Seth Godin Says "Time to Start a Newspaper". He's Right!

I’m usually not a big fan of Seth Godin’s visions and ideas but in a blog post published yesterday, he stumbles upon a BIG idea. “Time to start a newspaper” he writes in the title of his post. You can stop reading there, the rest of the post is less interesting (he talks about idle real estate agents (?!?) having time to start a paper and he suggests a way to execute the idea), but the title contains a brilliant insight.

Yes, it is the right time to start a newspaper.

Yes. Even if we read dramatic newspaper industry news every week (like Hearst Corp putting the Seattle Post-Intelligencer up for sale “saying that if it can’t find a buyer in the next 60 days, the paper will close or continue to exist only on the Internet.”)

Think about it. Why are newspapers struggling? Is it because the need for local information is going away? Au contraire, I would say the need for local information is higher today. Look at initiatives like Huffington Post (who recently launched a Chicago version of their site) or Outside.in (who aggregates local blog posts) or Silobreaker (an aggregator of online information I covered here) or even unsung individual placebloggers throughout the world! Many people have started to re-think the newspaper industry.

Now, if you work in the newspaper industry today, you might think the sky is falling but once-in-a-lifetime moments like the one we’re going through are usually the best times to change the system. As I wrote last August, “I’m not convinced that most traditional media organizations will just rollover and die. I still see tremendous (but underutilized) assets in most traditional media firms.” I still believe it but your call to action is:

Yes, it is the right time to re-invent the newspaper.

If you could re-invent the newspaper today, what would you do differently?

Seth Godin Says "Time to Start a Newspaper". He's Right!

I’m usually not a big fan of Seth Godin’s visions and ideas but in a blog post published yesterday, he stumbles upon a BIG idea. “Time to start a newspaper” he writes in the title of his post. You can stop reading there, the rest of the post is less interesting (he talks about idle real estate agents (?!?) having time to start a paper and he suggests a way to execute the idea), but the title contains a brilliant insight.

Yes, it is the right time to start a newspaper.

Yes. Even if we read dramatic newspaper industry news every week (like Hearst Corp putting the Seattle Post-Intelligencer up for sale “saying that if it can’t find a buyer in the next 60 days, the paper will close or continue to exist only on the Internet.”)

Think about it. Why are newspapers struggling? Is it because the need for local information is going away? Au contraire, I would say the need for local information is higher today. Look at initiatives like Huffington Post (who recently launched a Chicago version of their site) or Outside.in (who aggregates local blog posts) or Silobreaker (an aggregator of online information I covered here) or even unsung individual placebloggers throughout the world! Many people have started to re-think the newspaper industry.

Now, if you work in the newspaper industry today, you might think the sky is falling but once-in-a-lifetime moments like the one we’re going through are usually the best times to change the system. As I wrote last August, “I’m not convinced that most traditional media organizations will just rollover and die. I still see tremendous (but underutilized) assets in most traditional media firms.” I still believe it but your call to action is:

Yes, it is the right time to re-invent the newspaper.

If you could re-invent the newspaper today, what would you do differently?

Seth Godin Says “Time to Start a Newspaper”. He’s Right!

I’m usually not a big fan of Seth Godin’s visions and ideas but in a blog post published yesterday, he stumbles upon a BIG idea. “Time to start a newspaper” he writes in the title of his post. You can stop reading there, the rest of the post is less interesting (he talks about idle real estate agents (?!?) having time to start a paper and he suggests a way to execute the idea), but the title contains a brilliant insight.

Yes, it is the right time to start a newspaper.

Yes. Even if we read dramatic newspaper industry news every week (like Hearst Corp putting the Seattle Post-Intelligencer up for sale “saying that if it can’t find a buyer in the next 60 days, the paper will close or continue to exist only on the Internet.”)

Think about it. Why are newspapers struggling? Is it because the need for local information is going away? Au contraire, I would say the need for local information is higher today. Look at initiatives like Huffington Post (who recently launched a Chicago version of their site) or Outside.in (who aggregates local blog posts) or Silobreaker (an aggregator of online information I covered here) or even unsung individual placebloggers throughout the world! Many people have started to re-think the newspaper industry.

