The News Media Is Irrelevant

bookmark3Here’s some analysis that resonates keenly. It says that mainstream media is irrelevant. You can read the whole article here: Why the News Media Became Irrelevant—And How Social Media Can Help

What follows are five selected and dis-contiguous paragraphs from the article.

But things started to change well before the Web became popular. Over the past few decades, news conglomerates took over local papers and stations. Then they cut on-the-ground reporters, included more syndicated content from news services, and focused local coverage on storms, fires, crashes and crime to pad profit margins. The news became less local and less relevant, and reporters became less connected to their communities. Surveys show a steep drop in public trust in journalism occurring during the past 25 years.

The truth is the Internet didn’t steal the audience. We lost it. Today fewer people are systematically reading our papers and tuning into our news programs for a simple reason—many people don’t feel we serve them anymore. We are, literally, out of touch.

Trust is key. Many younger people don’t look for news anymore because it comes to them. They simply assume their network of friends—those they trust—will tell them when something interesting or important happens and send them whatever their friends deem to be trustworthy sources, from articles, blogs, podcasts, Twitter feeds, or videos.

Mainstream media see social media as tools to help them distribute and market their content. Only the savviest of journalists are using the networks for the real value they provide in today’s culture—as ways to establish relationships and listen to others. The bright news organizations and journalists spend as much time listening on Twitter as they do tweeting.

The problem with mainstream media isn’t that we’ve lost our business model. We’ve lost our value. We are not as important to the lives of our audience as we once were. Social media are the route back to a connection with the audience. And if we use them to listen, we’ll learn how we can add value in the new culture.

There’s a lot of residual cachet left with the mainstream media brands – every time I go to Ezra’s blog at the Washington Post I think this. But in terms of finding information or making one’s mind up, who cares for brand names anymore? Since everything is now suspect, one has to develop new trust.

This piece I bookmarked spells it out quite nicely, it’s everything we’ve been saying about social media for years. My caveat even with this is that our trust is held rather more temporarily nowadays – the premiums on true knowledge are so high that one can’t afford to be fooled too often.

Resume Down, Blog Up

I saw the feed headline from Bob Warfield, who referenced Zoli Erdos, who in turn quoted Seth Godin – all to the effect that the resume is not only useless but counterproductive. As I said last month, your blog is both your resume and your job search.

Not satisfied with stopping there, I later said that employees should blog at work, and employers would be smart to encourage this and harness its power for their own marketing ends.

The classic job search and the classic resume are both hopeless for matching the right people up with the right environment. Web 2.0 does it all a whole lot better.
I took this idea in the first place from Zoli Erdos, and he took it from Tom Peters of a decade ago.

The idea of self promotion has been around for a long time now, and any employee can tell you that the system of trusting employers to spot your good talents, and also to retain you through downturns, takes more faith than most can muster nowadays.

So everyone’s agreed there’s a better way of doing things now. But if you feel stuck in the resume trap, try spicing your latest resume up with a second page of samples from your blog. If you don’t have a blog get one. Remember, it’s never too late to start, and there’s always room at the top.

Let me know the results :)

Blogging – The Professional Campaign

[From an email I sent a new client just getting started on the road of self promotion.]

As a beginning, let me show you a bit about how a blog works, why it’s perfect for you, and also how it integrates into the rest of the website, either as an accomplice, or as the front runner doing the heavy lifting.

One of the first things you might do is read a success story of a blog used by a man with a very specialized profession. The story tells of filling a niche – founding it really – and becoming globally accessible, simply and cleanly, over 2-3 years.
Success By Blogging – a Case Study

You might follow this with another piece I wrote, about why blogging is perfect for consultants:
Blogging Is Perfect For Independent Consultants

Getting away from my site, take a look at some of the people I read for a view into how they promote themselves. The modern business world is beginning to resemble academe, in that it’s publish or perish. The plus side of this is that if you can write, and if you have something to say, you can attract and cultivate your own network of supporters and correspondents. In the end, it’s your network that will keep your skills sharp and your knowledge up to date, and also give you work.

