Sunday, August 31, 2003

Popbitch made me do it

Old Jokes' Home:
A man walks into a dentist's surgery and says,
"Excuse me, can you help me. I think I'm a moth."
Dentist: "You don't need a dentist.
You need a psychiatrist."
Man: "Yes, I know."
Dentist: "So why did you come in here?"
Man: "The light was on..."

"Grandmother used to take my mother to the circus
to see the fat lady and tattooed man - now
they're everywhere." - Joan Collins

Those naughty English! I click on POPBITCH'S emails every time...

Blogger needs help--laptop was stolen

From Sandhill Trek by the estimable Frank Paynter: Seattle blogger Ann Craig just had her laptop stolen; this follows a bout with melanoma.
Here's the thing:Blogger Gary Turner set up a paypal account for donations--I just gave $10 bucks, even though I never heard of her before (but I feel lucky to have $10 bucks I can give, so it's my privilege to share). SO if you feel lucky, too, please donate. A blogger without a laptop is way worse than a fish without a bicycle, like they're screwed.

Google news--missing from the news rankings

Online Journalism Review: Google News draws more than 3 million unique visitors a month, but Nielsen and Media Metrix have excluded them from news site rankings. Now both say they are looking into ranking them with the other top news outlets.
"Google News is a channel within Google, which has enormous reach. We have Google News with 3.4 million unique users in July. In this category, we have CNN at 21 million, MSNBC at 20 million. ... So 3.4 million would place it about 20 spots down the list. We also have subcategories below that."

from styleborg: tattoos: not just for rebels anymore.

Kerry Bodine writes: A few months ago Haven suggested to me that studying tattoos might give me some ideas about the future design of wearable computers. Turns out he's not so crazy after all... In the book Stylemakers: Inside Fashion, the authors talk about David Wolfe, one of Seventh Avenue's foremost fashion forecasters, and his ideas about tattoos. "Based on research from [the MIT experimental clothing laboratory], he predicts a future amalgamation of apparel and technology. 'Tattooing and body piercing are the first steps in this transformation,' he maintains.

Department of when will some things change: Women in j-school don't translate into more women in the newsroom

Although 64.4% of the enrollees in journalism school are women, that doesn't mean 64%--or even 20%--of the staffers in newsroom are women, reports a recent Boston Globe story by Mark Jurkowitz.
"And though the pipeline is full of women, the newsroom remains a male-dominated province that presents significant barriers to their success. The new American Journalist Survey found that in the past two decades, the overall percentage of women journalists (33 percent) had actually dropped by about a point. And this, the survey noted, is in a country in which women make up half the professional and managerial work force. For all the talk about changing workplace culture, evolving societal mores, and the abundance of women in journalism school, such traditional issues as babies, bad hours, and old-boy networks still make a career in media a daunting enterprise. And full gender diversity -- which many media analysts say would have a serious impact on news content itself -- remains a distant goal. "

Peter Krasilovsky on online newspapers and emerging business models

The always intelligent Peter Krasilovsky gave a talk to some Knight Fellows this month that was written up by Online Journalism Review. Some snippets:
"Paid content is a great way to make more money, but the real money is in advertising and marketing, don't ever forget it, and if you are a consultant you're made sure you don’t ever forget it. ...

So let's look at The New York Times, and how they do it at New York Times Digital, tremendous signs of success there. And they did something that people were afraid to do in the early days, they registered their users and people could be willing to register for the New York Times, because it was considered to be unique content that was very valuable.

The New York Times is very proud of having 11 million active registered users, but that is not where they make most of their money on New York Times Digital. The real money they make -- because they know whom you are, and they can sell your type of person to different types of advertisers on a targeted basis -- comes from the 1.5 million loyal users who come in several times a week. Those are the people that come in and will be exposed to their advertising and much higher cost per thousand rates then the daily e-mail sites and the 11 million active registered users -- the people that come in about once a month or more. This is their bread and butter."

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Department of School is back in session everywhere

Maximum Aardvark: Overheard verbatim
Guy: Wouldn't that be ill?
Girl: Oh, that would be so ill.

Girl 1: So, do you guys drink?
Girl 2: Oh, yeah, heavily!

Who will be the next editor of The New York Times Magazine and other snarky bits

WARNING: This is in the you might not give a rat's $&%#@$ department, but Gawker repeats the current NY city-side specs about who'll be the next editor of the Times Mag now that Adam Moss has a new Times job. Whispers on the avenues are that Jacob Weisberg of Slate is a front-runner for the spot.

Here's the on the money comment from snark of about the Times' move toward hipness in general, and about the probably hiring of SLATE editor Jacob Weisberg for the NYT in particular:
"Jodi kantor isn't a blogger, and wasn't one at slate--it's just that her style seems overly influenced by the short-attention-span theater that is the web. i loves blogs--here i am on gawker--they are flippy and entertaining and point you towards interesting stuff. it's just that once the stuff they point towards starts pointing back, there's nothing left! someone needs to produce the actual fucking *content*."

Tom Curley: Building the new eAP

Incoming Associated Press president Tom Curley told publishers today that he wanted to lead an initiative to transform the AP into the eAP, or news service of the future.
""We are transforming the AP from a wire service, which we've been for 150 years ... to an interactive database and news network that connects us, and not just connects us technically, but more importantly connects our common business and journalistic goals," Curley, the former head of USA Today, told the audience. He said that AP's news operations — from print to broadcast to broadband — would be merged into a single unit that could deliver a multimedia product.

As someone who has worked to make this kind of effort successful--at media companies ranging from Advance to Scholastic to Netscape to AOL TW--I know how tough it can be--it's a killer--but it is also the way the world is inexorably going. Information businesses of the future will be digital warehouses, needing to providing real time access to all sorts of data that can be packaged and redistibuted through various content management and publishing systems. I would LOVE to have a chance to talk with Curley about his this era of streamlining and consolidation it is how news organizations--and all information businesses--will survive.

from OJR:
"The Net went through several phases and only now is approaching what I could call rational: There was a great mania, a great collapse, it was overvalued, it was undervalued and now people are trying to integrate it into business strategies."
-- Tom Curley, AP president and CEO

Where in the US are the most Internet users?

The largest percentage of adult U.S. Internet users resided in the Pacific
Northwest at the end of 2002, according to a new report from the Pew
Internet & American Life Project. Oregon and Washington State had the
largest penetration rate at 68 percent, followed by New England (66
percent), California (65 percent), the D.C. metropolitan area (64 percent)
and the Rocky Mountain states (64 percent). The report describes online
usage patterns and habits, favorite Web sites, and other detailed
information by region.

Source: Pew Internet
CyberAtlasvia Digital Edge

Department of what you already knew: Text ads rule on search results pages

Reuters: Advertising placed on search results pages generated higher click-through rates and cost less than contextually placed ads, according to a study from
NewGate Internet. The study is based on campaigns from two NewGate clients.

UserLand Ranks Top 100 RSS Feeds

From Digital Edge and Rob Runett, some neat items this week:
UserLand Ranks Top 100 RSS Feeds: provides eight of the 100 most-subscribed-to RSS feeds by RadioUserLand customers, according to a list compiled by online communications specialist UserLand Software Inc. The Christian Science Monitor, San Jose Mercury News columnist Dan Gillmor and USA Today also appear on the list.

Source: Radio Userland via

Hi-tech fruit pickers help the needy

Hitachi workers and volunteers harvested 8,500 pounds of french prunes, one of the big crops of the region formerly known as "the Valley of heart's desire", now known as Silicon Valley, to donate to the homeless. 170 volunteers nabbed the fruit off 50 trees in Hitachi's 322-acre corporate park that also has fruiting apricot, peach, almond, and walnut trees growing between the buildings.
"French plums in particular are a historical crop, which made Santa Clara valley famous. As far as we know, the orchard there is the largest remaining one," said Joni Diserens, director of Village Harvest, a nonprofit group that organizes fruit harvests in the valley's remaining orchards and backyards with fruit trees.

Friday, August 29, 2003

Writing and crying

Two years after, and these tapes bring it back:
PATH Ch. 019
PORT AUTHORITY POLICE OFFICER: There's … this is bad. They got planes all over the radar, coming into the New York area. They think everything is going to start hitting.
OFFICER'S MOTHER: Oh … please promise you'll call again!

