Almost three years ago, we had a conversation about Web 3.0 artificial intelligence agents as discovery channels. It's worth explaining the term again: Web 3.0 is a moniker used for the next generation of semantic Web, where intelligence and back end connections make the Web smarter for you.
It was a post before its time. I think we're better equipped to discuss about one specific example of the impact of discovery: news.
Increasingly, your customers are getting their news online. Two years ago, AP tied news consumption with usability in a study titled a new model for news. As I wrote then, the study helped solidify AP's mission for the digital marketplace (hope the quote meets their specs):
Create content that will satisfy a full range of consumers’ news needs and then build the links that will connect people to the relevant news they seek.
The study also concluded that the fragmentation of the news channels and delivery models, as well as the user experience are by and large disappointing. Except for the channels are not alone the delivery mechanism.
Especially when we're talking about newer generations of consumers, people and their social graphs are the last mile.
The missing link
At this point, it's worth exploring how we're producing and consuming content online. And yes, even people with no laptops. Think about smart phones, the iPad, and tablets — they are the gateways for the rest of the world, the people who never even had a computer.
This is happening in my own family — my mother has had a blog for a while and is used to being online chatting, commenting, sending emails with her laptop. My father, on the other hand, who has never been interested in owning a computer, is getting an iPad.
He will probably start using it mainly to consume news now that his favorite magazines have caught up. According to Forrester's social technographics ladder she's a creator, a conversationalist, and a joiner, she gets her news from friends and family as well, he's a spectator, and finds news on news sites, for now.
Because I cannot help but think that the missing technology link will drive home a different kind of usage for him as well. We're social creatures, after all. And as soon as he discovers his friends are also online… younger generations are already there.
Stock and flow
This all matters to you and your business. People, your customers, and even your employees, are finding news in many different ways. And as further proof of that, in a post about stock and flow, Robin Sloan defines what he thinks is the master metaphor for media today [hat tip Noah Brier]:
Flow is the feed. It’s the posts and the tweets. It’s the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that remind people that you exist.
Stock is the durable stuff. It’s the content you produce that’s as interesting in two months (or two years) as it is today. It’s what people discover via search. It’s what spreads slowly but surely, building fans over time.
The stock part is why it's a good idea to become a media company, the flow part explains why your active participation in discovering what people are interested in matters. If you use Facebook for business at all, you see how stock and flow, combined with paid media, can really make a difference with engagement, and conversions.
The New PR
If that wasn't enough, there is one more group of people who you can affect by understanding stock and flow — by producing a good and consistent stream of content, and socializing it — and that is the people you are pitching now.
Journalists and bloggers are online more than your customer base. We read and consume information voraciously, along with many other groups who are probably active as critics, collectors, and joiners, without being creators.
More and more, publishers discover news by connecting the dots on content and information that is being shared in our networks and social graphs. In fact, I find it more appealing to write about things I uncover on my own, than from the average pitch.
Because discovery connects with our points of interest and curiosity, it's something we may feel gives us an advantage if we write about it as nobody else has received quite the same pitch.
The new PR, then, includes organizing that discovery moment by building a platform with stock, and understanding the back end of the Web, and the flow of the people you are trying to reach. Things are getting quite interesting, aren't they?