JamParty Widget


Kim Garretson: Companies to watch at CES '09

Here are some of the companies I am expecting to announce news at CES, either joint ventures with bigger companies and/or new investors.

Blip, the 'Twitter' of music:

Blip is addictive. Think of a music track, search it at Blip, write a mini-review, and voilà, there is your review and a link for Blip viewer and your friends to listen to that track. Like Twitter, the posts and links come fast, so the Blip player running in your browser lets you sample track after track. You even can be your own DJ by posting and reviewing a bunch of tracks.

Zip Express, disrupting the retail consumer electronics installation industry:
With the rapid market expansion of large flat panel televisions consumers are grappling with the difficulty of installing these bulky and heavy units on their walls, while concealing the cables and cords. Only a couple of the mass retailers offer installation services, leaving the majority of buyers searching for solutions. Zip Express is the only independent services company offering next day installation of flat panels via its access to a national network of independent contractors.

LikeMe, a personalized recommendation engine:

LikeMe, emerging from private beta in mid-July, is a next generation recommendation engine for leisure destinations and activities.

Ambient Content, a new media genre for the idle screen:

With so many large flat panel TVs dominating home walls, many homeowners face a new dilemma: how to conceal the ugly flat black expanse of the TVs when they are off. Ambient Content has created a new category of content to solve this problem. It is content that does not demand a viewer’s attention, but instead adds a unique ambience to a room. It is moving art, and can be played with or without its musical tracks. Ambient Content has patented a technology to turn any existing video content into ambient content.

Avega Systems, audiophile wireless speakers:

The venture-backed Australian company Avega created the first technology to solve a problem that largest technology companies had failed to solve: delivering audiophile quality sound to wireless devices via Wi-Fi.

BeWiki, personal information retrieval as an advancement over RSS:

BeWiki is a stealth personalized information discovery utility company founded by Jeff O’Dell, the founder and CEO of August Technologies, a public semi-conductor testing services company. President Doug Baker has built and secured VC funding for several disruptive companies. BeWiki technology platform will shift the power of discovery to the user versus today’s search companies which deliver natural and paid search results based on its advertisers and on companies that can optimize search results for their own commercial interests.

CatchMedia, buy a shiny disk, get a digital copy:

The Israeli company CatchMedia has developed a technology that offers consumers who buy physical media, music CDs and DVDs, at mass retailers to automatically also get digital copies of the same content for any devices, without any effort and with the digital copy instantly available upon purchase of the physical media product.

Backstage Gallery, filling the gap between cheap posters and over-priced art gallery pieces for rock photos:

Backstage Gallery has aggregated a digital library of one million images of 2,400 music artists and bands from the 50s to current. The company is the first to honor local freelance photographers who chronicled the history of live rock, jazz, blues, country, etc. in the US. The business model is disrupt the rock photo art gallery market by selling art at up to ten times less in price for equal quality. In addition, the company is pioneering new formats of digital mini-documentaries for social media and music JV partners.

Numobiq, personalized mobile digital lifestyles:

Numobiq delivers the next generation of personalized mobile content via its platform, offered by the top mobile retailers in the industry.

Magnify, video discovery for every blogger & publisher:

Magnify, founded by Realist Advisor Steve Rosenbaum, is the next-gen YouTube. With the Magnify platform, any blogger or Web site publisher can set up their own You-Tube-like video channel at their site in minutes, and Magnify will automatically search the Web for relevant videos to fill the channel.

Wize, the 'intention' shopping engine:, funded by Silicon Valley VCs Bessemer and Mayfield, has recently launched a new version. Wize is the Web's only shopping service whose patented algorithm is based on discovering the intentions of shoppers for how they want to use items, rather than simply features, specs and price.

Stealth Clients & Projects


In 2009 audiences will emerge....

.....that begin to sort out the hype from the reality in social media. Watch for our reports on several new communities of professionals emerging to tackle these questions. Including:


This blog is about the intersection of tech-enabled emerging media audiences

    Technology is pulling together personal networks of people for more persistent connectedness and giving them tools for creating and sharing content.
    Meanwhile, most media companies are grappling with how to capture and keep enough mind- and time-share to make a profit from target audiences.
    What is the connection between these trends?
    Journalism schools are teaching the convergence of media, but what will their audiences look like in five years, or 10?
    If you take the simple view that an individual has only so much time in a day to read and listen to other "voices", from a social network, media companies, marketers and others, how will that time be allocated?

The wake-up call for lifestyle media

Consumer lifestyle media companies in magazine publishing and cable broadcasting are realizing that for some time now Google, Yahoo, eBay and Amazon have been snapping up early stage companies to gain affinity among what traditionally has been the emerging audiences sought by the media companies. They now know that their next generation online properties can not simply be media storytelling sites. And they can not simply add the basics of community. They must fulfill more of the audiences' needs and desires for the optimal digital lifestyle. They must sell real stuff to help their audiences.

