Investors, Look for the Mocked - Fred Wilson

I like VC investor @fredwilson's contrarian yet wise view of a key to investing. Look for the good or service that is "mocked and misunderstood. For some reason, that correlates highly with the biggest breakout successes."

Things that do well, but are on the cutting edge, and move us, at least a little, out of our comfort zone, get mocked. People do that thing, but are uncomfortable on some level with doing so, and perhaps have a "should" feeling they shouldn't be consuming or doing whatever the thing is. (It's more complicated than pure guilt, I'd posit.)

Fred points to Twitter as a prime example of a mocked service, and Kickstarter as another up-and-comer that was mocked the other night on NBC's evening news. That brings him comfort.
Comedians, especially satirists, and many artists also point out the thing that's absurd or unsure, or not the majority opinion. They offer new paths and ways of thinking. They can be pointing out paths to greater sanity and satisfaction. But that moment of discomfort, mixed with realization, gets the laugh or the "aha" nod.

When I see ads that say "4 out of 5 people surveyed" like this gum or that detergent, I usually think about the 5th one, and often I'm that person. Or I think of the ways that, even if I'm in the majority, that thing I like could be improved. Of course, going with the one out of five is not a sure-fire way to spell success in business.

But, risk-taking -- as any investor tells you -- gets the higher rewards and, as Fred says, not doing "the obvious" produces the best outcomes. He's always looking for an edge in mitigating risk, and this is an intriguing method.

A VC: Mocked And Misunderstood

Business Case for Amazon "Silk" Fire

I noted when first hearing of it that the Amazon Silk browser seemed big from a tech standpoint, and couldn't resist a quip. Business Insider makes the case that the browser is revolutionary from a business standpoint: Not only does it make web browsing on Kindle much faster, it:

  • will give Amazon exceptional insight into what consumers are interested in, how they use the mobile Internet, and what they want to buy
  • makes the Android operating system, the platform upon which the Kindle Fire runs, much less relevant (and, therefore, much less powerful).
  • is Amazon's browser that will control the consumer's interface and data—and search window—not the operating system. Google's software, in other words, has basically become a device-driver.
So BI says. And the argument is persuasive, and why media types need to pay big attention not just to the distribution channel, but also the technology.

MediaShift/ONA Mixer in Boston

Come meet Dorian Benkoil and Mark Glaser, founder and editorial director of PBS MediaShift, on Wednesday, September 21, in Boston, to help kick off the Online News Association's annual conference. The first round is on Media Shift, just find the guy in the hat! Click here for more information.
Wednesday, September 21 · 7pm - 9pm
Storyville (formerly The Saint)
90 Exeter St.
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 236-1134

This mixer, co-hosted by MediaShift and the ONA, is sponsored by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
Please RSVP for the event with this form.
(Note: You don't have to be registered for the #ONA11 conference to attend the mixer.)

Amazon as the Biggest Media Company? (UPDATED)

This post has been UPDATED to add content and edit with further thoughts, facts and observations. (Marked with **)

= = = =
This is quite an assertion from
Amazon has swiftly become the most disruptive company in the media and technology industries. Its potential in this space is simply off the charts: bigger than Apple’s, bigger than Google’s or Microsoft’s. It’s becoming a purer version of all three.
OK, well, maybe. Yes, Amazon is huge and hugely influential. But c'mon. The Wired story looks at all the things Amazon "could" do, asserting they will do them. Amazon can become a true media producer, can become a platform on which others build -- can do a lot of things.

So can Google or Apple (or maybe even Microsoft). But it's not a foregone conclusion they'll succeed. Or that they, by launching various ventures, will find them profitable. Or even that they can produce reams of great content -- something they have tried, pulled back from, and are trying to do again. They execute their Web commerce business like a charm. Their Kindle was a first-to-market leader that has, **if not created a category, made it truly viable, as Apple did for MP3 players with its iPod.

But let's not forget that Kindle lost significant market share after the iPad came out and offered not only a seamless way to buy and read books with great functionality, but also -- perhaps most importantly -- worked with publishers on pricing in a way Kindle never had. And let's not forget how the iPhone lost market share after Google's Android took hold.**

The story makes the case that Amazon will eliminate the middleman. That's something they've done for years -- exploiting inefficiencies, using technologies, gathering data, squeezing more. They're adept and disruptive in the way all great Web companies are. I like but don't love the Kindle (which you'll see on this blog) because it was (and is) a closed platform that makes it hard to do a lot of the things one can on the open Web, and that requires you to license a book the use of which is controlled by Kindle (which at least now lets you read on just about every popular screen -- from laptop to Blackberry; though not, officially, the Nook, eh?).

