Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The eighth mass media: live and in person

I'm speaking at Widget Web Expo in London next week (Oct 6-7) on: The User is the Destination Now - Widgets Role in the Eighth Mass Media.
It's the first time I'll have rolled out the whole Eighth Mass Media thing to a live, in-your-face audience. So that'll be interesting.
Ivan Pope has organised a great line-up of speakers, so I hope you'll join me there. If it's anywhere near as good as Widget Web Expo New York it'll be a cracker.

That's next week. Today I'm in London to meet and interview Clay Shirky (with my copy of Here Comes Everybody in hand for him to sign!)

A big thank you to those of you who contributed questions here and on twitter. You'll see the results - thanks the Flip Mino I'm testing, on this blog later this week

Monday, September 29, 2008

How to kill a £10K per year relationship

Tesco. Love it or loathe it, if you live in the UK chances are you line their pockets. Big time.

If you do a £100 weekly grocery shop you spend around £5K each year. If you get your petrol there too, you're likely up to £10K - and that's without the occasional bit of electrical, homeware, clothes or even mobile phone or car insurance payments.

So you, as a customer, are clearly very valuable to them indeed. But only for your money.
It seems to me their customer-handling has all but forgotten that the gullet that consumes is attached to a human being.

A friend of mine recently received a polite but threatening letter from Tesco because she had parked in the car park at their aircraft-hangar-of-a-superstore at Barhill, near Cambridge, for more than the time Tesco had calculated it was reasonable to shop (I think their limit was/is 4 hours).

This is a car park that's shared with other retailers, by the way.

Let's think about that for a moment. Tesco used a camera to record her arrival and departure from this car park, a camera with numberplate recognition - and one which is presumably connected to a computer which can both generate nasty automated letters AND find your home address, based only on your registration number, to send the nasty letter to.

Did you know Tesco had the right to your address simply because you choose to drive into their car park? Neither did I.

Ok, so that's shocking enough. But given how hi-tech this process is, and given Tesco's famous clubcard scheme and all the information it records about your shopping habits, then the only excuse for the automation of a snotty letter is pure profit-motivated laziness.

How so? Well, first, let's consider things from Tesco's perspective for a moment. Why do they want to limit your car parking time to 4hrs? Perhaps they have an issue with commuters parking their cars at the superstore and hopping on a bus into Cambridge. It wouldn't surprise me.

So, first of all, the people it should be targeting are those who are NOT coming into the store and ARE repeating the behaviour of parking for entire days, day after day.

Both of these behaviours are discoverable through Tesco's electronic surveillance.

Had the system been written to check for repeat behaviour (that's an IF THEN line even in Basic!) then it would not be writing a snotty letter to my friend. This was the first time she'd ever been there for more than 4 hours.

Had the code been written to query transactions in the store (again, it's a simple IF THEN) then it would also have known she had made two transactions in the store that day, one before lunch and one after. Again - don't send the letter.

My friend was shopping for a kids birthday party, had a break for lunch (in the Tesco restaurant!) and a shop in one or two of the other stores sharing the the same car park. That's how 4+ hours fly by Tesco dudes - at least they do for your 'valuable' customers - ones spending money.

This system would be so easy to put right - even as an automated one.

But here's my suggestion Tesco: Since the average family is spending £10-£15K with you each year - and each one of these sent-in-error automated letters could cost you a customer each time - wouldn't you be wiser employing say, just one customer services advisor to speak human-to-human to those you fear may be abusing your free parking?

A little conversation would soon reveal the true circumstances. And you'd be much more likely to keep your customers.

Every time you send one of these letters without understanding the circumstances you risk losing that customer's £10-£15K a year - for ever.

And they are telling their friends...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Got a question for Clay Shirky?

