Perkins admits, ‘I’m a Posser’: If I were covering this conference as a reporter instead of keeping a live blog of it, I might be tempted to file a newsstory on the Tony Perkins speech. I’m happy to report that no fist-fights broke out. At least none in the conference room. Oh, heck. Here’s a quick story:
Erstwhile magazine publisher and creator of Always On, Tony Perkins had to face down a roomful of weblog pioneers, many of whom were not so timid in expressing their displeasure with his claims that his online business news site is a weblog.
“I’ve never called it a weblog,” a visibly shaken Perkins said when Dave Winer, creator of the popular weblog software platform Userland, pressed him with the question, “Do you know what weblogs are?” When another audience member cited a February article on Fortune.com that quotes Perkins as describing Always On, “a superblog,” Perkins tried to cool down the audience by asking if anyone knew what a superblog is.
Perkins, the former editor of Upside and Red Herring Magazines, launched his new venture in February and described it then as a new model of “paticipatory journalism.” At the time, he set off a firestorm of debate among weblogers when he mounted a PR campaign that resulted in articles that quoted him as saying his website would be for journalism what eBay is for e-commerce.
Admitting that he had “my ass handed to me” in the failure of Red Herring Magazine, Perkins said he still views today as a great time to be a media entrepreneur. “I’ve never been so excited,” he told the audience. But he also admitted that while using the language of weblogging, he was not actually a weblogger. “I’m a posser,” when it comes to weblogs, Perkins said. He explained that he had been working for the past 18 months on his concept, much of the work devoted to studying the work of bloggers in the audience. He also credited his college-age daughters use of instant messaging opening his eyes to the concept of “always-on” media.
Perkins told his audience that Always On was “cash-flow positive” after its first month and that it will be able to pay off its development costs from revenues generated from an upcoming conference at Stanford University. A key to its business success will be multiple revenue streams including conferences, he said.
“Building a media brand is black magic,” Perkins said. “I can’t tell you what made Red Herring reach 350,000 readers worldwide,” he admitted.
Perkins said that magazines should start “paticipatory communities” for their readers. “The hardest part of building a magazine is attracting the readers,” he said.
(For all of my notes related to Perkin’s remarks, visit my live-blog of the event. Scroll down for his speech.)