More asshat posts in 2008 coming…

Remember the learnings I put up yesterday. What was one of the key themes that I learned in 2007? That if you want traffic you must cause the metaphorical equivilent of a traffic wreck, right? Remember my seven Amazon Kindle videos? Here, let’s look at them again. Note which one got the most views: the one where I was a real jerk. This isn’t by accident. Human beings are attracted to conflict as stories.

UPDATE: This post is in reaction to this post by Scott Karp which was in reaction to how Gawker Media now pays its bloggers.

Me and Mike Arrington shaking hands at a party? No audience attention.
Me and Mike Arrington yelling at each other at a party? Audience gathers around.

Now you know why we find ways to argue during panel discussions. :-)

Amazon Kindle video #1. Unboxing. 10,961 views.
Amazon Kindle video #2. Kindle first use. 8,389 views.
Amazon Kindle video #3. Walking around with Kindle. 1,395 views.
Amazon Kindle video #4. Mike Arrington on Kindle. 10,223 views.
Amazon Kindle video #5. Books vs. Kindle. 13,708 views.
Amazon Kindle video #6. Me being a total jerk to Amazon. 88,134 views.
Amazon Kindle video #7 (Interview at SF State University). 31,432 views.

So, out of these seven posts which one got the most participants? Got me seen as a thought leader? Increased the intelligent discussion? Promoted good feelings? Increased my readership of smart people? Improved my relationship with companies and sponsors? Impressed my friends? Got the kinds of results I wanted?

I can tell you that #6 didn’t help me much at all in any of those areas. Yeah, it got a crowd going, but is that really what we want when we’re producing media? After looking back at it it’s not the kind of audience I want. I want participants, not audience. Why? Well, in 2008 you’ll see that participants are who advertisers and sponsors REALLY want to reach. Even those that buy page-view-based advertisements.

Anyway, Gawker Media is studying the wrong metric, but I’m happy that they aren’t figuring it out yet. That means my new thing has a BIG chance to get going in 2008 (more on that on January 16th). Of course it also means that I’m going to get thrown under the bus on Valleywag even more in 2008 than in 2007 (which will be hard to do, cause they threw me under the bus dozens of times in 2007).

For those who read just the headline: I’m going in another direction in 2008 — I’m going to try to do more posts and videos that make you more intelligent, not take advantage of your “slow down on the freeway when there’s a wreck” instincts.

Starting Thursday. We’re having lunch with Doug Engelbart, inventor of the mouse and smartest guy I’ve interviewed.

Comments

  1. Nils Geylen says:

    Not that I ever thought you were a jerk, but I say: let them come, these intelligent-making posts.

    Always better to fail at being good, than to succeed at being an ass ;)

    Oh, and since I haven’t had the chance yet: happy new year.

  2. Nils says:

    Not that I ever thought you were a jerk, but I say: let them come, these intelligent-making posts.

    Always better to fail at being good, than to succeed at being an ass ;)

    Oh, and since I haven’t had the chance yet: happy new year.

  3. rdempsey says:

    I look forward to your 2008 content. We have also experimented on our blog to see the types of headlines that get more attention and negative headlines definitely get more viewing in general. Ultimately, I agree with you and believe that the “right” readers are those that tune in regardless of the tone in the headline. I have read posts from Shel, most notably “Lurkers? Nope. Just Neighbors,” on participation as well and would be interested in your take on the subject as well. I will peruse your previous postings on the matter and will look forward to more.

  4. rdempsey says:

    I look forward to your 2008 content. We have also experimented on our blog to see the types of headlines that get more attention and negative headlines definitely get more viewing in general. Ultimately, I agree with you and believe that the “right” readers are those that tune in regardless of the tone in the headline. I have read posts from Shel, most notably “Lurkers? Nope. Just Neighbors,” on participation as well and would be interested in your take on the subject as well. I will peruse your previous postings on the matter and will look forward to more.

  5. Chris Heuer says:

    Ah, the big dilemma… influence over reach – would rather have influence any day, but in this celebrity driven pop culture world of ours, I am afraid to say we need a bit of both. It takes quite a bit of work to be successful in such a way, but I am with you on this one Robert – rather be the nice guy trying to help people with insights and friendly advice than the jerk trying to get attention any day. If that means a smaller but smarter group of participants in the conversation (formerly known as audience), then so be it.

