wish to have “influence”. But it’s influence in the abstract – not influence in any particular sphere of life or business. It’s an abstraction to the point of meaninglessness.

Put it this way: I had a link from an “online influencer” recently. I braced myself for the wave of traffic. It never came. I’ve had people with 150 followers send more traffic my way.

I’m not a reality TV viewer, but the fact that the winner of the last series of The Apprentice claimed to be an SEO and digital expert brought Mark Wright onto my radar – mainly through the mocking he received on Twitter.

Mark Wright, Climb Online

Dan Barker – a bona fide digital expert – has had the opportunity to interview Mark Wright, and it makes for fascinating reading:

  • Mark: “PPC on the other hand you can ask me any question in the whole world and I’ll answer it as well as anyone at Google would.”

Very rudely, I then took the bait & asked him a PPC question:

  • Me: “What does RLSA stand for?”
  • Mark: “Mate I’ve no idea. RSLA…”
  • Me: “RLSA.”
  • Mark: “What does it mean?”
  • Me: “Remarketing Lists for Search Ads”

The line between self-confidence and delusion is ever-so-fine.

Electronic Frontier Foundation:

San Francisco – The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) invalidated key claims in the so-called “podcasting patent” today after a petition for review from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)—a decision that significantly curtails the ability of a patent troll to threaten podcasters big and small.

This is excellent news. The idea that a patent derived from the cassettes-by-mail era could have stifled podcasting? Chilling.

Apple Watch with Milanese Loop

So, yes, I ordered an Apple Watch. This is pretty much par for the course with me and new Apple products these days. It took me a few months to get around to buying an iPod, but I was there the first day for the iPhone and the iPad, and I regret neither of those. But then, I didn’t expect to. As soon as I saw both of those products introduced on stage at an Apple event, I wanted them.

The Watch? I don’t know. I want to experience it – to get a sense if it’ll fit in my life. And to do that, I have to own it. But I’m not sure (at this point) if I’ll buy another one a few years down the line.

This is the first time in over a decade that I feel like I’m experimenting with an Apple product – and that’s an interesting experience. I’m most interested in the idea that it’ll reduce my focus on my phone. With more notification-base tasks completed on the wrist, I’m less likely to be distracted by all the iPhone-based delights I carry around. But we’ll see.

I imagine I’ll be blogging about it when it arrives (and I ordered early enough that I should be in the initial wave), but that depends a lot on how closely the watch’s arrival matches that of another very significant delivery coming my way…

(I also wrote something for NEXT Conference about today’s Apple Watch sellout.)