Those of you reading this blog on Masthead are surely aware that the magazine and its website are closing. The loss of the website is a big one for the industry and the Canadian magazine community; please let me know if you have any ideas on attempting to fill the void.
But rest assured that this blog will live on in its original home, magazinesonline.wordpress.com. Bookmark it, subscribe to the RSS feeds or sign up for email updates, whatever works for you. I’ll still be writing.
Thanks to Marco Ursi at Masthead for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts with Masthead readers and for promoting my blog to the community. I’ll still be sharing posts with them until they no longer have the resources to update them.
Thanks to Mark Bertils of index//mb for passing on a link to this (long and detailed) analysis of the creation of monocle.com by Dan Hill, former director of web and broadcast at Monocle. Set aside some time and read through it – it’s really interesting and there’s a lot to learn.
Threadless. iStockphoto. Wikipedia. Kiva. Google. What do these sites have in common? They all tap into the power of the masses, in a process journalist Jeff Howe termed crowdsourcing and originally wrote about in a 2006 article for Wired.
Howe has now come out with a book about the phenomenon, Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business. I just finished it and in my opinion, it’s essential reading for anyone who hopes to develop online communities or make use of user-generated content – two strategies that are top priorities these days for many magazines and their websites. On the one hand, it’s inspirational – Howe describes the path to success of the sites (or communities) mentioned above as well as others you may not have heard of, such as InnoCentive, an organization that provides crowdsourced R&D to companies such as Procter & Gamble. But the book is also a cautionary tale of how community-building can go wrong, especially when the primary motivation is profit. (Which isn’t to say making money can’t be a successful secondary goal.)
Howe also passes on a lot of useful information, such as the experience of Linda Parker, the online communities editor at the Cincinnati Enquirer. When discussing soliciting reader submissions, Howe writes:
“It used to read, ‘Be a Citizen Journalist,’” Parker says. “And no one ever clicked on it. Then we said, ‘Tell Us Your Story,’ and still nothing. For some reason, ‘Get Published’ were the magic words.”
I love this proof of the value of experimentation and how the smallest things can make a huge difference.
In short, you should buy the book and read it. Then please, let me know what you think.