9 11: Transcript from Windows on the World

… A PERSON CALLING FROM WINDOWS ON THE WORLD: Hi, this is [person's name], from Windows on the World on the 106th floor. The situation on 106 is rapidly getting worse.
POLICE OFFICER RAY MURRAY (To people in the background): I got a fourth call from Windows on the World, it's getting rapidly worse up there.
WINDOWS ON THE WORLD: We … we have … the fresh air is going down fast! I'm not exaggerating.
POLICE OFFICER RAY MURRAY: Uh, ma'am, I know you're not exaggerating. We're getting a lot of these calls. We are sending the fire department up as soon as possible. I have you, [person's name], four calls, 75 to 100 peopele, Windows on the World, 106th floor.
WINDOWS ON THE WORLD: What are we going to do for ai[r]?
POLICE OFFICER RAY MURRAY: Ma'am, the fire department …
WINDOWS ON THE WORLD: Can we break a window?
POLICE OFFICER RAY MURRAY: You can do whatever you have to to get to, uh, the air.

Everyone died who was in the restaurant. We honor their memory and that of everyone else who perished.

Chef-a-holic: What I made for dinner

Went to the farmer's market at San Pedro Square for 30 minutes this am, which resulted in this meal, eaten at the table outside in the yard:
String beans sauteed with garlic and scallions
Grilled corn with pico de gallo and lime
Artichoke foccacia (made by a company in Hayward, CA)
Spinach salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing
Strawberries from--where else-Watsonville, CA

This is the first meal I've had where everything was locally grown. How cool is that. (Okay, the olive oil was from Turkey...)

Tracking the Tripod Blog Builder

TerraLycos announced today that their Tripod Blog Builder has just won an award from PC Magazine for ease of use. Launched in February, the tool is part of a subscription package that Tripod and Angelfire users can purchase (4.95 to $19.95 per month); there is also a free version. Director of Product Management Brian Carr says "Blogging is not just for the political pundits and technical elite anymore...We've transitioned blogs from a technology tool to a lifestyle accessory, adding features most requested by our millions of members."
I just went to the site and checked it out...two of the blogs I selected as recently updated (Aug 14th) gave me File Not Found errors when I got to their pages. The third blog had one entry from July 2003. My quick impression was that Terra Lycos continues to offer great publishing tools, but that not everything being called a blog was a blog...on the other hand, I did see one (fairly new) blog that had the look and feel of a LiveJournal blog.
Will explore further.

Former AOL-er to pitch pineapples for Steve Case

David Cole,Hawaii-raised ex-AOL executive who went on to create a model organic showfarm in Virginia and purchase Cascadian Farms, has just been hired by Maui Land & Pineapple Inc., an organic pineapple grower (guess where) whose majority shareholder is former AOL chairman and major Hawaii guy Steve Case. Maui Land owns approximately 28,600 acres of land and employs over 2,000 people on the Island of Maui in Hawaii. They also own a luxury resort and a major shopping center.

I was going to make fun of Cole about this, but I'm going to restrain myself. I'm actually jealous--not only because the guy has beaucoup dollars from his stock options--unlike some of us ex-AOlers--but because doing sustainable agriculture seems like a fabulous endeavor, He's apparently been quite successful in his earlier projects, and Hawaii is a great place to live if you can find something to do there and don't mind being on the other side of the plant from New York and DC. So no sniggering this least for a moment.

Missy Elliott rules--and she won the MTV VIdeo Music Awards, too

Ever since that moment when I heard a baby's cry mixed into an Aliyah single (Are you that someone?and had to find out who created that sound, I've been a fan of Missy Elliott and her producing partner, Timbaland. Well, girlfriend got 8 MTV Video Music award nominations, and last night won Best Video for Work It--which she played a huge role in directing and creating.

More fun pictures here.

Louise Gluck named US Poet Laureate

Poet Louise Gluck was just named poet laureate of the US. A student of Stanley Kunitz, the 60-year old Gluck gave several readings for the Academy of American Poets when I worked there as a 20 year old aspiring writer, back in the day and on the heels of Kathy Norris. Like James Wright, another of my favorite poets, Gluck's work--and her persona--had an undercover of sadness that always impressed me but also gave me pause.


Fish bones walked the waves off Hatteras.
And there were other signs
That Death wooed us, by water, wooed us
By land: among the pines
An uncurled cottonmouth that rolled on moss
Reared in the polluted air.
Birth, not death, is the hard loss.
I know. I also left a skin there.

Copyright © 1987 Louise Glück
Online Source

9/11 transcripts live on the web

The Port Authority has released the transcripts of the distress calls received on 9/11.
"The transcripts, released Thursday, provide the first look at the extraordinarily difficult decisions faced by both occupants of the towers and Port Authority personnel as they struggled to respond to the attack.

There were references to howling sirens in the background, while callers repeatedly spoke over each other after the airliner crashed into the first tower. Many callers were inaudible, yet their horror and hysteria jumps off the typed pages."

Excerpts here, courtsey of Fox News.

Is this what studying Kabbalah leads to?

At the MTV music awards, a ploy for attention

When Britney said, "I haven't had a boy in a while, I'm hungry for a kiss," no one expected her to buss Madonna.

What the Australians said:
The defrocked ex-queen of sugary pop Britney Spears has shocked telly viewers with a full-on tongue sarnie sesh with Madonna and her nudist nemesis Christina Aguilera at the MTV Music Awards.

In a headline-grabbing, stage-managed stunt of cod-lesbionics, Britters, Aguilera and mentor Madge played up a spot of tonsil-hockey for the crowd, prior to warbling the ever-dreadful Like A Virgin and recent effort, Hollywood

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Bloggers hit the road

Peterme: Californians see New England. A long way from Be-zerkley, CA, blogger Meyerholz turns a fresh eye on Vermont, and adjoining states. Nice trip journal.
DC Pierson: HamFisted Theatric's teen blogger goes to college in NY and can't believe it. "I am surrounded by the famous and the infamous and wonderful people on floors above and below. Last night I got my first applause in NYC, and tonight I'm going to see a Yankees game."

You know you're getting older when

1) You must take off your glasses to read the street names on the maps.
2) You want to believe him when the amorous tipsy man leans over and says, "You have a teenager? AMAZING! I thought you were not more than 35!"
3) There are three sharp little hairs growing out of a corner of your chin that come back prickly no matter how often you pluck them.

Of course, aging is all relative.
Someone I know quite well recently confessed that s/he likes to log onto and check out how they other 45-50 year olds look. "We look pretty good compared to most of them," he said delightedly.
Course, that's not saying much.

In memoriam

Touched by John Naughton's writing about memories of his deceased wife, Sue, and quoting this poem by Peter Porter:
The words and faces proper to
My misery are private--you
Would never share your heart with those
Whose only talent's to suppose,
Nor from your final childish bed
Raise a remote confessing head --
The channels of our lives are blocked,
The hand is stopped upon the clock,
No one can say why hearts will break
And marriages are all opaque:
A map of loss, some posted cards,
The living house reduced to shards,
The abstract hell of memory,
The pointlessness of poetry--
These are the instances which tell
Of something which I know full well,
I owe a death to you--one day
The time will come for me to pay
When your slim shape from photographs
Stands at my door and gently asks
If I have any work to do
Or will I come to bed with you.

Dept of my new hometown: Still losing jobs

American Cities Business Journal, San Jose edition: "The high-tech recession hammered jobs out of Silicon Valley over the past year at a pace outstripping every metropolitan area in the nation, according to figures released Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor. "

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

10,000 facts about the blogosphere

Spent today pulling together the 179 pieces of research about the blogosphere, newsreaders, social networks, paid search, Internet advertising, and numerous other subjects for a project I am advising. Then it turned out that my lovely new Fujuitsu Lifebook with a CDRW doesn't actuall write data discs very well--at least that's what the guy at Kinko's told me when he said he was unable to read the disc.
Unable to solve that problem, I hooked up the external iomega CDR drive, installed the HotBurn software, and let'er rip.
Now I can go back to Kinko's-- they're open 24 hours. Ugh.
Once I finish pulling together some of the charts, etc. I'll post them here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Dept of Zen Forestry

Last day in Aspen. Went into the mountains to see the Maroon Bells, a Colorado mountain chain. The bus driver said:
"What can you leave in the forest? Nothing, except your footprint."

