December 3, 2009

As media gets more democratic, it gets more feminine

bing-maps
The new Bing Maps geotargets Twitter tweets.

Supernova roundup: Media, real-time services — and ‘the end of the Web era’

JD LasicaI spent Wednesday at the Supernova conference in San Francisco, which has morphed over the years from a gathering about mobile and telephony into one that addresses the larger themes sweeping through society: Social media. The real-time Web. Public policy in a connected society. New technologies that rewire our culture.

Given the enormously impressive attendee list, Supernova may now have the highest signal to noise ratio of any conference in the tech galaxy. I’ve written about Supernova in 2004, 2005 (here’s Caterina Fake and a Flickr set), 2006, 2007, and have spoken there twice — and, indeed, it was at Supernova 2004 that Marc Canter and I hatched the plan for Ourmedia‘s launch in March 2005 as the first video hosting and sharing site.

But this year’s Supernova may be the best one yet. It concludes this afternoon.

Please read on — you can skip the next six months of conferences, saving thousands in registration fees, just by reading this blog entry. Some Supernova highlights:

Is media getting more … feminine?

The “Is There a Media Business?” panel provided a lively give and take with the 75 or so participants in the session, and it focused less on the travails of the news business than on the larger forces churning through the media landscape: music and movies as well as news. I found it interesting that I had profiled two of the three participants, Jim Griffin and Cory Ondrejka, in my book Darknet. (You can read the chapter on Griffin at Pho, Cole Porter and Tarzan economics.)

The highlight for me came when Jim Griffin alluded to traditional media as quintessentially male in nature — pushing out product through blunt force and “the need to consummate a relationship without even getting your name” — while Lisa Stone and the panelists agreed that there may be a “feminization of media” underway, where the value comes from creating a relationship that never ends. Lisa called it the “coopetition” model of media, mutually cooperative and competitive.

I think there’s something to this: Social media is all about relationship building, about giving more than taking, and women still top men in that department.

After Lisa cited news publishers’ criticism of Google and the Huffington Post as “technological tapeworms” of the Internet — a few hours earlier Google announced it would restrict access to fee-based news sites — Cory quipped: “Google is handing a gun to mainstream media, ‘Here, go shoot yourself.’ Do you want your customers not to find [your articles]? … Making your content more obscure does not seem like the right approach.”

Griffin said more companies were in effect becoming media entities — like J&J, which purchased and is running BabyCenter.com for new and expectant parents (I used to run its editorial department).

It will take 3 years for Google, the music companies and Hollywood to come to an arrangement that pays stakeholders a share of revenue derived from ads on YouTube.

Midway through I made the point that the music companies and Hollywood studios deserve some credit for not cracking down on the literally millions of copyright violations that are appearing on YouTube every day. And I argued that the marketplace — we, the people — have indeed moved the goal posts over the past three years without the need for Congress to act.

I predict that it will take another three years for Google, the music companies and Hollywood to come to an arrangement that pays the various stakeholders a share of revenue derived from ads on YouTube, some of which will go to the musicians, some to the songwriters, some to the studios and so on. But rights are an enormously thorny bramble bush, and the lawyers and suits will spend years trying to figure out the new rules of the road in the digital age.

Let’s hope that Google will map the way for creative mashup monetization, just as Apple pioneered the way for music companies to enter the digital era after Napster. One hopes that the mashup artist gets a slice of the pie, too. Continue reading

October 5, 2009

Highlights from ONA 2009

JD LasicaAt first glance, the Online News Association’s annual conference this past weekend looked like a throwback to the early days of Web journalism, with lots of familiar faces from the early days of the esteemed new media group. Jai Singh (now managing editor of the Huffington Post), Staci D. Kramer of paidContent, Joan Walsh of Salon, author Scott Rosenberg, consultant Elizabeth Osder, Jonathan Dube, Tom Regan, academics like Paul Grabowicz and Rosental Alves — one might think the San Francisco Hilton had added a Wayback Machine room.

But the sessions, organized by Josh Hatch of USA Today and his team, were generally engaging and forward-looking, a refreshing contrast to the doom and gloom that afflicts most news industry gatherings. The reason? These are the hands-on new media staffers, not the publishers or top-echelon executives who would clearly prefer if this whole Internet thing went away.

If this conference had a theme, it was: Journalism in the Age of Twitter.

I gave a presentation (online at Slideshare.net) on how journalists can use social media tools to build community, and it found a receptive audience. (See our sister site, Socialbrite.org, for 6 Twitter tips for journalists and 8 ways to use social media in the newsroom. Both include free printable handouts.) By and large, new media teams in online newsrooms are interested in seeing how the new generation of social tools can help advance journalism, which is why I like ONA best of all the media conferences. Continue reading

September 18, 2009

Social journalism: Using social networks to build community

JD LasicaHere’s the slide presentation I gave yesterday at the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association Summit of newspaper publishers and ad managers. My talk turned out to be 80 minutes long.

