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

Social sharing is done in the dark.

At least, that’s what a new report from marketing tech firm RadiumOne suggests:

According to the report, over three-quarters (77%) of publishers’ or marketers’ content shared via mobile phones takes place via private Dark Social channels, such as email, text and instant messaging – versus just 23% via public social networks. When it comes to engaging with shared content, 80% of UK mobile clickbacks happen via Dark Social.

The power of e-mail coupled with the rise of messaging apps, at a guess.

You can download the full report.

One of the cornerstones of much social media theory is that it enables a constructed self: we show off the best version of ourselves. And it’s a neat theory that explains some of the depression people experience after spending tie on social media – they compare the reality of themselves with the constructed ideal versions of others.

But it doesn’t explain some of the more harrowing and self-revealing postings on social media. Could there be an element of mascohism at play, too?

That’s what Rob Horning argues in Social Media as Masochism

Much of social media is a calculated effort to “accumulate” esteem and grant agency. It seems plausible that the intense self-consciousness of ongoing social-media use (certainly a “recalcitrant social environment,” despite its responsiveness) could trigger an intense need to escape from self. Social-media use intensifies self-consciousness through a deeper awareness of the contingencies and vulnerability of our identity, leading to a greater need to escape from it, or at least suspend our consciousness of it.

A fascinating idea.

Interesting profile of Ev Williams, the man behind Blogger, Twitter and now Medium, over at The Atlantic:

But as I spend more time with Ev, I catch him thinking of Medium as a project philosophically akin to the “Foundation” novels by Isaac Asimov. The heroes of those books sought to centralize all the learning across the galaxy before a dark age set in, knowing that though they cannot stop the shadowed era, they may be able to preserve scholarship and therefore shorten it. Ev’s ambitions, though not as grandiose, follow similar lines. Medium seeks to replicate the web’s old, chaotic hubbub on a single, ordered site—because, ultimately, Ev values the chaos.

There’s a number of interesting things that journalists can take away from last week’s Apple keynote. I’ll return to things like the changes to Apple News and the possibilities opened up by Messages as a developer platform later in the week. But right now, I’m most interested by this – probably the biggest public interview any Apple staff did around the event:

An hour-long public interview conducted with Phil Schiller, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Marketing and Craig Federighi, senior vice president, software engineering. And who was the interview with? A blogger.

Well, OK, not just any blogger. John Gruber’s Daring Fireball has become probably the most influential site for Apple users in the decade since he quit his day job to write the blog full-time.

Last year, he pulled off a major coup by getting Schiller along to talk on the live version of his podcast – The Talk Show – at WWDC, Apple’s annual developer conference. In the year since, he’s had Federighi and Eddie Cue call into the show to talk about Swift, Apple’s new programming language.

The rise of the new enthusiast press

The Mac-specific press has been in decline for years. MacWorld magazine closed its print doors a little under two year ago, even though a rump of it survives online. And new, magazine-like publications have risen to replace them online. iMore does much the same “how-to” copy you had to turn to the print editions for 15 years ago.

But throughout that time, Gruber has been establishing himself as a leading commenter on Apple, through a combination of links, analysis, commentary and occasional reviews. His site is truly of the web – it bears no similarity to anything we’d regard as a magazine. And yet, he’s landing interviews with big Apple figures.

For Apple, it’s a mixed blessing. They have a conduit to the most passionate, enthusiastic fan community via Gruber. And they have a knowledgeable questioner who is inclined to be pro-Apple. But that same immersion in Apple and its technical infrastructure means that they’ll be challenged on a depth of technical detail a lay journalist wouldn’t have the interest or knowledge to pursue. It’s interesting watching the video rather than listening to the podcast of the event, simply because you can see much more clearly that Federighi is on edge.

Beyond the softball question

Many journalists would look at the interview and dismiss it as “softball”. Certainly Gruber doesn’t challenge them on the high-level issues that the mainstream press are obsessed with. But he does extract quite a lot of interesting detail that wouldn’t have emerged otherwise.Certainly, I learned more about how we’re likely to see the various OSes evolve in the coming years from this interview than any other coverage I saw.

It is, quite simply, an interview for enthusiasts, and it’s very interesting to see Apple increasingly opening itself up to that. Others have trod this path before. Blizzard – makers of games like World of Warcraft, Hearthstone and Overwatch – have had senior executives appearing on podcasts and getting into very detailed discussions on decisions that weren’t popular with the fans.

Charles Arthur suggested that Gruber might eventually aim for the top – Cook himself:

I guess they can pick from Schiller, Federighi and Eddy Cue for a few years before it has to aim for the top with Cook. After whom, what?

