Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

The Dissolving Hearst Sand Castle vs. the Melting Zuckerberg

April 27, 2009

 

sandcastle2Old media is in trouble, there’s no doubt about it.  Newspapers are closing, magazines are getting thinner and thinner, even local television news stations are in decline. 

iceberg3But what about new media?  Are YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, et al., in any better shape?

Not that I can see.

According to a recent AdAge article, Credit Suisse has reported YouTube’s estimated 2009 losses “at nearly half a billion dollars – thanks to ever-escalating bandwidth costs and nowhere near enough advertising support to pay the bills,” leaving the author to conclude that Google (owner of YouTube) can’t afford more Susan Boyles!

Regarding Twitter, is their exponential growth celebratory or has it metastasized?  How will tweets survive when escalating costs on zero revenue is unsustainable over time?

And what about Mark Zuckerberg’s melting valuation?  Facebook has experimented with several business models, and yet there is still no sustainable revenue and no IPO in sight.  

Which is worse: the shifting sands of failure eroding Old Media or the overheated success melting New Media?

Seems to me that all media must transform, that nothing is inevitable at this point, and that time is running out.  For both sides.

The Internet’s Destiny: Five Truths

February 23, 2009

I’m honored that yesterday, Louis Gray – an extremely prolific and well respected social media observer and commentator – named Dawn’s Plan as one of his “five new blogs to watch.”  Since I’m getting new readers here because of it (Thank you, Louis), I thought I’d state my basic beliefs that inform everything I write about here.

 1) Business Models must be Distributive

The Digital Age is inherently about undoing the most egregious economic imbalances created by the Industrial Age, not creating more of them.  There is little difference between getting obscenely rich off the backs of others and getting obscenely rich off the brains and hearts of others. 

To his credit, Mark Zuckerberg recognized the value of each person’s social graph.  To his failure, he has yet to acknowledge that your social graph belongs to you and you should be compensated for its use.

Zuckerberg is a billionaire on paper while the Facebook membership that makes the network valuable earns nothing.  I predict Zuckerberg’s paper wealth will never be realized, because obscene concentration of wealth generated by exploiting others goes against what the Internet is naturally meant to be.

2) Advertising Distribution must be in the Hands of Users

Except for Search, Internet advertising doesn’t work.  It will never work when it is thrust upon us, because it is kneejerk to despise and easy to ignore.  Online advertising must be willingly accepted to be effective.  This demands taking ad distribution control away from advertisers and giving it to consumers.

Closed ad networks that pollute the Internet and do little to help the advertisers themselves will inevitably be replaced by open networks which offer ads that may be taken by users and placed on their own pages – if it is a product or service they wish to help promote.  This power shift will make corporations more accountable and will lead to higher quality ads and products.  Also, people will be less fearful of buying when they have recommendations from friends, family and coworkers. 

Placing ad distribution in the proper hands will thereby help our economy rebuild from the bottom up, as trust is injected back into the system and people start consuming again.  So by giving up power to distribute ads online, companies will gain.  At least the ones that are worthy will.   The others can die a quicker death and quit wasting resources that can be freed for better concerns.

3) Free must be replaced by Free plus Compensated

Free has been a collective disaster.  We obviously cannot move from an industrial economy to a digital economy (which we must do to survive) if there can be no transfer of digital goods and services for money.  That’s what an economy is.

4) Everybody must have a Place at the Digital Table, despite their Talents and Geography

Let’s face it, when it comes to making a living, the Internet has so far mostly benefitted left-brained people and has too often devastated right-brain people.  While geeks’ opportunities and incomes have exploded, creators like reporters, photographers, cartoonists and other writers and artists have lost their jobs and incomes.2008-05-01

Trade in digital goods and services holds the promise of allowing great numbers of people all over the world to make a living without raping the environment, but this can happen only if doors are opened to allow in all skills and talents, not just coding ability.

5) Google’s Domination is Unhealthy and Potentially Treacherous

Yeah, I don’t like Google.  Their hegemony rivals that of ancient Rome.  The good news is that Google is much more vulnerable than people think.  Their lion’s share of online ad revenue won’t last once the above four tenets are inevitably manifested.  The only unknown is exactly how long it will take.

If you want more details about any of these, I suggest you check out my archive.  You can also subscribe to my feed.

I hope you will stick around and give me your input.  I appreciate your comments and welcome discussion about how best to spur the Internet towards its natural destiny, for everybody’s benefit.

Friend Limit Frustration Exposes Tech World’s Weakness in Social Science

February 15, 2009

Debate about friend limits has once again erupted, this time started by Louis Gray on FriendFeed. 

This is yet another great example of the problems that have been caused because social networks are created by tech guys who know little to nothing about social science.

Out of all the different social networks that have been launched, not a single one is architected to the way human beings naturally function. 

Here’s a tip guys: divide online space the way we all divide our offline space, into Intimate, Private, Social and Public. 

This hell-bent desire to dump sales and promotional activity into SOCIAL space is exactly why none of the current social networks will make it to the IPO finish line.  Advertising and PR should be a part of PUBLIC space.  Obviously, Facebook et al don’t know the difference.

Of course, I’ve been saying this for over two years to Robert Scoble and other thought leaders in the tech world, even to the creators of Twitter and FriendFeed directly, but nobody has yet aligned social networks to the realites of social science.  Design anthropology isn’t something Silicon Valley has shown any willingness to even listen to, much less submit to, much less invest in.   So I won’t hold my breath that these frustrated arguments caused by anti-human-nature design will cease any time soon.

