The obituary notices for old media have been a bit premature - instead of dying as predicted, many have stubbornly tried to change to stay relevant. [And surely staying relevant is a key challenge for everyone, isn't it? - I think about it pretty much daily.]
Case in point: Harvard Business Review, that venerable institution of middle management information, was something I had read like a religion since business school. A few years ago, I found it dry, irrelevant, and lacking in user-friendly design. It was becoming the most costly recycled paper in my office. Bye, bye magazine.
A recent look at the paper version of HBR revealed a significant improvement in relevance and readability.
Art: Images from edge installation artist Leandro Erlich
Interaction: Recognizing the wisdom isn't all in the authors, it's also in the readers. Example: this reaction to a social media trends story: "In 2011 people will begin to realize there are few shortcuts with these sites -- it's 'social' media, not 'robot' media."
On-line sales leads: contacting potential customers within an hour of receiving a query is seven times as likely to qualify the lead as waiting more than an hour, and 60 times as likely to qualify as waiting more than 24 hours.(1)
Good effects of a vacation wear off within a week. [Okay, that one probably doesn't come as a shock, but at least someone is paying attention.]
Foldit is a game you can play to discover new ways to fold protein molecules. Now there's a crowdsourcing idea that is truly exciting!
Semantic mapping technologies are rapidly growing in sophistication: Quid Software
Case studies based in other countries and cultures besides North America!
Thought-provoking columns by people like Roger Martin and Dan Ariely -- almost always worth reading.
It's harder to turn some of these bigger ships, but if they pay attention to their customers and to emerging trends, they can turn, and they can mobilize, and they can stay relevant. Nobody said it was easy. But they're not dead yet.
(1) The Short Life of Online Sales Leads, by James B Olroyd, McElheran, Elkington, HBR, March 2011
(2) Don't Get Blinded by the Numbers, by Roger Martin, HBR, March 2011