December 9, 2013
Seven years ago - give or take - I was sat on a Eurostar train very much like this one, on my way to the very first Le Web in Paris. I was excited. I'd been blogging for five years, but it had recently become my job, too. I was busy building out a business blog network that drove millions of page impressions at its peak. And I was off to network with other people like me, doing interesting stuff with Web 2.0.
It's fair to say that there's been a lot of water under the bridge since then. Le Web has reflected that pretty well - the shift from individuals and plucky start-ups to big internet players, and then back to the realisation that the future tends to come from the small guys
The conference has grown and grown, and become more corporate and expensive, as the social web industry has done the same. It's dived into details, rather than big trends, frozen us, starved us and frustrated us with bad WiFi. But, like the internet business, it's learnt from its mistakes, and become ever-smoother in its organisation.
In December 2006 I doubt I had any idea that seven years later I would be writing this on my mobile phone - the iPhone was yet to launch - and publishing it via the French 3G network. All of this post - including the photos - were done on the phone. I'm carrying an Kindle and an iPad - neither of which had launched back then.
That's seven years - how much more change will the next 10 years bring? We can't guess, which makes the theme if this year's French event challenging. We're exploring the idea of the next 10 years. As ever, some speakers will be wrong, some will just focus on plugging today's product - but some of them will show us the first steps on that decade's journey.
It's those people who keep me coming back to Le Web. I'm looking forwards to three days of hunting them down,
Changes in Google’s search algorithms have twice hammered the young company in recent years, leaving its few brands that managed to get significant marketplace traction, including eHow.com and Livestrong, hemorrhaging traffic.
Now Demand’s focus is on spinning off the only healthy component of its business — domain registration — while trying to motivate its content brands’ rapidly eroding audience to spend money on its growing collection of unproven e-commerce ventures.
Live by the algorithm, die by the algorithm.
December 7, 2013
Even stranger, I discovered, is that I wasn't strange, at all. Despite the warnings that grief would drag me through the prescribed five stages and discard me in a darker place, bereavement researchers have recently learned that we've been wrong about loss for centuries. For some, grief is a dull and unrelenting ache that fades--or doesn't. But for many of us, grief is something else. Grief is resilience.
Words that are keeping me going through a pretty bleak week. There a three paths of grief, and the easiest one has a surprising beginning.
December 3, 2013
I like this:
Lovely example of both how similar photos taken of certain sights can end up, even when "filtered" by Instagram, but also the creative potential of this vast online wealth of creative material we're building up.
[Found via Neil Perkin's e-mail newsletter]
Here's another example in a similar vein:
November 28, 2013
Just had a lousy lunch? Here's some lunchbox advice from one of the MA Magazines students I teach at City:
Instead of spending £7 at Pret or getting a £2.50 'meal deal' from Boots (a sandwich, crisps and drink does NOT a meal make, you dicks), how about spending half an hour chopping up shit, throwing it into a lunchbox and being the envy of your co-workers come 1pm? Especially when it's SO BLOODY EASY. Read on, hungry friends, and thank me later.
Not sure "pride" is quite the right word here.
The PPA's CEO Barry McIlheney thinks that much of the work on the digital transition has been done:
He says he doesn't hear publishers talking as much about the challenges of moving staff to digital as he used to. "I think a lot of the heavy lifting has now happened, and a lot of the realignment of roles and people has taken place. I also think that any 'refuseniks' who simply wouldn't move with the times have now gone."
Difficult to tell if he's delusional or his members are, but that's so far from the experience of many people within publishing businesses that it's quite shocking that someone would say that.
As I've said before, digital isn't a one-off tech shift, like the move to desktop publishing was, it's an on-going process of change and evolution. Being the "digital" of three years ago is completely useless to you now - because you're not thinking about things like mobile or tablets.
Oh, look, I actually say it in the self-same article:
The issue of continuous change is key for Tinworth. "The digital landscape is evolving constantly - How old are iPads? Three years? Look how they have and are continuing to evolve the market."
He thinks it's dangerous to underestimate the scale of the change we're going through. "This isn't just a technology adoption cycle we're passing through - like the arrival of desktop publishing was - but a fundamental shift in how information is created, consumed and remixed. We're still in the early stages of that transition, not the end game."
Thanks to Peter Houston for interviewing me for the piece.
Why you shouldn't be a freelancer, you should be a company:
Remember, you're not a no-strings-attached temporary employee, you're an expert in your field whom clients come to because they want the best product possible and can trust to guide them in the best direction possible.
Two years ago today, a shocking meeting in a nasty little HR meeting room put me on the road to where I am today. It may be time for me to take the next step on that road.
November 25, 2013
Are people rejecting the idea of a single online identity mediated by a large online entity? Stowe Boyd thinks so:
The Benthamite underpinnings of Facebook are becoming unpopular. Young people in particular don’t want their teachers, parents, employers, and even all their friends to know everything going on in their lives. Oh, and the government. People want to have multiple, contextually defined identities, different circles of knowing, different non-overlapping rules of attraction. Everything is not everything.
This, to me, seems the real lesson of teens' use of social media. They're seeing the dangers of centralising our online identity through the close-and-present authority figures of teachers and parents. We miss it because our authority figures are more distant. But the NSA are doing a bang-up job of bringing that reality home to us.
There's more to lists than you think:
Umberto explained in an interview that lists are often seen as relics of primitive cultures--simplistic devices that don’t belong in our modern day and age. However, the simple form of the list prevails again and again over time, because, as Umberto says, it has “an irresistible magic.”
Until I read this, I thought a list was just a list, but t's actually a way we start to define reality around us in a way we can handle. I wonder if this makes blogging as a way of writing ourselves into existence a natural successor - or descendent, at least - of lists?
Lovely walk to start a busy working week.
November 24, 2013
The organizations that have the idea for a community, spend weeks selecting a platform, months developing it, and a year before they invite anyone to participate, tend to struggle...a lot. Typically they splutter along for six months before being mercifully cancelled.
I bet anyone who's worked in community development within any sizable publisher is wincing right now.