"media" entries

Why I’m changing my tune on paywalls

A Pew report says paywalls could yield content that justifies a price tag.

The Pew Research Center is out with its annual “State of the News Media” report. Much of it is what you’d expect: newspapers and local television are struggling, mobile is rising, digital revenue hasn’t — and can’t — replace traditional print revenue, and on and on.

But read carefully, and you’ll find hope.

For example, Pew says the embrace of paywalls might improve the quality of the content:

“The rise of digital paid content could also have a positive impact on the quality of journalism as news organizations strive to produce unique and high-quality content that the public believes is worth paying for.”

I used to criticize paywalls. I thought they could only work for specialized content or material that’s attached to a desired outcome (i.e. subscribe to the Wall Street Journal, use the insights to make money).

My concern was that publishers would slam walls around their existing content and ask people to pay for an experience that had once been free. That made no sense. Who wants to pay for slideshows and link bait and general news?

But content that’s “worth paying for” is a different thing altogether. Publishers who go this route are acknowledging that a price tag requires justification.

Will it work? Maybe. What I might pay is different than what you might pay. There’s that pesky return-on-investment thing to consider as well.

However, my bigger takeaway — and this is why I’m changing my tune on paywalls — is that value is now part of the paywall equation. That’s a good start.

Comments: 14
Four short links: 20 February 2013

Four short links: 20 February 2013

Corporate Networks, SimCity Analysis, Monetizing Memes, and Javascript Autocomplete

  1. The Network of Global Control (PLoS One) — We find that transnational corporations form a giant bow-tie structure and that a large portion of control flows to a small tightly-knit core of financial institutions. […] From an empirical point of view, a bow-tie structure with a very small and influential core is a new observation in the study of complex networks. We conjecture that it may be present in other types of networks where “rich-get-richer” mechanisms are at work. (via The New Aesthetic)
  2. Using SimCity to Diagnose My Home Town’s Traffic Problems — no actual diagnosis performed, but the modeling and observations gave insight. I always feel that static visualizations (infographics) are far less useful than an interactive simulation that can give you an intuitive sense of relationships and behaviour. once I’d built East Didsbury, the strip of shops in Northenden stopped making as much money as they once were, and some were even beginning to close down as my time ran out. Walk along Northenden high street, and you’ll know that feeling.
  3. How the Harlem Shake Went from Viral Sideshow to Global Meme (The Verge) — interesting because again the musician is savvy enough (and has tools and connections) to monetize popularity without trying to own every transaction involving his idea. Baauer and Mad Decent have generally been happy to let a hundred flowers bloom, permitting over 4,000 videos to use an excerpt of the song but quietly adding each of them to YouTube’s Content ID database, asserting copyright over the fan videos and claiming a healthy chunk of the ad revenue for each of them.
  4. typeahead.js (GitHub) — Javascript library for fast autocomplete.
Comment
Four short links: 14 February 2013

Four short links: 14 February 2013

Malware Industrial Complex, Indies Needed, TV Analytics, and HTTP Benchmarking

  1. Welcome to the Malware-Industrial Complex (MIT) — brilliant phrase, sound analysis.
  2. Stupid Stupid xBoxThe hardcore/soft-tv transition and any lead they feel they have is simply not defensible by licensing other industries’ generic video or music content because those industries will gladly sell and license the same content to all other players. A single custom studio of 150 employees also can not generate enough content to defensibly satisfy 76M+ customers. Only with quality primary software content from thousands of independent developers can you defend the brand and the product. Only by making the user experience simple, quick, and seamless can you defend the brand and the product. Never seen a better put statement of why an ecosystem of indies is essential.
  3. Data Feedback Loops for TV (Salon) — Netflix’s data indicated that the same subscribers who loved the original BBC production also gobbled down movies starring Kevin Spacey or directed by David Fincher. Therefore, concluded Netflix executives, a remake of the BBC drama with Spacey and Fincher attached was a no-brainer, to the point that the company committed $100 million for two 13-episode seasons.
  4. wrka modern HTTP benchmarking tool capable of generating significant load when run on a single multi-core CPU. It combines a multithreaded design with scalable event notification systems such as epoll and kqueue.
Comment: 1

Looking at the many faces and forms of data journalism

Leading experts on data-driven storytelling came together in our recent Google+ Hangout.

Over the past year, I’ve been investigating data journalism. In that work, I’ve found no better source for understanding the who, where, what, how and why of what’s happening in this area than the journalists who are using and even building the tools needed to make sense of the exabyte age. Yesterday, I hosted a Google Hangout with several notable practitioners of data journalism. Video of the discussion is embedded below:

Over the course of the discussion, we talked about what data journalism is, how journalists are using it, the importance of storytelling, ethics, the role of open source and “showing your work” and much more.

Read more…

Comment
Four short links: 5 February 2013

Four short links: 5 February 2013

Web Tooltips, Free Good Security Book, Netflix Economics, and Firewire Hackery

  1. toolbar — tooltips in jQuery, cf hint.css which is tooltips in CSS.
  2. Security Engineering — 2ed now available online for free. (via /r/netsec)
  3. Economics of Netflix’s $100M New Show (The Atlantic) — Up until now, Netflix’s strategy has involved paying content makers and distributors, like Disney and Epix, for streaming rights to their movies and TV shows. It turns out, however, the company is overpaying on a lot of those deals. […] [T]hese deals cost Netflix billions.
  4. Inceptiona FireWire physical memory manipulation and hacking tool exploiting IEEE 1394 SBP-2 DMA. The tool can unlock (any password accepted) and escalate privileges to Administrator/root on almost* any powered on machine you have physical access to. The tool can attack over FireWire, Thunderbolt, ExpressCard, PC Card and any other PCI/PCIe interfaces. (via BoingBoing)
Comment
Four short links: 30 January 2013

