May 11, 2010
Pearling Your Way to the Best StoriesSteve Rosenbaum's recent article: "Why Content Curation is Here to Stay" really resonated with me, not surprising given how much time I have been spending organizing and curating content in the past couple of months. This has largely been to three factors: information overload is killing me, I can't keep up with the increased content I receive daily in multiple inboxes (I include social media platforms here) and the fact that I've been doing some work with Pearltrees, an online curation tool.
He writes, "the debate pits creators against curators, asking big questions about the rules and ethical questions around content aggregation."
And then quotes Clay Shirky: “Curation comes up when search stops working. Curation comes up when people realize that it isn’t just about information seeking, it’s also about synchronizing a community. Part of the reason that human curation is so critical is simply the vast number of people who are now making and sharing media. Everyone is a media outlet. The point of everyone being a media outlet is really not at all complicated. It just means that we can all put things out in the public view now."
Frankly, search rarely works well for me unless I'm looking up a particular restaurant, hotel or phrase or reference on Google and for the latter, invariably I'm brought to Wikipedia or Answers.com.
Natural web curators are people who spend time online regularly - they're educators doing research on topics, marketers monitoring trends, journalists working on stories and fact checking references, bloggers linking to other people's work and ideas, content creators and type-a personalities who are anal at staying organized.
Everyone loves to organize 'something,' whether it's a teenager who loves to organize their room, a college student who spends time organizing their iTunes playlists, an avid reader who organizes their book collection or a geek who organizes the latest gadgets & tools from multiple sources on the web.
Bookmarking can only take you so far and while a lot of my colleagues are avid users of delicious, it doesn't work for me. My brain doesn't think like 'delicious,' yet I have played around with it and other popular tools so I'm aware of how they work and can learn what a particularly sub-set of people want from an organization and productivity tool.
Human curation provides tremendous value for those who do it and want to access that data later and for those who tap into their wealth of connections and links they've filtered. The way a set of links is displayed can make or break an experience however.
I've been playing with the Pearltrees' (who I advise) new super embed feature in the past week and the AHA moment I'm having as a right brain thinker who loves visual displays and learning through graphics and images is that pearling converts human curation into a unique and compelling story.
It's easy to get 'hooked' on curating when its visually interesting and fun, even moreso when your curation tells a story that hooks others. For example, in about ten minutes, I created two interesting Pearltrees, one entitled the World of Ben Parr (from Mashable) and another one entitled Ben Parr on Mobile (articles, videos and more about mobile from his perspective).
You can navigate from pearl to pearl without ever leaving my blog and I was able to extract only the data I DECIDED to extract from the web about Ben's world and about his thoughts on mobile. It's a beautiful thing: I, as the human creator decides, not Google.
Below is a much smaller Pearltree on Rafe Needleman & Journalism, which took me about a minute to create. I could have expanded to include past articles, videos, interviews and tweets that included content and perspectives from Rafe on journalism, but in this case, I decided -- as the human curator -- to give my audience just a taste.
Below I grabbed the sections of CNET Webware that I find most valuable and left the categories that don't interest me as much. This Pearltree presents my selection, which I can edit over time. Future edits could be the addition of a Pearltree that Robert Scoble or David Pogue created, one that might be related to a particular topic or held a perspective that was aligned in some way.
Here's what else is cool: I can grab someone else's Pearltree from their blog or within Pearltrees to embed in my site or blog. For example, below is a Pearltree IDC's Michael Fauscette created on SmartDataCollective. He used a Pearltree to highlight content on Social Business. The Pearltree tells its own unique story and I can jump from reference to reference, all while staying within his blog -- much faster and more unified than jumping off the site and then from one web page to another. You can also imagine how powerful it can be for a blogger or journalist to embed a Pearltree showing references and resources that led up to their final conclusion.
Another interesting way to use curation in a visual way is to have a series of pearls representing comments on Twitter or a blog post about a particular band or politician, or feedback from video, podcasts, Digg, Twitter, blogs and more following a Steve Jobs keynote or what about positive sentiment about your brand? Below is a quick snapshot of Web 2.0 Expo's San Francisco event from one person's perspective, which you could add to your own.
