Are You (and your kids) TV Ready?

The seminal marketing (see Doc’s comment below) book for the digital age was The Cluetrain Manifesto, first published in 1999. The first thesis was “Markets are conversations,” and I immediately sensed that this line of thinking would become my own, for I couldn’t argue with the book’s wisdom. It is still highly relevant today, especially if you’re lacking some foundational thinking about the web. It’s available for free here.

Dan Gillmor’s “We the Media” in 2004 and J.D. Lasica’s “Darknet: Hollywood’s War Against the Digital Generation” in 2005 were the first two books to generally describe the disruption of personal media. J.D., in fact, coined the phrase “personal media revolution” to tag what was about to descend upon our culture. And, oh boy, has it ever! I was so convinced of its certainty, that I dedicated many years to study it and report back to television clients about the enormity of it all.

Nobody cared. They were making too much money doing things the old way, and that was professional media’s great downfall. These executives could only see as far as their business model could carry them. They were married to one-to-many marketing and too blind to even see the disruption of targeting individual browsers. Online, I would tell them, afforded two-way advertising wherein the ad was served to eyeballs, but the server received information back from the ad. It was obvious to some of us that the pros were doomed.

When I was teaching college students, they’d ask, for example, what’s the best way to get to be a sportscaster? My response was always, “Just BE a sportscaster. Establish your brand. Blossom where you’re planted. You don’t need the institution to ‘do’ sports, not when you can do it on your own.”

The web loathes filters and their roadblocks, which it views as inefficient annoyances that serve no useful purpose. The web’s basic function is to connect people in a 3‑dimensional media form. It can be one-to-many, many-to-one, and most importantly, many to many, thus turning every browser into a form of media company itself, including the people formerly known as the advertisers.

The personal media revolution has advanced so far today (and it’s got a long, long way to go yet) that everyday people have been able to exploit the free time granted them through the coronavirus to explore beyond surfing or connecting via social media. No institution has been more impacted that adult entertainment. Yup, that’s right; good old porn. For the uneducated, Only Fans and many other similar sites offer software that enables anybody to become a porn star and get paid directly by the audiences they “serve.” This same concept is giving new light to each of the arts, and this is a good thing for our culture.

While this is highly chaotic to many other institutions of the West (and I could go on), but the aspect of this that needs the most discussion is how TV itself is being reinvented. The very definition of the TV is changing. In the beginning, it was reserved for broadcasters only. As each new form of video delivery appeared on the scene, they, too, were tagged (by the disruptors) as “TV.”

And today, YouTube is exploding with fresh content posted by this personal media revolution, and they are called “TV.” In the world of Reality TV, the vast majority of contestants are seasoned TV performers before they set foot on the set. In truth, those who apply to be on reality shows see the experience as a way to dramatically increase their individual influence on social media as experienced TV performers.

On the show Married at First Sight (MAFS), this same thinking applies, although this show can involve some very unusual contestants. Take Henry, of Henry and Christina, one of the couples married at first sight in the current season. Henry is, well, a little quirky with quite an awful set of parents who doubtless contributed to his lack of social skills. Reddit, that online gathering of talkative people with opinions who enjoy the company of others of a similar ilk, has a whole section on MAFS.

One Redditor (as they’re called) who goes by NoWayJeFe, had this to say about Henry: “Decent guy just not TV ready.” It would seem being “TV ready” is a prerequisite for appearing on these sorts of shows, but it speaks volumes about where we are as a society. It would seem that from the earliest years, kids are now learning how to be “TV ready” from the time they face their first cameras and microphones, even if it’s just an iPad.

There’s the Barbie TV News Team dolls, where little girls can pretend to be the real thing. Take a quick look at YouTube’s kids channels, and you’ll be overwhelmed by the sheer number of kids playing TV. It’s almost a rite of passage these days, and in so doing, these kids and teens are learning what we all have known for a long time in the world of television news: it’s just not all that hard to do. Sorry if I’m toe-stepping here, but it’s just much, much easier than all the “broadcast” schools would have us believe. I mean, where’s the money for an industry that can be easily duplicated with an iPhone?

Think TV has shot its wad in 2020? Think again, because there are no rules to these youngsters as they invent their own uses for the video medium. They start by copying but soon move to innovating. Those who pretend its rocket science are slowly going to fade into the setting sun.

