The Power of Real Time: the Super Bowl Twitter Experience

Twitter-cheerleaderI watched parts of Super Bowl LXVI in a lounge at LAX, on my way to the Bay Area.  Not being in an ideal setting, quite distant to the screen, my natural instinct was to tap into my second screen to enhance the experience, so I fired up Twitter on my iPhone, and came face to face with the new social media reality for essentially the first time.

Now I am reading that it was a Twitter record with 12K tweets per second during the game.  While TV viewership is flat, the real time web was alight with interaction, commentary and sharing, demonstrating what is now possible in the connected world.

I really think it's a combination of a few separate curves that is defining the new real time web experience.  On one hand, the community is getting more fluid in its expression.  Conventions are being established and the new vocabulary and interaction modes are now better understood by all.  Some of the early clumsiness has now diappeared.

Secondly, the commercial voices are better integrated. So when Madonna or Shazam or Foursquare are interacting with their audiences, that is also more fluid.

And most importantly, the online communities are extremely comfortable integrating the living room experience to their online conversations.  For me, Twitter was an enhancing addition to my TV yesterday.

All of this tells me that we are still in the very early stages of media and entertainment disruption we are seeing enabled through the connected economy.  It also tells me there will be many more great businesses that will be created in this realm.  What excitement to feel on the month of the Facebook filing.


Clay Shirky does not write very frequently, but when he does, it's often worth paying attention to.  His latest post is no exception.

Sriky is pointing out the changes in the media business and the inability of old media to comprehend them.  He summarizes his point in a fun way:

To pick a couple of examples more or less at random, last year Barry
Diller of IAC said, of content available on the web, “It is not free,
and is not going to be,” Steve Brill of Journalism Online said that
users “just need to get back into the habit of doing so [paying for
content] online”, and Rupert Murdoch of News Corp said “Web users will
have to pay for what they watch and use.”

Diller, Brill, and Murdoch seem be stating a simple fact—we will
have to pay them—but this fact is not in fact a fact. Instead, it is a
choice, one its proponents often decline to spell out in full, because,
spelled out in full, it would read something like this:

“Web users will have to pay for what they watch and use, or else we
will have to stop making content in the costly and complex way we have
grown accustomed to making it. And we don’t know how to do that.”

What Clay Shirky is identifying for the media industry, can be attributed to the Turkish business environment in the broadest sense.  It even includes businesses who were born to the connected economy.

My investments are built on one simple thesis:  That Turkey has lagged
comparable markets in the transition of economic activity to the
connected platforms.  I think there's enormous profit potential in this
situation, if the right exposure is attained.  And part of it comes
from the behavior of incumbents in the Turkish economy. I will be thinking more about specific examples and try to document them in this blog.

Foxes are Supposed to be Smart

Fox I've been meaning to write about the News Corp – Microsoft deal rumours of which have been afloat for a few days, but lots of traveling and two events got in the way.  The deal involves MSFT paying News Corp to block Google from accessing its content and having it exclusively indexed by Bing.

My first reaction to this is that it won't work.  I beleive that information wants to be free and we see versions of that play out all over the web. I am all for creative monetization of attention, but gaming the system with biz dev deals does not seem to me the smart way to go about it.

One area that this "shift to free" has worked extremely well is news.  There has been much said and written on how the web is killing journalism and that the news room is going to die because of the web.  While many print media outlets are being hurt by the reduction in friction in news publishing, I think the casualties have not hurt the quality of the news we consume.  If you look at the example of the reporting the blogosphere (especially Arrington) has done of the recent Scamville issue, and compare it with NYT's coverage of it (as Fake Steve Jobs did), you can see how less friction has led to better news in some cases.

In any case, my big issue with this deal is less the economics of attention but the fact that this type of one-on-one agreement for exculsivity is just unnecessary friction.  There is no value being created for the ultimate consumer of news.  The consumer has so far voted with her clicks that she's found the way Google has directed her attention to news more valuable than the way Microsoft has.  Now MSFT and Murdoch are forcing her to either go to two sources for her searches, or switch to what she feels is a lesser search engine.

Now, I also think this is something Google has had coming. In its decisions regarding the economics of attention, Google decided on a black box approach.  Albert Wenger has written a smart post on this issue: 

One of the reasons that Craigslist is so hard to attack is that Craig has chosen to the give the bulk of the benefits to the network itself (as “consumer surplus”)
by operating most of Craigslist for free.  Google made a different
choice, which is to keep a ton of the economics for themselves (and
often in a non-transparent manner, i.e. it’s unclear how much of the
economics Google takes).  That will eventually create openings for
others based on a willingness to share the economics differently.

Microsoft took a first step into that direction with the cash back
for shopping.  A deal with news organizations would simply be a further
step in that direction.  It is therefore not clear that Google is maximizing long term value by hanging on to as much of the profit as they are.  That is the real heart of the ongoing conflict over news indexing.

As the attention economics gets more and more streamlined, we will see similar attempts at biz-dev'ing by incumbents.  Most attempts will be unnovation (to borrow Umair's term), and will not lead to any disruption.  The exciting developments will focus on increasing value.  I try to keep focused on those.