POTD | The Erosion in The Paid Media Pyramid

December 3rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

The media business is changing — and fast.

As Seth Godin notes, just about anybody can produce almost anything digital these days and the lines between free and mass content are blurring dramatically. The traditional definitions of content (packaged assets like article, song, or show) have blurred with the rise of social media and the remix/mashup economy.

The Erosion in the Paid Media Pyramid

At the same time, the massive increase in connected distribution means that producers can reach consumers with bespoke or limited content ways never seen before.

The likely winners in all of this: those producers or aggregators that can capture consumer attention and move beyond the selling of mass digital assets to providing either limited goods or marketing ongoing entertainment experiences.

Cleaning Out The Attic

November 27th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Every few months, I clean out the digital attic
and purge old, tired content sources.

I read quite a bit daily (usually at the crack of dawn and late at night), so curating my digital sources keeps me from going insane. I’ve added a few new online sources of information, including some sources of personal design and blogging inspiration, plus a few new sources of industry and professional information.

Here are a few new additions to the blogroll.

From the business side:

Bijan Sabet
Bill Gurley
Anthony Tjan
Venture Hacks

From the design side:

Design Milk
Ministry of Type

I’ll probably add a few more in the coming days.

POTD | 10 Years of Blogging

November 27th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Om Malik provides a nice perspective on a decade of blogging.

I’ve been tied up with a bunch of family activity and work-related stuff, but his post inspired me to recommit to posting at burdseed again.

POTD | New York Times Redux

July 27th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Today’s post of the day is actually a series of posts from earlier in the week about the design of news sites.

The New York Times Mobile Site

Photo by Robert Scoble

Andy Rutledge, a designer, published an analysis of the layout of New York Times web site, along with some hypothetical changes, and used it as an example of the design challenges faced by today’s news sites. This sparked a bunch of conversation on Twitter, including from current and former designers at the times. Om summarizes the discussion nicely.

Although Rutledge missed a bit with his comments about the Times and with some of the elements of his redesign, the essence of his message is correct: many news sites desperately need to be redesigned for the modern web. This problem is not limited to news, but extends to many first-generation web portals and sites in areas such as sports, entertainment, and finance. It’s also true for many of the early web 2.0 sites. Use of the web is changing and is increasingly being driven by social, devices, video, and living room or mobile use cases. Less is more in most cases.

Tunes | New Section Added

July 24th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

I’ve been playing around with a few tumblelog-like site features.

One is a snapshot of what I’m listening to these days on Last.fm.

Yes, I’ve used Pandora and Spotify (and turntable.fm), but I continue to return to my old favorite.

A Return to RSS

July 23rd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Call me a luddite, but I’m rediscovering RSS.

The rise of Google+ has caused me to reconsider my social network use and information needs. And, strangely enough, the losers are the Big 3 social networks themselves.

I used to be a heavy RSS user. Then, at some point, I began to rely more on Twitter for social curation and news feeds and stopped reading RSS. But I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated by Twitter’s signal to noise ratio. In my case, the worsening feed hasn’t been caused by a bigger list of sources; rather, it’s been caused by my sources tweeting more and more about less interesting things (check-ins, link bait, off-topic RTs, Instagram, and so on). Unfortunately, this loss of fidelity hasn’t been offset by an increase in serendipity.

Enter Google+.

Google+ exacerbates the fidelity problem by focusing on threaded conversations and commentary, often by people I don’t know. Although Google+’s topical organization is helpful for creating conversations, the noise within these threads is exceedingly high and will only get worse as more people join the network. “Engagement” appears to be trumping “relevancy” and serendipity is low. This has long been a problem on discussion boards and doesn’t appear to be solved on Google+.

I’m still using Twitter for real-time updates and chat, Google+ for occasional threaded topical conversations, and Facebook for friend network posts. But I’m spending more time as a consumer with raw signal and, by and large, that seems to be long-form articles or micro-blog posts distributed via RSS.

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Update (July 23, 2011)

Robert Scoble has posted a Google+ thread about the noise issue, which serves to illustrate the problem beautifully.

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Update (July 24, 2011)

One unexpected benefit of my return to RSS is the fact that I can enjoy the writing of certain authors without suffering from the terrible website designs of their employers.

Who’s Gouging Whom? Netflix, Hollywood and Consumers

July 14th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Netflix is gouging their dvd-by-mail customers.

Or so say the company’s critics after Netflix announced pricing changes for their streaming and mail-based video services on Tuesday. Todd Spangler at Multichannel News has an overview of the announcement and publicly-stated rationale for the move, and Ryan Lawler at GigaOm has a good summary of the consumer reaction.

Why would Netflix would make this move and create the predictable amount of consumer outrage? Moreover, why would it announce that it’s separating the DVD-by-mail business into a separate organization under new leadership? According to Spangler, at least one analyst suggested that this move was driven by a desire by Netflix to “[kill] off the DVD business as fast as possible.” That seems to run counter to Netflix’s public statement that “DVDs by mail is a long-term business for us.”

The reality is that the world is changing for both Netflix and Hollywood. Netflix is facing new competition on the streaming front from Amazon, Hulu, Google and Apple (plus other smaller players) and is moving to secure rights for more recent content while expanding into international markets. Every streaming subscriber it adds gives it more leverage in content acquisition negotiations. Hollywood is trying to preserve its existing distribution channels, exert tight control over new ones to prevent cannibalization, and increase content licensing revenues. There’s little incentive to move forward aggressively as long as the legacy theatrical and packaged media businesses remain stable and the studios appear to be enjoying playing multiple content suitors off against each other. Maybe even gouging content suitors at times.

Yet, there are signs that these legacy businesses may be dying faster than Hollywood publicly admits and new studio-driven formats (such as Blu-Ray Disc or Ultraviolet download sales) are clearly not gaining sufficient traction to fill the gap. Netflix may have an opportunity to capitalize on this vulnerability.

Thus, Netflix, through its new pricing, encourages its customers to move entirely to streaming (which is more profitable and strategically valuable) or continue to use DVD-by-mail (with expanded profits that fund new streaming content acquisition). That seems bold, but pretty smart in the long run.

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