Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy New Year, everyone

See you in 2005!

43 Things launches

Just in time for New Year's Resolutions--43 Things goes public.
It's well worth a look.

Dept. of spending wisely

AP: U.S. Boosts Tsunami Aid Tenfold to $350M. The newly announced aid came after some critics claimed that the initial U.S. contribution of $35 million was meager considering the vast wealth of the nation.

Tsunami & the Global Village

The post-Christmas tsunami in Asia, and the resulting devastation, has brought people together on a global basis in what feels like a new way. On one level, the outpouring of information and aid is impressive--There are survivors who have started blogs to share stories, vacationers sharing stories of how they (barely) survived their vacation, and local writers in Sri Lanka and India, in particular, writing about the suffering, loss, and yes, progress. The news media has covered the disaster in depth, the (cooperative) Wikipedia News team has provided their own resources, and big companies and grassroots coalitions are sending money and support. And no one is arguing about bloggers and journalists--everyone is giving what they have to offer.

A by no means exhaustive list of links follows:
The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog
A cooperative blog started to carry news, aid info and in search of links post disaster.
To volunteer to help on this blog go
here .

Jeff Jarvis is covering the coverage, with great links.
So is
And Robert

Some first hand accounts
Raterstorf WW Adventure-- Scott Raterstorf and family went to Thailand. They thought it was a vacation, not a fight to survive.
Crossroads Dispatches, Evelyn Rodriguez--Marketing exec survives.
Pukhet Tsunami, Rick Van Feldt --story of what happened.
Stories of survivall, Sankha Subhra Som is collecting.
Extra, Extra --Fred writes from Sri Lanka.

News round ups, Jon Dube
SAJA, News and how you can help

What posts and sites have caught your attention?

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Cold and Rainy with Wonton Soup

It's been cold and rainy all week. I was feeling tired and achey, so I went round the corner to China Chow, a Chinese restaurant run by Chinese Vietnamese, and got a bowl of their Shrimp Wonton Soup. This is a spritual cousin to the chicken noodle soup made by my great-grandma Jennie--a steaming bowl of broth, fragrant with five-spice power and herbs, with noodles and jucy shrimp wonton, chopped lettuce, scallions and bits of red-cooked pork (nothing Jewish about that part).
Here's what it looked like:

Feel much better, now.


Internet Retailer: CrossMedia Services reports a 43% increase in holiday shoppers who used the web to price check items before shopping in the mall.
DM News: Persuasive story about the lack of reader growth in the magazine biz: "We have run out of readers in this country." (Via Tom Biro)
PressThink: Zack Rosen (Civic Space Labs) offers ideas for community newspapers. (Via Lasica)
NY Times: Stanford study says Internet use cuts into other activities. (Are you surprised?) (Via Paid Content)
Read/Write Web: McManus picks his best companies of 2004--and he's got some good ones.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


115,000 dead.
What can be said?

Update: Craig recommends giving via Oxfam.

Kevin Sites is blogging from Thailand

Journalist blogger Kevin Sites--formerly embedded in Iraq--is in Thailand and blogging about his experiences.
(Via Boing Boing)
Bonus trivia: Did you know that Xeni got Sites up on the net and blogging?

Bill Dentrell remembers Susan Sontag

DesignObserver: Designer Bill Drenttel remembers Susan Sontag. Drenttel's a talent--and this is a neat memoir.
(Via Kottke)

How to prevent terrorism: Don't let travellers pee

AP story about a Northwest Airlines Amsterdam-Seattle flight held for 18 hours on a Grant County airport runway. Food and water ran out on the plane and the toilets stopped working, but passengers were not allowed to disembark.
Questioned about the massive stupidity of holding passengers hostage on the flight, U.S. Customs spokesman Mike Milne said: "We're not doing it to be mean. We're doing it to preserve the security requirements. We're required by law to screen these people when they come to the United States."
So, everyone on the flight is getting a free ticket and other guilt gifts fron the airline, but that doesn't make up for the pain of knowing U.S. officials have the problem-solving skills of bovine cattle, does it?

Gift confessions of a beauty editor

Mediabistro: Now this is fun! If you ever doubted being a NYC magazine editor had perks, read the gleeful details here and learn what you're missing. Mary Lisa Gavenas' swag stories are a hoot.
Some of the stuff:
And then more....

Steve Rubel--Still in Hawaii

Micropersuasion's Steve Rubel should be having a great week.
Rock on, Steve--have fun!.

Clarifications re "Competing with Craig" report

Bob Cauthorn and Peter Zollman were kind enough to offer some clarifications to yesterday's post--
First of all--and this is stating the obvious--Bob Cauthorn's analysis used *no* proprietary information from the Chronicle.
Cauthorn says : "Anyone willing to do the homework and spend time studying the issue can come to precisely the same results as I did from the outside. Example: anyone can tally the number of listings, anyone can measure inches (and many folks do!) and anyone can run the calculations of the economic impact of Craigslist on the local market. --And of course, anyone can see that both the Chronicle and the Mercury News use Craigslist to post jobs."
Peter Zollman also points out, quite correctly, that I've smushed together data on two reports--this past September's report "Craig's List, EBay and E-Commerce" is distinct from the new "Competing with Craig...".
Zollman says "This one is much better about 'strategies and tactics,' the other was more about the impact of Craigslist and EBay on merchandise classifieds. They're complementary, I think, with some minor duplication."

The September report is
available for free as a sponsored PDF; a free preview of the new report is also available here. Original ClickZ story here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The Lifevest conspiracy or Is Bush a sicko?

Some say that the perceived hump under President Bush's jacket was a wire--but the folks at say it was a LifeVest wearable defibrillator. Read and marvel.
(Via Medgadget)

Tsunami: 59,000 dead

Reuters: 59,000 dead.
This is horrific.
I'm donating as much as I can spare. And then a bit more.
Lots of giving links and

Doctors without Borders 1-888-392-0392

Network for Good

American Red Cross 1-800-435-7669

International Comittee of the Red Cross


Winer: The considered life

Scripting News: "I'm constantly written out of the story of my creative life. Should I continue? Why? This is one of the things I'm thinking about while driving."
Dave Winer's driving east and being his amazingly creative and blunt self.

RIP, Susan Sontag

One of the greats. launches original video content, targets advertisers

BizWire: Peter Horan, CEO," Video advertising is the next big thing for Web publishers and we're excited to be the first major site to integrate this by serving content-targeted ads within video on related topics."

So--are you a lifestyle or leisure publisher wondering if you should be running more video on your site?
Take note that is launching original video content--with name brand personalities--in its Home, Food & Drink, Travel, and Parenting areas--with lots of contextual opportunities for advertisers.
Honda and Black & Decker have already signed on.

Ecommerce: News

Reuters: Home Depot to sell big appliances online. Delivery is free for items over $299. Wonder what the demand generation for big appliances is at, shopzilla and their ilk?
MacCentral: Amazon reports they beat all past holidays sales records this year--and had one day where they sold 2.8 million items, another first.
Josh Rubin: Bangin' new Adidas sneaks celebrating various cities (Okay, I wanted a third item to post.)

How many movies do you watch in a year?

Mark Bernstein's got a post commenting on his movie-going habits--both in theatre and at home. He says "This year, I've seen about 29 movies. I'll probably add two more on New Years Eve. Only three seem to have been in theaters; that surprises me."
This year, my movie-going shot up when I started subscribing to Netflix--we probably watch 6 movies a month from said source, plus 1-2 DVDs from family and friends, plus 2-3 movies a week on cable.
The big shifts in my world are
  • I watch almost no TV and less and less non-movie cable
  • The concept of having a DVD library of movies has finally taken hold
  • Going to the theatre is a more considered proposition, but the big screen delivers a value my little SONY system doesn't have.
My 2004 movie tally: 60 movies, many of them forgettable, but many memorable. Some highlights: Wattstax, In the Realm of the Senses, Amelie, 28 Days Later (this is one of my favorite movies ever--I watch it every few months), Sideways.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Blogpulse: 2004 review--stats central

BP: What bloggers link to most--BoingBoing #1--Orcinus #100.
And more stats of this ilk. A lot more.
With charts.

NYTimes piece on disaster blogs, quotes BoingBoing

NYTimes has a piece for Wednesday on the quick responses and postings across the blogosphere around the devastation and death caused by Monday's earthquake and taunami. BoingBoing is credited for their good work pointing to relevant blogs, and Howard Rheingold, SmartMobs author, is quoted saying that using blogs to muster support for aid was a natural next step from using blogs to build political coalitions.

Update: New Tsunami aid blog is sorta like a bulletin board for efforts and places to give.

Amazon Top Mags of 2004: Shop, Etc gets #1 slot

Mediapost may think the list a tad curious, but it's a thing of joy to moi that Shop Etc's their #1 magazine pick for 2004.
Hearst's new title, cousin to Cargo and score of other filtered shopping books, gets the following gusher:
"Combining the bold and beautiful graphics of an upmarket catalog with the eye candy of your favorite store and the service of a personal shopper, Shop Etc. is as close to the perfect shopping experience as you can get without leaving your home."
Nice. Congrats, folks!
More Amazon 2004 picks here.

