Opening Remarks

Post ImageStuart MacDonald is on stage welcoming everyone to the conference. He says they want the event to be a two-way conversation, full of meshing, instead of the typical “we talk you listen” kind of conference. “Think of yourselves as participants, rather than attendees,” they say.

Introductions to the organizers, thanks to the sponsors, etc, etc. Housekeeping stuff, there is free WiFi, and there is power in the floor (though we can’t figure out how to open the panel). Please turn off your BlackBerry’s (apparently they make a clicking noise?). On with the show!

Let’s Mesh!

Arrived at Mesh

Post ImageJust arrived here in the auditorium for Mesh 06, and I’m ready to go! I’ve got my Oilers jersey on, sticking out like a sore thumb amongst all the khakis and dress shirts, but that’s cool. I’ll have lots of pictures to post throughout the day, so check out Flickr. There’s lots of people here already, with more and more coming in.

I haven’t seen as many people I know as I did in Vancouver yet, but that’s to be expected, as most of the attendees here are probably east coasters.

It wasn’t looking good last night after I went to sleep – I woke up coughing and ended up being seriously ill. Fortunately it only lasted for about an hour. I felt fine before, and I felt fine afterward, so maybe it was something I ate? In any case, I’m back to normal.

Time for Google Headlines!

Post ImageHave you ever used a news aggregator like Google News? My guess is that you have, at least once. While these aggregators drive traffic to newspapers, magazines, and other content websites, they also cause problems with the headlines authors choose for a particular story:

Journalist over the years have assumed they were writing their headlines and articles for two audiences–fickle readers and nitpicking editors. Today, there is a third important arbiter of their work: the software programs that scour the Web, analyzing and ranking online news articles on behalf of Internet search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN.

“The search engine has to get a straightforward, factual headline, so it can understand it,” Nic Newman, head of product development and technology at BBC News Interactive, said.

Seems that these headline aggregators don’t like wit or humor. Is that a problem with the current crop of readers? Yes. Is it something that presents an opportunity? Again, yes. All you have to do, news media people, is ask for it:

“Google, oh great one…with your vast resources and large repositories of data, surely you can present to us an algorithm that is able to craft funny headlines, complete with all the inside jokes your spiders can discover…bestow upon us mere mortals such an algorithm, and call it Google Headlines (beta, naturally)…and we shall be forever grateful.”

They can’t deny a request like that! Or can they?

Read: CNET

Finally at Moose Camp – notes on Journalism

Post ImageSo we slept in a little this morning, and we took our time. Compared to past trips, this one has been relatively relaxing thus far! We finally made it to UBC’s downtown campus (entirely underground in case you didn’t know) and got our lanyards. Kind of neat idea – in addition to your name and web address on the nametag, there are four lines for “tags”.

We’re in Mark Hamilton’s session called We’re all journalists now. Right next to us? Robert Scoble with the same tablet pc as I am typing this on. Here are some notes on the session:

  • Some people in the room seem to think that there is great power in having tools that make publishing very easy and always on, while others thing that creates a larger problem of filtering and managing new information.
  • Scoble makes the point that he can write about a product and a week later 3000 people have signed up for that new product, and that this method of distribution did not exist ten years ago. Others disagree, saying the scheme has always been here, we’re just confused with “blogging” being new.
  • Someone mentions the long tail – noting there are three or four bloggers for every topic, and this has a huge impact on commerce.
  • Mark says the democratization of media is very confusing…there are so many different perspectives. He also notes that he has 3.7 days of podcasts on his iPod, and that the creators of those podcasts are not going to stop and wait for him to catch up, they are going to continue producing content.
  • Mark touches on the fear of not being connected – you feel like you’ve missed something if you don’t keep up, or if you forget your camera, etc. Some conclusions he’s had: in terms of mass media, we have never been as well served as we are now, but it still has a whole bunch of flaws; there are so many different and new types of journalism like video blogs and sites like NowPublic; journalists are starting to realize that collectively, the audience is smarter!
  • Journalism right now is messy, just like tagging. Things are changing. Maybe it’s going to be messy forever?
  • Chris Pirillo is wondering whether “amateurs” should be called journalists? What about journalists who go through formal training and that sort of thing? Mark notes that strictly speaking, there is no credential for a journalist, anyone can walk into a newspaper and become a journalist. Chris says, “if I can apply a bandaid, does that make me a doctor?” People are fighting him on this one, but I tend to agree…just because you’re a blogger doesn’t mean you’re a journalist.