Below a Pearltree showing clients from a web & social media management consultancy for the music industry.
* We’re living in an era of content abundance.
* Even prolific creators are going to end up mixing their created content with a mix of curated sources.
* Creators, distributors, aggregators, and curators are all economically essential parts of the value chain.
* Advertisers will embrace trusted ‘places’ over trusted sources — large curated collections will achieve higher CPMs.
Hear hear and that's my point. Content overload is killing us.....help me filter please. Even the smartest aggregators can't replace human ones from sources you trust or share similar interests. And, advertisers and others will think the same way since the value will be that much higher. After all, value and quality is what we're ultimately after, not just high numbers.
May 07, 2010
Media FavesA fabulous photo of some of the earliest editorial leaders -- all in one place, under one roof, thanks to a great party that Harry McCracken hosted during Web 2.0 Expo this past week. (sponsored by Seagate). Thanks to Ken Yeung for the photo.
Left to Right: Andrew Eisner, David Berlind, Renee Blodgett, Patrick Houston, Sam Whitmore, Christy Andrade, Robin Raskin and Harry McCracken
January 19, 2010
Welcome to the World of Magic Sauce MediaMagic Sauce Media, newly rebranded and all, is now live and kicking.
The Reason? The model for PR, marketing and the niche every agency on the block says they do well - social media, has too many cracks. The old model is broken and there's too many so called social media 'experts and gurus' going after budgets that used to be allocated to advertising, direct marketing and well, traditional PR.
Call it a hybrid of sorts, Magic Sauce Media is a new media services consultancy that takes an integrated approach to social media, viral marketing, branding and PR.
The goal is to align companies with their vision first, and then produce a well-crafted strategy and compelling story that reflects that alignment consistently. The result is a personalized, targeted and bold communications campaign that brings in the right ingredients to each stage of a company’s growth.
Offering the breadth and depth of a big firm and the intimacy and wealth of a boutique firm, Magic Sauce Media provides overarching executive-level guidance at its base and introductions at the highest levels.
We'll continue to work with start-ups and emerging technology companies, however we also welcome working with larger companies in other industry sectors we have a passion for: travel, food/wine, green technology, digital music, video, and consumer electronics, as well as products and services for youth and seniors.
January 18, 2010
Constant Builds Brands, Passion Builds the Long Tail
Someone unsubscribed to my feed recently and the reason was as I expected it would be: the content was no longer relevant. My assumption of course was that they subscribed many years ago when I wrote about RSS and aggregation more than anything else.
That hasn’t been my focus for years of course. That said, I really haven't had a specific focus for awhile now so it's no surprise someone who wanted a regular flow of content on a specific topic, would not only find my content irrelevant, but inconsistent – it is.
It's because one day I might write about theatre, dark chocolate and intense walks through the streets of Rome, the next about an initiative in southern Africa and the next about some cool new app for Facebook or the iPhone.
Not being focused typically won't result in a lot of traffic. It won't garner the kind of repeat readers Mashable and TechCrunch get consistently because their readers know what content they’re going to get every day. It’s predictable and constant……..on purpose.
Constant builds brands. Constant means consistency to readers, consistency builds trust and trust ignites brands. How many times have you heard a Yank say that they sought out a McDonalds or Starbucks overseas because it was consistent, they knew what they were going to get? Bottom line, it’s familiar and they didn't have to think about the result.
Recently in Paris, I ran into an American who was there for 28 hours and learned that he spent 8 of those hours in a Starbucks. While not a surprise, it crushed me to hear this because constant deflates my spirit, not ignites it. My spirit isn't a brand nor is it constant.
Without garnered trust, you may not be taken seriously, at least not by the group of people who crave constants.....and the latter as we know, are the mainstream who build numbers, create a massive following and over time, build your online brand.
The alternative to being taken seriously is just to be taken. Ahhhh yes, passion. Let’s look at the long tail for a moment. It’s filled with thousands of obscure niche interests of people from around the world in categories you never knew existed. Green knit suits from Thailand, tasty blue love potions, Dragon dolls, and talking dustbusters, bring ‘em on.
