Sunday, January 6, 2008


It's now 6 days into 2008.

I've been doing my homework, and I'm very excited because this could be it.
This could be the year that we all just come together, find common ground to capitalize on, and re-work our focus towards building up our areas of expertise.

Or, we could just drag our butts for another year, maybe three, and pretend that an empowered democracy needs the blessings of a few big corporations to survive. Until the corporations start fading out....and then we'll (have to) get it: and it is not what you thought.

I don't know...could go either way.

I'll tell you what I do know.

0) At the center of Sloan's EPIC(Evolving Personalized Information Construct) is the premise that the fourth estates fortunes will wane. And I think that's a very real scenario we're faced with, and you know why? It's because they("the estate" in question) are bringing out their meanest, leanest, biggest guns to stave off the possibility that very soon, there may not be a 'conglomerate', and that phrases like 'Big 5' will become passe in the era of democratized media.

You don't need me to tell you that it's a very scary thought for many. How does one survive? If you're no longer one of the Big 5, then who are you? WHAT are you? And the scariest question of them all: ARE you?

To me, there's only one question to really ask: WHY are you?

1) Understanding one's reason for's DNA(as seems to be an oft-used terms these days), is the critical pivot around which media corporations need to re-build themselves. I'm not saying that they're broken....I'm saying that they're not broken YET. The earlier they come to terms with this reality and fix things, the easier it will be for them to co-exist in this brave new world.

2) I think the second question(after the DNA Q&A session with members of the board) to ask would be: how much are we willing to give up? I know...two tough questions in a row, but it's time. So, how much are you willing to give up, in order to re-gain market share(ahem: " order to address the evolving needs of this growing democracy"..)?
It's not just a question of money. In fact, money is probably best left out of this question altogether because the amount of actual liquid financial displacement could be huge.
We're better served asking ourselves...are we willing to tweak our business models over the next five years to set ourselves up for a world where the masses are ENABLED with tools to consume media freely, of their choice, on their device of choice, at a time of their choice, and as many times as they choose to?
Can we build our business around mass consumption, mass production, and mass distribution?

And how can we start paying more attention to the masses?
Because it appears that they're going to be driving the ENTIRE value chain.

3) Then, you talk about economics. Where're we driving our funds now, and where should we be driving it over the next five years? Where are the revenues coming from now, and where will they be coming from over the next five years? What's the commodity? What's the innovation? What's the value? Who's being neglected and how's that going to affect us ten years down the line? Who's NOT getting their rightful piece of the action? And the toughest one: who's getting way too much of the action?

And I'll tell you why dishonesty here won't do anyone much good. We're now on the Internet. You know what sells, for how much, and how many times. And you know that in real time.
You also know who created, who developed, who marketed, who distributed, and who consumed. And you'll know that with near 100% accuracy for each time the cycle of creation > consumption occurs. In real time.

So if you're not able to clarify your position in the value chain, and fulfill it honestly, you're toast. In real time.

4) Get creative. Like seriously creative. Why? Because one-size-will-NOT-fit-all. In fact, one size will probably satiate a millionth of your target market, and I'm feeling generous today in making that claim.
Realize that behind each user who has 'access', there is a device, a personality, a history, a geography, a list of contacts, a set of subscriptions, a budget, a set of preferences, a cluster of affiliations, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. You can branch out into each of those and realize that it's a pretty complex democracy we have out there.
But that's the catch. It's not complex. It's just diversity. It's a democracy.

So, figure out things like personalization, recommendation, customization, extensibility, accessibility, portability, device independence, mobility, and ubiquity. Tools to solve these problems have been around for oh-so-long and you've been dead-lucky to have gotten away without touching them.
Now's adoption time, fellas. Now's a real good time.

5) Stop with the social networks already. We get it. If you build a community, and get lots of users involved in it, and let them turn into vampires biting each other on cyberspace during their lunch break, then you can make money.
Wow. I'm very excited. But now I know what you're all about, so maybe I'll start my own thing and let people be fly swatters instead, swatting each other like flies in cyberspace during their afternoon tea.
And maybe I'll make money too.

C'mon guys- we're trying to empower the digital democracy here, not build a doofus economy. Focus on some actual value creation, and don't just think about ways to throw a lot of seriously bad parties and make money off the cheap tequila. It may have worked in college, but so did a lot of other things. The Internet isn't a big stupid party and isn't usually friendly to acts of daftness for too long. Remember from 2001? Here's how dead they are today(thanks Wikipedia).

And trust me on this: vampires are already dead. It's kinda-sorta implicit and all.


So yes, I feel good about this year. I didn't say anything that people don't already know. It's just that when you can't win by reason, you ought to go for volume, so let's speak up, eh?!