Sips from the Firehose
A blog that seeks to filter the internet into a refreshing, easily-gulped beverage
Posted: under advertising, Digital Migration, google, journalism, Multimedia, New Marketing, Newspaper Deathwatch, Newspapers, Uncategorized, Webconomics.
Tags: advertising, bandwidth charges, blog monetization, burn rate, click through rates, Facebook ad model, Google adsense, New Marketing, New Media Migration, newspaper death spiral, Pajamas Media, site traffic, video sites, Web commerce
This is going to have to be quick – I haven’t had any spare time to blog, since I’ve been finishing up on editing the Great Big Scary Project, and I have to churn out my intros to said project, along with sprucing up my multimedia examples for my trip to Kiev.
But – two items this week converged (yeah, there’s that word) to illustrate one of the powerful, emerging lessons about New Media. It’s one that I learned years ago, when I first rode a couple of dot-bombs all the way down into the crater.
Big site traffic numbers do not necessarily mean big money.
Posted: under HDR Photography, Marin County, Multimedia.
Tags: HDR Photography
The landscape up here is so beautiful, and the light has been amazing. I’ve taken to experimenting with combining multiple exposures into HDR photos.
Here’s a view from atop Mt. Vision. This one needs a bit more adjusting – the fog clouds look pretty good, but the highlights of the sky & clouds in the upper left need to be processed a bit better. Still this was a beautiful, amazing scene. (This was done with the HDR functions of Adobe Photoshop CS3)
Next, here’s that same scene, as handled by Photomatix:
You can clearly see the difference – in the Photomatix version, the color in the foreground pops out, without sacrificing the contrast & color in the fog banks in the background. I’ll be posting a video of the fog drifting in through the trees later…
Technorati Tags: HDR photography, Marin County
Posted: under Art, Multimedia, new media, Online Video, visual storytelling.
…and now, as a break from the heavy news about New Media & the near-constant anger & backbiting going on over whether or not civilization as we know it will survive another aggregate circulation decline…
Here’s a reminder that creativity and innovation still exist, and are being used to make beautiful things. Relax and enjoy:
Technorati Tags: video art, electrabel, 2009
Posted: under Amusing Nonsense, Dead Cat Bounce, Multimedia, Tail Wags Dog.
I received the tweet earlier today, and it rocked my world like a bombshell. It was from Scott Beale, owner/operator/provocateur of the Laughing Squid collective of digital mischiefmakers.
It read “what could you possibility be doing right now that is better than watching a cat ride a Roomba http://ping.fm/DRqoO”
Here is the video embedded here, but I encourage you all to click over to Laughing Squid, just so’s he can get some page traffic. Genius such as this must not go unrewarded.
I was forced to click over. What right-thinking person would not?
The conclusion is obvious. There is not one single thing that would be more important to do right now than to watch a cat riding a Roomba.
It makes me want to install wall-to-wall carpet in my house, just so I can justify getting a Roomba to see if my cats will do this. I love the rather scholarly air the cat seems to have, as though he were pondering one of the great questions of life, the universe & everything. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is, indeed a Zen Master Cat, and that he accepts the abrupt changes in speed, direction and scenery as all part of the temptations of Maya, the World of Illusion, and that the only appropriate response to such temptations is to adopt a calm, contemplative approach to the vagaries of the paths we travel as we journey through Life’s Rich Pageant. His purr is the equivalent of an “Ommmm” mantra.
Or maybe it’s just that the Roomba gets warm as it operates, and the kitty just wants to toast his butt a little.
Technorati Tags: cat, roomba, zen calm, unified field theorem, genius
Posted: under Digital Migration, monetizing mobile content, Multimedia, new media, Newspaper Deathwatch, Newspapers, Platform obsession, Webconomics, Wrongheaded solutions.
Tags: buzzmachine, new vs. old flamewar, newspaper death spiral
Let’s set the stage.
First, Ron Rosenbaum unloads on Jeff Jarvis for being “increasingly heartless” about newsroom cutbacks, layoffs & the general death spiral.
Not all reporters had the prescience to become new-media consultants. A lot of good, dedicated people who have done actual writing and reporting, as opposed to writing about writing and reporting, have been caught up in this great upheaval, and many of them may have been too deeply involved in, you know, content—”subjects,” writing about real peoples’ lives—to figure out that reporting just isn’t where it’s at, that the smart thing to do is get a consulting gig.
