Sunday, November 30, 2003

SMB made the Bloggerforum Top 10

Here's thrilling news--just got a note from Steve Covell that this blog is in the top 10 list of blogspot-hosted blogs on Bloggerforum.

Note: Being the curious type, I just went to Google and did my own search for blogspot on the blogspot domain. I searched over the past 3 months, and this blog actually came up in the Top 25, not the top 10 (not that I'm complaining, mind you).

What are the most visited/linked Blogspot blogs., according to Google? Among the Top 25: Where is Raed, Dave Barry's Blog, Dean 2004, , The Homeless, , The Volokh Conspiracy, Catalog Blog, Riverbend, Atrios, Beyond Northern Iraq, Denise Howell, Sarah Hatter, Kevin Marks, Handheld Librarian, iraniangirl, Loco Parentis (this one is is new to me, and neat), Halley's Comment, and Jeaneane Sessums, and this blog. I didn't include blog not in English, a couple of abandoned blogs (switched hosts, etc) and one or two that looked somewhat questionable.

Order of magnitude data: 29,000 links to Where is Raed?, 40,000 links to The Volokh Conspiracy, -8&newwindow=1&safe=off&as_qdr=m3&q=links%3A+%22%22Halley%27s+Comment%22+&as_qdr=m3&lr=lang_en">17,600 links to Halley's Comment.

While on this size/traffic jag, I also found this list of traffic rankings from The Truth Laid Bear, which says it is baed on sitemeter.

The kiss of death, part II

Madonna on Britney: "I see her as my little sister. She asks me career advice."

Walmart to injured shopper: We'll put one on hold for you

According to this report, local Walmart executives called the sister of the Orange City, Florida woman who was knocked down and trampled at the start of a sale day at Walmart on Friday and told offered to put a $29 DVD player on hold for the injured woman.
"We are very disappointed this happened," Wal-Mart Stores spokeswoman Karen Burk. "We want her to come back as a shopper."

Paris Hilton: The Definitive Profile

Vanessa Grigoriadis, who's recently gone on staff at Rolling Stone, has written a definitive profile on Ms. Paris Hilton. Starting with the premise "What you think of Paris Hilton, what she thinks of herself and what she's really like are three entities so separate and distinct that if they were people they wouldn't end up in the same room" Grigriadis proceeds to recount the day (and night) she spent in Hilton-land with Paris, providing a measured look at America's latest Ms. Notorious.
Related bits on Gawker, , Page Six, Adrants, Moreover, and more.

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Scoble: Milpitas is ground zero for diversity

Robert Scoble on the Great Mall in Milpitas, a Thanksgiving weekend stop for him (and one of the places where I shop, when I shop): "If you want to see the huge cultural and ethnic shifts going on in the valley, this is ground zero. 20 years ago Milpitas was mostly white, with some hispanic, some black, and some Chinese. Today, whites are in the minority. Mostly Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese made up the throngs of people picking up deals. I counted at least four different languages (and a few I couldn't identify)."

One of the things I enjoy about living in the Bay area is the amazing variety of cultures, traditions and backgrounds.. The range of nationalities Scoble notes is just as present in the East Bay, and in San Francisco itself. What's interesting--and Scoble's comments log reflects this--is that there is growing diversity across the country, with readers from Minnesota and Illinois, for example, commenting on the diversity in their towns.

Dept of Laughing while Blogging,

Hiawatha Bray, Boston Globe: "Consider Google's acquisition of Blogger, one of the companies that launched the personal weblog craze. It's got Dave Winer climbing the walls. Winer, a Berkman Fellow at the Harvard Law School, founded UserLand Software Inc., maker of the blogging program Radio Userland. Winer says that Google may crush rival blogging systems like Radio Userland."
Andrew Bayer: "Now, I do seem to have a tendency to pick on Dave, but let's be honest here - he generally deserves it. He's got a raging persecution complex combined with a spot of megalomania that makes the blogging community as a whole look pretty bad."
Blog Herald: "Andrew Bayer, one of Xians new contributors over at Radio Free Blogistan has written an interesting piece on Dave Winer vs Google."
I'm not sure which is funnier, Bray's quoting Winer on "unfair trade advantage" Google and their nasty toolbar/tabbed interface, Andrew Bayer, who uses Netscape (which has AOL links all over its toolbar) talking about Dave's meglomania, or The Blog Herald for posting an item that maybe 2,000 people (okay, I'm one of them), would have any interest in.

Bottom line:
On the Globe story: It's always great to hear about the founder of a small company with perhaps 3 employees talking about the big guys crushing him--wouldn't it be great if those small companies grew up to be biggies--but Winer's quotes make me embarassed for Bray, who should have known better. This is cheap copy.

On Bayer on Winer: Bayer's got dead on comments, but truth is, I'm tired of the fact so many people feel the need to talk about either what a meglomaniac/rude person Winer or how great and what a genius he is. Like Paris Hilton, Dave is in danger of getting overexposed.

Dept of Kicking Back: Breakfast at the Hickory Pit

Took the dog out for a walk at what turned out to be an unofficial hobo camp squeezed between the San Jose Municipal Golf Course and an industrial park, then headed home, changed, and went to meet the gang at the Hickory Pit in Campbell.
Even for those who do not partake of the flesh of the hog, the Hickory Pit is one of those great breakfast places, with waitstaff who treat breakfast like a religion and pouring coffee as the First Communion.
I always get the same paltry scrambled eggs and tomatoes, and my friends always tuck into the French toast with ham steak and eggs, the hot sausage and mushroom scrambler, the biscuits and gravy, and all that good stuff.
We're a motley crew of ex-dotcommers who worked together a couple of exploded companies back, but have stayed friends. Today was especially exciting because S, whom I haven't seen since I left California the first time in 2002, came to breakfast. She's amazingly talented, a great person, and it was SO good to see her. As well as see my other friends.
I also love the feeling of hanging with a group; since I'm consulting and working from home, I don't have that go out to lunch with the team experience very often--it's nice to be part of a group.
It was also a great chance to catch up on news about people we know--one woman's moved to Oregon and has some interesting social justice projects going; someone else joined a new company--but lasted less than 8 months; another guy was contracting with a former colleague at Stanford, another woman isn't really planning on going back to work, and so on.
Mega fun. Good food. Great company.

Blogging at 4 am: Up and wish I wasn't

No one has mentioned Paris Hilton's sex tape in at least 4 days, though more than one magazine editor has called her poor girl. This is all leading to a greart opening for her TV showon Dec 2nd.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Post-Thanksgiving: Turkey vegetable soup

We had a really nice evening, and the menu--mostly cooked by Spencer--was pronounced perfect.
During the (lengthy) cleanup, I tossed the turkey carcass into a pot with onion, celery, and water and made turkey broth. This morning while I checked over online college applications for Zack, I also took a break and made turkey vegetable soup.
It came out really well, so for those of you contemplating those picked-over bones, some suggestions for soup:
1) Make a broth with the turkey carcass, some onion, carrot and other flavoring. Chill when done, skim off the fat on top the next morning.
2) Reheat the skimmed stock, then add chopped up turkey bits, 1/2 can diced, salt-free tomatoes, 1/2 cup frozen mixed veggies (corn, broccoli,peas, carrots, etc.
3) If you have roasted potatoes left over, mash some up and add to the soup.
4) Add some dried mushrooms--we like shitake.
5) Add some mashed chickpeas, canned are fine. Put some whole ones in as well.
6) Check the flavor and seasoning--I added some Indian curry powder, salt and pepper to my soup.
Cook on medium for 30-40 minutes so flavors can deepen and blend.
Tip: If you're not sure about an ingredient, add sparingly. I've ruined lots of things by moving too fast to add. This is another realm where less is often more.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Bounce back: How much will online ad revenue rebound?

Safa Rashtchy of Piper Jaffrey predicts that online advertising revenues will sharply accelerate in coming years, to more than $15 billion by 2008. He also predicts that online ad revenues will match 2000's number of $8.1 billion - the height of the boom - by next year.
John Battelle says he's wrong.
I agree with John.
Anyone want to bet?

How do I Google, let me count the ways

Valdis Krebs on Google as a verb. Do you:
Check the number of link results you have?
Check out people you meet?
Search for connections between peopleI
If yes, Kreb's piece is worth a look.
(Via Seb, again)

Beyond blogging and social networks:

Via Seb, a post from James Snell on the topic of data emergence, meaning personal data that is automatically generated through keystroke and cookie tracking of individual behavior. Snell says:

I want web sites to become nothing more than raw data feeds. I want a desktop application that:
a) allows me to maintain a database of personal information
b) allows me to selectively share that data with anybody I choose
c) allows me to autodiscover new sources of content
d) allows me to completely control how I view and interact with the content sources I've chosen.

I want all that, too, and I want it to work in a way that lots of people will adopt the tools and feel comfortable with setting appropriate privacy levels. With all this social network and peer to peer data, one of the big hurdles that will come up as these tools move more into the mainstream is--tah duh--privacy. Snell's dubs his dream service "My "Smart" Content Aggregator " and says it's a tool that lets him generate, see, and reuse his own data.