    Looking forward to seeing what you are doing next, seems like it might be a lot of fun… I hope you help them revive the brand and take it to a whole new dimension!

  6. Chris Heuer says:

    Ah, the big dilemma… influence over reach – would rather have influence any day, but in this celebrity driven pop culture world of ours, I am afraid to say we need a bit of both. It takes quite a bit of work to be successful in such a way, but I am with you on this one Robert – rather be the nice guy trying to help people with insights and friendly advice than the jerk trying to get attention any day. If that means a smaller but smarter group of participants in the conversation (formerly known as audience), then so be it.

    Looking forward to seeing what you are doing next, seems like it might be a lot of fun… I hope you help them revive the brand and take it to a whole new dimension!

  7. Ajay Mishra says:

    Happy New Year. Today (Jan1 ) is my birthday. I had some guests at my house. There were gifts. Some books. Some videos. Some auto-bigraphies. To cut the long – short: It all started with Happy New Year etc etc.. later on went deep into web 2.o etc etc. and Finally, someone mentioned “Dude, whats up with Scolbe and Amazon?”. Obviously, a lot of people knew Scolbe. Unofrtnately, I did not ( well, I know – now) :)

    Few people read about Gandhi’s auto-biography. A lot however discover/debate/discuss ( mostly made up stories)about him :)

    Happy New year…

    cheers
    ajay

  8. Ajay Mishra says:

    Happy New Year. Today (Jan1 ) is my birthday. I had some guests at my house. There were gifts. Some books. Some videos. Some auto-bigraphies. To cut the long – short: It all started with Happy New Year etc etc.. later on went deep into web 2.o etc etc. and Finally, someone mentioned “Dude, whats up with Scolbe and Amazon?”. Obviously, a lot of people knew Scolbe. Unofrtnately, I did not ( well, I know – now) :)

    Few people read about Gandhi’s auto-biography. A lot however discover/debate/discuss ( mostly made up stories)about him :)

    Happy New year…

    cheers
    ajay

  9. Louis Gray says:

    Sounds like a good plan. Gawker’s idea to pay for # of page views is a big mistake. It’ll force Digging, and StumbleUpon rigging and flamebait, and spouting off nonsense against Apple and Firefox and Linux and HD-DVD/Blu-Ray or whatever the wars of the moment are.

    I am worried about your going to an old media pub in hopes to drag them into new media. It will certainly be a tough job, and I hope you stick it out, or manage to get them to adapt to you.

  10. Louis Gray says:

    Sounds like a good plan. Gawker’s idea to pay for # of page views is a big mistake. It’ll force Digging, and StumbleUpon rigging and flamebait, and spouting off nonsense against Apple and Firefox and Linux and HD-DVD/Blu-Ray or whatever the wars of the moment are.

    I am worried about your going to an old media pub in hopes to drag them into new media. It will certainly be a tough job, and I hope you stick it out, or manage to get them to adapt to you.

  11. Louis: who said I was going to an old media pub? Heheh. See ya on January 16th.

  12. Louis: who said I was going to an old media pub? Heheh. See ya on January 16th.

  13. I think most of the buzz about the Gawker memo is not about asshat posts; it’s about whether Gawker bloggers should put up with an asshat boss, whatever the pay scale/bonus structure.

    So, Robert, just don’t be an asshat. :)

  14. I think most of the buzz about the Gawker memo is not about asshat posts; it’s about whether Gawker bloggers should put up with an asshat boss, whatever the pay scale/bonus structure.

