Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Dept of Vicarious Thrills, Road Trip Division

PeterMe goes to AZ, Canyon de Chelly, Arcosanti
Tim Porter takes off for Oxaca

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

BlogPulse: New and cool

Kevin Burton just turned me on to BlogPulse---a site that mines the date from 80,000 weblogs for phrases and person names, then presents the info via a blog site and XML feeds.
UPDATE: JD picked right up on this.
In playing with it a little, my sense that it reflects the wonderful randomness of the blogosphere is confirmed--see this link for a sense of that (let's assume it will work for more than an hour)., Also find the international flavor of the results interesting...Anita Mui, the top person of the moment, is from Hong Kong, for instance.
Weds am: Francois G just asked me to fix a typo in the BP url-so much for typing late at night.-thx, F.

Dept of (Good) Readin'

Well-done Fortune piece on Tim and Nina Zagat--you might not want to meet'em even as you rely on their restaurant guides.

Resolutions, 2004

I stopped making New Years Resolutions about 3 years ago, when life became too uncertain to really keep enough of them, but I'm approaching this year with a different set of priorities, and want to make just a couple of resolutions that I can focus on keeping. Here they are, for public sharing, in no particular order:
--Lose 30 lbs and exercise more.
--Be a better and more consistent friend and family member and a loving wife/mother/sister/aunt.
--Deepen my professional relationships, remembering less can be more.
--Continue to mentor those coming up--this is one of the things I can make a difference with.
--Do more writing--and more hiking.
--Remember that everyone has something to teach, and respect them accordingly.
--Carpe diem: Seize the day!

Harvard Magazine Story: Blogs at Harvard

Congrats, Dave, Wendy, and everyone! Very nice piece in the Harvard Magazine about the entry of blogging into the Harvard campus, and the creation of new communities around the blogs.
It's well worth reading, especially for those who participated in BloggerCon, held at the Berkman Center in October 2003.

USA Today on Elections 2004: It's the blogs, baby

USA Today has discovered blogging, just in time for the 2004 election ramp-up:
"In the 2004 election, the boys (and girls) on the bus have been joined by a new class of political arbiters: the geeks on their laptops. ..They call themselves bloggers.
Many bloggers are not professional journalists. Few have editors. Most make no pretense of objectivity....Yet they're forcing the mainstream news media to follow the stories they're pushing,"
The big wet kiss continues breathlessly, explaining "Their audience tends to be an elite crowd of political junkies who have almost non-stop access to a computer and large amounts of time to surf the Internet for breaking news. In short: political consultants and journalists."

Wouldn't it be useful if this story convinced political media buyers to spend more dollars online in general-and on blogs in particular?

Monday, December 29, 2003

NYC writes: Mr. and Mrs. Blog

Just discovered Gotham Gal, a hip blog by a NYC executive mom. Intrigued by this smart, sincere, and definitely privileged author, I read her bio, clicked on a couple of links, and realized that this smart little site is written by Joanna Solomon Wilson, former exec at Silicon Alley Reporter , cofounder of the ed tech nonprofit Mouse, and wife of VC Fred Wilson, who is now blogging at AVC.

Funnily enough, it looks like old pal Jason Calcanis, Wilson and Solomon-Wilson all started blogging within a week of one another, around early September/late October 2003.

Interesting that these smart and accomplished married folk would both be interesting bloggers...this is probably one of those things everyone in a certain circle in New York knows, but until thirty minutes ago, it was news to me. Well, you're both on my blog roll now.

Michael Barrish: Oblivio, the blog

From oblivio: "The reason I wanted to stop liking her was because of how much younger than me she is. This is what I would think about then. I would lie in bed and calculate how old she was when I was certain ages and then I’d picture the two of us at those times, standing together. It wasn’t much fun. Here’s the worst of it: On the day I first had sex, she was two years old. Do kids still wear diapers at two years old? For me to pursue someone this young, someone who may not have been potty trained on the day I first had sex, seemed gross and clichéd."
Michael Barrish is the writer of this snippet of a longer, very lyrical post, and many elegant others. I may be in love.

Do you ever dream about blogging?

Last night I had my first dream involving blogging, and bloggers.
In the dream, I lived in New York, and was planning to share a loft with some people--much of the activity of the dream had to do with plans about architecture and dividing up the space. But in one quick sequence, I was at dinner with a group of people, and one woman mentioned she was a blogger. I told her I was as well, and she asked for the URL for my blog, which I gave to her in my dream. I remember wanting her email address and her blog address, but feeling hesitant to ask because I didn't catch her name (sounds like real life, huh?)
Woke up and was surprised at the extent to which blogging has penetrated my psyche.
Obviously time to cut out the liverwurst sandwiches before bedtime, as Bob Hershon once said to me.

Have you dreamt about blogging? Share here if you feel like it.

12 Signs It's a Chick Flick

Spencer Jarrett, who ended up watching "One True Thing" with me last night, collects evidence on what makes a girly movie:

--Mom has cancer
--Long dinner scenes
--Requires emotion 'reading between the lines'
--Tense family get togethers
--Women get all the good lines
--No matter what happens to any character, their clothes are great
--Lots of facial close-ups
--During the big scene, a dish or glass gets broken
--Characters often run away from each other
--Almost every scene has some form of eating or drinking
--Conflicts get resolved with no one being shot
--At least one character is a writer.

Yahoo's Top Searches of 2003

From the department of pop culture, search and directory division comes Yahoo's lists of Top Searches for 2003. As our friend Mark the weight-lifter would say, "This is the funnest."
Would you have guessed that KaZaA would be the #1 search term? Or that NASCAR would be #9., and WWE #7? (This is the moment when I debate whether to refrain from making bitchy remarks about how Middle America and teenager-ish and picking up the mantle from AOL this list is--Instead of saying that, perhaps the main point is about changing behavior patterns in acquiring music--and the need for clearer policies in DRM.)
What's "funnest" for me are the bonus lists of Top News Searches, Top Diet Searches, Most Common Misspellings of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Top Jennifer Searches, Top Rumor Searches, Top Iraq related searches--the staff did a great job coming up with categories. And the graph charting the skyrocketing searches for Paris Hilton post porn-tape and pre-TV show release is priceless, probably one of the top 5 pop culture artifacts of the year.
Oh yes, and our girl Paris was one of the Top 10 search terms, right along with 50Cent and Christina Aguilera--not bad for someone whose main talent seems to be attracting publicity.

NY Times: Scaling up targeted search ads

Saul Hansell in the Times: "Forrester Research, a technology consulting firm, expects search-based advertising spending in the United States to grow 47 percent to $2.8 billion next year from $1.9 billion in 2003, which is faster than any other form of online marketing...The question facing the industry is how big can these small ads really be....Now Overture and Google have hundreds of thousands of advertisers willing to pay for more clicks than even those highly used search engines can deliver. So they are both placing search ads on other Web pages. But advertisers are concerned that such advertisements are less effective if they are not on a search site, and may not be willing to pay as much for them."

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Birthday weekend/Family fun

My husband hit a significant birthday today, so we planned some fun things to celebrate:
Friday, into San Fran to the extremely offbeat but charming Audium, a sound sculpture and environment, plus post-event late Thai dinner
Saturday, a drive through San Jose and up the 20 miles of curving roads to the Lick Observatory, This place fascinates me(more on that in later posts). We enjoyed the building, the telescope and the snow everywhere.
Sunday, made fruit salad and muffins for the birthday guy, then we drove down to Carmel Valley for lunch at Bernardus Winery--we thought we were eating at Marinus, but they don't do lunch--we arrived and found out we were eating in the bistro(surprise). The food was terrific, however, and we had a nice time. Headed into (overcrowded) Carmel for a short walk, then north and home.
Back to the old grind on Monday, this was fun.

NY Times: Steve Johnson on "Curatorial Culture"

From a round-up in the NY Times called Judging 2003's Ideas: The Most Overrated and Underrated , a short piece by Steve Johnson about what he called Curatorial Culture--the value of personalities and experts acting as editongs and compilers.
" ...Apple's new Celebrity Playlist area in its store features collections of music assembled — with liner notes — by famous musicians: Sting, Ben Folds, Wynton Marsalis and many others.

What's potentially revolutionary here is the ability to buy a compilation of music handpicked by another individual, as opposed to the official compilations released by record labels. No doubt Apple will soon offer a feature that enables ordinary music fans to create public playlists engineered around every imaginable theme."

Another way to look at this is that internet distribution and play list culture offer everyone a chance to regain the ability to act as an editor, packager, and/or tastemaker for friends--which is the way the world used to be before MTV, CNN and McLuhan's Gobal Village narrowed the transmission of ideas and styles down to what feels like minutes.
An unfortunatel by product of our Global Village has been the professionalization of taste--the great play lists and anthologies created by friends fell away in the light of celebrity culture. Playlist sharing, blogging, and mix tapes help us get that cultural community content back.

More comments on this by Steve, here.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Expedia beats for airline bargains

A new study conducted by a Consumer's Union offshoot and published at consumerwatch,org, reports that in a controlled study, Expedia offered best-deal prices on airline tickets 36% of the time, compared to 18% at Hotwire, 27% at Travelocity, and 2% at Orbitz. Priceline, which requires blind bidding(as does Hotwire) offer best deals 44% of the time. Interestingly, Expedia did nowhere near so well in the car rental and hotel room areas of the study, where Priceline and Hotwire dominated.

