Thursday, October 9, 2008

Time to choose: Deck chairs or lifeboats

Cheering the fact that the new design of the physical-paper Boston Herald "looks better" than the old design is like saying the Titanic, as it was going down, looked better with new curtains.

Come on people! You have to stop re-arranging deck chairs and start building lifeboats.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Why passion is key

While flitting around Twitter today, I came across the tweet stream belonging to the CEO of Zappos, the killer online shoe store. In one of his recent tweets, he made the following observation:

What I've learned in life and business: the people that care most always win. I've been on both sides. If you're most passionate, you'll win.

The wisdom seemed apropos to the news business.

I've talked before about how news organizations have to put their futures in the hands of staffers who are most passionate about the places news creation and delivery are going. Not the most senior staff. Not the ones with the greatest experience or most impressive accomplishments according to the traditional, paper-news metrics. But the people who are really jazzed about how we'll be able to generate and deliver news in the brave new digital world. Not only because they are more likely to win, as the quote above says. But also because only they will have the drive to keep on through the tough slog that awaits this business.

Photo courtesy of ms4jah. Creative Commons license.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

If at first you don't succeed...

"If at first you don't succeed, call it version 1.0."

It's an old saying in the tech world. But it reflects the mindset that has enabled Silicon Valley to produce the likes of Apple, eBay, PayPal, and Google. This mindset says: "There's no such thing as failure. There's only version 1.0. And then version 2.0. And then 3.0."

Things aren't expected to work great -- or even work -- the first time around. But that's OK. Things not working right the first time around doesn't constitute failure. It constitutes a necessary step on the way to figuring out what does work.

It's a mindset news organizations simply need to adopt. They need to move away from "We don't release it to the world until it's fully baked" to "Let's throw it up against the wall and see what sticks."

So let's say it again: "If at first you don't succeed, call it version 1.0." (And then go back to the drawing board to start working on version 2.0.)

Photo courtesy of eyesplash Mikul. Creative Commons license.