“Bad leadership can … be felt throughout the entire organization – only not in a good way. Corporate culture becomes a meaningless term where leaders claim it exists while employees shake their heads in frustration. There is a lack of clear, consistent communication from leadership to the employees. As a result, the office is run by rumor mill, politics and gamesmanship.”
There IS a Method to the Social Marketing Madness
There are thousands of people, no, hundreds of thousands of people leaping into social media marketing and social networks without a detailed method they are going to utilize to build their business. With the myriad of ways to reach people, it’s even MORE important to understand the process of social media marketing that produces money!
State of the Media: The Social Media Report 2012
Social media and social networking are no longer in their infancy. Social media continues to grow rapidly, offering global consumers new and meaningful ways to engage with the people, events and brands that matter to them. According to Nielsen and NM Incite’s latest Social Media Report, consumers continue to spend more time on social networks than on any other category of sites—roughly 20 percent of their total time online via personal computer (PC), and 30 percent of total time online via mobile. Additionally, total time spent on social media in the U.S. across PCs and mobile devices increased 37 percent to 121 billion minutes in July 2012, compared to 88 billion in July 2011.
I am a huge fan of Infographs and coming up with creative ways of displaying information. This is an excellent multi-venn diagram that shows all the various aspects that leads to Data visualization.
Publishers have stopped referring to their products as journalism, writing, literature, photography, or art. Today, everything is simply “content”.
Those working in media, especially digital media, can attest to the word’s popularity. Quantitatively we can observe this trend in the chart above: over the last ten years, annual financial reports from The New York Times have leaned more and more heavily on the word “content” when describing their business. The share of “journalism” has remained relatively flat.
The NYT and other publishers rely on the word “content” to help them understand the breadth of their output. But by reducing their writing, photography, videos and more to a single, nondescript term they’re setting themselves up for failure.
The Rise of “Content”
“Content” emerged with the rise of the Internet, which detached pieces of work from their primary media. Before the web, we referred to works by the media format which delivered them: as newspapers, magazines, paintings, photographs, records, CDs, and so on. As digital representations grew in popularity these monikers became increasingly awkward. Is a newspaper still a “paper” when the majority of its readers view it on screens? To abate this awkwardness, we began to search for a more apt term. We landed on “content”, a bucket term which we ask to describe anything a publisher could publish, from the most revelatory art to the most hackneyed rags.
At this point, “content” was an innocent, sloppy fix. A stopgap until the Internet settled down and a proper term could be coined. Unfortunately, the pace of innovation quickened and today language is unable to keep pace with rapidly emerging new ideas, art1, and businesses.
So we’ve stuck with “content”.
The Assumptions & Allure of Content
To achieve its representative breadth, the word “content” makes two assumptions:
- Each piece of “content” is equal and is therefore interchangeable: As stated earlier, “content” is used to represent a wide breadth of works. A Pulitzer winning report and a Business Insider slideshow are both single instances of “content.” The word must remain formless, devoid of emotion, and of indefinite form and quality. Any characteristic which might differentiate two works must be ignored. This rhetoric categorization gives rise to the second assumption.
- “Content” production is trivial: Since each bit of “content” is interchangeable, “content” is only as hard to create as the easiest instance.
Publishers buy into these two assumptions because “content” allows them to easily measure and analyze their output. Messy qualitative measures are hidden so output fits neatly within Excel cells. This is the allure of “content”: it allows comforting, structured data which simplifies the complexity of a large business and makes decisions less intimidating. Executives aren’t making qualitative picks regarding art or an artist, they’re merely signing off on whichever “content” produces more valuable metrics.
At The New York Times it’s conceivable that editors and executives have a handle on their output. But businesses with strategies dependent on massive levels of “content” production cannot know the quality of everything that ships. Think YouTube, where users upload more than an hour of video every hour. Or content farms like Demand Media, which claims to have created 2 million articles and 200,000 videos as of June 2010.
The Four-Year Career
Lessons from the new world of quicksilver work, where “career planning” is an oxymoron.