Mr. Ripley: Loving John Malkovich

Watched Mr Ripley, starring John Malkovich, on IFC yesterday. Excellent movie! Ripley is one of those highly controlled, repellent yet charming sociopaths who bury their ruthlessness until needed. Hannibal Lechter on a very good day, kinda. (He's also the same Ripley who appeared in The Talented Mr. Ripley, now a few years older.)
Malkovich excels in playing these kinds of villains, and he's in fine form in this little flick, sparring with an excellent cast. The madness he showed when he played "Pale on stage in Burn This many years ago peeps through in this performance as well.

Halley Suitt makes me smile

Halley, goddess of good energy--remember this disco oldie?
I believe in miracles
Where you from
You sexy thing
I believe in miracles
Since you came along
You sexy thing

It's the first thing I saw on her site today.
Yeah, baby!

Online newspapers increase in online revenues

An article (from CNN) talking about the rise in advertising revenues for online newspapers including papers at NY Times Digital, Knight Ridder, and smaller newspaper chains.
Some factors making a difference here:
--Increase in online advertising in general; greater confidence by advertisers lifting water-level higher
--Improved targeting and ad management tools at online newspapers
--Improved analysis and measurement, offering more precise info for evaluating ROI
--Greater sense of value of local ad market in paid search listings; more search listings partnerships for newspapers

Story quotes Dave Morgan, Tacoda: "I think adoption by local advertisers is starting to drive the market. Local advertisers are not just creatures of habit like a lot of the big agencies. They put their money in the most effective channels."

Friday, December 26, 2003 Advice for 2004

'If you don't hear NO at least three times a day, you aren't asking for enough stuff in your life." More here.
On a different note, from Liz Lawley, who had a recent death in the family: "Live so that no one you love will be unpleasantly surprised by what they find when you die.... "

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Reading While Baking 2: Bleeding edge teens

Classify this as another factoid under the category teens are early adapters of behavior that goes main stream: eMarketer reports that a recent study commissioned by Cingular finds that 50% of the teens surveyed said that they wanted wireless phones to help them stay in touch with family and friends, a percentage that rose from 33% in 2001.
What this article doesn't report--but what I bet the study reveals, if it was smart at all about fielding questions--is that these kids want phones that have cameras, surf the internet, do IM, play games, and do SMS--teens are in the forefront of wanting a persistence presence and multi-platform delivery of services.

My blogging Christmas presents

We're onto the vanilla custard, to be turned into banana cream pies, and Zack is at the stove stirring, so I am back at the newsreader.
Just got my best blogging Christmas present ever--a peek at Ross Mayfield's weblog and the realization this blog is listed as #5 on his Top 150 list. Thank you, Ross!
I will keep the gushing down and just say that Ross is one of the people I haven't met since I came back to Silicon Valley that I am eager to meet, so this is mutual interest..when I started blogging, he was running the blogging tribe on Ryze, and I read his blog frequently trying to figure out the different ways people were expressing themselves in this medium.
The other gifts are also great readers and linkers--Michael Gartenberg(twice in a week), in particular. Linking and commenting are the two sure ways to know(in the absence of decent referrer logs), who's checking in, aka who I am actually writing to and for.
Thanks, guys, and have a great holiday.

Reading While Baking

My office is off the kitchen, so what better than to scan my newsreaders while batch one of the pies(pumpkin, if you must know) are baking.

Digital Journalism, Future of: Greg Elin's Duh Blog has a post about interactive storytelling and the future of storytelling that caught my attention. Greg praises a NY Times feature with a strong interactive module called "When Workers Die as a "compelling example of what information age journalism should be." He writes, "I can say this is the first online presentation of a news story I've seen that uses the digital media to convey more information than I felt I got from reading the article."

While I agree with Greg this is a well done story, with excellent use of the digital medium to present information in multiple formats--and layers--I am disturbed by the seeming acceptance--by traditional journalists and online newspaper people--of the concept that you can do terrific digital storytelling without involving the audience, or having any real interaction.

What online journalists tend to call "interactive journalism," in my experience, is a multimedia, narratively-structured, branching feature. Usually, these "interactive" features offer NO opportunities for readers to interact--the interactive part means the piece is not straight text and photos.
A top-notch interactive piece, IMHO, should offer users a chance to a) comment, b) vote, c) add posts or pages , sound or images (as in a blog), d)include some dynamic rankings and presentations that show how a new--or repeat--reader how users are interacting with the piece--what areas are most viewed, etc.

Otherwise, you're creating new generation smart TV on the web--not a bad thing to do, but not the best solution for how to address news with audiences whose behaviors are changing and evolving in other parts of their lives...For example, when the most visited teen site is Angefire, where kids have personal web pages, how can you do consider how true interactivity fits into presenting and reporting the news?

Greg, you make good comments, but hey--expect and ask for more--if you and I don't, this industry will continue to meander along, always the step-child of true innovation.

Christmas eve day , San Jose

Much merriment on the block tonight, as neighbors hosted Christmas Eve parties. Our block is so mellow, even the dogs come over and visit one another. We went out to a favorite Indian restaurant, Mayuri, with S& T, two friends whom we met through our dogs, then came back here and ate Stilton and drank Mendecino port for a bit, then played Cranium. Topped off the game with some of the excellent gingerbread Eleanor and I made this afternoon (and did I mention the artichoke and mushroom frittatta I made for lunch?)
Tomorrow morning, I plan to do some work and make pies for our Christmas dinner with friends: we're making pumpkin and banana cream pie.
I bought bagels and lox for breakfast, but am going to stick with cereal myself...that diet is pending..

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Air France cancels Paris-LA-Paris flights

Movie stars under attack? According to a Reuters story, Air France cancelled six flights at the request of the US Embassy., based on information gathered in joint U.S.-French anti-terrorism operations.

Blogdigger blog: Indexing and privacy

Okay, so I'm reading the blog I just told you about, and Greg's got a post about RSS indexing, searchability and privacy. Basically, his point is that while Email to RSS services are cool, they don't neccessarily have privacy controls (yet), so when a person's mail is indexed as an RSS feed, it also goes into the pool of data that can be search--ergo, your private mail can end up viewable in someone else's query, or, as Greg says, "The result: what you thought were private emails consumed by your personal RSS news aggregator are really viewable by others."
I've been talking with Mary Hodder and others about privacy policies and controls for blogging, RSS, and social network sites, and this is clearly a huge area waiting to be developed.

Blog-world-o-rama: New and interesting

Weblog Hype , an "unvarnished truth" type of news and info commentary site that's gone righ on my blog roll
Bloghorrea, sorta the Wired meets BoingBoing of meta-blogging(blogging about bogging)
The Blogdigger Development Blog, which focuses on info relevant to Blogdigger, the brand new Feedster-like product that searches and indexes XML posts, from Baltimorean Greg Gershman.
All come via Christian Chrumlish)and Weblog Hype.

The Velvet Rope: Turned away from Club RSS?

Christian Crumlish has a post this week saying that Dave Winer, who is moderating a Yahoo Group on RSS users, denied his request to join. If this is accurate, it seems odd to me that someone who is one of the loudest voices championing open source code and shared standards would not admit someone like Xian to the list. On the other hand, like so many tech related glitches, it may be that this is an error, or there is some other great and understandable reason that the Yahoo Customer Care denial for membership message just doesn't address.
UPDATE: Dave wrote to say I misstated his position on open source code--he's absolutely right, I did. See Scripting News for some good statements of Dave's philosophy.

Scott Rosenberg on Tony Kushner and beating Bush

Scott Rosenberg has a post on playwright Tony Kushner's interview in Mother Jones.
Kushner says "Anyone that the Democrats run against Bush, even the appalling Joe Lieberman, should be a candidate around whom every progressive person in the United States who cares about the country's future and the future of the world rallies. Money should be thrown at that candidate...The GOP has developed a genius for falling into lockstep. They didn't have it with Nixon, but they have it now. They line up behind their candidate, grit their teeth, and help him win, no matter who he is."
Scott comments that "if you're keeping up with the blogosphere you may be sick to death by now of reading about the power of many-to-many decentralization, "social software" but that "most of the Washington press corps remains utterly and pathetically clueless about what has already happened during this election cycle."

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Happiness is a warm Eleanor

Our college friend Eleanor and her boyfriend are staying with us for a few days during her break...I am so glad.
At earlier times in my life, I had the feeling that someone I was close to was family by choice, not heredity, but during the years I had a little kid I usually did...nothing...about that feeling.
But now, what we have to give is what Eleanor wants--and we love her. Her strength and positive outlook, not to mention great personality and resilency, impress me and Spencer so much, plus we have so many things in common.
When she needed a place to stay, we were happy to offer the guest we have two college students coming and going, along with Zack and his friends..and it feels great.

Hiring: AOL Seeks VP of Strategic Development

A friend on a listserv passed me this job description for a hire at AOL for a VP, Strategic Development, based in Virginia. The HR rep, who undoubtedly did not work for AOL 12 months ago, says this position is " a phenomenal opportunity to develop an integrated product strategy which represents the core needs of all businesses across AOL."
More from the description:
"We need a strong product marketer and creative thinker who love to be online and PUTS CONSUMER NEEDS first.   Our ideal executive will have a successful history of CREATION OF member-centered product innovation experience.

