The Big Switch

June 3, 2008

Diagram of cloud computing architecture.

Image via Wikipedia

Great couple ‘o weeks under our belts here at e-Me. Sure, we drove 30 hours in a 48 hour time-frame. Yup, we saw how hot semantic content can be at Nstein. No doubt, we built tables out of doors. Yes siree, we’re gaining Wedia clarity. Can’t deny it, we’re all over Google Sites to contain our project management needs.

And now, in a serendipitous pulling-together of some of our thoughts, I read about The Big Switch. No, I did not actually read the book (thanks to my utter lack of a Kindle). But, I’ll trust MIT to outline the main points for me.

  • Cloud computing is coming at you fast
  • Businesses are created on top of utilities
  • And guess what, computing is a utility
  • Differentiate yourself on something else besides computing

This affects Wedia in two ways

  1. You best be building Wedia on a robust utility instead of a DIY/homegrown one-off that doesn’t differentiate the business
  2. Watch out. After computing, content is the next thing to become a utility (go ahead, debate me on this one)

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Shifting the Square

April 21, 2008

Rubik's cubeImage via Wikipedia

In keeping with my nascent blog style (see here and here and here), I just had an experience which I will now weave into a Wedia concept/metaphor/idea.

Abe was out at Nexpo the other week and picked up a 3D Rubiks cube from the folks at Dario Designs. Now, you might think that a traditional Rubiks cube is 3D, but instead of only twisting, this Cube unfolds so it’s like a herky-jerky pixelated snake. Arriving at the office today, I found it in pixelated snake mode instead of the end-game cube form. I quickly realized why Rubiks is practically synonymous with Frustrating. The intended pictures on each face were obvious enough, but putting them together so the whole thing made sense was not about to happen. And then it did happen, and there were copious fist-bumps in the office.

Wedia is much like this little unfolding cube. Plenty of people can see how the pieces should fit together, but actually fitting them together incites head-meets-wall behavior. Plus, Wedia is not even a pixelated snake type of thing, it’s a 4D cube that has pieces pulled in and out over time, layers added, and colors changed. In order to bring Wedia together at a LoMediaCo, Content Provider, or Web Portal, it’s going to take many perspectives from many angles.

Here at Wedia Up, our goal is to form one (or three) of those perspectives. On top of that, we’ll move around and listen a lot in order to gain as many angles on Wedia.

From where we are now, it looks like we need better ways to collaboratively and semantically leverage all of the great content/ideas out there. If I post an idea, I want an engine that instantly serves up all of the relevant things that touch my idea. From patent filings, to message boards, to press releases, new stories, economic data, and grant solicitations. I want to give up on an idea that is already established, augment an idea that is relatively novel, and find opportunities to take on ideas that are unique and actionable. I want to hear from the thumbs-up crowd and the thumbs-down crew.

Filtering/mining/narrowing ideas semantically and collaboratively is the future of innovation in both established communities like LoMediaCo’s, or nascent communities of tinkerers. If we can come to quicker decisions about what to pursue and what to leave on the shelf, we’ll be more efficient in the decidedly inefficient realm of innovation.

The trouble is, many ideas that are “new to us” will be exposed as “old to them” (thereby making us feel less-than-unique). The cool thing is, we can learn from those who were ahead on the bell curve. It’s a bit tough, but I’ll gladly swallow my pride for an advanced learning opportunity.

Feel free to take a crack at my pride the non-semantic way in the recently opened comments below. No more WordPress user account needed.

Riders waiting at a U.S. bus stop with a shelter.Image via Wikipedia

Taking my familiar walk down Ashland Ave in Chicago, barely noticing the familiar Taquerias and boutiques, I passed scores of newspaper boxes. They were all at intersections, bus stops, and coffee shops. I walked confidently, knowing that at any point I could pick up the same content that was on the previous corner. At some point, my brain fired up it’s desire engine, focused in on the need for some El reading material, and propelled my hand towards a couple boxes containing the Chicago Journal and the RedEye. Thanks be to the person who invented the newspaper box and the method of placing them ubiquitously in high-traffic areas (a quick wikipedia search failed to tell me who that person was, and then I gave up).

The newspaper box was a successful attempt at distributing newspapers everywhere. And now, in our crisp new digital world, a similar innovation must be spun up. The makings are already there. We’ve got digital high-traffic areas, we’ve got links and widgets, we’ve got RSS Feeds, and we’ve got people who like fresh/relevant content. What we don’t have is a reliable way to monetize all of the grabbing and reading.

The game today seems to be “get the reader to come back to my controlled site so I can pop some ads up and monetize their pretty blues.” But, truthfully, I don’t want to read your content on your site. Just as much as I don’t want to go downtown to the Chicago Tribune to peep some news. I want to grab a tiny slice of your content in places I’m already walking past.