Deconstructing Friendster: Danah Boyd story in NY Times

Ever get the feeling the media is desperate to create new buzz around the slowly-reviving economy, and that they're zooming in on the few Internet success stories and trying to whip them up to boiling ASAP? That was my take when I read the NY Times piece on Danah Boyd, who studies Friendster and is an officially smart and interesting blogger and thinker.
On one hand, it was great to see Danah get such an extensive write-up; she's a terrific thinker and the ideas express in this story are spot on.
On the other hand, the story seemed like another example of the Times trying to codify a trend by writing about it.
In this case, the trend they were seeking to codify, via Danah, was: Friendster is about more than dating, even if the founder didn't plan it that way. Friendster reveals new ways to 'bend' human experience and create unique connections. Social networks (aka Friendster) are good. And so on.
Beware the hype. Read Danah without an intermediary and dig her wisdom.

Some interesting comments on this story on Judith Meskill's blog.

Andrew Anker: New products will either open big or get killed early

At Ventureblog, a sharp post by Anker on the accelerating speed of the product life cycle in new product development. Some key points:
The product uptake curve is accelerating.
New products will either open big or get killed early .
It's not about technology any more.
Early adopters will become a big enough group to serve on their own.

More Thanksgiving: My grandmother's china

At the sink tonight after dinner, washing the plates by hand, realizing that this dinner set, which was bought by my grandmother soon after she married in 1923 , is more than 80 years old. My grandmother gave me the dishes when I was about 24, and I've carried them through four states and eight abodes without too much significant breakage.
When she was still alive, and I'd have holiday dinners far away from home, I'd call her to report on how the meals went.
"Did you use my dishes?" she'd say. "How were they?"
"Yes, Grandma, I used your dishes, they looked beautiful," I'd reply.
"Good!" she'd exclaim. "Use them in good health."
Grandma died about 7 years ago, at the age of 89, but I imagined today how pleased she'd feel if she could know that her dishes were on the Thanksgiving table in San Jose, California, used by a grandchild who loves them--and her.

Noritake Delicia--the only photo on Google Images of the pattern in question.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone

It's not just about the turkey.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Thanksgiving: The perversity of pie

So I just went out to the market to buy ingredients for the pies I make every Thanksgiving: apple, pumpkin, and this, year, cherry. The market was filled with ready-made pies for about $13.00 each; my total costs for the ingredients for the 3 pies was $40.00. Obviously, the deep-seated urge to make pies is not about the economics or the time saved.
What I like about making pies is the sense of connection with those who came before me, and the luxury of having way too much home-made pie around to pick on for a couple of days. My mother made an amazing apple pie, and we use her recipe, tart and lemony with a piled-high top crust. The pumpkin pie is special because my family likes it, but we only eat it for this holiday. And the cherry pie is the wild card, the one that surprises everyone.
I'll bake the pies tonight--2 pumpkin, one apple, and one cherry, and we'll snack on the pumpkin pie later tonight and tomorrow before the big meal (like, for breakfast). Then we'll eat the fruit pies for dessert, and have the rest of the pumpkin to feel remorseful about as we cut smaller and smaller slices off it into the weekend, until finally we will be thrilled when it is gone and we can all start the steamed vegetables diet.

Esther Dyson: What's the cost of social networks?

Mark Graham sent me this article by Esther Dyson on social networks and their uses.
As part of a long, insightful essay, Dyson writes:
"There's a real danger that the whole field and its potential for supporting human connections could be irretrievably tarnished by privacy issues -- either as a result of policies that leave people feeling exposed by the aggregation of data, or by security breakdowns, resulting in some kind of informational oil spill.

For now, no one online social network has enough heft to matter. But these issues will inevitably arise when the services approach critical mass. Consider the undercurrents of discomfort already swirling around Google because it is perceived to control the content we see. Imagine a service that controls information about people, even if it only runs algorithms. "

This is a terrific essay with many good points--thanks, Mark!

Head of AOL HR fired for embezzlement

CNET's got a story on Greg Horton, former head of HR for AOL, who's been fired by them and is being sued for conspiring with others to embezzle money.
Horton came into AOL just a few months before I left, so I never knew him, but this story offers an additional commentary on the state of disarry of the company back in Fall 2002 when Horton came aboard. A less polite way to say this is that top management didn't seem to have a good sense of which of the SVPs and EVPs were doing a good job, and which were basically managing up, and this seems like just another embarassing example of AOL's weakness in managing human capital. I hear things are better now, btw.

New study: If you're a woman over 40, whole-grain foods can help keep your weight down

From the department of what we already knew, but now have proof of: Middle-aged women who favor whole grains over white bread and other refined grains may put on fewer pounds as they age, a large study suggests. Harvard researchers found that among 74,000 women, those who ate more fiber-rich grains--such as oatmeal and whole-grain breakfast cereals--gained less weight over time than women who got the least fiber in their diets. In addition, women with the highest fiber intake were half as likely as those with the lowest intake to become obese over 12 years. In contrast, diets heavy in refined-grain products like white bread and pasta were linked to greater weight gain over time.

Biking to work via the train: Some observations

I've been taking the train a fair amount from San Jose to San Francisco. Many of my meetings have been within 10 blocks of the CalTrain dept, in South of Market, so it seems easier to sit on the train and read and work than to have to drive up and find a place to park.
I've noticed, recently, that are there are many cyclists on the train every day--folks who are dress as though they ride to the train station, clamber aboard, and then ride off to their jobs in San Francisco.
While this seems pretty consistent with how people are in Northern California--avid mountain bikers, racing cyclists, etc.--it is one of those things that could NEVER happen in New York.
In New York, commuters get on the train tired, cranky, focused on the lousy day they have ahead and the fact their coffee already spilled on their shoes because of the jerk behind them in line.
In New York, there is no room for bicycles on the commuter trains, and the taxis and bike messengers would plow the riders down anyway. And, oh yeah, most of the companies in New York have no place for you to put your bike--they're not welcome in the office or the elevator, and there's no parking, no space, no nothin'.
What I especially notice on the faces of the California bike commuters coming on and off the trains is a look of happiness. They're feeling good about riding their bikes, digging the journey, and that is so not New York.

Monkey Span

The wonderful Jeneane Sessum just sent me over to MonkeySpan, a new group blog. One post discusses links between celebs' wearing Kabbalah Center bracelets and kids' 'sex bracelets',' another fad.

Dept of Strange but True: Disturbing Search Requests

Disturbing Search Requests: The (much) younger sister of F*cked Company in spirit, this naught little weblog tracks and highlights bizarre search requests, such as a request for a Fart Smell Reduction Patch and "naughty nude pics."
The smart-ass commentary aspires to humor, but the real giggle is that this guy seems to get his data by scaping others' web logs.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

New Pew Report: It's easier to give up print media than cell phones, email and TV

Rich Gordon on on the new Pew Internet and American Life Project report on "Consumption of Information Goods and Services in the United States." He writes: "One interesting finding if you are involved with the technology industry (or rely on it to deliver your content) is that just 31 percent of the U.S. population is made up of "high-end technology adopters." Also noteworthy is that two-thirds of these are relatively young -- in subgroups dubbed "Young Tech Elites" (average age 22) and "Wired GenXers" (average age mid-30s). And that these two subgroups -- contrary to some generalizations about young audiences -- are significantly more willing than other groups to pay for content online.
Here's the zinger:
"... No matter the level of technology adoption, users felt computers, the Internet, cellular phones, e-mail, and cable TV would be harder to live without than print publications. This reflects, I'm sure, the value people attach to communications and entertainment as opposed to news -- but it also says something important about the place that print holds in people's minds. "

Jim Guterman's new gig: Gaming Industry News launches

Jimmy Guterman's new gig as editor of Ziff-Davis' Gaming Industry News has now led to the release of the first issue--congrats, Jim. You can get a free, sample PDF of the first issue here.
Enjoy it, because an annual sub is a heart-stopping $995 a year, discounted to $695 if you sign up now.

Michael Wolff: The Dominick Dunne of the Media World?

New column this week in NY Mag by Michael Wolff spins the tale that the Internet is back--proof, he says, is not only in the pricey dinners being indulged in by old dotcom colleagues, but the rising valuations of web companies--some, like Bluefly, practically left for dead. Consistently positioning himself as the ultimate insider who speaks to power, Wolff is devoted to generating hot copy. He's the Dominick Dunne of the media biz, tricked out with a laptop, cellie, and PDA.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Craig's List: Meat Eaters Showering

A good friend of mine is an expert at picking out (sometimes unintentionally) humorous postings on Craig's List. He just sent me this one:
Meat Eaters Showering
Reply to:
Date: Tue Nov 19 08:48:51 2002

Everywhere I went yesterday I heard about watching meat eaters showering. They said it could be the last chance to see them this century. I was really puzzled. Was this some burger eating, beer drinking, high fiving fraternity ritual? Apparently not. Friends and family were calling me to ask if I was going to go outside to watch them and that it was happening all around the world. They told me the best time to see them in California was 2:20 am and that there would be more than 6,000 per hour!?

Now I've been a vegetarian since I was a child and mainly because I never wanted to eat anything that had a mother; but I didn't realize meat eaters were so united and seemingly unclean. But I thought what the heck, I don't get out much ever since the fever damaged my hearing and I'd probably never have another chance to see a large bunch of meat eaters showering. I'd never consider going to the Castro on Halloween or to that Burning Man thing in the desert, so I thought I could get my jollies with an eye full seeing this spectacle. Considering how cold it was, I figured it would really be a sight. So at 2:00am I got up, grabbed my camera and blanket to check out the action ...

