Thursday, August 26, 2004
Notice: Goin' fishing
I'm taking some time off and am going to try to stay offline for the week.
So if you usually send me email--don't.
It will be bad enough when I return.
Regular postings--and comments--to resume around September 4th.
Where are we going?
off da grid.
More when I return.
Vin Crosbie: Google's view of news
The comments on this post add to the discussion, with one poster writing "Google has a hierarchy of stories from a certain number of media outlets. That's the way most news services work. I think if you drilled down, you'd be surprised at how much content is actually repetition of the same AP stories anyway." and another saying 'What's interesting to me is that Google News manages not to be completely dominated by the power law, since half of the sources aren't in the top 20. "
As Vin would undoubtedly agree, it is hard to read this post and not think about Topix.net, which prides itself on indexing a wide variety of sources.
Back to School: Would you reward good grades with cigarettes?
In Palm Beach, Fla., reports the Palm Beach Post, the three local Krispy Kreme stores are giving students in kindergarten through sixth grade a free doughnut for every A on their report card, limited to six each grading period. This is despite a local charity push, spearheaded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to spend $1.4 M in area schools to fight childhood obesity and promote healthier lifestyles.
The best stat is in the online poll accompanying the story, in which 56% of the respondents say about the doughnut giveaway "It's great. It's a harmless incentive for reaching a goal."
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Customer Satisfaction--The distance between
What's interesting here is not that Google (once again) leads the pack, but that there are some telling gaps between competitors in these categories. It seems ironic that AOL, which has such a complex, full-service offering, should be ranked at a low of 67 points as a portal, while Yahoo leads the group with 78 points.
Maybe this is yet more evidence that the all you can eat sub model just isn't working anymore--I would love to hear how execs at AOL talk between themselves about the value of premium content and services (which is a big part of their business) and the value of free access to content and services--which is where a big chunk of the AOL sub biz seems to be heading.
Monday, August 23, 2004
AOL sales exec joins Friendster
More interestingly, perhaps, is the fact that Barrett was the guy who monetized Geocities for Yahoo after that acquisition--a fact that means he should be equally adept at squeezing an ad model out of Friendster, this minute's 'I have millions of users but can't make $$' from them winner.
Also, did I mention that Barrett is a long-time West Coaster?
Go get'em, guys.
Money for good: VC''s spread the wealth
As great as the news of the money is the fact these companies are starting to become real businesses with customer, and yes, revenue.
Saturday, August 21, 2004
(Non-work) Blogs I am digging
Owner's Manual, Lee Watters
Right after BlogOn, my friend Lee Watters started blogging. A few weeks later he decided to leave his job. Now he's writing about acting as a channel to some entities. And blogging daily. Even if I have a little trouble imagining someone I know channeling incorporal masters, I enjoy his posts, especially ones like this one:
"If you always operate from the truth, you won't burn any bridges or have to remember what you said. Dancing around what's really up just leaves you embarrassed and vaguely unhappy with yourself -- and it's truly bad form. Watch your form, it's what others really remember after you're gone."
Trickster! Jason Cherovokas
Accomplished journalist Chervokas is writing about his diagnosis of bipolar disorder(lite) with an openness that represents the best of blogging--and a ton o' courage:
"For 40 years my life consisted of the constant simultaneous knowledge that my own greatness was both inevitable and impossible; I lived a wrenching existence hanging between the belief that I had to achieve and the certainty that I couldn't; I couldn't (and still can't) fully enjoy even the most mundane pleasures--every movie I see, every book that I read, every meal that I eat, every simple experience in my life no matter how momentarily good is always full of destructive flaws that make it not so good after all. (This is why I was a very successful art and media critic.) In the end I found myself inhabiting only that empty space in the middle which I desperately tried to fill, shoveling into myself knowledge or drugs or shoveling out of myself words or music or drawings, searching through religions and therapies, hunting for anything that would deliver a sense of peace and satisfaction that never came."
This is an awesome blog.
Hammer & Peg, Receptionista: The girl's single in Seattle(not NY, as I first thought--thanks, Julie), crafty(as in embroidery), funny, and smart. Ya gotta love her.