A half dozen newspaper executives thanked me for the presentation afterward, so the message of change is resonating in some quarters. The question is whether enough publishers will have the courage to turn their battleships into speedboats and green-light the wholesale experimentation needed to help newsroom journalists engage with their communities.

So far, no media companies have contacted Socialmedia.biz for consulting work (yes, we’re very busy with clients in other sectors), so I’m doubtful. Continue reading

July 18, 2009

Howard Rheingold on essential media literacies

21st century media literacies from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaA week ago, as we were wrapping up the Traveling Geeks‘ two-day visit to Cambridge, I was walking down the main drag with author Howard Rheingold when we stopped for a moment in front of King’s College. I took out my loaner Flip Ultra and shot this 6-minute interview of Howard, colorfully garbed as always, in front of the 500-year-old King’s College, talking about 21st century literacies.

Howard hit on one major takeaway that I had from our week in the UK. “Increasingly I think the digital divide is less about access to technology and more about the difference between those who know how and those who don’t know how,” he said. He’s convinced that what’s most important is not access to the Internet — we have more than a billion people on the Internet now and there are 4 billion phones out there — but access to knowledge and literacies for the digital age. “The ability to know has suddenly become the ability to search and the ability to sift” and discern. “Skill plus social” is the key.

Earlier in the week Howard gave the keynote address at Reboot Britain, and he recounts some of the highlights here. Among the Essential Literacies he cites are:

• Attention
• Participation
• Collaboration
• Critical consumption (which includes “crap detection” — we live in an age when you can get the answer to anything out of the air, but how do you know what and whom to trust?)

Continue reading

July 15, 2009

Prediction: Local TV newspeople will compete with their former stations

JD LasicaOn the flight back from London on Sunday I finally had a chance to answer a Q&A email interview with Terry Heaton, a longtime friend who, as co-founder of AR&D, is one of the most forward-thinking people in the world of broadcast media.

For the full interview, see see the AR&D Media 2.0 Intel Report. Here’s an excerpt from our interview:

You were the person who coined the phrase “personal media revolution.” What does that really mean? Who are people revolting against? How widespread is the revolution?

The people are revolting — that’s from the Marx Bros. movie Duck Soup, no?

youtubeIt’s hard to recognize tectonic shifts when you’re still in its beginning phases. Almost any intelligent discussion of our media culture today needs to address the rise of personal media. By the early 2000s, consumer gadgets and computer applications had come down far enough in price and were becoming simple enough to use that millions of us began creating personal media. Low price, simplicity and the fluidity of digital media combined to allow us to do more than just snap photos (which has been around for decades) but also to become amateur filmmakers, create digital stories and mashups, record audio interviews and the like.

The real revolution came when these works weren’t merely stored on our personal devices but released into the wild, unleashing an anarchic, democratic cacophony of voices and viewpoints. By sharing and connecting on sites like Flickr, YouTube, MySpace and Facebook, we turned our personal media into social media.

Like Dan Gillmor’s “We, the Media,” Darknet was one of the seminal works about the rise of personal media. Given all that’s taken place since, do you feel your vision has been validated?

darknet_180pI wrote the book as warning call in anticipation of escalating clashes between media titans against grassroots media publishers in the areas of copyright law, remix culture and innovation when it was becoming plain that we were entering an era of media that was becoming more decentralized, fragmented and personalized.

So, yes, everyone is still sticking to their scripts. By and large, traditional media have not embraced the ethos of community and sharing that underlie this emerging new bottom-up media culture. But my view of the fundamental shifts in the mediasphere has evolved since “Darknet” was written.

One of the things about the personal media revolution that I find most intriguing is that the people formerly known as the advertisers are also among those “playing media.” They have their own revolt, it seems. Do you see that as well?

Keep in mind that “media” can refer to content creators (production houses) or distribution channels (networks). While most brands still haven’t found sufficient payout in playing media, we’ve certainly seen campaigns like Dove Evolution become online sensations.

I think the smart play is for brands not to try to create the next “viral hit” on YouTube but to work with content partners to create useful community platforms that foster dialogue and discovery. If local TV news goes away, this is where the stations’ talent will migrate to. In fact, I suspect we’ll increasingly see former broadcast news people set up their own sites that compete with old-guard stations still stuck in Web 1.0. With the advent of cloud computing, startup costs are approaching zero, so there’s no question that a handful of talented video producers and journalists can do a better job than 95 percent of the TV station websites out there today.

Continue reading