What he has to say often puts PR agencies in a panic, because he admittedly doesn’t have all the answers when it comes to the changing nature of the media, and the explosion–yet very niche-oriented–of consumer-generated content.
“By day I”m a magazine editor with all the resources. By night–I don’t know what I am–I’m a coach. I’m teaching teenagers, teaching geeks, and teaching non-English speakers how to tell their stories.”
He made the point that social networking pre-dates behemoths like Facebook in the form of sites like Slashdot and Wikipedia, and that publishers such a WIRED (the recipient of some extremely good publicity this week in the Times) have the opportunity to take interested people out of those places and bring them “in to our sites, in our own way.”
Anderson talked about the power of Ning to aggregate very niche content, as they do with over 250,000 micro-social networks. “I think this is the future. There are more niche and narrow opportunities than there are mass ones. In those interests, we want to go as deep as we can possibly go.”
He finished his talk with a call for organizers–or “curators”–of these networks to set standards for participants, and lead by example with great content. Using Gawker’s policy of cutting off inappropriate commenters, he said, “sometimes you have to cut the heads off a few chickens.”
When questioned about his original outting of PR people last Fall, he responded, “I executed them after years of abuse. If people continually violate the social norms of our site, we’ll execute them too. Be nice, consider peoples’ time and their needs.”
Regarding the room of digital media moguls looking for a way in: “Our interns get it, all we have to do is give them permission to do it…let them be your curators.”
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