Recent post: "There were lots of things i should have learned in college. math, for one. and i should have paid more attention to world history. geography also would been really helpful out here in the real world. sometimes i feel like a yokel for not knowing where nambia is. keg stands should not have been my minor. for that matter, learning how to do shots of jaeger shouldn't have been so high on my list of things to master. and if anything, these are things i probably should have stopped studying when i got out of college. i'm no longer in training for the beer bong olympics of 2002. "
And her embroidery rocks, too.
Finally, my celebs, gossip and swarmy pop culture fixations are well-served by the following mix:
Steven Saban, The Wow Report: It's insanely wow.
Stereogum: The freshest Britney gossip.
Superficial: Celebs T&A
Jossip: Reads like Gawker's training ground.
Standard Deviance: Ditto above.
Jarvis: How blogging will change journalism
A snippet from Jeff:
"Now we are seeing that if journalism is to survive, let alone prosper, it must speak at a human level and must also listen; it must join in the conversation of the community. "
Jeff is eloquent in charting how blogging shows the way, or at least another direction.
Crediting blogs(and bloggers)
On the other hand, the idea of urging CNET and other news sites to link outside of the story they file to give credit is right on--and that's where the change CAN take place.
Scott Allen: Making introductions online
--Who you are ? If the person you are contacting may not recognize you immediately by name, you should start with a brief reminder as to who you are and how they know you. If it is someone with whom you have not spoken in a while, you may want to remind them of your last conversation. You can write: ?As introduction, you can read my profile at ____________.? If that seems egotistical or inappropriate, you could simply say, ?As you may recall, I work for Icahn Associates. "
--Your reason for writing ? Tell them that you are writing to make an introduction of interest to them.
--Who you are introducing ? The name of the person you are introducing.
Background on the person being introduced ? Since this is a business introduction, it is appropriate to give a brief description of the person?s line of work. You do not have to go into great detail. It is best to give a link to their website or their profile page.
--Encouragement to the parties to connect ? While this may seem obvious, the encouragement clearly shifts the responsibility for follow-up to the other parties and helps create a stronger sense of social obligation. "
More at Online Business Networking.
Friday, August 20, 2004
Coupon: Free Netflix code
Yeah, we really like it. (Okay, I love it.)
If you want to try Netflix for a month for free you can usethe code they sent me: FRIENDSFREE25, then sign up for the service and put the code into the box.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
HR: Would working at AOL truly make a difference?
"At AOL, we know that the power of a single individual can make a world of difference. That's why we offer each member of the AOL team the opportunity to stand out as we contribute to our corporation's overall mission. Our goal is to connect, inform and entertain people everywhere in innovative ways that will enrich their lives. Already, AOL is the world's largest online community. And this is just the beginning. Care to join us? The possibilities will inspire and intrigue you."
Clearly, if the possibilities intrigue you, run don't walk to apply for the positions of Senior Analyst - Call Center Analysis, Program Manager--Change Management, and other opportunities to make a difference.
Om Malik: Blogging as the next, best news medium.
John Battelle: Related thread on trad. media crediting the blogosphere(as in they should, and often don't).
Euthanized animals: Bakersfield's local paper published this photo--would you?
Michael Jackson: Wear white to your molestation trial. Bring your sisters. (Gotta see these pix).
Sfist launches: Okay, they want you to say SSS-fff-ist, but isn't it an unfortunate choice of name? (But the copy looks great.)
Tim Porter on diversity: Don't reflect the community, be the community
Freedom of Music Choice blog=Attack of the PR Hordes?
When the blog invites visitors to 'Stand Up for Your Rights to Freedom of Music Choice.' it makes me cringe.
The accompanying press release for the program also reads like pure commercial blather: "This limited time sale celebrates the Freedom of Choice made possible by the release of the free RealPlayer 10.5, the first product that integrates Real's revolutionary new Harmony Technology."
Real, improve the voice of this blog, or risk getting grouped with P&G's Tampax Beinggirl, Nestle's Your Baby Today, General Mill's Millsbury.com, and other purely promotional efforts.
You can do better.
(Note: I understand this is a play by Real Networks against Apple; I just wish the blog portion was better executed at launch.)
Update: Rafat reports they took the comments down this am--guess it really was b****t.
Monday, August 16, 2004
Did Monday happen? Whew!
Sunday, August 15, 2004
Sunday dinner: Last for a while
Went for the guys' family favorite:
Hot fluffy, white rice
Spinach salad with chick peas, red onions, avocado
HBO for dessert.