Craigslist--Siphoning $50 mil a year from Bay area newspapers?

(Via ClickZ): Peter Zollman's Classified Intelligence group has a new report that says Craigslist is responsible for Bay area newspapers losing $50-65 million in employment classifieds revenue alone.
Written by former San Francisco Chronicle/SFGate digital media VP Bob Cauthorn, inventor of the highly-effective "Hot Jobs" box running on various online newspapers, the report estimates that at the $700 charged by a paper, with 12,200 active job listings on CL's San Francisco site the week of November 21, 2004, CL is taking " north of $7 million to $8 million dollars, and probably closer to $10" out of the Chron alone.
Cauthorn reportedly includes tips on how to get this money back in the package.
Susan says: It's a coup for Zollman to have Cauthorn author this report--he's a keen observer of the online classifieds market--but-- Is it kosher for him to write so closely about his former employer?
Under fair trade laws, I'm sure it is--and yet I wouldn't be surprised if the paper feels it's a little too close for comfort--even as they plunk down the bucks to read the report.

Update: Have a preview of the report and take back my comment on 'is this kosher?'It clearly is. --Cauthorn is not a "author" but the writer of a think piece--a very different scenario.

12/29--More clarifications: Got a note from Cauthorn worth sharing re the math in the ClickZ article.
He says:
* "the report estimates that at the $700 charged by a paper..."
Actually, the report doesn't make a $700 estimate. That was a reporter's
line in the ClickZnews piece based on an interview with me... I wasn't
prepared to go into the nitty gritty of how that number was derived, but
I told her she can do a rough calculation this way: a typical classified
advertiser in the metro area will pay between between $400 and $700 to
advertis for a job, Craiglist has more than 3X the listings of all the
newspapers combined, ergo even if 30% are so price sensitive they
wouldn't advertise if it cost more, you still easily get to the $65
million figure. (In point of fact, in the week I used for comparison, CL
only had about 2.4X the total listings that the newspapers had, but
generally -- from endless tallies I've done -- it's more like 3.3X.)
Anyhow, there was no mention of an average price in the report, as it
suggests in the blog.

* "....CL is taking " north of $7 million to $8 million dollars, and
probably closer to $10" out of the Chron alone..." again, this is from
the ClickZnews piece. Actually, what I said was CL is taking $7 million
to $8 million, probably closer to $10 million out of this *market*.
Craigslist revenues Bay area revenues can be inferred by keeping count
of the number of paid listings and multiplying by $75. While there's
some month-to-month variation, naturally, I keep a number of sample
months handy and hence the estimate. In any event, that figure is not
out of the Chron alone -- it's Craigslist total revenue."


Doc Searls talking about Chris Nolan's view of MoveOn.
Fortune: "The blog, short for weblog, can indeed be, as Scoble and Gates say, fabulous for relationships. But it can also be much more: a company's worst PR nightmare, its best chance to talk with new and old customers, an ideal way to send out information, and the hardest way to control it. Blogs are challenging the media and changing how people in advertising, marketing, and public relations do their jobs." And ""If you fudge or lie on a blog, you are biting the karmic weenie." (Via Jarvis)
Black Table: The cult of diet Coke. Are you addicted?

Earthquake/tsunami aid: How to help

Looking for ways to help?
We're checking out suggestions at The Command Post and Paid Content.
Update: More avenues via blogger Dina Mehta, in India.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Tail of a tent

So last night, before we went out for our traditional Christmas Chinese food dinner, we decided to set up our new tent in the backyard and spend the night inside. A three-room Coleman camping tent, it is far more expansive than anything we've owned in the backpacking category.
Post-dinner, stuffed with black bean sauce and green beans, we retired to the tent for the night. After we had set out the air mattress, the sleeping bags, and little camp table, the lantern and the heater--all new, except for the 20-year old sleeping bags--my husband said,"Should we bring in the dog bed in for Winston? He's gonna be lonely in the house."
No, forget him, I said, but of course we then put the dog bed in the tent, and soon after, we brought out the dog--all 115 pounds of him.
And that was when our plan began to go terribly wrong.
First, we put the dog in a"down" on his bed, but then the dog got the idea he would be warmer if he came onto the air mattress with us. So Winston took a flying leap into the middle of the air mattress, curled up against my legs, and went to sleep.
Except my husband couldn't sleep, cause the dog had pinned down his sleeping bag.
So we all had to make some adjustments.
From that point on it was
  • moving the dog back to his mattress
  • the dog sneaking back onto the bed when we were both asleep
  • me waking up in some contorted shape with my hands killing me
  • the dog crying at 1 am when i went into the house to get my wrist braces and go to sleep
  • my husband taking him inside to me at 1:45
  • and finally, the sprinkler system waking my husband when it watered the tent at 3 am
At 6:30, when I awoke this morning, my husband and the dog were both asleep in the bedroom with me, and the empty tent was out on the lawn with puddles of water on the doorsteps.
And when we all woke up, we started laughing.

Tom Watson: Poetry to mah ears

So what if Tom Watson's clever Xmas poem has a hat-tip to yours-truly, I'd read it to see the amusing rhymes with all the other bloggers' names-- even if I wasn't included.
Thanks, Tom--this is neat.

The world's biggest earthquake

hit Asia on Sunday, killing more than 7,000 people in 6 countries. Update: Almost 10,000
Google news stories are here; NYTimes/AP is here.

"All the planet is vibrating'' from the quake, said Enzo Boschi, the head of Italy's National Geophysics Institute. Speaking on SKY TG24 TV, Boschi said the quake even disturbed the Earth's rotation. The U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake at a magnitude of 8.9. Geophysicist Julie Martinez said it was the world's fifth-largest since 1900 and the largest since a 9.2 temblor hit Prince William Sound Alaska in 1964.


Blog accounts closer to the scene from ; Indstapundit links to Malaysian bloggers Rajan Rishyakaran and Peter Tan, as well as Indian blogger Nitin Pai.
A discussion thread on Slashdot has tons of info.

Update: Jon Lebowsky points out "this is the second 8+ quake in a matter of days, the first being an 8.1 quake 305 miles north of Macquarie Island near Antarctica on December 23."

Ecommerce: Noted

AOL sez: Men spend more than women online. Bob Hayes,vice president and general manager for AOL eCommerce: "While women do represent the majority of online shoppers, men are outspending them. And, more than that, they are no longer just shopping online for the convenience, now they are also researching and browsing and comparing prices."
Reuters: Luxury gifts rock.
United Internet Shopping Plus, a new Korean web shopping service, purchases goods from high-end US department stores and delivers them to their customers.

Breaking news:
Today's the start of markdown madness and returning things, says the AP. Anyone surprised?

Saturday, December 25, 2004

RSS aggregators: Who has dominant market share?

Richard McManus is digging into market share for RSS aggregators, aka newsreaders:
He writes: "But there's been little talk of who is winning the battle for the eyeballs of RSS consumers. Mainly that's because reading RSS feeds is still a niche activity, but who's to say that 2005 won't be the breakthrough year for RSS Reader software?"
Checking his own Feedburner stats, Richard says he gets the following data:
RSS Reader Percentage
Bloglines 51
NetNewsWire 7
Firefox Live Bookmarks 6
FeedDemon 5
NewsGator 4
SharpReader 3
RSS Bandit 3
Radio Userland 2
My Yahoo! 2
The Rest 17

Richard points out these stats can be squewed because they don't reflect active accounts; web-based and downloadable tools track differently, and sites ping blogs on different schedules to pick up feeds.
In the comments Noah Brier references an article he wrote on this in the fall. At the time, he found that the most-used list(also via Feedburner) started with Bloglines as well.
(Via Winged Pig)

The silence of the knits


New York Times: "Anonymous Lawyer is Jeremy Blachman, a self-effacing 25-year-old third-year Harvard law student whose firsthand experience of Big Law comes down to a round of recruiting interviews last fall (at which he encountered the aforementioned chocolate-covered pretzels) and three months as a summer associate at a large Manhattan firm. While Anonymous Lawyer has been gloating over his view of the Pacific, Mr. Blachman has never even been to Los Angeles." Blanchman also has a *real* blog here.
Shifted Librarian: Great quotes about RSS from her aggregator.
Dave Hornick: Team-building for start-ups.
Roland Tangalo: "005 will be the year of $ in the blogosphere, RSS-o-sphere and podosphere and that's a good thing!"

Friday, December 24, 2004

Forbes: Is RSS a threat to big media?