Let’s think about the word “taken.” Such a visual, vibrant word isn’t it? You could be taken by a fragrance, a taste, the sound of a deep cello mixed with a harp, a flower garden, the texture on a Picasso painting or a man’s voice. Very few of these luscious incredible feelings, emotions, and senses are constant. Thankfully no………for the result makes life interesting.
I'd rather be taken to everywhere and everything but the constant. The ever-changing landscape of rolling hills for two miles only to be hit by large boulders and sharp cliffs around the next corner. The ever-changing hot and cold personalities of a redhead as she samples vegan pizza one moment and ostrich and foie gras the next.
The ever-changing dialogue between an elderly man and his granddaughter which increases as the weeks and months pass by. The ever-changing energy of a scooter on a busy Berlin street and the local baker's four-table cafe in a small Malaysian town.
Mix up the colors. Mix up the notes. Mix up the ingredients. Mix up the tempo. Mix up the tones. The hours. The sunshine and the rain. The puddles and the snowflakes. The glass and the wood. The flute and the drums. The A's with the M's. The Mac and the PC. The musicians and the lawyers. The artists and the engineers. The scientists and the bohemians. A German Shepherd and a Costa Rican butterfly.
Send me. Take me. Show me. Teach Me. Energize me. Push my boundaries. Ignite my fire. And with it, make sure that in any given day, that I'm never motivated and inspired by any one thing, whether it be technology or art alone.
Isn’t it great that one day we can choose a consistent and constant brand and the next a long tail passion that sets us on fire? Isn’t it great that we now have more choices and places to find that uniqueness on the web even if you have to do a little digging to get there?
Given that we have those choices, make them. Opt out of the large constant brand that you trust from time to time and you may find that you want to change your 80/20 rule and have the 20 be your constant, not the 80. America would be a very different place if we all chose the 20%; if we demanded that the 20% show up more; if we treasured it, praised it, voted for it and not the constant…….if we all increased our standards and did a little more creation and a little less observing.
It's an opportunity for the biggest mashup of all times and we haven’t even touched the tip of what’s possible yet. The online world is but a babe...still in its infancy. The digital gold rush is most definitely not over.
Enter more passion, diversity, and uncertainty. Enter waves, thunder, ponds, gardens, birds and buffalos all at the same time. Yes, all at the same time.
December 29, 2009
Consultants Can't Be Media Influencers Can They?
If you generate high quality content or a substantial amount of it, but consult, then you're clearly not a media influencer. If you have an audience and a voice that people listen to, but consult, then you're clearly not a media influencer.
That's how some view the world. After re-reading David Spark's recent post about an incident that prohibits him from generating content, I thought about how many times this has been an issue over the past several years -- for me and for others who wear both hats.
This isn't just about this one CES event; it's about old and new editorial voices and more importantly, it's about how to deal with influencers and manage content creators in a converging world. The landscape has changed so much that conference and event organizers need to throw a policy, any policy that has a black and white rulebook about whether you're an influencer who matters or not, out the window.
He was apparently sent an 11 year old 'rule book.' Rule books are designed for followers and structured entities, not visionaries. Egads, even if it's an 11 month old policy, it likely needs re-visiting. If anyone hasn't noticed, things have changed DRAMATICALLY in 11 years AND in 11 months.
11 years ago, media influencers included smaller vertical market niche publications that had a readership a quarter the size of my blog but oh yeah, I'm a consultant.
11 months ago, the third wave of full time journalists were laid off, more newspapers closed their doors and glossy magazines with once large entertainment budgets and hefty publisher salaries no longer have revenue or a brand. Crikey, Steve Wildstrom was even let go - and it's not because he isn't an amazing writer or thought leader. Know how many other award-winning editorial superstars are out of work?
Of the laundry list of do's and don'ts, I particularly resonated with this one: "don’t negate journalists that wear other hats - your sponsors are looking for quality people that represent media outlets they want to appear in. That should be your deciding factor. Not whether that person makes all their money from journalism and nothing else."
I'd extend this statement even further. Isn't it more interesting if journalists and bloggers ARE doing something else? It means they have another platform in which to tell a story. Who knows, maybe within those walls, a new deal may happen? A new voice unveiled?
