Tag Archives: Blogging

Jeff Jarvis on what I’ve been beginning to call “The Content Creator’s Dilemma”

Screen shot 2012-03-02 at 5.08.27 PM[From a previous Amplify curation post.]

Jeff Jarvis is pointing out several excellent recent examples of changing journalism practices in the age of the Real-Time Web, and ever more rapid Content Decay (that’s why they call it “old news”…). Is the news article becoming a luxury, and mere byproduct of other, larger reporting and #Curation efforts?

I’ve been meaning to write a longer post about what has been forming in my mind under the preliminary heading “The Content Creator’s Dilemma”, but… I haven’t found the time yet given the rapid-fire progression of topics in technology, in social media, in #dinomedia, etc. that I also wanted to at least curate here on Amplify to stay approximately “caught up”.

So shall we now add to the recent idiom “TL;DR” (Too Long; Didn’t Read), its mirror, “Too Long; Didn’t Write”?!

Because that’s how I’ve been feeling in regard to an increasing array of topics over the last 12-18 months. And why I’ve been so much more active over here on Amplify curating than on my own long form blog. Why in fact I’ve been arguing consistently for Curation as a concept:

It avoids reinventing the wheel, and dispenses with the cost of, as Jeff Jarvis calls it here “adding background paragraphs…those great space-wasters that can now be rethought of as links to regularly updated background wikis…”.

Because rather than create endless rephrasings of the same basic, introductory points (that no matter how well crafted in a single piece, are still subject to the same unforgiving new “laws” of rapid Content Decay), I would rather add those in “en bloc” from my own, or other people’s writing and clippings, and keep my own writing restricted mostly to the “tip of the spear”, the most relevant, most current, most novel or insightful take or connection of dots possible.

Because that is where value, if there be any at all, can still be created. That is why I firmly believe that Curation will “win”, that it is the nearly only sane stance to take in this digital new media reality. Maybe the only thing that anyone will still pay for.

As Jeff writes: “An article can be a luxury. When a story is complex and has been growing and changing, it is a great service to tie that into a cogent and concise narrative. But is that always necessary? Is it always the best way to inform? Can we always afford the time it takes to produce articles? Is writing articles the best use of scarce reporting resources?”

That is the essence of The Content Creator’s Dilemma: Too long, didn’t write… given the pincer-like twin threat of Content Overabundance and Content Decay.

Clipped from Buzzmachine – The article as luxury or byproduct:

A few episodes in news make me think of the article not as the goal of journalism but as a value-added luxury or as a byproduct of the process.

… At South by Southwest, the Guardian’s folks talked about their stellar live-blogging. Ian Katz, the deputy editor, said that live-blogging — devoting someone to a story all day — was expensive. I said that writing articles is also expensive. He agreed. There’s the choice: Some news events (should we still be calling them stories?) are better told in process. Some need summing up as articles. That is an extra service to readers. A luxury, perhaps.

The bigger question all this raises is when and whether we need articles. Oh, we still do. Articles can make it easy to catch up on a complex story; they make for easier reading than a string of disjointed facts; they pull together strands of a story and add perspective. Articles are wonderful. But they are no longer necessary for every event.

I’ve been yammering on for a few years about how news is a process more than a product. These episodes help focus what that kind of journalism will look like — and what the skills of the journalist should be.

… In a do-what-you-do-best-and-link-to-the-rest ecosystem, if someone else has written a good article (or background wiki) isn’t it often more efficient to link than to write? Isn’t it more valuable to add reporting, filling in missing facts or correcting mistakes or adding perspectives, than to rewrite what someone else has already written?

From Kevin Kelly’s The Satisfaction Paradox: On why Curation will be the only thing you’ll still pay for

Walkman_Im_your_fatherBrilliant stuff from Kevin Kelly on the situation were are increasingly finding ourselves in with regard to Content Overabundance: There is more than you will ever be able to consume.

(Compare: The Sad, Beautiful Fact That We’re All Going To Miss Almost Everything – NPR ).

This is the fundamental equation you have to understand about the information economy, and Attention being its only scarce resource: While supply of content of all types is going to infinity, the total amount of available Attention remains essentially static. Thus, the price for content must by necessity trend toward ZERO.

