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The Website is Dead

Not this one of course, but you know ... generally speaking. I can't tell you the last time I actually visited RCT, Oread or The Shiver. Most everything I read on the internet is through a reader and that pretty much explains one of the big drivers behind the current "publishing apocalypse." Newspapers and magazines always thought they could transition to the web and capture all kinds of online ad revenue and save money by shutting down print.* Of course, after a decade long run-up, online advertising is still just a fraction of the overall revenue for publishers. Free content turned out to be a bad idea for publishing and at this point there is no turning back. I should know -- I have a front row seat right in the middle of the tornado. The carnage is pretty insane and it's changing people's lives. Still, sometimes I can sit back and look at the landscape and it's just fascinating as hell to watch it all burn down. I get a little bit more perspective because running a blog as hobby, puts me on the other side. That would be the free content, re-publisher/columnist side that is killing publishing.

Anyway, so the website is dead. Let's get into that. Without putting a lot of thought into it, how about we categorize internet users into three categories:

  • Competent
  • E-Mail/Facebook/Shoppers
  • Grandma

Grandma and the EMFS crew still might be visiting websites, so you can say website ads are still getting impressions.** Still, we all know that we've gotten accustomed to reading right around ads on the web. Anything that isn't black text on white "ain't getting looked at."

Here's the thing though, eventually Grandma and the EMFS are going to start moving toward feeds. Facebook, Microsoft/Yahoo or Google is going to get them at some point. Facebook is so close to nailing this bad boy down, but they bumble around so much it's more like watching The Office than say watching There Will Be Blood. Or maybe the better comparision would be like watching toddlers work together to build a block castle.

Anyway, it'll get figured out and online ad revenue may not ever be solved and kind of that fear that large businesses have had all along that maybe they were wasting millions on website development for something that is really just a fancy brochure and/or shopping cart is starting to feel a little more like a plausible reality.

At this point, you are saying to yourself -- you haven't put up a real post on football in a month and this is what I get? Calm down -- this is just a long-winded introduction to the Hawk Digest Ning social site. Boo -- social -- Boo! Yeah, I know. We all hate Facebook. But here is the reality. Squarespace is an awesome host and if you are a small business and you want to dominate search, you should give me a call. However, they've neglected their forum module. A fan site like this needs a good forum and the best thing for posting photos, video, chat and discussion is Ning (though also flawed). So, I've taken down the HD Squarespace forum and Ning is now going to serve as the forum.

The other factor is that due to the destruction inside of the publishing business, it's going to take a superhero-type effort to get my real company turned in the right direction. So instead of spending weekends typing out football posts, I may be going the extra mile for the man. Hawk Digest will always go on as a fansite for KU football, but I want to hear more from the readers/users, so the Ning site will open that up. The fact is nothing can keep up with current events more that a group of users, so there really is no reason for me to dominate the conversation.

Conclusion: Check out the Hawk Digest Ning site -- get signed up and start using that forum. I would love to see photos and video added as well. In fact, my big summer project is to start scanning ticket stubs and other memorabilia. Hopefully, this whole initiative can help fulfill the mission of HD -- be the ultimate resource for KU football fans.

*The great big lie is that print is expensive. Publishing companies have a hard time truly costing their digital efforts and went on a massive salary spending spree for new media types this decade. That over-valuation is costing them big time. As a side note, if you ever catch me at the bar, ask me why I believe the NY Times is not on the ropes and is actually more powerful than it has ever been

**Don't talk to me about ads in the RSS feed. That is the fastest way to get your feed dropped and they are so easy to ignore anyway.

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