Last month I was at the University of Missouri Journalism School and its New Media Research Institute as one of 10 current and former owners of advertising agencies. The summit focused on the place of advertisers and advertising for the next generation online communities from media companies. In lifestyle media, one question I'm exploring with lifestyle media companies is how multiple advertisers can beam messages to viewers when the executable Web is going to reduce or even eliminate the 'paginess' of the viewing experience. Stay tuned for more.

In the wake of continued video deals in this awful economy

I'll be back at the University of Missouri Journalism School this week to discuss how faculty and students can use some of the emerging video companies I've advising in class publishing activities and research.

For example:

* Swarmcast has its technology in beta with Major League Baseball and should go live next season. The technology improves MLBs video quality by more than 4x and will help MLB to cost contain its projected surge in bandwidth expenses with the higher quality video and increasing number of subscribers to its online services. In addtion, Swarmcast, now backed by major Japanese financial and media companies, has signed a deal to embed the technology in next generation consumer electronics devices from a major brand.

* Magnify Media, where I am an advisor, has just launched its user shared/generated video platform with dozens of small Web communities and will be launching with several major media brands within weeks. I looked at all of these deals, including YouTube, at Best Buy, and I like Magnify the best because it is so simple for an existing Web community to implement. Most importantly, a Web community invites its viewers to search for and rate relevant videos at YouTube, Google Video, Yahoo, etc. and the Magnify platform then shares these videos hosted by the other sites within its clients' Web communities, while compiling the deepest database of user meta data on special interest communities on the Web.

Yahoo! Mindset: Ah-Ha's for media site's futures?

Thanks to our blogging friend Rex Hammock at RexBlog for pointing us to the launch of Yahoo! Mindset. To us, the launch of this "Intent-Driven Search" tool brings up all manner of questions and opportunities for the future of media sites. First, a big handshake to Yahoo! for this needed step in cleaning up the mess of search, where too often those who pay muscle aside what the searcher really wants. For instance, search almost any magazine title at Google now and often the magazine’s Web site does not appear on the first results page, shoved down by the subscribe-now sites. With Mindset, results pages include a slider bar allowing you to indicate your intent along a sliding scale. Do you just want the sites with stuff to sell? Slide the pointer to the far left. Do you just want sites with answers and other editorial content? Slide the pointer far right. The default results page sets the pointer in the middle.

Look at our results from searching "Minneapolis Star Tribune".

Results page with pointer in the middle:

1. First result is paid circulation ad for the paper
2., the paper’s Web site
3. The paper’s Vikings section
4. The paper’s profile at Wikipedia
5. The paper’s Nation section
6. All the paper’s movie reviews at RottenTomatoes

Results page with pointer all the way left to "shopping"

1. First result is paid circ ad for the paper
2. Log-in page for a Twin Cities library
3. selling subscriptions to the paper
4. E-Commerce site reprinting a story from the Strib
5. Someone named Vello Villberg’s site
6. the paper’s comics syndicator’s site.

Results page with pointer all the way to the right to "researching"

1. Paid circ ad
2. The paper's profile at Wikipedia
3. A reprint of a 2000 story from the paper at a defunct radio station site
4. Another reprint at an odd site
5. Wikipedia again
6. Story reprint at a non-profit’s site.

Our view of these results? Clearly, the best set is the default, with the pointer in the middle. These results all point you directly to the paper or are one click away. However, with RottenTomatoes aggregating all of the paper’s reviews, why go to the paper and its studio advertisers?

The results with the pointer all the way to "shopping" are alarming. The only result that might be relevant to how the paper attracts audiences/makes money is the Discount Subs site, but we believe most of these sites pay newspapers very little.

The results with the pointer all the way to "researching" are troubling too. None of these results lead you to the paper or its archives. Obviously, searching only the name of the paper is pretty vague for what a searcher’s researching intent might be. We added "Kirby Puckett" to the search, assuming the results would point us to the paper’s coverage of Kirby. We looked at the first 30 results and none were from the Strib.

Admittedly, we have not read anything at the site about how it works and how best to use it. But who does? So, are we completely turned off to Mindset? Not at all. We’ve started to imagine this functionality at a newspaper’s Web site.

Imagine a searcher is dreaming of a new deck for his house and searches "deck planning" at the Strib site. The default results would have the few most recent stories from the lifestyle section of the paper about decks, plus a news story about the EPA warning of risks with treated deck lumber. Sliding the pointing to "shopping" would reveal all of the paper’s advertisers selling deck materials and furniture and contractors who build decks. Sliding the pointer all the way to "researching" would reveal the paper’s full archive of deck-related editorial content, including additional deck content from partners of the Strib such as the local TV station whose weatherman writes for the paper, writing here about protecting your deck from the elements.

