Culture & New Media (with a side point on books)

Eoin Purcell

A fine conference (after a fine meal)
There was something great about The New Media. New Audience? Conference run by the Arts Council last week. For one thing it was great to see Charles Leadbeater and Andrew Keen spar (no matter how mildly they did so). We rarely see clashes on such opposed viewpoints and when it refers directly to your own industry it is particularly interesting.

Leadbeater is the optimist and Keen, the somewhat posed pessimist. I say posed because you get the sense that he is in fact a personally shy man who would rather not be gunning up opposition the way he is, except that it sells books & gets him speaking gigs.

Its all about marketing
Which brings me to the over riding message I got from this fine conference. The strongest sense was that most Irish Arts organizations see the best way forward with the web in using it as a marketing tool with an allied with an almost overwhelming lack of clarity on how to do that.

There was an avoidance, especially in my panel session, of any discussion of the web and new media as a way to collaborate or to generate new and different arts. I found this odd until I realised that the vast bulk of the attendees had little exposure to the web as anything more than the home of Google and free content.

And why should they have. The tools of interaction are hardly the most widely advertised. Blogs have a bad pr problem that is only slowly being addressed. People at the panel feared the loss of control when their content went online. They wondered how best to reach audiences across all platforms.

Where does this point us?
There is a real need not for high talk of collaboration and new media, but for solid and basic ways to interact with audiences and potential customers online. It seems after the conference that there is much work to be done and embedding the arts world in the online world in a real and meaningful way.

That is not to say that there are not individuals and organizations with an excellent grasp of how the web can be used and who are working on exciting projects that deliver real and interesting results, just that for the vast majority, the web is not a friendly place!

A very worthwhile conference nonetheless getting people, at the very least, focused on these issues. That can never hurt!

New Media, New Audience Conference

Eoin Purcell

Berry Bros & Rudd
I’m just back from fine dinner in the fantastic upstairs room of the Weights & Measure building that Berry Bros & Rudd now occupy. The meal was for panelists and speakers at tomorrow’s (Or today’s) Arts Council Conference on New Media, New Audience?.

If the conversation tonight it anything to go by, tomorrow should be amazing. You can read the full agenda here.

Andrew Keen & Charles Leadbeater will be speaking which I think is frankly amazing! Go the Arts Council and Anette Clancy who is doing much of the work for scoring two such highly rated speakers!

I’ll be chairing the New Media in Practice panel! I’ll update with how it went tomorrow!

Links of Interest (At Least To Me) 04/07/2008

Eoin Purcell

Kenny’s open a new book store in their new premises. COOL!

A great review of The Making of the Irish Constitution, 1937, by Dermot Keogh and Andrew McCarthy in the DRB. I’m biased, I know, but this is one of the best and most historically valuable books published on the Irish constitution in recent years. It was a delight to be part of the company that brought it to the market.

Sat in the audience for a panel with some people from Bookrabbit on it. Likd what they had to say even if the site itself seems like LibraryThing with less features and a really good e-commerce link up (Which LibraryThing has thanks to its customization: I just need to click a link on a book and it takes me to my preferred bookseller, The Book Depository, Genius)> Oh Andrew Keen was there too.

Paid online content failing?

Eoin Purcell

Publishing 2.0 points to news that TimesSelect is to come to an end. It is mostly an interesting piece that scares the hell out of the publisher for profit in me. Given the calls from other quarters to free our content on the web the idea that we cannot then capitalise on that content and are destined to be squeezed out is unsettling:

The new economics of media make charging for content nearly impossible because there is always someone else producing similar content for free — even if the free content isn’t “as good as” the paid content by some meaningful metric, it doesn’t matter because there’s so much content of at least proximate quality that the paid content provider has virtually no pricing power. As smart, talented, and insightful as the New York Times columnists behind the paid wall are, the are too many other smart, talented, insightful commentators publishing their thoughts on the web for free.

The remains the last great bastion of paid content on the web, and with the News Corp acquisition, the pressure to tear down the walls will likely be too great to resi[s]ts. Even if it’s true that the WSJ has the highest quality business content bar none, the web is so awash in good, great, and utterly crappy business content, all free, that WSJ is holding onto its paid subscribers through sheer brand strength alone.

I have to admit that it all seems odd because only back in March the Editor’s Weblog was telling me:

TimesSelect has a total of 639,000 subscribers, about two thirds of which receive it in complement to their home delivery subscriptions (about a third are online-only subscribers). Last December, TimesSelect had 609,000 subscribers.

This means that about 217,000 online-only subscribers at the end of February were bringing the Times a potential $10.8 million in subscription revenue.

That is my kind of money but can see how it is chump change for the NYT. Still if the New York Times cannot charge and the Wall Street Journal ought not to, then just how the hell will independents like Mercier make money online? Maybe reading Andrew Keen will help (on balance probably not)!

Thinking money & listening to Regin Spektor