Friday, January 30, 2009

The Newspaper Industry Can't Say They Weren't Warned...

Take a look at this news report on "electronic newspapers" from 1981 (via @johncabell)



I was stunned by the editor of the S.F. Examiner who said that it was just an experiment and they didn't plan to make any money from it. Well, maybe not in 1981, but the fact that 500 of the 2,000 people in the Bay Area with computers subscribed to the "electronic" version should have been a bit of a clue that things just might shift if computers became cheap and ubiquitous.

Guess nobody thought the technology would change. Wow. You'd think we were still using crystal sets rather than transistor radios or something....

If there's one thing that's constant, it's that technology changes. Think about it...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Spitting incident prompts Arrington "time off" from TechCrunch

Ok...the stuff we worried about a couple of years ago with the Kathy Sierra incident has crossed over into Real Life: Mike Arrington--good guy to some, really bad guy to others in the tech media space--has decided to take some time off from TechCrunch after being spat on:
Yesterday I was battling the flu, jetlag and little sleep, and had been battered for three days straight with product pitches from entrepreneurs desperate for press. The event was over and I was on my way back to my hotel. The last thing I wanted was another product pitch as I hurried to the car that would drive me to Davos for the next event. So when I saw this person approach me out of the corner of my eye, I turned away slightly and avoided eye contact. Sometimes that works. But in this case all it did was make me vulnerable to the last thing I expected.

In the past I’ve been grabbed, pulled, shoved and otherwise abused at events, but never spat on. I think this is where I’m going to draw a line.


Honestly, I like Arrington. Not in that fanboy way that so many in the Silicon Valley gush about him. I like what he does. I admire his tenacity and the way he's built up TechCrunch. I like the way he brought some great people to TechCrunch like Duncan Riley, who, unlike some others, never ignored my comments and actually came here and commented on posts.

And it frightens and saddens me that not only would someone spit on him, but that someone else would threaten him and his family....

Lots of people believe that it's the blogosphere that brings out the unbalanced. But is it the blogosphere, or is it something else? Murders of journalists, according to the CPJ, totals 136 since 2003. Most of those murders were politically motivated. In the U.S., murders of journalists have been connected to investigations into organized crime.

Usually, it's entertainment celebrities who suffer the wrath of unbalanced individuals, and in the past few years, it's been both male and female celebrities who have had to fear for their lives from the unbalanced.

So is it more that the blogosphere breeds a type of "celebrity" and that this is what brings out the unbalanced rather than organized crime or political opponents? Maybe it's not that the blogosphere is full of the unbalanced any more than movie theaters or the average American tv-loaded home breeds the unbalanced, but that the empahsis on "celebrity" in the blogosphere brings out the crazies....

As for Arrington, taking some time away may be helpful for him overall. At times the guy has sounded so physically and emotionally drained that I just wanted to give him a bowl of chicken soup and a warm blanket....

Yet, as in the Sierra incident, maybe we need to look at how we in the blogosphere use our words. As for me, I've begun to back off from slinging zingers. Not for disagreeing--I'll always disagree when it's there. But not to be mean. Not all disagreement is mean, even though it may look that way for the person who's theory is being picked apart. We bloggers (and jouranlists) need to learn to tolerate criticism. But we don't need to attack unjustly. "I want them ("opponents) to compete hard with us, but fight clean." said Arrington towards the end of his post. And there's a big difference between fighting hard and clean, and fighting by character assassination.

Maybe we in the blogosphere need to realize that we are dealing in a level of celebrity as much as we deal in a form of journalism. And that we have to watch our words because of the celebrity--that it shouldn't be "open season" on prominent bloggers any more than it should be "open season" on celebrities.

Maybe it isn't that Arrington has to suck it up and just deal with someone spitting on him. Nobody should "just deal" with that. Maybe we need to torque down the celebrity quotient out here. I don't know how we can do that, but we could try...

Meanwhile, Mike--if you need a place to go where nobody knows you, think about Western Mass. If you like snow, we've got it. We've also got broadband.

Just a thought...

Update Duncan Riley shares his thoughts about the incident. He says the types of things that only someone who really cares would say about a person. Despite the way he was treated by Mike. And maybe Riley has a very good point.

