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.

80 thoughts on “More asshat posts in 2008 coming…

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. “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.

  11. “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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

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

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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. 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. 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. :)

  20. 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. :)

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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

  24. 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

  25. 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!

  26. 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!

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

Comments are closed.