Chris Anderson on Charlie Rose…More please.

I caught a great interview with Wired editor in chief and author of The Long Tail as well as the eventually to be published Free, Chris Anderson on Charlie Rose. You can take a peek at it below.


Chris has some great observations regarding the business of Free, the Long Tail, open source, some insights on the Microsoft/Yahoo deal, and (listen up my radio buddies) he gave props to broadcast media, referring to the internet and “the triumph of the media model”. I also was intrigued with his take on the difference between Google and Yahoo! He did mention a bit about production quality not being as important to a hyper-targeted group…something I take a bit of issue with.

All in all…good stuff. What would have made it great? Simple, more time. If the last topic got off the ground. Check the last two minutes…Rose: “Are we going to continue to lead in the internet age?” Anderson: “Everything I believe is written on the back of the iPhone. ‘Designed in California. Made in China.” His contention that the USA’s place in the world is that we design it and they make it.

Now right or wrong (which Rose thought he was), agree or disagree (and Rose did) this is where the interview could have really taken off. Conflict baby, that is what makes the conversation really interesting. I personally couldn’t think of better people to watch disagree than these two. Unlike the shoutfests I see, and did see this very day on CNN about the Spitzer case, I’m quite confident that it would have been a great debate (and probably was once the cameras were off).

Why is this? Why did something that had such great potential for making this encounter reach beyond a good interview into the realm of great…stop? Beats me. I don’t think there is anything afoot here, no issues, no conspiracy. It just did.

My point is that a friendly lively discussion is just fine but what creates emotion, creates entertainment, creates something memorable that we’ll all talk about tomorrow is usually a bit of conflict. Ain’t nothing wrong with it.What makes it even better is when those embroiled in the conflict can shake hands and part as friends without raising voices or leaping from their seats once the discussion is done.

Futuretainment or…Presentainment?

I caught a great post by O’Reilly’s Robert Kaye the other day. Robert’s coverage of ETech in San Francisco included a rundown of Mike Walsh’s Futuretainment: The Asian Media Revolution presentation. Here are some highlights on the topic of how the young people in Asia consume media compared to the good ol’ US of A…

Because many of the kids were born in the post Mao era, they have no idea what media was like as it evolved in the US and Western Europe. (CD’s? Never heard of ‘em.) Mike points out that most Asian’s use the internet for their main source of entertainment and they get most of that on their cell phones, not at the desktop. They have no problem creating multiple identities online, are more “group” focused yet seek to find a higher status for themselves in those groups on line.

Here’s something that we all have seen in movies but probably never really grasped…”Asian cultures blend low tech solutions with hi tech solutions seamlessly. For instance, while nearly everyone has a mobile phone in their pocket, bamboo is still used to build scaffolding for buildings.” Wow!

What all this increased “density of information” has lead to is Asians being able to grasp many more pieces of information at once and the culture actually cranking out so much more content. This is fascinating stuff.

As I consider all of this I’m struck by the word “futuretainment.” It’s quite easy to point to all of this and say this is the future of media in the US. To some degree, I believe that to be true. But, I’m not sure our culture will evolve the same way. Consider the circumstances for this “revolution” in Asia, specifically China. Here are a people who for years were cutoff from the advances (a very subjective term) that we experienced. It’s like the lid being lifted off a barrel in the rain. Suddenly all of this history, these advances, and this growth just start pouring in on a people that were familiar with something so simplistic. Of course there is a need to quickly decide what to adopt and what to scoop out of the barrel. If they didn’t they would surely drown. So what you see are a people hurdling over some of the stuff that has become part of our culture, in effect being unburdened by history. They don’t need to or even can stop at the CD era if it’s already passé. Why spend money on or time sitting in front of a computer when they can take it all with them on a phone.

In the US, for better or worse, we as a people are naturally going to be a bit slower to adopt. In many cases we are content with where media is and see no reason to change. For the purposes of example, we’ve spent our money on the CD and player or the computer. We’ll get to the mp3 player and smart phone; just give us a bit more time. Damn, this history of innovation can be a real burden, can’t it?

So while the “media revolution” is raging on in Asia, it may not necessarily be the future but the present without all the encumbrances of a past. Who knows, the Asian youth may decide that creating new IM accounts, assuming different identities for different purposes and precipitating virtual characters landing sponsorship deals is a waste of time and return to more simplistic “bamboo-centric” pursuits. That sure would allow all of us to stop paddling so hard in our barrel.

Did I Put the Twit In Twitter?

Monday evening I had the chance to attend an event at the UBS Forum at Minnesota Public Radio focusing on New Media, New Standards. It featured Dan Gilmore and was moderated by MPR’s Bob Collins. (It’s been a slammed kinda week so I hadn’t had a chance to post until now.) There were some great points made on the topics of ethics, standards, and credibility. Gilmore made some great observations and you can get a good feel of how the night went here.


