Posts about socialmedia

The King of Twitter

Reporters have been calling today looking into the importance of Twitter and social media in the two big stories of the month: Iran and Michael Jackson. Have we come to a next step stage in social media’s impact on news? Maybe.

Certainly the Jackson news spread quickly via Twitter. got the news first and it spread from tweet to retweet and then it spread beyond the web as each of those Twitterers acted as a node in a real-life network. An AP reporter told me she was riding on a bus when someone came on and announced the news to all the passengers – that person was a node, the bus the network – and then everyone on the bus, she said, took out their smart phones and spread the news farther. The live, ubquitous, mobile web is an incredible distribution channel for news.

I also spoke with Tampa Bay’s Eric Deggans and we wondered together about the arc of the Jackson story in big media versus our media. I’ll just bet that the story will die off on Twitter trends, Technorati, YouTube, and Facebook sooner than it finally exhausts its welcome – and our patience – on cable news. Back in 2005, I said that TV news was paying more attention to Jackson’s trial than the audience was, as evidenced by discussion on blogs, which lost interest in the story long before TV did; indeed, they never obsessed on Jackson as TV did and TV believed we wanted to.

I think this also means that we are less captive to cable news. Since its birth, cable was the only way to stay constantly connected to a story as it happened, or allegedly so. But in the Jackson story, there really is no news. He’s still dead. All that follows is discussion and wouldn’t we really rather discuss it with our friends than Al Sharpton? Once the supernova of news explodes – taking down Twitter search and YouTube and jamming GoogleNews search – we probably to seek out TV, but it quickly says all it has to say and the rest is just repetition. If the Iraq War was the birth of CNN could Iran and Jackson mark the start of their decline in influence? Too soon to say.

Journalists end up playing new roles in the news ecosystem. Again, I followed the Iran story in the live blogs of The New York Times, the Guardian, the Huffington Post, and Andrew Sullivan and they performed new functions: curating, vetting, adding context, adding comment, seeking information, filling out the story, correcting misinformation. They worked with social media, quoting and distributing and reporting using it. I watched the filling out of the Neda video story as the Guardian called the man who uploaded it to YouTube and Paulo Coelho blogged about his friend in the video, the doctor who tried to save Neda. Piece by piece, the story came together before our eyes, in public. The journalists added considerable value. But this wasn’t product journalism: polishing a story once a day from inside the black box. This was process journalism and that ensured it was also collaborative journalism – social journalism, if you like.

The unfortuante truth about the confluence of these two stories – Jackson and Iran – is that the former pushes the latter off the front page, the constant cable attantion. But will it push Iran out of our consciousness and discussion? Again, we’ll see. I was in the car when I spoke with Eric but he told me that on Twitter, the trends were all but filled with Jackson – except for the Iran election, which was still there, in the middle. That renews my faith in us.

: LATER: Here‘s the AP story.

Here‘s Eric’s piece. And here‘s the San Francisco Chronicle’s piece (curses to the editor to cut out reference to WWGD?).

: Interesting take from a lawyer who sees Jackson as a victim of the innovator’s dilemma.

Media are social: The coming together of two blogging dynasties

My daughter, Julia, and Jay Rosen’s daughter, Sylvie, have a blog together. They blog about what they know about and care about: American Girl. Yes, it’s a wonderful bit of symmetry that Jay and I, who became friends and virtual colleagues through our blogs, have daughters the same age (fifth grade) and that they became friends and maintain that friendship over distance — one’s a city mouse, the other’s a country mouse — through their blog.

Jay writes about this today in a wonderful post inspired by Clay Shirky’s brilliant speech about creation as the true potential of media and society, versus mere consumption. Clay’s point:

Let’s say that everything stays 99 percent the same, that people watch 99 percent as much television as they used to, but 1 percent of that is carved out for producing and for sharing. The Internet-connected population watches roughly a trillion hours of TV a year. That’s about five times the size of the annual U.S. consumption. One per cent of that is 100 Wikipedia projects per year worth of participation.

Jay brings that down to the level of the individual producer. He says of daughter Sylvie: “She has a foothold on the producer side of the transaction, and understands the Web as an author’s medium.” I agree.

And I see another point: friendship.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a great deal about how the connections and collaboration the internet enables change — improve, I say — the nature of friendship in profound ways that will, in turn, change society in unseen ways. Yesterday, I wrote about ambient intimacy, that is, our ability to stay in touch with the little details of friends’ lives. I’ve argued that the permanence of connections enabled by Facebook links and Google search alters our relationships; this is on my mind because I’m about to write that chapter in my book and because I’m going to see an old friend thanks to Google later this week.