Thank goodness for wireless 🙂

PodcastUser Magazine

Post ImageIn January I wrote about the new ID3 Podcast Magazine, which I figured would be the one and only magazine devoted to podcasting. Today I noticed at Podcasting News that there’s a second such magazine called PodcastUser, though it appears this one will only be published in PDF and not as a physical magazine.

The first issue is now available for download, and at 24 pages, there’s quite a bit of information packed into the magazine. I haven’t read it in great detail, but there’s reviews, some news, quite a few “how-to’s”, and as far as I can tell, no advertising.

From the first issue:

Podcasting has a great community feel to it, and that is precisely what this magazine celebrates; a thriving community of people, discussing and providing different content by using the same medium.

The second issue will be available on March 1st, so check it out!

Read: PodcastUser Magazine

Podcasting and Model Airplanes

Post ImageI have written quite a bit about what I call “Average Joe Podcasting“, or podcasting for normal people who don’t want to turn it into a business. I have also mentioned that I think the most common form of podcasting will indeed be this kind of hobby podcasting, not radio-style business podcasting. Unfortunately, it seems rare that someone else understands this, but today I found another person who does:

Rob Walch, a podcasting consultant and host of the popular 411 interview podcast, says he’s bombarded with questions from people looking to strike gold with podcasts. His advice? “I tell people that over 80% of podcasters will never even break even,” he says. “This is a hobby. You don’t expect to make money from flying model airplanes, and chances are you aren’t going to make money from podcasting.” Still, for trailblazers like Curry who are quickly forging links to one another, it won’t be for a lack of trying.

Well said, and in a way that I think a lot of people will be able to understand. Not that it’s bad for people like Curry to try and make some money from it, every industry needs that, I just feel that it won’t overshadow the rest of podcasting for very much longer.

Read: BusinessWeek

Podcasting – the "teenager" of media

Post ImageI feel very lucky that I’ve been able to watch podcasting grow since the beginning basically, and through that time I’ve noticed a number of things. Such as the fact that the media has to put podcasting (or whatever is new and hot) into a category at every stage of it’s growth. Always comparing, always categorizing. A good example is Jon Fine’s article in BusinessWeek (Nov 28th) entitled “Can Podcasting Do Business?“:

Podcasting is the teenage clique of media. Small enough that its pioneers refer to one another by first names only, young enough that it’s unclear which media model fits it, and brazen enough to believe it can figure it all out by itself. Parents will tell you how stubborn adolescents can be — and how, more annoyingly, adolescents are sometimes right.

Sounds good as a categorization, and in some respects it works, so it gets printed. Good sign of the times we live in too – I very much doubt that similar sorts of things were written about the automobile industry or the software industry when they were starting out (though I don’t know for sure, I’m not that old). We’re at the point that we can monitor the growth of an industry from the start and in a very indepth way, for good or bad.

Note too that a “model which fits it” is still pointed out. That’s another aspect of the growth of podcasting that just won’t go away it seems, that everyone thinks it must have a business model.

Read: BusinessWeek

Ring Tones

Post ImageRing tones seem to be everywhere these days. You can’t buy a cell phone without seeing customizable ring tones as a selling feature, and chances are you can’t watch five minutes of MuchMusic without seeing a commercial for something related to ring tones. I personally don’t understand why the idea of changing your ring tone is so enticing – then again, I usually have my phone set to vibrate. Maybe I can get custom vibrations? Like a variation in the length or something. Anyway, I digress.

David Carr wrote a piece for the New York Times yesterday in which he explained that today’s youth are accustomed to getting things for free. They download music and movies, and would rather record a TV show using a VCR than plunk down some cash for a TiVo or similar device. The only form of media youth spend money on seems to be ring tones:

Earlier this month at the Web 2.0 conference, John Battelle, an author of a book on search and one of the organizers of the conference, empaneled a group of teenage consumers that he assembled (at no charge, by placing an ad on Craigslist). They dutifully admitted that they did not pay for music or news or video, but most said they still spent $40 to $60 a month on media.