Social Media & Monetizing UGC panel at #SIIA

This is an interesting panel,w ith Joe Robinson, CEO of A Small World; John Blossom, President of Shore Communications; Chuck Schilling, Research Dir Nielsen Online; Robert Barber, CEO Environmental Data Resources; and Shawn, Gold, Chairman of SocialApproach.

Joe Robinson says that he's able to monetize the sharing of content. Interesting. But how?

That's the thing: will anyone be able to *really* address how to monetize UGC? Has anything changed from when Steve Outing's Enthusiast's Group didn't work out?

John Blossom: I looked over his book "Content Nation" last night (got a free copy) and he really gets social media. "Opportunities (financial) scale to niche markets."

Robert Barber laid social media tools on top of his data and increased the value of that data. Added a "quality layer" of commentary that provided revenue opportunities. "EDR's core resource is data"--I'm thinking about EveryBlock, and whether or not Barber's experience with monetization can help an EveryBlock model. "EDR launched a community called "Common Ground" last year, where niche professionals can talk about world of assessing environmental risk. " This community is an asset! "Would you rather have people" sharing info on Facebook, or on a site where other professionals can discuss and share. (This is a good point--value in exclusive communities for particular professions.)

Chuck Schilling: Speaking about BuzzMetrics (yes! I know who they are!) that monitors "buzz" (conversation) around brands in social media context. Helping clients get "a certain level of comfort" with communicating with customers on this

How will soc. media survive in this space?

John Blossom: the concept of endorsement. People will endorse on personal level and influence friends (vs. listening to celebs.)

Joe Robinson: pitching high-end brands. Brands that come to him want results right away--they can deliver people who are talking about products. Social media helps word-of-mouth buzz (I'm thinking of Andy Sernovitz here...)

Shawn Gold talking about Addidas on MySpace, and use of widgets, badges, etc. 21 Million people interacted with Addidas stuff on other people's MySpace pages. Harness and measuring will make soc. media scale.

About UGC: Robert's UGC is very valuable (yes, it is.) "What happens day to day is that someone buys an environmental report on a property. they visit a property. the environmental person" will come back and if they've observed something on the property not on the governmental report, they can add it to the report. This helps assess environmental risk.

**So, technically, by "crowdsourcing" within EDR's social network (or, "UGC database") they are giving more updated information than the Governmental reports can keep up on. Like doing "due dilligence." This is very cool...and monetizing this helps keep EDR going.

Chuck from Nielsen, sounds like at BuzzMetrics they are filtering all the "noise" of conversation out there so that businesses can understand what's being said, why, etc. "How, from a brand perspective, does this lead down to purchase?" Trying to help people track and understand conversation (or, UGC...)

Shawn says not a lot of great subscription models for UGC--true, as most don't want to pay for UGC.

Joe: People use Facebook as an application. Contextualizing social media then can allow for monetization (well??) "Social media is the place where people are coming together" (yes, interesting to hear this explanation--I thought it was self-evident.)

John: sees a "layered" model working for BtoB. Lawyer's network that allows info on obscure cases to be uploaded by lawyers. news can then be generated by journalists in B to B sector, which can also be monetized.

There seems to be some real value in B to B social networks that crowdsource information (like at EDR and among lawyers)

Can social networks become e-commerce platforms? switching from media platforms to transactions platforms. Perspective on virtual goods space?

Joe: "ultimately, they see people come in..." like hotel booking agent which ties to user profiles and transactions going on. (but Small World is a restricted community--different from other soc. networks. however, this may fly in Facebook, but how much will we have to give up in our profiles. will it be another Beacon fiasco??)

Chuck: product called Net Effect will track a person to see if advertising is effective.

Measuring the effectiveness of online advertising may need refinement. As we know, click-thru metrics just don't tell the whole story. I liked what I heard earlier about ads that allow for e-commerce transactions from the ad (will talk more about this in my post on the SIIA Previews event that took place on Monday.)

John: Intertwining of media and community in BtoB community.

So, essentially, it may be easier to monetize UGC in a B to B environment than to monetize UGC in a B to C or in, say, the type of environment that was in the Enthusiast's Group. Overall monetization of UGC, IMO, will always be difficult, but there are models for B to B that seem to work. The crowdsourcing of professional info, as with EDR is one of those (I like this--as it does not exploit the people who are adding to the government reports, who are doing it freely and to further the accuracy of information in that community and profession.)

