'The Globe and Mail' Pay Plan Signals the End of the Newspaper Columnist


An announcement by The Globe and Mail that some of its financial coverage would be restricted to subscribers next year drew a curious reaction from commenters — many of whom are certain that it will represent the start of a slope that they won't pay to climb.

The backlash might be viewed as validation for the company — which now fends for itself after being unclenched from Bell Media — considering the emergent competition that led the Globe to previously unlock all its content in March 2008.

Back then, the trial paralleled an effort by The New York Times to offset the cost of reporting news online by charging for access to opinionators. But the market value of a sermonizing columnist was in free-fall before social media kicked in.

After all, if merely spouting off was a sufficient business model, then it would allow the wealth to be spread to those who leave feedback. Yet many newspaper old-timers would still rather not acknowledge their respondents. More typical in the web journalism field is a feeling of contempt toward those "conversation" joiners.

Political Games

National Post GeoPollster ARGDuring this week's Metaviews teleseminar I was informed about the existence of The National Post's GeoPollster, a foursquare style political Alternate Reality Game whose main goal is to increase voter turnout and interest in Canadian politics. I was immediately interested.

This is because for the most part the political parties, civil society groups and mainstream journalists in Canada seem uninterested, or unable, to use new media effectively. Sure each party uses Twitter and Facebook, but they do so badly. Earlier today Luke described how Micheal Ignatieff's Twitter kept pumping out status updates during this week's debate – effectively undermining the personal nature of social media. Iggy's Twitter was effectively a simulacrum of the real Iggy.

So if the political parties can barely understand how to use Twitter effectively, what hope is there for them to use videogames well? Not much.

This is to their detriment however, because videogames are ideally suited to political tasks. This is because they can engage in procedural rhetoric – something I have discussed at length before. Procedural rhetoric uses what computers do best – run procedures – to engage in arguments about how the world works. It helps that politics is all about ideology, which videogames happen to be excellent at expressing.

Ian Bogost in his book Persuasive Games says that “Political videogames use procedural rhetorics to expose how political structures operate, or how they fail to operate, or how they could or should operate.”

YouTube Turns 5 Years Old

At five years old, YouTube serves two billion videos daily and is a dominant player in the global media industry. Taking a step back, it's interesting to consider how YouTube got here and what the relationship between Google and YouTube has produced.

The Vancouver 2010 Olympics: The first games in the clouds

photo by ecstaticist from

The Vancouver 2010 Olympics were the first games that took place "in the cloud." While it would be too easy to say that they were "The Social Media Olympics", that does not describe the breadth and comprehensiveness by which technology dramatically changed the way everyone interacted with the games.

Social media is for many people already old news, and what's novel about these Olympics, what made it possible, was the pervasiveness of cloud computing, the concept that frees us from our personal computer, frees us from a single television channel, to be able to interact with the games anywhere, anytime, and anyway we choose.

There's really no division between official broadcaster and even official sponsors, the olympics are so transcendent they permeate our society for two weeks, kind of like a cloud.

One of the impacts of the rise of cloud computing is the dominance of real-time media. The way in which compelling moments flash through the cloud like lightning with echoes that roar like Thunder.

Sidney Crosby's gold medal winning goal was a great example of this. The moment the puck when into the net an electric current surged across the country (across the world) firing human bodies up with emotion. The thundering echo produced by this strike could be heard by those not directly connected.

Emerging Business Models for Journalists and Agitators

I love to be inspired by change, even the potential for change, and this is why the fall is tied with spring for my favourite season. Watching the world around me decay, knowing it will rise again, reminds me how important it is for the old to make way for the new.

This is why I rarely lament the decline of the journalism business, or any content-related industry, for that matter. Everywhere I look I see phoenixes ready to rise from the ashes.

For example, two of my favourite media outlets, both creations of internet culture, and also relatively new, are stumbling towards rather successful business models for online journalism. I say "stumbling" only because neither are waiting for permission or the perfect formula. They're embracing the embedded ethos of the online environment which is to "just do it."