Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Even got the no sleep blues

4:30 AM--Nice hour to be asleep. Unfortunately, I am awake, leaving for the airport in 15 minutes, having slept barely enough to have it qualify as a nap. Nothing like coming back from vacation and going right back to all your bad habits.Yawn.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

CEOs are people, too: Mena speaks

Sweet essay by Mena Trott, founder and CEO of Six Apart about communication, as in needing to do a better job of. The cynic in me says "Yeah, sure, they've grown to twenty-four people, they'll have a new CEO soon;" the humanist says, "Right on, Mena, this is a great tone to take."
Favorite passages:
"We were scared of seeming human; scared of being perceived as complaining or making excuses. We were scared of ruining the image of the sacred "Trott," a perceived perfect entity that is so cute and sweet and productive. We were scared of saying the wrong thing that could affect a company that wasn't just a hobby of a married couple anymore.

So we didn't say anything.

I've always advocated personal voice as the strongest asset of a weblog. In the past year, Six Apart has lost its public voice. We wanted our products to speak for themselves and hid behind our busyness. This, I feel most responsible for, since I have always tried to be the eyes, ears and voice of the company. "

Not saying anything is always tempting--no one can nail you for it. But no one can be empowered who is afraid to speak. And an environment where no one speaks is toxic, as well as know. So right on, Mena...and best wishes for the growth of your business.








Monday, March 29, 2004

Google offers personalized search

Brand new personalized search beta from Google.
I've just filled out a profile, which involved clicking on lots of little topic boxes. Now I'm trying a "personalized" search.
When I type in a query for "American bulldog" I get 65,400 results--the top ones from an AB association.I run the same query on plain ol'Google and I get 60,800 results, with the top results from the same sources as my personalized query.
Do I get what this new beta is supposed to do?
No.
Do I wish I got it?
You betcha.

The FAQ says:
" Google Personalized web search delivers custom search results that are based on a profile you create describing your interests. For example, people with an interest in the outdoors will see different relevant sites for a search on "bass" than people who are interested in music. Google Personalized web search is currently available in test mode on Google Labs, where you can create and save your profile and see results tuned to your preferences. Your results can be instantly rearranged by dragging a slider at the top of the page to go from no personalization to full personalization or anywhere in between."

Okay, so this is probably the Kaltix acquisition deployed.
Guess I have to keep playing with it to see the real value. The idea of being able to set search parameters within a search query is obviously very important---Need to play with it more to get the potential more fully.

Update: Battlle's take here.

Working while living--gotta get out more

It was a beautiful day in California today: mid 70s, sunny, the scent of honeysuckle in the yard. Of course, the irony is that I spent most of the day inside, working on projects.
Somehow, I am not doing a great job following through on the fantasy that being a consultant means hitting the gym at 6:30 am and then going for long walks at 5pm.
At one point today, I was at the campus of a big Internet company, meeting on behalf of a client. We held our meeting outside--right next to a bunch of ex-Netscapers--and I realized that most days I spend much of my morning talking to people in New York before it gets late there, then talking to people in California throughout the afternoon.
I usually get one good walk outside with the dog before I head back to work--and it's all too easy to spend a big chunk of the evening online.
Gotta get outside more...Maybe getting up earlier is the answer.

.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

MESA: The largest email address book worldwide

One way or another, we're gonna find you...try this way if you need an email address for someone..it works reasonably well.

Recent reading & some book thoughts

Read two big novels on the road: Fernanda Eberstadt's The Furies, which I liked quite a bit, and Frederick Busch's A Memory of War, which I liked less, but thought masterfully written.
I've just gotten some new books to read: Wallace Stegner's Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West, Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire, a Season in the Wilderness--both inspired by my Western road trip this past week--and also Abbey's One Life at a Time, Please, Eberstadt's When the Sons of Heaven Meet the Daughters of Earth, and James Ellroy's My Dark Places.

Side note: The San Jose Library keeps the popular--and current--fiction on the third floor, but there is another area on the seventh floor where all the literature books--what I think of as the 'complete' fiction collection is kept. This is the floor where Louis Bromfield novels sit side by side with Amy Bloom's short fiction, and the first editions of William Carlos Williams line up in a row beside the literary critiques. The stacks up here smell like old paper, paper made with a high rag content, lots of cotton in the mix, paper you could dream about eating if you were a child because it smells like a food called old books.
That old book smell intoxicated me for so many years--as a teenager, college student, and grad student--then I forgot about it. Now, I go back up in the stacks in the San Jose library and I smell it again, a reminder that all the old books are still there, their numbers growing daily.

Chocolate sushi: Take a look

Wow, two of my obsessions combined.
Chocolate as sushi.

This looks great.
(Via Julie Leung)

Virtual babespace: iVillage & There.come make a deal

Boingboing post noting a deal between iVillage and There.com to create a brand virtual space for iVillage members. Terra Nova says: "Although the island is described by There as a "a special iVillage sanctuary" the boundaries between the iVillage island and the rest of There's world will be far fuzzier than the original fabled Paradise Island, as males will be able to freely access it and interact with "the natives."


Anil: Tech or media?

Anil asks: Why do Internet companies still pretend they're in the technology business? His post notes that many of the CEOs of the most-visited Internet sites have CEOs who have worked in media businesses (viz Meg Whitman at Disney Publishing, Barry Diller (entertainment media), Terry Semel, etc.)
Anil writes: "I'm still not sure of all of the implications of dot-coms having grown up to be competitors to movie studios, television networks, or record labels, but it's telling that those of us who are knee-deep in web services and XML and blogs and social software are still focused on the technology that powers these sites and their features."

Great observations, Anil.
To me, the key messages here are about user experience, time-sharing, and brand. Consumers are looking for certain credible payoffs, but they are as happy to get them from Yahoo as from ESPN so long as their needs can be met and the brand is trustworthy. Where tech companies fall short, in my opinion, is in underestimating the investment of time and skill required to create great packaged experiences, experiences that are powerful enough to command an audience's precious slice of time. These days, as we all know, TV is not competing with cable, it is competing with going out to dinner, talking on the phone, playing a video game, gardening, working, shopping, and yes, surfing the web. As disposable time gets filtered down into little bites, the decisions are made by the hour, not by the channel...and online tools and utilities--as well as online entertainment and information--need to be able to compete in that pool.

