Six Apart conference in Paris
For those who haven’t heard yet, there is the second Les Blogs conference planned for 5-6th December in Paris. Organised by Loic Le Meur of Six Apart for very good reasons , it promises to follow up on the concepts and blog geekfest that the first one was. And jolly nice that was.
I will be speaking on a panel about how blogging is affecting corporations together with Philippe Borremans of IBM, Belgium, Georges-Edouard Dias of L’Oreal, France, Michel-Edouard Leclerc, France and Martin Varsavsky of Fon. You can see the full programme here and the conference wiki is also worth a look. I look forward to seeing you there.
Although this was the last session and people were fading fast after a steady flow of blogging juicy goodness, Doc’s presentation was given some serious attention. Even the backchannel went quiet for a moment. These are very brief notes as Doc was talking fast and consistently relevant stuff which makes it very hard to catch up and write them down. You can find the slides of the presentation here.
Would like to make people think and challenge the way they see things
FCC – Federal Communication Committee would like to run the net and came up with ‘decency’ rules. First amendment protects freedom of speech and press but broadcasters are not protected. How do you reconsider?
Broadcasting moves content thought channels but speech happens in a place. Content isn’t protected but speech is.
The real Matrix is metaphors – cognitive linguistics 101.
We think in terms of other subjects
We borrow vocabularies for subjects
Every metaphor is a box of borrowed worlds
Time is money - we waste it, save it, spend it, invest it, lose it, set it aside.
Life is travel – birth is arrival, death is departure, crossroads, choices and careers are paths.
Use the War box – attack, campaign, command, defend, dominate, entrench, flank, forces impact etc. There is a war going on between metaphors for the web and for blogging. We move content through the medium with a transport protocol. If we think of blogging as content for consumers in an audience we lose. Were not consumers anymore but producers – users are not longer outsiders. That’s why people talk using jargon –nothing to do with decency.
Syndication is what makes web a live writing and publishing.
So blogs are about writing rather than content. Blogs are journals – not sites, not content, not media, not here to deliver experience, not emergent synchronisation mode. Who are journalists?
Blogs are by readers and writers for other readers and writers. They are by artists, experts and other artists.
Blogs inform, not deliver information and the difference is critical. Information is commodity, content. Yet, the verb to inform comes from ‘to form’, meaning that we actually form each other.
We are all authors of each other. Authority is the right we give certain others to form and shape what we know and that authority is earned and granted, not delivered.
Vast and growing meritocracy. Demand side supplying itself – oldest argument, demand side, will supply. No big brand invented blogging. If blogging had been let up to the Big Boys, never would have happened.
Blogging grows through new protocols, standards and practices (mostly from the demand side) – not by raw numbers of participants. Blogs don’t have to be sticky - leaving is more important than staying because what’s sticky are ideas not bounded by any blog. [ed. quote of the session]
Blogging is about rolling snowballs downhill, not about pushing rocks uphill. Blogging is about making and changing minds. Most ideas worth sharing are not finished. What is more important? Being right or being interesting or being useful or becoming authoritative?
This was the best session and that’s saying a lot after a day of talking and listening about blogging. Doc’s perspective is the one that is of most interest to me, as it tries include blogs in a wider understanding of communication and interaction between human beings. It also make is possible to differentiate between other forms of communication and industries and see the long term implications of blogging clearer. And most importantly, I got to meet the man after years of reading his blog.
Hossein Derakhshan of hoder.com, Yat Siu of Outblaze, China, and Asian correspondent for the International Herald Tribune.
70 million population
4-5 million internet users
Media state monopoly and control
Blog as windows, bridges and cafes:
Windows (social changes)
free information – journalist banned from parliament turned to blogging (Massih Alinejad)
connecting between different divided societies, social islands
immigrants – non-immigrates
3-4 million left after revolution, great chance to connect
politicians – citizens, reformist candidate, former vice-president, religious/secular community
using blogs as their own medium
Ideal speech situation – equal power for everyone
Blogs vs state-controlled media
Unique space out of the state monopoly for crucial political debate
Public space that is not state owned and controlled, discuss Iran’s nuclear programme or election 2005 debate of the boycott.
