Monday, May 31, 2004

Blog contributors: Do you know anyone who?

For a project, I am looking for bloggers who write about fashion, style, home, shopping, and related topics--I haven't found a lot of blogs on these themes.
If you know of someone writing (well) on these topics, please let me know--either via comments here or at smernit at aol dot com--could possily lead to some (paid) work.

Local directories moving from yellow pages to web

From the land of but-you-already-knew this: A NY Times story reporting that small businesses less than 10 years old rely--and spend-more on the web and less on print directories.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Big dogs, little apartments

Via Jen Chung, guestblogging at The Show, a story from the increasingly quirky New York Times on the owners of big dogs and the small spaces they squeeze them into.
Writes Andrea Elliott: "In a city defined by small spaces - cabs, elevators, cramped apartments and crowded sidewalks - it is often cause for bewilderment that New Yorkers would willingly choose to live with Great Danes, Newfoundlands, St. Bernards and Irish wolfhounds. Everything is outsize: the hair, the smell, the pull of a passing squirrel, the grooming bills, the food intake and its inevitable digestive exit, which can summon spectators like some kind of street show."
What Elliott doesn't mention is that owners of big dogs, no matter how huge, unfailing say "Oh,he just doesn't seem that big to me."

Flick: The Day After Tomorrow

Rushed out to see The Day After Tomorrow, inspired, perhaps, by the global warming article in Rolling Stone.
The special effects were tremendous--especially the tornados in Los Angeles early in the flick--but the dialog was so bad it made the movie ridiculous.
"Why did they have to talk?" I asked my husband as we left. "If they'd left out the plot, it would have been great."
"Maybe it was that bad on purpose," Spencer said. "No one could spend that much money and be that corny without knowing it."
Harry Knowles says the movie is a Sci-Fi classic--he's right it has some great moments, but it's also got some absurd moments--too many!
Having said that, this is a great trashy movie...just try to avoid paying $9.50 for the privilege..might not seem worth it.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

ZURL: Coming soon to a newspaper near you?

What do you get when you cross the Open Directory taxonomy and data with a presentation of results data (as opposed to just links?)
It's ZURL, Topix's newest product, and a damn interesting one at that.
ZURL--billed the last URL you'll ever need (very cute)is a "revised" presentation of Open Directory data,arranged--like Topix--in a news-style format(see Drink..Wine..for an example)
The directory is a little bare at launch, but there are lots of pages in News--Journalism, blogs, 2004 Presidential Election, and the potentially fascinating Obits, for starters. Also check out the local city pages, like Palo Alto. (If it wasn't clear before that one of Topix's business goals must surely be to partner with local newspapers, this implementation of Zurl makes it clear.)
Also check out People--Zurls builds pages for dozens of celebs, from Laurence Oliver to Basement Jaxx
(Via Skrenta)

Side note: It's especially heartening to see Skrenta & co. apply their smarts to keeping the Open Directory relevant. Acquired by Netscape, the Open Directory was the foundation for most search taxonomies,but never supported by the corporate parent(AOL) in any significant way. This implementation of its data moves it toward new relevance.

Who's reading my feed, dude?

Fred Wilson: "I?ve put all this time and energy into my blog page with House Ads, Adsense, Blogrolls, etc and it?s a total waste of time and energy. Because by the end of this year, the number of people who actually visit my blog will be less than 10% of my total audience."

At the same time, as Wilson's commentators point out, RSS engines can ping a site every hour or so, so the number of queries and the number of readers won't match.
Jason Calcanis says: "...One person who has their RSS reader set at every five minutes can be hitting your RSS file over 13,000 times a month. We have people doing that at and it is *very* confusing. We are working on technology to figure our how many unique readers we have per feed, how often the average person hits the file and which posts are opened."
(Thanks for the pointer, Kevin!)

Friday, May 28, 2004

Cubed: Blogging the NY real estate market

If Craig's List is siphoning off real estate and job listings from online classifieds, what could sites like Cubed do to Craig's List? While this real estate and housing blog (from Lockhart Steele) seems to still be finding its focus, it's definitely got some hooks--a spin on hyperlocal that seems both practical and interesting.

Update: Steve Johnson loves Curbed. "...Micro-coverage is one of the great things that these thematically organized blogs provide. It used to be that you could feel confident that you were on top of major news -- or sports or financial stories -- if you read the Times on a daily basis, but your micro interests were harder to keep track of with the same regularity. I remember how hard it was to find out information about Apple before the web -- you'd have to wait for MacWorld and Macweek to come out, and even then they weren't always focused on my particular sub-interests. I knew I was missing information. But now take a micro category like Mac-based audio software: I feel completely confident that if anything happens in that category -- new upgrades, announcements, reviews -- I'll see it via one of the 2-3 blogs that I follow."

JD Lasica to keynote Digital Storytelling Festival

Just heard that JD Lasica, one of my favorite cyber-journalists (he edited the terrific We, Media, among other things) is going to keynote The Digital Storytelling Festival in June in Sedona, AZ. JD has a keen understanding of digital media--what a good choice.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

New & Noteworthy

Wired's big wet kiss to Nick Denton
YPulse, daily dish tracking the business of teens
Joi Ito's wiki:: Being there, virtually, with this collaborative suggestion box--even if you don't have 6 days to hang in Europe, you can pretend...
My California New book and web site support a cool travel-writing initiative to raise money for the arts.
Tom Watson: How I turned my iPod into a PDA

Bye Bye, Pebble Beach

I moved into this house last August and got DSL. Networked the place so all the computers could use it. But then I saw there was a terrifically fast wireless network accessible from my office. So I jumped onto Pebble Beach.
Yesterday morning, my wireless access stopped working.
I thought it might be my machine, but no, Pebble Beach was gone.
After an hour of furiously rebooting, I took the dog out for a walk.
Coming back up the street, I saw the moving truck at the next-door neighbor's house. Suddenly realized Pebble Beach must be theirs--and since they were moving across town, my access toPebble Beach was gone.
Plugged in the DSL and got back online.
Going to Fry's this weekend for a wireless router.
Debating whether to risk letting someone else have a free ride on my dime.
Pebble Beach, thanks.

