Archive for the ‘Blogs’ Category

Blogging : less can be more

May 14, 2007

A quick thought to share. Some of the bloggers I read most eagerly are those that post less often. Neither Danah Boyd, Mike Manuel, Will Sullivan, or Rob Curley are daily posters. This means that I know I’ll only have a post or two to read, and not 100+, which PaidContent can rack up in an afternoon. With the rise of RSS feedreaders the audience you’re writing for shouldn’t disappear, as long as you provide them with a point of view they value however rarely you post.

Subscriptions add value and anonymous blogs are great

March 9, 2007

If you’re into the web then that headline could only be more controversial if I included the word “macaca”. Free is good and human voice is essential are two of the guiding principles of the internet today, but these have slightly stuck in my craw. This post has been brewing for a while, but a conversation with Jeff Jarvis yesterday, when he came to talk to the Project Red Stripe team, gave me the impetus to finish it, partly because Jeff didn’t like it when I suggested these ideas.

Let’s begin : Information wants to be free goes the mantra, so media organisations should drop the paywall. Maybe it does, but that is quite a Web1.0 idea, because it imagines that newspapers, for example, only distribute information. They are outlets, so in that model it can make sense to get as much info out as far as possible. However, lets look at the post-broadcast idea of news sites. Let’s look at communities.

Media outlets have communities floating around them and it is imperative that we enable them (I hear you loud and clear on that Jeff). The value of the community is the quality of the discourse that you enable users to have. In this model free is not, necessarily, the answer. Free means no barrier to entry of the community. Free means no cost sommunication. Those conditions are spam agar.

Anyone who’s MySpaced for a bit will know what happens in that system. And, if you want to receive random emails from bands, standups and webcam girls, it might be the thing for you. Not for most people. This shows that an open, free, system is not always the answer.

Contrast that with the exclusive SmallWorld model (the social network for rich kids), which really limits the amount of invites each user gets. This model enables rich kids, who value exclusivity, to be themselves. They don’t want to sound stupid when they start the group “Don’t you hate it when your chauffeur forgets to chill the champagne”. And they don’t like the hassle they could get elsewhere, so this suits them.

Indeed, when Jeff was talking about Davos, he made the point that the five layers of Swiss police made the quality of the conversation possible. The exclusivity keeps the raff riff out so world leaders can be themselves. (And, Jeff, please correct me if I’ve misrepresented your view point).

Bearing in mind that a media organisation can’t be invite only (or can it?) then a sub is a good way of increasing the quality of the conversation, because you’re not going to spend money to spam. It also gives power to the community leader as any trollish behaviour can be met with a sanction that nullifies the user’s investment – say a three month no comment ban.

So two benefits of a sub are the barrier for entry and the possibility to sanction anti-social communication, all of which leads to a better conversation.

What about anonymity? Now this one is slightly more specific to The Economist, where we have a fine tradition of anonymous writing. And this is something that readers love. The voice of The Economist is renowned for being witty, erudite and concise. But why do we have it on our blogs? Surely we can lighten up there? Anonymity means unaccountability, blandness and nasty power relationship, or so the internetters would have it. At a tactical level it just wouldn’t make sense to have one section of the Economist personal, with the magazine unchanged.

My real problem with Jeff’s POV was when he said the internet expects blogs to be a certain way, so we should do it. To my mind, that’s no reason to do anything. There’s no point losing this great Economist USP just to comply with internet orthodoxies. So the second lesson would be you don’t have to do things the “web2.0 way” just because its expected of you, but adapt these technologies to your circumstances and your community.

A sad day for the Fedoral Reserve

December 12, 2006

The Fedoral Reserve flags are flying at half mast, because my hat it missing. Yes, the fedora of the title is gone. What makes it worse is that it is a fine old hat that used to belong to my grandfather, so it is not just a case of replacing it.

I have not given up hope just yet and I’ll keep you posted on the gravest crisis to hit the F.R. yet.

David Cameron: I don’t want to say I told you so but…

October 19, 2006

Now, no one likes a smart alec (and I speak of what I know), however, it suddenly seems as though politicians are invading MySpace. The slight crowing is because my David Cameron MySpace experiment – where I created his profile then got in touch with the Tories about it – happened a full 8 months ago.

That is all.

Hardcore techs : why Economist readers are ready for web apps

October 17, 2006

I’ve always believed that Economist readers are ready for some crazy web stuff. In sales we always wang on about how technologically advanced are readers are. So why wouldn’t they be ready for something a bit more webby?

What really brought it home to me was a great piece of info from the latest Europe 2006 research. For those of you who don’t mark of the days until the latest syndicated media research comes out, let me explain Europe 2006. This is a survey of the top 10 million Europeans. It’s the business leaders, a key part of our target audience.

It showed, amongst other things, that Economist readers were 50% more likely to read blogs than other consumers of international press. I think this is heartening to everyone interested in Project Redstripe.

It means that the Project should not be afraid. Redstripe must not worry about low adoption rates. Let’s just do something amazing.

Building customer relationships through blogging : Pt. 2

October 11, 2006

My first post on how to use blogs to build customer relationships attracted the only comment on this blog so far. It went like so : “i’m sure that a typo in the first line would grab a dean’s attention”. Quite.

The second part in the series demonstrates two things – what I thought I had to offer the business school market and my (un)healthy obsession with the web.

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MBA2.0

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it seems a lot of people are talking about the internet at the moment. Once again there are a series of hot companies that create a lot of sound and fury, but does it signify nothing? Google, Yahoo, My Space, and You Tube are sitting pretty now, but will they be the Boo.coms of the future? In 2000 that company was just one of the 537 web related bankruptcies.

This time it’s different, they say. Now the talk is of Web2.0. Web2.0? Yes, that’s the catch all name for the new web companies that are coming up. It’s also known as the social web, becuase this time the web is enabling people to interact, communicate and collaborate in entirely new ways.

That’s why this blog is called MBA2.0. I’ll be highlighting how these new technologies will effect MBAs, and how you can take advantage of it. If this sounds interesting to you then stick around.

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Unfortunately I never got to set up MBA2.0 (maybe I should copyright the nAs so much of education, and particularly business education, is based around social interaction and networking I do believe there will be some serious changes. Already Phoenix University are building a campus in Second Life.

This blog would have brought up some ways in which business education could take advantage of these developments. I wouldn’t have interested everyone, but I’m sure I could have found my niche.

Loser generated content vs User generated content

October 6, 2006

There’s a residual, though fast evaporating, image of a blogger. In the public perception they must be either angsty teenagers, techie geeks or political nutjobs.

That’s true, if you count number 1 selling artist Lily Allen as the teen, Sun Microsystems CEO Johnathan Schwartz as the geek and President Ahmadinejad of Iran as the political nutjob.

Why do they blog? I think The Economist answers this best when looking at why top economists blog. Blogging has “it’s place in the intellectual influence game”. Link

That’s why I’d want to do it. You get your ideas out there and make sure they’re fighting for you on the web. Then once you’ve sold an idea the rest will fall into place far more easily.

That’s worth making time for.

(By the way, most of this post was written on my mobile on the way back to work.)