You are currently browsing the archives for the Pop-Up Magazine category.

Postcard From Pop-Up Magazine

Pop-Up Magazine Program

I had so much fun at Pop-Up Magazine on Thursday night.

The Kitchen Sisters introduced us to “bone records” from Soviet Russia. When vinyl was hard to come by, creative music fans figured out how to groove pirated American and European pop songs into recycled X-ray film. I especially like this one: Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel stamped over an image of someone’s actual heart and ribcage.

Bone Record of Elvis Presley Heartbreak Hotel

Jon Mooallem profiled the longest-burning incandescent lightbulb, at the fire station in Livermore, California. It celebrated its 100th birthday in 2001, and it’s still glowing 24/7. You can see it in action live on the Internet, but they don’t make webcams like they used to make lightbulbs — they’ve had to replace the webcam twice.

Livermore Fire Station Lightbulb

Driving from San Francisco to Providence, RI, in the summer of 1990, I listened to the audiobook for Moby Dick. It was unabridged, 21 cassette tapes of uninterrupted classic lit, and the longest audiobook offered by the bookstore I rented it from. I thought I was pretty badass until Aaron Loeb told the story of the guy in a Somali prison who “read” Anna Karenina, all 349,168 words of it, to his fellow prisoners in a Morse-code-like system of knocks on the wall of his cell. It took something like seven years for the novel to make its way down the line to the rest of the inmates.

I loved all 65 minutes of Sam Green’s live documentary, The Measure of All Things, especially when Bao Xishun, the world’s second tallest man, saved a choking dolphin and, in the process, found love.

Bao Xishun Saves Dolphin

Caroline Paul told an incredible story about her attempt, as a teenager, to break the distance record for crawling on all fours…. Oh, forget it. I’m not even going to talk about it; you kinda had to be there.

(Disclosure: In addition to being a Pop-Up Magazine fanboy, I work for its publisher, California Sunday. My role in Thursday night, though, was basically sitting around admiring the hard work of Pat Walters, Leo Jung, Lauren Smith, Derek Fagerstrom, Evan Ratliff, Doug McGray, and the enormously talented storytellers they brought to the stage. Special thanks to our wonderful sponsors, MailChimp and Lexus.)

Stanford’s Future of Media 2014: Stats and Sources

Earlier today I did a talk at Stanford’s Future of Media conference. The infographic notes version looks like this, courtesy of Nick deWild:

Inforgraphic notes by Nick deWild

Here are links to sources for the stats and quotes I cited:

MIT’s Ethan Zuckerman proposes that we measure media attention in units called Kardashians.

NBC’s Jeff Zucker says “we are trading analog dollars for digital dimes.” (More recently he’s upgraded dimes to quarters.)

Google’s Hal Varian on news readership habits by platform is published here and here.

We bought 457 million eBooks in 2012.

Barack Obama is a binge-watcher.

Buzzfeed readers who read that 6000-word article on Detroit real-estate on their phones spent, on average, 25 minutes doing so.

You can read the rest of Caitlin Flanagan’s feature, The Dark Power of Fraternities, here. And Amy Chua’s story, Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior, here.

Estimates that House of Cards has between two and five million viewers come from here.

People who read the Sunday paper spend, on average, 57 minutes.

Which Format Is Best for Premium Publishing?

I gave a very short presentation today at sfBIG‘s The Big Minute on the topic of reading habits across devices and settings. (If it takes you longer than 80 seconds to read this post, you read slower than I talk!)

The California Sunday Magazine

1 minute
Time we spend reading a newspaper’s website, which we tend to do at work on a laptop.

5 minutes
Time we spend, on average, reading a Buzzfeed list, which we also do mostly at work.

25 minutes
Time spent reading that 6000-word Buzzfeed story about Detroit, if we were among the people who read the story on a phone.

27 minutes
Time we spend reading the newspaper, if we get the print version and read it over breakfast.

57 minutes
Time we spend reading the Sunday print newspaper, since — presumably — breakfast on Sunday lasts longer.