The ideal candidate must have tremendous passion for creating an outstanding consumer online experience, with solid knowledge of Internet technology. S/he must have experience working with partners, a good understanding of the online market and evolving online trends.

This candidate must be a very strong leader with the ability to both make decisions quickly, as well as change product and strategic direction to respond to dynamic market conditions.  The ideal candidate must have a pragmatic approach to product development, and always understand the perspective of the mainstream consumer. "
The job description also suggests the ideal candidate have "a flexible nature; able to change responsibilities comfortably."

Given that AOL has just laid off 450 people in Mountain View, some of whom mustundoubtedlyoubtly possessed some of these qualities, one wonders if there are additional, unwritten job requirements that are just as important.
Might they be as follows:
--Must be new to organization, untainted by political battles among Executive Vice Presidents;
--Male, preferably the friend of a senior executive, as most VPs brought into the organization have been over the past 3 years;
--Willing to relocate to Bangalore, India, Dublin, Ireland, or Columbus, OH in 6-12 months, depending on what latest reorg of the company requires.

If you want to see the whole job description, go to and check the archives...and good luck.

Bay area: Settling into a sense of community

In the past week, it feels like I am finally starting to get over the pervasive dislocation I've felt for the past 18 months, as I've moved between the Bay area and New York and back West again.
I'm starting to feel more rooted here, and in particular, more connected to people in intimate ways.
The week has been filled with calls from friends heading off on vacation, invites and plans for parties and dinners, and a new sense of opportunity in terms of deepening connections.
Some of the people I have been spending time with are more recent friends, neighbors and colleagues, others are old friends and former colleagues from Netscape. When I worked with these folks, I really liked them; now that we only have life in common, not work, I think I like them even more.
There are also a number of people around--especially in Oakland and Berkeley for some reason--bloggers and writers for the most part, whom I've especially eager to spend time with, and just haven't had time. One of my New Year's resolutions is to connect with those folks and find more time to spend with them.

The freedom to leave

I've been spending more time this week talking to my 17 year old son, Zack, who is on break from his senior year of high school. He got his license a week ago, and has been negotiating relentlessly for his own car (he got one; we're registering it now.)
We had a long talk yesterday--in a cafe in Cupertino, no less, about life, and he said an interesting thing.
"You see, Mom, the car is important, because what it gives me is the freedom to leave," he told me. "Often, I end up stuck someplace I don't want to be, waiting for someone else, when if I could leave, I would be able to use my time more productively."
Being able to struck me that the freedom to leave is important for more people than busy high school seniors who want a car.
Truth is, we all need to feel like we can leave--not just a friend's house, but our jobs, our friendships, our lives--
We all want the feeling that we have an alternative, a second plan, another path that provides some some resonance to our choices--and that offers an escape hatch if it feels like things aren't working out.

Monday, December 22, 2003

6.5 Earthquake

Why was my house swaying? Why am I sick to my stomach?
Earthquake, San Jose, San Fran and perhaps elsewhere.
6.5 on the richter scale, originating at san simeon, according to usgs

Pundits Corralled: What's Ahead in 2004?

Rafat Ali's kindly rounded up all the 2004 look aheads and some look backs; I'm saving this for one night when I can't sleep, then I'll see what all these pundits think. Or not.

AOL: It's going to be a weblog?

Hilarious post from Jeff Jarvis about AOL stories and statements covered by Rafat Ali and Washington Post's Howard Kurtz.
Parsons says they're not creating content, Dvorkin says they're "taking news..and angling it," Jarvis says, hey, it's a gigablog. Or should be.
Jarvis barb: " AOL still doesn't grok this weblog thing. It's a model for a new future for media. And if you really follow it, you can explode content from unlimited new sources.... even your audience, AOL."

Moment of truth: The Diet Approaches

What does it take to stop saying you're going to diet and start to really do it? Fear? Desperation? Determination? Discipline?
I'd say all of the above play a role in starting a diet, but that discipline and determination are key factors in continuing one.
And, if your goal is weight loss, managing your exercise as well as your food intake is critical.
I lost 30 lbs 3 1/2 years ago, kept it all off for 2 years, then gained it all back--18 of it in the past year or so (ugh).
2004 is when I am going to lose it again. And hopefully, keep it off this time.
Blogging this means my friends are going to bring this up when we get together, which means I am making what feels like a pretty public annoucement about a fairly private thing--my weight is one of those things, along with my salary, that I've always feel secretive about.
So, this announcement...2004 is the year of the diet and going to the gym.
This week I am going to start pulling together diet, exercise, and support group plans. Also cutting back on sweets and starches.
Jan 1...time to go for it.
By May, I want to be 20 lbs lighter; by July, 30 lbs.
And keep it off this time.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Dept of there's always another blog to read

Just found some new blogs I want to read more of:
Dual Loyalty, by Czech writer Josef Imrich
Mary Hodder's Napsterization blog--She runs the IP Blog as part of her grad work at Berkeley. and has interesting ideas about what next generation media should look like--she's putting ideas down here.
Loic LeMeur, french smart guy, blogger, businessman

Hannukah & Latkes

Latkes at a friend's house tonight with her friends and family was really fun. My first sweet potato latkes. And killer apple/cranberry cobbler.

We turned on the plastic, electrified menorah last night for the first time. Our 'real' menorah is buried with all the stuff we didn't (yet) unpack and my husband felt the need to make a statement on this block full of Christmas lights, so we have our shiny plastic menorah, with thes blue and white lights, positioned atop the TV set and positioned in the front window for maximum glow when plugged in.

Used Car Stories #2: The Vintage Mercedes Diesel

So, there was a second car for us to look at---a 984 Mercedes 300D Turbo diesel, with 300,000 miles on it. The seller was an agent for a local nonprofit that got people to donate cars for a tax break (and maybe a short cruise trip), and then sold them and used the cash. This baby belonged to a doctor's widow, supposedly, who was living a quiet live(as used car salesman say).
The car needs brake pads, alignment, new tires, but the engine, transmission, and all moving parts seem to work just fine.
We cruised up and down 680 a bit, checking out how it did at 75, pumped the (almost expired) brakes on the local roads, came back and bought it on the spot.
Tomorrow we'll get it insured and registered and then Zack can take it out on the road.
Here's a similar car, offered for sale by someone else (for more than we paid)
What a great first car! I am really excited about's got this retro embassy car feel that I like.

Diane Keaton: Something's Gotta Give

Saw the Nicholson/Keaton flick last night and laughed the whole time. Great chemistry and totally professional acting, with a terrific supporting cast including Frances Dormand and Amanda Peet.
Checking reviews this am, Carrie Richie writes: "Wholesomely sultry at 57, Keaton defies the Hollywood axiom lamented by her co-star in "The First Wives Club." Goldie Hawn observed that the screen's three ages of women were "babe, district attorney and 'Driving Miss Daisy."' For Keaton, it's babe, Baby Boom and va-va-voom. "
And she's right--Keaton more than holds her own to Nicolson, and perhaps even steals the picture(after all, she's the heroine).

Tom Ridge on US terror alert: Code Orange

Did you see this?
Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, today:
The U.S. intelligence community has received a substantial increase in the volume of threat-related intelligence reports. These credible sources suggest the possibility of attacks against the homeland, around the holiday season and beyond.

Recent reporting reiterates — and this is a constant stream of reporting — that al-Qaida continues to consider using aircraft as a weapon. And they are constantly evaluating procedures, both in the United States and elsewhere, to find gaps in our security posture that could be exploited.

Go over your family emergency plans, and if you haven't developed one by now, please do so."

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Used Car stories: The scammed Ford Bronco

So Zack got his license two days ago, and really wants a car. Say it will save him tons of time in his life (true).
So yesterday I get a call from him: He and his friend Mark(his girlfriend's dad, actually), are back from the gym and the see a Ford Bronco for sale in a parking lot--listed price $800.00. Zack loves trucks and he's completely excited. We've got another used car prospect(see next post), but this one gets him going.
So 7:30 am this morning we drive to Mark's house, five us of pile into Mark's truck, and we got to see this Bronco. I've got $800 in cash and my checkbook, just in case we want to buy it (or the other car.)
So, the car's in the lot by the Lion supermarket and the first thing I notice is its been left unlocked. Seems odd. The interior is ragged, looks 18 years old for sure. The guys pull up (young) and tell us the truck belong to their grandpa, but that they've bought a nice new truck and don't have the money to keep both, so want to sell. They say the gas pump is busted, so they'll drop the price from $800 to $500.
Mark and his dad Mickey go over the engine. They prime the fuel line with ether and get it going. The truck's a deal at $500--worth that much just for parts. I'm not crazy about buying Zack a truck, but I'm willing to go for it.
Then the deal starts to go sour.
They've got a title, but it's in someone else's name who lives in Modesto, CA. So when I ask about the seller's ID, he says "I left my wallet at home." When I say, very firmly, "I'm gonna need to see your ID and where you live to buy this truck," he agrees to have his cousin bring his wallet over, but he gets uneasy.
The cousin shows up in the shiny new truck he said he just bought, but his ID is from Arizona, has a different name than the one he's told us(and signed on the bill of sale), and it's expired. Something clicks: How can he buy a new truck with an expired drivers license?
We ask some questions, like "So what is your name anyway? You seem to have two different ones on the ID and the bill of sale."
I'm concerned about these guys melting away and us having trouble registering the truck, so I copy down the license plate number on the new truck, figuring that's a great person locator. When he cousin sees me do that, he gets real upset, and the stories start to change:
Now the truck is really from the neighbor of his grandpa, who gave it to him, but he signed the title so what's the big deal? And he doesn't really live here, he lives in AZ, and what's the big deal anyway?
We say we're totally interested in the truck, but that we'd need to run the numbers and check with the DMV on Monday before we were comfortable forking over the jack. At this point, the guy gets in my face: "Okay, the deal's off! I have another interested buyer who I am going to sell to for more money!"
The vibe now is lets get out of here fast, so we say "Hey, that's great,"pile into Mark's truck, and head off.
As we talk it over, the group agrees that the truck was probably "borrowed" from someone who might be old, in the hospital, or in jail and not in a position to report it missing, and they were definitely eager to make sure e could not find them once they had our cash.
Scammers. And we came that close.
Lesson: If it's too good to be true, watch yourself, it might be a set-up.