Understanding The brain's CEO

"You can be truly smart and still struggle in life if you lack the ability to plan, organize time and space, initiate projects and see them through to completion, and you cannot resist immediate temptations in favor of later better rewards."
--Richard C. Saltus, NY Times article, August 26, 2003

Monday, August 25, 2003

AOL: Journals Launched

From the press release:
Members can create an AOL Journal based on their particular interests, hobbies or needs, and can be anything members want, including a baby book, a family picture album, a fan site for sports or music. For example, families may design a journal to keep in touch with relatives while travelers will find it handy to set up journals to post descriptions of their journeys. Business professionals will appreciate being able to create journals devoted to industry trends while music and entertainment fans can publish personal observations about the celebrities that fascinate them the most. News journals will allow amateur and aspiring journalists to provide their take on current events while others can choose to set up personal journals to post commentary and links on areas of interest or eclectic hobbies."

According to an insider, AOL Journals already has about 7,000 users, but it's jumped up into the top 200 on AOL searches, indicating members are interested.
Massive scaling will depend on the quantity of promotion that AOL provides.

Former InfoSpace CEO has to repay $247MM

The former CEO of InfoSpace,Naveen Jain, has been ordered repay $247 million to the company for violating laws on insider trading; Recent stories report that Jain was found guilty of making stock trades between December 1998 and May 1999 while serving as the company's chief executive. The lawsuit, filed by shareholder Thomas Dreiling, sought $207 million plus interest and restitution to InfoSpace.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

It was like my personal network turned into my personal hell.

Friendster turns ugly when ex-es split the friends.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

On the road again: Aspen, Colorado conference facilitation

Am writing this from the Phoenix airport, waiting to board a flight to Aspen, Com, where I am working with my 5ive partners to facilitate a small conference with an interesting futurist theme.
I’ve used the changeable climate and the mountain elevations as an excuse to pack most of my summer wardrobe, secretly believing that one of the things that happen when you bring people together for a few days who don’t know one another that well is that they all change their clothes three times a day.
Tonight is the opening reception at the home of the owner of the swanky Caribou Club, then tomorrow we get down to it—I expect to get a ballroom sunburn (i.e. never stop working) for the next few days—my partners have done so much of the prep work on this project, I want to now pick up all possible slack.

Bush the Liar

He lied. He told others to lie—about the war in Iraq, about air quality in New York City, about his military ambitions.
Is this what a President is supposed to do?
We impeached Nixon because he ordered the break-ins at Watergate.
What is the right response to this President, an aspiring imperial emperor who bahaves as though his wishes make him above the law?

Remembering Marilyn Riback Mernit

My mother died 6 years ago, this week, at the age of 70.
Some remembrances:
--The daughter of a first-generation Russian immigrant, and a shy Hungarian-American girl, Mom took control of the family at age 5, making calls to the doctor, ordering groceries, and planning meals when her mother felt overwhelmed, which was often.
--A powerful tennis player, Mom’s baseline serves and punishing backhand, won her many singles and doubles days through her (amateur) career, “I should have gone pro,” she said to me once, at about 50. “But in those days, it wasn’t something most women could do.”
--Mom got married at the ripe old age of 23, far after many of her peers. Extremely pretty, she decided she would marry my father (a mature doctor of 33), the night they met. 3 weeks after their first date, they were talking marriage, but they decided to wait 5 weeks to tell their families, “Just to be sure.”
--Mom never did anything halfway. She had three kids in four years, and joked “they all think they’re only children.” We all agreed, as did my Dad, her 4th “only child.”
--Mom and Dad were married almost 50 years. Mom nursed Dad through terminal lung cancer, then couldn’t adjust to life without him (was it survivor’s guilt, or just great pain?)
Here’s to your memory, Mom, and to the love you gave. We all still miss you.

Harvard Business Review: The case of the workplace blogger

Halley Suitt's just published a piece in the Harvard Business Review. Here's what Halley has to say about it:
" 'I've just published a piece on blogging in Harvard Business Review called "A Blogger In Their Midst" which is a (fictional) "case study" about a CEO who is perplexed by a blogger known as Glove Girl. who's spilling secrets, drawing bigger crowds at industry events and happens to be on his payroll. Here's their schpiel from the Table of Contents
HBR Case Study
A Blogger In Their Midst
Halley Suitt

A tech-savvy employee has something to say about everything at surgical glove manufacturer Lancaster-Webb. When she raved on-line about an older style of gloves, sales unexpectedly shot up. And when she posted damaging information about a potential customer's business practices, the deal collapsed. Is "Glove Girl" a priceless marketing weapon or a grave security risk"

Commentators on the scenario--HBR's version of 'Can This Marriage Be Saved?" are The four experts commenting on my piece are none other than our favorite boy blogger David Weinberger, also the only CEO I know who blogs, Ray Ozzie of Groove, law professor Pamela Samuelson from UC Berkeley and EMC VP of Human Resources Erin Motameni.
(link via Dave Winer)

Friday, August 22, 2003

Mernit's manias

I'v been amazing busy working on projects for clients and proposals for prospective clients, so feel like I haven't had as much time to think as before.
One of my projects involves pulling together a large amount of comparative data and market research about the online advertising market, paid search, blogging, RSS, social networks, and almost everything else you could think of of interest in the 'new and emerging' category.
Another project, which I will start next week for real, involves researching and writing about blogging. community, and political activity/elections, etc.
I'm also working on interesting product develop plans for some other clients.

I'm hoping to share some of the more surprising comparative data after I've pulled everything together--this is going to be a real look across the business landscape.

I am also starting to think about what I want to talk about at BlogCon. Given that Dave Winer says he has 2000 emails in his inbox, I hope he finds mine, and pings me so we can talk about the panel (hear that, Dave? Thx.)

Post lunch with Phil Wolff

Having lunch with Phil Wolff was great, but reading the kind account of that lunch is almost even better.
A new mutual admiration society is born.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

How big is Sobig?

The SoBig virus is blasting through the internet about as quickly as the infection in 28 Days Later, but fortunately, the victims are machines, not people. Today's Internet News story reports that AOL scanned 40.5 million email attachments yesterday, more than 4 times the more usual 11 MM attachments per day. Of the 40.5 mil, of those, 23.2 million were infected with Sobig-F.

The Island Chronicles: New installment live

Did you ever wonder what it would be like if you rented out your house, stored most of your things, and moved your family, kids and all, to a remote South Sea island?

Mark Fraufenfelder and Carla Sinclair took off from LA for Paradise in early July, and are posting dispatches from their island about once a week.
The latest is about Jean, a new friend with seven kids.

Lunches with Bloggers: Phil Wolff

One of the bloggers I enjoy reading the most--and who invariably triggers those aha! Or yes, good point moments is a klog apart's Phil Wolff, who's been blogging for about 4 years.
Phil is also the creator of the amazing Blogcount, an effort to track and map the blogosphere through stats and research reports. (Remember the guy back in Austin, Texas, back in the early 90s, who was mapping the nodes of the web and updating monthly? Phil is his spiritual descendent.)
Phil is also one of those really bright people who have great ideas, and whom it is possible to talk to for hours, so we did--the restaurant staff basically kicked us out at 2:30, their post-lunch closing time.
Phil's topics for the dayoor the themes we shared, more accurately-- blogging, and the future of (of course), how to build process and discipline aka a 'cookbook' to communicate and then implement a new idea, such as blogging for K-12 educators, good and laundry(maybe those were my topics--my family laughs cause I say 'Laundry is my hobby.'), books--including a fascinating creative thinking business book, a book on workflow and web design I to to take home, and a The Fifth Discipline Workbook, which I am going to buy, as soon as I build up the arm muscles to carry it.
We also discussed why Phil should come to BlogCon in the fall....and who we thought should be there, who might not be (Chris Pirillo, Jeff Jarvis, Meg Hourihan were names that passed my lips...)
Phil, I hope to have a chance to hang out with you more--it was great to meet you!
(And now that I know Pil is a foodie, I'm going to invite him down for that mid-Sept BBQ/open house we want to have in San Jose, where our musician buddies can set up and play as they eat and drink.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Riding the Oxymoron Express: AOL claims victory as fastest dial-up download

Wondering which ISP will help you get those web pages downloaded fastest? It's AOL 9.0 Optimized, according to a news release about a study released today.
But as Mark Goldston, CEO of competitor United Online, pointed out, the most relevant data point here may be that dial-up access can be accelerated. "AOL and others introducing accelerated dial-up products that they claim perform exceptionally well is a great thing for dial-up industry," Goldston said in a recent CNET article. "For us, it will be a great credibility strike if they're out for $23.90 charging you for accelerated dial-up product, and we're out there for $14.95. We've just now inherited a phenomenal benchmark for accelerated dial-up with AOL that we can be compared against."

