Is Any Media Not Tech?

Posted on February 17, 2011 by Comments Off


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Today’s post comes from the no-duh department.

Techmeme has been a tech staple for many, many years. For many of us, it’s one of our first stops of the day. Late last year the Techmeme network launched Mediagazer, which is the Techmeme of the media industry. It made sense at the time, but I’ve noticed something ever since the launch: More and more of the content between the two sites is similar.

Yesterday the top story on both sites was the Apple extortion fee it’s going to start charging publishers for in-app purchases. Today the top story is Google’s new subscription service.

Several years ago when I started the blog TechBoise, people would ask me what kind of “tech” companies I was going to write about. In Boise, Idaho, my options were pretty limited, so I wrote about just about any business that had something to do with tech. And the truth is, almost any company could be classified as tech. In no area is that more true today than media.

I opined on twitter about the topic.  And got an unexpected response back from Megan McCarthy, who runs the Mediagazer site.


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Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t criticizing. I like both sites and all the content on both sites. But it does strike me as interesting.

John Battelle has been writing for years now about the move of tech companies becoming media companies, but it seems like the shift to mobile is driving media companies to become tech companies even faster.

Seriously though, take a look through both sites and see how much overlap there is. Is this just because the Mediagazer audience is inherently geared toward tech?

So what do you think? Is this just me being Captain Obvious?

Is there any media that’s not tech yet? Will all media companies end up being tech companies or will there still be some differentiation?

This post originally appeared on New Comm Biz.

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How the Media View the Tea Party

Posted on November 1, 2010 by Comments Off

With the elections tomorrow and expectations that the Tea Party will play a role in several key races, we pulled 356 articles published in September and early October from the top wires, as well as from national and metropolitan newspapers.

We used Waggener Edstrom Worldwide’s proprietary media brand mapping software called Narrative Network®to structure the news and determine what key themes the media was reporting about the Tea Party (research conducted by Shannon Lawler, Insight & Analytics).  Basically, Narrative Network is a semantic social networking tool that quantifies large volumes of text, or structures nonstructured data (text).

Key Findings

As you can see from the Narrative Network map below, key media themes surrounding the Tea Party are in the red, central nodes:

  • Conservative
  • Right
  • Republican or GOP
  • Barack Obama
  • Washington
  • Establishment
  • Alaska
  • Delaware
  • Sarah Palin
  • Christine O’Donnell
  • Against


As has been used effectively in previous elections, the word “against” is tightly associated with the Tea Party.  The media is currently defining the Tea Party by what it is against, such as taxes and health care reform, rather than what is stands for. The Narrative Network reveals just how central the negative/contrarian theme is to the Tea Party narrative in the media.

Other key themes associated with the Tea Party are located on the periphery of the network where we can observe the role of Fox News and Glenn Beck (in purple nodes) and Rand Paul, the Constitution and the Senate battle in Nevada between Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle and Senate majority speaker Harry Reid.

Strategic Keywords Tied to “Against”

Does the Internet Make Us Dumber? Or Smarter? Or Both?

Posted on June 21, 2010 by 2 Comments

Over on my Facebook page I’ve been playing host to a weekend-long debate, which has evolved into a discussion worthy of it’s own blog post.

The question: Are we dumbing down as a culture? And if so, what role does media play?

Cited: 3 dueling op-eds

  1. Does the Internet Make You Dumber? WSJ, Nicholas Carr quotes the Roman philosopher Seneca: “to be everywhere is to be nowhere,” arguing that the hyperlinked structure of the internet contributes to a persistent state of distraction which, research indicates, hampers deep thought and, along with it, retention of information and absorption of knowledge.
  2. Mind Over Mass Media, NYT, Stephen Pinker argues that new forms of media have always caused panics (the printing press, newspapers, television, paperbacks), but such panics fail reality check. The oft-bemoaned perception that we are dumbing down as a culture is not supported by evidence to the contrary, such as the modern output of scientific innovation.
  3. Does the Internet Make You Smarter? WSJ, Clay Shirky references historical disruptions in culture fueled by new media evolutions (the Protestant Reformation, fueled by print) to illustrate the pattern of initial break-down of cultural/intellectual norms followed by an explosion of new creative outputs which raised societies to a new level.

The debate sub-streams

  1. To what extent does media contribute to the dumbing down of a culture? Or does it? Or is it the symptom of a dumbed down culture? Evidence to support the “dumbing down” hypothesis is seen in the insipidness of so-called “Reality TV,” the political and cultural extremes cultivated by and reinforced by news agendas (FOX) and the 24-hour news cycle, and the persistent distraction we suffer from as a result of our hyperlinked, short-form internet and social media behaviors. Does media fuel this, or is it merely a mirror reflecting the culture as it is? Or is it a distorted mirror, reflecting culture at the edges?
  2. Why are there so few culturally and politically meaningful comedians compared to two to three decades ago? Who are the Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Richard Pryor of today? (John Stewart and Stephen Colbert of course…)  Is this evidence of a cultural dumbing down? Or is it evidence simply of the business-minded Hollywood machine which has optimized to produce pulp for the masses rather than the edges?
  3. And what about the role of education and critical thinking? One could argue that all three of the op-ed author’s arguments about the impact of the internet and social media on us as a culture are accurate — the internet, like all media, is simply an amplifier — widening the gap by which the dumb are becoming dumber, the smart, smarter. But isn’t it really an issue of critical thinking abilities and the willingness to apply them? Is this skill being taught more or less than a generation or two ago? (remember McCarthyism?) Does classical education or internet-enabled knowledge assimilation contribute more or less to one’s ability to absorb and [critically] process knowledge?