Hannukah: The First Night


Friday, December 19, 2003

Dept. of Trash is an Art: Joe Dolce to edit Star

I learned from Jeff Jarvis to respect the power of tabloid journalism, and then, in a later(entertainment-related)job, I got hooked. The Star, The Nat'l Enquirer, and even the slightly dubious Globe all come to my house on a regular basis. That's why I perked up this morning when I read that Joe Dolce, one of the coolest New York editors, is going to take over The Star.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Mavericks surfing begins again

More like this points to the new season at Mavericks...BIG waves near Half Moon Bay.

Birdhouse: Christmas in Suburbia

Yeah, my street looks just like this too.

Betsey Devine: Friend-centered RSS

Betsey Devine is thinking in good ways when she writes about the value of 'friend-centered" RSS. Betsey works for Feedster now, so her post is in that context,
"...Now, thanks to some very hard work by Scott Johnson, you can integrate friends-and-topics in a new way, using Feedster's new web-based aggregator. (I did some beta-testing on "myFeedster" as it was developed, and I love it.)

The myFeedster aggregator lets you add blogs and newsfeeds to your subscription list directly from the results of a Feedster search. In other words, people who care about the same topics you do can get added easily to your list of friends."

Guys, please give us an update in a few weeks about what early users are doing--it will be very interesting!

"Yeah, I read it on your blog"

I'e had a few instances in the past couple of weeks of seeing friends, and when I started to tell them about something going on, or an idea I was thinking about, they smiled and said, "Yeah, I read about that on your blog," and then proceeded to tell me what I'd said...on the blog.
In both cases, the readers were people I really like but don't see that often, and they use the blog as a way of keeping up with me.
Trouble is, it's kind of one-sided, definitely not as communicative as a conversation.
The funny thing is that there is so much that happens that I don't write about...and yet I clearly write about the same kinds of things I like to talk about, which kinda...cramps...the...conversation...

Fastbuzz: Server side news reader

It took a week for me to notice FastBuzz, a new service from Zapatec that allows members to subscribe to feeds and create queries and have them delivered via a web page or email. Like Feedster, it supports sustained search queries. This is one of an explosion of new newsreader and info products; just signed up for an account.
(Via John Robb)

The Happiness of Eleanor

When we first moved to San Jose, my son Zack's first friend was a girl in his French class who was a couple of years older. The year we lived in New Jersey, Eleanor went off to her freshman year of college in New York, so we adopted her.
We moved back to San Jose this summer, and she's in college in NY still, but she's home for six weeks and just came over to hang out with me and Zack.
This girl rocks big time! I just love her.

Eleanor's family were big-time Trekkies when she was small, and participated in all kinds of conventions. We googled a couple of old photos today, which are just classics--take a look at these shot of a costume from 1991, made by her mom and worn by her dad:

Some thoughts on (my) blogging & life

It's been almost a year since I left corporate life (January 2003), and 10 months since I started blogging (March 2003). Some observations:
1) Now that I am (mostly) not working in an office, blogging is a way to talk with and feel connected to colleagues. It's an opportunity to share ideas and be recognized for them. Unlike traditional journalism, it has a collegial give and take(check out Jarvis' comment sections for a great example of what I mean)
2) I'm a bit of a hybrid, as a blogger and a professional--on one hand, I have these deep media ties and interests that are somewhat East-coasted focused; on the other, I have a passion for, and experience with, consumer software and product development that is tied to the Valley and SF. Oh yes, and I am a total pop culture junkie, with a taste for trash.
And, finally, I'm pretty apolitical--or, at least, I don't enjoy writing about politics.
3) Blogging as a diary of ideas. For about 15 years, I kept a journal, first in paper notebooks, then in digital files on my computer. I stopped because I was too busy, and tired of all that reflection. Now, my blogging is a form of a journal, but much more about what I've seen and heard and thought about that what I've done or felt in my personal life.
4) I am still in transition. But that's okay. The turns in the road can be the most interesting.

(Inspired by Dina Mehta's post on a similar topic, thanks, D)

Businessweek: Is Google the new Microsoft?

Alex Salkever "Taken to its logical extension of providing an interface for every popular service or sector on the Web, Google becomes the omnipresent middleman and a clear and present danger to just about any company that relies on the Internet for commerce. Which, increasingly, is every company in the developed world."

Dept of All Nude Teens: Pullled Abecrombix pix

Pix of the pulled Abecrombie and Fitch catalog are here. Given we're looking at 4 topless girls and one butt-naked guy, one wonders what management told the boss about this: "Uh, it's for the kids who dig naked Britney?" Or, "It's X-tina, only preppy?"
Oh, yeah, and did I mention the boy on girl nude nudes? There probably was a point to all this, but it doesn't seem related to a clothing label.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, ain't it?

There's an intense quantity of Christmas lights on my block.
The house across the street blinks on and off every ten seconds.
Next door on the left has the trees outside hung with ornaments and lights (as well as the windows, the front door, and the porch.)
The other side has lights strung up the walkway with electric, shiny snow, and the other neighbors across the street go for the white, waterfall look.
A few doors up, there are no lights, no sparkles, no nothing--except for a wire and light-framed reindeer whose motorized head slowly turned from side to side. Walking late with the dog I thought I was tripping.

Recent reads

Frank Paynter interviews Dave Weinberger.
Fred Wilson's blog--a New York VC returns.
The Jason Calcanis Media Empire Blog Kingdom.

Ben Hammersley's sweet new blog

Ben's blog, that is, has a new look, and it is fine! Make sure you scroll to the bottom and see the "Paid Placement Advertising," a collection of the sorriest spam-type links every glimpsed on a blogger's site. Way to go, Ben.

Kanoodle snags Sprinks team, a paid search company based in upstate New York, announced today that they've snagged the former Sprinks// executive team for their very own. Lance Podell, Doug Perlson , and Mark Josephson have all joined Kanoodle and will be part of their new New York office and their exec team. Insight Venture Partners funded the round that brought these guys aboard.
Powered by Inktomi, pay-per-click search engine operator Kanoodle offers distributed search and revenue sharing opportunities to partners, and location-based buys to advertisers. The Mediapost story is titled "Kanoodle Nets Sprinks Team, Hopes To Emerge From Obscurity"--with this team in place, they can only get bigger.

Bob Pittman buys Daily Candy

The rumors are true-- Bob Pittman, former AOL COO, has bought Dany Levy's Daily Candy web site for $3.5 million to $4 million, as reported in the NY Post. According to the Post, Pittman plans to develop DailyCandy into a multimedia brand that could extend into magazines,books,TV and service guides for shopping, etc.
Given that Pittman is advising Gore on buying a cable network and creating programming for young people, it seems like the platform for a Daily Candy buildout is a sure thing.
Thew historical past--Nanomedia Weblog suggests Pittman should by Gawker as well.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Dept of Do you really live in California?

Don Park: "What is wrong with attacking competitors? The world is not an Olympic and the market is not some field-and-track sporting event where you are competing side-by-side. Get in touch with your inner feelings and kick your opponents between the leg in earnest. When they are down, kick them again so they can't get up. Nasty? I call it being sincere."

Feedster: New My product launches

Feedster's launched My Feedster, a news aggregator/indexer, Congrats, Scott & Scott! I've signed up, but haven't added enough feeds yet to get a sense of what reading posts is like in this interface, as opposed to in my news aggregator.
The interesting capability will be subscribing to a Feedster feed--based on a keyword--and then reading that in the My interface.
The guys have also provided a slicker interface and some terms for subscribing to their indexed feeds--an ego feed would be an RSS feed for "Susan Mernit" for example, while a "recipe feed" is for a specific term related to food, such as "avocado." What's interesting here is that they've offered these capabilities for months--but now they're packaged up as mini-products for users.
(BTW, they did a nice job on the online tutorial explaining what this is--guess they'd like some people not on the bleeding edge to check it out.)