We ate outside and the dog sat there drolling, unable to believe we were going to give him not one bite of meat.
BTW, Lisa Williams posted her family dinner menu here--I really enjoyed reading it!
SFChron: Craig Speaks
Some quotes from the piece--which is well worth reading in its entirety:
"...There is nothing pious or anti-commercial about us. The decision to make it a business was based on values I've been somewhat facetiously calling nerd values. The disease of my people -- the nerds -- is that we are very literal, which is a real pain in the butt, frankly.(snip)... feel that one of the best things a person can do for another is to create a job. So you do OK commercially, and then you try to make a difference of some sort."
"...If one is building a community kind of site, whatever that means, people are really good at telling whether you're doing so through an honest intent of connecting with the community, of trying to connect with other people, or whether you're just trying to make a lot of money right away. The real core here is that we've kind of lost our sense of neighborhood or community. In our culture, I think we crave that. That's why a lot of sitcoms have been popular like "Seinfeld," "Northern Exposure" or "MASH" That's a big deal. Beyond that, a lot of the people who try that don't have persistence. I'm not very patient, but I'm pretty darned persistent."
P.S. According to Craig, San Fran has declared Oct 10th to be Craig's List day--hope the CL team throws a block party to celebrate their well-deserved successes.
George Maloof: Vegas Marrying Man?
Nicky tied the knot at 2:30 am, Saturday.
George, you're a PR animal.
Cipel & McGreevey: Media circus builds
An AP story just filed and based on an interview with an Israeli paper has quotes from Cipel telling his side of the story; a Daily News piece on McGreevey's first wife says she didn't know about his hidden sexual orientation till last week.
Meanwhile, The LA Times has a story reporting that former poet and tour guide Cipel bought a townhouse outside of Trenton that the Governor personally inspected before the sale took place; the Ledger reports McGreevey is cloistered somewhere unknown and explicates the scandal.
A blogger named Soccer Dad says that Cipel used to used to be responsible for putting together the daily Israel Line reports for the Israeli Consulate and he got emails from him in the capacity(like, wow); the NY Post has a story about Cipel's Israeli parents with the quote "My son blackmailed the governor? I don't believe it."
Meanwhile McGreevey and Cipel are #1 and #2, respectively, on the Movers in Yahoo search.
There are going to be a lot more articles, stories, news pieces, interviews on this one.
Friday, August 13, 2004
Julia's apple tart was the 'best' dessert I knew how to make for many years.
And her food show led the way for many others.
Who knew? Craig's List & eBay
"...with the idea of establishing checks and balances, mostly on myself, I made a gift of some equity in craigslist to a guy who was working with me at the time. (I won't name him, out of respect for his privacy)
I figured it didn't matter, since everyone agreed that the equity had only symbolic value, not dollar value.
Well, the guy later left the company, and decided to sell his equity, which i learned he had every legal right to do.
He met with eBay, and eBay in turn approached us to see how we would feel about them getting involved with us."
This (somewhat) implies that the company's participation was, well, involuntary--and yet eBay seems like an excellent fit, so I would imagine this is a case of this third party initiating a discussion that becomes clear as a new direction, especially given the other offers Craig has (reportedly) turned down. Well, this business is never boring--congrats, everyone!
Thursday, August 12, 2004
NJ Governor McGreevey : "I am a Gay American."
The father of a 2 1/2 year old, McGreevey and his wife were married in 2000. McGreevey who also reportedly has children from a previous marriage, halted gay weddings in Asbury Park, NJ in May 2004, saying "The state is bound by the court, and the court has held that it is not legal. Ultimately, we're a nation of laws, and we need to abide by the laws."
The Governor's resignation will be effective Nov. 15.
Blogosphere comments here and here. Jersey guy Jeff Jarvis has a good set o'NJ links on this story.
While some are saying this is a neat way to avoid discussing corruption scandals, my take is that is an amazing personal declaration--to be followed by more news, no doubt.
Republican blogger Slantpoint says McG. had been accused of sexual harassment--by a male aide--and points to unreliable, anonymous gossip from March 04 about McGreevey and former advisor Golan Cipel
Did the wife know previously or is she gobsmacked?
Either way, going through this in public is going to be a living hell.
