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Eye on Sports Media Turns 2 Today!

Friday, November 6, 2009 , Posted by Christopher Byrne at 9:59 AM, under

Two years ago today, Eye on Sports Media was started as an experiment. Our company, The Cayuga Group LLC, was looking for some data points as to the effectiveness of social media starting outside a cocoon we in the IBM Lotus Software community have come to refer to as "The Yellow Bubble."

As an IBM Business Partner, we wanted to look at the strengths and weaknesses of Google Blogger as a web content management tool compared to comparable tools offered in the IBM Lotus Software toolkit. We also wanted to see if there was any truth to the notion that lots of content equaled huge Google Ads revenue as being touted by "pundits" around the web.


Personally, I knew if I wanted to do this, I wanted to write about a topic I enjoyed. After talking to a  few colleagues, they all seemed to say that since I occasionally wrote about sports media over on The Business Controls Caddy, why not look at that as a focus topic. Hence the birth of this site.

The site was originally launched using a generic Google Blogger template at http://sportsontheair.blogspot.com/. We had already purchased eyeonsportsmedia.com as a domain name, but were not ready to use it until we could reach a point of being able to see if a site was better received with a "blogspot" domain or with a definitive publication title.

Since then, we have made two major changes to the site design, striving to make it look more like a publication. Why? Because even though the site has a number of blog-type posts, we market it as an e-magazine, not a blog.

Along the way we have learned quite a bit about the Google Blogger platform.

Google Tools Are Far From "Prime Time" Ready

While quite a number of people use it around the world, and it is quite "easy" to use for novice users, it is far from the ideal tool to use for heavy duty publishing and content management. The rich text editors (both the old and the new) for publishing content lack much of the basic functionality of other web-based rich text editors. In fact, the interface of the "new and improved" editor is a ghastly combination of bad tools that, among other things, will decide what date a post should have, even if it was previously published/posted.

The Google blogger platform also has a bad habit of doing things that lead to unneeded code bloat in a web page. For example, the simple task of adding an image to a document adds hundreds of characters to the code required, gives the images unusable file names, and does not allow you to easily re-use these images in later posts. It also has a habit of thinking it knows more about what you are trying to do with behind the scenes code than you do when you have hard-coded it.

It is also horrible as a web content management solution. As a company that has worked with IBM Lotus Software for years, we gag when we see how difficult it is to do things that we do in seconds on the IBM Lotus Notes and Domino platform.

Oh and the whole "Google Ad" thing? It may work for people with specific niche topics and for people who post pilfered content on pages loaded with nothing but ads (try doing a Google search for "Blogger Templates" and you will see what I mean). But as a whole it does not work that well.

So Why Have We Stayed With the Google Platform?

Like all things in life, projects take unexpected twists and turns. This site started taking on a life of its own, While we don't generate a lot of revenue from ads, we reach a business demographic that many other serious sites would envy. We will write a subsequent post about our demographics.

However, we have stayed on this platform for a number of reasons.

The first is one that you will not get Google to admit to on the record: Any posts to the blogger platform get preferential treatment in the Google search algorithm. In simpler terms, post on the platform rise to the top of search results faster than any others.

The second is that this site is a lot like a development sandbox for the company. We are able to try out the latest tools and gadgets from Google to examine the pros and cons. As a technology company, it is important that we "know our enemy" (i.e. Google Apps) so that when we speak to customers and potential customers, we can speak from facts and not other people's opinions. Sometimes you will see broken code or something that does not quite work like you might expect. That is because we are tinkering and have no choice because there is no true development environment for the Google Blogger platform. Sure you can hack away with test blogger accounts, but that has a while host of other issues.

Third, and this will probably resonate more with any geek readers we may get, we are working on tools to connect data from IBM Lotus Notes and Domino to Google Applications like Blogger. And trust me, this is no easy feat. People who say IBM writes poor documentation would suffer even more if the had to deal with the ever changing Google coding interface (the "API") and the woeful lack of working documentation and code to use it.

So What is In Store for Year 3?

As I said earlier, things sometimes take on a life of their own, and you never know where the road will lead.
With a solid two years of data under our belt, we are making some changes both within our company and on this site.

This site has been extremely well received by the sports media community, and some of our breaking stories have been cited on SportsIllustrated.com, ESPN.com, and in the Sports Business Journal. We have provided expert comment for the Atlanta Journal Constitution and other publications.

But unlike most technology companies, we also know that efficiencies can be gained without a heavy investment in technology. The best gains are found when looking at business processes and procedures. That is why we have launched the "Best Practices" section on this site.

We have also worked informally, on a pro bono basis, with a number of television networks behind the scenes, offering advices, suggestions, and comments. But pro bono does not pay the bills, so will will be expanding our service offerings in business process modeling and re-engineering to include sports teams, leagues, and media outlets. This will include working with them to conduct self-assesments, looking at technical vs non-technical changes that can be made to operate more effectively and efficiently, and taking a hard look at how they are or are not using social media.

Yes, I said the "Social Media" thing. But we are not like the so-called social media/social networking experts out there who offer nothing but fluff, throwing things against the wall and seeing what sticks. We have been working with collaboration and network tools, combined with business best practices, while some of them were still hyping themselves through crying in their cribs. We approach it from a solid understanding of what collaboration is, how to use it, how to identify the risks, and how to manage it.

But What About the Web Site?

Oh this site will continue, but may take off in a direction that you will never see coming, and you will hopefully be very happy. We will soon be starting the 2nd Annual Bloodshot Eyeball Awards for Excellence. We have opened the site up to sports photographers who would like to share their unpublished work but need an additional place to do it. We are expanding the number of guest articles from people like Dave Rowe, who have worked in the field and can offer you perspectives not seen elsewhere. We hope to continue articles from people like technology magazine editor John Fontana who love sports like cycling that do not always get a lot of press

So stand by, the best is yet to come!

So I want to say a special thank you to all of our regular visitors, fellow sports bloggers and writers who have linked to our content, and to all of the excellent media relations people from the biggest networks down to the smallest regionals for working with us to keep the quality of this site where we want it to be. We have made a few missteps along the way, but we have learned:-).

We are not, and never will be, a Deadspin. And as I have told a number of network media relations staff, if we ever reach that point, it is time to shut down.

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