Online newspapers: 2003 Digital Edge Awards

NAA's New Media Federation has announced the finalists in this year's Digital Edge Awards program. The winners will be announced on January 19 at CONNECTIONS in San Diego.

Dinner: Fool-proof favorites

Made one of my favorite dishes tonight--chickpeas with spinach and shitake mushrooms. This is one of those easy, almost fool-proof meals that is healthy, cheap, and easy to prepare. The seasonings are salt, pepper, curry and cinnamon--it's addictive, and great with rice or naan. A couple of cans of chickpeas, some dried, sliced shitakes, and a bag of cleaned spinach and you're in business.
Also made turkey noodle soup--the Thanksgiving turkey was such a hit that my husband made another one over the weekend, so I made turkey soup (again).

SOLD! New York Magazine goes to dark horse

New York Magazine has been sold to New York Media Holdings, a company formed by investment banker Bruce Wasserstein for $55 million dollars. This means David Pecker (Star, Nat'l Enquirer, etc.), CurtCo Robb Media,(the newly relaunched Worth) and a consortium headed by Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman(including NY mag columnist Michael Wolff) did not get to buy this baby.
According to a Reuters story, Wasserstein has other publishing holdings, including The Deal, a weekly newspaper and subscription-based Web site focused on mergers, private equity firms and corporate bankruptcies, and investments in Steve Brill's American Lawyer Media Group and Real Estate Media.
NY Mag is the weekly for all those NYC suburbanites whose kids listen to hip hop and wish they did, too; it is going to be fun to see what happens next.

CDC-The week's flu report

The CDC is conducting flu surveillance, and posting there data here. The numbers are spiking UP.

Ad Age: Don Logan Speaks

Ad Age has an interview with Time Warner honcho(and AOL big boss) Don Logan.
Logan talks about AOL ("We are publicly announcing AOL will deliver double-digit growth next year,") Time, Inc. (" Time Inc. has had a tough year"), his thoughts on acquisitions, magazine launches, and profitability, but it's all pretty bland...Logan is a famously close-to-the-vest player, and this chat is in that vein.

Visiting a past life

Stopped in at the San Jose Library (again) this morning, to get a copy of Pride and Prejudice for my son, who managed to misplace his school edition.
This is a mixed-use library, run jointly by the San Jose Library and the San Jose State University Library, and they manage the user flow by zoning the books--3rd floor and below is for general users, upper floors more focused on academic.
Jane Austen was in the literature section on the 7th floor, not the fiction section on 3. When I trotted up there, I discovered that this is where all the literature collections from the academic library are stored--three shelves of first editions of Swinburne, original Flannery O'Connor short story collections, and hundred of authors no one reads anymore (or has heard of, for that matter).
Making my way back to the elevator, I swung by the American poetry section and bet myself whether or not they have my first book, The Angelic Alphabet, published by Tree Press while I was still in college. To my delight and surprise, the library has two copies of it, so I stopped and leafed through the book, rereading the poems and marveling over how serious I was about poetry and literature, and how I ended up leaving it all behind, first for magazines and media, and then for working with the Web.
Obviously, I still care about books, writing, and ideas a great deal--I write about them here fairly often--but the visit to the library's 7th floor emphasized for me what I'd chosen to leave behind.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Books: The latest

Wired: A Romance, by Gary Wolf: Loved every minute of this well-written, appealing book, part memoir, part popular history.
Red Ant House, by Ann Cummins: Short fiction, left me cold.
The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd: If you like Wally Lamb, you will love this soapy novel.
California Dish, by Jeremiah Tower: Tower's memoir reads like he's the bad boy son of Keith Richards and James Beard. And the menus are brilliant!
Chez Panisse Cooking, by Paul Bertolli with Alice Waters: This 1988 cookbook is inspiring me today.

New York Times archives: Online back to 1851

The New York Times has launched an expanded archive on the web, with a searchable database of articles going back to 1851. It's $2.95 for one article, $7.95 for a four-pack.
Planning to search for a couple of features I wrote for the Times a while back, I put "Mernit" into the query box and got a list of about 80 articles which included my brother's birth announcement from the 50s, obits for Mernits I had never heard of, reports of my dad's competitive chess games, and my article.
This is an exciting new resource.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

I remember Paris

Blacklight at LiveJournaL: I went to middle school with both Paris and Nicky for about 8 years, (st paul the apostle in westwood california) and I know both of them and their families. They are nothing but spoiled obnoxious bitches who always acted like they were better than everyone and didn't need to follow any of the rules because they are rich."
(Via Gawker)

NY Post: Ben Silverman on Social Networking

New York Post: "...where Friendster really comes in handy is if you want to network your way into someone's pants."

Four days in New York: The Remix

Heading back to the West Coast after four days in New York. It was a good trip.
highlights include:
--Conversation and coffee with friends and colleagues, among them blogger/filmmaker Greg Allen, Ken Jordan, who's developing projects in support of Augmented Social Networks, and Tacoda CEO Dave Morgan, who's building a next-generation audience management tools business.
--Time with my brother and sister. One of my vows in past years has been to invest more time with my siblings and their families. The time I've invested seems to be paying off--I feel very close to both of them, love their spouses, and adore their kids. Given how much family turmoil I lived through at an earlier time, this is particularly wonderful.
--A visit to the MOMA gift shop, where I fell in love with a batch of fluorescent nylon soft bags from Japan and the world's coolest red and turquoise leather card case.
--Lunch with a former co-worker and friend who's going back to school to get a teaching degree; she's a architecture buff, and we had talking about Sunnyside Gardens and other NYC planned communities.
--Work--the past, present, and prospective clients I came in to see, as well as time with my 5ive partners.

Blogging while waiting

Another first for me: bogging in the Jet Blue waiting are at Kennedy via free, local wireless.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Dept of things that truly suck

I have poison ivy. On my neck, my chin, and my face. And it itches like hell.
I think I must have gotten this from walking the dig in the woods, the dog setting the oils on his coat, my touching the dog and then my neck.
It was one blotch on Tuesday, came into full flower as five or six blotches today.
Ugh, ugh and son of ugh.
Anyone who doesn't like me--consider this your payback and revel in my misery. Ugh.

New York: A Song inside a house of books

My brother and sister-in-law’s house is filled with books. Books are stacked in neat piles everywhere, left exposed like delicious pieces of fruit a passerby might want to stop, smell, and taste and then put down. Novels, histories, memoirs, literary studies are stacked on tables. ottomans, and the shoulders of the couch, piled high in front of the stuffed shelves of the bookcases. Each room has a bookcase, and each bookcase is as full and overstuffed as a record files in a doctor’s office, volumes bursting out of their places crammed in beside each other. Beside each pile of adult books is another, correspondingly small, stack of children’s books. Dr. Seuss, David McCauley and books about trains wait beside volumes of Lemony Snicket, Louis Sachar, and silly Judy Moody.

Everyone in this family loves books: when I come to visit, I bring books to read and the names of books my brother and his wife might like; they in turn, press books on me like sips of a delicate wine, first inquiring if I had read a particular author or book, then pulling it out from the enormous stack and delicately offering to let me read a copy while I am in town. “You can’t borrow this, I don’t let it out of the apartment,” my sister-in-law says about a Natalia Ginsburg book I say I have never read. “Hi, where is my Charles Willesford book? I have to have it back,” is my brother’s greeting when he comes home late in the evening and we are all slung out across the living room, talking about--what else?--books.

Ralph manages a therapy program, Amy is a writer and editor, but the love they have for words goes beyond their work. Like Kabbalists, for them the power of words to color reality--to literally add weight and heft to the air--is real. Feelings about book make a vivid music that plays inside their heads as they go about daily routines of feeding the kids, taking them to school, going to work, getting groceries, doing homework and getting them into bed every night,

As a booklover who lives with two people with no special passion for books, staying with my brother and his family often feels like an excursion into the (rare)hothouse of a life filled with literature, a mindset I once wanted to have before I moved on to more worldly things.

As we sit in the cushy chairs and talk in low voices, discussing books we’ve read and what we thought of them, their power to transform or amaze us, we’re singing really, singing a tune whose unspoken refrain is I love you, I miss you, even though you are 3,000 miles away but there is a strong connection between us of feeling and ideas that will not break, will not fail, so please, hold the connection, do not let go.

Every book title we exchange, every volume we pull out to discuss, is a fiber in a rope holding us together, just as it holds them safe.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

New York Rains: Quick takes on my visit

A morning of cold, steady rain in the Big Apple.
Have been having business meetings and seeing friends.
Social networking is less of a phenom to the digital folks here; one executive I met with yesterday said vehemently, describing his service, which has strong community aspects--"We're not a social network site, like Friendster or Tribe!!!"
To the big media magazine world friends I've seen blogs seem pretty off the list as well. One friend only knew what they were because of a recent NPR piece by poet Andrei Codrescu. Another said, "But how do you make money from them?"
This makes my ricochet between NYC and the Valley all the more interesting; the Bay ares is filled with folks who want to build the ultimate next generation social network and or information service. Many of the people I am seeing in New York this trip look to the web to maximize their advertiser value and move their audience base into online transactions.
More tk.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Renee's Two Bodies: Plump and Skinny

Sterolab's got great pix of Renee Zellweger as a curvacious babe in December 2003, and a fashionable stick in May of 2002. The comments on this pair are wonderful.
Short version: fashionista prefer skinny Renee, horndogs dig the curvy girl.
Anise has more great pix of Renee's two bodies here. Reality-blogging a screw

Paul Katcher's got an item about seeking bloggers to suck and tell.
Wonder if these bloggers will be as genuine as the personal ads the nerve team crafts for distribution around the web universe?

