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« When 'shoddy' is your biz plan | Main | An informatics-based news org »

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


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Lovely and true. Now he is all over Twitter twisting every word by everyone every-which-way trying to get out of the hole he dug himself into when people called him on mis-reading (or not reading at all) what Rosen, Winer and Shirky actually wrote, not what he imagined they've written.

Dave Winer

Thanks for volunteering. I think that twisting and mangling other people's words is his and MIT's actual business model.


O Dave. You're so grouchy.


Very insightful and really well written. The closest thing to fit the description of "infotainment."


Thanks much, Dan. Very edifying in multiple ways.

I'm curious about this bit of publisherspeak: "These structures, which allow publications to reach large, coherent audiences, can exist only within complex organizations." By "coherent," does he mean salable?


My interpretation? A coherent audience is one that can be clearly defined, and therefore sold. So yes, I think that's what it means.

I also think that idea is fundamentally inaccurate.


Thanks. And yes, I can attest that your audience is just as coherent as High Times'.


Couple things I should pass on. Pontin DM'd me yesterday to say that the Audit Bureau of Circulation doesn't do Web traffic auditing, but print auditing. It is entirely probable and/or likely that he's right: I haven't worked with a newspaper website in more than two years, and my memory could be entirely spotty on which company did the traffic audit.

Also, Pontin confirmed that a coherent audience is one that can be sold.

To expand on why I thought it was inaccurate to say that only complex organizations can reach large, coherent audiences: While such audiences are currently reached by complex organizations, I see that complexity less as the cause and more as a byproduct.

Ad buyers generally like to do business with companies like themselves, and everyone likes reliable metrics. But it's also possible that if you get better metrics, scruffy competitors could look a lot more legitimate as VENUES, if not business partners.

But that's OK, because it's possible to outsource those functions (Think Federated Media). In fact, it's possible to have a simple organization that is utterly connected to its audience and partners with other companies for all the complex functions that vertically integrated media companies have traditionally kept under one roof.

Jason Pontin

Here is my (long!) article about the technology of audience measurement, which appeared in Technology Review in March:


The article is very technical, I fear, but it explains why audience measurement is so hard, and why something so arcane matters to any one who cares about the future of media.

I'd like to thank Dan for doing me the real compliment of wrestling directly with my prescription, and not distracting his readers by asking whether or not I had misrepresented Shirky and Winer (whose words, quoted by me at length, and linked to with only minimal interpretive gloss, are what they are).

I liked this piece. There was much good intelligence, and I agreed with Dan's remarks about informatics, which which are absolutely part of my thoughts about "propietary" material.

I will reply at greater length to Dan's piece later, but it's striking to me how much we agree. The largest point of difference difference seems to be: What I am proposing might work for niche publications like Technology Review, but is not really a useful prescription for newspapers, whose very stock-in-trade is the news and opinion I specifically exclude from the shelter of my subscription wall.


The reason I'm more concerned with newspapers is that they've been the phytoplankton of the media ecosystem, producing the raw stocks of news and opinion that the culture used. But that cycle broke down (newspapers blame the Web; I blame newspaper executives).

I think most of us agree that some form of paid content works... it's just not general news content. The great irony is that I can almost PROMISE you that Pontin's article will be quoted as support for a newspaper paywall by some dense publisher somewhere.

Because I think highly of Winer, Shirky and Rosen and found new things of value in Pontin's article, I of course want everyone to get along. But that's entirely too much of a "children-of-divorce-made-for-TV-movie" perspective for me to actually hold on to it for long. Things work out, and one of the ways they work out sometimes is through fighting.

And since I don't think any of the people involved in the argument are Southerners (except me), then the odds of people physically harming one another are extremely low. Southerners are famous for their manners because impeccable manners are a cultural trait we evolved to reduce our otherwise appalling homicide rate.

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