Nothing! Nada, zilch ... I saw a few other people outside, wandering around looking up in the sky. So I looked up too. Low and behold, I was lucky enough to see some shooting stars!

~ So I made a wish, upon the stars to see a meat eater shower, if even from a far ~

Ten minutes later, I decided to go back inside, alone, frustrated, cold and disgruntled. Off I went back to sleep. My missed connection: Where did the meat eaters shower??

Fortune: Inside Google story

Fortune: "Google has grown arrogant, making some of its executives as frustrating to deal with in negotiations as AOL's cowboy salesmen during the bubble." Vogelstein gives a run down of the issues and challenges facng the company, especially its runaway success. A good read.

Seventeen editor: My hair says I have work to do

NY Times this morning: Atoosa Rubinstein, 31, former editor of CosmoGirl, on changing her look when she became editor of Seventeen: "I felt like I wasn't fitting in at my own magazine. The old hair said 'Hi, I'm a quirky, wacky girl, and I don't care what anybody thinks.' The new hair said, 'I have work to do.' "

Newsweek: William Grimes on quitting as NYT food critic

Grimes tells Newsweek: "It’s like “Groundhog Day.” You wake up the next day having eaten a four-star meal, you must go out and eat another four-star meal. And you get up the next day and you have to go out and eat another four-star meal...You’ve only got so many meals in you as a critic. I think that when it becomes more of a job than a joy, then you have to think about putting down your knife and fork."

eMarketer new report: Net users will finally pay up for content

eMarketer report: "By 2005, one-fifth of US Internet users will be content buyers. The growth rate is one-quarter of that seen in 2002 (43.4%). This year marks the first time since eMarketer began tracking such revenues that online advertising spending, with 14.8% year-over-year growth, is outpacing online content spending.
Nonetheless, eMarketer forecasts the percentage of online content buyers in the US will continue to rise steadily through 2005, reaching 35.8 million that year."

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Uncle Mark's Gift Guide: Something really interesting

Okay,here's something novel and interesting----Anil Dash links to Mark Hurst's Uncle Mark's Gift Guide. This is a web site that was created solely to offer free downloads of a snazzy-looking PDF file of gift suggestions, written by Mark, and to offer links where you can purchase products on, generating affiliate fees for Mark.
This is a really interesting endeavor, and I'm eager to see how it does--both as a piece of free microcontent, which it is, and as a slick sales & marketing brochure for Mark's affiiate program with Amazon.
Think about it--if this model works, we could have entrepreneurial smart people offering nicely produced PDFs of great lingerie, travel equipment and hotel room games, gourmet foods, and whatever else we can aggregate that Amazon--or anyone else with an affiiate program--happens to offer.
This seems like another variation on CafePress, in a way--or micropublishing meets the VARs.
Let us know this does, Mark, please. Kahle says "We'll host MP3 archives."

Maybe Vivendi and CNET will take Brewster up on his offer to have save the site files. In a story in The Register, Brewster is quoted as saying "Our approach is to provide unlimited bandwidth forever for free. There's no amount of material that frightens us.'s collection is five terabytes. No sweat. We've been adding forty terabytes a month."
Is this a real story--ie, is Brewster talking to Vivendi and CNET, or is this one of those journalist--manufactured 'what if 'pieces?
Seems more like the latter, courtesy of Andrew Orlowski, but it's still a neat idea.

Christmas Fatigue

It's now even Thanksgiving, and I am already feeling Christmas fatigue. I see the lights and the decorations in store windows and think, 'Oh, no, not again.'
We were taking a walk near the house and came upon a block where three of the houses already had their lights up. This year I feel very wary of the whole buy-consume-buy thing that is such a dominant feature of the winter holidays. Isn't it possible to just press fast-forward and skip it all?

More press for micro-publishing: I Want Media

LA Observed points to theDiane Mermigas profile of Patrick Phillips of I Want Media, another one-man media operation making a little money for its owner.

Dave Weinberger tale over at Frank Paynter's blog

Frank asked me for a Dave Weinberger story, and I gave him one...he just posted it here.

Saturday hiking: Calaveras Road to Sunol Regional Wilderness area

Time for some recreation--we drove from San Jose to the Sunol Wilderness area today to do some hiking.

First, we took Calaveras Road from Milipitas to Geary Road, the park turn-off. This marvelously winding road, with its rural landscape, is only 12 miles from our house, but a universe away in terms of bucolic charm. The only other cars on the road were vintage vehicles, for some reason, though there were plenty of cyclists and bikers. The tilted hillsides were dotted with cows, and the cypress and eucalyptus trees were exquisite.
In the Sunol wilderness area, we hiked the Camp Ohlone Road, because we misread the map, and then cut down to climb around the rocks by Little Yosemite, andf do a bit of the steady uphill climb of the Backpack Road leading to the McCorkle Trail. Early on, we met about a dozen people, each accompanied by one or more dogs, and the occasional flocks of equestrians or hiking clubs.

Here's the reservoir

And Little Yosemite

And two shots of scenes from within the park

The hub and I both had a great time and resolved to start hiking more often...the Bay area has such amazing terrain and beautiful places to explore--we need to get out more.

Weight Watchers points: What food is worth

From Out of Our Mouths, a list of what different foods "cost" on the Weight Watchers plan.
Kelly says that if 150 lbs is our "target" weight, then your point total for the day is 22.
Some of the items on the list:
BK hashbrowns, small (5 pts), large (9 pts)
Wendy's biggie fries - 10 pts
Kentucky Fried Chicken pot pie - 18 pts
McDonald's chicken McGrill no mayo - 6 pts
McDonald's chicken McNuggets, 4 pieces - 5 pts
Long John Silver batter dipped chicken, 1 piece - 3 pts

Dept of finally having some fun: Dinner with friends

After what feels like weeks of work, walking the dog, and helping Zack with the college application process, we took some time off last night and went out with friends for dinner.
What a great time we had!
Going out with another couple is kind of like double-dating--you're dating the couple to see if everyone truly gets along, or if this is one of those mutual tolerance, okay honey you owe me for tonight plays--and last night seems very much like the former--as I suspected, the four of us seemed to click really well.
Laughing, talking, and eating great Italian food made for a really relaxing and fun night. Of course, everyone was tired from a killer week, but it was nice to go into the weekend with something a little different, aka FUN.
We also had an impressive dinner: grilled vegetables, Tuscan-style, Insalata Caprese(which means fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil and some anchovy), grilled rare ahi tuna, salmon picatta (seemed to work, the diners with that dish were scarfing it up), fettucine in cream sauce, and the chocolate souffle and creampuffs for dessert. And a walk outside with thousands of stars overhead as the final shot--we're in Northern California, after all, where you can actually seer the stars at night.

New Yorker cartoon: Roz Chast

from the November 24th issue:

Going Global: Six Apart Announces Japanese deal

Typepad AKA Six Apart has just announced a deal with NIFTY, one of the principal ISP s in Japan, to provide Six Apart's TypePad(TM) weblogging service to over five million NIFTY subscribers in Japan.
It's great to see more blogging deals happening.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

New: Pew Report on Internet and Spam

Just released: new Pew Internet & American Life Project Report on Internet and Spam:
Deborah Fallows. Senior Research Fellow at the Pew Internet & American Life Project and author of the report, says, "People just love email, and it really bothers them that spam is ruining such a good thing. People resent spam's intrusions; they are angered by its deceptions; and they are offended by much of the truly disgusting content."

More data:
* 75% of email users are bothered that they can't stop the flow of spam,no matter what they do
* 70% of email users say spam has made being online unpleasant or annoying.
* 55% of email users say they get so many unwanted email messages in their personal account that it's hard to get to the ones they want
* 30% of email users are concerned that their filtering devices may block incoming email that is important to them.

Michael speaks

"The most loving thing you can do is share your
bed with someone" - Michael Jackson
(Via Popbitch)

Nicole Richie: Paris Hilton's pal defends Michael Jackson

Did having sleepovers with Michael Jackson turn Nicole Richie into a troubled rich kid? Nicole Richie, 22, Paris Hilton's good pal and co-star of next week's Fox reality show, The Simple Life , told the press today that she had spent much of her childhood at Jackson's Neverland Ranch, and insisted that if the "King of Pop" had acted inappropriately, she would have told her parents.

"You know, a group of us would all sleep in the same room. It was like, absolutely nothing more than just an adult kind of wanting to be a kid again. Just, you know, enjoying the company of children... I never had any complaints, and you know, I love him."

Given that Richie has been arrested for heroin possession, done two stints in rehab, and is rumored to have started some ugly spats at NYC clubs, one wonders about her as a character witness.

Berkeley talk: Global Food-Feeding the world or feasting on it?

Anyone else planning to attend this talk next week in Berkeley at the School of Journalism? Orville Schell's pulled together a panel of 'experts'-- poet and farmer Wendell Berry,
Farmer and author of The Unsettling of America and Citizenship Papers, Carlo Petrini, President and Founder, Slow Food International, journalist Eric Schlosser
author of Fast Food Nation and Reefer Madness, activist Vandana Shiva. Intros are by Alice Waters, and moderator is Orville Schell, Dean, Graduate School of Journalism.
7:00 PM, Wheeler Auditorium, Berkeley

New Al Green CD just released

Soul legend (and gospel great) Al Green has just released I Can't Stop , his first non-gospel album in many years. Produced with much of the old team, Green's sound is as sweet and romantic as when it filled college bars 25 years ago.

