We Media wrapup

Others (particularly The Media Center and Paid Content; with images available at Flickr.) have already covered the event well, so instead of a full recap, I’ll offer some free-flowing quotes and attendant thoughts:

Chris Willis (Co-author of the original We Media paper, and working on a new edition) on major differences in the thinking this time around (all quote emphases mine):

Not everybody wants to be a "citizen journalist"… They want to collaborate in more traditional means. There is no one-size-fits-all. What works in Greensboro doesn’t necessarily work elsewhere…Community building takes effort…Provide an architecture of participation and let them do what they’re obsessed with.

Larry Kramer points out that as folks only have 10 minutes to catch news on the run, you have to find out what people want quickly.

Lots of discussion of the need for more follow-the-money politics, particularly on a local level.

Minutes of the meeting were kept via mural:


Farai Chideya talked about the old "Town Hall" function of newspapers that has been eroded by media fragmentation, pointing out that the good ol’ days weren’t necessarily so good, as the Town Hall was built by and for rich white guys. She suggests that the collaborative peer-to-peer media could create a "more inclusive town hall," but points out the large numbers of folks who are not wired, or even illiterate who could be left out of the conversation.

I can’t remember who said it, but someone said that amidst all this highfallutin’ national conversation, it is the mayors of cities who are responsible for getting broadband to the masses. It’s going to be a growing socio-economic problem, and the "last mile" issue needs to be solved.

This really struck me– one thing I noticed is that most everyone seems to be working national-down, instead of local-up. I wonder that a lot of that national-down won’t become commoditized and/or redundant. People live locally, and local is the one thing that’s much harder to commoditize.

I have a lot of thoughts on this whole "last mile" issue, and another fleshed-out post on what we can do is forthcoming.

Jennifer Feiken of Google:

Talking about local election coverage and locally-focused blogs:

If the information was there, we would connect to it.

Also, the buried lede in Jennifer’s talk: Google is going to start offering paid-access video.

My favorite quote of the day, from Feedster founder Scott Rafer, when the panel he was on was asked for three, five and ten year predictions on the state of We Media:

I won’t even give VC’s three-year projections.

Lots of discussion in the "We Invest" session on platforms versus content. (Follow the link to hear me talk about how middle America don’t know from RSS.) Consensus was that the value is in gathering audience, and that with the masses of content available, good filters are exceptionally valuable. There was the usual (and I think unrealistic) bias towards entirely automated filters.

There was almost universal agreement that for start-ups, attention (number of users and stickiness) was more important than revenue.

Rafat Ali (from the audience):

VC’s never invest in content.

Someone in the We Invest session talked about the high value of leveraging social metadata across a closed network. That’s exactly what we’re doing — glad to hear someone acknowledge it, as I’m seeing so many people get giddy over open networks.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear Henry Copeland talk about the value and high ad yield on "Mommy Bloggers."

Great quote from Copeland on building audience:

The best thing is to have a couple of idiot enemies.

My second-favorite quote of the day from Steve Rubel (link mine):

Message boards are like blogs with their knuckles on the ground.

Not a dig at the Media Center, because it seems that everyone who ever puts on a conference (myself included) makes the same mistake: Remember– never put the interactive group project stuff at the end of the day. Half the group leaves and those left behind are brain dead. Interaction first; talking head later.

Why is it that every conference on the media biz, big or small, inevitably turns into a political diatribe, with the assumption that everyone in the room must be in agreement? The final panel of the day featured a lot of broad and apocalyptic bashing of the right, and Al Gore’s much-criticized talk was filled with some interesting paranoia. (Dan Rather’s exit from CBS had nothing to do with faked documents, dontchya know.)

Whether I agree or disagree with these points of views in this context is irrelevant– it’s that they have precious little to do with the media business, the alleged topic du jour. I always leave these things making a mental checklist of people whom I owe an apology for the times I’ve skewered them for their rants on liberal media bias.

Mike Orren is the Chief Product Officer of The Dallas Morning News; President of Belo Business Intelligence; husband to Crystal Orren; and a Mungarian at Munger Place Church in Dallas, TX. All opinions herein are mine alone.