Just around the bend: New tools, new businesses

Missed a good post by T Jacobi--picked up by deejecooley's BloggerJack Reporter on new and upcoming blog aggregrators, filters, and search engines, along the lines of topix, kinja, and the just redesigned and revamped Technorati. Jacobi wonders if AI tools will help filter all the news into a manageable order.
It does seem like we are on the verge of seeing some new product launches and some 2.0 releases of recent projects.
I'm predicting the entropy of building out users for these new tools follows two models:
1) integration as aplets into existing audience bases (large news sites, ecommerce sites, entertainment sites, for example)--making the user experience better and more relevant;
2) New services and destinations--products that offer capabilities that are unique and useful enough you want to sign up right then and keep coming back.
Google's success--among others--was to simultaneously follow both these models--to make distribution deals with AOL and Yahoo for example, and also keep building and improving Google.com as a destination. In our supersized corporate world, small players often fear being derailed if they partner with (and service) the big guys, but the path to building a core audience base of 1 MM or more on your own can take more than a year, even for the best new product/service.
For that reason, I applaud companies that are able to focus themselves to play the game both ways--to build independent, stand-alone products and services, and also find ways to partner that educate consumers, expose their product, and start grow the business (aka some $$). And I am looking forward eagerly to some of the next generation products about to hit the market.

Words to live by

"Optimism cannot outweigh execution."
Ann Winblad , Cofounding Partner, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners
(Via Fast Company)

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Why airlines lose customers, Delta division

I just spent the past 90 minutes trying to change my airline reservation from Friday night to Saturday. The first time, after I dialed into the system and talked to the electronic receptionist, I was switched to an attendant who seemed to be in India. She did fine until I asked her to check flights out of three different local airports. Once we (slowly) mastered that challenge, she switched me to the "reissue desk" where I spend 46 minutes on hold, listening to bossa nova music as I read my newsreader.
When I hung up and dialed again, I got a guy in the Salt Lake City office. He was able to quickly locate two available flights, but not to get me a ticket. You see, this airline require all changed tickets go through a reissue desk that makes sure the proper fees are paid--only the department is understaffed, so they can't answer the phone.
"I can tell you're a good person just from talking to you," Delta Guy told me. "So I want to warn you that when I switch you, no one may pick up--so don't take it personally, just try again in the morning, when more people are on the shift."
So he switched me...More bossa nova music...and fifteen minutes later I hung up--still with no new ticket. I will call back first thing in the morning, but I now have the definite feeling that I want to NEVER deal with Delta again once this transaction is done.

Update: Sunday morning, and now the flight that I wanted to book last night is sold out...classic. So now I am getting another flight that will work, but not as well. And I'm going to avoid Delta in the future...I am not traveling anywhere so unique that this endless calling is worth it.




Supersize me: Microsoft to launch blog, news search products

Microsoft announced on Friday that they will be launching MSN Blogbot, a service that will let users search Web logs, or "blogs," and see a ranked index of sources and postings.
In addition, MSN will release MSN Newsbot, a search tool that indexes more than 4000 new sources worldwide.
More on this in the Seattle paper.

Back from vacation for real

We're back. 2,760 miles later. considerably more mellow, having sampled much of the West, we are home once more.
Look for regular, daily postings to resume as of tonight.
Yeah! Home!

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Scott Moore moves to Microsoft

MSNBC.com's GM and business head, Scott Moore, is moving up to handle MSN's needs for a great home page, personalized MY pages, and appropriate environments for (big) advertisers. Charlie Tillinghast--vice president, sales and business development for MSNBC.com--will be acting general manager of MSNBC.com.
What a great opportunity...Have fun, guys.

Dreaming of...Digital Storytelling Festival

The Digital Storytelling Festival is in Sedona this Jue. I want to go...is it worthwhile?
(Via Grand Text Auto)

Mark Pilgrim: A tempest over a Typepad tiff

He's funny and a code demon: My admration goes to Mr Pilgrim and this post on TypeKey tizzies.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Now Google's a media company

More on this from John Battelle: 'In other words, Eric views Google as a media company, or at least that's the take I came away with. That is new, last time we spoke, Google was a technology company driven by media revenues..."

And Jeff Jarvis:"It's not as if the media business hasn't been waking up to this, but it's significant to note that Google now admits it's a media company.
Google is the ultimate repackager of content in the medium that is all about repackaging.
And, like all media, it's making its money by using that content to attract audience, whom it then delivers to advertisers. "


Will search become exclusive?

Reading Eric Schmidt's comment about Google's plans to index Orkut data, I wonder if we're heading for a time when search engine companies will try to develop a competitive edge--not to mention make more money from highly targeted paid search results--by laying exclusive claims to particular data sets.
Google already seems to be moving in that direction with the Orkut plans and the (beta) publisher's archive program, which digitizes publishers archives and puts them on Google services for searching--with ad revenues presumably shared with the publisher.

Note the Orkut terms of service: 'By submitting, posting or displaying any Materials on or through the orkut.com service, you automatically grant to us a worldwide, non-exclusive, sublicenseable, transferable, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right to copy, distribute, create derivative works of, publicly perform and display such Materials.'

Google to index Orkut data into search results

According to a posting at Search Engine News, Google CEO Eric Schmidt told PCForum attendees that Google would integrated the indexing of Orkut data into Google search results within the year. Schmidt said that Orkut and Google search complement each other as a means to allow searchers and users to connect directly with experts in the field of their searches. "One of the problems with search is you can't find people,"Schmidt reportedly said. "We believe that these social networks will have a tremendous amount of information."

Schmidt might have also mentioned the high CPMs Google should be able to charge for Ad Words search results that appear on such targeted results pages, and the strong "Google Juice" rankings that Orkut members may be able to enjoy. On the other hand, he might have also have mentioned how they dealingiing with the privacy issues that surfacing data from a members-only social network--or any social network, for that matter--will surface. Do I really want data about my Orkut relationships and groups available via Google? (Of course, I gave away all rights to everything when I signed the Orkut terms of use, but none the less...)