And I’m sure Gruber would love the opportunity to interview Cook (and Jony Ive, but it’s interesting how he’s sliding from view) – but I wonder if the WWDC event would be the right place for that. By landing Federighi, the man in charge of all Apple’s software efforts, including the operating systems, they had almost the perfect guest for the people in the room – largely developers. WWDC is, after all, a developer conference.

However, all these are details. What this event marks is the rise of a new form of specialist press (if you’ll excuse the print-centric term), one running on low overheads – Gruber is essentially a one-man band, although he does have an editor on the podcast, and had event support and videographers for the live *Talk SHow – and created by a single, insightful commentator building a useful site for people with a deep interest in a niche subject.

It’s inescapably a form of journalism, one that rests on the nexus of what we used to call the consumer press and B2B. It just looks nothing like the journalism we’re used to. One consistent lesson of the web: your competitors probably look nothing at all like you.

Exaro going editor-free?

Exaro editor-in-chief Mark Watts, as quoted by The Guardian‘s Jasper Jackson:

It is true that Exaro is facing around a halving of its editorial budget, but how this will be carried out is not yet finalised. One element of the plan is to make the position of editor-in-chief redundant. The plan is for Exaro to have no editor.

Baffling, if true. An investigative site needs a central figure to vet and check everything – otherwise the lawyers are going to be very busy indeed, even with a team of two or three.

Snapchat is (slightly) revamping Discover

Changes afoot for the much-coveted Snapchat Discover slots:

Instead of static media logos in circles, representing the channels, publishers will have an actual cover image to draw readers into the content, according to one source. One publisher said the cover images would make Snapchat content look more like a magazine — and hopefully attract more eyeballs.

Good to see Snapchat iterating around this – but I’d still like to see them open it up to a wider range of partners, and let users choose what they want to see.

Paul Bradshaw does an interesting thing in sharing his answers to student questionnaires on his site. It’s interesting, because sometimes the questions are as indicative of the mindset amongst students as the answers are about the rest of us. So, here’s a recent questionnaire I filled in for an LCC student…

1- Could you briefly introduce yourself, what you do, your area of expertise and how long have you been doing this?

While I’m a business journalist by background (starting around 20 years ago), for the last decade I’ve worked largely on digital journalism and publishing – understanding what the internet does to our reporting – and our business models.

2- How would you define the term of ‘spreadable news’ and what impact [direct or indirect] does it have on journalism?

Spreadable news is news that is designed to spread on social media and find its audience that way. It’s an acknowledgement that news is less of a destination than it used to be. Social networks have drawn people’s attention, and so sometimes we have to piggy back on them to be read. Social is now the biggest traffic source across news sites generally – just beating out search.

2.2- Could you give me a few examples of the way journalists have to adapt their work to make it more ‘sharable’ and relevant to the audience?

Principally it requires a different style of headline writing – one that is designed to invoke an emotional reaction. But beyond that, it’s spending into new formats for news – especially video. Social video doesn’t look anything like the standard TV news package and finding a vocabulary for that is a struggle for many news organisations. (more…)

The link between connectivity of various sorts and social change is something that’s almost bound to interest me, given that I’ve spent over a decade of my life thinking about how the internet changes the way we communicate with each other. And so I took myself off to the RSA House in London to hear Parag Kahnna speak on the idea that connectivity is destiny – our layers of connection with one another are more important to the future than traditional political boundaries. Here’s what I took away from the talk:

Charlotte Alldritt introduces Parag Khanna at the RSA

The trigger for Parag’s talk is – perhaps inevitably – a new book. Connectography is a “new approach to cartography” – maps as art, sure, but also mapping global connectivity.


Maps, the world’s oldest infographics are misleading – they are political, and depict how we divide ourselves legally, not how e connect as people. We’re familiar with maps of geography, and political maps. What we don’t have is maps of functional geography.

There are, broadly, three main categories of connectivity:

  • Transport
  • Energy
  • Communications

In human body terms, these are equivalent to the:

  • Skeleton
  • Vascular system
  • Nervous system

The book is, by its nature, static, so there’s an online data set you can explore. It’s a map of how we are reshaping the world.

Our ratios of infrastructure spending to military spending is growing rapidly in infrastructure’s favour – especially in Asia. The city is our most fundamental and long-standing human unit, and then connectivity is next. Our mega-inforstructures will outlive many countries, especially in Africa and the Middle East. We know how long countries last – and railroads and other forms of connectivity often outlive them.

This means we’re moving towards a supply chain world. (more…)