But Jarvis believes the failure of the old-media business models is the result of having too many of those pesky reporters. In his report on his recent new-media summit at CUNY, he noted with approval one workshop’s conclusion that you’d need only 35 reporters to cover the entire city of Philadelphia. Less is more. Meta triumphs over matter.
It makes you wonder whether Jarvis has actually done any, you know, reporting.
Oh, that’s nasty. Shorter Rosenbaum: “Jarvis is an substanceless, fluffy airhead, taking advantage of gullible publishers, peddling his New Media snakeoil & banking fat stacks while real reporters who actually work for a living are being thrown to the wolves.” Read More
Posted: under Digital Migration, monetizing mobile content, Multimedia, Online Video, Politics & New Media, Web Tech.
Man, check out John Stewart. Is it me, or does he look just a little bit like the Muppet Beaker?
Ah yes. The pardon of Marc Rich. Makes you nostalgic for a time when this was the worst crime that could be laid at the feet of the outgoing president, don’t it?
Just looking at this video makes me feel 1,000 years old. It’s a reminder of how, when the party in charge of the White House changed back in 2000, there were all manner of investigations into the misdeeds of the previous administration. Wonder if that’s going to come around again … and if we’re going to spend most of 2009 having to sit through a re-hash of all the grubby insider deals perpetrated by the Bushies.
I am of two minds about this issue – on the one hand, I think that to distract ourselves with chasing down Bush partisans to whack them around & humiliate them in front of banks of TV cameras, would be a mistake, taking our attention away from dealing with all the massive problems we face.
And then, on the other hand, there’s the fact that the massive problems we face are a direct result of the actions of these sleazy, incompetent thieves. To let them skip merrily away into the night, their pockets stuffed with stolen taxpayer funds, chortling in glee at their cleverness … well, that just grates.
Anyway. The point of this was to do a compare/contrast of viral video from then, to the political online video we see now. Makes you realize how far we’ve come, with production values. And how we’ve come to expect that when outlets like The Daily Show air a segment, they back it up with video clips culled from the past.
This is a very Web 2.0 concept … I think it comes out of stories on the web, where we have hyperlinks within the stories that allow us to see the evolution of the meme over time, and then compare it to the current story.
My point is that in the last eight years, the way that we process information has changed in a fundamental way that we’re really not fully cognizant of. We expect to see the background, the history from primary sources, that supports what the person is telling us in the present.
In a very real way, The Daily Show and John Stewart are the equivalent of the “content aggregation” sites that have succeeded so well online.
I just want to find a way to make sure that the aggregators have something to aggregate. That original reporting of facts & events does not die off, and that the persons who do the pick & shovel work to unearth the sound bites & images that are then stitched together (for great acclaim & profit) by middlemen like the Daily Show (or Drudge, or HuffPo, or Sadly, No!, Politico, etc. etc. etc.) start to share in some of the extraordinary wealth that is generated off of their sweat equity.
The link economy. We needz it.
Posted: under Catching a Falling Knife, Multimedia, new media, Online Video, Politics & New Media, Tail Wags Dog, Viral Fame.
Tags: Politics & New Media
Now that we’re finally approaching the end of a presidential campaign season that started way back in May 2007 … and as an aside, allow me to observe that it used to be that declaring for the presidency the December before the Iowa caucuses/New Hampshire primaries was early …
Let’s take a look back at one of the emerging forces that has come out of nowhere these last fours years to impact the way that politics is conducted: viral videos.
The first indication that this was going to have a transformative effect on the electoral process was back in ’06, when Virginia Senator George Allen’s “Macaca Moment” kneecapped the GOP’s best hope for hanging onto the White House. This was not the first YouTube video about politics, but it was the first really big one. The scandal that erupted over this cost Allen his Senate seat, his shot at the White House, and was the signal that Virginia was now in play for the Democrats – one of the really big, under-reported shifts in electoral demographics of the last couple years.
Now they, you’ll notice that this video has only racked up 370,000 views or so. Good, but hardly awe-inspiring … not even in the category of kittens dancing around on piano keys.