Forbes story on how RSS syndication will disrupt existing news businesses. Quote: "By Internet standards RSS is ancient, invented circa 1997, but it is just now catching on, in part because of the millions of blogs constantly generating new content and in part because of new RSS search services like that sort through the missives like an e-mail reader.
RSS-based searchers Technorati, Topix, Feedster and DayPop look for instantly updated material, thus providing a different slice of the Web than Google does, one based on freshness rather than relevancy. Down the road, online advertising might mutate into something wrapped around RSS streams-if fewer people surf news sites or use traditional search services. Feedster has already started incorporating sponsored links with its RSS headlines."

Christmas Eve dinner, of sorts

The spirit of the holiday calls for a special dinner, but what to make?
(We'll be eating Chinese and watching movies tomorrow, thank you)
A trad Friday night meal, of course--
Baked herring with potatoes and apples
Roasted chicken with honey and cumin
Mashed potatoes with browned onion
Sephardic string beans
Spinach salad
Cinnabar Merlot
Godiva truffles, sent by my friend George--thanks, G!

And to all a good night.

Halley: What will you remember about Christmas?

Via Lisa Williams, an important point from Halley Suitt: "Do you remember the things you got last year for Christmas? Or do you remember the things you did with the people you care about?"

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Teens just wanna have--wireless & iPods

Funny post from Mitch Ratcliffe saying his friend at Apple is hearing that iPods enable college kids with similar music tastes to hook up(and we mean hook up).
How's that fit with the eMarketer story saying a declining number of teens between the ages of 13 and 17 want a mobile phone as a gift is so that they can stay in touch with family and friends?
Maybe more of them now want iPods?

Ecommerce: Will (more) luxury brands move online?

BusinessWeek story today about how brick and mortar retailers serving the midde price points are getting squeezed by low-end value merchants on one side and luxury brands on the other. Quote: " No retail sector is more squeezed from both sides than the department-store chains, most of which continue to lose sales to other retailers."
(In other words, Target jeans look great with that Gucci bag.)
This makes me wonder how the online luxury goods market is evolving?
I'd like to think that there's demonstrated growth in this online sector, especially around clothing and home, but haven't gone digging for the stats yet--after Christmas the data should be in.

Gallup: Shrinking interest in TV and newspapers

A recent Gallup poll says that while local TV and areas newspapers remain Americans' top choices for the news, that doesn't mean they're spending more time with them--the only news media that showed an increase in daily use from 2002-04 was the net.
(Via Editor & Publisher)

Favorite blogs of 2004

Kottke's got a post on his favorite blogs of 2004--including, of course, his own.
This is a nice idea and a way to thank some sites I seem to haunt regularly--so here's my list of favorites, defined as those I visit the most often--on my (500 feeds and rising) newsreader and straight to the page.

Compulsively visited
Gawker--My guilty pleasure--and everyone else's, too
Paid Content--First stop every morning
Buzzmachine--Jeff Jarvis was born to blog
Scripting News--Just as Dave Winer was born to invent blogging, RSS, podcasting and hula-hoops (okay, maybe not the last one)
Romenesko--Still consistent after all these years

Daily Doses
Searchblog--Search is Battelle's (current) beat
Dan Gillmor's eJournal--Insightful and honest new tech talk
Micropersuasion--Steve expects the unexpected
New Media Musings--I listen to JD's open media POV
Cool Hunting--Josh Rubin, design maven media view from outside the US

Always a delight
Manolo's Shoe Blog--Theese Manolo, he the superfantastic funniest blogger
Stereogum--Never boring celebrity dish, with pix
The Superficial--Mean, shallow, and marvelous
Go Fug Yourself--Girlz just gotta have fug
BoingBoing--You know how good they are--Xeni rocks! links
Standard Deviance--Ellen tells it like it is

Gonna stop there-could list about 40 more...

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Bizweek: iVillage is hot--and so is...

BizWeek story singles out iVillage as a hot investment and quotes CEO Doug McCormick: "We're a mini-Yahoo for women."
According to the report, iVillage is getting into streaming video in a big way. meaning more rich media ads, more video ads and more video content.
(I imagine this is great news for iVillage partner Feedroom, wbich streams video for clients--maybe they should have been in the BizWeek story, too.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


TimesOnline, UK: Intelliseek reports that BoingBoing, the self-styled "Directory of Wonderful Things," was cited nearly 24,000 times as the top blog of 2004 by other bloggers.
SmartMobs concept map. (Via unmediated)
The Long Tail: Chris Anderson's brilliant essay becomes a blog on the way to a book. (Via xian)
Caterina Fake: 43 Things and Robert Creeley and more on good social software.
Amy G: Women in podcasting, who's who.
John Maeda: Simpliocity, an elegamt new blog about guess what? (via kottke)
Gigaom: The skinny on broadband stats.

Tim Porter: 10 things journalists could learn from bloggers

Tim Porter references Steve Outing and then has some comments of his own-- here are 5 of them--go to his site for complete list:
  • Focus. Good blogs have distinct personalities and themes. The time is past for newspapers to be all things to all people.
  • Print the truth, not just the facts. The L.A. Times' excellent series on a dysfunctional local hospital shows how powerful a point-of-view can be when it is based on sound reporting.
  • Get local, very local. Find ways, either in print or online, to get the chicken dinner and real people news published. Yes, institutions matter, but people matter more.
  • Give readers access to source material.
  • Add multiple RSS feeds to your web site.
Tim's list--and his live links to examples--are very useful to everyone thinking about these issues--and looking for ways to educate colleagues.

Gillmor to keynote World Editors Forum

Editors' Weblog: Dan Gillmor will keynote the 12th World Editors Forum, an annual gathering of 300 editors from around the world. (In 2005, the forum will be held in Seoul, South Korea, from 29 May to 1 June.)
Bertrand Pecquerie says: " I'm very pleased that Dan Gillmor accepted my invitation for two reasons: first, his decision to leave the San Jose Mercury News at the end of the year and to create a new organization focused on "participatory journalism" is an example for all of us. Nowadays it's not so common for writers to put their theory into practice! Second, I'm sure a lot of European editors will not share Gillmor's views expressed in his latest book We the Media. "

Dan is a strong journalist, top blogger, and all-around thoughtful, smart person---it is exciting news that his voice will be given such prominence at this event. (And if you have not seen his book, We the Media--pick it up.)

RIP Jack Newfield

AP: Author, investigator journalist, and gadfly Jack Newfield has died at 66.


Zawodny: Yahoo News most cited by blogs as news source.Wonder who will hold this record next December?

Tom Watson:The self-hating blogger. "Blogs are Websites, folks. The software has made it easier. Now let's fill out the death certificate and move on. And no more blogging about blogs."

Aaron Swartz, Google's library project: "Do you hold the copyright on a book? Does your book have an ISBN? If you answered yes to both these questions, you don't have to wait for all this. You can simply sign up to Google Print, send Google a copy of your book, and they'll scan it in and OCR it for you for free!"

Mark Pesce on BitTorrent

Someone sent me this piece Mark Pesce wrote on BitTorrent and P2P networks--I haven't seen it posted on the net (yet) so I am posting the whole (long) article--This is an excellent description of how BitTorrent works and what it all (could) mean.

Subject: Out of Control: The Sequel
From: - "Mark Pesce"
Date: - Mon, December 20, 2004 6:35 am

Out of Control: The Sequel

This morning I woke up to find that the torrent had died. Someone - no
one knows who - had put enough pressure onto the operators of and to shut them down. was
amazing, the Wal-Mart of torrents, a great big marketplace of piracy,
all neatly dished up and aiming to please. You want this new Hollywood
release? Here's a recording from someone who smuggled a camcorder into
a screening. - How about the latest episode of that hit HBO series?
There you go, and no subscription fees to pay. Just fire up your
favorite BitTorrent client - BitTornado, Azureus, Tomato, or that good
old-fashioned Bram Cohen code. Click on the torrent, and you're up and
downloading, sharing what you're getting with hundreds of others. Share
and share alike. What could be more friendly?

For those of you who found the last paragraph littered with weird
gobblygook, here's your opportunity to come up to speed: BitTorrent is a
computer protocol (a language computers use when communicating with each
other) which allows computers to freely and efficiently share
information with one another. This free-for-all of sharing is often
called peer-to-peer or P2P, and it has become one of the most popular
activities on the Internet. Many of you have heard how the record
companies are deathly afraid that their markets are about to evaporate
as their customers move from buying CDs to downloading pirated music.
This much is true: for the last several years, peer-to-peer software has
been used to help people find audio files on the internet - files being
offered up by other people for you to download, anonymously. Find a
song, click on it, and down it comes to your computer's hard drive.

All of this song swapping began before most Americans had access to
high-speed "broadband" internet connections. But, as of a month ago,
just about half of the home users in the USA access the Internet through
a broadband connection. These connections are anywhere from 10 and 50
times faster than the earlier "dial-up" connections which tied up phone
lines and kept you waiting for what seemed like weeks as you struggled
to download the latest gossip from your favorite website. While it
takes some time to download music over a dial-up connection, you'd only
wait about ten minutes for an average song. Movies and TV shows, which
are much "richer" (more data), take a lot more time to download. The
new U2 album, for example, might contain 45 million bytes of data. But
an episode of "Six Feet Under" - roughly the same length - would
probably run to 450 million bytes of information, ten times the amount.
Coincidentally, that's how much faster internet connections are,
compared to a few years ago.

