‘Dependent web’ platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Google and Yahoo are where people go to discover and share new content. Independent sites are the millions of blogs, community and service sites where passionate individuals ‘hang out’ with like-minded folks. This is where shared content is often created.
‘The Victorian Internet’ is a must read for anyone interested in the history of technology and in the cycles of hype, boom, and bust that seem to only quicken with each new wave of innovation. Highly recommended.
Advertising and content have always been bound together – in print, on television, and on the web. Sure, you can skip the ad – just flip the page, or press ‘ffwd’ on your DVR. But great advertising, as I’ve long argued, adds value to the content ecosystem, and has as much a right to be in the conversation as does the publisher and the consumer.
An elaborate system of etiquette and social standards flowered around the home phone: how long a child might be allowed to stay on the phone, how late one could call without being impolite, and of course, the dread implications of a late night call which violated that norm.
As much as I love scores of wonderful sites across the web, most of them are driven by the daily grind of the display/pageview hamster wheel. They create 20, 30, 40 ‘content snacks’ a day, and I miss far more than I consume.
As our society tips toward one based on data, our collective decisions around how that data can be used will determine what kind of a culture we live in.
As the border between physical and digital gets more permeable, a new kind of literacy emerges. And that literacy is built on a foundation of code – whether it’s the codes of letters and words, or the code of bits and algorithms.
As you grow older, you learn a few things. One of them is to actually take the time you’ve allotted for vacation.
Bill Gates has become the patron saint of philanthropy and the poster child of rebirth, and from what I can tell, rightly so.
Bitcoin woke us all up to a new way to pay, and culturally, I think a much larger percentage of us have become accustomed to the idea that money no longer comes with the friction it once had.
Boxes and rectangles on the side or top of a website simply do not deliver against brand advertising goals. Like it or not, boxes and rectangles have for the most part become the province of direct response advertising, or brand advertising that pays, on average, as if it’s driven by direct response metrics.
Brand marketers don’t believe that ad-tech companies view brands as true partners. Ad-tech companies think brand marketers are paying attention to the wrong things. And publishers, with a few important exceptions, feel taken advantage of by everyone.
Building out a professional profile on LinkedIn certainly makes sense, and bolstering that CV with intelligent pieces of writing is also a great idea. But if you’re going to take the time to create content, you should also take the time to create a home for that content that is yours and yours alone.
Call it a hunch, but I sense that many of us are not entirely comfortable with a world in which every single thing we buy creates a cloud of data. I’d like to have an option to not have a record of how much I tipped, or what I bought at 1:08 A.M. at a corner market in New York City.
Consumers online expect dialogue, so pairing your brand with relevant and passion-driven topics is one of the best ways to ensure that you are engaged with key audiences.
Drones ply the liminal space between the physical and the digital – pilots fly them, but aren’t in them. They are versatile and fascinating objects – the things they can do range from the mundane (aerial photography) to the spectacular – killing people, for example.
Every good story needs a hero. Back when I wrote ‘The Search,’ that hero was Google – the book wasn’t about Google alone, but Google’s narrative worked to drive the entire story.
Facebook’s data trove is enviable, and its moves into nearly every aspect of our lives – from payment to media, will create even more of it. The company also has created a huge base of developers for its platform, but the ecosystem is incomplete compared to vertically integrated OSes like iOS, Mac or Windows.
Founded by an ex-Apple employee, Nest devices do for thermostats and smoke alarms what the Mac did for PCs – Google Buys Nest made them relevant and far more valuable.
Given the trendlines of digital publishing, where more and more large platforms are profiting from, and controlling, the works of individuals, I can’t stress enough: Put your taproot in the independent web. Use the platforms for free distribution (they’re using you for free content, after all). And make sure you link back to your own domain.
Good first drafts and speedy responses to consumer dialog will always trump lawyered corporate speak.
Google is a global Rorschach test. We see in it what we want to see. Google has built an infrastructure that makes a lot of dreams closer to reality.
Google likely never cared if Google+ ‘won’ as a competitor to Facebook (though if it did, that would have been a nice bonus). All that mattered, in the end, was whether Plus became the connective tissue between all of Google’s formerly scattered services. And in a few short years, it’s fair to say it has.