I'm buying this for my husband for Hannukah, and for my 25 year old nephew, Phil, who loves the '70s.

Selling online advertising--how to get it right

My old friend Dave Morgan, CEO of Tacoda and co-founder of 24/7 was in the online ad business before almost anyone else, yet his company keeps breaking new ground. This just-published article on selling online advertising, written for publishers with sites to sell, seems like Basic Rules 101. For any site owner depending on advertising revenue, especially alternative or adjuncts to paid search results boxes, there's a ton of good advice here.
Some of Dave's points (edited for space):

Forget simplicity in the online media business, at least for the next few years. Too many media executives hope selling and delivering online advertising will be as simple as selling other media, such as magazine pages or TV spots. They forget not only that online media are dynamic, fully addressable, and fully measurable but also these very complicated characteristics are what make online attractive to advertisers.

Recognize there's a publisher/advertiser mismatch, and create product accordingly. There's currently a buyers' market for online media. ... Advertisers can and will buy only what they need and pay for it according to how well it performs.

Few publishers achieve an optimal balance between their audience, their content, and must-have advertiser needs. Fewer still have figured out how to package inventory to maximize audience yield.

Don't wait for silver-bullet technology solutions. .... This isn't a technology problem. It's a business problem. The issues surround packaging and product, not silicon science.

Invest in business intelligence. You cannot create proper inventory or the right products without this information.

Don't force compromised products on advertisers. Many publishers sell bad inventory (undifferentiated, run-of-site impressions) in combination with sponsorships or inventory in their best content sections (technology shopping or personal finance).

Is the inventory valuable? Prove it. If you believe a run-of-site inventory package adds real reach or frequency value to contextual targeting, prove it. Measure the audience. Match it to the advertiser's target and objectives.

There's more, and you can read it for yourself right here.

Dept. Of in the mix: Paid search ads and big brand media campaigns

Will paid search listings become a more integral part of big brand's media plans? Seems likely, and it's great fun to imagine AOL's new agency recommending they sell broadband subscriptions via paid search placements on other sites, or the Democratic National Party waking up and buying ad placements against keywords like "Patriotism" "Employment" "War in Iraq" "Bush suck" for their presidential candidates.

Another sign of the times is Adweek's story, about major media buying company Carat Interactive . They recently created a search engine marketing group to help those big brand clients sucking up TV time and glossy print campaigns a way to incorporate paid search into their media buying mix. The new VP, Ron Belanger, will lead a 10-person team that handles paid placement, paid inclusion and search-engine optimization for clients like Hyatt Hotels.
Belanger: "My perspective on search is that many verticals have yet to capitalize on the tremendous benefit of search marketing. In an era of spam and do-not-call lists, incorporating a comprehensive search marketing strategy allows our clients to ... enjoy historically low cost per leads."
Translation: It's got a great ROI and its way cheaper that most other options.
(Via Marketing Wonk)

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Dept. of What I'm reading

A constant reader, I've always got a couple of books going. Here, some recent reads that seemed worthwhile:
The Virgin Blue, Tracy Chevalier--Entertaining fiction from the popular author of Girl with a Pear Earring. If you like Anita Shreve, you'd like her.
The Getaway Man, Andrew Vachss--It ain't Burke, but this is a fun read in the style of Jim Thompson.
The Automat, Loraine Dieh and Marianne Hardardt--The history of Horn & Hardart, where you could trade nickels for plates of food.
Trash, stories by Dorothy Allison--Collected stories.
Patricia Unterman's San Francisco Food Lover's Guide--A massive compendium of where to eat. Only problem is she makes every spot sound great.
How to Speak Dog, Mastering the Art of Dog-Human COmmunication, by Stanley Coren. Woof, woof, oops, I meant this is an excellent book.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac--Loved it when I was 15 and it's just as good now
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller--Zack's reading it for English class so I picked it up. Great play, major downer.
Bare, Women, Dancing, Sex and Power, Elisabeth Eaves--First person reflections about stripping by a Columbia University grad.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Jarvis: Dvorak is sleeping in a Silicon Brigadoon

Jeff Jarvis turns another elegant phrase when he describes how John Dvorak is out of touch with what blogging is when he decries the entry of 'big media' into the space:
"What a load of pundit poop. ...
By that logic, the fewer people who blog, the better. By that same logic, if you're the only person in the world with a fax machine, it's really valuable. Welcome to the networked world, Dvorak. But he's still sleeping in a silicon Brigadoon.
No, the big boys will not coopt blogging. They will add to it. They bring two things: (1) more content to which to link and (2) more links to citizens' blogs bringing more traffic and audience. "

Go, Jeff! Your voice adds so much value as folks strive to make sense of the opportunities of this new platform. Another VC/Social network article

Are you sick of these stories yet? It's just so amazing VCs are starting to pony up money again for something.
(Via Rick Klau)

Marc North hits 1,000

Photog Marc North, my all time favorite photo-blogger, posted 1,000 photos as of last week in his SF Street series. Says Marc: "...While I believe talking about such things is incredibly mundane, I really can't help but sit back and marvel - if I can call it that - at my own output over this past year.

It occurred to me that to focus on something like this for as long as I have is all so incredibly, exasperatingly single-minded. It then dawned on me that single-mindedness is what I embody. I seem to do everything in my life exactly this way. Sometimes it's a strength, other times it's not."

Marc's work is wonderful--it enhances my life every day.

Addicted to trash: Paris Hilton limericks

Liz Spier's blogged em:There once was a smutty young heiress,
Notoriously hard to embarrass
Vivid gave her an advance,
So she f**ked all of France,
And named the film "Paris Does Paris."

The thing that really bothers me is that I am going to watch the first installment of Paris' reality show next week, and I am going to feel annoyed with myself the whole time.

Styleborg: Strangely familiar: Design and Everyday Life

Styleborg, written by Kerry Bodine, a grad student in the wearable group at Carnegie Mellon University
focused on wearable art and technology. Just read an interesting post here about Design in Everday Life, an exhibit originating at the Walker and touring in Pittsburgh right now.

AOL: Building a new Netscape Navigator?

CNET: "Time Warner's America Online division is considering creating a desktop application that lets people access popular Web services such as search, news and maps. "

Page Six: Taboo could cost Rosie $20 million

Today's NY Post: "Rosie O'Donnell could end up spending $20 million on her Broadway flop "Taboo" if she insists on keeping it open until January as she has told several theater insiders she wants to do...Critics far preferred the simpler London production, which Rosie re-worked by adding subplots with the help of Charles ("The Allergist's Wife") Busch."

Google IPO: Checking the hype machine

Lots of folks taking aim at Kleiner-Perkins and the pending Google IPO:
John Robb: "Google's KPCB hype machine must just be clearing its throat for the IPO."
are looking back at Netscape and the VC's role in making that offering huge (and over-inflated).
Dave Winer: "The possibility that talk of Microsoft buying Google was hype hadn't occurred to me until I read John's post."
K-Praxis: Google IPO an experiment in opinion mining: "Google's IPO is likened to Netscape IPO not only because what MS did to Netscape—but also because the Netscape IPO was highly over hyped and overpriced and almost started the dot-com-boom IPO frenzy rolling."
Arnold Kling: "If you're Jim Clark or Kleiner-Perkins, you can make a lot of money by convincing Wall Street that you are going to be the next Microsoft, even if you have no way of achieving that objective. So you "moon Microsoft" to pump up the stock, and then sell it. I think that there was a lot of that going on with Netscape."
Bill Royle: "Heck, maybe we should just sell Google, Yahoo and Amazon off to pay for the war. "

Monday, November 17, 2003

Paris Hilton item #755: Porn tape precedents

There's a Paris Hilton interview with the Associated Press that's online today. In it, Paris says she made her sex tape with former fling Rick Salamon because ""I was in an intimate relationship and never, ever thought that these things would become public."
That makes sense--after all, if the other 20 or so guys she's been publically seen canoodling with in the past year never published the intimate sex tapes or who knows what else that she made with them--why should she think Rick Salomon would?
And now it looks like Rick Salomon may not have been the one to peddle the tape-in some reports, his former roommate, one Donald Thrasher, is responsible for selling the tape to porn company Movad, claiming he owned the rights.
Only now,, the porn company purchasers --Movad aka, are saying that Thrasher supposedly represented Salomon in offering the tape for sale.
Given that Hilton is appearing as the star of a Fox reality show that airs next week, all this (humiliating) media exposure seems amazingly timely. Would a girl famed for wearing no underwear and dancing on tables set this circus in motion as a publicity stunt?

Clay Shirky: A History of Networks, Nov 2003

If you haven't seen it, this PDF from Stuart Brand's Global Business Network is worth downloading. It features Clay Shirky's rundown of important books on networks and community, as well as links to Hewlett Packard's Information Dynamics group research. Like most of Shirky's work, it is through, thoughtful, and useful.

