Friday, October 31, 2003

Selling off Primedia assets--Rafat Ali has a bid

Rafat Ali, Mr. Paid Content, proposed to bid for Primedia's Kagan Research--why not, right? Hey. maybe he could spread it out over a couple of credit cards.

500 trick-or-treaters?

Someone on the local community email list I belong to just sent out a note warning neighborhood newbies that trick-or-treating crowds are high around here--her estimates ran from 250 to 800 callers, depending what block you live on.
So last night I bought 6 bags of candy--that's about 300 pieces. I f these predictions are true, I anticipate a quick restocking run to the Walgreen's up the street.

NYC: Scandal over Snapple?

NY Daily News today reports that NYC controller William Thompson wants to scrap the city's deal, made by new Chief Marketing Office Joe Perello to make Snapple exclusive non-carbonated beverage of choice for schools in the New York City Department of Education, as well as all non-school city buyildings. Thompson says that a fair bidding process wasn't followed and that two vendors offered better deals and more cash. Juice vendor Apple & Eve, for example, offered to pay $77 million over seven years, according toi the News. The story points out that the Perello worked with Snapple when the NY Yankees, where he used to work, did a Snapple deal.
Stay tuned to see whether these bottles get banned.

Erza Jack Keats: The wonder of winter

Thinking While Typing's got a nice post about children's book illustrator Ezra Jack Keats and how seeing an original illo up close influenced his decision to work with rare books and ephemera. I have been a Ezra Jack Keats fan for a long time--the guy's illustrations have this amazingly hip, textured quality, really original, and his stories have a diversity of theme and character that I admire. In some ways, he was the Samurai Jack author of his time,
The Snowy Day is one of his best-known books, but there my other great favorite is Peter's Chair.
Keats is fascinating not only because of the creativity and depth of his work, but because he was a New York Polish-American Jew from a poor family who changed his name from Jacob to Jack, went into the military and emerged an artist. He got into illustrating chilldren's books in the late 50's and soon began to create his own books. Interestingly enough, however, the hero of many of Keats' childrens books was a African-American child he named Peter.

Keats quote: "Then began an experience that turned my life around--working on a book with a black kid as hero. None of the manuscripts I'd been illustrating featured any black kids--except for token blacks in the background. My book would have him there simply because he should have been there all along. Years before I had cut from a magazine a strip of photos of a little black boy. I often put them on my studio walls before I'd begun to illustrate children's books. I just loved looking at him. This was the child who would be the hero of my book."

More in Keats at the Drummund Library Virtual Exhibit.
Good bio and photos at his foundation.
Some pictures here.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Web news: This just in (more or less)

Friendster's got $58MM in cash from VCs.
Feedster has hired Scott Rafer as its new CEO.
Meg Hourihan's Lafayette Prioject has a new name, Kinja.
Andrew Grumet is working with Dave Winer.
Yahoo Platinum broadband service is getting canned--what does this mean for Jim Moloshok?

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

I've given up TV for Blogging & Newsreaders

We've been in our Naglee Park (San Jose) house now for 8 weeks or so, and I've somehow almost entirely stopped watching TV, even though we're getting HBO, Food Network, and all sorts of cable goodness.
What happened?
1) During our move, I got out of the habit of watching TV, and never really got back into it.
2) Six Feet Under and Sopranos, the two shows I am completely hooked on are not on the air right now--nothing else has grabbed my attention.
3) Blogging and newsreaders have kicked in to my life, big time. When at an earlier time I might cruise the channels looking for something interesting, these days I am more likely to fire up my newsreader and see what the 300+ feeds are posting. There's a cadre of bloggers I read everyday, but the newsreader gives me a chance to check out many more voices, including foodblog, a klog apart, and Inessential all of which I really enjoy but do not read daily.

Short version: Bloggers' voices are far more authentic and interesting than most of the silliness on TV.

LATEST LIST: California Fire blogs

The latest list from Roger Cadenhead of blogs of folks following or experiencing the Southern California fire.
(Via Scripting News)

New York Times: The Classic Fires in California

New York Times: The classic brief account of the conditions that have set Southern California on fire comes from Joan Didion. In 1966 she described a region "devastated by the hot dry Santa Ana wind that comes down through the passes at 100 miles an hour and whines through the eucalyptus windbreaks and works on the nerves. October is the bad month for the wind, the month when breathing is difficult and the hills blaze up spontaneously." The winds have not been that high this October, but the temperatures have, and the hills have blazed up, spontaneously and, in the case of at least three fires where arson is suspected, not so spontaneously. It's easy to forget what wild edges the cities and subdivisions of Southern California have — until they start to burn.

Didion's quote is from Slouching Towards Bethlehem, and has been well-blogged during the fire season. See Amy Langfield , Helene's Journal, and textamerica's Southern California wildfire blog, for starters.

Dead Celebrities: Who are the biggest earners?

Forbes third annual list of the highest-grossing dead celebs is out now:
The Top Ten
1. Elvis
2. Charles Schulz
3. J.R.R. Tolkien
4. John Lennon
5. George Harrison
6. Dr. Seuss
7. Dale Earnhardt
8. Tupac Shakur
9. Bob Marley
10. Marilyn Monroe

(Via trademark blog)

New Product Development: Suggestions for success

Peterme's report on a student Michael Winnick's preso on new product/new business development:
1. Accept change
2. Reduce barriers to actual users
3. Get everybody together
4. Prototype in low fidelity
5. Embody research, don’t report it
6. Make decisions explicitly
7. Validate embodied concept

If you are involved in developing a new product, as I seem to be starting to be, there are some good notes here from Peterme.

Is everything at Primedia for sale?

Back on the 90s, trade magazine publisher Primedia got into convergence in a big way. Now, cash-strapped in the 00s, it looks one way to get ready for a new CEO Kelly Conlin is to sell off their assets--Seventeen, New York Magazine,, Kagan World Media research group have all been sold or are on the auction block. Will Primedia Television assets (Channel One, Films for the Humanities and Science, Gravity Games soon follow? And how about those Primedia Workplace learning consulting groups that measure ROI?
Primedia has built an extremely efficient system of deep vertical magazines for business and consumer--over 120 of them--and says they are also the leading supplier of special interest publications to the moving industry (why not, they own a lot of content?)
Kelly Conlin is an efficient and focused CEO--I worked with a close friend of his for several years--and this has to be the CFO's team trying to tighten the ship up so they can get ready to turn it around.
What will happen to in all this? The company spent $700MM to acquire it in ]2000, the end of the Internet bubble, and is still facing heavy debt.

(See column today in NY Post, and Rafat Ali Paid Content piece)

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Satan's Laundromat: Garbage Truck--Do Not Mount Sidewalk

English as a second language on the streets of Canarsie, Brooklyn:

(Via Gawker)

Gawker: Ads getting in the way of the words?

The ad to content ratio on Gawker keeps on rising as the site moves from a gossip-focused disruptive media outlet to a' let's cash in before this peaks' flavor of the moment (or was that ex-flavor of the moment?) The problem with this strategy is not bagging filthy lucre--which I admire--but creating user clutter--which I deplore.
Yes, folks, you're at the tipping point--the ads are getting in the way of the copy. When we did this on AOL's welcome screen, we trashed our click-through big time, making our readers and our advertisers unhappy. Mind you don't make the same mistake--Gawker has been a guilty pleasure for so many since the week it launched.
This morning, however, the first page has 4 banner ads running. Because of this, the copy is so crowded that Choire needed to write a little TOC with anchor tag links to jump readers down to the items fitted below the ads. If anyone over there is saying,"But ads are content, and readers like them," here's the word from this reader: I do not have the same level of interest in buying Anne Nicole Smith's sweaty garments on eBay as I do in reading about Robert Downey Junior sightings in Tribeca. No one does. So when you put those ads up there in what used to be the top copy spot, be aware--it's clutter, and advertising where it doesn't belong, plain and simple.

Monday, October 27, 2003

New York Times Ombudsman: Is Dan Okrent a blogger?

The New York Times has just hired esteemed Timesman Dan Okrent as their first “public ombudsman.” Job is to watch over the paper, keep it top-notch, and write and publish unedited columns on the editorial pages as Okrent sees fit. Presumably, these columns, and Dan’s general influence, will prevent embarrassing flaps like the Rick Bragg/intern incident.

So, is publishing editor-free in the New York Times similar to being a blogger?

Some bloggers hope that’s the case--
Hank Copeland at Blogads says, ‘Why hire Dan, 750 bloggers scrutinize your pages every day.”
Jeff Jarvis at Buzz Machine says “Dan should make himself into the Times' own blogger. I don't mean he should start a blog. I mean he should take on blog attitude: skeptical, wry, pestering.”
Anil Dash simply says “Okrent needs a blog.”

These are great ideas, but my own guess is that Okrent will be more the Good, Grey Gent--able to adjucate problems and weigh solutions--than he will be a hectoring factor to drive change. Friends of mine who have worked for and with him single out his steadiness and ability to persist in political situations as distinctive talents, at the same time acknowledging his wit, intelligence, and heart.

Remember, while Okrent ran Pathfinder for a while, and worked on many other new and turn-around ventures at Time, Inc., including the re-start of Life Magazine, he’s spent a helluva long time on the 34th floor--a corporate Valhalla where battling forces operate behind closed teak doors.

