The Pebble and the Avalanche

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Current Revolutions in Business and Technology

by Dr. Moshe Yudkowsky,

author of The Pebble and The Avalanche: How Taking Things Apart Creates Revolutions


Tue, 2006-Sep-05, 05:24

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Rethinking the Press Release

Companies go to great lengths to churn out press releases to generate interest in their products. At the same time reporters routinely ignore press releases; if they want to publish decent articles they have to write them up themselves. As an alternative to the current system, Tom Foremski proposes that companies disaggregate their press releases into useful components:

Deconstruct the press release into special sections and tag the information so that as a publisher, I can pre-assemble some of the news story and make the information useful.
He then goes on to suggest how to break apart the press release and — most importantly — that the separate pieces of information be "tagged" so that they will be easy to find and re-assemble.

I think this is a fascinating and useful idea, and is very similar to the current US Securities and Exchange Commission proposals to report financial information in a standard format. Even if editors were to ultimately find this system unusable for their own purposes, it's entirely possible that financial analysts could use press reports in standard format to automatically alert investors to important news stories.

Fri, 2006-Jul-14, 11:01

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Tribune in Steep Decline

One of Chicago's icons is in trouble, and they're pushing the same old worn-out excuses. The parent company of The Chicago Tribune reported a 62% decline in profit and and "increasing" decline in readership. The newspaper attributes their problems to a shift towards the Web by readers and advertisers.

I don't accept that explanation. Newspapers continue to provide news in an excellent format that is portable, concentrated, and randomly accessible. Imagine if newspapers had just been invented: everyone would be flabbergasted by the improvement over reading the news on PDAs. No batteries! Doesn't break if you drop it! Huge "screen" size! High resolution! Random access! You can write on it! You can even rip it apart and share it with your friends!

Newspapers have been in decline for quite some time; the trend is accelerating; but I suspect the Web is just a handy whipping boy for problems at the newspaper. Remember when newspapers blamed their problems on television? Newspapers have been in decline for years, long before the Web. Newspapers need a strong dose of creative thinking if they want to become profitable again.

Tue, 2006-Feb-21, 08:53

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The Future of Video

Here's a great quote on how to use disaggregation to make money:

"We have so much content and so little of it is seen. News, entertainment, and sports can all be sliced and diced for different markets."
The quote is from Larry Kramer, president of CBS Media. It's in front-page Wall Street Journal article about the rise of video-content middlemen on the Internet.