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November 9, 2007

The Future of New Media Publishing Tools

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Good morning, everybody! The final day of BlogWorld starts off with a keynote speech by Leo Laporte. No witty before the entry commentary from me, let’s just get right into it!

Or, actually not. Anil Dash is up to give a quick talk first. He thanks the hungover people for coming this morning. You’re welcome, Anil.

Anil Dash and Open Social

Anil is going to talk about the idea of open standards, both in the tech world and the idea of openness in general. That’s what blogging is about. One of the ideas that best illustrates how impressive openness is goes back to an experience he had with LiveJournal. Until last year the Russian government started poisoning and assassinating journalists that disagreed with their policies (note to self: Don’t move to Russia). Now, all of a sudden the idea that you’re providing a platform for people through blogging to communicate with another means so much more. The idea that blogging was open enough that people could participate and decide who had access to what they were writing about. We talk about openness in technology like it’s a benefit on its own. It’s not. Where openness helps people’s lives is when it helps them express themselves regarding the things they care about.

Two years ago Movable Type created Open ID. The idea is that just like you use your email address as a form of identity, you can use your Web address as a form of identity. You can have multiple Web addresses and therefore multiple identifies on the Web. It helps you create a reputation system for yourself. We’re starting to assume that people will have a site that they control and create, where they have their own identity. Open Source is basically doing what Microsoft’s Passport tried to do. This idea is so powerful from a technology perspective that they couldn’t not get involved.

Recently Google announced Open Social. Anil got to talk to the folks who created it and he’s still not sure what it is (hee). He says it should be called Open Widget, and that’s not an insult. If it’s only that, it would still be a good thing. It lets us have a connection to friends, to those lists of buddies that we create on sites like Twitter and Facebook. It gives us control over how that information is shared. What Open Social is promising is that users can put their applications wherever they want and if they choose not to run Orkut or Facebook, or if I want to put it on my own site, I should be able to do that. The idea here is incredibly powerful. One of the first programs to ever be called a "killer app" was the spreadsheet. Look at that today and spreadsheets are very boring. But if you take the same spreadsheet and put it in the world of Open Social, you’ve added the ability to connect to your social network and now you can do some interesting things.

Say you’re created a Fantasy Football league. You can create a spreadsheet and select who can see what’s going on with that spreadsheet. You say who has the right to access it and who has permission to do something with it. That’s transformative. [Okay, let's hope people use Open Social to do more than manage their Fantasy Football league. I'm just sayin... -- Lisa]

But there’s a part still missing.

We now have an identity we can control, but the part that’s missing is how do I control my relationship data? The list of who I consider friends and who I consider family. Most of us are signed up to more than one social network. You’re on Twitter and MySpace. You’re on Facebook and Orkut. That process of inviting all of your friends to connect again and again is arduous. And it’s difficult on purpose. Site’s don’t get how relationships work in real life. You don’t reject people’s friendship in person. You may be busy but you’re not going to say, "no, you’re not my friend". As technology evolves and we get out of the world of nerds (hee!) that’s going to be the next step – where you can add a friend on one service and it’s recognized on another.

It should get your mind thinking about what you want from the tools you use. We’re very lucky here at BlogWorld that most of us aren’t building tools and software. We just want to use blogs to connect with our world. What we have the ability to do is really impact how these tools evolve.

Social software exists because of you. Blog about these tools and say what you want. You have the power to makes things happen and he can emphasize that enough.

Some sound thoughts by Anil. Leo Laporte is up next.

Understanding Leo’s Network

Leo again says he’s surprised to see so many people here.

He says that one thing that’s interesting about this conference is that it’s not full of technology people, it’s filled with normal people. Yey for the normal people! Leo’s not talking to geeks anymore he’s talking to the regular people.

We’re all playing by our gut instincts. Trying to figure out what we can and cannot do. Most people have no idea what new media is. Those are the people we want to bring into the fold.

The thing that’s constant in new media is the Internet. The medium he uses is audio. He has a blog. He used all of Six Apart’s products. He’s really a podcaster, but doesn’t like the term. He says the name podcasting is dead but the medium is very much alive and exciting.

Leo is here to talk about his experience as a podcaster, the Internet as a medium, what the different skillsets are, and the different values are for writing, video and audio. He says there’s going to be arc to this. It’s going to like Behind the Music. It’s going to start happy and then get sad. Heh.

Leo is a mainstream broadcaster. He started out as a talk show host. He does a TV show and has since 1992. He started talking about technology exclusively since 1991 (I was 9). He likes talking about technology and being with people who are interested in it. We’re changing the world.