Shawn brings up the idea of reaching into other social networks for marketing. HOWEVER: it's one thing to transfer one's information into a new social network, and other for marketers to reach into that info. IMO, the partnership between LinkedIn and BusinessExchange is a good way to go as it is not directly marketing related.

Interesting panel. Didn't totally solve the problem of monetizing UGC, but did bring up interesting points.

Henry Blodget and "The Rise of Online Journalism'" #SIIA

I'm here for the second day of the SIIA Summit--with Henry Blodget speaking about online journalism....and considering how much time I spend in that space in many ways, this should be interesting...

Henry sez: online journalism isn't "lifecasting"--it's also not shovelling print content online. "It's fabulous to read the NYT online...but it's not the real form of what online journalism will look like."

What works online?? What's the same as Old Media: need high quality news and analysis. requires reporting and editing. The form may be different--but the quality of news and analysis needs to be there.

What's different from old media: Aggregation. "Aggregation can be valuable because it saves readers time." High velocity production--like a text broadcasting, "producing content all day long." Conversational and interactive: "we often hear from" people in the know, so "we get out the story" quicker than old media. "We get a lot more good information--we become a resource." Content is "Snackable": "people looking for different kind of content online" and like small chunks. Real-time production: the plane in the Hudson. Omnimedia:Gawker has a whole bunch of TiVos going "they watch it and bring it to you"

Who does this well?: Business Insider, Huffington Post, Gawker Media

HufPo bigger than Boston Globe--but Blodget doesn't say much about HufPo's left slant, which may impact how it is accepted....

Problems of Online Journalism: Online readers think everything should be free(true!) "that has got to change if consumer journalism will survive online."
Online ads have barely innovated since 1995: "No reason" for the old kinds of ads to continue to exist online. The advertising should be different. Online industry has done nothing to innovate in this arena.; Advertisers only care about "clicks": "people get the message, but if nobody clicks it, it's a failure." big problems for ad-supported online journalism.

"Newspapers have had a great 200 year run" But it's "no surprise" they're in the condition they're in now. The model doesn't work. Too many ways to get information.

"Disruptive technologies are not better"--sometimes it falls "miles short." But it is "convenient and cheap." The new stuff gets better, the incumbent technology moves higher and higehr, while the cheaper begins to take over and destroys the incumbent.

"The cost of online journalism is so much lower than print journalism." Online can't cover print cost structure.

Some companies doing fine: Bloomberg has business subscriptions that pay for everything. Dow Jones WSJ has hybrid model that's working. They get lots of ad revenue from Google as well. They have totally free sites that are companions to the subscription sites.

NYT can be saved: if they cut costs 40%, charge online subscription, raise print price.

"Journalism" is not dying: "what's dying are old line newspapers that are not changing." "The death claims are self-serving nonsense." More journalists can express themselves online than before. Anyone can get info into sunshine:"Nowadays Deep Throat would have given something to the Smoking Gun." One billion online readers means 1 billion fact-checkers: in 20 minutes "we are shelled" when something is wrong.

What will happen: more newspapers sold, folded, or bankrupt. Online journalism grows and gets professionalized. Some old media adapts, some old media journalists adapt. Creative destruction leads to new better future. (this is a very nice analysis and takes into account what is actually going on...) "The shareholders of existing companies will get hammered"--but people will survive.

Overall, I'm pleasantly surprised how Blodget has summed up what's been going on in online journalism and has presented it in a way that is understandable. It's funny to hear someone in the back mention how John Byrne of BusinessWeek said about editors becoming curators, when Jay Rosen and I had a discussion on that, oh, probably two or more years ago. With what's been going on with online journalism, nowadays it's easier to see the editor-as-curator proposition. Indeed, there was some conversation a couple of months ago about how online magazines may have value if they move to curation and aggregation models.

Blodget talking about GH v. NYTCo explaining it. Blodget says that GH's attitude was "insane" But if GH wants to be insane, that's up to them (IMO) But Blodget brings up a good point that if the case becomes precedent that it the issue could go down a "slippery slope" of defining Fair Use. I'm not sure about that one, but there's a possibility...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Some notes on the late afternoon at the SIIA Summit

Kristian Hammond's presentation on "Frictionless Information" was about how to keep Google from eating your lunch. The best thing about this presentation is that it will be available online. I can't begin to transcribe or paraphrase it--don't know if it's that I need some coffee or there's just TMI...