I've got the opportunity to interview Clay Shirky on Tuesday this week thanks to the lovely people at Incisive Media.
I'm a big fan of Clay's work particularly his recent book Here Comes Everybody. (currently available with £8 off at Amazon)
I'll be video recording the interview to share later - using one of the just-arriving Flip Video Mino's. Just been sent one to test by Alex Myers - who responded to my bleating tweets for something simple to shoot and share with ( I am a-cursed with a 3G unjailbroken iPhone - no video recording!).
You'll see the results on this blog later this week.
And you can help shape the results right now: simply post a question you'd like to put to Clay in the comments below and I'll do my best to include as many as possible in the interview.

FasterFuture Consulting

FasterFutureConsulting believes:
  • The internet is for connecting people; People who share common purposes, passions and values.
  • The fact groups can form at next-to-no cost disrupts every traditional value chain and business model. It is why so many are in turmoil and why so many more will follow.
  • We are going through the greatest revolution since the printing press. This revolution is not technological - it is human-powered.
  • The more we connect people who share purpose, the more value we create.
  • This is not rocket science – everyone can adapt to survive. We know how.

Companies, organisations and individuals who embrace these simple rules will prosper in the emerging networked world. Those that don’t, won’t. If you aren’t prepared to change, please don’t engage me.



Keynote Speaking

David Cushman scores highly for his visionary presentations at conferences throughout the globe; in London, New York, Berlin, Cannes, Cork, Amsterdam in the last year.

His subjects have included:
  • What next for marketing and advertising?
  • Why traditional ad models don’t work in social networks (and what will)
  • The Power of the Network – and why we must do more than witness it
  • We’re all Publishers Now (and advertisers, too)
  • The User is the Destination: The emerging Eighth Mass Media
  • Multiple digital identities and the economics of the long tail

His expertise and insights drawn from 20+ years in media both traditional and digital make him an inspiring combination of realist and visionary

FasterFutureConsulting has advised on conferences in London and New York. Now, together with 6Consulting, we will be offering residential two-day conferences in the historic University city of Cambridge, UK.

FasterFutureConsulting can organise workshops for you; and/or contribute external expertise for your own internal exercises. We’ll work to come up with the best fit for your needs and experience.

Strategic advice
I have a proven track record as a digital visionary which can be applied to your business today for a brighter tomorrow.

FasterFuture Consulting is part of a network which includes 6Consulting; offering the best in social media measurement.

World's largest Full-Service Social Media agency
My day job is at Brando-Digital. Contact us for the best in forward thinking full-service agency work


David was one of our top experts in a co-creation session in Amsterdam for a high profile international client on the future of content interaction. David was invited, because of his strong future vision on the developments in new digital media.
During the session itself David not only impressed our client by his extensive knowledge on the subject, but also because he was a pleasure to work with. David was a real team player with original ideas others could build on.
Our company and our client were very much impressed by David’s expertise and contribution. I would recommend David to everyone who is looking for a true digital visionary.

Ivo De Mas A u b e r o n - Growth Strategy Consultants, Amsterdam.

"David is one of the most perceptive observers of the social web today, and his insights are especially relevant for companies trying to discern a path through the seeming chaos to a solid footing."

Stowe Boyd, global authority on social applications and their impact on business, media, and society.

“Your presentation on Social networks provided great clarity on the cultural-socio-economic changes that will impact on my business.
“Your facilitation of and contribution to the subsequent discussion amongst my team was very helpful in enabling them to get a handle on what is a paradigm shift in their view of the world in which they operate.
“I am optimistic that I can achieve a rapid and effective organisational change from today's starting point.”

John Chillcott Chief Executive, Anglia Co-operative Society Limited
, UK

"David and I collaborated on putting a panel together for Widget Web Expo in NYC and generally connect almost daily over the internet. David has a fantastic grasp over the evolution of the internet and is a pleasure to collaborate with. I highly recommend working with him."
David Armano VP Creative/Design Evangelist, Critical Mass
, US

"I first came across David via his blog, FasterFuture.blogspot.com . Several of his posts really struck a chord with what I felt was happening in the publishing and wider media world. However, David was clearly far better at explaining them than I ever could.
I started following David's thoughts and Twitter posts and, when Incisive launched our e-publishing innovation forum, David was the first person we asked to speak. His presentation rocked and was one of the highest rated of the conference.
Since then I have stayed in contact with David. His advice is always welcome and his posts regularly inspire."

