Reflections after #MTS at Google

I have been back from the Media and Technology Summit (#mts on Twitter) for 10 days.  The reentry back into work and an early Winter in Iowa has been harder than usual.  Some of that is due to the pace of play in October, coupled with some strong personal challenges for very close friends.  But much of that is due to the deep tensions coming out of three days in Mountain View which were very well organized by Alan Mutter (@newsosaur)

John Temple (@jtemplermn) started us out with sobering reflections on the last decades of the Rocky Mountain News.  We shifted immediately into the latest semantic tools.  Several of the slide shows can be found at this “event” on Slideshare.

The immediate, and lasting, impression is that there are three levels of complex revolutions taking place.  The first revolution is in user interfaces, and users’ changing behaviors with those interfaces.  Even those presenters whose jobs focus on the use of those new interfaces were struggling to keep up, and had more questions than answers.

The second revolution is the numerous nuanced business models that can be successful in the networked economy.  Owners need to think about more than a simple “freemium” model.  Marshall Van Alstyne wowed and perplexed us with the concepts of proprietary complementarity.

The third revolution is the fundamental changes in underlying technology.  Atomic, tagged, semantic, free flowing.

Each of these areas is changing so fast that we can barely comprehend the changes, yet alone have robust and detailed discussions about them.

Yet, our basic human needs don’t change, our communities need tools for coherence and development and even Yahoo’s research shows that we really want relevance and simplicity.

Tara Hunt (@missrogue) tried to get us to focus on those essentials, to mixed results.  Starting with the quote

“Stop being important and start being interesting.” – Michael Hirschorn, The Atlantic Monthly
she then went on to challenge the “important” editors and publishers in the room to focus on the readers:
if you can succeed in making your readers feel smarter, more in control, sexier, excited and more interesting themselves, you will win
As noted before here, I don’t think we can have this relationship with our consumers if we are trapped in packaged content.  We need to focus on a new infrastructure of atomic tagged content in the first instance, and local topic knowledge at a level above the story of the day.
I left this summit, and immediately met with a group of independent publishers.  When asked what I thought about this summit, and what it meant for me I quickly blurted:
Search is dead, web pages are dead, but print has a long future.
Steve Rubel also notes that the next great media company won’t have a web site.  When our networks tell us what is important and relevant, aided by semantic tools, search will be far down the list, if not actually dead.
For print to have the future it deserves, we need to format our print products to meet the needs of our communities for common context and intellectual framework in the exploded personalized network.  Roger Plothow (@rplothow) sat through the summit, and came back with these fundamentals:
public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and a contributor to democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. We strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty.
In order to accomplish these fundamentals of community building, we will need to create a new infrastructure, in a new organization, with a new culture, the outlines of which are starting to take shape.  See Neil Perkin‘s comments (@neilperkin), and the big picture from IPA in London. And, Dan Conover (@xarker), keeps prodding, and prodding again.
What do you think?
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2 thoughts on “Reflections after #MTS at Google”

  1. Hi Chuck,

    When you said “We need to focus on a new infrastructure of atomic tagged content in the first instance, and local topic knowledge at a level above the story of the day,” I couldn’t agree more. Local sources of intelligent, crosslinked content captures an interested and appreciative audience.

    I’m glad to hear it coming from you, as well, because I had been looking for the opportunity to talk to you about providing some new, local-food-related content. Is there a good time to chat with you this week?

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