Without Skin in the Game, Conversational Media Will Never Happen

Over the past decade or so, I have been very inspired by the concept which John Battelle refers to as “Conversational Media”:

If you believe that conversational media represents an important emerging category in the overall media landscape, the question must be begged: how does one pay for it? What is the central economic model for conversational media?

John argued in this piece that “brands are conversations” (and linking the conversational media meme to the cluetrain website). By and large, he has been right — but most brand name websites are still not so much conversational as they are owned. Indeed: Every website is administered by someone.

One issue that also keeps cropping up — but is rarely directly addressed in this context is the question John raises in the above quote: what is the central economic model for conversational media? In my opinion, brands are not the answer. Facebook and Google are among the most successful online media brands, but they are not conversational. They push advertising — and pushing is not conversational.

“Free” is also not the answer. Free is simply a hoax — it is based on the economic model of retard media (the outdated technology): “we will give you free if you simply pay attention to what we’re pushing” is no longer competitive — mostly because the free junk is actually worthless, and therefore not worth the price of being forced to consume any advertising whatsoever.

In my opinion, the only viable answer is: Skin in the game.

There are many ways for people (i.e. all different kinds of participants — see, e.g. Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff’s book titled “Groundswell”) to participate in media. Let me describe two of the central tenets used by Addle Search to organize information:

  1. subscription
  2. authentication

Subscription is a method for putting skin in the game — it is a simple way to say “I care about this topic at least this much.”

Authentication is another method for putting skin in the game — the best way to stand is behind your words is to say “I am so convinced of this, I am willing to sign on the dotted line.”

Without any skin in the game, data are not so much free as they are worthless — but by all means: It’s a “free world” — so please go ahead and take that to the search box… and see what you can get for it! ;)

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