Friday, July 01, 2005

Events, News, Local Media

Tyler drops me an email, saying "Caputa has been drinking from our coffee pot."

As an aside, Tyler will be starting his own blog soon. I am fearful that many posts will be of the approximate form, "Ethan and I had this great conversation, he went off to blog about it, and now my task list is two days longer."

This is a fantastically good post by Peter. In addition to the best graphical design and the best blog figurehead in the (granted, small) dudes-starting-an-events-company space, his thinking is really first-rate. And yes, we'd like to help build "that" -- and a heck of a lot more besides!

So let me address a few points:

"We're not talking micro-formats. We're not talking who can get the biggest pile of events. We're talking about leveraging events to build community."

Absolutely agree. As much as I admire Dave and the Technorati crew, they at present seem to have a "one big pile" theory of the Web that is decidedly un-community. In a previous post I suggested that while their Live8 page implies that they may be getting media (and their recent hiring of the exceedingly bright Peter Hirshberg is another big clue) but I am still not sure that they get local media in the slightest. Local media is not one big pile -- it is a lot of little piles, right down to the happy little sandboxes of communities and individual people. Microformats are designed to enable the "one big pile" method of media, and Google News shows how well that works. Not.

However, *someone* (or someones) needs to put together a big pile of events, because that is the grist for the mill that will make this new media go. There are only three (OK, 3 1/2) ways this can be done:

1) People enter the events themselves. As a .5 addendum, individual users like clubs, museums, and the marketing secretary of the San Francisco Symphony enter the events themselves. The shopping sites (Shopzilla, Pricegrabber) have evolved their models to high levels of participation by their data sources/merchants.

2) Some reportorial/editorial/data staff at some "publication" in this new world enters the events themselves.

3) Some magically delicious techno-spider crawls the web and devours reams of prose, spitting out all the gruel and swallowing the crunchy event bits, which are polished to DBMS perfection by its extraordinary digestive tract.

If we look at "old media" like, say, the Pink Pages in the SF Chronicle, (handily reproduced in data form at SFGate) they are getting their events through a combination of 1) and 2). Technorati, with its microformats push, hopes to get events purely through 3). I think that all of us in this space should, right now, face up to the fact that probably it will be some combination of all three.

And I think that we should further promise that if we are ever sitting at some future panel at some future conference we should not, not, not, snipe back and forth about "editorial is better" or "techno-spiders rule" like the mind-numbing WiFi vs. CDMA panel I sat through at CES last February. It's a combination of these, OK? Pax.

Hey, look, I even have a slide on this -- and even better, it includes a long tail! No Rip van Winkel blogging here, nosiree.

"We can create a template for a Sunday football game and let 50 sports bar owners use it to organize Sunday night 2 dollar draft parties at their bar."

Yeah! Right on! Forget 50 -- how about 5000? Heck, there are reportedly 10,000 bars in Wisconsin alone. (I can't find the link 'cause I heard it on NPR). All those guys need is a template, and their local venue information... and some cardinal event representation of "the Super Bowl" to point to.

Now that "cardinal representation" is where things get dicey, but I'll have to leave that for another post. Because we have all learned from Google that there are several kinds of truth, namely statistical, absolute, network-social, and "Sergey said so." Is this the cardinal site for the Superbowl? Or is it someone else's potentially far better site? Is an autobiography the most authoritative source on a politician's life? Hmm. Again, 'nother post for more on that.

"Now think of all of the events that are happening. And then realize that events are ALWAYS happening. There are always events. New ones."

Peter, you are so on the money! But let's take this one teeny weensy step further. What are all these new things that are happening? Well, there are expected things (events) and there are unexpected things (which, I suppose, can also be called events, but only after they happen). When you take all the expected things that are gonna happen, and you take all the unexpected things that just happenened, and you talk about these things in some vaguely structured format supported by a revenue stream, what do you got?


Ye gods.

Again, previous post:
"The three legs of local media are 1) reporting 2) editorial and 3) advertising."

Reporting about what? Events (future) and unexpected things (recent past).
Editorializing about what? Events (future) and unexpected things (recent past).
Advertising? Oh yeah, billions of dollars of it.

Events are so where it's at.

Final point from Peter:

"Create a site for the Olympics and aggregate what everyone is saying around it, pictures people are taking, etc. Create the unofficial (or official) site for the event, and benefit from its buzz."

I'm guessing that Peter means "a virtual site like Technorati did for Live8." Because in the present web reality, creating a site is already an exercise in virtualization, currently phrased as "mashup." And in the emerging 2.0 future, we won't even be able to do that -- all our readers/writiers/participators/eyeballs/hands/heads/hearts/"fellow inhabitants of What's Next" are going to be RSSing and ATOMing and creating their own virtualization of us... which means that we'll have to do things ever so slightly differently.

More on that in a month or two. And tomorrow, I'll expand on Peter's final point about "revenue stream from site-building" and discuss my theory of MySpace as a music-blogging site a bit more. If Tyler doesn't hit me with the coffeepot.

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