Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Many One: Launching a visual browser & so much more

Joe Firmage's ManyOne is getting ready to launch its first browser and portal. I met some of these folks a few months ago, and am fascinated with their plans--they hope to create affinity-branded portals in partnership with mission driven nonprofits (National Geographic would be a great example), have the partner resell the content, access and tools to their members, and build a rich, discovery-oriented service using a graphical browser based on Mozilla's Open Source code and the taxonomy of the Open Directory Project, another open source effort.
Think PBS meets Knowledge Adventure (remember those amazing dinosaur CD,s etc?) meets next generation, high-bandwidth browser.
To make this work. Firmage has done some acquisitions, notably bringing aboard Tony Parisi, one of the developers of VMRL (I saw him and Mark Pesce launch VMRL at W3 in 1994 in Chicago).This will give him the capability to really think about building a broadband-focused visual browser, if you will, plus some great authoring tools.
The challenge for these guys, who are heavily scientific and technical for the most part, will be to remember that the audiences they want their partners to sell to are all of us: demanding, impatient consumers who have the attention span of a gnat when it comes to trying something new, good cause or not. That's a problem than can easily be surmounted with the right team--Firmage has some great people in place and no doubt will add more as needed.
This one is on my watchlist.
(Via Dave Winer.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Department of Nosy Neighbors: All dialogue guaranteed verbatim

So the moving truck comes down my little street and it's huge, built to hold about 45,000 tons. The drive only does long-haul relo-type jobs, and he's got a crew of three guys who are packing demons.
They pack and load most of our household in one day, then hunker down in the truck to pass the night. The cab has two beds, a john, VCR, DVD, Playstation, and who knows what else.
It's about 10 pm and my doorbell rings. I, of course, am junking out on episode 3 of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy(it's getting old, fast).
Mr. Green Jeans, my retired neighbor with waayyy too much time on his hands, is at the door. He's in his undershirt, which is frightening. "That truck, the motor's running," he says.
"Do those guys need some light? I could get an extension cord and run it outside and rig up some Christmas tree lights so they have external light," Mr G-J says.
"Is the truck bothering you?" I ask. "If it is, I can talk to them can ask them to turn it off."
He squints at me. "You talk to them by cell phone?
"No, I'd go down to the truck."
I spend the next 10 minutes politely demurring as he keeps offering to rig up a light source for them from the Christmas lights in his attic. At a certain point in the conversation, I start thinking, "I am moving tomorrow. This guy is a well-known meddler. Why am I listening politely like this all might make sense? Why don't I just tell him to stuff it?" but I keep nodding, just going along, until the moment comes when I can slam the front door shut, and deadbolt the lock.

Sad irony: The moving truck is kinda noisy...I feel bad about how the noise must be bothering everyone on our street.

Gone packing: Light blogging day

The packers are coming at 8 am to finish off what's left of the household goods after our packathon at 1 am last night. Yawn.
Today and tomorrow will probably be light blogging days unless I have a chance to creep into a corner and escape the chaos.
Saw the last 40 minutes of Minority Report last night after the Sex and the City re-run. Minority Report is such a well-made flick; the cinematography and styling are very rich. I was a fan of A.I., but I think Minority Report is Spielberg's effort to prove he had the goods to do a big futuristic movie after A.I. basically flopped.
Anyway, back to the boxes and suitcases.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Knight Ridder web sites to use Overture search services

Knight Ridder, a former Google partner, is going to work with Overture products to deliver both contextual text ads and search services.
What fun, a competitive landscape is building.

TV News: Tamara Haddad to join MSNBC as producer

My friend Tammi Haddad is joining MSNBC to produce its 6 pm political programs, "Buchanan and the Press," the network announced today.. I was lucky enough to work with Tammi for a few months last year on the prototypes for a live interactive news and issues show to be aired on AOL, and she is brilliant.

One of the first producers of Larry King Live on CNN, Tammi was executive producer of that program until 1993, when she became the senior producer of the "Today" show on NBC. She worked in network television until a few years ago, when she went off on her own and consulted for a variety of companies and executives.

Prediction: This show suddenly gets ALOT more interesting, and gets more press and share of mind--Tammi has that nose for news and she gets people as well.

Cheap talk on David Gest and Liza Minelli split

Via Gawker, comments from Dong Resin: "I guess it was only a matter of time until Dave gave up hope of ever finding Liza's penis."
Jack Osbourne (via Gawker and Moviefone): "[David Gest] is a f—-in' psycho. You know his deal, right? He was the biggest Judy Garland memorabilia collector. And then he gets the daughter. He gets the biggest prize out of the lot."

AOL 9.0: A year too late?

Question #1: What will dial-up and broadband Internet users pay for?
Check off the items you think will sell:
1) Exclusive videos and streamed live performances of popular musicians
2) Net-only outttakes from Smallville and other WB shows
3) stories and photos
4) ABC news stories
5) Blogging software
6) Online photo albums
7) Email

AOL is betting that these offerings will be the extra hook to keep current subscribers paying $23.95 month and lure new broadband subscribers to pay an extra $14.95 a month.

Currently, the core of AOL's $9 billion in annual revenue has been from subscribers to the ISP services. Since the broadband offering was launched in April, and despite the heavy promotion, the company has acquired just a modest 1.4 MM broadboad subscribers willing to pay $14.95 a month for AOL content and services, even as their connectivity comes from somewhere else. There's no telling how many of those subscribers are households with kids ages 8-15, who have to have IM for their friends (and whose parents don't realize that AIM is the same thing).

I've seen 9.0 and it is excellent, but should it have come out a year ago?

Last summer, as I recall, the old regime of AOL--the millionaires who'd spent 5-7 years at the service and were dividing their attention between their senior executive positions and their house at the shore, airplanes, vineyards in Napa, etc--were pretty happy with 8.0 and it was only after they were fully swept away that a massive push began to improve an offering scheduled to come out in just a few short weeks.

9.0 was conceived of at that point as the way to do things right, but whether it's right or not, only the marketplace will tell if AOL 9.0 is a year too late. The huge drop in AOL subscribers in the past quarter shows that changing address books and email addresses isn't the same barrier to change that it was for consumers a few years ago--the question now is whether folks will stop and take a look at 9.0, dig into their pockets, and pony up, or whether they're going to breeze past on their way to cable modems and DSL. Almost every friend I have has switched off the service, even the most non-techie ones and the people I know who have stayed either have free accounts, have children under 15, or want the continuity of their email address staying the same (that would be me right now).

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Strangers to the City: True NYC Fish out of water tales

Monica Anderson: You have to walk fast, think faster in New YorkFort Worth Star-Telegram
"...It is not wise to stand in the middle of the walkway gawking. New Yorkers are in a hurry. They don't just walk. They speed-walk. I flatten myself against a building and press my mouth into a thin line. The natives don't smile. They talk on cellphones, walk fast and look very serious. The tourists stroll, smile and take pictures. I don't want to look like a tourist. I can't explain why. I just don't.

I pause at a corner on Broadway because the sign indicates that I should not walk. That's a mistake. These people do not care about signs. If they can slide by, over, or under the stalled traffic, they will cross the street. I bounce about like a pinball until a kind stranger pulls me aside and says, "Stand here for a moment. People are exiting the theaters right now and it gets kind of crowded." Pant-ing, I clutch my purse tighter and nod..."

K.O Jackson, Mansfield News Journal: Mansfield, Ohio man headed to New York for 'Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?' audition'''

...Mounts, a Mansfield Senior High School math teacher, is headed to New York City to audition for an opportunity to be on the syndicated TV game show, "Who's Wants To Be A Millionaire?"

Since the show began several years ago, Mounts, 36, knew he should be on the show. After all, he knew "all the answers."

"I am cocky. I like the format of the show. You could be looking at a million bucks."

Straits Times Interactive: Mobbing's the new craze in New York...The Mob Project started last month with a guy named Bill who sent an e-mail message to some friends, who forwarded it to their friends, and so on.

Bill, who declined to give his last name, aims to make the project last a few more months. For him, it's a way to get people out, just like inviting them to a friend's play.

'The idea was to dispense with the event altogether and have the audience come together for no reason,' he said.

Among the sites mobbed was a Hyatt Hotel...

Straight Eye: "There's a hooker in Trenton who wants her shoes back".

Carson Kressley, one of the "Fab 5" on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" on Bravo, is the Carrie Bradshaw of the group--pretty, sweet, and addicted to hilarious and biting one liners. "There's a hooker in Trenton who wants her shoes back" was the sotto-voices comment when Lisa, the bellowing blonde bitch who'd entrapped passive, pretty Tom, came for dinner and an invite to move in after the big Makeover. Me-ow!
I agree with Joshua Allen that this show is fun.

Interesting side note:
CARSON used to be a prepster-- He graduated Magna Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Gettysburg College and is a former member of the U.S. World Cup Equestrian Team.

Saturday, July 26, 2003

FOAF and Public identity networks: The chance for a big bang disruptive technology wow

Out on the bleeding edge, the technorati are deep into FOAF, ASN (Augmented Social Networks), and all sorts of ways for people to recognize one another (dogs just sniff the piss, why can't we?)
I was talking to Frank Paynter for the first time yesterday--we agreed to do a call since we'd been reading one another's blogs, etc.--and he said something that caught my attention, which was basically, "How come some people are still so uptight about putting their information out in public on the Internet when it's so easy now to get a good sense of who the person is before you agree to talk to them?"
(Frank, if I misquoted you, sorry...let me know.)
Back in the early 90s, when not everyone had email and used news-groups, etc. there was this wonderful camaraderie with other people online, kind of like on The Well and MetaNet, because the size of the populace was small enough to feel somewhat personal, even if it was mostly an illusion.
Then came the era when email exploded and everyone wanted to send a message to Bill Gates, mostly because they could.
Now we're inching into the space where web hipsters have digital identify systems in the form of home pages, blogs and the FOAF and other docs to help signal who they are (what their piss smells like).
But it ain't there for the ordinary folks yet, and I wonder what a more average user, not a super-user would want from an identify-based tool, and to what extent such a person would see the value.

One exciting potential application of FOAF is that it could link everyone who participates into one virtual interactive community. Another is that many of us become part of a web--or mesh--of experts, our identifies signaling distinctive competencies.

Given that two of the most compelling impulses that lead people online are to get answers to questions and to connect to other people, this is pretty heady stuff.

What if Google did what Amazon did and allowed you to set up a page on the service about yourself, with an RSS feed of posts you showed up in and an FOAF identify?
And what if that Google
page was your log in to Google, where you could also save searches and chose to make some of them public to show others what you were looking for, and that page linked with and integrated with your blog and your email system because everything bit of data was just an object treated as a type of message or article post, relating to your identify and your actions.

I think that would kill AOL, Yahoo, and everyone else right there. Bang! Goodbye, portals, you were just dealt a death-defying blow from a (new) disruptive technology.

Of course, FOAF and identify networks are far from this point, and the people talking about them seem to be more like individuals thank companies(this is a good thing). But the day could come when someone big with lots of subscribers adopts FOAF to broaden the scope of their interaction with their subscribers, and that day could be HUGE.

Spheres of Interest: How blog readership grows

Australian blogger and techie Charles Miller, in The Fishbowl, not only gets AOL Journals, but he gets the way blogs work. In his recent wise post, he writes:

"...Blogging is a collaboratively filtered trust network. This is a fancy way of saying people who link to each other. In this community, a blog post comes into existence as a web of people's attention. At the centre of the web is the blog on which the post lives. Radiating out from that centre are the people who subscribe to that blog. Traditionally, people who find a particular post interesting will create a link to it on their blog, extending the web to their readers. The reach of a particular post becomes an equation based on how many readers you have and how interesting the post is.

...New sites' main avenue of promotion, on the other hand, is through trackbacks, comments and referrer logs. You get attention by commenting on some existing conversation in the blogosphere. If your comment is interesting, people will follow it back to the source, read some more, and perhaps subscribe.

To me, Charles is spot on with this description of how blogging works and how AOL Journals may--or may not--affect the blogosphere.

One potentially apt comparison is between AOL Journal and the guide sites--On one hand, Guide sites have not affected the web, because they are amazingly disaggregateded and decentralized, vary widely in quality and size of audience they attract and have no overall branding.

On the other hand, they have had measurable mpact because Google search queries always surface a healthy percentage of Guide sides in response to questions, and that gives the sites an influence or weight that makes their model work.

AOL Journals may integrate into thBlogospherere in an analogous fashion--yet for the A list technology and bleeding edge bloggers, most of the AOL Blogs will live quite far down on the food chain. And yet, for AOlers in established AOL communities (I am thinking quilting,or military families, for example, or Elvis impersonators), those blogs could be significant thought leaders, information sources, and flash-points for discussion.

Boogins Redux: Baby's Latest Letter from France

My talented friend Jesse Kornbluth and his family are in France for much of the summer and his wonderful baby daughter has been sending letters across the pond with a little help from Dad. Here's a snippet of the latest one I've seen:

Dear American Friend,

Busy week for me in France. Things have happened…

I'll start with something "juicy." We were in Domme, a medieval town on top of a cliff. Daddy didn't want to go to the "fine dining" restaurant, so we went to a little place where I could walk around on the terrace. On the way out, a man called out to Daddy. They hadn't seen each other since 1985, and Daddy was very flattered to be recognized, because I gather he feels his looks have changed a lot since then. Daddy brought the man over to meet us. The man said, with a wink, "But, you know, you're really NOT meeting me."