So how is it that these videos have such an effect? Well, the mainstream media is still, for now at least, the ones setting the parameters and nature of the conversation. But the process by which the MSM frames the national discussion has undergone a sea change. And part of it is the GOP’s fault.
It started with Drudge and the Monica Lewinsky scandal (although many are finally acknowledging that the “Drudge Effect” is losing steam), continued on with the Swift Boat veterans, and this year, finds its truest expression in the vids of Fey-as-Palin.
See, reporters and editors are pretty much web addicts. We poke around on the internet all day long, trying to figure out what the Vox Populi is saying, so we can latch onto it and churn out a “trend” story. And then go drink.
Viral videos that make us laugh, make us stop, make us click to get the link and then e-mail it to our friends & colleagues … those get the “trend” prize, whether they are or not at the time. And, of course, once a critical mass of journalists bestows the “this is a growing trend” status on a meme (Soccer Mom, NASCAR Dad, Security Mom, Joe the Plumber, etc.), then said meme is going to get a serious working-over by the material-starved talking heads on the cable news programs.
We are moving closer and closer to a merging of the “underground” flow of significant memes and information on the internet, and what the MSM reports and pays attention to. This gallery of viral hits will take you through the history of the Presidential Campaign ’08, in a way that will have you remembering the conversations we were having only a few months ago, and how those memes have morphed into the Accepted Collective Wisdom.
Mission accomplished. Time for cocktails.
1. Yes We Can – Barack Obama Music Video
It started with this, back when the Iowa caucuses came back, and people started actually buying into the idea that maybe … maybe … there’s something to this guy Obama. Maybe we don’t have to pin our hopes on Hilary and another depressing go-round with Bill Clinton in the White House with a lot of free time on his hands. This has gotten 11 million views since it was put up, features will.i.am and hella good editing & soundtrack.
2. Dear Mr. Obama.
A hit for the McCain campaign, this Iraq war vet holds forth on his belief that the war was not a mistake. This has been made into a commercial for the Republican Majority Campaign PAC.
3. I’ve got a crush on Obama.
This one got more than 10 million views – which proves that hot chicks in tight clothing are certainly a spur to the success of a video. Lately, Amber Lee Ettinger has diversified and put on the Palin glasses & hair bun, and there are now more than 30 “Obama Girl” videos.
4. JibJab’s “It’s time for some campaignin’ ”
This one came along in mid-July, when we were starting to get really serious about this, and provided a nice preview of the emerging themes of the campaign. This wasn’t as big a hit as the videos back in 2004, when the images of Kerry sailing up the Mekong and Bush screwing up everything he touched really hit a nerve. This one does deliever, however, with Obama riding a rainbow unicorn. And seeing Hilary clonk Bill with a frying pan never gets old.
5. McCain’s YouTube problem just became a nightmare
This one has gotten upwards of 8 million hits, and is from provocateur Robert Greenwald and bravenewfilms (full disclosure: years ago, I worked on a project that was destined for Greenwald’s production company, until it got tied up in a very messy legal quagmire). This video, part of a “The Real McCain” effort to define the candidate, set a lot of the foundations for the stories that we’ve been seeing reported in the last couple of months. Another very telling point: it’s garnered upwards of 66,000 comments – a pretty good yardstick for something that “engages” the audience.
6. Obama, Paris Hilton & Britney Spears – the “Rock Star” Ad
This is another video that got more than 2 million view, and made a huge splash at the time. To many people, this marked the spot where the McCain campaign went off the rails … where it started to become less about what McCain was going to do, and more about going negative and trying to smear Obama, using whatever means necessary. Of course, this then led to one of the funniest responses of the campaign season …
7. Paris Hilton accepts McCain’s endorsement
“I’ll see you at the debates, bitches,” is one of the best one-liners of the campaign season. I blogged about this before, so go there for a fuller reaction to her actually rather insightful energy policy.
8 . Crazy Hilary Supporter Goes Off
Remember back when the PUMAs were allegedly going to tear the Democratic Party apart? When this giant seething mass of resentful, fanatic feminist Hilary supporters were going to desert and vote for McCain because they were so pissed off about the treatment Hilary got in the primaries? This woman made her way into the media spotlight for a while. And then it turned out that she didn’t really represent any kind of significant voice in American politics. She was just old, ornery and slightly nuts. Kinda like McCain, some to think of it…
9. RNC Convention Protests
This footage of Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman being carted away made a lot of news at the time, as did the tear gas and other protests going on outside the convention hall. This was all quickly overshadowed by the next player to emerge on the national stage…
10. Is McCain Palin’s Bitch?
This one has gotten more than 2 million view, yet it hasn’t made it as big as some of the other viral hits. I just love it because they managed to find an actor who actually kinda looks like McCain. And it starts with the faux-Palin firing an AK-47. And ends with the line “Who wants to go polar bear huntin’?”
