Guardian Changing Media Summit – liveblog #CMS2010


I was live blogging, and then I was on a panel, and then of course I started chatting to interesting people (like Nicole and Will) about thoughts and ideas and provocations from the day (rather, I’m afraid, than be in the last session…)…

…which means that yes, there’s a lot of liveblog below, but what I’m now going to do is take all of the stuff below, and the thoughts provoked by conversations this afternoon, and mesh it all together in a wrap-up post.  Or three.




So, I’m here at the Guardian’s Changing Media Summit, and thought that since I know my way around King’s Place now (top tip – sit near the back, and ask the tech guys if you can plug in your laptop to their power supply, as there aren’t ), I’d do a bit of liveblogging…

We’re welcomed by the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones, and into an introduction from The Guardian’s Emily Bell.

It’s been five years since the first CMS.  Recently, though, Emily feels she’s been ‘trapped in an echo chamber talking about business models’ for the last year, and it makes her think it’s 2002 all over again…

…which is a good thing, as a lot of the creativity and innovation that categorised that era should hopefully come out of this one too. 

She promises a raft of brilliant, interesting perspectives (and from looking at the lineup, she may well be right…)

And now…

Keynote – Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia



Jimmy’s talking about the the way the internet is changing… well, everything.

If you look at the evolution of TV, culture is getting smarter, technology is getting better.  The TV evolved through the remote control, the VCR, TIVO.  The shows evolved through from the simplicity of ‘I Love Lucy’, to Hill Street Blues, to The Sopranos.  Games evolved from Pong, to Doom, to the wonderfully complex games of now.

Wikipedia exists to help manage all the information that exists in a world where culture is getting smarter.  It’s ‘free’, as in ‘free speech’, not ‘free beer’… copy, re-edit, distribute, re-use any of the copy that’s on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is not an archive, it’s an encyclopedia.  Not like Youtube, with ‘funny cat videos’, or a restaurant guide for near the Eiffel Tower.  This definition helps guide the community to what ‘is’ and ‘isn’t’ Wikipedia.

…but the Encycolpedia is just the beginning.  What’s coming..?

A library is MUCH bigger than just the reference section.  That’s what Wikia is for…

A free Wiki hosting site for communities to organise information for the things they are interested in.  REALLY interested in.  Like ‘wookiepedia‘.



Growth for Wikia in the first stages in by and large tracking the growth of Wikipedia.

It’s really interesting to think of it like the way the internet itself started in large, centralised portals, then split more into the things we really were interested in…

…people always want to tailor things down from the ‘big, mass’ offering that would be easier for companies to the supply them with.

On Lostpedia, for example (about, yes, Lost the TV show), fans have written 6,000 articles about the in-depth culture of the show.  Wales sees this sort of behaviour replacing a lot of the niche magazine market… because there’s much more intense depth available, for free, on the internet. 

“They are far more comprehensive than we could have produced using a top-down publishing model”

Erik Huggers, BBC

Talking about the strategy review, the future of the BBC & the web etc.

There are four parts of the BBC’s Future Media & Technology department; Future Media (who make products), Broadcast & Enterprise (how to stay on air in new & different ways), R&D (innovation and engineering), and the Information & Archives (organising all the BBC’s info).

Predicts that by 2014, all UK households will have access to the internet in the house (“at that point, it truly becomes a third platform for everyone in the UK”).

Funnily enough, the diversification of the BBC is reflecting the same journey that Wikipedia and Wikia are taking… started with one, central thing, but as the technology allows, it spreads into more interesting, niche services.

The vision though, is that everything comes back to just being ‘the BBC’… but it becomes utterly personalised to each individual; whatever they want their BBC to be, it is.



Since 1994, the BBC has not suffered the constraints of space that schedules previously lent them… hence the growth into countless numbers of websites they have created… so the focus of the web presence is seen through the editorial lenses which are the key focus of the BBC moving forward.

It’s good that there’s been an appraisal of how they hone everything they do, given that sites like Celebdaq were still around from 8 years ago…

…yet you feel the pressure of the Murdoch/Conservative lobbying on this speech a little.  But the fact remains; the BBC are AMAZING at creating innovative media/technology hybrids, because they’re doing it for ‘public value’, not ‘profit’.

They’ll be moving content into more fluid, smarter apps too, on both phones and on internet connected TVs…

“We’ve been in the ‘TV App’ business for ten years, since the launch of red button… the opportunity tomove that into modern, internet connected applications is fantastic”

“Phone apps, for me, are no different than a browser…”

The focus moving forward; the core five editorial areas, working as equals with the technology guys, to be the one ‘BBC’ that is the ‘past, present and future of the BBC’

Nick Appleyard & Jeremy Silver, Technology Strategy Board

It’s the ‘Digital Britain’ presentation… the TSB are a group set up by the Government to bring all different industry sectors together, so that media businesses, technology and service providers, can all build a viable future together through creating a set of trials.