This increase in bandwidth has led to an enormous underground trade in
all sorts of audiovisual media. It's not just current movies - classics
and cult films are available. (I downloaded Russ Meyer's Beyond the
Valley of the Dolls the day he died, watching it that evening, my homage
to the great schlock director.) And, more significantly, nearly every
new TV show that airs in the US or the UK is almost instantaneously
available globally, because someone watching that show is recording it
to their hard disk, publishing the recording to the Internet. This
isn't rocket science: computer peripherals which convert TV signals to
digital data cost less than $100, and millions of them are out there

If you're just one person with one recording of one show, and it's a
popular show, your computer's internet connection is going to get
swamped with requests for the show; eventually your computer will crash
or you'll take the show off the Internet, just so you can read your
email. And in the early days of peer-to-peer, that's how it was.
Someone would find a computer with a copy of the song they wanted to
listen to, connect to that computer, and download the data. It worked,
but anything that got very popular was likely to disappear almost
immediately. Popularity was a problem in first-generation peer-to-peer

In November 2002, an unemployed programmer named Bram Cohen decided
there had to be a better way, so he spent a few weeks writing an
improved version of the protocols used to create peer-to-peer networks,
and came up with BitTorrent. BitTorrent is a radical advance over the
peer-to-peer systems which preceded it. Cohen realized that popularity
is a good thing, and designed BitTorrent to take advantage of it. When
a file (movie, music, computer program, it's all just bits) is published
on BitTorrent, everyone who wants the file is required to share what
they have with everyone else. As you're downloading the file, those
parts you've already downloaded are available to other people looking to
download the file. This means that you're not just "leeching" the file,
taking without giving back; you're also sharing the file with anyone
else who wants it. As more people download the file, they offer up what
they've downloaded, and so on. As this process rolls on, there are
always more and more computers to download the file from. If a file
gets very popular, you might be getting bits of it from hundreds of
different computers, all over the Internet - simultaneously. This is a
very important point, because it means that as BitTorrent files grow in
popularity, they become progressively faster to download. Popularity
isn't a scourge in BitTorrent - it's a blessing.

It's such a blessing that, as of November, 35% of all traffic on the
Internet was BitTorrent-related. Unfortunately, that blessing looks more
like a curse if you're the head of a Hollywood studio, trying to fill
seats in megaplexes or move millions of units of your latest DVDs
releases. And, although BitTorrent is efficient, it isn't designed to
make data piracy easy; BitTorrent relies on a lot of information which
can be used to trace the location of every single user downloading a
file, and, more significantly, it also relies on a centralized "tracker"
- a computer program which registers the requests for the file, and
tells a requester how to hook up to the tens or hundreds of other
computers offering pieces of the file for download.

As any good network engineer knows (and I was a network engineer for
over a decade), a single point of failure (a single computer offering a
single torrent tracker) is a Bad Thing to have in a network. It's the
one shortcoming in Cohen's design for BitTorrent: kill the tracker and
you've killed the torrent. But network engineers know better than to
design systems with single points of failure: that's one of the reasons
the Internet is still around, despite the best efforts of hackers around
the world to kill it. Failure in any one part of the Internet is
expected and dealt with in short order. Various parts of the Internet
fail all the time and you only very rarely notice.

Back to today, when the hammer came down. and each played host to thousands of BitTorrent trackers.
When these sites went down the torrents went Poof!, as if they'd never
existed. This evening the members of the MPAA must be feeling quite
satisfied with themselves - they see this danger as passed; never again
will BitTorrent threaten the revenues of the Hollywood studios.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

As Hollywood is so fond of sequels, it seems perfectly fitting that
today's suppression of the leading BitTorrent sites bears an uncanny
resemblance to an event which took place in July of 2000. Facing a
rising sea of lawsuits and numerous court orders demanding an immediate
shutdown, the archetypal peer-to-peer service, Napster, pulled the plug
on its own servers, silencing the millions of users who used the service
as a central exchange to locate songs to download. That should have
been the end of that. But it wasn't. Instead, the number of songs
traded on the Internet today dwarfs the number traded in Napster's
heyday. The suppression of Napster led to a profusion of alternatives -
Gnutella, Kazaa, and BitTorrent.

Gnutella is a particularly telling example of how the suppression of a
seductive technology (and peer-to-peer file trading is very seductive -
ask anyone who's done it) only results in an improved technology taking
its place. Instead of relying on a centralized server - a fault that
both Napster and BitTorrent share - Gnutella uses a process of discovery
to let peers share information with each other about what's available
where. The peers in a Gnutella peer-to-peer network self-organize into
an occasionally unreliable but undeniably expansive network of content.
Because of its distributed nature, shutting down any one Gnutella peer
has only a very limited effect on the overall network. One individual's
collection of music might evaporate, but there are still tens of
thousands of others to pick from. This network of Gnutella peers (and
its offspring, such as Kazaa, BearShare, and Acquisition) has been
growing since its introduction in 2001, mostly invisibly, but ever more

If Napster hadn't been run out of business by the RIAA, it's unlikely
that any need for Gnutella would have arisen; if the RIAA hadn't
attacked that single point of failure, there'd have been no need to
develop a solution which, by design, has no single point to failure.
It's as though both sides in the war over piracy and file sharing are
engaged in an evolutionary struggle: every time one side comes up with a
new strategy, the other side evolves a response to it. This isn't just
a cat-and-mouse game; each attack by the RIAA, generates a response of
increasing sophistication. And, today, the MPAA has blundered into this
arms race. This was, as will soon be seen, a Very Bad Idea.

Pointing up the single greatest weakness of BitTorrent take down the
tracker and the torrent dies - has only served to energize, inspire and
mobilize the resources of an entire global ecology of software
developers, network engineers and hackers-at-large who want nothing so
much, at this moment, as to make the MPAA pay for their insolence.
Imagine a parent reaching into a child's room and ripping a TV set out
of the wall while the child is watching it. That child would feel anger
and begin plotting his revenge. And that scene has been multiplied at
least hundred thousand times today, all around the world. It is quite
likely that, as I type these words, somewhere in the world a roomful of
college CS students, fueled by coke and pizza and righteous indignation,
are banging out some code which will fix the inherent weakness of
BitTorrent - removing the need for a single tracker. If they're smart
enough, they'll work out a system of dynamic trackers, which could
quickly pass control back and forth among a cloud of peers, so that no
one peer holds the hot potato long enough to be noticed. They'll take
the best of Gnutella and cross-breed it with the best of BitTorrent.
And that will be the MPAA's worst nightmare.

Hey, Hollywood! Can you feel the future slipping through your fingers?
Do you understand how badly you've screwed up? You took a perfectly
serviceable situation - a nice, centralized system for the distribution
of media, and, through your own greed and shortsightedness, are giving
birth to a system of digital distribution that you'll never, ever be
able to defeat. In your avarice and arrogance you ignored the obvious:
you should have cut a deal with In partnership you could
have found a way to manage the disruptive change that's already well
underway. Instead, you have repeated the mistakes made by the recording
industry, chapter and verse. And thus you have spelled your own doom.

It's said that the best sequels are just like the original, only bigger
and louder. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for one hell of a
crash. This baby is now fully out of control.

Mark Pesce
20 December 2004
Released under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0

Monday, December 20, 2004

Craig Newmark in Newsweek

Ever see someone you know get really famous for what they've accomplished?
It's definitely happening to Craig, whose Craigslist has the media marveling. The latest story, in Newsweek, has a clever pix of Craig with "Where the Wild Things Are" fuzzy feet.
Quote: "...The list is a sleeping economic giant that's already dishing nightmares to ticket scalpers, employment brokers and publications that live by classified ads. "
More you know where.

Jarvis: Supporting citizens' media

Jeff Jarvis sez: "Why shouldn't some of the underwriters who support public broadcasting now consider underwriting citizens' media? It's simple, less expensive, more direct."
As usual, Jeff's hit on a good point--the gaping hole now is an umbrella group of sorts to help funnel money to citizen's media efforts, streamlining funder's access
Jeff? New enterprise?

Want your own place? Gotta make $15+ an hour

The AP reports today that service and retail may be the growing economic sectors, but most of the jobs they offer won't pay enough to over the rent on a 1-2 bedroom apartment in the U.S.
An annual report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition says that while the median hourly wage in the United States is about $14, more than one-quarter of the population earns less than $10 an hour, the report said--and rents average out at more than that in most states.
(In California, of course, you need $21.42 an hour to afford a 2-bedroom.)

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Geeking out: A gingerbread laptop!

NYT: On personal blogging

NY Times Magazine piece: " As personal blogging proliferates, an etiquette is beginning to emerge." Thoughtful article on links between openness, transparency, gossip and just plain venting in cyberspace.