But it's not like Google doesn't know anything about eliminating inefficiencies, or being an engine of commerce. Or that Apple doesn't know about having direct relationships with consumers. And, don't forget that the Android upon which the Kindle is based -- even if it is forked from Google's -- was created by Google.

News Consumption Tilts Toward Niche Sites -

Readers have peeled off into verticals of information — TMZ for gossip, Politico for politics and Deadspin for sports, and so on.
That's what the NYTimes says. Like this is news?

Rafat Ali on Entrepreneurs '/ Mike Arrington

"You really don’t have the hustle unless you’re the owner. If you aren’t the owner, you’ll never have the passion that the owner has.

For you, did that passion diminish once you sold {PaidContent to the Guardian U.K.}?

It did. It’s like a switch in your brain. The moment you sell, that switch goes off – [then] the light dims slowly. That’s what has happened with every entrepreneur I know.

peHUB: Rafat Ali on Mike Arrington: “You Just Have to Move On”

Social Media's Nuanced Differences

In the Social Journalism Educators group on Facebook (which I believe is invite only), @emilybell of Columbia U's Tow Center alludes to a great point: Understanding the differences among social media is a core piece of knowledge, and how use them in a given situation a core skill. I've used Facebook to reach out to certain types (for example, suburban mothers of school-age children for one hyper-local news project), Twitter and LinkedIn for other groups or purposes. Am still learning Google -- yet another one to learn -- which at this point seems biggest among the tech influencers or 'digerati.

There's also what I might call the "serendipity factor." Sometimes you discover that an unexpected network is big among your community. With PBS MediaShift and a NY local tech blog, for example, we've seen the occasional spike in traffic from StumbleUpon, a service we had not previously concentrated on. I have even seen some spikes in activity from niche  networks, such as AllTop (which if memory serves is run by uber-marketer Guy Kawasaki). It also changes over time, so it's important to pay attention to the flow, and the changes in use of and abilities of the tools. When Google+ really opens up, and when it releases an API, we'll probably see spikes there. Here's a project I'd like to work on and contribute to: A tool that has the intelligence to do a lot of this for you: IE, it knows that Google+ will work best in this instance, Facebook in that, Twitter in another. I just plug in my content or my need, and the tool decides where and how to send it. We're seeing some nascent attempts (SocialFlow, Measured Voice) but none that yet quite get it right and load balance among all the social media and are able to quickly incorporate the unexpected spikes in new networks.

Beyond iPad: Kindle Edition

Here's a bit of proof that publishers are thinking beyond the iPad. Kindle, shortly after my previous post  giving market share reasons for moving beyond the iPad, came out with a Web app version of its interface. The pictures below show a key difference, and herald a battle between Apple and media app makers. The top image is a screen grab of the Kindle iPad app. Below, the Web app. Can you spot the crucial difference?

Give it a shot before reading on. Click on the image if you want it larger. OK, here's my answer SPOILER ALERT: The key difference is the "Kindle Store" button in the top right of the Web app version. Like the Financial Times before it, Amazon has decided to try to entice users to access its materials on the Web.

By doing so, Kindle avoids Apple's prohibition on having a direct "buy" button to get books from within an Apple-approved app (other than Apple's own iBooks). People go to what is actually a Web site to the get the Kindle Web app, rather than to Apple's iTunes store.  And when they get the app, they get a little button popping up (similar to the FT's) asking them to install Kindle "Cloud Reader" on their home screens. That creates a button much like any app button (see the image at bottom of this post to see how the FT's looks).

If people start using the Web app, Kindle can sell more books directly from iPad users and get around any other onerous restrictions Apple may place. (Yes, Apple could, I suppose, sniff for Web apps on its devices and start to defeat them. But that would likely start to chip away at some of the love Apple gets from users of its tablets and spur at least incremental sales of other, more open ones trying to get traction, such as the Acer tablet released today in the latest Android Honeycomb standard.)