In short – “why can’t we all just get along..?”

Unfortunately (and ironically), they suffered from a tech hitch, which meant no slides, and no videos.  Felt a bit sorry for them, left on stage just to freestyle it.

Keynote Panel Session: The New Economics of Content

Genevieve Shore, Pearson, Mick Buckley, CNBC, (the infamous?) ‘Jonathan from Spotify’, and James Bilefield, Condenast.  Emily Bell moderates…

(I’m paraphrasing folk here…)

GS: Experimentation is key; no one person at Pearson is saying ‘this is it, the one model that will take us into the new age’.  The challenge is where shall we place our bets.  Not what shall we back, but how are we learning, what are we learning, and how will we spread that through the company?

GS: We absolutely believe there is room for paid-for content, and that will be the thing that sustains us moving forwards… clearly there is value in entice an audience, move them around your content, and free is a lever for that.  Free is very important, but free is not a business model.

MB: Our strategy is to ensure innovation is driving the existing model, but we’re also using it to migrate into new areas where people want content; finding out what people want, when they want it, and what they’re willing to pay for.

MB: For a ‘news’ channel, the willingness to pay for that content has diminished over time… anyone leading a media organisation has to make sure they’ve built a culture and a structure that allows innovation to happen.

JfS: Freemium model… we believe that free drives paid, and couldn’t quite believe that no-one had cracked it in this area yet.  Advertising then makes that ‘free’ environment much more than a ‘free trail’ too.  We’ve held back the growth of the product, because before we’ve got sales teams, understanding of how it works in place, we won’t be doing our partners justice.

JfS: On the advertising side, the direct-response side is very well established, but the branding effect isn’t. 

JB: We stil very much believe in print, but digital is the highest straegic priority in our business to make sure we’re set for the future.  Fundamentally advertising is the core of our business, and we’re working on the new iPad device to work out how to deliver really compelling messages.

JB: I think our legacy business gives us brands, relationships, stature etc… stuff you’d kill for in a business like Spotify.  Can we move as fast?  No. 

GS: The danger was [in old media] people set up ‘digital divisions’, and the two businesses would be separate… but they co-exist, and they have to work together.  There are ways in which technology actually allows some very old-style things to happen (example of digital infrastructure of Pearson to provide very cheap learning materials in India).

GS: [Going back to Erik Huggers’ point on the blend of Technology & Editorial] – This is the key for the future of media organisations.

MB: There’s so such thing as wasted time & money in innovation.  Innovation isn’t being pushed through media companies, it’s being pulled through… demands from agencies & clients for new solutions, demands from consumers looking for our content in the places they are.

JfS: Helping out the providers of their content (i.e. Record Labels) with marketing, branding, distribution in this space… but don’t take an ‘editorial’ stance on it, leave that for the people who’re really good at it. 

Spotify are clearly happy in their space as a platform, with lots still to do in the music space: JfS points out It would be very difficult for ONE of the labels to have their own Spotify (and yet they keep trying, like the Universal thing last year)…

JB: We’re trying to encourage the ‘fail fast’ methodology, using the Wired website to test things, drawing in more blog content, to become the centre of the conversation that happens all around the internet, rather than have one editor as THE voice.

JfS: Even at Spotify, we look at the gaming industry and realise we have to be innovating faster and better…

Interesting; question from the floor on what the BBC role should be:

GS: On a personal level, they offer brilliant stuff, it seems unrecognisable to me that they should NOT try and charge for that.

MB: I love the BBC, personally, and professionally I love competition…

JB: To support the license fee, they should keep it free in the UK, but charge for it outside to keep funding coming in.

GS: There is absolutely room for a public service broadcaster, as some people don’t have the ability to pay for access, but I wouldn’t want to fence the BBC in to a model like PSB in the USA.

JB: We think the evolution will be gradual, we don’t expect paper will stop being one of our major distribution methods in the next ten years, it’s still a great business… but we’re playing and learning as we’re going along, and think the iPad model of subscription + advertising will be the business model moving forwards.

Wrapping up… what about the future; revenue streams, business models etc…

GS: What you’re seeing is content owners and content providers (like Apple) are doing the job that retailers and stores used to do… our relationship with people is now much more direct.  We realise that, now we have to make it work

MB: The companies that own a rich reservoir of content realise there’s a big opportunity our there… you will see great products coming out of this

JfS: We definitely feel the music industry can grow in the digital world, there’s much more opportunity for them in the old model.  We’re just one of the companies that are helping them find out how (Spotify now employee 160 people, btw…)

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Panel: Convergence, Creativity and Commerciality in the gaming sector

Chris Ellis – IGN Entertainment, Peter Edward – Playstation Home, Josh Atkins – Design Director, Lionshead Studios, Kristian Segerstrale – Playfish…

CE: IGN – three things – news & guides on all things gaming (40-45m monthly visitors), distribution of games, and technology to support gaming.  NOT a producer of games.  View of the world at the moment… most of their business is in advertising stream.  Display ads, largely.  Most exciting area for them is the virtual goods area…

..they see gaming heading more mainstream… ‘gamers’ and ‘people who play games’ are different.  The types of games we play, and where we play them, are changing.  The ways we play them will change a lot too (e.g. Microsoft’s Project Natal).  Finally, as Wifi just gets bigger, ‘cloud gaming’ will be huge, as will 3D gaming.