Netscape: New browser or ISP shill?

"AOL needs a portal, and the only efficient one it has is But people who no longer have the Netscape browser on their browser are not going to visit just because it exists. AOL needs a browser having as its default home page."
--Daniel Glazman, former Netscape engineer, commenting on the June release of the Netscape 7.2 browser.

AOL also has a cheap ISP service called Netscape that's remarkably like CompuServe is the home page for that puppy.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Andrew Anker advice: Go global

Andrew Anker: "... The earlier stage web companies I'm speaking with are thinking of a global footprint as a must-have, not a nice-to-have. Or maybe more appropriately, not even thinking of the international thing as anything particularly special. The Internet has so lowered the barriers to info-trade that Europe and Asia are just a few more hops away."
Anker asks 'How quickly should a Silicon Valley start-up move from only focusing on the domestic U.S. market to thinking about a move abroad?" His conclusion: smart companies " globalize for product development from the very beginning."

Two practicioners of this creed: Six Apart and Technorati.

Blogaholics: addicted and loving it

New York Times article today on blogaholics hits some fun themes: blogging as a self-selected (and unpaid) job, the compulsion to post, and the thrill of being part of a blogosphere conversation.
Nice work, Katie Hafner.
(Via my friend Judy Daniel)

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

About today

So the truth is, I got almost nothing done today on the work side of my life.
Aside from reading-and then sending out--10,000 emails, updating the blog, doing some work in the wiki for a project that won't go public till next week--I did nothing.
If this sounds like a lot, it should give you a good sense of both my aspirations for today, and the quantity of things I need to do.
On the other hand, I made progress in having more of a life: Worked out at the gym(I have the coolest grad student trainer), got the dog from the kennel way out in the Almaden Valley, bought groceries so we could eat something beyond eggs, tuna, and peanut butter, and threw away all those things that mutate into a half-life at the back of your fridge when you're away for a week and the only person home is a busy teen.
Of course, after six days on the road, this isn't bad as re-rentry goes. And I have the rest of the week--here in sunny Northern California--to get everything else done that's on my list--and then some.

Personalized newsletter: Orkut knows things

I just opened and read the "personalized newsletter" I received a few days ago from the Orkut team, and it's kind of scary. Or, to put it another way, if a computerized algorithm could be your fairy godmother, best friend, or social secretary, it might generate suggestions like the ones in this newsletter--eerily appropriate.
The newsletter highlights events in communities I am involved with--this section doesn't work so well, because, truth is I don't live anywhere near LA, Porto, or Denver, though I might share interest in those places.
But then, the newsletter lists friends of friends I might want to know--and the list is a who's who of people I know of, don't know personally, and would very much like to meet someday. How does Orkut know to recommend these particular folks?
They've clearly got some algorithms that are very smart indeed--I'd like to know who else they think I should meet--and the fact I want to know that really scares me.

Ad:Tech: NYTimes Digital looks ahead to more $$

Heath Row and Mary Hodder are at San Francisco Ad:Tech taking notes. Heath's got an account of a panel with Martin Nisenholz, head of New York Times Digital.
The Nisenholz comments are well worth noting:
"The time will come when the consumer will be willing to pony up for more content services on the Internet. Is that time here? It's approaching. Broadband is a really big piece of that. The advertising business on the Web right now is very healthy. But there may come a time when it won't be healthy. We are determined to eventually develop a second robust revenue stream....The Times is a 154-year-old institution, and it's been changed dramatically in the last five years. If you're interested in news, what you come to us for is not in fact what's in the paper. The vast amount of our usage is not taken from the paper, it's content we produce once the newspaper is put to bed. Because we have some scale now, we can fund a 24-hour newsroom that didn?t exist five years ago."
More(but not much) on this at the Ad:Tech blog
BTW, Mary Hodder has some good notes on another panel on social media.

(Via Rafat Ali)

Social Networking: Tickle and the new, new classifieds

The news that is buying for $94 million dollars paid out as one million shares of Monster Worldwide common stock, an initial cash payment of $29.5 million and a three-year payment of approximately $40-plus million proves without a doubt that:
A) Big media is watching closely how the success of trading communities (Craig's List) and social network sites(Tickle and Friendster) is siphoning off users from more traditional classifieds businesses, particularly among the 19-35 crowd.
B) They want that audience back, dammnit!

The Monster announcement says: "The addition of Tickle's popular interpersonal content and subscriber services in the areas of self-discovery, career assessment and social networking is expected to expand Monster's subscriber base, enhance its career-related content and further fuel its viral marketing growth."

Translation: Word of mouth is the most powerful job network. If Monster can create a strong referral network on the Tickle platform, plus retain its core market share with branded recruitment advertising, it can hold back the tide. Plus, the Tickle audience demographics fit into some of the growth categories online recruitment classifieds always talk about exploring further: retail and service sector, first job, post-college placement.

I'm curious to see how this will push the market--and have no doubt, it will.

(Time out for a tout: To state the obvious, if you are a media company or newspaper reading this and wonder if these kinds of questions are part of 5ive's consulting practice, the answer is yes.)

Amazon: A move from channel to platform?

