Interesting comment re journalists and the internet

In today’s Sunday Times another excellent article from Terry Prone – entitled: It’s in the media’s interest to support a probe into privacy.  In the middle of the piece Terry Prone makes the following comment:

‘It must be said, however, that the openness of journalists to examine all sides of possible legislation is currently complicated by their promiscuous fascination with internet-based offerings. Few of them concentrate on the dangers that online content pose to individual journalists and to the profession as a whole. I can think of no other well-paid profession whose members compete against each other for free. You don’t get orthopaedic surgeons doing knee replacements in their leisure time without charge. Yet you get journalists writing blogs for nothing, their urge for self-expression obscuring the fact that they are undermining their own employers. After all, why should readers buy newspapers when they can get the same writers on the net for free?

Journalists who pride themselves on their maverick stance are nonetheless joining the electronic herd, submitting to the peer pressure which holds that you must have, for example, a Facebook site. ‘

I have commented in the past on the challenges facing the newspaper industry.  Journalists are not the only ones  ‘joining the electronic herd’.  An obvious example is the number of IT consultants blogging and providing thier expertise for free – in competition with themselves or their employers.

There is another element to this – some feeling (amongst those blogging) of belonging to a larger, collaborative environment – with an exchange of ideas and a sharing of knowledge.  The question as to whether this will lead to useful work, revenue, jobs is largely unanswered.

‘Peer pressure which holds that you must have, for example, a Facebook site’ – yes I think there is some definite pressure around facebook.  One reason for this is the existence of 150m+ accounts  (how many of these are active?).  But for many facebook is a useful tool, rather than something they are pressurised to use.

Terry Prone and many of the other journalists writing for the Sunday Times are the reason there is a future for this industry.  But the business model my be changing.  The news is available online almost immediately (e.g. twitter).  But the assessment, the interpretation, the commentary – this is where quality journalism is required and has a strong future – with the right business model.

 

Sustainability of web business

Challenges for the WWW industry

We’ve been there before – .com bubble & bust.  But what will be the impact of the current economic collapse on the WWW business?  The first time round many of the businesses did not have any real business  model.  The last number of years have seen ‘established’ businesses embrace and exploit the technology e.g. www.ryanair.com moving to a web based booking model only.  However at the same time we have seen businesss such as the newspaper industry being almost annihilated by the move to the online world.

In two recent pieces the Economist references the challenges being faced by many of the web2.0 and/or Silicon Valley companies.  For instance how will Facebook extract value from its global penetration, how will Twitter make money?

Seems to me we will have the same result again.  Those with a sound business model will survive.  And a sound business plan includes providing something of value – ie something worth more than it costs.  www.linkedin.com seems to be able to generate revenue from its business members.  I think the www.ft.com offering whereby a limited amount of free reading is provided may be a way forward for newspapers.  However business’s also need to understand that the technology itslef has changed the business environment.  News cannot be delivered by print – comment/analysis/ out of the box thinking can be delivered in print.

Should be an interesting next 12 months.

Irish politicians get web 2.0

Congratulations to Fianna Fail on their new website.  Engaging with Joe Rospars (the web2.0 man behind Preisdent Obama’s campaign) was the right call.  Fianna Fail, as the party in government, needs to use all tools at their disposal to get their message across – to persuade all of us to sign up for the tough medicine required.  The site references their presence in Youtube, Facebook and Twitter.

Copyright developments

The Irish Times reports on 29th January agreement being reached between Eircom and four records companies re illegal downloads of music – implementation of the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ approach by Eircom (and, presumably, other ISPs at a future date). Writing in the GigaOM blog, 31 January 2009, Janko Roettgers, under the heading ,’BitTorrent Researcher: Copy will be dead by 2010′ references research conducted by Johan Pouwelse. Pouwelse would argue that we need to look at all of the social networking activity and how it is evolving – he references FaceBook and YouTube as two good examples. Pouwelse bundles these with some of the more traditional P2P platforms. He argues that this is a run away – in terms of popularity. He does not see any future for traditional thinking re copyright.

It will be interesting to see how things play out. Obviously the traditional music industry has been taking a hammering. And the recent agreement is seen as a way to respect people’s property and protect employment. But will the social networking sites have to be dealt with in the same way as the more obvious p2p?

Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom

Today's Irish Times includes detailed reference to 'Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom' – book by Soumitra Dutta and Matthew Fraser of INSEAD.  It's another piece calling Irish business to action in terms of availing of web 2.0 technology.  Companies have lots of employees who are used to using Facebook, Twitter, etc in collaborating in their daily lives – surely it is time to exploit the very real opportunities in Irish corporates?  We all know the benefits and necessity of collaborating – be it family events, school projects, playing team sports, organising school runs.  There is no argument about the merits of collaborating in the workplace – both internally and externally.  We now have technologies which make all of this a great deal easier.  And we have lots of people who want to use them.

The web site associated with the book is an excellent working example of the use of these technologies – incorporating the use of traditional brochure type avertising, a blog for publishing views of the authors (and inviting comment) and a wiki  to encourage collaboration with interested parties across the globe.

Using up your online ‘cred’

I think Microsoft have done a nice job in their upgrades/ fixes to Live.  However I think they face major challenges in trying to establish significant presence as a 'social network' partner.  My own experience to date has been that having an established presence with Linkedin, Facebook and Plaxo – people do not want to hear from me suggesting they subscribe to another presence.  Presumably, like me, they are inundated with invitations to subscribe to sites.

What's in azure right now?

Attended great presentation by David Chappell at Microsoft in Dublin this morning.  Fascinating comparison of the offerings from SalesForce, Microsoft, Google and Amazon.  Interesting explanation of Microsoft's focus on providing a platform in this version of Azure to enable us to build the next 'Facebook'. 

Explained why cannot migrate classic enterprise applications to this Azure platform.  The Azure platform uses hierarchical database structures (scalable) – not relational database as would be required to support MSQ SQL Server based applications.

Interesting discussion about the difficulties of naming new Microsoft products/ solutions.