Now, if you work in the newspaper industry today, you might think the sky is falling but once-in-a-lifetime moments like the one we’re going through are usually the best times to change the system. As I wrote last August, “I’m not convinced that most traditional media organizations will just rollover and die. I still see tremendous (but underutilized) assets in most traditional media firms.” I still believe it but your call to action is:

Yes, it is the right time to re-invent the newspaper.

If you could re-invent the newspaper today, what would you do differently?

A New Year's Resolution: More Blogging, Less Tweeting

New Year Resolution

Flickr photo by beX out loud

It’s that time of the year when people everywhere reflect on the year that just passed and think about how they can improve their personal and professional life. I’m no different and I’ve used the last few days to think about that. I’ll pass on sharing the personal stuff but I wanted to discuss the one business resolution I’d like to stick to in 2009:

More blogging, less “tweeting”!

In the last three months, I’ve been quite busy as a startup entrepreneur but I’ve also spent an enormous amount of time on Twitter. More than 1500 updates in the last 5 months, about 10 a day, every day! As a consequence, my blogging schedule has fallen from 5 posts a week on average to 2 or 3. I’m not happy about that as I believe blogging defines who you are and what you do in a much more concrete way than conversation tools like Twitter, Facebook or Friendfeed. According to Techcrunch, even famous blogger Robert Scoble has started questioning the value of the time he spends on Friendfeed. He wondered out loud if it”was such a smart investment of my time.” As Loic Le Meur said last March in a brilliant post, “My social map is totally decentralized but I want it back on my blog”

I started blogging in September 2006 and it has propelled my career to new heights. It has allowed me to share my thoughts with thousands of people, I’ve been invited to speak at conferences and I’ve given countless media interviews on a variety of local search and social media topics, all because of my blog.

Your blog is your home base. It should be the foundation upon which you build your online presence and your personal brand. Twitter is the devil. It tempts you to use it to share quick thoughts. It’s the easy (lazy?) way. You don’t have to sit down in front of your computer to think about your next blog post (it takes me between 30 and 60 minutes to write one), you just spew out bite-sized lines. It does not mean you should abandon Twitter (or Friendfeed). They’re great conversation vehicles but you end up with very ephemeral results. You don’t leave much behind. Twitter is an information stream, your blog is your personal mindspace. Make sure you use them both, but use them the right way.

A New Year's Resolution: More Blogging, Less Tweeting

New Year Resolution

Flickr photo by beX out loud

It’s that time of the year when people everywhere reflect on the year that just passed and think about how they can improve their personal and professional life. I’m no different and I’ve used the last few days to think about that. I’ll pass on sharing the personal stuff but I wanted to discuss the one business resolution I’d like to stick to in 2009:

More blogging, less “tweeting”!

In the last three months, I’ve been quite busy as a startup entrepreneur but I’ve also spent an enormous amount of time on Twitter. More than 1500 updates in the last 5 months, about 10 a day, every day! As a consequence, my blogging schedule has fallen from 5 posts a week on average to 2 or 3. I’m not happy about that as I believe blogging defines who you are and what you do in a much more concrete way than conversation tools like Twitter, Facebook or Friendfeed. According to Techcrunch, even famous blogger Robert Scoble has started questioning the value of the time he spends on Friendfeed. He wondered out loud if it”was such a smart investment of my time.” As Loic Le Meur said last March in a brilliant post, “My social map is totally decentralized but I want it back on my blog”

I started blogging in September 2006 and it has propelled my career to new heights. It has allowed me to share my thoughts with thousands of people, I’ve been invited to speak at conferences and I’ve given countless media interviews on a variety of local search and social media topics, all because of my blog.

Your blog is your home base. It should be the foundation upon which you build your online presence and your personal brand. Twitter is the devil. It tempts you to use it to share quick thoughts. It’s the easy (lazy?) way. You don’t have to sit down in front of your computer to think about your next blog post (it takes me between 30 and 60 minutes to write one), you just spew out bite-sized lines. It does not mean you should abandon Twitter (or Friendfeed). They’re great conversation vehicles but you end up with very ephemeral results. You don’t leave much behind. Twitter is an information stream, your blog is your personal mindspace. Make sure you use them both, but use them the right way.

