South by Southwest, SXSW, is a yearly conference in Austin, TX.serving the film, music, and interactice industries. The photo shows the goodies they gave out this year.
Guest Reporter Sheila Scarborough
Hi Successful Bloggers,
There was a terrific panel discussion yesterday on the future of online magazines, or “branded content channels/BCC.” Blecchhh, what a stupid name — what’s wrong with “magazine” until something better comes along to explain this online hybrid (and BCC ain’t something better.)
Turn the Page for the Highlights
** People may be surprised, but some things don’t change that much even in a Web 2.0 world; you still need full-time people, often co-located, to run a good online site. The stuff doesn’t just write and organize itself. Datapoints: Salon.com’s Joan Walsh says they have about 28 editorial staff and a bunch of freelancers, about 60-64 total. At mediabistro.com, Laurel Touby has about 27 writers and 14 bloggers. At College Humor, Ricky Van Veen has about 40 people total, including 9 full-time staffers. Takeaway: there is most definitely online media work out there for writers and other creatives.
** Several panelists think the paid subscription model is on the way out for making money from online sites (I refuse to use the non-word “monetize.”) Laurel Touby disagreed, and still likes a hybrid of free content plus pay-more-get-more. Others felt that there is now enough ad money plus traffic driven from links and natural search. Joan Walsh pointed out that ad money is too cyclical, and a site’s “members” are usually some of the most loyal readers and users.
** Parenting communities and blogs are exploding. Nerve.com’s Rufus Griscom talked about his site’s new parenting site, Babble, which strikes a hipster-parent tone. Yeah, Mommy (and Daddy) blogs are hitting their stride.
** Online mags are quite happily that — online. Any offline products (books, T-shirts, print versions) are mostly just “brand extension.”
** How do you “gently moderate” active communities? College Humor’s Van Veen asks himself, “Is it more angry than it is funny?” The audience often does a lot of self-moderating. Interestingly, writers who are used to only print work sometimes have a hard time with the immediate and occasionally scathing feedback they get online.
As an aside, some writers have zero interest in feedback, as Joel Stein rants here.
** What about bloggers who blog for an online mag and also have their own blog? Some editors like that symbiotic relationship, others like a much closer hold on their writer’s work.
** Most of the panelists didn’t care for the idea of a Flash-based magazine, or one that “turns pages” on your computer screen and “looks” like a magazine, but has clickable links within it. I personally like them, if they aren’t too slow and the visuals are good. I may even write soon for this one, which launches this Thursday, March 15th 2007. What do you think?
For today’s random Twitter posts: “I am computing in the hallway. I think I have trade show throat.” And also, “Oh my god, I twittered THAT last night?” Plus, “Trying to decide between a 3:30 panel and a nap.”
One of the best panels I attended was today was “Net Politics: The Internet Can Make You President.” Some of the panelists changed from the original announcement, but there were two Democrats (Mark Strama from the Texas Legislature and Clay Johnson of Blue State Digital) and two Republicans (Patrick Ruffini of the Guiliani campaign and Mark SooHoo of the McCain campaign.) It was so nice to see a congenial bunch of wonks who were not trying to draw blood and were quite cordial. We need more of that these days.
** We have moved way beyond “get me more of that Internet” of earlier elections. The role of meetups is key, because actual human interaction is still the gold standard. Organically grown links and email lists are the most valuable because those people probably really care and will vote — renting or buying email lists is often a political waste of time. “It’s all about the relationship between the candidate and the voter.”
** The candidate must have a resonating core message to start with; the Internet simply expands its impact. You must be authentic — the net can smell a rat. SooHoo says, “The net is a phenomenal multiplier if you have a good message.” (Doesn’t that sound just like “It’s all about good content?”)
** The John Edwards campaign blogging problem was “not a blogging problem, but a people problem.” There would probably have been less hoo-haa if the person involved had been something “boring, like the Finance Director.” Blogging (preferably by informed and engaged writers) is better as commentary; it’s not a definite way to campaign.
** Great Mark Strama anecdote — some of his young campaign workers figured out how to do “block walking indoors” by contacting each MySpace page made by someone in their targeted voter Zip code and asking them to add the campaign as a friend. If they agreed, the campaign then had an email, plus the logo button on their MySpace page was just like a digital yard sign.
** Great fear — the cell phone camera and YouTube. Time waster — Second Life, only really useful as a media hit when you hold an event there.
That’s a wrap, and thanks for your time. If you ever have a chance to make it down here to SXSW, you’ve gotta do it. It’s for every one of you “digital creatives!”
Farewell from Tejas,
Thanks Sheila, for all of these. I felt like I was there!
ME “Liz” Strauss