The meta: the medium is the message

Interestingly, the discussion is in many respects an example of “the medium is the message” at play:

  • Living room —> Web —> Facebook. The conversation originated in my living room as a wine-sotted debate between my husband and our neighbor, crossed over onto social media when I opened my laptop to hunt down the NYT op-ed as my contribution to the debate, then posted on Facebook.
  • Internet-facilitated connection of culturally and geographically dispersed nodes. Once on Facebook, the discussion then drew in an individual from my hometown (whom I hadn’t spoken to in 20-years, aside from him friending me on Facebook), my husband (sitting across the room from me debating with me on Facebook from his iPhone), a martial arts buddy from across the country and a couple work colleagues from opposite coasts.
  • Facebook’s alienation of “professional creators” via sketchy privacy and copyright policies. Meanwhile my neighbor exited the debate completely once he walked across the street and went home because, as a professional photographer, he wants nothing to do with Facebook and its questionable privacy and copyright issues.

So what do you think? Are we dumbing down as a culture? And does the internet and social media play a role?

Will e-Readers and Tablets Like the iPad Revolutionize Content Consumption?

Posted on January 29, 2010 by 15 Comments

Over the past few weeks (especially yesterday), there has been a lot of talk in journalism circles about new portable devices changing the way people don’t pay for consume  media content. While there is a lot to be excited about for content creators, these devices aren’t necessarily going to make people want to pay for content.

Journalism institutions and news media businesses need to be concerned about creating the kind of high-quality, engaging, shareable content that matters in today’s world, not how they can squeeze more money out of old-format content.

Time Inc. seems to understand this. A while back, the company released an awesome conceptual video of its content modified for a touch-screen tablet experience.

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Sports Illustrated (and likely many other Time publications) know that money can be made in offering readers an excellent overall content experience.

Sports Illustrated always has great content, but this concept video shows that SI can bring that content to life on a tablet-like device in ways that a normal browser can’t. On a good e-reader or tablet, content jumps off the screen in the form of photo galleries, embedded video and audio, sharing options, and ways to engage with other readers. Plus, it just feels natural to hold the content in your hands and interact with it using your fingers — like a book or magazine.

Getting people to use an excellent content experience isn’t the hard part; getting people to pay for the experience is the hard part. Content creators have to meet a few requirements to get anyone to pay:

  • You must provide top-notch, awesome content that nobody else has. And you have to provide it in a way that blows minds.
  • You must make it inexpensive and so easy to pay that people don’t even think about it (like buying iPhone apps).
  • You must make content shareable. You’re selling the experience, not the content. When paying customers share your content, think of it as free word-of-mouth marketing, not stealing.

Apple iPadMany musicians have learned that you’ll never stop people from freely sharing songs. People pass things along, and not everyone is paying for the content. The best way to capitalize on the popularity is to charge people for a superior experience, like a live show or private appearance.

Perhaps news organizations can do something similar by selling access to great content experiences and private chat sessions with content creators and newsmakers.

This approach alone likely won’t bring in enough revenue to sustain a news operation, but along with advertising and other creative revenue models, it can help.

What do you think? Can e-readers and tablets change the way content is experienced?

Image by mattbuchanan

Silverman’s Content “Factory”?

Posted on July 30, 2009 by Comments Off

Nathan Misner, Vice President, WE Studio D

Content Factory……hmmm maybe.

I’m not sure if I am posting this because I have anything radically new to say or if I just want to link to a photoshopped picture of Ben Silverman in an Andy Warhol wig. For the sake of argument let’s assume it’s the former.

The big kerfuffle this week in the content world is that Silverman is stepping down in his role as Co-Chairman of NBC Entertainment. He wasn’t able to spin the same successes he had as the founder of Reveille (the production company that brought us The Office, Biggest Loser and Ugly Betty) into the day-to-day running of the prime time entertainment schedule. Too corporate? Too much hassle from the corner suites hindering creativity? Push back from traditionalists who bristled about his ideas around killing/changing the Upfront ad buying process and adding in different advertising and revenue streams? I bet a little bit of all of that.

For the past couple of days the media world was all atwitter (and a Twitter) about where Ben would land and what exactly he would do. As an innovator, going back to broadcast production seemed unlikely; and as “content guy,” taking an administrative role at another network seemed just as improbable. Today theNew York Post reports that Silverman is partnering with Barry Diller’s InterActive Corporation, to create a new digital content creation company born with the same type of ethos that Andy Warhol had with his Factory: a collective of artists, musicians and filmmakers supported and influenced by Warhol but relatively hands off and not micro-managed.

The difference here being that Warhol had a tinfoil covered loft near Union Square to help support the careers of Velvet Underground, Edie Sedgwick and Gerard Malanga and Silverman has $100 million of Diller’s seed money. But I get the analogy.  Silverman’s Content Factory (my name, not his) finds creative talent gives them financial support and lets them develop content which he’ll then shop around for the right distribution channel. Wait a second! This sounds like what he did at Reveille.

So the next question is can Silverman extend his Midas touch from TV content production to the web? The crystal ball is a bit hazy. On the upside (and this is a big upside), shows like The Office and The Biggest Loser have made the shift from being a TV show to a content brand with a dedicated community participating, engaging and interacting with the digital content. Where it gets a little fuzzy, for me at least, is where the Reveille content has historically come from. With the exception of the Biggest Loser, Reveille’s biggest launches: (successful) The Office, Ugly Betty, (and not so successful): Coupling, Kath and Kim, Little Britain USA) have been US market versions of foreign shows. That’s not going to play out on the web where borders and media markets don’t really matter. The talent that he shepherds to the web as part of this Content Factory, and their ability to create for the web, obviously becomes the make or break for the venture. With the right web-savvy people, and with Silverman back in his element of creating content (rather than running/managing an outlet), I’d give him better than even odds of success. Nonetheless, it’ll be fun to watch the process (and hopefully the content).

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