Talking about the future…


Last Thursday I was interviewed by Tony Delroy on the Nightlife program, an ABC program broadcast nationally. We talked about the future in a broad ranging interview and talkback session spanning 40 minutes, covering topics including the digital divide, video everywhere, social response to technology, commoditization, doing business virtually, infinite content, virtual environments, and even teleportation. The entire interview is available as an mp3 download (14MB).

No astroturfing around here!


Astroturfing” is the practice of corporate PR agents artificially creating what appear to be grassroots movements. Astroturf is a product used on the grounds of sports stadiums – so it may look like grassroots, but it ain’t. Examples of astroturfing include paying people to put comments on blogs or websites, bloggers who purport to be other than who they are, and paying people to flock to events covered by media to look like people care – plenty more examples from the Center for Media and Democracy. Trevor Cook and Paul Young have kicked off an AntiAstoturfing campaign, complete with logo for PR agencies that declare themselves astroturfing-free. In a world where new communications technologies are giving power to the many to express themselves and gain influence, there is no question there will be more and more astroturfing. People will become increasingly sceptical about whether an apparent groundswell of opinion is real or not, though I also believe that it is well-nigh impossible to hide these kinds of activities on any scale for long. There is the real potential for the PR industry to divide along the lines of those happy to do this work, and those who refuse. Trevor and Paul have stated where they stand.

Launching the Future of Media Report 2006


From the start, a key part of the idea for the Future of Media Summit was to create some interesting content that would provide a basis for discussion at the event. Something that would help people think in a structured and productive about what’s really happening in the world of media. The Future of Media Report 2006 is NOW! officially launched.


Download Future of Media Report 2006

The Summit is on next July 18/19, simultaneously in Sydney and San Framcisco. Get thee along! It will be a mighty fine occasion, with well over a 100 people in Sydney, nigh on 50 in San Francisco, and a whole bunch globally on the live videostream. Check the website in the next couple of days about the live videostream. There’ll also be some kind of “audience blogging” at the event, including people in all locations. If not, just read the report, and the event will leave a trail of participatory content behind it.

Some of the things you’ll find in the report:

Global media market highlights. In 32 years media will have doubled its share of the global economy. Newspaper revenue is stagnant, but television, driven by cable subscriptions, is growing healthily. The US is heavily overrepresented in the global media markets, boasting 42% of all revenue. However China’s media appetite is exploding.

Global media comparisons. Other countries are catching up to the US in online advertising, though classifieds is a particularly strong source of revenue growth in the US. Teens spend more total time with media than adults, but less time watching TV.

Emerging media relationships. The Washington Post far outstrips other major US newspapers in blog references per print copy, but still lags The Guardian. Almost half of all “mashups” are based on location. PhotoBucket outstrips the growth pace of MySpace.

Content creation and usage. Eighteen percent of Americans over 65 years old have created content on the Internet, showing it’s not just for teenagers. 37% of all blog posts are in Japanese, more than in English.

Media industry networks. Microsoft remains the company most central to global media alliances and joint ventures. Yahoo!, Apple, CBS, Viacom, and Sony Ericsson are among those that have become more central over the last five years.

The Future of Media Strategic Framework. A framework to pull together some of the many threads that make up the future of media, including the symbiosis of mainstream and social media, the consumer/ creator archetype, content, formats, revenue, distribution, globalization and localization, and intellectual property.

Five ideas transforming media. Key ideas include “time compression,” describing how people’s media consumption habits change when they get busier, and “infinite content,” about a world in which limitless media is available.

Media snippets. In 1892 there were 14 evening newspapers in London. Today there is just one. 36% of US high-school students believe that newspapers should get “government approval” before stories are published.

The main intent of the report is to build a conversation. So very interested in any thoughts, comments, additions, disagreements, other stimulating stuff in this space. Actually I need to check my comments function is working properly. Email me if it isn’t. Speak later!

Will mainstream advertising die?


Connect Marketing, led by the dynamic Carolyn Stafford, is running The Connect Debate – The Tipping Point: Will Mainstream Advertising Die? to be held in Sydney on 6 July. I am – surprise, surprise – on the affirmative team, together with Malcolm Auld of MAD and Helen Fitzpatrick of IBM. Simon Canning, editor of the Marketing section of The Australian, is MCing. Should be a very fun event – will debrief on some of the ideas raised afterwards. I’d say we have a compelling case, and the presentation of it will match the topic at hand…

The Future of Media Strategic Framework


[UPDATE:] A slightly updated version of the Future of Media Strategic Framework, together with lots of related content, is available in the Future of Media Report 2006.

