Posts from November 10, 2004

Bah humblog

Bah humblog

: The Washington Post’s Jennifer Frey reviews Polar Express and says, “To not adore it is to feel like a scrooge.”

Meet Scrooge:

In the NY Times, unknown critic Manohla Dargis tries to show off in a most obnoxious way about a children’s movie (my emphasis added):

It’s likely, I imagine, that most moviegoers will be more concerned by the eerie listlessness of those characters’ faces and the grim vision of Santa Claus’s North Pole compound, with interiors that look like a munitions factory and facades that seem conceived along the same oppressive lines as Coketown, the red-brick town of “machinery and tall chimneys” in Dickens’s “Hard Times.” Tots surely won’t recognize that Santa’s big entrance in front of the throngs of frenzied elves and awe-struck children directly evokes, however unconsciously, one of Hitler’s Nuremberg rally entrances in Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will.” But their parents may marvel that when Santa’s big red sack of toys is hoisted from factory floor to sleigh it resembles nothing so much as an airborne scrotum.

Oh, come on. I haven’t seen the movie; plan to. But this kind of look-at-me-I’m-wearing-a-thong writerly exhibitionism is just plain obnoxious. Has The Times no editors? Did no one read this and say, “Come on, you went a mile too far, try again”? Santa and Hitler? Santa and scrotoms? No one?

Exploding radio

Exploding radio

: At the well-stocked snack table at the Foursquare conference, I spotted a badge that said “Sirius” and I dropped my muffin to make sure to congratulate the man for getting Howard Stern and helping to reinvent radio. I handed him my day-job card but also my blogcard, which advertises “blatherings on citizens’ media, politics, technology, and Howard Stern.” It’s my fan-club card. The nice man didn’t run away.

I suspect that Stern will be on satellite sooner than later. After a brief hiatus when he wouldn’t mentioned satellite for fear of causing some corporate upheaval at Viacom, Stern has started talking about it again and also has started making noise about whether Sirius will buy out his terrestrial contract so all can move on. There’s also been a little chatter about whether Viacom should buy Sirius but I doubt that.

This got me wondering about what I would do if I were in Viacom’s shoes. I hope they don’t pluck the nearest Stern clone. It’s hard to call that the “safe” choice but it is; it’s the obvious and dull choice. They need to reinvent radio.

But then I thought about the man with the Sirius badge. It’s so much easier for him to reinvent radio. And for you, you podcasters, you.

Broadcast radio is stuck in the same bind as the rest of old media: They’re mass in a new world of niches. They can’t afford to go niche; the franchise is too valuable, the revenue too big, the stockholders too antsy. They, like TV broadcasters, have to pray they find the next big thing (but not so big that they get fined to hell and back by the FCC).

What would you do if you were programming any of these entities? I’ll start a list. But I’d love to see what kinds of radio you’d like to hear — whether on broadcast or on satellite or via podcasting. My start:

: Reality radio: The best part of Stern besides Stern is his audience and their often startling creativity. Their song parodies and gags are often inspired (and, yes, just as often insipid). What about the first radio station that makes the audience the star, that highlights the best pieces and parodies and rants, challenging the people to create ever better bits. It works on broadcast or on the upstarts.

: Niche radio: The dating show — real people, real dates. The new-mom show. The divorce show. The retirement show. The job-hunting show. The gadget show…. This won’t work on broadcast. But it most definitely works on podcasting. And it works on satellite if they’d be smart enough to also podcast it so you don’t have to schedule listening. This isn’t appointment radio. It’s download radio.

: Reading radio: Read the stuff I don’t have to read — the latest issue of The New Yorker, the best op-eds, the occasional blog essay. Surprise me.

Just a start… what do you want to hear?

Dinosaur du jour

Dinosaur du jour

: I really should stop giving attention to big, old media Flintstones who bang their clubs on their heads and insult bloggers (also known as the public) to get attention. But I guess I can’t resist revealing the idiocy of these blind fools.