120 million users by the same time next year
10MB upstream and downstream guaranteed 26 euros
South Korea 100MB up and down
How you define a blog? Homepage in China, Asia – the Hompy. The social element is the chat room – customise avatar and character, your identity online. Social effect is the influential factor there is also a backlash against, people die as they forget to eat (!). Online games. Blogging come to Asia and then spread there. Eastern technologies influence the western development once Asian culture goes mainstream.
Herald Tribune correspondent for Asia
In dictatorships blogs and related technologies can be about access to information. For example, people use IM to warn each other about diseases that government covers up. Also, people are often accused of lack of spontaneity and there have been demonstration organised via blogs.
Individual voices trying to prevent US from attacking Iran…
ICQ has amassed over 180 million users in more than 245 countries since its launch in November 1996.
Social software gives the context for understanding blogging, internet. What we see today is only the beginning of the phenomenon. Social signalling – [ed. I think bloggers refer to this as social tagging, see Flickr, Furl and delicious]. Blog will become one of the major uses of interfaces, API as people integrate different sites to each other, enhancing reputation. Blogs belong to a strong family of applications of social software.
Update: A much better account of Yossi Vardi’s talk by Ross Mayfield.
The Guardian has been interested in blogs for years. 10m users a months. We have been blogging since 2000 although our first blog had no trackbacks, no comments.
Election 2005 blog - gets thousands of comments, from readers and journalists.
We also have blogwatch, the Times has started blogging and we link to it as well. There do something called The Blair Watch Project, with doctored photos of Blair, Howard and Kennedy.
We think that MSM should embrace blogs. There is about 100,000 blogs in total in Germany. There are some editorial weblogs of MSM - regular about 25; facultative about 20-30. A tiny number.
Broadband/blog penetration gives an interesting perspective. What are the reasons for low take up of blogging by the mainstream? Elites in Germany tend to have an anti-technology attitude. There is also a very reputation-oriented culture. If you are big brand people trust you, if you are a blogger, not the same. To me the key virtues of blogs is precisely that they are non-journalistic.
We have had a huge take up from both users and journalists. 200 renewed blogs – good stuff.
1.8 million active blogs, 10 new ones every day [Ed: 28th April - I just got an email from Skyblog press officer David Roizen, who requested that I correct his number to 6,000 a day. There you have it. I guess I should take it as a good sign that someone cares what I write on my blog even though it’s a press officer paid to care about such things… ] We have become a major player of blogging scene using not the usual type of targeting. We have gone after the first digital generation that use mobile phone and internet while growing up. They are the first generation of people using it as native tools and it changes everything. We are not a conventional radio station, we see ourselves as a community. Our aim is to create full large-scale national conversation between all teenagers in France, it’s about the social link.
Rules are important and respect the individual, we have moderation and try to keep order and respect.
Question: Between giving people a way to express themselves and defining boundaries are you taking responsibility of educating your users?
We try to create a community spirit, with freedom of speech, which we respect. 1 million people is posting everyday, full moderation is impossible. We have words alert that may lead to content moderation, we have Cybercop on every blog.
Main problem is when you are confronted with, for example, blogging about suicide – what do you do? Do you close them or what do you do? We work with association about prevention rather than censorship.
Post moderate comments seems to work well for us. Effects of network just happen, you don’t need to impose it.
[Ed. A lively debate on censorship ensued, with the IRC backchannel on the main screen fighting it out between those who wanted ‘educate’ the youth and bestowed responsibility on Pierre to do so and the L’Anglo-saxons who say ‘no way you can moderated/censor blogs, the whole point of blogging is to be unfiltered, personal and genuine’. Of course that does not make them worth reading but I disagree with any central or standardised approach to blogs and blogging. There are ways that works and even they evolve, but that’s all.]