Kindle creator Amazon might also another motive beyond direct sales getting its own user data from people using the app, rather than ceding it to Apple, which doesn't share. Plus, anyone who uses a Web app gets to keep 100% of the revenue they make, rather than giving Apple the 30% cut it takes from people who purchase apps through iTunes. (The 30% argument is applicable for FT, if not Kindle.)

The technology making this all possible is HTML5, the latest version of HTML, which when combined with other also open code like Javascript gives publishers the ability to do some pretty amazing things from within a browser such as Safari or Windows, and not have to write a device-specific app in a proprietary platform such as Apple's iOS. Yes, iPad is the dominant tablet device and will continue to be for some time. But it's not the only one. And people want to make apps that aren't beholden to the iOS operating system, ones that are more flexible, probably cheaper over time, and also give the creator more control.

The FT Web app button is shown bottom left here. It looks like an app button.

Publishers Need to Think Beyond iPad

Predicted iPad sales numbers* show that while sales are to remain strong through 2020, the tablet's market share will keep falling. And revenues will eventually decline even as unit sales keep growing.

These charts (which I created for a speech I'm giving Thursday to media execs at Columbia U.), based on the numbers, from Needham and Co. equity researchers and reported by AllThingsD, show what I mean:

Publishers, app-makers and anyone trying to get content in front of people in our "attention economy" should pay attention. How much longer can they (well, "we") concentrate so much of their tablet efforts on the dedicated iPad platform (based on the iOS operating system), knowing that many in their intended user community will be on other devices? (I've previously noted how iPads are already a fraction of a fraction of the intended universe of content consumption.)

Even as costs for developing an app on the iPad come down from levels well into six figures, does it make sense to develop for iPad, then again for the various flavors of Android, and Windows, Blackberry, Symbian and whatever other tablet systems come out?

Publishers also need to keep up on cross-platform solutions that allow them to develop once and (perhaps with tweaks) spread their content to many devices. The digital chief of one major New York-based magazine publisher told me the company is exploring cross-platform technologies, such as HTML5, which can be shown on any browser-enabled device.

Unfortunately, HTML5 is not yet a complete standard, nor can all devices gracefully handle even the open standards for languages such as HTML and Javascript that do exist. I discovered recently that the browser on the new HP Touchpad, for example, gracefully handles only some of the publications developed by my client, Treesaver.

But the standards will solidify and get better. And vendors, some of whom already exist for smartphones, will move into the tablet arena to bridge the gap. The iPad will continue to hold sway. But publishers need to be on every screen

* The numbers Needham states are far from a sure thing. Who even knows if something Apple or someone else creates will supplant the iPad? Ideally, we'll have a device as powerful and open as a next-generation MacBook Pro in the form factor of an iPad. The iPad has, after all, spurred an entire new category and the same thing could happen again with a new device. (Intel has reportedly predicted that people by 2020 will want chips implanted rather than having to deal with pesky keyboards.)

Who, too, can really say that revenues from the devices will decline? Apple is brilliant at maintaining pricing for its machines year-over-year, adding new features, making them more sleek, giving them more speed and functionality. Yes, market pressures should force the prices down a bit. But Apple is not like other makers, whose devices tend to become commoditized over time as competitors come in. Maybe they will become more so in a post-Steve Jobs era. Plain-spoken Jobs "coach" Bill Campbell said at the recent Silicon Valley Innovation Summit that he thinks the company will go on just fine without him.

What is Google+ (Google Plus) and do I need it?

A most amusing video animation that describes not just Google+ but Social Media's place.

Silicon Valley Mixer

Come by Rudy's in Palo Alto on Weds, 7/27 to see me and PBS MediaShift founder and editorial director Mark Glaser.

Find the guy in the hat for a free drink. And sign up here, on Facebook, to let Mark know you’re coming!

Wednesday, July 27 · 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Rudy’s Pub
117 University Ave.
Palo Alto, California

Rebutting @NYTKeller's Assertion that #twittermakesyoustupid

Memorization was once a tool for preserving information. But today the more important skill is the ability to process and filter it. To quickly decide what needs to be analyzed and responded to, and what ought to be ignored. That's not a cognitive loss, it's an evolutionary advancement.

This is from an eloquent piece (New York Times Editor Is A Horrible Troll Who Doesn't Understand The Modern World - Gizmodo) rebutting New York Times editor Bill Keller, who (somewhat famously, now -- at least if you're on Twitter) started a Twitter discussion about whether #TwitterMakesYouStupid.

