Third Tuesday: Mathew Ingram

Earlier tonight I was parked on my butt in the Gallery space at Toronto's Spoke Club, listening to the splendid Mathew Ingram, Globe & Mail columnist and blogger of note. This is not anything like a structured discussion of what was a well-attended and most enjoyable event, more a stream of some of the thoughts and notes that came to me during the evening...

Particularly interesting to hear Mathew chastise the Globe for its policy on shoving columns behind a paywall. His traffic per column dropped from 10,000 readers per column online to only 300 readers per column after they shoved him behind the cluewall. Ouch. OK - so those 300 are now "valuable paying subscribers" but, as Mathew points out, he was almost driven into the blogosphere by the actions of his employer - an author in search of a better audience.

I still can't fathom why the Globe and others continue to do things like this. Sure, I understand the economics of the newspaper game, but still. As I pointed out tonight - I've been a six-day subscriber to the dead tree version of the Globe for a long time now - yet if I wanted to actually go online to read some of the same stuff I've already paid for (including Mathew's columns, for example), I'd have to pay more to become an "Insider Edition" subscriber to the Globe's site. Bollocks.

Later... Joe Thornley asks Mathew to describe the relationship between the blogs he runs and the work he does for the Globe's print and online editions - and whether there's any overspill.  Mathew comments that he has on occasion found that the stuff he's blogging about starts to seed ideas for business columns. I asked him if the influence and overspill ever ran the other direction - has he ever written for the Globe and then blogged: "now, here's what I really think".  After a pause to reflect, Mathew responds "I don't think so". I can believe that, in his case. He's a columnist rather than a reporter, so (as he pointed out) he's paid to express his opinions anyway.

There was some interesting discussion about the GooTube deal - what's fueling these huge acquistions (with Skype cited as another, earlier example).  This discussion sparked Mathew to talk about the remarks he's had from one of his readers who confessed to being "addicted" to following the comments at Mathew's blog.

I had a half-formed thought here.  There's a line of connection between YouTube, MySpace, blogging in general - and the older social media forms of Usenet, IRC, CompuServe, and their ilk.  It's all part of David Weinberger's thread on "The Longing". Mathew's point in linking the GooTube deal to blog comment addiction (I think) was that it's just human nature to have this kind of vicarious interest in what other people are saying, thinking, doing - hence the success of YouTube (where we get to watch regular punters do stupid things) and blogging before it (where we get to read regular punters saying stupid things, and then add our own stupid thoughts into the lovely, mutually-assured-stupidity huggyfest of the whole thang). It's why we love flamewars; why trolls moved from Usenet to listservs to IRC and to blogging with ease and enthusiasm.

We all just love to talk, to debate, to read others' thoughts, to hear what people have to say, pick fights, pick nits, pick bones, etc. Now, of course,  the technology barriers of adoption have just come down low enough to make your medium of choice a whole lot more accessible, visible, and just much, much easier for the man on the Clapham omnibus (or the 501 streetcar, for that matter) to jump in. We can all be famous for 15 people.

In the conversation tonight, this thought also got tied into Second Life - with the point being that the idea of location is ceasing to matter. It's also true that the platform and the technology (while still mattering, to a point) is ceasing to matter, at least in the sense that it's becoming irrelevant and wrong to think of the technology as in any way a hindrance to discussion - it's all about removing boundaries. So the GooTube deal ends up being about conversation and audience as much as it is about disruption of the TV model. Or something like that...

Sorry - I think I did a good job of listening, but a poor job of taking notes. This is even more than usually waffly. Either way, if you're in Toronto, interested in where PR is headed, and you're not marking your calendar with these Third Tuesday events - you're missing some interesting and - yes - even important stuff. Kudos again to the teams at Thornley Fallis and Fleishman Hillard for pulling tonight's session together - and thanks to Mathew Ingram for much good thought fodder. (Oh, and apologies to Chris Clarke that you got saddled with the tab for the room).

Tags: , , ,

Powered by Qumana