Music is important and you can have MP3 not all are illegal, government gave money to the record company, so there are free MP3s. What the government is promoting is new habits – it’s good to do that.
We have experimented with podcasting.
We already distribute shows for iPod. So podcasting is no bother for us, just a new ways of promoting radio station and bringing the idea of podcasting to our audience.
This was a powerpoint presentation by Miklos Gaspar of Blogads with some interesting facts, some of which I reproduce here. The session was probably most interesting for those who are focused on the ‘media’ aspect of blogs and their advertising potential.
Definition of Alpha consumers, opinion makers:
- 75% over 30
- 43% more than $90K income
- 70% influentials
- 21% bloggers
86% bought books online vs 46% bought travel online
Gourmet Station campaign 1
76 cent CPC cost per click on food and hospitality sites
on 8 generic blog $1.6 cPC
Gourmet station campaign 2
Tweaked for a gay site, targeted worked better - 70 cents per click
Channel 51 – creativity ads used blogs
buy through network
advertisers do not know blogs but target audience
- Target influentials
- Network effect
- Fitting creatives
This session, chaired by Dominque Busso, had the most panellists. Gaby Darbyshire of Gawker media, Jason McCabe Calacanis of WeblogsInc, Julio Alonso of Weblogs SL, Christophe Labédan of The Social Media Group, Ludovico Magnocavallo of Blogo.it and Stowe Boyd, Corante
It’s about social media. We are after the culture [mindset?] not a mass media publication. We connect to community, people who care about social tools, e.g. we have a copyright blog, and build from that advertising, consulting, and events. We find people who are experts and bring them to our Corante roll. We don’t create them, they create themselves.
Le Monde or Times, you expect a certain way it was written – bosses, editors and by the time the story is published is not what you submitted. The reader expects ‘refined content’. But he comes to blog with zero expectations. It’s unfiltered. You can see my comments, my spelling errors but you know I am not being filtered. Both [blogs and journalism] have the same job – to tell the story but two different processes to get to the truth. As a journalist, I say that blogging is more efficient to the truth. It’s the process of filtering journalism does not get you closer to the truth. With blogging, if you get something wrong, the world knows immediately
On the one hand we have the traditional media with structured information and on the other side you have bloggers. I think we get more information from blogs. On a blog you can’t avoid confrontation.
Blogs are not common as US, on topics that we are expert. Lot of mistakes but get corrected by other bloggers and readers.
Define the writers. We split revenue with our bloggers. 6-9 months until the money starts coming in. People want to get paid in perfect way and they take the deal. We want to have 500-600 blogs in the next 2-3 years. And the only way to do that is to give them [bloggers who write for us] what they want and pay them money. Some work only 2 hours a week, some more up to 40 hours a week. Ballpark range $100 to $3-4,000.
New barrier to entry – anyone can do it, content and quality, you have to be talented. Writing for us is also for prestige. The distinction between editorial and advertising is blurred. We focus on quality content. We pay flat fee, and the problem then is making sure that the writer can see the fruit of success. But we guarantee you salary that is journalistic salary. It means that you cannot control the business… just like in a traditional publication.
We tried to keep the balance between fair and right to keep talent and make sure that business can invest in growth of new titles. Advertising is not good for writers. People write about what they do.
This kind of nano-publishing is another segment of traditional media. In Corante, different parts of the business are done for different reasons…
What makes a blog successful is far more interesting. It’s about the quality.
You don’t need capital to launch a blog, as a result of individual blogs as a different objective. In turn you are paid in respect etc. When journalists talk about bloggers parasitical on journalism, they don’t have the time to scour everything. The entire blogosphere is a huge army at disposal to anyone interested in using it. Researching deeper and deeper – well connected and can write in a way that no traditional publication can do. It’s a symbiosis not adversity.
We certainly try to do things right in the ‘new industry’, we make phone calls, fact check, and if we are wrong, we correct.
It’s hard for big media to focus, bloggers can.