As for Curation, here is the money quote from Kevin: “Instead you will pay Amazon, or Netflix, or Spotify, or Google for their suggestions of what you should pay attention to next. Amazon won’t be selling books (which are marginally free); they will be selling their recommendations of what to read.”

We are beginning to see many examples of this already, e.g. here: “Not #free, but close: Amazon is selling digital downloads of Lady Gaga’s newest album for 99 cents -> j.mp/jRhhZz “.

Also, there are plenty of enterprising young artists that are bypassing the old structures entirely, and are going straight to FREE + Social Media Marketing + Monetizing the value-added back-end in the ways that are the only ones predicted to work with FREE (See: Gerd Leonhard on The Future Of Selling). E.g. here: “Stanford-educated rapper embraces fan piracy – Video – CNN Money -> bit.ly/k2B3Iv

And Apple has been busily buying up deals with most of the major music labels, to presumably offer an Apple-branded “cloud-based” music streaming service very soon [this was unveiled as iTunes Match in the fall of 2011]. If they are smart, they will price it within what I call Impulse Purchase Territory, ideally somewhere between $1-5/month.

I’ve said previously that e.g. Sony is making a huge mistake by not going the $1/month route for complete/unlimited streaming music access with their own new offering:

Because “that would put it in the complete impulse purchase, don’t-need-to-think, will-likely-never-cancel-for-any-reason category. What if they could thereby garner 100 Million users, thus spending about $1.2 Billion, or in other words about 20% of what still is left of the global music industry?!”

If Apple doesn’t do it, then someone else eventually will. Only then will some in the #Dinomedia come to see, that the race was not about who was still going to eek out some residual “crumbs” profits from the Old System, but who was going to wholesale import the masses into their Ecosystem…

Instead of dumb ideas like the New York Times Pay Wall…I mean Fence, that only prove the deep denial that many from the Old Guard still find themselves in, because… well… the good old days, they were so very nice…

While they lasted. Looking at all of these examples I can’t help but be reminded of one of my favorite quotes by SciFi author William Gibson: “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet.”

Better wake up quick, because, as Seth Godin says, “Whining isn’t a scalable solution.”

The Satisfaction Paradox

…What if you lived in a world where every great movie, book, song that was ever produced was at your fingertips as if “for free”, and your filters and friends had weeded out the junk, the trash, and anything that would remotely bore you. The only choices would be the absolute cream of the cream, the things your best friend would recommend. What would you watch or read or listen to next?

In theory, you would not choose since it does not matter. Leave it to serendipity, since every option is wonderful. If your filtering/recommendation system really is working, then anything you accept from them should be satisfying.

This is the psychological problem of dealing with abundance rather than scarcity. It is not quite the same problem of abundance articulated by the Paradox of Choice, the theory that we find too many choices paralyzing.

…what outfits like Amazon will be selling in the future. For the price of a subscription you will subscribe to Amazon and have access to all the books in the world at a set price. (An individual book you want to read will be as if it was free, because it won’t cost you extra.) The same will be true of movies (Netflix), or music (iTunes or Spotify or Rhapsody.) You won’t be purchasing individual works.

Instead you will pay Amazon, or Netflix, or Spotify, or Google for their suggestions of what you should pay attention to next. Amazon won’t be selling books (which are marginally free); they will be selling their recommendations of what to read.

You’ll pay the subscription fee in order to get access to their recommendations to the “free” works, which are also available elsewhere. Their recommendations (assuming continual improvements by more collaboration and sharing of highlights, etc.) will be worth more than the individual books. You won’t buy movies; you’ll buy cheap access and pay for personalized recommendations.”

Originally curated/published here (find additional curated quotes and links in the comments), slightly updated/edited. ]

Blog Is Back In Action

Strategic PlanAs I’ve mentioned previously, I had been doing a lot of Curation over at Amplify.com, but the community there due to various issues is now nearly defunct (the arrival of Google+ for Interest Graph related discussions was partially responsible). And more importantly, the response time of Amplify has gotten so slow that I feel I can no longer even use it as an archive.

