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I gave a brief presentation on the Friday of the SSP Top Management Roundtable, talking about why blogging works. Here is a brief overview of what I had to say:

  • There is a media source that is known for polemicism, sporadic coverage, mimicry, factual errors, superficial coverage, and cronyism. It’s the mainstream media. Against this, accountable, linked, and often long-form writing like that in the better blogs does well.
  • Blogs are growing, from a traffic standpoint, at 4x the rate of traditional media sites.
  • Blogging is the signature written form of our age.
  • Blogging reveals hidden expertise, and unearths experts with perspective and access that the mainstream media can never replicate.

These are just a few comments from my presentation. I’m a convert, as this blog and the Scholarly Kitchen show. Just look at the expertise we’ve unearthed on both blogs.

What are you waiting for, expert who is reading this?

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Last panel of the afternoon. While the prior one was lively with plenty of questions, I’m not sure that this is engendering the same level of energy.

The initial speaker, John Lustina of Intrapromote, was actually the most informative of the three in making the key point that ideally publishers will begin to seed interest in their content by placing content assets (tables, diagrams, photos, podcasts, images, etc.) across a variety of social platforms.  He was discussing the concept of the Social Media Timeline. Essentially, that plays out as follows:

  • Right Now – Distribution points for assets (links, Rss feeds, widgets, gadgets, applications, videos, images, etc.)
  • Near Future — objects in universal search (Objects as autonomous search results.) — known future; all of those things that exist outside of your blog or adjacent to your blog become searchable objects in an of themselves.
  • Long Term — social network as algorithm. Lustina suggests that this is the direction where Google is headed — Google may factor in how well-connected a content creator may be throughout a set of social networks and allow that to influence the ranking algorithm for pointing to information or content assets.

This is why syndication is so critical. Syndication of blog content, videos, photographic images is driving social media, according to Eric Olsen of DFJ Portage Ventures. It’s a basic building block and content providers at all levels should be leveraging it across a variety of platforms to drive traffic to your site.  Olsen suggests that this promotes trust in your content and broadens awareness.

Finally, Ian Freed of Amazon Digital offers a demonstration of the Kindle device.  While not necessarily saying anything new about the device, it is clear from the audience’s interest that they find the approach intriguing for electronic delivery of content. His best line was an off-the-cuff remark about what he tells his product managers “Your job is to make a great product, not necessarily add feature after feature”. Clearly they have thought through their approach.  (My personal reaction to the Kindle appears here.) Others are asking if I have mine with me.

Scott Hensley is opening up this panel discussion focused on authority and brands. Scott works on the Wall Street Journal Health Blog (see http://blogs.wsj.com/health/). He notes that they usually have three new items on the blog by 9 am each morning. Throughout the day, they may add more items pertaining to the news and later in the afternnon, they’ll post more feature-like items. They average about 7-8 entries per day. By virtue of the way in which any news publication works, they work collaboratively. (Note, I’m hearing mutterings near me that the result really doesn’t seem like a blog at all, lacking that individual authentic voice characteristic of a blog. The Wall Street Journal approach is much closer to a simple online publication, seeking to maintain that aura of objective, authoritative reporting). When questioned, Scott responds that there are different flavor of blogs.

Fabien Saveney of Seed Media Group indicates that he thinks they are operating successfully because they are using that crossmedia approach recommended by Chuck Richard of Outsell. They have both print and electronic publications. Seed Media characterizes their activities as incorporating social media, print publishing, conferences, and digital media. If you are unfamiliar with this organization, you may want to take a look at ResearchBlogging.org, launched just this past Monday, which serves as an aggregation of research publications blogged by individual scientists.  You may also want to look at ScienceBlogs.com, which consists of 100 blogs around the world, generating 75,000 posts with 1.3 million readers and generating 1,000,000 comments from those readers.  (Click through at http://researchblogging.org, http://scienceblogs.com)

Their recent survey yielded some details about their users — an average age of 34 years, predominantly male, working in the scientific realm, a healthy percentage of post-graduate degrees. Most interestingly, a significant percentage of these readers read ScienceBlogs.com for insights and information that they do not feel they can get elsewhere. The participants on the site like the idea that they are talking to other practicing scientists from around the world.