On the "What's the Value of Value-Add?" panel, a comment's made about the Blogger's table (where I'm sitting--pic thankx to Larry Schwartz of Newstex and feeling a bit dissed...I wonder what some of the corporatos here think of bloggers....

A few nuggets from the "Thriving on Chaos: Profiting from the New, New Era of Political, Economic and Technology Change": There's an overall sense with this panel that things are on a way-downward trajectory. Talking about "different kinds of business models and business partners" (Dan'l Lewin, Microsoft) And I keep thinking, "what are those new business models??" Can someone explain please??

"Money velocity drives information velocity" Jim Kollegger CEO, Genesys Partners, Inc.

Steve Lohr from the NYTimes notes that the Times was expecting online to help support print, but that surely isn't going to happen in this economy.

Relying on quality of content and subscriptions in the future--Neal Lipschutz, SVP and Mg. Editor, Dow Jones Newswire.

News*paper* vs. News *business.* People still interested in news--Jon Miller, Foundig Ptnr Velocity Interactive Grp. & fmr CEO AOL. And that consumers will drive applications back to business rather than the reverse (as in the past.)

"Video consumption taking off" Jon Miller-- but haven't they been predicting this for awhile now? Is it really, as Jon suggests, going to take off because of new mobile devices (iPhone) that make it easier for video?

Just wish guys like this would talk more to Early Adopters of all ages to find out what people--not just young people--do with their toys and social networking...

Some interesting comments from SIIA panel on licensing digital info

There is a perception that young people are the only ones that don't understand copyright--but that's not exclusive to young people. Lots of bloggers, and people who are trying to collaborate in corporate settings, and a whole host of others don't understand the copyright as well as other rights and licensing of content.

"Just because you Google something doesn't mean you can use it in a Powerpoint presentation" Mindy Pennington, Manager, External Content, Library Svcs, Pfizer Global Research & Development.

Ed Colleran, Sr. Director, International Relations from the Copyright Clearance Center: they have created tools to help make it clear about licensing and use of digital content (I wonder what kinds of tools those might be?)

When content is connected with ongoing business, licensing and such becomes a different issue than when individuals use it. I'm wondering if anyone on this panel can comment on the GateHouse vs. NYTimesCo.?

Ed Colleran mentions how the Financial Times releases a certain number of articles for free, then some after registering, which can then lead to purchasing (sounds like a "freemium" model.)

This conversation also makes me think of small-town online newspapers, and if people will buy content from a small paper if they can't get it for free (honestly, I'd say yes...)

Looking at iTunes, if it's easy to pay, and people want the info or product,they will pay--(to paraphrase) Caitlin Grusauskas, a 3rd yr student at Columbia U. School of Law

Dominic Young on the biggest challenges facing content providers: "things like ACAP can help. Innovating in creating the business models that will work for publishers is important" (yes, and knowledge of different business models are important--is that knowledge there?) Right products to attract the biggest audiences.

Ed Colleran: not about text only. people want video, photo, etc. CCC sees that as licensing all that content a big thing. Ed sees future in Creative Commons, esp. for smaller content producers.

Mindy Pennington: publishers more flexible and relevant on what is/isn't licensed and how much is licensing. Esp. for info that's more along the lines of corporate info.

Caitlin: To have multiple licensing, multipule pricing structures. to enable people to share accordingly, is important.

Ed C.: people need to be educated on what they can and can't use. (this is a media literacy issue. how do we begin to work media literacy into the school curriculum. would we get more "media literate" if everyone had to take a journalism class?)

Lots of things said by this panel are things I've heard before, but there don't seem to be any new insights. Hearing about content use between people in corporate settings is one issue (this was new to me). Individual use outside of corporations another. And corporations using and building businesses on other people's content is another issue. There are so many types and kinds of publishers that it may require a variety of licenses, but will knowledge of these licenses be known only to people who access that kind of content regularly? When access to all kinds of content crosses different sectors of the populace, how might the populace know all the kinds of rights they can or cannot obtain?