In the last 7 months most of my blogging and curating has happened on Google+ (find me here and add me to your Circles), but for various reasons that I will explain later (one of them is that the affordances for longer, more serious posts with multiple images or screencaps are still very poor there), I’ve come to the conclusion that I want to revive this blog.

As a first step, I am going to republish (and update) a number of key posts from both my Amplify and Google+ streams, those with the most evergreen value to refer back to in future posts, of which I have quite a few in the pipeline.

Here are the topics I have been writing most frequently about, designated by #hashtag for easy recognition on all services (Blog, Google+, Twitter, asf.):

#Dinomedia – issues around Old Media still trying to resist the digital age, and is still confused about the problem of

#Freeconomics – how to still charge for something when everything digital is trending toward $0.

#Content – the overall problem of Content Overabundance and the Content Creator’s Dilemma, and how they relate to #Blogging and #Curation.

#MobileWars and #TabletWars – Apple’s iOS against… well, mostly it’s just Android now, even though as I predicted, the going is much tougher for Android on tablets than on smartphones.

#PatentWars – especially in Mobile, but in general in technology and software. In the past I have also filed many items under #PatentlyAbsurd, and sometimes under #CopyWrong, where we are dealing more with the issues of Copyright in the Age of Freeconomics and Moving The #Freeline.

#GeoWars have been a subsection of Mobile topics, and while they aren’t burning as brightly as they did in 2010/2011, we’ll keep our eyes on the developments there. Basically, Foursquare has been pulling away in the space, in part due to its keen understanding of #Gamification.

Last but not least, I always collect and write about #Mindhacks (especially Business Mindhacks such as #Pricing and #Branding psychology that has reared its head in a big way for the would-be iPad competitors), #Lifehacks, and Productivity / Getting Things Done ( #GTD ).

I will very likely include a new/updated detailed “pillar post” for each of these. The Business Mindhacks blog is also going to get a visual redesign in short order, including an overhaul for better rendering/readability on Mobile devices.

By the way, today 31 / 366 = 8.5% of your year have already expired. Time to get busy. Tick tock…

Best wishes – Alex Schleber

Are the New York Times’ reports of the Death of Blogging greatly exaggerated?

rip“Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter” claims a recent article in the New York Times, based on some statistics gather by Pew Center research that appear to show a percentage decline in self-identified bloggers among the younger age groups, and stagnation among the more middle-aged set.

Is Blogging dying, or at least on the decline?

The article has sparked a good bit of debate, prompting e.g. GigaOM to retort: “Blogging Is Dead Just Like the Web Is Dead .”

But rather than latch on to the specifics of some percentage gains or losses, that may well be semantically arguable as pointed out in the Times piece, I believe the key quote to be this:

Former bloggers said they were too busy to write lengthy posts and were uninspired by a lack of readers. Others said they had no interest in creating a blog because social networking did a good enough job keeping them in touch with friends and family.

Which is both an argument for the type of Curation-plus-commentary-plus-community activity I’ve been advocating for on my current “mini-blogging” platform of choice, Amplify.com, as well as apt to highlight what I have come to call “the Content Creator’s Plight” or Dilemma (I’ve been cooking up a longer, substantive post on this for a few months, but ironically always find myself dragged in other directions…):

It is difficult enough to keep up with our 21st century information “maelstrom” to begin with. And to arrest the flow of the real-time Web long enough in one’s mind to write much of substance on rapidly emergent, “newsy” topics, so that a post might persist in providing value for longer than a day or two. The other day I curated a post that aptly coined the term “content decay” in this regard.

In a way, it represents a massive act of will, especially in the face of what is now a fair number of professional “blogging machines” (like Techcrunch), that do nothing else.

Now add to that the fact that without already having sufficiently large, built-in audience, which very few bloggers ultimately achieve, the motivation for these “acts of will” is very quickly used up… Notice the second sentence in the above quote, which points out that many find such a built-in audience, and hence at least perceived affirmation, on their social networks of choice.

A service like Amplify, and intelligent curation tools in general, can solve at least the first issue, and while many of its curation peers are neglecting the community/conversation angle, this is where Amplify ultimately shines in solving the second problem to some extent as well.