Wash Post's Leslie Walker discusses social networking sites

Leslie Walker has a column online today talking about whether social networking sites--the Friendsters, Tribes, LinkedIns, etc.--that are getting VC bucks can actually make money--ie do they have a viable business model?
Leslie says: "Venture capitalists...are throwing money at the startups as if one was destined to become the next EBay, even though it's far from clear that any will be more profitable than e-mail, instant messaging or previous Internet communication tools. " She goes on to outline all the social networking and community sites being developed and invested in by folks in the Valley, and quotes Sequoia Partners' Mark Kvamme as saying, "We are in the process of inventing Internet 2.0."
What's interesting about this piece to me is that Leslie starts off being all business-y and reflective--as in is there a business model for these folks? And then ends up dropping the 'can they make money' question in favor of statements from social networking executives such as Mark Pincus and Reid Hoffman.

The truth is that--at the end of the day--these services need to find a way to make money, both to offset their costs, and to function as businesses. Aggregating users shows proof of concept, and then the next step is for the transactions, premiums and ad revenue to kick in.

Dept of wet kisses: New York Times does piece on web log publisher Nick Denton

Jeff Jarvis on web log publisher Nick Denton in today's New York Times: "He recognized that what sets Web logging apart from other media is only how incredibly inexpensive it is."
Maer Roshanm, Radar editor and former NY Mag honcho: ""Nick's one of the few people I've met whom I'd describe as visionary: he has a real entrepreneurial zeal, a keen eye for new talent, and the enviable self-confidence that comes with having a few million stashed in the bank. There's a Warholish aspect to Nick - watching him in action, you get the feeling that he's always cataloguing, filtering, picking up bits up information for future use."
Chris Anderson, editor of Wired: "The rise of Google's AdSense and related automatically targeted ad servers really suits narrowly focused blogs. It provides a way for niche media and niche advertising to find each other, with virtually no human intervention required."

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Monterey Blues Festival Battle of the Bands

Spent the afternoon in Monterey at the Battle of the Bands, a pre-show for this summer's Monterey Blues Festival. 10 groups performed, including The Spencer Jarrett Band, my husband's blues/R&B group (which included the singers from The Gospel Travellers, the gospel group he plays with).
Some observations:
-- What passes for blues today for many is really bar band music--rock n'roll with southern/R&B roots. Think distant cousin of the Allman brothers, as opposed to son of Son House.
--Club owners don't want to book blues bands that don't get people up and dancing--festival bookers feel the same way. One of the big factors in judging the bands in today's 'battle' was how many people hit the dance floor.
--There are men who dance, a lot of them--but I'm not married to one of them.
-- I also noticed that there is a blues/rock style-- To be specific,if it's a woman, either very skinny or definitely chubby wearing a tight rock blues t-shirt/leopard off the shoulder sweater/pink muscle shirt with tight high-waisted jeans/black leather pants/mini-shirt and high heels. Hair is long, straight, and loose. Needless to say, this style looked better on most of these women when they adopted it ten years ago.
And the Blues guys: Hawaiian/30's print shirt, full cut to hide the pot belly, or black T under leather or jeans jacket. Porkpie/newsboy cap/ Borsalino/long pony-tail going gray. Facial hair--mustaches, goatees, sideburns are big. The younger guys look more rockabilly; the older guys look like the aging hippies they are.
For both sexes, this is a look that would definitely benefit from some updating.
--Performers tend to be copies of someone famous--the singer who sounds like Janis Joplin, the one who sounds like Bonnie Raitt, the guy who does Sam & Dave, the other one who's copying Marvin Gaye--in club land, where these players mostly come from, people are hired to get folks to dance and drink, not to have their own sound.

VC-O-Rama: Will blogs be the next big thing?

Om Malik says VCs will start shelling out--oops, I mean investing--in blogging companies. Om also says Technorati is about the get some dough. He also talks about Feedster dialing for dollars. I blogged all this a while ago, but I don't think blogging is gonna get tons of cash--though lots of us in start up land would love to see more bucks roll in for our pet projects.

Dog Stories II: My dog missed me..a lot

So we're at the airport reuniting with my husband, and he says, "You know, the dog missed you--a lot."
"Really, what do you mean?"
He explains that Winston moped for a day after I left, then carried all his toys and bones into my office and hung out there, waiting for me to return.
And then, this afternoon, he'd gone into the bathroom and found a razor I'd used to shave my legs, carried it into our bedroom, jumped onto the bed with it, and chewed it up.
"So I had to watch the quilt cause there was a lot of blood," my husband concludes. "I guess he took it cause it smelled like you."
"Is the dog all right?" Zack and I both exclaim. "Did he swallow the blade?"
"I don' think so--He seems fine," my husband says, "but I bought hooks to hang all the razors."
P.S. When I got home last night, the dog seemed absolutely fine--he was so happy to see me he did backflips. This morning we went for a long walk, and he was bouncy as ever.

Dog Stories I: Our dog is our baby

Perhaps it takes one to know one, but coming back from Indiana to California, I ran into a couple in the airport who seemed liked they'd totally crossed the "My dog is my child" line..which happens to be a space I am all too familiar with
This couple was waiting to board the plane with their dog, a pug, who they had slung on the woman's chest in a baby carrier.
"Hey, your dog's cute," my son said, eyeing the pop-eyed puppy dangling, utterly motionless. "Did you give him some tranquilizers?"
"Yeah, we loaded him up on Xanax," the guy said. "Keeps him calm."
"Uh, cool, "said Zack.
The crowd moved forward to board. The gate agent's eyes widened and she said, "You've gotta put that dog in a carrier before you get on the plane!"
"Uh, we're gonna do it when we sit down," the woman answered.
"No, now!"
As we moved past them, they were kneeling on the floor of the jetway, stuffing a very stoned-looking pug into a back-pack carrier.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Great parties I've missed #23: Joi Ito at Lulu's

For a lively and outgoing person, I have an amazing talent to end up missing evening social events--the reality is I travel alot, I hate driving alone at night, and by 10:30 PM I am usually crashing.
So it is completely typical that I missed this cool-sounding dinner at Lulu's in SF when Joi Ito came to town.

One of the reasons I want to move to the East Bay once Zack finished high school in San Jose is that I need to live either on the BART line, or within 25 minutes of SF/Berkeley/Oakland...the drive down to the South Bay by myself at the end of the night ends up killing so many great possibilities.

Having said that, I missed this party because it was the night before Zack and I were about to go out of town on the college trip. so the other reality is that next year, when he's off at school, I won't be doing those Mom things.

Dept of too little, too late: AOL & Time Inc now working together

I've been reading the recent news stories about AOL Food and the cooperation between AOL and Time Inc brands, and it all seems like too little, too late.
In the November 10th Washington Post, AOL EVP of Programming Jim Bankoff (my former boss) discusses the new food channel and talks about the "leap of faith" it took for Time Inc to share content with AOL to build it.
Discussing the decision to collaborate, Jim says "There were definitely voices of dissent and doubt on both sides. Because we're the same company... We took it with fingers crossed...You're starting to see the real fruits of the relationship."
The fact it's taken over 3 years for any of these fruits to ripen says alot to me about why Time Warner would consider selling AOL--the ROI and the effort to get to a payoff is just too tough.

Back in January 2000, Dick Parsons said:
"By joining the resources and talents of these two highly creative companies, we can accelerate the development and deployment of a whole new generation of interactive services and content. The heightened competition and expanded choices this will bring about will be of great benefit to consumers. For the creative and innovative people who are the lifeblood of our companies, it means a truly exciting range of new opportunities to explore and give shape to. For our shareholders, it means we'll be able to grow in ways we couldn't have as separate companies, producing superior returns in both the short and long term."

But that didn't really happen, did it?

BRING BACK THE DRAFT?: Story sparks concerns

Rumblings on the net about a story reporting that a routine notice advertising the need for people to serve on US draft boards may imply that the Pentagon intends to restart the military draft, whch was abolished in 1973.
According to Ananova, "..>Several newspapers around the world posed questions about whether the government was planning to restart drafting enlistees. The stories appeared as the media wrote increasingly about the Pentagon's extensive mobilisation of National Guard and Reserve troops for duty in Iraq."
Bring back the draft? No way. Let's not remember Bush as the President who trashed the environment, skyrocketed the jobless rate, and brought back the draft. Two out of three seems like plenty.

Still in Indiana, Visiting Colleges

Day 3 of the 4-day trip to Indiana to visit music schools with Zack. I'm so ready to head back to California, you have no idea.
Indiana University, where we have been since last night, is the biggest campus I have ever been on, and I went to grad school at Ohio State. The music department is amazing and impressive; students everywhere, tantalizing music coming out of offices and practice rooms on every floor of what seems like an ever-humming beehive. Zack has met the two bass professors, played without a warmup for each of them, sat in on a bass repetoire session with Professor Hurst, been given the admissions info session by the Associate Director, along with 40 other kid/parent combos.
I'm down in the lobby having rigged my laptop to the DSL line of a non-functioning campus Mac (there is no wireless here, but computer kiosks are everywhere, allowing students to check email between building to building hikes.)
Tonight I plan to finish some work I've been doing for my Monday meeting, work out in the gym, eat dinner and crash. Tomorrow we drive up to the airport and then spend hours travelling back through Chicago.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Department of Baseless Rumors: T-Online is NOT buying AOL

T-Online, Deutsche Telekom's Internet group, is NOT in talks to buy AOL from Time-Warner, even if they have billions of dollars to invest somewhere. According to chief exec Kai Uwe-Ricke these stories are just baseless, even as rumors swirl that meetings have already been held.Slashdot has a story as well.
Would T-Onlie buy AOL? I dunno.
Would Time-Warner sell AOL? In a heartbeat, for the right price.