I always tell people who say that they don’t have time to read blogs - you must take the time and do that before you launch blogs yourself. An extra hour on internet is an hour that they don’t watch television.
Creating a brand – consistency, design, regularity. Many bloggers would do that on their own. Title just gives expectation of the brand.
Tried to buy small business blog but the people are so independent that they would never come to work for us. We have to find another type of blogger.
Blogger burn-out is an issue.
Publishing blogs are a stop-gap measure, resurrecting publishing model on the blogs is not the future. [Quote of the session.]
This session had Euan Semple of the BBC, Ross Mayfield of Socialtext and Lee Bryant of Headshift.
Small scale, letting it grow, connect individual pieces. Tolerance, socialising issue of trusting each other is significant. Start changing the power play within organisations. A year ago, we started blogging. Project blogs, contextual links, blogs give internal people to publish and produce content. We use wikis to produce collaborative documents.
Internal leaks are not a new problem and we try to come up with policies of what is and what isn’t acceptable. We are creating a reputation engine finding out who is linking to who and reading/aggregating them.
Innovation is competitive advantage. There is friction when people work together, innovation happens when there is productive friction. People need simple tools 90% exists in email, largely broken. 30% occupational spam cc/bcc. There is a need for communication using something simpler – wiki weblog email IM – social text. Wiki is a collection of pages anybody can edit and link together. Linking to a page is simple and every page has a name.
It’s how people use the tools – don’t have to have rigid boundaries. In applications and tools rely on people using them to realise their efficiencies. They need to fit IT and management infrastructure – unfortunately.
Wikipedia – collaboration on the scale not seen before. More about participation, the communities exist inside. Innovation – letting your employees to be a little bit more free to express their ideas.
Low cost way for companies to build social infrastructure. Enterprise software is usually extremely expensive and is part of the top down mentality. Out of synch with innovation. How to deploy it and integrate it? Can’t sell koolaid to companies – how can you do the non-technical work. Tools, weblogs and personal sharing publishing tools etc, open standards, such as RSS, sharing info etc. Flickr, google and Technorati that you can do to feed information to the organisation. That’s what I mean by social software.
Weblogs – people have a discussion, domain for knowledge. Wiki very good root collaboration, objective, documents, project map, cheap and easy way. Flickr – sharing presence and perspective is quite important within organisation. What you see and where you go. Delicious – social bookmarking tool, different subjects and different people tagging them too. Share knowledge, clear use within organisation. Concept of aggregation – email is broken but people use it. Can subscribe to what they are interested it – piece of glue that sticks things together. Different systems – document management, KM systems – if you think of social software is providing light weight interface that belongs to the people rather than the company. Adds value to existing technology, even before integration.
Not using systems and other communication applications – using email instead. Let people reorganise their own feeds and information and then you can start bringing stuff to life.
Use of flexible metadata. Devised top down but do not fit day to day needs. Social tagging – delicious and flick, own language and aggregation. Every piece of information should be exposed to RSS feed and then do whatever you want with it. As a result you are creating a fabric within the organisation – weblogs, wikis, limited local ways, project groups and they emerge gradually. Don’t scare them into a big system. Modular and bottom up. Then you start seeing the benefits. Add features gradually. Launch early, it will gradually work, you can start achieving something. Finally, engage people in their own language.
Which is going to be bigger? The BBC or Scoble at Microsoft?
Halley’s the moderator for a panel consisting of Darren Barefoot, Andrew Carton and Paolo Valdemarin.
How many have blogs and corporate blogs? Who is Scoble and who cares? Microsoft blogger who brings fame to the company. Let me tell you about the panel - Darren Barefoot did Northern Voice. Paolo and Andrew, blogs about Treo on Treonauts.com. Without the permission of the company, decided to do it on his own, it’s an interesting view of a corporate blog. What they think about the future of blogging in the next five years:
Darren, background in PR and marketing. How do I get on blogs? Lists of ones you want to get on. Interesting thing – meme and stories about your company into the media. Bloggers a middle layer, PR firms are just beginning to recognise that they are important. Need to pay attention to bloggers and talk to them. Influencers, writers, the phenomenon of how media works. TV stations – decrease the number of journalists, new sources of stories in the blogosphere. Everyday, read stories in MSM that I have read on blogs. Journalists are reading bloggers – stories bubble up and then surface.