Going back to the original question, one could say that blogging is most definitely evolving, though also certainly still alive and well:

[B]logging is not so much dying as shifting with the times. Entrepreneurs have taken some of the features popularized by blogging and weaved them into other kinds of services.

Ultimately, people are still expressing themselves online, in however long or short a form (though the trend has certainly gone toward the Twitter- or SMS-like micro-blogging), and the main differences are merely the User Interface (UI) metaphors used.

For example, Amplify has been wrestling with the issues of providing easy-to-use, elegant metaphors, while still maintaining a modicum of depth and relevance for conversation. Bigger services such as Tumblr (another mini-blogging tool) or Twitter have grown so rapidly precisely due to the extreme, push-button simplicity with which content could be created or curated, and passed along socially.

As I’ve argued before, Simplicity Wins, but there is also a fine line to walk to provide both simplicity, as well as still allow for the depth that at least some of us crave.

What Dave Winer’s “Natural-Born Blogger” Criteria Have To Do With Entrepreneurs

Proto-blogger and godfather of RSS Dave Winer on his Scripting News Blog writes this week in “Natural-born blogger”:

We get into the subjectives of what makes natural-born blogger [NBB]. Here are some of the ideas.

1. An natural-born blogger doesn’t wait for permission.

2. A NBB explains things, even when they don’t understand. An NBB is often proved wrong, to which the NBB shrugs his or her shoulders and says something like [“So what”].

3. NBBs go first. If there’s an NBB around you don’t have to wait for a volunteer.

4. NBBs err on the side of saying too much. If you find yourself wishing someone would just [shut up already] you’re very likely looking at an NBB.

Note: Small edits for colorful language… :)

At first sight, it would appear that these points, while well taken, apply only to blogging. And almost in a too-obvious fashion at that.

Unless you have concerned yourself with all manner of business building and entrepreneurship mindset issues, like I tend to do, and take a second look.

Then it becomes clear to you that these are among the most important guide posts for all entrepreneurial activity, and by extension for success in life in a more general sense:

1. Successful people don’t wait for permission

They don’t wait for someone to appoint them to something important (which almost never happens anyway). They give themselves permission to go ahead, they self-appoint.

If you’re uncomfortable with that idea, then you have just identified an important mindset block that is very likely massively holding you back in your business building efforts or aspirations.

I guarantee that almost no one will ever appoint you the expert of your market niche, you have to give yourself permission to be that expert. Of course, you have to make sure you can back it up, else a self-proclamation will ring hollow over time. But the initial catalyst lies within you alone.

2. Successful people shrug off failure

Successful people shrug off failure as if it means nothing, because… well… it doesn’t. All you ever get is a result, all subsequent meaning of that result exists almost entirely in your head.

Any misstep means only that you must be getting closer to your goal than you were before (when you didn’t take any action at all). And of course hopefully you learned something in the process.

The only thing that truly IS tragic is not failure, but being caught in paralysis due to fear of failure. It keeps you suspended in an infinite “possibility loop”, never wanting to find out the truth by either getting proof-of-concept, or not, and moving on to the next concept. It’s a form of addiction to and idea or ideas we have come to hold dear.

Best to find out this week, this month if that idea is only robbing you of precious psychic and other energy…

3. Successful people are ahead of the curve

In branding/positioning there is the well-proven concept of “first mover advantage”, which tends to bestow disproportionate rewards on those that “show up early to the party”.

While the inventor doesn’t always get financial rewards, the Category Leader, the person or business that can install themselves as first for that category in the minds of the consumer (to be taken in the broadest possible sense of a marketplace here), almost always does.

Hence we get Microsoft being more or less unassailable in the business and consumer desktop computing space, while Apple became nearly as dominant in new categories that it either early and decisively jumped on (the iPod), or more or less created (the iPhone).

Anyone else piling into those categories is fighting an uphill, near impossible battle.

And all of this applies to your small business, or solopreneurship as well: Be first, or at least VERY early in something. Ideally by creating a whole new category, which is otherwise known as innovating.

