“Information is not a scarcity”

A few ideas from today’s post Jeff Jarvis’ BuzzMachine blog:

“If you are selling a scarcity — an inventory — of any nonphysical goods today, stop, turn around, and start selling value — outcomes — instead. Or you’re screwed. Apply this rule to many enterprises: advertising, media, content, information, education, consultation, and to some extent, performance.”

“Relationships. That’s what the business of media must become. In our New Business Models for News, we began — just began — to project the value of the relationship a new media service can have in its community: creating events; educating; gathering and selling data; selling goods directly (as the Telegraph does, quite successfully); running networks to help others succeed; saving money by collaborating.”

“Information is not a scarcity, or at least it isn’t scarce for long. Yes, when I don’t know something, then the answer is scarce. But now it’s much easier to get that answer; Google will have it in .3 seconds and if it doesn’t and if enough of us ask it, then someone at Demand Media will write it for me and the rest of the world for $20. When news is new, its value is scarce (as Thomson Reuters Tom Glocer says, his information has its highest value in its first 3 milliseconds); but then that value deflates.”

Alrighty then.

Augmented reality and the annotated world

The following is from a post by Jeff Jarvis in which he talks about augmented reality and the annotated world and the ever-changing definition of journalism and local news.

“Every address, every building, every business has a story to tell. Visualize your world that way: Look at a restaurant and think about all the data that already swirls around it — its menu, its reviews and ratings and tags (descriptive words), its recipes, its ingredients, its suppliers (and how far away they are, if you care about that sort of thing), its reservation openings, who has been there (according to social applications), who do we know who has been there, its health-department reports, its credit-card data (in aggregate, of course), pictures of its interior, pictures of its food, its wine list, the history of the location, its decibel rating, its news…

And then think how we can annotate that with our own reviews, ratings, photos, videos, social-app check-ins and relationships, news, discussion, calendar entries, orders…. The same can be said of objects, brands — and people.”

His post includes a few videos but this is my favorite:

When I think about the implications of this technology, and what it means for news organizations, I have what I have come to think of as Wile E. Coyote moments. The realization most will never catch the Road Runner (Beep, Beep!) The future –which is here– belongs to small, flightless birds that refuse to play by our cartoon rules.

PS: If you’re satisfied seeing the world through emails and text messages, your BlackBerry will be fine. If you want to augment your reality (and you will), it will be with an iPhone or similar device.

Books: 2009

Yes, the list is a little skimpy but this blog will not write itself. I plan to read more fiction in twenty-ten.

  • Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness Are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe
  • The Chaos Scenario, Bob Garfield
  • The Ultimate Happiness Prescription: 7 Keeys to Joy and Enlightenment, Deepak Chopra
  • The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
  • Free: The Future of a Radical Price, Chris Anderson
  • Life Inc: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take It Back, Douglas Rushkoff
  • Road Dogs, Elmore Leonard
  • The Increment, David Ignatius
  • Wicked Prey, John Sanford
  • What Would Google Do?, Jeff Jarvis
  • Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible, Bart D. Ehrman
  • Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World, DonTapscott
  • God’s Debris: A Thought Experiment, Scott Adams

Jeff Jarvis on “the Nielsen Revolt”

“The presumption of old media was that everyone in the audience saw every advertisement and that’s why ads were bought on the basis of the size of the audience. Size mattered. But today, what advertisers really want is verification that their ads reached the audience they were sold – not just in size but in relevance.” Read the full post

“Reporting is what makes news news”

This post by Jeff Jarvis raises a number of interesting questions –and what he calls myths– about the role of journalists in the ever-changing media world. Here are three nuggets (not contiguous) from the longer post:

“In an offhand reference about the economics of news, Dave Winer wrote, “When you think of news as a business, except in very unusual circumstances, the sources never got paid. So the news was always free, it was the reporting of it that cost…. The new world pays the source, indirectly, and obviates the middleman.” This raises two questions: both whether news needs newsmen and whether journalists and news organizations deserve to be paid.”

“The (printing) press has become journalism’s curse, not only because it now brings a crushing cost burden but also because it led to all these myths: that we journalists own the news, that we’re necessary to it, that we decide what’s reported and what’s important, that we can package the world for you every day in a box with a bow on it, that what we do is perfect (with rare, we think, exceptions), that the world should come to us to be informed, that we deserve to be paid for this service, that the world needs us.”

“And that’s what Winer is trying to do when he reminds us that the important people in news are the sources and witnesses, who can now publish and broadcast what they know. The question journalists must ask, again, is how they add value to that. Of course, journalists can add much: reporting, curating, vetting, correcting, illustrating, giving context, writing narrative. And, of course, I’m all in favor of having journalists; I’m teaching them. But what’s hard to face is that the news can go on without them. They’re the ones who need to figure out how to make themselves needed.”

stitcher: “Your information radio”

The idea behind stitcher is simple. Organize your favorite podcasts and listen to them all together, in the order you want. It seemed more appealing as an iPhone app than on the desktop. (Like so many things). This is what Jeff Jarvis calls “be the platform, not the commodity.”