Wow. Update: Robert Sterling says the wife was a beard--and knew all along.
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
MSNBC.com: Fewer children in Japan means very pampered pets--19 million of them, to be exact.
Terry Heaton, TV News in a Postmodern World--Local TV's New Deadlines: "The marketplace is ripe for a local station to have the balls to break stories online ." (Via Doc)
Jon Udell on Primetime Hypermedia: "It's increasingly feasible to create and share media content online."
John Battelle(and some great commentators) : Putting Ads in RSS feeds and other revenue questions.
Paul Ford, Confessions of a Geek: 'When I discovered computers, I used to hide the manuals, so that no one could see.'
What's a bubblet to do?
--Everyone and his brother now wants to serve text ads.
In addition to Overture, Google, Kanoodle, BlogAds, look for lots of stand-alone sites, including search and blogging sites, to move away from Google Ads and start selling their own.
On one hand this testifies to the renewed interest in online advertising; on the other it underscores how few consumer-focused businesses outside of the traditional gaming and entertainment outlets have succeeded in building a *real* business model outside of serving ads.
--Is the world ready for even more social media services?
In the past six weeks, I've seen countless new applications that connect users, package their feeds, and offer classifieds/ways to hook up/recommendations. Mosuki, Dodgeball, Dogster, Rojo and others still unlaunched but in development aim to be the next generation Friendsters, Feedsters, and Bloglines--and some of them are really good, damn skippy (but how many can the market handle?)
--Political ads are jumping online.
Many of the bloggers and those who service them--along with the big news sites--say happily that they're selling out their inventory for the elections. Given that last go-round most online advertising was a last-minute buy after TV sold out, this is good news.
--Ecommerce referral isn't on the radar for most.
Few seem to share my avid interest in how shopping transactions/recommendations/community hold together outside of an Amazon.com, and yet I am convinced that hooking up ecommerce, micropayments and loyalty schemes of some type and affiliate CPC is a big opportunity. I am totally into this--the news is that almost no else is.
--(Some) Bloggers are publishers, baby and they're all good with that
For all the open source out there, it's clear that blogging is a cheap way for some would-be publishers to enter the fray. Denton, Calcanis and others in their mode are recreating what great daily and weekly publications--newspapers and magazines--offered in their day--fast, cheap, interesting content--only in a more contemporary form. News here is that we all could have realized that sooner without the stupid blogging vs. journalism debate.
-- Open Source Media is becoming more than a concept, it's a movement
Creative Commons licenses and the work of the Internet Archive, plus all the Open Source software, have creativity a strong interest in Open Source Media--content, information, and consumer experiences made freely available for consumption and remixing.
-- Big media is still in wait and see mode, or some RSS feeds do not a business make.
For large, established companies, the ruling imperative is (always) to protect their core businesses. With the business models for social media --and even wireless content-- unclear
large media companies are proceeding cautiously, as usual. While many companies are adding RSS feeds, they're doing it because customers want it--not because they've figured out a business there.
Monday, August 09, 2004
Seraphic Secret: Charting an apocrypha of loss
Written in response to the loss of his son Ariel a year ago from pulmonary fibrosis at age 22, Seraphic Secret is about life after traumatic loss.
Avrech feels the highs and the lows and is superbly eloquent about his spirituality and Jewish observance, passionate about his family, fierce and loving about his son.
This might be the most moving blog I have ever read.
It is definitely a gift to those who read it.
Like Julie Leung and Jerry Colonna, Avrech writes about daily life with a direct, insightful voice, but his writing burns with a Kabbalist's otherworldly passion.
Side note: We got bad news about a family member today who became ill last night and almost died. I read this blog inbetween booking plane tickets and talking with the family and felt it gave me some calm and perspective.
Sunday, August 08, 2004
Grilled chicken marinated with olive oil and zatar
Snow peas tossed with (light) sesame oil
Stewed baby eggplant North African style, with chickpeas, onions, and tomatoes
It was yumish.
Bush: How can I harm thee, let me plot the ways
Saturday, August 07, 2004
More people in line to check in at the Jet Blue terminal at JFK than I have ever seen--even at Dulles, Va after 9/11.
Made it in and now enjoying the wireless before boarding.
See you tomorrow--more frequent posts from now on.