Will other social networks clamor to add their data to the Google mix...or run to competitors?




At Bryce Canyon

At Bryce Canyon, enjoying the hotel's wireless network. When I get home I am dumping my Sprint cellphone--it hasn't worked for most of the trip. Spencer's Verizon phone has been better, but he's had limited access as well--guess when you drive across large stretches of the West, the network doesn't cover it all(tho it sure seems like it should).

Monday, March 22, 2004

Road-trippin': Death Valley, Tecoupa, Hoover Dam, Kingman, AZ

Still road tripping: We did about 300 miles yesterday going through Death Valley, then down to Tecoupa and the China Ranch date farm, then out across the Hoover Dam. Today we head to the Grand Canyon, then we start heading west for home.
What a great trip--the scale of the landscape is inspiring.

Jerry Colonna and Bo Peabody

Former Flatiron VC(and ex-editor) Jerry Colonna started blogging a few weeks ago, and he's got a great post on his meetup with Bo Peabody, founder of Tripod and one of the first young dotcom millionaires.
Jerry writes: "So, here we are, Bo and me, sipping tea and coffee and me munching the last of my apple fritter. Though never close, never really buddies, I can sense now a shared bemused, confused wonder at how the hell we ended up here."
For more then and now, check it out.



The new, new Technorati

The new Technorati redesign and infrastructure fixes job is up live.
Some new things to note: The talk bubble--this little icon launches the way for Technorati to move onto other sites--it teaches the user, "You see this bubble, you can click on a pre-invoked link."
The "get conversations"icon, another portable tool, and the movement of content services to a box on the lower left--news, books, etc., moved off the tabs.(Via Kevin Burton)
And--hope this sticks--a blazingly faster experience.
More from Dave Sifry, founder and code demon, here.
(Via Kevin Burton)

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Where the money is: Fast Company says Over 40 females rule

Story by Linda Tischler in June's Fast Company saying that over 40 women are the most affluent marketing targets.
Some excerpts:
"The 40-plus age group is now 45% bigger than the 18-to-39 group and will be 60% bigger by 2010. In 1989, adults 40 and older became the biggest adult segment for the first time in U.S. history, making them the new customer majority.
...According to Mature Marketing & Research, a Boston-based firm, they (boomers)control more than half of the nation's discretionary income and three-quarters of the country's financial wealth. And they're likely to get their hands on even more. Boomers' parents, the Silent Generation, are dying off, and inheritances will spell the largest intergenerational wealth transfer in history. Add it all up, and by 2010, spending by people 40 and older will be "a trillion dollars greater than spending by people between the ages of 18 and 34--$2.6 trillion versus $1.6 trillion," says David Wolfe, author of Ageless Marketing (Dearborn Trade Publishing, 2003)."

The writer goes n to lament that companies don't get the power of this market segment, but seems to forget the runaway success of media properties(and all the ad dollars they garner), such as Real Simple and Oprah, not to mention the endless number of lifestyle makeover reality shows.


Dept. of News you already knew, political category

Neilsen/Netratings study: Web surfers are more politically active than the general US population.
Excerpt:
"Nielsen//NetRatings @Plan Political View data revealed that 86 percent of the online audience aged 18+ reported being registered voters (see Table 1). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 70 percent of the U.S. Population was registered to vote during the last presidential elections. During the 2000 presidential elections, only 60 percent of the U.S. population actually cast a ballot. In comparison, the Political View data revealed that 77 percent of the online population reported to have voted in the 2000 presidential election."


Yahoo adds Webrank--what's next?

Yahoo's launched Webrank, a new page rank tool similar to you-know-who's that is visible from the Yahoo Companion toolbar.
Now that they're getting skin in this (search) game, do you think that Feedster or Technorati will soon announce a partnership with them?
After all, isn't the new mantra "S/he who I(semi)structures all the data, wins?"

Esther Dyson sells to CNET

CNET has purchased Esther Dyson's newsletter and conference business, and will involve Dyson as an "editor at large." CNET's portfolio includes News.com, ZDNet, GameSpot, mySimon and the Computer Shopper magazine--Dyson;s business adds an access point to executives and a small conference business.
As one of the people who is constantly trying new technologies--and advising and investing in new, often early-stage, companies, Dyson has provided much momentum to innovations--hopefully, this acquisition will give her more time to focus on that role (and to have some fun, as well.)

Friday, March 19, 2004

Road Trip Report--fun indeed

Route 88, 395, Markleville, Eastern Sierras, Ancient Pinecone Forest--we're having a great trip,. Will post a few pix when I edit them down.

Microsoft and AOL: It had to be

I've been saying for months that Microsoft is the most logical purchaser of AOL--Just the direct access they'd gain to consumers makes it worth it from a direct marketing perspective, never mind the triumphant feeling of buying (and co-opting) a competitor you've never been able to quash.
Now The NY Post says the same thing)hopefully with more research behind it). Tim Arango writes: "Sources say the deal being discussed within Time Warner would include Microsoft paying cash plus the assumption of debt to acquire AOL. A possible investment by Microsoft in Time Warner Cable has also been considered, sources say. Microsoft previously invested $1 billion in Comcast, the nation's largest cable operator, and owns about 7 percent of that company. "
Of course, AOL says nay--but why wouldn't they?
Mernit prediction: If this deal doesn't happen, it will be because of SEC and regulatory concerns around AOL, especially given the history of litigation between the companies, or because Microsoft realized it was nuts to want to buy a dial-up business and then have to lay off 500+ people in the content and browser divisions, all under the caustic eye of the press I(just my opinion).


Does Courtney Love study Kaballah?

Did Courtney Love go to the same March Kaballah party as Demi and Ashton? Fleshbot (and a number of other Nick Denton blogs) all link to a picture of Courtney--in baby costume--having her boob, uh, sucked.
(Note: I recognize that Courtney's outfit may not be a costume, and that she dresses as a fairy dust princess much of the time, but, for the moment, let's give her the benefit of the doubt, eh?)

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Another top bloggers list

Blogrunners top 200 media bloggers list is out. Are they the most influential? You decide....I'm heading out, so will have to read closely later.

