It was a busy week for mini-conferences: O’Reilly and PW’s TOC Executive Roundtable took place on Tuesday, May 22, and featured Hilary Mason, Chief Scientist at bit.ly, talking about what a service like bit.ly can glean from those who use it to shorten URLs – and it’s pretty amazing. Calling the company “the largest engine for capturing human gossip,” she showed how different media – magazines, newspapers, digital news etc. – is preferred in various parts of the country, and at times of the day, based on bit.ly usage. A version of this will be available short.ly (pun intended) that will allow publishers to track what books, reviews, excerpts etc. are being shared across which social media. Mason also talked about which social media is used, when. Twitter is typically used during business hours, but FB is later, and Tumblr is late at night. Not surprising, Pinterest visits are heaviest on weekends.
On May 23, GigaOm’s efficiently run paidContent 2012 took place at the Times Center. It had some marquee names, including Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson and – in another “sector” – Richard Russo. But it seemed that the audience stayed for what was strictly germane to their business, and had no compunction about leaving whenever the panels were focused on something other. As the event, like paidContent, covered all media and, like GigaOm, some tech too, there was a lot of movement. Like other trade journalists, Shelf Awareness covered the two end-of-day book-related interviews. One was with Richard Russo (who was appropriately curmudgeonly) and the other was between paidContent’s Laura Hazard Owen and Pottermore’s Charlie Redmayne.
But there were lessons to be learned from other panels. B&N’s GM Digital Newsstand John Shar brought up the “D” word, which was much used at the conference: “We need to take discoverability to the next level. Each article [in a magazine] or chapter is an entry point to purchase.” In a panel on apps, Mark Johnson, CEO of Zite, a news aggregator that CNN recently bought, talked about how important the user interface is in helping consumers “sift through content,” so the smart thing to do is to constantly explore new business models. In fact, he said, “it’s the only thing to do to save publishing.”
See paidContent’s coverage of their conference here.