Here’s a piece I wrote for BusinessWeek’s social report on publicness. Snippet:
In the company of nudists, no one is naked. We are entering an age of publicness when more and more we will live, do business, and govern in the open. Some see danger there. I see opportunity. . . .
An accompanying video:
The Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Sunday magazine this week devotes its entire issue to the future of newspapers and journalism. I have a lengthy interview in it – in Germany, I’m afraid.
If you want to hear how bad my German is, listen to the start of this video, my keynote at Next09 in Hamburg this week. (Sadly, no one told me that the camera was set to record stage left and I pace a lot.)
Over the last week, I’ve seen no end of stories about American newspapers printing extra copies for the Obama inauguration. The subtext is rather sad: It takes an unparalleled historic event to put papers in demand again.
Then today, as I walked to the U-Bahn in Munich, I saw and bought a rather remarkable publication: Zeitungszeugen (Newspaper Witness). I figured it was a media review and, as an official wonk, I picked it up. To my surprise, the publication is instead filled with replicas of German papers from February 27, 1933, all about the burning of the Reichstag, including a large Völkischer Beobachter, the Nazi party paper. It’s a fascinating and disturbing historical collection. But hours later, it turns out that the Bavarian government is suing the British publisher, claiming copyright on Nazi documents and fearing that though educational, the publication could attract neonazis. It banned the publication and ordered it seized. (Can they see the irony in that? Meanwhile, as I write this, I’m watching German TV comic Harald Schmidt — the bizarro David Letterman — and, in honor of the opening of Valkyrie — which I saw last night — his sidekick is dressed as Tom Cruise as Graf von Stauffenberg. Irony around every corner here.)
Well, anyway, Nazi history aside, there’s a good idea here for American papers to use their presses before they disappear. We’ve long been able to order individual reprints for various dates (the desperate birthday present). But if papers are seen more and more with nostalgic affection and interest, why not print them as new publications. I’d start with a collection on the Great Depression.
Walking along my hotel’s street in Frankfurt, I came upon one of the most powerful memorials I’ve ever seen. I could have missed it.
On the sidewalk in front of Hebelstrasse 13, I saw metal squares among the paving stones.
Each of 22 squares carried a name and a story: Here resided Herbert Weichsel, born on this date, deported on this date, murdered in Minsk. One can’t help but look up at the apartment house, hear their voices, sense the tragedy and crime at eye level.
Small video cameras are already the hot thing, gadgetwise, at this year’s Davos. Robert Scoble is broadcasting live from his mobile phone, as Jason Calacanis did at DLD. Loic LeMeur is making videos all over for Seesmic (with a bigger camera). I’m playing with the Reuters/Nokia mojo cameraphone (see the videos below). The YouTube Davos Conversation booth is recording the machers on video with tiny cameras.
And I showed my FlipVideo (the $79, 30-minute, dead-easy video camera) to Kai Diekmann, editor of the biggest paper, by far, in Germany: Bild. He gets thousands of photos from his readers, who send it up to a simple number via their mobile phones. Now he’s practicing networked journalism and assigning and mobilizing them to shoot things. He also told me that next week, they’ll have a top chef from a popular German food show telling readers in the paper to send in videos that he will put on his show. Where’s the line among media there? Diekmann is then doing with videos what he did with phones and so he was wowed by the Flip and wants to order a thousand of htem. That’s what happens whenever I show it to open-minded new people: I tell them they should buy them by the dozen and distribute them to their readers to become producers. Here’s Diekmann:
Medium, a media magazine in Germany, just named a blogger, Stefan Niggemeier, as journalist — yes, journalist — of the year because of BildBlog, which follows, criticizes, and dogs the huge tabloid newspaper in Germany, Bild. Just to give you a flavor that translates easily, here’s a post about a picture that ran in Bild, supposedly of a Turkish prison cell, when readers noticed the similarity to a picture of a cell at Alcatraz — note that moment of networked media criticism. I don’t know enough about the German media society, but I suspect this award could be as much about antipathy toward Bild as admiration of BildBlog. And I suppose this could only fuel the fires of blogs-v-MSM (which I keep trying to douse). Still, I think it’s a positive sign that a blogger is recognized not only as a journalist but as the journalist of the year. (via Martin Stabe)
Via Martin Stabe: Die Welt in Germany went web-first and pageviews are up 40 percent in a month. The new site, launched in February, includes regular TV news reports from Die Welt, podcasts, blogs, a generous list of recommended outside blogs, and links to competitors; one can subscribe to anything via RSS and comment on all articles.
And here, the head of Welt publisher Springer Verlag, Mathias DÃ¶pfner, says (if I’m translating correctly): “Editorial quality will be the crucial. The digital transformation gives us completely new opportunities to invest in editorial content.” Now that’s the wise strategic view.