The future of magazines – is it really all about the iPad?

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There has been a lot of talk in the last few days about how apps, specifically for the iPad, could save publishing and kill the web. And this from people who really ought to know better. http://gawker.com/5602743/will-wired-proclaim-the-web-is-dead

I still think the future of magazines is up for grabs, but there are some print mags that will continue to thrive. IMO it is looking good for…

1 Small run indie mags – who work in specialist areas and keep costs low eg Shindig http://www.shindig-magazine.com/ There’s a thriving indie mag scene – check out this blog http://magculture.com/blog/

2 Customer publishing mags – Less worry about monetising the mags as they tend to be funded by brands. They remain a superb way for brands to communicate with their audience. Future Pubs latest figures are bolstered by a great performance from its branded content division http://www.mediaweek.co.uk/News/MostEmailed/1020030/Future-UK-revenue-3-group…

Disclaimer – I work for the APA http://www.apa.co.uk/news which works with branded content companies

3 UK magazines – Print seems to by dying a little quicker on the other side of the Atlantic than over here, maybe because print runs are lower and therefore paper costs cheaper. It’ll be fascinating to see IPC’s next move http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=45381

4 Long form magazines – Ones packed with longer features, essays etc which are hard to replicate online

Anyhow, someone way smarter than me, Jeff Jarvis, has just put forward his opinions on the way publishing should develop. http://www.buzzmachine.com/2010/08/04/whither-magazines-2/#

His advice is to forget about print and iPad mags and focus on building communities, start new media brands (and buy ones too), get into selling stuff from your site and cut costs. It all sounds eminently sensible.

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Forest Hill Pool swimming pool to be redeveloped

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It has been an amazing few months for London swimmers. With the reopening of the lido in Uxbridge, Marshall Streeet back in business and even Kentish Town pool back in action.

Now the Londonist is reporting that Forest Hills pool (reputedly one of the oldest pools in London) is going to be redeveloped. http://londonist.com/2010/08/forest_hill_pools_redevelopment_pla.php

The £10 million redevelopment will see the Victorian baths adjoined by a new brick building with a zinc-clad roof, which will contain a new 25m pool, gym, and cafe.

It seems like all that hard work campaigners put in a few years back is really paying off.

Anorak hammering Loaded, Esquire, FHM, Stuff and Maxim in website traffic

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… According to Alexa

I know Alexa has its faults, but it does often give a fairly good idea
of website traffic trends.

So take a look at this graph.

You’ll see that Anorak’s traffic surge in the last three months has
propelled it past Loaded, Esquire, Stuff and Maxim and we are now neck
and neck with FHM (that’ll be global brand FHM), who seem to have
sneaked ahead again in the last week or so (boo).

There’s still a way to go before Anorak can claim Nuts, to say nothing
of Digital Spy, but we are working on it.

When combined with Whoateallthepies.tv – Anorak Publishing boasts over
1.5 million unique users and over 10 million page impressions

Any queries on Anorak give me a shout ashleyatanorakdotcodotuk

Anorak and Who Ate All The Pies hit ten million page views in July

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Flying in the face of the accepted wisdom that July is normally a quiet time for websites with only limited growth, Anorak Publishing has just posted its best traffic figures ever – and then some.

Between them Anorak.co.uk and Whoateallthepies.tv delivered 10.8 million page impressions in July, which smashes the previous best figures by 60%.

Pies attracted a huge number of visitors 843,056 who delivered 4.5 million page impressions.

Meanwhile Anorak scored 676,120 visitors and 6.3 million page views – that’s almost 10 page views per visitors.

Anorak’s editor Paul Sorene attributes the surge down to ‘some great breaking stories, amazing images and readers looking for a more edgy take on mainstream news.’

Pies Editor Ollie Irish said ‘I think Pies will hit a million visitors a month shortly. We seem to be offering readers news, opinion and images that they can’t get anywhere else.’

A few thoughts on how MySpace can reinvent itself

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Interesting news from AdAge in the US http://www.adweek.com/aw/content_display/news/e3i33196e5b482225224b25de211a59… that MySpace is looking for an ad agency to help relaunch the social networking site. There are some who’d have you believe that this is an impossible task, but we should remember that this is a site with over 40 million users in the US alone. It might be declining but it is hardly on its last legs.

Like a lot of music fans I never really fell out of love with the site. There is still no better place to go and check out new artists or listen to band’s pre-album tracks. If MySpace didn’t exist there would be a massive hole in my musical education.

Personally I think MySpace needs to focus on the music and stop worrying about social networking (I always found it odd that Americans used it for having conversations anyhow). Recognise that many people on the site are looking for new music and work to make that experience more fun. There is some basic coding stuff (the list of artists that bands like really ought to feature automated links now a la a Facebook) as well as tidying up those very tatty looking pages (properly integrating blog posts and news would be a start). They need to offer new music-related features too – how about a deal to enable bands to upload gigs, or video stream them via a service like Qik?

Finally they need to focus on communities that already exist online. Work with music bloggers. Do content syndication deals. Offer music blogs decent pages with lots of streaming facilities which could then be embedded on the blogs.

