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by nmw

Publishing Relaunched

2015-09-23 in Uncategorized

Recently — over the past several days to a couple of weeks — I have been chatting with some of my friends about publishing concepts like titles and the corresponding equivalents in an online setting. My hunch has been for many years that domain names are the closest equivalent to what a title was in the traditional publishing model. I still believe that by and large, but there are some nuances in an online setting that make it an entirely different “ecosystem” (I’ve always hated that word, but somehow it seems to fit quite well there).

Today I came across an article (which I have already quoted in the Activity stream). Here’s an excerpt from what I already quoted:

here are my Minds + Machines “premium” domain names at Hexonet that I will not be renewing

This article precipitated a “click” in my brain. To put this in old-fashioned terms, I feel this is a situation that is more or less equivalent to an author giving a publisher the finger. When I saw it this way, I also reflected a little more on the variable pricing schemes that have become “standard operating procedure” in this new online publishing world. I can imagine, for example, a celebrity game designer being “offered” the opportunity to publish their game on such a premium domain name (without needing to pay a premium price, but perhaps instead by signing some sort of contract with the publisher).

In my opinion, this is a momentous change in the history of the web. I feel we are now at the precipice of a whole new web — maybe a web 3.0? — in which the plethora of traditional print publishers may no longer matter much at all. In the future, the publishing landscape will be shaped by competition of web publishers… and by that I do not mean “desktop publishing” or even “blog software”. I mean, for example: “News” publishing (which I also wrote about just yesterday — a story in which “News” is the publishing house which belongs to the new online media conglomerate “Rightside”). In this case, “Apple” is the celebrity (company) that apparently signed a contract — but so far nothing has been actually delivered (as the name doesn’t resolve yet).

This new online publishing landscape is still very new. Some readers may be reminded of the term “ecunabula” (which was first used maybe about a decade or two [or three? or more?] ago, but which also seems to fit here). The legal ramifications from all of this turmoil in the publishing landscape (remember earlier this summer, when many traders on Wall Street were tricked into thinking they were reading news published by Bloomberg, but actually they were reading something else — leading to some swings in stock market valuations) are by and large unknown.

I have a hunch that quite a few of these new online media publishers will go out of business within the next few years. Some may remain, but only in a rather rickety form — and be among the less reputable cadre of the online publishing industry. Only a few will survive “thrivingly” to join the big leagues of reputable, large scale, well-known publishing houses — and it is a very safe bet that COM will be among them. It is a quite safe bet that indeed most generic top level domains will be among the most reputable of online publishing houses. Perhaps some country code top level domains will also be among this group. Whether any proprietary top level domains will be among this group, however… that remains an open question, yet to be resolved — and I personally have significant reservations on this point.

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Data Consumers vs. Data Producers: Every Outspoken Expression is a Social Act

2015-09-13 in Uncategorized

As people who follow my writing on other forums probably know very well, I often post more theoretical / abstract articles on one of my personal blogs which I set up for my own personal opinions (see e.g. “Delusions of Grandeur“). Here, I intend to be more “practically” oriented — and in particular towards an audience without much experience with respect to online media.

This weekend I took part in a sporting event, and as is quite common at such events the group (all adult males) also socialized quite a bit afterwards. There was one moment in particular that I wish to focus on right now. One father mentioned that his son, after returning from a summer camp, had over 6000 notifications on some app on his smartphone… and he shook his head at how much time is being wasted on these “social media” applications. I neither agree nor disagree with what he said, but I noticed something I find absolutely fascinating. Almost all the other men who agreed with this man did so without really adding any nuance to the conversation — and I find that particularly noteworthy. In other words, all who raised their voice did so mainly in order to join the group of like-minded… more so than in order to make a new observation or unique statement themselves.

After thinking about this for some time now, I have come to the following conclusion. Very often — no: I would indeed venture to say it is always the case that when we express some opinion, we do so primarily in order to state our wish to belong to some group. We declare our territory, our pledge of allegiance, and thereby each of our expressions should be seen as a social act. It is a declaration of intent: We seek to be a part of a community. Although the similarity between the actions of the fathers and their children seemed to completely escape these parents, there is indeed something different about the two cases.

The fathers who voiced their opinions stood before me in flesh and blood. I could see the frustration and exasperation in their eyes, their voices carried nuances of engagement technology startups can only dream of. Notifications on smartphone apps, in contrast, are not expressions of individuals per se — they are little more than tiny micro-publications made by some Silicon Valley company. The group affiliation the children are engaging in is one of servitude: they submit their expressions to some corporate entity which they hope will publish this content on their behalf. Indeed: Many people use such proxies in order to preserve their anonymity, and many of these anonymous users could easily be classified as trolls. In this vein, such inauthenticity might also be linked to mobbing, bullying and other at least questionable types of engagement.

We can hardly blame naive children for such inauthenticity — especially if we are not telling them how engagement might be considered as more authentic (as I have alluded to above). I myself have long ago developed “authenticity guidelines” for use in online settings. Above and beyond that, we might also bring to attention the degree to which more inauthenticretard media” websites exist in order to satisfy consumer and/or “selfie” attitudes — and also the degree to which their profits (or at least their profit motives) are based on the exploitation of their subordinate users.

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by nmw

Move On from Click Bait to Check Mate: Give Your Readers the Answers They Are Searching for Right in the Blog Post Title

2015-09-07 in Uncategorized

Many titles of blog posts follow a common click bait scheme of tickling the potential reader’s interest. One of the most common examples of this has its own name: The “listicle” (from “article” + “list”). Basically, the title would go something like this: “5 Things You Need to Know to be Happy”.

Usually, this kind of click bait immediately turns into “bait and switch“, as upon reading the rather lame article / list, the reader finds out that he/she would rather not have wasted their time reading such nonsense. The result is: The reader becomes unhappy as a result of having clicked on the link.

I believe it is much better to “tell them what you’re going to tell them” right in the blog post title. If you need the reader to click through in order for you to make money, then you can still give the reader more details and explanation in your blog post text… but at least this way they will not be disappointed. Indeed, they may be even more engaged in anticipation of the reasoning behind the answer you have already provided them freely.

 

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