Edit This

I bought an e-reader recently. Late to the party, eh? It isn't that I haven't longed for one for some time now. The issue for me has been that, given the number of them on the market and rapid pace of change, I couldn't commit. The feature set I want never seems to coincide on a single device, and every time I think I've compromised and settled on one that's good enough, well, market leaders and innovators alike improve on what's out there or introduce some game changer.
Who you know has pretty much always been as important as what you know in business. Today it is not only important; it is essential and highly visible. Your network will help you get a job, advance within your profession, and solve day-to-day dilemmas. In fact, on a personal level, your social network may make or break you in any of these situations. However, the social network is no longer something that affects us only on a personal scale. Today, organizations that do not grasp the importance of social interaction risk their viability.
- December 2010 Issue, Posted Nov 22, 2010
Do not try to predict the future of content. This is a fool's errand. Accepting that you have no idea what the next big thing will be is the first step. Admit your helplessness before the erratic shape shifter that is consumer preference for content consumption. Now that you have released any notion of anticipating which way the content market is heading, you are ready to begin anew.
- November 2010 Issue, Posted Nov 01, 2010
Given the rise of social media and socially mediated everything-from sales to customer communication-it might seem rather obvious that content consumers want to interact with information and those who produce it. However, as an old school content producer who still produces print publications, I am painfully aware of a "digital divide" that exists between the way we conceive of content for print and the way it wants to be consumed digitally.
- October 2010 Issue, Posted Oct 01, 2010
We've seen the shuttering of dozens of B2B publications, we see some moving online only, and we see the emergence of web-native alternatives that leverage work-at-home flexibility to create content at a lower cost: no offices, no benefits, no salaries, lower freelance fees, etc. However, even these nimble web-based companies are struggling to survive on banner ads and webinars.
- September 2010 Issue, Posted Aug 24, 2010
"National Literacy Trust Research Reveals More Young People Own a Mobile Phone Than a Book." Although that headline doesn't tell the whole literacy story, it does kick off this provocative point: "Findings from new National Literacy Trust research ... reveal that 86% of young people in the UK own a mobile phone, while only 73% have books of their own. The study of over 17,000 young people reveals a strong link between both young people's reading ability and access to books at home."
Ebooks have moved out of the niches and into the mainstream, and this panel demonstrated how players of all types are examining the opportunities they present. Not surprisingly, one of the primary concerns forum expressed is confusion given the number of devices and competing standards on the market It is time to rebuild the ebook infrastructure from the ground up.
- June 2010 Issue, Posted May 31, 2010
I've got a myth I'd like to bust: the myth of telecommuting. I read statistics everywhere about how more and more organizations are embracing remote working. But frankly, I don't see it in practice.
- May 2010 Issue, Posted Apr 29, 2010
The privacy bar keeps moving, and we need to closely monitor these changing mores as we do business. However, it appears that the notion of privacy has not been abandoned altogether.
- April 2010 Issue, Posted Apr 05, 2010
Today, the influence of our peers has taken on a new guise, through the infinitely expanded sphere of community online. While we are all socially motivated to one extent or another, today, the role of social life extends well beyond the lunchroom, and it is profoundly impacting every aspect of business.
- March 2010 Issue, Posted Mar 08, 2010
Tara Hunt is on to something when, in her book The Whuffie Factor, she says that today Andy Warhol's saying "everyone will be famous for 15 minutes" has changed to "everyone will be famous to 15 people."
The EContent 100 judging team is a busy crew. Read their bios and you'll see that this is a group of people with some very demanding day jobs. For them to devote so much of their valuable time to compiling the list is remarkable. Certainly, it is their diversity and their deep day-to-day connection with the digital content industry that makes them qualified to undertake this task. Yet it does make the process even more challenging-as if trying to evaluate the merits of hundreds of companies weren't difficult enough.
- December 2009 Issue, Posted Nov 24, 2009
I just finished reading the 20th anniversary edition of Neil Postman's Amusing Ourslves to Death. Even in the harsh light of hindsight, his analysis of television's effect on discourse remains compelling. In fact-when I consider the effectiveness of television as entertainment medium-I can see how efforts to transform news into entertainment in an attempt for the function to fit the form has contributed to the declining value of news.
- November 2009 Issue, Posted Oct 30, 2009
It's not news that magazines are anorexic, newspapers are dropping in droves, and industry leaders are calling for everything from forbidding the use of headlines for linking to putting up pay walls around anything and everything. It feels frantic, even desperate.
- October 2009 Issue, Posted Sep 28, 2009
I just got busted for referencing a '60s Charlton Heston movie. OK, I get nostalgic. So when I heard an interview in which someone referred to "slugs" in the context of journalism, I felt like I was taking another joyride in the Wayback Machine: Could slugs be alive and well in contemporary journalism?
