Choosing my next media directions: you’re doing it, OK?

Look, I’ve been thinking about this stuff all week and I can’t decide. So over to you. Scroll down for a Proper Scientific Poll on the Internet! What media stuff would you like me to do?

I last wrote about this in January, in Five questions and no answers about my media work. Read that before proceeding if you like, but it’s not absolutely necessary.

My regular media commitments currently stand at: a weekly column for ZDNet; a twice-a-month column for CSO Online; around one column a month for Technology Spectator; and a variable number for Crikey. Add in the occasional piece elsewhere, and it looks a little like this.

Media objects produced 2011–2013

The main problem is that the base level of material isn’t high enough, and in recent months it’s started getting a little wobbly. So, how can I build on what I’ve got? And how can I have a bit more fun?

Now one approach is simply to do more writing, and indeed I’m currently talking to a small handful of mastheads about that. I’d certainly get commissioned to do more stories if I pitched to editors more conscientiously, particularly those who’ve already tasted my work, like ABC The Drum and the Sydney Morning Herald. I’ll continue to explore that.

But I’ve also done audio and video programs. Sometimes regularly, like the now-defunct weekly Patch Monday podcast for ZDNet. Sometimes far from regularly, like the Stilgherrian Live video program, or The 9pm Edict podcast. I’ve had some ideas for new podcasts. And I’ve done odd little live written things too, like the Gonzo-like tweeting. I’ve enjoyed all of them, and I’ve already explained how I might get someone to pay for them.

My problem? I can’t decide which of these things to do — or rather, which to give priority to. So here’s a list of possibilities, and a poll.

  1. Corrupted Nerds, which I’ve briefly described previously. I’m thinking this could be a podcast along the lines of Patch Monday, but with the main focus being an interview with security experts and other iconoclastic geeks. I’m already having interesting conversations, and it’d be easy to share them.
  2. The 9pm Edict, or an evolution thereof, being a “strange talk show” including occasional interviews. I do like the idea of having a more strongly-focused theme, such as visiting places or experiencing events. The 9pm Eurovision, The 9pm Miss Pole Dancing Australia, The 9pm Dentist or The 9pm Gold Coast.
  3. Stilgherrian Live, returning as a live video program, but evolved and improved somehow.
  4. Smaller-scale live coverage. As I wrote before, I could “live-tweet from a random night out. Crowdsource around $300 to pay for my meals, drinks and cab fares and a modest profit. Whoever coughs up $150 gets to name the location I check out. Anyone who pays over $50 gets a signed copy of the Twitterstream printed on archival paper.” Those price points are just a suggestion. It could instead be live audio or even video.
  5. Event-based media packages, such as covering a hacker conference or PonyCon AU or a road trip to Orange.
  6. Get over yourself, Stilgherrian, and just do more of what you’re currently doing.
  7. Something else? I’m open to suggestions.

So here’s the poll…

[poll id=”20″]

You may choose up to three options. Voting closes at midnight this Friday 10 May 2013 Australian Eastern Standard Time. Don’t forget to explain yourself in the comments.

11 Replies to “Choosing my next media directions: you’re doing it, OK?”

  1. I thought one of the best pieces you did in a long time, and one of the best pieces of standard, non-sensational Australian journalism this year, was your ZDNet article on Yahoo-Summly.

    It was good because it got over the whole freaky aspect of IT, the idea that it’s big-brother overwhelming and/or that it’s trivial, strictly for nerds. It treated that deal like old-school business journos used to do with every other industry bar IT: does this deal fit with the purchaser’s overall strategy, have they paid too much, was letting the originator go the best thing they could have done.

    There is a need for journalists to write about IT as a normal part of reporting on business/government: some companies/governments are doing IT well and others badly, and this is having real-world bottom-line impacts on their performance. This is especially true since Fairfax and News have largely nobbled their business reporting functions, replacing them with PR outlets. That overwhelming/trivial dichotomy messes with the heads of journalists to the point where they simply cannot write about IT.

    CBA is one company using IT to vault ahead of the market and show what’s possible, while Coffey is a good company that is haemmorrhaging because its IT system is, ah, less than it might be.

    So, there’s a need. Are you the person to fill that need? You could be, but it’s hard to tell from this angle. Do you like writing that sort of stuff or is it boring? That’s the sort of question you should be asking, journey-related rather than destination-related. If you are, the suggestions you make above could be sidelines to that core rather than the core itself.