Some Observations from the Sink or Swim panel #SIIA

There's much discussion here about writing for the Web being different from writing for print. This is true, but there's still no answer on how to monetize...

Michael Wolff talked about creating a site where one doesn't pay for content. IMO, this thinking seems to distort why we--I'm thinking of bloggers here--link to one another. There's definitely a disconnect between how individuals link to one another, and how (or why) an organization might link, or even aggregate. Even though a link is a link, the money-making off of free content is problematic.

Kevin English makes a point that one cannot make a business work without a revenue stream. Okleigh Thorne makes a comment that BtoBs make money differently--have different rev stream. That's mostly because they are serving a different community than general interest publications like the daily newspaper. Bob Merry, ed in chief of Congressional Quarterly says they still rely on advertising.

Vivek Shad (Time, Inc. online) comments that it's not print vs. web. It's about the advertising; click-through rates are low on display advertising. "If advertising is how we'll fund content...if there's a loss of confidence in brand advertising....then...

"we should move from a brand to a direct model...." Michael Wolff

Interesting that the conversation is moving about the types of advertising...

"technology not as a way just to create cheaper content", but the means of moving that cheaper content (Wolff.)

Lots of talk about how the Web has "killed" content. Bob Merry suggests that platforms have to be better (that's a thought.)

Someone raised the question about foreign correspondents. Wolff notes that we've already lost a lot of those. We have access to native information sources, so we're no longer dependent on the NYTimes or Time magazine. Wolff doesn't see a problem of Time shutting its foreign bureau. But could the job of the "foreign correspondent" end up being one that's take up by rich guys who have the money to travel to places and report on them? Could we be inadvertently stratifying professions so that only the wealthy have access to professions that used to be open and ways for people to move up the social ladder?

Just a thought...

The panel on content monetization will be interesting....

Liveblogging from the Software & Information Industry Association Summit--Keynote #SIIA

Invited to attend the Software & Info Industry Summit as a blogger, feel like I have Arrived. Cipriani, the meeting place for the the event, is gorgeous. Someone even checked my coat for me. There's something to attending an event like this--a sense of being part of something important. There's a sense of being a mover and shaker, not just someone who's toiling away somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Working as I do--with start-ups and cutting edge projects--can be an isolating experience. And even though I haven't met any of the folks attending just yet (a mixed group of men and women) I have a sense that I should be here.

The keynote is Marjorie Scardino, Chief Executive of Pearson. So often there's loads of squawking about how women don't keynote events--well, here's a woman keynoting an event. She's speaking on "sink or swim" and her own failure with a small newspaper she and her husband founded. Yes, revenues have to exceed expenses to survive. She notes that in the current economic situation there's not a lot to offset the losses in the financial markets. But there is much we can do in the Information industry, making it "the electricity of our times."

She sees much for the education--and for products and services that educate. Products that will educate and train the new workforce in new skills--"we don't know all the jobs of the 21st century." Not just "cool ideas" but ideas and products that will make a difference.

This is quite true. As I observed yesterday at the SIIA Previews event, the companies that presented were no-b.s. products. Platforms or SaaS that had more than advertising as a revenue stream, didn't distribute tons of no tchochkies, presentations that were delightfully free of comedic flash-and dash.

Ms. Scardino continues: We need to know skills of what students and employees and citizens will need for the 21st. century. What are the 21st c. skills. Managing information, working flexibly, working in groups, and communicating effectively will be necessary skills in the 21st century (according to a report.) The really vital skill will be able to connect answers to search queries and to be able to connect it to other results--judging the output of what you get. "It's a form of critical thinking that isn't part of our education system. . . We aren't doing enough to close the Achievement Gap with other countries."

"Technology can't solve the lag in our education system. . . Our teachers and classrooms need to be part of the always on generation as much as President Obama and his blackberry."

As I see it though, the lag is between the grown ups and the kids. Kids are online but there's no guidance from educators or parents as to how to manage information, how to be discerning when viewing information (like Wikipedia entries) how to balance social life and face to face interaction with online communication and interaction. Kids are often on their own, developing skills and a way of interacting that many adults don't understand--and they don't understand because they don't use the devices or the social networking sites or the things that adults consider "toys." When I talk with adults who begin to use Facebook and/or Twitter, they adults begin to understand the attraction, and how to communicate. But the resistance to social networking is amazing...even for business use, like on LinkedIn.