The doofus du jour is Randall Rothenberg, once-was ad columnist for the NY Times now biding time in AdAge and as “director of intellectual capital” for Booz Allen (that is, he plays editor of a magazine nobody reads for an overpriced consultancy desperate for attention). There’s no link on the AdAge site (I’ve been trying to get to editor Scott Donaton to bug him about this) and it’s significant that I’ve seen no one else quote the column (guess fewer people read you than read blogs, Rothenberg) so I’ll retype a few of the dingleberries for your entertainment:

Having reflected on blogs for the better part of two year, and having participated in the sport for a short two months, [note that he doesn’t have the balls to give us the address – ed] I am prepared to report that blogging is little more than hype dished out largely by the unemployable to the aimless.

Rather like columns, eh?

Who in the world has the time to read this crap?

He also doesn’t have the balls to list examples of crap. It’s just all crap, it seems. As if crap can’t be printed on paper.

Do some bloggers have sway? About as much as your average op-ed columnist.

I don’t get the insult there. It’s news that a mere blogger crapping crap onto a screen can have the influence of an honored print columnist.

A few even have meager, self-sustaining ad support.

And how much do you make from your column, Randall? Care to compare the take to Josh Marshall’s or various of Nick Denton’s blogs?

And, sure, blogs contributed to the outing of the false “60 Minutes” report on Bush’s National Guard service. But a million monkeys filing second-by-second observations on Web sites would undoubtedly stumble on the real author of Shakespeare’s plays.

I leave that one to you, dear readers. Comment among yourselves.

Blogs are this year’s fad. Decentralizing the power of the press is certainly a signal development. Will a million unemployed press barons emerge? No–only the few who have something important and original to say. In the case of blogs, McLuhan got it wrong: The medium isn’t the message. The message is the message.

Turn the mirror on yourself, commentator. You do no reporting for this dump. If you had, if you talked to the advertisers and agencies I’ve talked to recently, you’d find smart people who realize that this is about a new conversation with the market. They are eager to figure it out. Did you help them one bit? Did you impart any new information? Did you give them any evidence of your pissy position? No, sir, the only thing you’re right about is that the message is the message and you don’t have one.

: ON THE OTHER HAND…. I’m catching up on my AdAges and in the previous week’s issue, Rance Crain (aka the boss) writes a smart column on blogs, the election, and marketing.

So marketers want consumers to be in control, do they?…

Be careful what you wish for. What most marketers haven’t come to grips with is just how much consumers are now calling the shots. They have the ability to change the way ad messages are being received — and even come out with their own counter-messages….

The blog creators are influencers — people who pride themselves on knowing all kinds of arcane, insider details about the product, hence giving themselves credibility with consumers.

What’s clear is that advertising no longer has the luxury of being a one-way monologue….

If blogs are liberating consumers, they are having an equal impact on voters. More and more people are turning to blogs for their take on political events of the day, and traditional journalism is taking the hit….

The journalistic bloggers bypass professional journalists. Will consumer blogs bypass professional advertising agencies? As I said, be careful what you wish for.

When will they ever learn

When will they ever learn

: Two dumbest ideas I’ve heard in ages:

1. Howard Dean heading the DNC. Thus guaranteeing the Democrats life as an opposition party of the fringe.

2. John Kerry running again. You lost, Kerry. You lost. You blew it. Give it up.

The future of media

The future of media

: Corante kicks off a series of interviews on the future of media. In the first, Ernie Miller asks questions of … me.

[Oh, no, not more blathering from that guy, you say. Sorry but yes: More blathering. Ernie asks good questions, I give bad answers and take a lot of bits doing it.]

It begins: “The means of media are now in the hands of the people.”

Each Q&A is set apart with an opportunity to leave comments. So please, go argue with me. Tell me how I’m full o’ crap. Tell me what I missed. Say it better than I say it. Discuss among yourselves…..

: UPDATE: Jay Rosen replies:

The problem with Big Media is that it learned how to “store” trust–in brand, reputation and ritual–and so forgot what it was. But the blogger has to make trust, from scratch as it were. So the blogger winds up knowing more about the current conditions for trust capture

Separately, Henry Copeland sent this email responding to Nick Denton’s contention, below, that blogs are just websites:

Websites usually aren’t written by humans, blogs usually are. Websites usually don’t link to other websites, blogs usually do. So “blogs” are both less (corporate) and more (networked) than “websites.” Twine these two characteristics together and blogs ARE radically new relative to other media.