Are you confused? I was. When we drove away, Daddy explained that Mr. X was married to someone VERY CLOSELY connected to his first wife's family, but that he was having dinner with a woman he wasn't married to. I don't want to make trouble, but SOMEONE ought to check her husband's credit card bills next month. No need to thank me, Mrs X. --- just thought you should know.
Ten days more, and we're off to Paris. Daddy's already nostalgic, but sometimes I catch Mommy in the kitchen dancing around and whispering "Paris! Paris!" One thing my parents agree on: They can't wait to go to restaurants that DON'T serve duck, duck and more duck. But they're nervous about taking me to Joel Rebuchon's new restaurant. Is it because they bring my food to every restaurant? Like M. Rebuchon could improve on hot dogs and mac 'n cheese!

Bedtime! Gotta go.



Little Miss Boogins is as beautiful as she is clever, and promises to be as fine a writer as her Dad...

What I made for dinner

Grilled salmon and swordfish with sesame and seaweed flakes
Saffron rice
Gotta keep our strength up.

BusinessWeek: AOL Groping for a plan

Businessweek follows up their recent WiFi coverage with this story by Brian Hindo about AOL's lack of a turnaround strategy and its impact on the company.
Hindo points out, once again, how the unit is managing to its numbers through relentless cutting and cost-reduction, but that just isn't enough.
Some recent conversations with people still working across the company described an environment where various groups were at one another's throats, and it was difficult to get anything done, but this has been the tenor of AOL--and the curse of many large companies--since at least 1998. Maybe AOL just needs to keep rightsizing itself until the unit is small enough that everyone believes there is just one agenda and they deliver magnificently on it. I see that kind of attention to detail, drive, and passion for excellence in the product groups under David Gang--AOL 9.0 looks great, the AOL Journals have a wonderful UI and great ease of use, and You've Got Pictures has gotten much better in the past year, but I don't see it over on the programming side, where the swirl seems to continue.

Microsoft: They're hiring, big-time

According to Mary Jane Foley's Microsoft Watch, the company is planning to to hire another 4,000 to 5,000 people in the coming fiscal year.

I'd like to know how that number compares with the number of people AOLTW laid off in the past year--they could be fairly comparable. On a related note, I heard a rumor that Microsoft makes it a point to avoid hiring people from AOL if at all possible--they consider it a sign of weakness. Of course, they hired my friend Dean Wright away from AOL to be editor in chief of he'd worked there before we lured him to Netscape.

Noticed around the Blogosphere

Blogging in Bruge: MediaBurn kept me reading today, especially dug the links to the expat in Belgium who pointed to this very funny A to Z about the country (some excerpts below):
Delhaize: A supermarket invented by the devil to torture his subjects. Offers every shopping frustration imaginable, from lack of baskets to severe aisle congestion. Home to the most spectacularly slow checkout queues in the universe. Horrid horrid place.

July: The wettest month of the year in Belgium - a fact only really appreciated by anyone who has tried to block book a fixed hour on an outdoor tennis court for the whole summer season.

MediaBurn seems to also share my passion for Ottmar Leibert.

Cat Schwartz' Boobs: Did you hear the one about the cute girl producer who put some picture of herself on her blog, but then those bad boy fans of hers checked out the Photoshop previews and discovered she was missing a top? And then flashed the pix all over the web?
Yeah, I didn't hear about it last week, either, but the minute I did, I went and got a link to the pictures. and the story.
Here's what she looks like all dressed.
(Via JD Lasica)
The funniest part of this is that she sounds kinda pleased with herself about it all, which is not the reaction I expected.

Tuna in (Fruit) Leather: How about wrapping that leaky sandwich in fruit instead of stinky chemical wrap? Boing Boing has a link to a neat science item that explains that it may be possible soon wrap tuna, turkey or PB&J sandwiches with edible vegetable and fruit wraps.

Today's word: Dumpalicious

First there was Blackalicious, then Blogalicious, now it's Dumpalicious, the delicious exercise of making trips to the town dump to throw out your unwanted items, aka all that crap you collected in moments of weakness, on a shopping high, or because you didn't want to tell your spouse not to get it.
Today was container day at the South Orange dump, which meant, as the guy on the phone said, "Lady, you can throw out your whole house so long as you do it before we close at noon."
Among the tossed-out items from our 7 trips back and forth in the car:
The $5.00 kiddie pool we used once in California and moved back here
The 8-year old rusted out gas grill with the broken starter
Various computer parts from older, cannibalized machines (Okay, I know we could have probably found something better to do with them)
A 60's retro office chair we never liked
Carpeting, wood, and old plastic gardening tools

Mmmn, mmmn, mmmn, between last weekend's yard sale, this weekend's dumpalicious exercise, and the bags and bags of trash I've hauled out, I feel almost ready for the movers...Now, it's all about packing.

Department of Lotsa Numbers

1. Which cities have the fastest-growing web usage?
According to a recent Netratings study, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Washington,
D.C., displayed more growth than any other U.S. cities, based on June 2002
to June 2003 measurements conducted by Nielsen//NetRatings.

The top ten growth markets are reported as
1. Atlanta
2. Los Angeles
3. Washington, D.C
4. Chicago
5. Seattle
6. Dallas
7. New York
8. Boston
9. Philadelphia
10. San Francisco

2. How do teens spend their (free) time?
The latest study from Yahoo and CARAT, a media planning/buying agency, reports that teens spend more time online than they do watching television.

The top activities are:
1. Online, 16.7 hours per week
2. Watching TV, 13.6 hours
3. Listening to the radio, 12 hours
4. Talking on the phone, 7.7 hours
5. Recreational reading, 6 hours

How much of that online use is IM-ing and downloading and playing music--simultaneously, of course?

Also, the questionnaire appears to have left out: staring at your face in the mirror looking for blackheads; applying products to your hair, taking long showers 3X a day, smoking weed and drinking beer, and driving around aimless with your one friend who has a license and whose parents are stupid enough to let him have a car (note: this child is usually the youngest or next to youngest of a brood of 4 or more and Mom and Dad have had it.)

Quotes of the day

"I got a boning section on my iPod for when I
have sex." - P Diddy

"My biggest fear is to be living in a trailer in my daughter's driveway."
--Ann Richards, former Governor of Texas

You've got (fan) mail

This note made me feel sooo good:
" I hope you don't mind the random reader dropping you a line (presumably not,
as you've posted your email for contact). But I wanted to take a moment to
tell you that I think your blog really interesting -- and refreshing -- on a
number of fronts.
Not just for the industry news you cover, but because it's
great to have woman's voice (especially one that is not single, 19, and
going on about the band du jour and fight with her boyfriend) out in this

I also appreciate finding something that's not full of in-your-face
(male) geek bravado. You get to the point and state it without a lot of "how
great I am" hub-bub."

Wow, I'm going come back to this note next time I feel like shit.

Time for an Internet Audit Bureau for Online Subs?

Jupiter's David Card, reflecting on the recent AOL loss of 846,000 subscribers, wonders why there isn't an audit bureau for web subscriptions:
"... The online industry needs an equivalent of the magazine industry's Audit Bureau of Circulations, or else has to pay more attention to the ratings companies, a la television. As for Wall Street - well, they should have been using a more sophisticated tracking system all along, say, revenues in combination with time spent or unique visitors from comScore Media Metrix or NetRatings."
(link via John Robb)

This is an idea whose time is going to come as the paid content model-and the growing number of "You have to subscribe and give me your name to get these RSS feeds from me" sites continues to grow.

Slightly off-topic: Do Jupiter analyst blogs have RSS feeds? Why the heck not?

Friday, July 25, 2003

Legally BloggerCon: Mernit is going to Boston

Dave Winer called this morning, we chatted a bit, and then he invited me to present on the technology panel at BloggerCon in October.
On the conference blog, Dave says " I want opinionated big-thinkers, who happen not to be vendors."

I do fit that bill.

This is an opportunity to think carefully about the topic, pull ideas together, and then have dialogue with what is surely going to be an amazing group of people. I am totally psyched.
And committed to doing a great job as a panelist. As someone who is obsessed with blogging and newsreaders, thinking a lot about how they fit into next-generation tool sets for various audience segments, values the perpetual tension between technologists and their end-user audiences, but is definitely on the end-user side. This should be FUN.Thanks, Dave.

P.S. Had to note the strange syncronicity of my last post on women being visible as bloggers and getting this invite.

Is blogging a boy toy?

A quick look at the Popdex list of the Top 100 blogging sites, and well-articulated grumblings by the few women involved in some of the recent blogging conferences suggest that blogging, like web software development before it, has evolved as a heavily male space, especially in terms of the "top" bloggers.
Now, a report from Jupiter, published in CyberAtlas article, confirms that while guys are not really doing more of the blogging, they make up the majority of blog-readers. According to Robyn Greenspan, author of the CyberAtlas piece,
"...Blogs seem to be read mostly by men (60 percent vs. 40 percent women), in homes where the total income is more than $60,000 per year (61 percent)."

As someone old enough to participate in the early days of the pre-web and web(say 1992-1995), I remember when the Internet was a male phenomena, with few women involved in either using or developing those early web sites. Of course, by 1998, women made up more than 50% of the web-surfing population, even if they were still proportionally under-represented in the management ranks of Internet companies.
So even if the Blogosphere seems like a boy toy right now, the tipping point is going to come. As the tools improve, more and more women will begin to work in this space, writing, creating products, and evangelizing. There already are some great women out there--we just need more of them.

Department of Translations from the AOLese: CTO Hire

AOL hired John McKinley from Merrill Lynch as their new CTO this week.

If it was possible to read the unspoken subtext of some of the prepared statements made by McKinley, and by Joe Ripp, AOL's Vice Chairman, would additional meanings would be revealed? As a former AOLer, let me speculate on what the subtexts of the prepared statements might be.

McKinley:"What struck me most was the renewed passion within the AOL organization. There is an energy and a spirit of innovation that, coupled with AOL's historical competencies, make it an exciting place to be."

What this might really mean: "They're desperate for a guy like me. This place is so screwed up, I can have a huge impact."

Ripp:"John has an extraordinary reputation as a strategic thinker and has an intuitive grasp of how new and existing technologies can address the needs of the consumer. In addition, John has helped some of the largest companies in the world implement ambitious technological efforts while maintaining strong fiscal discipline."

What this might really mean:
"Given how bad our numbers look to the rest of AOLTW, we can't have the extraordinary spending on the product side we've allowed this year as we've cut $100MM from other parts of the organization. We need to rein them in now."

Tell me what you think: Who would want to buy the AOL unit and why?

Question: If the AOL unit was sold to a large ISP service, or a web-based services company of some type, what would the impact be on the stock price of AOL TW? Who would be a likely buyer?
Folks, gun your engines here--use the comments form to share what you think.

Subscriber numbers: Did AOL exaggerate?

Today;s Wall Street journal is running a widely picked up piece that speculates whether the reported loss of 846,000 AOL subscribers reflects previously inflated subscriber numbers. he questions are focused around limited use accounts AOL sold to large companies such as Target, Sears,and JC Penney for discounted resale to their employees, (As I recall, the concept of this program as I heard it was to offer both gatewat appliances and AOL-subs as benefits to staffers at large service companies.)
According to today's Washington Post, the problems with AOL have depressed the stock price. Top execs publically discount the problems, but AOL-watchjers and analysts say business just isn't clicking.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Phone cams, hai

Bloomberg article today states that by March 31st of this year, three out of four mobile phones in use in Japan had an integrated camera. That's a huge increase of 50% from December '02.

Yes, we have no blognanas

7 days to the big move West.
6 days to the close of the big project I am finishing up.
5 days to the packers coming.

I hate transitions.

Jewish Buddhism: The core tenets

From my friend Syndy, the core tenets of Jewish Buddhism (known as JewBu to some):

Take only what is given.  Own nothing but your robes and an alms bowl.
Unless, of course, you have the closet space.

Let your mind be as a floating cloud.  Let your stillness be as the
wooded glen.  And sit up straight.  You'll never meet the Buddha with
posture like that.

There is no escaping karma.  In a previous life, you never called, you
never wrote, you never visited.  And whose fault was that?

Wherever you go, there you are.  Your luggage is another story.

Be aware of your body.  Be aware of your perceptions.  Keep in mind
that not every physical sensation is a symptom of a terminal illness.

If there is no self, whose arthritis is this?

Drink tea and nourish life.  With the first sip, joy.  With the second,
satisfaction.  With the third, Danish.

To Find the Buddha, look within.  Deep inside you are ten thousand
flowers.  Each flower blossoms ten thousand times.  Each blossom has
ten thousand petals.  You might want to see a specialist.

Zen is not easy.  It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what
do you have?   Bupkes.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

How Many Dogs Does It Take to Change A Light Bulb?

From my amusing friend Mi Won:
Golden Retriever: The sun is shining, the day is young, we've got
our whole lives ahead of us, and you're inside worrying about a stupid
burned out bulb?

2. Border Collie: Just one. And then I'll replace any wiring that's not up to code.

3. Dachshund: You know I can't reach that stupid lamp!

4. Rottweiler: Make me.

5. Boxer: Who cares? I can still play with my squeaky toys in the dark.

6. Lab: Oh, me, me!!!!! Pleeeeeeeeeze let me change the light bulb!
Can I? Can I? Huh? Huh? Huh? Can I? Pleeeeeeeeeze, please, please, please!

7. German Shepherd: I'll change it as soon as I've led these people
from the dark, check to make sure I haven't missed any, and make just one more perimeter patrol to see that no one has tried to take advantage of the situation.