Great read. Highly suggest this one. My favorite line:
“In the future, says Gorbis, “everything that can be routinized, codified, and dissected will eventually be done by machines. Social and emotional intelligence is what humans are uniquely good at—at least for the next decade or two.”
Source: Fast Company
Agree 100% with this
I wrote this thing for Nieman Journalism Lab’s Predictions for Journalism 2012:
“When the [cable television] collapse hits [Los Angeles], capital will rush out of the traditional entertainment industry faster than you can say ‘Lehman Brothers.’ And, as in New York, talented young people with industry awareness will be there to grab that capital and create new businesses. That’s when things will get interesting. Just as New York — against all odds — became the locus of traditional business being disrupted by technology, Los Angeles will erupt with creativity around the collision of technology and entertainment. New forms of content — programming that isn’t bound by 13 episodes that are 22 minutes long! — will appear overnight. The disruption will be challenging at first, but a Video Renaissance will emerge.”
The New Grid
Upon returning to Apple in 1997, Jobs toured the company in an attempt to understand its products and how they fit together. He found a dozen versions of the Mac, each with a confusing name and built without perspective for what other teams were building. After many meetings, and many cut products, it all snapped into place. Isaacson writes:
“Stop!” he shouted at one big product strategy session. “This is crazy.” He grabbed a magic marker, padded to a whiteboard, and drew a horizontal and vertical line to make a four-squared chart. “Here’s what we need,” he continued. Atop the two columns he wrote “Consumer” and “Pro”; he labeled the two rows “Desktop” and “Portable.” Their job, he said, was to make four great products, one for each quadrant. “The room was in dumb silence,” Schiller recalled.
The result was that the Apple engineers and managers suddenly became sharply focused on just four areas. For the professional desktop quadrant, they would work on making the Power Macintosh G3. For the professional portable, there would be the PowerBook G3. For the consumer desktop, work would begin on what became the iMac. And for the consumer portable, they would focus on what would become the iBook. (pp. 337-338).
12 years later, The Grid held true. Along with ‘the computer as a hub for your digital life’, the Grid strategy helped lead Apple to become the 2nd largest company in the world.
The Grid’s brilliance is its simplicity and that it gives the Consumer equal billing with the Professional. Each quadrand was crucial and each product was to be taken seriously.
At the time, this tactic was radical. Companies like Dell and Compaq employed a trickle down strategy when it came to consumer PCs: features from enthusiast and professional models trickled down into consumer wares as they fell below a certain cost. This strategy hamstrung consumer efforts. Consumer innovation wasn’t synicated across additional product lines so it was seen as being less valuable.
With Job’s Grid, consumer machines were taken seriously. Design resources, technical innovations, and component procurement took place in all quadrants. With the Grid came a point of view: computing is for everyone, so we’ll design PCs for everyone. Besides building Better consumer machines, the Grid created two flows of innovation as each column was able to inform the other.
12 years later, this is the last revision of The Grid in its original form.
This is a projection, but one which seems unavoidable.
Apple stopped selling the MacBook last July, though it’s still available to educational institutes (a twilight if there ever was one). Without the MacBook in the consumer quadrant the Air, which never really fit within the original grid, shifts into the consumer spot. And it’s a nice1 fit: Air sales now make up 28% of Apple laptop sales, up from 8% prior to the shift.
As for the MacBook Pro, rumors and leaks are hinting at 15 inch MacBook Airs for the first quarter of 2012. While these sites wonder if these models are an addition to the Air line or a revision to the Pro model, it’s my belief that we’ll see a unification of the two lines shortly. The performance gap between the two products is closing quickly, optical drives are falling out of favor, and it’s clear Apple sees solid-state as the future of local storage.
It’s easy to imagine Apple unifying the MacBook Pro and Air lines into a simple MacBook range, moving the iMac to a simple ‘Mac’ moniker, and keeping the Mini as a flexible computer for an aggregate of the niche audiences: developers, home theater hackers, and other technological Lewis & Clarks who explore potential futures prior to mass settlement.
Which leaves us with half a grid.