Monday, August 18, 2003

What I made for dinner tonight

Pad Thai
Oyster & shitake mushroom saute
Chilled grapes and cherries

Dept of Building Momenteum: Knight Ridder Digital hires new Chief Marketing Office

KRD, topping off a year of smart moves, announced today that they have hired Anna Zornosa, formerly of, Pointcast, and most recently email publisher Topica, as chief marketing officer.
According to the release, as CEO at Topica, Zornosa moved the organization from free and advertising-supported to paid services. As SVP at Networks, she developed integrated marketing strategy and managed relationships with 20 affiliated TV, book and magazine prpoerties.
There are so few women in senior positions, especially in the online newspaper business--it is good to see that KRD has made such a dynamic hire...and interesting to watch where she will help the business grow.

Lockergnome: Could your mother understand RSS?

Lockergnome: "...We toss about terms like XML, RSS, Aggregator, Blog, and MovableType with ease, because they are the tools of our trade. We embrace them, we understand them. But for the AOL minded masses, these terms are too vague, too complicated, too boring. For these people, instant messages and email are their primary tools. Google is useful to them, because it's simple. Email is useful for them because it allows them to forward amusing things to their friends and family, and because it is nearly omnipresent. Everyone has an email address.

For RSS to catch on and be embraced outside of technology focused content, using it will have to become much more user friendly. Your Mom will need to understand it. To be honest, it will probably take someone like Microsoft, Apple, or AOL to integrate the flow of RSS documents into their internet tools to ever get the non-tech masses involved."

Six More Degrees of DJ Spooky

So I finally got home from New York yesterday, and when I opened up my email last night, there was a note from a NYC friend to his West Coast pals, telling us his buddy DJ Spooky was spinning in the Mission and we could get on the guest list--and here's Spooky's email address, just let him know.
So in 36 hours, I went from someone who had no connection to Spooky, to a friend of a friend, to a direct contact, all without taking any real action on my end.
How wonderfully wierd and small world is that?
P.S. I emailed Spooky, told him the story, and that I planned to come see him. Then we got totally lost in the hills in SF and never made it (we ended up in Daly City, somehow) at 1 am and decided to go home.

Rebuilding the (Electrical Grid): Did Thomas Edison get it right?

Dana Blankenhorn has a fascinating piece on the need for a new kind of electrical grid for the country. This is one of the topics I had no real interest in until I ended up in Manhattan in the dark with no answering machine, no air conditioning, no cash machines, and, oh yea, no power. According to Blankenhorn, one route is to create much more home-grown electricity--solar generators, windmills, etc.--and this, he says, was actually Thomas Edison's original idea for generating electricity.

"...In the 1880s Edison and his engineers actually installed a generator in J.P. Morgan's home, which they hoped would become a model. Of course, Edison believed in Direct Current (DC). When Nikola Tesla proved that Alternating Current (AC) would deliver current from a great distance with minimal loss, the big industry of the time was transformed into today's electric utility marketplace. Edison lost his place within General Electric, which had bought his company, and the grid as we know it was born."

I am buying a new computer later today--a Fujitsu Lifebook for those who want to know--and I have to figure out if there is a way to move my very full newsreaders--would hate the alternatives--which seem to be:
a) Keep this machine as the newsreader machine.
b) Resubscribe to the whole list of feeds.
I am going to check the documentation on both readers--Amphetadesk and NewsMonster, but if anyone wants to offer their advice, it is welcome.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Xeni Jardin on NPR talking about social networks.

Xeni Jardin is one of the most interesting bloggers and new tech people I know. She was on NPR recently talking about Linked In and other social networks. Check it out here.

Dept of Social Networks: It's a small world after all

The Small World project has published a new set of data; meanwhile, I am reading a journalistic account of Small World networks, as the sociologists like to call them, entitled NEXUS: Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Theory of Networks.There's a nice synopsis of the commentary at Blogalization Conspiracy.

Stuck in Chicago

Flights all messed up to California because of thunderstorms in the sky and cancelled flights the past few days. Instead of being home in California, I'm in a hotel outside Chicago's Midway airport, stuck here till morning, when I can pick up a flight to San Jose.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Six Degrees of Seperation: The Black Out version

So, yesterday I'm caught in NYC in the blackout and it takes 6 hours to get out of the city and home to my business partner's house is Westchester. Mayor Bloomburg says "Take a snow day and stay home," and it is a beautiful Friday morning when we awaken in the burbs. We're supposed to meet with a friend and potential client in midtown, so we decided to drive back into Manhattan. Even though much of the city's power is still off, the friend has sent an email that the meeting's on.
Okay, so it's 90 degrees in NYC and there are so few cars we can park in the street. But our meeting never happens..the building--and the company are closed. After about 40 minutes of waiting around, our friend calls and we work out plan #2.
After the details are worked out, friend says: By the way, you know I'm subletting my apartment in NYC, right? So I came in from California at 3 am last night and there was a business card on my dining room table from one of the partners at 5ive (my consulting company).
It turns out that said friend is subletting his apartment to DJ Spooky, who met with one of my 4 5ive partners this week! And we're meeting with said friend today (only we didn't beccause of the black out).
If there are no coincidences, then what does this one portend? Is this a small world or what?

Zollman: How I became an (AOL ) Spammer

from Poynter's eMedia tidbits:"... I opened my "sent mail" box on AOL, looking for an e-mail I'd sent, and lo and behold there were outbound e-mails from me to "AngelGirl," "Andresxx," and others, with titles like "What's new?" and "Check this out!" So --- as any responsible individual would do --- I called my ISP (America Online) to say, "Hey, let's see if we can catch these guys." After a brief stopover with customer support in Bangalore, India, I reached someone on the "community action team" (security department) who essentially said, "Well, someone's hijacked your password -- so change it, update your virus software, and then don't worry about it."
More here.

Power Outage Traced To Dim Bulb In White House

It ain't just a blackout: Greg Palast rants away.
"Is tonight's black-out a surprise? Heck, no, not to us in the field who've watched Bush's buddies flick the switches across the globe. In Brazil, Houston Industries seized ownership of Rio de Janeiro's electric company. The Texans (aided by their French partners) fired workers, raised prices, cut maintenance expenditures and, CLICK! the juice went out so often the locals now call it, "Rio Dark."

Paula and Marlon and Linda and Courtney: Celebrity Gossip in spades

Did writer Paula Fox (The Servant's Tale,) have an affair with Marlon Brando and bear his illegitimate child? That's what Page Six reports that Linda Carroll, Paula Fox's daughter, is telling folks in London.
Given that Paula Fox is Courtney Love's grandmother (don't ask about that one), that would make Marlon Courtney's pap-pap.

Bumped by the Blackout: Back online now

Am in NYC till tomorrow--many of my meetings got trashed by the blackout. Yesterday, I was in a loft on 19th Street, with my partners in 5ive, when the power went out.

Snapshots from the streets:
--A frail women in her 70's hitching a ride uptown on 20th street and Third Avenue
--Office workers lounging on the steps of many Park Avenue office buildings, smoking, laughing, and drinking 40's and glasses of wine.
--The full moon over the Central Park viaduct, the sky dark.
--BBQ and a bonfire in the courtyard of a building on 103rd Street
--Central Harlem at 9 am, pitch-black with no cars, white flashes of t-shirts as groups of kids walked outside
--Six police cars clustered outside the trashed out buildings on 145th Street and Madison Avenue, their drivers out directing bus traffic
--The dark silence of the West Side Drive, no lights anywhere, the water glimmering beyond the embankment.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Phone stuff: Brit tots carrying mobiles

A recent Mediapost story reports that there are growing number of young children in Britain with mobile phones. The mobile youth study highlights that there are now 400,000 children in the UK under the age of 10 owning a mobile phone, as against only 80,000 in 2000. The figure will pass the half a million mark by the end of next year.

Think about the school yard flash mobs and lunch time pizza mobs this could support...

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

News Readers: What Adam Curry Wants

Via Mark Graham, Adam Curry's vision of what a one-page news aggregator might look like.
"...The web browser would have been great as a 'transceiver' for creating and receiving content. Weblogs perform this task currently, but html is doomed to fade away into a void of static now that Microsoft has announced it will no longer support or continue development on a standalone version of internet explorer.
...RSS provides a 'static free' format for content and is constantly being improved to do things like carry attachments (just like email) along with written words. No formatting, no fancy script thingies or blink tags, just plain content. RSS is the content carrier wave of the future. And everyone with a weblog can or is already creating a compatible broadcast channel."

Adam is absolutely right, and he goes on to praise one page aggregators as the no fuss, no muss way to read news and information. The rest of his post has really good "beyond the browser" ideas and information as well....

