Joho the Blog[bb] Participatory vs. commercial culture - Joho the Blog

[bb] Participatory vs. commercial culture

Jesse Walker, managing editor of Reason magazine, is moderating a panel on the relation of participatory and commercial cultures. He begins by saying that the inersection is older than the Web 2.0, “or, as I like to call it, The Web.”

Panelists: Kenny Miller, creative vp for MTV media; Elizabeth Osder, sr. dir. of product dev at Yahoo media; and Arin Crumley, one of the creators film Four-Eyed Monsters .

Kenny talks about “navigational dominance. [What a phrase!] “We navigate our world by means of brands,” he says. Each of the MTV properties has its own demographics (ComedyCentral, Nickelodeon, etc.). Each is a brand with navigational dominance. But now there are lots of ways to getting to info. “How do you enter that world in a respectful way?” It’s no longer a one-way conversation, he says. There’s more chunking. It’s a fundamental shift. MTV is getting more of the audience’s voice back on the air. “American Idol is awesome and we think about that.” It’s a binary world and we’re divided into teams; people might like another option, but people don’t know what it is. Attention is a zero-sum game.

Elizabeth (who was the first girl to play Little League softball officially) says that Yahoo makes connections among people. She points to the single sign-in identity system with 400M registered users. Yahoo bought Flickr, and MyBlogLog, she points out. “Every day citizen journalism and photo journalism is happening” there. Now at Yahoo she’s trying to figure out how to disrupt Yahoo news. Seven years ago Yahoo started a Digg-like facility for news.

Arin talks about the reception of his movie. They did festivals for 9 months and 3,000 people saw it. The same number saw the first portion of it in the first 36 hours they put it on line.

Jesse asks questions.

Q: Arin, how is the process affecting your film-making?
A: The MySpace page surfaces ideas and questions that would never show up in the Q&A at a conference showing. Real conversation. We can see what the audience got from the movie and can adjust. Also, we can share the backstory, etc.

Q: Elizabeth and Kenny, how have users used your tools in ways you didn’t expect?
A: Kenny: We put up a message board. We made a game. They took moderation off a board.

A: Elizabeth: Flickr taught us that users want to take your stuff and stick it on their site.

Q: What do you have to offer that we can’t get elsewhere?
A: Kenny: You can’t compete with everyone. The world is open and flat. We only ask if the audience is liking what we’re doing and is it growing. [Shouldn’t use the “audience” word in this crowd.]

A: Eliz.: We’re part of an ecosystem. The job on our news sites is to point people to the best info on and off the site.A: (arin) A lot of what’s been done seems contrived. The Web is becoming a means of expression. “We’re just peers.” We’re sharing what we do with other peers. And we have tutorials about how to create videos and post them.

Q: (audience) How do commercial sites connect the needs of advertisers with needs of participatory participants?
A: Eliz.: We understand our audience. And we share revenues with bloggers.

A: Kenny: That’s the big question.

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4 Responses to “[bb] Participatory vs. commercial culture”

  1. was that kenny who said “navigational dominance?” i thought it was elizabeth… man, that panel glazed me over.

  2. > Elizabeth … says that Yahoo makes
    > connections among people.

    You know, I used to buy this. But as I get older, I find the virtual “connections” on the Web to be increasingly meaningless and useless. They are not a substitute for connections in the real world, which is what people like Elizabeth are trying to imply. So what if I look at someone’s Flickr set? That really benefits me spiritually in no way whatsoever. It is not like a face-to-face interaction, not like talking to someone real, not like touching someone. Not at all. The societal “benefits” that are supposed to come from the Internet/Web, the supposed “community,” are really scant compared to the genuine human interactions of real communities that existed before the Internet/Web, and especially before television. We are living in a world that has come to give only lip service to the concept of community, and I think people like Elizabeth know it, and that’s why she is trying to substitute the Web for it. But, increasingly, I am coming to doubt it. I find the world getting ever lonelier, and Flickr or other Web apps stop that hardly at all.

  3. i agree, and with your last sentence especially.

    tv did kill more than just the radio star. with that doomsday devise, we became veal in separate houses; now we’re simply veal in separate houses that can poke and prod each other while we watch and listen to each other tenderize.

    but in that process, the web gives me an inordinate amount of answers to dig through and find a handful to attach myself to — ones that speak to me! whether it’s an image answering my unknown expectation for a match to a moment in time or a single comment that gives me chills, buried deep in a mile long thread that perturbs me… stitches of topical community can form effortlessly in this new world.

    connecting the heard, if you will.

    are we simply weaving more distractions? more brands? more control points? at what point do we subtract in this grand design exercise?

    while the tone of your comment sounds a bit tired and put off, i think you’re spot on; none of these online efforts greatly improve real human interactivity — to “connect” with folk over time and space is one thing… one_lonely_thing.

    *inform*ation is not the same as *commun*ity.

    nowadays, so many of us (myself included) are caught up spinning about in the buzz of our own creation — monetizing our fancy shmancy understanding of semantic relationships and levers — we completely miss out on the fact that a *vast majority* of people in our *real communities* and *real lives* don’t care about furthering hooks online — they care about each other and us, respectively.

    (i’m really missing angela right about now… the next BB needs to be in greensboro!)

    so here i am, flailing about while trying to understand the dynamics of oxygen-based, blood and guts community (something i wasn’t exposed to by my parent’s behavior growing up) in order to create useful and dynamic bridges to and from this unknown entity of the online space.

    i dream about empowering and exposing individual voices — to overlap perspectives and needs and providers who can change directions in an instant, yet still be grounded in the moist soil of neighbors and citizens… other people.

    so while i find the brand buzz bullshit and self-promotion spin annoying to all hell and, at times, the belief that software can save us drives me bonkers, i also greatly appreciate and savor days like today when i can put hand in hand with folk i’ve only pseudo-connected with over the years.

    it’s well worth the ridiculous airfare.

    so on that note, it was great to finally meet you today, david. i hope you and yours had a blast at your pre-oscar party tonight.

    time… to… crash.

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