Social software and online media

Analysis of social software, blogging, microblogging, and online media. Related subjects include:

May 23, 2009

TechCrunch offers to pay a source’s legal expenses

A recent TechCrunch post recapitulates its dispute with CBS and, reiterates its confidence in its accusations, and closes with

And to the CBS employee who was fired and threatened based on this story – we believe certain U.S. Whistle Blower laws may protect you from retaliation from CBS in this matter. We’d like to provide you with legal counsel at our cost.

That’s a remarkable offer to make, one that is very rare for traditional media to match. As such, it’s a strong (albeit very partial) answer to the ongoing handwringing about the future of investigative journalism. Read more

May 17, 2009

Monetization strategies for the New York Times

In his remarks about my recent post that he aptly characterizes as “A Consumer-Centric View of Business Models for Publishing,” Daniel Tunkelang notes that I didn’t directly address the premium/freemium strategy he favors for the New York Times, namely monetizing community. As Daniel puts it,

But community can’t be copied. Even if you mirrored all of this blog’s content and put someone else’s name on it, the comment threads would still live here. You could copy those too, but only the readers who came here could participate in the conversation, and I believe that would still draw most of you.

Frankly, I don’t think that would work. Good blog commenters are precious, generously donating their own time and thought to build up your content. Could one charge people to read that? Maybe. But charging people to write great content for you seems like one barrier too many, and I’m not sure how to charge them to read without also charging them to write. That said, various forums (i.e., message boards) offer premium forums, so at least for some lifestyle business owners the approach seems to be worth pursuing.

Other strategies to consider include: Read more

May 17, 2009

The 4 reasons anybody ever consumes information (or opinion), and what that tells us about business models

The online world is abuzz with discussion about the future economic models of the publishing industry. It might help in evaluating various proposals to consider why anybody might possibly want to pay money or attention for information or opinion, whether delivered in published or personal-communication form. Since this is a very long post, I’ll put a few of the conclusions here up top, namely:

Those conclusions, in turn, are based on the theory that the the best selling proposition for decision-supporting information and information technologies is:

Keeps you fully and conveniently informed about subject area X, where X is important to you. Read more

May 8, 2009

Consumer Reports + National Enquirer + ? = the future of free societies

Another week, another round of debate about the future of journalism. As usual, I’m too overwhelmed with my own duties of news reporting, commentary, consulting, and small business administrivia — not to mention basketball-watching and kitchen repair — to chime in at the length I’d like. But even given those limitations, I’d like to reiterate something I said in a prior post about the evolving information ecosystem:

a significant fraction of news is something large organizations have a vested interest in releasing

In my opinion, that’s a crucial point. On subjects where primary sources want information to get out, traditional journalists are not needed to relay news. Comment (especially sceptically)? Sure. Filter? Maybe. Story-tell? Yes, but only if news-as-entertainment is your idea of fun.

Basically, the “death of media” concerns should for the most part be restricted to the future of investigative features. When one thinks of major investigative reporting that society would have been poorer without, it’s usually either a feature story or a series of articles that might as well have been a feature. The reason those are threatened is that their huge value to society is not always paired with a huge “fun”/”interest” factor in consuming the stories, and hence traditional attention-based economic models may not work for them. Read more

April 11, 2009

There’s a virus on Twitter: StalkDaily

Twitter got a virus today.  I’m updating what I know technically in my Network World post on the subject.  The gist apparently is that somebody found a way to hack Twitter pages by hacking the URLs in one’s Twitter settings,and created the hacked @GadgetBoyHah profile.  Then he got lots of clicks on it via the usual tactic of following lots of people who, upon notification, checked him out. I was infected too.

The implications for Twitter’s security are not good. The best way to disable or remove this malware is, as I write this, not yet clear, but I hope to get clarity and update the post linked above accordingly.

April 5, 2009

(Humor) You don’t exist if you’re not on Twitter!

I’d like to recommend two Twitter-related comedy videos:

But I’m still waiting for a Twitter-related takeoff on “The Trouble With Tribbles” …

April 3, 2009

Thoughts on the rumored Google/Twitter deal

Michael Arrington reports that Google and Twitter are contemplating both:

I have three initial thoughts on this:

1. Clearly, in Google’s mission to “organize all the world’s information,” there are several web areas it isn’t yet doing well in, and one of those is microblogs. What’s more, much as in the case of YouTube, it’s hard to see how Google would do that organizing any time soon unless it owned or otherwise was in bed with the leading platform for that kind of content — i.e., Twitter.

2. The YouTube example is apt in another way as well — it’s not clear where the monetization would come from. Google famously doesn’t make much advertising revenue from YouTube. And Twitter is even worse as an advertising platform; sticking ads into the tweetstream would quickly drive users elsewhere, and any other advertising scheme would likely fail because of the broad variety of interfaces — such as various mobile phones — Twitterers use to get at the service.

3. I’ve been suggesting all along that Twitter needs radical user experience enhancements. But when has Google ever made made user experience enhancements to a service? Its core search engine always looks pretty much the same. Ditto GMail. Ditto Blogger. Ditto YouTube.

April 1, 2009

April Fool’s spoof re newspapers, social media

The Guardian says all its articles will be published on Twitter, in 140 characters or less. Very well played.

A mammoth project is also under way to rewrite the whole of the newspaper’s archive, stretching back to 1821, in the form of tweets. Major stories already completed include “1832 Reform Act gives voting rights to one in five adult males yay!!!”; “OMG Hitler invades Poland, allies declare war see for more”; and “JFK assassin8d @ Dallas, def. heard second gunshot from grassy knoll WTF?”

March 31, 2009

Twitter shows some directions for growth

TechCrunch pointed out a Twitter jobs page. The specific job TechCrunch mentioned* isn’t up there any more, but at the moment I write this, 18 others are (copied below). That’s considerable growth, given that the same page says Twitter has fewer than 30 current employees. Note the emphasis on search and the mention of Japan.

*Care and feeding of celebrity tweeters. Celebrity tweeting is actually a subject I’ve written and even been interviewed about several times.

As of this writing, the full list is: Read more

March 29, 2009

Where I think the information ecosystem is headed

The debate about the future of the information ecosystem rages on. As you might surmise from my choice of words, I’m on the side that says something new will rapidly evolve to fill niches vacated by the demise of a teetering economic model. To a first approximation, there are two major reasons to believe this:

  1. People have deep-seating cravings to opine, educate, and otherwise expostulate. Many will gladly do it for free. And labor represents the lion’s share of information-industry costs.
  2. What’s more, a significant fraction of news is something large organizations have a vested interest in releasing. To the extent that’s true — and there certainly are major exceptions in areas such as debunking and investigatory journalism — ordinary enterprises can be and indeed already are a major source of resources for the information ecosystem.

Here are some of the species I believe will thrive or at least survive in the part of the ecosystem focused on enterprise IT news: Read more

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