4. Successful People Move The Freeline

While Dave Winer does not explicitly state it here, the idea of erring on the side of saying too much implies the principle I like to call “Moving the Freeline”:

You have to say AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE about what you are trying to get across to people, which means that you have to, in a sense, give your best ideas away!

You can’t hide them behind a Pay-Wall (and even $1 may be too much for people to begin to listen to what you have to say, what you have to offer).

You can’t operate in a way that says: “Once you pay, I’ll tell you something useful or important”.

You can’t drop mere hints about what you have to offer, you have to give away A LOT of the real thing.

Most marketing copy gets this wrong when it merely focuses on trying to persuade, rather than just showing a lot of the goods.

You have to give every possible reason for the other party to do business with you by telling them (nearly) everything you know that could apply to them, free of the irrational fear of being ripped off or plagiarized somehow.

Only then do you have a real chance.

And in order to be able to do this, you have to apply a mindset that most successful people have, what Eben Pagan would call “feeling wealthy right now”.

You see, unless you get to that point of feeling abundant in your ideas right now, you will hold yourself back from getting the business you deserve, because the other party cannot ascertain whether a transaction would be worth their risk.

Does Moving The Freeline Make You Nervous?

In case this kind of openness makes you nervous, you can calm yourself by understanding a few key truths:

The fear that someone wants to rip off your ideas is nearly always an illusion, usually you have the exact opposite problem, that of getting ANYONE to give a dear about you, your business, and your ideas.

Also, the so-called “Curse Of Knowledge” has you systematically underestimate how far you are leaving the non-expert audience behind as an expert in a given arena (see Heath & Heath, Made To Stick).

Even if they wanted to, almost no one would be in a position to replicate your deeper ideas from scratch, without incurring a very significant learning curve.

Of course, if they REALLY wanted to (which is a big if), they could catch up eventually. Which is where the “show up early” principle comes in.

But in the interim, you can, as a consultant say, tell a prospective business EVERYTHING you might do for them in great detail. And it still would be much more likely that they would hire you to work with them, rather than trying to turn around and execute all of these details themselves, cold, from scratch.

To finish up with an example, a prolific tech blogger like Robert Scoble is constantly giving his best ideas away. And certainly a lot of people would say that he can err on the side of saying too much. But that is also how he creates massive value up front, and keeps people engaged with his idea process.

Money and profit become side-effects of his massively “Moving The Freeline” in this way day in and day out. Do thou likewise…

Back in black and white…

I’ve been on an extended hiatus from this blog, here’s why:

I went "back to the lab" of my 1-on-1 coaching business and worked feverishly on refining my "Business Mind Hacks" methods for you, a wider audience. No stone was left unturned, no whiteboard space left unscribbled, no expense of time, money, and energy spared.

There were sleepless nights. There was the occasional throwing up of arms in disbelief.

It’s not that the things I was teaching last year were not excellent, because they were, it’s not that they were not totally relevant, because some of the biggest internet marketing gurus are secretly using many of the same principles to their advantage, albeit often overlooking some of the deeper aspects. It’s just that I needed to develop many more directly actionable derivatives from these materials to serve you best.

After running several Webinar training series last year, I took the feedback from my "trail blazer" groups, added in the experiences from extensive work with my private 1-on-1 clients, and the results are about to become public very soon.

All the while, even though I felt I didn’t quite have the time to devote to blogging at the level of quality that I would expect from myself, I did create a large number of skeleton post outlines, and you’ll get to read the fleshed out and polished versions of these ASAP.

In the meantime, you may have noticed that the blog has had a total face lift, and many, many additional hours of tireless work have gone into getting just about everything the way I wanted it. Having researched many of the ins-and-outs of blogging in general, and the WordPress platform in particular, there is a good number of very subtle design, SEO, and usability principles that have gone into this.

Not to mention the priceless advice of some of the true luminaries of blogging and social media, such as Andy Beard (his blog is a veritable goldmine of stuff that goes way beyond the ordinary… really… how does he come up with these things… almost daily… ?).

So it turns out, I create Mind Hacks, and WordPress hacks as well… I’ll be sharing those as a separate train of thought from my usual topics, in order to give back to the WordPress and blogging community.

Anyway, I’m back. Let’s get this party started.

Here’s to a fantastic Q2!