Rory Brown, Managing Director, Incisive Media, UK

"I have known David Cushman for several years in the digital media convergence space. David and I have collaborated on conferences, blogs, the Forum Oxford expert community, various writing and speaking opportunities etc. I have also delivered consulting work for David at his company. David is very warmly trusted in the industry as a forward thinker in the innovation space. He is also a hard worker, extremely productive, totally reliable and beyond all that, also a sheer delight to work with, always maintaining a positive outlook and great sense of humour. We are now collaborating on a course for Oxford University around the 7th Mass Media concept. I can most warmly recommend David for anything in the digital convergence media space."
Tomi T Ahonen, Best-selling Hi-Tech Author and consultant, Hong Kong

"David is one of the rare breed who continue to promote digital futures.
He is truly a thought-leader and universally respected by everyone he comes in contact with.
In my opinion he is one of the most valuable people at his company and I believe that every company needs a David Cushman.
"I cannot recommend him highly enough."

Jonathan Macdonald, Senior Consultant, OgilvyOne, UK

"Every company involved in digital development should have a 'Dave'. Passionate, inquisitive, knowledgeable and fearless in all aspects of how digital technology are changing life and business, but particularly their cultural impact. Dave is a fully paid-up member of the digerati and mixes with those whose focus is further ahead than the next quarter's results. The result is great knowledge, insight, some provocative opinions and a strategic perspective particularly on digital media."
Gus Swan, Head of Technology, Bauer Media, UK

"Few people I have met, have [1] a deep understanding of their existing business and [2] also possess a clear and detailed vision of where that business can go in the light of the significant challenges of the digital world.

"Also a first class communicator. I would unhesitatingly recommend David."

Alan Moore, CEO SMLXL, author Communities Dominate Brands

“Just a quick note to say thank you so much for speaking at the Digital Identity Forum.
“We've had terrific feedback on the event, and this reflects as much on the quality of your session as it does on our input.
“It was important to have a first session that established the "ground rules" for the event: real expertise, new ground and genuine debate.
“Well done.
“I hope you found it worthwhile as well and perhaps might be prepared to get involved again in next year's event.”

David Birch, Director, Consult Hyperion UK

“At WidgetWebExpo, David Cushman rocked the room... He seems to have something insightful and unique to say about almost every medium.”
Michael Leis VP Strategic Services Emerge Digital, US

“ One of the true long term, insightful bloggers I know”
AjitJaokar author and global telecoms consultant, UK

Comments after Mobinar
“I have not been to a more engaging, stimulating and relevant session in years.

“The quality of the speakers - who really got stuck in and involved with the project work we did - was superb.

“High calibre and sufficiently 'different' to make attendance a real pleasure.
“I came away enthused for opportunities in mobile…”.

Various attendees

Comments after Never Mind the Bloggers seminar and workshop with Alan Moore and Euan Semple

“Many thanks for yesterday's blogging summit - your speakers, and yourself, have opened my mind again to the possibilities of a good blog.”
Tim Street Website Editor, MATCH, UK

Thursday, September 25, 2008

If you don't believe in it, stop doing it

Gary Vaynerchuk's keynote at the recent NYC Web2.0 conference has been getting some very positive tweets among my lot on twitter.
Thought it wise to check it out for myself. You might, too.
There's a real vibe about belief in this. His theme is about personal brand building in social media.
I love his passion for responding to the listening, really giving a sh*t for his community.
And he's able to deliver that without any trickery or fakery because he really does love what he does.
Go Gary!
So what gets you out of bed and charging into work in the morning?

