Online professional independent publishers rejoyce! 2008 promises to be a year of great innovation for everyone publishing online as opportunities to expand or start your own micro publishing company will only increase.
New powerful publishing and content distribution tools will make their debut in 2008 while some of the existing technologies and services will greatly refine, consolidate and expand their present offerings.
Change is the name of the game, meaning that in as much as you can't follow, participate and understand fully the logic of today's web, the changes search engines are going through, the rise of social media, it is going to be increasingly hard for new publishers to successfully enter and survive in this extended marketplace.
As opportunities and tools to do better as an online publisher will dramatically increase, also the number of independent web publishers failing will skyrocket due to many having come late to the game and not having really understood fully how things are changing.
This is why as we progress it becomes increasingly critical to leverage pivotal business opportunities situated not exclusively in the creation and re-distribution of fresh news and information but rather more in the direction of aggregating, contextualizing, explaining and "making-sense" of all this information effectively.
For however this may appear simple and obvious to the non-expert mind, these are truly the crucial innovation areas in which I expect to see major innovations and changes coming next: Making sense of things in new highly effective, interactive, just-in-time, informal and entertaining formats.
Isn't that promise of the Semantic web anyhow?
So, what has 2008 in store for you?
Here below the areas that I believe you should pay most attention to in the upcoming 12 months. I expect these areas to be very live with announcements and useful innovation. Since there are over twenty personal publishing-related areas I personally follow I am structuring these predictions in two parts. Eleven areas today and the rest tomorrow, January 1st inside my Part 2 of these New Media Predictions 2008.
The number of social networks will keep increasing though only few will consolidate as key social hubs worth investing serious time into. MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, you know the names, though new ones will keep showing up. For many of you, joining these networks will mean maintaining one profile on a major social network among those above along with a presence in one specialized niche social/business network in the specific areas / industries you are most interested into. Especially for those just starting up or wanting to gain an extra visibility edge in a reduced time, social networks may indeed offer a viable short-term solution.
One of the key revolutionary advances in social networking tools of 2008 will be the ability for you to update all of your multiple social profiles across different networks from one interface (lifestreaming).This is something many have been waiting for as the implications, efficiencies and opportunities this creates are rather impressive. See the next point for more detail.
Lifestreaming offers you a single solution for gathering and publishing to all of your various online identities from a single social media space.
Let's say you use Twitter for short messages to friends, Flickr for photo-sharing, YouTube for uploading video, Google Reader for your RSS feeds, del.icio.us for social bookmarking, and on and on. Sooner or later you might start suffering from social networking fatigue, dreading the prospect of signing into these various accounts to check up on or produce content.
Add to this the ability to create various profiles for friends, work, and even lovers, depending on what you want to share with each of them, and you have not only a powerful aggregation and authoring tool but also an excellent way to control what you share with your different online social media contacts.
Search will continue to be one of the critical pivot points around which we find, discover and access specific information online. But search engines are changing and deeply so. Starting with Google all of the major search engines will continue to adopt new algorithms and technical solutions that take into larger account user views and preferences especially when these come from a trusted group of selected friends.
Greater availability of simple to use solutions that will allow you to create and customize your own public search engine(s) will further grow while becoming more integrated with advertising and sponsorship tools. Widget-based search will also gain more traction as online publishers will start to create mini-custom-search boxes focused to specific issues as an integrated content inside their most valuable articles.
PageRank: if you haven't yet realized does not have any more significant value and your level of visibility inside Google search engine result pages is not connected to it anymore.
Live blogging is a fast-growing trend as more and more web reporters cover live events and demand specialized tools to support them in this challenging task.
In 2008 I expect to see more tools and services appearing in this space and a stronger adoption of dedicated live reporting tools versus "adapted" live blogging solutions like chat rooms, blogs and social conversation tools like twitter and jaiku.
Web television channels, net tv and other independent web-based television offerings will keep growing in number and quality also during 2008 with interesting innovations and changes to be expected.
On the front of content production you should expect to see lots of failures and super-hyped shows that will last only a limited time before folding. Watch out for the unique traits that pioneer web tv producers will use in creating some of the first successful net tv shows.
On the front of web-casting platforms some of the few existing players will consolidate their position or get bought up while some others will fold.
There will also be some unexpected big new entries in this space that will solidly redefine the profile of an independent web television channel. The best of Mogulus and Ustream will come together in a package that offers greater ease of use, better quality, and much greater reliability.