  2. @Andrew Elder: Thanks very much for that, Andrew. I’ve taken the liberty of editing your comment to link directly to the article in question.

    “There is a need for journalists to write about IT as a normal part of reporting on business/government,” you write. And too bloody right! Business reporters write about a company’s management team, HR practices, supply line problems, pricing arsehattery, customer service skills or lack thereof and so on, but the IT that forms its very nervous system — or rather its command, control, communications and intelligence systems — goes unreported.

    IT is still seen as being for someone else, the geek-other.

    The Australian government’s new CIO, John Sheridan, spoke on this very point in his speech to Kickstart Forum earlier this year.

    Now I do notice some […] disturbing trends in technology journalism that I’d like to address with a plea at the start of this discussion.

    One of the challenges I think that we see is whenever you pick up an article about technology you read about the sort of challenges of social media, the terrors of privacy, and the issues that are concerned with the magic of radio. I think that these are issues that most of us don’t need explaining anymore. Indeed, unless you think that the buttons that went on a toaster – and not this sort of Cylon toaster, but the old ones that made toast – unless you think they were too much technology, really you need a better explanation of what’s going on than we get served a lot of the time.

    Fifty-two percent of Australians are on Facebook. If you work out that 19% are under 15, and obviously we hope that generally they’re not on Facebook, at least by themselves, and some 4% are 80 or over, you get an interesting view, and I don’t mind a bit of nostalgia, so I don’t mind showing you the HB21C emulator on my iPad, but what you can see is that if you’ve got 75% of people in those statistics that I added up, that means the people who understand technology outnumber those who don’t by two to one. So my plea to you is that unless you’re a Wiggle, write for us, not for somebody else.

    I agree with him one hundred percent.

    This sort of analysis falls within the brief for my weekly ZDNet column, and I certainly wouldn’t object to doing more. If editors have the money.

    1. There is a HP21C emulator for iPad? Where do I get it? 😀 (App Store: no result, but HP12C financial and HP15E scientific are there, plus a less authorized version of the 67: and the 25C which I remember fondly:

      I voted for specific events, because there’s a lot going on without much coverage. You could report on a Cryptoparty, a hackerspace event, someone individually hooking up to the NBN (not the usual set-piece), a Uni/CSIRO presentation or experiment, review cyber-cafés and other mobile connection/charge points, check out protest actions, and an old favourite (which definitely fits in) report on any initial approaches by aliens.

      Also, it just occurred to me to wonder why nobody has crowd-sourced a REAL (and possibly live-updatable) mobile coverage map for areas of Australia, for the different telcos. Then it would be less, “God, I hope my phone works there” and more, “Joe Blow’s Optus HTC worked there this morning”.

      I wish you luck with your future. 🙂


  3. Other: I rarely listen to podcasts or watch video footage – high preference for text – I almost voted for option 1 then pulled back because I wouldn’t actually consume it. Perhaps you could condense the key outcomes out of option 1 into an article ?

  4. So overnight the poll was gamed by someone who reckons I should get over myself. Here’s a screenshot taken just now, before I clear out those votes.

    Screenshot of gamed poll results

    Yes, the IP addresses of voters are logged, and in this case the voting was done from an address in Ukraine. Of course. Ah, what a great troll… Sigh.

    @Clytie Siddall: Thanks for all those thoughts. I particularly like the crowdsourced mobile coverage map idea, and will explore that one further.

    @Paul Wallbank: Not everything is about goats, Paul. I really think you need to see someone about this.

    @’Pong: Yeah, I know. It was fun, though, and who knows where that “experience” will lead?

    @Abrasive Teapot: Well, they’re all different media end products, with different strengths and weaknesses. I guess that continuing to do more written pieces is already covered, and in hindsight the poll options are only about the new things that I might choose to do.

    At least for ZDNet, more people read my written pieces that listened to the podcasts, which is why Patch Monday was discontinued, but I do like working in audio and had intended to do more this year, not less. And those numbers are about how the audience and budget dynamics work for ZDNet.

    Still, this is all why I ask the questions…

  5. I like the funny, ranting, profane stuff like Edict and Stil live rather than the toned down, I’m a serious jounalist type stuff!

Comments are closed.