MySpace Music. Sharing the broadcast?

While the real lesson of the networked world for music is that (as Herdmeister would say) music is something we do together, MySpace is taking advantage of the monkey-see monkey-do (in this case monkey-hear, monkey-do) reality of the flocking activity of real human behaviour.

(Thanks to Jamie Burke for sharing this link).

MySpace has launched MySpace Music which effectively turns audio files of your favourite music into a Facebook newsfeed-style shared experience with your social graph (your MySpace friends, at least). (image by antikris via flickr)

It's integrating the functionality of the likes of last.fm and blip.fm inside the fully-formed social network of MySpace. And, of course, it's an excellent fit - because MySpace always was all about the music.

One of its biggest advantages over other apps is that it offers unlimited streaming of the music your friends are listening to from the news feed.

Now, if only the record companies allowed users to mash-up, remix and redistribute the results (that is adapt in order to adopt)... then we'd have a model that really fits the networked world.

This slidedeck (used previously on this blog, granted) reveals why I think that's important. Essentially, because it takes into account the importance of individual human intervention and relationships (in adhoc self-forming communities of purpose) in the spreading of messages today.

If you don't enable the co-creation side of the equation what you are effectively doing is using people as a funky new broadcast channel. It can work. I just don't think it's likely to work as well as the evolving network of two-way relationships that ceding control and sharing outcomes allows.

Lots to think about for MIDEM in January.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cool is in your interactions, not in the phone you carry

An interesting battle is emerging in the mobile world. The G1 google phone was announced yesterday. The iPhone we already have. Touch screen, app-laden rivals are popping up left right and centre.

The first battle was about coolness of device. The iPhone is winning that hands down. The G1 looks less sex on a stick and more sack of spuds. And everyone else's efforts at out appling apple mean look-a-likes.

But the hardware may be a smaller influence on the outcome than many imagine. (image by ceekay via flickr)

Yes, I get that our phones are personal, always with us, an expression of self. Well, I get that they always were. But as they become more and more a true expression of ubiquitous computing, some of those computing requirements look like gaining the upper hand.

Your Mactop may be prettier than my pc but, what if no-one will buy it because you can't attach a web cam? (You can, I know... but you take the point?)
The iTunes store doesn't allow any apps which use the iPhone's camera... you have to jailbreak to be able to use qik etc

Is that wise?

There has to be good-enough software available for macs in order for apple to sell its computers. And there is. But in the computer world it's clear pcs have won on a global scale. They've won on price and because software for one runs on all (pretty much). More developers therefore create for the pc than the mac.

Simply, the pc can do more things because more people develop more things for it to do.

That's the route google is taking with the G1. Android is more open than the iPhone.
(But it ain't that open. An open phone wouldn't be locked to a network. An open phone would allow me to put any sim I like in. What gives here google?)

Anyway, what I mean to say is the battle for dominance in mobile will not be about who has the coolest handset, but it may be about who has the most effective way for developers to monetise their efforts - because that is the route to making your hardware do more.

And the closer your phone gets to being your primary point of entry to the internet, the further the hardware gets from being an expression of self. That's because the greater part of the expression of self will be happening digitally when you make your entry to the internet (ie you manage your reputation through each interaction on social network after social network.)

Cool is who you are in each interaction, not what phone you carry.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Another small step/giant leap...

Just added a post to /message (first for a while, sorry Stowe!) about SocialMention. Read it?

G1 Google phone specs leaked. Watch announcement live today.

The tech specs of T-mobile's google phone, the G1, have been leaked ahead of official announcements. And the spec has caused a collective... so what?

You can watch the official launch live from New York at 10.30 EDT here.