Would this scenario help the Star Tribune to be more relevant for Twin Citians versus today's site with buckets of content interrupted by ads? We think so.

Who will lasso emerging media audiences?

In my work focused on behaviors and trends among young age groups that traditionally emerge as audiences for media companies, our most rewarding projects are done in conjunction with top journalism schools. These graduates in Advertising from the University of Missouri Journalism School stunned me with their work last year. At the start of the semester I presented them with a challenging case. It focused on a segment of women apathetic to a particular technology topic and the media and advertisers covering the topic. These students, and an even larger contigent of seniors at the University of Minnesota Journalism School, nailed the case. The owner of an advertising agency in Toledo and a former client of agencies at major advertisers had this comment: "This work is better than full-blown presentations I've seen from the biggest agencies."

Meet (l. to r.): Doug, Christina, Kyle, Michael, Jessica, Sarah, Vimbai, Jessica, Adrienne, Rupa, and Jon.

Jim Autry

Jim Autry, my first boss at Better Homes and Gardens magazine, and a former president of the Magazine Division at parent Meredith Corporation, is my hero in business. Now retired, he is a poet and author of national reknown. Some of his work focuses on the need for humility and humanity in the go-go world of business.



Wired's round-up of the most interesting start-ups in IPTV. What does our gut tell us? Brace yourself for hours of the dreadful interrupted by flashes of brilliance, if you can find them.


Scripps is poised for the emerging audience

While we're biased because of a history of consulting media giant Scripps, we believe among the top ten media companies, it is perhaps best positioned for the audience needs of the next decade in lifestyle journalism. The following is from the Cincinnati Enquirer:

"In a media landscape where consumers and advertisers have more choices of where to put their dollars, companies must provide content targeted to specific consumers.

It now owns about 20,000 hours of that programming. Lowe said that provides advantages well beyond the ability to cheaply repackage popular shows on their own networks.

"We wanted to be in charge of our own programming," he said. "We didn't want syndicators to control it. That sets us up nicely for the next phase."

Lowe's next phase includes different formats and delivery systems for that digital video content, whether it's cell phones, broadband or video-on-demand services.

For example, Scripps has a deal to provide shows to digital video-on-demand or Internet customers of providers such as Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable.

In another step for Lowe, imagine short-form programs on how to replace your French doors or your luxury car, all available on your mobile phone or your computer.

Or better yet for Scripps, imagine seeing the product on television, then pressing a button on your remote control and ordering it from Scripps' Shop at Home retail channel.

"You'll really see more and more on Shop at Home," said Lowe, calling it a "profit platform" for network accessories.

That mindset has put Scripps out in front of competitors, said Kim Garretson, a former consultant to Scripps who...operates his own Internet site,

"Within a year or so, you and your family members could be in your kitchen, and you'll actually talk to a box in your kitchen and say, 'Tell me how to make chicken cacciatore,' " Garretson said.

"The No. 1 media company that's going to serve that content is Scripps."

Link to full story.


Gore's audience-fed TV network

Reveries Tim Manners on the launch of Al Gore's youth-focused TV network Currents:

"At the heart of the new channel, however, is "an unconventional approach to TV programming" where viewers can double as programmers. In other words, viewers be invited "to express their opinions on news and current events" by submitting "short films, documentaries and home videos." A companion website will list "topics on which it wants material, such as reviews of movies, CDs or videogames; items on social trends; and advocacy journalism. Current will pay $250 for the videos it airs." The hope is that the participatory format will attract "viewers aged 18 to 34," which of course is "heavily sought by advertisers" but also "difficult for TV networks and newspapers to reach."



The good and bad sides of tuned-in isolation

Young reporter, and recent San Francisco State J-School grad, Milon Gagnon, looks at many of the themes we cover in today's Idaho Falls Post Register (03.06) (available to subscribers only). Here's part of his story including his interview with us:

"In an article in The New Atlantis, a journal that covers technology and society, Christine Rosen refers to new technologies that allow people to control the sources of their information and stimulation as "egocasting." It's an attractive notion that a person can decide exactly what to hear and when to hear it, and, more importantly, what not to hear.

Goodbye bad news from Iraq; hello instrumental jams.

Emerging-technologies blogger Kim Garretson writes that his daughter has wired herself free of mass communication's curses: "She is a real 14-year-old girl. She lives in our house. And we have a hard time imagining media companies and advertisers reaching her effectively in 10 years." Although not specifically referring to the iPod, Garretson touches on the new trends in the personal-electronic devices that have taken the place of more traditional media such as television, print and radio.

