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March 5, 2014

Now we are eleven...

Eleven in the sky

This blog is eleven years old today.

But really, who cares on a day when:

It's interesting tracking the relative ages of those things, though. BBC Three is less than a month older than this blog - it was launched on the 9th February 2003. While Metro newspaper dates back to 1999, the website appears to have launched in 2004 - making it younger than this blog. Flipboard and Zite are both whippersnappers, both around three years old.

So, I need to face it. This blog, while not even teenager, is old. But while it may be old, at least it has stamina...

(Can I just extend my sympathies to Kevin and John, both of whom are big Zite users, and both of whom are probably in mourning right now...)

Photo by Martin Snopek, and used under a Creative Commons licence

January 20, 2014

Brighton's digerati: understanding the media continuum

Brigton's digital leaders in the Observer It was lovely to see the Brighton digital sector highlighted in The Observer a week ago. With all the fuss about Tech City, interesting online stuff happening elsewhere is all-too-often forgotten.

But what was really nice was to see the pleasure with which the Brighton digerati reacted to the news. My Facebook newsfeed and Twitter timeline were full of friends and contacts celebrating their (or their friends') inclusion in the article. That mythical old/new media hostility was nowhere to be seen.

For example, I swiped the above photo (with permission) from Antony Mayfield, co-founder of one of the companies featured: Brilliant Noise. (They're former clients and current friends.) He was more than happy to be featured.

Positing Old and New Media as completely separate sets of businesses is never a useful thing to do. Things rarely divide themselves into such neat categories, and instead tend to form along a continuum. People who try to define them as separate and hostile entities are missing the point - or grinding a big old axe. Back in 2003 when I started this blog it was often the bloggers and "new media" types making the claim that they would replace "old media" - but that was a disguised plea for legitimacy. These says it tends to be the "Old Media" creating the distinction - as a result of seeing their power diffused into a wider range of outlets.

The smart people - and there are an awful lot of smart people featured in that article - understand that the skill is in understanding the continuum between traditional and emerging media, and where you need to be along it for any particular project.

Brighton is full of those people - and it's good to see The Observer acknowledging it.

August 5, 2013

Washington Post sails up the Amazon

The internet buys a venerable news institution…

The Washington Post Co. has agreed to sell its flagship newspaper to founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos, ending the Graham family’s stewardship of one of America’s leading news organizations after four generations.

Bezos, whose entrepreneurship has made him one of the world’s richest men, will pay $250 million in cash for The Post and affiliated publications to the Washington Post Co., which owns the newspaper and other businesses.

If you ask me, Bezos is just too old to play the 12th Doctor. Uh, no, Peter Capaldi is the wrong man to own such an institution. Uh, no…

Joking aside, this, I think , is going to be a fun ride. Vanity project or a change for a radical reinvention of an old institution?

Update 1: Lovely tweet from Dan Barker:

Update 2: From a letter to Washington Post staff by Bezos:

There will of course be change at The Post over the coming years. That’s essential and would have happened with or without new ownership. The Internet is transforming almost every element of the news business: shortening news cycles, eroding long-reliable revenue sources, and enabling new kinds of competition, some of which bear little or no news-gathering costs. There is no map, and charting a path ahead will not be easy. We will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment. Our touchstone will be readers, understanding what they care about – government, local leaders, restaurant openings, scout troops, businesses, charities, governors, sports – and working backwards from there. I’m excited and optimistic about the opportunity for invention.

That's the approach too few people have taken: start with reader need and work backwards, rather than trying to figure out how to make the kind of news you want to do become profitable. Like I said, interesting ride ahead…

June 14, 2012

Skype: what is this strange human concept of "conversation"?

Skype's daft advertising idea

Andrew Grill, talking about Skype's plans for in-call advertising:

"highlight unique and local brand experiences"- what?? Humans don't speak like this to to other humans.  This is ad speak.

There is a clear phenomenon where people get so embedded in marketing and sales that they lose touch with normal humanity, and come to serve the abstract gods of marketing objectives. I am reminded of a marketing-written proposal for a mobile app I saw once, that required the user to go through two pages of data capture before they could start using it. Serves marketing goals, no sense of what humans actually do, doomed to failure. 

Or, of course, this could just be Microsoft brining its "magic touch" to Skype. I fear for Yammer

July 11, 2011

After NotW: what might the future of media look like?

