No, I don’t have an iPad. Mostly I don’t live close to an Apple store <whew>. On the other hand, I don’t know how I’d use it. I’d like a tablet to take to conferences in place of my laptop. But the iPad seems to be designed for consumption, not production. So, I’m still on the fence. Once I thought I’d consolidate all my toys into one device. Now, I could be carrying four or five. Seems like a lot.

There’s a lot of talk in the technology press (and press press-or whatever) about devices such as the iPad replacing or being the saviour of print media. I think they all miss the point (or many points). Print is the media (meaning the thing that the news, entertainment and other writing/photos/videos are transported on). It is one media, er, medium. (I took Latin in high school, after all.) Computers are another, laptops are another, netbooks still another, Kindle and its clones another, smart phones yet another.

Newspapers’ problems mostly stem from one situation–it is more efficient to sell your junk over the Internet than to buy those small classified ads. Poof–a cash cow gone. There is a second problem, though. That would be news consolidation. I have not calculated, but I believe that about 70% of the news I see in my daily newspapers comes from services–AP, New York Times, Washington Post. I’ve already seen that on the Web long before the print paper comes. The only reasons I get the local papers are: local news that’s not on the Internet; local high school and other group news and sports reporting; coupons.

The devices are getting good enough that I may switch some of my book and magazine reading to them, but I still like the feel of a book or magazine–and the ability to make notes and tear out pages. Once again, they don’t replace magazines–they replace the medium of paper with the medium of electronics. And if I hear another “dead tree” comment again, I may forget my Yoga nature and scream. Paper is biodegradable (although the manufacturing process can be a bit messy if not done well). Electronic devices are filled with toxic substances and parts that can be neither recycled or put into a landfill. They are not more green than paper.

Publishing

But I really wanted to talk a little about the use of media. Dave Winer developed blogging as a way for people to get published. Until then, you had to have a contact with an owner of a press. With blogs, anyone could publish. People played around with blogs to find their use. Early people just recorded things like they would in a diary. Then came the conversation when all the early adopters (and in manufacturing kind of like Jim Cahill, Eric Murphy and me) linking to each other. Marketers tried to figure it out, but few figured out a model. Maybe because they try to hard to sell instead of using the media to inform. The next–and current–stage is really just publishing. The “leading” blogs are not really “Web logs” but full blown media companies without a printing press. I get a lot of news from GigaOm and TechCrunch and Engadget.

Likewise along came Twitter and Facebook (after it grew up). We bloggers jumped on, had some great conversations, but now just do a little short broadcasting on Twitter. Facebook is a conumdrum since we are all now mixing “real” friends, family, extended “friends,” and business contacts. That makes the stream hard to read. And my posts to one group are entirely unwelcome to another. But that hasn’t stopped marketers from trying to find uses. Twitter’s use was to broadcast press releases and just get the company’s name in front of followers. Facebook use is starting to create mini-communities.

Creating a community of loyal followers has been the Holy Grail for companies since the beginning of the Web. For the most part it hasn’t worked. I don’t personally like Facebook as the keeper of my community because Facebook owns everything. It wants to sell advertising to reach your community. I don’t trust it.

If you’ve read to the bottom of this post, you must be a glutton for punishment. But I’m curious. Whether you are a marketer or working in manufacturing how do you publish or consume on all this new media? How much is useful? Let me know.

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