Hair Today: Now it's red

Did I mention that on Sunday I cut my hair short and colored it fire engine red?
The bottle may have said "Red Birch" but the reality is Sharon Osborne, color that does not live in nature, sharp, spikey RED.
Years ago, before I started feeling adult and responsible, I had red hair, and then after a while I got into the natural look and being low key (this can be hard, as you know if you know me).
This evolution required less unique hair, well-tailored black clothes, and the constant practice of active listening(not always successful.)
Didn't do me much good, did it?
Joking aside (if it is possible to do that when your hair edges toward whore red), my new look feels good for right now.

Jeremy.Zawodny: A smart crystal ball

Jeremy Zawodny's got a blogspace crystal ball, and he's looking at things that I'm interested in--Social Networks, Reputation, RSS--and how they fit together for users. Check it out.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Primedia: New CEO for

Primedia CEO Kelly Conlin's clearly got plans for According to a recent press release, Conlin has rreplaced former CEO and co-founder Bill Day with former IDG and DexEx exec Peter Horan.

Says Conlin:""As one of the founders of, Bill Day has played an important role in the growth of its business. We want to thank him for his efforts to integrate within PRIMEDIA and wish him well in the future."

What are the new plans?
Read the tea leaves in Horan's press-release quote:
"This is an exciting opportunity to develop more and better opportunities for that will advance PRIMEDIA's overall strategy for delivering
highly relevant content to focused audiences. The recent partnership formed with Google will accelerate the opportunity to be market
leaders, demonstrating online media's unique value to both users and marketers. We want to be the trusted source for the information
people need to make decisions that influence their quality of life -- such as family, home, education and health -- and our unique editorial guides system allows us to fulfill that mission by tapping the best experts for each topic across the network."

Given the size of their network,and traffic, there's some major opportunity there.

Dept of How Things Change: Wireless in Riverdale

I was in this very room with my computer on this very table, in October, and there were no available WiFi connections for me to link into to get to the web. An entire apartment building full of city people, and not one wireless network to be seen.
What a difference six weeks makes!
I am on the Net via WiFi right now thanks to someone's connection in this building no fuss, no muss and thank you very much.

AOL's Big West Coast Layoff--450 jobs cut

A friend of mine who was still at AOL (until today), called last night to say he's gotten one of those you have to show up in a conference room at 10 or else emails. We dissected the message text and decided he was probably going to lose his job.
He had no idea until he got the bad news this am that AOL was actually cutting 450 jobs--about half of their West Coast workforce.
Articles in Infoworld, , Mercury News, USA Today and much of the tech trade press reference AOL's need to cut costs, consolidation, etc.
I've heard stories over the year about AOL being determined to reduce costs in the Valley, where they see salaries as high, and know of many programmers and engineers who've relocated to Dulles to keep their jobs.
When you think that there were 2,500 + people on the Netscape campus in December 1999, when it was wholly owned by AOL, and now there will about about 300 people, total, it's sobering.

Monday, December 08, 2003

In the air tomorrow

Light or no blogging. Flying to New York for some of that Big Apple sass.


Anyone heard of this one? Eurekster?
Jeff Jarvis says:
: Esther Dyson mentioned the latest thing in search: social search. Eurekster looks at what your friends search for.
: I am dying for the passive friends network (and Technorati is a credible start): To whom do I link? What are their connections? What are my connections? The problem is separating positive links from negative, perhaps even grading the quality of links. I don't want to spam my friends to enter networks. I'm already in networks; I want systems that measure and map that."

More on eurekster from Roland Tangalo and Ben Hammersley. Also Biz Stone,, waxy and anil

I got in, looked around a bit, and invited some friends to join so I could see how it works. However, like Real Contacts, there is the question--why do you need this site to see what your friends are posting or looking at?

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Boston Globe/Star Ledge: Two takes on social networking

Fun--two articles running in local papers today with fairly different takes on the value--and potential--of social networking-- Networkers Make Friends at First Site by Allan Hoffman in the (Newark) Star-Ledger, and Six Degrees Co. by Chris Gaither in The Boston Globe.
Gaither wonders if there is a business model for the booming social networking sites (don't we all), but presents users who get their value, like "Liz Garcia" a screenwriter who uses Friendster to connect with old friends and make new contacts with friends of friends. Gaither's take is essentially positive, with some smart analysis of enthusiasm vs. revenue potential. There's one great bit about from David Flaschen, a managing director in the Cambridge office of Flagship Ventures, a bicoastal venture capital firm, who says that "... he has been closely watching 15 business-oriented social networking sites with thoughts of investing. West Coast venture capitalists have been much quicker than Boston-area firms to fund consumer-focused sites like Friendster, he said, because the California firms are all afraid of missing out on the successor to the last great consumer Web phenomenon: Google Inc., the search engine company that turned its rapid user growth into hefty profits. They don't worry about profits "when they see subscription rates go from zero to a few million in a few months."
Great point!
In his article, Hoffman, on the other hand, does that skeptical journalist, --would normal people really want to use this--? thing.
"I know Paul, who knows Rachel, who knows Lily, who knows Ted. But do I want to know Ted, and does Ted want to know me?" is the lead for his piece. He goes on at length about how this is the latest "craze," both among VCs (true) and digerati(also true).
Hoffman's piece is a good read because Hoffman, a long-time writer about the Internet and a smart guy (okay, he used to work for me back in the day at NJO), is probably very reflective of the wired folk out there who are a bit startled by this whole social network thing.
An interesting question for all the new networking sites is how do you reach an Allan Hoffman?
And, perhaps just as important, do you need members like him to make your businesses a success, or are there enough college kids, job seekers, free agents, and digerati to keep the new networks booming?

Winston and Panther: Dog and Cat stories

We have a 7 year old black cat named Panther, and a 5 year old American Bulldog named Winston. Lately, I've been observing their interaction.
Panther and Winston are friends. They sleep on the bed and/or the sofa together, accompany each other on (short) walks, and conspire to get more food out of their owners(us). If the cat permits it, the dog will lick him.
Although the dog is way bigger, the power dynamic seems to be that the cat, who we got first, is the more dominant or senior of the two.
If the dog is on the bed with us, or on sitting beside our chairs, the cat has no hesitation about jumping up to claim our attention and/or a place to curl up.
However, if the cat is on the bed, or beside us on a table, the dog knows not to jump up and get in the way--he seems pretty clear that the cat wouldn't like that.
When we walk the dog, Panther likes to accompany us down the block and round the corner. When we come back, he comes and escorts us home. One of his favorite things is to drink out of the dog's water bowl, which he does with this covert glance to see if the dog is watching (the dog is always oblivious.)
Winston, on the other hand, likes to grab left-over plates of Panther's wet cat food, which he carries into the dining room and scarfs down (we put a stop to this once we figured it out--now we remove the plate after the cat has the wet food.)
I also notice that the two animals will invariably come into whatever room we are in and perch as close to us as possible; the dog and the cat both like to snooze in my office at home, the dog as close to my feet as he can get, and the cat on a pile of old presos on the corner of the big desk. If we are not home, they will hang out in seperate parts of the house, however, until we come home, at which point they converge--on us.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

Eliyon Networks: Hoovers for Individuals?

Found an interesting search tool called Eliyon Networking that allows you to see lists of people who have worked at a particular company. Apparently, it scraps the web for data, analyzes and weights in and generates a results page on the fly. For a free, you can search for people currently at a company.
I tried some searches and thought the idea was neat, though the execution is very flawed. Specifically, the site didn't permit searching on anything but one keyword, which meant results were jumbled without apparent order and organization across many pages.
Also, thee are some wildly weird and innacurate scrapings-for example, a search for Yahoo turned up Chelsea Clinton as one of the past employees, is labelled as "Basketball Player, Secretary of Health and Human Services" based on two articles they scraped.


Spent a chunk of today doing research online for two projects.
Used some sites I haven't worked with before with some good results:
1) Looksmart's new articles function--this search site has a find articles focus that turned up data I couldn't get via Google (probably buried in the results).
2) PR Newswire for Journalists--permits searching by keyword and date range; supports full-text searches
I also spent time at the usual: eMarketer, Mediapost, MarketingWonk. And CNET and, of course.
Found a ton of information and ended up cutting and paste too much of it to save it. Made me wish this blog had categorization, so I could put the links in there--made me think I will probably start a research blog and use that as my personal filing cabinet for data for a while.

Sandhill Trek: People Frank Paynter has pissed off

Ever read one of those gee I wish I had the guts to write this posts?
The gleeful transparency of Frank Paynter's blog is something I always enjoy, and he's delivered a tasty new twist on his openness with this list--not of people he's pissed off at--but at people he thinks are pissed off at him.
Frank says: "...I a consummate suck-up and people pleaser so I think about it a lot"... and goes on to list people he thinks he's seriously irritated.
If you're a blogger, you'll enjoy his list and reasons.
If you're just a regular reader, you'll relate to that "Oops, maybe I screwed up" uncomfortable feeling he describes so well.
Good post, Frank!

