Monday, December 29, 2014

The top posts of 2014: Pebble, Pornography & Piracy, Vice Media...and a few more

In a year of disappearing aircraft, hoax viral videos, and celebrity body parts allegedly ‘breaking the Internet’, it’s good to have a few things we can believe in. Like this blog. And in the absence of one of those auto-generated year in review things that Facebook has, I decided to handcraft one of my own. So here's to this blog's year that was, as reflected in click count. (Yes, some things are popularity contests.)

When I write a post I honestly have no idea which ones will get piles of clicks, which will get lightly retweeted or shared, and which will take on a life of their own and circulate well beyond my immediate group of friends, colleagues, and contacts. Case in point: the most popular post on the blog, still, every damn day, is almost two years old. It's the one in which I break down how much money Macklemore made. Yes, Macklemore the white rapper guy who went all the way to #1 in 2013 with his catchy jam Thrift Shop — now at more than 628 million views on YouTube, I might add —and showed the world that you could get to #1 without a label, buying in promotional and distribution services on a la carte basis. The Macklemore machine began its roll into the mainstream in late 2012 and if you asked me if I thought people would still be interested in the story in late 2014 I would have said not many. Yet, every day, people are googling his name and ending up on my blog. (btw Macklemore’s real name is Ben Haggerty, which explains that showing up as one of the search terms that brought people to this blog).

I mention this because, as I break out the most popular posts of the year I would be remiss not to include the oldie but goodie that is the Macklemore steamroller. The rest of the posts listed here were written in 2014, and here they are in reverse order of popularity.

Let's get started with this post from November 2014, on the challenges the pornography industry has had to deal with it in the digital environment. Like all other content industries it's rife with piracy but has the added feature of the ability of people to just set up a webcam at home and entirely bypass the industry. Remember when porn was the only thing people would pay for on the Internet? 

The 'good old days' of monetized online pornography

Well those days are over, and have been for some time now. If you missed this post, here it is again for your enjoyment. It’s a feature interview with intellectual property scholar Kate Darling, and I must say that one of the most interesting things I learned doing this interview is that a good number of the people in the industry got into it after their jewelry store at the mall failed.

The next most popular post was this one, inspired by the dispute between Amazon and the publisher Hachette, without just being more of the same about it...i.e. Amazon is the big bad guy, Hachette is the good guy, and therefore Goliath is bullying David. If only it were that easy.

The initial post turned into a series that used the dispute as a jumping off point for a look at the book publishing industry in a time of online book selling, eBooks, and self-publishing.

Coming in just above the Amazon vs Hachette post was this one, about how traditional news
Graphic courtesy @terraloire
organizations do their job in the environment of the social media circus. In this case around a scandal involving a prominent Canadian broadcaster...but you don’t have to be Canadian to care (though it helps). For this post I called on Andrew Lundy, Vice President, Digital, at The Canadian Press and he helped dissect the role of legacy media organizations at a time when the throngs are tweeting up a storm and no green lighting by editors or producers is necessary.

The next most popular post of the year was about, as one reader put it: “horseshit as the new journalism”. This was the year that sites like Buzzfeed, Upworthy, Gawker, and similar 'gotcha news' sites went full tilt with the clickbait. It didn’t matter if it was true or not, it only mattered that you clicked. And, wouldn’t you know it, people clicked quite vigorously on the blog post about this phenomenon, so it was quite a satisfying meta moment.

Not actually Egypt in the snow. But on the Internet, it was.

Okay, it’s getting exciting now, as we move on to the second most popular post of the year, and for this one we examined the triumph of the bro media empire Vice, now valued at several billion dollars. This post goes all the way back to Vice’s earliest days as a free, across-the-board offensive, alt-culture paper, and traces their journey to deals with Rupert Murdoch, HBO, and other powerful players in the media pantheon.


     And now… it’s time for this blog's most popular post of 2014...


....And it is this one, about the evolution of the Pebble smart watch. Not only was it the most popular post here, it also went all the way to #1 on Reddit in the discussion group about Pebble. (And yes, the two are related.)

What a tale the Pebble is. It went from a student project to the most successful Kickstarter campaign to date. And they beat the Apple iWatch to market too. It all started because the company founder wanted to be able to get email notifications on his watch when he was riding his bike.

The Pebble Smart Watch,
now with tens of thousands of apps
that make it go where no watch has gone before

And there you have it, the most popular posts from 2014 on the Demassed blog. In the new year you can look forward to posts about changes that are afoot in the worlds of podcasting and YouTube, and in March I’m scheduled to participate in a panel at SXSW Interactive  and hope to hit as many panels and keynotes as I can and report back here.

In the meantime, happy new year, and please accept this lovely calendar as my way of saying thanks for your clicks, comments, retweets, and shares. (You've been doing that, right?)