8. Jack Russell Terrier: I'll just pop it in while I'm bouncing off the walls and furniture.

9. Old English Sheep Dog: Light bulb? I'm sorry, but I don't see a light bulb.

10. Cocker Spaniel: Why change it? I can still pee on the carpet in the dark.

11. Chihuahua: Yo quiero Taco Bulb.

12. Pointer: I see it, there it is, there it is, right there.....

13. Greyhound: It isn't moving. Who cares?

14. Australian Shepherd: First, I'll put all the light bulbs in a little circle...

15. Poodle: I'll just blow in the Border Collie's ear and he'll do
it. By the time he finishes rewiring the house, my nails will be dry.

The Cat's Answer: "Dogs do not change light bulbs. People change
lightbulbs. So, the real question is: How long will it be before I can expect
some light, some dinner, and a massage?"


Promoting Keep Media, Louis Borders talks to USA Today

Keep Media, the closely held new venture from Louis Borders, is getting ready to launch on time, if the building output of interviews and articles is any indication. In today's interview with Borders, the new company is described as an online newsstand with strong research potential.
"...When it launches later this month, consumers will be able to pay $4.95 a month for access to the archives of 150 publications. You can also get online content from the current issue of a magazine if you buy a print subscription to that magazine. KeepMedia and the publishers will split the revenue from the fees and subscriptions.

It's as much a high-end research site as anything. Search for "Christopher Columbus" on KeepMedia and you'll find content from branded, well-known magazines and news outlets. By contrast, search Google for "Christopher Columbus," and on the first page you get — I kid you not — fine historical information from one site that otherwise sells Caribbean vacations, and another site that offers a report titled, "Christopher Columbus: His Gastronomic Persona."

Those of us who've been around this industry for a while probably remember Infonautics, the brainchild of Marvin Weinberger and later JosKopelmanan. This online research and media center attemped to get rights to both archival and current materials from numerous publishers. TodayKopelmanan runs, Weinberger is CEO of the Innovation Factory, and Infonautics is Alacritude, publishers of eLibrary and, and run by the founders of Hoover's.

AOL: Subscribers leaving, ad profits could drop

Although second-quarter profit at AOL Time Warner Inc rose to $1.06 billion partly due to the sale of the company's stake in Comedy Central, a settlement with Microsoft Corp, and the strong success of The Matrix , actual operating income--what they're making from what the groups so ever day-- fell 15 percent ( to $1.29 billion from $1.52 billion).
At the same time, subscribers are dropping off, ad sales will stay flat or decline by as much as 45%, and the company is still cutting and divesting in an effort to get the balance sheet in order.

Oh yes, and thr SEC is continuning its investigations--it'd been 2+ years and at least as many books.

AOL, maybe it's time to retrench in a bigger way. Create 4 core business units, limit their size and offe what you can: 1) dial up access with a kick-ass client, online community, including a trading marketplace,and peer to peer transactions, 2) entertainment and entertainment related services, particularly focused on kids, teens, and the less affluent and urban parts of the country, 3) technology support for the newbies, and premiumn services around computing for the non PC World crowd, 4) online community and tools: AIM, expressions, blogs, message boards, etc.
Keep it simple.
Let TW have their own brands back on the web--AOLers aren't reading enough--and they have great magazines. Go for utility and the friendliness you were know for before you became so big.(Disclosure: I worked for AOL for 3 years).

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Joisey blogs

You wanna make something of it? What exit?
601am blogs Boro6, but omits the blogs at New Jersey Online, Buzzmachine by Jarvis and his new local blog, whatever it is (if I mention the town he lives in, he'll kill me).

Come on, build a nice list--this is a little week, that Jersey energy

Keep Media coming on

Louis Borders and a bunch of smart people, including a couple I know and like, have been toiling away for almost a year on a new business, formerly called Spyglass Media and now called Keep Media. Supposed to launch next week, according to Rafat Ali and Paid Content.
"For consumers, Spyglass Media offers access to a library of hundreds of publications and their content archives, all for one low monthly subscription," according to company documents. "For publishers, Spyglass Media is a marketplace to sell online content and print subscriptions, as well as a technology platform that can be used to augment or replace current Web sites."

I'm thinking of Infonautics, some new form of RSS newsreader, and integrated emailers as a publishing package. Am I waaayyy off? New projects are so encouraging--looking forward to seeing this one.

Scott Hacker remembers Netscape

A saga of back in the day, from
"...while companies like Netscape, who are bound by the profit motive, may fail in the marketplace, open source projects are immune from the wiles of capitalism in its most raw form (though open source has other weaknesses, such as misdirection and ill communication).

Thanks for the good times, Netscape. I'll never forget the original pulsing purple 'N' in Netscape 1.0."

Joi Ito: Key technologies for the next generation of tools (and people)

WARNING: Mernit gets geeky wit'it here:
Joi Ito describes the Key Technologies, aka behaviors emerging from today's new tool sets:

Creating and managing identities while protecting privacy
Creating and managing networks of friends and trust
Searching metadata and creating context for metadata
Design and interface for publishing and viewing micro-content
Syndication standards and technologies
Network infrastructure to enable location and mobility
Technologies to move and share micro-content, especially as it grows larger
Web services that interact with micro-content and the physical world such as photo printing, purchasing of real world products, connecting people, etc.

Great ideas, now how do we build interoperability and make these tools more widely available, aka build business modesl around them?

John Robb on server-side blogging tools

Via Scott Mace:
John Robb writes:
"Public weblog portability. I was e-mailing with xian about the portability of weblogs and how to maintain presence online. Sure, there is nothing you can do if the people who own the domain you are using shut down your weblog or go out of business in regards to a seamless transition, however, there is alot that can be done. Like what? Here are some ideas for a service that would be really useful. First, I would start with single repository of weblogs where the owner of the weblog can change the location of their weblog and other descriptive data by signing into an account. This service would need to be tightly controlled and trusted. If you don't own the domain, your hosting company or hosting sponsor would need to support the account creation."

This is another intersting opportunity for Web hosting service providers. With AOL's entry into the Weblog hosting space, I've added a separate Radio category to this blog to track Welblog developments. Weblog portability would also be a huge win for consumers, who face "blog tool lock-in" without some kind of portability."

Agreed, these are good ideas.

Department of Growing Older, Office of Teen-Age Misbehavior

Spent some time with a friend today whom I first befriended when our children were less than a year old. Her children are now both in a boarding school that teaches self-discipline, study skills, and instills self-esteem and self-confidence.
Tutition per child is $35,000 per year.
We are in a chic Soho restaurant in the late afternoon as we have the following conversation:

Friend: You have no idea what the last year was like. (16 year old Daughter) spent the past seven months smoking pot 3 times a way. One night she called and said she was in Red Hook--Red Hook!--with a bunch of 21-year old guys and was going to take the bus home--of course, I ran out and got her. (She goes on to describe many other harrowing episodes with both kids, culminating with the decision to put one, and then the other into this special school.)
"So, Susan, tell me, how's your family? How's your son?"

I then describe the night before the flight to Oakland when Zack went AWOL for 12 hours and and made us nuts, ending up with, "But fortunately, that was fairly unusual."

Friend stares at me, eyes wide, hands gripping the table edge. "Don't you get it, what you're describing was every day of my life for more than a year!"

Blogging for Business--What pushes the adaption curve?

Stuart Henshall in Unbound Spiral asks: "How many bloggers do you need to change a company? How many newreaders (subscribers in a co) do you need to change information habits?...How do we seed the movement? Alternatively, if you are already a blogger in a business how do you determine the tipping point is near? How do you decide that blogging may really be ready to rock your corporate world? "
Stuart also wonders if corporate newsreader users are more likely to become bloggers themselves.
While Stuart's post is elegant and smart, and he makes going points, the realities, IMHO, are a bit different and the factors for adoption run along different lines:

1) Internal vs. external: Are we discussing internal or external blogs? Blogs intended for the public a la Jupiter Research bloggers who are essentially marketing their services, or blogs that give us that behind the scenes, eating sushi in the locker room frisson. The Microsofties working on .NET seem to be reveling in their ability to blog, relying on us voyeurs, as well as their peers, to magnify their smartnesses.

2) Intranet vs. extranet: Blogging behind the corporate firewall is quite different that being out in public...I think companies would be hesitant to do any external blogging that isn't marketing related outside of the fairly unique software development culture of the West Coast.

3) Workgroup blogs and wikis:: Blogs by one person are quite different that group blogs, project blogs and wikis. I have heard many corporate people express strong interest in Sharepoint, which they understand to be both a document manager and a collaborative workgroup tool. It would be great to see blogs become standard for workgroups and projects inside companies, and I do think that will come.

Staurt, thanks for the great questions.

Department of Surpising Coincidences: Find Dave Weinberger in this story

So my husband and I head out last night to South Orange's new coffee spot. This little suburban town is so boring, a new coffee lounge is a big thing(we're only 30 minutes from NYC, so excitement usually isn't a local commodity.)
Anyway, the place is packed. Looks like a coffee bar in Los Gatos or Campbell, places where people are serious about both their brew and comfy chairs to drink it in.
So, my old friend Sue Willis is there with her husband and two friends. We all chat. Sue, who is a fiction writer, says she Googled herself the other day and found my blog. I'd started it right after I saw her in March. The other couple have kids who know my son; their son is DJ'ing in the back room of the coffee bar and probably responsible for packing in the gaggle of HS students running back and forth.
Sue's husband is named Andy. He's a doctor. I've known them for 17 years--another set of ex-Brooklynites who moved to South Orange. "You blog?" Andy says. "My brother is really into that. He has a blog..."
Flash of lucidity--Dave Weinberger is Andy's brother!
"His blog is Joho the Blog," I shoot out. "He's great, I've been reading his writing since way before he had a blog."
"Will he know you?" Andy asks. I say probably not, maybe my name, and we keep having the nice chat we're having, which partly consists of my trying to explain to Andy what RSS and news readers are and how he should get his brother to set him up with one.
It's a small world, but I wouldn't want to paint it, as Steven Wright said.
P.S. BTW, Dave Weinberger is one of the authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto, one of those books you'll want to check out if you are interested in the new economy and business trends.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Mernit's link cosmos

Technorati links to this blog here
Among them are Sua Sponte, who, it turns out, met me back in 1996 (way, cool). Comments are broken on your site, so hey, please email me! Also got a link from Chris Alden at r21, the addictive MediaBurn web log, Roger Cadenhead's Workbench, which is a smart journal by a former journalist and Java whiz, and Mike's Move the Crowd, fast becoming a favorite ( I like Mike because he writes about a variety of things, including food).
Feedster searches say I also got a link from MediaJunkie, another wonderful site,
I am still at the point where getting linked to feels good, so thanks much.

New: The Blog Change Bot

AOL isn't the only company developing blog-related tools for AIM. Now, Ben Hosken has built the blogchangebot , a blog monitoring service which updates you via AOL Instant Messenger when a blog you are interested is updated.
I tried this this morning--sign up for my own blog.

Mernit: subscribe
blogchangebot: Subscribe
You are subscribed to
Blog Change Bot

Personal tools: What's needed

Been thinking alot about what's needed to pull many of the emerging tools and applications together. In that spirit, Phil Wolff raises some good questions once again, sent via Marc Canter's blog:
"How do you scale SyndicationSpace to hundreds of millions of feeds being checked all the time? The answer is intermediaries. Proxy caching, P2P, central aggregators, etc. Don't know which blend of technologies is the right one, but they all require some form of
(a) authentication, so you can trust that this copy of the feed come from the source you know,
(b) encryption (optional), so nobody along the way can read/modify the content of a private personalized feed, and
(c) checksum or another method of assuring that what was received is identical to what was sent.
This tastes like public key infrastructure.

Another application: Blogspace isn't flat. FOAF data, whether explicit via blogrolls or implicit in hyperlinks, should be very useful in P2P. Your subscription list probably has many feeds in common with the people in your weblogNeighborhood, Technorati cosmos, or other people in your blogroll. While John Udell or Marc Canter may be physically distant (in traceroute and ping times), the chances may be as high as 25% that they have cached at least one of my feeds. As long as the feeds have clear BestIfUsedBy/ Expiration dates/ times, the social network can make optimization very efficient."

Links around the Blogosphere

New magazine launches in Bay area: TriValley

Two friends of mine, Marcia Parker, and JD Lasica, are involved in the launch of a new print magazine in the Bay area.
TriValley just published its first issue, covering the Oakland/Danville/Livermore, etc area known as TriValley.
Marcia is the editor, JD is a contributing writer, and I hope to do some pieces for them once I'm back. Folks, if you want help with a web/RSS/email strategy, let me know, and best of luck with what looks like a truly interesting magazine.

Department of Well-deserved rewards? Yahoo CEO cashes in

Is it cashing in or cashing out when you're a big CEO and you sell a third of your stock? That's what Yahoo CEO Terry Semel just did, 2 years after his start date. 500,000 shares were exercised and sold at prices way over the option price.
Up2Speed writes:
"Although this may seem like a lot of cash, when Semel took over, Yahoo's stock was languishing in the mid-teens, and the company was struggling to find a direction. Fast forward to today, and the picture is far more rosey - Yahoo's stock is in the 30's, and its forward direction is a lot clearer. Through a mixture of clever buying and bold leadership, Semel has improved Yahoo's position substantially. All in all I'd suggest that this little bonus is thoroughly deserved."

Wanted: Silicon Valley bloggers

Two weeks and I'll be blogging from San Jose. Last time I lived in the Valley, I was a corporate VP with no life, could NEVER have had a blog. Now, I'm a free agent, running a consulting company and working on a couple of other under the radar projects. Blogging is my hobby, and I love it.
So, please, let me know what I should be connecting to and who's out there, especially folks I might not know, or know of---- please help me get the landscape.

John Robb is back!

