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Month: January 2010

On Blogging About The iPad

I have about three iPad-related posts in my head right now. One of them exists in partial form in my blog software.

But I can’t bring myself to publish them, and that’s for much the same reason as I refused to blog about the Apple tablet before it was revealed. Let my illustrate by means of a pie chart:
iPad Blogging
Never has so much been written by so many about one thing they have so little experience of…

Participatory Culture and Traditional Media

Kevin Anderson on why people participate in online communities and share content on them:

I can tell you why I bother. A global culture of participation has been, for me, key in meeting one of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: Belonging. Originally participatory culture was something I did in my spare time because their was no place for it in my professional work, but co-creation in journalism has been one of the most richly rewarding aspects of my career.charman-anderson.com, Generosity and post-scarcity economic media models: Why I love participatory culture, Jan 2010

Lots to think about in that post, especially about the way traditional media people, who have a different attitude to creation and sharing than most people, misunderstand motivations for participation. More myopia?

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Kodak, Disruption and Economic Inertia

From an article about Kodak’s difficult decade:

Even though they talked about being in imaging and memories – their financial base was still in film, and even though they could move conceptually, they could see no way to move economically (and I suspect that many of us sitting around the Kodak board table at the time would have come to similar conclusions).creativedisruption.net, Creative Disruption, Jan 2010

Much for publishers to learn here…

Weekend Coffee Reading

Lurking around in my browser tabs:

  • On Makers and Managers – good look at the tension between these two roles that should be familiar to most people in journalism
  • The Death of Tag Clouds – this has been creating some debate internally at RBI. I still like ’em, but I never thought they were a navigation tool, just a visual means of displaying the “aboutness” of the site.
  • Why Tumblr is Kicking Posterous’ Ass – insightful post on the difference between an engineered website and a designed one.
  • Jeff Jarvis’s Cockeyed Economics – some good economic theory around paid content in here
  • The Value of Blogging – anyone familiar with my job title knows that I’m contractually obligated to value blogging as a journalistic endeavour – but this post enumerates some of the reasons well.
  • Posterous, the iPhone and Microjournalism – great account of using the iPhone and Posterous to report from abroad using a mobile device. 
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Covering Our Future (or where are the designers?)

Hairdressers Journal

I don’t write much about print on here, but long-time readers will know I’m not a “print is dead” type. I do believe that print will have to change and evolve to deal with the changing environment – much as theatre had to after the coming of cinema and then television – but that it will survive. And I’m glad about that, because I love magazines as objects, especially when they’re designed to really showcase the visual impact good print titles can create. 
Yesterday, I had a day that caused me to think much more about design than I normally do. It started the moment I walked through the doors of Quadrant House, RBI’s Sutton main office. There’s a big wall of our magazines in reception there, and the above cover, of Hairdressers Journal, really leapt out at me from that wall. It has a level of design aspiration above that of most of our titles, with a few honourable exceptions – New Scientist for a start – and some meetings later in the day reminded me how lacking traditional publishers can be in design aspiration online. Again, I think HJi, the online version of Hairdressers Journal, leads the way in our company.
Is it me, or is the issue of design, of user-experience of our website almost entriely absent from the future of journalism debate? And, if so, why the hell is that? 
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It has been a funny old week, as the lazy, journalistic cliché goes. This time last week, I was telling myself for the third afternoon in a row that I’d do my slides for news:rewired tomorrow, and now they’ve spent the best part of a day on the front page of SlideShare

I think that the good folks at journalism.co.uk are to be congratulated for the conference. It’s the first journalism shindig I’ve been to where it felt like the majority of the people who are actively engaged in the front line of journalism exploration in the digital age where there, and willing to share and robustly debate their views and experiences. In short, it felt like a conference where you could learn something, and that beats the same old corporate faces giving the same old corporate presentations we see too often.
And it has most decidedly sparked some discussion. Most of it was very useful, as the compilation of links and discussion makes clear, and I’ll almost certainly blog more about that in the coming days. But some of it really revealed the fractures in this industry, as it desperately tries to reshape itself.
I have a theory, which Andy alluded to in his blog post about the event (uh, Andy – might want to get the subs to check my surname there, by the way… 😉 ). Most journalists, if they loved their industry (or their job, which is not quite the same thing) have to go through the standard five stages of grief, as they deal with the changes that are happening to our profession. Many are still in denial (and Kevin made a good job of eviscerating their dismissal of all things digital), but some of the people who were there were very clearly still in the throes of anger.
In some ways, I think the citizen journalist versus “real” journalist debate that kicked off in the crowdsourcing session, moderated by The Telegraph‘s Kate Day, is pretty much a non-debate, as Sarah explains:

Personally, I find this an outdated debate but I fear it will go round-and-round until the idea that people can have a ‘virtual life’ and a ‘real’ one as two separate things is finally, belatedly put to rest.

That would be the move to “acceptance”, of course.
I fear that we, in the mainstream media (does B2B really count as mainstream?), are somewhat to blame for this continuing conflict, though, because we have had a tendency to appropriate the name “citizen journalist” for user-generated content on our sites, rather than use it in the context it was intended – people using the tools the web provides to publish their own acts of journalism to the internet. As Martin identifies, part of the heat of the debate was in people confusing publishers using low cost (low value?) content from the audience with people choosing to publish for themselves. 
I think Jon hits the nail right on the head, when he suggests that we forget the labels, and get on with thinking about how the tools allow us to do good journalism. And I mean good journalism, not the sort of shoddy page-filling nonsense torn apart here
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