11. Couric-Palin interview – “I can see Russia from my window”
This has passed into the category of epochal political history. The moment that Palin said something so galactically stupid that people around the world stopped in their tracks to ask, “She said WHAT? What the hell was THAT?” Of course, that then opened the door to….
12. Tina Fey as Sarah Palin
This got more than 7 million views. And has spawned a whole cottage industry. I’m sure you have seen all of these. And if you haven’t in a while, go and check them out. They could populate an entire list by themselves…
13. Sarah Silverman’s “The Great Schlep”
This is not as genius as Tina Fey’s work above, but it’s still damn good, and more than that, has apparently inspired a whole bunch of young East Coast jews to bug their grandparents in Florida to vote Obama. We’ll have to wait ’til Tuesday to see how well that worked out, but in the meantime, the description of Obama’s barbecue skills is worth a peep.
14. Obama – McCain Dance-Off
If we are not to settle big issues through single combat, then the dance-off would seem to some observers (OK, me) to be an equally thrilling and relevant process. And it may reveal more about character and poise than those damn canned statements they just recite in front of the cameras in lieu of actually answering the questions asked by the moderators.
Final winners will be unveiled tomorrow.
Posted: under Blogging, Blogs, journalism, Multimedia, New Marketing, new media, Online Video.
Tags: New Marketing
One of the key moments in “Colors” came when “Pacman,” the young hothead cop (Sean Penn) was incorrectly identified as the guy that mistakenly shot an innocent black kid during a raid gone wrong. The word came down that the gangs, in retaliation, had “green-lit” Pacman for a retaliation payback assassination.
The other gang strike force cops protested that it wasn’t Pacman that had done the bad, stupid shooting – it was actually a cop who was Pacman’s enemy, and that they should tell the gangs the truth.
Bob Hodges (Robert Duvall), the grizzled old cop, says basically, “What difference does it make? If they think he did it – he did it.”
What does this 20-year-old gang movie have to do with the much-maligned Republican vice-presidential candidate? Well, stick with me here.
After watching Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live, and in the interviews airing this week on NBC, it’s becoming increasingly clear that she’s not a complete and total doofus. Yeah, maybe she’s not a total policy wonk, able to spout off the import-export stats on Burkina Faso off the top of her head, but she’s clearly not as bad as her public image would lead you to believe.
She can talk coherently, when she’s not so over-coached and micro-managed – it’s the panicking handlers’ fault that she comes off as a malfunctioning robot, spouting nonsensical phrases. She’s never going to be one of our leading governmental minds, never going to have a memorial dedicated to her next to Jefferson or Lincoln … but she’s also not quite the drooling, babbling dimwit she appears to be.
It’s also clear that that doesn’t matter.
Palin arrived on the scene, basically a blank slate, tabula rasa. The rollout of this new product at the GOP convention was greeted with a lot of fanfare – and initial euphoria.
In product marketing terms, the packaging was great.
The problem was that McCain’s handlers had nothing prepared beyond the initial product rollout. Big initial marketing push, lots of glitz & glamor, the American people take the product into their homes …
…and that’s when the troubles began.
See, they really hadn’t thought this whole thing through. They hadn’t prepared for what was going to come next. In much the same way that the invasion of Iraq was botched because nobody who was (allegedly) in charge stopped to ask, “And then what? After we destroy the Iraqi army and take over the country … then what? What’s going to happen next?”
In retrospect, this all becomes sickeningly clear.
Again, in product terms – the American people took this into their homes and tried to figure out what made it tick. The media, doing their jobs, tried to figure out what this newcomer to the scene was all about. And, in response, the Republican party had prepared … nothing.