Update: Ellen at Standard Deviance goes after this with a broom, no maybe a bat--great comments!

Pollard: What can we learn from the Haida---or not

Synchronicity: Last night in Barnes & Noble I was looking at a travel book on Haida Gwaii and the Queen Charlotte islands, a protected area I've long dreamed of visiting.
Today, Dave Pollard has a post on the Haida and what we industrialized folk can learn from their history.
Quote: "Think of the problems that we are struggling with today: lack of adequate and affordable health care, housing, education, safe and healthy food, and security in old age. For 9000 years the Haida had none of these problems. They lived within their means. They had an egalitarian society where resources were shared. They learned what they needed to know (and what we would be wise to learn) from studying nature, from each other, and from the stories passed down from previous generations."

Dave's conclusion is that looking back at the Haida ultimate won't help--we're screwed.
Okay, so that means it's now time to read Time's piece on Bush as Man of the Year

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Newish (and Jewish)

Aviv Press, the new imprint of the Rabbinical Assembly, publishes high quality Jewish books that are geared for readers of all faiths and denominations wishing to engage in an intellectually dynamic consideration of Jewish texts and traditional approaches to spirituality.
Seraphic Press: Robert Averech has a new imprint, a new book--and a new blog address.
Esther's not new, but MyUrbanKvetch is still funny.

Cell phone pix convict pig, uh, lover

A Norwegian paper reports that a local farmer who discovered a strange man having a go at his pig herd (sows, I presume), was able to whip out his cell phone and take some photos that got the guy convicted of public bestiality. Said the farmer: "I took nine pictures of the man in action. It was embarrassing delivering the film for development, and I explained in the photo shop what had happened."

Michael Kinsley says bloggers are really smart

According to a recent opinion column he published in the Washington Post, Michael Kinsley (X-Slate editor) went to a conference and only bloggers responded to the comments he circulated afterwards--in fact, they said waay more than he expected--"Within hours, there were discussions going on in a dozen blogs, all hyperlinking to one another like rabbits."
Despite the archness, Kinsley seems impressed and notes "how the Web enables people who are scattered physically around the globe, who share an interest in a topic as naturally uninteresting as the economic theory behind Social Security privatization, to find one another and enjoy a gabfest."
Conclusion: Even the ponderous are coming round to blogging. (Okay, that was mean--I am delighted Michael Kinsley is warming to the blogosphere. Okay, not really.)

Hostess Twinkies--wish they worked now

Back in the day, Hostess Twinkies could make everything okay--wish they worked that way now.

(Via the wonderous BoingBoing)

Mark Bernstein: Writing for the Living Web

In talking about Mary's data loss, Mark Bernstein referenced an earlier post(2002) he'd done on alistapart on writing for the living web--this is still an inspiring and useful read.
Summary version (read the whole post--it's waay better):
  • Write for a reason: "Whether your daily updates concern your work life, your hobbies, or your innermost feelings, write passionately about things that matter."
  • Write often: " You need not write constantly, and you need not write long, but you must write often."
  • Write tight: "Omit unneccessary words."
  • Make good friends: " your web writing take special care to acknowledge the good work and good ideas of other writers. "
  • Find good enemies: "The best enemy, in fact, is often a friend, a writer you cite frequently and who often cites you, but with whom you disagree on a specific questions."
  • Let the story unfold: "Understand the storyteller?s art and use the technique of narrative to shape the emerging structure of your living site."
  • Stand up, speak out: "Try, if you can, to avoid inflicting unnecessary pain and humiliation on those who have the misfortune to be mistaken."
  • Be sexy: "The more of yourself you put into your writing, the more human and engaging your work will be."
  • Use your archives: "Always provide a permanent location (a ?permalink?) where each item can be found."
  • Relax: "Don't worry about the size of your audience. If you write with energy and wit about things that matter, your audience will find you."
All still true now.

Friday, December 17, 2004

NetNewsWire: Pile-on at 11

The blogosphere's latest pile-on--aka "heated discussion"-- is happening here, partly due to here. Lots of dissection of core ideas--and just as much flaming. Geeze.

New and noted

AP, Wireless in US-So why does only 57% of the US population use wireless mobile, just 3% more than the island of Jamaica? According to a recent AP story, one of the main factors is an inferior network; another is wireless companies' focus on credit-approved customers--i.e. little focus on the pre-paid phones other countries have
: Hong Seok-hyun, Chairman of JoongAng Ilbo and president of the World Association of Newspapers, will serve as the South Korean Ambassador to the U.S.

Poynter: Lauren Rich Fine, Merrill Lynch Managing Director, just posted excerpts from her report on newspapers in 2004. A snippet: "Newspapers are still a mass market medium, an increasingly important concept as the broadcast industry faces ratings declines and the challenge stemming from personal video recorders. According to the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), 54 percent of adults in top 50 markets read a newspaper each weekday and 63 percent do so on Sunday. Forty-one percent of people between the ages of 18-24 read a paper each day and 49 percent on Sunday. Over a typical week, 79 percent of adults in the top 50 markets read the paper."
Fine says that the increased buying power of the older adults reading papers offsets their, uh, age, but
it's hard to buy into a market analysis in which blogs, newsreaders and RSS syndication are never once mentioned.

SF Chronicle names new publisher: Parent company Hearst announced that Frank Vega,
a longtime newspaper exec who is currently chief executive of Detroit Newspapers, is replacing Steve Falk, who emailed the staff that he is "moving on to new opportunities outside The Chronicle."
Given the new hires in the online side and the announced staff cuts, one wonders what's next here--this is a paper that should only get better. makes its move, one of the older of the Knight Ridder Digital news sites, just pulled the covers off a redesign. Longtime GM Fred Mann points to the new weather section, the left rail of consistent navigation, and the redesigned and improved home page, which keeps the Shop Local coupons, the Classifieds box and a tower ad--and incidentally, pushed Classifieds to the top of the left-hand nav (Craigslist, take that!).
The new design isn't that different than, but has some subtle changes that probably will improve click-through on the top half of the screen--maily around tightening the grid and better-nesting items more closely.
Philly's RSS feeds list, however, is behind a registration-only wall, which seems odd given their hunger for distribution.

Podcasts growing in Netherlands--and UK

So, is it Adam Curry's inspiring example and super charisma, or something they put into the beer? Either way, apparently Holland's become a hotbed of podcasters.
DM Europe reports that Dutch broadcaster BNN has just launched 4 radio shows as podcasts, all of which use iPodder, Curry's software.
iPodder, in turn, allows users to down load audiofiles in mp3 format from broadcasters? content websites to their computers, and then on to their mp3 players.
(BNN also broadcasts three podcast shows onto conventional radio.)

Cheat sheet: What is podcasting? Check this out.

Update: And the BBC reports podcasting is huge in UK judging by response to recent posts.

2005 wishlists: Penenberg division

Adam Penenberg's got a wishlist in Wired News.
Short version is:
  1. Google News should become a for-profit enterprise
  2. Bloggers should break news
  3. Dismantle the FCC
  4. The end of Nielsen and comScore
  5. Media should reassert its role as government watchdog

One nice quote:
"Google should place ads on its Google News service so publishers can unleash a spate of cease-and-desist letters claiming copyright infringement.."

Well worth the read.

eBay's Xmas gift to eBay:

Merc: ebay's buying, a service that matches renters with apartments. Started in 2001, says it expects 2004 revenues over $40 million.

So, Tony Gentile sez:
"With the acquisition of, eBay is once again squaring off directly with the newspaper industry, most notably with Classified Ventures -- a Joint Venture of Gannett, Tribune, Knight Ridder, Belo, McClatchy and The Washington Post -- which runs, and Homescape.
So let's update our eBay vs. The Newspaper Industry scorecard. eBay has:
1) Gutted the 'General Merchandise' section of newspaper classified listings through its second-hand auction/direct-buy marketplace
2) Positioned eBay Motors against newspaper auto classifieds, and indirectly,
3) Just bought to compete with "

More of Tony's thoughts over at Buzzhit blog.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

New York notes

Have been in New York for four days, flying home tonight. Spent most of the trip working, very little socializing. Will be posting more regularly from tomorrow on--including a detailed write-up on the Majestic conference.
It's 30 degrees and everyone seems to be fighting bronchitis. Brr.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Digging 43 things

The 10 minutes I was going to spend on the 43 Things beta from robot coop turned into 45 somehow.
This list-maker from a new company formed by a bunch of Amazon's personalization wizards has a social network aspect and a team or groups component that are both cool.
I'm especially entranced by the highly usable and clean interface, courtesy of 37 Signals.

Josh Peterson, one of the creators, had some interesting things to say:

"3 out of 4 of the first members of's personalization team
work at The Robot Co-op, but we've built some other interesting
projects too - like or We
definitely think about recommendations and personalization - and
started of thinking about some of the most interesting data we could
imagine. We think we've come up with something really interesting by
focusing on things people want to do, and helping to pull together (in
loose form) resources that might help them discern their goals and
achieve them.

