Saturday, August 15, 2009

Media Relevance:: Time-on-Site of Huffington Post

I've been talking over the past week to various people on social media, particularly as it pertains to public sociology or public social science, where the fields of sociology and the social sciences reach out to broader audiences, with the Contexts magazine and website being a good example.

One of the models that has been kicked abound in conversation is the Huffington Post, with its blend of original, RSS {syndicated}, and repurposed content. Arianna Huffington was on the Colbert Report {Canadian readers can try to see the clip here on the Comedy Network site} last month and mentioned how the site makes money, which I'm sure twisted the knife for journalists feeling the sting of Web 2.0. I was curious how much time people were spending on the Huffington Post versus traditional media sites. I must say I was a bit surprised. While I take numbers with a grain of salt, the 6.0 minutes per day is impressive {above}. Their US general election surge is clearly evident. Clearly, something interesting is going on with there. While the Huffington Post gets a fraction of the unique visitors that CNN gets, it gets its audience at at an even small fraction of the cost. Along the lines of HuffPo, I urge Canadian readers to check out TheMark {HT: Ms.N.}. I think what makes the site compelling is that it has an identity with a definitive voice and attitude that resonates with users and cuts through the clutter. It's combination of new and aggregated content makes it a bookmarkable destination. They're outdoing Yahoo {as a portal} and {as a content provider/virtual community}.

So, back to my original musings on public sociology. It remains a question of whether "public sociology" can garner a fraction of the audience of the Huffington Post, but I think it's clearly in the realm of possibility. While not an "academic" {which I'm not either, at the moment} Malcolm Gladwell {New Yorker} does have a knack for getting people interested in sociological and social science concepts. I don't always agree with him, but he's has made a career {albeit, over a trajectory starting around 1966} on making complex ideas digestible for mass audiences. Here he is explaining the trajectory of Fleetwood Mac. He discusses the "10 year rule," where greatness requires 10 years of experience::

Why I find sociology so interesting is that it embraces complexity at the intersection of human interactions in various realms or spheres, from a multitude of vantage points. I also find it particularly well-suited to bridge the gap between the real and the theoretical. What I'm hoping is that the web can help facilitate getting this knowledge into the hands of the public in digestible forms, in order to increase literacy of all things social and inform policymakers, professionals, power brokers, journalists, and the general public.

Twitterversion:: graphic shows "time-on-site" for Huffington Post vs. mainstream sites showing its stickiness. Is this a new communications model that can popularize knowledge?

Song:: "Sentimental Lady" {Live}- The Autumn Defense

1 comment:

terri said...

"sentimental lady" was one of my faves on fleetwood mac's bare trees album. cool to see that the song itself is still floating around here in the universe.