Alyssa Milano, Star Wars and The “Rainbow Swan” Effect

Black Swans, Purple Cows, colorful animals..

The idea that something big and unexpected could happen without notice is a joke. At this point in time, if you don’t expect big and unexpected things to happen without notice, then you aren’t really paying attention in the first place. This is why I don’t understand big banks, agency ratings and their financial models (besides the fact that I don’t really understand big banks, agency ratings and their financial models).

The financial crisis, BP’s oil mega-mis-step, earthquakes, wars…

These are all things that we know will happen, in some way, shape, or form. But now that we live in a highly interconnected world, the likelihood of these events happening are much greater and will be much more frequent.  In fact, during the financial crisis, three kids (now known as Cornwall Capital) took $100k and bet it on these “rare” events. They turned $100k into $15M which they then turned into $120M.

They essentially bet on “black swan” events.

I digress..

In today’s world, mini-black swans will occur almost daily.  We’ll call these “rainbow swans.”

Take for example these two recent “tweets” by Alyssa Milano.

The first was:

Well, shortly after, she tweeted this:

With nearly 850K followers on twitter, she was able to move a relatively large mass of people, at a specific moment in time, to a relatively unknown website. To that website owner, he has no doubt experienced a mini black swan, now unofficially known as a, “rainbow swan” event.

How was Brennan supposed to know that Alyssa Milano would be in the mood for a hemp-jacket wearing Jar-Jar Banks?

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“Premium Content” is the wrong name – will be called “Niche Content”

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Image by neonihil via Flickr

This week was internet week. I listened to a lot of media companies talk about “Premium Content” but I’m not sure that this is the right vernacular anymore.

Large media companies establish businesses on the basis that they can create an entire line of “premium content.” Information that is assembled, curated, and distributed with a stamp of approval – that stamp is the company brand name. There is a lot of value to this process, but I don’t buy it, at least not in today’s world.

If I had to choose between reading content written or produced by a “big name media company” or by someone I know and trust, or someone who has a community vouching for that person’s character, credentials and opinions, and someone (or a group of people) that focus on very specific topics and are experts in those topics, I will always choose the latter. (If I could do both, that would be killer – and is a viable business opportunity in my opinion)

I was riding the NYC subway yesterday and saw a quote for a book review. It said something along the lines of:

“An ultimate matchup between….You can’t put this down, it’s one of its kind” – The some city Post

Really? Why should I care that this newspaper, a newspaper from a city I’ve never even been to before, gave the book a rave review? Who cares?

What I really care about is the person that gave the review. I want to know who that person is. I want to know what that person has done and why they are entitled to speak on behalf of some newspaper. If that person’s opinion matters so much, I should be the one to decide.

The future of “Premium Content” will be created by small groups of people and crowds. People with a passion for niche topics, and those people will intently focus on that one topic. They will become businesses unto themselves. The community will provide the seal of approval and the “big name media company” will matter less, unless their businesses change – to businesses of small, relevant, meaningful “niche content.”

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