Rob Enderle and the three words no one speaks

Via Tech News World, Rob Enderle's thoughts on blogging and big media, post Mediamorphosis:"...What began really to bother me was how people with little or no resources can compete effectively with firms that have massive resources. The answer is that the resources are not being properly applied and that, maybe, the news services don't understand what their advantage really is. In other words, the "new guys" have chosen the field of battle, and the legacy players have conceded that field.
My sense is the firms got so involved in thinking about other things, like cutting costs, that they lost track of their customers while the bloggers moved in -- much like the open-source folks have moved in -- to fill the gap. "

We both attended this conference, and the three words that spell challenge to large media companies--that neither Rob nor anyone else writing about this conference have uttered are complacency, bureaucracy, and fear.
Complacency that a market lead will endure (cause you want it to)
Bureaucracy (curse of all mature companies)
Fear (Of change, new blood, people's jobs changing, and so on)

This is the cycle of product innovation--and now it is being applied to media.

Guys, learn to live with it, ride the wave, embrace it and let it grow your businesses.

Jeff Veen: Tips for great presentations

Missed this earlier, but Jeff Veen has some very solid tips for presenters--useful both for big conferences and small meetings As Jeff says, telling stories, showing with pictures, and appearing relaxed and confident make a huge difference--as does appearing to enjoy the opportunity to speak (you can be miserable, but you have to at least be able to hide it).

Heading out:? Route 88 to 395 and onward

Leaving for a road trip in a few hours--Driving across California and down to Death Valley--the great thing about car travel is that you can shift your plans at the last minute. Was planning a different route, then talked to a friend and we are going here:

Bringing the computer to check spots for the coming days...If you have suggestions for spots on 395 to stop, or in Death Valley, please let me know.

Study reports American-Asians lead in online shopping

Jupiter Research report written up in ClickZ: Nearly 31 percent of online (US) Asians have made five or more Internet purchases in a year, and roughly 56 percent have made at least one purchase .
(Via Michael Wong)

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Mediamorphosis: Manifesting a viral network

Last week, we launched Morph, a real-time conference blog for the Mediamorphosis conference sponsored by the American Press Institute.
Ezra Klein, Britta Gustafson, and Mary Hodder worked with me on covering the discussions; we also involved folks like JD Lasica and Jon Dube to comment remotely.

The blog launched Wednesday; but Thursday afternoon it had more than 20 posts on it, and by Friday, it had been picked up and commented on by Jeff Jarvis, Steve Yelvington and others, thanks in part to being Feed of the Day on Feedster for March 11th.

By Friday morning, 48 hours after it launched, about 15% of the conference participants had posted messages or comments on the blog. A week after launch, posts and comments are still appearing, albeit in a slowed-down fashion. Although there was much discussion at the conference of blogs vs. media (yawn), the conference blog itself served as a viral tool and flashpoint for discussions, even for the very people questioning the credibility of the blogging platform.

The blog offered an interactive, transparent discussion that complemented the real time conference sessions. Most importantly, the blog provided both an independent view of what was happening, from the fresh perspectives of Mary, Britta and Ezra, as well as enabling commentary on the proceedings from those involved. The content creation at the conference mirrored what happens in the blogging world--citizen journalists posted their independent views even as professional offered their comments and stories.

At a conference, where many of the people were on the far side of 40 and frequently invoking projects they did in 1996 or 1998, it was great to see how everyone sought out the perspectives of Ezra, Mary and Britta, three of the youngest people in the room. I was incredibly proud of them and impressed and fascinated by the telling observations they had

I was also amused that at a conference where some participants were arguing about blogging vs "traditional media", the blog quickly became a central flash point and key tool for the discussion.

NYC: Trip highlights

Highlights of NYC this trip:
--Quick shopping trip to Century 21 to buy a spring coat--flying in from Southern California, I forget to pack a jacket. Eyeballing the European designer clothes is pure fashion porn.
--Seeing Eleanor and Parris and their friends/roommates Peter and Tom in East Williamsburg--the industrial neighborhood was fascinating, and I loved hanging out with them. Despite the 20+ years difference in our ages, the evening flowed.
--Our visit to Dia: Beacon on Sunday. Getting a personal tour of the space from David Ross, my business partner and former Whitney and SF MOMA museum director, was
a treat--and the Richard Serra sculptures were amazing.
--Family: Seeing my sister and her family.
--Fashion observations: Standing on 6th Avenue one morning watching women head into the office building--everyone in tailored black, grey or camel, burgundy or chambray blue accents, most of the ones in skirts also wearing spike heeled knee-high boots, the ones in pants with high-heeled shoes. Handbags crisp and tailored, with small canvas totes for the files--no spring prints or floral dresses here, not yet.
--Work: The new project that brought me to town.


Back in California at last

Itís been almost a week since Iíve been posting regularly on the blog, a week when Iíve been on the road: first, the Mediamorphosis Conference from the American Press Institute, then four days in New York working on projects. Now, finally, back home in California after just escaping the snow in NY. Tomorrow, we are taking off for a vacation in Death Valley and points west--look for more posts of the tourist persuasion in the coming days.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Access problems slowing down posting

Have been having trouble getting online and sending emails..still on the road and it is a drag. Reduced posts here for the moment, sorry.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Blogging from East Williamsburg

Great loft space, bangin' Black Suburban with smoked glass windows outside downstairs, friends, music, beer, talk.
Back from Mediamoirphosis and in New York, moving into the next incarnation.
This is so fun!
Thanks, Eleanor!

Friday, March 12, 2004

Mediamorphosis: Comments from the bar

At Mediamorphosis still. A relaxed dinner at an unexpectedly fancy restaurant with fellow conference participants. Then hanging out in the bar with waves of other attendees coming back from their dinners.
A collection of comments on the day:
--I'm tired of talking about media vs. blogs--that derailed other points at the conference.
--Are we stuck on this topic because no one has any new ideas?
--How about community journalism, reader participation, RSS, newsreaders, FOAF--hasn't anyone here heard of any of them?
--There's a great brain trust in the room--they're not having enough time to share their ideas.
--I am having a great time. The people are so interesting here--the energy in the hallways is wonderful--I hope we can leave here with some follow-up steps.
--I'm really enjoying this...The people are great.
--The morning conversation was good, but then the moderators were too generous--they let people talk too long,
--Ban the words "I remember", 1996, and "This is just like..."