    So, Robert, just don’t be an asshat. :)

  15. Sheila: asshat bosses get asshat posts. I’ll try not to be an asshat in 2008! :-)

  16. Sheila: asshat bosses get asshat posts. I’ll try not to be an asshat in 2008! :-)

  17. Louis Gray says:

    Re: #7… Arrington did, as you know. And we don’t yet have news to refute it. I personally hope you find a place with innovation, flexibility, openness and big budgets. Also, it should keep you in the Bay Area. Other than that, you’re on your own! I’m not your mother! :-)

  18. Louis Gray says:

    Re: #7… Arrington did, as you know. And we don’t yet have news to refute it. I personally hope you find a place with innovation, flexibility, openness and big budgets. Also, it should keep you in the Bay Area. Other than that, you’re on your own! I’m not your mother! :-)

  19. geekmommy says:

    Honestly? It’s just the tech equivalent of the car wreck phenomenon.
    The tabloids know that tragedy and anger and drama sell – hence the incessant coverage of Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and whatever the latest celebrity feud is.
    But while ‘the public’ might stop to gawk, they don’t usually try to emulate.

    There’s one thing to be said for generating traffic, but another entirely to be said for influencing the traffic once it’s there.

    Good luck with your new tack – looking forward to see where you sail.

  20. geekmommy says:

    Honestly? It’s just the tech equivalent of the car wreck phenomenon.
    The tabloids know that tragedy and anger and drama sell – hence the incessant coverage of Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, and whatever the latest celebrity feud is.
    But while ‘the public’ might stop to gawk, they don’t usually try to emulate.

    There’s one thing to be said for generating traffic, but another entirely to be said for influencing the traffic once it’s there.

    Good luck with your new tack – looking forward to see where you sail.

  21. [...] “incentivizing” bloggers to boost their traffic encourages them to make their posts more sensational, and will lead to them writing about nothing but Britney Spears or whatever they think people will [...]

  22. [...] “incentivizing” bloggers to boost their traffic encourages them to make their posts more sensational, and will lead to them writing about nothing but Britney Spears or whatever they think people will [...]

  23. Garth says:

    Well said Robert but let’s have a look at what titles Gawker publishes and then you will realize there is atually a method to the madness.

    http://gawker.com/advertising/

    I count 6 of the well known blogs that feeds on sex, scandal or gossip.

  24. Garth says:

    Well said Robert but let’s have a look at what titles Gawker publishes and then you will realize there is atually a method to the madness.

    http://gawker.com/advertising/

    I count 6 of the well known blogs that feeds on sex, scandal or gossip.

  25. Garth says:

    Doug Engelbart … forget the mouse that everybody remembers and watch the ideas behind his NLS system that he demoed in the so called “Mother of All Demos”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mother_of_All_Demos

    The video is available here

    http://sloan.stanford.edu/mousesite/1968Demo.html

    The guy was way ahead of his time.

  26. Garth says:

    Doug Engelbart … forget the mouse that everybody remembers and watch the ideas behind his NLS system that he demoed in the so called “Mother of All Demos”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mother_of_All_Demos

    The video is available here

    http://sloan.stanford.edu/mousesite/1968Demo.html

    The guy was way ahead of his time.

  27. Garth: he still is ahead of his time and he’s 83.

  28. Garth: he still is ahead of his time and he’s 83.

  29. Roo Reynolds says:

    “Learnings”? Sheesh. What’s wrong with “lessons”?

  30. Roo Reynolds says:

    “Learnings”? Sheesh. What’s wrong with “lessons”?

  31. [...] started it and there’s been some questioning along with some tongue-in-cheek criticism (check out Scoble’s “announcement”) and general commentary (check out some [...]

  32. Herschel says:

    I’m not so convinced that your #6, which had the highest viewing, is an example of you being a “thought leader.”

  33. Herschel says:

    I’m not so convinced that your #6, which had the highest viewing, is an example of you being a “thought leader.”

  34. [...] has a great post up about being an asshat in posts. What it means in terms of readership and  reaction. Very [...]

  35. Aruni says:

    Thanks Robert. I found it hard to wade through some of the jerkiness sometimes. Sensationalism lasts for a bit but to move people forward requires them to get past their base emotions IMHO.

  36. Aruni says:

    Thanks Robert. I found it hard to wade through some of the jerkiness sometimes. Sensationalism lasts for a bit but to move people forward requires them to get past their base emotions IMHO.

  37. Robert says:

    “Me and Mike Arrington”? How about better grammar in 2008 that makes YOU appear more intelligent? Seriously, when I read a post filled with poor grammar I conclude the author’s thinking was poorly thought out.

