Friday, July 08, 2005

Citizen Media 2: The future is concentrated in... Worcester, Mass.?!!

I'll restate the William Gibson paraphrase (not exact quote) from the last post: "The future is here, it's just not evenly distributed yet."

I've posted about Peter Caputa and his excellent blog a couple times -- after swapping a few emails with him, and poking around his extended network over there in Worcester, Mass., I started to see some strange attractor kind of activity.

Firstly, there's the Wormtown Nightlife, a small e-zine sort of publication that has a very Web 2.0 mashup sort of feel to it -- with apartment listings from Craigslist, and events from Whizspark, and all sortsa nice features.

Then Peter started blogging about local bloggers getting print syndication -- which is a seriously hot topic in our own offices, except we tend to think more about print guys building blog audiences on the side -- kinda like Dan Gillmor, The Man Hisself, did.

Then I found this cool little dealie called blogfortickets which, surprise surprise, is a way of getting local bloggers (in Worcester, natch) to publicize an event in exchange for free tickets to that event -- pretty much the unspoken quid pro quo model of the entire access-for-exposure cultural media business, all the way from Vanity Fair magazine and their Oscar party down to your local alternative paper beat reporter plugging his friend's band and scoring a free drink token at their next gig.

And needless to say, when you dig into a "case study" on the blogfortickets site, you are greeted by the cosmic confluence of all things New Media Worcester:

The Event: South End Style

The Task: To help generate online buzz for South End Style by co-ordinating local bloggers to talk up and talk about the event on their blogs. In exchange for their time, bloggers would be given free passes to the event (normally $75)

The Players: Buck Paxton, Duncan Arsenault, Peter Caputa, Volcano Boy, LinneaDates, Andrew Teman, Amy Linny, WormtownNightlife

The Results: Blog for tickets mobilized quickly to take the buzz to the blogs. A WhizSpark event site was created for South End Style to act as the central landing spot for all outgoing blog links. This event website, unlike the main event sponsored site, included special instructions to those who reached the site via blogs…mention the code weblog and receive a free drink ticket with event ticket purchase.

To aid in the process, participating bloggers were given a variety of banners and images, as well as a snippet of information to use in their posts to help them get started. They were each asked to create a post talking up the event in their own way, and linking to the WhizSpark event site. The effect was swift and firm, as word of South End Style permeated the web, creating the buzz that the client was looking for. Last minute ticket sales spiked from word of mouth and online buzz created by the BlogForTickets crew and the event was a success.

There's gold in them thar hills, I think...

So a quick question to the Worcester crew, since it's pretty clear you all know each other:

How do you deal with the old media of Worcester? Besides saying that their site sucks, I mean. The Worcester Telegram and Gazette is owned by the New York Times, has a circulation in excess of 100,000, and has lots of events nicely organized on its site. It's one of the top 100 papers in America. The Worcester magazine may have site issues, but they've got lots of great content, too.

So how does new media interact with old? Trumping it? Joining it? Circumventing it? You guys seem to have boiled the future into a nice tasty concentrated concoction over there -- what's it taste like?

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