the Problem with Medium

I really, really want to love <a Href=””>Medium</A&gt;, the new platform from Ev (you know, the guy from Blogger AND Twitter) that’s intended to make it easier and safer to write for the web again. It looks beautiful, the ambition is there, the execution seems good, but despite all that and despite all the posts i’ve read, i just can’t get into it. And that’s a fatal flaw. I just don’t care.

The main idea is, i think, to create a space where it’s good and safe to write well about meaningful subjects. Quality over the inanity of the gajillions of tweets we’re flooded with.

My sense: the writers there are just trying too damn hard to be Important. Trying too hard to deliver Quality. And, that’s the kiss of death. Maybe. We’ll see.

Resolutions for 2013? Yes, Of Course.

They usually are forgotten by the middle of February, but my best intentions are in full effect right now and are taking the form of an ambitious slate of resolutions for 2013. Here we go: 

  1. Eat better – this should be pretty easy, because i can't eat much worse than the last month. I'll follow Pollan's guidelines: Eat real food, not too much, mostly greens". I'll give Paleo a go. '
  2. 100 pushups – i'd like to be able to do 100 pushups in one session by the time i have my next birthday in September. This one will be a stretch. 
  3. Hit 165 by June 1. That's 15 pounds in Six months. I should be able to do that. 
  4. Ride a gravel century – Something like the Dirty Benjamin. 100 miles on a bike on gravel. 
  5. Write for 15 minutes 3 times a week – I need to get going on being more creative and i always think better when i'm writing. So, i'm going to shoot for 45 minutes of writing a week. While it's not super ambitious, it's a positive step forward for me. 
  6. Meditate for 5 minutes 4x a week – I've recently had some good success with meditation, so i'm going to shoot for 20 minutes a week of meditation. Again, not super ambitious, but i need to get some momentum. 
  7. Gratitude – I've really focused on this in the last three months, and it's been a real eye opener. The simple act of recounting – daily – what i'm grateful for has been a great mood builder. I feel less like a selfish ass, more like a useful part of a larger system. I'll keep doing this whether or not it's a resolution.
  8. Embrace being a nice old man – In my world (digital marketing) i'm like "Grandpa Internet": I've been around the block a couple times and i feel i can help some of the younger folks around me.  I want to fully embrace that concept of being a helpful mentor without being "that old white guy". I don't want to be that guy yelling "You kids get off my yard!". I can help, guide, and coach. And, hopefully, on my best days, inspire. 

Now, for some real stretch goals:

  • Start a magazine – There's so much amazing-ness happening with publishing right now, its a great time to make a small investement to learn. There's a specific area that i'm interested in that's not getting served, and so i'll scratch my own itch and make what i'm seeking. 
  • Make More – We're either consuming or we're creating. In a world of diminishing resources, i'd rather contribute than consume. So, i want to find ways to make more: ideas, things, inspiration. It's a fundamental point of view, more than an a plan at this point, but i hope it translates into real things that i've made. 

The Best Client Side Media Director Job In America?

I'm pretty biased, but i believe General Mills (disclosure: GIS is my employer) has an opening for one of the best, if not THE best, client-side media jobs in America: Director: Media Planning. I'm not kidding. I watch this space very closely, i know what we're trying to get done and General Mills has some incredible assets to work with. Then, throw in the obvious stuff: Great brands, great team and partners, great leadership. The job is in Minneapolis and General Mills is world renowned for building great leaders. Get in touch if you want to learn more! 

NYT’s Snowfall: Exploration & Experience

Even jaded cynics like me can see the beauty and ambition and talent in the NYT's "Snowfall" piece (is it an app? A "story"? ). It's unlike anything we've ever seen from a major news publisher and it could signal a significant new direction in news-publication storytelling: A distinctive experience as a differentiator. 

The Atlantic has a great writeup of the backstory, including an interview  with Steve Duenes, the NYT's Graphics Director. 

Or, this experiment could be a novelty; I couldn't imagine every story having a distinct experience. The lack of consistency would be annoying. And, i can't see how they could really truly scale this up, because of cost, time, etc. 

Either way, they are exploring in bold ways the possibilities of a multiscreen reading experience. It's a good example of a large company taking what they do well, and pushing the boundaries by rethinking the value for the reader. Its not a *complete* departure, but it's enough to be bold. It's so good i am actually interested to see what they do next, and that anticipation from non-NYC readers is probably exactly what they want to happen.  