Personal highlights:
Talking with another attendee about someone we both once worked with. When I came up and said, "Hi, I used to work with X." He replied "Oh yes, the genius from hell."

Thursday, March 11, 2004

1996 Redux?

Comment: One of the dangers of a conference with lots of over 40 senior executives is that many people have the battle scars that enourage them to look back as frequently as they look forward.
While those lesson learned are enormously valuable, it seems to be that it's critical to look forward--to find the place in the curve where the growth explosion--the tipping point--can be engineered and focus most on that. That's where the blend of skill sets, industries, and ages in the audience should provide a level-set effect--there is nothing more tiresome than listening to people talk about how they are drinking their own kool aid.
Conclusion: Evolving consumer behavior patterns trump prior executive experience..just watch what place you pick in the curve.

Blogging over at Morph conference blog

Blogging up a storm--with lots of comments and personalities--over at Morph, the Mediamorphosis conference blog. If you care about media and technology, this is worth checking out.

My blogging secret: the hunt and the peck

Did I ever mention that I type with three fingers?
But really fast?
(And highly inaccurately--but you already probably knew that.)

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Mediamorphosis: Reception ramp up

The ballroom of the Mediamorphosis conference, with multiscreen projection, a bank of computers in the back, and lots of folks chatting as they milled around. Attendees took a break from chatting one another up to check out Roger Fidler's E-Ink prototype, BBCers Justen Dyche and Clive Ferguson's mobbloging/video phone tools (used for filing breaking news) , Mark Pincus' next gen social network/listing company Tribe and Chris Tolles' enterprise social network/relationship manager Spoke before listening to a presentation by Paul Miller, aka DJ Spooky that subliminal kid.
Glimpsed in the crowd: Dean Wright and Michael Silberman from MSNBC.com, ABC News' Jake Tapper, Kennesaw State U's Len Witt, Mike Romaner of Morris Digital, Merc columnist Dan Gillmor, MJ Bear, Freedom's Tom Porter and Dawn Kusik Paduguganan, Joe Pilotta of BIGresearch, Ball State's Mike Bloxham, Colorado Mountain News Media's Laura Chiapetta, Marketwatch's Larry Kramer, blogger Markos Zuniga, InTV's Steven Messere, Jeff Klein of 101 Communications, Digital Futurists Howard Finberg and Leah Gentry, Tacoda's Anne Hunter, Mindi Keirnan, Florian Body of Red Herring, Knight Ridder's Brian Monroe, Hearst's Ian Murdock, Trib's John Twohey, Tampa Tribune's Gil Thelen, Vivian Vahlberg of The Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation, and VNT's George Patience.

Martha is hiring

Despite the founder's woes, Martha Stewart Omnimedia is hiring! You could be a summer intern, a TV chef, or a prison guard (okay, not really).
One of my favorite things about this post that it came from a link that Choire Sicha, editor of Gawker, posted.
I just love the fact Choire still uses AOL (after all, I do too). And you know what? It makes so little sense that we do, which is kinda the point, in a way
(Via Gawker)

Hot: Dan Gillmor's new book-chapter 1 posted

Dan Gillmor's just posted the first chapter of his new book "Making the News" on his blog site, for reflection and comment.
Great timing for the start of the Mediamorphosis conference---where I will be blogging for the next few days.

Reiman Pub stuff: Ways to mint money in Milwaukee

If you never heard of Reiman Publishing, you also probably don't know that they make about $322MM a year selling downmarket magazines, and you definitely don't know that since Reader's Digest bought them they've turned over a lot of top management and are hiring new senior staffers.
As Reader's Digest positions Reiman to be the editorial power it could be, prior staffers are leaving, as this Milwaukee paper reports.
RD has a great opportunity to further develop this brand--as they obviously realize--could a great new service brand be in the works?

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Vin Crosbie likes Topix

Vin sez: "... Topix probably produces a better news Web site for many localities than those localities own newspapers do.
(snip)
"One of the advantages Topix has is it gathers content from multiple media companies. For example, a newspaper's Web site has content primarily from its print edition, while Topix has content from that newspaper, other newspapers that might cover the same town, and all the TV and radio stations and business journals covering that town. It could be a formidable competitor.

The major disadvantage Topix faces is in marketing. It's easy for a daily newspaper to market itself in its own community, but not so easy for Topix to do so."

Demi and Ashton in baby clothes!


If this getup is linked to their Kabbalah study, Scientology is starting to look better.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Spalding Gray confirmed dead

Spalding Gray has been found dead--pulled from the East River in NYC, two months after he disappeared. While it is probably a relief to his family to have his death confirmed, it is terribly sad news that this bright, gifted man has died.

Talking bout Tickle

The New York Times has a story today on the wondrous Tickle, which started life as eMode and is one of those businesses that succeeded at least partly because the founders focused on tweaking the business and the product, and because they hung in there through some tough spots. Today, Tickle is making money from test fees, subscriptions, and ad revenue; they've just gone into the dating business and are pushing hard at the competition.

Interestingly enough, I had lunch with one of the early investors in Tickle a few weeks ago; I asked him what made him decide to put some money in, given that he was a high-tech kind of guy. His response: "It seemed like a fool-proof model--they were going to collect fees to get people to give them huge amounts of personal data--who wouldn't want to have a detailed database of info on millions of names? How could you not (eventually) make money on that?"

Cory Bergman: Someone should.....

Cory Bergman, editor of TV blog site Lost Remote, has some ideas that are worth doing (my understanding is that several of them are already being done, but still under the wire):

Idea: Regional Drudge report
Execution: LA Observed and the Xeni/Sean/ LA blog

Idea: Newspaper versions of localized Craigs Lists
Execution: Isn't that why WashPo, Knight Ridder etc invested in Tribe?

Idea: Local newsrooms should take embedding to the next level. Send out staffers with mini-DV cameras and infuse the news with a little reality TV.
Execution: ?????




Topix launches new news service

Congrats to the Topix.net team for their official launch. If you haven't checked this service out, you should--it presents search results on news sources in an easy to read newspaper format.