Rest in Peace, Frank Burns, Social Network pioneer

Just learned from Joi Ito's blog that Frank Burns, founder of the MetaNetwork, passed away yesterday. Frank and his business partner, Lisa Kimball, ran what was for me the East Coast equivalent of the Well, back in the early 90s.

I learned how to use Pine, Participate, and Caucus on their system, and also learned early about the power of online communities through the groups they fostered, particularly in education and organizational development.

Frank's network--and what I learned from the people on it--was a life-changing experience for me, one that pushed me onto the Net before there were WWW browsers, online editors, or any sort of real business or established behaviors in the wired consumer space.

I logged onto Meta probably 5-6 times a day, writing and reading scores of messages--it was my first intense social network, and one that set the model for many others--including those I created for Scholastic and New Jersey Online.

I remember arguing with Frank about First Class software when I started developing in HTML, and his avid interest in upgrading Caucus to have a more visual interface.
He was a wonderful human being, and one who taught me much.
Thank you Frank, and farewell.

Saturday listening

JET: Are you gonna be my girl?
The Dixie Hummingbirds, Diamond Jubilation: God's radar is fixed on you.
Blackalicious, Gift of Gab: Fourth Dimensional Rocket Going Up, The Writz

Cut on the Bias: Blogging NY snow

Susanna Cornett has great pix of the latest NYC snowstorm--including this pix of nearby Jersey City/Newark.
Brrr. I am going to free my $@#^# off when I go to NY this coming week.

John Battelle visits Brewster Kahle

Battele's quick take on the activities of one of my heroes. Brewster has done so much in the past 10 years--I admire him completely for living a life filled with good action based on strong values. Battelle's got a good round up of his projects, including send a wired bookmobile to visit the bush and print books for African children.

Flu Shot Friday

Went to the local pharmacy this morning and got a flu shot. The pharmacist said, "Lucky you're coming in today, instead of Monday."
"Why?" asked I.
"Only have about 20 shots left, " he replied. " Last year folks asked me to save them a shot, but this year, it's first come, first served, and the drug company (Adventis) is all out."

Friday, December 05, 2003

Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow by Robert Duncan

as if it were a scene made-up by the mind,
that is not mine, but is a made place,

that is mine, it is so near to the heart,
an eternal pasture folded in all thought
so that there is a hall therein

that is a made place, created by light
wherefrom the shadows that are forms fall.

Wherefrom fall all architectures I am
I say are likenesses of the First Beloved
whose flowers are flames lit to the Lady.

She it is Queen Under The Hill
whose hosts are a disturbance of words within words
that is a field folded.

It is only a dream of the grass blowing
east against the source of the sun
in an hour before the sun's going down

whose secret we see in a children's game
of ring a round of roses told.

Often I am permitted to return to a meadow
as if it were a given property of the mind
that certain bounds hold against chaos,

that is a place of first permission,
everlasting omen of what is.

by Robert Duncan, from The Opening of the Field. Copyright © 1960 by Robert Duncan.

Paris Review: Gerard Malanga photos

The current issue of the Paris Review has a slide show of photos by Gerard Malanga and a piece about him. When I was 12 going on 20 and living in the burbs of New York, I discovered poets Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Alan Ginsberg and Gerard Malanga(!) and started travelling into NYC to the Gotham Book Mart to get their books.
A couple of years later, I attended my first reading at the Saint Marks Poetry Project and was floored to realize that the handsome, Jim-Morrison pretty man in the second row, wearing a deep blue velvet suit, was Malanga. He may have been my first literary crush.
The photos in this slide show collection are all literary; Malanga took lots of other cool photos, like the Patti Smith/Robert Maplethorpe one, below, and is still shooting away.

Kind of a large photo, ain't it?

21 Grams: What is the weight of forgiveness?

Just saw 21 Grams. Went with two friends. The movie ran 2 hours, plus.
When it was over, the friend on my left said "That was two hours wasted." The friend on my right said, "Wow, what an amazing spiritual movie."
We all agreed that the acting was extraordinary: Benicio del Toro, Naomi Watts, Sean Penn and the previously unknown to me Melissa Leo.
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, the director, made an earlier film, Amores perros(Love's a Bitch) that I thought was great. This film had some wonderful moments, and was beautifully shot on what looked like digital video, but there were some major character inconsistencies and plot bloopers that suspended disbelief. For example, Sean Penn plays a math professor, but he never works, and his affect is way closer to tough guy than academic. As his English wife, Charlotte Gainsborough is beautiful, but her motivations seem hard to understand. Only Benecio del Toro and Melissa Leo(playing his wife) pull off completely coherent characters.
The last word: Definitely worth seeing, amazing performances, but the script writer should have made it hang together a little better.

NYC Snapple sponsorship reveals sticky spots

Remember that deal where a former sports markerter arranged for NYC to get Snapple as the exclusive drink of the NYC Dept of Education and bagged $40MM in revenue for the citiy from the agreement?
Well, a Daily News story today outlines a couple of sticky spots--notably that $10MM--that's 25%--of the deal value-- is going to a marketing company called Octagon for arranging the deal in the first place.
According to the story, Octagon stands to get $540,000 a year for its 18% take of sponsorship payments and upwards of $1.6 million a year for its 15% cut of sales of Snapple by the case.
For for the $126 million part of the Snapple deal that covers non-school city properties, Octagon will get an estimated $6 million over five years.
According to the News, Snapple rivals testified that Octagon botched the bidding and said the standard commission paid to brokers is about 3%.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Tim Porter: Newspapers as a culture of conservatism

As an industry, are newspapers and their online sites keeping up?

Tim Porter thinks not. He writes: Sometimes I feel as if I am pounding out the same message over and over to the point of harping: Newspapers have a destructive, risk-adverse culture that stifles change and initiative. Fix the culture and the rest will follow., He goes on to write about new research into newspaper culture done at The Readership Institute, and a Poynter essay by Skip Foster on newsroom culture.

At dinner one night this week Mary Hodder told me about a newspaper editor she met who seemed to think that sending reporters out on the street to do man on the street interviews was the same thing as having online interactivity, aka blogs, community publishing, forums, and track back. The man had no clue that finding appropriate ways to empower your audience might be an option

My own feeling is that newspapers--and the online sites they maintain--have unique relationships with local readers that they, in essence, don't mine and develop in ways they should, much to their detriment. Although local content is the hardest thing to commoditize, newspapers are loath to exercise any community publishing, blogging, next generation message board groups that could help them solidify their unique position...and find some new ways to make money, as well.

Tim Porter, you're calling it right.

THE LIST: Recent reading

La Tour Dreams of the Wolf Girl, by David Huddle: If you liked Girl with a Pearl Earring, you will love this book. If you loved The Story of a Million Years, an earlier--and amazing--Huddle novel, this one may be a little disappointing, but it is still work a shot for the elegant writing.
Let us Eat Cake: Adventures in Food and Friendship, by Sharon Boorstin: LA restaurant critic with famous friends writes memoir, recipes included.
Outlaw Cook, by John Thorne: This book is so 1992--one one hand I hated its pedantic, self-righteous style, on the other, I agreed with lots of his ideas and made one of the dishes as I read the book.
Marketing to the Mindset of Boomers and Their Elders, by Carol M/ Morgan and Doran J., Levy: This is a GREAT marketing book, with sharp observations, all based on research, on new psychographic slices on 40 and older folk.
Business at the Speed of Stupid: How to Avoid Technology disasters in Business, by Dan Burke and Alan Morrison: Clever case studies made me choose it this one--if you've done development in the Valley, you'll recognize the problematic situations analyzed in several of the chapters.

Another amazing SF photo from Marc North

More than 1,000 photos on Marc's site, all live and uncropped from the streets of San Fran:

This one blows me away.

The Cannibal Community, or Eating People is Bad for You

Andrew Baio at did some digging into the sites where German computer technician--and murdering cannibal--Armin Meiwes posted his notices for victims. While those sites are shut down, Baio found a community of cannibalism festishists.
He says, " If you look around, you'll find an active community of cannibal fetishists, with their own forms of fan fiction, creative writing, poetry, and the occasional "stab" at humor."
Get the details here., and read a story on Meiwes' contention, "There are thousands of us."
Meiwes also said, "I am writing my memoirs in prison as a warning to other people."

MediaSavvy: Barry Parr's Predictions

December is both a look back and a look ahead-- a couple that struck me from Barry Parr:

"Demand from high-volume bloggers will lead to the development of simpler, standards-based open-source content management software. This will increase pressure on existing CMS vendors and integrator to justify their cost and complexity. Most will not survive this challenge.

"Internet advertising will be white-hot, but most of the revenues will go to a handful of sites. This will give Time Warner the opportunity to spin off AOL. They should seize it.

"RSS will be used to syndicate new kinds of information and RSS readers will begin to appear in mobile devices."

I don't agree with all Barry's predictions--and don't share his knowledge or experience around IT--but there are some cool observations here.

How do you use Google News alerts?