Google Now is one of those products that to many users doesn’t seem like a product at all. It is instead the experience one has when you use the Google Search application on your Android or iPhone device (it’s consistently a top free app on the iTunes charts). You probably know it as Google search, but it’s far, far more than that.
Google Now supplants the need to open an app by surfacing cards – cards that magically turn into just the information you need, when you need it – without having to go to an app to get it.
Google+ was, to my mind, all about creating a first-party data connection between Google most important services – search, mail, YouTube, Android/Play, and apps.
I find web browsing, checking multiple email accounts, and Google mapping rather tiresome on an iPhone – the iPhone’s native interface, for all its supposed perfection, has all kinds of wrong baked in – and the screen is just far too small.
I found the iPad to be too large and heavy to use comfortably in casual situations (like reading in bed, for example), and too limited to use as a replacement for my laptop. By comparison, the Nexus 7 is just the right size for use anywhere – it’s very similar in size to my daughter’s Kindle Fire, but lighter.
I have done a pretty good job of partitioning my life digitally, posting utterances and stories that I’m happy to share with anyone on Twitter, leaving a few sparse comments and ‘Likes’ on Facebook (I’m not a huge user of the service, I’ll be honest), and sending any number of photos to thousands of ‘followers’ on Instagram and Tumblr.
I left ‘Wired’ before it was sold to Conde Nast and Lycos, so I didn’t experience that transition.
I like Diaspora because it’s audacious, it’s driven by passion, and it’s very, very hard to do. After all, who in their right mind would set as a goal taking on Facebook? That’s sort of like deciding to build a better search engine – very expensive, with a high likelihood of failure.
I sense that the sea of smart phones lit up at concerts is a temporary phenomenon. The integration of technology, sharing, and social into our physical world, on the other hand, well, that ain’t going away.
I started my career as a liberal arts major from Berkeley, wrote about enterprise IT for a few years, then followed my passion for the digital narrative into graduate school as well (also at Berkeley, the Oxford of the West or, perhaps, the Harvard – sorry Stanford!). My first project out of grad school was ‘Wired’ magazine.
I think ad networks is an ongoing story. Federated was a chapter in that story, and it continues to write a new one.
I think Facebook is an extraordinarily important part of the Internet ecosystem, and having a robust presence there is a critical part of any brand (or company’s) strategy.
I’ll admit it: I’m one of those people who has a Google News alert set for my own name.
I’m quite certain the Windows 8 team is preparing to market IE 10 – and by extension, Windows 8 – as the safe, privacy-enhancing choice, capitalizing on Google’s many government woes and consumers’ overall unease with the search giant’s power.
I’ve always liked the fact that anyone with a great idea, access to the Internet, and an unrelenting will can spark a world-beating company simply by standing up code on the Internet and/or leveraging the information and relationship network that is the web. That’s how Facebook started, after all.
I’ve been a Mac guy for almost my entire adult life. I wrote my first college papers on a typewriter, but by the end of my freshman year – almost 20 years ago – I was on an IBM PC. Then, in 1984, I found the Mac, and I never looked back.
Ideally, content should be shared, mixed, mashed, and reposted – it wants to flow through the Internet like water. This was the point of RSS, after all – a technology that has actually been declared dead more often than the lowly display banner.
If we as a society do not understand ‘the cloud,’ in all its aspects – what data it holds, how it works, what the bargains are we make as we engage with it, we’ll all be the poorer for it, I believe.
If you’re a publisher and you forbid deep linking into your site, or have a paid wall or registration requirement, then you’re making it hard to ‘point to’ your content. When no one points to your content, your content is harder to find because search uses links as a proxy for popularity.
If you’re going to build something, don’t build on land someone else already owns. You want your own land, your own domain, your own sovereignty. Trouble is, so much of the choice land – the land where all the people are – is already owned by someone else: By Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Apple (in apps, anyway).
In a world lit by data, street corners are painted with contextual information, automobiles can navigate autonomously, thermostats respond to patterns of activity, and retail outlets change as rapidly (and individually) as search results from Google.