College Road Trip Day 1: Indianapolis

In Indianapolis, Indiana for the first time. I lived in Ohio for three years, long ago, but Indiana was basically the state we cut through to get up to Chicago to hang with our friend Steve Freund--or to go to Ann Arbor for blues gigs at The Blind Pig.We stayed out of the city because we arrived at the start of rush hour, but we’ll head downtown tomorrow to Butler University .so that Zack can check out the school and spend time with the bass professor.
This is the first road trip Zack and I have taken together in years, and it’s been good so far.
His girlfriend called from California and asked “Is your mom pissing you off yet?”
When he said no, she said, “Oh, is she right next to you?”
“Yeah, but she’s not pissing me off, anyway,” he said. (That was a good response).
We had dinner at the upscale mall north of the city, agreed that northern Indianapolis looked like Livingston, NJ, and then holed up in the hotel room and watched 28 Days Later, one of my favorite flicks--which he had not seen. (BTW, the alternative ending is short and to the point--Jim dies, despite Selena’s best efforts, and the two women go on together) Then we watched ‘Scary Movie 2,” which is one long fart joke mixed with some suggestive sexual scenarios. Now he’s doing push-ups, and I’m writing this. Tomorrow, we both plan to hit the gym and then go into what will be a long and hopefully productive day looking at schools.
The idea Zack could be in college here next fall--or be in college anywhere, to be honest--is both a source of pride and of sadness. It is a great feeling to see him become an independent person, branching out to have a more separate life. At the same time, I feel sad about it--one of those emotions that aren’t rational and can’t be helped. I want him to be able to live in different cities and have new experiences. But achieving that will take him away from us even more. At the same time that I’m working to help him become more separate, the fact he is becoming more separate is a source of pride and regret.
How will my life change when he is away at school? I have to look at this evolution as a change for all of us to grow and change our focus.

Get money now: Fantasy-flirting Friendster-followers get in the game

That Friendster investment is getting a lot of activity going--According to MSNBC, eMode, oops, I mean Tickle--not only changed their name, they acquired Ringo, another flavor of the Friendster/Tribe/LinkedIn parade--reportedly bringing their total member count up to a meaty 1 million. (Oh, and Evite is going to get into the act, too, meaning the market is going to get even more crowded with fantasy flirting opportunities.
Oh--and I just heard from a friend that Reid Hoffman's LinkedIn has raised $4.7 million in Series A financing from Sequoia Partners.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Light blogging tomorrow

I'm travelling to Indiana tomorrow for a round of college visits, so won't be posting much.

Are Atkins Dieters squeezing the orange juice market?

Chilled orange juice consumption dropped 1.2 percent, while frozen concentrate consumption fell 18.5 percent during the 52 weeks ended Sept. 7, compared with the same period a year earlier, according to Information Resources, a Chicago-based food and beverage research firm quoted in an article in the Lakeland (Fla) Ledger.
Orange juice industry marketers and growers are blaming the booming popularity of the Atkins and South Beach diets as one of the factors driving a drop in Americans' orange juice consumption.
Other factors in the decline include rising costs, increasing popularity of sports drinks, and a growing consumption of bottled water.
Who woulda thunk it?

Monday, November 10, 2003

AOL takes a bite: New food section's savory services go live

Tina Sharkey is smart. She was smart at Sesame Street Workshop back in the mid '90s when she pioneered the concept of lapware--online experiences for the little kids and their moms--and she was smart at in the later '90s during the boom. She may be smartest of all now that she's been at AOL for almost a year, developing coherent and interesting services under the rubric "life management" from what was a hodgepodge of mostly little-traffics channels (in relation to the traffic to other areas of AOL.)

What makes Tina smart today? Food. Specifically, being the first executive at AOL to recognize and launch food as a new platform for AOL. While it might seem that following on the successes of The Food Network, scores of food and shelter magazines, and Time Inc magazine partners' food content was a no-brainer, the reality is that upgrading the food area is a concept that was bouncing around AOL for at least a year before hand, but nobody seemed to have the chops to make it happen.

The new food section(KW: Food) --available only to AOL subscribers--is good enough to give Epicurious a run for its money, if AOL remembers to give it the internal promotion it will take to show members that this spiffy new service exists.

I haven't made AOL Food a habit yet (using a channel on AOL is not something I usually do), but I could get pretty comfortable with the Recipe Ideas area, where the focus is on planning menus. Recipe search and recipe search results pages invite you to print the recipe out in various sizes, a fantastically useful feature; you can also email or IM the recipe, or add it to your recipe file or favorite menu list. Recipes are from Time Inc properties--Real Simple, Southern Living, Sunset, Cooking Light, and Coastal Living seem to be the data set (tried to find InStyle recipes--couldn't.) Food Talk is the community area--mostly message boards right now, but if Tina and her team continue to be smart, they will plug food blogs in in a big way (oh, in AOL-ese, I mean AOL Journals with a foodie focus).

Sunday, November 09, 2003

The Best of Craig's List

Paul Katcher's collection of the best of is hilarious.
Oddly enough, I have a friend who has been pulling together posts to make his own best-of Craig's List.
Anyone else doing this besides the readers list?

Buttafly: Deconstructing Friendster

Buttafly: If you haven't seen this and you have any interest whatsoever in Friendster,, or any other sites where personal descriptions and photos are part of the currency of the hook-up, click on this link RIGHT NOW--it is hysterically funny.Jennifer Bishop Fulwiler's crafted a smart little chart explaining what Friendster photos really mean, no matter what they say--or look like.
Some examples:
Very closely cropped head shot is supposed to imply enigmatic, but the reality is that it means fat.
Boob shot, encased in bustier, is supposed to imply sexy, but it really means fat.
Plus Biship Fulweiler's ode to the freakshow that is Friendster and the many hours of happy fun it supplies.

Doc Searls Ant deterrents

We just discovered that have ants. Or rather, we have ants streaming up the side of the house on their way to the roof. And ants swarming in an orderly trail across the front steps on their way to somewhere.
We've applied ant spray on these spots, but I discovered tonight that Doc Searls has a whole series of methods for dealing with the ants--plus lots of info about them.
Doc wisdom:
"The ants follow a trail. Sometimes many trails. To get rid of them, you have to get rid of the trails. You do this with very hot soapy water and a sponge. The hot water kills them. In fact, this is the best direct insecticide you have. Also harmless. So, first thing: wipe them up.
Once you've elimanted the trail, take fresh soapy water, and clean the trail up again. You want to leave zero ant scent.
Recognize that the trail outside your house still exists. This is fine. What you want is for them to go about their business outside.
Watch your perimeters. They'll probably come back up to several times along the same trails, especially if they still smell the scents of their late colleagues.
They want sweets. If they've made it to your jellies and sugars, you'll need to clean those containers thorougly to get old ant smell off.
If there are trails that run along the foundations outside your house, you can get some additional advantage by boiling some water in a large teapot and pouring the boiling water on the trail."

Doc Searls ant-deterrent techniques will be put to the test chez nous this week.,

Micro-pubs: Old wine in new bottle?

Rafat Ali highlights an essay by Om Malik about what he calls micro-pubs, niche online publications that are run by a skeleton crew and have a highly focused (read narrow) sphere of interest.
Om's points are that a micropub "is a combination of old fashioned newsletter, blog and a directory service, managed by one to ten people. Further, says Om, these sites are making money.
While I applaud the attempt tp categorize the type of publication we see in these one-person blog sites--including Paid Content--I kinda hate the term Om's coined. It seems like an after-the-fact sort of definition, one that doesn't have a lot of depth, and that describes the surface more than the core.

On reflection: Anil Dash talks about 'thin media--a term JD Lasica and co used in the We Media report issued by New Directions for News this summer.' Is this any more descriptive?

User created content: Tim Oren takes a friendly slap

At Jeff Jarvis, who needed to be reminded, he says, that user-created content--like the new and shiny AOL Journals content--is actually old news, and just a flabor of the same old stuff from the proprietary days of AOL, CompuServe and Prodigy.
Says Tim: "Remember, I used to read usage time and income reports from the entrails of the CompuServe accounting system. This isn't anything novel, nor does it have to do with the advent of blogs, social software, or anything else trendy. Same thing happened with crappy old ASCII forums, CB, and proprietary e-mail. It's related to human nature, not the specific technology."
Jim McGee's comments on this are interesting--he says "What I think may be relevant today is that new tools (weblogs, wikis, etc) are pushing forward along the dimension of context management instead of content. Perhaps what we are building with weblogs, RSS, and the rest is the infrastructure for personalizing and managing context on a new scale.

Teaching with blogs: The art of..

Interesting post from Spike Hall on using weblogs in teaching. He quotes the wonderful (and San Jose local) Dan Mitchell on how he uses blogs in his DeAnza College classes as online notebooks and online management tools for student learning. He also has a smart link to George Simen's elearning.
One of the key points of all these posts, IMHO, is that the education isn't about the blogging' the blogging is a tool to teach particular types of note-taking, reflection, and collaboration, as well as a way to build true communities of practice.
Of course, the hassle is that it is about 100,000 times easier to type those words than to make it happen. And what makes it happen isn't talk about how great the tools are--I tried that with some of the nonprofits I work with--and it didn't work.
Now, I read what these folks have to say and talk about end results...and while people are more receptive to trying some new tools, in truth, it's still a slow process.