"The media industry is going to have to pick up the pace of innovation," he says in a phone interview. "They need to engage the audience in the conversation and not just push content."


Andrew Eklund on today's gonzo journalism and PR

Our good friend Andrew Eklund takes the occasion of Hunter's passing to redefine gonzo for today:

"Today, professional journalism and public relations people are struggling as they wrestle with their own objective filtering of instant news and opinion from the blogs and online message boards. The bloggers are to mainstream news as Hunter S. Thompson was to his editors at Rolling Stone: a stream of consciousness that often contains truth but the paths getting there can often be ridiculous. And too often the ridiculousness of it all prevents mainstream news from finding the truth within the stream of information."



Confusing the audience and wasting $3.4 million

We thought the boneheaded waste of millions for ridiculous Super Bowl ads was behind us. We thought advertisers realized the audience was asking for answers, not head scratching? We were wrong.

We admire the Silestone brand of quartz countertops, but now we question the brand for plans to spend $3.5 million to produce and run one 30 second commercial during the Super Bowl. The ad features Dennis Rodman and other washed-up athletes.

First, we have questions: Assuming not many viewers have heard of the brand or quartz counters, what do some paunchy old ridiculous guys add to education about the product? Don't most women make the decision on counters? Do they like these doofus's? What about the question we've heard many times before: Quartz? That sounds brittle?

OK, let's assume somehow the ad is good and sends viewers to the Web to search for info on buying Silestone. Here's where a millions go poof!

At the Silestone site, we clicked on our state and saw a Home Depot logo. We clicked on the logo and went to Home Depot's home page, not a page about Silestone. So, we typed "Silestone" in the search field, and what we got back said: "You must have meant TileStone. Here is our TileStone caulk." Confused, we browsed the list of brands Home Depot sells: no Silestone. Bye bye $3.4 million dollars....

Building a room of site visuals

Sitestepper Relational Architecture rearranges the scraped images from a Web site into a 3D room as visuals on the walls, through the windows and on the TV screen.

I've long been intrigued by the concept of Internet search returning results within 3D spaces, perhaps a cityscape. The nearest buildings and their floors would hold the most relevant results, but you could grab and pull distant buildings and their contents into closer proximity.

Images in this scene are from our experimental site Pulp-It where we remix vintage pulp images to comment on life today.

Smooth talking

If audio reports are one of the next big things in blogs and other citizen journalism, the audience won't put up with a lot of "um's" and "ah's".


Vodaphone ponders the future

Vodaphone's vision of the future. Start with "Belonging" for a perspective on devices that will faciliate social networking. The site makes great use of Flash for narrative storytelling.


Easing the audience into visual journalism

One thing holding back the rise of audience-generated media is visual journalism. Too many wordsmiths simply know nothing -- or very little -- about illustrating their buckets of words. The result? Many viewers will not read too deeply into a screen of un-illustrated words.

The free Microsoft Paint shipped on new PCs does very little to help. Yet, moving up to PhotoShop Elements or another consumer photo editing application requires a learning curve.

We find it interesting that Microsoft supports an effort at Washington State University for the university's improvements to Paint with Paint.Net V2.0. This free program -- with 40,000 downloads so far -- introduces working with Layers to the emerging graphic artists who try this program.

And, with broadband video-on-demand about to explode, we're watching an amazing consumer app called Muvee that automatically edits raw video into specified story formats.

Of course, we have to mention the two graphics-generator sites we use to auto-generate many of our illustations: the German site LetterJames, and a student project by Katharina Nussbaumer in Austria called Typogenerator.



Interesting story on Cognitive Overload, which is certainly contributing to audience trends relative to media content.

Some of the best phrases in the story:

"online compulsive disorder", "data smog.", "pseudo-attention deficit disorder", "When the brain gets excited over some rapid data and is stimulated, it releases a "dopamine squirt.".."There are more demands on our attention and less training for us to stop and take it all in. We seem to be amazing ourselves to death."



Terrific blog by a former news exec wondering about the future of a business he loves.

(...and he says he knows how to set type one wood block character at a time, a skill I also learned in journalism school.)

Glancing at the TV now and again

The semi annual BIGresearch's Simultaneous Media Usage Survey (SIMM V) results point to continued problems in capturing the time and attention of audiences. Joe Pilotta of BIGresearch said various combinations of media consumption simultaneity has resulted in a decline of time spent with TV (- 2.5%).

Key findings from the study include: When watching TV...
• 66.3% regularly or occasionally read the mail.
• 60.1% go online.
• 55.0% read the newspaper.
• 51.8% read magazines.

