Why Content Isn't King

The Atlantic • July 2011

Back to the future. Creativity is cool, but the real money is in aggregation, as evidenced in corporate profits from cable to Netflix. Author Jonathan A. Knee offers this reminder: "The economic structure of the media business is not fundamentally different from that of business in general. The most prevalent sources of industrial strength are the mutually reinforcing competitive advantages of scale and consumer captivity. Content creation does not lend itself to either, while aggregation is amenable to both." As content creators increasingly resort to DIY marketing, it's important to remember the value-add that aggregators bring to the equation.

Worth your time. It's a well-argued case study that confirms the wisdom of Hagel and Singer's 1999 article Unbundling the Corporation where they argued that all firms are in one of three businesses—operations oversight, customer attraction, or product development. An efficient firm used to combine these but the network now allows, even mandates, that the firm become distinctive at just one. Netflix is in the customer aggregation and relationship business. As are libraries. Both Lorcan and I have argued that in many blog entries and presentations over the last few years. ( Michalko)

Three Reasons Why Pottermore Matters . . .

Confessions of an Aca-Fan (The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins) • June 24, 2011

Game changer? J.K. Rowling's Pottermore venture may signal a new chapter in the saga of author/publisher/fandom relationships, says media expert Henry Jenkins: "Rowling recognizes that it is not enough to offer a digital offset of the books via Kindle but that ebook publishing represents its own kind of event, which enables her to further expand the reader's experience through new content and new ways of interacting with the material." Rowling's transmedia project challenges the publishing industry's demand for digital rights to bestselling works.

This is an interesting reflection on the Rowling announcement (which you can watch here) and the different lenses through which it has been viewed. It's hard to imagine that a phenomenon as remarkable as the Potter books will hatch a replicable pattern but Pottermore could alter what it means to respond to "fans." ( Michalko)

The Best Magazine Articles Ever

Cool Tools

Back by popular demand. Settle into a comfy chair and peruse this list of magazine articles assembled by Kevin Kelly—authors range from Hunter S. Thompson to David Foster Wallace. You're in for a treat.

It is a good list and I'd only read a few of them. At the beginning of the piece you'll find links to Instapaper and Longform. I've promoted them here in ATF before. You need them if you're going to enjoy these articles. (I was happy to see that there are a surprising number of pieces by David Foster Wallace including the Harper's magazine article that became the title essay in his book A Supposedly Fun Thing That I Will Never Do Again .) ( Michalko)

Great People Are Overrated

Harvard Business Review • June 20, 2011

The myth of star power. Mark Zuckerberg recently opined that, "Someone who is exceptional in their role is not just a little better than someone who is pretty good. They are 100 percent better." But is that really true? Read on for Fast Company cofounder William C. Taylor's analysis of "star-chasing" vs. team-building strategies. (Note: the article proved so popular, there's a follow-on post at Great People Are Overrated (Part II).)

I've always been fortunate to be embedded in sustaining team environments. As the commentator points out, I think those are to be credited with a large share of what accrues to star performers. ( Michalko)

Avoid the Blindside Syndrome: Inotivity on Creative Framing

Creativity Central • June 20, 2011

POV. "The way we frame a problem has enormous influence over the options we generate and the solutions we choose," says creativity coach Marty Baker. Check out these suggestions on how to recognize and reorient your perspective on an issue to discover more options and avoid being blindsided.

Good anecdote to illustrate the challenge of "framing." What's the classic library framing? Authoritative vs. Casual? Trusted vs. Trashy? Try to burst the frame at your next meeting. ( Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, what offers the potential for publishing information in a manner that permits far greater utility "in the flow" of the network?

Get the answer.