Saturday, January 31, 2004

Blogger/Media dinner-February 18th--Cafe Bastille 7 PM--Note changed date!!

Deeje Cooley, JD Lasica, myself and some others are pulling together a bloggers/media folks dinner for Wednesday, February 18th at the Cafe Bastille in San Francisco. Enoch Choi has already let us know he's planning to come, and we'll start telling more people, but this is the invite--if you're reading this and you're interested in attending, please post a comment to that effect or send an email (see address at top of page).
We'll let people know who's planning to attend as the time gets closer---just a chance to hang out and talk...
Note: We changed the date by a week so the eTech folks could come. Hope everyone else can still make it!
Directions to the cafe are here, btw. And here's the menu.

What a week--and soon back to NY

It's been a very hectic week--some ongoing projects, and preparing proposals for some possible projects. Plus pulling off Zack's surprise party and getting ready to go back to NY(again) this week for a few days. I have been the opposite of calm...always feeling pulled by everything there is to get done.
On the plus side, some great projects potentially coming together, and the chance to deliver solid and useful work on the current projects.
More time out talking with people--I really need that stimulation.
Also, I am getting involved with a very interesting conference--once I get clearance from the organizers, I'll talk more about it.
And so on..The life of a this-and-that'er, which is another way to think about doing consulting, is full of juggling actual projects and possibilities.

On the down side, I'm not thrilled about having two trips to NY so close together, and the 'terrorists want to use a plane as a weapon' news scares me. Still, I', going, and will use the time to see my partners, some friends and clients, and hang with family. Plus, a great friend of mine(way cooler than me) from the West Coast will be in the city all week, so it's my fantasy that we will go out and have fun together--one of the best times of my life was going with him to The Top one weekend--inside me is a person who loves to stay out till 3 am; I'm just usually not in touch with her!

YASN: Will Google launch Orkut mail?

What if Orkut became the email engine Google was thinking about building? "Friendster for grownups" as David Ross dubbed it this am, seems to be having very viral growth, with hundreds of thousands of folks piling on in the first 2 weeks. So why not Orkut mail? And perhaps Orkut RSS reader pages as well?
What an amazing way for Google to enter whole new sectors of the market--and have great spaces for their personal data-mining search tools--as well.
If Google pulls off entry into the consumer market in a whole new way via Orkut, it may also prove that hiring brilliant engineers pays off as a product development strategy--who needs those editorial and marketing folk when you have Orkut B.?

Extra: Cory D on YASN, wise doubts about orkut from Roland Tanglao,, Headshift, and comments on the sheer fatigue and overwhelmingness of it all from Judith Meskill, via McGee., inspired by a Leander Kahney Wired story on backlash.

Amazing moments in the blogosphere

What looks like a new blog--and blogger?--Patricia Just Mind Musing. First entry says: Thank you to Susan Mernit for your inspiration without the realization of our being present, watching and understanding in more ways than most will ever be able to comprehend.
Wow. I am speechless. Thank YOU for whatever good thing it was I was able to do, Patricia...thank you.

My secret life: Hanging with the harmonica cats

The fact my husband's a musician means we spend a lot of time--and I mean a lot--going to blues clubs to hear friends play--or to wait for a chance for Spencer to sit in. I get spouse brownie points for these expeditions, kinda like guys going shopping for clothes with their wives, so I try to go whenever I can.
Tonight we went up to Redwood City for a "Harmonica Blues Summit" featuring Gary Smith, RJ Micho, Andy Santana and Red Archibald. Johnny Cat and Mike Phillips, guitar and bass, backed everyone up.
It was a blast! All these guys are really solid players and the crowd loved it.
(Of course, I always get off on what everyone looks like--software engineers out on a binge, guys wearing Hawaiian shirts as a daring fashion statement, and aging Pink Ladies and's not a music for the under 30-crowd, for the most part, it seems.)

Friday, January 30, 2004

Now it can be told: 18th birthday surprise party

Zack turned 18 today. We decided to throw him a surprise party--and make sure he didn't find out. It worked! We have 25 kids at the house right now--the veggie chicken and the salad is gone, there are 10 kids free-styling in Z's bedroom, and another 10 chillin' on the porch, and 7 or so standing round the dining room table chowing down.
And did I mention Zack was totally surprised? As in he really believed we were only going out to dinner...

We had a complete meal, but here's what they actually ate:
Chicken fingers
Veggie chicken sesame stay
Veggie spring rolls
Veggie egg rolls
Crudites (!)
Birthday cake and ice cream
cashew nuts
M&Ms, almond and crispy

Seriously leftover:
Spinach broccoli dip (we tossed that mayonnaise-fest)
Cold sesame noodles
Home made guacamole
Veggie curry chicken (some instinct must have made EVERYONE avoid this...)

What they listened to: Mike Ness, Sublime, Atmosphere, Common, and some emo stuff I tried to avoid. B
Best music: Hugh flowing to the beat, freestylin.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Did the teachings of Kabbalh influence Britney's quickie marriage?

Yada Yada blog at Jewsweek asks "Did the teachings of Kabbalh influence Britney's quickie marriage? And if so, where can we sign up?"
Looks like fun, but guys, why don't you have an RSS feed?

Spalding Gray story

Cover story in NY magazine on missing writer and performer Spalding Gray, tracing his history, family, and relationships. The piece is a mix of intimate and touching, and earnestly plodding---where he grew up, went to school, etc.--but it ends with an eerie kicker--the writer implies that his wife, Katherine Russo, believes that Gray killed himself after seeing Tim Burton's "Big Fish."

The Gray piece ends:
"...Throughout most of Tim Burton's film, the character of the son is trying to cut through the haze of his father's tall tales, dissecting the brilliant myths his father has spun to find the real man within. In the end, however, the son is won over by his fatherÂ’s imagination. As the old man lies dying in the hospital, he challenges the son to summon his own fantasy of his father's death, one in which the ailing man strolls down to a riverbank in his native Alabama and, before a gathering of a lifetime of friends, throws himself into the roiling water. Miraculously, the dying man then morphs into a giant fish and swims away and out of sight.

"Some friends said I shouldn't see it, but I had to, I went last night,"says Russo. Holding back the tears again, she adds softly, "You know, Spalding cried after he saw that movie. I just think it gave him permission. I think it gave him permission to die."

AOL: Bottomed out again?

From the Washington Post: "We project [America Online] has bottomed out," says Richard Parsons, chief of AOL parent Time Warner. "We will have to prove we have a sustainable model for growth of the business.

Given that AOL has been telling staffers "this is the bottom" since at least Summer 2002, one wonders when the TW unit will get tired of owning the biggest and the--hardest to fix?--dial-up service. Knowing the NY and Dulles guys, one hope may be to sell enough ads on MovieFone, Mapquest, and other hitherto secondary properties to offset the AOL service problems. And then make AOL Latino really work(seems like a great oppty there).

A nice joint venture with a big telco, retailer, or tech company wouldn't hurt either--Oh yeah, they tried all of those and none of them helped...Well, maybe it's time to bring back those adult chat rooms with a private label service.

More from the NY Daily News: "The online giant kept bleeding, losing 400,000 more subscribers. And AOL spooked investors by reporting that among its 24.3 million members, 431,000 aren't paying."

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

You know you're in Silicon Valley when...

You know you are in the Valley when:

There's a trail of orange peels on every street from people picking and eating oranges from the trees in the front yards as they walk along.

Many of your neighbors bought their houses with stock options before the bubble burst.

The health of the local economy is measured by the traffic slow-downs around Palo Alto.

Belonging to a Ultima Online or Dungeons & Dragons type gaming group is as acceptable as joining a book club.

People actually browse the Linux books in Borders.

At an after-work meeting at the local high school, 2/3 of the parents show up in jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers. Many of their teens are wearing sandals--in January.

Every single house has a cat, a dog, and six different kinds of recycling.

Obsessive-Compulsive over Orkut

Orkut, the new social networking built by a Google engineer, went back online today, so I went back onto Orkut. Within minutes, I found myself almost feverishly searching for friends to add who were already there. I took the list from my Ryze page and started looking for all the people I actually talk to or share strong interests with in the 'real' world. After a bit of that, I did something I literally have never done before--started inviting people from my address book.
Orkut has so many neat little features that make it fun to use.
I particularly like the ability to see a friend's network as a set of stacked names and photos;the playful colors and expressive icons, the I am a fan capabiity (this is a great way to give whuffies to pals), and the neat, orderly list of friends, with their email right at hand. I can tell there are a lot of other neat features in which I have not (yet) invested any time.
The challenge is going to be learning it well enough to meet new people--on Ryze, I actually meet people through the site, which hasn't happened with Tribe and LinkedIn. That ability to discover people is part of what I like best about Ryze, so Orkut will need something equivalent to keep me enthralled.