I like to read Bob Warfield, he’s amazingly prolific and great with rapid analysis of breaking situations. His blog is a free one (which you don’t want), hosted at wordpress.com, and the design comes from a free design theme he selected from several available. His overhead is almost nil in technical terms, leaving him free to pour his writing and thinking into the site.
SmoothSpan Blog

Professor Andrew McAfee is using a blog hosted and designed by Harvard Business School. His articles don’t show the comments, but click on some to see the depth of feedback coming back to him from his readers. This is useful dialog, to his own thinking and to us the readers. With a serious blog, the comments can sometimes prove greater than the original post.
The Impact of Information Technology (IT) on Businesses and their Leaders

Ross Dawson in Australia is a keynote speaker and author. His blog serves to boost his credentials, and allows him to cite other journals that reference him, among all the other uses.
Trends in the Living Networks

Richard Boardman runs a consultancy and writes about his field in his blog. As with many people his articles are thought pieces that sometimes reference other industry commentators (in their blogs), and that get published and cited in other journals, while he keeps the rights (I assume) to archive them permanently in his own blog. See his link in the sidebar to Mareeba CRM Consulting, and follow it to view the brochure-style, “ordinary” website that houses the nuts and bolts information about his company. The blog is actually an addition built into the existing site.
The CRM Consultant

Nicholas Carr has shown us how to think for a living, and how to build buzz for a book while it’s being written. His blog features posts daily, with multiple references to his books, either the one just gone or the new one when it was a’building, and now as it’s published and on the bestseller list already – which he proudly proclaims in his blog post. Note his links at the top leading to another site with more detailed, linearly presented, static information for reference and additional promotion.
Rough Type – Nicholas Carr’s Blog

Finally, here’s how Frank Rumbauskas promotes himself and his speaking and coaching abilities. He has a blog to display the latest news and to comment on current issues in the industry, and a link to a static, traditional style website that holds a lot of well crafted promotional pieces, including video clips of him giving presentations.
The blog is the medium for networking and spreading the word further afield than his website can, while the website is a powerful sales tool, the “clincher” that holds affirmations and calls to action. Yet a third site is his official About site, holding his bedrock credentials and affiliations.

The blog:
Frank’s Blog

The Sales Tool:
Never Cold Call Again!

The Bio Site:
Frank J. Rumbauskas Jr. | Official Site

There is a lot more that can be said about the blog, and if you stick around long enough you’ll hear me say it all, probably in writing, probably in my own blog. This little tour d’horizon was to show you how commonplace, how simple and yet variegated, how flexible, and how utterly effective blogs are.

We may build you some static pages, and we may have different design on them, but we absolutely have to get you started in a blog. Nowadays people write in pieces that they post in their blogs, knowing that the pieces will be brought together and made into a larger format, such as an article for a journal somewhere, such as a manual for sale, such as book for publication. You can be “earning miles” in self-promotion as you write.

I hope this gave you some things to digest. I know it doesn’t specifically cover your field and your effort, and when you send me your details I’ll be able to drill deeper into where we’re going. But it’s some reading to ponder.

And by the way, since I wrote close to a thousand words on this beginning piece of advice, it occurs to me that I don’t ever want to have to write it again, so now it can go to live permanently in my blog – and maybe someday in the book.

You can find it here:
Blogging – The Professional Campaign

Ross

Blog On Company Time

I was scheduled to give a presentation at South by Southwest Interactive this year, but I have a very specialized training course that weekend and I can’t make it. Not to worry, one of the team will substitute instead.

My blogging partner Daniel Hope devised the theme for a presentation called “How to Blog at Work Without Getting Dooced.”

Dooced? Dooce is the pen name of a woman who got fired from her job after her boss read her blog that caricatured her company and coworkers. Live and learn, eh? And let this be a lesson to all.

This was in the early days of blogging, in 2002, and since then she’s made her blog popular enough that her husband was able to quit his job. Now they live on advertising revenues. And she’s become a verb, which is the highest marketing achievement, the self-awarding award. Congratulations to Dooce on her talent and hard work and success.

At SXSW Interactive we’re going to expand on the Dooce lesson and show the reasons why every employee and employer must blog, and furthermore how to do this in almost no time. Better than this, and what I was going to talk about, we’ll show why the employee blogger is now star talent in today’s market conditions and could actually become the official company blogger.