One way to look at the news that Toys R Us has sued over an accused violation of exclusivity rights as an online channel distributor is that Toys R Us is trying to protect both its market share and its channel distribution (which it paid plenty for.)
Another way to look at the same case is that it demonstrates how Amazon is shifting its view of itself from being a channel to being a platform. As a channel (online retailing) Amazon aims to be a dominant marketplace for ecommerce--with over 44MM registered users, they've clearly fulfilled that aim. Now, they seem interested in becoming more of a platform, akin in a way to UPS or FedEx in the amazing variety of ways they can service merchants and purchasers.
Cynthia Webb's column in the Washington Post does a nice job laying out the facts, and the Times story notes Amazon's desire to compete with eBay, but neither mentioned that Amazon may want to expand their mission from providing customers with the best buying experience on the net to providing the best buying--and selling--experience on the net.
If Amazon is moving toward that vision, they would want to power as many merchants as possible(--within the scope of their current contracts and agreements, of course.) My sense is that is that is exactly what is happening, and that A9 and GUI and their other tools are going to be positioned as powerful distribution products to support global trading, with their own commerce business as just one leg of their stool.
More stories here. Blogosphere comments here.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Bard Reunion

Back at Bard for my college reunion. Haven't been here for at least 8 years, but it seems similar to before, only much more prosperous. The Frank Gehry music and theatre building is astounding, and the new dorms and administrative buildings are well-designed and sit nicely in the landscape.

I realize that this area has been my model for the dream place to live since I was 19 years old. Back in the day, I imagined that some day, perhaps at the ripe old age of 35, I'd move back up to the Rhinebeck area and have a house and write. Of course, when I was 35, I was smack in the middle of the dotcom explosion in New York, with a husband and a kid, and moving to Rhinebeck was nowhere on my list.
But this visit I see how many of the elements I like about the Hudson Valley are values I've carried elsewhere: the leafy greenery, rolling fields and forests. The fruit orchards.
The mountains shadowed in the distance, beyond the water, the small towns (now grown too upscale and chic). I wish I had a chance to come back here and spend a summer--I don't want to move here anymore, but it is a glorious place.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Light postings next few days

In New York with the husband. (Light postings next few days (following those new rules, kinda.)back to obsessive-compulsive behavior on Monday.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Ultra-Babes: Roef, Rossif and Kaais

Know anyone who's named their kid Rumer,Scout, Tallulah, Romeo, Roeg, Rossif, Malu, Lark, Keelin, Kian, Chorde, Kaais, Apple, or Decker?
No? Obviously you're not friends with Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Madonna, Gwyneth, Donald Sutherland, Jerry Garcia, Bob Gedorf, Geena Davis or Snoop Dog--their kids have wierd names you're nevah gonna forget.
(Via New Yorkish)

Traveling to NY again

The last time I went to New York, I packed everything in under and hour, then discovered I'd forgotten my underwear. Not the kind of thing you share at the office.
This trip will be a little different, because Spencer is coming with me and we're heading upstate Friday afternoon for my college reunion (no, I am not going to tell you which year).
I went to Bard, in the Hudson Valley,and I'm completely psyched about going back there for a few days. We'll stay on campus, hang out in Rhinebeck and Tivoli, and walk around in the woods--oh yes, and we'll see people from my class as the newly minted grads and their parents wonder what the hell happens next(my son would say this is a generation thing and only people as old as me finished school and had no idea what was next--he's probably right.)
I'm also hoping to have a reunion with my cousin Arlene. Arlene is the daughter of my father's favorite uncle, and when we were little (she's probably 4-5 years older), I admired her greatly (she danced in The Nutcracker!).
Things changed, and I haven't seen her since I was eight years old, but we got back in touch a few years ago and now are finally going to meet.
I am very excited about this, because I've learned that family ties are very powerful--and we probably have a lot in common we don't know about. I am packing a bunch of family pictures to share, and bringing the digital camera--there are so few relatives in my family I know my siblings will want to hear more about this and see what Arlene and her husband look like.

Nick blogs back

This is what is grand about blogging: Nick Denton has his say about Greg Lindsay's Biz 2.0 piece and the blog post is more interesting than the article.
Choice quotes from Nick:
"Why are business journalists so obsessed by blogs? (For total overkill, there's another profile, coming out the next Wired Magazine.) Even if one believed the hyper-ventilating estimates of the medium's potential, the fact remains that they are small businesses with, as Jeff Jarvis puts it, the revenues of a Burger King franchise. Why the attention?

The media is simply narcissistic. That's part of the answer. Maer Roshan's Radar project, for instance, has enjoyed and suffered far more scrutiny than the financial investment would normally warrant. Greg Lindsay's personal preoccupation with Gawker seems to stem from the fact that we used to write about him and, since he "went freelance", no longer do. Media about media about media.

But there's something more than that. Writers like Greg Lindsay, and editors such as Josh Quittner of Business 2.0, wrote about the 1990s internet boom. They saw acquaintances get rich, and they missed the opportunity. Many of them ended up, after stints at bubble publications such as Inside, out of work."

There's more, a lot more, on the blog. More than enough to suggest that Nick Denton is as smart as they come (but of course, you know that--the guy's created all these kick-ass sites, entertaining as they come...)

Biz 2.0: Nick Denton

Business 2.0: Greg Lindsay's piece on Nick Denton tries to be more of a story than it is:
"Any way you look at it, you have to conclude that Denton is wily. Consider his blog business model. A decade ago, media companies sank untold millions of dollars into building and staffing websites. Most of them are still in the red. It turned out that most Net users don't want to pay for content, so new-media publishers had to rely on the trickle of revenue that came from online ads.