Dept. Of it sure could get worse: AOL losses continue, profits go up

A Yahoo news wire story reports that AOL's earnings call revealed that it's lost another 399,000 subscribers on dial-up and that revenue declined 7%, but it still had an operating profit of $109 million, up from a loss of $ billion a year ago and expects ad sales to (finally) go up.
I'm tempted to ask how much of that operating profit had to do with the third year in a row of layoffs. Cutting the ad sales group(reportedly down to 80 on the national sales team) and the Mountain View campus (350), plus other unannounced cuts in the Studio and elsewhere had to help drive costs down. It's to AOL's credit that the AOL 9.0 client has so many cool things about it given the reductions in force, but one wonders if, internally, staffers feel like they've cut muscle and bone--or if the place was so bloated for so long, many of the cuts didn't hurt remaining staffers that much.

What to expect from a VC: Kawasaki interview

Forbes asked Guy Kawasaki what one might expect from a VC investor. Kawasaki offers down to earth advice in line with what I hear from my start-up friends.
Some highights:
"As long as things are going well, a venture capitalist will leave you alone. Understand a venture capitalist's life: He's on as many as ten boards that meet at least quarterly and sometimes once a month; he has to raise money to invest and keep about 25 investors informed and happy; he's looking at several deals a day; he's dealing with five other partners. He doesn't have the time to micromanage you--and if he thought he'd have to, he probably wouldn't have invested in you. "
"Whatever the first offer, ask for a 25% higher valuation because you're expected to push back. In fact, if you don't push back, you may scare the venture capitalist if he thinks you're not a good negotiator. It would be nice to have some arguments to show why you believe your valuation should be higher--saying that this book told you to push back isn't sufficient.

At the end of the day, though, if the valuation is reasonable, take the money and get going. You'll see that you either make more money than you ever thought possible or your organization will die."

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Why Orkut rose so fast

Stuart Henshall's got a good point: "Orkut bridges the gap between Ryze (too open) and Linkedin (too closed) without the "everything is for sale" on Tribe."

Topix: "We now have the largest number of RSS feeds on the Net"

Rich Skrenta says that Topix has added RSS feeds to all their structured data searches. He writes "We have a feed for every ZIP code in the US, a feed for every public company, a feed for every sports team, a feed for every movie star, band and musician...and more."
He also says, "I told Dave Winer about it ... but he flamed me. He said I had used the wrong version of RSS, and would never henceforth utter the name 'Topix'. Sigh. (so much for perl -MCPAN -e 'install XML::RSS')"

My net access was unbelievably slow last night, so I never got to use my newsreader, but I do plan to add some of Topix's feeds later today and check'em out.

Discovering Danny Gregory

Thanks to Gothamist, I got to take a break from the proposal I am writing and experience Danny Gregory's artwork. Gregory, a blogger, and the author of Everyday Matters, a book about his wife's tragic subway accident, and his family's passage through that situation, has been publishing work in various magazines, newspapers, and web sites/blogs recently.
He's a nimble, passionate artist...perfect antidote to a cold and rainy California afternoon (yeah, I know, the East Coast is loaded with snow...)

Monterey Bay Aquarium issues national seafood guide, will put 2 million in public's hands by Earth Day

Wondering what seafood is best to eat? This new national pocket guide to sustainable seafood-- created by the Monterey Bay Aquarium--will set you straight.
According to a recent press release, "The guide, modeled on the aquarium's West Coast pocket guide first issued in 1999, will reach 2 million people by Earth Day 2004, including 770,000 cards distributed in the January issue of Sierra magazine, and another 600,000 in the April/May issue of National Wildlife magazine. The cards are also available through partner organizations across the country, and on the aquarium's web site."

MUG: Fact(s) of the day

The Manhattan Users Guide (MUG) has been a great resource for NYC since the days it was Quarked-up, printed, and distributed to in-the-know subscribers(who then photocopied it and passed it on.)
For the past couple of years it's been a (free) email newsletter and web site.
Today, it's got some playful data:

The two most powerful NYC earthquakes: Dec. 19, 1737 and August 10, 1884, both 5.2 on the Richter scale. The most recent: April 20, 2002 (a 5.1, centered near Plattsburgh, NY but felt in the city.)
(Source: Discovery)

Number of Arrest Warrants Outstanding for Osama Bin Laden
Three: MADRID (COURT NR 5) / Spain, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK, NEW YORK / United States, TRIPOLI / Libya. According to Interpol, "Person May Be Dangerous." Thanks for the heads up.
(Source: Interpol)

Most Popular Baby Names in NYC

1898: Mary
1948: Linda
1998: Ashley

1898: John
1948: Robert
1998: Michael
(Source: NYC Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene)

Other recommendations are equally eclectic--and lots of them are web-based, meaning you don't have to go to NY to take advantage.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Punk'd: Fast Food Poison

What happens when you eat fast food 3X a day for 30 days? Morgan Spurlock tried it and turned the results into a short film called Super Size Me which describes his 25 lb weight gain, soaring cholesterol, moodiness, depression and fast food addiction--and got raves at Sundance.

Recent reading

Just finished Southern Exposure and After the War, two novels by Alice Adams. These two linked novels--written several years apart--stand together as a tremendous work of American literature, right alongside Wallace Stegner's Crossing to Safety. I've enjoyed Adams for many years, but seen her really as a social diarist/comedy of manners type of writer--very Jane Austen--and these two books seem to be shaded more deeply, with finer sensibilities.
Also read Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper Case Closed, Patricia Cornwell's account of how and why she determined Victorian painter and man of letters Walter Sickert was also the brutal serial murderer Jack the Ripper. Excruciatingly detailed, full of forensic data, and completely grisly, this is not a book to read alone late at night---I did, and regretted it.
Also: Judith Moore's The Left Coast of Paradise(didn't care for it), Ann Barry's At home in France: Tales of an American and her house abroad (eh), Loss within Loss: Artists in the Age of Aids, edited by Edmund White(a superb book!), Naked in the Promised Land, a Memoir by Lillian Faderman, and Silicon Valley, Women and the California Dream by Glenn Matthews(this is a great book, will post more on it this week).

Congrats: Betsy's anniversary

Betsy Devine's blog hit one year old this past week. I remember when I started to blog in March and I read Betsy's blog--I had no idea she'd started right before me and I thought she was so expert and inspiring--and she was sorta a newbie, too. So congrats, Bets!

Shirky: Did believing instead of voting) sink Dean in Iowa?

Clay Shirky's managed another thoughtful and even provocative piece on Howard Dean's disappointing performance in the Iowa primaries and the role social software may (or may not) have played.
Some excerpts:
"Would you vote for Howard Dean?" and "Will you vote for Howard Dean?"
are two different questions, and it may be that a lot of people who
"would" vote for Dean, in some hypothetical world where you could vote
in the same way you can make a political donation on Amazon, didn't
actually vote for him when it meant skipping dinner with friends to
drive downtown in the freezing cold and venture into some church
basement with people who might prefer some other candidate to Dean.
What I wonder is whether Dean has accidentally created a
movement (where what counts is believing) instead of a campaign (where
what counts is voting.)

And (if that's true) I wonder if his use of social software helped
create that problem."

More here.

Cooperative encyclopedia to post 200,000th article

Dan Gillmor reports that the Wikipedia, a peer-reviewed and cooperatively written encyclopedia, is about to post its 200,000 article. Given that Wikipedia has no editors, no assignments, and an organizational structure that can be described as organic, this is amazingly cool.

Gillmor writes: "Wikipedia is based on a kind of software called Wiki. A Wiki allows any user to edit any page. It keeps track of every change. Anyone can follow the changes in detail.

A Wiki engenders a community when it works correctly. And a community that has the right tools can take care of itself.

The Wikipedia articles tend to be neutral in tone, and when the topic is controversial, they will explain the varying viewpoints in addition to offering the basic facts. When anyone can edit what you've just posted, such fairness becomes essential."

Check it out if you have not seen it.

The dish on Orkut

I avoided writing about Google-supported social networking site Orkut last week because so many people mentioned it--and it went down so quickly. Now, the Washington Post's Cynthia Webb's done a very through piece on this new service and its place in the pantheon of would-be Friendster killers and clones.
-- -- 1,244 items on Orkut indexed on feedster on Monday
-- -- Early frenzy for invites on Jeremy Z's blog
-- -- Orkut the man's Stanford home page and resumeand photos.
-- --What's really scary--here's a cell phone number.

iMedia relaunches site

iMedia, the online resource for interactive marketers, has relaunched with a new look, a new exec editor, and better navigation. The annotated left hand nav on the home page and and the breadcrumb across the top of the article lists are definite improvements, but the big benefits are a beefed-up research section and Lee's new Buzz--a weekly highlights newsletter drawn from post-conference discussion lists that launches next week.
Hey, put me on that list, Lee!

Golden Globes redux: All about the boobies

Amy's Robot has the best commentary about the plentitude of golden globes flashed at the awards ceremony last night.
And a bonus: photo of round Renee, who looks curvylicious.

Time of the Toolbars: Microsoft introduces new resource

A friend sent me a link to the WSJ story on Microsoft's new toolbar, which replicates much of the Google Toolbar's search functionality.