Conclusion: Tech folks are building good stuff, but it's important for the users to weigh in with their wishes and vision, which is what Adam does.

Paid Content Goes RSS

New feeds for the news-reader addicted: Rafat Ali's Paid Content Newsletter via a daily RSS newsfeed (Thank you, Rafat)

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Top music artists from unnamed portal site

A friend sent me this internal list of top music artists from one of the large portals: This is a list of most requested audio streams, in order of request
50 Cent
Hilary Duff
Luther Vandross
Christina Aguilera
Black Eyed Peas
Justin Timberlake
Rolling Stones
Mariah Carey

The utter blandness of this list shows that the public wants what it knows. No surprises there.

Heading to New York: Light blogging tomorrow

Early flight to NYC tomorrow; back on the weekend.

Scobled: Big Shot Bloggers Parodied Anew

Denizens of the blogosphere are starting to parody their more visible and uh, unique, counterparts, proving that virtual communities not only form, they like to rib their members. The latest is from the Scobelizer, who's just published a very clever dish on a number of blogerati:

Dave Winer: Anyone who disagrees with me is a festering disease-carrying burnt-toast maggot. I am the Internet, doncha know that? I made it what it was. I invented Blogs. And my markup spec's are the all.

Anil Dash: New York. New York....Pretentious New York City life random observations. The other day, I had beef mushroom barley soup. But that was unusual, not just because it included mushrooms, but because Carson Daly was sitting about 10 feet away at the time. But I digress. Links about Links. Links. More Links..

Jeff Jarvis: "...Some info about Blogs as Journalism. Buzz buzz buzz. News story comment quip. War story comment quip. NYT story comment quip. Republicans-Are-Evil-But-So-Are-The-Democrats story comment quip. Link to this, link to that. News Story Comment. Smarty News Story Comment. News Story Comment. News Story Comment. Sarcastic News Story Commenting. Buzzwords. Buzz."

If you think this is funny, Bob has lots more.

California Surf Culture: Museum show celebrates the beach

The San Jose Museum's opening an exhibit on California Surf Culture: The Art History of Surfing later this week.
While recently the Valley is known more for trashed dot coms and economic woes, 3 years ago there was a hopping surf culture here, and there are still many people who surf every day, especially down Santa Cruz way. Organized by the Orange-County-based Laguna Art Museum, the exhibition is touringthe country, but is adding about 50 vintage board from local collectors to the show.

I'll definitely check it out, but somehow, I am prepared not to like it. Sounds like a silly show.

Dept. of Taking the Pressure Off: AOL Unit requests AOL TW drop AOL name

"Recently, I told Dick Parsons that I have concluded that AOL's brand would benefit from being removed from the corporate name, and Dick is considering this step," --AOL unit chief executive Jonathan Miller in a memo to AOLTW Chairman Dick Parsons recently obtained by Reuters.
More stories here.

Monday, August 11, 2003 NJ Weblog list and forum

Okay, so I was bitching about the lack of a Jersey web log list and said Jeff Jarvis and would do something about it. And they did! (Not because of me, believe me). now carries a nice little list of web logs, along with a small, but hopefully growing list of Jersey web logs from civilian folk. Also a weblogs forum for local obsessives in NJ and elsewhere. Of course, right now, 90% of the posts in the weblogs forum are from editor Dean Betz, but hey, it's a start--why don't you go there and post right now if you have even the faintest interest in Jersey blogs? Tell'em about your blog, why doncha? Help them make this list really good, worthy of Jersey Pride.

Paid content surgelet: Time Inc. Interactive sees paid subscriptions bump up

A Wall Street Journal story today describes the success in gaining paid online subscribers Time Inc magazine sites are having after they restricted free access, allowing only AOL members a chance to peek without paying. The Journal story says that while some sites such as People and Entertainment Weekly, have seen traffic fall, others, including Sunset and Parenting, have seen surges in online subscriptions of, respectively 67%(900 new subscribers a week), and 70%(roughly 1,800 per week). In addition, about 60,000 newsstand buyers and subscribers are using the barcodes on their magazines to register and gain online access.

AOL: You've Got Auto Dealers

After more than a year of planning, AOL announced today that it's launched a new auto channel. According to the press release, AOL's new Auto channel, launched in partnership with and Kelley Blue Book, along with long-time partner Autotrader, will "give members an opportunity to
to be contacted by local car dealers who offer the exact cars they are looking for," as Chris Croll, AOL VP ECommerce, describes the new service.

What this means for AOL, more importantly, is that they now have a means to participate in CPA, aka revenues from lead generation, for autos, one of the high-ticket items customers use the web to research and evaluate, at the same time they have retained their (lucrative) relationship with, who, in the past has paid them on a CPM basis.

Also included in the deal: Consumer Reports Buyer's Guides for Autos, another popular and fast-growing series from a very reputable AOL partner (and a company I have worked with).

Would it be cruel to mention that it's taken AOL 5 years to offer what CarPoint, now the MSN Autos channel, launched with in 1996?

What I made for dinner

First time we had people over in the new house! Prepared:
Fresh Guacamole with chips
Vegetarian chicken patties (we love Quorn) and Gardenburgers
Beefsteak tomaoes from my garden (my landlady rocks)
Sweet onions
Mint chocolate chip ice cream

San Jose Jazz: Greg Osby

Spent the afternoon at the San Jose Jazz Festival, a three-day riot of music, food, and shopping. The wow of the afternoon was Greg Osby, a jazz musician from St. Louis whose immense skill with the alto sax is evenly matched with his taste for long, free-form and somewhat atonal compositions.
Half the audience was grooving in their seats; the other half was heading for the exits.
Part of what made Osby so strong was his musicianship; the other part were the powerful sidemen he'd assembled. Eric McPherson was one of the best drummers I have ever heard; he played complicated, compelling rhythms effortlessly. Ambrose Akimusirie, the trumpter, and Matt Brewer, the bassist, were both excellent as well, though Brewer seemed a little busy.
Listen to Greg Osby's music by downloading MP3s from his site.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

Is Google the new Doubleclick?

Google is both one of the largest sites on the web, generating humongous page views each day, a good percentage of which are monetized with profitable paid listings. It is also the fastest-growing ad network, agressively doing deals with both large portals and with targeted niche sites, such as iVillage.

Back in the day, DoubleClick did a good business serving ads for clients via DART, and also running demographically and thematically targeted networks on which they served clients' ads.

Both companies found ways to encircle the market and make money from related--but diverse--revenue streams.

DoubleClick foundered on the Abacus deal, which raised privacy concerns(that would be an understatement), and on the declining--okay, plummeting, online ad market.

As the money keeps pouring it, is is going to be interesting to see whether the Google engineers, including the founders, lose their focus on search as the dollars gets bigger. Some say it is already happening. I think not.

But where there is smoke, there will eventually be fire. Keeping a big, profitable company aligned with the mission can be tough, especially when some of the earliest employees start to focus on enjoying their wealth and move their eyes off the product and customer experience. Google's biggest challenges will be to continue to provide unique, valueable services core to their mission at the same time as they grow in value and make the business pay out.

Spinks gets spanked: iVillage goes with Google

iVillage has done a contextual advertising deal with Google that could make them millions in new paid search listings appearing as contextual results on content pages.
Under the terms of the deal, Google will provide Web search and paid search listings from its network of 100,000 advertisers. In addition, iVillage signed on for AdSense, joining top sites like and Switchboard, to display relevant text listings on certain content pages.
This is a real set back for Spinks, for whom iVillage was one of their bigger clients.

Naked news

Naked walker: Did you hear the one about the 44 year old truck driver walking naked through Britain to remind people of the beauty of the human body? Turns our he really wanted to set the record for hiking naked, so he lief about his motives. Go figure.
Naked paintball: A hoax to sell the (staged) videos. Is anyone over 12 years old surprised?
Naked TV star: Sheryl Lee Ralph, star of Moesha, tells The Jamacian Gleaner, "My favourite garment... is my birthday suit. I feel so comfortable in it. I like being naked. At home I just walk around naked you know, I just bare it all."
Not naked: Cameron Diaz' nude pix will stay hidden after a judge ruled the photog has no rights to distribute the 10 year old pix.
Not the Naked Chef, either: Jamie Olivers' new book was not the 2 MGB file distibuted on the web this past Friday.
Naked risk: There's a dearth of stories about the burgeoning traffic in women in Eastern Europe. The problem, journalists are afraid of ending up naked and dead.

