Newspapers are dead. Now what?

Newspapers are nothing more than platforms. And platforms die.

Remember VHS players? Telegrams? Fax? Stone tablet news-etching? Remember MySpace? Altavista search?

We have all heard about the plight of newspapers, the struggles to survive as a business. I think it’s time for a pre-mortem: Imagine newspapers are dead. What if you cut the losses today. Now.

The present of newspapers looks like a classic case of sunk costs fallacy.

So, no more newspapers. What do you see? I see forests of trees. People read news on electronic devices everywhere. I see millions of suddenly unemployed journalists finally coming to terms with the fact that it’s their craft – to tell stories, report on what’s happening around us, and seek out the truth – that matters, and not the platform. That platforms change. Together, they work to rebuild Journalism. These new ventures could be state-funded yet independent. Perhaps they would function as nonprofits, like Wikimedia Foundation. Or, newspapers might sell clothes to fund their operations, like Obakki. A kind of brand journalism in reverse. More often than not, I see the rise and transformation of magazines. Because, look, Monocle is doing just fine thank you (I kid you not. Read more: Monocle magazine funds foreign bureau on sales of tote bags).

Do you see a future without newspapers? What does it look like? 

Surely this isn’t the future we all have in mind!

Social finance at MaRS: Why you should care

Once in a while, I come across something so exciting that it’s hard to not blog about it. Like this Social Venture Connection (SVX) just given a green light at MaRS. explains itself in a short video. Or, read on for my two cents.

Social finance is exploding in Canada. Social Venture Connection is the latest addition to this revolution that Don Tapscott wrote about at length in The Guardian last week. Similarly, our local startup scene is exploding. We have over 600 startup HQs in Toronto, and that number is only going to grow.

“What if we could connect money and meaning?” –

SVX represents just the kind of breakthrough we need in Canada. where even Kickstarter famously falls into the legally grey area under our government regulations. [update: Kickstarter is now fully legal and available in Canada!] It’s a sign of good things to come, and a huge incentive for local ventures to spend their time on projects that really matter, and not just toil on yet another way to display your Facebook and Twitter feeds (cause, Facebook! In 3D! Who cares). I’m looking forward to the progress MaRS, CSI, and others make as they tackle social finance and crowdfunding challenges in Canada.

While crowdfunding and social finance might fall in a buzzwords category for many of us, alongside big data and anything open and disruptive, social problems like the number of young people in Canada looking for work and rising costs of living that force people to go hungry every day in the GTA are very real. We need initiatives like SVX. We need to connect money and meaning better.

Every time we spend money

Fundraising with Instagram: #FoodShareFilter

Fundraising with Instagram. How the hell do you do that? Enter Manos Unidas, a Spanish NGO that engaged DDB Madrid to develop the first charity photo filter app – #FoodShareFilter for Instagram – so our endless food pics can help feed the hungry.

Slacktivism is a form of activism 

#FoodShareFilter model is simple. You download the app ($1.15), take a picture of your food, which is something thousands of us do every day anyway, and share it. The money goes to hunger programs run by Manos Unidas. #FoodShareFilter hashtag spreads the message. This is nothing short of genius, and a perfect fit for Instagram.

I would love to see Second Harvest and Daily Bread in Toronto get their Instagram fundraising game on. Instagram is solidifying its status as a platform that charities ignore at their peril.

However, DDB Madrid misspelled “Campaign” in the ad tagline, and the copy in the English version just doesn’t cut it: “A new way to spread a supportive message and help end poverty has born”? All this wonderful work and stupid spelling mistakes?!? And why was this English version posted on “DDBSpainChannel” and not Manos Unidas YouTube channel? This part makes me sad, but it underscores the importance of talking to global audience when we raise money. Thinking bigger. Doing better work. And finding good translators!


Update: Mashable came out with a story about the app two days after I wrote this blog post. Nice to know I was there first! 

ROM unveils new logo and well, what do you think?

Royal Ontario Museum unveiled its new logo – and as much as I am trying to love it, I just can’t.

Here’s why I think the old logo served ROM better

  • Colours – old logo had upbeat, vibrant, friendly, fun, cool colours that translated well into all other ROM properties – digital and print.
  • Shape of the building was part of the logo and it made the ROM logo even more recognizable. Simply put, it helped bring up and solidify the visual reference of the real ROM. And if you’ve never been, it had a wacky, artsy, cool quality about it.
  • Social media and mobile friendly logo – whenever I saw any tweets from ROM, it was easy to tell those apart from everyone else’s tweets, because the old logo stood out.


New logo

I get it, and I don’t hate the concept. ROM plans to use its “O” to highlight various museum exhibits and showcase other museum attractions. The new “O” is “dynamic” (check out those cool butterflies in the video about the new logo). ROM must’ve felt they’d like to play with the logo more, and build on it. In spite of the good intentions, this is how it looks in my Twitter stream: white on white “O” just looks odd, like something is missing. And I imagine once they ‘hack’ their logo, it might look even worse. And “O”  awkwardly takes a bite out of the neighbouring “M”. Yum.



This is what the new logo looks like when the negative space in “O” is “spruced up” by an image. Does it deliver on the promise of “dynamic”? Does it make you want to go to the ROM?


And the colour purple? I suppose that’s the “royal” part, but it looks dated. The black and white iteration currently on the museum’s website header suggests to me that the ROM itself feels ambivalent about the new look. I certainly prefer the black-and-white version. It’s elegant and clear, but, for a place like ROM you really do want to see a fun creative logo in colour.


How about you? Do you like the new ROM logo?

Disclaimer: I am not a professional logo designer, but ROM’s target audience isn’t made of professional designers. Logos should have a mass appeal, and this one somehow reminded me of RIM. How’s that a good thing for a museum.

Related: Branding, Identity and Logo Design – eBay Just Got More Pinteresting

CSI takes on Crowdfunding

I am thrilled to see CSI launch its own crowdfunding site: - Crowdfunding for a better world. Have I signed up? You bet I did.

Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 10.24.46 AM

I have written about the future of crowdfunding as marketing. I’d like to be proven wrong.

CSI’s catalyst platform powered by HiveWire has got good vibes, and I hope to see more projects on it. We don’t have Kiva here in Canada, and to be fair, Kiva’s focus is on eradicating poverty. So CSI with its mission to support social entrepreneurship and it’s newly launched crowdfunding platform is as close to the genius and values of microfinancing as it gets. Go explore it. Play with it. Add your own projects.

Unleash the true power behind the idea of crowdfunding – people helping people to make our world a better place.

So this doesn’t happenScreen Shot 2013-03-21 at 10.34.05 AM