Amanda Michel, who I know from her time at the Berkman Center, is being interviewed by Matt Thompson. She’s pretty amazing: Howard Dean campaign, Huffpo’s Off the Bus, Pro Publica, and now social media at The Guardian. She’s talking with Matt Thompson from NPR.
NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.
She says that the Off the Bus effort now strikes her as surprisingly structured and profesionalized. For a year and a half, they recruited citizen journalists. Of the 12,000 of the people who participated, only 14% wanted to write articles on their own. The formalized approach Off the Bus took has been adopted by sites that invite readers to contribute their photos, their thoughts, etc.
The biggest shift, she says, is how much the campaigns rely upon data. E.g., how did Romney think he could win Iowa with just a few offices? The people who worked for him had identified die-hard supporters, who were asked to call other supporters, who were also then asked to call. In 2004, we the people were making media constantly. Now the engines driving the campaign are largely under the hood. So, if you’re reporting on campaigns today, you’re doing email analysis to understand the candidates’ strategies
Matt: It’s amazing how much media people now have woven into their days. A study shows that people are now spending 700 mins a day on media. Media is now a layer on top of people’s everyday experience. We looked at how a persistent story — a storm damaging a town — has been told throughout history. The single thing that stood out: We’ve gone from medium as an appointment you keep to media as a constant texture that both succors and buffets you.
Amanda: That’s why in 2008 we used a formalized approach — asking reporters to sign up and giving them assignments — and now people know if they go to a campaign event, they’ll be asked to post photos and twist.
Amanda: How has the shift between media and people changed?
Matt: We used to broadcast. We used to send out msgs. Now people use their mobile devices to talk with one another. We sit in this space, right alongside them. For us at NPR, that position is sweet. Radio is intimate. People can now carry us with them. That intimacy has created a drastically new dynamic for us.
Amanda: At Pro Publica, we worked on “explainers,” explaining questions people have. Readers told us they were particularly useful. I’m interested in how we can hold those in power accountable. We did the “stimulus spotcheck” to see how the economic stimulus money was being used. We asked our readers if we could tell what was going on. I asked readers to help us identify sites. Readers checked 550 sites around the country — 4.5% of construction sites aroiund the country — and we found that that gusher of work was further down the pipeline.
After making multiple phone calls, readers would sometimes say, “Journalism is hard,” which helps them understand the value of journalism.
The big challenge for media institutions is to keep their eye on the ball. The ubiquity of media can give you the false confidence that you’re seeing all there is. You’re checking Twitter, but many stories are much more difficult to find, and there are many people who don’t have a voice.
Amanda: Matt, what do you see coming?
Matt: I try to work through with the journalists the idea that we’re moving from stories toward streams. Humans have told one another stories forever, and will do so. But stories with beginnings, middles, and ends, are being augmented by the constant stream of info. Andy Carvin is constantly tracking events in the Middle East over Twitter. It’s a very different experience — no beginning, middle, end. Twitter gives you a sense of the texture of the lives of the people you follow. “We’re encountering the end of endings,” said Paul Ford. At NPR we’re trying to pull back to tell a longer story, a quest.
Amanda: There is this real need to see the context. Other trends: We’re going to be making sense of the world through the visual. We’re moving from the written word toward the image. At The Guardian, we think about how to bring people along in an ongoing process. How do you tether together items in the stream?
[Great session. My fave so far. But I'm a pretty big fan of both of these people.]
Is it just me, or are we in a period when new distribution models are burgeoning? For example:
1. Kickstarter, of course, but not just for startups trying to kickstart their business. For example, Amanda Palmer joined the Louis CK club a couple of days ago by raising more than a million bucks there for her new album. (She got my $5 :) As AFP has explained, she is able to get this type of support from her fans because she treats her fans honestly, frankly, with respect, and most of all, with trust.
2. At VODO, you can get your indie movie distributed via bittorrent. If it starts taking off, VODO may feature it. VODO also works with sponsors to support you. From my point of view as a user, I torrented “E11,” a movie about rock climbing, for free, or I could have paid $5 to stream it for 10 days with the ability to share the deal with two other people. VODO may be thinking that bittorrenting is scary enough to many people that they’ll prefer to get it the easy way by paying $5. VODO tells you where your money is going (70% goes to the artist), and treats us with respect and trust.
3. I love Humble Bundle as a way of distributing indie games. Periodically the site offers a bundled set of five games for as much as you want to pay. When you check out, you’re given sliders so you can divvy up the amount as you want among the game developers, including sending some or all to two designated charities. If you pay more than the average (currently $7.82), you get a sixth game. Each Bundle is available for two weeks. They’ve sold 331,000 bundles in the past three days, which Mr. Calculator says comes to $2,588,420. All the games are all un-copy-protected and run on PCs and Macs. Buying a Humble Bundle is a great experience. You’re treated with respect. You are trusted. You have an opportunity to do some good by buying these games. And that’s very cool, since usually sites trying to sell you stuff act as if buying that stuff is the most important thing in the world.
4. I’m hardly the first to notice that Steam has what may be the best distribution system around for mass market entertainment. They’re getting users to pay for $60 games that they otherwise might have pirated by making it so easy to buy them, and by seeming to be on the customer’s side. You buy your PC game at their site, download it from them, and start it up from there. They frequently run crazy sales on popular games for a couple of days, and the game makers report that there is enough price elasticity that they make out well. If I were Valve (the owners of Steam), I’d be branching out into the delivery of mainstream movies.