Of course, it doesn't, though, as Mat Honan notes in the piece, it can be one of the things that, in this technological age, changes the way we think. It may even lead to changes in our neural pathways. Honan is right to point out how every medium has been decried as the end of human thinking -- including, he says of Socrates, writing -- and this is just one more.

He also points out that we no longer can remember everything we need, nor should we want to. Einstein, I have read, said that he didn't remember his own phone number because why memorize something, and use that brain power, for something you can look up?

I admire the Times, a lot, and the amazing work it does every day, and am willing to forgive it its gaffes. I am waiting, too, to see how open-minded Keller can be in learning from the responses to his Tweets. They can be part of an intelligent discussion about media and technology, and launch longer essays. They do not make someone stupid, though they may reinforce the tendencies of someone who already is headed in that direction.

Social Media ROI, via Social Media for #smwknd

Here's the version of Tweets form folks who attended the "Social Media ROI" seminar I gave at Columbia University. And the presentation is on my company's website,

. They're in reverse chronological order.

CPMs and Pressure on Them

I've been talking with folks recently about ad networks, and how viable they are as a business. They can be, with enough volume -- especially if there's some differentiation, an argument one can make that it's not just another "me-too" network, but rather provides better targeting, more engagement, a new way to reach people in some way or other that's unique, or at least a unique mix.

Still, for a marketer, there's a balance of price and efficiency. If my ads are half as targeted over here, but cost 1/3 as much as buying them in the more targeted place over there, maybe I'm willing to put up with the inefficiency for the cost savings. So there's a lot of downward pressure on prices. The new CEO of an ad re-targeting company (the story linked below explains retargeting) of course makes the case that the network he's heading does have that targeting & efficiency offering. But this quote, I think, points out the challenge for ad networks today, and a reason it makes sense for content producers to look for multiple offsetting revenue streams.

"The difficulty today is there’s so much inventory. I really believe there’s going to be a further compression of CPMs as the proliferation of networks and DSPs and content continues to grow. One of the things that kept up at night was the ability to continue to hold onto high CPMs."

DIGIDAY:DAILY - Why Greg Coleman Bet on Retargeting

Search, Serendipity and Fleetwood Mac

There are those who lament that in the digital age we've lost the ability to browse, as we do in a bookstore or at a newsstand, who say we lose the serendipity of finding the un-searched for, the unrelated, the completely quirky, the thing we might not have considered while strolling past a shelf or gazing over a shoulder.

I have an answer for those doubters: Fleetwood Mac. I was searching the online offerings of my local library today to see what they might have from the old rock band, an interest rekindled via my wife when we and our children watched a recent episode of the "Glee" TV show that featured a song by the group.

There weren't any Fleetwood Mac online-only offerings, but there were eBooks about "Mac" computers, how to code them, hack them, use Applescript and so on. It happens that tinkering with computers is a hobby of mine, and I grabbed a couple of the books, which will be fun and help me do a little coding and hacking, for work and pleasure.

My friend and sometimes colleague Rafat Ali has pointed out how links, tags and feeds can lead to "the serendipity of tripping over fascinating articles about things I would never" have explored. (I'd give the link, but the PaidContent site appears to have moved or deleted the post.)

I couldn't agree more. It's not that we no longer have serendipitous discovery. It's that the nature of it has morphed a bit. Besides, you can still go to a bookstore or magazine stand if you like. It's not either-or. It's additive.

Quoted on SEO by Columbia Journalism Review

CJR Column Mentions The Simpsons : CJR: "“Generally speaking, what’s best for human beings, to find and understand something on the web, is what’s best for the machine,” said Benkoil. “A lot of people will come across what you’re offering via a short link and perhaps a snippet of text. If that headline is cutesy or elliptical or hard to understand, and somebody doesn’t know what he’s going to get, he’s less likely to click. If it’s straightforward and honest about what it’s about, they’re likelier to click. And that’s the same for SEO.”"

Further Thoughts on the Japan Quake, Media and Sharing

In preparation for a radio interview for NHPR's "Word of Mouth" I was prompted to answer a few more questions about the Japan earthquake:

I have not previously had such a clear case of "compare and contrast" as with this example of the Kobe quake in 1995 vs. the recent quake and Tsunami in northern Japan.