Kblogger John Robb is reportedly back online at MindPlex. Yeah! (via Rick Klau)
Note: These links DID NOT work this morning--but I am assuming the server is getting slammed and John will reappear at this address, really, really soon.

Dig the station, get the IM app

From Hollywood Reporter, via Paid Content
Z100 listeners tuning in Web for IM service
New York's Z100 said that beginning today it will be the first major radio station to offer its own branded instant-messaging service. The Clear Channel station partnered with technology company GTV to create what it is calling the Z100 Messenger, a fancy IM service that interoperates with IM's major players: America Online, Yahoo! and Microsoft. The product can be downloaded free at Director of online services Robert Daniel Mathers said he's hoping to encourage more of the station's 1.2 million listeners to become registered online users, as about 300,000 already have done. (Paul Bond)

I just went to the site and the deal is that GTV builds custom solutions for enterprise. See blurb here. GTV says that the app offers platform interoperability as well through a dashboard like sign-in. Here's the image of the "dash board" for sign in.

I hope GTV and similar companies are successful in selling more of these custom, interoperable services, they are pretty interesting.

Do you own your things, or do your things own you?

Half-way toward a house pared down and the things we don't really want sold, given away, donated, or thrown out. I can see how there's a class of thing that I no longer want, but that is too good to throw out and I can't seem to sell--and don't have the time to give to find someone I can give it to.
If I keep those things, I am letting them own me, so the challenge of the next 10 days is to find ways to remove the Ntozake Shange poetry books, champagne flutes I never liked and similar items from my possession.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Boogins: The new Eloise

My friend and former colleague Jesse Kornbluth, one of the best writers I know, has been in France this summer doing some writing. We connected a few days ago, and he was kind enough to send me some of the wonderful emails he and his little daughter have been sending friends. Peter Mayle, step aside, you have competition from a toddler!
Just a few snippets of these wonderful letters:

Dear American Friend,

Bonjour! Boogins again. And, again, things have happened.

Let me start with a social item. And how is this for weird --- last night we had dinner at a chateau we paid to visit last week.

Daddy has a friend whose mother lives in the Dordogne. And she asked us for dinner. Daddy said, "Boogins can be…ratty at dinner. Maybe a drink is better." But she insisted. When she gave Daddy the directions, we suddenly we all realized: She OWNS Marquessyac, which has an amazing view of the prettiest valley in the Dordogne and a garden with 150,000 hand-pruned boxwood trees. (These French! So discreet!)

So off we went, me in my best Gap cotton twin-set. Up the hill. Higher. Higher. A gate opened. And there was Madame's house, a small building just below the chateau.

I have heard that the French aristocracy beats the peasants and gives them only a thin gruel to eat and makes them wear clothes made of potato sacks, but Madame couldn't have been nicer. Her other guests didn't seem eager to know me, but that may be because they are very sophisticated Belgians and dinner at 7 PM to accommodate my need for an early bedtime was NOT, as they might say, de rigeur.

(snipped out here)
Bedtime! Gotta go. Will write from Paris, where, Mommy assures me, things will happen.

Jesse is also asking his friends to support the million mom march , a group dedicated to preventing handgun violence.

Yard Sale Completus

Okay, it's over! My stint sitting in the driveway as strangers paw at our discarded good has run its course and we are several hundred dollars richer and many bags of schmutz lighter.
The yard sale is an amazing American custom: offer junk you don't want at rock bottom prices to people looking for cheap ways to satisfy their hunting and gathering urges before you throw the rest of it out--or give it away for free to other people who didn't come to your sale.
Howeverm, this means we've edited out kitchen goods and knacks down to what we actually use--nothing left in the boxes packed away.
Next steps: the books. Take 10 shelves of books, plus about 8 boxes, and reduce them down to what I really want--that means ruthless editing. Good-bye, Black Sparrow Press books! If you want them, let me know.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

I have an AOL blog

I started an AOL Journal, aka Blog yesterday. You can create one if you have a name in AOL namespace--Netscape. AIM, CompuServe or AOL account.
I'm trying it out as a photo blog and recording my comments.
Some links here if you want to accompany me:
My test AOL Blog
Link to a specific post that shows how AOL embeds a mini-You've Got pictures album into the Journal as a way to show more than one photo in an entry
Link to an archive of posts

The interface is wonderful, but the photo blogging thing seems pretty clunky so far.

I was impressed with this great relationship management email I was sent:

Subj: Your New AOL Journal: Susan Mernit's Photo Journal 
Date: 7/20/03 12:11:59 AM Eastern Daylight Time
Sent from the Internet (Details)

Congratulations! You've started your own AOL Journal. Here's the address for your page:

Tell Your Friends and Family
Now that you've created your AOL Journal, be sure to announce it. Your visitors can read your entries and add their own comments. Once guests start telling their friends about your Journal, you'll develop a regular following of readers. Before you know it, you could have the most popular Journal on the Web!

(Yeah, right...)

Instant Entries
The best part about your AOL Journal is that it's easy and fun to update. Did you know you can create a new Journal entry via Instant Message? Just send an IM to the screen name AOL Journals with your daily thoughts. Your Journal will automatically update. Has fun online ever been this easy?

Ideas for Your Journal
Be yourself. Share your thoughts on current events, keep everyone posted on family happenings or special occasions in your life. Get creative and tell crazy stories. The possibilities are endless.

(Chirpy, but encouraging)

Need Help?
Find it in AOL Journals Help.

Thank you,
AOL Journals

Yard Sale Day 1 a Big Success

Well, the vintage sweaters, Pottery Barn drapes, and 1930s hat boxes are mostly unsold, but the 80s CDs, old TNN review video review copies, kitchen detrius, and tons of what I am not sure exactly what that was but I know we didn't want it anymore have netted us about $400. I also acquired an impressive sunburn.
We have 3 more hours of selling tomorrow.
About an hour into the sale, everything will go 50% off currently prices (that means old pairs of shoes for 50 cents each). By 2 pm, I hope that the leftovers are all in boxes for charity, packed neatly for eBay sale later on (all that vintage cashmere), and/or tossed into a heavy duty contractor's bag for delivery to the dump.There were some nice moments:
--The heavily pregnant young woman and her heavily tattooed husband who bought some small items and were thrilled when we gave them our (free) 'hairy chair' for their pets to sit in in her studio.
--The neatly-dressed man who kept adding items for him wife: fur hat, hand-thrown bowl, small paperweight.
--Two middle-aged Africans, father and son, who bought up all the ExOfficio pants and shirts my husband no longer wanted.
--The dopy-smokling hippie artist who bought my orange Vera shirt, and the slender blonde who bought another Vera shirt because she had been friends with another one of Vera's (now-gone) designers.

Friday, July 18, 2003

Winer transfer RSS copyrights to Harvard

What did I say when they fired John Robb? My bet was a SBV between Harvard and this news from CNET that Harvard owns the right to RSS and will support it with the aid of a newly formed board.

"Earlier this week, Dave Winer, author of the specifications for content distribution tool Really Simple Syndication 2.0, transferred the copyrights
to the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. The
Center's advisory board intends to do more to promote awareness for RSS, a hugely popular syndication method in the blog community. "

Related article here.
Feedster search results link here.
Technorati links here.There are 55 comments in the comments section of the Berkman announcement site, many of them critical, negative, or cynical.
Scott Johnson, in The Fuzzy Blog

How Google can beat Amazon and eBay

Why will understanding the semantic web, aka the relationships between things and people as described via electronic linkages, enable Google to triumph over all others? Paul Ford lays it out right here, with a related Wall Street Journal article coming out today(links via Chris Alden)

Blogging Daily and MIA bloggers

Now that I am obsessed with my RSS feed, I expect bloggers with feeds--and hopefully those without, to blog more or less daily unless they tell me up front their blog is occasional. This expectation, totally self-created, makes me feel frustrated when a blog I am reading suddenly goes MIA.
Douglas Rushokff--where are you?
Mark Finnern, did the Bay Area futurists blast off for the month or something?
Guys, you have readers...let us know where you are.

Worth AT LEAST a thousand words

From Eugene Kim

Start an AOL Journal now

It's here to AOL Journal set up beta. Technorati's links to here

Dinner with Zack

Zack is back: Picked him up at the airport 1 am Thursday morning. He's been great since he returned--possibly his regret about the AWOL scene the night before he took off for music camp in California has made him more considerate. Whatever the reason, it's been a pleasure to have him home.
We went to the gym together last night, and then cooked dinner:
Salmon in curried coconut milk with cilantro and scallions
Stir-fry with bean paste of onions, carrots, broccoli and peppers
Steamed rice
Wicked Ben & Jerry's ice cream with devil's food cookies.

Around the Blogosphere today

Dave Winer finds an RSS feed from an early AOL journal, proof such things exist.
Danah Boyd has started the Connected Selves blog, focusing on social network ideas and links.
NASA Spaceman, aka Expedition 7 NASA ISS Science Officer, Ed Lu is writing letters, which some are calling blog entries, from space. (Link via Slashdot)

5ive: A new kind of consulting company

About 3 months ago, my new partners and I started 5ive, a new type of consulting company that was begun to help media companies, nonprofit organizations and mission-driven businesses to create and launch new sustainable revenue streams, new products, and new businesses. 
5ive provides a complete range of services, from helping companies to assess their organization, processes, and communications, to strategic planning, creative development, implementation to get programs up and running, and development of actual products, from newsletter and software products, to tangible goods such as wall paper and chairs.

My partners in 5ive bring solid experience in other disciplines: David Ross is the former head of SF MOMA and The Whitney Museum in NY; Greg Turpan was one of the developers of the Calvin Klein Home Collection and the cofounder of Turpan-Sanders, an influential design store in NY; David Gresham ran design for Steelcase and developed their best-selling chair, and Steven Madoff was one of the key figures in developing both Roadrunner and Pathfinder for Time Warner, as well as the President of the MOMA's recent Internet/commerce venture.

To date, we've been working with a media/ information company with a non-profit side, two large museums, a small foundation, and two internet businesses. We have proposed some wonderful projects, on both coasts, and I hope some of them come through--this is an amazing, vital sector to work in-- -- new revenue streams, actionable strategic business plans, and efficient, streamlined organizations are all crucial in this tough market, and we can help with all those aspects. In addition, 5ive is providing me with the means to work more in the education sector, an area I care about quite a bit, and that is great.

We're waiting for our web site to finish, and working to turn a good idea into a viable enterprise.

Moving West: It's days, not weeks

I was on vacation in Portugal in early January, and I remember looking at the palm trees in Lisbon, and really missing California. Then I left AOL after 3 non-stop years, three cities, and two coasts, and started my own consulting firm with 4 amazing guys (I realize I haven't written about 5ive much, so I am going to do that in my next post.) At some point back then, we also decided to move back to California and spend just part of our time in New York (I have done so much commuting across the country, I am totally used to this).
Back then, the idea of moving was months away.
Now, it is days.
July 31st we move out of our NJ house. The truck with our belongings will be heading cross-country, my son, cat, and I will be on a plane, and my husband and the dog will be driving West on their junket. We're in the count-down now, even as I keep working on my business projects: get school transcripts, prepare for the yard sale we've having tomorrow (arrghh), pick through all the books and make boxes for the second hand store, plan what to bring on the plane and what to pack.
I'm excited about going back; there are some very cool projects I will work on out there, and some great people I will have more time to talk with. I'll also be back in NY in a few weeks, working with some clients and potential clients, and in Aspen for a few days for a project at the end of August.
But it's just about that transition point--the big move--the same big move across the country I have done twice before since 2000!

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Morning: News of the Miscellaneous

San Jose: A little sex with your javs? Coffee shop aims for Hooters' crowd.
Alabama: Queen of bad writing wins annual contest by comparing romance to cheese: They had but one last remaining night together, so they embraced each other as tightly as that two-flavor entwined string cheese that is orange and yellowish-white, the orange probably being a bland Cheddar and the white ... Mozzarella, although it could possibly be Provolone or just plain American, as it really doesn't taste distinctly dissimilar from the orange, yet they would have you believe it does by coloring it differently."
Beacon, NY: B&N's Leonard Riggio funds Dia:Beacon Riggio Galleries, a new $55 million contemporary-art museum in a converted box-printing plant in Beacon, New York.
Mendocino, CA: This may be the land of the redwoods, it's getting harderand harder to do business in timber here---but this year the Mendocino grape crop was valued at $81 million last year, compared to $54 million for Mendocino logs delivered to local mills, according to Dave Bengston, county agricultural commissioner. This,1413,82~10834~1517409,00.html

Will AOL Journals help save AOL?

According to a recent column, the upcoming call with AOL analysts cold reveal that the service has experienced a dramatic drop in subscribers. Since last year,AOL has lost 465,000 members high-speed providers or cheaper ISPs.
If the pace continues, the online giant will lose 1.3 million of its 26 million U.S. members this year. "They're getting squeezed.
AOL is clearly working hard to proovide added value for subscribers. I saw the new AOL Journals blogging tool last night and it looks great--clean, easy, and VERY functional. And the hot live events--Fred Durst, etc. should make the kids happy.
It's also clear that Jon Miller is striving to remake the service into a transaction and utility-driven tool that gets the highest % of revenue out of the members, and that he continues to cut costs and people in the unit. But will enough members care?
The competition is fierce, and AOL is going to go all out with 9.0--won't be boring.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Aways On Conference--AOL Chief Jon Miller presents

Jon shows the conference the great comps of the personal pages the braodband team designed, and Marc Canter goes wild. I hope everyone's children subscribe--maybe my options will be worth something.