We thought a lot about building a complex system that is based on
simple technologies. This is true for how we built Amazon's
personalization systems as well. 43 Things is very open ended to
allow all sorts of emergent behavior to develop - both from users and
the system itself. We are also unapologetically aspiration-al in our
outlook. What we love about sites like flickr or craigslist is that
they go to the trouble of being useful before trying to make you use
them. We really have very little idea what the path will look like for
43 Things, but we built it so it could useful for many purposes.
Evolving is exactly what we see 43 Things doing as it finds an audience
and practical applications. We are optimistic, in part, because in
sharing the simple idea of 43 Things through Twinkler, we saw over 200K
users build lists of goals over 2 weeks through word of mouth alone.
Hopefully the release will prove useful and interesting as well."

As a list maniac, I'm pleased to see this and curious how long I'll stay interested--persistence is always one way to judge lasting value.

How to explain RSS to your Mom & Dad

Heather Green, Business Week: " If you're a news junkie, an online auction lover, or someone who wants to know when the latest songs, DVDs, and books are released, here's a technology that's perfect for you. Called Really Simple Syndication (RSS), it lets you pull together a list of Web sites you want to follow. So instead of surfing through The New York Times site for news, going to eBay (EBAY ) to track a particular auction, or checking with Apple's (AAPL ) iTunes to see when a new recording is available, you can get access to all the information through one Web page or download to your computer. The information you get, called a feed, comes to you through a piece of software called a newsreader."
(Via Rubel)

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Now blogging from Butler Library

I look for quiet places to write on trips to New York--and rarely find them. Today, I hit paydirt. My brother R, who's getting a grad degree at Columbia University, got me into Butler Library as a family member--and this place is what I've been looking for.
Butler has a cafe with Diet Coke and wireless, truly private study carrels with computer hookups, and gleaming marble halls that absorb sound and don't reflect it. A great place to write.
Thank you, R.

Content meets commerce: ESPN teams with Footlocker

Footlocker's managing an online store and a direct-mail catalog, both selling ESPN-branded and non-ESPN-branded athletically inspired merchandise.
Bet the relationship is revenue share on transaction, with ESPN required to provide a certain amount of traffic to drive revenue and Footlocker assuming costs.
(Via Paid Content)

What's in Barry Schuler's kitchen?

So Barry Schuler, former AOL honcho, commissioned artisan Fu-Tung Cheng to build create a 500 square foot concrete, stainless steel, bamboo, zinc, granite and cast polyurethane custom kitchen for his Napa estate home.
Schuler says: '"I wanted it to be a piece of sculpture in and of itself. I smile every single day I'm in that kitchen, because it's like you're standing in a work of art."
(Via Paradise Post Times)
Isn't that nice?

Dave Winer: Flames and Idealism

Dave Winer: "I'll never forget what it felt like to be at the center of so much hate, to have so few stand up for me, I will never forget the people who who turned so ugly as a form of recreation."

Monday, December 13, 2004

(More) Noted

DM Europe: Half of the UK isn't on line; those without will suffer by 2025 (they needed to study this?)
TechWeb: Technology shoppers research online but buy in store, with 4 out of 10 waiting longer than five weeks to make the purchase, sez new ComScore study. (Maybe so, but someone's driving up electronics on Amazon.)
WebProNews: AOL's announced a new IP Relay service from, MCI for the hearing impaired using AIM--sounds like a perfect match for the evil teens who play pranks like this one.
Firefox: 10 million copies downloaded. (Did I mention this is the best browser I have ever used?)

Tommy Hilfiger to buy Lagerfield business

When I read that clothing manufacturer Tommy Hilfiger was acquiring Karl Lagerfield (his tradmarks at least), my first thought was, what will Manolo say?
Manolo said (of a picture of the two): "Manolo says, Dr. Frankenstein and Igor."

Majestic Research conf rocked

Was at the Majestic Research conference in NY this afternoon; focus was ecommerce and paid search. Discussions a mix of industry tool presos and very cutting edge where is ecommerce going and how does paid search fit into the revenue mix. (You probably don't want to know this, but I missed part of the conference because my temporary crown fell out suddenly, which meant racing across town to find a dentist to glue it back in (seems stable, now).
What was interesting to me was that no one in this mostly East Coast crowd focused much on the long tail, blogging, and disintermediated content--the only voice referencing that was Paul Kedosky, whose blog, Seeking Alpha, has a rundown of today's conference here. However, there was terrific talk about Google, Yahoo, Overture, Froogle, AOL, Microsoft, eBay, Amazon and many other companies, large and small, and smart speculation on how the ad market may evolve.
I hope to post more notes in the next couple days.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

AP: AOL's ad-driven efforts

AP story on AOL's change to subs and ads revenue model. Some quotes:
Kevin Conroy (nowAOL's executive vice president for Web brands) : "We've built that new business, and now we have an opportunity to focus on creating a different, a new balance, a better balance" between subscription and advertising."
Ted Leonsis:
"Having two revenue streams inoculates you from the vagaries of the industry. We could have an advertising recession, and that would be really bad if you were just an advertising-driven company."

Update: Where are they now? AP story on Gerald Levin, Ted Turner, Steve Case and Bob Pittman.

Majestic Research Conference in NY Monday

Going to the Majestic Research conference tomorrow in New York, Does Ecommerce = Paid Search ? Where my brain is these days, this is an incredibly interesting and relevant question and I am looking forward to listening to folks at this gathering. An agenda is posted here.
(If they allow it, I will blog from the conference.)

Noted: Ecommerce

TechWeb: Dec 14th predicted as biggest online shopping day.
CNET: Online holiday spending, excluding travel and auctions, was $8.41 billion between Nov. 1 through Dec. 5, up 23 percent from the year-ago period and on track to meet estimates, ComScore Networks said Friday.
Pricenoia: Did you hear the one about the comparison search engine that shopped international and US Amzon sites? This is it. (How about an eBay version?)
A bit off topic: Retailers offer airline safe shoes.


Newsweek: Gee. bloggers are smart--and people read them! Breatheless puff piece with mentions of Sifry, Searles, Winer, Scoble--and no links in the copy!
Fast Company: They like Craig Newmark.
John Battelle: Thoughts on how Google and Yahoo differ in approaching search results, media, and paid search.
Ohmynews: Extensive(and exclusive) interview with Dan Gillmor (via Steve Rubel). A quote: "I also want to bring, as (OhmyNews) did, the understanding that professional journalists have actually learned a few things over the years -- things that actually work and we shouldn't just throw out those things that work as we go into this new era of citizen journalism..."

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Seth sez: Google and LinkedIn

Seth Goldstein: "The prospect that google will offer email remains perhaps the single most disruptive possibility for the current portal landscape (ie yahoo, aol, msn/hotmail, etc)."
"Linkedin's ceo reid hoffman told me how linkedin is a broad platform of open trust that he will leverage against a variety of applications over time, including jobs, professional services, etc."

Internet and Society conference: Craig sez

Craig Newmark--and others are blogging the Berkman/Harvard Internet and Society conference, Craig sez: "I've been thinking this is the best conference I've visited in maybe twenty years, since I actually have been sitting in on the sessions. I'm pretty impressed by Harvard, possibly the finest community college I've seen. "

More on transactional microcontent...

Pc4Media sez: "Mernit & Rubel have an interesting back and forth going on about how ebay, craigslist, even Amazon will allow the future of mini-media companies, enabling the wider citizen's media to generate mini-media type revenues...(snip)..
The other half is missing: The tools aren't available yet to use that attention to generate a livelihood...(snip)... With the current state of ad tools, for the rest of us to make cash on the level that the pro bloggers are making, we need a salesperson selling our inventory. (and more good stuff here)

Mernit comment: Yep, you got it. But recognize that more and more, Amazon, eBay etc are platform companies with available and distributed APIs(eBay is not right now but they support lots of developers)--and the long tail will allow more and more small businesses (ie individuals) to create and sell goods and services--as well as advertising.
I think that for bloggers etc the $$ will move from 95% ad revenue, 5% transactions to 40% transactions, 60% ad revenue--a sigificant shift and one that shows individuals paying each other for things.

Friday, December 10, 2004

AOL deactivates AIM users by mistake

Geeze, it would be amazingly mean to wonder aloud if AOL's accidental deactivation of a number of AIM screen names had anything to do with the 900-odd folks they laid off this week. The ones who had to give back their IDs and digital identities.
Naah, unikely.

Ecommerce: Small buys are adding up big

What do ringtones, magazine articles, videogames, digital music downloads and online garage sales in common? They often feature items that cost under $5.00, and they collectively add up to a multi-billion dollar business. In fact, the Gartner Group predicts that micro-commerce opportunities for new products and services will generate $60 billion in revenue per year by 2015--and that eBay and Craigslist may be the main delivery systems for these sales (Steve Rubel, you're brilliant).