What Okrent could and should do: Build an informed “kitchen cabinet” of knowledgeable innovators and involve them through quarterly lunches and brainstorming sessions, presentations to staffers, etc. Broaden the world view to some 'disruptive media' folks, innovators, and the grassroots.
Education can be a powerful force for change, if you’re not in a big rush--and since the NY Times often prefers not to rush, this informal quorum could influence, educate and yes, even provoke a bit. The man who is at least partly responsible for introducing fantasy baseball is capable of this much, and much more, so let the games begin.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Progressive Dinner Report

We just finished our Naglee Park progressive dinner party: 10 couples, 5 houses, 5 courses.
Only each course except the main dish seemed to have 3-5 dishes wrapped in, so the quantity of food was a bit staggering.
Some highlights of the meal: Penelope Casas tapas-style potato and egg cake, marinated olives and mushrooms, Spanish cheeses like Machengo.
Curried pumpkin soup with mushrooms (secret ingredient turned out to be maple syrup)
Spinach salad
Fresh mango and green chili chutney, to go with the Indian main course of curried lamb, vegetables and white rice
Our desserts: bread pudding with raspberry sauce and fresh whipped cream, coconut-walnut bars (Spencer made those), great key lime by from our neighbor.

The neighbors at the dinner were extremely nice: one works at NASA, another is in HR at a semi-conductor company and knows a friend of mine, one is a "life coach," another is in sales, one teaches middle school. And so of the nice things about California is that the first question is never "What do you do?" as it is in New York. (Okay, so it's question number 5, and I keep thinking it till it's time to ask, but here, more typically, someone else tells you what the person does--the same protocols of asking aren't in place.)

Susan Meiselas photos: Strippers, 1974

Xeni at BoingBoing posts a link to a wonderful collecction of 1974 photos of strippers by people's photo Susan Meiselas (Susannah Breslin was the source)

K-Praxis: More on Google buying Sprinks

K-Praxis revisits their August 2003 analysis of players in the contextual advertising space and concludes that Google's purchase of Sprinks is a very calculated move. They say: "Google is winning because it was first to understand contextual advantage of content."

I'd reword that to say "Google understands the relationship between distribution and affinity and knows how to build an ad model around it."
What does that mean:
1) Google figured out moving their contextual ads to other search partners--like Netscape and AOL--would make them more money.
2) Then they figured out that they didn't need to power search per se to power those ads--they could distribute contextual ads on non-search pages.
Thus was a bright new model born (with lots of inspiration from Overture, of course).
3) Next, they figured out that if they populated high-demand, high-interest--and high-volume pages with contextual ads, they'd make more money.
If there was ever any business reason for buying Blogger, as opposed to just wanting to keep them afloat, this would be the reason.
4) Content is affinity with a topic, or in some cases, a brand. The affinity can be with top shelf content--think the Financial Times--or with community local blogs--but the affinity keeps the audience coming back. And the Google ads are there, making money every time.
This is the smartness of this model--back in the day, GeoCities and other "community" sites couldn't get banner advertisers on their pages cause advertisers felt the quality of the audience would be low--now, ad words sell just as well on little targeted and community sites as on big portals and sports sites--in some cases, even better.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Halley's Comment: Where are the women (bloggers) ?

If women are creating over 50% of blogs, why aren't more of them in the Top 100 blogger's spots?" asks Halley Suitt.
Halley points out that the BlogStreet 100 is heavy on both political blogs and guys--if women are on the guys' blogrolls, then why are so few in the Top 100?
Says Halley: "It's clear that the top male bloggers are not denying women their blogroll inks, for the most part. It's clear that the top male bloggers take every chance to list women bloggers and engage the topics that they raise. These men are too smart not to take us seriously. We are their colleagues, friends, girlfriends, sisters, bosses, moms, daughters. They want the best for us. Guys, feel free to blogroll us anytime. "

My 2 cents on this one: Both men and women enjoy the kind of pointed, acerbic commentary that guys are (typically) more comfortable articulating. Guys rant on about politics, a topic the news junkies love. Women strive to be smart and insightful, but except for Elizabeth Spiers, seem leary of being bitchy--ad bitchy sells.
Why do more people know Quentin Tarantino than Jane Campion? It's the noise factor, baby, and the blog world goes through the same thing--loud voices, cheap thrills kick butt every time.

Does this mean guys are better bloggers? Of course NOT. It just means loud voices win the top slots.

UPDATE: Guess some folks are addressing the women thing straight just launched--a blog by "smart, techy women." Oh, can I play too, please?

Eat to Live: What I cooked(and ate) this week

I must be settling in to life on the West Coast, because the quality of my luncheons is coming closer to the good meals I had in New York. In addition to Chez Panisse this week, I knocked back a plateful of fried Pacific oysters and crisp brown fries at Duarte's in Pescadero, accompanied by bites of fresh steamed artichoke hearts. Last night, though I was without hunger, I sauteed chicken breasts and mushrooms with nutmeg for friends and family, accompanied by a great baby spinach salad, steamed red potatoes, and some leftover arroz con pollo my husband made. Dessert was ice cream, cookies, and a bown of canned mandarin oranges.
Today, I worked at home for most of the day, then went with Spencer to see my friend Mark. We walked out onto the seaweed and sand flats left bare by the ocean's low tide at Princeton Beach, then swung over to Barbara's Fish Trap to eat once we got tired of watching the seas gulls crack barnacles on the rocks.
What did we have?
More fried Pacific oysters, fresh coleslaw, salad, then broiled fresh local halibut with baked potato.
This is the reason I have gained two pounds this week--starting Sunday, it's daily sessions in the gym and lots of protein, fruit and salad.

Amazon: Search Inside Books

Amazon launched a new service today called Search Inside Books, which allows a full-text search of ALL books and other media in the Amazon databases to produce a list of books etc listing your keyword.
I searched on my favorite obscure British author Jeff Noon, and found that in addition to the Noon books Amazon carries, there were additional results, mostly from anthologies referring to Noon in their forewards. However, there were also some bloopers such as " She'd left with Jeff at noon--" Boolean search doesn't seem to work with this feature(yet).

Nevertheless, this is wonderful and amazing..well worth playing with.

Moving toward micro-subscriptions: Disney Online & WalMart team up

Disney and WalMart have teamed up to offer families the chance to buy a prepaid online subscription card--much like a phone card--that can be used to activate a one-month subscription to two of Disney's popular children's sites--Disney Blast and Toontown. .
The program utilizes AT&T PrePaid Web Cents technology, which provides a secure payment alternative for online content. The cards will cost $9.94 for a one-month subscription, with longer membership packages available at reduced rates. Wal-Mart will activate the cards at the point of sale, whereupon users can access online content by entering a serial and PIN number on the card.

Seems to me this is a clear integration of some technology and new business models---these monthly sub fees could be HUGE in the teen/entertainment market, as well as in sports. and Google

So, announced this am that they would start serving Google AdSense on their pages.
In many ways, is amazingly similar to Blogger-- from a user-generated content, it provides a platform for personalize advertising (remember Kaltix) results--that creates pages for Google text ads.

Does this similarity mean Google will also acquire
Or that they could have acquired and passed on it?

Or that Google's AdSense will provide a margin of revenue against operating costs that makes it profitable for Primedia to continue to own this

Look for to need to find some new ways to reinvent itself--perhaps as a premium service as some sort--to remain a vital piece of a very bottom-line oriented magazine company.

Primedia sells Sprinks, partners with Google

Primedia is partnering with Google and selling Sprinks. Here's a quote from Dean Nelson, their Chairman: "We realized early that contextual advertising had great potential across the Internet and on our content sites in particular. We partnered with Google
because their vast base of advertisers will allow us to accelerate the benefits of contextual advertising across our Internet sites and enable us to
more effectively monetize our website traffic than we could with Sprinks alone."

Translation: Google continues its relentless focus on paid search keywords and contextual text advertising, partnering with media entities, portals, and everyone else to maximize advertising revenue. Primedia is interested in cash to improve their P&L--they get it in two ways here--through a sale, and as part of an advertising network. This is also a neat way to continue to integrate and Google--Google is already the main point of entry into their pages.

PhillyMag: Jake Tapper Gets Bashed

Romenesko points to a just-published piece in Philadelphia Magazine that purports to tell the "inside story" of newly hired ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper. According to the PhillyMag senior writer Stephen Roderick, author of the piece, "Jake Tapper has arrived. More precisely, Jake Tapper has crawled and scratched his way into the media power elite/." and "...Bad Jake has sold out for the big bucks in a medium where tough questions are shouted down by Entertainment Tonight babes. "

The bile in this piece makes the flame wars among bloggers seem civilized.
The author seems to have it in for Tapper because he is handsome, a bit of a womanizer, and a successful--and ambitious--journalist. Philadelphia Magazine apparently also has a bone to pick with Tapper--according to Philly Citypaper, they ran an article in 2001 called "Beer and Loathing" that was very negative, so this is their second pass at a hatch-job. (What--they hate him for moving to DC?)

Why am I blogging this?
I met with Jake Tapper several times during 2002 to discuss involving him in a project I was developing for my then-employer (AOL), and found him to be smart, charming, and full of great ideas. He totally got the concepts we were developing, and he would have added a lot of value to the project. The Jake Tapper I met doesn't sound at all like the slimy putz the PhillyMag trash piece portrays.