Lakeland, Florida Ledger Online news editor Barry Friedman posted a note on the online news list this am, talking about how he used Google News as a tipsheet for local Lakeland-Florida area stories.
This caught my interest, because I do the same thing (not for Florida, obviously).
So I wrote back to him, asking for more details on the kinds of queries he set up.
Barry's searches are geographic queries such as winter haven florida , lakeland, florida, etc. and set with dashes--around the ledger--to rule out results from his own paper.
Mine are celebrity and business keywords-- Britney Spears (okay, you know I love pop culture and trash!) AOL, Yahoo, Friendster, Netscape(the most depressing), web log, blog, online advertising, and so on.
How about other people?
What queries are you using Google alerts to check--and why?

Neilsen-NetRatings: The Friendster Addiction

Some new stats are suggesting that Friendster's amazing rate of member growth (74% from June-October) and intense buzz is matched by members' strong interest and involvement with the service. According to a recent Neilsen release, Friendster members spent an average one hour and 51 minutes on the site in October 2003, compared to 35 minutes at Yahoo! Personals and 55 minutes at While the volume of traffic and number of unique users at Friendster is, of course, smaller, Friendster offers other relationships besides dating and is much more of a community site.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Doc Searls: How Radio Can UnSuck Itself

Doc's got a post that not only talks about a vision of live, streaming syndicated radio on the net--it gives a great rundown of all the good stations between SF and LA. One of the things I love about Californa is the wide variety of radio stations; Doc's list is going in my glove compartment.

The safest US Cities: San Jose named #1

So a just released research study ranks San Jose as the safest city in America (despite three kilings in three days), and names Detroit as the most unsafe. The other top four safe cities were El Paso, Texas; Honolulu, Hawaii; Austin, Texas; and San Diego, California. The five most dangerous cities were Detroit, followed by Washington, DC; Baltimore, Maryland; Memphis, Tennessee; and Dallas, Texas.

It's tempting to think about what woud be the most boring cities?

For most boring, Indianapolis, Indiana would be high my my personal list, along with Columbus.
Most interesting? New York, Chicago, San Francisco.

Heading to New York Next Week

Back to the Big Apple from Wednesday on next week. If you're interesting in getting together, or there are some interesting events going on, let me know.

Dept of Fine Dining: Spencer style

As much as my cooking style is about fresh ingredients quickly blended together, my husband Spencer's favorite dishes are slow-cooked, comfort foods. Lasagna (also called shovelware in our house), meatloaf, chili are his dine at home faves, along with home-made Mexican-style fish sandwiches.

Spencer also loves what I call instant treats--fast, easy to make snacks--always with strong flavors.
Some of his favorites (Guarantee: I've sampled them all within the past 60 days)
Classico Sun-dried pesto tomato sauce spread on matzoh--we dubbed this Jewschetta.
Baco-bits club sandwich: Toasted whole wheat bread with fresh sliced tomatoes, lettuce, mayo and veggie baco bits. (That nice shake of the the fake tastes great.)
Corn tortillas-- filled with cheese and browned.

Spencer used to also eat popcorn sprinkled with Butter Buds, mayonnaise sandwiches on white bread, and canned franks and beans.
He's not into these things anymore; now he snacks on veggie burritos, soy corn dogs, and crackers with mustard and cheese.

Note: In exchange for my writing about Spencer's food faves, I had to agreed to confess that my "style of eating grapes is so wierd it could be a National Gegraphic special," and to tell you all that I made him lunch to bring to work every day for almost a year, but that I took a neat little bite out of the sandwich every morning. There, now you know.

Microsoft's The Spoke uses RSS 2.0 specification & more

Just read an article about The, the new community Microsoft has just launched for young developers. In the process of setting up an account and checking it out, I noticed something very interesting--the RSS feeds they create use the specs for RSS 2.0 posted at The Berkman School of Law at Harvard, ie Dave Winer specs. That seems cool.

Re, some comments:
Bob Scoble, who works for Microsoft, says: " I hadn't even heard about this. Looks interesting! "
Blog Herald says: "Our source tells us that there is much, much more in the pipeline however, and that Microsoft may launch multiple blog sites aimed at various communities, just as thespoke is aimed at programmers, each one aimed at taking on the competition through shear weight of numbers."
Microsoft Watch says: Microsoft Research is developing social-networking software code-named "Wallop," the first fruits of which could show up in 2006 when the "Longhorn" version of Windows goes live. Wallop is designed to use blogs, wikkis, instant-messaging and e-mail to connect individuals in peer groups. Microsoft officials have said to expect an RSS aggregator to be part of the Longhorn user interface."

I'm eager to see what users of Tribe and social software networks think of this product--it is definitely an effort to put Live Journal on steroids and bring in more aspects of both the sociable and semantic web. HOwever, it is still kinda...kludgy..

Grisly German cannibal story: Not for the squeamish

A grisly story about a German computer technician who advertised on the net for people willing to be killed and eaten, interviewed more than 3 candidates, and the selected, killed, and ate his chosen victim--filming it all on a hidden video camera.
The quotes in the stories are priceless--this guy is a major sicko.
Cable movie sure to follow.

Ad Age: Article on Tacoda and Dave Morgan

Dave Morgan's been working in the online ad space for over ten years, first as one of the founders of RealMedia, and then as the founder and CEO of Tacoda, and now there's an article in Ad Age, by Hoag Levins, about him and his company. Levins writes:
"Tacoda Systems has created the digital machinery that enables large-scale print media companies to use their Web sites as enclosed database marketing systems that instantly recognize and directly interact with specific individuals. ,,,Since launching two and a half years ago, Tacoda has focused on that exact goal -- of creating standardized database marketing or audience management systems that can be used by newspaper and magazine company Web sites across the country. And it appears to have found a fertile niche for its systems, which range in price from $350,000 to $700,000, not including annual maintenance and support fees that can run from $50,000 to $80,000 a year. "

I learned about Tacoda when I did a piece for the Digital Edge on political advertising a couple of months ago, and heard from publishers how their tools played a key role in 2004 ad strategies.

As someone who is convinced that the next big thing is contextualized and personalized paid search ads, systems like Tacoda's, which offer opt-in relationships and expert data mining on a site specific basis, really interest me. Geotargeted, personalized, behaviorally-driven--the technologies exist to make ads ever more targeted, and, hopefully, relevant.

More about and by Dave here and here and here.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Dumenco: Michael Jackson’s face is celebrity culture’s death mask.

Simon Dumenco in New York Magazine: The corroded 45-year-old man we see today is arguably just a logical outcome, an extreme outcome, of an off-the-charts case of celebrity-entitlement psychosis."

Monday, December 01, 2003

Knight-Ridder Digital: Interview with Hilary Schneider

E&P Q&A with Hilary Schneider, going into her second year as head of Knight-Ridder Digital. Former CEO of Times Mirror Interactive, Schneider also served as CEO of Red Herring Communications Inc.,, then joined Knight-Ridder Digital, now America's third largest online newspaper group.
Schneider on blogs: "As newspaper companies, we have to ask ourselves: what does it mean to allow a reporter to publish under the media brand directly to the Web -- without any editing? This is different than traditional editorial workflow, which has multiple levels of editorial checks and balances. To provide transparency to users, blogs should be clearly labeled: what is edited by us, what is written by us but published in real-time, and what is self-published by other users. The business model to sustain this kind of publishing is still to be determined, but to reference, we think user-generated content, powered by social networking, has potential to drive traffic, revenue, and listings in our local markets."

The interesting thing for KRD and other newspaper sites is how to use blogs to create next-generation business models--driving both frequency of use/retention by their audience--through the development of rich content in specific behavorial and interest niches.
Is anyone interested in figuring it out? Those who do, will profit.

Kevin Kelly piece in Wired

Wired does a piece on the wonderful Kevin Kelly, whose Cool Tools site and email is amazingly addictive.
Kelly has been one of my heroes since he edited Whole Earth Review, and he's just an amazing, interesting person who translates his own interests in terrific articles and projects. The Wired article is a Q&A-here's an excerpt:

WN: So you see the Net as the natural medium for Whole Earth-type publications?

KK: Yeah, it is. I think part of the charm -- and maybe the website version as well -- is the surreptitious, associative connections you can make with having four different kinds of tools next to each other. It's having a sense of possibility. In the morning, you're not thinking at all about oil filters ... or fast-drying underpants or glue guns. (Then my e-mail comes) along and it's suggesting a world bigger than sitting in front of a computer and maybe even in their adjacent proximity, it might suggest something in between the two. And that was one of the joys that the huge tabloid-sized pages of the Whole Earth Catalog did. It's hard to capture on a little piece of paper, but somehow it is captured in an e-mail.

MIT students analyze Friendster

How to improve Friendster,Phillip Greenspun posts ideas from a class at MIT he's teaching:
Sample comment:
"When I search my personal network I can only search by first name. There
are no advanced fields to cut down the search, even if after my initial
search I am returned thousands of results. Also, the results are not
Suggested solution: "Allow for advanced search. Odds are I don't want
to search my personal network for someone with a specific first name, I
probably want to know if there is someone connected to me who has the
same interests as me...."
(Via Phillip Greenspun)

NY Times covers Six Degrees patent

NY Times story this am recapping the Six degrees patent acquisition by Reid Hoffman and Mark Pincus.

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