Google Phone Book--Opt Out and more like that

Want to prevent your address and phone number from appearing in Google? Here's the link.
Get out of Yahoo phone book? Link here.
More links and complete story at

Sunday, College Sunday

Spending today with Zack working on college stuff--This morning we shopped at the mall for clothes to wear on his interviews/auditions; this afternoon we're going to work through the University of California applications due end of this month and make a schedule of how he'll get them done on time.
Half the schools Zack is applying to are in Cali; the others are in the Midwest. If someone had told me a year ago that my sons first choice schools might be in Indiana, I would have laughed, but it seems to be trending that way-Indiana and Butler are both very high on the list for him, as as University of Southern California, much closer to home.
At Express, which is what they've renamed Structure (now it's the guys store) the young-20s saleswoman asked me if I felt sad my son was going off to college. I said I felt said sometimes, but that I felt mostly happy about it (which is true most of the time.)
"Oh, my husband's youngest brother is just turning 18 and leaving home and his mom is so busted up about it," she said. "She's heartbroken."
(Note: Nothing makes you feel old like being innocently compared to someone's mother---the only comments more tactless are "Didn't you want anymore children?" and "Oh, when is your baby due?" (To someone who's not pregnant, natch.)
Anyway, we got through the shopping without any crab attacks, and in a few minutes will jump into the applications, a process so tedious it is a true test of parental love.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Happy birthday, Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchelle turned 60 today (b.1943). Driving north from San Jose to Mill Valley, KCSM jazz was on the radio and the DJ kept playing jazz covers of Mitchell's songs--a smoky 'Both Sides Now," an amazing strings-driven series of songs from Blue, "Chelsea Morning," all remade into jazz tunes. After 3 or 4 within 90 minutes, I began to worry she had died--Nope, birthday.
I have to find out who did these covers--I think it may have been Jane Monheit for one song--A case of you--, but I want to track them all down.

Dave Pollard on Biz 2.0's Best New Technology for 2003

Dave Pollard: "The November edition of Business 2.0 (only available on-line to subscribers) has selected Social Networking Applications as the Technology of the Year. Mentioned in the survey are Ryze, LinkedIn, Friendster, Zero Degrees,, Spoke Connect, and Visible Path. The magazine should be commended for this insightful choice, but they missed the companion technology that will provide the data essential to the functioning of future Social Networking Applications. That technology: Personal Content Management and Publishing Applications (notably Blogs and RSS). You can't have one without the other."

Great point, Dave--and a question for all you cutting edgers--How many of these networks have you joined? Which ones are deader than the blog you abandoned after 3 months, and which ones--if any are you still using?
I use Ryze, and I am planning to get involved with LinkedIn, which seems to be getting some critical mass of people.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Best Blogs from Canada: November 2003

Do I sound like the stupid American I am if I joke that some people would say 'Best blogs from Canada' is an oxymoron? Of course, I can hear the (way smarter and better read) Canadians saying "Only stupid Americans make jokes like that." The blogs Canada crew just voted on the top sites for the month, and while there are several I am familiar with, such as Dave Pollard's Salon blog, How to Save the World,, Dean Allen's Textism, and Mirabilis, the page led me to the instant fave Just in from Cowtown.

One of the great things about blogging is that there are so many voices, and they are much easier to find and sample than small press poetry magazines or ezines were back in the day. Best Canadian blogs from earlier in the year include Caterina.netand Tomalek's Realm.

Is there an equivalent site or program for the US? This site has a nice feeling to it. On the other hand, it may be that we need more regional "Best Ofs' and ways to highlight individual voices.

NPR gets $200 Mil in Burger Bucks

Joan Kroc, recently deceased widow on McDonald's founder Ray Kroc, has left NPR about $200MM. According to the press release, most of the money -- described by NPR as "the largest monetary gift ever received by an American cultural institution" -- will go toward the NPR Endowment Fund for Excellence, created in 1993 as a means for large donors to fund NPR without worrying about their dollars bumping up against other funding restrictions.
What does this bequest mean for NPR? Expect lots of great public radio over the next 50 years.

Amazing chips

I just sampled the most amazing potato chips ever--handmade at La Palma Mexicatessen (a San Francisco deli and tacqueria at 2884 24th Street at Florida in the Mission,. These chips, handcut and freshly made, must be the Cuban cigars of the potato chip world (if there is such a thing)--straightforward, but completely wonderful. The chips are a light golden brown, lightly salted, and go down as easily as fresh-roasted almonds. Packaged in little bags and sold for a dollar or so, they come with miniature packets of Tapatio hot sauce so they can be doused and devoured.

Dept of Groundless Speculation: Who would Google Buy? Or Microsoft?

Now that Tony Perkins says the Valley's VC community is spending again, and Fred Wilson is back in the game in NY with Union Square, the recast of the old Flatiron Partners, lots of small-ish companies are working hard to sharpen up their products, their revenue, and their customer list to look good for sale.
It's a fun game to imagine--who would Google buy? And then, who would Microsoft buy?
Anyone who wants to play this game--no resemblance to actual reality required--post your thoughts here.

I'll start off with a couple of points:
A) Google will go into the personalized text ad business in a big way. In my opinion, this is why they wanted Friendster--think about the value of millions of personal pages and networks when married to the kind of personalized search technologies and data-mining they are developing with the recently spun out and acquired Kaltix. What kind of CPM can you get for ads personalized to a user and their friends?
Given that Friendster passed, does that put eMode in line for acquisition next? That carefully grown company has just launched Tickle, their very own Friendster-killer, and they have a thriving quiz business with what, 4 million members?

B) Okay, now it's time to talk about Microsoft. They just launched, which few bloggers have seen, and they want to be in the blog space in a big way. They also want to be in the search space in an even bigger way, having proposed swallowing Google.
Given that Google passed (for now) on MSFT (is there a pattern here?), who else might they buy? Would the much smaller Friendster or web-services-oriented Technorati? fit the bill? Or it is just easier to reverse-engineer searching on RSS feeds and blog HTML and mining that data.

P.S. I just googled who would Google buy and got:
Should Google buy the ODP?
Why would Google buy Friendster?
Would Google buy Moreover
What else would Microsoft buy?
Would Google buy Daypop?
And other well-considered speculations.

Buzzmachine: Jarvis on the future of advertising, blogs, and the universe

Jarvis has an amazing, meaty post today that starts off reporting on a NYC breakfast Valley luminary Tony Perkins held, and ends up meditating on what future revenue and business models for the web might be as social software, FOAF, blogging, and relationships become the center of the universe.
It's a brilliant post, even for Jeff, who is one of the smartest people I've ever known (and, scarily, one of the quickest-thinking--okay, and one of the fastest-talking, too)
Click on this one as fast as you can--there are so many good ideas here--and at this earlier, related post on user-created content of Jeff's as well.
Man, you are rocking.

New Scientist: Solving the mystery of fish farting

That mysterious high-pitched sound scientists have heard in the ocean around Vancouver may be fish farting, reports an article in the New Scientist, picked up by the impeccably quirky Ananova. Actually, to be more precise, the sound seems to be made by herring farting.

"It sounds just like a high-pitched raspberry," says Ben Wilson of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. According to New Scientist, Wilson and his colleagues aren't sure why herring make this sound, but think the farts are a form of communication to keep the shoal of fish together.

Paris Hilton: explicit sex tape leads to Search stardom

Paris Hilton seems to have become the hottest search term on the Net since news of her sex video with Shannon Dougherty's ex broke this week. She' jumped into the Top 50 most requested terms in AOL search, according to a source; meanwhile, on Google, there are 181 news stories and 114,000 links about the girl.

Pam Anderson, watch out! You've got new competition in the slutty sexpot with a heart of gold category now that Paris is working her plan. (SIDE NOTE: I never realized before that when one types "Pam Anderson" into Google, more than 50% of what comes up are porn sites.)

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Dinner Break

Spent a chunk of today pulling together college visits--tickets, appointments, places to stay in 3 states.
Took a break and cooked dinner in anticipation of a friend coming over:
Mexican tacos stuffed with spicy pumpkin (an experiment based on a fish taco I had at Delfin last weekend)
Chicken with mushrooms, peppers, and onions (something between Chasseur and Italian-style)
Baby spinach salad with olives

Nov 5th: National Doughnut Day

Doughnut Day is November 5th.
Homer Simpson: "I have a great new motivational technique, it is donuts, and the possibility of more donuts."

Monday, November 03, 2003

Confessions of a guilty pleasure: Average Joe

Okay, I'm outing myself: tonight I watched the amazingly tacky Average Joe --for those of you living on a desert island this is the NBC reality show that puts a beauty-queen style babe--who says she's ready to settle down now that she's hit 25--in a Palm Springs desert mansion with 15 eager guys, all "average"--AKA fat, bald, short, pimply, big schnozzes, ugly glasses, questionable facial hair, 70's haircuts, etc.
This is the classic guy wet dream--be a nerd and go home with the prom queen--but it's also sweetly hopeful in that viewers want her to be nice to these average but sweet guys and not crush them with her size 7AA stilettoes.
The guys' mantra is: If you get to know the real me,m I'll be your choice for a guy.
Hers seems to be : National TV, what a great opportunity.