I'm loathe to join the general mob of bloggers posting about every little twist and turn of the phone-hacking scandal, and the closure of the News of the Screws World. That market niche is filled sufficiently. I'm more interested in trying to discern the long-term consequences of what's happening now; how this might change the media landscape over the next 10 years or so.

Here's three things playing on my mind right now:

Regulation's Rise

In one area, I'm distinctly worried, as I suggested on Friday. The regulation system for journalism is under review, and it looks awfully like the days of the PCC are numbered. And what will replace it?

I can't say I'd trust either main party on this - New Labour was just as busy sucking up to News International's brands as Cameron's Tory party has been, and it's worth bearing in mind that for all the left's accusations that Murdoch's papers are essentially right-wing, they've supported Labour for three out of the four most recent general elections... As one of my colleagues pointed out over lunch, the LibDems have no skin in this game, but only because they were never considered significant enough.

Our politicians are smarting from the expenses scandal, and now they're having their overly cosy relationship with elements of the media pulled apart. Will they respond with honour, justice and a regard for the good of political discourse in this country? Or will they try to emasculate the press so that an investigation like the expenses one would no longer be possible? Hope for the former, prepare to fight against the latter.  And maybe the LibDems have a chance to start redeeming themselves in the eyes of many of the public here.

And there's a bigger challenge for them to consider: how can any regulation framework possibly function without some oversight of online-only publications? And how do you separate the powerhouses like Guido Fawkes and (possibly) the Huffington Post UK, from the thousands of independent bloggers doing their thing? Is it even feasible?

The Age of Social Publishing

However important or not you feel the role of social media was in the protests against the News of the World, we're almost certainly seeing a shift in the relationship between the traditional media and the people formerly known as the audience. The advent of Facebook, Twitter and other forms of low-input social media has actually brought into being the concept of everyone being able to publish. While the visionaries of a decade ago might have envisaged the idea of one man, one blog as the primary means of creating that mass publication environment, social networks have actually delivered on the promise. Before now, people's only option to show disapproval of journalists was not to buy the paper - and The Sun in Liverpool is a good example of that. Now they can target the advertisers, and other buyers of the paper, who might be unaware of what's happening. And they can help bring down an entire newspaper.

The model of active publishers and passive audience is broken, and this is just another example of the "audience" beginning to wake up to its own power, and flex its new muscles. And, for us in the media, it's a warning shot across our bows, a reminder that we'll have far more success in the future working with the audience - Rusbridger's "mutual media" - that merely talking at them. And that may require a different sort of journalist. The NotW crisis has been fuelled by that particular breed of news journalist for whom the adrenaline hit of getting the story outweighs everything else - morality, legality and relationship. This byline junkies can be incredibly powerful force in society if harnessed carefully - and an amoral disaster in the wrong context. We need journalists like these, but in an audience-empowered age, we can't afford to let them run the show. That needs to be in the hands of those who understand and respect their audience, and know how to work with them.

A Habit, Broken

Also, I wonder how many of the people who were buying the News of the World are just going to walk away from newspapers? Will they just transfer their purchasing affections elsewhere, and perhaps return to a putative Sun on Sunday, or will they just use this as a "jumping off point" for the whole concept of Sunday newspaper buying? Will this be the critical event that breaks the habit?

Thanks to Paul Bradshaw for some impromptu post-publication subbing of this. ;-)


July 19, 2010

The Origins of Facebook...

I'm really looking forward to this:

Yes, it's a dramatisation of the founding of Facebook, based on the hugely entertaining book The Accidental Billionaires: Sex, Money, Betrayal and the Founding of Facebook, which I read and enjoyed last year. Highly Recommended.

June 4, 2009

The Year The Media Died

Not to be alarmist or anything:

Well worth watching all the way through.

[via Suw]

October 28, 2008

Online Hoodies?

image1659558952.jpgNothing like a little tabloid scare story to start your Tuesday.

Where does one get a digital hoodie? Do they offer iPhone integration?

August 6, 2008

Young Gordon (Ramsay?)

July 25, 2008

Internet Culture Explained

And finally:

[via Andy]

March 25, 2008

How Observant Are You?

Lovely idea, lovely execution, and a great example of viral marketing:

[Via Open]

August 29, 2007

TV Shows on iTunes UK

iTunes TV in the UKI wake this morning to the exciting news that iTunes has added TV shows to the UK store. Hurrah! So far, it's just a bunch of US shows, from South Park to Lost, Ugly Betty to Desperate Housewives. But really, who hasn't had the suspicion lately that the US shows are better than our own? (Doctor Who excepted, of course)


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