Some stats:

  • Mobile games will grow to a $3 billion market by 2006, according to In-Stat/MDR.
  • In 2003, cellular ring-tones made more than $3.5 billion in 2003, according to the ARC Advisory Group.
  • Digital music downloads will reach $3.2 billion in revenue by 2008, according to Forrester.
  • 14 million Americans age 12 and older digital content for less than $2 in the past year, according to Ipsos-Insight.
  • 37 million Americans would use their credit, debit or charge cards for purchases of $5 or less, according to Matt Kleinschmit, research director at Ipsos-Insight.

(Via Ecommerce News)


Omidyar funds Feedster.
News: Apple Store accepts Paypal.
Steve Outing:Portland Oregonian newspaper rejects ads from eBay-related auction services company, Bid Brothers, citing competitive threat.
Also--AP: Halliburton has made over $10B on contracting in Iraq.

Google Suggest: Experiments

Christina Aguilera returns the same results in Google Search and Google Suggest
Cashmere sweater returns the same results in Google Search and Google Suggest
So, what's the difference? Google Suggest is scripted so you are offered a wide range of other queries to fill in when you type into the query box--and those terms are weighted in order of popularity with users--ie it "suggests more refined searches upfront."
Hmmn. When they implement on Froogle, will advertisers pay for that?

Citizen Journalism: Businesses start to build

Dan Gillmor announced today he's leaving the Merc to co-found a grassroots journalism venture (how exciting), Jeff Jarvis' latest big idea seems to be a network of online journals so local businesses can negotiate one deal and have their advertisements appear on several sites simultaneously(Via Leslie Walker in Washington Post), and Pegasus News' somewhat veiled (they are out there pitching) co-founders say their grassroots media project will trump Belo(and presumably others, once they wrestle Advance's local initiatives to the ground (joke).
All this smacks of a hard look at South Korea's ohmynews, a need to find the next big media thing now that the high of election blogging has died down, and the realization the local ad market has dollars, but limited solutions to spend them on.

Scoble has a good list of technology tools required, based on a reading of Dan's book(and general smarts) :
1) News gathering (camera phones, recording devices, portable computers, etc)
2) News propogation and comparison (email, instant messaging, chat, newsgroups)
3) News production (photo editing applications, word processors, content management, er, blogging tools)
4) News distribution systems (databases, server farms, web servers)
5) News reading (Web browsers and RSS aggregators)
6) News finding and trend analysis (search, link analysis, pattern analysis)

Change is coming, no doubt, and it is really exciting--hope we see some new experiences emerge with information and storytelling, just as they have with P2P and mixing in the music/media space.

Blogging at Engadget this am

Over at Engadget this am, being all geeky and mean.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Wired: Newspapers really are dying

Missed this Wired article on why newspapers are dying a couple weeks ago from Adam Penenberg, but thought it was right on the money and wanted to share a quote:
"Don't think for a minute that young people don't read. On the contrary, they do, many of them voraciously. But having grown up under the credo that information should be free, they see no reason to pay for news. Instead they access The Washington Post website or surf Google News, where they select from literally thousands of information sources. They receive RSS feeds on their PDAs or visit bloggers whose views mesh with their own. In short, they customize their news-gathering experience in a way a single paper publication could never do. And their hands never get dirty from newsprint. "

Penenberg goes on to cite a recent Online News Association study (.pdf) which reports that 18- to 34-year-olds are far more apt to log on to the internet (46 percent) than watch TV (35 percent), read a book (7 percent), turn on a radio (3 percent), read a newspaper (also 3 percent) or flip through a magazine (less than 1 percent).

Susan sez: A nice read with which to educate (AKA scare) the unconverted.

Wired: Ads in RSS

Ads in RSS have moved from a when to a how.
Wired News has a piece up that talks about the growing interest in RSS ads, and what's been tried to date.
Weblogsinc, Gawker Media, Feedster, Yahoo and Overture all get a mention, as does Mr Battelle.
Oh, and did I mention Adam Penenberg wrote it? I'm a fan.

Ecommerce: NYTimes gets it wrong in the (online) luxury market

Story in the NY Times on the booming luxury market and online shopping--only thing is reporter misses some KEY points on ecommerce and the high end market.
What's true in the story:

  • More and more people are shopping online, especially for holiday gifts.
  • Many shoppers don't live near high-end stores.
  • Online department stores can meet the need for exclusive goods, without much price resistance.

Horyn says: "For luxury retailers, the challenge is how to leverage their prestige without appearing snobbishly out of touch. Neiman's, for instance, is developing custom home pages. Tiffany's Web site shows how engagement diamonds are cut and set, believing that consumers want more for their money than the luster of a name. "

All true, but what the story misses:

  • Although high-end department stores offer luxury goods online, they aren't making big money on a regular basis from online shopping. Revenues at and are a small part of their total, and these sites are considered marketing more than a revenue driver.
  • Luxury goods makers generally have a strong resistance to selling online because of issues of branding and consumer experience. Prada, which gets lots of play in this story, doesn't offer merchandise on its web site--and while Amazon partner Raffello has Prada product on their site, a Froogle search on Prada skirts shows just 59 results, as opposed to 159 for a DKNY skirt query (and even DKNY doesn't sell direct to consumer online.)
  • There is a limit to the kind of high-end merchandise a shopper will buy online--home and style goods, handbags, even shoes do well. But few women are going to buy expensive dresses, pants, coats and items that require fit (and touching fabric/texture) online unless custom fit mechanisms improve--but the high-end ain't there yet (cept for Nike, of course.)
  • The smaller designer,, Yoox, Girlshop.-- focus as much on trendy merchandise and smaller designer as luxury brands--and while their businesses are growing, the margins are cruel.

Ecommerce: Live far, shop online

Mediapost has new data to support the idea that gas prices and remote locations are factors that fuel online shopping and purchasing--only their data suggests that rural residents are most interested in looking at online storefronts for businesses they can shop in the real world as well.

According to a Hitwise report released this week, "consumers living in the rural United States were responsible for about 44 percent of traffic to online shopping and classifieds sites for the four weeks ending Dec. 4. By contrast, Americans living in urban areas contributed to about 15 percent of e-commerce traffic, suburbanites made up about 24 percent, and small city dwellers made up about 16 percent of all traffic. "

This data suggests that local shopping and coupons initiatives like ShopLocal, which is a newspaper-linked product owned by Knight Ridder, Gannett and Tribune, will do well in smaller markets, where mom and pop stores hold sway (unless people feel the same sort of affinity with their local Walmart.)

Tom Biro: Newspapers with RSS feeds list

Tom Biro's started a list of US newspapers with RSS feeds. He's counted around 65. The list starts here and goes on--
Arizona Republic
Athens Banner-Herald (Georgia)
Auburn Plainsman (Auburn University)
Baltimore Sun
Boston Globe
Business Journal of Phoenix
Chicago Business (University of Chicago)
Chicago Flame (University of Illinois @ Chicago)
Chicago Maroon (University of Chicago - on right sidebar)
Christian Science Monitor
The Clarion (University of Denver)

So, anyone have an international list?

Teen (food) tastes: Mexican going mainstream

90% of the young teenagers in a survey about food preferences from Packaged Foods said they considered quesadillas as an everyday food--showing the movement of Mexican dishes into the mainstream. The report suggests that tacos and burritos are overtaking Chinese-style food as favorite choices for Americans, but it still seems like pizza rules. At least for programmers.
(Via Just Food)

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

HUH? Google & AOL search wierdness-Jews & Jesus

Yep. Gawker searched on I love Jews on Google and this came up (and still does!)

And ya know what--it does the SAME THING on AOL Search.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Om Malik: Short-shrifting individual bloggers?

Is the interest in making money pushing blogs to become brands--and short-shrifting individual bloggers? Om Malik's got a post describing how some sites (Tribal Fusion) won't place ads on his blog, but will on a one-person blog with a corporate name (like EHomeUpgrade). Om writes: "I think what you are seeing is the marginalization of the citizen blogger in favor of more corporate brand names."
I think Om is right--both that the thrill of potential money is accelerating blog publishing, particularly in niche areas like shopping and trade media--And that individual bloggers are getting a little lost in (some of) the shuffle.
On the other hand, this may be his attention shifting--lots of people are blogging same as always.
(Jeremy Zawodny's got a somewhat related post saying: "We ought to have a unified set of blog listings and categorization between Yahoo Search, the Yahoo Directory, and My Yahoo." )

Update Another related post by Ross Mayfield on shifting tone and energy in the blgosphere(read more constrained and shallow)

Techdirt ecommerce: Overpaying ain't cool

Mike from techdirt has a post on the reality that people don't want to overpay on eBay just to win something(concept via NY Times).
Connect these dots to another ecommerce fact: According to many of the shopping comparison sites, one of the key drivers for search on, saying, is the urge to check that you are paying a fair price at the site you've chosen to to business with (as opposed to looking for the lowest price for the item, no matter what.)
More signs the Internet is changing some established consumer behaviors and shfting aspects of the supply chain.