A New Year’s Resolution: More Blogging, Less Tweeting

New Year Resolution

Flickr photo by beX out loud

It’s that time of the year when people everywhere reflect on the year that just passed and think about how they can improve their personal and professional life. I’m no different and I’ve used the last few days to think about that. I’ll pass on sharing the personal stuff but I wanted to discuss the one business resolution I’d like to stick to in 2009:

More blogging, less “tweeting”!

In the last three months, I’ve been quite busy as a startup entrepreneur but I’ve also spent an enormous amount of time on Twitter. More than 1500 updates in the last 5 months, about 10 a day, every day! As a consequence, my blogging schedule has fallen from 5 posts a week on average to 2 or 3. I’m not happy about that as I believe blogging defines who you are and what you do in a much more concrete way than conversation tools like Twitter, Facebook or Friendfeed. According to Techcrunch, even famous blogger Robert Scoble has started questioning the value of the time he spends on Friendfeed. He wondered out loud if it”was such a smart investment of my time.” As Loic Le Meur said last March in a brilliant post, “My social map is totally decentralized but I want it back on my blog”

I started blogging in September 2006 and it has propelled my career to new heights. It has allowed me to share my thoughts with thousands of people, I’ve been invited to speak at conferences and I’ve given countless media interviews on a variety of local search and social media topics, all because of my blog.

Your blog is your home base. It should be the foundation upon which you build your online presence and your personal brand. Twitter is the devil. It tempts you to use it to share quick thoughts. It’s the easy (lazy?) way. You don’t have to sit down in front of your computer to think about your next blog post (it takes me between 30 and 60 minutes to write one), you just spew out bite-sized lines. It does not mean you should abandon Twitter (or Friendfeed). They’re great conversation vehicles but you end up with very ephemeral results. You don’t leave much behind. Twitter is an information stream, your blog is your personal mindspace. Make sure you use them both, but use them the right way.

Innovation at Six Apart Happens Via Openness and Mobile

Listening to Stephane Delbecque, the person responsible for mobile at [praized subtype=”small” pid=”6c13dc7125598e5ad127dbb1ce541e82″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”].  For the San Francisco company,

Innovation = Openness + Mobile

Openness means:

  1. An open source Movable Type
  2. APIs
  3. OpenID
  4. Action Stream
  5. Facebook Connect
  6. Typepad antispam
  7. Multi and cross-posting (on other social media sites) through Blog it

As mobile is tied with communities and social networks, Six Apart’s mobile strategy is the extension of what they’re doing on the Web.

Can Social Media Save The Automobile?

At the Mixx Canada Toronto conference on Monday, I saw a great presentation by Natalie Johnson, [praized subtype=”small” pid=”597ce70258167de10a3ead0ceea0179355″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”]’s Manager of Social Media Communications and Monik Sanghvi, Senior Vice President at [praized subtype=”small” pid=”8149cff86ec3b9508702f6a11159609082″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”]. They showed the various ways GM uses social media to promote its various brands. GM approaches social media marketing via three angles: Engage (entertain), Educate (inform) and Enable (connect).

Some examples:

  1. I Got Shotgun is a videoblog at the intersection of cars, culture and entertainment
  2. ImSaturn, a Saturn social network, uses Ning, the white-label social networking platform
  3. A series of blogs at gmblogs.com
  4. Pontiac Underground, a blog powered by Typepad
  5. The Saturn Astra Facebook page
  6. Chevy Aveo Livin’ Large, a promotion around user videos and the Chevrolet Aveo
  7. A Twitter account under the @GMblogs alias
  8. GMNext, that could be described as the “portal” for all social media initiatives at GM

What it means: I was surprised by the depth of social media tools usage within General Motors. I’m especially amazed by the fact they reply to questions/comments addressed to their Twitter account. They’re definitely joining the conversation. Reading between the lines, I believe GM sees social media as multiple very powerful branding opportunities. Given that I suspect they mostly use television for branding today, it’s possible social media might eat into television advertising budgets if GM is able to prove the social media ROI.

Microblogging: The Evolution of Blogging?

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This morning, the fine folks at Mashable wonder “What is FriendFeed’s Effect on Blogging?” Friendfeed, for everyone’s benefit, can be described as a lifestream activity aggregating site.  You basically centralize in one place all of your social media feeds from a variety of services (such as your blog, tweets, YouTube postings, etc.).  You can find mine here.  You also add “friends” and watch the aggregate of all their activities in one place, on the home page of Friendfeed (when you’re signed in).