I discovered that the richer portrayal I  am getting this time of what is going on is through the combination of traditional media, social media AND personal contacts I maintain through social media and other means. It's almost like different brush strokes of a painting, all of which help fill it out. I wouldn't have had the full picture if I didn't have all four devices there in front of me, as described earlier here and in this PBS MediaShift piece.

Print, TV and radio are relatively linear. You start at one point, keep going along a straight line, and then come to the end once you finish consuming. Digital, however, can be entered at multiple points, and the timeline and consumption pattern is up to you. It's many dimensions all at once. Perhaps I can say it’s 4D: length or top-to-bottom, start-to-finish  [text or linear video or audio]; width or sideways [slideshows for example]; depth [links that let you jump through “stacks” of information];  plus time. I could compress time, by reading the posts of my friend on Facebook, who was sharing what she was seeing on TV. I could scan her wall posts all at once, and not have to watch for the full length of time she did to learn what was happening. I could combine the various dimension -- for example watch a TBS TV stream from Japan saying there are no deleterious health effects at the same time that someone on Twitter was worrying about whether they could go outdoors in Tokyo.

It also pointed up to me something that had always nagged at me when I was a foreign correspondent -- how little I, or anyone, could portray about the way things really were on the ground because we were limited to whatever constructs were there -- the breaking news wire report, the 45-second radio interview or 2-3 minute TV or radio spot, the 1,200, or even 3,000-word written piece. Inverted pyramid. The need to use space or time to explain the basic facts.

I usually monitor Twitter professionally, getting facts, figures, information, leads, and was surprised with how much of the raw Twitter stream was taken up with exclamations that were simply emotional, in Japanese. "How horrible!" "I can't believe this is happening." "Oh, No." "Wow". It brought home to me how people are using these media to get things off their chest in a way that they would use conversation for, and that others were jumping in to console or comfort them or share sympathy.

For those who would like to know more, or help, here is a link to a page of resources about the quake and Tsunami.

The Japanese Earthquake - Media and Feelings

UPDATE: I've written a longer and more detailed account of the below here, for PBS MediaShift.
= = = = =
The reports and pictures of devastation in Japan  reminded me of reporting on the earthquake that leveled Japan's port city of Kobe in 1995. I pray that this time the death toll turns out to be smaller than the 6,000-plus killed those years ago. The pain for me is, perhaps, sharper because of the memories, and that this many years later my friendships there have grown that much deeper.

As a media participant and observer, what struck me this time was how rich and multifaceted the information flow was. Then, I sat in the AP bureau in Tokyo, trying to understand what I could from Japanese broadcast news reports. We were sometimes able to reach someone , official or not, in the Kobe region via phone for a quick interview. We, of course, covered the major news conferences. I (and we, I believe) relied largely for information on the reporters and photographers  (including me three weeks, then six months after the quake) who were dispatched to the scene. Listening to and watching the broadcast channels, and the other wire services was an overwhelming and chaotic, but by today's standards, thin experience.

 Today, sitting in my living room in New York, I felt I had more information at my fingertips than I did then in the AP bureau in Tokyo. In front of me I had a TV connected to digital cable, an iPad, a Blackberry and a Web-connected computer. I got ahold of one Tokyo resident, one of my best friends, via his cellphone in Osaka. I confirmed another close friend in Tokyo was fine by reading her Facebook wall.Yet another I could see was OK by reading her bylines in AP reports. (She was, understandably, quite quiet on Twitter). I meanwhile, was able to watch Japanese TV channels via Ustream links I was referred to by my New York-based friend Sree Sreenivasan. I dipped into the Twitter and Facebook streams as I could. I flipped among reports from multiple publications and sources -- a New York Times slideshow here, a BBC TV show there. A decent amount of the Twitter stream, especially in Japanese, was not very useful in an informational sense; exclamations of relief or horror, or people making strange exclamations that seemed almost senseless. But there were also referrals to data, reports, information I could tap into all at my fingertips.