According to Tech Ticker among many sources; the Android-powered device includes:

  • One touch access to: Search, Maps, Gmail, Youtube, Calendar, and Google Talk
    (Gmail account and data plan required)
  • GPS
  • 3.1 mp camera,
  • no video recording
  • No stereo bluetooth (A2DP)
  • Dimensions: 4.6 x 2.16 x 0.63 in
  • Weighs 5.6 ounces (~160 grams)
  • 480×320 65K color screen
  • 5 hour talk time, 130 hour standby time
  • Expandable up to 8GB
We'll soon see exactly how serious google is about the mobile internet - and its expectations that more revenues will come from mobile advertising than fixed line within a few short years.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Know someone? Or know someone who knows someone?

A colleague and friend has asked for a little help in tracking the right person for a great job he has up for grabs.

Anyone with some half-decent rss alerts set up - or who knows someone who has the right alerts set up, should discover the following very swiftly.

If you know anyone who loves bikes (as in motorcycles) and the internet, step this way:

Online editor - Motorcyclenews.com
The UK's No1 motorcycling website (source: Hitwise) is looking for an online editor:
Key tasks
* Creation and delivery of an online content plan
* Manages team of 3
* Commissions, sources, acquires content
* Contributes development ideas
* Works closely with business and commercial teams
Key Skills
* Affinity/with sense of user needs (eg web-using motorcyclists)
* Experience in delivering online or other content
* Writing and SEO skills
* Web enthusuiast
* Technical competence
* Initiative
* Makes things
* Organisation
* Enthusiasm
* Responsible/reliable
* Good under pressure
* Keen to learn
To find out more, contact
Digital Development Manager
01733 468014
07918 725700

Make up your own meaning

A wise man once commented that this blog had become something of a repository of wisdom. Which is nice. Others might see it as the ramblings of a fool. But that's kind of the point.

When I share something on this blog the job is not done. The job is only just beginning. The meaning of whatever you read only means anything to you at the point of perception. You bring to bear the history of you when you read these words. And they transform as you read.

It's a humbling thought. Each phrase, word, conjunction, is the start of an evolutionary process of ideas which grow as a result of the way they are both received (see Recommendation: It's all in the mind - theirs not yours) and the way they are shared (through self-forming adhoc communities of purpose).

We make up our own meaning. (image by andrew couter enright via flickr)
A great example at the weekend: I tweeted "PRmageddon - just made up the word." and invited people to find a use... a meaning for it.

Pleased to say Laura Jones was inspired to write a blog post.

Where will PRmageddon take us next?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Measures of engagement - convincing the disconnected

Ever been asked for the ROI on social media by someone who actually uses it?

Just a thought, but I'm making a wild guess that those that use it understand its value in spades - and don't require the numbers. It's those that don't, who fret over each micro response - failing to see the bigger picture.

So your best strategy for getting someone to buy social media is to get them to buy-in to social media with a little DIY. I often recommend that everyone should blog, join a social network and build their own widget, for precisely that reason. Don't just witness the network. Be part of it. (image by burnblue via flickr)

Traditional media people and investors, for example, are happy to spend cash on TV ads, or interruptive online ads, or print ads. Because they get them. They understand that they are to be broadcast and consumed by audiences. And they are part of the audiences that do the consuming.

The other stuff - the clever, engaging (and we'll come back to that word in a bit) stuff is co-created within communities. And those that you want to part with their cash are not part of those communities.

Is it any surprise that Fred Wilson's outfit (Union Square Ventures) invests in socially engaging projects from twitter to disqus, del.icio.us, etsy, feedburner, tumblr and beyond. He lives in the social digital realm. He is therefore at an advantaged position to see the value. And Fred is famous for his hit rate. Maybe others could learn?

If you can't actually convince your would-be meal-ticket that they should blog, widgetise and generally get themselves connected before you pitch them, you face a tough gig. You'll have to play by their rules.

Luckily, we're finding a way to meet them halfway.

I tweeted yesterday: "Consumers value brands. Engaged people are valuable to brands".

ROI can't come down to increased traffic. Traffic is just eyeballs - it's just the page impression number. ROI has to get closer to and be more comfortable with the smaller, but more important numbers, of engagement.