In conversation marketing, you’re providing a service, a continuing dialogue whose course through the Web is unknown. The more value it adds to the ecosystem, the more it will be shared, amplified and celebrated.
In short, Now is Google’s attempt at becoming the real time interface to our lives – moving well beyond the siloed confines of ‘search’ and into the far more ambitious world of ‘experience.’ As in – every experience one has could well be lit by data delivered through Google Now.
In the past, Google has used teams of humans to ‘read’ its street address images – in essence, to render images into actionable data. But using neural network technology, the company has trained computers to extract that data automatically – and with a level of accuracy that meets or beats human operators.
It seems everyone is converging on a simple set of facts: Our lives are digital, and we wish to share our lives. Pinterest came at it through images, artfully curated. Facebook came at it through friends, cunningly organized. Dropbox came to it via files, cleverly clouded.
It seems there is no area in our culture that is not touched, changed, even swallowed by the Internet. It’s both medium and message, mass and personal, social and solitary.
It’s become something of a ritual – every year, Google publishes its year-end summary of what the world wants, and every year I complain about how shallow it is, given what Google really knows about what the world is up to.
It’s not easy being number two. As a marketer, you have limited choices – you can pretend you’re not defined by the market leader, or, you can embrace your position and go directly after your nemesis.
Just as like the music industry still wishes for the days when it controlled its own production and distribution, the media and marketing world still yearns for the silver bullet of the thirty-second spot on ‘Seinfeld,’ even as it knows those days are over.
Just like the VCR opened the film and TV industries to unimaginable new revenue streams, search, RSS and the Internet will do the same for marketers and media companies.
Long walks force a certain meditative awareness. You’re not moving so fast that you miss the world’s details passing by – in fact, you can stop to inspect something that might catch your eye.
Making media companies that you hope to sell is not a lot of fun for anyone who cares deeply about making media.
Nearly all web publications are driven by the display model, which is in turn driven by page views. But we all know the web is shifting, thanks to mobile devices and the walled gardens they erect. The new landscape of the web is far more complicated, and new products must emerge.
Obama will win the 2012 election, thanks in part to the tech community rallying behind him due to issues like SOPA, visas, and free speech.
Only a consistent, ongoing, deep experience can make a lasting media brand: one that has a commitment from a core community and the respect of a larger reading public.
Prior to email, our private correspondence was secured by a government institution called the postal service. Today, we trust AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, or Gmail with our private utterances.
Publishers are born connectors; they bring like-minded people together. They are also conversationalists of the first order. They foster the interaction between the three key parties in commercial media: the audience, the author/creator and the marketer.
Search is now more than a web destination and a few words plugged into a box. Search is a mode, a method of interaction with the physical and virtual worlds. What is Siri but search? What are apps like Yelp or Foursquare, but structured search machines? Search has become embedded into everything and has reached well beyond its web-based roots.
Step one of Street View was to get the pictures in place – in a few short years, we’ve gotten used to the idea that nearly any place on earth can now be visited as a set of images on Google.
Teenagers aren’t loyal to much of anything – especially Internet stuff.
The ‘Occupy’ movement seems to have found a central theme to its 2012 movement around overturning ‘the corporation as a person,’ and some legislators are supporting that concept.
The ‘old’ Internet is shrinking and being replaced by walled gardens over which Google’s crawlers can’t climb. Sure, Google can crawl Facebook’s ‘public pages,’ but those represent a tiny fraction of the ‘pages’ on Faceboo, and are not informed by the crucial signals of identity and relationship which give those pages meaning.
The beauty of the innovation that flows from the open web is that no one has to ask for permission, get a credential, or win a Disrupt or Launch award to go prove their idea is worthy. They just… put up a page on the web, iterate, iterate, iterate… and eventually, a Facebook emerges.
The experience that a publication creates for its audience is the very essence of that publication’s brand – and without deep engagement, that publication’s brand will be weak. A good publication is a convener and an arbiter – it expresses a core narrative that becomes a badge of sorts for its readership.