Each medium served its purpose, and none was better than the other, especially. The sheer amount of video, of course -- from a country that may have more cameras and camera-equipped cellphones than any other per capita -- was that much greater. Even on TV, I saw constantly updated videos among the various channels, rather than the same loop of packaged videos one tended to see in the TV-only era, and some of that video was from handheld cameras and cellphones. My friend in Tokyo, an American who is a very fluent translator, fed us information from Japanese news reports and her own eye-witness accounts. I learned, and was able to confirm, details large and small: that this was either the 5th or 6th largest quake in recorded history, that a nuclear plant was having trouble with its coolant, that 200-300 had died in one area, that a bunch of new cars were washed from a port, that 2 people had died in one town, 7 in another. I learned, by looking at captions of photos, of the geographic expanse affected and imagined what it was like in train stations and an airport I had visited where planes were now strewn about like children's toys. I wasn't reporting, but the feeling of being overwhelmed with data, getting reports that seemed wrong or needed clarification, not being sure what sources could be trusted, and knowing that numbers and quantifications would change (often for the worse) was the same. The feeling of being connected was much stronger, this much farther away.

So far, it seems, all those I know are fine, though I fear the missive that tells me who among my circle has suffered. I know the disaster will be felt for many many months, as it was in Kobe. We'll all feel it, if nothing else, in the way stock markets react and as there are hitches in manufacturing and shipments of Japan-made cars and other goods.</div><br /> In some ways, the connections this time were stronger and richer than they could have been then. My Tokyo friend's uncle and other relatives and friends logged on from New Jersey and wished her well. Friends in the U.S. asked about my loved ones in Japan in a way that was easy to handle but would have been intrusive in an era when we all had to rely on phones. Again, the media and communication did not change the event, fundamentally, but did change the way we were able to experience and share it. Resources like the Google people finder  in Japanese and English, and some social media outreach may have even changed things in a more fundamental way.

Google Clamps Down on Content Factories

Another sign of quality, original content -- sometimes at length -- becoming more valued on the Web:

“This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites — sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful,” Cutts wrote in a blog post. “At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites — sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”

HuffPo Deal Dovetails With AOL Strategy

When AOL bought the Huffington Post, I typed notes and fielded a call from reporter @rfaughnder and never got to writing my own thoughts. Yesterday,. a good part of the discussion in a Social Media Week panel on valuation was about how AOL overpaid, on a purely financial basis (though we all know they were really buying whatever "ooomph" Arianna & Co. give it, not just a multiple of cash flow or revenues; think of what it's worth in PR terms if under Huffington's name it says "AOL" every time she's on ABC, NBC, CBS and all the rest. Not to mention her acumen and her staff's expertise.)

On the panel, Mark Patricof of MESA Global media advisors (and son of media-tech investor Alan Patricof) said HuffPo likely would have found it hard to reach $100 million (which I took to mean yearly revenues), the amount it would have taken to have a very successful IPO. So for them, it was a good deal.

Here's my bullet point list.
  • It shows AOL is now a content company -- especially, for now, written content -- not ISP or services
  • AOL gets HuffPo editorial acumen -- ability to aggregate as well as create
  • HuffPo gets resources (tech, business) and cash
  • But don’t ignore HuffPo technical acumen - content management and SEO,
  • Good value on financial basis? (For HuffPo, certainly. Good valuation, keep brand, keep leadership.)
  • Is this a good strategic fit?
  • Can cultures work together?
  • Arianna's politics an issue? (AOL won’t want to tick off conservatives.()
  • HuffPo was looking to do more local. Patch helps?
  • In line w/ AOL's plans and leaked document (referred to in piece linked below).
  • Another step in the new world of journalism and content creation.
And here are excerpts from Ryan Faughnder's piece in the Annenberg publication Neon Tommy: Huffington Post Deal Dovetails With AOL's Strategy

The changes are strategically in line with what AOL is trying to do already,” said Dorian Benkoil, senior vice president and editorial director of Teeming Media, a consultancy company for digital media organizations.

AOL will try to tap into The Huffington Post’s technical mastery of search engine optimization and content management, he said.

“They have created a successful modern media company based on aggregation, optimization and creation, as well as a very important social layer and the ability to link and monetize those links. I think that model is repeatable across the board,” he said.

According to a copy of AOL’s master plan, acquired by Business Insider, Armstrong wants AOL to “increase its story output from 33,000 to 55,000 per month, page-views from 1,500 to 7,000 and web optimization of stories to 95 percent. Stories are heavily vetted for their potential to draw advertising.

The Huffington Post will clearly benefit from the deal, Benkoil said.

“They get to continue to do what they do and preserve what they have while using the resources of AOL,” he said."