The Web Needs a For-Profit Consortium

February 5, 2009

Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed… they are all going to fail and go away if the Web isn’t made economically sustainable.  Each thinks they can independently find their own path to riches.  It’s highly unlikely that this will happen.  And it’s unlikely your Web startup will make money either.  Why?  Because the underlying Web culture and potential economics models are misaligned.

Yesterday, I proposed creating a for-profit consortium to realign the way the Web works so that

1.      online non-search advertising finally works so that it can generate the wealth needed to sustain Web 2.0

2.      individuals can earn money online expressing their talents and passions

These two things will create numerous gains, including improving the economy, the environment, world understanding, our individual wallets….  I will be outlining the many benefits my last “Part 3” post soon.

I expected at least some positive response to my article yesterday even though it was long (sorry, but the problems are complex…I’ve tried to make the solution as simply expressed as possible).  All I got back was a couple of “What the hell is a for-profit consortium?” pokes.

Okay, that’s fair.  They’re very rare, after all.  Here’s an official definition of Consortium:

A group made up of two or more individuals, companies or governments that work together toward achieving a chosen objective. Each entity within the consortium is only responsible to the group in respect to the obligations that are set out in the consortium’s contract. Therefore, every entity that is under the consortium remains independent in his or her normal business operations and has no say over another member’s operations that are not related to the consortium.

Consortiums are often used within the non-profit sector, specifically with educational institutions. They often pool resources such as libraries and professors and share them among the members of the group. Several groups of North American colleges and universities operate under consortiums.

For-profit consortiums also exist, but they are less prevalent. One of the most famous for-profit consortiums is the airline manufacturer Airbus.

For the purposes that I’ve outlined, our “Square Triangle Consortium” would be made up of existing companies or startups in the tech space, and preferably some input from established media, too.  We would negotiate how much each participant’s relative contribution is worth, create stock and then divide the stock accordingly.

The purpose of the consortium is to turn the economic quagmire of Web 2.0 in a hotbed for economic growth that will explode out to many sectors, benefiting everybody who is dependent on adverting – be is companies with something to sell or media.

Okay, so if you think of Web 2.0 as largely a bunch of different companies floundering around in search of sustainable business models, then what our consortium will do is align all stake holders’ interests – social network users, advertisers, developers, investors, media – so that ultimately each company can do its own thing. 

Our goal is to make technology, advertising, media and entertainment work together again.  The Internet broke a lot of the synergies between these sectors and we must get them back.

Okay, so I know my posts are a lot to absorb.  But I’m right about this.  I hope people will start taking a bit of time to understand what I’m saying and react to it, even if it’s negatively.  I’m sure there are flaws in my plans that I haven’t recognized.  That’s why we need a lot of divergent brains to come together and act for the Web’s common economic good.

There is much at stake here, Folks!  Finding economic success for Web 2.0 is not just about making VCs happy.  It’s about making sure social media survive and grow into Web 3.0 and 4.0 and on and on.

Microsoft, Yahoo, Google – What They Need are Editorial Cartoonists!!

December 11, 2008

Back in the Spring, cartoonist Matthew Meskel (who lives here in the Portland area, too) and I were experimenting with a comic strip.  At some point along Swig’s path, we’re going to launch something like it as “Swiggle: the official comic strip of Swig the Social Market.”  He’s going to draw it and I and Swig employees will write it (with Matthew’s input, too, of course).  It will be based on actual things that are happening within the company.

I thought of it today because I was writing on FriendFeed that I wish websites (and other companies!) could/would hire cartoonists.  Somebody had kindly pointed me to editorial cartoons at investors.com, but that’s the online edition of the daily print newspaper Investor’s Business Daily.  If any website-only publication or social network has its own dedicated cartoonist, I don’t know about it – unless it’s the owner himself, of course.  Like Chris Pirillo writes a gag cartoon for his own site (or at least he was…I’m not sure about the current status of that).  If you know examples, please point us to them in the comments.

Of course, it would take something like a TechCrunch to afford its own cartoonist.  But I think it would be a great investment.  Cartoonists have long proven their ability to attract readers and keep them loyal. 

Imagine being a cartoonist going out on location with a company’s CEO, or to industry conventions with the marketing department, and so on.  I flew cartoonists Alan Gardner and Keefe Chamberlain to a geek conference in Seattle in August of 2007.  They drew editorial-type cartoonists of what was happening on stage.  It was an experiment that went over well.  They did a great job and we had a fun time.

Here is an example of a gag Matthew and I did about an introductory meeting I had with Marshall Kirkpatrick of Read Write Web.  I had had a second mastectomy in March and just got my new prostheses.  Nobody I knew had seen them yet.  So, yes, I really did ask Marshall this.  It’s a true story.  He was a great sport. J

2008-04-21

I think Microsoft should hire its own cartoonist!  And Google.  And Facebook.  And on and on – for company blogs and newsletters and annual reports and bathroom walls.

If nothing else, doing so will put a human face on the company and make you stay more humble and open to criticism, even if gags are only used internally.  There’s nothing like being forced to laugh at yourself to knock down arrogance barriers.

What if the CEO’s of GM and Ford and Chrysler had had good editorial cartoonists following them around and getting feedback from customers these past several years?!  Hey, we probably wouldn’t have to be bailing them out now!  And that’s no joke.

Cartoons are powerful.  They’ve taken down governments.  Unless you’re a dictator, you should be using them.  Do your company a favor and hire a cartoonist.