News from Michael Geist today that Culture.ca, the (well, one of several from the same department) Canadian culture portal, has closed effective April 1, 2008. I know a couple of people who are directly affected by this news, though I’m not sure what the impact will be or what impact the site has had.
Archives for 2008
I just realized I haven’t talked much about what I’m up to lately. When we moved back to Montreal, I had what I thought was going to be a great job developing a new, should-have-been revolutionary web product… but that didn’t really work out very well (they didn’t share my vision of what the site could have and should have been and I didn’t think it was worth the investment to think small). Since then, I’ve been working really hard to get a new company off the ground. My great friend Claude moved back from Paris a few months before I came back to Montreal and he has been working like a maniac to establish Exvisu in Montreal. Almost immediately we talked about merging our forces, and after one aborted attempt last spring, in the fall I started devoting some time to it and based on my good experiences in the early going, this past winter I dove in head first.
At the moment, Exvisu is all about doing a very unique and advanced kind of research to help leaders with marketing, communications, and political opportunities (or problems). We have the ability to go out into existing but unstructured data sets and learn a great deal more about an issue than traditional approaches can provide. From there, we work very closely with our clients to develop appropriate web-based strategies to address the opportunity or problem. And, to round out the offering, if our clients lack the capacity to execute on the strategy themselves, we’ll work with them to do the job.
It’s a pretty broad offering, but we’re exceeding the goals we set for ourselves in January. We have several clients and partners we’re working with such as AGY Consulting, K3 Media, Gartner Lee Limited and several others I can’t really mention. As well, we’re working hard on a couple of different technology projects that will be the key to moving from a pure consultancy to a much more ambitious play down the road.
My friend Craig Silverman has written a post with some great advice for freelance journalists trying to develop their career in difficult economic times: Freelancing the future. He came to this in response to a post by Adrian Monck, who has been making the case recently that journalism is not at fault for the decline in newspapers.
Monck is almost certainly right, and Craig’s advice is really good advice – not just for freelance journalists but for any independent consultant-type person trying to get things going. But it’s the business side of the news media business that has and continues to screw everything up, IMO. When the net came along, they said, “look, blogs are great, everyone wants more opinion and context” and went ahead and gutted their news reporting function in favour of more opinion, more columnists, more of what the blogosphere was doing very well from it’s inception.
The problem is – that was the exact opposite of the bet they should have made. Opinions are like noses – everyone has one – and no one gives a damn if it’s some “journalist” (whose publisher likely sold him/her out long ago) who has written the opinion piece. On any conceivable subject, I can go out into the blogs and find at least one if not a dozen writers with more experience, more context, and more knowledge about a subject than any journalist has.
What we need – and by “we” I mean society at large – is honest, exhaustive, factual reporting. Newspapers should have (and should be) increasing their reporting budgets and decreasing their spend on columnists and opinions. I do want more opinion and context – but the last place I want to go to get it is a newspaper.
Alec Saunders has written a long post comparing the rates for data plans and carrier revenues internationally called Talking Turkey on Canadian Data. Alec brings out the numbers behind the point that I’ve been making based on instinct for some time now – the problem with exorbitant data rates isn’t just that people WANT more data or somehow deserve it – which is how it’s usually portrayed. The problem with high data rates is actually that the carriers are leaving huge revenues on the table over (it seems) some kind of “we DESERVE to be able to meter every byte” principle. Canadian carriers are not acting in the best interests of consumers or their shareholders by being so intransigent on this issue.