The home phone is relatively cheap, incredibly reliable, and – if you buy the right phone – will work for years without replacement. Oh, and far as I can tell, a home phone won’t give you brain cancer. In a perfect world, the hard line should have become a platform for building out an entire app ecosystem for the home. And yet… it didn’t.
The largest issue with search is that we learned about it when the web was young, when the universe was ‘complete’ – the entire web was searchable! Now our digital lives are utterly fractured – in apps, in walled gardens like Facebook, across clunky interfaces like those in automobiles or Comcast cable boxes.
The Nexus 7 is about the same size as a Moleskine notebook, and it just ‘feels’ like the right form factor for doing all those things you want to do on a smart phone, but can’t quite do in the right way. It’s not too big, and not too small – just right.
The only thing Google has failed to do, so far, is fail.
The open web is full of spam, shady operators, and blatant falsehoods. Outside of a relatively small percentage of high quality sites, most of the web is chock full of popup ads and other interruptive come-ons. It’s nearly impossible to find signal in that noise, and the web is in danger of being overrun by all that crap.
The smart phone isn’t a perfect device, as we all know. It forces the world into a tiny screen. It runs out of battery, bandwidth, and power. It distracts us from the world around us.
The truth is, truly passionate media creators don’t get into the media business to make huge gains from spectacular unicorn exits. When it happens, we certainly all cheer (and perhaps secretly hope it happens to us). But the fact is, we make media because we don’t know what else to do with ourselves. It’s how we’re wired, so to speak.
The Web 2.0 world is defined by new ways of understanding ourselves, of creating value in our culture, of running companies, and of working together.
There are essentially two main reasons to hold a phone up at a show. First, to capture a memory for yourself, a reminder of the moment you’re enjoying. And second, to share that moment with someone – to express your emotions socially. Both seem perfectly legitimate to me.
There will soon be streams of data coming from all manner of products – appliances, clothing, sporting goods, you name it. Wouldn’t you rather live in a world where you can export the data from your son’s football helmet to a new app that monitors force and impact against a cohort of high school players around the country?
There’s a reason publishers don’t build on top of social platforms: publishers are an independent lot, and they naturally understand the value of owning your own domain. Publishers don’t want to be beholden to the shifting sands of inscrutable platform policies.
Way back in 2008, when the iPhone was new and Instagram was a gleam in Kevin Systrom’s eye, I was involved in creating a service called CrowdFire. It was a way for fans at a festival (the first was Outside Lands) to share photos, tweets, and texts in a location and event specific way.
We all know the future is mobile, right? And the iPhone and iPad are Perfect Expressions of Beauty, Ideal Combinations of Form and Function. Except they’re Not.
We speak of ‘software eating the world,’ ‘the Internet of Things,’ and we massify ‘data’ by declaring it ‘Big.’ But these concepts remain for the most part abstract. It’s hard for many of us to grasp the impact of digital technology on the ‘real world’ of things like rocks, homes, cars, and trees. We lack a metaphor that hits home.
When documents were analog, they were protected by government laws against unreasonable search and seizure. When they live in the cloud… the ground is shifting.
When good media takes a bounded form, and comes once in a period of time, it begs to be consumed as a whole – it creates an engaging experience. We don’t dip in and out of an episode of ‘Game of Thrones,’ after all – we take it in as a whole. Why have we abandoned this concept when it comes to publications, simply because they exist online?
When it broke out in the mid 1990s, the web was society’s first at-scale digital artifact. It spread in orders of ten, first thousands, then millions, then hundreds of millions of pages – and on it went, to the billions it now encompasses.
When you break it down, Yahoo! is a Very Large Display Advertising business, with a hefty side of search and a bit of this and that on top.
When you bring the scale and precision of data-driven platforms to the brilliance of great media executions, magic will happen. Delivering on that vision for the Independent Web is the mission of Federated Media Publishing.
When you use Facebook, you’re always logged in, and your identity and relationships – to others, to content, to apps and services – are assets Facebook can use to customize your experience (oh, and your ads).
Where one industry stumbles, another rises up.
WordPress makes it drop-dead easy to start a site. Take my advice and go do it.
You happily give Facebook terabytes of structured data about yourself, content with the implicit tradeoff that Facebook is going to give you a social service that makes your life better.