Future Exploration Network is organizing the Future of Media Summit, which will be held simultaneously in San Francisco on July 18 and Sydney on July 19 to explore the evolving world of media. In preparation for this, we’ve prepared a Future of Media Strategic Framework. The intention is to provide a framework and starting point for useful discussion before, during, and after the event. It is by no means comprehensive, but rather a project to pull together in a coherent way some of the key themes on the table as media evolves, how they relate, and the strategic questions that media organizations of all stripes need to consider.

The Strategic Framework and explanation below are work in progress. These are early versions, and a small part of what will go into the Future of Media Report, which will be produced just before the Summit, and be available to all Summit attendees in both Sydney and San Francisco. This will also include research comparing the US, UK, and Australian media markets across traditional and social media, major trends in media, and more.


Click on the image for the Future of Media Strategic Framework pdf (293KB)

Future of Media Strategic Framework: Diagram Explanation

The symbiosis of mainstream and social media

A symbiotic relationship is emerging between mainstream media (such as newspapers and broadcast), and social media (such as blogs, podcasts, and online social networks). Mainstream media and social media feed off each other. Blogs provide a vast public forum for discussion of content provided by major media. Leading blog search engine, Technorati, has enabled every online piece on The Washington Post, Newsweek and Associated Press newspapers to display the complete blog discussion about that article, turning an article into a conversation visible to all. At the same time, it has become common for mainstream media to quote blogs and bloggers, sometimes exclusively, and the conversations between bloggers often provide the ideas for media stories. Together, mainstream and social media create a single media landscape in which we can all participate.

Strategic questions: How can you best draw on social media for content and ideas, and facilitate social media commenting on and annotating your content?

Key features of social media

Conversation is almost by definition the heart of social media.

Relationships between people and ideas emerge in a very different fashion from the one-to-many configuration of mass media.

Annotation is commentary on and reference to existing information and ideas. This will soon spread into geospatial annotation, where conversations are generated around physical locations.

Self-exposure is a more powerful driver of social media than self-expression. The exhibitionism and associated voyeurism of blogs and social networks are a key factor driving participation, as Richard Watson points out.

Read more

Announcing the Future of Media Summit 2006


A belated blog announcement of Future Exploration Network’s latest venture: the Future of Media Summit 2006. In Living Networks I suggested that the lion’s share of the economy – and certainly almost all the growth – would be based on the flow of information and ideas. Another word for that is media. Increasingly, media encompasses not just traditional print, broadcast, and online, but almost anything that is information, ideas, or entertainment. In other words, most of what we experience. The intention of the Future of Media Summit is to explore how the media landscape is unfolding, and uncover practical insights into business strategy.

The summit will be a world first (as far as I’m aware…) in linking two continents in a live conference setting. The event will be run in San Francisco June 18 @ 5-9pm, while the Sydney event will be the following day 8am-2pm. San Francisco 7-9pm will be simultaneous with Sydney 12-2pm, with videoconference links briding the panel discussions across the two cities. In addition there will be live audience blogging and live videostreaming of the event.

I’m very pleased to say there will be no speeches or presentations in the entire event. Instead of a keynote, we are featuring a conversation between Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired magazine and author of the much-awaited book The Long Tail, with John Hagel, one of the best thinkers in this space, who made his name with the prescient book Net Worth. Other fabulous people involved include Dr. Moira Gunn of TechNation, David Sifry of Technorati, and on the Sydney side, people like Jack Matthews, CEO of Fairfax Digital, Hugh Martin, editor of, and many others with great insights to share. In addition, we will run participant panels at the events, so that everyone can engage in discussions and share insights.

Key links to the event:

Future of Media website



San Francisco

Online invitation



Online invitation


Hope you can make it! If you’re not in those cities on those dates, please do pass on info to people who may be interested in attending, or tune in later for information on the videostreaming of the event.

There will also be substantial content associated with the event. The Future of Media Podcast Series features great interviews with Art Kleiner, editor in chief of Strategy + Business magazine, Nicholas Scibetta, global head of media strategy at Ketchum PR, and a raft of others coming very soon.