Birthday thanks

Thank you to folks who sent me a birthday best wishes note: MiWon, Jill, Eric, Helmut...much appreciated.

Gruner & Jahr: What's next?

Reading the New York Times article this morning on G&J leader Axel Ganz and his reasons for firing CEO Dan Brewster makes me wonder how much this situation is another backlash from the boom story. Back in 2000, when Brewster came aboard, his goals were to break the magazine publisher--always sleepy and ho-hum--out of the middle of the pack(or was it the bottom?)--and to double the revenue.
At the time, buying Fast Company for $360 MM and turning Mc Call's into Rosie--who was beloved by AOL members, a talk show star, and a middle-market goddess--may have seemed grandiose, but so did Yahoo's plans to keep its market lead through introducing scores of new services.
(Of course,on the other hand, getting into a legal battle with Rosie, allowing circulation to be misstated, etc. are fatal errors in any era, especially when revenues are dropping. And Brewster's reign did not seem to right itself or recover quickly from these mistakes.)
A NY publishing friend mentioned to me that Michael Clinton, EVP at Hearst, would be a great candidate for this job. And of course the NY Post has already identified lots of potential candidates. Says Ganz: "We just need to find somebody who knows this business, who is down to earth, and has a vision for this company."

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Saturday stuff: -10 below in NYC

Flying back to California tomorrow morning. As predicted, spent most of the past few days inside other people's apartments. This afternoon, in search of a kid-friendly activity, my sister, brother-in-law, my six-year-old nephew and I went bowling.
What I learned:
The bowling alley says it's a 30 minute wait, but they lie.
While waiting an hour for a lane, you spend $15 on video games, and $10 on kid food.
Everyone around you is doing the same thing--but some look happier about it than others.
I suck at bowling--my nephew got a better score than I did (okay, he had bumpers, but even still...)

Friday, January 23, 2004

Want to blog a conference? Invite bloggers

Jeff Jarvis on the New Media Federation Connections conference blog and its lack of participants: " If you wanted the conference blogged, it's really quite simple: Invite bloggers. And they will blog."
Jeff says people like to contribute to their own blog. I'd add that the groups blogs I've read from conferences (and I've been studying this recently for a possible project) have most of the contributors lined up in advance, and that all of the core posters have blogged before--the passerbys use the comments feature if the trolls don't get it first. The AdTech MarketingWonk conference blog was a good example of this form.
Jeff also says that the point is to have multiple bloggers blogging: "Now, instead of making everyone come to one place for one source of news, news is everywhere; there's more news than ever; it's just a matter of finding it (and finding the right news). It's also a matter of enabling these many, diverse, and decentralized sources of news -- these citizens -- to work."
I'd say that we did this at BloggerCon on Boston, and it has been done at many other conferences, and it also works really well, especially with a master page and RSS feed to make the bloggers unified and accessible.
I would like to here from the smart and hardworking NAA staff what they thought about the experience and why it didn't take off. Hopefully, this won't stop them from another effort next year, just set up differently.

Washington-- Wonkette launches

The latest irepressible babe launches Wonkette, the DC blog from blogosphere mogul and Gawker publisher Nick Denton.
Ana Marie Cox writes: "We like recall movements, illegitimate children of senators coming forward after 50 years, wrestler-style wild screams of rage and the endorsement of Dennis Kucinich by Grandfather Twilight."
Oh goody, sounds like fun---and could you cover AOL too, please?

You know you're in New York when...

The person going before you through the cafe door lets it slam in your face and doesn't even notice.

The woman in your friend's nice loft building seems afraid to ride the elevator upstairs with you and your luggage.

Everyone says that Judy Steinberg, Howard Dean's wife, seems exactly like someone from the Upper West Side.
In fact, some add, they're both from New York originally.

Your birthday cake is from Grunenbaum's Bakery, not Whole Foods.

It doesn't matter that it's 20 degrees because you're spending all your time inside, anyway.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Light posting next couple of days

Will be offline over the next couple of days, so lighter postings here till Sunday.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Analyze This: Social Networks in the Value Framework

Via Scott Allen's Online Business Networking : The Interactive Social Networking Industry Analyzed via the Value Framework™
I'm not sure I have the fortitude right now to read this academic-sounding piece, but I am attracted by the organized list of 9 sites and their attributes that Scott presents in his post.
Perfect for a night when I have insomnia.

Dogster: Friendster for dogs

In the realm of this is so cute you are scaring me, how much time do these people have on their hands anyway comes dogster, a community for pet owners who want to post pictures of their adorable darlings.
Jasper Marie, Madison, and Rocky are puppy buds, for example, and their owners are...
Oh forget it, who are we kidding, you have to be insane to do this more than once!
If you like scrolling through dog photos, this is your site, otherwise, 2 seconds will do ya for life.

E&P: Fewer people find jobs through newspapers

In the department of you knew this was coming, Editor & Publisher reports that the Internet is eroding local papers as the principal source for job listings. E&P references a study by that reportedly involved 41 companies and more than 250,000 hires.
E&P says " Respondents to the survey aid 31.8% of jobs were filled from the Internet, which was up nearly five percentage points from 2002. Employee referrals accounted for 28.5%.Newspapers, on the other hand, accounted for just 3.8% of new job hires, down from 4.8% the previous year."

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Technorati's gotta beta

New beta of technorati site.
(Via Jarvis)

Blogger/media dinner Feb 11th

Deeje Cooley, Mary Hodder, JD Lasica and I have been talking about organizing a group dinner for the night of Feb 11th--either on the northern end of the Peninsula (San Mateo-ish) or a BART-connected part of San Francisco. We tried to get Phil Wolff involved, but he's gonna be at ETECHCon.
Everyone is welcome...bloggers, media folk, tech folk and none of the above. More info to follow. Send one of us an email or post here if you're interested in taking part.

Is Dan Brewster out at Gruner & Jahr?

Ad Age reports that Gruner & Jahr CEO Dan Brewster has a meeting set up for Jan 22nd with his boss, company head Axel Granz, and that he may be O-U-T at the publishing firm. G&J's last CEO, John Heins, served for seven years before heading to Netscape in 2000; according to Ad Age, Brewster has put in 3 and 1/2 years on a five-year contract.
Update: NYTimes reports Brewster says he expects to be fired.

And a piece in the NY Post today saying potential replacements for Daniel Brewster include Time Inc.'s Michael Klingensmith, Fairchild's Mary Berner, former Time International chief Michael Pepe and Hachette's Jack Kliger.

Are you a start-up CEO? Read this

Interview by editor/writer Tony Nash on Always On with Heidi Roizen, Valley legend, on the top truths for start-up CEOs. While this piece has a somewhat unreal, it's 1998 again tone, her observations are shrewd and interesting, IMHO. An excerpt:

"Q: "...WhatÂ’s the hardest lesson for a startup CEO to understand?

Answer: "Time and time again, it is the lesson of the true cost of the under-hire. The CEO fills a role out of desperation, or recruits a buddy who is not quite the right fit but will do for now, and then that person in turn takes the organization down the wrong paths, hires the wrong people, et cetera.... My advice to CEOs is to hire the very best, act as if your life depended on every person you bring on your team, and put a ton of cycles into finding, referencing, recruiting, and retaining those people."

Monday, January 19, 2004

5 houses in 8 years

My husband and I were talking today, and we've both been thinking about how many times we have moved in the past eight years.
The irony is that for at least fifteen years before that, we lived in the same apartment in Brooklyn, but since those days, we haven't stayed in any spot more than four years.
That means our son, who goes off to college next year, won't have the experience we both had of saying "Yeah, I grew up here., in this house." Instead, he'll say, "Well, we moved around alot, from here to here to here."
Although we think he's benefit from moving, he would probably disagree--and the truth is, we ended up moving a lot more than we had planned to.
Funny thing is, now that we've moved so much, I kind of like it--as much as I want to put down more roots, the feeling of change is exciting.

Happy Birthday to-Me

My birthday is on Friday (no, I am not saying which one...after the 40th, I started striving to mentally obliterate the ever-rising I am old enough that my memory is going, anyway.)
Already, this birthday is shaping up to be better than last year's.
For one thing, my husband came home from New York with an armful of birthday presents he gave me early cause he didn't want to wait: among them are a funny Thai tin toy of two fighting kickboxers, assorted sizes of Chinese Hell money, and a beautiful pair of earrings, which came disguised in an (emptied out) canister of Mango Tea.
These gifts were so right on, it was wonderful.
For another thing, it looks like I will celebrate my birthday twice--once here in California with my family, and then again in New York over the weekend with my siblings and their kids.
How good is that?
I have a lot to be grateful for.

Noted: Media News

KeepMedia, started as a microcontent publishing platform for old(er) media publishers, says that its model is shifting to being the online media retailing platform for publishers and a way to "merchandise content." I'm not sure I get what this means, but Rafat says their services could give publishers--or anyone--for that matter--the capability to sell downloads of media a la iTunes.
(Via Paid Content)

Consumer Reports
: Reuters rreports that the awesome Elizabeth Crow will be the new editorial director for Consumer Reports.