IMedia: behavorial targeting and advertising effectiveness

Bill Grossman, behaviorial marketing services CEO has a piece in iMedia Connection today about behavioral targeting anbd online advertising.
Some quyotes:
"Behaviorial targeting is the mirror image of keyword search. Where search brings a single user to a variety of relevant advertisers, behavioral targeting brings a single advertiser to a sizable audience of relevant prospects.
(snip)
"By coupling standard behavior with the behavior of the at-work online audience, advertisers can even target ad campaigns to specific job functions, industries or companies. That means an enterprise software company advertising on WSJ.com can be assured that their ads reach only CTOs, CIOs and others who have the greatest say in the decision to buy their products. And because this targeting is done at the campaign level, the company can build loyalty over time..."

Sunday, March 07, 2004

McManus: There is no end user

McManus: Web sites are two way...forget the end user.

More mags launching: Worthwhile

Haley Suitt, a good blogger for sure, has a new gig being blog queen for a new magazine, Worthwhile--congrats!

The Office: Post-Starbucks Work Space

Back in the late 80's, I was a writer with a little kid and a small apartment, and I needed a place to work. My salvation was something called The Writer's Room, where I rented desk space.
A new business called The Office has just launched in LA--they rent out space to writers and others by the hour--You have to place yourself on the waiting list for space a week ahead of time.
The facilities look great...the cost is about $50 bucks a day, which is expensive, but less than or comparable to rent space by the day at Regus or similar places.
(Via La Observed)

Make Magazine?

Kottke reports on a Women's Wear Daily rumor that O'Reilly may launch Make, a do it yourself tech magazine (think Google Hacks and then some), with John Battelle and Mark Frauenfelder. This is an interesting idea...it would be fun if it were true.
(Via Ross Mayfield)

Rafat Ali: Paid Content moves to LA

Rafat Ali has moved from London to Los Angeles. He writes: "It is a business and a personal move...on the business side, it is an attempt to expand my business in U.S. and be closer to where my majority of stories come from. On the personal side, my fiancee lives here, so that makes it easy....
On a personal note, I plan NOT to buy a car...just a challenge to see how long I can survive without a car in this city."

Rafat, come hang out in the the Bay area sometime.,...

Who knows what a blog is?

It's always puzzled me who knows what a blog is, and who doesn't.

On one hand, NYC is filled with blog-savvy writers, editors, and media types; on the other hand, I am always meeting publishing types who have no idea what a blog is, have never heard the word, and respond to mentions of blogging with the catch phrase "Huh?"

Here in the Valley, many of the people I talk with are either bloggers, used to be bloggers, or don't blog but work in the tech business. Those who don't know from blogs are nontech folks (like musicians) whose core uses of their computer are word processing, AIM, and email--or they're people who don't like computers at all(I had dinner with one of those last night).

I recognize that these realities are as much of a comment on the circles I travel in as anything else, but I still wonder what other people's observations are on who knows about blogging and who doesn't--especially outside of Silicon Valley and outside of the 15-24 age range.

NY Daily News: City's female bloggers

Just came across Rick Bruner's March 3rd piece in the NY Daily News on NYC bloggers. While the writing is a bit corny(sample sentence: "Men ruled the blog world early on (that is, about three years ago), but women are quickly catching up, finding the ability to write uncensored thoughts to the masses more liberating than a 1970s bra-burning parade") the list of ten women bloggers is well-chosen.
My regular reads Jen Chung(whatta wit!),Meg Hourihan, Amy Langfield (whatta mouth!) and Liz Spiers are all mentioned, along with Bazima, Megan McArdle/Jane Galt, Maud Newton, Lindsay Robertson, Eurotrash, and Maccers.


Back to blogging, aka there's no place like home

Oh, it feels so good to be back in California--the weather was amazingly warm and sunny today, neighbors digging out their gardens for spring plantings, all the pups in the dog park grinning in the sunlight.
Also feels great to go back to blogging...I've gotten in the habit of posting in the am and at night. While it was fine to take a break for a few days, it's good to know I can BLOG AS MUCH AS I WANT TO ONCE MORE!!!!
(Not that I am addicted, or anything. I can stop whenever I want to, really, I can.)

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Taxicab lessons: Six degrees of making connections

A reminder that online social networks aren't always necessary--getting off the redeye this past week at JFK I ended up in the bus line with 3 Westerners--a couple going to school in Utah, but from the Bay area, and a woman from Berkeley whose husband is in medical school in Utah. We chat a bit, and decide to share a cab into NYC.
In the space of the 40 minute cab ride, we established about six different connections--it turned out that they knew people in common in the Bay area, the woman and I knew a person in common, and the young couple shared some interests with me. Soon, we were all trading email addresses, and the Utah folks were making plans to get together back when they were all there.
It was a great reminder that the human instinct is to connect--and we don't need online services to make it happen.

NYTimes: Alice Waters--Changing students from farm to fork

The New York Times Magazine has a story today on Alice Waters and her efforts to reform both children's attitudes toward agriculture and nutrition through hands-on projects at The Edible Schoolyard, and her newer endeavors to expand nutrition awareness and improve eating habits through reforming school lunch, starting with her home base of Berkeley.
The piece is informative, sympathetic, and a good starting point for learning more about Water's efforts and the groundswell they both drive and reflect.

Some excerpts:
"Waters is onto something: teaching about new foods, emphasizing participation and offering choices are all critical to nudging children toward better diets. A Cornell University study found that elementary-school students who were educated about healthier options introduced in the cafeteria were significantly more likely to sample the new items, and a U.C.L.A. study found that adding a salad bar to the cafeteria, which allows kids to choose their own fruits and vegetables, increased produce consumption at lunch 40 percent among low-income kids. "
and
"But that's the thing about Alice Waters: practicality is not her starting point. She is a romantic, believing in her vision even when it seems unreasonable, going about making it happen and waiting for everyone else to catch up. Perhaps her plan for America's schools will indeed be like her fine dining revolution, with its mixed lettuces and sumptuous peaches: years from now we'll look back on today's lunchtime offerings, which seem so inevitable, and see them for the soggy iceberg lettuce and canned string beans they are."



