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When you go to Prada in Soho, you buy a bag or a tie,“ he says, "And what do they do? They take your credit card. They go downstairs. They come back with this leather case, and they open it up. You sign. They take it back downstairs. And then they put the receipt in this ridiculous envelope. They hide all the damage, so it makes it feel like you’re in this alternate universe. Why can’t smaller places do the same? Why do they have to compromise when it comes to one of the important things in their business, which is getting paid for what they do? It’s a simple exchange of value.

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The expansion of our digital universe — Second Life, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter — has shifted not only how we spend our time but also how we construct identity. For her coming book, “Alone Together,” Sherry Turkle, a professor at M.I.T., interviewed more than 400 children and parents about their use of social media and cellphones. Among young people especially she found that the self was increasingly becoming externally manufactured rather than internally developed: a series of profiles to be sculptured and refined in response to public opinion. “On Twitter or Facebook you’re trying to express something real about who you are,” she explained. “But because you’re also creating something for others’ consumption, you find yourself imagining and playing to your audience more and more. So those moments in which you’re supposed to be showing your true self become a performance. Your psychology becomes a performance.” Referring to “The Lonely Crowd,” the landmark description of the transformation of the American character from inner- to outer-directed, Turkle added, “Twitter is outer-directedness cubed.”

Peggy Orenstein, in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine
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The investment model for owned and earned media is the inverse of mass media. It requires a more substantial investment in producing innovative content and ideas, and a much smaller (or nonexistent) investment in paid media to create the initial awareness. But the real point is that the entire investment pie is substantially smaller than the mass media paradigm described above.

Digital agencies can build popular platforms or create viral games or videos that reach millions of consumers for a fraction of the cost that it takes to reach a mass audience through television. Sure, clients may pay more for the production of high-value content or software technologies that consumers seek out on their own (or share with each other), but the overall marketing investment is smaller and more targeted the further away a brand gets from mass media.

Indeed, there are paid media investments occurring in the digital space, which make sense for all marketers. Any brand that hasn’t optimized its search results or purchased relevant key words is missing one of the greatest online opportunities to directly reach hand raisers. And online display advertising is still a great bargain, plus more highly targeted than most print or television.

But the real opportunity of the digital age, for clients and agencies alike, is the shrinking pie of investment afforded in owned and earned media. The only losers in this new investment equation are the mass media companies that controlled access to audiences for decades.

Bob Greenberg & Barry Wacksman of R/GA, ‘The Shrinking Pie’ [Adweek]
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The New Tools

Two great reads on the new tools of the trade – the first focused more on journalism, the latter on broader creative collaboration: Tony Hirst: Programming, Not Coding: Infoskills for Journalists (and Librarians..?!;-) Robin Sloan: The New Utility Belt

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