    Oh, and how about more research and fact checking before posting? That would make EVERYONE smarter.

  38. Robert says:

    “Me and Mike Arrington”? How about better grammar in 2008 that makes YOU appear more intelligent? Seriously, when I read a post filled with poor grammar I conclude the author’s thinking was poorly thought out.

    Oh, and how about more research and fact checking before posting? That would make EVERYONE smarter.

  39. [...] More asshat posts in 2008 coming…By Robert Scoble Remember my seven Amazon Kindle videos? Here, let’s look at them again. Note which one got the most views: the one where I was a real jerk. This isn’t by accident. Human beings are attracted to conflict as stories. …Scobleizer — Tech geek blogger – http://scobleizer.com [...]

  40. spinchange says:

    As someone whose still loyal to the user-submitted news site, digg.com, it troubles me what this kind of development means for social media. There was already a shit-storm of garbage and SEO-motivated commercial content (which, I’m sure is why bloggers and a lot of folks like you have really given up on the site) …this is just going to make it much worse, I’m afraid.

    Totally Wrong Metric. The Focus needs to be on editorial quality – not page views.

  41. Spinchange says:

    As someone whose still loyal to the user-submitted news site, digg.com, it troubles me what this kind of development means for social media. There was already a shit-storm of garbage and SEO-motivated commercial content (which, I’m sure is why bloggers and a lot of folks like you have really given up on the site) …this is just going to make it much worse, I’m afraid.

    Totally Wrong Metric. The Focus needs to be on editorial quality – not page views.

  42. Rich says:

    It wasn’t you being a “jerk” that interested me in that video, it was your blatant “naked”, if you will, honesty. In a world of unrepentant fluff, that’s a rare thing. Here’s hoping you don’t descend into the pit of boredom in 2008.

  43. Rich says:

    It wasn’t you being a “jerk” that interested me in that video, it was your blatant “naked”, if you will, honesty. In a world of unrepentant fluff, that’s a rare thing. Here’s hoping you don’t descend into the pit of boredom in 2008.

  44. PR Geek says:

    Wise words Scobleizer. I remain a fan of yours.

    But the problem isn’t with Gawker or anyone else that pays for traffic. It’s the fundamentals that social media is built on.

    Web 2.0 itself is fuelled by traffic-based ad revenue. If you want free stuff (all the coolest things I use are free – YouTube, Blogger, Facebook, Twitter etc.) you’re following the model. You have to.

    For that reason, it will always be a low quality, high-traffic sphere. It’s built in.

  45. PR Geek says:

    Wise words Scobleizer. I remain a fan of yours.

    But the problem isn’t with Gawker or anyone else that pays for traffic. It’s the fundamentals that social media is built on.

    Web 2.0 itself is fuelled by traffic-based ad revenue. If you want free stuff (all the coolest things I use are free – YouTube, Blogger, Facebook, Twitter etc.) you’re following the model. You have to.

    For that reason, it will always be a low quality, high-traffic sphere. It’s built in.

  46. buckpost says:

    Whatever happened to quality content being king? But you’re right, sensational posts do get a lot of attention but that’s the nature of the Web right now.

  47. buckpost says:

    Whatever happened to quality content being king? But you’re right, sensational posts do get a lot of attention but that’s the nature of the Web right now.

  48. Erik Herz says:

    Robert,

    You inspired me to focus on engagement rather than traffic … perhaps we can think in terms of CPE (Cost Per Engagement) and come up with a consensus about how to measure this.

    I define CPE as: “The value of one unit of one person’s engagement with specific media that is strongly associated with a specific sponsor of the media.”

    Here is my attempt: http://podslug.com/blog/?p=115

    I would love to hear what folks think about a CPE model.

    Erik

  49. Erik Herz says:

    Robert,

    You inspired me to focus on engagement rather than traffic … perhaps we can think in terms of CPE (Cost Per Engagement) and come up with a consensus about how to measure this.

    I define CPE as: “The value of one unit of one person’s engagement with specific media that is strongly associated with a specific sponsor of the media.”

