Notatypewriter's Blog

Umm… what?

Roger Ebert (@ebertchicago) finally wrote something comprehensible.

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.Roger Ebert, in his usual long-winded self, finally wrote something that I found comprehensible, even enjoyable to read, though long. He wrote about the how the web destroyed the film critic business, mostly by destroying newspapers’ revenue streams, but enhanced greatly the art of film criticism by lowering the costs of publication to widen the pool of non-professional[1] film critics.

He’s definitely right. But writing about things I agree with is boring, so why am I writing about this?

He wrote one paragraph on a potential future of newspapers, but sadly didn’t elaborate on this more.

In the vast sea of the internet, readers need brands to help them navigate. The Chicago Sun-Times is a successful brand.

This is absolutely right. On the Internet, the signal to noise ratio is insanely low. I read a lot of stuff on the web. I probably spend 3 hours a day doing it. The only reason I can spend this much time is because 80% of the things I read are interesting, thanks to  places[3] that link like crazy like Reddit, Twitter, Slate, Cracked, or New York Times.

Slate, Cracked, and the New York Times are great examples of linkers. Their stories are frequently full of links to other sites that give context to what they’re writing about. I can spend hours on a good Slate article because of all the links. Take a look at this Slate article on military humor. There are 47 links in an article of about 1495 words. Only about 3 of those links are links that don’t really provide context to the article (ie, links to Amazon where they can get referrer kickbacks). The rest provide great visual examples and evidence of military humor.

Let’s look at how I use Twitter. At first, I followed a few accounts, who retweeted or wrote about or responded to other tweets. Those few accounts, whose[2] ‘brands’ I trust, lent their credibility to other accounts, meaning they had some merit to my trusted accounts, so the new accounts might have some merit to me. I discovered maybe 50% of my follows this way.

However, I’m not sure where the revenue stream is in this brand model. Advertising? Kickbacks? If the NYT wanted to link to my posts, I’d gladly kickback a percentage of ad revenue. Although the financial relationship makes things kind of hinky there, I think the NYT brand would lose its credibility fast if it kept linking to lame posts just for the money.


[1] I don’t want to use the word amateur or unprofessional. Though both mean a person who doesn’t make his living doing whatever he is an amateur at, ie. amateur sports, they have a negative connotation.

[2] I always get who’s and whose mixed up. Note to self: whose is possessive, and who’s is a contraction for who is or who has. Thank you Brians?

[3] Isn’t it weird I used the word places? When I was writing extemporaneously, that’s the word I used. I considered changing it to sites. Do I think of certain websites as physical places? Is this an artifact of a person who grew up with the web? (Though I can remember a time before the web, when I used to play computer games instead.) Do I lack a separation between the physical world and online world since they both seem the same to me?


Written by notatypewriter

2010 May 1 at 12:06 pm

Posted in Thoughts

Tagged with , , ,

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