16 thoughts on “AOL & the Curse of Beb-oh!”

    1. I completely disagree with the phrase “engagement is everything.” Engagement might be a key factor in items like facebook and Twitter; however, let’s face it AOL won’t be touching that giant anytime soon. Quality content that the reader can use to make their lives better is what ultimately matters.

      Look at Gigaom. It is infrequent that you see the comment nonsense and numbers like TechCrunch or Engadget. People come here for Om, his knowledge and his teams ability to put together a quality product. My .02: engagement is a pipe dream, quality is the true king.

      1. @braden

        THanks for your kind comments and your faith in our team. Indeed quality is king, and thanks for your words of encouragement.

        All your points are very valid, though I would consider what you and I are doing qualifies as “engagement” as well. The only difference is ours is an old-fashioned one on one, while the new new engagement is around the ephemeral concepts of social media.

        AOL isn’t trying to be Facebook or Twitter. It has decided that it can be a good Internet-media company. It is a smaller mission but with a potential upside. Why: because the old world is going to tumble and someone will arise and they have as much a shot as anyone else.

  1. om,
    It is difficult to build a big business around content.

    AOL will be acquired by Yahoo or Microsoft in the next 12 months.

      1. @Om, Yahoo has “their own problems.” Too right; they’ve been trying to trim a hangnail by cutting off progressively larger pieces of their leg for at least the last five years. But we all know this.

        Rather than Yahoo acquiring anybody, I see an old-media company (NYT? Probably/hopefully not News Corpse?) buying Yahoo and putting current mismanagement out of our misery.

        So if MSFT buy themselves a halfway-credible media company (AOL) and a halfway-credible media company like the NYT buys Yahoo, things could get interesting again. Until at least one of them screws up; they always do. Though if they both auger in reasonably contemporaneously it could still be fun, in a look-at-the-hypersonic-train-wreck kind of way. (Just don’t get too close to the event; geosynch orbit might be a safe vantage point.)

  2. Question is:

    Would Tim A. run AOL if they had kept the 850m?

    I don’t think so. Most companies haven’t grasped what you say.

    “From this data we need to derive information, and to this information we need to offer context. That context is social and local.”

    Even tech companies, see Hunch, are struggling with this. To provide quality organization they have to base it in on “local”, means personal organization. The times of generalized organization of data (anonymous) is coming to an end, we have the computing power to become more and more personal.

    This becomes clear if one tries to compute the “information value” of any given article. Which differentiates from reader to reader based on other articles read and history (memory) and how it’s organized(context). Means also writing articles like it’s the 20th century to satisfy Google(generalized search), will not lead to success (IMHO).

    Minor quibble: One can not have information without context. Think about a baby, is that brain organizing data into context or does it information processing? Meaning we have to have context to processes information.

    1. Ronald

      Good to hear from you.

      On your minor quibble first: look at the information — twitter updates and blogs that are proliferating now — it is information without context. news without context. comments without context. I think we are essentially talking about the same thing.

      PS Maybe Tim should hire you as an adviser. I know I would. 🙂

  3. “From this data we need to derive information, and to this information we need to offer context.” et voila –> engagement.

    what a great set of words to describe whats required for an internet media/content company.

    @ronald context operating on data delivers information. tweets are merely naked data without context and thus not ‘information’

    1. How does “context operating” work?

      I define context as organized data. And learning as the self organization of data, which creates context. Information as data in context. Models can be used to explain why newborns can not learn from negative feedback and some brain diseases and mental illnesses.

      If you take a look a the 10b problem (neurons), we have:
      Frequency of firing
      Stochastic behavior
      Myelin sheath

      Now if we expand that to a more 21th century 100t problem (BAC), we have dentrite as part of the calculation.

      I don’t not see how “context operating” works. Or what is the base to make it work. If context is the base data organization, one can put a tweet into ones own context. Which might be right or wrong and if one does not understand it it’s because one has no context. In general as less one knows about the sender, and or situation (including mental state, since there can be a shared context) the tweet was send in as less information one gets out of it.

      Long story short, understanding requires context like information processing. One needs a model which covers all.

      1. @Ronald, absolutely agreed that “[one] needs a model which covers all;” I think that’s a good definition of the Holy Grail for the first quarter of this century. (By which time, I expect we’ll either have the problem sorted or we’ll have latched onto something more immediately urgent as the Next Big Thing to Crack.)

        Context operating can’t work the same way for any two different observers; it’s a restatement of the Schrödinger’s Cat problem. Companies that try to force a synthetic amalgam of context from a “neutral” standpoint are going to become less effective as access to data becomes cheaper and more widespread. Which leaves companies trying to monetize context with a dilemma: they can either try to accommodate the unique set of contexts in which each observer finds themselves, or they can explicitly say “We know you’re looking at this from a specific context that may appear to invalidate any subset of our assumptions; even so, here’s a set of tools you can use to build common contextual experiences with others who are interested in/affected by the same data.” “Building common contextual experiences” used to be called ‘pedagogy’ and ‘socialization.’ I believe those are what must be mastered — quickly — if we as a species are to see the next century.

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