5 month blogging anniversary

5 months of blogging! In 5 months, I was blogged once by Doc Searls, once by the NY Times, once by Anil and once or twice by Xeni, got involved with Shanti and Metapop, and have had fascinating conversations with many interesting people. Best of all, it's become an enjoyable hobby--a way to share in a dialogue with the blgosphere and anyone who reads my RSS feed or comes to this site.

Most of my connections are electronic-although I live in NJ (okay, NJ), I have not met Nick Denton, Elizabeth Spiers, Meg Hourihan, or Cameron Barrett, all of whom write blogs I read. ( I already know Jarvis, so I don't have to talk about him.) I also regret not meeting Jen Chung and Jake Dobkin. I'll be heading out to California in two weeks, and although I will be spending a lot of time in NYC, it seems a bit like a missed opportunity not to have met these folks. On the other hand, I know from experience that often people's products--writing, etc--are enough, and in fact, you get the best part of them that way.

Some of the people I hope to meet in California--this is another way of saying I admire their blogs and/or work but don't know them, are Dave Sifry, Robert Scoble(I love his blog), Marc North (I am so impressed by his photography that he is someone I feel shy of meeting), Phil Wolff, Ross Mayfield and the Social Text folks. I have already met the amazingly smart and energetic Marc Canter whose blog is muy compelling, so I won't add this to this list.

An interesting comment on my schizo interests and how I function on the two coasts: Most of the East Coast folks I mentioned are media people; most of the West Coasters are technology developers.

Are gay men and women more tech-saavy? Forrester says yes

This just in: Cambridge-based Forrester Research, a technology
market research and advisory firm, announced the release of a new report
on Wednesday, based on the firm's annual consumer technology user
survey, which for the first time asked respondents to indicate their sexual
orientation. The report, titled "Gays Are The Technology Early Adopters
You Want," indicates that gay men and women are among the first to
adopt new devices and online tools, making them an important
demographic for online marketers. "Gay men and women are tech-savvy
consumers who use the Internet and tech devices at significantly higher
rates than their heterosexual counterparts for shopping, banking,
entertainment, and community building," said Jed Kolko, a principal
analyst at Forrester.

Online influences use online sources for their info

From Digital Edge and Rob Runette:
A recent study of readers who are deemed to be Online "influentials" -- a group said to represent the 10 percent of the population that shapes the attitudes and
behaviors of the other 90 percent -- say that the Internet is their top
form of weekday media, according to a new poll conducted by RoperASW and

According to the study, this group relies heavily on the Internet, with 86 percent using it to research places to visit and 82 percent using it to research what to buy. Most also say
that they actively pass along the information they receive to friends and

One question that interests me is how we can quantify the value of a referrer network--I get the value of the friends of friends referrers of friendster, ryze, etc. but how about referrals of information and news--what is their value and how do we measure that?

Department of you always knew newsletters drove registration, right?

Those of us who weren't totally convinced that offering an email newsletter as a registration benefit drew customers can read the latest survey from Belden Associates and feel reassured--email newsletters are viable incentives.
According to Belden, incorporating free e-mail newsletters as part of the site "membership" can help reduce customer resistance, particularly among women and younger users.

Belden reports that forty-three percent of all visitors to five newspaper-affiliated sites said
they are willing to endure a one-time registration process to gain free
access to a site, compared with 29 percent who say no. The other 28 percent
aren't sure what choice they'd make, according to Belden's "Sales and Site
Survey" conducted in March and April of 2003.

Women and visitors between the ages of 18 and 34 expressed more interest in
e-mail newsletters than the overall set of respondents. Among the total
group of 8,801 participants, 42 percent said they were very interested in
breaking news e-mail messages, followed by messages about weekend events (35
percent), breaking weather news (35 percent), daily headline news (34
percent) and weekly coupons (25 percent).

Knight Ridder sees black

In the red just a year ago, this year Knight Ridder Digital enjoyed a 35.4 percent revenue increase, generating $19.3 million during the second quarter. The Knight Ridder interactive group achieved a $3.4 million operating profit, compared with a $2.6 million loss one year ago. KRD headquarters are in my home town San Jose, so this is great news...we need those Silicon Valley success stories.

How to get page views from pets

From Rob Runette at NAA's Digital Edge: Adopts Pet Listings as Community Service, Revenue Opportunity

Online search and the opportunity to sell targeted ads on results pages have
dominated digital-media discussions lately. Certain site sections are proven
page-view generators, particularly in the classified verticals. In Phoenix,
The Arizona Republic's is enjoying strong usage of a recently
launched adoptable pets site that's perfect for multiple searches per visit.

Operated as a co-brand with nonprofit organization pets911, the site's
database includes listings from dog pounds, Humane Society chapters and
fostering organizations throughout the U.S. There were no upfront or
recurring costs for, which keeps full control of the ad
inventory on the co-brand pages and keeps all revenue, says Mike Coleman,
the Republic's senior manager/digital media. The sales team plans to
approach major pet chains, veterinarians and even "doggie day spas" in
Phoenix, Coleman says. The pets site has averaged 250,000 per month since
its launch in late April.

Comments on Netscape Layoffs/New Mozilla Org

Okay, I am almost totally sick of this topic myself, but here are some good comments from MozillaZine folks.

Netscape: "They've pulled the logos off the buildings"

Web logs are reporting that AOL staffers have pulled the Netscape logos off the buildings in Mountain View., , Jeffrey Zeldman, , and just laid off Netscape employee Daniel Glanzman.

I worked on that campus for three years, worked my ass off, and it's really sad to think about Netscape's demise.

Should Google support Mozilla?

Great post from the always wise Anil Dash--Should Google support Mozilla?
Now that Netscape's more or less officially dead, it occurs to me that it might be worthwhile for Google to bankroll the Mozilla Foundation, either by donating a substantial sum or by hiring several of the browser engineers. Google's shown a penchant not just for being "not evil" but for supporting products and companies (ahem) that contribute to the web even if it's not directly in the area of search.
....What would be the business model? My mind tells me that a free, open-source browser with built-in hooks to Google services and APIs would be good enough to push increased usage of Google's revenue-generating services and advertising."(Link via Sameer Vasta, not that I don't always read Anil.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Mozilla team: We have always wanted an independent organization...

Brendan Eich, "We have always wanted an independent organization for Mozilla, and those of us who've been on have conducted Mozilla business
according to what we judged was good for Mozilla, not what was good for
any one corporate contributor. It has not always been easy to wear two
hats; conflicts have come and gone, but we're better off for our
experience running the project as an open source meritocracy. There was
never any other way to go.

Now that the Mozilla Foundation has been launched, we believe the time
is ripe to move aggressively toward new distribution channels, new
end-user markets, and better incorporation of developer-driven
innovations from the whole Mozilla community."

More here.

"To summarize: Mozilla is not dead. Netscape is."

In its heyday, Netscape employed more than 2,500 staffers. Back in 2000, Netscape probably had about 900 staffers. Up until today, the current Netscape had about 500 staffers, now down to 450 with the announcement that 10% of the workforce has been laid off, and that the company only planned to continue to support current versions of the Netscape browser and the Netscape Web portal.
Since the Netscape web site team has been part of the AOL "Web Properties" group since 2001, it's probably safe to speculate that the so-called Netscape staff is made up of technology and marketing staffers focused on Netscape-specific applications, from the browser, to mail, to the sidebar, to Netscape search. While all these technologies have been based on an AOL back end since 2000, there was continued development for the browser-based versions.
Now, AOL's relationship to Netscape seems similar of the US government's to the old and expired satellites floating around our galaxy, lost in space. Drifting, unmoored, the browser is there for those who want to use it, but the days of development and integration are gone. From now on, the open source baton has passed to the non-profit geeks at Mozilla, who will take all responsibility for any next-gen browsers, ensuring that no new development will feed back into Netscape.

RIP,, you were a great place to work and a life-changer for many people.

Bonus: Blogzilla on the layoffs

$2MM in browser severance pay?

American Online and today announced AOL's donation of $2MM to create The Mozilla Foundation, a group to promote.".. the development, distribution and adoption of the award-winning Mozilla standards-based web applications and core technologies, including the Gecko browser layout engine...AOL will also contribute additional resources through equipment, domain names and trademarks, and related intellectual property, as well as providing some transitional assistance for key personnel as they move into the new organization."
New home page for foundation is here.

Susan's comment from the cynic's view: This is the equivalent of paying severance to a movement, instead of an individual, and reminescent of pinning a note, with a nice fat check, onto your child's coat lapel before putting him on the night bus to anywhere. "Take care of little Johnny, we love him a lot and here's $500 to pay for his keep for the next few years...."

Susan's comment on the sunny side" Isn't it nice AOL cared enough to set the technies up with a cash stash so they could hired as many of the laid-off folks as they deemed fit to carry out their mission?"

Both equally true--there is nothing surprising or new about the fact has become strategically less and less important to AOL over the past 2 years, and that the browser and the underlying technologies were a disappointment to many Dulles execs. Given the tight cash flow issues and the continuing march to cut costs, this all has been coming for a while.

Wild question of the moment: Who's playing the ad sales game in a way where they would want to buy Netscape to add to their traffic?

Dan Gillmor
on Netscape today in the Merc: "AOL's financial commitment is also crucial, and deserves credit. It might have just torpedoed the project entirely -- though the Mozilla project has attracted a legion of developers. Most contribute their time and expertise, but at least a few are being paid by large companies, such as IBM and Sun Microsystems, to help out."

Phil Wolff: Is email the ultimate microcontent manager?

THIS is a discussion I can really get behind. Steve Gillmor and Phil Wolff asking Is email the ultimate microcontent manager?

Perhaps blogging tools will also blend into mail clients.

Posting from your mail client (your blogs are just special email addresses) and IM/irc/SMS.
Read your RSS feeds with Outlook or Eudora or whatever Macheads use these days.
Configure your weblog with a properties dialog your mail client.

Meanwhile, all the independent software developers are getting creative. Mail service providers jump at RSS to differentiate themselves. NewsReaders gain features people use to manage overflowing email. Portal makers flow RSS feeds in and out. Blog hosters bake RSS into default templates. Social network and digital ID elements are touching syndication, promising new value for getting messages via syndication server vs. email server.

This is GOOD stuff, Phil I look forward to talking with you.

Were you an 80's kid--or do you just pretend to be one?

Let's see, who's young enough to be an 80's kid? If you're not sure, give your friends this test:
You know you were an 80's kid if...

you had any of the following toys: my buddy, legos moon rider, lite brite, laser tag, atari 2600, teddy ruxspin, polly pockets, hit stix, speak and spell, cabbage patch kids, transformers, voltron, pound puppy, friendship bracelets, velcro dart board, garbage pail kids, sit and spin, choose your own adventure books, g.i. joe, rainbow bright, etch a sketch, my little pony, the original nintendo entertainment system (nes)

you ever had a hair style with the words "jehri" and "curl" in it

you owned a pair of l.a. gear, british knights, or converse tennis know you had some chuck taylor's.
you remember the iron sheik, bret "the hitman" hart, the ultimate warrior, andre the giant, the four horsemen, dusty rhodes...or worse, you owned the entire wwf action figure collection (and wrestling ring)
you owned a t-shirt with a black bart simpson on it

you have ever in your lifetime said "i pity the fool" or "you be illin"

you have watched star trek & said "hey that's the guy from reading rainbow" ''

you know the theme song to any of the following: duck tales, 227, mcdonald's big mac song, the clapper, toys r us, alvin and the chipmonks, ghostbusters, diff'rent strokes, pee wee's playhouse, the golden girls, the facts of life, saved by the bell, the incredible hulk,, dukes of hazard, the smurfs, zoobily zoo, fraggle rock, scooby doo, teenage mutant ninja turtles, yogi bear, he-man, oscar mayer, silver spoons, chip n' dale, gumby, gimme a break, care bears, inspector gadget, punky brewster

you wore shorts on top of your sweats in p.e. class

you had a jean jacket, jean purse or jean bookbag (acid-washed, of course)

you can hum the theme song of the first super mario brothers game

Yahoo Squeeze Microsoft with Overture Acquisition

Yahoo!'s $1.6 billion acquisition of Overture potentially is a huge blow to Microsoft. Yahoo! announced the transaction this morning. In the Jupiter Research report "MSN Search: Microsoft Guns for Google, the Desktop and the Enterprise," which published today, Matthew Berk and I predicted that Yahoo! would likely buy Overture.

Do compaies cry out in pain when they get squeezed? Fortunate not, or we'd have to little to a whole lotta ouching. The just-announced planned acquisition of Overture by Yahoo puts the Big Gorilla in a difficult position, well expressed by Joe Wilco in the Jupiter analyst's Microsoft web log:

"The acquisition puts Microsoft in the difficult position of relying on rival Yahoo! for key services, alogrithmic search technologies and paid search. Earlier this year, Yahoo! acquired Inktomi, which provides alogrithmic services to MSN. The Overture deal is potentially more problematic for Microsoft. That's because the majority of MSN revenue comes from paid search services--or at least it has in recent Microsoft quarterly results. Microsoft announces fourth fiscal quarterly results on Thursday, and it will be interesting to see the extent of paid search's contribution to MSN revenue." (Link via Michael Gartenberg)

For more, see the comments at Up2Speed:
Yahoo already owns Inktomi and had not yet integrated Inktomi results within Yahoo results. Post-merger, they will also own FAST and AV algorithmic technologies

The Silicon Valley take in the Merc:
"The combined assets position Yahoo as the largest global player in the rapidly growing Internet advertising sector,'' said Terry Semel, Yahoo's chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Power to the People: SF's Illegal Art Gets Sued

Remember the Illegal Art show in San Francisco, which I wrotre about a few weeks ago? Well, Joho the Blog has an update--apparently, Mattel sued artists/exhibitor Tom Forsythe for selling his photographs, called "Food Chain Barbie," of Barbie in kitchen appliances. Mattel sued, lost and is appealing. Joho points to an excellent Boston Globe piece"
by Chris Gaithers that explains both the purpose of the exhibit and reaction to it.