For me, engagement with a community means you contribute something to it. Youtube's audience is valuable in a page impresssion sense. Youtube's contributors (particularly those forming groups, commenting and uploading video) have a much higher per capita value for youtube. (Total communities are ones in which to take part you must create part).

Enagagement should be measured by actions. All the rest is passive consumption.

Both have value of course. But what is the relative value? We feel engagement has higher value. Fred Wilson feels it well enough.

But where are the spreadsheets to convince the disconnected? SociallyMinded.co.uk colleague Matthew Brazil is working on exactly this with Radion6. I'm hoping to help him along the journey as is Dan and the organisers of Measurement Camp are striving for similar.

Matt is carefully testing the impact of using social media on actual business done for his consultancy.

That's exactly the kind of clincher the disconnected needs. And filling this hole may be just the blue touch paper required for more companies to get and use social media.

And as they do, they will become better - more fit for the networked world. More human. And that will be great for all of us - and for them..

So, if you have thoughts, any methodologies... post away!

And to try to get this rolling along and even more brains set workign on it, let's try it as a meme: Measures of Engagement.

John Carson has added his take.

I'll tag a first five to join in please: Alan, Dan, Joseph, Matt and Will

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This one time at Brand Camp

I was lucky enough to stumble across marketing pro and cartoonist Tom Fishburne and his book This One Time At Brand Camp recently.
And I've spent an amusing few hours browsing.
Tom has worked in the industry for a good time and has been lampooning it since 2002.
His cartoons are generally on the money. I have mixed feelings about the comments he has penned to accompany the book. Some offer cool insights, others just reference his inspiration. Worthy, but no match for the cartoons themselves.

Anyway, I thought I'd share a few of my favourites to see if I can't tempt you to go discover more of his work for yourself.
There's plenty more where that came from. Enjoy

Monday, September 15, 2008

Best Practice in Social Media? Best practice being human

The estimable Neil Perkin just tagged me as part of a 'Best Practice in Social Media' meme.
Trouble is Neil has said much of what I would have.

Actually, that's not a problem - it's a great thing that so many of us are converging around similar conclusions: Seth Godin, David Armano, Mark Earls, Jackie Danicki, Alan Moore, Euan Semple and seminally Doc Searls and the rest of the Cluetrain gang, to name but a few...

So yes I'll agree with Neil, once again, that human interactions are critical. (Image by dotbenjamin via flickr)

They are exemplified in notions such as P2PR, Lean-Too Marketing, The Intention Economy (which Doc was referring to more than two years ago, so I'm a late comer on that!) and summed up as best as I know how in this slidedeck:

If you want a case study; try this. The slidedeck above also refers to some great examples of the use of social media.

Quick guide? Well I wrote this for 'how to blog'. Seems much of it is appropriate to all social media.

Time to tag: I nominate: Neville, Christopher, David, Mark and Jonathan
Dan was already tagged by Neil! This meme was started by Mitch.

Rainbow smiling in the sky...

I tweeted yesterday how I saw this rather odd phenomena. So while it's not on topic for this blog, I did promise I'd put the picture here for those who were interested.
I saw this at about 4.45pm directly above me in Godmanchester, near Huntingdon, Cambs.

Two odd things about this rainbow:
1. It was directly above my head; as in about the place the noon sun would be. I've never seen a rainbow there before. It wasn't around any bright light (such as the occasional rainbow effects you see around the moon).
2. Oh, and it was upside down. Rainbows, in my 42 years of experience, curve from the horizon upwards before bowing and coming back down again. This one was upside down; like a big smile!

Oh, yeah, it wasn't raining either, hadn't been all day.

My clever wife reckons I may have been seeing a refelection of a rainbow happening somewhere over my horizon. Anyone seen similar? Back to the usual stuff tomorrow - I promise!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

How much will you pay for twitter?