Poynter: Especially good e-media tidbits today

E-Media Tidbits has some especially good items today: Nick Denton's product line will add DC and LA blogs to tools, porn and NYC media gossip; Cell phones pay for emedia and parking fees abroad, location-aware storytelling (bet you didn't know what that was).

Always On: Scott Rosenberg and Marc Canter on Valley VCs

On AlwaysOn: Are the VC's funding Friendster entranced by the potential of social networking or looking to turn a quick buck?
Valley vet Marc Canter thinks the latter:
"...But what's really going on here? GREED.

These guys don't really know what's going on - but what they DO know is that Kleiner, Perkins is in. That's how the game works. Remember 3DO? Netscape? At NO TIME do these guys believe in social networking, Friendster or even the consumer internet.

They believe in John Doerr. They do what he tells them to do. This is where Scott's got it right. It's business as usual on Sand Hill Road. These guys have been sitting on $Billions of dollars$ in their funds and have had to give some of it back (heaven forbid!) So they desperately need another bubble. That and a Google IPO."

Rosenberg's post is here.

Dept of Only in NY: NY Mag logs the blogs

Smart piece in NY Magazine by Simon Demenco about NY bloggers including Anil Dash, Elizabeth Speirs,and Jeff Jarvis, as well as Nick Denton, who seems to be developing into the Rupert Murdoch of the blogosphere.
The game is always to think of NY media-type bloggers he omitted: Greg Allen, who focuses on film; Meg Hourihan, a wonderful blogger (one wonders was she left off as not media-focused, or because she works for Denton?), Dennis Loy Johnson, the book-trade focused scribe of MobyLives (okay, he bunks in Hoboken, but does that really matter? Jarvis lives in Jersey, too.) Biggest omission, Jen Cheng, wonderfully talented editor of Gothamist.

Who else might Dumenco have added to a longer piece? Lots of interesting bloggers in New York

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Judith Meskill: Social Software & then some

Enjoying Judith Meskill, particularly this post on Social Software, Microsoft, and Wallop. A friend just sent me links to the Social Computing Group, and she's got'em too, right here.
By the way, one of the members of this team, GM Lili Cheng, is apparently the GM for Wallop as well.

Tony Karon: Time columnist gets a blog

Kudos to the Time Inc team for adding a blog to their online roster-- Once you find your feet with the format, guys, how about turning comments on for selected items?(Via Paid Content)

Microsoft: Will Wallop pack one?

Marketing Wonk's got an item on Microsoft's Wallop, a reported blog-indexing tool a la Popdex, Blogdex, etc. Heiko Hebig from Germany (aka the Schmutzblogger, love that), picked up a post from a Microsoftie, Corey Gouker:
"...And now there's some thing really awesome called Wallop. It's a new way to blog and to moblog from the looks of it. A way to really connect the blogs together and see the interactions between the people blogging. From the looks of it there's a much bigger push on images in their model. But the key thing I'm getting out all of this is that they really want all the information we know that's out there much much easier to navigate through."

Anyone out there using the invite-only beta? More from blogherald here.

BlogAds--Kerry buys in

Kerry's campaign's bought online paid political ads from Henry Copeland at Blogads. Jeff Jarvis has a smart post on it, with links to XXX and XXX. He quotes Copeland saying:
"...Jeff Jarvis gets my particular thanks for speaking so warmly of blog advertising at his session at Bloggercon. As Jeff likes to say: "bloggers are influencers talking to influencers," and Jeff's words did influence Kerry's rep in the crowd. "
Jarvis also mentioned that Josh Marshall is going to accept candidates' ads on TalkingPoints.
It is going to be very interesting to see where the percentages of dollars appropriated to online ads go--we've got some new flavors this time--blog ads and contextual search ads (often the same thing)--as well as some more savvy campaign folks.

Dog Tales, aka Fall Hikes with Winston

As the Bay area's version of early winter creeps in, days feel like crisp, sunny fall --almost Indian summer--back east. We've spent a lot of the weekend out walking with the dog at the Jackson Street dog park, the Ulistac Natural area off Lick Mill Road, the new Rivermark Village town center off Montague, where you can eat Baja Fresh tacos outside and look at the mountains while pondering if Silicon Valley needed 1900 new homes in this spot. We also went out into the wilds behind Williams Street Park, where they want to extend a trail under 280 and across the Valley.
Of course, this has put Winston into dog heaven, a universe accompanied by loud snores as he sleeps all the exerccise off.

Crippling Amazon: Search Inside the Book

JD Lasica reports on the Merc story about how Amazon disabled some features of the new Search Inside the Book to placate The Authors Guild, calling the Guild's stance "reactionary." He says:
"I'm not a member of the Authors Guild, but I can tell you that the Guild doesn't speak for all authors or writers, and that in this case their reactionary stance has hobbled a cool and useful tool that could have driven considerably higher sales, were it not for the Digital Rights Management restrictions placed on this feature today."
I see the point of the Authors Guild, but also believe that printing single pages is not going to significantly derail sales, any more than browsing in B&N does.

Dept of I wish I could hate her: How Renee Grew

Story in the Palm Beach Post today about what Renee Zellweger ate to plump up from size 4 to size 14 for the new Bridget Jones flick. Here's the menu:

Breakfast: Double cheeseburger, large portion of fries, full-fat vanilla milkshake and one large box of doughnuts with additional chocolate dip.

Lunch: Pizza, chips and peanut butter.

Dinner: Giant portion of spaghetti with meat sauce and butter-saturated potatoes.

Snacks: Sugary doughnuts, chocolate and potato chips

And now Weight Watchers is reportedly offering her big bucks to be their spokesperson when she peels it off after filming.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

A List Apart: Tips on Starting a Business

Good, concise article by graphic designer and small business owner Kevin Potts on key steps in starting your own business. As someone who is living through 2 business start-ups, each quite distinct, this article reminds me of the things we did right (get a lawyer, business name, partners, etc.) and the things we want to do better (marketing, maintaining the pipeline). While there are lots of small business books out there, this is an effective quick summary of the first phase, getting started.

Will cellphones rock CNN's Rock the Vote?

When viewers of CNN's "America Rocks the Vote" broadcast on Nov. 4th wil be able to participate in the real-time online polling throught sending text messages via their cell phones. Says SVP and newsie chief Mitch Gelman: We believe that CNN is the first major news network to integrate such services into its television broadcasts and that this will be one of the widest distributions for any text messaging initiative ever run in the United States."
Given this is a network that wasn't comfortable embracing blogging. it's good to see some new experiments around interactivity.
(Via Lost Remote)

Pericles: Multimedia media planning for politicos

Mediapost article about the formation of Pericles, a new company that will help political campaign planners execute effectively online: ie make full advantage of blogs, online advertising, grassroots and viral marketing (buzzwords of the day).
Buzzquote from John Durham, one of the founders, and longtime online advertising sales guru:
"Although political candidates have used the Internet in some form since 1996, the recent recall election in California established the Web as a fundamental communications asset that will be an integral part of all future campaigns. The Pericles team includes some of the innovators who have been conceptualizing, planning, buying and launching online consumer campaigns since the Web emerged as a commercial medium in the mid 1990s. We now offer that talent and experience to communicate ideas, agenda's and platforms."

As the founders point out, the pot for paid political advertising is about $13 billion, but less that 10% of that is spend online. Can these guys help move those dollars? Only time will tell.
See related article on NAA's digital edge focusing on how long-timers in this space have a hard time getting the bucks.

Yahoo dropping enterprise division

Just read an article in eweek saying that Yahoo is dropping its enterprise division and has laid off a number of staffers from that team. According to the article, some of the core product offerings from the group, including Yahoo Business Messenger, the enterprise companion to Yahoo's popular IM service, and the My Yahoo EE (Enterprise Edition) suite of web-based applications and tools and the Yahoo Companion EE customizable browser toolbar for accessing a corporate portal will become part of the division at Yahoo that oversees the consumer-focused Yahoo Messenger service.
Another story--from CNET--here.
What does this mean about Yahoo and the enterprise market? Or, to put it another way, does this mean something about the cost and or barriers to entry in the Enterprise market? How does enterprise fit into Yahoo's shifting focus (and hugely profitable, ad-driven revenue from the past 2 quarters?)

Anyone have insights and thoughts to share?

Dept of Family commitments: Dina Mehta''s Beppo blogger dinner

Phil Wolf has an informative post on the recent dinner for Dina Mehta, hosted by Stuart Henshall. Dina is a blogger and smart person who lives in India and who recently spent time in the Bay area; Stuart organized this dinner so fellow bloggers, many of whom have corresponded with her, could meet her in person, and vice versa. I was all set to go until my son had an orchestra performance that night.
Of course, since the dinner guests were bloggers, most of them wrote about the evening, so there are multiple accounts here and here .

Part of the reason I am posting about this dinner is that it underscores how blogs and social networks have affected the social fabric--Dina is active on Ryze, an online social network focused on business networking. Many of the diners--and would-be diners, like myself--"know" her from that site, as well as from her blog. The participants--most of whom had not met face to face--gathered for dinner and jumped right into what sounded like stimulating conversation. Made possible, in some ways, by the fact their thoughts and ideas are already available on the web, in their social network and blog pages.

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