The Newspaper Association of America's annual Connections conference opens today, and this year has a conference blog, written and edited by Melinda Gipson.

Yellow pages company DexMedia , has converted all of its 240,000 yellow page display ads into searchable online content. The company publishes 270 directories in 14 Western and Midwestern states(Via iMedia)

Mediapost: Local alternative newspapers growing at twice the rate of daily newspapers.,

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Earthquake Special: RSS Feed

From more like this, a post on an RSS feed for earthquakes greater than 5.0--originally noted on Fluid Flow. Feed is at USGA site.
Note: More sources--and a more correct breadcrumb-- on the blog to blog transmission of this info.

Gotham Gal hits Economy Candy

Gotham Gal trucks down to the new Lower East Side and hits the old Economy Candy.
Economy Candy is the old immigrant candy store of the 1950s Lower East Side, and it's one on the few things to survive gentification.

GG says:
"Floor to ceiling candy of every kind. It is overwhelming. Huge Pez's, rope of licorice tied together, 10 lb. bags of jolly ranchers (I bought that for my husband's office), high end chocolate bark, caramels, chocolate covered pretzels, candy necklaces, reese peanut butter cups. It's all there. "
If anyone knows a place like this in San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, etc. please tell me. Sometimes I have to feed my inner Hungarian grandma.

Congratulations, Eryth! US Soldier First to Marry in Baghdad

I have just learned that my former Scholastic colleague Eryth Zecher, who is a U.S Army captain stationed in Baghdad, got married in this past December--in Iraq.
She and her new husband are the first soldiers to do so.

According to the story in the Rocky Mountain News: "Zecher...enlisted two Iraqi friends to help her find a wedding dress. They brought her only one to try on, a gown imported from Lebanon....What her groom did not that since the Army has a no-lingerie policy, beneath all that finery, she was wearing boxer shorts. And upon her feet, the feet hidden by the long drape of tulle and beaded lace, she wore sweat socks. "

Eryth, congrats to you and your new husband! Hope you both stay safe and well.

Living Room=Electronic hearth?

I've been noticing how many people have their living room organized around a TV/media center.
Walking my dog the past few nights, the number of glowing TVs set center stage in the living room, literally broadcasting out into the street--has surprised me. It seems as though, for many people, sitting around watching a screen or playing a game has replaced face to face conversation. Now, instead of being the main event, conversation is the filler in between innings, a request for something in the kitchen, or a comment on the screen.
This is not a good thing. We should find one another to be of greater interest than mass media.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Dinner party in Belmont

Tonight was a great together for folks working together on a startup I've been advising. One of the team was kind enough to host it at his house--and kind enough to make a kick-ass main course as well, btw. It was tremendous fun to hang with these folks, most of whom--but not all----only know from the office.
One thing that becamse obvious is that we all share a love of eating well--each guest brought one course. So from the appetizer starters of assorted olives, great sheep and goats milk cheeses (including my favorite, Humboldt Fog), artichoke dip, crackers and veggies--to the stellar main course of panfried and sauteed salmon (or chicken breast) with red and yellow pepper coulis, throgh the broccoli garlic and green bean/carrott/walnut butter dishes, to the "Maybe I can have just one more piece" indulgence of raspberry and blueberry lemon custard tart--we all outshone ourselves.
The conversation was also interesting--from SARS and civet cats to (predicatably) politics to colonizing Mars.

Bring on the navels

Our house has a very productive navel orange tree in the backyard--and it's grown what seems like hundred of large, juicy navel oranges.
In the past 24 hours, I've picked approximately 150 oranges, given about 100 away, and eaten 3. Plan to eat lots more.

Irony is that my neighbors on both sides also have navel orange trees, as does the many two houses down on the corner, only none of them seem to be picking the fruit. My neighbor says "We're just not orange people," but she also didn't pick the figs her tree grew, or the Meyer lemons. To me, growing oranges---good ones--in your backyard is one of the miracles of California--it doesn't get more local than this.
It was tremendous fun today to give oranges away--a new friend and her daughter came over and helped me pick and walked away with some bags, I gave some to friends from San Francisco and Half Moon Bay. To me this is all amazing novel--and tasty--but then, I'm new here.

More tech toys to play with: Stumbleupon & Furl

From Mark Graham and Chris Alden come mentions of, a service that signs you up then asks you to download a toolbar onto your desktop so you can share cook sites and links with your friends, and, a service that allows you to share feeds headlines with designated friends.

The stumbleupon about page says: Founded 2 years ago, Stumbleupon has developed a patent-pending community-based websurfing system which now supports over 70,000 members. Our goal is to build an emergent media referral system which automatically matches the right people to the right content."

Furl says it is "an online filing cabinet." I haven't really used it yet, but plan to fool around with both in the next few days.

Gnome Girl: Waitress Dreams

A moving and evocative post by Gnome Girl about a waitress in a diner she frequents.
"...I write about her because I drove home across the
bridge wondering if I was fooling myself to think I could
make it in this world doing something I love or would I
have to go back to an office everyday in order to exist?"

Friday, January 16, 2004

Writer/actor Spalding Gray still missing.

It's been a week since Spalding Grey was last seen. Sadness.
John Barlow has a beautiful essay about his friend.

Google to develop email ad product?

The wired world will hear the sound of many shekels clanking if Google is indeed developing an ad product to include in emails, as a Reuters story reports. Specifically, Google is focusing on how to deliver advertising to a user when an email is opened, the story reports. While Google AdWords are already running in a number of newsletters, the amount of revenue Google could potentially develop from a new email ad--conceiveably even more contextually relevant than the current keyword served words--is staggering. Given that recent acquisition Sprinks has the capability to serve ads as emails are opened, this new product doesn't sound like vaporware.
As the Reuters story points out, it may be that Google is also planning to launch its own free (and presumably guaranteed spam-free) email service at Given the number of Google users, it's likely that a free-and service-rich email service--could quickly rival Yahoo and MSN's.

Dept of Getting Out: Internet Archive lunch

Attended the Friday "open lunch" at the Internet Archive in the Presido today as the last of my getting out efforts before I hunker down to work next week. Brewster has a magical ability to create community--there were all sorts of wraps(sandwiches) on the table, soda, water, seltzer, and about 30 people, half staff, half visitors, crowded around a big table. Each person introduced themselves, said why they were there, and talked about things they were working on. Many of the comments were tantalizing.
After the go-rounds, people broke into small groups and talked more.
When I left at 2:30, there were knots of people having meetings all over the first floor of the office and I had met some interesting new people, reunited with an old friend from WAIS days, and had a productive meeting with some folks.

Election 2004: Interactive tools reach young people online. "Sponsoring an online chat room or creating a Web log -- or blog -- where people can voice their opinions and ask questions is the most popular way for candidates to communicate with young people according to the study, which was sponsored by the D.C.-based Council for Excellence in Government's Center for Democracy and Citizenship and the University of Maryland's Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement."

Did threats of legal action push out AOL's Lisa Brown? "This week's restructuring of AOL's ad sales division appears to have been engineered at least in part by enraged staff members who forwarded audiotapes of abrasive meetings with staffers and outside vendors to senior AOL brass in September."
A memo reportedly sent by some of her (unnamed) senior staff to AOL HR and executive management reads in part "The general tenor of her behavior is filtering throughout the company. She... makes working within IM [interactive marketing] a nightmare for so many people it really needs to be dealt with.... If we lose the very fine talents of the currently exasperated, it will be a damn shame."

One wonders if some of the currently exasperated (and presumably abused) were contemplating legal action because they were bedeviled on tape. After all, Brown may have only been in her current position for six months, but she joined the company as a senior sales executive soon after former colleague Jon Miller became head of AOL. Was this (yet another) example of an abusive exec only dealt with when exposure was threatened?
No one knows.

Final words from one staffer: "Let's face it, this company is an old-boys network. Things will be a lot smoother with the old boys in charge."

Blogging the diet

Yes, this New Years resolution is also continuing, but I have to step it up.
Have cut out more carbs--bread and pasta and rice in particular--and have lost 4-5 lbs, but have to start exercising more to see results..and have to remain consistent, always a challenge..and keep portions down. At least I've started...can only get better

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Yahoo Take All: Directory is top web destination

Did you know that Yahoo snagged the spot as the most-visited Internet site, beating AOL and MSN for the first time?
Do you go to Yahoo?
(Side note: I wonder how miuch of that traffic is to Yahoo mail, Hot Jobs, and personals.)

AOL News: Mark Glaser takes its measure

Mark Glaser published a piece in OJR this week about AOL's newly revamped online news. Although Glaser writes "...All in all, the new AOL News seems to be more of a marketing idea than a radical new approach that includes participatory journalism. AOL has not even promoted the revamp to its own users," truth is, he's written a lengthy--and informative piece--about AOL's new vision and all the hard work done by news director Gary Kebbel and his team (though Kebbel is never mentioned in the story).