- September 2009 Issue, Posted Sep 02, 2009
Generation gaps are influenced by many factors: Some are moral, religious, and sociopolitical, while others are little more than quibbles over style. (Though at 18, fashion can take on fairly grandiose connotations.) While some gaps can be measured in hair or skirt lengths, others are almost unquantifiable in scope: shaped by political transformation, war, economic collapse.
The good news is that professionally created content is not inherently less valuable. The bad news is that it has become unhinged from any viable means of support.
- June 2009 Issue, Posted May 28, 2009
To rescue the beleaguered newspaper industry, there has been talk of a return to paid content (not so sure about the soundness of trying to unring a bell), nonprofit endowments, or government bailouts. Yet, as we've seen with the auto industry, throwing money at complex business problems does not suffice. Consider the music business, beset by the increasing legal and illegal distribution of music online. Today, successful musicians are giving music away to make money on concert tickets. Deeply entrenched, seemingly fundamental models have to be rebuilt in light of digital distribution and the expectation of free content, despite the fact that making quality content costs money.
- May 2009 Issue, Posted May 01, 2009
When I was a bartender back in my college days, I often marveled at what people were willing to do to get a free t-shirt. OK, it went beyond marveling: Sometimes the bouncers and I would really push it, trying to find a point at which the crowd would cry out, "No, we will not do a chicken dance while singing ‘The Tide Is High' just to get that Jägermeister t-shirt." The thing is, there was almost always someone willing.
- April 2009 Issue, Posted Apr 02, 2009
My husband often jokes that he married me for the gadgets. When we first met, this certainly wasn't the case—I was a literary scout, and my booty consisted of manuscripts of forthcoming books (exciting stuff only to those of us eternally on the lookout for a great read). Not long afterward, however, he did fall in love with me (or my job) all over again: I joined the team at EMedia magazine, where we reviewed exciting emerging technologies, such as CD and DVD burners; and a variety of related technologies, such as different types of surround sound.
- March 2009 Issue, Posted Feb 19, 2009
My audiobook ended while I was driving into the office. With 30 more minutes of back roads to navigate, I opted to listen to the radio. I have a few different stations programmed into my radio, as my epic commute takes me in and out of the range of several. Clicking until I hit a live station, I was immediately intrigued by an accented voice discussing the history of the Nobel Prize. I glanced up to where, on another day, my satellite radio receiver would sit, to find out who was speaking. Alas, it was analog. So I had to wait until the end of the Democracy Now! program to learn that it was Peter Zander, curator of the Nobel Museum in Stockholm, Sweden.
There have always been families who lived in remote areas, but most of us count on an extensive network of interconnectivity with friends, family, co-workers, and even random encounters with strangers. This has become amplified by our always-on connectivity and intense social interaction online.
- December 2008 Issue, Posted Dec 01, 2008
I can sing the alphabet backward. I learned it as a child and it sticks with me, just like its more popular cousin, the alphabet song. In his keynote at Enterprise Search Summit West, held Sept. 23-24 in San Jose, Calif., Gene Smith said that social discovery isn't new. It's been around a lot longer than I've known any alphabet songs—not to mention the web, much less its 2.0 iteration.
- November 2008 Issue, Posted Oct 10, 2008
A former EContent assistant editor, Kinley Levack, forwarded me an August column from The New York Observer, The Media Mob. Her email bore this subject line: "I will always think of you when I hear this phrase …" Alas, the column was not about the most inspiring bosses ever. In fact, it was about "The New Media Religion: ‘Platform Agnostic.'"
- October 2008 Issue, Posted Sep 16, 2008
Many of us know that bookstores employ "cooperative advertising," which is little more than a pay-for-placement arrangement. So who can we trust? I get my best recommendations from friends, colleagues, and the library staff-picks shelf. In some ways, I am old-fashioned. However, I have also become quite addicted to user reviews...
- Sept 2008 Issue, Posted Aug 15, 2008
Agile thinking is something we do everyday. Perhaps we miss a word or two on a bad phone connection, or we don't express our thoughts clearly in an email, yet the person on the other end of the communication detects myriad clues from context or experience to interpret meaning, or asks follow-up questions for clarification. Michelle Manafy, editor of EContent magazine, waxes eloquently on the topic . . .
I don't understand knowledge management. Yes, it is among the things we cover, but I swear it is the one of the most elusive. While content may be reduced to something as ephemeral as zeros and ones or bits and bytes, knowledge is one of the ultimate intangibles. How do you capture it in the first place so that you can make it manageable? It's like trying to catch air with a net.
