Search Results for: "scale"

Year-end look at hyperlocal big boys

Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 by No comments yet

Peter Krasilovsky offers a year-end look ahead at the WalMart approach to hyperlocal news

… there is a rap out there that hyperlocal doesn’t scale and these [Patch and Fwix] are toys.  Is it still the case?

Patch now has a local presence in 600 communities, with editorial and sales “pods” of 12 each Some of being run by longtime newspaper industry leaders. Last Sunday, LA Times media columnist James Rainey wrote that Patch is revitalizing local journalism and asserted that may have become THE place for journalists to go (aside from wages of $35k-$50k, or half the salary that big city journalists might have gotten from the big metro, if they were hiring).

Patch President Warren Webster… didn’t dispute my characterization of Patch as an experiment that wants to quickly get a national footprint to attract national, regional and local advertisers; create a business directory that goes beyond the Yellow Pages; and scale editorial and sales resources.

On a macro-level, local ad revenues typically split 50/50 between targeted national and local. For Webster (and cohorts), the bet is that Patch is poised to do both. They’ve publicly said they were spending $50 million to ramp it up in 2010…

Peter offers this list of horses in the race, grouped in an interesting way…

National/regional “hyperlocal” news sites

Local editorial and sales
Main Street Connect
Hello Metro

Geographic aggregation for media partners

Local event and news sites

Aggregators also supported by unique user-generated content and pro/amateur content farms
Associated Content
Demand Media
Merchant Circle

Cooperation vs. Competion or Regulation

Posted on Monday, March 22, 2010 by No comments yet

Scott Heiferman’s tweet led me to take a closer look at the work of recent Nobel Laureate (economics) Elinor Ostrom.  She studies how cooperation works best in some cases… better than competition or regulation… our two dominant forms of organizing markets.  From a Forbes article

Garrett Hardin called his famous 1968 essay on shared resources “The Tragedy of the Commons.” He argued that a shared village grazing pasture would tend to get overused and eventually destroyed. But even Hardin later acknowledged that shared common resources did not inevitably have to end in destruction, saying that he should have called his essay “The Tragedy of the Unmanaged Commons.”

And from Fran Korton’s interview at Shareable

Fran: It’s interesting that your research is about people learning to cooperate…

Elinor: I have a new book coming out in May entitled Working Together, written with Amy Poteete and Marco Janssen. It is on collective actions in the commons. What we’re talking about is how people work together. We’ve used an immense array of different methods to look at this question “case studies, including my own dissertation and Amy’s work, modeling, experiments, large-scale statistical work. We show how people use multiple methods to work together.

Fran: Many people associate “the commons” with Garrett Hardin’s famous essay, “The Tragedy of the Commons.”… What’s the difference between your perspective and Hardin’s?

Elinor: Well, I don’t see the human as hopeless. There’s a general tendency to presume people just act for short-term profit. But anyone who knows about small-town businesses and how people in a community relate to one another realizes that many of those decisions are not just for profit and that humans do try to organize and solve problems.

If you are in a fishery or have a pasture and you know your family’s long-term benefit is that you don’t destroy it, and if you can talk with the other people who use that resource, then you may well figure out rules that fit that local setting and organize to enforce them. But if the community doesn’t have a good way of communicating with each other or the costs of self-organization are too high, then they won’t organize, and there will be failures.

Fran: So, are you saying that Hardin is sometimes right?

Elinor: Yes. People say I disproved him, and I come back and say “No, that’s not right. I’ve not disproved him. I’ve shown that his assertion that common property will always be degraded is wrong.” But he was addressing a problem of considerable significance that we need to take seriously. It’s just that he went too far. He said people could never manage the commons well.

At the Workshop we’ve done experiments where we create an artificial form of common property such as an imaginary fishery or pasture, and we bring people into a lab and have them make decisions about that property. When we don’t allow any communication among the players, then they overharvest [the commons]. But when people can communicate, particularly on a face-to-face basis, and say, “Well, gee, how about if we do this? How about we do that?” Then they can come to an agreement.

That last bit there about communication leading to better community decisions… love it.  It’s so obvious. I guess that’s why it takes a non-economist Nobel Laureate in Economics to explain it to the economists of the world.  And, for what it’s worth, her observation jibes with what we see at Front Porch Forum too.  FPF leads to better communication among neighbors, more face-to-face conversation, and, in many cases, better community decisions.

Congratulations Dr. Ostrom!

Facebook money-making challenge

Posted on Monday, June 29, 2009 by No comments yet

An interesting piece by Bernard Lunn on Read Write Web recently.  In part…

… the thought that kept coming back to me is that Facebook’s bravado, its “grand vision” talk, is what you would expect from a concept-level startup. Surely by now, about 6 years into its venture, Facebook should show some substance? It is time to deliver some real financial results. The concept-level talk is great for attracting capital and talent. Facebook has done that brilliantly. But the point of attracting capital and talent is to be able to generate financial results.