Industry analysts have always been 'treated' as press in the context of which he writes, some of which were NOT part of a renown brand that wore Gartner Group or IDC on its door. They consult. They have clients and want to recruit new ones. And, while we're at it, don't publishers and editor-in-chiefs who attend a media event also want to nurture existing advertisers and recruit new ones? I would if I were in their shoes.
A separate agenda? Sure. I hope so - visionaries and leaders -- editorial or advisor, often have multiple agendas. They're thinking about and working on a number of different issues, topics and gigs. If you're a specific beat reporter with a list of who and what you can cover or not, your range is a lot more limited than an independent, freelancer, blogger or columnist who can write whatever they want, whenever they want.
And, a few more things from a consultant who generates a helluva lot of content... I have sometimes spent 90% of my time reporting and covering an event I've attended and paid for and told by some that it was the more interesting content they read of the event. Some of the traditional full time journalists at the same event didn't write a thing.
I'm not suggesting they should or are required to write. My point is that there are lots of important voices out there who are not full time journalists with traditional credentials. Whether they consult or not is irrelevant as long as there's full disclosure.
I've seen hybrid folks on media lists and not others. Who decides who is 'worthy' and has a more valuable audience than another?
Isn't it time we looked at the consultant/content creator/journalist relationship in a different way?
Isn't it time we rewrote the rules?
And she said....."understanding is a two-way street." --Eleanor Roosevelt
August 20, 2009
George Gombossy: From Column to Blog
This week I heard from old journalist pal George Gombossy about his departure from Hartford Courant, not a pretty one in the eyes of traditional journalists and bloggers alike.
Those who care about ethical journalism and who are trying to protect their credibility inside the walls of their blogs are routing for George. It's already hit the New York Times and countless other sites, so the the buzz is very alive.
He worked at the paper for four decades. Can you believe? Four decades. He writes in an official statement: "the Courant fired me, for speaking out on issues of public concern as the paper’s Watchdog columnist: as the voice and protector of consumers and taxpayers."
More about his story for those who haven't heard the details: "During the past three years, my marching orders had been to expose any institution or authority abusing consumers or taxpayers. Consistent with journalistic ethics and favoring no one, the Courant’s advertisers were fair game and were given no special treatment. In fact there were occasions where my editors were dubious of certain claims by our advertisers and urged me to investigate.
It was a public-interest platform that thousands of readers actively helped build into a powerful voice for consumers. It resulted in profound changes in the way some Connecticut businesses operated, among which are the state’s largest utility company and the nation's largest retailer of consumer electronics."
He received heat over investigating a large advertiser of the paper, the investigation was over a company that may have been taking advantage of the elderly. Apparently the advertiser wrote a complaint letter and Gombossy was urged to play nice in the sandbox because a $500K advertising contract was on the line. (which turned out later to be worth less)
Yikes. The list goes on. It doesn't end there.
I've worked with Gombossy on and off for a decade and a half so the news came as quite a blow. Even though Gombossy has left the dinosaur newspaper world (and trust me, I'm a fan), he has forty years of investigative journalism experience that can be poured into a blog, his own blog and his loyal readers will follow.
CTWATCHDOG.com is now live. He'll be showering us with more tips, complaints and untold stories consumers should know about.
George ends his statement with this reminder: advertisers don’t take out ads because they like the columnists or reporters. They take out ads based on a newspaper's circulation, which is based on its credibility. The less credibility a newspaper has, the less readers it should have. And if that happens everyone will suffer consequences beyond our ability to now measure.
He tells me he'll be on CNN this Sunday so be sure to tune in.
August 05, 2009
AP: Business Service Offerings Rather than Content?
Via TechDirt early today on AP bashing which has nothing to do with anything other than what we're all seeing happen with traditional newspapers and news organizations - that inevitable car wreck down the road and that road is getting shorter and shorter.
In a world where AP's relevancy is shrinking, Buttry's analysis suggests that the AP should be focused on providing business solutions to newspapers, rather than content solutions. He says, "content is no longer the problem. Business models are the problem. Could the AP deliver solutions that help newspapers generate revenue?"
