Posted by: M Edwards | 10/02/2009

The dawn of internet

“The internet has more soul than any human being I know.”

This sentence is taken from video our children will one day watch in a history class. It was said by a woman, “Patty from Toronto,” when sharing her feelings about the future of the internet. CBC News broadcast the video, which dates back almost two decades.

The makers of the news report shared some facts about the internet which are mind boggling compared with what the internet has become today.

Did they have any idea? Do we?

Did they have any idea? Do we? (Whoa - that's deep...)

  • The internet, at the time, had an estimated 15 million users.
  • John Allen, an internet expert at the time, was impressed with its merits – he said internet users exercised restraint in their online activity. “There’s not a lot of cursing, swearing, personal cuts or put downs. There aren’t screen fulls of ‘go to hell,’ surprisingly.” Just great.
  • Apparently the use of the internet was to “put out a general question then wait.”
  • And, possibly the greatest, the newscaster made sure his audience understood the concept of emoticons. If you tilt you head to the left, apparently, they make a smiley or frowney face. And they mean ‘I’m kidding’ or ‘I’m serious.’

Interesting this interweb thing is … very interesting. I want to do a follow-up interview with John Allen to see at what point the internet lost its civility and sense of community.

The real question is (I know it’s a bit cliche); if those were their views of the future of the internet then, what do we have limiting our views to the potential of what the internet can do for information exchange? And who decided we should have to tilt our heads to the left for emoticons?

Posted by: M Edwards | 09/30/2009

iPod text

Apple is expected to release the new touchscreen Apple Tablet by 2010, essentially unleashing on the market the first “iPod text.” Along with the release, iTunes will shore up text content, including books, magazines, and newspapers.

The Apple Tablet

The Apple Tablet

Gizmodo reported about the Apple Tablet:

Two people related to the NYTimes have separately told me that in June, paper was approached by Apple to talk about putting the paper on a “new device.” The R&D labs have long worked on versions of the paper meant to be navigated without a keyboard or mouse, showing up on Windows tablets and on multiple formats using Adobe Air. A person close to a VP in textbook publishing mentioned to me in July that McGraw Hill and Oberlin Press are working with Apple to move textbooks to iTunes.

This could be what the future of newspapers looks like. Given the success of the iPod and iPhone, and the marketing power of Apple, the tablet is poised to do well in the digital print market.

The project is under the direct supervision of Steve Jobs.

Longer story at HuffingtonPost.

Posted by: M Edwards | 09/29/2009

Thriving in the popularity contest of the internet

Reciprocity is the new karma.

Whether you’re talking about how many followers you have on twitter, or how influential you are in the digital world in general, it’s all about reciprocity. And in fact, within the next few years, reciprocity will become a much more important indicator of media influence than traditional measurements like circulation or subscription numbers.

This is what reciprocity looks like. Thank you Bing images.

This is what reciprocity looks like. Thank you Bing images.

So what is reciprocity? It is almost a rewording of the Golden Rule. It is the idea of helping out other people or organizations and, in turn, being helped out by them. In terms of the blogosphere it is linking to other blogs, with the social normative assumption (or hope) they will link back to you (depending on their size), or at least take note of you. When it comes to twitter, reciprocity is posting links to other people’s blog posts and articles. It’s taking interest in their interests, rather than just using the network as a promotional tool for personal gain. And in either case, blogging or tweeting, it is one of the most important aspects of gaining more influence and followers for us non-celebrity types.

Reaping benefits of reciprocity can be elusive. Wayne Baker, Author, describes the paradox of seeking for the rewards of reciprocity:

We cannot pursue the power of reciprocity. When we try to invoke reciprocity directly, we lose sight of the reason for it: helping others. Paradoxically, it is in helping others without expecting reciprocity in return that we invoke the power of reciprocity. The path to reciprocity is indirect: reciprocity ensues from the social capital built by making contributions to others.

So really, if he’s right, we gain reciprocity by not pursuing it, but rather by seeking to make meaningful contributions.

This all ties back to the journalism landscape of Web 2.0.

In the future of media, reciprocity will be a direct measure of how many people are linking to an article and discussing its contents. It will be a much greater measure of influence and of what readers want than anything we have now. Letters to the editor are great, and can spark discussion. Subscription figures tell how many people like the paper enough on a consistent basis to pay for it regularly. But nothing provides the finger on the pulse of what is being discussed and what is important to people like the principle of reciprocity on the Web. The importance of your blog is relative to how many people link to it. The relevance of your story is how many people comment, and pass it on to their friends.

In light of this, Sparxoo recently posted their list of the top 25 most influential digital news and politics outlets. On the list were a handful of examples of those who have risen within the last five years due, in part, to their effective use of the principle of reciprocity, and the trickle-down effects of other people linking to themTop 25

Top 25 influential digital media outlets

Top 25 influential digital media outlets

When you look at digital influence, The Huffington Post, Google News, Yahoo News, Daily Kos, Politico, and DrudgeReport, none of which existed a decade ago, have become some of the most influential digital news outlets. And, with the switch the market is making from “traditional media” to online media, this essentially means they’ve become some of the most influential people in information dissemination, from scratch, in under a decade. It’s the American dream, in online media form, and it’s reciprocity at work.

As cynical as it may sound, the internet is now becoming one giant popularity contest. With the advent of twitter and blogs, it’s not always about what you know, but who you know, and how many of them you know. Just as social capital exists in real life, it exists online. It may not be easy to cultivate, but bloggers, tweeters, online newspapers, podcasters, etc., will come to spend more and more time investing in social capital to be competitive in a Web-based environment.

So here’s to you in your quest to build online social capital. And feel free, while you’re doing so, to share the love and toss some social capital my way.

Very interesting stats on media use; how things have changed and some ideas about where they might be headed. Put together by The Economist.

If there are 200 billion emails sent each day, that is more than 30 for each man, woman and child on the planet – except that not every man, woman and child has access to the internet. Which means, there are some people sending a lot of emails.

Posted by: M Edwards | 09/25/2009

Hope in the newspaper world this week…

… and some not quite so hopeful statistics.

This week has been eventful in the media, particularly with the beginning of  discussion about potential legislation affecting newspapers.

Other fun facts:

  • Seventy percent of journalists use social networks to assist in reporting (including Facebook, Twitter, etc.). This is up from  41 percent last year. This number should have been about ninety-five percent two years ago (the other five percent being journalists still using typewriters). The study also showed 51 percent of reporters polled used Wikipedia to assist with their reporting.
  • Sources say newspaper readership is actually up (gasp!) in the United States and in Canada, due to increased traffic to newspapers’ Web sites.
  • The public perception of the accuracy of the media is at its lowest point in more than two decades. Only 18 percent of people thought the media deals fairly with all sides, while 29 percent said they thought journalists get the facts straight.
  • And, to end on a more optimistic note, The New York Times reported the industry has not yet hit rock bottom, but the rate at which they’re plummeting is starting to slow.

Have a good weekend.

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