You’d think they’d have the equivalent of what NBC does for the Olympics for the athletes – little pre-shot segments of the athlete at home, in training, interviews with family and coaches talking about the dedication that was needed for this underdog athlete to brave the odds and pursue her dreams… c’mon, you can see this in your mind’s eye already, right? All leading to a flatteringly lit scene with the athlete sitting in a loveseat with her adoring husband in front of a cozy fireplace, talking about the day she almost succumbed to her self-doubts, but (choking up a bit here), her faith in herself and the support of her family (stifled sob) carried her through…
If that had happened in the three weeks after Palin was introduced to us, we’d be having a completely different conversation about this election right now.
Instead, there were the disastrous interviews with Katie Couric, which led to the skits on Saturday Night Live. After the first skit, there was still a chance that Palin might be able to turn things around.
And then came this little gem from last night:
This pretty much sealed it.
Palin’s image is now cemented. She’s a doofus who, along with her fellow odious doofus, George W. Bush, is costing McCain his shot at the presidency.
It doesn’t matter anymore if she’s not what we think she is. In much the same way that it no longer matters whether or not Al Gore invented the internet, or Dick Cheney personally subjects prisoners to torture.
We think they do, so they do.
A lot of this damage was caused by the ham-handed way the McCain campaign dealt with the New Media. They’ve been late to that party this entire campaign. I don’t know if that’s because McCain doesn’t understand this medium, doesn’t care, or if the handlers that were so adept at playing the media back in ’04 have gotten fat & lazy with their successes.
And yeah – the selection of Palin without having a plan to deal with What Comes Next is indeed an indictment of McCain and his decision-making process (one of the key objections that just won’t go away). Snap decisions that later wind up being disastrous? I think we’ve had just about enough of them these last eight years…
In the movie Colors, Pacman is saved only because a prisoner rats out the plot to kill him, and the gangs attention then turns to silencing the rat. I don’t see any possible equivalent on the horizon that can save Palin, particularly in light of the recent revelations about her shopping habits, the cost of her makeup person, the fact that she and her husband are having to testify under oath today in “Troopergate,” and damn, just about everything else. Her image has been set, the die is cast, and from this point forward, all information that comes out that affirms our collective perception of Palin as a moron will get accepted and spread around, while contrary information is buried under the weight of all the “Can you believe what just came out of her mouth this time?”
Oh yeah – for safety’s sake – here’s the segment from Colors that I linked to above – damn YouTube links have been kinda sketchy lately. Enjoy the cheesy party scene. I can’t figure out if the redheaded kid is Carrot Top, or the villain from “Children of the Corn.” Both?
Technorati Tags: Palin, Colors, image control, SNL skits, marketing, new media
Posted: under advertising, Digital Migration, Mobile advertising technology, monetizing mobile content, Multimedia, new media, Web Tech.
I know how you feel, Barry.
This quote from an excellent Wall St. Journal interview with one of the smarter (and more ruthless) guys in the media biz. He’s coming forward to explain why he busted up IAC.
“You really want to get a headache? Try to understand Internet advertising. Social-networking advertising is being discounted because there is so much inventory [of available ad spots], and because methods have not yet been found to make it very effective. Will that get figured out? I absolutely believe it will. What form will it take? Absolutely unknown.”
Technorati Tags: Barry Diller, internet advertising, social networking, monetizing content
Posted: under advertising, Blogs, Design, Digital Migration, journalism, Multimedia, new media, Newspaper Deathwatch, Newspapers, Online Video, Web Tech.
Tags: Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, New Media Migration, Newspaper Deathwatch, Xing
I hate like hell to keep doing quick, off-the-cuff bites at such big topics, but maybe I should just resign myself to accepting the web ethos of not trying to do all things at once. Yeah, yeah, I know – “Eat the elephant one bite at a time.”So here’s an interesting coinkydink: two items I bookmarked to read later – and actually got around to reading (pause here for an astonished gasp) – struck me as having a stronger relationship than was initially apparent.
First was this bit from the Economist, about how professionals are starting to really flock to online social networks:
On LinkedIn, the market leader, members have been updating their profiles in record numbers in recent weeks, apparently to position themselves in case they lose their jobs. The two most popular sites, LinkedIn and Xing, have been growing at breakneck speed and boast 29m and 6.5m members respectively. And, in contrast to mass-market social networks such as Facebook and MySpace, both firms have worked out how to make money.