Paolo: Small medium size companies – vast majority of blogging companies. Talk to the customers as well as create a new kind of empowerment.
Halley: Internal blogging – inside companies but not just yet.
Andrew : Building community around blog in a corporate environment. [?]
Halley: A company just opened a magazine BusinessWeek about blogging, they must a blog. CEO bad writer, so what do they do? Where is the place for a company to start?
Darren: Do not let PR people anywhere near it!
Halley: Group blog or one voice…
Paolo: one voice, small companies, express themselves in small environment. [ed. lots of talk of small companies]. Glossy brochures and flashy websites and do not understand that there is a better way
Halley: Is there some value in blog for a single voice.
Andrew: comforting to majority of customers, using blogging as extension of the business need to have the right mindset.
Corporate blogging bit not so informative, not enough examples and too disjointed but I guess that is the nature of the panel and the speakers talking about their personal experiences.
Halley: Should we have advertising on your corporate blog?
Darren: Absolutely not.
Halley: Not even their own?
Andrew: Marketing perspective – content. Deconstructing the product, the logo everything. It’s like a lego toy, take the pieces and put them together your own way.
Hugh: blog cheap and easy and advertising is pure buzz, hard to get them pay attention
Darren: aspects of PR will go away, press release, forming relationships is not going away and blogs are another way to do that [ed. quote of the session]. Compelling blogs have personality whether personal or corporate. Photos, individual features etc. PR not associated with authenticity
Darren makes lots of good points, no time to capture it, just read and subscribe to his blog.
Did not catch most of it but here are bits that came my way and stuck.
Email is slow synchronicity – days and week disappears
Need for storage, permanence – web can be used to create permanence and communications
Permalinks and persistence – sociological implications, core definition
Persistence – ability to find discreet pieces of information, digitisation of content – dig in and find pieces
Meg - example of Flickr. It’s not just comments on a picture, but also can make a note and start references pieces of the picture, chopped post, reference each bit, smaller pieces. More targeted conversations – very interesting.
Apple suing bloggers – protection to bloggers as to journalists.
Questions from the audience: Can six apart protect bloggers from attacks by companies?
Answer by Barak: With power comes responsibility… you have responsibility to make sure you don’t get into trouble. We give you a tool – flexible that allows you to express yourself. Government we are careful privacy and your right to publish. Copyright laws etc, no interest of losing protection of Data Protection Millennium act. It’s a balancing act, in the end we provide a service and you need to decide how you use that.
These are going to be notes, rather than full text. If some of it makes sense, I did my job but I don’t expect all of it to be clear.
Internet is not the smartest netwok
There is a ‘creative class’ in different position in different country – that is why the Brazilian, Iranian and French bloggers have more in common with each other than let’s say with german blogs. There is similarity between Japanese, French, and Iranian. Gap inside the country – creative class – technology special class that provides openness and innovation.
Advertising – downloading music from internet – not a thing anyone can do about it – pepsi ad – selling to this ‘creative class’. Ito plays the add, playing on the fact that kids don’t care about whether dowloading is legal or not and will do it anyway. Watch user behaviour and create products that fit that, understand that you can’t force them and change their behaviour – go with the flow. Then Joi plays the same clip with some ‘adjustments’ from the internet audience doing things to the advert that the authors certainly did not intend to! Very funny.. the link on the slide is here.
iPod shuffle, an example of a product outed by bloggers before its official release. They are not against companies, but they want to tell the story(ies). So don’t go around suing them.
Long tail. There are many movies, books, music that are now part of the long tail i.e. part of a curve that capture economic rational of stocking titles. There are a number of titles, for a bookstore you have to sell a number of books before you can make profit. Amazon, as a virtual bookstore, can go down the curve stocking not only content that makes sense in traditional physical distribution but also content in the long tail – space that does not fit into the traditional distribution view.
