excerpt: “As “now” media continues to mature, its impact is clear and incontestable. The takeaway for traditional and new media producers alike is whether or not we can listen, follow, and communicate with people where they are already communicating. The opportunity for social media and its inherent benefits lies in our ability to build a two-way information bridge between the point of our content introduction, alternative sources for information, and the people looking for insight and direction. To build a community, we have to be an active participate in it.
As Paul Saffo recently said, “News doesn’t break, it tweets.”

#mediaearthquake - weekend edition - tasty links :)

David Simon, journalist and creator of the popular HBO drama, The Wire, spoke about the future of professional journalism. Among the topics he addressed were his own experiences as a beat reporter for the Baltimore Sun, the state of the newspaper industry, and media ethics.

Simon, in testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet on May 6, said he believes “[nothing] can save high-end, professional journalism.”

June 4 links
May 6 links
via alexandergordon: great NYT graphic highlighting the state of the US newspaper industry

via alexandergordon: great NYT graphic highlighting the state of the US newspaper industry

Trust, the fuel of the digital economy

Spurred by excellent posts by Mike Lazerow and others I follow, I’m diving back into more long-form blogging to share and gain your insights.

A number of great bloggers have been putting together a compelling macro thread for what should and will lie ahead : Fred Wilson’s two recent posts Bits of Destruction , Putting the Band Back Together and Roger Ehrenberg’s post on the current inflection point got me thinking about the implications of the digital revolution and the issue of trust, the main currency and fuel of the digital economy.

Let me share some thoughts picked up in my former life in news photography. I started after college in the late 1990s with Sygma (now part of Bill Gates’ Corbis) and, for the most part, the business practices had not changed since the 1950s. Photographers shot « news » on analog film, sent the film back to their agencies to be processed, printed, captioned and sold to magazines around the world. The distributed nature of the business relied on trust between the parties involved: photographers trusted agencies to look after their interests and sell their work, magazines trusted agencies to find and edit the best material and big-named agencies trusted their partners to gainfully syndicate/distribute photographs worldwide.

Enter the inflection point of the digital revolution right as I joined and the entire industry would change top to bottom in less than 3 years!

The following analog to digital upheaval ensued:

- photographers had ready access to cheaper film scanners and then to hi-def digital cameras which meant digital transmissions as opposed to shipments

- stock archives were increasingly digitized and sold via websites, thus upending the traditional agency networked model

- photographer-entrepreneurs formed their own mini-agencies, figuring they could be their agents

- the price of digital cameras continually decreased as technical quality increased and more people became photographers, fueling the celebrity culture with non-stop coverage of Hollywood and many fender-benders

- Flickr and other photosharing sites distributed more photographs to more people than ever

- cameraphones gave another boost to digital photography and citizen-powered photo agencies started up

The result? Democratized and increased content production&distribution led to photographic volume overload and the maintained need for trusted parties to weed through and edit the best to showcase and sell to media outlets. In short, all parties in the photo business were looking for mediation and increased trust in the face of decentralized and de-humanized transactions.

For all the incessant and constant proclamations of digital and the web equating death to the middlemen, ponder how you lead your digital life and how often you seek referrals from trusted parties to complement a first wave of Googling. We’ve collectively put our trust in Google to provide the most relevant links to a search query, yet we know how Google is “gamed” through SEO.

Online trust mechanisms have been around (think ebay seller ratings, Amazon reviews, Tripadvisor, Yelp) but what most of us are looking for are ever easier ways to tap into the collective wisdom and contacts of those we trust around us. Let’s call it trusted crowdsourcing.

We’re looking to make search results, information gathering, etc… relevant within our social context and networks. Online social networks have enhanced our ability to go beyond the 1st generation of trust mechanisms and use trusted crowdsourcing to gather referrals and recommendations from family, colleagues, business + online acquaintances. We trust these referrals and recommendations based on the assigned social capital of the person who provides them.

Here are some examples of tools/services that help trusted crowdsourcing:

- Twitter is a great tool for referrals: I’ve concluded a successful business partnership through a Twitter-powered recommendation (thanks again @jessicahasson!).

- Facebook is built around the idea. I’ve heard fellow users tell me they trust the Events mentioned on Facebook the most because they’re recommended/attended by friends. Beacon was a step in the right direction by associating our friends with the brands they like and trust.

- Glue re-invents social browsing “because even though we live in the age of networking, connecting with friends is still hard. »

- Boxee and its social discovery surfing

- LivingSocial and its popular Visual Bookshelf app

- Linkedin Answers (but needs improvement on the trust-guarantee side)

- all the location-based services popularized by the iPhone and GPS smartphones: Urbanspoon, Where, Loopt, Socialight

If you want to suggest more services and tools, please add via comments.

My takeaway: the importance of trust in our digital lives will only increase as we strive to improve the efficient use of our trusted networks to access the most context-relevant data.

Therein lie oppportunities for the taking.

Go forth and network, for the benefit of all !

What is social media ?

On my way to @jeffpulver’s social media breakfast in Manhattan, a few quick reflections on what social media means to me:

- WE are all connected ie our digital IDs help us connect from online to offline as we produce/comment text/video.

- all media is now or on its way to become shareable/mash-able -> viral. Traditional media has started to embrace this in a big way eg with Hulu embeds, understanding that mass dissemination serves their business interests.

- media is inherently social and today’s platforms serve as accelerators.

The big question remains: what role will/should social media play in revenue generation for digital media companies and the brand’s marketing mix. Given the time invested by Internet users on social media platforms, brands have no choice but to be present. The form of that brand presence is still a work in progress.

As for social media revenues, targeted ads seem like the convenient answer, is it the only and appropiate one ? I look forward to hearing Jeff’s thoughts on social media for 2009.