The article goes on to raise two interesting points 1) if Facebook can start becoming friendlier to business users it might start actually making money, and 2) professionals are shit-scared about the economy and looking at social networks as great “Career Insurance” places to schmooze people you met once at a conference, snarfed their biz card and never had a use for.old friends.
Next to this was a piece from BusinessWeek, another in the seemingly endless series of kidney punches from the biz community about how newspapers are doomed, done for, goners, forks stuck into them and vultures already descending.
So who would profit from a disappearing newspaper? Local TV and cable, for starters. The city daily is still the biggest single media entity in virtually any market. Its main pitch to advertisers is brutally simple: We have more craniums to dent with your message than anyone else.
Which brings me to a disquieting conclusion. The obvious venues for all this displaced journalistic energy are a gazillion new independent online endeavors, be they individual blogs or bigger efforts like MinnPost.com. They will make for fascinating media ecosystems within individual cities, and some will become hits. It is much less certain whether ad dollars will follow. Ultracheap classifieds site craigslist has simply “destroyed revenue,” [emph. mine - dlf] says Dave Morgan, a former newspaper executive who founded behavioral targeting firm Tacoda, and revenue that no longer exists won’t shift to new ventures. Others point out that key newspaper advertisers—local auto dealers and realtors, say—already have many outlets for ads online, not least of which are their own Web sites or national sites such as Cars.com that serve up targeted ads.
For those sensing untapped riches in ads from pizzerias and dry cleaners, well, good luck, says Borrell. “Local is a very unorganized and dirty business,” he says. “People look at local as this one-ton gorilla, but in fact it’s 2,000 one-pound monkeys.” And no publisher can afford to sit down with a city’s 2,000 small fry to sell each a $50 ad. The bitterest pill of all for newspaper denizens is that, while nature abhors a vacuum and all that, in this case there may not even be one left to fill.
Yowch. So newspapers will all just die, and by this point in time, they’ve become so irrelevant and useless that nobody will even really notice that they’re gone? Sheesh. Start passing out the pistols & hemlock in America’s newsrooms, eh?
I’m going to have to disagree with this nihilistic conclusion. Yeah, I know the local online niche ad market is impossibly fragmented, and it would cost a publisher more to pay an ad sales rep than that person would produce in revenue. Solution: don’t pay the ad rep. Do what El Tiempo in Bogota calls “auto-pauta,” or DIY ads. BTW, I really do recommend you click through on that link to El Tiempo. They are one of the smartest operations out there, they are making piles of cash off internet ads, and they are constantly (ruthlessly, relentlessly) refining their approach.
Moreover. When you look at what the social networking sites are really selling their users, you start to come to the conclusion that what a local newspaper – correction: what the local newspaper of the future – offers can be a lot more compelling.
Think about what the users really want from these social net sites. Chatting with friends, yeah sure. Blowing your own horn in a socially acceptable way, yessiree. Looking for the next step up on the ladder? Well, yeah … but the problem with a lot of the listings on the social net services is that they are from all over the place. Yeah, you can filter them. But we all know that most of the really good jobs are never spamadvertised like this. We find them through referrals – which is where recruiters/headhunters come in. And local friends & business acquaintances.
One of the fastest-growing areas on LinkedIn is the “Question” section, where pros reach out to other pros in their groups, and ask something that’s on their mind. They’re trying to have conversations.
That should be taking place at a newspaper site. Sooner or later, it will. Either the papers will replicate it and include it in their future selves, or they will do a Borg takeover. The paper is a much more logical place for this kind of activity – it includes access to the reference materials from the past, a panel of trained experts to step in and help moderate the discussions, or kick new discussions off with provocative questions, and a huge archive of relevants facts and materials that can be used to make the conversations that much more valuable.
Example: One of the questions I’m participating in on LinkedIn is where to put your money now that the market is tanking so badly. There are some very smart market analysts chiming in here. But it would be nice to be able to have a window/panel open on the screen showing the various stock tables, and perhaps links to content locally that makes the point that some foreign markets are going to be able to ride out this storm, while others just get crushed.
The fact that biz users, those who have education & disposable income, have had to range far afield in search of information that they need to use in their careers, is an indictment of the lack of creative thinking at newspapers. It will take time and effort to reverse the momentum … because the very users that papers covet most are abandoning papers.