Which begs the question, why the sudden consolidation after more than a decade? In a nutshell, technological advances allowed us to offloaded components and cultural changes redefined the idea of a ‘professional’, both for products and people.
Computer components are being offloaded to external devices, both local and distant.
Locally, ports shrank and became faster. In the case of Thunderbolt, they became fast enough to externalize internal protocals and house fast, redundant storage externally. Apple even presents “External Thunderbolt Storage” as a configuration option when purchasing a Mac.
Distantly, near-constant broadband connections have made cloud capabilities conceivable. Cloud processing is just beginning in consumer devices: Amazon’s Silk browser handles much of it’s processing in Amazon’s server farms before routing the output to the Kindle Fire. Cloud storage is nearing a tipping point. With the launch of iTunes Match, it feels like my MacBook Air received a storage upgrade. It’s mediocre 128 GB internal storage suddenly feels roomy with most of my music library stashed in the cloud.
Once the kinks are worked out of iCloud backup on the iOS side, I’d wager we’d see similar implimentations on Macs. Future versions of Mac OS X will appear to have infinite storage, which will cache stale files in iCloud and keep local copies of recent items.
Redefining the idea of what it means to be ‘professional’, for devices or people, is a seperate post (or book!) in it of itself. Simply put, there are fewer ‘professionals’ and many, many more professional ‘consumers’.
To me, this idea became apparent only recently, but it coalesces several trends, including improved means of production for the masses2, crowdsourcing, and high unemployment. A perfect example of the dissolution of the ‘professional’ can be seen in CNN’s recent layoffs, which traded staff photographers for citizen journalists.
When computers can be improved by improving a central location and amateur computer users perform professional functions, we can expect the Grid to evolve into a single column of ‘production’ computing.
This is a take on the new normal. It’s imperfect, to be sure, but I think it captures the spirit of where we’re going. ‘Create’ and ‘Consume’ are soft categories here, much in the way that some worked Pros used iMacs and some Consumers used MacBook Pros. There are better words for these columns; drop me a line if you any come to you.
Each quadrant is a different interface for remote stuff: people, files, photos, writing, books, movies, code, companies, and so on. Assuming an omnipresent cloud suggests that device design innovation will take place in two areas: interface design and power, both consumption and storage. These are the main device-bound metrics, the ones we can’t offload to the cloud.
For some, the arrangement of the new Grid might seem obvious, but it contains a bit of genius similar to the original Grid: it takes mobile, lightweight computing seriously.
This viewpoint lead to the iPhone. Rather than wondering how to plus up a phone, Apple imagined a perfect palm computer. If this doesn’t sound disruptive, remember that at launch most saw the iPhone as an evolution of the iPod. Today it’s easier to see it as an evolution of the computer.
Like the old Grid, the new Grid contains a worldview. It takes for granted computing within a network context and treats mobile, lightweight devices as true computers. Further, the new Grid assumes that users have more deeply integrated technology into their lives.
Today we’re rarely without access to the internet and maintain disparate friendships with digital services. Last week, MG Siegler summed up how far we’ve come rather nicely: “What would Facebook look like in the 1980s? Scary as hell.”
MG’s right. In barely a decade we’ve integrated computers into our lives while devices have dispersed their components around the world. With these changes The Grid must adjust. Being a well-designed household appliance is no longer a noble goal for a computer. Given an always-on network context and an eagerly digital userbase, computers need to aim for so much more.
Though this move creates some liguistic awkwardness: Apple is now selling a MacBook Pro and a MacBook Air, but not a MacBook. Initially, there was even a naming system that fit each component of The Grid, which Steve Jobs explained during the introduction of the iBook: “As you know we tend to start our consumer products with the prefix ‘i’ and our pro products with the prefix ‘Power.’ And we tend to end our desktops with ‘Mac’ and we tend to end our portables with ‘Book.’ Since we’re such logical folk, iBook is the name of this product.” ↩
One could measure this a few ways for each medium, usually based on quality per dollar or quality-device penetration per population. An example of each would be megapixels per dollar and megapixels per person. I prefer the latter view, as it indicates actual adoption. ↩