Denton learned from that debacle and embraced weblogs, which are the LEDs of the media firmament: They require almost no resources to run. His mini media empire, Gawker Media, has no offices, no proprietary technology, and no full-time employees, yet it can attract audiences big enough to generate ad revenue. Better still, the "content" is virtually free, since it consists of little more than snarky comments pointing to other sites (mostly newspapers and magazines) that do spend money or time creating content. It's so dumb, it works: Denton's blog model is leaner than a George Foreman turkey burger. And it's apparently already returning a modest profit -- with the potential to deliver substantially more within a few years."

Lindsay goes on to speculate that Denton spends a few thousand bucks per month for each site and has a monthly audience of about 1.6 million readers with revenues of $250,000 a year--with potential to gross $1MM by 2005.

Here's to ya, Nick! Many publishers must wish they had your(lack of) overhead and ability to hire colorful editorial talent and then NOT muzzle'em.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

New rules

Those of you who know me well know that I'm a bit of a workaholic.
(Note to self: Is this really something one can be a 'bit of?" Nah.)
Okay, I really get into my work, sometimes too much.
In the interest of family harmony and more fun, the following new rules are in force:
1. No work after 9 pm, unless there's a crisis.
2. No work at all after 10 pm (Hey, blogging doesn't count.)
3. One night a week(M-F): go out with the husband.
4. One night a week(M-F): Bubble bath night.
5. One morning per weekend: hit the beach with the dog and the spouse.
6. Weekends: Do something with family and or friends for one night.
7. Keep working out (3X week)
7. Follow rules 1-7 or else.

Rafat Ali Looks Back...At Seth Godin

Rafat Ali reflects on the path from unemployment to Paid and recalls being inspired by...Seth Godin.
Godin said: "Do it slow, or do it fast, but do it. In retrospect, people will say that 2003 was the best year in a decade to start your own company. Even better, the people with the guts to do it fast or the perseverance to do it slow will be happier, healthier, and more in control of their lives, their ethics, and their contributions to the world.
Did you ever notice that almost nobody who is successful at running their own thing ever goes back? In my case, I quit my one and only non - food service job in 1986. Take it from me: You're too smart, too fast, and too talented to waste any more time.
Get going. Do it today.
You'll thank me tomorrow. It's the right thing to do in 2003 -- or any year."

Rafat writes: "This quote ended up as a wall paper on my laptop and every evening, when I sat down trying to hunt for a job, it mocked me. It mocked me while I was applying for an entry level position at Mining magazine, or going to interviews for a media reports editor at Datamonitor, or chatting up clueless recruitment agency drone in the hope that she might help push my resume for that glorified data entry position."

Given how good Paid Content is, and how much success Rafat is having, this memory is particularly sweeet--and inspiring to all of us who need to be brave--just about everyone, these days.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Teen Bloggers: Master's Thesis Dives Deep

Will Richardson takes a look at a Georgetown University master's thesis by David Huffaker on teen bloggers--specifically on gender identity and language differences. Will pulls some quotes:
"Blogs are used as extensions of real-world identities, as a means of exhibition, or possibly, as a way to share and connect with the community around a teenager. Because blogs are easy to use, free to the public, and encourage self-expression and self-presentation, their application in educational environments is worth considering. Blogs enhearten authors and empower voices. They make an excellent venue for developmental growth, exploration and expression of identity, and allow youth to build a relationship with the community around them."
'Overall, the results indicate that teenagers reveal a considerable amount of personal information in their blogs, including name, age, and location, as well as contact information in the form of an email address, an instant messenger name or a link to personal homepage. The content of blogs typically reflects what is expected to impact a teenager?s life, such as school, intimate relationships, sexual identity and even music. While almost half of teenage blogs are abandoned, active blogs demonstrate high levels of loyalty in terms of frequency of posts (daily or weekly) and length of posts."

Battelle: Google's next phase

John Battelle comments on Danny Sullivan's notes on Google no longer defining itself as a search company., and their enormous ambitions: "Google is clearly no longer just a search company, and Danny is right to declare this fact. Google is bigger now, and it has to act like a bigger company. Along with Yahoo, it is one of the first truly "new media" companies of our era. Search is its core editorial product, the internet is its distribution network, and advertising its revenue stream. What's new is that the company breaks some pretty sacred media company norms - distributing advertising across editorial sites that it doesn't control, for example, or abstracting traditional editorial judgment behind opaque curtains of algorithmic logic. Just wait until Google starts to distribute video ads attached to net-based television programming. Don't think it will happen? I'll bet you dinner it will."

One of the most fascinating things about Google's developing itself as a portal play is that Larry Page and Sergey Brin had these ambitions 4 years ago. I remember sitting in a room with Larry at Netscape, Winter 2000, when they were a small company, and Larry talked about how they wanted to grow that single search box to become the dominant navigation and starting point for Internet users. I doubt they had any sense at that point that advertising--taking a page from Overture in particular--would become key to fueling their growth,but the ambition was there. And now look.

(Side note: Back in 2000, many of the Netscapers urgently wanted AOL to buy Google. Smarting from the fact Yahoo had started on Netscape machines, many on the team felt Google was a must-buy. A top executive, however, who shall remain nameless, didn't want to even consider the deal, saying "AOL users don't care about search. Forget it." Of course, enough reason prevailed for AOL to invest and get those warrants that are going to make them so much money now that the IPO is going through--and within a year, as the ad market began to tank, first the Overture and then the Google ad words revenue was what was propping up ad sales.)

Conference boomlet: Biting the hand that meets you

Charles Cooper, CNET: "Expensive mini-conferences fell out of fashion during the bust, but now that the tech business is on the mend, they are back with a vengeance.
But before bugging your boss for permission to jet off to Big Thinker's 2004 in Cancun, ponder Cooper's Law of Bloviation--which posits an inverse relationship between the number of speechifying multimillionaires on display and the improbability of deriving any benefits from sitting in the audience (besides logging quality snooze time)."
Cooper's amusing squewer of high-tech speeechifying blatherfests is dead on--but the truth is, most people go to conferences to meet folks they admire and see colleagues they know--the sessions are a small part of what a *good* conference delivers.