Four short links: 30 January 2013

Cheap Attack Drones, Truth Filters, Where Musicians Make Money, and Dynamic Pricing From Digitized Analogue Signals

  1. Chinese Attack UAV (Alibaba) — Small attack UAV is characterized with small size, light weight, convenient carrying, rapid outfield expansion procedure, easy operation and maintenance; the system only needs 2-3 operators to operate, can be carried by surveillance personnel to complete the attack mission. (via BoingBoing)
  2. TruthTeller Prototype (Washington Post) — speech-to-text, then matches statements against known facts to identify truth/falsehoods. Still a prototype but I love that, in addition to the Real Time Coupon Specials From Hot Singles Near You mobile advertising lens, there might be a truth lens that technology helps us apply to the world around us.
  3. Money from Music: Survey Evidence on Musicians’ Revenue and Lessons About Copyright Incentives — 5,000 American musicians surveyed, For most musicians, copyright does not provide much of a direct financial reward for what they are producing currently. The survey findings are instead consistent with a winner-take-all or superstar model in which copyright motivates musicians through the promise of large rewards in the future in the rare event of wide popularity. This conclusion is not unfamiliar, but this article is the first to support it with empirical evidence on musicians’ revenue. (via TechDirt)
  4. Max Levchin’s DLD13 KeynoteI believe the next big wave of opportunities exists in centralized processing of data gathered from primarily analog systems. […] There is also a neat symmetry to this analog-to-digtail transformation — enabling centralization of unique analog capacities. As soon as the general public is ready for it, many things handled by a human at the edge of consumption will be controlled by the best currently available human at the center of the system, real time sensors bringing the necessary data to them in real time.
Comment
Four short links: 14 January 2013

Four short links: 14 January 2013

Open Source Metrics, BitTorrent to TV, Tumblr Value, and Variable Fiction

  1. Open Source MetricsTalking about the health of the project based on a single metric is meaningless. It is definitely a waste of time to talk about the health of a project based on metrics like number of software downloads and mailing list activities. Amen!
  2. BitTorrent To Your TVThe first ever certified BitTorrent Android box goes on sale today, allowing users to stream files downloaded with uTorrent wirelessly to their television. The new set-top box supports playback of all popular video formats and can also download torrents by itself, fully anonymously if needed. (via Andy Baio)
  3. Tumblr URL Culture — the FOO.tumblr.com namespace is scarce and there’s non-financial speculation. People hoard and trade URLs, whose value is that they say “I’m cool and quirky”. I’m interested because it’s a weird largely-invisible Internet barter economy. Here’s a rant against it. (via Beta Knowledge)
  4. Design-Fiction Slider Bar of Disbelief (Bruce Sterling) — I love the list as much as the diagram. He lays out a sliding scale from “objective reality” to “holy relics” and positions black propaganda, 419 frauds, design pitches, user feedback, and software code on that scale (among many other things). Bruce is an avuncular Loki, pulling you aside and messing with your head for your own good.
Comments: 2

Want to analyze performance data for accountability? Focus on quality first.

A data-driven investigation of emergency response times by the Los Angeles Data Desk found larger issues.

Here’s an ageless insight that will endure well beyond the “era of big data“: poor collection practices and aging IT will derail any institutional efforts to use data analysis to improve performance.

According to an investigation by the Los Angeles Times, poor record-keeping is holding back state government efforts to upgrade California’s 911 system. As with any database project, beware “garbage in, garbage out,” or “GIGO.”

As Ben Welsh and Robert J. Lopez reported for the L.A. Times in December, California’s Emergency Medical Services Authority has been working to centralize performance data since 2009.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to achieve data-driven improvements or manage against perceived issues by applying big data to the public sector if the data collection itself is flawed. The L.A. Times reported quality issues stemmed from how response times were measured to record keeping on paper to a failure to keep records at all. Read more…

Comment

Data journalism: From eccentric to mainstream in five years

The Guardian's Simon Rogers on why data journalism caught on and where it goes from here.

Simon Rogers (@smfrogers), editor of The Guardian’s Datablog and Datastore, and a speaker at the upcoming Strata Conference in California, was one of the first data journalists at The Guardian.

In the following interview, Rogers discusses the changes he’s seen in data journalism over the last five years and how new tools and increased notoriety will shape the data journalism space.

Why has data become the story for some journalists like yourself?

Simon Rogers: It’s a big change for reporters, to go from being suspicious of numbers to noticing that often data journalism is the only way to get stories from them. I think it’s a combination — the huge growth in published data out there combining with things like WikiLeaks, which changed the game for news editors to realize this was a new way to get stories. Read more…

Comment

Six ways data journalism is making sense of the world, around the world

Early responses from our investigation into data-driven journalism had an international flavor.

When I wrote that Radar was investigating data journalism and asked for your favorite examples of good work, we heard back from around the world.

I received emails from Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Canada and Italy that featured data visualization, explored the role of data in government accountability, and shared how open data can revolutionize environmental reporting. A tweet pointed me to a talk about how R is being used in the newsroom. Another tweet linked to relevant interviews on social science and the media:

Two of the case studies focused on data visualization, an important practice that my colleague Julie Steele and other editors at O’Reilly Media have been exploring over the past several years.

Several other responses are featured at more length below. After you read through, make sure to also check out this terrific Ignite talk on data journalism recorded at this year’s Newsfoo in Arizona. Read more…

Comment