Social Tips and Tools

In honor of Social Media Week (#smw11), Dorian (@dbenk) and others @teemingmedia are tweeting about everything from valuations of media companies in the social age, to how to promote books through Twitter, Facebook and more.

They also give some links to some of their resources, readings and tools.

What is Design Now?

One of the things I love about working with talented people on a variety of dynamic digital media projects is that it makes me rethink basic concepts.

Designer Roger Black has gotten me to do that with his blog post on Treesaver, the company he and Filipe Fortes founded last year that I'm helping with business and communication strategy and execution. Treesaver is, at its heart, a way for publishers to streamline the publishing process and much more easily produce content for every screen and device without having to creat a website, then an iPad app, then an aAndroid app, then a tablet app and so on. It's all based on HTML5 which pretty much works on any reasonably new device with a browser.

Roger, whose imprint is on some of the most heralded publications and websites in the world (Esquire, to name just two), asks what design is in the digital age and in what ways designers have to turn their thinking around if they're not working in a fixed width, blank page. Even Web designers, Roger notes, tend to create their sites for computer screens in a fixed width.

But with what's known as "adaptive layout," the Web page will be adjusted for whatever screen size you're reading on. Someone may be accessing your content on one screen at this moment, another screen the next. The text may cascade into 3 columns here, 2 columns there, and photos may be positioned here, there, or nowhere depending on the screen or device.

What if you, as a publisher, can control a lot of aspects -- think through the fonts, colors, logos, images -- but have to accept a level of fluidity as well?

This is a next generation of thinking and design. We are, with tablet devices and more media consumption on screens, moving beyond the clunky link-and-blink image-laden websites that put design in the background. We're moving beyond an era when someone designs for a Web page, and then separately for mobile sites, apps and so on. We're getting at a time when everything from font and gradations of color can be thought of and brought to life, again, with the pleasure of reading brought to a screen, but without losing the functionality (linking, embedding, interactivity, social layers) that HTML allows.

The effects of all this can be rather subtle to the consumer. How does the design of, say, The National Enquirer communicate a different message than The New York Times? Does the website of a typical publication reflect its design? What about its mobile site or apps? What functions do you want to preserve? Is the design part of the information, the experience?

It's another layer of input, a new way of thinking, and a cross between flexibility and control for publishers and users.

Ken Auletta on Larry Page's Challenges as Google CEO

New Yorker writer Ken Auletta, as qualified as anyone to give an intelligent take on what's going on with the Google management change (Google it, if you don't know):

"It was always assumed that one day Page would be C.E.O. Now that he is about to be, he will have to change. He is a very private man, who often in meetings looks down at his hand-held Android device, who is not a comfortable public speaker, who hates to have a regimented schedule, who thinks it is an inefficient use of his time to invest too much of it in meetings with journalists or analysts or governments. As C.E.O., the private man will have to become more public. And he will have to rid himself of a proclivity most engineers have: they are really bad at things they can’t measure. Like fears about Google’s size, and privacy and copyright and how to deal with governments that are weak at measurement but rife with paranoia."

Ken's take has consistently been that the Google guys' Achilles heal is their inability to deal with the softer, more emotional sides of the business. His analysis here might be right. Page may, as Schmidt said, be ready to lead. Perhaps that really  is a factor in Schmidt's moving to his new role as Page assumed the helm.. And I'm not sure if one can put such an important management change on one factor, such as the Google moves in China. But Ken's take is worth looking at.

News Desk: Why Is Eric Schmidt Stepping Down at Google? : The New Yorker:

My Baby Wrote me On Twitter

The Takeaway asked for songs that'd be different if there weren't phones, and we were in this age. Here's a joking lyric I did to the tune of the old Clearance Clearwater song "My Baby Wrote me a Letter."

Give me a ticket for an airplane
Ain’t got time for a fast train
Lonely days are gone
I’m a goin home
My baby wrote on Twitter

She wrote me on Twitter and said she couldn’t live w/out me no more
But in 140 letters I didn’t learn very much more

Email and Texts tell me what she do
Facebook and Foursquare give me more of her news
Lonely days are gone
I’m a goin home
My baby wrote on Twitter

A little bit of levity on a busy and otherwise serious day.

Others from The Takeaway

"Text Me"

"I Just Facebooked to Say I Love You"

"Jenny I've Got Your Email (sted number)"