Ms. Scardino talks about releasing software and allowing customers to help fix it. I always wonder if that's the job of customers. Then again, it opens the process of development, and often customer input helps engineers,who can't anticipate all of the customer's needs or wants or see all the bugs.

"Good ideas don't always come from the top." And Apple is mentioned. "We have to have inclusive and interactive (collaborative?) cultures."

"Our content and technology are inextricably bound."

"See software as a tool to achieve somebody's goal." Not as an end it itself, or an art....

"We use technology to free us to do more with our intellects and our personalities."

Ultimately, things are changing too fast. Ms. Scardino notes that those of us who are on the cutting edge are far more fluid than most other folks. And we simply do not know what all the necessary skills will be for the 21st century worker. This is right. We are really in a strange place, at a time of amazing innovation, and immense social change. As my friend, elderblogger Ronni Bennett once said, we're probably in something like the Renaissance, but we won't know what that time is in our time. The term won't come about until way after we're dead. We hedge around with terms like "Information Age" and such, but those terms will morph as much as what my various titles have been over the years (online journalist, professional blogger, social media consultant, etc., etc., etc.....)

We're in a q & a period now....which I won't transcribe. I'm in listening mode right now...more to follow....

A short note on a questions I asked I wondered if Ms. Scardino had any suggestions as to how to bring parents and teachers up to speed. Sadly, she remarked about parents "friending" their kids on Facebook, and how kids wouldn't friend their parents. and that's the thing: parents have to think of themselves as people and "friend" their own friends Learning about social networking isn't about being a "helicopter parent" online, but should be about getting into it and doing it with *your* friends and family members.

Sheesh! why is it so hard for so many adults to grasp that it is O.K. to use Facebook and LinkedIn for their *own* social networking. That it's not going to kill them or even compromise their reputations...

If adults refuse to experience social networks on a personal level--not as helicopters mimicking their kids--they will never get how social networks function and how soc. networks can become important to a person's life.

Monday, January 26, 2009

NYTCo. agrees to no longer aggregate Gatehouse RSS feeds.

Update 3/2/09: Howard Owens (who used to be with GateHouse) explains the reasons for the suit. A very important read.

Update Zach Seward's wrap-up q&a on GH v. NYTCo. on NeimanLab blog

One of the things I predicted in the Gatehouse v. NYTCo. case was that NYTCo. would have to stop aggregating Gatehouse's RSS feeds. This is indeed one of the provisionsin the Agreement reached with Gatehouse
2)Defendants shall remove all GateHouse RSS feeds from the aggregation tool currently being used to copy and display Gatehouse's original headlines and ledes on boston.com's yourtown websites, and shall refrain from accessing such feeds for so long as GateHouse maintains any Solution(s) described in >
paragraph (1) to this Letter of Agreement. . .


In paragraph(1), GateHouse is requested to implement technological solutions that will prevent the Defendant from copying original content from Gatehouse...

There is, however, nothing to stop linking or deep-linking--just as long as original content is not used.

Take a moment and read the entire agreement...and here's a a bit more from Dan Kennedy on the matter

A little more on requesting aggregators don't link: at Placeblogger.com, we sometimes get requests from bloggers not to aggregate their feeds. Rarely, but we do get them. When this happens, we stop aggregating their feed. As a blogger, if I found my feed being aggregated by a site which had content that I found objectionable for some reason, I would expect the site to drop my feed if I sent them a request to do so. However I'm not sure if GateHouse was able to have that kind of informal request for removal that bloggers have. Perhaps they had to resort to legal action to have their feed removed. Still, this doesn't necessarily set a precendent, inasmuch as it is an agreement between these two parties. We will have to see....

Gatehouse and NYTCo. Reach Settlement in Aggregation Dispute

Update 1/28/09: Dan Kennedy has the full text of a memo
from Rick Daniels, President of GateHouse Media New England explaining to GH employees about the settlement...

Just in from @NeimanLab on Twitter: GateHouse v. New York Times Co. has been settled, court officials say. (ZMS) (settlement reached over the weekend--see below)

and

Settlement in GH v. NYT Co. was encouraged by Dan Kennedy & others as way for both parties to avoid wide-reaching ruling on links. (ZMS)

Here's a short piece from the AP on the matter

This is incredible! and the right move. As I spoke last week w/a reporter from the Boston Globe, I felt there was no way out of this for either party that wouldn't
inflict some serious damage to the fabric of the Web.