- June 2008 Issue, Posted May 20, 2008
With digital distribution, the rules are still emerging and, like publishing business models, will continue to do so. Some things remain almost constant, though, such as the free versus fee debate. From B2B magazine and daily paper models to newsstand sales and high-value subscription content, the publishing business has always demanded a range of formulas for feeding the bottom line.
- May 2008 Issue, Posted Apr 18, 2008
I earned a couple of memorable C’s in my academic history. One was for my capricious foray into physics, which I took as a college elective in an effort to follow the cryptic conversations my physics-major best friend had with her science pals. The other was in fifth grade handwriting. My teacher was appalled at my sloppy penmanship. She sent home a note to my mom, and they both stepped up the practice sessions … to no avail. Two years later, my grandmother bought me my first typewriter. I am forever indebted.
- April 2008 Issue, Posted Apr 04, 2008
I threw away my dictionary. Tossed it. Considered my cluttered desk and decided it was time to take a critical look at what was crowding this valuable real estate. I gathered a stack of books I've always kept near at hand and, as I wiped the dust off of them, came to the realization that, while I look up the occasional tricky bit of grammar in my tiny, trusty Strunk & White's The Elements of Style, I literally haven't used my dictionary or thesaurus in years.
- March 2008 Issue, Posted Feb 19, 2008
Part of email's appeal from the start was its ability to link team members who didn’t have the luxury of sharing a space. In some cases, it was teams comprised of individuals throughout a university campus; in others, it was researchers located across the globe. There is also a characteristic that computer folk and academics share: a tendency to keep odd hours. Email helped with this. Much of early email was limited to internal-only mailbox systems that let team members leave messages for others to pick up and respond to whenever they happened to come in and boot up. So, between team playing and time shifting, what’s not to love? A whole lot.
Today in Arizona, pack mules will deliver mail to the Havasupai tribe. Their village, Supai, clings to the side of the Grand Canyon, and—as has been the case for a century—mules still provide the most efficient means of delivering the mail. This isn’t to imply that the Havasupai don’t get email. They are certainly online, as many of the packages delivered to them are products purchased through the web.
- December 2007 Issue, Posted Nov 15, 2007
The likelihood of any bottled water originating from pristine tropical falls may be questionable, but it does arouse my thoughts about evolving perceptions.
- November 2007 Issue, Posted Oct 23, 2007
We old-timey publishing folks think in terms of lead time: We always think a couple of months in advance. I'm more likely to have trouble remembering what month it actually is than the fact that I'm working on my October column right now, just finished editing October news, am editing November features, and am voting on the December EContent 100 list.
- October 2007 Issue, Posted Sep 25, 2007
In his most recent book, Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder, Weinberger humanizes the nearly inconceivable scope of the digital content universe.
- September 2007 Issue, Posted Aug 21, 2007
Despite his lighthearted take on the power of the Google brand, senior product and marketing manager for Google Enterprise Kevin Gough had some serious insights into how the consumer market dictates expectations inside the enterprise. Without doubt, IT departments hear users say they want enterprise search to “work like Google,” while serious searchers bemoan the sheer quantity of results the engine generates.
Bad marketing makes me sick. From releases comprised of extreme hyperbole to buckshot-spray pitches and spam-filter clogging quantity, I am inundated with the bad and the ugly, along with the good. This week, I read a press release that had the profoundly poor taste to “leverage” the shooting at Virginia Tech in order to promote its video search engine. I won’t mention the company’s name here because I wouldn’t want to give them more attention than they deserve. What is significant about the release, other than the depths to which those who aren’t good at their jobs will sink in an effort to get a little ink, is how it highlights the hottest marketing tool of the moment: user-generated video
- June 2007 Issue, Posted May 15, 2007
The other day I was trying to track down someone I haven’t seen in about 20 years. I tried Google and, shockingly, received too many results. The two links on the first page of results that I clicked and skimmed through were old and not terribly useful. Next, I tried ZoomInfo. I actually find this service to be a bit spooky.
- May 2007 Issue, Posted Apr 24, 2007
Examples of fixed and fluid organizations abound. There are those that rely on size and dominance to maintain the status quo and those which, even if they are large, stay nimble and evolve with the marketplace, in part by tapping the collective web whims and wisdom.
- April 2007 Issue, Posted Mar 16, 2007
Charles Simonyi is slated to be the fifth day-tripper to visit the International Space Station and plans to document his adventure online with a blog, pictures, an “Ask Charles” forum, and more. I bet there will be a good-size audience for some vicarious thrill riding. On the other hand, despite the novelty of civilian space travel and Simonyi’s cyber-extended nerd entourage, I can’t quite picture whole families huddled around the computer to watch.
