Schooled at CMPTO

Last night’s kick-off of the new CMPTO season left me wanting more, more from each of the speakers. Amy Martin from Wattpad, Robert Wheaton from Random House and Nick Edouard from Buzz Data did a fabulous job of schooling us on innovative business practices and data driven decision making. And the audience gets bonus points for being fully engaged and bringing up excellent questions that added to the lesson plan.

Rob shared the Random House story about the birth of Hazlitt—their new online magazine and ebook imprint. The story of Hazlitt grew nicely out Rob’s vision of the way the internet needs to evolve and is evolving. The next big area of change for the web is not necessarily technological—there is a huge demand for Voice. So web 3.0 (not a term Rob wants to be used) is about social capital, trustiness—the Voice that will curate and inform. As support for his thesis (lets keep this all academic and dry now, shall we), he used the example of Next Draft to show where this concept of Voice can lead. Like any good storyteller, Rob set up the plot nicely with a drinking game for publishing that rewarded(?) people for mentioning certain industry concerns like—DRM, metadata, Amazon—one audience member was awarded a yard of ale for asking if Random House sells the Hazlitt imprint directly from the site. I’m not sure if he actually received the yard of ale and since I didn’t see anyone lying face down on the floor when I left I presume not. The answer is no, Random House is not currently selling from their site but you can get their first publication—The Man who Went to War through any of their eretail partners.

yard of ale

Next up was Amy from Wattpad who gave us a great update on what they’re up to. The intention of Wattpad has always been to be the Youtube of storytelling and lately it looks like that ambition is paying off, with a recent round of financing from big Silicon Valley investors and endorsements from literary icons like Margaret Atwood. Wattpad, which was founded in 2006, has a membership in the millions now and even a bit of cachet since some of their authors have gone on to get nice deals from traditional publishing houses. The greatness of Wattpad is their community engagement. One young author’s story has had 1.7 million reads, 21,200 votes and 6,000 comments—those are pretty compelling stats. The key things that jumped out at me during Amy’s presentation, that seem to me to make Wattpad successful are: frictionless mobile uploads, participatory publishing and access to a global market. This enables their authors to reach any markets anywhere easily.

And finally, with the last talk of the night we were stung by the bug that is Nick Edouard from Buzz Data. (See what I did there?) Nick’s ease and slight irreverence (“What is Big Data?”) around the concept of making data driven decisions felt liberating. He took us through the concept of a Hive. He encouraged us all to go and create one right there and then, and so I did—and it was easy! A Hive can be either private or public so it could be for in-house data storage or it could be much bigger than that and reach out to the masses. Buzz Data is putting tools in people’s hands to make it easy to compile and visualize data sets. Buzz Data can take unstructured data and create visualizations like this example from the Iliad.

Like almost all previous CMPTO events, I came away with lots of ideas and lots of new sites and tools to look at. Now I can’t wait for the next CMPTO in November but in the meanwhile I’ll just try to find a nice patio for the remaining part of the summer, get a yard of ale and do some homework—read a bit, write a bit and data dive a bit.