Joy Moore, Publisher, Nature Publishing Group is up now to provide an overview of Nature Networks and what they’re doing with the blogging technology in partnership with the International Society of Nephrology (see ISN Gateway at http://www.nature.com/isn/).  Blogging is a big part of Nature Network (two editors recruit and screen bloggers to participate on the Network, she herself admits a strong editorial presence there). There is the social element of “Pub Night” in Boston and London and the SciFoo camp. She also mentions ScienceBlogging2008! They have 45 active bloggers, also an international approach.  Postdocs, grad students, assistant and associate professors are the younger population embracing this network. The value of the ISN gateway was to leverage the strength of the network in support of that society’s activities while also recruiting younger members.

To my mind, the most intriguing exercise this morning during Outsell Vice President and Lead Analyst  Chuck Richards’ presentation was hearing from the publishers and vendors in this audience on two questions. The audience was asked to identify two things — the first, being what they saw as the single biggest user need and the second, their identification of the biggest challenge facing the publishering community in satisfying that need. Nine tables of attendees wrestled with this and delivered the following as their answers.

In responding to the first question regarding the single most significant user need, publishers responded with:

  • reliable information in a one-stop shop
  • information efficiency
  • easy, timely access to correct information
  • targeted, relevant information and good pathways to discovery
  • relevant, quality information, speedily delivered

What do publishers themselves see as their biggest challenge in satisfying that need?

  • Explosive competing demands from both users and from internal decision-makers
  • Managing information clutter
  • Taking full advantage of available media for both new and old audiences
  • Economics of making the transition to a world of distributed publishing
  • Business models.

One of the themes that Chuck focused on was that of crossmedia — the idea that your print and your electronic media should be fueling each other as well as new areas (such as events) in heightening your visibility and driving of revenue.  He indicated that he has a number of items bookmarked on Delicious, the social bookmarking site, with the tag crossmedia that may be worthwhile investigating.

The SSP Top Management Roundtable is underway, with a great keynote from David Perlmutter, author of “Blog Wars.” At the break, it’s happening just as I’d hoped, with two bloggers (one of them is writing this) blogging and two podcasters recording interviews with attendees.

So far, very interesting. Now, onto building audience!

Perlmutter, Professor of Journalism at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Kansas, gave a truly interesting overview of the changes being driven by blogging in political arenas. He noted that criticisms leveled against blogging were very similar to the criticisms leveled against radio as it was rising to compete with the print media. There is a history of new technology coming along and a politician deciding “Hey I can use this technology to my advantage” as Frankline D. Roosevelt. Roosevelt’s fireside chats were talking directly to the American people, bypassing traditional media, in order to persuade the American people and personalize the President to those citizens in their own homes, sitting before the “radio” hearth. Radio was new media for FDR and he used it. Effectively.

Blog technology came along at a point when the vast population was experiencing some level of disenchantment with the “horse race” approach of the media to the electoral process. Perlmutter sees blogs as playing an influential role as individuals use the technology to organize themselves over the Internet (shades of Clay Shirkey’s Here Comes Everybody). Even small groups of 500 individuals can shift the story and the dynamic.

The friction with regard to scholarly publishing was raised during the Q and A session, when someone asked about the presence of the filter in such a publishing environment. Publishers – particularly in this arena – have traditionally provided that service. In an age of instantaneous publishing and open access, who will provide that filter?

One side note – Perlmutter’s book, Blogwars, offers the most cogent explanation of exit polls that I personally have ever encountered. On that score alone, I can heartily recommend the book, available from Oxford University Press.

In reviewing the flow from Twitter this morning, I noted that jafurtado has referenced Scott Karp’s most recent posting to his blog, Publish2.   Note this quote:

Instead of chasing links from Drudge, for example, as many newspaper sites do, they should focus on BEING a destination for finding links. Imagine a web newswire where the collective linking of newspapers’ sites could actually compete with sites like Drudge in driving traffic to newspaper content and other high quality journalism.

Karp is giving the closing keynote here tomorrow so I am wondering if he will touch on this item in his talk. It’s about adding value for publishers these days, whether news or scholarly research.

Well, the meeting is about to start, and we already have one podcaster with an interview in the bag. If sleep eludes him, it may be up Thursday morning.

It’s warm and muggy here in Philadelphia. Someone important enough to need bodyguards was in the hotel today.

More tomorrow, as things get rolling. Now, off to sleep!

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