Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Navigating through a New Media World

Human API(application programming interface), mobile platforms, new platform entrants, and of course, iPad apps were among future hot topics tagged by speakers at the SIPA UK Online Publishing and Marketing Summit last week.  This year’s event focused heavily on the mechanics of new product launches, marketing automation, and web analytics.  The London conference was put on by the UK branch of the Specialized Information Publishers Association (SIPA UK). 

Your humble blogger was there, representing our newMeetia initiative.  Despite the distance from home, I knew instantly that I was with kindred spirits, entrepreneurial media utilitarians, very much like the SIPA members in the U.S.  The only adjustment was getting used to hearing expressions like “brilliant,” “dodgy,” and “jolly.”

The conference offered many practical lessons but the experience of the London region was itself a powerful lesson.  In a vibrant city, surrounded by the evidence of over two thousand years of human history one gains a perspective on the breaking news and trends.  The swirling change; the rise and fall of individuals, tribes, and empires; the roar of commerce and rush of technological change all seem less important than the consistencies of human nature, both brilliant and dark.

The Royal Observatory at Greenwich provided perhaps the most powerful lesson of the trip.  In the middle of the my trip, I finished the book Longitude about centuries of search for a solution to the problem of finding longitude and especially about John Harrison, a self-educated carpenter-turned-clockmaker who came up with a practical solution in the 1700’s.  Harrison spent most of his life perfecting a timepiece accurate, durable, and cheap enough to be used to calculate longitude at sea. Marine navigation caught my interest years ago when I saw how much Bernie Goldhirsh, the founder of Inc. Magazine, relished plotting his course, under sail.   Between business meetings, I set out to have a look at Harrison’s prototypes on display at the Observatory. 
 I  didn't get to see Harrison's last effort, H5, which is
 housed in the Clockmakers Museum at Guildhall in

Two prototypes, dubbed H2 and H3 are remarkable contraptions.  Gears of wood and metal, bobbing brass weights, and levers and springs were crafted by Harrison to achieve unprecedented accuracy in marking time.  These clocks still work today.  But Harrison was not satisfied until he produced H4, barely bigger than a pocket watch, and accurate to within seconds over the length of a long sail voyage.

H4 became the prototype for further simplified and improved clocks which could be produced in volume and which became known as Chronometers.  Especially once key patents expired, chronometers became essential equipment on board ships and remained so until replaced by satellite navigation systems.  The advanced technology spread to common watches and to the timepieces many of us wear on our wrists today.

Encircled by the Observatory's loudly ticking display of the march of 18th of century technology, and knowing a little of the longitude story with all its hard fought battles, your humble blogger was struck with commonalities to our own age of change.

Today we are navigating through a new media world.  Claims of solutions to our business challenges, dismissive commentary about every experiment and countless counter-claims abound.  At least one thing is clear: the future of media and communications involves new digital platforms which are better, cheaper and more portable.  

Perhaps soon we simply will wear a media device, instead of a watch.  But the people who figure out successful new information business models integrated with these platforms will probably be practical entrepreneurs, learning by doing, like the members of SIPA and like the determined clockmaker, John Harrison.

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Anonymous white label seo said...

"the future of media and communications involves new digital platforms which are better, cheaper and more portable." And even as early as now, we see new media reaching this future. There's a lot to this too- social integration, mobile device dependency, application-based marketing, and so on.

August 16, 2011 at 11:34 PM  
Blogger Dale said...

Considering the fact that the world changes, there's a need for us to cope with it. We must be updated with the things happening right now so we won't have a hard time dealing with them.

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October 18, 2011 at 9:18 PM  
Blogger William Wagner said...

For you to be competitive, you always need to know new things about business. With that, you can have an edge over your competitors. I like how you described that thing.

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November 22, 2011 at 4:10 AM  
Blogger Roger Wilson said...

Harrison was pursuing a prize, offered by Parliament, as incentive to solve a problem of great social importance. Perhaps the problem today is to develop a new business models that will deliver better news and analysis to people in their various roles as citizens, economic actors and organizational decision makers. Who will offer the prize and judge the solutions?

November 22, 2011 at 9:09 AM  
Anonymous omega watches said...

Various clockmakers have different platforms. It's about implementing the right mechanism for the device.

December 19, 2011 at 9:51 PM  

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