What I found particularly fascinating was what was going on in the audience on all of the laptops that were open. Twitter was running rampant. Here I am with my handy notebook out ready to jot down a few notes and I think, “Hey, why not jump on the train to Twitterville and see what’s going on.” So, out comes the Macbook and I’m off and running courtesy of the fine folks at MPR and their foresight to have wireless access for guests.

As I said to some other folks, I’m still not sure what role I want Twitter to play in my life. Time is one thing I never have enough of and I have found that Twitter can be a big time sucker. Plus, I’m already pretty outspoken with a healthy supply of sarcasm and to have yet another channel for me to blab, especially in short bursts…well…perhaps I should step away from the keyboard.

In this case I thought it would be interesting to see the “tweets” fly in a room with a bunch of “new media” types gathered to discuss standards and credibility of citizen journalism. Here’s what I learned:

  1. I find it difficult to listen to a discussion and write a comment at the same time. How the hell do kids text so much without missing a step? I was in no position to be a participant in the discussion in the room.
  2. There are many brilliant thoughts being exchanged by people who seem to be more prone to write about them than verbally express them.
  3. Sarcasm is really easy on Twitter.
  4. Twittering away while a discussion is going on is like talking when someone else is…It’s kinda rude.
  5. Twittering is like talking only it’s written down…forever…to be repeated… and reprinted.

In fact, in the day following the forum #5 overshadowed the topic of the event itself…and also bit me in the butt a might. As it turns out many in the crowd were less than satisfied with the energy level of the discussion or the interaction between audience and presenters and it was Twittered about. So what happened was rather than people talking on the way out about their dissatisfaction or commenting politely, “That wasn’t what I expected.” and then moving on, the tweets were right there for the entire world to see…warts and all, myself included, as noted in Bob’s blog.

As with so much these days, only negative stuff was reflected upon. There actually where some great points made in the tweetstream by many of those in the audience not “speaking up.” As I pointed out to Bob in my comment to his post, indicating I didn’t like the event was far from the truth. My “live” Twitter participation was worth the evening itself. The topic and some of the discussion throughout the forum was icing on the cake.

In the end, the evening and its’ two conversations, online and in the room, was best summed up by one of the bloggers in attendance (and I apologize, I can’t locate who it was that said it) as the difference in two generations, further emphasizing the difference in the two mediums.

For me, there was another two lessons learned…

  1. Remember, to those that don’t know you, what you write could define you. Needless to say, to some I, as Ricky Ricardo would say, “have got some ‘splaining’ to do”
    to avoid being pigeon-holed.
  2. Finally, Twitter is more about quotable salvos lobbed into the ether. It’s not a replacement for a conversation. I believe I’ll keep my notebook closed when a conversation is happening in actual life. If nothing else, it’s
    more polite.

So, did I put the twit in Twitter. I don’t think so. This is what Twitter does, and it turns out it does it very well.

Now…Another Music-Free Commercial Sweep

This was always a running gag for us in music radio. The battle between art (us) and commerce (them) raged endlessly. The challenge of balancing the wants and needs of both of our customers, listeners who want more music and clients who want more ad space, was the topic of 95% of management disagreements.

This argument is one that rages on in all forms of advertiser supported media. I dare say it comes up in the halls at PBS or NPR as well…though in a much more civilized fashion (He says with tongue planted firmly in cheek.).

Just look at TV. There’s what, 20 minutes of “show” in a 30 minute program? And the newspaper, well just take a look at the before and after pictures of our local Sunday paper once the circulars are pulled out….

Then of course those subscription cards, fold outs, scratch and sniff, and regular ads in a magazine that will drive you nuts. There are even a growing number of ads at the start of a movie at the local Superplex 28 Cinema. How about the average website? Well ya know…most aren’t too bad thanks to hyperlinks, unless of course it’s the website of one of the other media outlets mentioned above.

For traditional media, what is the right amount of ad space? What is the deciding factor on how many spots you can air or ads you can cram on the page? The answer…it depends.

It depends on the content. How compelling is it? If it’s fantastic you can run more ads, if it sucks…well…don’t give me another excuse to bail. It also depends on choice. Caution: with so many choices of media, even the best content can be dwarfed by too many ads if some other outlet has good content and fewer ads. As the battle rages on between art vs. commerce be sure and note that it’s a new, much smaller, world. There is more…allot more…choice.

So, what’s your content to ad ratio? Make sure you don’t make it too easy for your viewers, listeners, or users to choose someone else.

I Want Better Sound…and That’s Vinyl(?)

I mentioned in my New Media Resolutions post at the first of the year that I want to do whatever I can to improve the quality of audio on line and in downloadable media. I was reminded of that “cause” this past Sunday morning by the folks at, well, Sunday Morning. The CBS show presented a piece on how vinyl records are becoming “cutting edge.”