No one wants great brands we all trusted for decades to die, we just want them to get savvy about new business models so they don't end up in the car wreck at the bottom of the pile.
August 02, 2009
The World of the Crowd Surfer
"There is a story, probably apocryphal, about an architect who designed a university campus. On the day of the grand opening, he was approached by the Head of the University, who commented that ‘the buildings look fantastic, but why haven’t you put in any paths to connect them?’
The architect smiled knowingly and replied, “I will come back in six months to put in the paths, once I have seen how the students have chosen to walk between the buildings.” Rather than impose his own views of where the paths should go, or use some elaborate computer simulation model, he believed that an enlightened architect should respond to the behavior of the crowd.
Welcome to the world of the crowd surfer: a world in which a new generation of business and political leaders have learned how to harness the energy, ideas and enthusiasm of today’s empowered consumers. They are not manipulators, demagogues or mere populists.
They have been smart enough to recognize that people around the globe - emboldened and enthused by a new spirit of enquiry and self-expression, and powered by the internet – have changed the rules of the game.
They realize that surrendering absolute control – giving their customers, partners and employees a greater say in the way that their businesses operate – is paradoxically, the most effective way to manage their corporate or political destiny.
Crowd surfers are the people that concur with racing driver Mario Andretti’s maxim that: 'If everything seems under control you’re just not going fast enough.'"
July 30, 2009
Pay-to-Play Blogs that Test & Review Products
The Federal Trade Commission may soon require online media to comply with disclosure rules under its truth-in-advertising guidelines; the NY Times dove into the full story earlier this month.
A draft of the new rules was posted for public comments this year and the staff is to make a formal recommendation to be presented to the commissioners for a vote, perhaps as soon as the fall.
From the article, we learn that TNT is experimenting with a paid relationship with Melanie Notkin, founder and chief executive of SavvyAuntie.com, a blog that targets aunts without children.
For some bloggers, pay-to-play is the only way. Recently during a launch of a new website, I had an email exchange with a blogger who wanted to charge for a reference and link to the new site in a blog post, something that was naturally very relevant for her audience and something her readers would love to learn about…….yet, no pay, no value-add to her readers.
There’s the $$ amount per post and there’s also the additional nominal fee (cents) every time a reader might click from the blog to a corporate site that sells the product the blogger is highlighting.
Pay-to-play isn’t new but as if it becomes more widely adopted, it will change the way readers view the credibility of blogs. It has to. It’s not where has newspapers gone? They’re sinking to their inevitable death, but it doesn’t mean that journalism ethics and integrity have to die along with them.
Full disclosure and authenticity is great but I’d hate to see advertorials and pay-to-play become the norm rather than the exception.
July 18, 2009
Random Thoughts on Social Media & Newspapers
From The Guardian Live Event Podcast in London this month, I spent more time tweeting the event than thinking about creative things to say about the decline of newspapers that hasn't already been said a million times before.
A few random thoughts in a 140-like format from what the panelists and audience threw out during the event:
Ten metropolitan papers across the country may be closed by the end of the year in the U.S.
Subscribers are leaving papers, although they may choose to read it in a different format, perhaps on a kindle.
We learned about Michael Jackson’s death through Twitter.
We’re all the media now, but it's important for us to make some distinctions.
The New York Times and other majors are not always right, but we create our own levels of credibility over time.
Now, it’s up to us as individuals to have better crap detectors, it’s important for that kind of media literacy to sink in with the general public.
Organizations like the BBC can hang onto their brand by not necessarily being first on a particular news story. Why leap on the news when there’s other important stuff to report on.
Talk about what you know now because that’s what you know now.
Once you press the button, you can't change it. That’s why we have put six layers of safety around the production process.
The Telegraph has proved the value of exclusives. Exclusivity has a diminishing commodity value because of the nature of how quickly stories can get out there.
The thing about Twitter is that the barrier to entry has dropped to an SMS message.
The barrier is really low on Twitter - there's actually a guy who’s building supply chain toys in China who is using Twitter.
The thing about Twitter is that it works on every phone. People in the developing world can get as much utility out of Twitter as we do because they can use it on their cell phones.