When our local news radio station switched from CBS to Fox, I really didn’t have a source for national news (after dropping XM some months ago). And I just never seemed to be in the car at the top of the hour.

With stitcher, I select from a variety of news (or other genres) sources and stack them in the order I want to hear them. And stitcher will email or txt me when something updates.

I can really program my own radio station now.

A feature I’d like –but didn’t find on the website– is the option of adding a local or state newscast to my line-up. You can submit a podcast and hope the stitcher folks add it but we’ll have to see how that works.

If I were programming a local station –or even a state news network– I think I would produce at least two special newscasts each day, designed just for podcasting. I’d have one online by 6 a.m. (local time) and the other by 4:30 p.m. I’d probably keep them in the 5 min or less range.

I’d do my best to get stitcher to add them to the lineup while promoting the podcast on air to the local audience.

Here’s something else I might try…

I’d create a KXYZ News Twitter page and blast out any and ever nugget of news I could find. From any news source. Local newspaper, TV station, news releases, blogs… wherever. And once an hour I’d link my tweet to a 2 min audio news summary. With a reminder that more news can be found on our website.

I think the real challenge for MSM is to stop thinking in terms of what is best for us and ask what would be interesting or useful to those formerly known as The Audience. Only then can we begin to reinvent ourselves for the future that is already here.

PS: And one more thing. If I was one of the growing number of reporters (print, radio or TV) currently out of work, I’d use some of my spare time to produce the podcast described above. You don’t need a printing press or studios or radio/TV transmitters or towers. You need a laptop and a camera and a smart phone. And some imagination. Bet you won’t be without a job for long.

What Would Google Do

Jeff Jarvis’ new book, What Would Google Do looks like it might be a two highlighter read. I’ll be posting some of my favorite passages here but encourage you to buy and read the book.

“In retail, media, education, government, and health –everything– the link drives specialization, quality, and collaboration, and it changes old roles and creates new ones. The link changes the fundamental architecture of societies and industries the way steel girders and rails changed how cities and nations were built and how they operated. Google makes links work. Google is the U.S. Steel of our age.” – pg 27, What Would Google Do (Jeff Jarvis)

Taken out of context, that sounds like horse shit. So read the book. Or don’t. I’m not your momma.

“News is being deindustrialized. No factory needed.”

I pulled the following from a recent post on Jeff Jarvis’ Buzz Machine:

“But there is no more one job description – journalist – in one industry – newspapers – with one business model – print advertising – to pay them.

I believe, as I said here, that many slices will make up a new pie: more focused news companies contributing journalism and curation and other value; successful specialist bloggers growing large businesses (Gawker Media, TechCrunch, Silicon Alley Insider); smaller bloggers that are big enough to make them worthwhile to make (BaristaNet); volunteer bloggers and contributors who add to the pie because they care and share; public-supported journalistic activity (Spot.us, ProPublica); crowd-created efforts, and on and on.

Note, though, the verb that started that long sentence: “believe.” I don’t know yet. None of us does until we try and learn and share best practices.

But I am confident that journalism as an activity will not disappear, that there will be a market demand for it, that there are many new ways to fulfill the task (and debate about how it is done). But – bottom line – journalism and journalists will not disappear unless they insist on defining themselves as an industry that operates in just one way . The key to survival is reinventing what we do.”

“News has cooties”

Jeff Jarvis recalls "the golden age" of newspapers when "cities had many papers, many voices, many views, and papers still spoke for and with the people." And that's where we're headed again with the internet but "now it's the people talking."

"I have no doubt that there is a sustainable business in local news. The problem is that, at least for the present, the current and former owners of local news ruined it. Thanks to them, news has cooties."

Jarvis: “Covering conventions a waste”

Forbes.com reports that the number of journalists covering the conventions this fall will remain at the same level as 2004 and 2000: 15,000 of them. What a waste. The outcome of the conventions is known. There will be no news. Why are these news organizations sending so many staffers there?

Ego. That’s it, pure ad simple: Our man in Denver. Instead of your woman. It’s for bylines, bylines the public couldn’t care less about. The coverage will be no different outlet to outlet. We can watch it all ourselves on C-SPAN.

The conventions aren’t news. Anymore they are only staged events to get media coverage. And it works. But it’s not for the public good that they’re covered.

Don’t try to feed me that line about how they’ll be covering their local delegations. Their local delegations never make news — not since 1968 anyway — and their actions couldn’t be more predictable, less newsworthy. If you want to cover the locals, cover them at home — before the event. But you still won’t get any news from them.” — BuzzMachine

Ouch. That’s a little close to home. Each of our networks send reporters to the Big Show. I’ll leave it to the real journalists to argue Jarvis’ point.

I will offer one other rational for sending a reporter to the convention. It’s kind of cool. I know, I know… it’s a hell of a lot of work… certainly no vacation. But for reporters below the national level, getting to go to a Big Event like this is something of a spiff. There I said it. Now where did I put my Shit Storm helmet?