The experience i had reading it ("reading" is inadequate, btw) immediately reminded me of the concept of a "business class" for news. Clean, ample room, attention to detail, investment in delivering a superior experience. The kind of experience where you want to spend more time there. And, the good news, I'd actually pay MORE for experiences like this, free of cramped, ad-filled pages. 


Are You A Strong Node?

After around 15 years of advocating for the embrace of "Digital Marketing", we're in the early stages of being advocates for embracing marketing for a digital world. I first heard this from Mark Comerford, but like all truisms, i feel like i had heard it before. It's a nice verbal flip, of course, but it's also true: "Digital Marketing" as a separate, distinct category for marketing needs to go away, and in it's place we need to simply be marketers to people who are connected digitally across so many devices, applications, networks, and touchpoints. That is, all marketing is or should be "digital" marketing.

But, Commerford actually makes a point of distinguishing between the word "digital" and "networked", preferring "networked", presumably, because it implies what happens (we get networked to each other) instead of how (via digital means). All of us digital marketers have spent so much time talking about the "how" of digital marketing – all our jargon, our easy comparisons with traditional, our smug satisfaction about being on trend – that we haven't paid enough attention to what's really going to happen when all this stuff takes hold. More importantly, we're not spending enough time understanding how *our* behavior should change when we're all networked.

Those of us who have been around for a while owe it to others to be at our best, to ensure they're benefiting from our experience and knowledge. It's democratic, maybe a little socialistic, but we have to ensure we are acting like modern leaders connecting our peers together to ensure the effect is bigger than the sum of the parts. The best outcome for the best marketers, i would argue, is becoming a strong node in a network of likeminded marketers. We need to connect the players into the hard lessons we all learned. So, the question is, are you a strong node? Here are the questions to ask yourself: 

Are you a connector? Do you work hard to make new connections to other marketers, learning from them and connecting your friends to others who could benefit from the relationship? Are you bringing new folks and new ideas into the conversation? 

Are you a repeater? Do you take the signal your hearing – the message, the content – and clean it up  so it can be passed along effectively? Do you make sure the flow of knowledge and info is going on to the next user on the network? Are you passing it along and getting it to the right person? 

Are you communicating in a common protocol? Are you using weird jargon (um, like "Strong node") or are you focused on keeping the messaging as simple as possible. A common language helps info flow faster and makes it easier for new participants to find their way. 

Are you a Hub? Are you enabling others to plug into the flow of knowledge you're seeing? Do you make it easy for new folks to get connected?

Are you a router? Do you break the complex stuff into easy to understand, easily simplified "packets" so the knowledge can flow easier? A good router will ensure the most pertinent info gets to the right node as efficiently as possible. It could be as simple as forwarding an email, or as involved as introducing one marketer to another.  

Are you adding value? Whether its ensuring a good signal/noise ration, volunteering to be a hub, router or access point, there are many ways a good marketer can help drive some larger, pursuit-driven objects. But, it all starts with learning ways to ensure the rest of the nodes refers to you. 

Do you create Bufferbloat? Do hold onto the information you have? Do you obfuscate, complexify, or otherwise mystify those you are communicating with? Then, you're creating bufferbloat: You're holding information back, and preventing it from moving efficiently through the system

When the evolution goes well, we all end up better for our effort. That's the network effect in action. When it's NOT done well, it's a broken network that doesn't generate strength. 




Is it marketing or is it journalism? The case of Tumblr’s ‘Storyboard’ | Capital New York

But journalists familiar with the "advertorial" content that has long speckled the pages of their own magazines and newspapers have always held the category in contempt, especially when the content, created usually by a creative team in the media company's sales department with the approval of participating brands, is specifically organized to fool readers into believing it's "real" journlaism.

And as brand-developed content gets more sophisticated and competes with traditional journalism on the open web for eyeballs, readers are becoming less and less interested in the distinction between the two. In other words, what happens when advertorial stops being crappy and starts being good?


As a citizen in a democracy, you kind of hope consumers are smart enough to know and care about the difference. As a marketer, i hope we get to the point where our content is as trusted as "legacy" media company's conent.

Gamasutra – News – The story of Glitch: Why this odd MMO is shutting down

By and large, people who tried the game often complained it wasn't fun, and trying to pin down the fun was a challenge for the team. "When you see people complain a game is boring because it's 'just clicking', there's usually something else the matter, because Civilization is just clicking, and Diablo is just clicking," he says.


Really interesting post-mortem on a project that didn't quite work out well enough. I wish more sites did this kind of article, since there are lots of lessons here. I've kind of followed Butterfield since the Game Never Ending days, so i'll look forward to what comes next w/Tiny Speck.