Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Snapshots From The (Media) Revolution

Whether intentional or not, the Business Day section of each Monday’s New York Times has become a great collection of snapshots on the conflicted landscape of old and new media.

This was especially true this week and is worth a quick review if you missed it:

An article by Ashlee Vance details a new service from Hewlett-Packard called MagCloud which hooks vanity publishing up with cloud computing. The service allows content creators to plug into a network of high speed, high quality digital printers and produce their own short run glossy magazines. Similar technology can also be used for short run book publishing. The Long Tail comes to print.

The MagCloud piece was opposite an item detailing the troubles that may soon see shuttering of the San Francisco Chronicle, which lost 30 percent of its circulation between 2003 – 2008, while another article details how daily papers in Europe are allegedly doing a better job than their U.S. brethren in weathering the internet storm.

Struggling to maintain a hold on eyeballs isn’t just limited to newspapers. Media analyst David Carr has a column on what he calls the “hyperbolic rhythms” of cable news as they try to retain viewership numbers after the flush of November’s TV-friendly election campaign.

Next to Carr’s is a feature entitled “Why Pay For Cable?” which outlines how rapid gains in online viewing of television programming is shifting the ground beneath cable and network TV operators...
where have all my subscribers gone?... Uh, check Hulu and Boxee... (Can we cut a deal with those guys?).

There’s an article by Matt Richtel on how the video game industry (one of the $$$ bright spots of the media world) is under assault from the proliferation of free or low cost games on the web and the explosion of new hand-held devices. “The model as it exists today is dying,” says one video game industry exec.

But wait, there’s more: An article about how Skype, the internet calling service is moving aggressively to bring cheap calls to mobile devices like the iPhone and Blackberry. Another on the chatter on how microblogging wonder-site Twitter might monetize and an Associated Press story on a Huffington Post initiative to fund investigative journalism on the nation’s economy. There’s also, a short item on a big deal between Sony and AMC Entertainment to bring digital projectors to movie theaters; this means that movie houses will soon down load movies direct from satellites or the cloud and goodbye film. Such a move has the potential to reshape the traditional movie theater.

Someone said that newspapers are the first draft of history. When it comes to the evolution of the media world NYT's business section has been doing a lively job of late. This is (advertising subsidized) content I would (an do) pay for and would much rather read on newsprint while having breakfast. Keeps crumbs off the keyboard.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Most Perfect Invention

As newspapers, television and periodicals are under continued assault by the digitization of almost everything, I sometimes wonder about the future of one of mankind’s most perfect inventions: the book.

While devices like the Kindle are useful but niched riffs on the real thing the book (whether hardback, paper or pocket) has a great future.

I’m biased. I generally adore them and enjoy their company.

For a recent birthday I received a copy of William Manchester’s biography of Winston Churchill, The Last Lion. An excellent read that spills over with gems.

Here’s Churchill on books:

“If you cannot read all of your books, at any rate handle, or, as it were, fondle them – peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on their shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that if you do not know what is in them, your will at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them at any rate be your acquaintances.”

Monday, March 2, 2009

GovtechTV Wins Best-in-Class for Online Video

We were jazzed at e.Republic when we got word that Media Business recently named GTtv best-in-class in their inaugural Online Video Awards. An exciting recognition for this new venture. You can see our promo spot here.

We kicked off GTtv about a year ago as a launch and learn experiment and were not sure what to expect. Its been a success on several fronts.

I’ve been especially impressed with how our editorial team, with no prior video experience, has taken to the medium. Armed with video cameras and backed by a couple of talented producers/editors they have turned out original and interesting work that has given govtech.com an entirely new approach in covering the public sector technology field.

We made the jump into online video because the future of the publishing business (do we still call it publishing?) is very much online and multimedia and we needed to get into this sandbox fast.

We’ve learned a lot in the year plus we’ve been at this and know that on-line video is a core element of e.Republic’s content platform as we go forward.

Tune in for exciting things ahead.