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Saturday, April 14, 2007


A few years ago, telecom and media businesses went into a frenzy to adapt to 'convergence'. The issue -- the sudden realization that the distinctions between the various media formats; print, broadcast, and electronic, were crumbling under the new rules of the game created by broadband Internet capacity.

The frenzy resulted in transactions that seemed wildly out of whack -- creating apparent conglomerates of unrelated businesses that simply didn't fit together very well.

The pundits in the established businesses who moved their enterprises in the convergence direction were probably right in predicting the huge change about to overtake media practices; they however may have miscalculated at least for now the source and winners of the change. Google -- and to a lesser extent Yahoo/Overture -- shattered the conventional rules with the discovery that value from a media perspective in the Internet age is created through search engines rather than conventional 'content' -- and the content creators changed to include millions of 'ordinary' people suddenly able to gain immediate international access with the help of things like viral email and blogs. The new concept of 'citizen journalism' reshaped the rules of the game. Conventional newspapers, suddenly seeing their advertising and media dominance place in the universe diminishing (especially with the loss of new, younger readers) are now panicking, though it seems that some investors, with deep pockets, think the fear of the conventional newspaper's demise is irrational and are buying up the shares of newspaper companies as they become available.

I'm still learning the new rules. With a cheap camera and the help of youtube, I've even posted my first test video (I am not linking it here because, one it is technically bad, and two it is a test and doesn't have any meaningful content). On the other hand, a guy in San Francisco, Justin Kan, 23, has attached a camera to his head and is running a 24/7 broadcast of his life on -- though the tiny island nation of Tuvalu only earns a pittance for the use of its country domain name. Justin's business has scored something of a hit -- because of the traffic and 'stickiness' of his site with the use of a reader-response chat room, he is attracting sponsors and advertisers to a show that is certainly limited in its technical quality.

In the construction business, as these wider-ranging changes occur, what and where do you need to use this information in your marketing and business operations? Well, 24/7 site webcams in certain circumstances may make sense on your website (and internally, for security and project management purposes).

You should also be aware that the tried and true 'protections' against unethical practices -- things like bid shopping -- are straining under the ability of owners and higher level contractors to manipulate communications with electronic resources, private plans rooms, and reverse auctions.

You may also gain a competitive edge with some limited experimentation in new media/marketing techniques, provided you aren't sidetracked and worry too much about the latest trend. The fact remains that the construction industry is not one that overreacts or changes too fast under the wave of technological input. The old newspaper and the all-important business relations and practices, practices and integrity, are still far more important to you than the latest techniques in Internet broadcast and blogging. Just keep the technological and media changes in mind as you aspire to higher standards and better practices within your own trade.

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