There’s of course much much more going on. But that’s my point: We seem to be figuring out how to manage digital distribution in new and successful ways. The common threads seem to be: Treat your customers with respect. Trust them. Make it easy for them to do what they want to do with the content. Have a sense of perspective about what you’re doing. Let the artists and the fans communicate. Be on your customers’ side.
Put them all together and what do you have? Treat us like people who care about the works we’re buying, the artists who made them, about one another, and about the world beyond the sale.
Tagged with: business
Date: June 2nd, 2012 dw
Yesterday at the Mesh conference I caught the second half of Michael O’Connor Clarke‘s presentation, to a packed house, about how not to use social media for marketing. I’ve known Michael since the Cluetrain days, and it was great to warch him argue against viewing social media as a messaging vehicle.
Michael has long championed understanding the Net as, well, a conversation that needs to be respected. Keeping that conversation as open and vibrant as possible is more important than your business’s tawdry ambitions, he says. (I am not just paraphrasing here, but entirely putting words in his mouth.) If your business wants to engage with it — and not every business has to, he says — then it should be engaged with by actual people, with actual names, actual interests, and actual personalities. Completely transparently, of course.
Great teaching, great examples, plus Michael’s hilarious. [Michael on twitter]
Brian Millar has a brief article in FastCompany about his company’s strategy of consulting “extreme customers” to get insight into existing products and ideas for new ones. He writes, “You can learn a lot about mobile phones by talking to a power user. You can learn even more by talking to somebody who’s deliberately never bought one.” And
We recently worked with some Brazilian transsexuals on hair-removal products, looking at ways of making the process less painful. I can assure you, we had their full attention. Some are still sending us ideas.
It’s a great illustration of the fact that innovation tends to come from the intersection of orthogonal streets.
I’ve got a post at the Harvard Business Review site about what I’m calling (not too seriously) The Gettysburg Principles. The point is that you can keep your customers buying from you if your business is of your customers, by your customers, and for your customers. “Of” means that your business is made up of people like your customers. “By” means that your customers are contributing to the creation of your product. “For” your customers means you put them first. These three terms give a handy way of analyzing why customers stick with some businesses even if they have to pay a bit more or make some other adjustments.
Anyway, there’s more over at HBR…
Tagged with: business
Date: March 28th, 2012 dw
Look up a patent at the US Patent Office site, click on “Images” to see the image, and the chances are very good that you’ll get the sense that people are patenting white paper over and over and over again. The images generally do not show up. (Example)
A little exploration (which you shouldn’t have to do) explains that this is knowingly broken:
These full-page images are not directly viewable using most Web browsers.They are in 300 d.p.i. Tagged Image File Format (TIFF). However, there are many variants — or “flavors” — of TIFF, including different ways of compressing the image data within the TIFF file. The TIFF flavor used by PTO and other countries’ intellectual property offices is international standard ITU T.6 or CCITT Group 4 (G4) compression. Displaying them requires either a TIFF G4 plug-in for your browser, or a properly installed and configured application to which your browser sends G4 TIFF images for display. Note that relatively few image viewers and plug-ins handle G4 compression.
So, here’s an idea: Convert the images to a format that browsers can handle. Post those. Make TIFF the format you have to ask for specially.
Would a business post links to images that they know won’t show up, and make you go to a Help page to discover why? (Thanks to Greg Cavanagh for the alert.)
Tagged with: patents
Date: March 12th, 2012 dw
Julianne Chatelain investigates why Rich Berlew’s Kickstarter project became one of the top ten of all time, and the #1 in the creative category. She provides a concise, insightful look at why user experience counts for a lot, even when you’re supposedly just making a business proposal: give me $57,750 and I’ll reprint one of my “Order of the Stick” web-comic compilations. Berlew received $400,000 in the first 12 days.
Tagged with: kickstarter
Date: February 6th, 2012 dw
How much do I owe Verizon this month for a connection at a summer cottage I share with my siblings? $38.04. For not having service.
That breaks down to $12.70 for a suspended phone line, $9.99 for a suspended Internet connection, $5.50 for having them turn off our long distance service, and taxes. (They didn’t record my initial request in early October to turn off the Internet, rather than suspend it, but go argue.)
I’m only surprised Verizon isn’t charging me more per month for not having a higher level of service.
Tagged with: cluetrain
Date: January 30th, 2012 dw
It used to be that on my birthday I’d get untouched-by-humans birthday wishes from my dentist’s firm and perhaps a local car company and real estate agent. Now I get them from sites I once age-verified for (gaming sites, not porn, fellas), a Prius forum, a diabetes forum, and — one level of abstraction up — from Xing itself.
If these groups are going to issue pro forma birthday wishes, I think they ought to be required to hire someone who has to sit there and actually think warmly about each person before pressing the “send” button.
And then, as a special birthday present, keep your stupid marketing messages to yourself.
Tagged with: birthday
Date: November 8th, 2011 dw
A Cisco study finds that when deciding on job offers, a startlingly high number of college students and recently employed grads value access to social media at work more than salary. And an article by Ann Bednarz at Network World finds that “[e]ven some of the most buttoned-down institutions are rethinking bans and relaxing access to social networks and social media sites.”
So, it looks like everyone should be happy for a change.
, social media
Tagged with: business
• social media
Date: November 2nd, 2011 dw
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