Online news: What younger readers do:

From Rob Runette, Digital Edge, sharp observations pulled from the NAA Power Users 2004 study:

"Forty-four percent of visitors to newspapers sites are between the ages of 18 and 34, compared with 26 percent of general Internet users, according to NAA's New "Powers Users 2004" report. A significant number of younger online consumers look for classified information online the Web (not exclusively on newspaper sites, however). Sixty-four percent of newspaper site visitors 18 to 34 go online for real estate info; 60 percent for automotive and 58 percent for job information.

Among the other findings about younger Internet users (18 to 24 and 18 to 34):

* 64 percent of newspaper site visitors between the ages of 18 and 24 have checked movie or theater times on the Web (though not exclusively on newspapers' sites)

* 54 percent of newspaper site visitors between the ages of 18 and 24 have looked for things to do and leisure activities online (though not exclusively on newspapers' sites)

* 51 percent of newspaper site visitors between the ages of 18 and 24 have participated in online chat or instant messaging (though not exclusively on newspapers' sites)

* 53 percent of general Internet users between the ages of 18 and 34 have gone online to find local news

* 64 percent of general Internet users between the ages of 18 and 34 have gone online for local entertainment information"



Friday, March 05, 2004

Gov Ah-nold to manage muscle mag?

Is this really true?
"Gov. Schwarzenegger, the former action figure and champion bodybuilder, has inked a deal to become executive editor of Muscle and Fitness and Flex Magazines, Schwarzenegger spokesman Rob Stutzman confirmed....

"'My connection to the magazine is in a subtle way,' Schwarzenegger told USA Today. 'It's like my relationship to the Hummer. I don't go out and do commercials, but everyone knows I'm connected to the Hummer.'"

What a great way to campaign for President.


Blogging secrets revealed: A-listers lift swipe sources!

Wired News is running a story on Hewlett-Packard research reporting that that 'authors of popular blog sites regularly borrow topics from lesser-known bloggers -- and they often do so without attribution.'
If you are interested in blog infection--charting how a topics spreads across the web---this story is worth a read.

Update: Check viral memes here.

Peterme: Tufte's sparklines

petereme on Tufte's sparklines, "teeny illustrations no taller than a line of text, that communicate data patterns."

The idea of these tiny, "word-sized" graphics seems very powerful...anyone have additional links/sources to check out?

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Lighter posts next few days

Mernit on the road, expect lighter postings.

Jeremiah Tower remembers Norman Douglas

SFGate special: Tower rembers his friend Norman Douglas, a socialist who carried a hunk of salami, just in case.
Tower writes :"When I was the chef and co-owner of Chez Panisse, Norman's advice and concern about "what one got" was never out of mind, and the voice of Elizabeth(David) complemented it -- as it does these pages, since much of the words are hers." More pearls await in this little piece.

B&H Dairy: A sense of being looked at

A friend tells me about his daily lunches at the B&H Dairy on New York's Lower East Side--soup and bread at noon, always.
Yesterday, a woman goes into the restaurant, sits down at the (small) table in front of him, and proceeds to take off her coat, her blazer, and her sweater, revealing bare shoulders and a little camisole. She learns back, turns around to see who else is in the restaurant, and then, when she catches his eye, proceeds to turn around and put back on the sweater and the blazer.
"What was that about?" my friend asked me. "Why did she take all her clothes off--she was quite bare--and then put them back on?"

--So you could see her do it
--Because she caught you looking at her
--To feel her power
--She felt warm
--Just because

are all possible responses to this question my friend is posing over the phone, but I take the easy way out and murmur "Hmmn, I dunno," secretly wondering whether my friend is one of those guys who goes to lunch alone and then hungrily...watches...women.

How many bloggers are a lot of bloggers?

MarketingWonk gets the last word on the CNN spin on the paltry number of bloggers:

"Gotta love CNN's spin: "Very few bloggers on Net." The
report in question, from Pew Research, concludes that two
percent of U.S. Internet users kept online journals last
year, but it goes on to say that more recent research from the
last couple of months suggests that figure may have risen to
seven percent. Based on Pew's own estimates of how many
Americans are now online (126 million adults, as of last
December), that works out to 2.5 million to 8.8 million
bloggers in this country. To put that in perspective, while
some 86 million U.S. homes have CNN on their cable dials,
only some 3.6 million people were tuning in daily to see its
live coverage of the Iraq invasion, and its top-viewed
regular show, Larry King, attracts only one million
viewers on average. Very few indeed. "

Guys, you tell'em.

Mediamorphosis conference: count down begins

Count down is starting for the Mediamorphosis conference next week. I'll be there, leading the blogging charge, on the soon to be launched conference blog, which is getting its QA checks right now.

For the past six weeks, web business and marketing newsletters have carried ads like this one:

LAST CHANCE:

The Media Center's MediaMorphosis.
March 10-12, Newport Beach, CA.

Focused on the intersection and future of media, technology
and society. Look who's coming: Qualcomm, Motorola,
Intel, Salon.com, The BBC, Reed Elsevier, The New York Times,
Hearst, MSNBC, Red Herring, Newsweek, PR Newswire,
ITN, ABC News, Knight Ridder, AOL, Nando Media, Gannett,
and Tribune Co.

Participate in a series of Socratic dialogs with leading thinkers
on the forces shaping the future of media, such as media strategy
guru Jeffrey Rayport, Global Business Network founder Lawrence
Wilkinson, tech investor/analyst Esther Dyson, venture capital
investor/telecom advisor Edward Horowitz, Red Herring
publisher and CEO Alex Vieux, culture watcher and "Smart Mobs"
author Howard Rheingold, Sanford Bernstein Media Analyst
Tom Wolzien, CBS.MarketWatch CEO Larry Kramer, Tampa Tribune
president Gil Thelen, Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas Zuniga,
Fast Company founder Alan Weber, and many others. CNN's
Jeff Greenfield moderates the stage-setting opening conversation.


There are going to be about 100 people at the event, and they are an impressive group. The plan is for everyone to come wired (this is like the gunslingers bringing their guns, aka laptops.)
There will be a fat pipe of wireless connectivity, and as much blogging, AIM, real-time collaboration new tools, and discussion as folks are up for.