What's this Robin? I know most of you haven't heard this word before but this is definitely something you have seen the results of in front of your eyes without realizing it. Newsmastering, at least in my own definition, is the art of aggregating and splicing together a large number of source news feeds, persistent searches and other information sources from which one manually selects, edits and publishes a curated digest with a specific editorial style or focus.
With the continuous increase in the amount of news sources and content being published daily there is no escape from having to rely on some intermediary and trusted news filterers or to succumb in an ocean of feeds that take hours to skim through.
This is where newsmastering plays a key vital role among the online news publishers of all kinds as well as among those that are always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to provide a greater service to the readers while creating a new effective opportunity for sponsorship/ monetization.
Since there are still very few tools covering this area I do expect new entries in this arena and a positive growth for the few players that will innovate and market themselves intelligently in the coming months.
As in most of the areas I analyze here, while I am not an insider in any, my position of online publisher and external observer allows me at times to notice things that may not be so obvious and evident to those working in my same direction.
As a web publisher I see an increase in advertising and monetization opportunities becoming available. New solutions will offer more controls and features to test and optimize, sometimes in real-time, your ad selections.
Services acting as intermediaries for major advertising networks will increase in number and quality of service and are going to be ready for adoption by many small and medium-sized online publishers.
Google AdSense will likely gain further in quality and revenue while losing many online publishers discouraged by its lack of transparency and open policies when it comes to penalizing sites, or establishing ethical rules that Google itself does not respect, or having to deal with a rapidly losing value of the dollar which significantly impacts non-US based AdSense publishers.
In fact I expect many small online publishers to move away from AdSense and to invest larger amounts of time and resources in alternative monetization and advertising solutions. This may likely be a win-win evolutionary step for both sides, as Google AdSense may be able to strengthen its weak points while relying on a more selective network of sites and small publishers may find unexpected monetization nirvana in directions they had not even considered until now.
Sounds like something I have heard before. The news here is that just-in-time, informal learning and connectivism are all getting together and providing smart online independent publishers with a first killer set of tools that will allow many to gain much greater success and revenue than contextual advertising ever did.
What do I mean? Awareness and some rare examples are appearing showcasing the huge value and vast demand that there is from professionals wanting to learn and keeping themselves updated in new, enticing ways.
No-body wants to read another 220-page book to learn something. On the other hand many enjoy watching short video tutorials, listening to interesting podcasts, reading through link-rich and well-illustrated article-guides or better yet by discussing the matter with other interested individuals, as all these approaches offer multiple and redundant ways to understand something from a number of different perspectives and learning styles.
It is in this direction that talented communicators, established online publishers and niche experts will move next to further capitalize their knowledge assets.
Whether you like it or not Google has given a very strong shake to the minimum requirements necessary to independently host a web site without incurring in any of its severe penalizations.
This makes it next to impossible for non-expert webmasters to maintain control of their web sites reach and visibility within Google search results as the amount of know-how and technical expertise required is not anymore in anyone's reach as it used to be until mid-2007.
This will force online publishers to become more knowledgeable and aware of lots of things ethical, editorial and technical they have been ignoring until now. There will be an evident increase in those seeking to publish their content via "trusted" platforms which are already integrated within a larger system. Content publishing networks such as Mochila or Blogburst, Squidoo, Google Knol and similar solutions may provide to be initial solutions to this trend.
The overall result should be a general and sharp increase in the overall quality level of content and information web sites that will leave behind the neophyte phase of hippy blogging to those who are indeed there exclusively for the sheer passion of sharing their personal stories, to extend and broaden the personal publishing panorama with a more varied spectrum of highly focused and well-planned online content publishing solutions.
After one explosive year of new web-based presentation tools and services you have seen nothing yet of what it is to come in this direction. The metaphor adopted is so far is the one of replicating while simplifying the existing PowerPoint presentation paradigm. Unfortunately the PowerPoint approach loses water from all sides and it is also a bad foundation approach for those needing to develop better visual communication skills.
But a small army of new cross-media presentation tools is coming to serve you in 2008. Not only will you be able to easily sync and match your selected slides to music and narration in an online slideshow, but you will start to get better tools to put together truly engaging visual presentations. For those who have seen Animoto or Splashcast and have already gotten very excited, let me tell you you haven't seen anything yet.
end of Part 1 - Part 2 tomorrow
Originally written by Robin Good for Master New Media and first published on December 31st 2007 as "New Media Predictions 2008: What Online Independent Publishers Should Expect From The Future - Part 1"