Now add one more dimension: creation as an act of friendship, collaboration as a means of staying in touch, media as a social act. That is what is happening in the American Girl blog: Julia and Sylvie can share by creating. Play is social. Media is play. Social media is fun. (Yes, I used the singular; that’s the subject of an upcoming post.)

This is what I just wrote in my book:

Industries and institutions, in their most messianic moments, tend to view the internet in their own image: Media companies see it is as a medium, believing that online is really about content and distribution. Retailers think it is a store meant for commerce: a catalogue and a checkout. Marketers see it as their means to message (no, message is not a verb, but advertisers love to be ungrammatical). Politicians, too, think it is a home for their messages – and a new means to deliver their junk mail. Cable and phone companies believe the internet is just the next pipe they can control. . . .

The internet is a connection machine. It’s not medium or a market, though it supports them. Instead, it adds a new dimension of links over society, connecting people with information, action, and each other. It is in those connections that value is created, efficiency is found, knowledge is grown, and relationships are formed. Every link and every click is a connection. . . .

Sylvie and Julia are just doing what comes naturally — they’re having fun together. And so I’m sure both of them with will roll their eyes at their crazy dads for blathering on about it here and there and not understanding the point, for making it sound boring, for taking the fun out of it. Sorry, girls, dads will be dads, bloggers will be bloggers, and profs will be profs.

A meeting of the minds

Rafat Ali and are holding their first conference: The Economics of Social Media. I’ve been dying for Rafat to blow up the conference business and its tired conventions, as I’m sure he will. And this is a good and necessary topic. As he says:

If you read the post yesterday about Universal Music Group CEO calling the likes of YouTube and MySpace as “copyright infringers”, you know there’s a genuine need for a business dialog in a more rational environment. That’s what we hope the conference will provide. . . .

Our hope is that this will be the first conference focused on discussing the bigger business issues: what are the companies operating in the sector, what kinds are being started, how are big media, entertainment and information companies interacting and adopting social media in their businesses, what are business models evolving in various sub-sectors, and how is online marketing arms of big media using social media sites and services.

A few suggestions on what I think we need:

* We need to teach the incumbents that the economics of media are no longer all about direct revenue: “consumers” buying “their content.” That was nice for them while it lasted, but it’s over. In the post-scarcity, open media economy, you can gain greater advantage, I believe, by also recognizing indirect revenue and new economies of social scale: The “consumers” market your brand for you. They distribute your “product” for you. The “audience” now creates its content, often around yours. You have a new opportunity to build and maintain direct relationships with the public, around the middlemen who’ve dogged your lives. This can also build a valuable store of data and experience about the public and what they really want. It’s a great new era. Only the old guys can’t see the opportunities; all they see is decline and fear. So we need to demonstrate to them what is possible.

So I would love to see such a conference pull together success stories and research demonstrating just how people are beginning to make money in this new world, even if they don’t realize it. NBC just didn’t see, for example, that the “theft” of its Saturday Night Live segment was the greatest gift the show could have had; it brought them audience — and thus ad revenue — they never would have gotten otherwise and will not get from still trying to spend marketing dollars to bring “audience” to their addresses and channels. I want to see someone model that business, as the old guys say, and a dozen more.

* These incumbents need to meet, face-to-face, the people who are taking their segments and songs and stories and recommending and promoting and distributing them up on the internet and, even more important, making them part of a larger act of creation (listen to On The Media about LonelyGirl15 and StarTrek and the impact of the people’s creation). They have to learn that these people aren’t the enemy. They are the people formerly known as their audience, who should be known now as their friends. These are the people who get their stuff seen and heard; these are the buzzmeisters of media. Treating them as enemies is cutting off your nose job to spite your face.

* They also need to hear from the people who really own the social space that is the internet. They need to understand that MySpace will fail if it becomes RupertsSpace. They need to hear what is evil and unwelcome: how you may not exploit us. And they need to hear what the people would like from the big guys — content, tools, bandwidth, space, and, yes, revenue. Once they realize that the people are friends, then they need to be generous with those friends and need to see that supporting their creativity and enthusiasm is a necessity. They need to understand that you can’t play in social media if you aren’t social.

* I do think we need to start looking at the explosion in venture capital. The one true impact of the much-fabled Web 2.0 is that companies don’t need as much money, which means that VCs can’t invest big buckets of bucks in a few plays, which means that lots of plays are getting money but it’s much harder for the good ones to stand out. That’s probably too far afield for a one-day conference.

* I would like to see Doc Searls and David Weinberger redefine the language of media, proposing words to replace the outmoded concepts of “consumer,” “audience,” “content,” “copyright”…

A few suggestions. Oh, and hold the next one in New York, willya?