For a taste of the presentation and to read some of the posts on this go to our TracksuitCEO site and take a look at the latest:
How to Blog without using Company Time – or – The 2 Minute Blog Post

This will be a fabulous time for networking and generally geeking around wide-eyed, and I’m sorry to miss it. But you shouldn’t. Go by and catch Daniel and Matt if you can, it’s happening on March 9th, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm in Ballroom E.

Employees Should Blog At Work

Blogging is a skill, and so is networking, and both skills are coming to be in high demand in modern companies.

Today’s companies are seeing that their future success may depend on how well they can use the Web 2.0 tools of communicating and networking, simply to keep hold of their customer base.

If you’re a boss you should know that your employees who blog on company time may turn out to be the future heroes of the company, if you can find ways to harness their talent and drive.

If you’re an employer you had better know that in these ruthless times your employees simply can’t afford to give you loyalty, and you can’t assume any loyalty exists. You have to earn loyalty and respect from your employees, just as you have to earn these things from your customers.

What you have to do as a manager is find those people who have talent and drive in the area of blogging and social networking, and put them to work for you.

Your organization needs at least one blog, if not dozens. You need to engage authentically with your customers and stakeholders, and the way to do this, at the very minimum, is through the blog.

If you’re an employee you should take stock of your talents and skills that aren’t currently being put to use for your employer. Start thinking of ways in which these skills might be put in service on behalf of your company.

Suppose you blog about your hobby, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with your company’s business? You still have authenticity to offer. What if you offer to mention your employer in whatever good light you can truthfully manage, in return for time to do some blogging at work.

What great reputation management for your company – here’s an organization that allows its people some allocated human time to pursue their own interests. We can all think of the search engine company that does this, with famous results.

If you’re a boss and your employees are running their own blogs, how can you offer them an interest in your company affairs so that they’ll blog about your company?

And by the way, if you’re one of the bosses – from entrepreneur to middle manager to veteran CEO – the situation is the same for you as it is for your most humble employee. Your name is your brand, as Tom Peters pointed out long ago. Consequently, to develop brand equity, you should be blogging.

And how will you create your own company blogs, if not through using your own inside people? (TIP: you can get started by contracting Hunter and Associates for most of the services).

And how will you manage the entire business of publishing your inside story to the world, without looking bad? (TIP: Red Ditto Blogger has written a few guidelines on how companies can get started blogging at the TracksuitCEO blog)

These basic questions, friend employer and friend employee, are just part of the great challenge facing all companies now. You the employee and you the boss should team up on this challenge. Because only those companies that succeed in developing authentic engagement with their customers will survive as companies. And at the very minimum, it’ll take some blogging.

Why Every Employee Should Blog

If you’re someone who has a resume and who cares about making it valuable, then you should be blogging, because your resume is yesterday’s news – literally – and what matters most is how sharp your edge looks today.

If you’re an employee you should know that your name is your brand, and that you’re responsible for marketing yourself, because nobody else will do it for you, and no employer can guarantee your future for you.

You should be blogging, and you should be blogging deliberately in order to create a real record of your accomplishments. You should be very conscious of the identity you’re building for yourself, and you should tailor your position to your best advantage.

You should be blogging to show your judgment and your aspirations, and to build your personal network. You blog to show yourself as you most intently strive to be, and you connect with other people who have close degrees of connection with you. This is your success network.

You should be creating your network and your position in your blog, in your Facebook, Linked-In, and MyBlogLog identities ( to name a few), in your bookmarks and annotations, in your other intellectual property assets, and in your affiliations and participations across the world.

One day you may be hired FROM your success network, by someone who values you for your attributes. But you may equally be hired FOR your network, for the value of the people you know who can provide solutions.

It has long been common in science and IT that certain individuals have networks of contacts who combine to make the individual almost uniquely valuable to an organization. The individual is known simply as someone who can get things done, someone who can deliver excellent solutions. It takes a network.

Your blog is both your resume and your job search, now combined into a Web 2.0 vehicle that is better than either ever has been. The resume and the job search are hopeless failures at matching the right people with the right positions.

Headhunters know this, which is why human resource people are so interested in Web 2.0 systems of collaboration and networking. They know that Web 2.0 mixes IN the wisdom of the crowds, and distils OUT the long-tail solution perfect for the niche.

