Content under attack … and a solution


This has been a depressing week for me.

It seems that everywhere I look, the most creative and generous people on the web are under attack as big companies gobble up their ideas and content. At the end of the post I would like to propose a solution — at least a partial one — to this problem.

My sobering week started when I attended a talk at Columbia University School of Journalism featuring Michael Reckhow, product manager for Facebook Instant Articles. It became apparent that Facebook really doesn’t understand the needs of content creators, the critical importance of journalism, and their fair place in the eco-system. Facebook talks about collaboration but their actions show they are about grabbing money however they can.

As Columbia Professor Emily Bell said, Facebook engineers do not seem to even think through consequences. They are simply coding and iterating. When asked how this will affect content creators, their response is “We don’t know. Let’s throw it out there and see what happens.”

Coding is cheap and fast and plentiful and we seem to be in a media world dominated by cleaning up unintended consequences instead of thoughtful planning and collaboration. In the wake of Facebook experimentation, content creators are reeling.

Stealing and profiting

The second blow to my media psyche came when viewing this alarming video about how Facebook is profiting from video piracy. If you have not seen this, it is well worth the three minutes of your time and explains what we are up against:

The third blow to my world are the consequences of Facebook’s new preoccupation with “dwell time.” This cuts to the heart of the content marketing model.

Instead of posting a link that can drive views to my site and services, Facebook is rewarding publishers who post the entire piece of content, as it collects more information and displays more ads in the process.

The chances for my ability for even indirect monetization are severely undermined by this reality that will be hitting all of us.

And to make top things off, If you find a way to get your content discovered, it’t likely that your ads that help you monetize will be blocked.

The Renaissance monetization model

It seems that everywhere you look, musicians, artists, and writers are being ripped off from the web titans. Perhaps we need to turn to another form of monetization … one that pre-dates books!

The fact that artists are broke is nothing new. For most of human history, artists have depended on the benevolence of patrons for survival. The greatest works of Michelangelo or Monet would not exist today without their patrons.

I have been predicting a world where we return to this model. Here and there it is happening. A foundation for investigative journalism. New resident programs for artists. And for a guy like me … Patreon.

Patreon is an application that allows your fans and readers to give a little back. This is the uncomfortable part of the church service where they pass around the donation plate : )  For the first time in seven years of creating content for you, I am asking you to think about sponsoring my work with a few dollars a month.

First let me be clear that I am not whining and nothing is changing here. On this blog, you see bold and brave commentary you don’t see anywhere else and I will continue to deliver that (as well as Slideshares I pay to have created, contributing columnists I pay for, videos, and podcasts).

Generally, I create this work for you on my weekends because I can’t afford to interrupt my “real work” during the week. I would like to be in a position to justify more time developing exceptional content for you. I have so many ideas for in-depth topics and insights but can’t justify the time to write them up.

I’ve set up a Patreon account that will allow you to donate just a little money to keep this blog going strong.There are donation categories that allow you to receive a signed copy of The Content Code, become part of an Alpha Audience mastermind community, and there’s even an opportunity to become an advertiser.

Please click on this link to become a patron of {grow} and my efforts to bring you the videos, Slideshare presentations, audio content and commentary that makes you think and grow every week. Is a month’s worth of content worth the price of a cup of coffee?

Thank you!

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Top illustration courtesy Flickr CC and Richard Elzey

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