bad blogging and AM talk radio

Old time radio Last night I was listening to AM radio and it wasn't sports or news... it was politics. 

Call me crazy, but every once in a while I like to hear an old man whine, yell and scream about the interwebs, the left wing bloggers, the gadgets and gizmos, the blueberries, etc. 

And believe it or not, I learned something: bad blogging is very similar to AM talk radio.

Similarities between bad bloggers and AM talk radio hosts

  • The host is often there to talk to, not with, their constituency.
  • The host strictly screens participants (and moderates their participation).
  • The host uses their position of power to talk over their participants.
  • The purpose of the conversation is to win the argument, not to discuss the real issues.
  • The host is broadcasting for broad reach, not broad conversation.
  • The host loves the sound of their own voice.

And the best part of all:

  • We can turn them off.

Am I missing anything?

photo credit here

The Day the World Went Silent


Mack over at the Viral Garden brought up a great issue, highlighting one of the most misunderstood subjects in new media, blogging.  Experts have long been predicting the demise of blogging.  Frankly, I'm a bit shocked that Steve Rubel even raised the issue, but I'm more than satisfied with his coverage.  About 6 months ago I was discussing this very concept with Greg Verdino (on a job interview) and while this may not always be the case, I still maintain the position I had back then.

                    Steps in the Evolution
                    GeoCities > Blogger > Twitter > ?

The Great Blogging Evolution
Do you remember about a decade back, before digital marketing was mainstream, when long tail magazines and cable networks seemed to be the wave of the future?  As I recall there were roughly five to six hundred magazines launching every year!  Cable television listings had grown from thirty to eighty channels!  And yet something happened along the way.  Of those 500 new magazines, only a handful are still in circulation. This will happen to blogging, but in a very different way.

Below are my predictions for this evolution:

  • There are literally hundreds of thousands of blogs currently written by high school kids, college students and the elderly.  As they move onto the next stages in their lives, they will likely either
    • stop blogging altogether,
    • launch a new blog, or
    • move their personal social media into another (new?) non-blogging platform.
  • As a generation of tech savvy successful baby boomers retire, they likely will take up blogging as both form of a entertainment (Florida speak for "keeping busy") and to help stay current.  Think of it as the college professor crowd but without the barriers of academic credentials.  All elderly people like share their life experiences, blogging offers a great platform for this story telling.
    • This will also open up a whole new resource to RSS readers, especially those in college and new to the field.
  • Those blogging about nothing in specific will stop blogging.
  • If the blog is a one way communication, chances are you will stop blogging.  Blogging is about conversation and conversation keeps the medium alive.
  • Those who are blogging because it's the shiny nickel (or as Rubel puts it, Shiny Object Syndrome) will stop blogging.  These same people will however, pick up new forms of social media as they become popular.
  • Blogging will become increasingly more interactive, fluid, mobile and dynamic.
    • While I agree with Rubel that mobile will play a part in the blogging evolution, I believe mobile will (for the next 10 years or until they develop mass produced expandable screens) serve largely as a small complimentary audience and as a live extension of the core blog via microblogging.  Until larger format screens become more mainstream, most long form social media will remain a web only experience.  I'm not sure if this is what Rubel meant to say, maybe he can correct me!

Predictions?  Thoughts?

Looking sideways is a great way to crash

Rear_view_mirror_2 On a daily basis we meet with and read about scores of companies that think they will be successful simply because they view themselves as the deliverers of "more".  They "empower" the consumer to "virally" share content with one another.  They "deliver more" content to a larger potential audience.  They have the exclusive! rights to all podcasts targeting typewriter and beeper enthusiasts.  Collectively, these startups waste staggering amounts of bandwidth and manpower in the vain quest for 2.0 nirvana, only to settle in the dead pool of 2.0 failure, all because they were driving while looking sideways.

