Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Big Media: Do You Really Facilitate What People Want To Do?

Both the Guardian and Facebook initiatives seek to capitalise on people's desire to socialise (to summarise many subsidiary activities) by offering the opportunity to socialise on their respective advertising platforms. But we are still seeing a stark difference between an institution seeking to solve its own problem, top-down, and that of a facilitator focused on solving people's problems, bottom-up.

The links in the content on the Guardian's site are almost entirely to Guardian content, rather than to source material or the digital presences of people/organisations named. So, while the Guardian is moving towards a more collaborative model, it patently wants to 'own' that collaboration - promoting Guardian content, centring on the Guardian's favoured topics and on the Guardian's advertising platform. So if you wish to socialise on the Guardian platform you must surrender your 'voice' and identity to the Guardian.

By contrast, Facebook Open Graph facilitates the various activities that comprise 'socialising' without dictating location, content and whether it involves creating links away from Facebook, or even to Facebook.

It seems obvious to me which approach will ultimately attract more people and advertisers. The question is whether the Guardian has the institutional skill and courage required to reinvent itself as a genuine facilitator before everyone moves to a more facilitative platform.

Image from Logic+Emotion.


Ian Brown said...

In the short-medium term, the Guardian has a real advantage in a pre-made "community" — so long as it can move them online and onto their platform. I wonder whether smaller groups can coalesce on looser platforms and reach a scale that will allow them to overcome this advantage.

Pragmatist said...

Thanks, Ian.

Yes. Not so long ago, Facebook users constituted a smaller group of people than Guardian readers. So there's definitely an opportunity for those hosting small groups to overcome the Guardian's perceived short term 'community' advantage, but only if the host genuinely facilitates what people want to do, rather than dictating how the host wants them to behave. I say 'perceived advantage', because the basis of the Guardian's 'community' is so vulnerable to services offered by genuine facilitators - and like most 'big media' it has the added challenge of generating enough income from the digital presence to pay for the legacy offering and vice versa.

Related Posts with Thumbnails