115 minutes
Time we spent tuned-in to the last live issue of Pop-Up Magazine, an evening of “performance journalism” that takes place periodically at Davies Symphony Hall on a week-night after work.

So then, I asked, which publishing form-factor is best if the goal is to maximize reading minutes? Is it the Web, smartphones, printed magazines, or maybe live events performed onstage? How about stone tablets??

Actually: Format doesn’t really matter. The relevant factor, it turns out, is where we do our reading. You’ll get the best results, as a publisher, if you reach a reader outside of work — away from the distractions of email, IM, meetings and, well, work. People engage much more deeply with media when they’re at the breakfast table before work, or at night or during the weekend. If you can reach a person during those windows of leisure time, he or she will give you a whole lot more attention.

(Sources: 1, 27 and 57 come from here; 5 and 25 from here; and 115 from the official time-keeper at Pop-Up Magazine.)

Please Give Me Reason To Pay Attention

It was shocking news to some members of the over-25 crowd to learn that users of SnapChat, the self-destructing photo-sharing app, enjoy the app for purposes other than sexting.

Shocking it may be, but the evidence is mounting. It appears that many SnapChatters often use the service just to send silly pictures to friends without fear that they will be added to the sender’s permanent digital records. Makes perfect sense to me — mullets were practically part of the uniform for my suburban New Jersey high school soccer team in 1987, and I’m sure glad photos from that era aren’t littering my Facebook Timeline.

(From Survata blog.)

But that’s not really what interests me most about SnapChat. Faithful readers: You know I have a one-track mind, and SnapChat has me thinking about online advertising — specifically the sorry state of online ad rates.

In 2008 Jeff Zucker, CEO of NBC at the time, made famous a line about “broadcast dollars” becoming “digital pennies,” a quip that captures the phenomenon by which advertisers pay a fraction of traditional-media CPMs for the website version of the same content. A few years later Google chief economist Hal Varian wrote a post that touched on similar issues and their relationship to the newspaper business. In 2010, when he wrote it, he observed that while the Internet has been a boon to news consumption — more people read news, and more of us do so everyday — there’s one aspect of our news-reading that’s gone very much in the wrong direction: The amount of attention we pay to news when we read it online. We spend only 70 seconds per day reading news online; back when we got our news in a paper format, it was 25 minutes per day.

If we’re only fractionally engaged with online content, then, it’s logical that advertisers value online ads at pennies on the dollar.

Part of the explanation for our digital distractedness is the wealth — overabundance?! — of content choices online. But the more significant explanation, I think, is that digital content is inevitably archived and easily searchable. We graze and skim through content now because we know we can go back later, when we will have more time to actually pay attention. Tag it #longreads, push it to Instapaper, or leave open another tab in your browser. Then you can go back later and give it a really thorough read.

I don’t know about you, but I was always much better at pushing stories to Instapaper than I was at actually reading them later. And then I stopped using it altogether.

SnapChat doesn’t have this problem. According to Yale computer scientist (and former FourSquare software engineer) Sean Haufler:

Snapchat’s time limits make snaps more engaging…. since every message has a time limit, users are present when opening snaps. Snapchat attracts its users’ full attention since they have only a few seconds to capture the details of each message. This engagement makes the experience more satisfying — it feels like a real conversation.

Kind of like live sports or other major TV events, or a magazine story that everyone’s talking about right now. (Or a feature in a live magazine.) What’s the point in watching on your DVR when you know who wins or that Matthew Crawford has already met his untimely death something really big happened last week on Downton Abbey? If you care about that game or that show or the cultural conversation that references them, you need to watch it live and pay attention when you do. That’s programming that demands our engagement, and thus it’s highly valued by advertisers.

Advertisers certainly aren’t going to pay more because your private exchange is more programmatic than your competitor’s. But they almost certainly will if you can find a way — through rich, unique and timely content — to capture reader attention for more than a few seconds every time the engage with your digital product.