Road Trip Pix:Texas, New Mexico, Arizona

Spencer is outside of Salt Lake City today, heading to Reno tomorrow and to San Jose on Monday. He drove through the Grand Canyon, and passed Bryce as he went into Utah from Arizona. "It's beyond beautiful," he said on the phone tonight, about the drive north from New Mexico . "I feel like I just can't take take pictures as beautiful as what I am seeing."

Participatory Journalism: Evolving the online form

JD Lasica's done his usual insightful and provocative job in creating a detailed package on participatory journalism and the mind shifts and technologies helping to evolve this new form.
Check out JD's work here and here .

Friday, August 08, 2003

Department of Does the Left Hand Know what the Right Hand is doing?

What would you think if you read that Netscape, the division of AOL that laid off all its engineers and took its name off the buildings in Mountain View, had just partnered with an online learning company to create a premium education center on the Internet?
In AOL-think, this makes perfect sense: the Netscape portal is still in the top 50 sites in terms of traffic overall, and then opportunity to convert .05% of the user base to paid, premium online education services probably looked pretty good in the original focus groups and tests. So what if you've dumped the browser? What does that have to do with making money from premium services, something the Web Properties group, which includes Netscape and CompuServe, desperately needs to do.
A friend asked me today if I thought AOL would sell Netscape and I said I could see them licensing the name, especially abroad, more than selling it. On othe other hand, if they could sell the portal site to make a buck, they would. So, does the left hand know what the right hand is doing? Probably not, but it doesn't matter that much for now.

The Blog-Slinger: AOL Hires a new Blogging Guy

John Scalzi reports that he is to be AOL Journal's new Blogging Guy.
Says John., "... My job will be to show AOL members how blogging and journaling is done, both by example (i.e., by blogging and opining myself) and by acting as a sort of tutor/instigator/spotlight operator for AOL Journals. I'll also be doing time as a general cheerleader for the concept of writing online in all its forms...I'll also be doing the time-honored stomp through the AOL Journals and the rest of the blog world to find other worthy linkables. And on top of all that I'll be doing some other stuff too, which I won't talk about now but which will hopefully be neat"

John has worked for AOL in the past, so the Dulles powers-that-be can be sure he's not going to put up Photoshop pix that show him nude from the waist down in preview form, or insult Dick Parsons when the stock dips, or say anything political of any sort about the California elections.

Dept. of We've got the beat: Bay area radio

Russell Beattie has a post today about KQED and heading back to San Fran. One of the joys of being back in northern California--especially considering that the distances I am driving daily have doubled--is the profusion of great radio stations.
My personal favorites--and I am still discovering what's on the dial--
KCSM--Jazz. Not as great as WBGO in Newark, NJ, but still smooth.
KQUED--How could you not like one of the greatest public radio stations?
KKUP--Sunnyvale community radio, electic as they get. Love the Hawaiian show on Friday mornings. Have to see if it is still on the air.
KPFA--I love KPFA, makes me feel like old hippies still have a little passion left. One of my favorite things is driving along listening to KPFA grumbling about their knee-jerk leftist politics.
KFOG and ALICE: Guilty pleasures.
I also like the Stanford radio station at 90.5, which plays lots of drum and bass, house, jungle, etc. and 91.5, which plays a lot of jazz and blues. The quantity of blues played here is about 300% higher than in NY; which is to see perhaps 20% of what I spin past is blues, compared to one big fat zero in New York.
The one show I really miss listening to in the car is Victor Hernandez' The Rhythm Review, the best Saturday morning show on the planet.

Grading Google News Alerts

I signed up for Google News alerts the day they launched, selecting two terms for them to track for me, the first incredible obscure (my name, Mernit), and the second, fairly ubiquitious (AOL). It's been a few days and here's my impression of the service--it ain't the world-beater Google news is, in facrs it's kinda a yawn.
What's the diff? The alerts systems sent me the same eight or so stories listed as most relevant on the news pages today, so it is accurate, but it seems far more limited that actually using the news service.
I think the problem is not with the technology, but with me, the user--the email string of alerts is literally just that, and nothing else. When I read news at, I am always opening new screens to conduct new searches on related terms I find; the alerts don't support that--they're more of a notification system useful for big events, such as AOL getting sold to Verizon or something.
One way to address this issue would be through a form of proximity mapping that would give you shorter summaries of related topics, or that would use collaborative filtering based on your behavior to become smart about what related stories and links to send you.
Another--and this is the OBVIOUS one--would be to make all Google news stories RSS-enabled, like Feedster does with its searches, so users can digest keyword search string results and take it from there--it's the same technology they're using now, but delivered in an entirely different way.

So,Google, you listening? How about :
A) Making your news available as RSS feeds with great coding, so they work with most newsreaders
B) Team up with some of the newsreader companies to create a server-side newsreader right on Google (I know the newsreader folks will hate this idea, but it IS inevitable, so live with it...)

Reading Joelle Fraser: The Territory of Men

"When you first met him, he said I want to know all about you. You don't believe him, you've heard that before. You remember the familiar, distracted gaze. He listens, but his eyes flicker over your face, your lips, your throat, as if your voice were merely an accompaniment, your body the main event.
Isn't your desire for him enough--what else would he really need to know? That's you're divorced, that you will never pierce your ears, that you like it from behind? Or that you prefer to wear black, to make love to certain songs, to take naps on dark days? But what about this: what if you told him about your father, about the things you've stolen, about what it takes sometimes to get you through the night? Would he want to listen to your fears, to hear of the images you can't forget--the blind man you drove by one night, the way he just stood there in the rain, your frightened brother reaching for your hand, you mother's face collapsed in grief as another man left?
You remember men who loved you more the less you revealed. As you pulled from them, they reached for you. You let them love your body, opened it to them as if that was the only gift you could give, that and the memory of when you were gone. What you have brought them to, such a painful hope of nothing."
--from San Francisco,The Territory of Men

Joelle Fraser's memoir of growing up the sweet, self-sufficient child of ramshackle hippie parents turns into a must-read memoir as she pushes aside the granny prints to reveal how she's grown up to be just like them: a women as obsessed with being desired in 'the territory of men' as her mother was, and as full of dreams and good intentions she's unable to commit to as her handsome, alcoholic father.

With a blunt, compassionate precision reminiscent of Caroline Knapp's Drinking: A Love Story, Fraser takes the scalpel of memory to her 35 years and produces a critically acclaimed, must-read memoir. This is her first book--I can't wait to see what she writes next--and damn, I wish I could write as honestly and yet delicately as she does.
In a sense, what makes this book special is that the author doesn't write about herself as if she is special--she just tells her story, and that of her family, in a dramatic, yet subtle way that draws you in and keeps you reading. I know these people, you think five pages in, but then the story keeps shimmering and shifting, and she's got you, and you just don't want to stop.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

BloggerCon: Invites going out

285 posts on Feedster today for BloggerCon--apparently, the invites went out. I hope this is a really good conference and not completely a group grope of friends patting each other on the back about their pioneering good taste and discernment.
Of course, with the less than shy personalities of some of the folk, it could lean toward a flame war with real-time back-channels and track back attached--hey, that's a joke!
I am sure everyone will comport themselves in a manner appropriate to the event--ideally, that means down to earth, relaxed, and about to do a few magic tricks to break the ice.

Department of Estastic Gushing: My new neighborhood rocks

So this note is all about me. I promise to not do a lot of these all happy entries. In fact, I promise to keep myself to no more than one a month. So, here it is:

We've moved (back) to San Jose, California, to an area called Naglee Park that is a historic area developed starting in 1902, 20 years after his death, on the former estate of Brig. General Henry Morris Naglee, a Civil War veteran and California pioneer. (Interestingly enough, the General's two daughters were the prime developers). Turns out this was the last big plot of land near the center of the city, so plots went fast--to university professors, but also to doctors, lawyers, and "fruit men"--business people who wanted to be near downtown (sounds like today, huh?) and be near their orchards.

The houses are California craftsmen bungalows, Victorian gingerbread two stories, and half stone/half timber Robinson Jeffers wild houses that defy description. Many have abundant gardens, with brilliant red poppies, orange marigolds, blue flax, pink clematis and jacaranda, and large cypress and eucalyptus trees.

There street has many small children on it; including Marigold, a little blonde two-year old who pedals her pink trike furiously up and down the block as her 45 year olf blonde-going to grey grandma stands watch, and Prima, all of four, whose daily dress is pink tights, black leotard and a sparkly purple necklace. Each house has a (barking) dog, often of the Retriever/Laborador/Boxer persuasion, and most of them also have station wagons or SUVs parked out front next to the husband's really good car: an Infiniti, Saab convertible, or BMW, the California state car.

