Are Marketers Scared of the New World?

I'm at the SIIA Content forum in San Francisco. Amazingly my flight from Boston arrived a half hour early, so I'm able to catch all of the afternoon panels today. I'm presenting tomorrow at a session called Search Workshop for Publishers. I'm having fun chatting (and trading the occasional snide comment) with Joe Wikert from Wiley who I'm sitting next to.

Kudos to Larry Schwartz, President of Newstex, for putting together a great panel: "Technology: Transforming the Way Businesses Do Business." Larry produced the panel and recruited the cool speakers covering new content technologies, standards, trends and practices including: Tagging, Blogging, Wikis, Web 2.0, and Mashups.

Charlene Li, Principal Analyst, Devices, Media & Marketing, Forrester Research, Inc. moderated and Panelists included:
Kevin Rose, Founder,
Ben Elowitz, Chief Executive Officer,
Marissa Levinson, Director – Business Development & Sales, Six Apart, Ltd.
Joshua Schachter, Founder,
Bret Taylor, Product Manager – Developer Programs, Google, Inc.

Standing room only for this panel. I’m really interested in the discussions, but I’ll try to capture some of what’s said. Charlene is doing a great job keeping things on time and focused.

Marissa, who works for the company that makes the terrific TypePad blogging system that I use for this blog, talked about blog anatomy. "Blogging is no longer just anti-authoritarian or photos of pets." Blogs are a content management system. Makes people efficient – anyone who’s writing content just pays attention to writing. Publishing happens fast. Blogs for marketing purposes. We're seeing large groups of blogs being deployed by large organizations as content management systems = searchable, easy for users to create. "Blogs are not fads, they will evolve and improve. The ability for people who consume information to find it is here to stay."

Bret talked about Google Maps mashups, the merging of Google Maps APIs with other applications such as Craigs List. He showed a cool mashup that a marathon runner created to show distances in running routes and distances. Interesting that user generated content is also applications, not just content. Besides maps, other popular applications are the homepage API and Google calendar API. Trying to provide easy ways for developers to create applications for Google.

Ben says his company, wetpaint, creates a collaborative platform that merges the best of blogs, wikis, and other social media. He showed WikiFido, a site for dog lovers, as an example. One section: "my dog is cuter than your dog." Users add pages and edit content. Brings people together because it is easy to use. Different than a blog because "it is like a town hall where lots of people participate, rather than a blog which is more like a soapbox for one person."

Joshua founded, a company he says was founded "to make it easy to find things again on the Web." Categorize your content with tags to save your data. "You can discover what people are paying attention to."

Kevin: "Digg is a social news website." Find news online, give it a title and descriptions and categorize it for others. Users digg stories which when they reach thresholds the stories then make it to the front page of the site. Users save their own stories and see what their friends are digging. "What's helped us to break news stories faster than anyone else is News Spy." When stories break, people find them and dig them real time. Every time you digg something, you submit a bit about your interests. Digg can see interesting clusters of what people are doing in aggregate. "Digg will be launching a new version of the site in several months. One new thing = 'friends finder' where you can see who has similar interests as you." Kevin is a cool guy and a great speaker. Digg will go far I'm sure.

Awesome. I could hear these speakers for many more hours (maybe they'll be at the cocktail hour tonight).

What I take away from this panel is a strong confirmation of my feeling that the content world is quickly changing. Instead of hundreds of places to find content (big newspaper sites for example), there are now millions. Everyone can choose what they want to read and how they want to share in exactly the way they want.

Panelists encouraged the audience: "don’t be scared." Get out there and embrace social media. As marketers, we're smart to follow this advice. Sadly many marketers do not – in my opinion because they are scared. Don’t ask permission—just do it.

David Meerman Scott

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