Thinking of a media category I want to call ‘Nosumer Media’ (nosumer as short for no consumer). These could be books, podcasts, apps etc. They are created not for consumption as much as for the benefits from creating, or the pleasure of creating accruing to the creator.

Nosumer media creators are aware that it their creations are unlikely to be consumed (in large numbers), and have no overwhelming desire to even see consumption grow for it.

Why would nosumer creators spend time on such media? Well, I see 3 possible benefits for nosumer media creators

  • signalling of some skill possessed by the creator
  • learnings accruing to creator from the creation process
  • meeting interesting, useful or powerful people during the creation process

What are these nosumer media?

Nosumer books or publications: examples could be

- academic books (such as PhD thesis converted to books) signalling industriousness or capability to write a long piece / come up with an original thought. This is signalling largely within the academic community. Publishers possibly know that 5–10k copies will be purchased by university libraries and have a publishing model that generates a tiny but assured profit.

- a better example is books by high school students created with the express intention of impressing admissions officers of selective U.S. univs. I have heard of two such cases. There are possibly more, though I am told that the really smart ones have moved to android apps to impress admissions officers.

- summaries of books etc., written and posted on your website or other sites is another example of nosumer media. Unlike signalling, the benefit here is that you remember what you read and learnt.

- It is also interesting to see wikipedia editing under this or contribution to open source projects. This is signalling within the community, using your labour to create a brand, which can be encashed with employers.

Podcasting as a sales tool, and to get hired

Nosumer media really hits its stride with podcasts. Podcasts are in some ways the opposite of mass media — say newspapers, where two hours invested in creator time can lead to 200,000 man hours in consumption time. Podcasts on the other hand see this largely inverted (at least 95% of the podcasts, maybe more). More time is spent on planning and creating it than perhaps in consumption. How do nosumer podcast creators benefit? Well, if you have an interview podcast, it is a fantastic opportunity to meet people (interviewees) you would never meet otherwise!

I recommend podcasts as a sales tool (not content marketing) to all founders I interact and work with. I encourage them to do a series of podcasts interviewing CEOs or decision makers at the companies they are selling to, or attempting to break into. Even if just 10 people listen to the podcast, it is perfectly fine. You get 1 hr or so with the CEO including connecting to his office. It is a great entry point and a way to break ice. That 1 hr is soft time, where you ask the CEO softball questions, and make him / her feel important.

A similar strategy can be employed by those aspirants seeking to break into an industry. Say, venture capital. You could then create a podcast like Harry Stebbings (who has now become a VC himself!) to interview 50 VCs. I will be surprised if it doesnt result in a job offer. I have just seen an instance of this in Indian VC as well.

Unbundling creation from consumption

The end of curation / gatekeeping by editors and publishers, thanks to the rise of self-publishing tools has led to an interesting phenomenon. They have unbundled creation from consumption. Historically we created media to be consumed. Today you can create media without any desire it to be consumed given the benefits I raised earlier — signalling, learning, networking.

Hiring is the most obvious way to encash the equity from creating nosumer media, be it through signalling, learning or networking. The second, though a much more tenuous benefit is leveraging the access for business development.

It is not surprising in this context to see tweets or lines such as these. Both of these are specifically about writing but it is as true of podcasting or designing apps.

Below screen shot from David Perell’s newsletter.

What is the implication, I wonder of more and more nosumer media getting created? And its increasing use in hiring?

When do we see HRTech products emerge seeking to improve hiring via nosumer media creation. Perhaps tools will emerge that rank content on a quality index depending on RTs and likes from people with higher follower counts. Could some version of pagerank emerge here?

Early thoughts these. I will have more later as I think through this. Would love to hear your thoughts on these?

‘VC’ at Blume Ventures, an early-stage fund from India | Writings on startups, venture capital & other miscellany at sajithpai.com