    Here is my attempt: http://podslug.com/blog/?p=115

    I would love to hear what folks think about a CPE model.

    Erik

  50. [...] only took a few hours for us to begin another feast on some linkbait. This time, it’s linkbait about linkbait. From Scoble… Remember the learnings I put up [...]

  51. Jim Treacher says:

    Good for you, admitting you were wrong about the Kindle.

  52. Jim Treacher says:

    Good for you, admitting you were wrong about the Kindle.

  53. Looking forward to the Engelbart video. His “mother of all demos” (http://sloan.stanford.edu/mousesite/1968Demo.html) is required view, imo.

    As for the Gawker issue. It’s a no-brainer that blinkin’ lights, yelling and T&A get more views. “Qualified viewers,” however, are a different story. Imagine how influential a post on the early Well was (is?) compared with a “normal” post. Why? The folks reading that Well post are heavy influencers. It’s like every one of those views is worth 50 incidental viewers. Somebody will figure out how to create/monitor that metric soon.

    Nokia gave 40 of us at a PopTech precon a free N95. Why? They figured the crowd was made up of people they wanted talking about the device. (It’s pretty good.)

    Ads served up to qualified viewers of blogs and video might just link up with Doc’s VRM. Then we’d see some interesting stuff.

  54. Looking forward to the Engelbart video. His “mother of all demos” (http://sloan.stanford.edu/mousesite/1968Demo.html) is required view, imo.

    As for the Gawker issue. It’s a no-brainer that blinkin’ lights, yelling and T&A get more views. “Qualified viewers,” however, are a different story. Imagine how influential a post on the early Well was (is?) compared with a “normal” post. Why? The folks reading that Well post are heavy influencers. It’s like every one of those views is worth 50 incidental viewers. Somebody will figure out how to create/monitor that metric soon.

    Nokia gave 40 of us at a PopTech precon a free N95. Why? They figured the crowd was made up of people they wanted talking about the device. (It’s pretty good.)

    Ads served up to qualified viewers of blogs and video might just link up with Doc’s VRM. Then we’d see some interesting stuff.

  55. Jerry says:

    @26. Ineresting idea. Would seem to make more sense than doing a video a day and hoping something sticks

  56. Jerry says:

    @26. Ineresting idea. Would seem to make more sense than doing a video a day and hoping something sticks

  57. Sam says:

    Great post, and definitely a great read.

  58. Sam says:

    Great post, and definitely a great read.

  59. Pete Steege says:

    NPR or Shock jock?
    McNeil Lehrer or Jerry Springer?

    Adding value vs. titilating is the way to go in my book. Especially for B2B.

    Would you classify your audience as Business or Consumer? I say Business.

  60. Pete Steege says:

    NPR or Shock jock?
    McNeil Lehrer or Jerry Springer?

    Adding value vs. titilating is the way to go in my book. Especially for B2B.

    Would you classify your audience as Business or Consumer? I say Business.

  61. [...] business blogging admits that he can’t think of ways to attract attention without being an asshat, we’ve got a [...]

  62. [...] More asshat posts in 2008 coming… – I know where this one goes. Do you? [...]

  63. livecrickteblog says:

    Robert, this is interesting

    http://www.news.com/8301-13580_3-9838934-39.html?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-5

    What do you think about the kindle now?

  64. livecrickteblog says:

    Robert, this is interesting

    http://www.news.com/8301-13580_3-9838934-39.html?part=rss&subj=news&tag=2547-1_3-0-5

    What do you think about the kindle now?

  65. [...] are now getting paid by the page view. It’s not about page views, guys, it’s about whether or not you’ve got an audience that participates. Tags: audience, donavan freberg, gizmodo, page views, stan freberg [...]

  66. Did I overlook the irony? ;)

    You did a good job on the videos and why not let only your visitors decide what’s good for them? Your video #6 was an anchor to hook people to your site. It was a hilarious video. It is not about jerking up but about showing emotions for this is why human beings are considered human beings.

    And after all you published it because you wanted to show it to your audience. Their reason to watch the video is valid. Maybe you should never post any videos with you goofing up then or better: videos that you think you goofed up in.

