I’m teaching video this year, so I can write this off against tax, right?
A touching moment in Rachel Sylvester & Alice Thomson’s interview with Alan Johnson for The Times:
When people ask him how many children he has, he always says four — sometimes even making up a job for Natalie. “It’s quite nice to pretend she’s still alive,” he says. “It just feels wrong for a child to die before a parent.” He bumped into David Cameron after the death of his son Ivan. “I put my hand on his shoulder and said, ‘I’ve been through it’.”
It’s nice to be reminded of the human side of our politicians once in a while. We’re so very good at forgetting it, and they make it so easy for us to do so.
What has killed social media? Vanity:
At some point in the not so distant past, we knowledge (Web) workers decided to, collectively, kill one of the most profound and deep reaching components from all of these social networking tools out there: our very own conversations and, instead, we embarked on that frantic, unstoppable rush to become publishing machines blasting out marketing messages non stop that continue to be impregnated all over the place with our very own vanity.
Luis Suarez is worth listening to on this. He was one of the early people to completely transform his working life using social tools, and now he’s finding the potential he saw then destroyed:
This is where blogging and the original social networking tools differ tremendously from today’s world of media tools, more than anything else, because they have never been about you, but about the collective, the network, the community, in short, the conversations.
You can still find great conversations on social media – but it’s getting harder to find them.
People often think of YouTube as social media, but it’s never really been a social network. Sure you could subscribe to a creator’s channel, but it was a very one-way, broadcast relationship.
That might be changing – a little – with the launch of YouTube Community:
The brand new Community tab on your YouTube channel gives you a new, simple way to engage with your viewers and express yourself beyond video. Now you can do things like text, live videos, images, animated GIFs and more, giving you easier, lightweight ways to engage with your fans more often in between uploads, in real time. Viewers will be able to see your posts in the Subscriptions feed on their phones. They can also opt into getting a notification anytime you post.
And it looks something like this:
This feels like a defensive move from YouTube – it encourages creators to develop their audience relationship within the YouTUbe platform, rather than moving their viewers into a different platform for non-video updates. If anything, it’s a laggard response to the overwhelming success of Facebook Video, which is clearly a draw for existing and emerging creators.
Bolting on social network features to existing platforms does not have a great success rate as an idea. It remains to be seen if this will be any better. But I’m not betting on it.
From north of the border, a rather interesting new revenue experiment. Canada’s largest newspaper, the Toronto Star, this week announced the launch of a new monthly in-house subscription service: Headline Coffee.
Yup, a coffee subscription service from a newspaper much like the wine clubs that many UK newspapers have. Makes good sense: coffee and headlines are just a perfect combination.
Mmm. Coffee. Aeropress time.
(My faourite UK coffee subscription of the moment is Pact Coffee, which has no newspaper links, but excellent beans. Give it a try.)
Interesting observation from Antony Mayfield (who is finally blogging again):
[The audience’s] antipathy to advertising in general (witness ad-blockers and the rise of ad-free streaming) may present indies with their biggest opportunities in the branded content market: they are able to produce high quality content and are more likely to be interested in audience development than reach (the latter being the default obsession of firms with advertising DNA).
While Antony is talking about branded content, the point is more widely applicable. The rise of social as a major traffic generator has led to reach being a metric being more actively discussed by journalistic publishers – and it’s not always a healthy process. As a profession, we’re relatively immature in our use of analytics, and it’s easy to get distracted from creating value for a worthwhile reader base by the shining lights of huge reach numbers.
There’s only room for a small number of high volume, high reach ad-supported media companies, and unless you’re already close to, say, Mail Online‘s scale, you’re probably not joining that club. And so you’re better off letting go of the sweet seduction of big numbers, and paying a lot more attention to developing a valuable audience you can monetise in a variety of ways.
…it’s hard to experiment with time-lapses when you don’t switch your lights on.
Someone has a cynicism problem:
The art of good headline writing and image selection in order to get someone to click and go to a website is usually called “clickbaiting,” but I think we should call it “bullshit curation.”
Oh, because clearly there’s no way you could use the same techniques to get people to read good journalism is there?
[via the IFJ Weekly Roundup – which is worth a follow or a subscribe]
What happens when you have a video go seriously viral?
A media frenzy ensued and ultimately Kim’s video was seen by tens of millions of people around the world. A slew of news organisations sought Kim’s permission to use the footage, many of them offering money for an exclusive deal. She signed a contract with one of them, a company called ViralHog. That agreement meant that Kim was no longer deluged with direct requests for the footage – ViralHog took on the job of fielding them. It also earned Kim “tens of thousands” of dollars, she says.
Ethics get steamrollered by reality: someone will make money off the video – it might as well be the person who recorded it. But they need assistance to do so.
Facebook fired the human journalists working on its trending section (see posts passim) and replaced them with algorithmic journalists. It went…uh…well:
Over the weekend, the fully automated Facebook trending module pushed out a false story about Fox News host Megyn Kelly, a controversial piece about a comedian’s four-letter word attack on rightwing pundit Ann Coulter, and links to an article about a video of a man masturbating with a McDonald’s chicken sandwich.
You can thank me (and The Guardian) for that final mental image later. What the hell is going on with that algorithm?
Well, Quartz thinks it knows:
Facebook hasn’t been forthcoming about how its algorithm works; the company declined to answer any questions for this article. It’s exceedingly vague in blog posts about the algorithm’s methodology, and the software is absent in every engineering blog. But company patent filings, along with general information Facebook has shared publicly and with Quartz in the past week, and interviews with previous Facebook curators, give us a glimpse into how the Trending algorithm works.
It all smacks of Facebook arrogance: thinking it can automate journalism without understanding the basics of journalism.