One of their killer features (which was quickly replicated by Facebook) is the ability to comment on any feed.  Spontaneous conversations can erupt around a variety of topics. The Silicon Valley in-crowd quickly adopted Friendfeed and it seems like many interesting conversations are happening there now . The Friendfeed commenting feature could be equated to what you do in Twitter or in the Facebook status update. In my case, I haven’t adopted Friendfeed as most of social graph doesn’t really hang out there. 

About Friendfeed’s impact on blogging, Mashable says: “I see most of the folks who’ve taken up Twitter, FriendFeed, and other similar services drasticly decrease posting volume, but not to the expense of their substantive editorial or news based posts, it seems. A lot of the personal updates, questions to incite discussion and the observational posts shorten themselves and end up on the lifestream. (…)  In short, micro-blogging isn’t killing traditional blogging, it’s evolving it.”

What it means: I agree.  Blogging is slowly evolving towards a more fragmented world as we see the emergence of new social conversational tools allowing more and more people to start/join conversations in many different places.  More fragmentation means a more complex ecosystem, but also more opportunities for word of mouth. For me, this is still the tip of the iceberg on our way to a completely social Web.

What Happens to the Local Ecosystem if the Local Newspaper Shuts Down

Mark Potts over at the Recovering Journalist blog describes what would happen to the local news ecosystem if a major city (Whoville) loses its daily newspaper (inspired by this article about the difficulties facing the [praized subtype=”small” pid=”f52bb3acf2433c150dbaf97473777965f7″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”]).

local newspaper

Flickr photo by Matt Callow

He first describes the existing ecosystem:

(…) Today, Whoville has a major daily paper (the Whoville Bugle), four network TV stations with news departments, an AP bureau, an alt-weekly, a weekly business tabloid, a couple of weekly (or daily) ethnic papers, college papers, perhaps an all-news radio station (and at least a couple stations that still do some local news), a ring of suburban papers–mostly weekly, maybe a couple daily–and perhaps a handful of in-city neighborhood weeklies.
(…) Whoville and it’s ‘burbs also are bristling with new media. There are enough local online news and bloggers that Examiner.com and Outside.In each can devote a dedicated channel to aggregating Web content about the city. Craigslist, Yelp, Citysearch and others have beachheads in the market, offering classifieds and reviews that are especially appealing to younger readers. Local outposts of MerchantCircle, Kudzu and other online business directories and Yellow Pages wannabes target local businesses. Local restaurant bloggers, sports bloggers and other specialists write about things they’re interested in.

He then describes what happens if the Whoville Bugle folds:

The entire Whoville media ecosystem, described above, steps up to pick off the Bugle’s advertisers and readers. Some of the media outlets that were dependent on the Bugle’s coverage to inspire their content (e.g. TV news and bloggers) will learn to look to other sources. But there’s already a lot of diverse media in Whoville serving local news and information needs, and they’ll fill a lot of the gap left by the death of the paper.

Inevitably, a group of ex-Bugle staffers, backed by local money, will start the Whoville Daily Trumpet, a fraction the size of the Bugle but much more focused on the city itself. The new paper will leave suburban coverage to the community papers and be smart enough to not even mess with national and international news that’s available in a zillion places. With more focus, a much leaner business plan, hungry ad sales reps and hired printing and distribution, the Daily Trumpet can be competitive in ways the bloated, overextended Bugle could not be.
What it means: Love that article. Potts describe a very darwinesque ecosystem, one I believe is very credible and illustrates well the extreme fragmentation facing local content today. A couple of random thoughts come to my mind. First, because content is so fragmented, it becomes critical that the cost structure of those local content providers be as flexible as possible. Second, I think the closing of the main daily paper in any given city still represents today a reduction in the level of trusted content available to readers, that is if the daily was still a trusted source (some of them are just shells with none of the shine of their former glory days). Third, this scenario assumes that the dailies’ stakeholders (managers, unions, employees, printers, products, etc.) will not adapt to those changes. I’m not convinced that most traditional media organizations will just rollover and die. I still see tremendous (but underutilized) assets in most traditional media firms.