"Barbie sprawls naked in a blender. A familiar green-and-white logo bears not the Starbucks name, but the appellation ''Consumer Whore.'' The familiar image of Bert, from ''Sesame Street,'' hangs from a noose. All are images from ''Illegal Art: Freedom of Expression in the Corporate Age,'' a new exhibit at the Artists Gallery of the Museum of Modern Art here that criticizes the increasingly strict intellectual-property laws that artists say hurt their ability to borrow cultural imagery to reflect the impact of business on American society. "
More here.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Typepad CEO says AOL Journals won't affect her business

Department of Rationalizing 800-lb Gorillas:
Mena Trott, founded and CEO of TypePad, a new service desired to provide blog tools to average people, went down to DC to see AOL and wrote:
" As a weblog tool maker, am I threatened by AOL Journals? I don't think so. We're marketing our tools to entirely different audiences and our users require the level of functionality and customization that would be overkill 1000 times over for AOL. Having tens of millions of AOL users exposed to weblogging can only be a good thing for Six Apart and since we knew that a weblog offering from AOL was coming, we have gotten used to the idea that we'll be sharing the space with a number of the world's largest companies."

Newark to New York: We're smarter!

This may be only time anyone ever gets to write a headline like the one above. What's the dish? A university professor's survey reveals that Newark, NJ, New York's gritty neighbor, has the highest rate on newspaper subscribers to populace in the country, easily beating out New York, ranked # a lowly 47th.
As a New Yorker who lives 5 miles from Newark, in the arty NJ burbs, my next question wold be--do these yahoos read The NY Times or the Newark Star Ledger? Or is it the Wall Street Journal that drives the stats up (we KNOW it's those long train and bus rides into the city, whatever pages they're flipping...)
Thanks, Gawker, for another priceless item.

AOL: Building out the transactional playbook

A little more indulgence in second-guessing the current plans of my former employer:
Is AOL going to out ticketmaster Ticketmaster? My guess is yes, and one of the subtext for supporting blogging tools is to be able to place contextual commerce and transaction offers on a reserved space on those pages.
AOL's deal with expires soon, and word on the street is that AOL wants to get back into the personals business themselves. Remember Love@AOL and NetGirl, created by Roz Resnick? Those properties raked in the bucks for AOL.
AOl has also bought OneMade, an ecommerce software company that reportedly develops both the tools sellers use to sell on sites like eBay--such as the ability to create listings--and a marketplace platform where sellers can pitch their wares.
AOL launched a ticket-selling service last year, is selling music and DVDs direct, and has been exploring the idea of a movie-buyers club for some time.
Seems like it's looking a lot like CitySearch..only with that AOL Time Warner content to justify that $23.95.

Commuter train derailment wrecks my day

Today was one of those days, the ones you are glad don't come to often, the ones where the parts don't add up to enough change for a cup of coffee. There was a train derailment this morning than snarled my trip into NY and sent me through Hoboken, then my lunch meeting got cancelled and I ended up rushing to make a train at Penn Station to go home only to learn the trains were not running--because of the morning's trail derailment.
None of this is awful stuff, but I am feeling intensely busy--have a big project I am finishing up, some smaller projects that also need attention, and some very interesting new projects developing--so time needs to be managed.

Also, there's that yard sale I haven't done much for besides buy signs, the school transcripts I have to get and all the rest of life's desiderata (great word, huh?)

This is a polite way of saying I spent about 90 minutes this afternoon feeling like the top of my head was going to blow off. Only then I had the Susan Mernit survival reaction, which is one of those strategies that have saved me from ulcer, high blood pressure and carob-loading fries when under stress---I got over it. Yes, I GOT OVER IT. Said this is the way it is, lousy luck, and went on from there. Actually ended up going to see a friend/colleague on the way home and had very productive conversations about cool business ideas and new products we want to develop together.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Department of Exciting Predictions: 300 million feeds in 3 years

Will there be 300 million syndicated blogosphere feeds in three years? Phil Wolff's Aklog apart says so.
First, assume that Microsoft, AOL and everyone else and their brother will enable blogging on their services in the next 18 months, converting 10% of the online population (70MM people) into bloggers.
Then, assume the folloqing(more klog apart logic here):
In two years:

Every blogger will publish a main feed.
Each blog's category or topic will have a mirror feed.
Every business system requiring a user ID will customize feeds for each user.
Every major media outlet will drive traffic and affilliation by publishing feeds.
Some consumers will add editorial value by blending existing feeds into new, focused feeds.
Even better, we will be ale to rewad, manage, and filter up to 1000 feeds.

I like this posting! And I completely agree--this is where information sharing, consumption, and distribution are this post--it's worth the click.

Sunday & Sunday dinner

The son is still in California at music camp, so Spencer & I went off the Central Park this am with the dog--great walk, cool breeze, and a chance to experiment with the new digital camera.

Had a nap and a quick trip to the library. Took out All He Ever Wanted by Anita Shreve, renewed the McNally Grateful Dead history for 2 more weeks, Atwoods' Oryx and Crake, and still have Colette's Claudine novels to get through.

Made a good dinner for a change--have been doing NO cooking (always a reflection of how busy I am). Tonight's meal, however, was carefully assembled:
Salmon, tuna and cucumber/avocado sushi from the market
Big composed salad: Peppers, olives, blueberries (got into putting fruit in my salad in California), sweet onions, radishes, tomoatoes, salad greens
Salmon salad
Warm pita bread
Bottled water

Now Spencer's taken the dog to the woods for his evening walk (dog is clearly benefiting from no child around), and I'm back at work, about to edit a large document.

Heading to the West Coast August 1st. Lots to do before then.

More press on AOL Journals

The drum is beating for the release of AOL Journals:
Leslie Walker in the Washington Post, and CBS MarketWatch picking up blog postings.
, and Slashdot

Around the Blogosphere: Posts & Quotes

) Bush lied and the Media helped him--Not Geniuses: Brent Cunningham in Columbia Journalism Review on bias in the media.
In his March 6 press conference, in which he laid out his reasons for the coming war, President Bush mentioned al Qaeda or the attacks of September 11 fourteen times in fifty-two minutes. No one challenged him on it, despite the fact that the CIA had questioned the Iraq-al Qaeda connection, and that there has never been solid evidence marshaled to support the idea that Iraq was involved in the attacks of 9/11.

When Bush proposed his $726 billion tax cut in January, his sales pitch on the plan's centerpiece - undoing the "double-taxation" on dividend earnings - was that "It's unfair to tax money twice." In the next two months, the tax plan was picked over in hundreds of articles and broadcasts, yet a Nexis database search turned up few news stories - notably, one by Donald Barlett and James Steele in Time on January 27, and another by Daniel Altman in the business section of The New York Times on January 21 - that explained in detail what was misleading about the president's pitch: that in fact there is plenty of income that is doubly, triply, or even quadruply taxed, and that those other taxes affect many more people than the sliver who would benefit from the dividend tax cut.
More here.

2) You can mobblog with the rest of them and get invited to cool events: SmartMobs touts BuzzNet, a new photoblogging and "instant moblog" service that hopefully will be interesting for more than 5 minutes..

Saturday, July 12, 2003


Cut on the Bias mentions Snickerdoodles in their blog today. I'm a Snickerdoodles junkie, as is my son. Here's my early blog entry about Snickerdoodles, and a good recipe from Land O'Lakes butter.

AOL to sell CDs and CDs online--watch for an AOL Music label as well.

AOL cuts out the middleman: Reduced video, DVD and CD sales through Amazon signal AOL's effort for more revenue from its entertainment-focused audience. Two years ago, in 2001, AOL invested $100MM in Amazon as part of a multi-year sales pact, during a quarter when they were really hurting for cash; in return for the investment AOL got access to badly needed collaborative filtering technology to incorporate into Shop@.
Given that was the second most-viewed Internet shopping site in the U.S. in May with 35.9 million visitors, according to research firm ComScore Networks Inc., this audience segment and product category on AOL probably do not represent a large part of their online business, but the move can provide the AOL unit with desperate needed revenue--one of the ways they have made their numbers in recent quarters is to cut over $100MM in staff and costs--showing a positive uptick with new merchandise segments will make a difference to their annoyed corporate parent.

"America Online subscribers can buy CDs and videos "on impulse," said Bill Wilson, AOL Entertainment's new SVP. In other words, AOL promotes a first listen by an artist, the member plays the cut and then purchases the music--in some cases with fees going to AOL both from advertising and promotion from the label and later for merch.

In addition, this move paves the way for AOL to position itself not only as a maker of hits--the must-be destination to break new songs, new movies, and new media--but a developer and packager of such hits--remember, much of the AOL Entertainment team came from BMG and have kept their close ties to the music business. Further, AOL's great job developing the online radio business, which it now dominates, can provide a great advertising and distribution medium in which to sell new products.

Prepping for our first Garage Sale

We're spending a good part of this weekend getting ready to have a garage sale, every American's precursor to taking the trash to the dump. I've just gone through Google and gotten my quick Garage Sales tips from Getting Frugal and other sites decided not to buy professional signs because they won't arrive in time, and learned how to watch out for professional buyers arriving early the first day and buying up all; the good stuff (is this really a problem?
I've also learned that there are garage Sales freaks out there whose web sites are all about yard sales--Garage Sale Susan and Yard Sale Queen, in particular.
Our yard sale is going to feature several items of the "Please, get your van and haul them away" variety, notably bookcases and an Ikea armouire, as well as the usual jumble of unused bottles of sunblock, old CDs from the 80s, books, worn jeans, etc. And a sprinkling of that good stuff I hope someone comes and buys--I've decided to part with my collection of silk vintage Vera blouses, Coach bags, and 50s embroidered sweaters, as well as some of the bedspreads, tablecloths, and pieces of fabric that seem to follow me everywhere.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

The Architecture of the World Wide Web

It's all right here, thanks to the W3 Standards group. Best practices sprinkled throughout.

Department of Small Tragedies: I lost my address book

My computer is old, I am going to buy a new one this month. Meanwhile, I decided to clean out the 6+ copies of AOL in the program files--and in doing so I accidentally deleted my current version of AOL 8.0 and my address book.
Downloading a new AOL took a second, but the system reached into itself and found a version of AOL that was from, hey, probably Fall 2002, and used that to set up my favorites file/book marks list and my address book. I'd thought AOL address books were server based--it wasn't until the email addresses of some folks I have been talking to this month didn't pop up in my email that I realized I might be have a problem.
Conclusion: My address book has really been functioning as my directory or database of who I know.
I now feel lost without it and am going to have to think of a better back up system than printing the damn thing out.
Word to the smart asses: Yes, I know I can get off AOL or switch to Outlook, I may do both, or neither.
Word to the AOL product teams: How about a save function for address books?

When are bloggers off the record?

A post today from David Hornick on Venture Blog asking when, if ever conversations with bloggers are off the record. David writes:
"The bigger issue raised is an important one for the blogging community -- when, if ever, is something off the record for a blogger? I think for some bloggers the answer would be "never." For those of us who are blogging in the context of our businesses, there has to be some more pragmatic line drawing. If companies that pitched me found the details of their businesses discussed on VentureBlog the next day, it wouldn't take long before no one would pitch me. That said, business blogs are interesting because they are informed by the day-to-day business dealings of their authors. So I will continue to write about the things that interest me in my day-to-day life as a venture capitalist, but I will always be careful not to even push against the edges of confidentiality."

As a former and sometimes journalist, and as a former senior executive for large media companies, and now as a consultant, I would say that I have been trained to collect and analyze large amounts of diverse data--but to always assume that EVERYTHING is off the record, unless established otherwise, ahead of time. While it may be a cute convention for some bloggers to name drop everyone with whom they had breakfast, dinner, lunch, sex and whatever , we all know those people are like the needy kids on the edge of the cool crowd in high school, or the anxious little bullies in middle management at a big Internet company I used to work for who ran around the airplane-hanger sized offices quoting their bosses' bosses in every other sentence--in other words, they don't get any street cred for being name-droppers and suck-ups.

While this blog is deliberately not a work-focused blog, I do write often about business issues and companies that interest me, and I think what I bring to the table that makes the blog worth reading is my informed perspective--and hopefully, my sense of humor. I read Venture Blog for the same kind of insider expertise, more than for blabbed secrets, and that's pretty much what I expect from all the blogs I read--an insider voice that can help me understand something better.

8 am: Took the Which Matrix Persona Are You? Quiz

What Matrix Persona Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
Result: You are Neo, from "The Matrix." You display a perfect fusion of heroism and compassion.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Jewel: So fake it feels real?

Jewel's newest single, Intutition, she tells listeners to be real and to follow your heart. Judging by the recent glam photos and women's' magazine stories about Jewel's "glamour "makeover," either she is amazingly insincere and vapid, or she thinks the rest of us are.

Jewel says 'Don't sell out, follow your heart.'
Susan say 'You give bad name to blondes.