What is happening is that the sales in that space much bigger – the tail, stuff that wasn’t available before, is now bigger, huge rentals of documentary, not be able to go for distribution. Word of mouth becomes very important. The question is how you find the content. It’s delivery vs discovery. Before, the big problem was how you get it to customer. Now the question is what do I listen to, not how I get it. It is not about advertising, but word of mouth is the way to get attention. Example of talking in chat channels – there is some Chinese music that is very popular as a result of being shared on internet. Problem is not to protect the content but how to get people to listen to the stuff – 95% are copies. [ed: Quote of the day]: The worst thing than being copies is not being copied.
Blogs and Citizen Media
Ad and marketing – shouting and then figure out what we are thinking – you can stop shouting now as we are telling you directly what we are thinking… Example, Kryptonite – www.bikeforums.net. Joi show the infamous video of the lock being unpicked by a bic pen. The company lost 10 million dollars in 10 days – bloggers say your locks suck, can’t hide the truth.
Rathergate - Dan Rather had to apologise to G Bush, CBS may cancel the show. Some of the bloggers picked up the pieces, nobody used to do that. He is an important icon, MSM and bloggers.
Fast Lane blog, another example, a frank discussion by guy who makes cars. Completely different kind of trust than from traditional brand building.
Another way, a BBC article put it in technorati and see what bloggers are saying. Infoworld article, the same but it already has technorati profile embedded in it.
Myth of intellectual property - creating something is investment and need to protect it. This is a new idea. Joi uses a different concept based on the commons and the fact that creativity can happen outside corporations. E.g. 93% books originate outside corporate world, so copyright exists to protect this small percentage.
There a common mistake to assume that just because someone is amateur they are not as good as professional. The amateur vs. professional is a false dichotomy. Amateurs can’t afford to do it for money - not true, see Linux developers who do not do it for money. This is a dangerous idea and can be disproved - professional sex is not always better than amateur sex! Much laughter follows…
So give it away for free [ed. content, not sex]. Creative commons clip is shown. The point is as long as you give me attribution, you can use it. Another clip of George Bush and Tony Blair footage synched to a romantic song – much hilarity ensues.
US republican national convention remix - Invoke 9/11 - clip of politicians repeating september eleven and saddam hussain and other phrases that characterised the debate of the events, terrorism… George W. Bush Keeping America Scared. Joi talks about how some tried to argue that you can’t use speeches as they are copyrighted. Importance of freedom of speech…
Paris is the navel of the blogosphere, at least for one day. Six Apart’s conference on blogging, Les Blogs, has attracted the A-listers or alpha bloggers from around the world. Yes, even from the UK.
There will be some furious blogging of the event, as the heavily connected hoards descended on the French Senate – Palais du Luxemburg.
The first session will have, apart from the Six Apart crowd, Joi Ito and Meg Hourihan , Flickr’s Caterina Fake and Nokia’s Charlie Schick all engaging in a bit of trendspotting. Social software will a buzzword of the day, I guess that is the nod to the mainstream that needs big vague descriptions of the blogging phenomenon that often dares not speak its name. At least in the UK.
After a ‘networking’ break, we shall hear Halley Suit of Worthwhile Magazine and her blog.., Andrew Carton of Treonauts (the moderator of the i20 conference on digital marketing in London, Paolo Valdemarin
There is supposed to be wireless in the conference room, which did work for one glorious moment. I started blogging confidently and was making good progress, when the connection was lost. Having experienced a blogger’s worst nightmare of clicking ‘publish’ after a long blog post only to be confronted with ‘the page cannot be displayed’, I have copied the text into word – now just waiting for the connection to come back on.
I am also one of the few privileged (read got here early enough) to get one of twenty (!) power outlets for my notebook. Yay, I made it.
[more hyperlinks to follow later, off to blog the event now...]