What "The Decline of Magazines" Can Teach Filmmakers

An August 17th, 2012 article in Esquire by Neil Perkin entitled "On The Decline of Magazines" contains suggestions for the beleaguered magazine publishing business that apply equally to filmmakers.

For example:

"If I was running a publisher [online film distributor?] right now I'd be thinking about smart applications of not just destination thinking (something publishers [film distributors?] have traditionally been very good at) but also distributed thinking."

As he has explained in previous posts, by "destination thinking" Neil Perkin means the OLD kind of media approaches that have been with us for years: "We create content, attract (or 'drive') users to that content in order to keep them there for as long as possible, serve advertising at them, or make money from them in some other way. The defining characteristic of destination thinking is that the user has to be on one of our properties in order for us to be able to monetize that relationship."

"Destination thinking" is how magazine publishers and filmmakers have traditionally organized their thinking. But the revenue models based on "destination thinking" are under attack - as user behaviors tilt toward free and shared content online.

Instead of "destination thinking," filmmakers and magazine publishers might more profitably use the online experience to build a NEW relationship based on "distributed thinking" that creates devoted fans - potential subscribers to your channel or customers for your film - who've come to rely on you as the center of a social hub that evokes feelings of Community, Awareness, Consideration, Loyalty, and Advocacy.

How does this NEW approach of "distributed thinking" work? It's often about becoming a curator of other people's ideas and work. Here's how Neil Perkin explains distributed thinking in his Esquire piece:

"As Dave Winer once said, "if you want to make money on the web, send them away". The more you curate great stuff from not only your own content but from wherever it exists across the web the more useful you become (and once you start to become far more useful, who knows, perhaps you have the basis for a more rounded and attractive digital subscription model)."

According to Neil Perkin, "the future of content will be about three pillars of content curation:

1. Algorithmic:- we see stuff because a software, or a technological process interprets, anticipates, or predicts our needs. Examples of this include Google's personalised search, Amazon's recommendation engine, LastFM's scrobbling, Facebook Edgerank, aggregator apps such as Zite, Flipboard and Currents.

2. Professional:- we see stuff because skilled editors and commissioners use their insight and knowledge of audiences to determine what might interest them - magazine, newspaper and website editors, radio DJs and so on

3. Social:- we see stuff because we, our friends, or a wider audience think it's good and/or relevant. Examples of this have been around for a long-time (links shared via social networks, social bookmarking tagging and voting, Twitter lists, most-shared etc) but this is word of mouth writ large and digital."

"Increasingly, I think good content production, distribution and consumption will involve smart combinations of these three elements. They work together to give me the content I want as well as allowing for a healthy dose of serendipitous discovery of new stuff. Using algorithms is an excellent way to not only anticipate needs and personalise digital content (so that, for example, I see more of the kind of content that it knows I like) but also to recommend relevant content from elsewhere (something the BBC have called Perceptive Media). Social curation is also a way of surfacing the best content about the stuff I'm interested in, or that which a community of people with interests similar to mine think is good. Combine appropriate forms of these with brilliant professional curation that remains as critical (arguably more so) as ever and you have something very interesting."

Thanks to Gerd Leonhard for the link to Neil Perkin's article.

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