Mar 272016
 

Three very good reads at the cusp of content and technology. I quite enjoyed reading them.

Don’t Try to Be a Publisher and a Platform at the Same Time – a beautifully insightful piece from HBR. it just cleared up a lot of little muddled bubbles in the head. Generally speaking, content people are in awe of technology and don’t think they know how to get around it; and technology people have the converse problem. Maybe the solution is collaboration, rather than being conjoint.

Jonathan Glick coined the ungainly word “platisher” to describe hybrids of digital media platforms and publishers. When a media company attempts to be both a destination for edited, themed content and a tool others can use to create content, it’s a platisher. ……

In the end, the dichotomy between publisher and platform is actually a difference in goals. The question is not: “Are you a platform or a publisher?” The question is: “Do you care more about scale, or about editorial voice?”

Editorial voice, is my response. But, for someone else it may be scale. having the two in the same ecosystem can be traumatic.

Here’s why the traditional TV network might become totally obsolete – and what could replace it :

It isn’t that we are consuming less video content, it is just that we are consuming it less in a linear fashion. Video is alive. Traditional TV is entering the phase that print encountered 20 years ago. If they are smart – and most are myopic about their today – it will be the same players who occupy the poll position a decade from now. But, it seems unlikely. Traditional media is so obsessed with today, that they lose sight of the fact that today gets over, and there is a tomorrow.

In a recent report on the future of media, Barclays analysts argued that as “aggregation” platforms become the primary driver of eyeballs – think Netflix, or even a “Netflix of Netflixs” – the idea of a channel doesn’t make much sense anymore.

This.cm wants to deliver the only links you’ll really read each evening : again a fascianting read, about how some publishers are going against conventional wisdom, to do something completely different. On the internet, mostly, less is more.

the evening email delivered to This.cm users who have registered and are “following” other users — whether favorite writers or publications — will highlight links to stories shared by the people/publications users follow. At the moment, these are the most recent things shared in a user’s network that day……Users will still receive five links picked by a This.cm editor, though they can opt to receive only the five handpicked links, five links from followers, or both.

content concept handwritten on blackboard

image courtesy – here

Oct 302015
 
Twitter

Twitter

As though interaction on twitter wasn’t reductionist enough (although, immensely enjoyable & addictive) – they have introduced a binary poll. Yes or no. It is great fun, terribly addictive and requires even lesser interaction. I am expecting polls to take the form of – should I have chappati for breakfast or should I have toast. Should i wear pink nail polish or should it be green. Should i have cream on the top, or fat free coffee. Does this dress look better on me, or does this top ? Random, everyday decisions where others jam in to help, otherwise mundane decisions. It could also help for finding preferences – do you prefer Modi or Gandhi ? Do you prefer family drama or murder mysteries.

 

 

I asked this, of my TL on twitter

And the answer was more surprising than i believed. More people on my TL felt that political content was interesting than not. My experience looking at traffic trends tells me, that yes people are interested in political content, but more are interested in entertainment content. On any given day, a piece on Bigg Boss 9 will do better than a piece of political content -unless it is some politician shooting his (and, usually it is his) mouth off, and trying to create a media stir.

The sample size, of course, is low. And, rather uniform – users of twitter. English speaking. Following my posts. Possibly with a higher degree of ‘news’ consumption than those who follow a film handle or use twitter for mere interaction.

Other users of twitter weren’t so boring (as my poll makes me) – Here is @shubhashish with a classic take on a old question

 

🙂

Oct 152015
 

Interesting read on why Twitter is dying 

Here’s my tiny theory, in a word. Abuse. And further, I’m going to suggest in this short essay that abuse — not making money — is the great problem tech and media have. The problem of abuse is the greatest challenge the web faces today. It is greater than censorship, regulation, or (ugh) monetization. It is a problem of staggering magnitude and epic scale, and worse still, it is expensive: it is a problem that can’t be fixed with the cheap, simple fixes beloved by tech: patching up code, pushing out updates.

If twitter were a bar, would you frequent a place with abusers. I have found my interactions on a public timeline going down. Most of my nuanced conversations take place on twitter DM or FB chat. These are with people of different political / religious persuasions. We avoid chatting on a public TL – seriously who wants unpleasantness and unpleasent people  interrupting an interesting conversation?

twitter dying

twitter dying – image courtsey – uptown magazine

Worth reading the entire piece on the Medium.

Sep 012014
 

My column in the DNA, last fortnight

Forty five years ago, the United States of America, did the unthinkable — it put a man, actually two men, on the Moon. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin went into the history books as the first human beings to walk on the surface of earth’s only natural satellite. The lines that Armstrong says on stepping on to the lunar surface “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”, is part of textbooks around the world. While there was great euphoria on this momentous scientific and technological achievement, the benefits from this, apart from national pride, were seen in the following decades. The investment in putting a man on the moon went beyond the material and the technological. It had a multiplier effect in scientific research, energy sources, food technologies and in many more fields. The impact on society was gradual; it wasn’t seen that pervasively in the decade that followed, but the Eighties and the Nineties reaped the benefits of this endeavour. From a communication perspective, the advances in satellite communication and miniaturised integrated circuits that were a by-product of the research into space exploration, transformed the world. Television, computers, mobile phones, and a host of other gadgets, that we don’t even think about, are the distant descendents of the investment into space exploration. The world, in the words of the famous media theorist Marshall McLuhan: “human family exists under conditions of a global village. We live in a single constricted space resonant with tribal drums”.