Further,Philadelphia Magazine seems to forget one thing: ambitious or not, Jake Tapper is talented.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Dept of Amusing Coincidences, Part 72

So my friends Jill and Gab have come east from New York for a few days and are staying with us till Friday. We talk last night to make arrangements for them to get her today.
Jill: "We land at 11 and then we're going to Berkley to have lunch with a college friend."
Susan: "Really--I am having lunch in Berkeley, too. Where are you eating?"
Jill: "Chez Panisse."
Susan: "Me, too."
Sure enough, 10 minutes after my lunch companion and I took our table, Jill and Gab and their friend appeared and had their own lunch.
Small world, but I wouldn't want to paint it, as Steven Wright famously said.
Okay--do you want to know what I ate?
Garden salad
Poached eggs with sauteed flagelots(beans), spinach, and mushrooms, with toast
A Frog Hollow Bartlett pear with Barhi dates

Yes, it was all great.

Great Day in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkley

Seems like today was the end of the depression I've been feeling for the past week--I feel great now.
This morning, I was at a design firm with folks from a start-up I am advising, then I had lunch at Chez Panisse to discuss another project, and then more designers and start-ups in Oakland.
The meetings were very energizing and will help to move these projects forward.
Some conclusions:
Get out of San Jose on a regular basis, it makes a difference!
Work is a huge part of what I enjoy--I need to be working at a certain intensity and level to feel energized
A mini-vacation wouldn't hurt either--I am going to take some time off later next week if I can.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Lost In Translation

Saw Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation (finally) last night.
Some thoughts:
1) Definitely seems autobiographical--The girl has the same hair style as Coppola, the same clothes (casual and Marc Jacobs) and the same non-verbal style. At one point, she calls her photo husband Jonsey--Coppola's husband is/was Spike Jones.
2) Bill Murray is a genius. Murray's combination of pathos, wit, and intelligence matches Chaplin.
3) Visually rich, the film implies more than it delivers emotionally.
4) The actors rock--Anna Faris, Scarlett Johansson, Murray all excel.

Blog History Month

Beside Dave Winer, who were the early bloggers? Jeanne Sessums has a list here.

Eating in Costume: San Jose Progressive Dinner Plans

Saturday night we're hosting the dessert course for a neighborhood progressive dinner. There will be 10 couples, and everyone needs to dress in costume (no problem, I can go as a cranky New Yorker). The other couple making dessert turns out to live down the street, and are people we've met (we all have big dogs that need endless walking). They seem more nervous about this event than we are.
They will make Key Lime Pie with fresh whipped cream.
We will make Bread Pudding with Raspberry Sauce on the side.
I will buy something chocolate for the chocoholics to scarf.
It should be fun.

Blues done got me

I've been dragging all week since I got back from New York--while I am usually a very resilient person, I have been the personification of moody, up and down like an elevator. Having a cold is a factor, but I wonder if all the changes--starting my own company, moving across the country, having a child about to go off to college (once we get those applications finished)--are catching up with me at last.
I also spent much of October on the road--in two weeks I was in New York (twice), Boston, San Jose, and Philadelphia. And do I feel a bit dislocated now? You bet I do.
At the same time, I have some projects I am really busy with, and friends coming from the East Coast, so there's no time to slow down.
Hopefully, I will feel better by next week. If not, I've got a problem.

Monday, October 20, 2003

NEW! Yahoo News can syndicate results by keyword

Okay, as Jeremy Zwadony posts, Yahoo's come out with one of those consumer-friendly features that news hounds have been waiting for--the ability to select a keyword, such as AOL or George Bush, and have it come to your newsreader as a XML/RSS feed. Google News, among others, has been offering email feeds of selected keywords as News Alerts, but Yahoo may be the first big player to offer this much wished for feature....or have someone hack how to do it and tell the blog world, at least.

Jeremy doesn't tell us tech innocents exactly how to do this, but it seems to work as follows:
The search string in RSS is TO BE SEARCHED
To search for a muti-word string, the URL would look like + name

I am going to try this right now. Update--it works.

Additional thoughts--online news related
The interesting thing here is that news itself has become a commodity, and this is a game about multiplatform, multi-channel distribution of data. For the most part, what is being packaged are the generic news providers--AP, Reuters, with a small percentage of news from other sources willing to let their data be redistributed in this form. Advance, Knight Ridder Digital, Tribune--YOU should be packing up your feeds in a similar fashion as a registration bonus.

All Consuming and Google Friends lists

Clicking around AllConsuming, Erik Benson's great log of books mentioned in web logs that are also available via Amazon, and discovered he's created a relational filter/friend of a friend page for each blog the site tracks. Mine is at this URL and after it lists the books I have mentioned in the past week, it gives a list of my Google Friends (and what are those, pray tell? My "friends" are Ryze, Danny Ayers, BloggerCon, PixieChick, exulina, and a Yahoo movie pages that has a broken link.
Hrrrumph. Another great idea, like Scott Johnson's new tool, that probably doesn't work as well for me because I am on Blogspot.
Time to consider a move?

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Press Think asks What's conservative about the weblog form in journalism?

Jay Rosen brings it all home in another terrific analytical post. Some snippets:
5.) A weblog in revolt against journalistic authority will discover that it needs itself some kind of authority, (even if it’s among like-minded rebels) and thus the revolt is always a limited and partial one.

6.) The quality of any weblog in journalism depends greatly on its fidelity to age old newsroom commandments (virtues) like check facts, check links, spell things correctly, be accurate, be timely, quote fairly. And as Roy Peter Clark says, if you’re telling a story and there’s a dog, get the name of the dog.

7.) People still want to know: how do you know this? What expertise, body of knowledge, authority, or direct experience lies behind a weblog’s statements about the world?

Rosen's ten are all worth reading.

Print media and Internet--Publishers don't see a fit

The growing tensions between avid bloggers and professional journalists in the form of newspaper editors takes on an interesting new dimension when put against the recent Gartner Group survey of print publishing executives conducted this fall. According to a Mediapost story, "...only 27% of print publishers believe they will see an increase in online advertising revenue in the next five years, compared to 33% who see no change and 17% who see the business as evenly split five years from now, finds a survey of 423 newspaper and magazine executives released Wednesday by GartnerG2. Nearly a quarter of the executives (23%) simply did not know what future of online might be."

Of course, the real question for these print folks is where's the revenue?
Or, do they have services and content they could be making more money?
Or, why aren't they doing a more effective job at this?

It seems liike the print sector--some part thereof--has been asking this same question since 1999, even as Consumer Reports, The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo, Google, and others have made subscription and advertising models work.


Terry Semel: The $26MM Dollar Man

According to recent news reports, Yahoo CEO Terry Semel who is responsible for leading Yahoo into profitability in the past 3 quarters, just got a nice little reward-- $14.6 million dollars gained by exercising 500,000 stock options earlier this week. Earlier this month Semel cashed in for in $11.1 million. Given he's created $16 billion in shareholder value, $26MM seems like a nice percentage.

AOL-ster: Jesse Kornbluth on Kara Swisher's latest book

Jesse Kornbluth is one of my favorite journalists--the guy's amazingly talented. The review he sent along of THERE MUST BE A PONY IN HERE SOMEWHERE
by Kara Swisher, with Lisa Dickey, is well worth reading.
For the interested, some excerpts here:

"Someone gave me a shrewd piece of advice when I became Editorial Director of America Online in 1997. "If you don't have conflicts of interest," she said, "you're not doing it right."

I'm gone from AOL now, and most of my conflicts of interest have evaporated. (Disclosure: I've known Kara Swisher for six years. She used to bug me for information; I never had any.) And I'm "over" AOL; the fascination of its internal drama faded as the company's prospects declined. As it is for many of you, AOL is mostly an e-mail address for me; how warring millionaires fought over the arrangement of the deck chairs on this particular Titanic is of very little interest.

But THERE MUST BE A PONY IN HERE SOMEWHERE, Kara Swisher's account of "the AOL Time Warner Debacle and the Quest for a Digital Future," was too good to put down so quickly. ....This is not just a fast-paced, well-told story, it's one that invites readers to look for a moral. Some will think it's hubris, others the blinding power of riches. I see the book as a study in conflicts of interest --- well before the merger, I would argue, AOL stopped focusing on its customers and started living for Wall Street. The execs didn't care enough to notice that AOL's technology was rusting, that its programming was 24/7 Britney, that members had to fight their way through a sea of pop-up ads to get to their mail."

Go, Jesse! The book excerpt is here.. Buy the book from Bookreporter here.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Looking Back: the week in New York

I ended up coming down a cold and sore throat and canceling most of my Friday appointments. Hot tea at my brother’s apartment won out over seeing friends, especially since I had a 4 AM Saturday departure for the airport.
Some highlights of the week:
--Lunch at The Century Club, both for the amazing Stanford White building and my lunch partner’s conversation.
--Discussions about a new project that involves creating (and licensing) creative learning materials for an education-focused nonprofit that’s been running programs for many years, but has no products that can carry their message and bring them earned income.
--Talking with a former staffer and old friend who’s decided to go back to school and become a teacher. She was set on Hunter because she wanted to start classes this winter. I advised also checking out Bank Street and Columbia Teachers College. She went up to Bank Street and fell in love with the program--it feels good when advice is useful.
-- Board and committee meetings for Teachers Network, a curriculum and policy-focused nonprofit whose board I’ve joined.
--Seeing family: Staying with my brother and sister allowed me to spend time in the evenings with them, and with my nephews, ages 5, 7, and 10.
--Visiting Reverend Claude Jeter, the 89-year old lead singer of the Swan Silvertones, a friend of my husband’s who is considered one of the greatest Gospel singers of all time.