Friday, May 14, 2004

(More) New blogs to note

Blogging is so cool because people can start and stop at any time, and their individual voices can be so interesting. A couple of new blogs (some just new to me) have crossed my screen that I'm definitely going to be reading with interest:
Jupiter/ClickZ editor Pamela Parker's The River is Pamela's third outside the office venture, if you count her cashmere knitting company and the company start-up blog as her first two projects. This new project is a catch-all site (a bit like this one) where Pamela's very sharp insights and ideas hold forth.
Pamela's old boss Tom Watson, late of the Riverdale Press and the beloved @NY, started blogging again recently. I'd checked out his blog when it launched, but couldn't get the RSS feeds to work for me; he's got a new source now (feedburner) that should do the trick.)
Finally, Matt Blumberg, CEO of Return Path, and long time AOL VP, first of AOL Moviefone and then of AOL Gaming, has started Only Once, which looks like a great blog where the spin is being a first time CEO. (Matt says he was inspired by Fred Wilson, another recent blogger and one of the guys who is making me think of this bubble's VCs as kind, sensitive guys.)

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Swami Uptown: Jesses's got a brand new blog

Jesse Kornbluth, Beliefnet: "Thanks to the Internet and a handful of spiritual experiences, I've had a glimpse of the world as a series of caring communities."
Swami Uptown, Jesse's new "blog" (which seems to be more of a column for the moment, but undoubtedly a comments function will be added)offers a mix of life observations, inspirational quotes and heart felt political sentiments.
Jesse is one of the best writers I know, so this is a column--uh, I mean blog, that definitely bears watching--and it will update daily during the week(Beliefnet writers get to rest on both Sabbaths, you see.)
Welcome to the blogosphere,Jesse!

Sales on new books declined in 2003

Report today that book sales declined in 2003, even as revenues went up. According to the Book Industry Study Group, 23 million fewer books were sold last year than in 2002.
Biggest factor? A rise in the sale of used books.

Fox news quotes from Albert N. Greco, an industry consultant and a professor of business at the graduate school of Fordham University:"We believe this is due to a variety of factors, the biggest being the used book market. People are looking for bargains, especially in college textbooks, where we believe millions of used books are being bought. Also, books are competing with magazines, cable, radio, music and movies."

How about those Cory Doctorow book downloads?

Google Groups gets an upgrade

I saw the CNET piece on the newly upgraded Google groups and immediately checked it out.
I'd been talking recently with someone at Yahoo who was describing some of the concerns there about blogs and other tools hurting Yahoo Groups--we were agreeing that it was one of their top products
Now, Google's launched its own groups product--and I want to play with it a little and see how it works so I set up a group everyone is invited to join and play with.

Beyond basic capabilities, I am particularly curious how Google might use groups to play with and launch:
A universal sign-in: I was able to *join* with my gmail log in (not the blogger or Orkut ID, yet)
Local advertising: On Yahoo, local interest groups such as Bay Area Blues are HUGE. Building a new groups tool seems like a great way for Google to drill down into that market.
Surround services: So Google gives users search, local search, email, social networking, personal expression(blogging) and group tools(this one), and news.
Sounds just like what we wanted to do at Netscape--provide users with
a suite of great products that met their every need and keep them going
through our service onto the net.

What are your predictions? Is this a Yahoo-killer?
Nothing like some new competition in the market to drive a little fun.

bonus links:
Search Engine Watch May 12 story
Google Groups offers Atom Feeds for Usenet news groups. (Via Dan Dickinson)
News links

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

What do you call 1,000,000 gigabytes?

A petabyte !
The Internet Archive's got a petabyte box--that's one million gigabytes! See petabox pix here.
(Via Dan Gillmor)

Weds nite event: SECTOR WATCH: Blogging vs. Traditional Media

CNET and Reuters are adding RSS feeds. Blogger and Six Apart are expanding rapidly. Craig's List is siphoning off classifieds from print and online news sites in the Bay area and other markets. Even as newspapers and magazines are fighting hard to retain their profitable advertising and circulation base, analysts are predicting steep declines in (print) newspaper readership over the next five years.
Tomorow's Sector Watch event is going to take a stab at these points and talk about blogging and traditional media and how they fit--and don't fit--together.
It's 6:30PM to 8:30PM at Fenwick & West LLP, 801 California Street Mountain View, CA, 94041 and hosted by the IBDNetwork
Dan Gillmor, Chris Nolan, Scott Rafer and myself lead the talk.

Why Tim Goodman could be wrong about Al Gore

SF Chronicle's TV critic Tim Goodman skewers Al Gore's purchase of INDTV today: "Gore has bought himself an obscure cable news channel, and he's going to program it for people in their 20s. Apparently he hasn't been watching "The Daily Show" of late or, for that matter, any of the dumb answers young people give Jay Leno on a weekly basis to really simple questions."
Goodman goes on to wonder why Gore thinks he can create a compelling news channel when so many others have failed to attract an 180-24 year old audience. His arguments are well-argued, but ultimately wrong.
What can help make Gore successful?
1) Bob Pittman: the man who helped create MTV.
2) MTV itself: time for an alternative aka market extension
3) Leveraging Digital media--if any new product needed a smart digital media strategy, this is the one. If you don't get what digital living and persistent connections mean in this age group, you are dead.
4) Understanding the audience: If Gore and his team are really smart (and I don't know if they get this or not) they will pay careful attention to the face their potential audience is really distinctive in both behavior and outlook from their 30-something predecessors.
They will build a network and companion products that start from the following premises:
a) It's all about me. I am command central for all media choices (this is their audience talking)
b) It's all about my friends. What can I do with this info you're giving me?
c) I am in a hurry. Make it fast and boil it down.
d) Do you have any idea who I am? If you did you'd reflect my perspectives and you'd provide the data on more platforms that just a cable station, you think I have the time to sit around and watch?
5) Disaffection: Do you think young people like being lectured by media that doesn't get their concerns--or being sent endless booty shows?
Will a great new youth network happen? It could. For now it's Gore and Hyatt's game to win--or lose.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Do the Googleboys think their personas need warming up or something?