To parents and grandparents, are your kids TV ready? If not, that would be a great investment for their future. Get them what they need to make media. Buy usernames or obtain them for free on the various sites that require them. They will fight their own media wars downstream, and those who’ve been properly prepared will have a head start.

But what do I know, right? We’ll see. Maybe I won’t see how far it goes, but you certainly may. And, those kids of yours will be the ones who’ll need these skills the most.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Hey local TV. This remains a viable business opportunity. You balked at it all those years ago, but it’s still there. Who better to teach local people to be TV ready than local TV?)

The Live Web is, well, very much alive

Blogging continues to grow, but the growth has slowed over the last year. The aggregate number of posts from all blogs is beginning to slow, too. These facts are according to Dave Sifry’s latest “State of the Live Web” report from Technorati, and it’s filled with fascinating stuff. Most notable is the title of the report — expanding from the “State of the Blogosphere,” which has been Dave’s traditional, twice-annual report — to the “State of the Live Web.” This is a good move, I think, because it helps re-position Technorati.

The Static Web is what Google searches. The Live Web is what Technorati searches. Fascinating.

The blogosphere is very much a “live” organism, so it belongs in the “Live Web.” And I like this term far, far better than the VC-generated “Web 2.0.”

Technorati continues to grow well beyond its roots at the leading blog search engine; increasingly, we are the main aggregation point for all forms of social media on the Web, including blogs, of course, but also video, photos, audio such as podcasts and much more.

What makes this possible is the rise in the use of tags across all forms of social media and the increasing implementation of tags by the publishing platforms supporting each form of media. Increasingly, tags have become a lingua franca of Live Web, helping to categorize social media while also indicating where people’s attention might be at any given moment. But because each form of media is published from unique platforms with their own established communities, the audience found itself hopping from platform to platform to get a sense of what might be hot at any given moment. Which is why our social media aggregation service — made manifest on our tagged media pages — is growing at a torrid pace.


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There’s an important tidbit for mainstream media observers as well: the number of blogs in Sifry’s “Top 100” most popular sites rose substantially during the period of this measurement (4th Qtr, 2006). Technorati views the popularity of blogs through inbound links, so it’s really a measure of authority.

During Q3 2006 there were only 12 blogs in the Top 100 most popular sites.

In Q4, however, there were 22 blogs on the list — further evidence of the continuing maturation of the Blogosphere. Blogs continue to become more and more viable news and information outlets. For instance, information not shown in our data but revealed in our own user testing in Q1 2007 indicates that the audience is less and less likely to distinguish a blog from, say, nytimes.com — for a growing base of users, these are all sites for news, information, entertainment, gossip, etc. and not a “blog” or a “MSM site”.

Here are some of the facts, thanks to Doc Searls:

70 million weblogs
About 120,000 new weblogs each day, or…
1.4 new blogs every second
3000–7000 new splogs (fake, or spam blogs) created every day
Peak of 11,000 splogs per day last December (see here)
1.5 million posts per day, or…
17 posts per second
Growing from 35 to 75 million blogs took 320 days
Japanese the #1 blogging language at 37%
English second at 33%
Chinese third at 8%
Italian fourth at 3%
Farsi a newcomer in the top 10 at 1%
English the most even in postings around-the-clock
Tracking 230 million posts with tags or categories
35% of all February 2007 posts used tags
2.5 million blogs used at least one tagged post in February

Podcasting comes of age (or not)

In September of 2004, Doc Searls noted 526 “finds” in a Google search for the word “podcasting.” The creation of Dave Winer’s was just beginning to find traction with geeks back then, but, oh my, how times have changed.

A current search of the word on Google reveals 38 million finds. Not bad for just a couple of years.

But here’s something that really made me sit up and take notice. Friday night’s episode of the CBS drama NUMB3RS contained an important reference to podcasting. The bad guy was one of those religious survivalists who was on the run and communicated with his flock by, you guessed it, podcasting. I was just amazed, and I imagined people in living rooms around the country shaking their heads and saying, “Martha, what did he say? What the hell is ‘podcasting?’ ”

Good news, right? Well…

I spent some time in a web demonstration last week with the good folks at Ingeniux looking at their new podcast management tool. It’s pretty nice and should be in the CMS of any station serious about podcasting. Their business development guy, David Hillis, told me that only about 20% of podcasts are actually downloaded for use in a player. That means the term is basically interchangeable with on-demand streaming, and that’s not what it was originally intended to be.

And so it goes…