In Praise Of The Internet

I just caught up with Scott Rosenberg’s feed, and stopped to read his piece on Mitch Kapor, early pioneer of the Internet and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as well as a long-time software developer (Lotus 1-2-3).

Kapor has been giving talks recently at Berkeley, and his second lecture, Disruptive Innovations I Have Known and Loved – Part 2: The Internet and the World Wide Web, was a retrospective of the early days of scepticism, contrasted with what the Web has become.

Early enthusiasts of the Web, people with good instincts, those who could feel the compelling imperative seeded in the Internet, all had trouble conveying the importance of the Web to those who could only see the primitive present, and not the future contained within it.

Rosenberg recalls:

…much as I rooted for the Internet-style future as a healthier one for our culture, it was awfully hard to see how anyone was likely to make money via such a system. Kapor said he looked at the open network’s advantage in generating innovation and encouraging participation and concluded, “I think this is the one that’s going to win.” He was right.

This has meaning for the present, says Rosenberg:

It’s incredibly useful to keep that era in mind today, I think, because it provides not just a heartening saga of the triumph of free expression and open participation, but also a clear case in which those ideals were more practical, too.

The Internet’s victory over the services we now derisively dismiss as “walled gardens” was an instance, within recent memory, when the idealists weren’t hopelessly outgunned by the cynics — when, in fact, the idealists turned out to be the realists, and the cynics took a bath. – Kapor’s early bet on the Net

Amen. All of this matters, and is supportive to contemplate, because this present, which may already surpass the future many saw back then, is clearly still the very beginning. Sometimes I find this astonishing.

Rapid Assembly of Facts During the California Fires

With the fires raging in California, which of the many ways of getting information stand out as the best in these times?

The California fires are being watched by a lot of people, everybody has somebody in California. Allen Stern at CenterNetworks compiled a view of how the social media networks were being used to update status.

“Putting the various sites together shows an almost live look at what’s going on across the region. One thing I do notice is that there is no central keyword or search term to find everything, everyone lists their content in a different way.” -

From the majority of posts in the comments section, it looked like social media was more noise than signal, except for Twitter, doing a great job with new information.

Most commenters felt that the organized news stations were the only continuously updating, reliable sources – the bloggers were sporadic. The Union-Tribune blog was posting new stories every 1-3 minutes at the time of this writing.

CenterNetworks included Mahalo in the roundup, not because it’s a major site, but because it “has a mission of helping users find what they are looking for better than typical searching.” How well did it do with compiling the latest breaking information?

“Both pages are good attempts at organizing the information, the California fires page is somewhat current, Malibu fires is a bit more outdated. The California fires page shows videos from yesterday but most of the news is from today which is good. I would suggest they point to searches on YouTube, Flickr, etc. to keep that page updated with more current information.”

So it’s inconclusive from this brief glance which method of compiling information rapidly is most useful in dire need. Human-edited Mahalo seems less efficient than the wisdom of larger crowds, yet editor supervision has a high value for reliability when you know the editorial source.

The platform of twitter is fast, but word for word probably no faster than a blog – and all content hinges on quality of source for the highest and best signal. Accredited sources with a mandate to stay awake at their post are premium. Trust is everything.

Business and Entertainment Mashups

We always said that first the geeks and the wild people do it, and then business starts to notice; then it gets a little boring, but it changes our world. It’s still kind of in the wild – at David Berlind’s Mashup Camp – but mashups are getting some useful business development now.

If you want to follow the link there’s a short video here of Berlind’s interview with Mark Madsen, who created a business app in nine hours flat using mashup tools.

Aside from the many demonstrations of existing mashups and mashup technologies, Mashup Camp (and the culture) are very much about spur of the moment of hacking. Very much like chaos, this style of app dev is probably the antithesis to the approach that enterprises and other organizations take when developing internal software. But, given the 9 hours in total it took Madsen to build an application that, five years ago, might have taken 9 months, his Cold Call Assistant is living breathing proof of how incredibly important the mashup culture will be to business agility and success. – Mashup culture shatters crusty, stodgy old approach to business app dev

Enough of business, how about some entertainment? Winner this year in the Speed Geeking category was chime.tv, and Berlind again has the interview and a video pointing out the features of the mashup.

David’s correct, you will want to see chime.tv yourself – it’s a beautiful interface, all Flash, strictly browser-based, and featuring collections of video content organized by subject, retrieved from several sources. And the best news about chime.tv is is that you can create your own collections of videos.