Dept of Getting Out More, North Berkeley division

Spent most of today in North Berkeley, practicing the zen of getting out more. In typical New York fashion, I arranged to meet 2 people in a row--JD Lasica and then Phil Wolff, and in typical Bay area fashion (which is much better), we ended up in all hanging out together--JD, Phil, Mary Hodder and myself.
Of course, the blogmeisters have already chronicled the talk over lattes, but I have to say how much fun it was-- One of the reasons I wanted to move back to the Bay area was the amazing creativity here around community and technology. New York is the home for media, fashion, and commerce, all very compelling to me, but there is a kind of creative development--technology meets the consumer--that I haven't experienced in other places to the extent I experience it here, and I find it very stimulating.

Later in the day, I spent some time with Peter Merholz, and had an another wonderful time.
Peter's both high-energy and laid-back; he's a partner in Adaptive Path, a user experience -focused company that has grown since it started three years ago and is branching out into workshops and publications. Talking with him, you can see why the company's been so successful---he's spot on in his thinking.

Of course, the tradeoff for all this daytime fun is I have to do a bunch of work tonight, but so be it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Dave Winer: More fun with OPML Share

If you're a blogger and/or use a newsreader and haven't checked out what Dave Winer has whipped up for posting and sharing newsreader files, run your little fingers over to OPML Share
...And if you are of the techie persuasion, be aware that Dave's back there in the tech kitchen crafting some nifty capabilities developers can play with.
He writes: "I've spent the last few days coding a new flow of static OPML files. (snip)
...When it's released we'll have sample code for Python, Tcl and UserTalk and perhaps a few other languages. It's all XML so it's easy to work with. And then, when you have an idea for an app that builds on the Share Your OPML flow, you can ask any developer with a scripting language to develop it for you, not just me."

JD Lasica: Personalized news sites

JD's got a post about an interesting personalized news site called Findory . I haven't checked it out yet, but if JD say's its impressive, I know it's worth a look.
JD also references Memigo and Gixo, other personalized news sites.

UCLA World Internet Project--report out

Press release and Power Point (lotsa charts) of the new UCLA World Internet project report have just been released.
Very much worth checking out for the global stats.

Dept. of getting out: Lunch with Deeje Cooley

Remember that New Year's resolution about getting out more? I am keeping that one. Yesterday, Deeje Cooley and I had lunch in Mountain View and talked incessantly about blogging, intranets, RSS, and how to get the other 80% into blogs, newsreaders and related services. Deeje started Bloggerjack this summer and is running The BloggerJack Reporter, a blogging news site, while also working fulltime at Macromedia on the Contribute product, which just got an award from PC Magazine. He's got lots of good ideas, a real passion for online publishing, and a good feeling for consumers. It was fun--thanks, Deeje.

Charging for online content: What Rafat Ali thinks

Vin Crosbie's got an interview with Rafat Ali of on where charging for online content was in 2003 and where it is going in 2004.
Says Ali: "The big problem this year is a lack of strategic thinking. Everything everyone is doing is simply about tactics. Most are only pursuing whatever is considered to be the 'next thing.' Most publishers are focusing on just one thing; not enough are trying to diversify their revenue streams." Where Local News Rules

Topix, a new web-based news service, launched this week and was promptly TechDirted and Metafiltered. Created by a cadre of ex-AOL Shopping/Netscape Search engineers, who also--not incidentally--were core members of the team launched the Open Directory Project back in 1998, Topix automatically generates over 150,000 keyword based news pages, each loading automatically with chronologically ordered news sources.

Similar to Google News in many respects, Topix is built on a detailed, custom taxonomy that classifies every story according to content type and geographic location. Focusing on 4,000 news sources (including a few blogs).Topix offers users the ability to track updated news on very specific terms;the more localized, the better.

One way to take a look at what Topix offers compared to Google News is to run two different queries and check results.

First, Britney Spears, one of the top ten search terms of 2003. The top story this morning on's Britney Spears page is from the Detroit Free Press and is entitled Stop Britney Before She Goes Too Far ; the next story is from KSAN, a local news station, and is about Britney's new video.

Google New's Britney page , in contrast, leads with Canadian site Chart Attack's story Britney Spears Brings Her Darkest Secrets to Canada , one of many about an upcoming concert tour. The top story doesn't even show up on Google New's results list for Britney news.

Next, let's run a search for a particular place--South Orange, New Jersey, where I lived on the East Coast. The page has eight stories drawn from local news sources and run in the past 20 hours. While none of them are specifically about South Orange, they are about events happening within a 5-mile radius, and therefore, of interest.

The Google News page has 15 stories, none of which are from today, and several of which focus on Seton Hall's college sports competitions. Only one story, running in the New York Times on Dec. 25th, is specifically focused on a South Orange topic.

There's no question that while the Britney query results on Google have more sizzle, the local town search on Topix has far more relevance than the Google page. One of the key differences is that Google New's search algorithms are keyword driven, offering up the most relevant instances including a specific term.'ss keywords, on the other hand, are mapped to both content type and geolocation, allowing the service to weight results in a different way.

When Google launched back in the day, users had to learn the different between a relevance-driven search algorithm and an edited directory, it will be interesting to see how users distinguish between Google News and Topix-generated news pages.

Summary: One of the best and most interesting launched I've seen in a while, but they need to put the pedal to the metal in terms of improved user features, navigation, alerts, and RSS/newsreader feeds to fulfill their potential and gain a substantial user base.

Also, early indications are that--like results will be an important entry point for them for topic-driven search queries. See Social Software News and Drink Wine for examples of the kinds of pages Google is likely to discover.

Note: I did an interview with CEO Rich Skrenta yesterday, which I will blog later today--more details on the search algorithm and the business plan to come in that piece.

AOL: Another reorg for sales organization

AOL announced today that it was forming a new organization called AOL Networks Sales & Solutions Division to handle the advertising, search and ecommerce revenues for the company. Headed by ex- Time Warner Global Marketing executive Michael J Kelley, the division will be run by a troika of experienced AOLers--David Lebow, who has overseen AOL's shopping and ecommerce efforts to date; Michael Barrett, a key figure in AOL's interactive marketing(read sales) group for the past two years, and Brendan Condon, who will be Senior Vice President, Finance and Administration, for the the new division.

The release says:" Mr. Lebow will have the title of Executive Vice President/General Manager, AOL Media Networks. He will oversee the management of partner and member-facing traffic and inventory across AOL's properties; the development of media plans and research for partners advertising in those properties; marketing and events aimed at the advertising community; radio network development; AOL.COM; and Member Education. His group will also continue to use the AOL network of inventory to promote and increase usage of Company products including premium services, AOL for Broadband and others."

And "Mr. Barrett has been named Executive Vice President, Sales and Partner Marketing, with responsibility for agency sales, partner sales, category sales, customer relations, sales training and specialist activities."

In addition to managing the assets and inventory for all AOL-owned properties, from Mapquest, to, to ICQ, and so on, this group will continue to manage the advertising, search and ecommerce revenue for Time, Inc. and Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. online properties.

Will this reorg do the trick? The leaders are all company insiders --and all guys--so there's no question the company is feeling comfortable, and the centralized organization should offer improved efficiency of scale, but this group needs to be able to sell into the market, as well as stay in tune with the administration in Dulles--and a whole other set of players in New York.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Digital music: Ringtone sales taking off

Digital Media Wire has a piece reporting global sales of cell phone ringtones have surged by 40% to more than $3.5 billion since last year. The study--from the Arc Group.--says that ringtones are 10% of the global music market, with each downoad ranging in price from "20 cents in South Korea to as much as $2.75 in the U.K. -- averaging out to about 60 cents per ringtone."

Smithsonian to sell digital music downloads online

The Smithsonian announced today that it's teamed up with micropayments vender Peppercoin to sell digital music from its collections starting in April 2004. The Smithsonian 33,000 song collection of American folk music and world music will be available for 99 cents per tune. According to a CNET story, the terms of the deal with Peppercoin afford them more revenue than they might realize with a traditional credit card vendor.

I savor the idea of being able to download songs from The Alan Lomax Collection, Indonesian gamelan music, and all the odd and interesting pieces that Smithsonian musicologists have been collecting since the '30. Probably some great spoken word in there as Zora Neal Hurston reading aloud.
(BTW, the current search through their music catalog is here.)

Monday, January 12, 2004

New Pew Report: People increasingly turning to Internet for campaign news

According to a recent Pew Report: People increasingly turn to the Internet as a source for news, about the presidential campaign, shifting away from traditional outlets like the nightly network news and newspapers, a poll found. In fact, for younger men, late night comics turned out to be a key source of information (Jon Stewart, taste your power!)

