On Innovation, Trying’s No Error


They say write what you know,
and here’s what I know after a vacation in

It takes me more than a week to get over jet

And risky business changes made of necessity
can really pay off .

The latter revelation comes from a bit of free
labor on the side: co-editing a PTA newsletter
at my daughter’s school. It had always been a
monthly print magazine. But it needed to convert
to a Web page because the people who
volunteered to make the words and images
fit into dozens of pages needed to retire and
couldn’t be replaced. With a Web page, the labor
could be spread among more people.

In reality, a lot of the work shifted from a volunteer
skilled in print production to another one skilled in Web
production, but over time more volunteers (like me) will
get trained to do what the Web producer does.

This was risky, because even though the print newsletter
had in recent years been distributed by email, the new
format requires parents to register for and log into a Web
site, then click on stories separately rather than
flip through the pages of a cozy magazine.

It’s business, because the newsletter helps
promote the school auction and donations to
the annual fund.

Anyway, the first Web issue came out last
week. Those of us who worked on it think it
looks great, as maybe we would. But the first few
reviews also have been positive. Readers think
it’s fairly easy to find what they want and — satisfyingly
— when they’ve spotted typos, we’ve
been able to use our electronic erasers and not
have to wait a month to fix them.

What’s the cable tie-in? Not much, maybe.
But on this page, we’ve been trying to encourage
operators to push hard on “TV Everywhere”
extensions and other new business lines, even if trial and
error is required. And competition makes a necessity
out of new services. Read on page 3 about Cablevision’s
analysis of why it stumbled last quarter. One reason was
not enough emphasis on pushing innovative services like
network DVR.

Innovation can be a trial. But it’s no error.