Sideways driving is almost as dangerous as driving with your eyes closed.  Sideways drivers look at the cars next to them and gauge their success based on their own perspective, not that of the greater reality.  It is entirely possible that there is a car two lanes over that is outperforming them, but sideways drivers are unaware of this car, as it is out of their view.

Sideways drivers look only at the ebbs and waves of a massive matrix, not at the powers behind these trends.  Sideways drivers see a social media phenomena and launch a flog, see the power of You Tube and post infomercials and pathetic re-purposed 30 second television spots.  Sideways drivers run themselves off the road by failing to see everything happening in front of, behind and beside (on the other side of) them.

Successful drivers recognize the importance of using their mirrors.  Successful driver always keep an eye on the traffic flow surrounding your vehicle, as no one on the road travels in a vacuum.  Successful drivers learn as they move forward, watching those behind them, those beside them, and those in front of them, learning from their success and learning more from their failures.

What kind of driver are you?  Where do you find your inspiration?  Where do you want to be?  Where do you want to go, and what are you doing to get there?  Are your eyes on the map?  Are you watching the road?  Are you using your skill, taking frequent glances in your mirrors and adjusting your strategies accordingly?  Do you have your radio on and are you listening to traffic reports and adjusting your expectations accordingly?

And most importantly, are you even on the right road?

Here's a couple of quick ways to check if you are heading in the right direction:

  1. Why does your target want to use your product?
  2. Why does your target want to use your product in the manner that you are presenting it?
  3. How do you differentiate from the one hundred and one other companies with remarkably similar offering, and how are you communicating this differentiation to both you target users and supporting advertisers?

If you cannot honestly answer all of these questions, you need to pull over for a couple of minutes and ask for directions.  It's ok to ask, but if you keep "moving forward" without checking your mirrors, you're going to crash.

Selling Free Water

Water_subway_eng1_2_2 Dan McGinn over at New Persuasion has a great write up on the NYC Get Your Fill campaign for tap water.  While his points are well taken, and I applaud his efforts to raise environmental awareness around the waste of bottled water (I've since given up drinking Fiji water), there is a greater trend taking place here.

NYC is trying to give away their own free filtered water, and they need advertising and promotions to  help spread the word.   Could it be that the bottled water business has so successfully marketed their product, that consumers don't recognize the value of FREE NYC water that has gone through filters similar to those used by the very same bottling companies they are already purchasing?

Why would someone pay for something they can already get for free, and what can be done about this environmental travesty?

A friend recently suggested that we pay for bottled water because successful marketers have convinced us that bottled water is better.   Otherwise (we must think), why would it be bottled?  As good as marketers are, I don't  believe this to be the truth.

I believe that the answer to this question lies in our societal trends.  We don't fix old VCRs, we buy new DVD players.  We don't fix telephones, we buy new ones.  Think about it, unless you're eating out or particularly concerned with organic whole foods, how much of your dinner is homemade and how much of it came out of some sort of package? 

Gift_2 We are a packaged society.  Everything comes nicely shrink wrapped in an attractive package.  If something doesn't work, we get a new one. 

Given the choice between inexpensive disposable prepackaged water and the prospect of filling a water bottle, refrigerating it, washing it between uses and then remembering to  restart the process all over again  as soon as you get home... it is clearly evident that packaged bottled water is well worth the single dollar price tag (to the average consumer). 

Water But there is hope.  I would like to propose an environmental and humanitarian push against prepackaged bottled water.  NYC can promote their water all they want, but all they are really doing is flushing hundreds of thousands of dollars down the proverbial drain.  Perhaps more efficient, would be to sell "ONLY IN NYC" waterbottles at stores across NYC.  All bottles come prefilled with refrigerated NYC filtered tap water.  All bottles can be refilled with refreshing cold water for a mere 25 cents at any participating  retail location.  Retailers would be making near 100 percent profit while gaining valuable shelf space.  Consumers would be generating far less waste.  Bottled water companies would be forced to move into other markets, like powdered vitamin packed flavor packets and dissolving pills. 

Everybody can win.  Thoughts?