Low points:
--The difficult of finding Wi-Fi that worked for me in midtown and the absolute lack of any Wi-Fi in the Riverdale high-rises, meaning it was dial-up all the way.
--Similar problems with my cell phone, which had trouble finding a signal in Riverdale, South Salem, and too many parts of Manhattan. As soon as November 24th hits and I can keep my number, Sprint’s going to be history.
--New glasses: I am squinting, again.

Dept of amusing coincidences: Newsweek, edition

Setting: An elevator at Newsweek in midtown Manhattan.
Players: Two staffers and Steven Madoff, my 5ive business partner, who is in the building to meet a friend for lunch, and is taking the elevator up to her floor.
First Newsweeker (continuing a discussion begun before Steven gets in the elevator): “Is blogging a fad, or it is gong to be the next big thing?”
Second Newsweeker: “Well, Susan Mernit thinks it is going to be big.”
Steven (doing a double take): You know Susan Mernit?”
Second Newsweeker: “I read her blog.”
Naturally, conversation ensues and it turns out that the second Newsweeker is R.A., also k now as Multimedia Man, who used to work with me at an earlier job.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Last day in New York

I am staying in South Salem and working with my 5ive partner Steven today.
The trees are beautiful near his house.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Kevin Sites: War blogger back in business

Dan Gillmor reports that after CNN shut down Kevin Sites' blog, he left the network--and is now at MSNBC, where they're allowing him to blog. Kevin's latest post is from October 10th.

Kevin: "The blog is reopen for business. It has been seven months since this site went silent. Time for everyone to get back to work. To all of you who have made this place so interesting with your informed and intelligent discussions, I thank you. For all who have been so kind as to inquire about my welfare—I also thank you and apologize for not being able to respond."

What if you were blogger in chief for the New York Times?

How sad that John Markoff disparages blogging. Seems kinda like dissing the telephone--hey buddy, it's a tool, not a cause.
Meanwhile, online news sites continue to think about blogs--and bloggers think about news sites:
Dave WinerSusan Mernit
Roland Tanglao

Journalism and Blogging

There's lots of bytes being expended on how journalism and blogging line up together. as Tim Porter points out today. I'm in the middle of writing a piece about this topic, so will content myself to say that a genuine antipathy seems to be developing towards blogging on the part of some journalists, while some bloggers seem overly eager to be blessed accredited as journalists. The joke here, of course, is that readers don't make these distinction as carefully as the writers do.

Is Friendster worth more than a Tickle?

Quiz and personality test experts eMode just launched Tickle, a would-be Friendster-killer. Labeled "America's Social Network," a wonderful tag-line, Tickle asks for 7 screens of very detailed sign up data, providing committed users with dozens of excuses to strike up conversations.
Once I was signed up, the site directed me to a page saying there were 700,000 members in the network and asking my my favorite ice cream flavor (all the better to lick you with, my dear). I don't think Tickle actually has 700,000 names in its database already; I suspect that's the number of eMode users who have given the service permission to opt them in to new things.
Given how popular eMode has become, and how well they have done syndicating and distributing their quizzes to partners such as Cosmo Girl, I predict a bright and shiny future for Tickle.
ZDNet has a story on the launch; I'm going to check and see if anyone else has blogged this.

Jay Rosen: Radical things about the weblog form in journalism

Jay Rosen has some don't miss observations here:
Ten Things Radical about the Weblog Form in Journalism:

" 1.) The weblog comes out of the gift economy, whereas most (not all) of today’s journalism comes out of the market economy.

2.) Journalism had become the domain of professionals, and amateurs were sometimes welcomed into it— as with the op ed page. Whereas the weblog is the domain of amateurs and professionals are the ones being welcomed to it, as with this page.

3.) In journalism since the mid-ninetheenth century, barriers to entry have been high. With the weblog, barriers to entry are low: a computer, a Net connection, and a software program like Blogger or Movable Type gets you there. Most of the capital costs required for the weblog to “work” have been sunk into the Internet itself, the largest machine in the world (with the possible exception of the international phone system.)"

And so in, all true.

Rainier 'McBain' Wolfcastle is the cartoon parody of Schwarzenegger on The Simpsons


Personal scrapbook tools

Phil Glyforrd has an entry about the consumers' possible interest in tools for online scrapbooking. AOL has invested much effort in creating album capabilities for You've Got Pictures, their photo exchange area, and worked hard to integrate photo capabilities into AOL Journals, allowing users to discover the complimentery nature of these two products.
There definitely is interest in blogging tools that would better integrate images and words.
At BloggerCon, Dan Bricklin wished for a more nible drag and drop tool that woud allow him to insert photos into his blog and move and resize them on the fly. The room agreed the development dollars for this would be HUGE. That same weekend, Doc Searls shared a beautiful slide show he'd assembled of his mother's life as a homage to her. And at my recent family reunion party in Philly, I found myself wishing that the terrific video slide show Neil Korostoff produced about his parents could just be ported to thr web, for sharing with my son and others who weren't there.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

You've got New York Mag? Ex-AOLer to bid for NY Mag

Paul Corvino, former AOL sales and marketing exec, apparently plans to put in a bid for NY Magazine, according to a Business Wire post.

Jeff Jarvis gets written up in Editor & Publisher

Steve Outing touts Jeff for practicing 'citizen journalism' at the online news sites he oversees.

"Jarvis looks at community blogging as a way for a news organization to get to the hyper-local level. A motivated group of community members volunteer to write on a regular basis about something they know or care deeply about. They publish "news" and opinion about things that the news organization can't afford to cover....
Jarvis envisions a Google AdWords-like model, where advertising sales are automated. Local advertisers seeking low rates and selective targeting -- for example, a sporting goods store selling ads into a town's sports-related blogs -- will be a central target to fund the citizen-blog initiative. Advance also knows the ZIP codes of its customers (collected in a brief registration screen before Web-site content can be viewed), which will combine targeting by location with targeting by topic interest."

Outing ends the piece by saying "Remember Koz," an online community tool created by a business team lead by Frank Daniels, former head of Nando, but he forgets to mention Community Connection, a similar tool that Advance created and deployed across all its sites. You can still see it at of it as a blog like effort before there were blogs.

(Disclosure: Jeff and I worked together-along with a host of others--to create that application.

Feedster subscription tool: Didn't work well for moi

I just put my blog's RSS URL into the new toy Scott Johnson and Andrew Grumet whipped up to pull like blogs by keywords. Here's what I got:
My "High scoring words" were--
president chief executive
new york
wifi users

On this basis I got :
links to craig's list new york's list of admin jobs,
Insurance Journal,
News is Free news for Canada.

Guys, you better try again...great idea, execution still in development

Primedia gets Kelly Conlin, new CEO

This just in:
Priedia has named Kelly P. Conlin president and chief executive officer. He has served as president and chief executive office of International Data Group (IDG), ans as CNN's Chief Assignment Editor in New York during the network's start-up era.

At The New York Times, Conlin was a reporter for the paper's business section and later a strategic planning manager in the company's magazine group. In 1995, at the age of 35, he was named president of IDG,. Since leaving IDG in 2002, Conlin has been an advisor to a private investment firm specializing in equity investments in communications and media companies around the world.

Said Henry R. Kravis, a director of the Company:. "Our goal was to find a leader with experience in growing the top line organically and a proven track record of maximizing the potential of a broad portfolio of media assets. We are extremely fortunate to have found the perfect balance in Kelly. He is the ideal person to build on PRIMEDIA's core base of consumer and business-to-business properties and position the Company for the next phase of its development and success."

Do you use your neighbor's Wi-Fi?

44% of Wi-Fi users would take a peek at their neighbor's wireless network if they got the chance, 21% of Wi-Fi users can see their neighbor's wireless
LAN, and 25% have logged onto a neighbor's network to access the web or see files, according to a study and press release issued this week by 2Wire, Inc.

Do you ride on free networks in your neighborhood? Is it wrong? Weigh in, wise minds.

Profound insights at Starbucks, NYC

9am, crisp and windy fall day in downtown NYC. 40 minutes early for an appointment, I pick up scones at the Greenmarket and head for Starbucks on Union Square. There are enough seats and wall outlets to make me think this Starbuck’s is a popular free agent (read consultants and the un/underplayed who have to escape their apartment) destination, but I’ve got the only laptop in the place--there are a number of students reading and making notes, some business folks chatting about the sushi blowout they had last night, and someone with a wailing cat tucked into a gym badge.

Profound insight #1: Half the people in this country are either working to get health insurance or working some odd pastiche of jobs as long as they can hold out.

Profound insight #2: Must-have luxury goods--bags, shoes, watches, coats in New York, nice cars, big trucks, and fully-loaded SUVS in the rest of the world re meant to cloak the unrest cause by #1.

Profound insight #3: People are getting fatter because they sit at home and eat in front of the TV, trying to block out the stress trigged by #1 and #2.

#4 Starbucks offers coffee and health insurance, and now, for a fee, Wi-Fi access. Maybe Howard Schultz should run for President?