I can't wait to hear about the settlement. I have a feeling that Gatehouse will settle for having their feed removed, and, perhaps, for a small amount of money.

Another reason for settling is that Gatehouse may have been called to reveal their traffic logs--as an analysis of their traffic logs would be the only thing that would help the court conclude that Gatehouse was indeed losing traffic to NYTCo. But, Gatehouse may have felt that to reveal their traffic logs would have been more than they wanted to reveal.

It might have felt too much like they would be revealing some of the seasoning that makes their online sausage. (pardon the cheezy metaphor)

Overall, though, I'm not surprised that they reached a settlement. That's what happened in AP vs. Drudge Retort, a case that would have, essentially, forced the AP to specifically define what is a sufficient amount of text for Fair Use in text-based media (like it is for certain uses of film and music.)

Latest update from @NeimanLab: Court officer says GH v NYT was settled this weekend; court notified Sunday afternoon. No documents filed yet. That's all for now. (ZMS)

Guess we'll have to wait to know more...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What Journalists Get about Twitter, Social Media "Gurus" (and others) Don't

Over the weekend, I blurted out a four-tweet kvetch about journalists and social media types that went something like this: Journalists handle twitter far better than many marketers and p.r. people. And *far* better than most social media people. amazing!

And: freelance writers handle twitter pretty well too. not surprised, really.. . .

Then: It was when the baby diape(r) company started to follow me that I knew something had gone horribly wrong with marketing on Twitter. . .

That ended with: Journalist, however, give interesting links, aren't totally self-absorbed, are very helpful and often quite funny. even when being serious.

What got me going on this train of thought was all the "followers" that I'd recently accumulated on Twitter. Some of them were journalists from the Dallas Morning News, and other assorted journalists that I'd bumped into either as colleagues from Poynter's E-Media TidBits column or who'd read/heard about me from somewhere....

But it was the other followers--the weird "social media consultants" or "social media gurus" or baby-diaper companies, or mom-marketing firms or other (what I'd call) scam artists (not legit marketers/p.r./or others) for whom every tweet is a promotion for their latest get-rich-quick scheme that prompted the kvetch. But I wasn't the only one who'd been assailed by these social media polluters. Indeed, Michael Pinto of Fanboy.com seems to be having the same trouble with what he refers to as "a cancer" on Twitter and "zombies":
They don’t care who it is or what that person is interested in because their first prize is the “auto-follow”. By finding enough folks who don’t have auto-follow turned off they artificially inflate their number of followers which inflates their “expertise” in the field. Most start out by doing this to each other, but before long they need to prey on the flesh of the living.


That's another thing I've noticed, too, when I see the profiles of these "guru zombies": lots of high numbers. It's as if, all of a sudden, because you have huge numbers you must be significant or are saying something important on Twitter...(maybe it has something to do with this post on "Twitter metrics" that got them started...)

When all they're doing is shoving their lousy marketing message in front of audiences who don't give a damn!

Seriously. Why the heck is the baby diaper company following me, a middle-aged single woman with *no* children and nothing in my profile anywhere that says I am remotely connected to children! Oh, sure, maybe I have friends that have children, but those friends are too busy raising their children to be playing around on Twitter!

The egregious behavior of social media clods is what then lead me to observing my journalism friends, what they're tweeting and how they tweet. Few of them tweet headlines. Most journalists do not engage in horrific over the top self promotion that I see among the "gurus" (as well as some p.r. and marketing folk), including multiple links back to their own or their client's blogs, re-tweets of A-listers tweets and other ass-kissing behavior, and what seems to be a constant drone of "me! me! look at me! I'm social!!!"

If there's one thing that says you're not social, it's telling everyone how social you are....

So, while I may allow some of these droning zombies to follow me, I certainly don't follow them back. I don't want their chatter clouding my conversation with people who are really doing it right: my journalist friends...

And what are my journalist friends doing right? It's real simple: they are engaging in conversations! Here are seven things journalists I know are doing right on Twitter

1. they post what they're doing. if it's meaningful. not just crap. or crap about clients or client meetings or anything like that

2. they post links to their blog posts--but rarely re-tweet the same link for attention.