PE: On PS3 Home…12 million users worldwide now, after been running for a year.  85% repeat rate (people come back), and average time spent in there is 60 miutes (did I hear that right?).

…advertisers who come into Home have a stable, mature platform on which to create brilliant ideas.  Slide of clients – films like Transformers, Start Trek, Arsenal, Disney, Audi, Red Bull…

…and a video of Home.  Smooth.

KS: What’s Playfish?  Part of Electronic Arts now, changing the way people play games… make them social, rather than solitary.  They wanted to evolve the industry… the product is no longer physical and shipped once, it’s digital and updated regularly… not pay lots upfront, but pay little every time

…there is a massive new player base (200 MILLION online game players). Social games are games to play with friends and family, just like games (e,g, board games) always were traditionally played.  Shows Pet Society – played by 20 million people per month (twice as big as World of Warcraft).

JA: Lionshead makes big budget console games… we’re not the dinosaur, we’re the Nuclear Powered Aircraft Carrier which doesn’t necessarily change direction as quickly as the other guys.  We’re trying to make our games more connected, more casual… taking the best of the modern age into the cosole game experience.  Rival of high-end big budget action cinema.  We want ANYBODY to be able to ‘pick-up-and=play’.

We’re still working on accessibility – 60% of our players STILL don’t understand half of our features.  We’re working towards more simplicity.

Q: how is social gaming going to radicalise gaming?

PE: A lot of people who play social games don’t consider themselves, that’s the key… yet they’re the people expanding out market.  Social gaming is phenomenon, it gives us another way of drawing people into our platforms.

KS: What is called ‘social gaming’ is a function of two things – connectivity with your friends, and the ability to create games there.  In five years time, talking about ‘social games’ will be like talking about ‘electric television’ – it won’t be relevant, as it social be embedded in every game.  Social gaming today is uncovering the fact that we’ve not been able to serve peoples’ gaming needs before.

Q: What’s the best way for brands to get into playing games?

PE: Brands need to dip a toe in the water, and do something.  Not the AAA huge expensive game approach, these social platforms allow you to adapt very very quickly.

JA: Make sure the experience itself is entertaining in it’s own right first, before concentrating on the brand element.

KS: You can’t ship a crap product and put a lot of marketing behind it to make it successful in the connected world.

CE: gamers are now ‘entertainment hungry users’… not teenagers in bedrooms, but a much broader, engaged audience.


Right then, I’m on a panel after lunch (Re-thinking brand building in the digital age: can brands survive and thrive in an online world?”) at some point…

…I may get a chance to see the post-lunch Keynote with Michael Wolff of Newser, but obviously liveblogging through a panel session your on is just a little rude… so there may be radio silence for a bit…


Well, hi there… I’m back, and in time for the mobile panel too…

Mobile Ubiquity: Portability, convergence and the advent of a multimedia on-demand reality

Steve Pomeroy, MIT, Emma Lloyd, BSkyB, Fraser Nelson, The Spectator, and Mark Selby, Nokia.  Moderated by Chris Thorpe, Jageree.

To start, Steve from MIT, is showing us some work…

Ridelink was a way of harnessing the power of the social network to encourage mutual support for drink driving…

They developed an alcohol breathaliser (as a braclet), that told the user if he was too drunk to drive… your friends who’ve nominated themselves as ‘designated drivers’ are identified in the user’s networks, and it identifies who is around to drive the user home… with the default option at the end being a taxi number.

Locast Civic Media – a creation of a web site plue Android app that people can capture, upload, and edit local civic information to a site.  Users can work together and use each other’s content to group-edit a full news report.  Think of a community forum meets the tiniest CNN rolling-news channel ever.

Nice projects.  Now, the rest of the panel…

EL: Mobile now sits at the heart of Sky’s three screen strategy; it is critical for us to offer customers all of our content wherever they are, however they want it.  Mobile Entertainment is being driven by the iPhone… the ‘set the Sky-Box when you’re out’ was downloaded 50,000 times on other devices up to the launch of it as an iPhone app, then hit a million a few months after iPhone launch.

FN: We were the first magazine to have our whole content on an app… we learned lessons quickly, because it was a scan of the magazine, and consumers couldn’t understand why they’d done it.  The second app which is launching soon has fixed all that, included all the blogs they do.  We’re feeling our way, we’re quite opinionated which works well online. 

FN: I’ve got a Kindle it home, which increasingly looks like a museum piece… the Spectator want to keep trying things it in this new, exciting space…