NMKForum07: Future Gazing Panel

Matt Locke of Channel 4, recently left the BBC. He suggested reading an essay saying that Content is not King. People are happy to spend money chatting to their friends, more so than on content. How do you take a content object and then let people talk about it, build social interactions about it?

Jim Purbrick of Linden Lab, makers of Second Life. Facebook and their API to make a platform are the next step. Build a social network around a social object. Second Life is like that. You can build social objects. You can build content that can then become the basis of a conversation. A good example is the space flight museum in Second Life where people can go see and talk about space flight.

Jason Calacanis, praised both Jaiku and Twitter. Jaiku has some better features and greater stability. He called Twitter an indispensable business tool. It’s now the number second referral to his blog, after Google. StumbledUpon is now the fourth most common referral to his blog. He mentioned a blog post about how someone mentioned that they heard about Mahalo’s Greenhouse launch on Twitter. (That post might have been Rachel’s There’s no local post.)

Matt Locke: Responded to a question about whether this was about ego. We’re all basically practicing our identity. I’m interested in these technologies because people are practicing their identities.

Jyri of Jaiku: Anyone who has read the Cluetrain Manifesto will know that these services answer our need for attention from other people. These services enable a conversation around your own everyday life.

Umair Haque bubblgeneration.com: Why do so many firms suck so much? Why are so few revolutionary? We have discussed pollution, spam, micro-blogging. We discussed trust and newspapers coming apart. The economic shift is that the cost of information has dropped off the cliff. We’re dealing with an attention scarcity.

One or two principles, we talk about content and context. The next revolution is not content is king but context is king. From an economic point of view, the share of traffic to context providers is exploding.

The cost of context was very high four or five years. Now, we are drowning in context. Context is the stuff that gives economic value to objects. Context is price. Context is the conversations that go on at MySpace.

What is interesting to me is what Jason said about Google being the greatest referral to his blog with Twitter being second.

Bobbie Johnson of the Guardian asks what comes after content? Whether create content professionally at the Guardian or as a labour of love like all the other places I fart around is to create some social value.

For existing or older media business, are we just doomed to be someone else’s bitch?

Dan Gillmor: Advertising is being systematically separated from journalism because there are companies that do advertising better than journalism companies. I don’t know how to solve that problem. I do know that people need good information.

I’m paraphrasing but he said that they will need to target niches, such as information for mothers as one example, to support the information on the macro level.

Jason Calacanis: As more and more mediocre information is dumped online, then quality will become more important. A radical shift has to occur in lowering costs. More verticals and more niche content to compete.

Umair Haque: People need context, more than they need content. What kind of context maximises my content?

The quality question again.

Matt Locke: If you look at the 19th Century, people took newspaper cuttings and made scrapbooks. There has always been an impulse to curate. What interests me is not a new crisis of information, but what are new ways people are curating information. What is the new scrapbook?

Q: Isn’t Twitter just a flash in the plan? Glorified text messaging.

Jason Calacanis: Quite incorrect about Twitter. Simplicity is needed in this space. I can pick as a user. The statistics prove that you’re wrong.

Meg Pickard: The power comes out of the patterns that come out of these actions and interactions. (I’m paraphrasing.) Attention data. Meg has been following the cicadas coming out in the US by the pictures uploaded on Flickr.

Nic Brisbourne (theequitykicker.com): You can use those patterns to find out what people are interested in.

Q: How do you create value and a proposition with user generated content?

Jason Calacanis: Fire middle management and fire editors. If you had the top New York Times write whatever they wanted everyday, you’d have a better product.

Dan Gillmor: I couldn’t disagree more. I loathe the term user generated content. Editors have saved my butt more often than I count. Some think UGC will save us. You do the work, and we’ll take your stuff.

One of the reason that I like what Jason is doing is because he is paying people to do stuff.

Jason: You have to cut the costs. Big media companies have to cut the fat.

Jim Purbrick: People now can read all of the information and decide for themselves. (Paraphrasing badly.)

Dan Gillmor: You’re talking about an or not an and. We loathe community input, and I make my work trying to get community input. The idea that the world can be one’s editor is simply unworkable.

The discussion now goes into the role and utility of editors.

Dan Gillmor makes a call for media literacy.

What does it mean to be media literate in a media saturated world? I’m begging for traditional media to take on the role.

I’m going to close this days blogging with a little or my thoughts. Jason Calacanis said that the fat is in the middle management of media companies. I guess I might be called middle management at this point although I tend to do operational work as well. But I think as margins in media firms are squeezed, I think that media companies will have to be a lot more ruthless in defining what it is that they do that is unique and exclusive. They will not be able to scramble for major events that are tangentially relevant to their core audiences. Will they need to go to party conferences? Will they need to send their own reporter to the next major shooting or disaster just to have their own reporter write or ‘face’ it?

I would suggest that they should throw their declining resources into content most relevant to their audience. Relevance and exclusive information will be more important than quibbles over quality. Media companies can’t afford to be all things to all people. Major, generalist metro papers in the US are suffering the most. What can you do, what should you do that no one else can provide?

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