Phil Sim

Web, media, PR and… footy

Scoble: Let me tell you a bit about journalists…

You can always tell a really, strong argument when it’s based on the premise “A lot of the people I talk to”…

A couple of days ago, Robert Scoble posted this argument, arguing in favour of full-feeds and against a post made by fellow-Australian Duncan Riley, who has consistently argued in The Blog Herald that you can’t build a blog business using RSS feeds.

Firsly, it was nice to see Scoble actually post something of significance on his blog! It was actually a pretty well-argued and thoughtful piece, despite being fundamentall flawed.

To quickly paraphrase, Scoble admits that RSS advertising sucks right now, but it will get better and that some time in the future, a commercial model based on RSS advertising will eventually arise and the world will be a shiny, happy place. However, he’s managed to formulate an argument as to why you should use full-feeds today and it’s based on this line:

“You see, when I get together with journalists their RSS usage is WAY WAY WAY higher than the rest of the population. Journalists are like me. They sift through lots of information looking for the gems for their readers. That’s how they build audiences. RSS lets people read about 10 times the amount of content than if you just use a Web browser. That’s why journalists, connectors, bloggers, geeks who care about productivity, etc use RSS. It’s also why advertising in RSS isn’t yet working. These people aren’t good targets for loosely-targetted advertising.”

My business makes coin by providing information services to journalists and providing information about journalists to the marketing communications industry, so for once I can actually claim to know what I’m talking about here. And let me tell you, Robert, the first thing about journalists is that, unlike yourself, they’re not about to blackban a blogger simply because they don’t provide full-feeds. Journo’s don’t have the luxury of being precious about their information sources, like Scoble.

I can just see the scenario:
EDITOR: “How the f*ck, did you miss this story, Sim, you’re supposed to be all over this beat. What the f*ck am I paying you for”.
SIM: “Sorry boss, the story originated from a blog that only offered partial feeds, so I refuse to read it anymore. No links for them, I say!”.

Have a look at most journalists reading lists. Fifty bucks they’re all sources of authority (I’m sorry but journalists don’t read 855 blogs from people who in the end amount to Nigel Nobodies). RSS feeds are great for very quickly checking out what your competitors do or if people in positions of authority are saying anything interest. And you can work that out with one paragraph and even a headline if need be. Journalists very quickly develop an ability to sum up whether a piece of information is going to be of any use within about 3 seconds of opening it.

And let’s face it, how many people are going to get a story picked up by traditional press, anyway. If you do have a story on your blog that’s worthy of note in the New York Times, I’d highly suggest rather than posting a full-feed and hoping that one of their journalists has plugged you into the RSS feeder, that you send them an email and let them know why it’s important. I can guarantee you have a ten thousand percent better chance of having your little gem picked up because you know for certainty that each and every journalist reads their inbox.

Scoble signs off:

But, what do you think? Are content providers going to gain anything to tell connectors, journalists, bloggers to screw off?

What does Squash think? A really, good connector is someone who can connect you to people, places, ideas that you’d not have come across otherwise. Like a journalist, a really, good connector shouldn’t be precious about their information sources.

P.S. Any by the way, if you’re a blogger and you can’t get the primary gist of your article across with a headline and the first couple of pars, then go out and buy a Journalism 101 book. Tell me any professional media site that doesn’t rely on those two elements to let readers decide whether content is relevent or not. 

Filed under: Blogs, Feeds, XML/RSS/Atom

I’m on the cranky pills… you’re all full of shite

FFS, that’s it, I’ve had my fill. If I have to read one more blog-post from armchair critics lecturing Big Media as to how it should be doing this and why it shouldn’t be doing that, I’m going to do something really extreme. Like eating a donut. On Sunday. For breakfast. And not brush my teeth afterwards.

Do you people really think that large media companies aren’t watching what’s going on in the blogosphere? Do you really think they aren’t paying new media gurus squillions of dollars to provide them with advice as to where this is all going and how it’s going to impact their business? Don’t you think they’re crunched the numbers, analysed their traffic stats, surveyed their readers and viewers. Don’t you think that once the blogosphere, RSS and other Web 2.0 tidbits reach mainstream, they’ll just buy up whoever they need to buy to get a seat at the table.