So what medium finally cracked the code on youthful intransigence?

Ring tones, available for now only from their wireless providers.

Have ring tones really cracked the code? Hardly! The only reason we don’t see teenagers (and anyone else for that matter) swapping ring tones like they swap music is because the entire process is too difficult. It’s easy to share a song, download and play it, and even transfer it to a mobile device. Most people somewhat familiar with computers can figure it out (and as Rick points out, young kids are savvy enough to use BitTorrent for their swapping). Ring tones are a different story though! It’s not clear how you create a ring tone, let alone share it with your friends so they can install it on their phones too.

As soon as someone makes it dead easy to create and share ring tones (and the tool or service reaches a critical mass of eyeballs), the market for ring tones will be history. Does anyone really think that a ring tone is worth $1.99? I certainly don’t. Especially not after Apple et al. have convinced me that a song is worth just 99 cents!

Read: New York Times

Average Joe Podcasting Revisited

Post ImageYou might remember that way back on August 18th, 2005 I wrote a post entitled Average Joe Podcasting. Let me highlight the main point of that post for you:

Not everyone who starts a podcast is going to want to make money from it, just like not everyone who blogs does so with the intention of making a living. I read a lot about podcasting – news articles, blog posts, etc., and I can’t help but feel that far too many individuals and organizations focus on the “making money from podcasting” idea.

As soon as starting and maintaining a podcast is as simple as starting and maintaining a blog, I think we’ll see the same breakdown in podcasting [as in blogging].

You should read the entire post to get the full argument in context, but that’s the main idea – that individuals will likely start to podcast for themselves, and that they’ll become a major segment of the podcasting world.

Almost exactly two months after I wrote that comes a post from Odeo’s Evan Williams, entitled Podcasting for Regular People. Here’s the main idea in his post:

While blogging can be about playing on a world stage to influence, gain audience, and, potentially, monetize (the same goals as most other media), there are millions of people who are happily pubishing daily without those motivations. For them, it’s more about expression, self-reflection, and communication.

I call these people “casual content creators.” It’s not just that they’re amateur or part of the great, unwashed, Long Tail. It’s that they’re playing a different game.

The idea of casual content creation in the realm of audio is a powerful one. And I think it’s a yet-to-be-duly-recognized segment of the (potential) podcasting world.

Sound familiar? I thought so.

Read: Odeo Blog

Video iPod Released

Post ImageAt long last it has happened. The oft-rumored and much ballyhooed video iPod was unveiled by Apple’s Steve Jobs today along with a new iMac and an updated iTunes that includes music videos, movies and TV shows:

The iPod has “been a huge hit for us, so it’s time to replace it,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said as he showed off the new video-capable MP3 player at an event here. “Yes, it does video.”

The music players, which come in black or white with a 2.5-inch screen, will be available in a 30GB model for $299 and a 60GB version for $399. The new devices hold up to 15,000 songs, 25,000 photos or more than 150 hours of video, Apple said.

Pay attention to the media coverage this device will get in the coming weeks. What’s significant is not that Apple has released a video version of the iPod, but that no one seems to care about the Portable Media Centers that have been out for months from companies like Creative. Seems as though Apple can do no wrong!

Perhaps Microsoft and Real set aside their differences for the simple reason that they can’t beat Apple if they are trying to beat each other. It has been suggested that Apple and Google would make good partners in the fight against Microsoft (and now Real perhaps). I don’t think they would, for the simple reason that Steve Jobs never releases anything into beta!

Even though the video iPod has been a long time in the making, I have to admit I am still somewhat surprised. Given the recent bickering between Jobs and the record label executives, I expected it to be harder for Apple to add movies and music videos to their iTunes store. On the other hand, Jobs is much more powerful in Hollywood (Pixar, etc) than he is in the eyes of the RIAA.

The Apple domination of media continues…

Read: CNET