He has a unique perspective because he came from mainstream media but he’s also involved in new media. He started putting his radio show in the Internet in 2004. During that year, a 14 year old kid called him up and told him about podcasting. That night he did his first podcast. He started This Week In Tech shortly after that. He now does a dozen podcasts on the network. There are two for every day of the week. He’s going to announce a new one today. The network as a whole reaches 470K people per month. It’s a big network. They get about $10K a month in donations. They have advertising. He expects that they’ll continue to grow 50 percent each year for awhile. The whole thing is done by two people.

The way they handle revenue is that the agency takes 25 percent, he takes 25 percent for operating expenses and then they split everything else. That’s the structure of the network.

One of the reasons his network has grown is because of the community around it. That community is everything and that’s what’s really changed in the media. In the old days, if you wanted to have a voice you had to have a lot of money or go to someone who had a lot of money. And the voice you had was one guy talking to a lot of people and those people said nothing back. They just consumed. For a long time, we thought this was good. The NYT decided what was so. We were very ignorant in those days. The post-Vietnam generation realizes the media knows even less than they do about what’s going on and are even worse at deciding what’s important. Mainstream media is driven by money and only a few people have a voice.

The New Media Revolution

We’re now in a revolutionary state. It costs nothing to have a voice, you just need a computer. You can create media online and it can be heard globally. The really important thing is that it’s no longer a one way conversation. Leo thinks this is where we’re going, not just with media, but in conferences, as well. There are unconferences now where there’s no speaker. It’s like a Quaker meeting. If you’re in the new media (a blogger, podcaster, etc) it’s about the two-way conversation. That’s the strength of what we do.

He sees a lot of people in new media trying to follow the old model. They have a Web TV show but they’re sitting behind a desk with a map behind them. Don’t do that. There are far more interesting forms coming up. Whenever there’s a new medium it takes a generation or two before people really get it. He thinks it’s because people have to grow up with the media. When the printing press came out people spent a year creating Bibles. It took a generation before the novel was born and plays were printed. It took awhile for that media to be understood, absorbed and used properly. He thinks that’s where we are now.

What’s happening with the media now is that we’re moving from monologue to dialogue and we’re moving from an audience to community. He loves it. He likes coming to conferences because he gets a buzz when he’s with people like him who are excited about the stuff that he’s excited about. He wants to undermine the old media. It’s exciting.

Think of new ways to use your blog. If you’re a blogger it’d be great if you can do a podcast and maybe even do video. Get involved with all the types of media.

Understanding the Different Kinds of Media

Writing is very rational and very cerebral. Writing things down help people get in a rational structure. Video is very monkey mind. One of the reasons there’s so much crappy TV is because it doesn’t need to be rational or intelligent. It simply needs to appeal to your monkey mind. Most successful TV stimulates your emotions. That’s what it’s about. The more emotions you stimulate, the most success your programming will be. Audio is intimate. If you’re doing a podcast, you’re in their ear talking to them. He thinks it goes back to the primordial mind. It’s very good for abstract concepts. He thinks audio is about speaking to someone directly. It’s good for conversation. When he talks back to the radio, it’s almost like a conversation.

Leo encourages people to participate in all kinds of media. Blogs get more comments than any other kind of media. Have you read the comments on YouTube? They’re moronic. It’s the monkey mind in action. Blog comments are actually dialogue and someone talking back to you. The problem with that your personality isn’t forefront on the blog. People aren’t really engaging with the author. The author takes a little bit of a backset. If you’re a blogger, you should use the other mediums to bring you and your personality to the forefront and promote who you are.

There’s value in all three kinds of media and mixing them. He talks about the "crash". He says podcasting is in the three year slump right now. The biggest problem podcasting faces right now is that we’ve hit the wall in listeners. There’s a ceiling to hit. He thinks what’s happening is that we’ve reached the limit of technology. We’re not getting out the next group. We have to make things more accessible by forgetting the "podcast" part and to think of things as making content. Your RSS feed isn’t your "blogcast". It’s just your blog, your content. If bloggers did more audio, for instance, that would help make people more comfortable with it. That’s what we need to do. Don’t make people go to iTunes to get your audio.

Back to the slump: We’re stuck at the ceiling. He thinks people would like podcasts if they could just find them. Help them find it.

If you do a podcasting about woodworking, your goal shouldn’t be to get on CNN. It would be to become the hub of woodworking.

If you’re looking for a job and you ask all your best friends to help you, you have half the chance of finding one than if you’d ask an acquaintance because they’re in a different network than you and they can help you connect to different hubs. If you want to be successful in this world, you have to reach out and participate to other related hubs. Enter a new solar system. It’s all about community and connection. That’s how we’re going to break through the glass ceiling.





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