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March 2009 Archives

March 5, 2009

Twitter Ain't Search

The twitter buzz is unstoppable. My wife subscribes to the magazine Entertainment Weekly - I was flipping through it the other day and saw they created a section in there that re-prints select tweets from select celebrities. Yep, Twitter has hit the main stream.

The two meme's that seem to be most prevalent about Twitter these days are (1) how is it going to make money; and (2) is it a Google killer? The former is pretty obvious given right now Twitter is not currently monetized while the latter a bit more complicated. Lots of smart people view Twitter as a threat to Google because it in "real time search." I'm not so sure.

Perhaps I'm one of those people that doesn't entirely "get" Twitter. With that, I do from time to time tweet (mostly as an extension of Facebook through the Twitter app) and I try to follow both friends and industry people. My main issue with Twitter as a reader is that it quickly becomes overkill - too many posts moving too quickly down my screen.

Aha, you say, see a killer search app would cure this - Twitter is search. Maybe. I kind of view Twitter as dead simple blog platform for the masses (hence the adoption of it by the masses). Blog platforms like the one for this blog (Movable Type) can be complicated - especially for the mainstream folks who don't know/ want to learn html commands.

Folks like Six Apart and Blogger tried to cure this by creating easy to use blog platforms like Vox and, well, Blogger. But they never hit the mainstream like twitter. It turns out that not just the platform is hard - blogging itself is hard. It's long form. You need to come up with ideas and then write mini-essays on them. No one likes to write essays. Its time consuming and takes lots of editing. And if you want anyone to read them you need to do this at least daily. Not so easy.

Twitter does away with all that. Text messaging 140 characters or less is something most of us do every day outside Twitter and its generally not held to standards on spelling, grammar or even content. "I'm going to the store" is a fine tweet, but a bad blog post. But it is real time expression - and now there is a platform for it: the blog platform for the masses. From geo cities to Movable Type to live journal/ vox/ blogger to this. Everyone now has their presence online and can express themselves.

But is this search? When blogging reached its hay day (3 years ago?), we quickly found out that search was the entirely wrong mechanism to consume blogs. That's why companies like feedster and technorati (and products like google blog search) never really took off. Consuming a blog was more of a social thing, not a search thing. Whether it was through recommendations, shared links, the blogroll, trackbacks, commentary or an aggregator - most of us determined which blogs to consume via social mechanisms, not searching for content.

So back to Twitter: is twitter search going to be really that much different than blog search? Its hard for me to see the differences. Unless of we re-define "search" to mean something beyond user generated queries against an index of documents. I think twitter will be consumed like blogs - socially through word of mouth and links - and yes, Entertainment Weekly. And that ain't search.

March 18, 2009

Dying Days of March Madness

March madness is here! Starting tomorrow we're in for the 3 week long party known NCAA men's basketball tournament. We should probably make sure we enjoy it while it lasts.

As everyone knows, newspapers are a dying breed. The internet killed them. Not because of the ubiquity of news outlets though - although competition for the user is fierce. News is everywhere. It's just you can't make any money with it.

Pretty regularly a reporter or columnist or analyst will come out with an article/ report claiming the fate of the newspaper industry hinges on a paywall. Of course this is all nonsense. Newspaper circulation revenue is always dwarfed by ad revenue. If newspapers converted every online user today to a subscription model, the newspaper industry would be still dying. It's not enough. The ad model for that underwrote what we know as the modern newspaper is broken and it ain't ever getting fixed.

Ok, so what's that have to do with March madness? Well, as goes the newspaper industry, so goes the TV industry. Viewership is dying. Advertisers realize that buying an expensive ad on TV carries no reliably measurable ROI. Other alternatives do - and so the dollars will migrate.

Of course,TV ad revenue is what pays for expensive content like the NCAA tournament - and the NBA, NFL, MLB, Olympics, etc. When the ad revenue goes away, television networks will find themselves in the same spot as newspapers: trying to figure out a way to underwrite the expensive content they distribute. And like newspapers, if they try to rely on circulation revenue (PPV, webcast, etc.), it won't come close to what they make today.

So tomorrow when you're watching the games, and marveling at the high production value and listening to the many overpriced analysts give their thoughts on the minutiae, make sure you enjoy it. My guess is it ain't gonna last.

About March 2009

This page contains all entries posted to Marksonland in March 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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