mesh day 1: thoughts, impressions, and media
It was an interesting afternoon at the mesh conference. I regret I missed the opening two keynotes, as the focus on media (new vs. traditional) was a decidedly interesting one.
To start off the afternoon, I sat in on the Are bloggers journalists? panel with Om Malik, Michael Tippett, and Scott Karp, moderated by Mathew Ingram. Although the conversation focused mainly on political bloggers and breaking news a few key thought starters emerged.
Om brought up a great analogy between the traditional print media format online (e.g. msnbc, biz2.0, etc.) and blogs. The magazine format of the traditional layout and subject matter seeks to reach the largest audience as possible and believes they need to educate, or explain the concept of the piece, to them. Therefore their articles can lack the passion and direct focus of the blogs. The blogosphere on the other hand comes at the medium as an intimate conversation between knowledgeable friends. The assumption when you engage in a blog is that you get the authors premises and theories.
This meandered back into my thoughts when I was in The Future of Media discussion later in the day. The conversation centred around the instantaneous feedback journalists now receive via email or comments vs. the almost complete lack thereof in the years pre-net. Now journalists can immediately hear direct criticisms or corrections from an audience who may be much more knowledgeable about a particular subject than the journo who wrote the piece on it. Prior to the e-volution, the expert would have needed to have read a piece in a particular paper on a particular day and sat down to write and post a letter to the editor. Or called the switchboard and had their message transcribed. That's a lot of work just to express a different opinion. That doesn't breed engagement and change. The internet enables real time feedback, day or night, any corner of the world. That's the conversation that the net has started. Everyone's a critic. (I jest. Sort of.)
Another interesting item to come out of The Future of Media panel (Angus Frame, Tomer Strolight, and Tomi Poutanen), was the notion of commoditizing and diversifying news as the newspapers are losing readership daily to aggregators, blogs and alternative outlets. My first thought on this is: well of course you have no revenue stream you decided 5 years or so ago that you'd give all your content for free to Google and Yahoo! to aggregate and distribute free of charge. The argument back then I'm sure, was that the wider the reach the bigger the audience back at the mothership. Except, just like email and preview panes, consumers are skimming and moving on. All in the comfort of their Google news homepage or RSS reader. This is a prime example of a real need for forward thinking. Of which I have none at the moment. It's a challenging spot for the papers to be in. Giving content away for free, losing ad revenue in the process and paying for the staff to produce all that free content. Main take away: mass reach does not always equal healthy ROI, so plan carefully.
The highlight of the day for me was the Can Web 2.0 Change the World? panel with Tyler Hamilton, Tom Williams, Dave Pollard & George Irish. The discussion touched on so many key points that relate not only to the non-profit world, which was the focus, but to our interactions online and offline as people. I'll have a post on it tomorrow… the focus on day 2 is marketing and Web 2.0. Looking forward to a lively discussion. ;)