David Berlind’s interview video and article at ZDNet:
http://blogs.zdnet.com/Berlind/?p=655

ChimeTV:
http://chime.tv/

Customer Reviews

Customer reviews are priceless – who could doubt it? Even if they’re bad they allow the wide-awake executive to respond and adapt, or at least be informed; after all we’re not in charge of our reputation, other people are.

You may enjoy this report by Colin Beasty at CRM Magazine:

A new study of the 100 highest-grossing retail Web sites that post online customer reviews has found that the availability of that content is a key factor driving customer satisfaction, loyalty, and purchase decisions. According to the findings of the report, released by ForeSee Results, the presence of user-generated reviews boosted overall satisfaction with and loyalty to the Web sites; even more critical, reviews increased the likelihood for conversion and the completion of an online purchase. – A Good Review Is Worth Its Weight in Gold

I’m hearing now about a growing service called Angie’s List, which features reviews by users of products and services.

Angie’s List has exploded in the past year. In January 2006, it served 33 cities; today it’s in 124. Members can search for service companies in as many as 240 categories, from pet sitting to plumbing. – Angie’s List: Making and Breaking Service Companies

All of this is to reinforce the precept that costumer reviews are the single most valuable asset a company can acquire (after customers perhaps), and cultivating and displaying them should be one of the principal objects of marketing.

In case this was obscured in my earlier article about Jupiter’s advice for retailers to stay away from social networking sites [Web 2.0 Brings Shopping 3.0 and Just Forget Jupiter Research On This One] Jupiter’s report always did emphasize the value of exactly this.

Jupiter said, bring the Web 2.0, user-generated content into your own site. This is a perfect idea. My point went much further and said go out to where those prospects and customers are also, and listen and talk to them out in the wild. Reviews, anywhere you can get them, are indispensable.

Mashups for the Business Crowd

Here’s a mashup we like. If you own 25,000 kilometers of fiber network running through twelve European countries, obviously you’ll mash up the AutoCad design data with the GPS grid (tricky), and then you’re ready to expose it through a map display system like Google Earth (easy).

Global Crossing – a company we like, with the world’s first integrated global IP-based network – has done such a thing as a visual aid for its customers. Everybody is pleased:

Our fibre customers are pleased: Not only can they trace the exact location of their network, but their families can also see where daddy or mommy will be for their provisioning or system commissioning activities, and they can check out nearby tourist sites using tools like Panoramio (acquired by Google last month). – Google Earth Network Route Imaging

The Age of Wiki

Is it the age of wiki? Yes, and why not? It’s the age of every other piece of collaboration software. But to start a land rush we’ll need to come up with some pretty hip slang to describe this fairly unlovely, rubber-jointed piece of software.

The problem with wikis is they’re hard to grok. Everyone looks at the finished display product of Wikipedia, but not the process that creates it – in truth that would be like watching grass grow. With a wiki, you have to use one to love it, and even then you don’t have words for it.

We need to develop some hip slang for wiki usage, taken from the skateboard community ideally. Meanwhile the Tracksuit CEO has decided to jump right in and do it, setting up a family wiki so that he and his wife can coordinate their calendars, the better to raise their two young ‘uns.

And as for those words, try this video clip, you’ll be amazed at how much better you grasp the wiki when you watch the hands at work in Wikis in Plain English:

 



Click To Play



As a developer I’ve been involved in a variety of collaboration software for a decade. Between running the studio and running projects with clients, I’ve always been looking for the perfect module for collaboration. We’ve even created a few things ourselves, but the one-app-does-it-all solution will never need to happen, or now I so believe.

Instead, simply rewire the world, set up a vast global network with architecture and protocols already suited to collaboration, and then throw lots of specialized apps and online services out there so users can grab what they need when they need it.

Underneath my very superficial skim of the wiki world here, there lies a vast pool of theory and analysis about such things as collaboration software, Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, tacit and explicit knowledge, structured and unstructured information – and a host of other memes and tags that I’m absolutely not getting into today. Over time I would like to explore these things in greater depth with you.

For now, enjoy the movie, and when the need arises grab a free wiki and get started – figure it out between you and your collaborators. And let me know how it goes.