Gillmor Gang: Memeorandum and the future of media

Gillmor Gang: Memeorandum and the future of media

Summary: Gabe Rivera of Memeorandum joined a partially populated Gillmor Gang (Steve, myself, Doc Searls and Mike Arrington--Jon Udell, Mike Vizard and Dana Gardner unavailable) podcast on Friday. As I said during the show, I'm a fan of Memeorandum.

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TOPICS: Browser
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Gabe Rivera of Memeorandum joined a partially populated Gillmor Gang (Steve, myself, Doc Searls and Mike Arrington--Jon Udell, Mike Vizard and Dana Gardner unavailable) podcast on Friday. As I said during the show, I'm a fan of Memeorandum. It aggregates the discussion around tech topics (with a preponderance of Web 2.0 and blogalicious topic coverage), using some secret algorithmic sauce that Gabe keeps close to the vest. Memeorandum also covers politics in a separate channel. I'd like to see more channels (such as an enterprise IT channel), and Gabe says he is moving in that direction and looking to monetize the site. Memeorandum isn't comprehensive--it picks up clusters of posts and stories (via some kind of link logic and text analysis on sources his software scrapes and feeds off of) from mainstream media and blogosphere sources--but is provides a good filter (compared to searching through a river of RSS feeds or search engines like Technorati) that surfaces the hot topics and associated discussion/conversation, usually from reputable sources.

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The Gang spent most of the time during the hour and half podcast discussing the merits and future of Memeorandum--trying to extract information from Gabe--and getting exercised about the future of journalism. Mike believes that sites like Memeorandum are disruptive to mainstream news outlets like the New York Times. For example, the Sony rootkit story unfolded through sites like Memeorandum, Gabe said. You can't compete with passion and the entire world becoming journalists, Mike said. Mainstream media needs to adapt, which will be tough with its high overhead, Mike added. Steve said mainstream media can coopt the blogosphere to compete. True to the extent that not all bloggers want to be independent operators and want to put food on the table. 

Clearly, the NYT stable of journalists is outnumbered and a shift is underway. Doc talks about the "unbundling" phenomenon that is disrupting mainstream everything--the most networked players will be advantaged, he said. I talk about scoops of perception. The blogosphere has velocity. Mike thinks Memeorandum will be acquired relatively quickly, and New York Times would be smart to buy it to remain relevant. (Mike, who seems to relish beating competitors with the scoop on TechCrunch, writes about other conversation aggregators on his blog.) (Steve said TechCrunch has demolished Infoworld.)

Steve goes off about the media not being invited to Sun's analyst day, which somehow he thinks makes Sun either stupid or misguided or both and lacking in transparency. Somewhere in the podcast he talks about third rails. We try to figure out what he means. The Redmonks (in attendence) and Stephen Shankland (via watching Webcasts of the event) covered the event, which didn't reveal much that I haven't heard before. I wasn't particularly bent out of shape about missing what I already heard before. Steve's right though that the notion of an analyst day populated by people from established consulting firms is outdated. Just as the blogosphere is changing the face of journalism, it is impacting the analyst world.  All a big mashup, Steve concluded and the Gang agreed.

Topic: Browser

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  • Journos

    There appears to be a lack of understanding about how mainstream news journos work here - permeating this discussion. The NYT - along with most mainstream real-news outlets has high overhrads because they do not, just, use journalists full time. They also pay to keep their network running. This includes paying for the odd lunch with a contact, or 'Stringer'. Most news organizations get most news not by looking into things - but by encouraging others to report to them, rewording press releases, and making it up (yes, really).

    I have to agree with Steve - this mean that sites like Memeorandum are disruptive to mainstream news outlets like the New York Times. What is happening is that the network contacts, and press releases, are moving online. Aggregators have the role of filtering and forwarding - but have no time to editorialize and create, if they did, it would be obvious... Therefore, the Sony rootkit story gets traction and the mainstream outlets have to follow - or look stupid. The tail is already wagging the dog. That said, is the NYT really worried by this angle? They are worried by people leaving the paper and moving online because that's a change in the paterrn of consumption - they are losing attention and not managing gestures properly. But, do they worry about underlying cost structures that they can benefit from... ?

    Citizen Journos certainly have passion - but they lack the professionals' cool-headed approach and one sometimes has to read a story from three angles before one gets to a balanced gist. There is a weakness in the online media model that sites like Memeorandum partly fill. My hope is that people will get used to this model - but our time, our attention and gesture energy, are in ever shorter supply. We cannot be complacent about this in the current censor-crazed environment.

    I'm with Steve: Said mainstream media can co-opt the blogosphere to compete. In addition, that means they can impose some Old World mores of media onto online instances of Old Media and, though it can sometimes be a stretch I grant you, beyond their own instance of online media.

    Yes, journos who love to write - and want to put food on the table - put everyone else at a disadvantage.

    Unfortunately I cannot hear the podcast today - sound problem. But will tune in to hear about scoops of perception and blogosphere velocity ASAP. I think I can guess what's going on, but I bet I'll still want to hear more about it afterwards too!

    Not sure about Steve's third rails. My only suggestion at this stage is that third rails are an old model for electrifying rail tracks. Are Sun (example of a public company) and the Analysts the two unpowered rails while Journos are the third, powered, rail that will move the train (aka the economy) forward? Seems a bit far fetched, but it might be right.
    Stephen Wheeler