I have no doubt there will be elements of Web 2.0 that will prove disruptive to Big Media, particularly edge economics, and there will be a few players like Yahoo and Google did in Web 1.0 that break down the doors to the kingdom, but you’re naive if you think Big Media doesn’t know what’s going on. So when Big Media decides partial RSS feeds make more sense than full feeds, when it takes measured steps into blogs and so on and so on, please don’t presume to think it’s because Big Media is full of blinkered, old fools with their heads in the sand. You’ll meet just as many brilliant minds in the media sphere as you do in tech. Fact is, nobody knows exactly where all this is going to lead, so please resist the temptation to think you know better and talk down to people who live and breathe content consumption. You might find there’s actually some reason to their ‘madness’ and you might learn a thing or two yourselves. Or else come back and talk to me when you’ve actually got up out of your armchair and run a big, successful media company.

In fact, I’m going to devote any blogging time I get this week to debunking a lot of your Web 2.0 better-than-thou ideologies, beginning with Scoble and his full-feed fetish. See you soon.

Filed under: Big Media, Web 2.0

Thankyou for coming to Squash 5

The Naked Blogging Squash party is now officially over. Wow, what a night! You might have noticed my lack of blogging in recent days. Seriously, it’s taken me that long to get over what has to go down as the best Web 2.0 party on record!

Yes, I know that we didn’t get like 500 Web 2.0 celebrities along to the Squash 5 gig, like TechCrunch did, but how many times do I have to tell people, especially all the women I’ve ever dated, that size simply doesn’t matter. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Piss take

Why Apple should offer Windows

As someone who likes to get out there and hypothesise, I’m going to half come to the defence of John Dvorak who suggested that Apple may ditch Mac OS for Windows.

Clearly that won’t happen, as had been widely accepted and explained around the Blogosphere. Gadgetopia – “more preposterous than ever“, Matthew Ingram – “it’s a new low“, MacSlash – “delusional, pot-smoking, half-baked, preposterous, offensive, short-pants-wearing, goose-stepping, lollypop-eating crazy idea” & TechBlog – “whatever professional contrarian John Dvorak is smoking, I want none of it“. Ditching Mac OS X would be like ripping out a major artery.

However, Apple should offer Macs running on Windows. And I’ve even got the marketing strategy to make it fly which I’m offering up just because I’m a nice guy. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Apple

Squash is recruiting: The case for multi-person blogs

Back when I was a bit of a “ celebrity” a week or so ago, I received an email from Dan Wieringa asking for some advice as to how he could improve the traffic on his blog. It appears he sent the mail to all the bloggers who were running at the top of the WordPress rankings at that time, including Scoble, who blogged about it and sparked all manner of conversation on the topic. The best advice I saw was from B5 Media’s Jeremy Wright and I particularly agree with this key comment: You just swap your real life for a virtual one.

The deeper you get into blogging, the more time it saps. At that point in time, I was in the midst of a blogging tear, where I was posting four or five pieces per day and I got to say, it was all coming very easily. By the time I reached #2 on I was feeling like a Blog God. Then I hit Valentines Day and I faced a choice. Spend the night with my lovely wife or keep rolling the blogging snowball I’d gotten started. I chose the missus (although I did manage to sneak in one post when she wasn’t looking). And you know what? One night out of the action, totally tripped up my run. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Blogs

The REAL Google strategy

Helloooo! Yes, you. Look over here. Instead of obsessing with all of these half-baked consumer-oriented Web 2.0 plays. Instead of dissecting all of these increasingly mundane enterprise ERP takeovers, will somebody start paying attention to where the real action is – small to medium business. It a move that barely raised a wrinkle in the blogosphere, Microsoft started taking the wraps off Office Live today. Joe Wilcox of the Microsoft Monitor Weblog was first out there with the news, but noted that MS lifted the NDA early. There is a definite sense of urgency at play here. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Google

Giving up the blog

Today, Charles Wright, one of Australia’s best known local bloggers, cast a big, dark shadow over the potential of blogging as a professional endeavour when he revealed that he was about ready to give up the blog. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Blogs

Blogs to Riches – As it should have read

So blogging makes the cover of New York magazine. Wow, hey! I’d be impressed except I’m from Australia and so don’t get if New York magazine is a big deal or not. But it’s all over memeorandum so I guess it must be. From my perspective the big problem with the story is it’s not about me. I’m not on the cover. I’m not even quoted for God sake.

Anyway I thought I’d rectify that, with Blogs to Riches as it should have been told…

Blogs to Ditches

The Haves and Have-Nots of the Blogging Boom.

Two months ago, Phil Sim was a dot com wannabe in Australia, who was, as he confesses, “totally bored.” So he did what any wannabe dot com wannabe/journalist would do these days: He started a blog. Sim started scouring the Web for people who seemed to be making a lot more money than he way and then posted stories about how crap they were to his Website, Squash. (Sample Headline: Web 2.0 is a load of poo). “My dog got a chuckle out of it, but it didn’t get really big or anything-maybe a few visitors a day,” he said.