Anybody who criticizes Facebook’s financial results gets accused of being small-minded, of missing the point, of (gasp!) “not getting it.” In digerati circles, not getting it is like having body odor. Facebook is changing the world, they say. It is a new form of communication, akin to the printing press. Once you get to scale, profits always follow. Google created a service without knowing how to monetize it.

In fact, far too much money has been invested (in both Facebook and hundreds of “me too” ventures) based on that one premise, that “Google created a service without knowing how to monetize it.” The statement is true. If it had not devised the AdWords revenue model, Google would perhaps have sold some kind of enterprise search technology to Fortune 500 companies and rented banner ads on its home page. With AdWords, it found the perfect native revenue model for search, meeting two contradictory needs at the same time:

  1. Do not irritate or interrupt the user, and even occasionally add value for the user.
  2. Provide a compelling value proposition to paying customers.

The problem is that Facebook does not seem to have a clue how to do that. Google did not wait 6 years to unveil AdWords, and when it did unveil it, revenue and profit took off like a rocket. Facebook keeps trying. But to date, its attempts look weak and subject to diminishing returns.

There is a world of difference between increasing returns (what Google gets) and diminishing returns (what Facebook gets with its current strategy). That one-word difference equals billions of dollars.

… Facebook’s revolutionary alternative is to allow consumers to invite brands to communicate with them, like we used to invite companies to send us emails. That would get over-used and spammy in a heartbeat. Highly innovative brands would do well, as they always do in a new medium, but the law of diminishing returns would apply. By the time this model scaled, and it would have to if Facebook wants to move the revenue needle, users will have switched off in droves.

These are the diminishing returns. The more the model scales, the more it will irritate users, and the more users will switch off, and the sooner growth will slow down and reverse. As with email, Facebook can “make up for this with volume.” But unlike with email, which is virtually free, Facebook has to pay money to serve each user.

Sorry, “Coca-Cola wants to be your friend” is in no way an enduring revenue model. If it sounds phony, maybe that is because it is phony.

The one lesson from social media marketing is that authenticity matters. What no one has shown — and methinks this would be impossible — is how to scale authenticity.

This is where behavioral marketing supposedly comes in. Wired calls this the “third rail of Internet marketing.” … Or, as Wired puts it, “As the Beacon debacle showed, there is a fine line between ‘targeted and useful’ and ‘creepy and stalkerish’ — and so far, not enough advertisers have been willing to walk that line.”

Facebook talks a great game about helping the world to communicate. It tries to sound like a group of benevolent revolutionaries. But then it turns to really old-fashioned tools to make money. Its basic message to marketers seems to be, “We have ’em locked in. Yep, Google can’t see them, so we are the only way to get to them. And not only that, we can tell you what every one of them is doing and saying right now. Step right up, folks!”

The one thing that Facebook has on its side is trust. Users trust the company with their real identities. That is massive. Break that trust and bye-bye.

What’s “local?” Define “neighborhood.”

Posted on Wednesday, February 11, 2009 by No comments yet

U.K.’s Kevin Harris blogs

Over on the Local democracy blog Dave Briggs asks, how close is local?

I’d say most people regard ‘local’ as geographically within reach, and obviously that differs individually, which is fine. If terminology is fuzzy it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s invalid. We need definitions for administrative areas (wards, cantons, parishes) but not to explain individually-variable experiences of the socially-charged space nearest to the home.

00 graphic av miles travelled And maybe it helps to think about what local is not. For instance, it’s not the same as nearness, and that’s reinforced in this image (courtesy of Indy Johar, 00 architects), which reminds us how transport efficiencies influence our sense of distance.

So why after generations and centuries of people gathering together in villages, towns and cities, are we suddenly struggling with the fact that terms like neighbourhood and locality aren’t rigidly defined? What has happened for instance that causes Dave quite reasonably to suggest that

‘it will be increasingly important to research how people’s notions of their own ‘local’ will determine levels of interest’? …

Harkens back to a post about neighborhood scale based on early Front Porch Forum experience.

Vermonters to Inauguration

Posted on Monday, January 26, 2009 by No comments yet

President Obama’s inauguration was incredible… inspirational.  Here are a couple of TV news stories from WPTZ (on the way to DC and upon our return)…

[grr… can’t get the video to load here or onto YouTube… hopefully WPTZ will keep them accessible on its site for awhile.]

And some newspaper coverage of our journey is here.

It’s always a kick when our baby, Front Porch Forum, helps deliver something particularly amazing to our lives… like this whole DC experience.

UPDATE: Here are links to an article by Lynn Monty and a video (below too) by Mark Gould, both of the Burlington Free Press, who were “embedded” on our bus trip.