The online figure is most interesting to us because it means the viewers either have wireless notebooks, media center PCs with wireless keyboards, or they are sitting at desktop PCs in the same room with a TV. Each of these activities goes against the notion of how most television viewing takes place in the family room.


J-School students as emerging media storytellers

In our recent work with journalism schools, we have less concern now about the students' ability to create new forms of storytelling. Here are student stories from a school we'd like to work with. Imagine what these students at the Ohio University School of Visual Communications will produce once they land jobs in the media? Link.


New Zealand's Grant Robinson creates another Google Images scraping site. This one creates a clickable montage based on keywords. Image above is from our experimental men's health site,

Mark Dery's shovelweariness with blogging

Mark Dery's colorful assessment of blogging at his Shovelware site. Some of his phrases:

"jowly, sclerotic old white guys in tortoiseshell glasses...dictatorship of the commentariat...grotesque hypertrophy of the chattering class."


SF newspapers losing $60M to craigslist

We've been using craigslist exclusively for posting part time jobs over the last six months with amazing results. The following story from the Merc News includes an estimate of the financial loss to newspapers with the audience of sellers and buyers gravitating to this free site.

From the story:

"Bob Cauthorn, former vice president of digital media at the San Francisco Chronicle, estimates that with job listings alone, craigslist has taken $50 million to $60 million a year away from Bay Area newspapers.

It's true that Bay Area newspapers still generate many times the revenue of craigslist,'' he writes, ``and, in that narrow respect, newspapers lead. But this is fragile leadership because Bay Area newspapers have largely lost their ability to control pricing in the face of their mostly free online competitor. And, as craigslist's listing volume/user traffic demonstrates, the marketplace has moved decidedly from newspapers to craigslist."

Nervous about the rebirth of audience-created newspapers

What makes us nervous about the news coverage of emerging audience-created newspaper Web sites? None of the coverage we've read includes insights from the past disastrous stabs at this same concept. For instance, this Washington Post story ignores the past.

Do we have insights? We consulted KOZ, the most prominent company selling audience-created content tools to newspapers in the late 1990's. Our quick take: the audience quickly tires of creating articles. But, if it's memes, or shared pics, or other quickly create content, then perhaps we'll see success this time.

Flickr's use of gaming storytelling structures

Like the blog GiantAnt, this writer has been trying to figure out why the photo sharing site Flickr is so interesting. GiantAnt figured it out: As gaming storytelling structures move increasingly into mainstream media and audience content creation and presentation, Flickr's user interface borrows the ways gaming lures the eyes and the clicks.

Read GiantAnt's entire posting here, but here's a quote from it:

"Flickr is an example of what I think of as “vertebrate” or “narrative” or “trunk-and-branch” UI...Flickr’s UI has a backbone. It presents a primary “plot” (upload photos and look at other people’s photos). This backbone gives users an immediate sense of the “story” of the site. But this central narrative exists in a space which allows for relatively freeform interaction, and the UI also helps nudge users off the main path with teasers...Like a video game, there’s a sense of progressive disclosure."

Speaking of narrative interfaces....

....photographer Robyn Cummins's site uses the clever metaphor of thumbing through photos in a shoebox via Flash.

Another great interface.

Huxley Iowa's Dan Noe puts a fresh twist on narrative interfaces that flip content into view.


2004: innovation and idiocy in advertising

AdLand provides a fascinating round-up of the year's best and worst attempts to rewrite the rules of the ad game in response to creeping apathy among audiences. Link. Via xblog.


Hydraulic time

John Markoff's December 30 New York Times column reports on a study by the Stanford Institute for the Quantitative Study of Society (SIQSS) on the drop in TV viewing among the most active Internet users. Norman Nie, SIQSS director, said: "People don't understand that time is hydrualic", meaning time spent on the Web replaces time spent with other activities.

Racing through media

Rajat Paharia, co-director of the Software Experiences practice at IDEO, has no time left to consume more digital media and ponders if we are starting to scream through physical media. Link.


Blasting the BZZAgents

We've been searching for good reviews of the December 5 New York Times Magazine story about "audience-initiated" word-of-mouth marketing, and then we found this hilarious piece from Alex Lencicki at Brokentype. His title -- Word of Maw -- is great and where he takes the buzz marketing concept of Al Fresco sausage is....Oh, just read it yourself.



Rex Hammock blogs about magazines

Newly discovered must-read blog about magazines: From Rex Hammock, who runs a 25-person custom publishing magazine firm with fantastic-looking titles. Here he blogs about the magazine forecast for 2005.... Link.