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Good reading: Journalism, media and social issues

JD Lasica heads up a new column from Doc Searls on The New Economy Hack: Turning Consumers into Producers, and Dan Gillmor's new column on democratizing the media.
Also, Jay Rosen urges citizens to keep watch on the press, How? Adopt one writer and monitor the hell out of him/her.

Being yourself and PLINK/Foaf

Greg Gershman has a post about FOAF (friend of a friend identity systems) that discusses his realization that it is possible to have multiple--and different FOAF files because someone else can create a file for you by listing you within their own FOAF file as someone they know.
He writes, "...When Plink polls my FOAF file, it recognizes my name as "Greg," but when it hits anyone else's FOAF file, and they happen to have used my full first name, Plink replaces what I state with what others have stated." Greg goes on in more detail about PLINK and generating FOAF files and the idea that you should have the ability to define the FOAF file you create as the "main' one.
There are a couple of FOSF files for me on PLINK...Only one of them has the 'right' data, however.
UPDATE: As Ben Hoskens points out, my picture has disappeared...I am now represented by a picture of --Mitra--go figure!

You coulda been there: San Francisco Red, Custom and Motorcycle Show

On the theory that I should do things with my son that he enjoys, I accepted his invitation to go to the San Francisco Red, Custom and Motorcycle Show at the Cow Palace.
This was the place to see totally redone '41 Fords, '55 Chevys, 60's Woodies,70's GTOs and customized bikes of every persuasion, plus the tattoo-adorned, moustache-sporting, long-hair sporting, fringed leather and skull and cross bones t-shirt adorned men who love them--not to mention the motocycle chicks for a day who put on very specific and funky costumes to accompany their swains to this event.
If you're getting that fish our of water vibe, you're reading me correctly--although a lot of the cars were intensely cool, I felt seriously out of place--and it wasn't just the two Hooters girls posing to sell their calendars, or the boys enviously eyeballing the flame-painted toys--it was the 'hey this is serious' vibe from our companions.
Every time I walked past a car and said "Hey, I like that!" to the folks we we were with, there was no response, the subtext being "She doesn't know what she's talking about."
Zack, on the other hand, had a blast, talking knowledgably about hemis and manifolds and things in that family.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Dept. of some people should not have pets

Jessica Simpson: "I don't think I am going to get pregnant. I am trying not to. But we might get a dog."

Blogging awards: Help Phil Wolff make a list

Phil is compiling a master list of blogging awards.

Thank you, thank you: subscribers list

Even though I can't find myself (yet) in the pull-down menu of folks who've provided their OPML feed to Dave Winer's OPML share--though I did see the submission get logged in the Events log when I submitted the file a few days ago--I was able to go in and see a list of some of the OPML share folks who subscribe to this blog. Thank you all.
I also checked out the subscription lists from Jeff Jarvis, Scott Adams, , Julian Elve, Chris Gulker, Ross Mayfield, Betsey Devine, Danah Boyd, Gwen (great list)..and then my head started spinning, and I....stopped.
This is so completely a blast!

Just like your parents: a little aha moment

We were supposed to go out tonight, but Spencer has some writing he has to do, so he worked afternoon, and into this evening. I offered to make dinner so he could keep working. He said, :"Actually, I'm kind of tired; I think I'd rather take a short nap."
I replied, "Sure, whatever you want to do, dear," and suddenly flashed on my mom. She cheerfully tolerated my dad's small-town doctor obstetrician/gynecologist solo practitioner insane schedule, cooking breakfast, dinner, and (hot) lunch for him for most of their life together--and I realized, at that moment, that I sounded just like her. Here it was Saturday night, and I was being completely mellow about hanging around the house (and blogging), instead of going out.
Because my mother died a few years ago, this one was of those little 'aha' moments when I felt an aspect of her living on in me.

Judith Meskill takes over Calcanis blog

The excellent Judith Meskill is now writing Jason Calcanis' Social Software Webog. The feed goes right onto my newsreader...

Search Ad Revenue: Drilling down into local

Piece at Search Engine Watch published earlier this week on the value of paid local search. Author Greg Sterling writes: "And like Yellow Pages, paid search is in fact a "directional medium," which delivers qualified leads (consumers who are "ready to buy") to businesses that are ready to sell.
"What search engines such as Google and portals such as Yahoo! and AOL are doing to address these local search deficiencies is integrating more structured content (ala Yellow Pages) into Web search results."
" many ways, Citysearch is already the model of search and directory convergence. While not perfect, Citysearch presents a hybrid approach that combines pay-per-click advertising for local businesses, with a keyword search-driven interface over a structured local database. That provides the ease of use of search with the reliable structured data offered by Yellow Pages."
This article does a good job of explaining why paid local search is definitely one of the emerging opportunities for 2004.
(Via John Battelle)

Open Source paper: Blogging the Market

What are the the benefits for organisations that use weblogs? George Dafermos' paper, posted at MIT's OpenSource Resource Community, explores this question--includes case studies of Slashdot, Amazon, Gizmodo, and others.
(Via Roland Tanglao)

Laugh-a-lot: Paul Katcher Britney caption contest

Hilarious captions for a poppin' fresh Britney photo...and a chance to write your own.

54 books, 26 shirts, 11 pairs of pants and shorts, 14 pairs of underwear

Could you do this? Erik Benson has whittled his possessions down to "...92 CDs, 54 books, 26 shirts, 11 pairs of pants and shorts, 14 pairs of underwear, 10 pairs of socks, 4 sweaters, 1 coat, 1 suit, 1 tie, 1 belt, and 1 pair of sentimental suspenders."
Even assuming he has another 10 boxes of stuff, such as photo albums, hockey skates, and etc (which he may not), this shows incredible discipline(not to mention asceticism).
Being incurably attached to my grandmother's wedding china, my ten years of journals in notebook form (HS and college), and a small collection of American art pottery picked up when I lived in Ohio, I am impressed at Erik going through this exercise. I throw out and pare down 3X a year, but would have to think about my life differently to get down to this small an amount, which is exactly the point.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Russell Simmons cashes up

Russell Simmons, NYC education activist and media/apparel mogul just sold Phat Farm, his fashion company, to supersized clothing conglomerate Kellwood, which holds the license for Calvin Klein jeans, among other things. The sale leaves Simmons with personal licesing deals (he's a brand, don't forget), plus music interests, the Def Poetry Jam tour and sides, a pre-paid credit card, and an energy soda called Def Con 3.
Hope Simmons uses the cash to run for Mayor in the next NYC election.

AOL Ad Chief stepping down after six months; revolving door continues

Lisa Brown, the latest head of ad sales for America Online, is leaving the company, according to a story reported in the WSJ. Brought in by AOL head Jon Miller, Brown joins a list of equally hard-driving successors--Bob Sherman, Bob Friedman, Bob Pittman--who were announced with great fanfare, then edged out as their miracle cures failed to revive the behemoths flagging ad revenues within a few months.
The WSJ story says that executive management is talking to TW ad guy Mike Kellyabout overseeing the unit. The Journal also reports that the well-respected Michael Barrettmay assume more of her responsibilities on a interim basis.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Craig Newmark on Craig's List

IT Conversations has the goods--an interview with Craig Newmark al about developing and running Craig's List.
(Via Anil and Marc's Voice)

Company dinner

Trying to cut down on the carbs as part of the new diet. Fairly successful.
Had Zack's girlfriend and her dad over for dinner tonight and piled the food on, but stayed off the non-veggie carbs.
Roasted turkey breast
Grilled Salmon
White rice
Candided sweet potatoes
Steamed string beans
Chocolate pudding(yeah, I ate some...)

Best new tool in the last few days: OPML share

I am completely delighted by the OPML sharer that Dave Winer has put together. A friend of mine is sending me feeds for his RSS reader via email, but Dave's OPML share comes closest to date, in a live, released product, of providing a way for me to see what other people are subscribing to, and presumably reading.

Former AOL partner sentenced to jail; AOL exec named in court docs

JAccordintg to a recent AP story running in the Billings Gazette, Jeffrey R. Anderson, former SVP at PurchasePro, was recently sentenced to 33 months in jail for his part in a fraud that inflated revenues to impress Wall Street. An AOL exec is named in court documents as a conspirator in the case.

Mark Hurst: Blogs are just content management systems

I agree with Mark Hurst's tthinking today:
"...Blogs are actually just an easier-to-use version of the content management system, a tool that (albeit in a harder-to-use form) has been with us for years, in many environments, with a far greater impact than the online diary.
"...Watch this year - oops, is this a prediction? - for blog companies to pitch their software as CMS tools, not "blogs."

Bob Pittman's new (master) plan?

Bob Pittman is advising Al Gore on buying a cable network, has bought Daily Candy and reportedly plans to develop the online newsletter in multiple media (cable anyone?) and is now joining forces with Strauss Zelnick, the newest direct marketing maven, to buy OTX, a market research group owned by ifilm whose online test platform allows testing of interactive media. The blurbs tout OTX's ad capabilities, but I bet, once Pittman owns it, he will test content as well as advertising (uh, duh).