When I tell people I just moved back from New York, they inevitably smile widely and say,"That's great! Well, welcome back!" in this friendly way that only Californians have (and maybe only in this over-grown cow town I've chosen to move back to). The garbage-man half-hugged me today when I handed over my flattened cardboard boxes from the move (of course, I'd just slipped him $10, so that may have had something to do with it.). "You know there's a good concert at lunch today in the park downtown," he said, "And it's free--you should go enjoy it!"

Gush, gush,'s not that it's so perfect here, it is just so different that NYC..and probably fairly different than San Francisco. (End of perfunctory apology)

Postscript: Spencer's cross-country road trip started last Friday am and he's now West of Albequerque heading for Reno. After almost a week on the road, he's become a pro, as has the dog, who sits in the backseat, but who likes to lay his head on the gear shift between the two front seats so as to get maximum benefit from the (turned on high) air-conditioning, their only barrier against the steady 100-degree heat outside.

PPS: Just do you don't think I am all Pollyanna, I do have something to complain about--while this neighborhood is amazingly pretty and historic, it seems bereft of services--you can't get Pizza delivered, there are no decent supermarkets within 2 miles, and the one Whole Foods is the one I used to go to down in Campbell, about 8 miles away. You have to drive across the downtown to get to my old neighborhood, the Rose Garden, and the highways that encircle the area, 101 and 280, don't really offer any shortcuts through the core of the town. That is going to get old fast; I drove a good 20 miles today doing nothing but meaningless errands.

Down in the Valley: Fast track, not flame out

Heading into day six in Silicon Valley. Had my first Palo Alto start-up meeting today, stopping outside of Il Fornaio to meet a friend who's been working on a very cool project.
No, I'm not going to tell you what it is, but you'll be really interested when they pull the covers off, I promise. We talked about buzz and burn-out; his contention was that buzz--for a new venture--was often an express train to burn-out. "Will Friendster really benefit from all the buzz it's getting, or will it burn out from the pressure of meeting raised expectations?" was high question, and it's a good one for everything that ends up wielding the double-edged sword of hype. I remember, back in the day, when Rupert Murdoch hired 500 people--yes, 500--to sit in an immaculate spanking new multimedia office suite high above the clouds in midtown Manhattan and when they came to recruit me I demurred, convinced anything that would rise that fast could head down just as quickly. And sure enough, six months to the day later, most of those folks did not have jobs, and I was working away at the less jazzy company I'd gone to, which would later win all sorts of prizes (and which had Jeff Jarvis as a stealth weapon.
Moral of this story: None.
Useful wisdom: Make sure your fast track doesn't lead to flame out

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

The coming out of Career Builder

Career Builder, the job search network developed by a series of newspapers, is finally getting serious about winning online. After many years of newspaper sites fearing that Yahoo, Digital Cities and other portal businesses are going to nibble away at their job listings margins and torpedo their business, CareerBuilder has stepped to the plate and committed up to $265MM in spending for their distribution partnerships with AOL and MSN.

Around the blogosphere

Guterman's back: The always-fluent Jimmy Guterman has posted after a long hiatus and getting settled in a new job: ...But the most successful business blogs will be those that revolve around personalities of individuals or small groups, not entire companies. The blogs of UserLand's Dave Winer and John Robb, for example, succeeded in part because that small company is so closely associated with those two people. There wasn't much difference between a personal weblog and a business weblog for these guys, because the two were so intertwined. Most "business blogs" you see are from people whose business is also their hobby and passion."
Jon Dube: 60 ways to improve your newspaper site (just in case you are in charge of one and haven't seen this):
Offer readers access to real estate ads a day or two earlier online (or send via e-mail) and charge extra for this access or limit to print subscribers

Offer an online coupon section
Create timely special packages from archived content and sell them to sponsors
Set up online town hall meetings (i.e. chats) with local political candidates
Create a downloadable MP3 section and let local bands upload their tunes for readers to download
Create multimedia obituaries online and charge extra for them. Then
Create multimedia wedding announcements online and charge extra for them
Use the Weblog format to cover a breaking news event
Do at least one thing on this list.

Mississippi Muddy: The Great One's Birthplace, by one who stopped there

Spencer snapped this:

Cross-Country Chronicles: On the Road with Winston

My husband, Spencer, is driving our dog, Winston, across the country, New York to San Jose, with a detour to Birmingham, Alabama to visit the relatives of our good friend, Rev. Claude Jeter, the 89-year old lead singer of the Swan Silvertones.
The guys left Thursday, drove the Blue Ridge to Birmingham, and then hit a snag when the dog got heat stroke and spent two days in the animal hospital. Winston's stay gave Spencer a chance to prowl Birmingham and surrounding towns.
The pictures below are from Birmingham, and from the Clarksdale, Mississippi area.

Fun with Books: What am I reading?

Fiction soothes the savage beast living out of a suitcase until the movers come:
Crake and Oryx by Margaret Atwood: The 28 Days Later of the literary fiction world. A wow!
White Apples by Jon Carroll: Is charm and whimsy enough to keep me reading? Judging by how ambivalent I feel about almost every book I've read by Jon Carroll(not the SF columnist, the other one), the answer is yes, but then I complain about it. I read The Marriage of Sticks about a year ago, and loved it, and keep reading Jon Carroll books in the hope I will find another as good. I am still looking.
Medicine Men by Alice Adams: I was going to take out a serious book by Peter Ackroyd, but this was right next to it, so I decided to read the fluff first. It was and is fluff...not her best, either.
A Shooting Star by Wallace Stegner: Stegner is my current favorite author and I have still not read all his books. This one has bits of glorious writing, especially about a very Filoli-like estate and its old lady owner, but it's a bit heavy-handed and clunky over all.
Chicago Days/Hoboken Nights by Daniel Pinkwater. Short pieces by the witty author and columnist. I took this book out of the library because now that I am in California, I want to read about Hoboken, New Jersey. Go figure. I alson enjoyed reading about Pinkwater's fatness and the crows on his property. Go figure.

The old saw about old dogs and new tricks only applies to certain people. --Daniel Pinkwater

Monday, August 04, 2003

AOL: A Monster deal with Career Builder

AOL did a $115 million dollar deal with CareerBuilder,a job web site developed by a group of line newsaper compaies. Apparently,'s stock fell 14% on the news, but I wonder if they had actually wanted and intended to renew, especially at comparable terms to the first deal in 1999?
In other words, was Monster a satisfied partner? And would they have renewed?

Brad Wilson: Wants new blogging software...I want...

Brad wants new blogging software. He says " Now, there's nothing wrong with the crop of blog software out there, but it all pretty much works the same. I'm not even sure what I want different... I just want something different. What I want, really, is something so radically different that it's hard to even call it "blog software"."

I don't want new blogging software, but I want new tools:
--Server side newsreaders that can also be downloaded to my desktop so I can see the same blogs on different machines;
--Ability to do custom syndications of my blog without having to be a geek ( ai am so not...)
--FOAF easy to install and turn on
--Blogrolling as dynamic and intuitive tool
--Integrated toolsuite--not piece meal--recommendations and rankings of other blogs, notify when updated, send update via email.
--Want to add comments and send RSS or other feed format items to a friend

I realize all these things are possible..but most of them are also a pain. Can't someone make them work better and integrate them together? It won't devalue blogging if the tool challenges get a little easier for users.
(See Phil Wolff, aklog apart)

Study reports fat, sedentary men over 50 have problems

...getting it up.

Are you really surprised? Other risk factors " for erection difficulties included smoking, drinking alcohol, and watching television.
Source: Annals of Internal Medicine August 5, 2003, via Reuters Health

Smart Talk: Dave Winer on blogging 'importance'

Wise words from Winer:
"...Bloggers who never flame anyone and don't have blogrolls (or don't make a big deal about them) may take a long time to become "important" -- but if they stand out because of the quality of their ideas, and the ideas they inspire, they can attain a kind of longevity that has value, like the giants whose shoulders Sir Isaac Newton stood on."

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Blogging Behavior: Dave Pollard's time shifts

At How to Save the World, Dave Pollard writes about his behavior as a blogger and charts his activities:

Dave writes: ...Why can't we enhance blog software so it allows a discussion, at the author's discretion, to migrate simply to other, more powerful conversational tools without losing the connection to the initial blog post that provoked it? I could (as lots of bloggers do) add applets and links for chat, IM, voice-over-IP, a webcam, desktop videoconferencing, my forums and groups, and my Ryze and LinkedIn pages."

