Category Archives: Web

On Publishing

Dana Blankenhorn has an excellent post on the demise of newspapers as we've known them and the future of publishing in general. Here's the money quote:

Your job, as a publisher, remains what it was in the 19th century. Define a market, aggregate both the buyers and sellers, and stimulate financial transactions between them. Publishing is a market-making proposition, and those who create the best marketplaces win. Every time.

These are still the early innings of the online publishing game. The collapse of newspapers is a gift from above, not a plague. It opens up vast new opportunities for people who have learned their business, publishers and editors both.


Embracing the Inevitable

The approach taken by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam might very well be the approach some businesses should embrace with their content:

Many museums post their collections online, but the Rijksmuseum here has taken the unusual step of offering downloads of high-resolution images at no cost, encouraging the public to copy and transform its artworks into stationery, T-shirts, tattoos, plates or even toilet paper.

The museum, whose collection includes masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Mondrian and van Gogh, has already made images of 125,000 of its works available throughRijksstudio, an interactive section of its Web site. The staff’s goal is to add 40,000 images a year until the entire collection of one million artworks spanning eight centuries is available, said Taco Dibbits, the director of collections at the Rijksmuseum.

Pretty cool huh? If you think about it the museum is kind of doing what companies do with their customers and biggest fans: get them to promote their brand by plastering logoes and other corporate images all over shirts, cups, etc. What's obviously different is that the museum is having them slather their unique "products" on those various and sundry items and some artists or for-profit publishers might not like that. Also, as the museum's director points out, the museum is a different position than a for-profit entity:

“We’re a public institution, and so the art and objects we have are, in a way, everyone’s property,” Mr. Dibbits said in an interview.

But in the next breath he makes a very good argument for why companies might very well embrace the museum's approach even if they own the subject matter:

“‘With the Internet, it’s so difficult to control your copyright or use of images that we decided we’d rather people use a very good high-resolution image of the ‘Milkmaid’ from the Rijksmuseum rather than using a very bad reproduction,” he said, referring to that Vermeer painting from around 1660.

Of course this approach won't work for everyone, but the combination of free publicity and quality control make it a viable consideration for many content creators.

Push Button Publishing

Here's a very cool little piece at Wired showing how Blogger spawned a lot of the current "push button publishing" services we know today:

At the close of 1998, there were 23 known weblogs on the Internet. A year later there were tens of thousands. What changed? Pyra Labs launched Blogger, the online tool that gave push-button publishing to the people. It was a revolutionary web product made by a revolutionary web of people who went on to build much of the modern net. Here’s how Pyra propagated.

The "family tree" you find when you click through to Wired does a great job showing how the people behind blogger went on to create/influence Twitter, Square, Adobe Creative Cloud, etc.

The folks behind Winston-Salem-based Contract Web Development just announced the launch of  Cover Story Media, an online publishing company "that focuses on original content founded in reader engagement." One of their products is and after taking a quick trip around the site I'd say it looks like a good new player in the local online content game.

Congrats to tennis buddy Alex Schenker and his team on their new venture. Here's a video they created for the launch.

No Email Will Replace a Kiss

During his keynote address at the National Apartment Association education conference last week Tom Brokaw emphasized the increasing importance of in-person communication as people, especially young people, have come to rely more and more on digital forms of communication. He truly hammered his point home when he said, "No email will replace a kiss. No Tweet will replace the whisper of 'I love you' in your ear."

PIPA/SOPA Explained

As you might have guessed I love staying on top of current events, especially as it relates to politics, the economy and just about anything not related to Justin Bieber or Dancing with the Stars. So you can imagine my frustration when I just don't have the time to get up to speed on an issue that I'm pretty sure is important.  That's what has happened with the current PIPA/SOPA issue in Congress which is why I was so pleased to come across this explanation of the issue by Clay Shirky:

Who Are These People?

Ever wonder who the people are that leave lots of comments on local news websites?  The folks at the Las Vegas Sun obviously did because they profiled four of their more prolific commenters.

I'm wary to suggest the same type of project for our local news sites, because quite honestly many of their commenters flat out scare me. Still, if they were to profile some of their commenters here are some questions I'd like them to ask:

  • Were you absent that day in fourth grade when they went over the difference between there, their and they're?
  • Were you absent the day they went over the difference between lose and loose?
  • Did you know that insulting subjects of an article, or other commenters, while hiding behind an alias is the definition of a coward? Aliases are for people who are doing courageous things, like blowing the whistle on corrupt politicians. I understand if you want to use an alias due to concerns like people at work seeing what you write, but don't use that as a shield to throw personal bombs at others.
  • Did you know that invoking Hitler in an argument makes you the loser of said argument by default?
  • Are you aware that the statement "we Americans are guaranteed freedom of religion, not freedom from religion" is nonsense?

and finally

  • Did you know that when you're leaving a comment on a story you're not blogging, you're commenting?  Blogging requires setting up a blog, writing something on your blog, having people write a comment on your blog and then replying to those comments.  Go ahead and try it, you might like it.