Strange how some things change and others stay the same. We now have an old guard in Internet and they resist change fairly strongly. Particularly if they didn’t see it coming. I fell over this article in SMH today – Teenage habits – and was, well, gobsmacked at Paul McIntyre’s predictions for World Internet Project’s Jeff Cole’s advice to PBL would be.

ON MONDAY morning James Packer will get a one-hour debrief from the director of the World Internet Project before both men address ninemsn’s digital marketing
summit.
If Jeff Cole is correct, Packer will discover that his friends over at News Corp will start seeing all those teens flocking to its new online community, MySpace, dropping out in droves when they hit their 20s.

Well duh. Teenagers don’t hang around any scene for too long. Clubs have been known to shutdown, do a quick interior design change around and re-open with a new name (but same owner, same staff, same everything else). MySpace will need to do the same from time to time to retain teenage connections.

He will learn that interest in blogging is grossly overrated – except when mainstream journalists find something interesting and shift it into the broader public debate.

So blogging is a media phenomenon? I thought the media were struggling to keep up? Technorati tracks that 19.4 million bloggers are still blogging 3 months after starting a blog. No, I doubt that MySpace has a retention rate as high as 30% but contrary to this article, blogging is not just a teenage phenomenon.

The media mogul will be told that long-form TV-style content will be wildly popular on mobile devices, despite the conventional wisdom that says two- to three-minute grabs is where the action in mobile content will be.

Long form games (interactive tv) like GoogleQuest or a MMORPG will very likely hook users in. But will it be user-generated or will it be from incumbent media organisations? Will the little guy get his funky interactive show off the ground through low cost viral marketing campaigns or will traditional tv will out? As someone who fought the walled garden approach to WAP, I have my opinion.

“The audience for blogs is infinitely small,” says Cole, who is also director of the Centre for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California and who helped start the World Internet Project study six years ago.

And, no I don’t like blogs as the leaders in ‘dialogue as content’ strategies, but these kids won’t give up dialogue as they get older.Gen Y and Gen Z are the most likely generation to work for themselves from a young age and they will absolutely use blogs and similar tools to market their sole owner companies. The problem with blogs is they don’t, contrary to popular opinion, generate dialogue – online communities do that. However to say that the audience for blogs is infinitely small is unclear. Is it small because I will click in, read a paragraph or two then click off? Is it small because the number of ppl writing is greater than those reading? Yeah maybe. But if the implication is that users won’t be generating content, won’t be doing peer to peer marketing and advertising, won’t be using communities to learn in a wiki way, won’t be using dialogue to entertain themselves in the future, they are barking up the wrong tree.

Marketing is finished in the sense we know it. Just as branding goes beyond marketing, so we have to limit the validity of statistical analysis to determine trends. During times of change, the change is just too fast. Survey today, analyse tomorrow – it’s already gone and changed again. Important for knowing what happened and why, but it will no longer allow the marketer to set the trend. The ‘net surely shows chaos theory in action – innovate or die. Reminds me of the writers strikes (1988 and then again 2001) that led to the plethora of reality tv shows today.

On the whole I am not convinced with World Internet Project or Digital Center Org. Their quote “The invention of the internet has forever altered the world we live in” and their about us statement “The originators of this project believe that the Internet (in whatever distribution system: PC, television, wireless or some yet to be developed system) will transform our social, political and economic lives. We further believe that the influence and importance of the Internet will dwarf that of the most important cultural influence of the past 50 years: television. Potentially the Internet represents change on the order of the industrial revolution or the printing press. Believing this, our Internet Project is designed to get in on the ground floor of that change and to watch and document what happens as households and nations acquire and use the Internet. “ seem to me to be, well a little, naff. The Internet has changed out world… gosh. really?

Anywho, Jeff Cole’s Center for Digital Future at USC Annendale has a conf in Buenos Aires end of July. Anyone wanna send me a ticket? No? Ah well, I reckon WebDirections in Sydney will be good value. At least they have a blog and live what they research and discuss! My advice to PBL and NineMSN? Tuck into the sandwiches and Tim Tams, listen to what they have to say and then get out into the online communities and hear what they are saying. Or perhaps doing, cos saying don’t mean nothing. In 1995, most people said they would not subsitute email and mobile phone for face-to-face discussions. And now they merrily SMS and submit C.V.s, job proposals, and dating details having never met any of their contacts. Oh and avoid anyone who’s sole experience in online blogs is MySpace. That’s not how swarms work and there’s no money in it.

Having said that, I’ve read their yearly reports most years and its interesting reading – about how people see themselves. I still laugh at the “do children watch too much TV/internet” questions. The same people who say “yes” are the one’s who turn to the TV as a reward/punishment for teens or as a babysitter for their little ones. Isn’t humanity great?

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