Google suggests media sites

Google quietly launched Google Suggest this week. Start typing a query and a dropdown suggests variations to complete your intended query or lead you elsewhere. We thought we'd test it by querying media sites, and we think the results were impressive. Here are the letters we typed and where the media site appeared in the dropdown list:
    s-t-a-r--t, Star Tribune popped up #2
    s-t-., St. Louis Post Dispatch #1.
    k-c, Kansas City Star #5
    c-h-i, Chicago Tribune #2.
    w-c, WCCO #1.
    k-s, KSTP #2.


Amazon's audience photo uploading lure

We tried Amazon's invitation to its audience to upload photos of themselves with products Amazon sells. It's an interesting idea and add-on to the customer reviews. However, it's pretty hard to find the link to the gallery of customer images. (Look under the thumbnail of the book cover.) The dog book linking to our pic.


Must Read: Blog Torrent's video sharing and its projected effect on TV


Readers vrs. journalists

0.11% clicking

From The Presurfer:

"Firefox users click through to website ads four to five times less often than do users of Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Based on its analysis of 1,000 sites and the click-through behavior of users equipped with various browsers, German-based Adtech AG reported that only 0.11% of Firefox users click on ads."



A 10-year march to a cusp

The Associated Press recently asked me to comment on the 10th anniversary of the Home & Garden Television Network, a former joint business partner. That got me thinking about changes to the category of home living lifestyle media over this decade. Back then we just had the magazines, like BH&G, and skimpy newspaper coverage. Now, top-rated primetime network shows cover home makeovers.

Does this mean that our premise of trouble ahead for traditional media doesn't stand up to scrutiny when examining an explosion of media in a category like this? Our answer: We don't know. But look at news this week about Google's development of video search, and think of the great cache of content from HGTV's first decade. If we're on the cusp of gaining the ability to find the exact 60 seconds of HGTV video on wallpapering in a corner for a project we're doing that night, what does this mean to the couch potato mass audience? Will we abandon the network and miss the commercials to just scurry around and do stuff from searchable snippets?

While on the topic of HGTV, we popped into the ever-expanding Wikipedia, a free encyclopedia now with 340,000 audience-contributed articles. Wiki is all set up for its audience to write articles about HGTV's shows.

A space, not a place

What is most intriguing about Microsoft's launch of its MSN Spaces blogging service is the name. In the early days of the Internet we were urged to create a sense of place at sites. But in reality our pages were merely filling space. MSN's research must have revealed that the concept of carving out virtual spaces in which to plop personal content is something its target audience will like. We're wondering if the popularity of the TV show Trading Spaces might also have come into play in the audiences' mind during MSN's research.


Storytellers standing tall above the audience

While this blog examines the dual trends of traditional media attempting to keep audiences and the audiences' rising interest in being their own storytellers, occasionally a piece of prose comes along that is cause for pause. Yes, this piece is from a book, and this site is mostly focused on ad-supported media, not publishing. But the excerpt from Fabrication: Essays on Making Things and Making Meaning by Susan Neville at DesignObserver demonstrates that storytellers who can write like this shouldn't worry too much about audiences abandoning them for their own creative content pursuits.



A connection?

Is this a sign of these times in making communications content more personal and conversational to match how the audience is behaving? The top selling fonts at font vendor Veer are scripts.

Via Typographica.

Hello? Texas J-School. Are you there?

This is probably unfair criticism, but we were interested to explore the following activity at the U. of Texas J-School because of its audience focus. That is, until we clicked to examine the most recent student work?

"The purpose of the Center for Interactive Advertising (ciAd) is to advance knowledge and understanding of advertising and other persuasive communication which involves "mutual action" on the part of senders and receivers of those messages."

Another toy today, tool tomorrow

Another clever online toy demonstates the storytelling tools being placed in the audience's hands. Now that the Virgin Mary has had her day on a grilled cheese sandwich, you're invited to stamp your miraculous image in the toast.



Eric Utne first stood at the intersection of media and conversations among audiences

Have the social networking and media audience trends we cover emerged recently? Not a chance. Read the profile of Eric Utne, founder of The Utne Reader in Minneapolis's The Rake magazine. Utne and I commisserated briefly in the early 80's prior to the launch of his magazine and my launch of the first magazine to have scannable PC software printed on its pages. As you'll see in the quote from the Rake piece, Utne planted the seeds of social networking in 1991 with his Salons.

"The stated goal of (Utne's Cosmo Doogood's Urban Almanac) is to draw people to nature, but the larger (and largely unarticulated) aim is to connect people to each other. Utne has long been entranced by the idea that cooperation creates power, which leads to change. In 1991, the Utne Reader published a story titled, “Salons: How to Revive the Endangered Art of Conversation and Start a Revolution in Your Living Room.” The piece drew national attention and, in fact, did start a bit of a revolution, with the New York Times discussing the revival of conversation and the L.A. Times publishing an instructive how-to called “Bringing Together Your Own Salon.” Both pieces credited Utne for instigating this new chattiness. Full article.


