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Human database relations (March 2004)


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I made this presentation to myself in March 2004 as a way to clarify my understanding of the then emerging field of social media. This may be incredibly obvious to you now in 2014, a full decade later.

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Human database relations (March 2004)

  1. 1. Understanding Media for Techies Human communications expressed using database relations Kiran Jonnalagadda <>
  2. 2. One to One All communications between individuals. Friends talking on the phone or over instant messenger, a couple over a dinner table, a doctor and a patient, etc.
  3. 3. One to Many The broadcast model. Weblogs, magazines, television, newspapers; the traditional mass media.
  4. 4. Many to One The feedback model. Market research, customer service, product registration forms, letters to the editor, comments on a weblog posting.
  5. 5. Many to Many Group discussions. IRC, mailing lists, in some sense, even LiveJournal. Not advertiser friendly except for word-of-mouth. Not scalable, not long lived.
  6. 6. Many to One to Many Moderated discussion group. Left group (contributors) cannot scale or moderator is overloaded. Examples are Slashdot (top level posts), Boing Boing.
  7. 7. Delving Deeper Is “many” really many? Should we distinguish between a few and many?
  8. 8. Let’s look at this by media category...
  9. 9. Newspapers, Magazines & TV
  10. 10. The Consumer’s Perspective A few contributors submit to the newspaper, magazine or TV channel, which presents their work in a unified voice to several readers.
  11. 11. Feedback Loop #1 A few readers write letters to the editor (print media only, not TV), which the editor selects from and publishes for everyone to read.
  12. 12. Feedback Loop #2 Readers/Viewers write directly to contributors, who may feature this feedback in their next contribution.
  13. 13. Feedback Loop #3 Readers/Viewers talk to an independent polling agency, which creates a report and shares it with media and advertising organisations.
  14. 14. Online News & Discussion Sites (Like Slashdot or Kuro5hin)
  15. 15. Top-level News Posting The same as before: a few contributors, a moderator, several readers. But: lower costs, lower revenues, more contributors, fewer consumers.
  16. 16. Feedback Loop (Discussion) Read Unmoderated Prefer Moderated This is where it gets interesting. Unlike traditional media, the Web is not a linear flow.
  17. 17. What is a Group? Is a “group” really a group, or just individuals bunched together for convenience? What happens when they are treated as individuals?
  18. 18. Individual Treatment Traditional media crafts a common message that appears to be addressed to the individual.
  19. 19. Individual Treatment But on the Web, you really are having a conversation between individuals.
  20. 20. Lots of Individuals People rightfully worry about how public their conversations are, who is reading them.
  21. 21. Advertisers Didn’t Understand If you can’t bunch them into a group, how do you advertise to a mass audience?
  22. 22. Advertising on the Web On the Web, even ads have to be individualised. Advertisers have to accept that people talk to each other.
  23. 23. To be Continued...
  24. 24. The End