Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Baker’

What’s Going on at South by Southwest?

March 15, 2009

Pretty much everyone I know in tech circles is down in Austin this weekend and week for the conference extravaganza South by Southwest. I went last year to do a panel on WiFi and roll out my book and had a blast.

In fact, at least two of my colleagues this year are at SouthBy, as it is known to long-time goers: Stephen Baker and Douglas MacMillan. I haven’t yet heard of any break-out companies this year. But I am getting a feel for the conference thanks to the spadework of Doug and Steve, who today moderated a talk with FiveThirtyEight.com founder Nate Silver.

Check out the videos that Doug has been shooting down there with law professor Lawrence Lessig, Seesmic founder Loic Le Muer and Revision3 president Jim Louderback.

I can almost taste the BBQ while watching the video with Louderback at the famous meat house Stubb’s. Last year, I was starving and went to eat dinner at Stubb’s. But the restaurant was too packed to get a table. So I walked around back and scarfed down $5 beef brisket sandwich and can of beer while watching a few bands on the outdoor stage. A perfect beginning to a night at SouthBy.

Loic Le Meur from Doug MacMillan on Vimeo.

2009: The Year of Hard Choices for Mass Media, says Craigslist Founder

January 9, 2009

I ran into craigslist founder Craig Newmark Wednesday night at a book party for my colleague Stephen Baker.

I asked Newmark what he thought about the state of the mass media. Newmark is a great person to ask this question since craigslist was an early disruptor of the newspaper business. His answer reinforced my growing belief that 2009 could be a watershed year for mass media, a sort of reckoning.

Why? The Great Recession will likely force more companies to finally restructure their businesses for the digital age, instead of making more of the modest, incremental changes they’ve been dribbing out for the most part over the last 10 years.

“The recession will accelerate the problems of the mass media,” said Newmark. “There are going to be some hard choices that need to be made.”

Newmark didn’t elaborate on those choices but it’s not too hard to see the options. Michael Hirschorn (who edited SPIN when it was worth reading back in the 90s) addressed this issue head-on in an interesting essay in The Atlantic about the growing problems of the New York Times.

Among the hard choices that will probably be made by more mainstream media outlets such as newspapers and magazines:

1. Digital-focused distribution. In March of 2007, IDG publication InfoWorld led the way by abandoning print distribution. Last October, the Christian Science Monitor announced it was going to become the first nationally circulated newspaper to replace its daily print edition with its Web site. The paper isn’t totally abandoning print, though. It will publish a weekly print edition. Expect more papers and mags to go digital.

2. More aggregation. The open nature of the Web has undermined the value of original reporting to a certain extent since readers can access much of that content for free across multiple places. As a result, more media outlets will retreat from areas they don’t consider essential. Intead of original reporting, editors will filter the Web and serve up the most relevant links, much like the Huffington Post does, or many other blogs.

3. More journalistic outsourcing: To make up for the inevitable staff cuts that are coming, more media companies will outsource reporting to blogs and other new media companies. The New York Times recently announced syndication deals with several blogs, including VentureBeat, Read/Write Web and the GigaOm network. The popular politics blog Politico is delivering content to many newspapers now, including the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Denver Post and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Of all the changes, this is probably the most hopeful since it will lead to more investment in new media journalism. This will be crucial since the decline of the mainstream media–at least in the short term–will damage the press’s ability to serve as a foundation of democracy.

Take 2: How Social Media Changes Your Business

May 23, 2008

My colleagues Stephen Baker and Heather Green wrote a fabulous update to their 2005 BusinessWeek cover story, Blogs Will Change Your Business.

It’s called Beyond Blogs: What Business Needs to Know, and you should definitely read it.

Since our 2005 story came out, a lot has changed in the blogosphere. Facebook, YouTube and Twitter barely even existed. As Steve and Hetaher write, “Three years ago, we wrote a big story—but missed a bigger one.”

The bigger story, of course, is the rise of social media–of which blogging is just a small but important part.

Here’s another snippet from the story encapsulating the shift we’ve seen the last few years:

“But blogs, it turns out, are just one of the do-it-yourself tools to emerge on the Internet. Vast social networks such as Facebook and MySpace offer people new ways to meet and exchange information. Sites like LinkedIn help millions forge important work relationships and alliances. New applications pop up every week. While only a small slice of the population wants to blog, a far larger swath of humanity is eager to make friends and contacts, to exchange pictures and music, to share activities and ideas.

These social connectors are changing the dynamics of companies around the world. Millions of us are now hanging out on the Internet with customers, befriending rivals, clicking through pictures of our boss at a barbecue, or seeing what she read at the beach. It’s as if the walls around our companies are vanishing and old org charts are lying on their sides.”