Web Gazing: Gotta Have It

From newsie Steve Outing: A Guardian story covers a survey by British research firm NOP that claims that for the first time the Internet has overtaken television in the amount of time that consumers spend with it. On average, according to the research, Internet users spend 3.5 hours a day on the Internet, and 2.8 hours watching television.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Family Ties: The Closeness of Near and Far

One of the hard things about leaving NY was moving away from my brother and sister and their families.
But one of the surprises of coming back to New York--now that I actually live in California--is how rewarding it is to visit them when I come back to the city.
When I lived here, it was hard to get together, there was no time, we all had a million things to do.
Now that I am a visitor, I am a one time only offer, the schedules are cleared, and spending time together is a priority.
It is GREAT.
Who knew that going so far away would help bring us so close together?

(Un)love for Sale: Will AOL go on the block?

TW leaves the AOL off the name starting Thursday, and industry analysts predict a sale could be close behind.
Betting pool: Will Google buy AOL? Earthlink? SBC? Who is a good candidate to acquire the ISP?

Monday, October 13, 2003

What I've been reading

Airplane travel means novels and memoirs--here's my latest list:

READING: Volcano, by Garrett Hongo
"...What I cared about was the inner city, about my teenage life brooding on the social complexities of my integrated high school--unusual in that it was a third white, and a third black, and a third Japanese American. I cared about what it was it was I didn't see a whole lot of where I'd grown up. Compassion. I cared about what the family could give that the city could not. I cared that the complete brutality of ghetto life was not compensated for by anything I'd ever witnessed, by anything I could yet imagine. "
Hongo's memoir of growing up Hawaiian and Japanese in Los Angeles reminds me of writings by poets Phil Levine and Gary Soto, not a bad thing by any means.

READING: A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance, by Jane Juska.
This charming memoir mixes stories of 20-plus years as a writing teacher with amusihg accounts of a 66-year old woman's determination to have "sex, lots of it," before her next birthday. As Juska weaves her tale, her love affair with New York (she lived in Berkeley) emerges as the greatest of her passions..

READING: In the Country of the Young, by Lisa CareyThis entertaining literary page-turner spins the tale of Aisling, a ghostly dead girl reborn for a time, and Oisin, an emotionally scarred painter living on a remote island off the coast of Massachusetts. I could not put it down, even as the graceful writing grew heavy-handed in the last third of the novel.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Figs on both coasts

I love fig trees--the way they look, the beautiful leaves, and the delicious figs. My neighbor in San Jose has a Black Mission fig tree whose figs I've been picking; today in Philly Spencer's great-uncle Irv brought me figs from his trees in Elkins Park, PA, which he wraps in burlap every winter to guard against frost.
I never ate figs off the tree before this fall, and now I've tasted them on both coasts. Hopefully, sometime next year, I'll be able to plant some new fig trees of my own.

Family reunion fun

Spent the weekend offline in Philadelphia at a terrific family party--the 50th wedding anniversary of Spencer's great-aunt and uncle, Irv and Ethel Korostoff.
Imagine a hundred Jews coming into Philly from around the world--Israel, Russia, California, Florida, Texas, New York, DC, Williamsburg, VA, Los Angeles, Buffalo, etc, and ranging in age from 95 to 5 converging for a 3 day party--that was my weekend.
The great thing about it was that I realized I could easily be good friends with many of the people there in my age group-- Deborah Gussman, Neil Korostoff, Stacy Levy, Tori Gussman, David Gussman, and a score of others, most of them related to my husband in some way or another.
What a great family party!

Friday, October 10, 2003

Jarvis: Bloggers talk to influencers

Jeff Jarvis hits the bullseye again, in his post about bloggers as influencers talking to influencers (and you wondered why his blog was called Buzzmachine?):
"Forget the sniping you hear about how many or how few people are blogging -- or even how many or how few people read blogs. This isn't a numbers game. It's an influence game.
First, bloggers capture buzz.
When you see a topic bubble up in weblogs, I believe that matters because it is an indication of the topic bubbling up across the populace. It is an early indicator of public sentiment.
Second, bloggers are influencers talking to influencers."
(Via Henry Copeland's Blogads)

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Online news: How to build sites that matter

Steve Yelvington : "But ... the world is changing, and newspapers have handicapped
themselves by generally not paying enough attention to new Internet competition from Ebay, et al. Instead, they're building sites that tend
to be derivative and duplicative of their print "parents," whose product characteristics come from a dead century.

Newspapers need to be building timely, useful, interactive local sites that play to the strengths of the medium and reflect how real people use the Internet -- especially real people who are under 35, who are increasingly deserting print.

Cutting and pasting yesterday's news onto the Web won't do the job."

Steve is making some very good points.

As I become more involved--or reinvolved--in the online news world, I am reminded how some editors' intense conservatism and resistance to changle is offset by the joyful experimentation and careful problem-solving of a few others.

Whether online news folks think its a good idea or not, audiences do not differentiate between Google news and their local news site's AP news feed--what sets the local site apart, besides the brand, is the credible, community-news focus and the depth of coverage that wire services and national news desks do not attempt to duolicate. The SacBee site is able to cover the local arts scene in a way that Yahoo News or Google cannot--if what's on the SacBee site is exactly what's in the paper, the site will have value to those who don't see the paper--but it will have even more value if it can offer some unique and distinct experiences--the SacBee Recall newsletter, for example, kept me wedded to in a way that few other thingd would have--Although I live outside their local area, the quality of coverage, the frequency of the touch, and the fact they had two interesting blogs grabbed my attention in a way that other recall sites failed to do.,

Yahoo ad dollars jump; big profits shown this quarter

According to several business reports, new sponsored search placements have helped once-struggling Yahoo's earnings go way up this quarter, to a record $356.8 in revenue, the highest ever. Today's story in the Merrcury News

Apparently, Yahoo saw an uptick in both banner-style online advertising,and paid search listings.
At the same time, Yahoo's base of registered users grew to 123 million at the end of the third quarter from 96 million a year ago.
The only soft spot was where earning are rising, but at a slower pace, no doubt reflect both of the sluggish economy and the rise of alternatives such as Craig's List.
More stories here.

Great to see a once-floundering dot com company get healthy.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Making money from blogging--Some thoughts for discussion

The interesting twist to the question of can one make money from blogging is really not how one blogger can make money, but can multiple bloggers make money?
Or, can someone else make money off multiple bloggers?
Back in Ben Johnson's day, they passed out broadsheets at the coffeehouses, and posted them on the walls. Today individual writers are similarly limited on how to cash in as solo operators--they need a magazine, a publishers, an online vendor, for the most part, to get them those bucks. The great excitement about Google AdWords is the hope they can deliver enough cash for the solo practicioner to make all that time spent writing justifiable.

But there's another scenario that's just as likely: Individual bloggers will need to band together to package and sell their work--or smart news aggregators and editors will do it for them, and give them a remit. Many schemes of this persuasion are out there--but most of them are underfunded, under-energized, and fledgling. What is a magazine but the point of view of an editor, who pulls writers, artists, designers together to express a distinct point of view? In the blogging world, readers have the freedom to assemble their own virtual magazine through virtue of whose feeds these select to carry and read, but how far off is the day when some smart person offers us lazy types a re-aggregation of great political blogs (that would be easy), or great foodie blogs (also not hard), or the best slice of blogs for women in transition (divorced, empty nest, widowed, etc), or great life coach/personal development blogs?

Ease of use, simplicity, and convenience are what attract consumers, over and over. How far off is the day when some smart folks will try to build out some offerings--packages if you will--and offer them either as new forms of media--perhaps for a small fee--more likely for free, with some interesting marketing upsells once you register and get inside the wall.

When that day comes, I'm there--I know from all my dot com and print media experience that making money is the only way a great idea can survive--so unless it's going to remain a hobby for the under employed, the blog world will find ways to evolve more than one type of cash business--and I'll be cheering those entrepreneurs on. --And hoping they make sure to redistribute some of their cash to the creative types whose sweat equity they're building on.

Is anyone making money from blogging? Vin Crosbie takes a look

While bloggers--and journalists--discuss blogging as a new form--pragmatic business types wonder where the money is. At BloggerCon, consensus was that the dollars lay in selling software and hosting, and in paid aids, not in premium or subscription-driven blogging. Online news consultant Vin Crosbie takes a look at the current scene--and concludes--the dollars, they just ain't there yet.

Some highlights of his roundup:
Patrick Phillips, I Want Media: "I'm skeptical of the viability of paid subscription blogs, and of paid subscriptions for most online news providers. Much of the news on the Internet is still available for free, so I am doubtful that a significant number of people would be willing to pay, no matter the niche, at this point."

Rafat Ali, PaidContent: "It is a difficult game. Anyone who said it would be easy to get revenues off blogs has neither done full-time blogging nor made any revenues in their life.... The problem is you're feeding off other media sites for your material, which, by definition, isn't unique. "Within trade blogs, people may pay for a hybrid site like mine: a mix of blog and original reporting, with lots of context thrown in, and multiple (seven for my site) ways to access the content."

Rick Bruner, Marketing Wonk: "When Clay Shirky wrote his piece a couple of weeks ago condemning micropayments, I planned a response essay that was going to cite Elizabeth Spiers [of]. She obviously has a passionate following. Were she to charge 20 cents for access to longer pieces once a week, she could make significant money."

The full piece is here.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Kill Britney: Anti-violence advocate puts foot in mouth

"....if I had an opportunity to shoot Britney Spears, I think I would."
---Kendel Ehrlich, wife of Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich of Maryland, speaking at a domestic violence prevention conference on Friday.
More stories here.