Then one day Sim took a good look at the Scobleizer, a geek site owned by Microsoft evangelist Robert Scoble. Scoble had pioneered a distinctive blogging style which comprised of bagging out his employee and praising his competitors and earned a large following in the Web 2.0 world. What really go Sim’s attention, though, was Scoble’s banner. According to the WordPress Gods, Scoble was so important that he got his own template when everybody else had to make do with a standard set of sucky designs.

Not bad, considering that Scoble was not nearly as good looking as Sim.

“And I was like, I can do that,” he says, laughing.

So in February, 2006, Sim packed up his life and parked it down in front of his shitty, old no-name laptop. He then began taking the piss out of everything Web 2.0. He’d start each day whenever he woke up, trolling the Web for over-hyped crap. (“You gotta have something posted before people drop dead,” he explain, “because my audience is people who don’t want to drop dead.”) By the end of the month, Sim’s website was steaming along nicely. He had almost everything Scoble had: Except a cool job at one of the world’s most powerful companies, a book deal, speaking engagments, fame, invitations to Mike Arrington parties, etc, etc)

The other thing he still didn’t have was a custom WordPress theme. Even with a #2 rating, that disgustingly young WordPress kid had yet to drop Sim an email to ask him if he wanted to use his own theme. Then he stood up and hit a glass ceiling and it like hurt like crazy.

By all appearances, the blog boom is the most democratized revolution in media ever. Starting a blog is ridiculously cheap; indeed, blogging software and hosting can be had for free online. But you still can’t get your own theme like Scobe on It doesn’t matter if your a 21 year-old Brit who links to the episodes of the IT crowd or a fan of some Puerto Rican rapper no-one has ever heard of, there’s always that theme issue separating you from a really successful blogger. I can get my own theme? No you friggin can’t…

Clive baby, this shit is gold. Why didn’t you call?

Filed under: Blogs, Piss take

Who owns the conversation?

Stowe Boyd would have to be peeved wouldn’t he? The blog press fawns over Edgio but gives 3Bubbles which Stowe is an advisor to the big thumbs down. Matthew Ingram, Peter Cashmore and others all say that blogs don’t generate enough traffic to sustain a chat board.

These bloody, narky bloggers…

They’re not wrong, but it’s also worth considering that maybe blogs don’t have enough traffic because they don’t have these kinds of capabilities. The issue with RSS and particularly aggregators is that they cruel your returning traffic. You no longer go through the front door like you used to, you enter via which ever side door might take your fancy on that day, if indeed, any does.

When you don’t have a steady stream of returning traffic it means that the only way you get hits is with appealing content. And as Scott Karp pointed out this last week, that’s actually a really, really difficult thing to maintain.

What the blogosphere needs to do is try and build micro-communities. That is you’ll find a blog that very minutely reflects your particular sense of humour, philosophical outlooks, interests and so you’ll visit the blog regularly to participate in that community.
The problem is aggregators are increasingly owning the conversation as well being the gatekeeper. If you have a look at Digg, many posts will receive dozens, even hundreds of comments when the original post barely receives any.

So, it was notable that the 3Bubbles doubtcasters both opined that the service could work on a big site like TechCrunch or memeorandum, which would be another move towards centralising the conversation. That’s kind of ironic on a day where Edgio is making headlines and we’re all supposed to be moving towards the edge.

I can’t see why 3Bubbles can’t work on any blog that has any sort of community behind it. It doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be a stimulating, valuable community of people whose interactions add value to the community member’s existence. What I really hope to see is more tools like 3Bubbles that make blogs more participatory in themselves. Then you’ll start to see some true micromedia sites and you’ll open up far greater potential for bloggers to monetise their activities.

Filed under: Blogs

If it ain’t broke, why you trying to fix it?

So Pete Cashmore dropped by Squash today and posted a response to my post today about Edgio. There’s just one particularly glaring issue I have with what he had to say and that stands with so many Web 2.0 entities.

They’re all trying to fix something that isn’t broken.

What’s with the fascination of trying to “kill” eBay and to a lesser degree Craig’s List. Both of these sites are killer apps. They work really, really, really well. They both have amazing critical mass and they operate as close to a perfect market as you could hope to achieve.

So why are people so intent on trying to reinvent the wheel.

Great innovations solve problems. eBay and Craig’s List have already solved their respective problems. I don’t see any glaring weakness or problem that competitors to either of these services are truly offering.

Filed under: Uncategorized

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