I spend about an hour a day blogging; I could easily spend two, but I don't usually have the time. The areas where I spend less time that Dave are reading others blogs in my newsreader(that's been every other day, lately), checking Feedster and Technorati, and promotion. One of the things I find most thrilling about blogging is the extended group conversation going on--I write, others write, we read one another, new people read the blogs, and so on. And then my real world friends--most of them not bloggers--sometimes read my blog as well, on, I have written about this before.
(Via Steven Delaney's Blogging Alone)

Department of Filthy Lucre: Are personals sections the next big thing?

Gawker's launched a personals section. Powered by Spring Street Networks, which is, Gawker's personals join their text links and ad blocks as yet another effort to make money through advertising and services.

On one level this is amusing (always a euphemism for annoys the hell out of me): The good-natured but always snooty Gawker has done a deal with the same provider fueling New York Magazine personals, which shows they are completely willing to bend their editorial voice and position for dollars (this, of course, is to be expected of any business and not unique). All those Williamsburg hipsters they so gleefully skewer are just the younger incarnation of the Upper East Side lizards anyway, so why shouldn't they date from the same pool? And be too stupid to notice that's what their favorite web site is helping them accomplish?

One another level, perhaps its an indicator of a new way smaller web sites and larger blogs are going to try to make money--You create a web site or blog with a strong core user base, first add text and paid search ads to the pages with Google, Sprinks, or WebRelevance, then layer on a personals service a la Gawker.

Advance Internet, Cox Newspapers, New Times, and Real Cities have already teamed up with Spring Street Networks to provide personals services on their local sites; so have a number of local and national magazine and media sites, including JANE, Esquire, New York Observer, Time Out New York, The Advocate, and The Onion. Now Gawker joins Nerve in offering this service. Are they the first blog to do so? Seems like it.

So now, I am wondering, does this mean we are going to start to see a slew of affinity personals listings on popular blogs?
The Political Pundit Hookup line for Instapundit and Buzzmachine?
The 'I'm quirky, just date me' service for BoingBoing, Gothamist, Anil Dash, and SmartMobs?
"Geeks need to get laid too" on Chris Pirillo and Doc Searl's blogs?

Certainly, many of the new "identity networks' like Tribe have to be looking at the success of Friendster and thinking about how to get a piece of that pie. And partnering and syndicating services is the smart way to go in terms of adding revenue producing bits.

And yet at the same time, as a reader, I feel annoyed that Gawker turned this feature on....unlike asking people to pay for the site, offering a premium service, or even adding more text ads, it feels contrary to their editorial voice -- and that makes me feel, somehow, like I am being played.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Fun with Friendster, Introducing

Had dinner last night with good friends and their charming 20 year old niece. "Laura" goes to UPenn, is into shopping and fashion, belongs to a sorority, wants to go into marketing of some type, and oh, yes, is really bright.
Laura: So, you know I have a Friendster boyfriend?
Aunt: You do?
Laura: Well, not really, its a guy who emails me all the time. I haven't met him yet. But there are so many cute guys on Friendster!
She goes on to describe how her friends--including a whole gaggle of sorority sisters, have created Friendster profiles and are busy commenting and updating's a thing among her circle.
When she asks me if I like Friendster, I tell her it's cool, but that I prefer Ryze--because I'm not looking for guys to date, the fact Friendster doesn't have last names is a major limitation.

Meanwhile, there's a new game in town that has the later mover advantage of being able to look at everything already build.
is a carefully planned, well-organized commmunity that offers not only social networks but the chance to buy, sell and colaborate--think Friendster and Ryze meets Craigs List. The service is in beta, and it looks really good.
What is interesting is the opportunity to use services like this to create local networks as well as national networks--no one has done that yet but it is the great opportunity. If I was an online newspaper COO, I'd look into how to localize this kind of social network/trading community, pronto.
PS To our great amusement, Laura shared her techniques for making prank phone calls: "You get the name of a football player or some idiot who's made obscene comments, then you call him and you use this site that has the voice of Arnold Schwazrtenegger and other celebs to make comments into thee phone, like "This is not a tumor" (Arnold, Total Recall)." She giggles. "It is soooo funny!"

Have you seen? Recommendo & Hip Hop Blog List

Kevin Kelly's Recommendo. If you ever wondered if the great and electic product reviews that marked the Whole Earth Review during its heyday had ever migrated to another outlet, you'll be thrilled to learn that they live on here in the hand of the master, Kevin Kelly. Find out why you might want:
Bernie Krause's sounds of nature CDs
The best non-stick baking pans
Guides on what seafood (not) to eat
And more.

Also, check out the list of Hip Hop blogs..if you want them, they are here. (How about trance and psychedelic music blogs, folks, where's that list?) (Via Move the Crowd)

Here & Back Again: The New York/San Jose Shuffle

Day 2 in San Jose. Get the keys to the new house tomorrow morning. Already have the list of what to shop for so I can camp out before the movers come with all the stuff. And I brought a pillow, sheets, towels, phone, answering machine...
It's great to be back in the Valley--the tone and texture of the place is so different from New York. For one thing, people are opening to starting conversations, not afraid to be friendly. I'm writing this from the new San Jose library, which offers free plug in your laptop network access to the web (and fast, too!), and people keep stopping to chat when they see me with my own machine. "Is that a wireless connection?" a fellow just asked. "Nope, you can plug in your laptop for free."
In addition to the friendliness, there is the markedly different ethnic mix. San Jose is full of Mexican-American, Vietnamese, Thai, Filipino, and Southeast Asian families. Plus a large number of Tongans, Somoans, and Hawaiians. Plus people who have settled here from all over the US and lots of long-time native Californians. So you see women on the streets in the hot sun wearing Vietnamese straw-brimmed hats, and moms in rebozos cuddling their kids, and so on. After the more limited diversity in New York, the variety is fascinating(as the are opportunities to eat great cheap ethnic food.)
But having said all this, there is a part of me that is delighted I will be back in NY in two weeks for a few days. So many of my clients are in the city, and the projects we're working on are fascinating.
And many of my strong ties to education and social service are there--have to build them here.

Somehow, I've created myself as this bicoastal person without ever having intended to do so.
Back in San Jose again! Wow.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Yucky Stuff: Hogbelly's bulging hog belly

Here's a fat guy who's proud enough of it to set up an AOL hometown page about his bulging, sloppy beer gut. He's been cited by bloggers six time in the last 6 months, with Anil Dash being the first.
I found him through the latest issues of the trashy b3ta, which you can subscribe to at
Here's a pix...

This is so disgusting.

Sex in the City: Baryshnikov to do a turn

HBO has signed Mikhail Baryshnikov to play a love interest for Sarah Jessica Parker in the final set of episodes, airing this January.
While it is sort of neat that Carrie is going to actually out with someone older than she is (Parker is the most tiresome 35 year old pretending to be 26 that I have ever seen), I am actually getting tired of her serial dating. It's been 4 years, folks! How about a reunion show--"Carrie's Boys?"
or "Meet Cute Forever: The Men of Sex and the City?"
Yick, while it's fun to watch, this novel's been written about 1,000 times already.

Made in China: A second life for the Netscape browser?

Development of a Chinese-language, localized version of the Netscape browser is continuing in China, where SUN has a license from AOL TW to continue browser development.
Meanwhile, news comes via Zeldman that, not surprisingly, CSS wiz and reviver of the Netscape fishcam Eric Meyer is now out on his own. Here's the announcement from this very talented guy. His contact info here. Build your own browser--Eric can help.

Blogging from Opening Day, the new San Jose Public Library

The new $177 million-dollar new San Jose public library opened to day, and I am writing this, my first entry from California, from one of the 366 carrels with web access (this carrel, with green stickers, is for people who bring their own laptops and plug into the library network for free).

This new library is impressive--8 floors, with great reading room spaces a la Barnes & Nobel before they took the desks out of the stores, amazing light, computers everywhere, classrooms, meeting rooms, art pieces--far more than I have seen in my 45 minutes of walking around, trying to find a working data port.
My new home is about 10 blocks away, and I think I will be spending alot of time here--until I get DSL access installed in my new place, I may move into the library just for that.

Interestingly enough, in a city known for both for technology and weak public schools, the library is the first city/university collaboration in the country--it will be funded, managed, and operated by both entities. The vision statement says:
" reflects the best of cooperative efforts between a major city and a major university - a collaboration supported by Silicon Valley's innovators and leaders."

The new web site for the library is here.

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