3. they answer "@" messages and direct messages :-)

4. they ask questions *and* answer questions!

5. they will even email you if you ask them to!

6. they don't post multiple links back to items within their own blog posts, esp.
if they can post a direct link (with a few exceptions.)

7. they don't try to prove their being social by doing any Twitter equivalent of jumping up in down and waving their hands in front of your face, including re-tweeting messages from A-listers that you probably follow, too. They simply don't have to prove how important they are in social media. Even if they are.

Odd, isn't it? For the longest time we've blasted journalists for their inability to understand blogging, when so many are doing darned well at microblogging. Maybe it's because, in the microblogging 'sphere, the newspapers that journalists write for keep their own brodcast-style Twitter streams (which we can choose to follow, or not, as the case may be.) Journalists are then free to tweet what they want, when they want, how they want. And in doing so, have created some really great conversations without being smarmy "gurus" about it.

A further amusing point A young p.r. guy @AaronU got peeved that I took a potshot at p.r. folks, and started following me. He seems to understand social media, and appears to handle his tweets rather judiciously.

For more on zombies Check out Alan Patrick's Paris Hilton, Twitter Flight, and other viral afflictions of social media for a good giggle.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Today We Begin a New Era. . .


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As I sit watching the Inauguration of Barak Obama,can't help but to think how much our country has changed in 48 years--48 years ago John Fitzgerald Kennedy became our first Roman Catholic President....

My Mother always reminded me of JFK's Inauguration. I happen to have been born during that historic inauguration, and I can't help but to think what that inauguration mean to my Mother (she was Roman Catholic.)

Because the Inauguration of Barak Obama means so much to me...

Some might wonder why--as I'm not African-American. But the thing is, growing up at the beginning of another New Era, I saw the changes in both the law of the land and in social attitudes that helped to bring about the election of Barak Obama....

This morning, one of the broadcasters reminded all of us that, in 1961, when Obama was born, his parents would not have been able to marry in many of the United States. It would have been called "miscegenation."

Along the way of my live, I had a number of friends who were "bi-racial" like Obama, and who went thru similar struggles with identity that Obama went thru. And I remember how it was difficult to explain to my parents, born and raised during a time of prominence for the KKK--when cross-burnings (even on the property of Roman Catholics) and lynchings happened regularly, that is was just as much o.k. for me to be friends with them, as it became o.k., in their time, for my Southern Protestant Father to be married to my Italian Roman Catholic Mother (yes, they were, in their time, considered "bi-racial"--how odd...but true. Look it up in the history books...)

We don't talk much about what happened to Roman Catholics in the United States--how the Vatican really didn't pay the U.S. all that much mind, that R.C.'s had, in many ways, to find their own way in this country; had to endure employment discrimination and "racial" discrimination and a host of other humiliations along the way. And even the wrath of the KKK....with cross burnings and being run out of towns (as had happened to my Italian grandparents in the 1910's...)

When Kennedy became President, his rise meant a lot to the Roman Catholic community of the U.S. It meant that, finally, Catholics were part of this Protestant country. That they were equal, not another race, not Pope-worshipers who would sell the country out to the Vatican.

And the Kennedys, both John and Bobby, alongside Rev. Martin Luther King,Jr., set in motion the attitude necessary to dismantle legislation and social attitudes that barred African-Americans from freedoms that kept them from being fully citizens of the United States. They stuck themselves in the door and helped to hold it open for change of that era's Old Regime...

So, today, as we watch Barak Obama become President, we see the fruits of that era that began on January 20, 1961 come to bear. We can turn a page, and say yes, we have come a very long way. We have changed as a nation. So much so that it's no big deal for whites and blacks to be friends (as it was when I was a kid), to see a "bi-racial" couple with "mixed" babies, any more than it is to have an African-American President and a Roman Catholic Vice-President (yes, our first.)

As Bob Schieffer remarked, there is now a generation that will be able to say they never knew a country that *didn't* have an African-American President. And I'm very glad to say that I've been able to see this, the culmination of so many changes that were launched 48 years ago, happen in my lifetime.

It is a day of much hope, and grace, and looking toward the future that we have not seen in a very long time. It is an amazing day indeed.