Heading to New York next week

I''ll be back in New York the week of October 13-18 meeting with some clients and seeing friends; if you'd like to get together, send me an email, ideally this week.

Clarks' campaign manager quits: Internet not given enough weight
"Donnie Fowler told associates he was leaving over widespread concerns that supporters who used the Internet to draft Clark into the race are not being taken seriously by top campaign advisers.

Fowler also complained that the campaign's message and methods are focused too much on Washington, not key states and the burgeoning power of the Internet, said two associates who spoke on condition of anonymity."

Google & AOL--The relationship deepens

AOL announced a deeper relationship with Google today, based on adding additional Google search capabilities to the AOL service. According to Silicon Valley,. better local search, more vertical search capabilities in areas like entertainment; and tools that help users refine their searches are part of the new offering.
As a part of the expansion, AOL will display Google's paid listings in both the business listings and directories of AOL Yellow Pages.

So, AOL has 23.5 million current users. The rumor is that the major of the ad revenue is currently coming from Google text ads and that AOL Interactive Marketing is not doing particularly well selling the AOL service.

We know Google just bought Kaltix, a new, high end company focused on personalized search and search datamining across very large data sets.
What kind of revenue could Google's soon-to-be deployed personalized search tools do when launched against AOL's 25.5 MM members?

Plenty, as Google's gotta know.

My prediction #1: Google deploys personalized search tools first on AOL to make the most of all this nice new targeting the new agreement enables, helping everybody make more money.

Prediction #2: Google buys a chunk of AOL, possibly the Netscape portal, maybe even the service itself. (Think about it-- Why not find a cheap and stripped down company with a nice sized user base, and then purchase it and keep all the cash? Google clearly gets that model--They're clearly trying to get into companies with expanding user bases--they tried to buy Friendster, they're in acquisition mode, and they need critical mass and great revenue splits. And only like 10 people tops work on the Netscape portal anymore, anyway, so it's gotta go for a song.)

Am I smoking crack? Maybe. But Google--like old ID monster--is clearly on the prowl these days. What do you think is next?

Dept of I vehemently disagree--Online news can't write off blogs

Eric Meyer, Associate professor of journalism, U of Illinois, has a long post on blogging on the online news list that basically says online news sites should just forget about blogs as the fad of the moment. While Meyer raises many good points about a paper's responsibility to connect with their readers, he clearly doesn't get the flexibility and immediacy of blogs. His essay is kind of like saying, "Forget television or radio, just hang around with your readers and you will have a better paper."

A quote from Meyer's essay:
"Blogs are just another artificial mechanism to try
to address fundamental problems that cannot be resolved with such gimmickry.
They're not evil. They're just not saviors.

If you really want to improve your product, take a week off and just
hang around with the people who use it. That'll be a much better
investment that starting up some blog."

Writing off blogs is exactly the last thing I'd advise any paper, particularly a local one, to do.
It's not an either/or--the challenge is for online newspaper sites--and all existing organizations--for that matter, to learn enough about a new form or technology to determine how best to use it.
We already see two newspaper based blogs--Gillmor and Weintrab--having tremendous impact and value, and we also see independent journalists--like Josh Marshall and Glenn Reynolds--taking audience away from news sites and into their own independent operations.

The trick is to figure it out.
Dismissing it doesn't fly.

Blogger classifications: Some thoughts

One of the things I have been thinking about after spending 75 hours in Boston at BloggerCon with 250 or so fellow bloggers, are that we need to recognize that there are distinct categories of bloggers emerging who behave differently and want different things.
Based on input and observation at Bloggercon and a read of the Perseus data, here is my first pass at a classification at types of blog authors (as opposed to readers) for discussion by anyone who cares to respond--

Some blogger segments emerging--

1) The professional journalist. Dan Gillmor and Daniel Weintraub are great examples. So is Nicholas Kristoff. These bloggers are affiliated with a journalist/media entity and their blog is part of a larger initiative from the company.

2) The nontraditional journalist. Doc Searls, Dave Winer, Andrew Sullivan, Glenn Reynolds, Josh Marshall, and many of the Top 50 most read individual bloggers are acting as de facto journalists. Some of these folks are journalists, some want nothing more than to be accepted as journalists, some don't care either way.

3) Bloggers focused on a specific theme, movement, event, topic or interest---This blog is about my candidate, my weight loss program, my sexual adventures, the books I read, my technology toys, etc. As Mary Hodder points out, topic belongs can fit here.

4) The Education community--K-12 and University both see huge potential for blogging, though the adaptation numbers are small. This is a fast-growing and highly motivated segment.

5) The self-expression/journaling crowd: Blogs offer anyone who wants to--and teens and college students often want to the most--an opportunity to share their experiences and feelings with the universe at large, not to mention their friends. This category can also encompass daily bloggers, even an Ev Williams, as per his description.

6) The business/marketing/promotion community: Another emerging category are the businesses, particular analysts, consultants, and marketers, using blogging to advertise their wares and brand their products, Marketingwonk, JupiterResearch come to mind immediately.

7) Business blogs behind the firewall: It's more talk than action right now, but companies like Traction Software are busy selling blogtools to clients to use as part of a knowledge management program. We don't see those blogs, but this is where much of the revenue is at this early stage.

8) The experimenters & innovators--There's a small but critical segment for whom blogging is about pushing the envelope. Mobblogging, audioblogging, photoblogging, blog search are examples of new ideas powered by technologies that have been developed and enhanced by a small group of innovators and experiments who love to push the limits of the possible.

Some thoughts on the Silence of the Blogs thread going around the ON list:

Some thoughts on the Silence of the Blogs thread going around the Online news list:

1) Blogging offers a cheap and flexible publishing platform to both the curious, and the committed, just as web page software and desktop publishing software did in earlier years.

2) Since there are more than 2MM people blogging--and we're talking active users here, of, Userland, Typepad, and other hosted services that blogcount actively tracks--there are many types of bloggers.

I'd say Persus is only offering data, not interpetation, and that the sample, while interesting, is a bit squewed (as research studies often end up being.

Monday, October 06, 2003

The Elephant's Graveyard: 2.72MM abandoned blogs

A new study of blogs and bloggers suggest there are about 5MM blogs out there--only thing is, roughly 2.72MM of them have been abandoned and are floating around like spare parts in space.
Does this mean bloggers try out blogs--date, let's say--before growing experienced enough to commit?
(Via Blog Count)

Mediapost's interpetation of this data--they say it means no one is paying attention. Axcording to the Mediapost writer, Perseus COO James Henning said, "The average blogger is a teen-age girl who updates her friends and classmates on her life, with words and spellings not quite as informal as instant messaging, Perseus said. Updates are done twice a month."

Rochelle Ratner: Lady Pinball

In my first life, I was a poet, and Rochelle Ratner was my partner in crime.
Now, I'm a professional troublemaker, but Rochelle's still a writer, and she's just published Lady Pinball, an ebook of what we used to refer to as 'pinball' poems, because Rochelle and I were both obsessed with playing pinball in dive bars around NYC. One poem is about me--

FOR SUSAN (an excerpt)
She wants to dye
hr hair red

plays fireball
cause it looks
like her

learns it isn't
quick or noisy

The 11th Arbitron and Edison Research study of Internet broadcasting usage

Key findings include:
* Residential broadband has tripled since January 2001
* Consumers of rich media prefer advertising as opposed to subscription by
a 2-1 margin
* Movie trailers and music videos are the most watched online content
* 19M people say they are highly interested in satellite radio
(XM Radio expects to reach 1.2M subscribers in 2003)
* Approximately 28M say they are very interested in PVRs
The full report is at

BloggerCon views

Now that the first BloggerCon conference is over, the feedback is rolling in. Scanning the wires this morning, as I have come to think of my Feedster searches,
there are two main themes--
1) The conference needs to be more representative of more types of people--too many attendees were a) white male b) full of themselves c)blog-centric, to mangle a phrase.
2) It was fantastic and I loved it.

Some random comments:
"I don't think anyone who attended can argue that the upper edges of the blogosphere is a highly intellectual, highly motivated, well-funded white male group that for better or worse is pretty full of itself ."--Web Blogg-ed, Will Robinson

"Now, yes, I loved the blog camaraderie but quite frankly I don't want to be the only black person in utopia. I was the only black person in that room, and was one of a few minorities. " Oliver Willis

"BloggerCon also proved a thought-provoking, consistently involving, fascinating day. I have never been to a conference where there was such easy intercourse between panel and audience: everyone was truly a participant, in the best sense of the word. "--Lane Knobel

#5 in Google--how did this happen?

I got a note from someone this morning pointing out that when they searched for Ryze on Google, my page was the first member page that came up, and the 5th result overall. "How did this happen?" he asked.
I have no idea, I told him.

More guesses:
--My Ryze page is really my web bio/resume page, and I've used it as a link for BloggerCon and other events, which drove the page rank up.
--The Google Dance likes me.
--Pure dumb luck.

Any ideas? Please share.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Overheard at BloggerCon: Friendster turned down Google

Heard that Friendster turned down a $15MM deal with Google to be acquired. Instead they went with a $15MM round of funding from solid gold VCs Kleiner Perkins. Anyone know if this is true?

