Archive for December, 2008

Publishing Industry in Transition

4415_269_250_crop_56435There’s this great word – disintermediation – that you should get to know. Wikipedia says, “In economics disintermediation is the removal of intermediaries in a supply chain: cutting out the middleman.”

In publishing, the traditional printed newspaper delivered to your door is being disintermediated by online sources that deliver better information online faster – almost immediately, in fact. Over the next decade you will see an increasing number of bankruptcies among print media outlets, and the continued rise of online media and blogs. The Tribune Company / Los Angeles Times bankruptcy is just the most recent example.

And you’ll see citizen funded reporting grow. I’m an advisor to Spot.Us, a community where people choose and fund stories they want written. Then those stories are made available so anyone can publish them.

Apple’s iTunes service has became the largest online seller of music disintermediating retail music mega stores like Tower Records, Sam Goody’s and others. If we can buy music online, delivered digitally for less money, do we need the brick and mortar retail outlets and all the related waste products (plastic, plastic and more plastic) that is wrapped around physical CDs?

The Post Office and shippers are being increasingly disintermediated by email and electronic communications. DHL is halting express deliveries in the US. They lost about $10 billion in the US trying to challenge Federal Express and UPS. So they’re packing it in.

Mobile DJ’s can spin popular party music from an iPod less expensively than hiring physical performing musicians, disintermediating opportunities for musicians who make a living playing music live.

And the Amazon Kindle, a wireless reading device that lets me download and read books and similar devices that will follow, will (over time) disintermediate the brick and mortar book store business. If we can download content faster and less expensively than buying a physical books, the bottom will fall out of the traditional publishing business, impacting store owners, shippers, and building owners who rent space for stores.

What other areas are being disintermediated by technology?

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Did Coca-Cola Invent Santa Claus?

lg_santa_19311Did Coca-Cola invent the image of the modern-day Santa Claus – a white haired man in red clothes who delivers holiday gifts to kids? Not exactly. But they popularized Santa and ingrained into our mindsets that very image.

Here’s some history, thanks to the the St. Nicholas Center.

1804 — John Pintard, influential patriot and antiquarian, who founded the New York Historical Society in 1804, promoted St. Nicholas as patron saint of both society and city.

1809 — Washington Irving joined the society and on St. Nicholas Day that year he published the satirical fiction, Knickerbocker’s History of New York, with numerous references to a jolly St. Nicholas character. This was not a saintly bishop, rather an elfin Dutch burgher with a clay pipe. These delightful flights of imagination are the origin of the New Amsterdam St. Nicholas legends: that the first Dutch emigrant ship had a figurehead of St. Nicholas; that St. Nicholas Day was observed in the colony; that the first church was dedicated to him; and that St. Nicholas comes down chimneys to bring gifts.

Irving’s work was regarded as the “first notable work of imagination in the New World.”
The New York Historical Society held its first St. Nicholas anniversary dinner on December 6, 1810. John Pintard commissioned artist Alexander Anderson to create the first American image of Nicholas for the occasion. Nicholas was shown in a gift-giving role with children’s treats in stockings hanging at a fireplace. The accompanying poem ends, “Saint Nicholas, my dear good friend! To serve you ever was my end, If you will, now, me something give, I’ll serve you ever while I live.”

The jolly elf image received a big boost in 1823, from a poem destined to become immensely popular, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” now better known as “The Night Before Christmas.”

1931 – Coca-Cola started to use Santa in a ‘good-feeling’ marketing campaign. So, in fact, Coke mainstreamed the idea of Santa Claus and laid the foundations of the giant gift-buying extravaganza it is today. I would image all kinds of marketers had the same idea as Coke.

Well, even though it was/is a marketing play, still it’s fun. So have a very Merry XMAS. And spend lots of money. Retailers need your support.

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