The almost-launched conference blog is meant both as a record and discussion area for conference participants, and as a virtual coffee house and meeting place for interest observers to drop in, read, and share impressions and ideas.

Part of my job is to make the blog--and related new ideas--work for everyone--part of that will be involving some of the great bloggers and general smart people in the effort.

Another part is to bring in some fresh voices--three "younger" people are going to attend as valued participants--Mary Hodder, who is a graduate student at Berkeley's School of Information Sciences and runs both the Bipblog and Napsterization.org; Ezra Klein, proprietor of Pandagon, and a junior at UC Santa Cruz, and Britta Gufstason, creator of A Jeweled Platypus blog, who is also local area HS student. All three are accomplished bloggers and super smart observers. They will be partaking in the conference, and posting to this blog along with the rest of us.

Introductions and more info on the blog, schedule, and players to follow. If you are interested in being a "guest poster" and commenting on the themes from some of the sessions from afar, please let me know--we're going to have comments and also invite "guest" commentators on some topics--once we get this new blog debugged, of course.
(Do the words QA hell ring as bell with anyone?)

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Site-finder: Pay for play

There's a new business opportunity in town at Yahoo Search. Saul Hansell's NY Times piece reports that Yahoo plans a new pay for inexing businbess in which Yahoo Search will update its index of paying clients every two days, while it may update its listing of other sites just once a month.
The new pay for play service may pull in $100MM a year for the Yahoos.

Note: I just revised this entry because my joking tone slapped a little too hard at some good folks--sorry, guys, it sounded like clever sarcasm while I was writing...

Newly bedded bliss

Okay, this veers into the department of things you probably don't want to know, but at 7 am this morning, we got a new bed.
Our old bed is soooo old it predated memory foam, built-in mattress pads, and all sorts of other features we were quickly schooled in at the bed store.
And did I mention we had to saw the old bedframe in half during one of our moves so it could go up the stairs?
That did the boxsprings no good.
So, right now, the dog is the only one checking out the new expanse of softly modulated goodness, but that will change by tonight.

Monday, March 01, 2004

April Bloggercon: 97 and rising

Dave Winer's sent out the first round of invites for BloggerCon 2 on April 17th and invited people to register for the event. As of 11 pm today, 97 folks have signed up, many of whom attended last time (and a healthy percentage of whom live in California, meaning they are going to fly across the country for a 1 day event.)
I am incredibly psyched about this event; Bloggercon 1 was great, and this one should also be worthwhile.
If you're a blogger--or thinking about it--I recommend checking the conference out.

Anil Dash: AOL coasters NYC

Anil writes: "Last week, my former employer decided to include an AOL promotional CD in each copy of the newspaper that was distributed in Manhattan. Now, the thing you have to understand here is that tens of thousands of copies of this newspaper are distributed on the island in a week. And they're free. Piles of free newspapers, sitting in bundles, each containing a worthless CD, and nothing was holding the discs in place within the papers."
Further meditations on this here.

Does free email=data-mining?

More reports that Google will soon launch a free email service to compete with the portals.
My response to these reports is to imagine the data-mining Google could on the pages around these accounts do to further improve the value of the ads they serve--isn't that the point of just about everything Google does these days?


YASN: The page view race, version 1.0

Now that there seems to be both investment dollars and partnership opportunities in the social network space, however loosely defined it may be, the race to claim dominance in some fashion is accelerating. Viz today's' PR release from MySpace.com saying that after just one month of service, it's surpassed friendster.com in terms of number of page view viewed.
A quote from the release: "Myspace.com has garnered an ardent and loyal fan base very quickly thanks to the technological superiority of its offering. MySpace.com is the only site of its kind to integrate blogs, instant messaging, classified listings, voting, groups, user forums, music and other user-created content."

I tried to join and it told me I was already a member--hopefully the email with my data will make it past the AOL spamlists and I can experience myspace.com firsthand. Anyone reading have impressions of this service they want to share?

Acquisition alley: Barry Diller buys social networking company

Business Week reports that Interactive Corp has just bought Zero Degrees, a business and recruitment focused social networking site, Stuart Henshall wrote an appraisal of the site soon after they launched in December. Interestingly, one of the team member is Mark Jeffrey, developer of The Palace, one of the more innovative online communities of the early 90s.
Says Bizweek: "Diller appears to be institutionalizing InterActive's experimental side. Tucked into the ZeroDegrees announcement is the news that he has formed a department called InterActive Development to incubate new ventures."

I wonder how many companies in this space they looked at before settling on this one? And what acquisitions will be next.

Savers: Where dotcom clothes come home to roost

Hankering for a t-shirt that says Google 01, or a cybererotica cap? Perhaps a Sun introduces HTML sweatshirt, or one from one of the dozens of 90's companies whose names started with Net, e, or cyber?
There may be a scarcity of such treasures in other parts of the country, but a special magnetism--perhaps similar to the dark alien forces focusing on a NYC high-rise apartment building on Central Park West in Ghostbusters--has irresistibly drawn what seems like hundred of these types of clothes to the racks at Savers, a popular thrift store in San Jose.
Inspired to cruise Savers by my 19-year old friend Eleanor, who has an amazing wardrobe of 70's classics, all from Savers, I discovered that while My Litle Pony and Tigercats t-shirts abound, so does the deritus of dotcom schwag.. (Unfortunately, I ended up fleeing the store after 20 minutes of combing the racks--the profusion of purple polyester pants and plaid cotton shirts gave me the shivers.)

Sunday night outing: Lost in the blues

Spent last night at Biscuits & Blues, a supper club in San Francisco where they held their first-ever Gospel night.
Spencer's group, The Gospel Travellers, played with the WD Singers, an amazing group from Sacramento.
Now when we're talking Gospel here, we're talking the other side of the blues tradition--the heritage that Sam Cooke and Al Green came out of, among others.
The musicians and singers were terrific and the crowd--many, many out of towners--seemed to love it--enough that they are going to repeat the show next Sunday night.
(Background check: For those who may not know, my husband is a musician with a long history in both southern gospel and blues and he was one of the organizers--and performers--last night. Rock on, Spence!)

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