Did blogging just jump the shark? Google's started its own blog.
Something a little off in the tone here.
Ev writes:
"We're going to post stuff here - regular bloggy things: What Larry had for breakfast. What Sergey thinks of that Hellboy movie. Which Dawson's Creek character reminds us most of Eric.

And perhaps, news about Google, and our thoughts on whatever random events cross our horizon."

Do the Googleboys think their personas need warming up or something?
Or is it now that Sergey's going to be richer than Croseus everyone will care which movies he likes?
Or is it that these engineering types have gotten so mellow they've stopped making spreadsheets of their life goals and will now share "thoughts on whatever random events" click across their calculators?

Ohhh, I'm being bitchy again. But this sounds...disingenuous.

$$ Tacoda signs AP Deal for news sites $$

Audience management systems sweep the field in an effort to provide better reporting and higher-prices CPMs to news sites--and Tacoda is leading the pack. According to Melinda Gipson at NAA, The Associated Press has signed an agreement to use the ASP version of TACODA Systems' Audience Management System to learn more about users who
access news stories and multimedia on the 400-plus Internet sites served by the AP's hosted news service.
With so many large clients, Tacoda must be learning a terrific amount about audience behavior and getting good data sets with which to refine their tracking products.
I've been a big fan of Tacoda since last summer, when I interviewed a number of online news sites, large and small, implementing their systems and then reconnected with Dave Morgan,their CEO. Having just raised $7MM in new funds, they should be feeling pretty good about now.
Morgan quote: "With distribution across thousands of Web sites, more people read AP stories than any other news organization. TACODA's AMS will help AP sort this enormous readership into large groups of behavioral-defined audience segments that experience has shown, will respond at extraordinary rates to well-targeted campaigns from advertisers."
Translation: We will help you make A LOT more money from your news.

Iraqi war: Who wrote this?

"The entire affair is a failure of leadership from start to finish. From the moment they are captured, prisoners are hooded, shackled and isolated. The message to the troops: Anything goes.

In addition to the scores of prisoners who were humiliated and demeaned, at least 14 have died in custody in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army has ruled at least two of those homicides. This is not the way a free people keeps its captives or wins the hearts and minds of a suspicious world.

How tragically ironic that the American military, which was welcomed to Baghdad by the euphoric Iraqi people a year ago as a liberating force that ended 30 years of tyranny, would today stand guilty of dehumanizing torture in the same Abu Ghraib prison used by Saddam Hussein?s henchmen.
This was not just a failure of leadership at the local command level. This was a failure that ran straight to the top. Accountability here is essential ? even if that means relieving top leaders from duty in a time of war."

Read this today in The Army Times.

Oh, by the way, Bush says he views the Iraqi atrocity photos "with disgust."

Teens online: Jupiter data shows girls rule

iMedia story on Jupiter research on teens and the net:
"Teens using the Internet shape trends, says three Jupiter Research reports. And the 18 million U.S. teens using the Internet is expected to soar to 22 million in 2008...more online teens are regular users of instant messaging (71 percent) and online content like personal pages and Weblogs (30 percent). Teens also outpace adults in gaming, music and movies, but participate less in online entertainment categories like sports and TV."
And, apparently, girls rule. "Conventional wisdom says girls mature faster than boys do, and this phenomenon holds true online," says Vikram Sehgal, research director of JupiterResearch. "On average, a 14-year-old girl is more active online than a 17-year-old boy. Teen boys spend 150 percent more time per week playing online games than girls do, but girls spend 22 percent more time online."

Dave Winer: Google log-ins and Blogger notes

Winer: "...I now have four different logins at Google: Orkut, AdSense, Blogger and Gmail. Each with a different username and password. Now here's an area where Google could be a leader, provide an alternative to Passport, something we really need, a Google-size problem."

Dave also says:"...Don't be surprised when Google announces a centralized aggregator a la Bloglines (hopefully not with a three-pane interface). That will be Microsoft's cue to release announce theirs, and we're off to the races. (I bet Sun buys Bloglines.)"

Also, Dave's big push, which I can't omit,is for Blogger to add RSS 2.0 feeds.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Blogger gets major new feature release

They said it would happen on Mother's Day--and it did. Blogger's got a brand new interfac and some interesting new features. What stands out?
1) Radically different interface for creating and editing posts--think Typepad, Jr.
2)A profile area (thnk Typepad, again), but also a place for Google to be able to develop FOAF capabilities, add in Gmail and search your blog/search the web capabilities, and, of course, place smart little ads someday, if they dare(and since Blogger is free, why wouldn't they dare?)
3) Comments: I enabled mine, then hid them because this features eliminates comments on all past posts (via reblogger)--not ready to turn that out tonight, but again, it looks just like Typepad.
4) Cute little publishing clock showing progress of republish
5) Expanded knowledgebase, Biz Stone style--no bland tech manuals here.
Demanding cynic that I am, I think this is definitely a major upgrade. And suspect there's more to come.

Monday update: BBC News story on new release describes Ev Williams as saying that Google "would be looking at incorporating Google's search technology into Blogger, offering subscribers the ability to search their blog."

Friendster Mostly teens and fakes?