BloggerCon--AOL Journals Manager will join 9 am Tech discussion

AOL Journal's Christy Gaitten will join the discussion with Dan Bricklin, Kevin Marks, Amy Wohl, , Frank Paynter, Scott Brodeur, Jeff Jarvis, and hopefully several of you in the 9 am BloggerCon Technology discussion in Pound Hall 200.
Come talk about blogging tools and technology--what annoys you, where you'd like to see development evolve, what users like yourself--and the mass market as well--should have .
This is will be an exciting and informative session with some interesting demos and discussions-- Feedster's Scott Johnson and VidiBlog's Jen Neal will also come by. Join us and share your views.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Feedster: Bloggercon postings almost in real time

Scott Johnson has been one of the great people meets of the conference so far.
Finding this cool little tool--a feed of BloggerCon posts--makes me think even more of him.
This is cool.
(Via Heath's Media Diet)

Department of I need a break--candy that looks like sushi

The perfect combination: candy that looks like sushi, from Japan of course.

BloggerCon: Political Blogging

Dean blogmaster Matt Gross says that the Dean blog received 22,000 comments in a very short period of time. How can they scale this?
And, if Dean gets the nomination, will the Dean site become one of the largest on the web? And if so, how can they manage all the input they'll need to handle?
Scale and centralization for political blogs during the 2004 best to address in the blogging world?

Susan says: Time to start planning some solutions. Using my Netscape and AOL experience, I'd say its time to start evaluating CRM software and also using something Tacoda-like to track and segment users. Also implement search at the XML level, perhaps through working with Feedster.

BloggerCon: The next 'Cluetrain' panel

Chris Lyndon moderates Doc Searls, Liz Spiers, Jim Moore and Adam Curry: How much are things being transformed, and how?

Doc Searls: we need more blogers among the troops, part of the collective wisdom."
Jim Moore: "We need a system that allows for a deeper and deeper pragmatism and a deeper and deeper truth." (Not sure I know what that means.)
Adam Curry: People are tired of the dishonesty of television. That's just not the way real life works." (See The Zen TV Experiment)
Esther Dyson (audience): "What happens when blogging genuinely gets democratic and its being done by the PTA and people in local towns, people in Iraq, not the elite."
Liz Spiers: "One of the related problems is filtering and developing better tools. One some extent you can rely on specific people, but there needs to be a better way to identify news sources and master the technical problem. "
Amy Wohl: Getting all this worked out is not as hard as you think it is.

Susan Mernit's thoughts: This panel had terrific people, but the discussion seemed a little all over the place.

BloggerCon mini-panel: NYTimes and Wall Street Journal execs talk about Blogging

Scott Rosenberg of Salon puts the blocks to WSJ Best of the Web's James Taranto's and NYTimes Digital editor-in-chief Len Apcar.

Next week, the WSJ will debut a paid email newsletter called "Political Diary': they are still trying how to figure out how to make money from Opinion Journal, their free political site.
Len Apcar and NYTimes Digital is thinking about how blogs might fit with the Times; they haven't done anything like blogging, but he has some ideas about blogging and the campaign.
Nicholas Kristoff has a blog as an adjunct to his Times columns and opinion pieces; the blog is an experiment and has minimal editing; Kristoff is the only one who can post, but producers see the copy, and Apcar occasionally reviews.

Scott Rosenberg: What if the powers that be said you could have NYTimes or WSJ-branded blogs by any staffers who wanted on?

Taranto, WSJ: The Best of the Web column became more and more of an opinion piece, like a blog, so eventually it made sense to out my name on it.

Apcar, NYT: We have a couple of hard slides to take to get to that point, but I can see it, particularly among those in the newsroom and on the op ed page who are critics, because it would naturally begin there." Apcar keeps looking at Dallas Morning News editorial board blog to see what might be an adaption o that for the Times.

Apcar says that the NYTimes would NOT cover any internal proprietary information, such as front page make-up or reporting decisions--internal issues would remain proprietary. Adds Apcar, "You need to remember that there has always been a feed system of local newspapers and trade journals feeding information, but now it is so around us, with 24-hour chat rooms, news, talk radio, etc. that you see the relentless power of the information."

Taranto: "You see how things have changed with the NYTimes and the Jason Blair incidents because people used the Romenesko web site to air their grievances and disclose more of the internal process."

Jarvis: How much do you think people in the newsroom are reading weblogs, and what impact that does that have? Apcar said the medium is understood and blogs are read. "There is a fair level of information about blogs."

Apcar's final words: Kraus' The Boys on the Bus is a natural for a blog...that book was done out of a Rolling Stone series for the campaign of 1972.

WHAT NO ONE IS SAYING: The odds that institutions like the NYTimes are going to anoint existing bloggers and accredit them by hiring them to write blogs is extremely slim, based on past precedent--the odds are MUCH higher that these organizations will be much more comfortable--and understandably so--when they are using authors who are both edited and who reflect the voice of the institution and are known and trusted by the institution.
Prediction: NYTimes gets into blogging, but does it in a way different than what the blogging community might expect. There is GREAT opportunity for them to do wonderful things that fit their model and exploit this new fast and flexible form.

This was a terrific short panel--thanks, guys.

Drugged: Courtney Love

Ever get the feeling that some people just aren't stable? Courtney Love seems to have been de-evolving over the past few years, becoming a bizarre plastic surgery Hollywood anorectic. She got arrested last night, apparently stoned out of her gourd. More stories here.

BloggerCon Journalism Panel Discussion

Moderator, Ed Cone
Panelists: Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit Scott Rosenberg, Salon; Josh Marshall, Talking Points
(Note: All dialogue is paraphrased.)

Dave:Winer's introduction: Let's not debate whether blogs are journalism. Think of it as an instrument.
However, the question of what is a Weblog is very much on topic.
Some of the questions that interest me are--
-- -- How much editing for a blog?
-- -- What's a Weblog?
-- -- How do conferences and blogs share philosophies?
-- -- Can blog style influence conference style?
-- -- How did the Dean/Internet synergy evolve? Will the political system change? How?

Ed Cone: What are some of the places that web logs are going to take journalism that traditional journalism cannot go--
Josh Marshall : Blogging can allow more Hunter Thompson-esque tagging along. Also the issue of what's on the record and what's not.

Glenn Reynolds: Sociologist Irving Goffman wrote about the 'backstage' where you can say thing you can't say. The next stage in the trend is that closing things to the pres sis meaningless.

Scott Rosenberg: Blog are bring out the backstage of journalism itself ThatÂ’s where its had a most destructive impactÂ…Jim RomanesqueÂ…focal point for media coverageÂ…just having one place for a spectrum of coverage concentrated and opening up a letters page., that simple little opening of a window made a huge difference and how we have a whole Blogosphere of people writing about what's happening inside their newspapers and magazines.

Ed Cone's asks--
"If your best stuff goes to your weblog, how do you get paid? How do you marshal your time and intellectual resources?

"The first big blogger lawsuit is going to be very interesting…. A lot of people don’t have any safety net.”

"What is the ethical requirement of a weblog journalist? What is the responsibility?”

What's your vision of the future?
Josh Marshall: It's hard to imagine any sort of job opportunity that would entail giving up the blog. I want to run things my way.

Scott Rosenberg: What I'm hearing from the world of online journalism is that the Dan Gillmor case is more of the exception than the rule...I don't see the mindset is changing to quickly. In a year or two years we should no longer be asking how will weblog make money or fit into business? For the last 8 years I have been trying to turn a web magazine into a successful view about making money is don't even's not big business and its not the business of journalism , that's what makes it special.

Glenn Reynolds: "Local blogs can have an impact; there is a huge market impact for local.

Audience member: " A bunch of people used to having monologues trying to have a dialogue."

Jeff Jarvis: "Newspapers cannot afford to cover all the local information; Bloggers can do an excellent job of covering that"

Scott Rosenberg: "Newspaper editors spend a lot of time sitting around saying who is our audience? Online you know who your audience is because they are talking back to you."

Ed Cone: "Webloggers who act as journalists should have the legal protections afforded to journalists."

Audience member: How about the role of commentors on your site?

Glenn: It's become a troll-fest for me. I am much less inclined to link to some blogs because the comments can be off-putting. I don't really put the time into comments.

Kevin Marks: The question here is who gets to speak when? With weblogs everyone can speak in parallel. With a blog, you have an identify, a history, and a future. You're more careful about what you post than just posting a comment on a site and running away. There's a serial identify, we can each pick up bits.

Jay Rosen, NYU Journalism Dept: The audience as we know it does not exist anymore. Readers and the people we have called readers for almost 500 years are now writers, that is the radical thing. I got this very strange sensation when I clicked on the people in the comments section in my blog and everyone is a writer.

Notes from BloggerCon: Intro and Welcome

Introduction of Dave Winer at start of BloggerCon: “When I think of Dave Winer and characters in history, I think of Socrates, who was not afraid to take anybody on.”

Friday, October 03, 2003

BloggerCon: What if you were Blogger in Chief for the New York Times?

Dave Winer posted this question.
Here's what I think:

If I were the chief blogger for the New York Times, the first question we;'d address would be how to position blogs at the Times.
I'd roll out three distinctive types of blogs:
1) Adjuncts or complements to columnists and critics
2) Event based blogs
3) Expert/community blogs

Here's what this would look like:
1) Adjuncts or complements to columnists and critics
These blogs would be written by columnists or critics and edited by Times news staff according to an agreed-upon editorial policy. Merc columnist Dan Gillmor's blog is a good example of this type.

