Notes of Excitment and Congratulations

I co-host a New Media Lab for my Alumni Association. (The Northwestern University Entertainment Alliance.) My co-host is Jeff Shuter, and we meet at his offices at Gain Enterprises.

In the first half of each meeting, we bring in a guest speaker, who does a talk on anything from video piracy issues to pitching new concepts to MTV. Then the speaker answers questions.

And then someone in the group puts a project he or she is working on “on the table” and we all give notes and suggestions, from both the creative and the business end of things.

Inspired by the first meeting, Shana Krochmal came with a pitch for a Twitter Soap Opera and sold it to OurChart.com. The project was featured in an NPR piece this week.

I love this project because it grabs a new media by the horns and finds a way to tell a story with it. Sure, it’s still an experiment. But it’s an exciting experiment.

And Paul Jury introduced his comedy site pandasmash.com to the group. I’m impressed with the site. First, it has a great catalogue of videos. There’s no way to see it all in one visit — which means if you like it you’ll go back again and again.

Second, it’s a strong site.

By that I mean, instead of being a weird amalgamation of all sorts of video slapped together, pandasmash.com has a specific editorial content. If I want what pandasmash has, I’ll go there — because it will deliver what I want. I don’t have to hunt and peck like a lot of web sites. It’s right there.

I believe that these kind of specific content sites are the future of web-publishing. Right now we have what I think of as the TV network model as the most popular model — one site with a shot gun approach to content. However, with networks they stagger different kinds of content through the time of day, so you’re not having to sift through all of it all the time. On a website that’s overstuffed, like YouTube, it’s your job to sort through all the crap to maybe find something you like. While that can be fun, I don’t think ultimately it’s a sustainable model.

I prefer what I refer to as the “magazine model,” with a strong editorial focus for a web-site. Whether it’s comedy, horror, political, focused on teenage boys or moms, a given site delivers a variety of content along an editorial focus — like O Magazine, or The New Yorker, or The Atlantic, or Maxim or whatever.

This way, surfing through videos and text is more like flipping through the pages of a magazine — but with the increased odds that I’m actually going to like what I see because I’ve already decided I want to see the type of stuff the website has posted. (The very successful heavy.com already does this with content slanted toward the Maxim crowd. In my view the teen-age boy market is already well catered to. Other demographics surf the web in great numbers as well… Time to go after them!)

The New Media Lab is going really well. I’m proud of it and looking to see what members create as we continue.

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