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

More from the department of Media goes tabloid, big time

Remember Joe Dolce's comment on mainstream media going tabloid? Andrew Krucoff's The Other Side gets into more than any of us should ever want to know about the raging battles between Teen Vogue and Allure Mag staffers at Conde Nast headquarters in New York.
It is terrifying that grown men and women are (figuratively) gobbling this crap up, but hey, we also elected Bush president(well, not exactly, but kinda.)
(Via Gawker)

Stanford Daily Editorial Board: The lessons of Britney

I am sick of Britney, but had to note this Stanford Daily editorial about her.
It begins "Britney’s short-lived marriage offers a number of valuable lessons, some of which might come in handy to students planning upcoming weekend getaways to Las Vegas" and goes on to discuss her life under a microscope, her disregard for the sanctity of marriage, and her importance as a roll model--oops, I meant role model--to millions of girls.
For more of this story, written by students at a college the Brit probably couldn't get into, click here.

Om Malik: Nortel Rising

Is Nortel the Trojan Horse in the IP battle? If you care, Om is the man to read.
And when you're done with the serious stuff, check out Om's NRI (stands for Not Really Indian, a phrase that becomes clear after about 3 secs of browing this really clever site)

Yafro: Dat big cute photo album, yeah

If flirting with your Friendster pals is getting (yawn) old, you might check out Yafro, from the guys at HotorNot. This is the spot to post a profile, share all your phone cam pictures, and get a virtual hook-up.
Check out profiles and photos from some members to get the flavor.
(Translation from the politese: While this site makes me shudder, I think it is fabboo for some folks--those who are younger, better looking, and far less serious, for starters.)
Blogoise update: Posts about Yafro started when it launched end of October, with the definitive Clay Shirkey yet another friendster ripoff piece in November.
Well it is a copy of Friendster but it had 20,000 users in November, and if the guys can get this out to college and HS kids, they could have some feels friendly and fun..and far less crowded.

TCS: Are social networks snoops' paradise?

Sonia Arrison at Tech Central Station: "Friendster, Ryze, Linked-in, Tribe.Net, Yafro, Plaxo, and Spoke are a networker's dream but a privacy-hawk's nightmare. These sites are aggregating information, provided by people themselves, that could prove almost as useful as a Total Information Awareness (TIA) program to government snoops.
...With a $12 million dollar federal grant and co-operation from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, a company called Seisint is working on a system named MATRIX (Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange) to compile an electronic dossier on every person in the nation.
I joined Friendster, Ryze, Linked-in, Tribe.Net, Yafro, Plaxo and Spoke and stand amazed at the amount of data they hold."

For everyone involved in social networking who is worried about the privacy implications, this is a useful and interesting article...take a look.

Wheeling, WV declares bulldogs vicious

News story reporting that the town of Wheeling, WV, has proposed an ordinance to classify American bulldogs, canary dog, rotteweilers, and pit bulls as vicious, regardless of whether they have ever acted in a menancing manner. Dogs that have attacked someone, on the other hand, would be classified as dangerous. Dangerous dogs would have to be muzzled; vicious dogs would be required to be spayed or neutered, kept behind 6 foot fences, etc.
This kind of news ticks me off no end--dogs behave the way their owners train them to behave, and type of breed is not the key determinant---training and temperament are what matters.
Another example of city government addressing a symptom, not a cause, just to say that they are taking action.

Cool Tools: Amazon's 800 Number 800-201-7575

From Kevin Kelly's always worth a read weekly bundle of goodness known as Cool Tools: Amazon's 800 number.
Also, books on homebrewing, bike tires for snow and ice, and more unique stuff on the product tip.

Dolce: We've all gone tabloid

I Want Media interview with long time style journalist and new Star Mag editor in chief Joe Dolce. Some quotes:
On tabloid journalism: "All media have gone more tabloid, certainly. Tabloids are gutsy and break news. In that way, television news has taken on a more aggressive stance. And that's one reason why the tabloids have a problem in the marketplace today, because many magazines and television news have taken on a tabloid voice. They've diluted what the tabloid once was."

On the new Star and its competititors
: "The new Star Magazine fills a gap. If People is the granddaddy of celebrity magazines and Us Weekly is the upstart adolescent, then there's an enormous gap between those two. And In Touch is sort of just a fake magazine, right?.....(snip)...So there's a huge place in the middle -- between the grandfather and the upstart adolescent -- to fill....(snip).. Us Weekly is very geared to a young audience. We'll cover young stars as well as celebrities like Roy Horn [of Siegfried & Roy], Liza Minnelli, David Gest ... "

The new (glossy paper) Star launches in limited markets this week. Let's see how it sells. And what their web strategy is, assuming they have one.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Brieflyweds: Jason hits the media circuit

"We married and then all hell broke loose," Britney's instant ex, Jason Alexander, has been telling the media, who in turn have been digging up dirt on him, including previous arrests, old girlfriends, and his desire to REALLY marry Britney, even after only a couple of weeks(?) of dating.
Seems like these two punk'd each other and now get to have their own reality TV show of sorts.
The sad thing is, if Britney wasn't rich and famous, it sounds like they might have given this impulsive marriage a shot.

Malcolm Gladwell: Big, Bad Road Killers

This week's New Yorker has a stunning piece by Malcolm Gladwell on car safety and the public interest in difficult-to-handle SUVs and an online Q&A with the author. Gladwell goes up to Consumer Reports and test drives cars with the head of the auto group, talks with car designers and safety experts and concluded that American ideas about what make a car safe have changed--for the worse--over the past few years. "The SUV boom happened when drivers decided to treat accidents as inevitable," Gladwell says--and then he sets out to prove it, along the way publishing a chart of vehicle fatalities for drivers of particular makes of cars and the drivers of cars they hit. Using this metric, Toyota Avalons, Camrys, and Volkswagen Jetta are the safest cars--with the highest number of drivers surviving--which Ford F-series trucks (my son's dream vehicle), Dodge Neons, and Pontiac Grand Ams are among the worst.
This is a must-read fact, this is a terrific New Yorker issue.

Dept of Only in San Francisco, MacWorld division

The train heading south from San Fran this afternoon was filled with folks carrying MacWorld bags and wearing exhibit hall passes. I sat near a trio of what turned out to be 60+ hospital personnel--administrators, nurses, physician--and listened to them talk about the show.
It struck me that there are not that many places I know, besides the Valley, where MacWorld is so eagerly greeted as a main event, equal in star-power to the opening day of baseball or first night at the Opera. These folks all took the afternoon off to walk the convention hall, and they seemed quite satisfied with what they had seen.

Dept of as the Internet goes, so goes AOL

TW CEO Dick Parsons, speaking at a conference: "AOL remains highly profitable. It funds itself and generates a billion (dollars) in free cash flow annually. We believe AOL's results bottomed in 2003."

We all know that online advertising in general--and AOL's in particular--bottomed out in 2003, but how about subscription acquisition and renewals?
Did they bottom as well?

As AOL gets into the integrated services and transaction business--becoming the Sears of the online market--offering computer tuneups, spyware detectors, parental controls, and a snazzy recipe area that can even sell you a grill--will low-end consumers have renewed interest in their narrowband offering? And will the Broadband service, with its iTunes shop, AOL radio, movies clips, etc. pull in the teens and the affluent suburbanites?

That scenario would be great for my still underwater and rapidly expiring stock options..the challenge, as always, will be how AOL messages and executes on the plan.

Monday, January 05, 2004

More like that: Writing on assignment

10 month ago, I wondered if I'd want to produce more journalism pieces and did a couple to try it out (I was a full-time freelance writer for about 3 years, oh, about 10,000 years ago.) I decided that journalism was great, but that I didn't want to put alot of energy into writing on assignment.
In the past year, I've written almost daily in this blog, and really come to enjoy posting. I've also rediscovered my own passion for organizing data and doing research, key part of my consulting work. These facts, combined with the fact I go to new places and instinctively think about story ideas, have made me decide to do more writing outside of the blog in 2004.
What and for whom have yet to be decided, but I am going to talk to some of my more active journalist friends and get their POV on editors to talk with. If anyone reading this has suggestions or possible assignments, let me know...would like to hear your thoughts.

Britney: The Annulment

The Smoking Gun's posted the annulment brief online, all five pages of it.
Highlights--Brit attests she was "incapable of agreeing to the marriage before agreeing to the marriage," and that "upon learning of each others desires, they are so incompatible there was a want of understanding of each others' actions in entering into this marriage."
More giggly details here and here.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

The Simple Life: Britney's Groom

Maybe Fox could send Paris Hilton to hang out with Britney's soon to be ex hubby in Kentwood, LA? Here's a HS pix of the dude; he's prepped-out in corn-fed blue matching pants and shirt (okay, it was high school)...looks waaayyy more boring than Britney's other boyz, but maybe he's pierced his tongue or something since this photo was taken.

Bill Grosso and Scott Rafer

Bill Gross is one smart guy, and this is going to be a worthwhile event. January 13th, Palo Alto.