Just as I pointed out in January, the sound of what is being sent into the cloud needs to improve, if for no other reason than to avoid trying to figure out how to cram a “record” into your iPod. Seriously, for those that are my age, it’s unfair for us let those brought up on listening to audio in the mp3 format think that’s the best music can sound. For those that have never heard the sound of a vinyl LP you owe it to yourself to hear all of what the artist labored to put into the music, especially the parts the mp3 format has had to discard.

I know, I know, you’re going to say that the human ear can’t detect the difference between a vinyl album, a CD, MP3, WAV, etc. I’m sorry, I disagree. I hear a difference. And it’s especially noticeable in the MP3 format, the most popular format for portable devices and online streaming. The reason it is the most popular, if you didn’t already know, is that it is the smallest file size. An MP3 file is a fraction of the size of, say, a WAV file. File size is directly related to download time.

So what do we do about better sound quality on “the net?” First, don’t settle. If you can find a way to make that audio sound better then do it. Start with a Variable Bit Rate setting if you can. VBR allows the music to be compressed in places where the full audio spectrum will most likely not be missed, a fade in or out for example. Another option would be, with such advances in bandwidth and more and more access to higher speed connectivity, offer your audio in the WAV format. I’ll take a WAV over MP3 any day.

Whatever the case, I refuse to settle for what we now accept for high-quality audio. I don’t believe going back to vinyl is the answer. Memories of the cracks and pops of an over-played album and the need for the pennies on a tone-arm are enough to keep me away from climbing on that bandwagon.

If, as Eliot Van Buskirk of Wired commented, vinyl is the nail in the CD’s coffin in his article back in December, and is the best we can do then I would have to be very disappointed in technology. And, to date, I’m not.

Look I have great memories of opening that new album (I still distinctly remember taking the shrink wrap off that debut Boston album…sigh.), but beyond the romance of it all, I don’t want to go back. Hey, I liked the show Happy Days…it doesn’t mean I wanted to slick my hair back and do the stroll. Let’s move forward.

Have you got some tips? Let’s have em.

Sunday Morning with Skype

After quite some time, a recent business venture led me to dust off my Skype account. I actually got the account a long time back but really had little cause to use it. That and the built-in mic I use sounded like poop. In reality, I was intrigued by the whole VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) thing when I started down the “new media”. (If the yellow brick road had the munchkins, imagine what this road has. Yikes) 

Anyway, I have the need to speak with my partner on this venture regularly so we decided to use Skype for our regular chats and it was interesting to get up and running on this rather social media offering. So I’m thinking, “Phil, you’re sooo cutting edge.”

Then the family and I are at church when in the middle of the weekly announcements, our Pastor introduces one of the other Pastors “live” from India via Skype. We’ve all become accustom to those video phone interviews on CNN. Seeing an embedded reporter’s jerky and sometime out of sync updates is a fairly normal occurrence these days, but having your worship leader give you the scoop on a mission trip at three in the morning where he was took me by surprise. (OK, we went to church on Saturday night. The title just didn’t seem as snappy.) There it was…all main-stream and stuff.

I started thinking about all the uses for Skype beyond me talking to a colleague and getting reports from India. There are many: Have you got a conference with the suits coming up and you want to include others around the company? Skype it. Interview for your podcast or website? Skype it. Talking with Uncle Chutney in London and the phone card is tapped? You get the idea.

The Skype site can give you the complete skinny on the service. My point is that it’s one of the tools that can help you in your efforts to communicate. Remember, that to really get the most out of it, you and the person you’re talking with will need a high speed internet connection. Also, don’t skimp on a microphone or headset. We found that a Bluetooth headset and a wireless network is quite dicey…at best.

If you’re going to use Skype for a professional reason and the technical things aren’t in place. Don’t do it. Remember, know the audience and the level of technology they have access to.

Time to call Uncle Chutney….

“Poll Dancing” Revisited

With most of the “blogosphere” abuzz about CES I thought I’d
post about anything but…

 

The holidays kept me from following up on this but I do want
to share results of the first ever RemainComm reader poll. I asked
the very basic of questions as it pertains to this blog. “When you can’t talk
to someone face to face, what device do you use most to communicate with them?”
Here’s how it broke out:

Phone (land
line)……………………12.5%

    Cell phone
(voice)……………………37.5%

    E-mail……………………………….25%

    Text…………………………………12.5%

    Mail………………………………….zilch.

    Web Applications
(Twitter, etc.)…….12.5%

No real surprises I guess. Between text and cell it looks as
though you are a mobile bunch. In addition, if you’re in the “old world” communication
business you may want to rethink that gig as the next “Wichita Lineman” or pent
up loner at the post office.

Okay, so our ‘far from scientific” poll points out that Cliff
can spend more time on the bar stool at Cheers. Might this also present an
opportunity the next time you want to get someone’s attention? Next time you
fire off an e-mail to make a pitch or submit a resume; consider sending a
letter as well. Imagine the delight of someone who sees an actual letter in
their dwindling pile of direct mail ads and bills that is their daily delivery.
You never know, you might be the only one who does it.

There’s a new poll posted so…have at it!