How much will you pay for twitter? It's something all twitter users will have to consider because, like it or not, subscription is in the business plan. So is a (they hope) subtle form of advertising.

These details were included in the pitches they made in the recent round of funding. Even those of us who weren't privy to those pitches have been able to work this much out for ourselves.

Recently set limits on the numbers of followers/followed hints at a TwitterPro kind of model in the Flickr vein. By the way, Flickr refuses to disclose how many people have taken up their pro option. LinkedIn isn't exactly raddled with pro users either, for that matter.

The 140 characters allowed in each tweet, rather than the standard 160 characters of an sms message indicate, perhaps, a place to carry a word from our sponsors...

Yes Twitter got its funding. But funnily enough, the model didn't float the boat of every VC that Twitter pitched. Particularly when those VCs considered the numbers of truly active users (still something of a guarded secret).

For all this Twitter is extremely useful. It is one of a handful of elements of social media I would willingly pay money for.

But I had to use it first to discover how valuable it was to me. Same, I guess, is true of blogger.

So I'm guessing the entry level on twitter will remain free. Perhaps for anyone with up to 2000 followers. This will be ad supported. Perhaps there will be an option to pay NOT to be interrupted by advertising.

I hope not, because that would indicate twitter isn't thinking very cleverly about what advertising can become within its communities of purpose (there are fantastic opportunities for real-time human interaction at the point of intent, recommendations from within your network of trust, etc).

What is for certain is that without a revenue stream Twitter is just another feature when viewed from the VC end of the telescope. A nice to have. Ecosystem et al.

And,.as Facebook is discovering, features without revenue streams point in only one direction when it comes to valuation.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How to avoid extinction in an evolving world

I saw Rory Brown tweet about journalist Hugo Dixon talking about the death spiral of newspapers today. It's a subject dear to my heart. Newspapers were where I started my career 21 years ago. I was trained for print.
But we've logged their decline on this blog and many others. Microsoft, for example, predicts their extinction within 20 years.

The newspaper industry made, in my view, two key errors.
1. It missed the quality opportunity.
2. It spurned the R&D advantage it had

Now these are very grave errors. But if you're not in the newspaper industry I'd advise against form of smugness. For there, but for the grace of etc etc... (image by colin purrington via flickr)

Newspapers had (perhaps still have) an opportunity to do what the gift economy of the net couldn't: Invest in quality.

Churning out the same press releases anyone can find repeated 1000+ times on the internet may be cheap but it's also self-destructive. If you can't beat the web on price, you can't beat it on relevance and you can't beat it on speed (and you can't) you'd better find something else to beat it on. Quality seems the only game left in town. The creation of the point-worthy.

The R&D advantage was spurned too. When the print barons had piles more cash than the gift economists of the likes of wikipedia, google, youtube et al, they could have invested to make the kind of structural change required to match the networked world.

Now, ever more fearful, they are reduced to picking through the wreckage and looking for further efficiencies.

They chose not to invest in survival strategies for a world of complex adaptive systems (such as the net, such as evolution) and instead persisted with the linear mass-efficiencies models which worked so well in a mass industrial age.

Ok, so newspapers are having it hard. What's that got to do with you (if you aren't a print journalist, for example)?

Well, I don't think all of the troubles newspapers are facing are caused by the medium.

Anything which seeks to mediate in a networked world faces the challenge of being worked around, that's for sure. That is the impact of group forming network theory in practice.

But perhaps of even more impact is the way traditional companies and corporations are responding to, or are able to respond to, the huge changes being wrought by the networked world.

The death spiral Hugo Dixon describes is that of a company managing efficiencies. This is the mass industrial response - the fnal phase of the S-curve seen in many businesses (as referred to by Professor Malcolm Mcdonald among others).

When you have run out of innovations you turn to the accountants. More and more effort is focused on saving, less and less on growth.

You save until you can no longer spend.

This applies to newspapers.

It may also apply to a business near you.


The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?