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"WATCH THIS!" This is a common attention-getting technique online.


Throw yourself under a bus, attract spectators. There are countless ways to reveal your embarrassments, your inner demons and your current conflicts. There are a myriad of crazy projects you can undertake, all guaranteed to attract an appreciative crowd, the same people who want to see the crazy guy jump off the bridge or the brawl break out in the parking lot. Do it well enough and enough often and you will gain attention. Your competitive advantage. Are you going to succeed because you return emails a few minutes faster, tweet a bit more often and stay at work an hour longer than anyone else?

Your competitive advantage

I think that's unlikely. When you push to turn intellectual work into factory work (which means more showing up and more following instructions) you're racing to the bottom. It seems to me that you will succeed because you confronted and overcame anxiety and the lizard brain better than anyone else. Perhaps because you overcame inertia and actually got significantly better at your craft, even when it was uncomfortable because you were risking failure.

A decision without tradeoffs... Pre digital. A brief visit to the emergency room last month reminded me of what an organization that's pre-digital is like.

Pre digital

Six people doing bureaucratic tasks and screening that are artifacts of a paper universe, all in the service of one doctor (and the need to get paid and not get sued). A 90-minute experience so we could see a doctor for ninety seconds. Wasteful and even dangerous. Imagine what this is like in a fully digital environment instead. Of course, they'd know everything about your medical history and payment ability from a quick ID scan at the entrance. School is pre-digital. Perhaps the most critical thing you can say of a typical institution: "That place is pre-digital.

" Who comes on opening night? I understand the folks who wait for a creative work to come out in paperback, to be free on TV, the ones that get the half-price tickets at TKTS near the end of the run.

Who comes on opening night?

They're cheap, at least when it comes to this particular sort of art. I understand the audience that waits to read the reviews, that wants to hear from friends and anointed critics before they spend their money. They're careful. So who comes on opening night? No discounts, no reviews, no warning... The patrons come. And the true fans come. Getting serious about the attention economy. First, to restate the obvious: Attention from those interested and able to buy is worth more now than ever before.

Getting serious about the attention economy

Companies like Google, Amazon, Daily Candy, Netflix, Target, and on and on traffic in attention. It's their primary asset. Individuals are also valued and respected in large measure by the quality of attention and trust they earn from their publics. Walking away from "real" As in, "that's not a real football team, they don't play in Division 1" or "That stock isn't traded on a real exchange" or "Your degree isn't from a real school.

Walking away from "real"

" Real contains all sorts of normative assumptions and implicit criticisms for those that don't qualify. Real is just one way to reject the weird. My problem with the search for the badge of real is that it trades your goals and your happiness for someone else's. I was wrong. In 1993, I saw the web coming.

I was wrong

I was hired to write the cover story for a now defunct computer magazine about the internet, and dismissed the new Mosaic browser in a single paragraph. "It's completely up to you" ... and that's the problem.

"It's completely up to you"

I was picking out the mat for a framed photo and there were a thousand colors to choose from. Straight up. "Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.

Straight up

Can I see your body of work? Who is your customer? Rule one: You can build a business on the foundation of great customer service.

Who is your customer?

Rule two: The only way to do great customer service is to treat different customers differently. The question: Who is your customer? In search of a timid trapeze artist. Institutions, Confidence, and the News Crisis. Dean Starkman has written a lengthy piece in the Columbia Journalism Review, assessing the writings of a group of us he calls the “Future of News” movement. That essay, Confidence Game, focusses principally on Jay Rosen and me, both of NYU’s Carter Institute, and Jeff Jarvis of CUNY, though noting some similarity of vision with Emily Bell of Columbia, Dan Gillmor of Arizona, and John Paton, publisher of the Journal-Register Company.

(Unmentioned fellow travelers include, mutatis mutandis, Steve Yelvington, Chris Anderson, Amanda Michel, Steve Buttry, Jonathan Stray, and Alan Mutter.) Starkman doesn’t just criticize us (though he does that, at length.) He also puts forward a Burkean defense of institutional tradition as a store of embedded wisdom, arguing for the continued relevance of existing news organizations, especially newspapers, in something very close to their current form. He jokingly calls his vision the “Neo-Institutional Hub-and-Spoke Model.”