Twenty five years ago, in 1989, a British theoretical physicist, Tim Berners-Lee, working in CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Switzerland, came up with an innovative way of getting computers in CERN to talk to one another, and thereby allow the various scientists working on different projects to share information. His work led to the creation of the Hyper Text Markup Language, known more popularly by its abbreviation HTML. It allowed people to cross link content, and direct users to different pieces of content sitting on different machines. This simple and elegant way of connecting content led to the birth of the World  Wide Web and the Internet revolution that we are living through. When it started, in 1991, there were fewer than 500 servers that were connected. Today, there is no point counting, because by the time you have finished counting the number of servers, a large number would have been added. HTML revolutionised the world of information publishing and sharing. Suddenly everyone could be a publisher, a distributor, a commentator. Like the printing press almost 500 years earlier, the World Wide Web changed the way in which people saw the world. Suddenly, you realised that your views or issues, your fetishes or hobbies were not in any way unique —  there were others like you elsewhere in the world. If the moon landings and satellite communication had made humanity a ‘global village’ – the World Wide Web made it even smaller.

On September 4, the most ubiquitous web brand ever, Google, turns a sweet 16. Two young men, Larry Page and Sergey Brin looked at all the content on the web, and the existing ways of searching for information and decided that it was not good enough. The algorithms that they created for searching, classifying and organising content made using the web a lot more easy, and a lot more accessible. If HTML changed the way we create and share content, Google changed the way we searched and consumed it. There are those of us who remember a world before Google. We used Hotmail for email, Alta Vista for search, Netscape and Internet Explorer as browsers – all that has changed with the advent of Google.

If you really strip away the jargon and the technology from these three landmark events — in essence what they have done is made the world a smaller place, and made people very cognisant of the fact that the differences between the peoples of the world, in different nations, of different languages and traditions is actually not so great. We all bleed when we are cut, grieve when we lose near and dear ones, are inclined to help others (even random strangers), laugh at almost the same things, dance to almost similar beats and so on. Also, what is seen is that the desire for freedom and democratisation, the need to aspire and achieve is universal. What divides us is far less than what unites us.

It is, therefore, not surprising that there has been a backlash against this sense of being a ‘global family’ with shared ideals and values from those who were the traditional custodians of power – those who held the power over life and death of populations — extreme forms of religion, patriarchy and defenders of ‘cultural purity’. These are people who, until a few decades ago, were obeyed without question. Today, they are, mostly, ignored. When we see the backlash of regressive elements — be it the khaps in Haryana, or the mullahs who are asked for opinions, be it former Pope of the Catholic Church or the most extreme of all reactions the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant (ISIS) – what they are railing against is that loss in absolute power over the lives of the people they controlled not so long ago. Cultural purity, religious purity, way of life et al are just excuses for wanting absolute power.

Most of the world is slowly moving towards the idea of a global village – people are escaping their shackles and aspiring for the better things in life, including not being restricted in their aspirations. The medievalists who want to drag people back into their cordoned off ghettos are trying their level best to hold on to their crumbling power base, that has been reeling under the onslaught of science and technology, through violence. Like others before them, who stood in the way of aspirations of people, these medievalists too will turn into a footnote in history.

Jul 132014
 

There has been a fair amount of traffic on my twitter TL on an article that was taken down in the DNA . People have, rightly, asked for an explanation.

Fact checking, misrepresentation of facts etc all good excuses/explanation to give when u pull down an article. However, they all sound rather silly – especially given that you have published it.   Sometimes silence is better than a hastily cobbled together justification. And, everything doesn’t have to be a conspiracy theory. Nor does everything have to be high drama. Sometimes there are simpler explanations.

I could say editorial prerogative. But, that would be arrogance.  I could blame the author, but that would be cowardice. I could blame the government or my ‘bosses’ but that would be a lie. I could say i didn’t know it went up, but that would be cop out. Fact remains, I should have caught onto something that was in the piece, but I didn’t. I did exactly what I have ranted about, and outraged about for the last decade – that is in the need for speed, the desire to be first,  to put out a piece, I didn’t look at it with the attention that it deserved. We have run far more scathing pieces by the author on Mr.Shah and they are still on-line. If I pulled down this one, it was for a good reason, and that reason is not fear.

I can understand readers ire on this, and appreciate the author’s anger  – i would have felt the same way if i was in her place. If I had the time on the day to make a call and sort it out, I would have. Unfortunately, I didn’t.  I was in a very long conference, where our phones were tucked safely away in our bags. Which is also the reason why I couldn’t respond to newslaundry.

Now to something else – when other TV editors/websites write about this, they obviously suffer from selective amnesia.  they have pulled out, pulled back, changed tack on issues. Was it fear, favor or fickleness? Or all three – that made them do this? And i am not even going into other areas of breach of ethics such as the cash for votes sting, or radia tapes, I am simply looking at spiked stories, and stories that disappeared. Seriously, i can appreciate reader ire, I can’t figure the hypocrisy of other media professionals. They know exactly what they had suppressed in their entire career Am sure if you follow any good news monitoring website you will know some of what has been taken off, what they have changed tack on, and where they have spiked their own stories.

I have not responded to this on twitter as  there are no 140 character explanations for things like this. Hence, this  blog.

And finally, far as the ToI piece is concerned – cute, very cute. Must be the first time that the ToI has run a piece naming a competitor without routing it through medianet.