Thursday, August 05, 2004
Reuters: By 2008, the amount spent on advertising on the Internet will surpass that for print magazines--so publishers are beefing up their sites.
Primedia: Pushing (wireless) content to (mobile)phones
CraigsList: 1 B page views served!
Brad Feld: Secret slang of VCs
Wednesday, August 04, 2004
Manhattan: Day 3 Diary
People: Tall girls in small dresses, or jeans and even smaller tops, toss with knit ponchos. Guys with impossibly British suits, seersucker or pinstripe with red rep ties. A guy dressed like Jack White, only with wierder hair. Joan Rivers, the real one.
SWAG(AKA gift bag loot) : Coach sunglasses. Fresh Lemon Sugar cologne. OPI nailpolish. Origins body scrub. A retro pin from Banana Republic. Lancome Mascara (!) Wicker baskets and wineglasses. J.Crew racer-back Ts.
Need I mention how different the fashion world is from my usual circles?
Okay, back to work. Nah, better go sleep.
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Matt Baer: Anger Management
Matt Baer shares the many ways he's learned how to take revenge and they are not pretty.
(But they are screamingly funny.)
Stereogum has wonderful dish on Britney's fiancee, Kevin Federline, Fresno's finest--Apparently his grade-school girlfriend's gone and sold his letters and photos (yeah, this is a high-class crowd all around) to a British tabloid..
Meanwhile, Kev's ex, Shar, named one of her dogs Britney back before she knew what a hound her man was.
And they're going to honeymoon in Brazil. (Why am I thinking....bikini wax?)
Stephen Saban: Britney's #1 single is FU $$
Blogging live from Bryant Park
The city seems less humid today, hazy and a bit slow.
So here's the cool thing--I am live blogging from Bryant Park courtesy of a free wireless project.
I'd heard about this from others, but let me tell you, sitting on the terrace drinking iced team with a free, fast net connection is pretty damn good--even if I had to pay for the tea.
--And if I could just work out the details of my camera phone, I could send and post the snapshot I just took of this leafy view--maybe later, I'll get it figured out.
Side note: As much as I love California, coming back to NY always feels like returning home.
Monday, August 02, 2004
Orange Alert: The South Park Response
Sunday, August 01, 2004
Topix: New release improves timeliness, relevance
I asked their CEO, Rich Skrenta(another former Netscape/AOLer) to explain a bit more about this new editing technology. He wrote me:
"We're using the category information on stories to drive the frontpage selection. Overall, the function is to look for the "biggest"stories (per NewsRank) for the day, and show them. But we are up/down biasing certain semantic categories. Health +10%, Business -10%,celebs +10%, sex but only if it's G-rated, lurid/crime/disaster is a bonus, sports is sent off to the Sports section of our site,unless it's a really big sports story, or about the Olympics....that sort of thing. There actually are a lot of rules in the mix,and we're still tuning it. But my personal experience is that we've been able to make the mix much more _interesting_ in the process."
Skrenta also writes on his blog: "We want to de-homogenize the news selection; instead of averaging down, we want Topix.net to find and bring back the most interesting, compelling (and sometimes the oddest) stories from the deep corners of the web. Stories that won't show up on other sites."
This is really great, but I'd also like the team to bring in an interface designer to help in the next rev. While the easy-to-read presentation of the headlines and individual stories looks great, the new design crams every more info onto every page, resulting in a degree of clutter that's paralyzing (does anyone really want a front page, for example, with more than 100 story lnks on it--plus navigation, text ads, banners ads, footers and so on?
Skrenta and co. would do well to explore how a multiple page format, perhaps with pop-up windows or DHTML or java-scripted collapsible views, could make such an onslaught on information more manageable.
Also, the level of freshness and relevancy in such a broad range of topics varies widely, depending on the flood of articles available--a Sunday night look at the page for Britney Spears had very few fresh stories; the page for South Orange, NJ was thin and pushing a July 26th story to the top made it look out of date (it wasn't), while the Mary-Kate Olsen and San Jose, CA pages were full of new info.
(One of the nicest features of the new design is the new nav bar on the right, which offers pop-up links to previous queries/pages within the main sections--this elegant, efficient method keeps confusion down and drives more clicks.)
Having said that, the new release is basically great--and makes me a continuing fan of Topix.
Eager to see what they do next.