Searching "social network"

Search Google News for social network and a pattern starts to emerge. Two words: business & money. Is this a good thing?

Some results:

"The phone that knows you better than you do. The (phone's) software can also be used for "reality mining" Eagle says, reminding you of how long you spent working or partying in any one week, as well as answering questions like when you last saw a friend, what you did and who else you met." Link.

"POPstick Launches Social Network Marketing Practice. Social Network Marketing is a novel marketing technique that emphasizes interactive communities centered on a company's brand." Link.

" Inc. Releases Social Network for Friends with Romance, Relationships and Personality Tests Endorsed by Nobel Laureate." Link.

"Social-network sites scramble for prosperity." Link.


Blogged by xBlog

xBlog, the visual thinking Weblog, published in St. Louis by XPLANE, was the first blog we deemed indispensible for weekly viewing. Thanks for blogging us on Nov. 23 xBlog.

1996 Oswald Photoshop

On this anniversary of JFK's death, J-Walk revisits the classic 1996 Oswald Jam Photoshop. Back then, only graphic artists were "remixing" images and the term "Photoshopping" was not yet used. Today, even clumsy untrained graphic artist amateurs like this writer are altering and sharing images like crazy.


Adam Penenberg tells newspaper publishers that their next audiences might not emerge

Wired News Media Hack contributor, Adam Penenberg, the investigative journalist who unmasked the serial fabricator profiled in the movie Shattered Glass, looks at 18-to-34 years olds and the reasons newspapers should be worried about never capturing them as subscribers for their print versions. Be sure to download the studies from the Online Publishers Association in his piece.



Remixing vintage images

This blog stumbles around with experiments in content creation like we are seeing emerging within social networks. Certainly the sharing of digital photos (many with storytelling captions) via Flickr and other online services is exploding. But I'm surprised I haven't seen more remixing of the hilarious vintage album covers all over the Web. This summer, at a 35th high school reunion in a small Iowa farm town, I shot classmates on Friday night and then Photoshopped them into old album covers for a slide show Saturday. The response? About half got the joke. With apologies to a couple of classmates, these are from the show.


Toys Today. Tools Tomorrow. Part 3.

It's watchable for maybe 20 seconds, but this "auto-generated" story tool described above is interesting when considering how to let audiences remix content for their own entertainment.


Sifting blogs

UPDATE (Nov. 26): Bloghorrea takes me to task for the following post. My only defense: As a sifter, sloppiness in 'getting it' within a few seconds on a Web page and always typing perfectly spelled words seems to come with the behavior. At least in my case. And why haven't I turned on comments yet? Two words: Lazy & cogitating. Lazy in trying to maintain time-control of this blog around my other work. Cogitating is that I have a concept for a slightly different use of Comments that I'm knocking around.

The site Bloghorrea takes issue with blogs that sift through other blogs and blog their interesting discoveries. We disagree. The activity is normal for a social network in which members discover and share with one another. I would ask this blogger: What's the alternative? Blogs that only link to non-blog sites such as media, non-profit and e-commerce sites? How time efficient would this be?


Bloggers vrs. journalists

Remixing pop culture content

Recent news of Bob Dylan's "borrowing" of lines from an obscure Japanese novel for his lyrics is just one example of the rise in remixing. Interesting copyright issues will be emerging as more people use image, video and audio editing tools to remix and share personal content derived from media content.

David Goldschmidt's Media Trips blog covers the trend. Via J.D. Lasica's Darknet.

Mapping the news

In postings below we posit the notion that thumbnail photos might be superior to text headlines in presenting the news. Visit Newsmap for innovation around headlines. From the site:

"It's objective is to simply demonstrate visually the relationships between data and the unseen patterns in news media. It is not thought to display an unbiased view of the news, on the contrary it is thought to ironically accentuate the bias of it."

Link. Via Media Trips.


Is the audience becoming the media?

Point: The most important content in your life is what you create -- or receive from those closest to you.

Here are the simple but hard questions I've asked over a couple of decades of creating emerging media products: Will new and unfamiliar forms of media find a mass audience, and will a sizeable subset spend enough time consuming enough content for advertisers to see a measureable ROI? The spectacular failures are many, starting with the dreadful ad-supported CD-ROM efforts of the 80's, through the dotbombing of the industry in the 90's.

Today, emerging trends such as "Social Networking" put media storytelling in the hands of the audience. Topics considered also rise from within these continuously-connected network of friends, families and colleagues. Often, at best, content from media companies gets clipped into tiny pieces of microcontent, or memes, and shared within a personal network. And the media and its advertisers never see this audience.