The Brilliance and Fear of "28 Days Later"

"28 Days Later," Danny Boyle's recent film about a world where an out-of-control virus rages through England, is one of the most affecting movies I've seen in quite a while. Closely linked with the zombie classic Night of the Living Dead, and with homage to the apocalyptic landscapes of Terminator, Mad Max, and A.I., as well as the abrupt realism of Blair Witch Project, 28 Days is the story of a world where "the infected" come after the few who still live.
The movie is shot entirely in digital video( I looked that up just now) and is wonderfully styled, with heartbreakingly beautiful shots of a rainy London and English countryside contrasting with the bloody horror of the plot.
The recent New York Times review that called the film "arresting" and "beautiful" made me want to see it, but nothing prepared me for the immense wave of feelings the film unleashed. The plot points of the story manage to connect themselves to much loftier questions about human nature, rage & aggression, our political and economic system, sadness, loss, and death.
What makes this film special, however, is how much it makes you care about the characters--and how scary it is to care, since they're in pretty-much constant danger. There were moments when I could barely stand to look at the screen, I was so afraid of what might happen.
The movie takes an upturn in the last third which made it easier to watch; rather than just waiting for everyone to be killed off, I actually started to consider that they might find a way to survive.
Susan's 2 cents: Great flick, instant classic, will be big seller on video after current run is over.
Good article in the Oregonian here.
More stories here.
P.S.> Turns out the flick was named Best British Film of 2002.
New: Photos taken on set by a fan.

Cell phones: The newest disruptive technology

According to Biz 2.0, cell phones are now interesting because there's a real chance to make money in the sector. Despite their lack of attention to cool things like mobblogging, Biz 2.0'sRafe Needleman, Michael Copeland, and Om Malik have put together an excellent feature on how new uses of cell phones are creating huge business opportunities.

Cell phone usage is expected to double by next year.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Mobblogging: How long is it going to take before we pick this up and put it down?

Of course I want a camera phone.
I also think I will get over it in about 3 weeks.
Meanwhile, here's an interesting piece on what to do with one, by Adam Greenfield, one of the organizers of the FIRST Moblogging Conference (I would have loved to have gone).(Link via Smart Mobs)

Also, interesting post by Greg Elin on cameras as infirmation gathering devices, or "See, it's more than pretty pictures."

Around the Blogosphere, remix version

Taking a break from my consulting project work to read the 200 blogs on my newsreader. You know, at this point the newsreader is the perferred vehicle for consuming information. When I come across blogs without RSS, XML or other feed options, I feel sad because I will read them 75% less than the ones I can add to the newsreader. And yes, I do click and open pages in the blog as well--but the newsreader is a great scanning device.
And helped me find
from The MediaBurn Radio Weblog: Photos of deserted farms in iceland.

Blog This! Dear Abby gives advice to a teen blogger

Watch out, says Abby to this NJ team (she's probably from South Orange, NJ, where all the HS kids blog).

Digital shoplifting: Did ya see it?

Apparently, digital shoplifting is on the rise in Japan, home of many camera phones. Apparently, Japanese are photographing books, movie times, fashion displays, etc and exchanging the images.

Said one woman, " But I have taken pictures of a hair-style catalogue to show to a hairdresser as the whole catalogue book was heavy... I also photograph clothes to consult friends about what to buy... or to tell them: This is the dress I'm planning to wear for the wedding party."

Wow! Can't wait till this new behavior comes to the US. Mobblogging is fascinating enough...
Latest from Joi Ito: Mobblogging banned in Japanese bookstores.

The new, new credo: is downscale cool ?

Is downscale the new upscale? Kat Donohue outlines the new no excuses credo:

I drive (and hold title on) a Japanese sub-compact economy car

- I wear non-designer clothes bought at discount stores

- I usually make my coffee and tea at home instead of buying it at Starbucks

- I buy used books

- I write in a $0.99 composition book from Walgreens, not a $10 leather-bound journal from Barnes & Noble

- I own almost nothing from Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn, or Restoration Hardware

- I don't have DSL, wi-fi, or Bluetooth, and neither does my PDA

- The last vacation I took was to visit my parents in Washington DC for Easter

Come home now, son : All dialogue guaranteed verbatim

From little,yellow,different:
Ernie: Hello?
Dad: Your mother tells me you're not working anymore.
Ernie: That's correct.
Dad: Have you been looking?
Ernie: No. I've slept for 14 hours. The bedsores are the only reason why I'm talking to y—
Ernie: I'm kidding.
Dad: You should still move home.
Ernie: No, dad.
Dad: It would be cheaper.
Ernie: No, dad.
Dad: Mother would cook for you and —
More here.

Warning: This is an Insular Mediarati-type Post about a NY Post writer

Mediabistro's Jesse Oxfield interviewed one of my absolute favorite journalists, the NY Post's tireless Keith Kelly (as opposed to Kevin Kelly, another great journalist). The Post's amazing rise in circulation is at least in part due to their determination to find the breaking news and gossip in all the key New York industries--entertainment, sports, television, real estate, banking, modeling, and of course, media--and cover it several times a week so info junkies like myself have to keep reading the paper (which I do, every morning, along with the NY Times and the Merc when I am in California).
Entire interview is here.Meanwhile, some neat snippets--
"... We live in a culture where we place a great premium on the scoop. I'm not going to do the second- or third-day, here's-how-it-fits-into-the-culture piece. I don't do that; I just don't have the space."
" You have to have something that resonates with the common man. That to me is the ideal story, the one that the industry is intrigued by, but also, hopefully, has enough human interest and drama in it. I guess if you want to boil it down to the quick and easy, we're very much interested in just basically winners and losers. And we're much more interested in uncovering the news than covering the news."
(Via Romanesko)

Radio Userland: What's next--Speculations

There is also much speculation that this is tied to Userland being acquired by a larger company. Dave Winer today says:
To those who have asked if I will return as CEO, I can't. I have a job that I love at Berkman, we're doing lovely things, the things I want to do. For me, the technology challenge is behind me, the next challenge is to apply the technology in activities that Harvard does uniquely well, and then bring the results to the constituencies that the university serves. That means there's room for a CEO here, and a management team; it also means it's possible that UserLand will be acquired. But we will only do it if it means continuity and growth for UserLand's customers. One thing hasn't changed, the first two syllables of the company's name. That's been constant through all the changes of the last fifteen years."

I spent part of last night exchanging emails with friends and colleagues, speculating about what might be going on. Ideas we rejected--an acquisition by Microsoft (already discussed, apparently, would be interesting complement to Sharepoint), Yahoo (always known to jump on a trend), AOL(nah, kings of build it themselves and user base is so not relevant to their focus).

My guess #1: Merge with Academica
Given that one of the striking features of the Manila and Userland product strategy has been the strong and apparently committed installed base they have established in the university and academic community, why not a sustainable business venture between Stanford and Harvard?
AOL gets the newbie consumers, MT gets the digerati, Blogger gets the' if we have it on the Google toolbar they come ' crowd, and diaryland and live journal continue as they are.
Meanwhile, Userland gets a great boost for the knowledge management and edu business they have served so effectively, and the universities get to grow a successful spin-out very complementary to their current blog-related endeavors.

My guess #2: Merge with Social Text
Second wild guess-I am going all out here--is a merger with Social Text, a company deeply interested in both the academic and the enterprise space, and one that is likely to continue to support RSS, having stayed out of the recent barbed discussions. The people at Social Text are smart and committed,and are working to create a more robust product; they also just received some investment money.

Guess #3: Can't talk about this one, and it's a wild card around an under the wire not yet launched start up that's received beaucoup dollars and is in acquisition mode. I don't think this is the one, but who knows.

Okay, I've put the wild speculations out there, and now will wait to be proving totally wrong on every count, which is how these things usually go.

Where is John Robb? Not Userland, not anymore

John Robb, former head of Radio Userland , left that business yesterday, and his web log now seems to be offline (his email address may be as well.) John started as the head of Radio Userland last February, so this is a fairly brief tenure.
Earlier in the week, John whose passion for and understanding of using blogging tools as a part of knowledge management has always impressed me, had posted some notes on his blog and others about a new commercial scheme to create a blogging network to make money for expert bloggers. This was very un-CEO like, so it caught my attention, as did the crawling script about the new idea that took over my newsreader browser (John took the script down fairly quickly, thank goodness).

The blogging community is posting about this news, quoting Dave Winer and wondering what happened to John. Many are chilled that his blog and email address could disappear so quickly (this is like being jacked OUT of the Matrix).

John, please let us all know where you are! During the brief conversations we had about blogging in education-both K-12 and university--you impressed me as a smart and focused guy, with a lot to contribute. And your blog--with its focus on knowledge management, has taught me a lot.

Monday, July 07, 2003

AOL BLogging: The Talk Goes On

411 bloggers are pointing to Jarvis' AOL Blogging post; another 20 or so to Clay Shirky's new post at Corante.
I would imagine the AOL team are well-pleased, this may be the most positive early vibe on a new AOL product in a while.

Department of Unexpected Ideas: Poem

Late Fragment

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.


Saturday, July 05, 2003

Jeff Jarvis on AOL blogs

As of 1:45 am Sunday morning, 375 bloggers are pointing to his post!

Carroll Gardens evening

Dinner with good friends at Whim on DeGraw Street:
Grilled Georgia peach and Vidalia onion salad, heirloom tomato salad, belon oysters, fried dragon fish with mashed potatoes, mussels with garlic and red pepper, sangria.
Dessert at Sweet Melissa's, a truly impressive little gem: almond cookies, linzer tarts, ginger fig custard tart, chocolate graham crackers-this shop carried about 20 things I would like to be able top bake. Melissa Murphy Hagenbart is quite the baker!

At the end of the evening, walking back to the car, ran into an old friend I hadn't seen for 10 years. I'd been looking for her on the web (would normal people check the white pages, first?) and couldn't get any current data. Turns out she's quit writing and gotten a masters in divinity!
We will reunite next week.

Book Club that Blogs

Saw Zuly's Reading Room blog via Move the Crowd:
"Zuly's Reading Room is a place to talk about books that you're reading. We don't all read the same book at the same time. Instead, we just talk about the book we're reading at the present time. If other people have read it, they can chime in on the discussion. Or not. It's up to you. By sharing what we're reading, you get ideas for new books to read. We're bookworms. We like to read. What can we say? There are two ways to participate. You can TrackBack posts about the books you're reading to this blog or by participating in our forum for more detailed discussions about the books that have been mentioned on the blog

AOL Blogging: VA Product team shows goods to NY power bloggers

The AOL Community Products team showed the new AOL blogging tools--aka Journals-- to some expert bloggers in New York earlier this week. "Sonic" Rick Robinson, and Andrea Spiegel, two super AOLers, led the delegation up to New York to show AOL's new blogs to power bloggers Meg Hourihan, Anil Dash, Nick Denton, Jeff Jarvis and Clay Shirky.

Reaction was enthusiastic.
Jarvis says:
"If we are eager for Iraqis and Iranians to blog, we certainly should be eager for AOLers to blog. The more the better.
:AOL has an interesting internal challenge positioning this next to its homepage tool and even its member profiles (which some people use as a quasiblog).
They've decided to call the product AOL Journals and thus, position it as a community tool (read: LiveJournal) more than a publishing tool (read: Movable Type). The word "blog" is only part of the subtitle.
That's wise. Community is what built the AOL empire.

(Really smart, Jeff, and so right.)

AOL team member Kevin wrote:
"We're trying to play nice with the larger blogging community by supporting open standards like RSS feeds for blogs. We're trying to talk to folks in the community to see where we should work with them. It?s unique in my involvement in AOL products, which is a great step in the right direction as far as I?m concerned.

[When the product does come out later this year, bear in mind that it's a 1.0, there are other new features on the way, and it?s built for the AOL user in mind. That said, I?m not one who shies away from speaking my mind. There are some really cool features in the product at launch. RSS support will be in 1.0, along with a bunch of other stuff that I?m not going to tell you about. Ok, I?I'll tell you one? You can send an IM to a bot and have it post to your blog with rich text support and other cool stuff (like add titles, etc).
Anil comments here.
More on AOL sneak-peeking the Journal at John Robb,
Side note: About 30 bloggers have pointed to Jeff's item and are commenting on it. Results more comprehensive on Feedsterthan technorati right now.
Note: When I was at AOL, I spent some time pushing the value of blogging on Ric Robinson and Michael Sherrod, the two execs who own the new product. They were both extremely interested and receptive to my ideas.
What I did not realize at the time was how many other conversations AOL had going with folks about blogging (shows what a huge company it is, and how there were communications problems internally). Apparently, in addition to the talks with potential vendors, acquisitions, and partners that I was aware of, there were other conversations with folks now involved in the blogging space.
Seems like many people can imagine that they helped motivate the get AOL up this new product hill toward AOL Journals.
Of course, now the AOL challenge will be to seed the journals, educate users on how to work with them, and promote them appropriately...Those RSS feeds have huge potential to help AOL "elevate the member", as we used to say.

Department of weekend woes: Teenager goes AWOL

When my son was born, my mother said, "Some day you're going to know what it's like," a reference to all the hell I put her through during my teen years.
I thought of that many times on Friday night as I repeatedly tried to call my teen-age son on his cell phone and got no response--hours after he was supposed to be home.--and hours after he'd left for the city with some NJ friends.
Not only did we not know where he was, he was supposed to get on a plane early this morning and head to California for music camp!
Around 3 am, before I called the police, I called a friend of his and got the cell phone number of the kid driving the car. They were on their way back from the city, but son was asleep next to him--he said.
What is the short version of "I'm not going to kill you right now because we have 40 minutes get you packed before we have to leave for the airport?
Whatever it is, that's the tune my husband and I were humming as we helped son pack clothes, select sheet music, pull tickets and itinerary together and head to airport at 4:30 am in order to put him on 6 am plane. Son, meanwhile kept saying, I just have to lie down for a few minutes, I am really tired," and we kept going, no, no, sleep when you get on the plane.
The miracle is that we did get him on the plane.
The reality is that I am going to beat the $%^#@ out of him when he gets back, or at least find some way to make sure he doesn't disappear without warning again. And needless to say, no more leaving the house before a trip, in fact, I think he shouldn't leave the house again until he turns 21.

