I hate to spoil the party, but I am not enthralled by Flipboard, the new venture-backed content play that purports to be an application that creates personalized magazines based on what my social circle is reading/recommending. Assuming it was working (the buzz has caused a complete meltdown so neither I nor the socialsphere at large can attach our Twitter & Facebook accounts) I imagine I’d see the content that my friends find amusing, entertaining and informative. I suppose that includes some friends who I haven’t seen since seventh grade who may currently have nasty interests and are die-hard members of the Tea Bag clan. At last check, I have no friends who are expert content curators (read: professional editors) who add a lot of value to my long-form new consumption. I say long form as Flipboard is a magazine as opposed to a content snacking app.
I am in the midst of an actual research note pondering the future of magazines. I do believe there is some degree of elasticity in the definition of a magazine, but my take is it must include content assets created for or licensed for a specific content vehicle. By the way, that takes real editors who have that intermediary skill of identifying strong content and having a sense that the intended target audience would find it worth consuming. The job of editors has somehow morphed from that guy who took delight in red-lining my copy to people who use keyword magic to “curate” media.
As I point out in my research, magazine brands that have a print heritage have an opportunity that revolves around their ability to understand the attributes that will allow them to be successful in the digital world. They need to be: personal, interactive, portable, distinctive, accountable (metrics for advertisers and auditors, interactive and monetizable. Based on that, is Flipboard a magazine? Not so much.