Danah Boyd's Many 2 Many post on Friendster today says that the service seems to be full of underage teens saying they're 69(!)
Dana says that not only are the kids fakesters, but that they're affiliated with fake high schools (so they can join as a group).
Good news here: There is life for teen networks beyond IRC and AIM--social networking is actually a great fit for teens on so many level (and what fueled tripod back in the day, early on).
Dubious news: Will Friendster last? Not if under 18s with fake names are the the core audience.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Did ya see it? Google's many machines

Tristan Louis: "Based on quick back of the envelope calculations, it looks like Google is managing between 45,000 and 80,000 servers."
(Via John Naughton)

Visionary women bloggers: Who?

Dave Pollard asks who are the net's most visionary women--because no women made it onto Seb Paquet's recent list.
A visionary is different from a critic--and alot of the bloggers I enjoy are critics and analysts, more than visionaries, but having said that some women bloggers who consistently expand my understanding include:
Xeni Jardin, Kerry Bodine, Jeneane Sessum, Esther Dyson, Judith Meskill, Mary Hodder and Halley Suitt.
There are dozens more women whose blogs I enjoy, but this group often surprises me--not only with their intelligence, but with their humanity.

Thanks, Dave as well for the link to Feministings, a new group blog from some right on young women.

What's your favorite online shopping site?

Where do you shop online?
Browsing through Cool Tools, I saw a Kevin Kelly post from last summer about favorite catalogs, with 60 interesting responses.
Thought the question of favorite online shopping sites was an interesting collorary.
So, where do you like to shoponline?
My list: Amazon, American Spoon Foods, REI, Design within Reach, Archie McPhee, Sierra Trading Post all get my business.

May 12th Panel: Emergent blogging--A panel (aka Blogs vs. Traditional Journalism)

Interested in how the blog world is developing and what mainstream media and investors should know about the blogsophere?
If yes, Wednesday's panel should be up your alley.
It's a lively talk moderated by DEMO's Chris Shipley, with panelists
Dan Gillmor - Technology Columnist - Mercury News
Chris Nolan - Politics from Left to Right
Scott Rafer, CEO of Feedster
and moi.

We've had to answer some questions Chris posed ahead of time, so our smallest disagreements will be exposed for your entertainment (and then we will try to correct them, for our mutual enlightenment--and your amusement.
Or, on a less flippant note, it's a chance to here some folks very passionate about this category talk and share--and for you to chime in, no doubt.

Logistics: Wednesday, May 12, 2004 6:30 to 8:30pm at Fenwick & West at 801 California St. Mountain View, CA. Tickets here.

Wondering about newsreaders? Read this

JD Lasica's done his usual outstanding job in a new OJR piece explaining and reviewing online newsreaders, those things that let you choose RSS feeds from your favorite blogs and info sources (if you're not sure what RSS is either, read this) and bundle them into a nice headline or headline and story style interface, ending that annoying need to click on 200 different URLs to read your daily favs.
JD writes:
"After a couple of hours of subscribing to favorite feeds, your news grazing habits will be changed forever. Just as TiVo lets you watch TV more efficiently, RSS readers do the same by letting you scan your favorite blogs and news sites faster or letting you cast your net over a wider range of material."
He reviews a number of newsreaders, including Feedemon, Netnewswire, Newsmonster , Bloglines and more.
JD also covers how to set up an RSS feed, and runs down a list of cool tools, RSS feed sites, and more.

If you need Newsreaders/RSS 101, start here. If you know all that, read it anyway--the guy's got it all wrapped tight.

Friday, May 07, 2004 Jon Dube likes'em

Cyberjournalist Alert has nice things to say about the relaunched this week.
Wonder if my earlier posts--and Peter Caputa's great comments--planted a little seed for Jon?

Defamer: Denton builds his empire

Checked out the recently launched Defamer, LA Gossip rag from Gawker Media, Nick Denton's shop. Is the author really in LA? What if it's actually NYC's Andrew Krucoff, a sometime Gawker and Gothamist writer?
In some ways Nick Denton strikes me as the new the Fagin of the media world, a shrewd instructor using a talented band of scribes and jakes to pick the pockets of the mainstream media. His sites' slangy, gossipy items that are waaay smarter (but never snarkier) than Page Six and completely addictive.
No question but that Nick's media empire is gonna go places...If he's as smart as I think he is, he's probably already talked to Al Gore , Joel Hyatt, and Bob Pittman about their new TV channel for 20-somethings.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Phrases that should be banned #1

There are thousands of phrases that should be banned, but the one that leapt out at me tonight, as I sat listening to the musicians at the folk open night mike (a unique experience in Silicon Valley, where lots of programmers apparently play folk guitar and sing as a hobby) was "I have been searching so long..."

AOL Sale: A question of price?

NY Daily News says AOL's sale by TW may be just a question of price--$20 billion to be exact. Those earlier denials of shopping the businesssounds like bargaining tactics.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

New project hits build phase; feels great

My 5ive partner and I have been working for the past six weeks on a project for a media company that involves developing the business strategies and product plans for a new web site, to be launched in conjunction with a new product for women ages 25-50. Over the past six weeks, we've developed creative briefs, business case scenarios, revenue projections, and recommendations on partners and vendors for the client. We went through a detailed RFP process and met with some great firms, then worked with our client to select a vendor to create the site. One of our deliverables was that Silicon Valley favorite, the MRD (Marketing requirements document, aka the product plan).
The MRD went out to the vendor last night and we held the kick off meeting this morning.
The vendor--a design and production company--introduced their team and we went through the document, with no red flags. They're now off creating timelines and a revised scope of work (post RFP).
This project is now officially in phase 2--the build. So far, it seems to be on track (Of course, there are tight deadlines--that's another constant of product launches, right?)
Wow, talk about a good feeling! It feels great.