I do wonder though if all the money will be spent on trying to rebrand a site that urgently needs a revamp not mainstream marketing.

Ultimately News International could have a site with an audience of 50 million passionate music fans. How much better is that than one with 250 million people yet is still a pale fascimile of a site that does social networking a whole lot better.

Roger Deakin – an unlikely hero for me and Alice Roberts

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Dr Alice Roberts, with her obsessive interest in shells is not someone that I would ever imagine that I would share a hero with. But tonight I found out that one truly exceptional man had been an inspiration to us both. His name is Roger Deakin.

Just under 15 years ago Deakin was a BBC film-maker, environmentalist, music lover and die-hard East Anglophile who was coming to terms with a divorce that had certainly made him re-assess his life. Driven by the desire to do something new and challenging he came up with the idea of a swim across Britain. Inspired by his own love of swimming, and with a nod to John Cheever’s excellent novel The Swimmer, he vowed to swim from the Atlantic near the Scilly Isles through to the North Sea at the top of Scotland taking in as many lakes, rivers and lidos as he could along the way.

And he chronicled this pilgrimage in a 2000 book called Waterlog.

From the moment I heard about the book I was smitten. I was inspired by such a wonderfully romantic idea while eager to find and swim in the places Deakin swam. After pestering the publisher for a freebie (and failing) I managed to crash the book’s launch (held appropriately enough at the Oasis outdoor pool in London) grab a copy, spend a few minutes with the fella himself and get a promise of an hour or so of his time.

I remember not being able to put the book down. I loved not just the stories of his adventures but also the way he laced the text with snippets of history (he was a big Orwell fan) and geography as well as pen profiles of the wonderful individuals he met along the way. Waterlog soon became my favourite book and anyone who’d read it or was passionate about swimming outdoors, became soul mates.

When I met Deakin at his flat in Kentish Town he was utterly charming. He reminded me of a cross between an inspirational history teacher, a slightly bonkers Victorian vicar and the editor of The Guardian in the way that he could speak so passionately and knowledgably about so many different topics. During the hour we covered the huge amout of ground from the spiritual aspects of swimming (I was thinking Church Times for that part) through to his top five tips for outdoor swimmers (that was for Maxim).

Sadly while bits of the interview ended up in a variety of places the planned double pager with the Ham and High never got published, so much of our discussion is still only on that tape.

What Waterlog, and the interview, did was to rekindle a dormant affection in me for outdoor swimming. It reminded me of the hours spent splashing in the dirty old river Ouse as child and of sea swimming in Morecambe as a student and how much fun it had been. Within days I was off round the country and Waterlog was my handbook.

I wasn’t the only one either. Since the late nineties outdoor swimming, or wild swimming as it hard core adherents call it, has become increasingly popular. Perhaps as we get more and more cosseted in our daily lives, so the appeal of doing something that really takes us away from others and brings us so close to nature, becomes so appealing. Maybe Roger Deakin was right – there is something spiritual about diving into cold water and surfacing to be confronted by beautiful surroundings. In some odd kind of way maybe we are born again.

Sadly Roger Deakin died way too soon in 2006. But his books are still championed by the likes of me, and, in a rather more erudite and high profile way by Dr Alice Roberts who used Waterlog the basis for her wild swimming programme on BBC4 tonight – it is on the iPlayer, so what are you waiting for?

It is not often that one man’s ideas can have such such an incredible impact. The fact that so many Lidos have not just survived but prospered in the last ten years is down to small groups of individual campaigners many of whom were inspired by Waterlog. And if you want to go wild swimming now you don’t just have to don your Budgie smugglers and hit a nearby reservoir. There are now tours and courses where you can swim in lakes and rivers with others. Wild swimming is becoming fashionable.

Waterlog actually finishes with a tale of a Christmas day sea swim in Suffolk. It is a beach I know very well and swim there at least a few times a year. And when I do think of Roger Deakin and how this unassuming charming man became a hero to so many.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Waterlog-Swimmers-Journey-Through-Britain/dp/00992825…

Cool new Pad app Pulse teams up with my fave blogging platform Posterous – very smart!

via Retro To Go

A while back, we reported that the BT Tower, formerly the Post Office Tower, could be re-opening in the future as a boutique … Read More >>

Amid all the kerfuffle about Flipboard the other week, the other big new app for the iPad, Pulse, got kind of forgotten. This is a real shame as it is a very neat RSS app that turns your feeds into pics and headlines in an attractive way.

Sure it has its limitatations – you can only have up to 25 feeds – but it works well and is well worth the few quid you pay for it.

Today, in another smart move, Pulse teamed up with Posterous to offer an easy way of creating a blog composed of your favourite articles. You simply like an article in Pulse and it is pinged straight away to your blog

Mine is here http://ashleynorris.pulsememe.com/

The big advantage of Posterous is that you can switch autoposting on so that the posts are automatically pinged on Twitter and Facebook.

There has to be some very clever use for this for both brands and publishers, but I haven’t thought of one yet