Friday, July 04, 2003

Edublogging at its finest: NECC group blog

See the NECC blog for a great example of what collaborative blogging can accomplish and also great conference information. For those of you are not not educational technology folks(like, almost everyone), NECC is the big annual conference for educational technology where new products are traditionally rolled out. It's in Seattle this year.
This blog is loaded with information, ideas, and personality--way to go!

How to get RSS feeds from

Saturday, 7/5 update: To get RSS feeds from, go to the guide site you are interested in and click on the XML button--couldn't be simpler.
EDxample right here.
There's no list of RSS feeds yet, but here's how to get the feeds into your news aggregator, should you wish to do so:
From Doug Ransom posting on a syndication list at Yahoo Groups, via Serious Instructional Technology:
The format for a Guide site is of guide site/b/index.rdf
So, for Baking it is

For Manhattan it is

For its

I signed up for Baking, and it works.

Do big media companies stifle creativity?

8 years ago, when I was a non-corporate media person whose great creative idea spawned a $6MM division, I'd say no, good big media companies don't stifle creativity.
3 years ago, as a VP at Netscape/AOL, I would have said, "Well, it depends who's backing your ideas and what level you're at--I was paid great money to be creative."
Now, out on my own and glad about it, my response to the question is "Of course big media companies stifle creativity--and they know it--and that fact scares them silly."
Cory Berman of Lost Remote asked this question after reading this article in the LA Times.

Feedster Indexes blogs as RSS feeds

The first widespread commercialization of blogging is moving to the next level as Feedster announces they are indexing the blogs as RSS feeds.
This is interesting because it shows is willing to potentially forgo readers going to those pages (because they are seeing the RSS feeds as digests in newsreaders), for the greater ease in search and indexing that Feedster will offer.
** So where can I get the RSS feeds from

4th of July and didn't make any plans--Web links worth noting

New Museum Show, The American Affect:
Lawrence Rinder-curated show, The American Affect, at the Whitney in NYC.
Rinder: This show carries on the Whitney?s longtime commitment to illuminating the times in which we live. America has a profound influence on the daily lives of the world?s citizens? and the image of the United States has come to bear almost mythological weight. The American Effect is about the ways in which America?s real and imagined effects intertwine to become a compelling source of themes, images, and ideas for artists around the world.

New SFMOMA show: Illegal Art, Freedom of Expression in the Corporate Age

New "Fish-out'of Water' Narrative, The Island Chronicles:
Mark Fraufelder and family arrive in Rarotonga, an island in the South Pacific.

Who is Joi Ito and how did he get that way?: Joit Ito is an investor/VC who is extremely involved in the blogging world and who has made investments in a number of new blogging start-ups. He's just posted a wonderful self portrait in his blog. One of my goals in the world, post leaving AOL, is to have a more transparent relationship between my work self and my non0work self--Joi dones an amazing jon of achieving this in his account of who he is and how he became that way. Bravo!

Wonderful photos, via SandHill Tech: Photog Aicha Hockx

Did you shop eBay this week?

According to an Internet Retailer piece, Neilsen/Netratings announced that was the top shopping destination for the week of June 22, beating number 2 by 52% in unique visitors. In addition, eBay won big in terms of time spent--visitors interacted with the site for an average of 41 minutes, 50 seconds compared to 2nd place Amazon's visitings staying for an average of 8 minutes, 13 seconds.

I was an eBay addict for about 18 months, then my interest tapered off. The day I decided to leave AOL, I stopped shopping on eBay (says alot about how buying vintage clothes online in hotel rooms while alone and bored at night is a symptom of poor quality of life), and I haven't gone back, not cause I woldn't, just haven't felt the urge.

The Blog: Giant Sea Creature mystifies scientists

Via Adam Curry's weblog and sea blog: A CNN story about a giant sea creature found off the coast of Chile. Is it a piece of an old rotting whale, or a giant octopus known as Octopus Giganteus, last seen in 1896 off the Florida coast? DNA testing is underway.

Thursday, July 03, 2003 moves to Blogs

Howard Sherman, former SVP of Content for, notes that the company has moved its Guides to blogs:, a network of more than 400 sites and one of the largest producers of original content on the Web, just relaunched those sites as Weblogs. ..This development is significant for a few reasons:

*It's probably the single largest addition of content to the blogosphere to date.

*All of these sites are advertiser supported so it should help give credence to blogs as a viable business model.

*The sites are using Moveable Type software which is a vote of confidence in Moveable Type's technology.

I too know the folks (though clearly not as well as Howard), and have been hearing about these plans for some time.
Here's the big question: When do they add contextual search links to the pages using their Sprinks network?
And will they launch a blogging community? And resell Moveable Type blogs to their audience?
It will be great to see this effort evolve.

Animal Planet: Cataloging the world around us

I don't write much about ecology here, though it is a topic I am very interested in, but two sites are worth noting--the All Species Foundation, a project that was going great guns for a while and then had to slow down because of funding issues, and the ARKIVE, an Archive for Endangered Species created by The WildScreen Trust in Bristol, England .
(Thanks to Research Buzz for the second link)

Bestselling Literary Classics--What sells every year?

More from Publisher's Lunch:
Book Magazine has compiled a list of Top 50 Classic Bestsellers, drawn from Bookscan data.
(The list excludes titles that had strong movie tie-ins (like Lord of the
Rings) and doesn’t incorporate high school and college bookstore sales.)

The Top 25 range from The Hobbit, The Catcher in the Rye, and The Red
Tent, all at 500,000 copies a year or greater, down to The House on
mango Street, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and Price and Prejudice, all just
about the 100,000-copy a year level.

It's interesting to think about how many of these books I have read--and then how many made a profound impression on me. The Hobbit, Catcher in the Rye, 1984--these are rites of passage books that everyone should read and they're heavily represented on the list. Then there are other, newer titles such as The Red Tent and Memoirs of a Geisha which are good books, but less special.

Interesting question: What would you expect to be on this list that is missing?

More bookstore chains offering wireless access

It's not just Starbucks. According to Michael Cader's Publisher's Lunch, Borders is now offering wi-fi Internet access through T-Mobile, and Barnes & Noble is planning to test wi-fi access in 24 Atlanta and Seattle-area stores this summer.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Blog-flogged by Doc!

I was just blog-flogged by Doc Searls!
This makes me want to go out and get a T-shirt made that says "Blog-flogged by Doc!"

Doc, I am so thrilled you enjoy my blog--I read yours religiously--
Also, now this is going to give me a chance to see where I get more referrals, a NY Times story or your blog (okay, that sounded swarmy, but how many times will I get to say that?)

Canal Street shut down

Gothamist says Canal Street has been shut down because of a suspicious package at the 1/9 station, and Gothamist is there on the spot.

Atlanta-Journal: World's Shift to Broadband Hurts AOL

from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
"America Online became a profitable giant in the 1990s by introducing the masses to the Internet, only to see U.S. subscribers in recent years begin shifting to rival services as they moved to broadband.

Now the online division of AOL Time Warner Inc. must avoid a similar pattern overseas -- a market it says should provide 50 percent of its revenue within 10 years.

Studies show that European subscriptions to high-speed Internet service are on track to surpass those in the United States. By 2008, Jupiter Research predicts that 48 percent of all European households will have broadband, compared with 46 percent in the United States.

Broadband is booming in Latin America as well. Yankee Group predicts that 1.2 million subscribers in the region will be logging on through high-speed telephone digital subscriber lines by the end of 2003, a 60 percent jump in one year."
More here.

Starbucks gains revenue on new services, including Wi-Fi

from retailwire:
STARBUCKS (SBUX) said today that same-store sales for their June
period gained 10 percent over year-ago, and that net revenues, which
climbed to $470 million, represent and increase of 27 percent
Said chairman Howard Schultz, "With our market-defining
beverage innovations, popular programs such as the Starbucks Card
and Wi-Fi network, and the continuing growth in our international and
specialty operations, we are just beginning to realize our long-term
Starbucks currently operates 6,741 stores: 5,163 in
continental North America; 1,578 in the rest of the world.

Starbucks has always been about services as much as goods--that cup of coffee is okay, but the service you get having it custom-made and then being allowed to hang out in a pleasant place as long as you feel like it is what we all really pay for. This statement from Schultz suggests how much opportunity Starbucks may recognize for delivering additional services.

For more on how clearly Starbucks gets who they are--and built the model for new types of services--see Schultz's book Pour your heart into it: How Starbucks built a company one cup at a time, and the wondeful book by marketing exec Scott Bedbury , A New Brand World, which I found so compelling I could not put it down (I also worked for AOL at the time, a company that was trying to rebrand itself for subscribers).

Happy Birthday, California

During the 2-3 months when I thought seriously about becoming a (fulltime) writer once more, as I had been before I became obsessed with interactivity, the Internet, and developing new businessesonline, I cruised many sites for writers to learn more about where the industry was now.
A few of my favorites were Media Bistro, where I paid to join (yeah, it was that good), Moby Lives, The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and California Authors.
California Authors just celebrated its first year in operation, so here's to you, and hopes for many more.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Posts from around the Blogosphere

Scott Rosenberg: Why California is broke and out of energy as well.
"There is an unfolding story in California that your newspaper will typically cover as two separate stories. One story is a tale of budgetary woe, in which the state, suffering under a tenacious recession and stymied by its own political logjams, struggles to figure out how to close a gap of many billions of dollars in its budget. If it can't, we Californians will discover very quickly that just as the federal government cuts our taxes (a little bit if we're middle class, a lot if we're rich), the state will either raise our taxes or cut our services and schools (or, if we're really lucky, both).

This is a big story. Meanwhile, in the other story, the state of California tries to persuade federal energy regulators that it should be able to abrogate exorbitant energy contracts it signed at the height of the energy crunch in 2001. It is now a matter of public record, established by those same federal energy regulators, that California's energy prices jumped through the ceiling because energy companies were illegally manipulating the deregulated market. (Though at the time the much-reviled Gov. Gray Davis was sneered at for suggesting as much, his claims were dead right.) But, strangely, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which thinks those prices were illegal enough to be bringing "enforcement actions" against 60 energy companies for gaming the California energy market, nonetheless thinks that they are still legal enough that the state -- and citizens -- of California should have to pay them."

John Haughton on his trip to Berlin and the pleasures of being a geek. Great pictures!

Cashing in on the fight against fat

Yeah we're all overweight. And its bad for us. And you know what, it's definitely a marketing opportunity to some folks. According to Reuters and other news sources, "...Kraft Foods Inc., the No. 1 U.S. maker of processed foods, on Tuesday said it would reformulate many of its products, cease marketing in schools and take other steps to counter a rise in obesity that could trigger a rash of lawsuits against the food industry.

The maker of Oreo cookies and Velveeta cheese spread said it will develop a range of standards this year to improve the overall nutritional content of its foods and the way it sells them. It will begin making the changes, which could take three years, in 2004.

The cost of the sweeping measures could not be estimated, according to a spokesman for the company, based in the Chicago suburb of Northfield, Illinois."

In addition, according to USA Today's Sam Hirsch:
McDonald's this summer will test a Happy Meal with an option to replace the wildly popular — but fat-filled — french fries with a bag of fresh, sliced fruit.

• Frito-Lay is within weeks of eliminating all artery-clogging trans fatty acids from its chips and snacks. And the CEO of its parent company, PepsiCo, has vowed that at least half of its new foods and beverages will be aimed at nutrition-conscious consumers.

• Kellogg recently bought Kashi, whose cereals have no highly refined sugars or preservatives.

In a related story, a NY congressman Felix Ortiz has proposed a 1% sales tax on all junk food as a means to stop us from stuffing our faces.

Sounds like the fight against fat is going to be the next big thing for marketers to cash in on.

Family ties" Ed Klein & Alec Klein both release new nonfiction books this month

Time to start the pool on whether sales for The Kennedy Curse: Why America's First Family Has Been Haunted by Tragedy for 150 Years,
father Ed Klein's book on John and Caroline Kennedy, will continue to top those of son Alec Klein's Stealing Time: Steve Case, Jerry Levin, and the Collapse of AOL Time Warner,
the story of the AOL Time Warner merger .
Will there be a celebrity smack down?
As of July 1st, Klein Jr.'s AOL book currently has an Amazon sales rank of 283.
Klein Sr.'s book has an Amazon sales rank of 22.
Guess both of them are going to get to summer in the Hamptons.

Department of Lost Sound Bites

From Popbitch: "As cheesy and insignificant as it is to say
that you've found yourself in a new hair colour, it's the truth." --Mandy Moore

Emerging market for broadband content?

6 months ago, there was lots of talk about the growth of broadband, but few indicators that there were viable business models and companies willing to pay for unique broadband product. Now, that may be changing--at least a little.
The Online Publisher's Association reports this week that
"...Disney's online properties are moving aggressively into video and getting results.'s jitter-free motion video has been a hit with users, with about 800,000 watching clips daily. AdAge said ESPN has had success selling video ads to big clients (Gatorade, Lexus) as part of the TV upfront. explains that the application streams video during off-peak hours to a user's desktop. Now, will preview network TV shows and archival material using the same technology. Also, WSJ Online reports that AOL on Broadband has started embedding video into its top sports page -- but without a separate player. "
While none of this is unique, original video, it is the beginning of a more wide-spread recognition that digital video delivery has great promise and is a viable channel for the mainstream.
OPA bonus: New report on how site affinity is the greatest predictor for high user clickthrough on advertising (uh, dud!)

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