Media UK: AOL's gonna get sold

UK ad rag sez: "Media giant Time Warner could sell a stake in its internet portal AOL, less than four years after the two companies merged in a $350bn deal."

The world of AIM: Kids & Teens's got a column on kids and teens using AIM, and a transcript of a chat with experts Peter Grunwald and Tom de Boor.
Some points from the story:
There are 36 million active screen names on AIM, and 25 percent are for users under 17. Two billion IMs fly through cyberspace every day -- for all ages.
How many buddies do your kids have?
And who the hell are they?

Grunwald and de Boor comment:
"...We think kids are finding instant messaging fits better into the multitasking milieu that they enjoy. They want to enjoy many media simultaneously and IMing while doing other things is easier than talking on the phone while doing other things (if for no other reasons, in many cases, than that it requires only one phone line). You can carry on conversations with many more people simultaneously by IM than by phone, you have a broader reach of people you can communicate with by IM, you can think about what you're saying (so as to avoid the mortification of saying something stupid), you can tune out people IMing you who you don't want to deal with (the electronic equivalent of "you're breaking up"), you have some level of anonymity and distance, etc. etc. Plus there's still some novelty to it and in some cases some distance from mom and dad's understanding.

FC: Who are the masters of design?

Tell Fast Company which of these designers rocked your world.

OJR: Mark Glaser's piece on wire stories

Mark's OJR piece on wire stories and how they are becoming more of a commodity give my commentd lots of play.
Summary: News brands are becoming less distinguishable due to all the news online. "That's why Google News is doing so well."

Brit gossip: Sean Lennon and Lizzie Jagger

Kids of the rich and famous face the world together: Model Lizzie Jagger and musician Sean Lennon are reportedly a pair.

Okay, time to go back to work.

Al Gore: The new new network

Gore's got game--and Bob Pittman may be close behind him. The NY Daily News reports today that Al Gore's closed a deal to buy cable network Newsworld International from Vivendi Universal.
Next stop: Kidsville--Gore and Pittman want to start an alternative to MTV, with, presumably, a Daily Candy TV show as part of the mix.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Where in the world is Dave? Vacation ideas

Delicious discussion going on at Scripting News in response to Dave asking for ideas about places to spend a long summer break. Great ideas and a wonderful kick off to dreaming (I will be here in the US, working away. maybe taking a week at the beach if I'm lucky--on the other hand, I live 40 miles from Santa Cruz and went to the beach twice this past weekend, so I'm not complaining.)

Don Logan on web ads, and expansion

CNET story on Don Logan, czar of Time Warner(and owner of the AOL P&L).
The reporter wants to know whether the company is going to rely on paid search advertising from Google to drive all their ad revenue growth, and why they want to expand and Netscape.,com as businesses right now.
Logan says no way, Google isn't going to drive all their ad revenue. He explains, "...Advertising has turned. We want as much inventory as we can possibly get to tap into this growing market, because we do have this rising tide in the market now. Advertisers are looking at the Internet more closely. And we need to serve them with as broad an audience as we possibly can, with as diverse an array of products as we can. "

Word on the street in NY is that some agencies are still have trouble forgetting the arrogance with which they were treated for many years, but that others are applauding the new team and the effort they're putting into restoring the ad business for AOL. The other comment I've heard is that alot of their pricing is higher than other sites, so price shoppers drop out, leaving big brands who were, only a few years ago, burnt by AOL...

Darknet: Edit this book

JD Lasica is one of my favorite online journalists--he's so smart. JD's been working on a new book called Darknet, about the digital media revolution and the conflicts between Hollywood and tech folks.
He's just posted the first few chapters on a wiki and is inviting folks to read and edit.
He's also chosen to spread the word by sending a note to nineteen bloggers--so hey, pass this meme along if you are so moved and let's see how many editors JD can have (and what they say....this could be a very interesting social experiment)

More: JD also posted a note to the online news list with some useful explanations. Here's an excerpt of his explanation about editing the book on a wiki:
" A handful of other writers, such as Dan Gillmor, have recently begun publishing draft chapters of their upcoming books on their weblogs.

Wikis go a step further by inviting readers to not just post comments but to actually dive in and make whatever edits they'd like: make line edits, add
passages or background, add a notation about an overlooked angle or anecdote, etc. It's not completely democratic, however; the author still retains the
ability to revert back to a previous version, and to accept or reject changes for the final manuscript. And, yes, an editor at the publishing house will make
a final edit as well (the old-fashioned way)."

Local blogging ad network?

Steve Rubel writes: "This week's issue of Advertising Age reports that's is using to recruit bloggers to dig deeper into local news by drilling down to neighborhood-level coverage of soccer leagues and recycling rules.
Even more notable, execs from parent company tell AdAge that if things go well they will sell ads across their network of weblogs to local advertisers that can't afford NJ dailies, such as The Newark Star-Ledger and Trenton Times.

Reading this item makes me wonder if Jarvis is planning a local blogging ad network with Blogads, with as the (as usual) pilot?

If yes, that is a great idea and everyone should go for it--online news folks, this is a good reason to think about how blogging fits in your world.

Jack Welch: Is he the next media mogul?

Storyin the NY Post today about the recently-married Jack Welch feeling ready to run another company. Love the idea of Welch running Disney, playing a (big) role at Time Warner, or teaming up with Barry Diller.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

The Amazing Cheskin aka small world converge

Just saw Stuart Henshall's post about new blog tools at brand consultancy Cheskin and realized that I know several of the people involved--but not as a group.
Justin Khoo and Terri Ducay did the heavy lifting to create the new blogs, with the help of Stuart--and Terre Layton has dome some work there as well.

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