A Quick Note On Media 2020

qrcode Others have written decent summaries on what happened at Media 2020, a conference on the future of media in Ireland that was run by Media Contact in Croke Park Conference Centre yesterday. Blathnaid Healy has a blog summary using Twitter hastags [clever methinks] and Fin O’Reilly has an interesting round-up too. I wanted to add some thoughts on three things, one that struck me while I was listening to speakers and the others that became obvious as I digested the event.

we are behind our competitors
The first thought is that we are quite a ways behind our competitors. This became obvious when BBC Backstage producer Ian Forrester (@cubicgarden) spoke. He had tried just about everything Irish media companies were thinking of or had just launched.

This came to a comical head when one of the mythic future techs mentioned, QR Codes, came up for discussion on a panel. He mentioned an experiment that the BBC had done in a zoo using, QR Codes, and almost casually mentioned that it was three years ago. I had a good laugh at that. Matt Locke (@mattlock) from Channel Four hit some similar notes too as did Jonathon Moore (@moorej) from Guardian Media.

The import of this was obvious to me. Ireland is behind other countries in digital change. As the world becomes more digital, our competitors become more global. Irish media companies need to start experimenting quickly and following the lessons learned elsewhere. They have an opportunity to jump ahead but I’d caution them to wait just a moment before they do.

no-one seems to have a coherent strategy
It was something of a relief coming from a seemingly rudderless publishing industry, to see that pretty much all content and media firms are as clueless about the future as publishers are. They are all distracted by the shiny toys, all entranced by the lure of easy profits in apps and downloads and all besotted with copyright protection and forcing the reader or the advertiser to adapt to their advantage.

The BBC, if I read their thinking correctly, at least seemed content to let innovation find a way forward but were not pushing for that to happen any time soon, The Guardian’s vaunted digital plan is at least clear, but I’m not certain it offers much more than a hope that their gamble on openness will be rewarded. They at least have not flip-flopped from tactic to tactics in the hope of stumbling upon a strategy by accident as others have.

It seems to me that following the trend is not the way forward. So experimentation is definitely a good idea, but with clear purpose and forceful reasoning.

where was book publishing?
There was not one speaker from book publishing and looking down the list of attendees, the closest one gets to a book publisher was me, Eason who had a representative and one or two PR Agencies that have been known to handle book publicity.

On the one hand it is a shame that the book publishers did not see the need to attend and on the other it says a lot about the perception of book publishing in Ireland that the organisers felt no need to include someone to speak to that market.

While much of the day did not specifically mention or reference books, there was so much potential on display for creators of quality content and new ways of thinking about content that not attending seems to me to have been a poor choice for book publishers.

final thoughts
I enjoyed the conference enormously and came away feeling refreshed and happy that there were people thinking deeply about digital change in Ireland, surprised that so many people hadn’t read The Cluetrain Manifesto and impressed by the openness to social media at the Abbey Theatre (@abbeytheatre) as traditional an icon of Ireland as they come.


Disclosure: I was given a free ticket for the conference by Media Contact after I retweeted a promotional tweet.


Hachette Ireland Launches Website

It’s nice to see Hachette launch a proper Irish web presence. As one of the biggest Trade Publishers on the island it seemed strange to me that they didn’t have a proper site (although I know they did in the past).

If I had one problem, it’s my perennial complaint. The news & events page which looks good doesn’t supply an RSS feed and they don’t offer a mailing list sign up. That seems to me a lost opportunity to engage with their readers.

One nice feature is that the author pages can pull in title info on request. They could do with increasing the content on those pages but for now they have a good solid site.

Struggling with a head cold, not pleasant.
Eoin

Three Sites Worth Reading

This is a little off topic in many ways but also on topic.

There has been the slow emergence of professionally written blogs in Ireland, reinforcing my thinking about blogging as a tool for publishing as opposed to any kind of social change, political change or even a weapon for undermining mainstream media. It also echoes (finally) the trend in the US where both commercial mainstream news outlets and academics have take to the tools with gusto.

It’s not just that newspapers like The Irish Times and Irish Independent are making use of the tools but three group blogs written by academics are quickly establishing themselves (or have already established themselves) as must read sites.

They are:

    The Irish Economy (Economics)
    Ireland After NAMA (Geography & Social Sciences)
    &
    Pue’s Occurrences (History)

Some individuals also keep blogs, my personal favourite being Dr. Constantin Gurdgiev who calls it like it is with no pulled punches, not to everyone’s taste, but entertaining.

Working on the web,
Eoin

Taoiseach – TV3's new series

I have to say, I didn’t expect this of TV3. I missed the news that it was running and so missed the first episode on one of the most interesting men t hold the office, WT Cosgrave (whom we’ve mentioned here before).

The Independent carries a fine piece by John-Paul McCarthy about the series:

Cosgrave was in many ways an essentially theocratic politician, a deeply devout Catholic who once proposed that an ecclesiastical commission vet parliamentary legislation for theological deviance as soon as the statutes emerged from the Dail print shop.

And yet he held office under a classically liberal constitution, complete with an American-style establishment clause banning preferential treatment for a state church and an essentially British division of competences between an executive, a lower house and an upper house possessed of some interesting delaying powers. The Catholic Gulliver was thus immobilised for 15 years by these delicate constitutional chains. Cosgrave was also mild-mannered, unambitious personally and prone on occasion to diplomatic illnesses which allowed him to avoid contentious cabinet tussles between his headstrong subordinates. (He was formally ill during the Army Mutiny crisis in 1924 and sought to direct events from hospital.) And yet, circumstances forced Cosgrave to become arguably the most ruthless civilian chief executive the Irish State has ever produced.

Looking forward to catching up and watching the rest!
Eoin

www.IrishPublishingNews.com Launches

Irish Publishing News Screenshot
Irish Publishing News

Last month I announced that I had rolled out an experimental service aggregating news links for Irish Publishing. Today, after much meddling and experimenting, I finally pushed Irish Publishing News to its own site: http://www.IrishPublishingNews.com

I liked the experimenting and I’ve figured out a few things while I was at it:

1) There are less blogs about books and publishing in Ireland than you’d think. If I’m missing someone or some organisation you think should be included, let me know I’m very keen to improve the quality and sources for Irish books and publishing.

2) One widget is better than six widgets when it comes to WordPress. By that I mean, pruning widgets that operate at cross purposes is a sensible move.

3) Design is important but function is nicer. I’m still unhappy with the look, but the site generally does what I had hoped it would and that is a pretty good place to be.

4) Most things can be built-in WordPress and for free! It really is a tool for champions. Yes it requires some basic knowledge, especially when digging deep into the back-end, but it pays off.

Still, I’m sure this iteration will be an experiment much like the others. This new version of the site offers numerous advantages over the old add-on site:

    1) It allows me to build an archive of links day by day
    2) It allows me to build up the news and features categories more effectively
    3) It brings the power of RSS to the blog section properly rather than by proxy
    4) It is just neater

I hope you like the change. Remember to update your RSS feed too.
Eoin