Sunday dinner, once more, with salsa

Made Sunday dinner for the three of us:
Tilapia with Green Sauce, Mexican-style (this came out really well)
Spinach salad with sliced avocado
Fresh corn tortillas
White Rice
Pinto beans (canned)
Salsa Ranchero (ditto)

This was the Winter Break is over and time to get back to work/school meal.

Now Zack is off practicing bass, Spencer is doing some work, and now that I have finished creating a FOAF entry for Plink, I will watch Sex and the City at 9 pm, then get back to work tomorrow am. No more holidays!



I'm a Bride4U: Britney weds--and annuls

Britney Spears got married in Vegas this weekend to her childhood friend Jason Allen Alexander according to and the Associated Press. But hey, it was kinda a joke...she's reportedly already had a quickie annulment filed and sent the groom home to Kentwood , LA .

Mapping the friendship grid

One of the values of special networks that people have not emphasized that much is the way the online networks and identity sites can deepen and help solidify weak ties you have with a real world acquaintance or friend of a friend. For me, the best use of these networks is to reestablish contact with someone from my (often professional) past, or a colleague or friend of a friend I've met, heard about, but don't exactly know. Often, these online connections lead to a phone call or a coffee; just as often, the phone call and the coffee lead to nothing more concrete that a stronger sense of who that person is, and a higher value on the virtual tie now that there's been some offline contact as well.
Social networks also have value in suggesting people you might want to know. who have common interests and who share--and sometimes are writing about--similar concerns. I've met some very smart people in this fashion, people who continue to affect and sometimes influence my thinking to various degrees.
By exposing the connections--at least some of them--those people hold--sites like Ryze and Tribe give me ideas about whom my friends and colleagues know, and help me consider what I might have in contact with these folks (or not).
Projects like PLINK or the PeopleAggregator provide a similar service of showing connections, minus the blog or networking tool. As Jeremy Zawodny points out in a recent post (thanks, Kevin), a tool that shows the friendship grid would be very useful.
Jeremy describes it as FriendRank, or depth of connections between people, but it's also a way to map reputation, something Kevin Burton is interested in as well. I'm eager to see these kinds of tools move forward, to add more relevance to the social networks,and also to provide a more behaviorally-based alternative to them.
PS Marc Canter has some interesting comments on Jeremy's post as well--also check out the comments on his blog for this entry.

Saturday, January 03, 2004

The Diet: Starting Line

So I really am dieting...with some effort.
The chips and salsa at lunch somehow bypassed my conscious mind and got scarfed down, but I'm not going to fall for that trick again. The fish soup was protein and veggies. And when I got home I orange. For dinner...chicken and veggies. For a late-night snack, a cup of tea.
I'll keep the reporting on this sparse, so I don't bore everyone, but yes, I am really dieting...and will start spending more time exercising starting this Monday.
Ah, those New Year's resolutions..I'd like to make this one stick.

Blog Search Engines--Do you wanna list?

Ari Paparo's compiled a list of blog search engines for those of us who feel the lack.
30 sites, 14 of which have the word blog in their name.
(Via ResearchBuzz) Have you seen it?

Excited about PLINK, which I just discovered via Anil Dash and Jeff Jarvis. Anil writes:
"Plink, short for People Link, lets you find connections between people using its simple search interface, and the simple, friendly interface hints at a new breed of FOAF application, aimed more at regular users than the geeks and developers who've been working with the format thus far."
The site looks great, offering an elegant interface for a personal identity application--the only catch is that you need to upload a FOAF.rdf file somewhere on the web to make the indexing work.
(The difficulty in my posting this kind of file becomes another reason for me to move off blogspot onto my own site, clearly an emerging theme of 2004.)
The founder of this site is a Brit, Dom Ramsey, and it looks amazingly cool--interestingly enough, it seems like some of the names in the directory are there because they've been generated from other's FOAF files--as people someone knows. Also, interestingly, the RDF files expose the email addresses of some friends, not a good privacy thing.
Anyway, this is really interesting...more comments from Battelle, Feedster and Technorati searches.

All Consuming: Most linked-to books of 2003

Erik Benson's got a list up of the most linked books of 2003. It doesn't surprise me that Harry Potter and a slew of science fiction books top the chart, but I am shocked that the most linked book--Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix--is mentioned only 586 times.
Even given the fact Erik tracks Amazon links, clearly not enough people write about the books they are reading.
If there are a million active weblogs, and this book is at the top of the best seller lists, that suggests that either only a very small selection of the total sum of readers of the latest HP are bloggers, or that many bloggers do not post about what they read.
On Feedster, there are over 18,879 references to Return of the King, and 3,255 references to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Many people are sharing their blog about more book info, as well?

The New York-California thing

We've seen a slew of movies in the past few days that have been set in New York: In America, with Samantha Morton and the wonderful Bolger sisters take place in NY, mostly inside a Flashdance-sized apartment in the West 40s; Little Odessa with Tim Roth, Vanessa Redgrave, and Ed Furlong, set in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, which had my husband going "I've been there!" with every frame, and When Harry Met Sally (it was late and we got pulled in).
When I watch these flicks, I inevitably start rationalizing and justifying my decision to move to California, which is just about the most New York thing I could do (a typical New Yorker hates her apartment, but will not leave because a) it's rent-controlled , b) she'd have to leave Manhattan, Park Slope, wherever else she is to afford something the same size (never mind she could also find bigger in a less cool area) c) she is leaving, she just hasn't decided when, so stop asking).
Then, when the movie ends and I go out and walk the dog in the clear air, actually able to see the stars (unless it's raining), the question of which coast to live on suddenly becomes an obvious non-question--I'm here, it's beautiful, and why worry beyond that?

Via Anil: Cool NY photos from the '40s

Via Anil, links to an Indiana University collection of Charles Cushman photos of New York. Cushman was an Indiana alum and amateur photog who donated his archives to his alma mater. They graciously offer copies for purchase.

This photo is fairly typical of the collection--I like the simplicity and directness of the image--and the fact it was taken more than 60 years ago is neat.

Friday, January 02, 2004

RSS_Discussion, Top 100 Feeds Subscribed to

Dave Winer's recently started a moderated discussion list for RSS-users, and asked everyone to share their OPML files--it what blogs are they reading in their newsreaders.
He's just posted the results--specificaly, the Top 100 subscribed-to feeds-- and it's a list worth reviewing, both for interesting blogs to read, and to compare this list with other lists of Top 100 blogs at Technorati, Blogstreet, etc.
I read many of the blogs on this list, but found some I wasn't familiar with, either because they're Mac-focused, or they're just new to me...
BTW, as Bill Kearney points out, similar lists live at Syndic8

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Science Daily: The Navy Tests Blogging

According to a Science Daily story, The Office of Naval Research and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) are working with Traction Software to test out blogs as a fast information exchange/knowledge management tool. Managed by the office of the Pentagon's chief information officer, the prototype is a group-edited blog that will be used for product evaluation and be available to multiple users on an intranet-type system.
Traction press release on this here from back in November.

The Feature: My name is Howard

Howard Rhinegold: "My name is Howard and I am a Technorati addict."

Thanks and Happy New Year

Thank you to all the readers of this blog, it has been a wonderful--and addictive--experience to write daily.
Happy New Year and Best wishes to everyone...we're off to see the third Lord of the Rings installment this afternoon, just like a goof 20% of the planet.

NY Social Diary:Christmas cards of the rich and social

Finally, an online version of the Hilton family card, plus tons of pugs, pug-faced teenagers, and trophy wives shot on the beach, in front of the mansion, and out in the garden.
Who are these people? Don't have a clue, but they clearly vacation in the Hamptons, Bermuda, and Paris (France, not the party girl).
Only spotted one teen with tattos, but tons of Ralph Lauren Polo shirts and sweaters.

George Simpson's 2004 Media Predictions

In Mediapost: Trust George Simpson, a media-trade industry PR guy in NY, to have a few clever year-end observations:
--"At 3:09 (EST) on June 14th, blogging comes to an abrupt end when the last person writes the last thing they can think of. The sun comes up as usual on June 15th. Jeff Jarvis asks his wife if a tree falling in the woods still makes a sound if no one hears it.
--Time Warner bites the bullet and sells AOL to a group of private investors that include Steve Case, Bob Pittman, and Michael Wolff."

And so on......mucho fun.
(Via Gawker)

Evaluating the September 11th Fund: Adminstrator looks back

Article in the NY Times reporting on Ken Fineberg's evaluation of his team's performance in running the September 11th Fund, the federal program to compensate the eligible relatives of Sept. 11 Appointed in 2001 to administer the fund, Fineberg pulled together a small team. got an office, and started developing programs. By the program's end in December 2003, says the Times, "97 percent of all eligible families have agreed not to sue the airlines, government agencies or other entities and have filed death claims with his program."
I'm not in a postion to judge how well this fund ran, or if it could have run better, but this seems like an interesting, and relatively measured story.

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