Quick Takes: 5/31/13

This piece about why niche media is important is not only spot-on but also more than a little distressing as it evaluates some recent mainstream foul-ups. But aside from that I think it exemplifies why newspapers in particular missed an opportunity back in 2003 or so to reach out to the emerging independent blogger field and work with subject matter experts, bringing them into the fold in a way that was mutually beneficial instead of playing around with paywalls and so on.

An interesting perspective on why Marissa Mayer is making the moves at Yahoo she is.

Poynter has a great rebuttal of Buzzfeed’s much-discussed “The Social Media Editor is Dead” piece. In my opinion there’s still a strong need for there to be one – two is actually better – who act not just in a traditional editorial capacity but who also are kind of the heart and soul of the program, who keep it true to itself, who know what the goals are, who knows the nuances of the fan base and more. This is’t a dead role, it’s one that is vital and necessary if if the responsibilities are and will continue to evolve over time.

I think this hand-wringing story about the demise of high school newspapers falls victim to the trap of getting hung up on form-factor. So what if a high school is producing a Tumblr blog instead of a print paper if the content is similar? It’s not about the printing press (or the blog platform or anything else) it’s about training kids to be writers, photographers, coders and more in a way that gets them excited about the process, not the distribution form.

This article shouldn’t be necessary as everyone should already be in complete agreement that The Monkess are and always have been cool.

Medium is a platform that I’m super-intrigued about. The closed beta that it’s been in for an extended period has allowed it to highlight and curate some high-quality material from some great folks. But when it does open up and it loses the mystique of being a high-end, prestige magazine of sorts it will have to use it’s cool set of tools and functionality to compete with WordPress, Tumblr and everything else in the platform market.

Movie theater chains want to force studios to make trailers shorter by 30 seconds, or about 1/5 of their current running time. The hilarity starts when the theater owners start talking about shorter trailers creating a better movie-going experience when they’ve done everything in their power to make that experience almost excruciating while grabbing every ad dollar they can.

Long story short: We’re not going to Mars any time soon, though it will be super cool when we do.

No, we don’t want Facebook – or any other company – deciding what is hate speech. That’s largely because at any scale it needs to be algorithm-driven and that leads to an incredibly faulty system that will penalize a lot of innocent people while still letting lots slip through.

Current Status



Chicago morning. 5/31/13

Chicago morning. 5/31/13 by Chris Thilk
Chicago morning. 5/31/13, a photo by Chris Thilk on Flickr.

Listening To: Laura Marling

So yeah, this new Laura Marling album, Once I Was An Eagle, is pretty fantastic.

Get a grip, folks

The amount of digital ink spilled over some off-hand remarks made by Adam Levine on “The Voice” is which of the following:

  • A clear case of a team captain being frustrated at the results of audience voting
  • A pretty clear sign today was a slow news day
  • A good reason why we just shouldn’t be allowed to have an internet if this is what we’re going to do with it
  • All of the above

Arrested Development’s buzz versus reality

zap-arrested-development-season-4-photos-pics-038We may never know how many people have watched the new season of Arrested Development in the five or so days since all 15 episodes were released simultaneously over the Memorial Day weekend. Netflix has been steadfast in not releasing numbers for their streaming programs and while I’m frustrated from a data geek point of view I also completely understand their hesitancy to get into a new version of the ratings game.

In the lead up to the new episodes there seemed to be two primary camps of people:

1) Those who were giddy with excitement over the idea of returning to Balboa County and the adventures of this extraordinarily hilarious family.

2) Those who were making comments along the lines of “if the number of people who are talking about Arrested Development had actually watched it the show would never have been canceled.”

The point is, factually, correct but it misses a number of important realities:

First, that yes, the number of people making a big deal about this are almost certainly a highly vocal minority. This is the case with almost every interest area that’s not “The Beatles” or “Enjoy walks along the beach.”

Second, that in the eight years since the show was canceled all the fans of the original series have been talking it up to all their friends. And those people have been able to watch the original series on Hulu, Netflix, DVD and other platforms in that time. So the fan base for the show has likely only grown, retaining the early adopter acolytes it accumulated and then building new ones who have discovered it since it left the airwaves.

Third, that the amount of buzz has likely been out-sized compared to even the now-grown audience because every magazine, blog, aggregator and other site and publication are competing for those highly-sought after eyeballs.

Finally, that Twitter and Facebook simply didn’t exist in 2006 when the show was kicked off the air, at least not in the forms they have now. So where originally word-of-mouth was shared either in person or on blogs (which weren’t even as easy to set up as they are now) there are currently a slew of outlets for folks to share images, quotes, GIFs and other media as a way to extend their own fandom and get others as interested as they are.

Quick Takes: 5/20/13

Brian Steinberg hits a home run in his first column for Variety (which desperately needs to fix its RSS feed) as he talks about how the media, whose business models depend on viewers’ full attention, have been simultaneously making it clear that the viewers’ full attention is not necessarily. They’ve been doing this by including ads in the programming (and programming in their ads sometimes) and through encouraging people to have social media conversations at the same time they’re supposed to be watching a show.

linkedin_logo.jpgThere’s so much in this story about how LinkedIn has added to its original or curated editorial mix that can be learned from if you run or participate in some sort of publishing program it’s a bit overwhelming. Just a treasure trove of moments that had me bouncing over to Evernote to jot down an idea, question or action item.

Likewise this “thinking out loud” post from Paul Smalera about how content editors can’t be blind to the analytics, technical requirements and other factors that can influence what content is published, how it appears and more.

Fan activation is something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently and the WSJ has a story that looks at how a couple of fashion brands have begun sourcing photos from everyday folks – albeit still often young and attractive ones – and incorporating them into their online marketing. This is actually exemplified in a separate but similar story about how one particular company tapped popular Tumblr publishers to model their clothes, photos which were then aggregated on the company’s own Tumblr profile.

client-logo-NCM2If ever there was a story that exemplified how some companies see social networks simply as content engines it’s this one about National CineMedia working in various ways to leverage Twitter and Foursquare information. Not only will NCM produce original content based on Twitter trends but it will ultimately sell ads against that data while also selling local business-oriented ads based on Foursquare check-in data. And most all of this is also being utilized across web and mobile platforms operated not just by NCM but also theater partner Regal Entertainment. Super interesting example of four or five different convergence points happening at the same time across platforms.

QOTD: 5/17/13

License rebels, in other words, tend to become less rebellious as their projects mature.

Via Open Source Is Old School, Says The GitHub Generation

We’re all idealists until either our own vision and ambitions become clear and/or we figure out how to make money from what they’ve created or are creating. Then we want other people to stop messing with our stuff.