2) Event based blogs
If I was chief blogger at the NY Times, I'd work with the assigning editors so that they could have the means to invite participants in events to blog about those events and related ideas and concepts. Examples: Bernadette Peters blogging as she performs in a Broadway show that's been a hit for 3 months. Art critic Steven Madoff blogging from his visit to the Venice Biennale. A HS principal blogging about life under Joel Klein.
These blogs would exist as web exclusives, but could be edited and related to articles in the paper as well.

3) Expert/community blogs
This is where group blogs, linking blogs, and blogs by readers would come together.
The Times could support blogs on topics of interest to readers, such as finance & investing, a current sports team or competition, fashion and style. Each blog would have an editor/expert assigned by the Times, who would post items and link, but readers could also contribute or submit post--think of Boing Boing as a potential model.
The editor of this blog would also be responsible for linking out to blogs on related topics and issues, and ideally would be able to even link at the XML/message level by using Feedster/Technorati like search technologies.

4) My NYTimes blogs
The Times could go one step further--I would--and set up My Times with a blog interface delivering RSS feeds of the above blogs as well as selected partner feeds (AP, Reuters, selected blogger, etc.)

5) NY Times blogspace
Would readers want to blog in NYTimes space? A question well worth piloting for the 2004 elections when tons of readers will want to comment on stories and events.
A great way for a news site to distinguish themselves online.

NAA Digital Edge--Exclusive reports on online paid political advertising & news coverage

Committed to close ties with the newsroom and determined to offer election
resources that will clearly distinguished their sites from Google News,
online news editors are thinking about the best ways to package their
coverage for 2004.

With the success of the Internet as a fund-raising and volunteer tool for
political campaigns, analysts and media pundits have been quick to predict
that online paid political advertising takes off in 2004. After all, they
say, the groundwork is being laid right now.

See two stories I wrote for the NAA's The Digital Edge
Online Election Coverage: Looking Ahead to 2004

Online Political Advertising: How to Make the Sale in 2004

Department of Good Questions:How about creating new print journals that are based on blogging?

Doc Searls asks a great question for the BloggerCon attendees: How about creating new print journals that are based on blogging?

Blogging Tech: Erik Benson ideas

Erik Benson has some interesting reflections on how he connected with other people, and how technology can be an interface to support those cionversations--biz blogging, social software. FOAF, etc.
Erik writes aout how there are topics he knows he can talk about with specific people and those topics and people can be mapped out. Then,
" I know you saw this from a million miles away, but what if this could be captured in software? Either as part of an email or IM client, or as a way to group people with similar interfaces regarding similar topics? How important is the person behind the interface, in other words. The only reason I don't talk to strangers about some of the things that I talk to friends about is because the interface hasn't been established... but if we explicitly accepted incoming conversations through a public conversation interface, we wouldn't have to go through the trouble of being introduced, meeting at a bar, testing the breadth and depth of allowed conversation jumps, establishing permissions contracts, etc, before we could talk about, say, "the purpose of life" or something else that is sensitive and generally requires a lot of trust on both sides.

This weblog, for instance, offers me a much broader conversation interface than I have with any actual person."

Erik raises some good points--if one value of product development is problem-solving, this post should be required reading for blogging tecnologists looking for ways to make tools more useful and intutitive(once we grant them permission to be so on our individual behalf.)

BloggerCon: On the Brink

It's BloggerCon Time--Boston is beautiful today--crisp and sunny, with the slight cold snap that's so complementary to all the Federal red brick buildings. Makes me understand why so many romantic films and tear-jerkers end up being set's charming.
The Hotel at MIT is a hgh tech heaven, with chip boards as decorative elements on the armoire, and as fast a T-1 as I've seen (they take their high-speed as seriously as their coffee, I can tell.
Saw a bevvy of blogger in the lobby as I was checking in and made myself come up to the room--I am going to be immersed in bloggers all weekend; this is my chance to actually blog in private (three words I've never used together before, believe me), make some calls, answer emails, and hope I feel like my grown-up confident calm self once I hit the conference, not the other Susan who can veer between wild excitement and intense shyness (two words most people do not associate with me.)
Anyway, I am here, I am going to the party tonight, and I am psyched!
If you are reading this and you are at the conference, please say hi.
And Dave Winer, you rock for pulling this off and inviting me.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

New York Stories

Back in the city for 36 hours.
God, it feels good!
When I am in California, I love California.
When I am in New York, I wonder if any place else is more interesting and exciting.
Of course, I am not as effortless here as I would like to be. Running out of a meeting on 57th and Lex, I leapt onto the subway to take the N to Soho, only to discover I was on the Queens-bound R, going express to Queens Plaza. Oops.

Spiers Kicks It: New York Magazine Gets a Blog

Live and kicking it, with its very own RSS feeds: Liz Spiers live, AKA The Kicker.
"There are two reasons why I decided to abandon Gawker for New York Magazine: office supplies and Lexis-Nexis. The latter came in handy today when I saw the much-overanalyzed New York Daily News gossip Lloyd Grove's column this morning."


"I'm sure you're all wondering why New York Magazine decided to start a blog. The answer is very simple: we needed a place to put the $XX million "for sale" price tag and there was no space left in the print mag. The rumor du jour: an administrative assistant at Conde Nast inadvertently acquired the magazine and submitted it to the accounting department as a petty cash expense. As usual, no one noticed."

Blogs before bedtime: Reading around the Blogosphere

The Island Chronicles: It's a South Pacific Island, and Mark and Carla's baby is sick. What to do?
Anil Dash's Six Log Interview with Paul Bausch: PB is one of my blogging heroes,, his personal site, is quiet but smart, and I really like his work with Amazon and books.

Great Anil quote from his other blog:
"So, since I'm not involved hands-on in building tools and tech anymore, I wanted to help build an outlet for those who are. It's a good way to share new ideas, but it's also hopefully a good way to remind the other geniuses out there that others are interested in the great ideas behind their unassuming demeanors.

There's other kinds of geeks, of course. There's combatative, angry testosterone-powered geeks, and there's artsy geeks and a thousand other kinds. But the ones who are busy spending their free time building new things on the Internet and connecting them together should do justice to their work by helping others to connect with them as individuals."

Oliver Wrede's got a list of useful blog tools.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Time Interactive and the Magazine web sites: New structure, new layoffs

Back in the boom 90’s, Time Inc web sites ran off the Time Inc magazine P&Ls. When AOL came in, one of the fiscal checks was to move the costs for the magazines sites back into the print P&L groups. As the merger started to tank, a hybrid evolved which saw a confederation of magazine-funded staffers, Time Interactive staffers, and AOL-funded staffers all working together,
Now Rafat Ali reports that Time Inc is having layoffs at the magazine sites, and that the editorial, IT, biz dev, etc are all moving back into a centralized structure at Time Interactive, under Ned Desmond.

Harvard Business Review: How leaders fail

Rodney Kramer, social psychologist teaching at Stanford Business School., has studied successful business executives, particularly those who rise to the very top spots in their fields and observed the curious--but recognizable phenomenon of a leader whose success is rapidly following by a dramatic crash, often brought about by their own lapses in judgment/behavior. King’s new article in HBR, The Harder They Fall,” explores what skills these leaders deploy to achieve--and what problems bring them down.

Some key points:
--The often harsh sacrifices executives have to make to success make them vulnerable to the “heady effects of power’s rewards.”
--The trapping of power and the perks fuel the overly positive self-assessments we all have, resulting on “potentially fatal overconfidence.”

Looking back I was often terribly wrong,” said one young entrepreneur who had burned through more than $20MM trying to launch a Web-based business. : Unfortunately, I was never in doubt.”

How to avoid these pitfalls? Kramer says that leaders who manage to stay on course share the traits of cultivating humility, acknowledging mistakes, remaining hands-on, and staying reflective.

It's Official: MSNBC.comers say blogs enhance online news operations

Ex MNSBC editor Merrill Brown, interviewed by professor Jay Rosen: "I have no doubt that the journalism community is assessing and now finally embracing weblogs in interesting ways. While there's conflict about the role of editing and about separating reporting from opinion, there’s certainly progress. To be sure, it’s taken some time." publisher Scott Moore, interviewed at MediaBistro: " The extent that weblogs continue to grow in popularity means more people are interested in the news and engaged in getting their news online."

Personally, I am getting a little tired of talking about what blogs as form--kind of feels like talking about CDs or digital music or vinyl vs talking about the music. Of course, it is after midnight in NY, so I have switched into cranky mode.

Blogging for Dean: Web Community Kits Arrive

Power to the people takes on new meaning with the arrival of these volunteer-created Dean Community Site blog tool kits, created by an all-volunteer team and based on Drupal.
Here's an example of a community blog from Connecticut, and a link to a demo.

I see Google AdSense words raising money for a candidate across all these sites...with personalize search from Kaltiz kicking in soon.,..

Bourdin vs Miz Ciccone-Ritchie

Did Madonna rip off 80s French photog Guy Bourdin? His son thinks so. According to a Smoking Gun item, Sameul Bourdin issued a press release saying "It's one thing to draw inspiration; it's quite another to simply plagiarize the heart and soul of my father's work."

To be fair, so many people have ripped off Guy Bourdin's work in the last two years. one wonders if Bourdin JR just waited for someone really rich to sue, or if there is a special case here.

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