So, can the media industry continue its role as the primary storyteller and influencer of topics considered by an audience? Or, will audiences abandon media properties as we know them today in the future?

Is this just another trend that will fizzle too? Call me crazy, but I think not. Why? The brilliant Dan Gillmor's book We The Media should convince you.

J-School students and faculty, and others: Please contact me with questions or any interest you have in our experiments.

Email Kim Garretson.


Will advertisers really have to influence what I do in my media career?

We received the following query today from a reporter writing a story to be syndicated nationally by newspapers. Our reaction is that, not having read this book, I wonder how J-School students, just out of their teens, are viewing their planned careers and the necessary advertising that goes along with the media business?

"This is a piece on teens/'tweens and advertising. A new book "Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture," by Juliet Schor, explores the damaging effects advertising and marketing have on children. According to the research, the advertising-saturated culture our children are exposed to is causing an array of psychosomatic symptoms. Advertising aimed at children is everywhere, from television and movies to the Internet, and even in school classrooms. According to the survey, children's involvement in consumer culture affects their well-being. Children who participated in the survey reported suffering from depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and psychosomatic complaints, such as headaches and stomachaches due to high levels of exposure to advertising and consumer culture. I want to know how advertisers are working advertising into the classroom. Also, what about the other side? How can advertising benefit teens and 'tweens (if it can)?"


Too abuzz to read or view media

From the Des Moines Register, about the "Hiving" trend. Makes you wonder if personal time spent consuming media is suffering from all this "buzzing" with other folks?

"Borrowing from the metaphor of a beehive, abuzz with activity, hiving represents engagement, interaction and connection with the outside environment," according to Yankelovich, a marketing consulting firm.

"We don't see the return to home motivated by a desire to isolate oneself, but to reconnect, re-engage with other people, to renew relationships with other people," says J. Walker Smith, president of Yankelovich, based in Chapel Hill, N.C.


Media abandonment from the play perspective

Pat Kane's fascinating The Play Ethic blog examines the embrace of time for play by different cultures. Time that the media doesn't get.

If you have an hour to read...

...a very dense 2003 paper called The Social Affordances of the Internet for Networked Individualism, you might pick up some new views on the same themes we're exploring succinctly.


Memo to J-School Students: Are there audience problems ahead?

Point: J-Schools are the ideal testbed for future audience behaviors.

Among the experiments this site is undertaking is exploring new concepts of "social networking" or connectedness between journalism students today and journalism students of about 30 years ago. Why 30-year veterans? This was the first generation of journalists to begin to see digital media technology invade newsrooms, and then emerge as new media platforms, especially the Internet. Today, J-Schools like the University of Missouri are about to launch new specialized study programs around Media Convergence. This is interesting and necessary, but an important trend will need to be an immersive part of the curriculum: The rise of the creation and sharing of personal content by media audiences as a replacement for consuming media from media companies.

Call it the Connectedness of Convergence. Stay tuned for concepts in connecting current and former J-Schoolers as a platform for experimentation in what audiences might look like in the future.

Launching new brands via advertising? Fahgetaboutit

If writer James Surowiecki is right in this Wired Magazine story, trying to launch brands or maintain their strength via media advertising most often is likely a waste of money. Message to media companies: Uh Oh. Via X-Blog.

Required viewing: The Persuaders on PBS

Still unconvinced that the media and advertisers should be worried about audiences replacing time spent with them for time spent within a personal network?

Read the stunning quote below from the producer of the PBS documentary The Persuaders as reported by Wired News:

The wall-to-wall ads, narrowcasting and the growing disgust of consumers ... where will it lead?

"The best case is that we become so nauseous with living this way that we begin to reach out to one another," Rushkoff said.

"There is a profound human urge to connect with other people. I hope that those whose business it is to disconnect and fragment us to sell us products will ultimately be doing so at their own peril. I hope people's need to connect with one another is stronger than their need to get more stuff."

Should I watch TV or hug?

The NYT reports that Carnegie Mellon researhers, seeking new ways to better connect distant grandparents and grandchildren, invented The Hug. Read the description of a grandchild calling her grandfather below. Will such devices and services be too goofy for connectedness in a personal network, or might they actually succeed?

"To send a hug…squeeze the left paw…and speak…the name into a microphone in the top of the torso. Voice recognition software…identifies the name and matches it to a preset phone number...The…Hug calls the grandfather's, which lights up and plays sounds. To accept the hug, he squeezes the left paw and says hello, opening a direct voice link between the two. (When) the girl squeezes or pats the device…Sensors convert those motions into a data stream that is sent to the other Hug and converted on that end into vibrations through small motors...Thermal fibers around the Hug's belly radiate heat that increases with time." Link.