We will release a Future of Media Report just before the event. This will include a wide range of content and original research. The Future of Media Strategic Framework, which will be used as a basis for the discussions and conversations at the event, will be released in its first version in the next couple of days – I look forward to thoughts and reflections on this when it’s out!

Advice from business bloggers


Dr Nora Barnes, Director of the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachessets, has recently produced a very interesting report titled: Behind the Scenes in the Blogosphere: Advice from Established Bloggers, based on interviews with 74 bloggers who are “some of the biggest and best in the business” of corporate blogging (including myself, though this description may be a bit of stretch in my case). It brings out some very interesting points – Dr Barnes has distilled some great insights from the interviews, as well as compiled very useful statistics and complete quotes from the bloggers on their advice to those undertaking business blogging. Steve Rubel picked up on the fact that the first “Blogosphere Truth” is that blogs require time and commitment. Yup, blogs do not write themselves… But for many writing blogs can be a very worthwhile investment of time and energy.



What licensing for user-created content?


ABC News is asking readers to submit images and video for a forthcoming report on global warming, looking for everyday indications of climate change. Asking for reader contributions is not new, though increasingly the broadcast networks and other media are looking for specific content to use in programs they are creating, in addition to being open to any newsworthy items. In this case ABC is offering contributors a non-exclusive license, so they will not own the content, just be able to use it any form themselves for free. This allows the contributor to provide or even sell the content to others subsequently. I expect that “citizen journalists” will grow to expect this kind of license rather than passing over all rights to the media outlet. However there will be experimentation in this space by the media companies as they work out how they deal with the manifold intelectual property issues of user-created content.

Big media moves into user filtered content


AOL, part of one of the big five media conglomerates, is going in a big way into user filtered content. It is taking the Netscape brand, which has lost profile but is still very powerful, and under the wing of Jason Calacanis, whose Weblogs Inc. was bought by AOL last year, creating a new kind of news site. Most commentary on AOL’s move, such as that in the New York Times, points to the similarity of the site’s workings to Over the last year Digg has become massively popular, now attracting 8 million visitors a month, putting it in the top league in the media site stakes. Digg very simply allows people to submit pieces and news on the web, and the readers to collectively vote on and select what’s most interesting. The best floats to the surface. Digg has just announced a move to encompass a whole range of topics, rather than just the tech domain it has covered so far.

Where AOL is going beyond Digg is in employing a couple of dozen full-time and part-time “anchors”, who are journalists/ bloggers who will comment on and build on the stories that the audience deems the most worthy of attention. This brings the symbiosis of mainstream and social media that I have often talked about to the fore in a new model for media. Media-employed journalists are guided by and feed back to the readers. As Richard Watson has pointed out, the Wisconsin State Journal selects its headlines every day on the basis of voting by readers the previous afternoon. AOL’s model takes the integration of media and audience yet further. User filtered content is the big, big emerging space. There has been much talk of user generated content, however there has been less talk of user filtered content. The two domains can be combined in a variety of ways. Examples include:

User created, user filtered: YouTube

Media created, user filtered: Digg

User created, media filtered: Current TV

Media created, media filtered: CNN

AOL’s lead move here will undoubtedly be mimicked by other large media groups – this is the way of the future.

Thinking usefully about the future


The latest issue of Business 2.0 has an interesting piece on how the Institute for the Future (IFTF), one of the oldest future-watching organizations, is creating “artifacts from the future” – physical manifestations of things that may come to pass – to help its clients understand the convergence of current trends and their impact. The article says that IFTF’s clients don’t have the time or mindspace to trawl through the annual 10 year forecasts that are its trademark, thus the creation of more tangible outputs. Alex Soojung-Kim Pang of IFTF believes its clients’ supposed lack of inclination to read reports is overblown, but there is no question that some of the IFTF’s outputs are pretty cognitively dense, and we can all see the attention span of senior executives whittling away year by year. Future Exploration Network will be applying a wide variety of ways of engaging our clients with new ideas. Richard and I, in a project last year helping a major bank develop long-term strategies, used newspapers mocked up with possible headlines for 5-10 years hence to stimulate discussions and new ideas. If we’d had the budget, we would have created one or more “bank branches of the future” that executives could experience for themselves. There is no question that rigor is needed in exploring fundamental trends and how they might play out, but time-impoverished executives often need a more direct approach to provoke them out of their everyday pressures.