- March 2007 Issue, Posted Feb 20, 2007
Maybe it is the nature of publishing, but I don't remember ever working in the same office with every member of my team. I've witnessed the evolution of digital collaboration first hand and with hands on: from taking typewritten copy from writers and keying it into a Verityper all the way to building and using wiki workspaces.
A plane hit a building in New York. I saw it on the evening news. The evening news saw it on YouTube. Right in the middle of the broadcast, the anchors cut to a YouTube video of the tragic event. The audience is making the news these days.
- December 2006 Issue, Posted Nov 15, 2006
In a recent edition of John Lienhard's The Engines of Our Ingenuity, which I heard in the car on National Public Radio, Lienhard discussed the demotion of Pluto from planet to dwarf planet—brilliantly tying in the naming of the Disney dog. When I went to the University of Houston's site to check the name of the episode ("Poor Old Pluto"), I found that in addition to offering online transcripts of his commentaries on NPR, Lienhard now also provides them as podcasts. I will admit that I got what I needed from the transcript, but I clicked to listen anyhow, to reignite the flame of inspiration.
- November 2006 Issue, Posted Oct 31, 2006
Simply put, really simple syndication isn’t simple at all. While ease of use on the consumer side—one-click subscription—is improving through aggregators like syndic8 or NewsGator, finding and using RSS feeds continues to mystify most readers. If you see that orange RSS (or XML) button and click, you get a discomfiting view of the code that makes the feed work. I don’t want to know. I just want to click, read, and go.
- October 2006 Issue, Posted Sep 19, 2006
Most of the media is breathless about Web 2.0. While we’ve dipped our toes into the hyperbolic floodwaters here at EContent, our reporting has mostly been of specific applications, rather than a lot of the rah-rah coverage I’ve read in a number of mainstream and technology publications.
- September 2006 Issue, Posted Aug 29, 2006
I have never lived in a development or suburb, but those I’ve visited seem to suffer from a confusion of quaint street-naming conventions in which Honeysuckle Lane intersects Honeysuckle Court. The fact that the houses look nearly identical is painfully exacerbated by the streets all bearing cloying and similar names, which has left me winding through speed bump-safe streets only to be frustrated by a surplus of cul-de-sacs. It leaves me with the impression that suburbs are insiders’ clubs, where only those who can detect the subtle distinctions between mass-market designs can navigate with confidence.
Face it: face time remains the most valuable way to forge relationships. While the Web makes it possible to find almost anyone, nothing compares to shoulder bumping and elbow rubbing when you want to make useful business connections. That’s why networking remains the most compelling reason to attend the Buying and Selling eContent conference. Not only is the show a content-biz Who’s Who, almost every aspect of it is designed to provide networking opportunities. In fact, sometimes the actual conference sessions feel like they get in the way of why everyone is really there.
- June 2006 Issue, Posted May 23, 2006
The announcement of the Sony eBook Reader, expected out this month, triggered a flurry of speculation about the ebook market. We at EContent aren’t immune: We wrote about its Japanese predecessor (LIBRIé), covered its CES debut, speculated on its potential impact on the ebook market, and are angling for a review unit (as is every other media outlet on the planet). Sure, I’m interested in any delivery mechanism for digital content and the opportunity it offers as another content outlet, but damn, the new Sony Reader is just so small and hot!
- May 2006 Issue, Posted Apr 28, 2006
The opening of the 2006 Winter Olympics was a picture of postmodernism. The athletes pointed still, phone, and video cameras back at the world watching them. It is interesting so many chose to be chroniclers of the moment rather than simply experience the fact they are living history. Yet, as each Olympics offers a time-lapse look at how humans push the boundaries of physical achievement forward—for me embodied in the women’s halfpipe snowboarding competitors, who only four years ago barely met TV cameras head on and now soar high above them—they provide similar insight into the way technology and the coverage of the events changes as well.
- April 2006 Issue, Posted Apr 12, 2006
Google’s announcement that it was launching its very own Video Store dazzled a lot of folks. While the interface is anything but high-gloss (in fact, it is so understated—like all things Google—it’s almost silly), this “search engine’s” further push into media-mogul territory captured a whole lot of attention. Now that Google has not only taken on the biggies but joined their ranks, it isn’t surprising that it will counter Apple’s iTunes success with a stream mall of its own. Still, streaming video is hot, hot, hot, and a lot of ink (e- and otherwise) will be spilled analyzing this move and the populist approach Google has taken by putting “Joe’s home movies” on a virtual shelf right next to super-successful television series.
- March 2006 Issue, Posted Feb 28, 2006