    I think that you are wrong complaining and griping about your visitors if you fail to hook them for your other content. It is up to everyone to decide what’s intelligent stuff to them and what’s not. After all the term “intelligent stuff” is only an abstraction. Ask 5 Billion people and they gonna give you atleast 5 Billion answers.

    I am thankful for any traffic bomb that hits me. I cannot force anyone to do what I want.

    Life is about emotions and the fun. As far as I am concerned I would just put in a little more fun in the rest of the videos. People like emotions. Even Robots wanna get their hands on them (as far as Data from Star Trek is concerned). ;)

    Keep up the good work!

    Regards,

    René

  67. Did I overlook the irony? ;)

    You did a good job on the videos and why not let only your visitors decide what’s good for them? Your video #6 was an anchor to hook people to your site. It was a hilarious video. It is not about jerking up but about showing emotions for this is why human beings are considered human beings.

    And after all you published it because you wanted to show it to your audience. Their reason to watch the video is valid. Maybe you should never post any videos with you goofing up then or better: videos that you think you goofed up in.

    I think that you are wrong complaining and griping about your visitors if you fail to hook them for your other content. It is up to everyone to decide what’s intelligent stuff to them and what’s not. After all the term “intelligent stuff” is only an abstraction. Ask 5 Billion people and they gonna give you atleast 5 Billion answers.

    I am thankful for any traffic bomb that hits me. I cannot force anyone to do what I want.

    Life is about emotions and the fun. As far as I am concerned I would just put in a little more fun in the rest of the videos. People like emotions. Even Robots wanna get their hands on them (as far as Data from Star Trek is concerned). ;)

    Keep up the good work!

    Regards,

    René

  68. Martina says:

    Be a jerk if the situation requires you to be a jerk.
    Otherwise be politically correct. As long as your posts will stay clever I will keep reading you.
    Have a great 2008!
    Martina

  69. Martina says:

    Be a jerk if the situation requires you to be a jerk.
    Otherwise be politically correct. As long as your posts will stay clever I will keep reading you.
    Have a great 2008!
    Martina

  70. [...] to my laptop for now. There are quite a few out there who are already bashing the design, including Robert Scoble. Perhaps we’ll see these dumped on the market for an improved version 2.0 model. I could see [...]

  71. Mark Hughes says:

    Video #6 isn’t a train wreck, Robert, it’s your best work. It’s the only one where you really show PASSION. Where you had done the hands-on, had real experience, and then just LET THE WORLD KNOW how bad the Kindle is. To hell with good manners, saying that the Kindle’s designer needs a good ass-beating and firing is important.

    When you try to be a “serious”, “professional” “journalist”, you have such a flat affect, it’s impossible to tell what you’re feeling. When you get pissed off (were you also drunk in that video? If so, drink more!), you’re great.

    It’s better to be great than to be nice.

  72. Mark Hughes says:

    Video #6 isn’t a train wreck, Robert, it’s your best work. It’s the only one where you really show PASSION. Where you had done the hands-on, had real experience, and then just LET THE WORLD KNOW how bad the Kindle is. To hell with good manners, saying that the Kindle’s designer needs a good ass-beating and firing is important.

    When you try to be a “serious”, “professional” “journalist”, you have such a flat affect, it’s impossible to tell what you’re feeling. When you get pissed off (were you also drunk in that video? If so, drink more!), you’re great.

    It’s better to be great than to be nice.

  73. [...] Scoble admits that it’s his asshat posts that generate the most [...]

  74. [...] With them determining quality based on the ability to garner links and pageviews, do you think that is going to improve content quality, or just cause more mud slinging and noise? The easy way to get more page views is controversy, as pointed out by Scott Karp and Scoble. [...]

  75. [...] didn’t strike me as strange. I remember reading more than once that Robert is specifically oriented towards participants instead of passive readers. I want participants, not audience. Why? Well, in 2008 you’ll see that [...]

  76. [...] With them determining quality based on the ability to garner links and pageviews, do you think that is going to improve content quality, or just cause more mud slinging and noise? The easy way to get more page views is controversy, as pointed out by Scott Karp and Scoble. [...]