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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Dead Trees Do Not A Medium Make 

Carnegie Reporter, Vol. 3, No. 2 | Abandoning the News

Via Dan Gillmor, who advises: "Read it if you care about the future."

Sorry Dan. Love your blog, dislike the weak thinking at Carnegie. Let's try to keep something straight: where consumers get their news is not the issue. It's how that news is created.

I think the confusion of these two points is one of the reasons why I read a lot of blogs proclaiming the death of 'old' media like newspapers.

But media is NOT the technology that delivers it (no matter what McLuhan says), but the output, the content. Dead trees and ink isn't media, it's a delivery protocol. So is the Postal Service. So is html, so is RSS.

So if we define newspapers as tabloid or larger format newsprint publications delivered to your driveway or to a newsstand with ink that smears on your hands, yes, we will see that change. But if we define newspapers as the production of hundreds of journalists and editors who cover local, national and international news, I doubt that that's really going to change. It may be enhanced by 'citizen journalists,' just as print publications are enhanced by letters to the editor and op-ed pieces. But really, what would bloggers blog about if they didn't have news stories to link to? (Mild sarcasm here)

Note: It's worth reading the Carnegie report, linked above. But the logic is strange. Are 18-34s abandoning the news (as in traditional morning papers), or getting their news on demand (from traditional news organizations primarily)? Or both?


Big Trade Shows: Relevant? 

E3 Spotlight: Examining The Expo's Relevancy

The good folks at GameDaily Biz weigh in on the relevancy of E3, the mega-trade show for the video and computer gaming industry.

The link above is worth hitting if you run any size trade show. The following quote grabbed my eye: "You may have overheard people within the industry, at one time or another, say something like, 'E3 just isn't what it used to be. I don't know why we even bother.'"

I've heard similar things for 25 years about trade shows I've attended or run. And it's the challenge for the future of any trade show.

Here's another grab: "I've heard many [game] publishers say that it's not worth it, while I've never heard a publisher say that E3 is a great event for them. In fact we heard rumors last year that EA [Electronic Arts] might be pulling out and because of those rumors I've heard other publishers kind of quietly wishing that that would happen because it would give them an excuse to pull out too—their thinking is "If the biggest game publisher out there doesn't find E3 valuable, we don't need to be there either." But the nature of the show has created this situation where you kind of have to be there because everyone else is there," said Shoe.

Witness what happened to Comdex when big exhibitors decided they didn't need it anymore. Or to RepliTech, a series of shows I had a hand in buying for Phillips Business Information (now Access Intelligence). These events were a huge financial success, but a heavy burden on exhibitors, who carted giant disc and tape duplicating plants to each show at great cost, and who begged show management for relief--fewer events every year. When such relief didn't come, the exhibitors decided to pull out and create their own show, on their own terms. RepliTech is dead.

Mark Rayner, the chief executive of Richmond Events, a former client and a good friend, has long observed that many trade shows simply aren't sustainable, especially if they're built on the model of huge booths and huge crowds, but little business actually being written onsite. Of course Mark, who's built a successful company which offers face-to-face business conferences held on board cruise ships--with no booths, but with prescheduled meetings between qualified buyers and sellers--has a bias here. But he's been proven right a number of times.

Here's another grab from the GameDailyBiz article: In fact, Shoe believes the money poured into E3 each year could be put to better use for the game industry. "If the industry decided that we don't really need this show, which I don't think they really do, then you could see everything changing in no time flat because obviously that money could be used for better things, even if you took that money and used it for more direct marketing, commercials or whatever, it would benefit the products more than the press they're getting from the show itself," he added.

I think E3 show management needs to listen to this commentary carefully, and take action now, before they find themself 'Comdexed.' But it's difficult to make dramatic changes to a business model when those changes can only reduce short-term profitability. Which is why shows like this will probably die, too.


Monday, April 04, 2005

Advanstar News 

As Folio:'s M10 Report promised last week, big news at Advanstar today. The company is selling off a chunk of the business to a new company called Questex Media Group, a venture of Audax Group and Kerry Gumas, an Advanstar executive (and I guy I've done some business with).

$100 million in revenues, $185 million purchase price. I'll have some more thoughts on this later.


Chess: Your Move 

Brand Autopsy: Kasparov on Business and Chess

I love chess. I love strategy. I love business. If you love at least two out of the three, check out Brand Autopsy's grabs from a Harvard Business Review interview with Garry Kasparov, recently-retired chess champion.

I especially like Kasparov's take on competition, Anatoly Karpov, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs:

“For me it was Karpov, Karpov, Karpov. If it were not for Karpov, I would probably be the victim of the same complacency that dooms most other people. But in Karpov I found my archenemy, whom I had to fight. He never gave me the time to enjoy my title.”

“Without Bill Gates, Steve Jobs would surely not be the man he is today. If Karpov had not existed, you might not be talking to me today.”


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