More and more, my digital walk takes me past Google Reader, WordPress, Technorati, the NYTimes, EveryBlock, Twitter, and Facebook. I don’t walk past the LoMediaCo Daily News very often, so it needs to place it’s content at the high-traffic intersections of the web. Don’t lock me in to your user interface. Don’t interrupt my EveryBlock experience by making me open a link in a new tab. All of the mechanisms exist to provide me with a great content experience, but the business model for using them is nascent. It’s gonna be all about aggregating content and sharing benjamins. And that’s gonna take a beautiful database that knows about content ownership (no matter how atomized), place of viewing, stats, revenue generated, and algorithms for how much value the venue brings to the table and how much value the content brings to the table. Some will make money by making super-boss venues (e.g., Google), and some will make money by pumping out the freshest (e.g., TechCrunch) and best (e.g., NYTimes) content.

I’m not asking for anyone to give up their desire to place the “I Made This” stamp on their content. I’m asking you to give up your desire to make me see your content in your house. I’m asking you to give up your desire to be the only one to distribute your content (i.e., let it go viral).

I’ll be happy when my digital-walk content grabbing is as simple as my Ashland-walk content grabbing.

Thanks to Jeff Jarvis over at BuzzMachine for writing many thoughtful posts that got me thinking about this.

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Ford Five Hundred interior focused on the automatic transmission.Image via Wikipedia

New Media Bytes has a sweet tutorial on how to auto-update Twitter. If only there was a way that LoMediaCo’s could use this functionality to their benefit….hmmmm. Maybe sending out headlines and quips automatically to all the neato early-adopters on Twitter? Gaining some street cred? Did I mention it’s automatic, so no need to have someone sit all day re-typing headlines?

The functionality grabbed me, but I must admit I haven’t tried it yet. Give me some time and I will update this post with my thoughts on setting up Auto Twitter here on Wedia Up.

UPDATE: Auto-update Twitter IS for real. It takes a whole 5 minutes over at Twitter Feed to get rolling. No need to watch a 10 minute tutorial to get the gist on this one. It looks like this thing will work for any RSS feed, grab the headline, and add in some stock text at the beginning (like “Headlines from WediaUp”). Choose how often it should search the rss (from 30 min to 24 hours), and how many posts it should capture. Now I just have to see if it’s consistent. Anyone use this for a real news site?

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Fire on the MountainImage by matrix2003 via Flickr

A house on fire brings LoMediaCo’s running. I think the rationale is that it’s what people want to see. If that’s true, wouldn’t there be an amazing place on the web that serves up endless Feeds and Vids of houses on fire?

To find out, I turned to a bastion of Wedia: Technorati. They keep a handy list of the top 100 Blogs. I didn’t see one that even remotely touched on burning houses or any other kind of local disaster. Most blogs are about politics, gadgets, blogs, celebrities, and the web.

Here’s the problem, LoMediaCo’s are caught in a cycle of providing content that is visceral for 30 seconds, but does not illicit opinion, thought, or action. The only thing someone could say about a house on fire is, “wow, that’s horrible. I hope it doesn’t happen to me.” LoMediaCo’s don’t have to give up the house on fire stories, but they do need to realize that that kind of story does not fly online. Houses on fire don’t build community. Houses on fire aren’t sticky.

Wedia All Over

April 3, 2008

A license plate seen in the Googleplex parking lot.Image from WikipediaWith a little Google and a little patience, I culled through the top references to Wedia in the…ummmm….Wedia. Here’s what I found out:

  1. Jim Treacher is the front runner for inventing (or at least being the first to use in a blog) Wedia back in March Ought-Five.
  2. Wedia.tv is a sweet organization. To crib their site directly “Wedia is a non-profit media company that connects volunteer journalists and filmmakers with non-profits to generate media, awareness and donations for important humanitarian causes.”
  3. Wedia.fr is in France (where they speak French). Lucky for me, their tagline is in English and goes like this: Brand is Media. Not sure I agree, but then again, I couldn’t read the explanation. They make content software.
  4. Wediabuzz.com is a close cousin to our little site here. Not hard to see how we influence each other.
  5. NowPublic, a classic example of Wedia, does a little shout-out to Wedia, but makes the mistake of putting it in quotes, thereby de-wording it.
  6. And then there’s our dear friend and colleague, Tom Altman, who is the originator of Wedia in our circle. Congrats.
  7. The big question, which Google failed to preemptively answer, is; who has Wedia.com? Turns out it’s some sort of Japan/China office planning company. They do make the nice point that Wedia can mean both We Media and We Dialogue. Props.

Let’s see if we can plant the term and concept of Wedia elsewhere.

Hello Ya’ll

March 26, 2008

Defining this whole Wedia concept could get pretty messy. In fact, if it does get defined, I’m gonna go ahead and say it loses its fun relevance. Do people have trouble defining what a blog or wiki is? Doubtful. That’s what makes blogs and wikis┬ásuper-awesome tools, but not stay-awake-at-night concepts.

In the name of fun and new ideas and a pinch of innovation, we’re gonna start drawing some fuzzy lines around the Wedia concept. We’ll keep it up as long as we can redraw/scratchout/extend the lines around Wedia. A huge bonus is that there are a bunch of on-fire people out there talking about this stuff already. We’ll definitely draw on your blog-pearls, and hopefully give you a reason to draw on ours.

And now, the first gauntlet gets laid down (which implies that there are gauntlets to come). If┬áTom and Nick can get 10 decent posts up by April 3rd, our benevolent boss is gonna buy us a round of beers. Because yes, we’re young and eager enough to take that as an incentive.

Bang.