Update: Story today about how luxury gifts are big, especially among the more affluent(read employed) segments of the population. ""Instead of three wool sweaters, maybe they're saving up to buy one nice cashmere sweater" kind of purchasing.

Craigslist meets Britney Spears

Worlds collide in this CL post:
Reply to: anon-50809940@craigslist.orgDate: 2004-12-01, 11:38AM PST
Britney and Kevin Federline are having a baby boy, and rumor has it the name will be Cheeto. '
I think they're looking for a nanny, so if you are up for it, contact me and I'll get you in touch with the right people that handle Brit, kevin and Cheeto.
I am for real.
this is in or around B.H.
it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
(Via the superficial)

AOL layoffs: 950-1200 staffers slashed?

CBS News reports 750 let go, but Slashdot says 950 staffers and 300 contractors.
And everyone got 4 months free AOL with their package.

Blogosphere: Le Monde blog offer

A Wharton biz school student I know translated the Le Monde blogging offer. He writes:
"LeMonde is basically offering to all subscribers the ability to create their own personal blog within the newspaper's online site ( The subscription, which gives access to all traditional articles online, is 6euros/month or roughly $8/mo. This new blog tool kit is to be made available in December of 2004. They have a set of rules that can be found at (in French),1-0@2-3388,36-389436,0.htm) which includes such things as inability to paste in articles or photos from Le Monde. It is unclear if the blogs can be monetized - nothing in their rules seems to prohibit this - but the newspaper reserves the right to shutdown any blog, for any reason."
It's interesting that the blogging price also provides access to online articles--and to their reuse? that is unclear.

Ecommerce watch: Whole lotta spending going on

Via Washington Post: "A new report says online consumers spent $8.8 billion in November, up 19 percent from the same period last year and 62 percent from 2002 (the numbers exclude travel). While apparel topped the list at $1.5 billion, according to the Goldman Sachs & Co., Harris Interactive and Nielsen/NetRatings holiday eSpending report, toys and video games -- including hardware and software -- were second at $1 billion, with DVDs and videos in third at $882 million. "The growth in 2004 holiday revenue suggests that consumers are shifting more dollars to the Internet this season," Nielsen/NetRatings analyst Heather Dougherty said in a statement. "

AOL: Layoffs may be today

A source inside AOL reports that layoffs may be held today and that staffers expect 700-1,000 jobs to be cut in Dulles, with content programming taking a hit along with previously reported tech and broadband.

Monday, December 06, 2004

A gratifying event to no one but me, and still...

Yeaah, my blog is listed in the new My Yahoo directory!
Actually, it looks like they did a pretty through job with the directories-it looks like the new My Yahoo is going to be a slamming RSS newsreader--something else(along with MSN Spaces) to play with when I have some time.

Happy holidays to all

This is the virtual version of 5ive's holiday card; there also a letterpress version (soon to be mailed) designed by letterpressed, a hand-set cards site in Fresno, CA that I found, yep, on someone's blog.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Sunday dinner

Okay, so I like to cook on Sunday nights.
Tonight I made food not only for our meal,. but to last a bit into the week:
Chicken breasts with spinach, mushrooms and garlic
Baked chicken (our son is on a protein kick)
Stewed Thai eggplants with chickpeas and spinach (there is a certain ingredient theme here)
White rice
We ate the baked chicken, rice and veggies and finished off with dark chocolate pieces we had to get on a stepladder to reach--they're kept on the top shelf on the cabinet so certain short people don't snack.

Ecommerce: Catalogers and RSS

Dave Czarnecki has a post asking why catalogers can't skip the glossy paper editions and go straight to RSS feeds.
Why not, indeed?
The questions have to do with how.
Bonus links: Paul Katcher's got a round up of online shopping guides from the big guys. I've seen a lot of smaller guides as well--including the one from Cool Hunting, which I backed off buying but REALLY want(their ecommerce thing seems kludgy).

New and Noted:Aylet Waldman's blog

Ayelet Waldman has a blog. I know her as a writer and wife of Michael Chabon, but this blog is down-to-earth and great fun.
And she shares my passion for Manolo (the shoe blogger, that is).
And because of posts like this one, I am going to keep coming back--
"The baby started screaming as soon as I tried to give him his bottle and put him to bed. He cried so hard he puked all over me and all over himself. Finally, after holding him for way too long (considering how fragrant we both were by then) I just put him down and listened to him scream, "No Mama, No. Daddy bye bye. Daddy bye bye." Lovely. This is what I get for having spend the first six months of his life attached to a breastpump instead of holding him."
I am entranced.

Is there gold in them thar blogosphere?

A recent Bizweek story touts the ad revenue possibilities for well-trafficked blogs:
"...Advertisers are realizing there is a market emerging in the blogosphere. Already, the growth in regular online advertising, estimated to be about 35% this year, will far outpace the spending increases for any other sector of the media world. Add to all this the fact that about 11% of Internet users today are inveterate blog readers, and the blogging scene starts to get mighty compelling for marketers."

Meanwhile, smart-boys Jarvis, Rubel, Lasica, Calcanis, Watson, Wilson, (partly triggered by Steve Smith(eContent & MIN) and others exercise their opinions about whether there's gold in the blogging hills and if yes(probably yes) where's the $$ to be found. A short summary for the impatient:
  • Ad revenue: Has potential, but unclear what $$ could really look like for any specific blog
  • Services companies like Six Apart--clearly making $$
  • Software companies--doubt on anyone sustaining a market lead long enoug to make real dough.
  • Trade publishing model (a la Calcanis with 60+ mostly niche blogs)-Has promise, but is it new model?

As more people make money, this conversation will evolve. More tk, always.

Hey: One reason Craigslist works is Craig

As the viral success of Craig's List--and its replacement of newspaper classified listings--moves forward, we need to remember that one of the things that makes Craig's List special is, well, Craig. This is a guy who has a laser-focus on his product and its mission, and strong follow-through, a fact this recent story from Brian Dear illustrates.
Brian was looking to hire, and when he posted the job on CL, he got no responses. He checked the servers, figured it was a mail-server problem and emailed Craig. Craig emailed back ASAP. Brian writes:
"I emailed Craig directly at 16:43 to inquire about my email concerns and damn if he didn't respond within 60 seconds, at 16:44. Talk about superb customer service! He forwarded the issue on to his tech team, and they got back to me at 17:30 saying it sounds like a problem with my company's server."
Craig and team fixed the problem, Brian got his post up, and of course he's a CL user for life.
Moral of story: How many commercial companies really provide that mix of value and service?

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Steve Rubel and Media's Visible Future

Steve Rubel and I must have been drinking the same Koolaid. In a recent post , he wrote about eBay and Craig's List as dominant media properties of the future.
Steve writes:"This will usher in a new era where citizen journalism is directly funded by person-to-person commerce. eBay community bloggers will be able to earn revenues either from their own auction listings or from classified sponsors who choose to advertise on their eBay weblog. In short, eBay will empower consumers to establish a micro version of the media business model that has been around for generations, but only accessible to the big boys. "
A day earlier, I had written that I thought that in the future Amazon and eBay will be publishing magalogs, 50% of so-called online newspapers will be written by non-staff people, most media will be distributed via RSS and onto mobiles, and comments will be considered as entertaining as posts.
We are starting to see the horizon line of media's visible future--and we are learning the world is NOT flat.

Update: I said no more whining, but I lied. Blogger chewed this post, too. Damn.

Friday, December 03, 2004

What (some) bloggers think about sponsored blogging

Christian Crumlish: "For the record, I am entirely willing to sell out personally, but will only blog about what I want to and will continue to be completely transparent about anyone with whom I have a business relationship."

Jason Calcanis: I'm a capitalist who loves to make money. Now, it's not the money so much as the fact that the money lets me pay great writers to build build great brands that makes me happy. I understand that most media is advertising based, and I support efforts to make advertising more successful for both the marketers and the reader. (snip) Now, the problem I do have is when writers get paid for their editorial space, and their voice. Even if you tell the public what is going on, the public has to wonder about everything you write going forward if you're in on the take. That is why journalists are not endorsing products. "

Mitch Ratcliffe: "Seeing as I am now officially under attack from all quarters, and because none of my critics has really read either my disclosure page or most of the postings I've published about the ethical questions associated with taking money to place a badge and a weekly textual acknowledgment of the sponsorship, I herewith begin publishing a weekly disclosure of my business relationships."

Marc Canter: "Blogging ain't that hard - especially when it's something we love to do. Doing research and diving into one of these Marqui stories - is gonna be fun and a piece of cake and something we do - by instinct.
At $800 a month, one blog a week, that's $200 per post.
And once you go through your referral logs, comments and trackbacks - you're sure to find at least 4 decent leads from folks who want to become Marqui developers or are interested in the product - and that's another $200 a month."

You decide. Is sponsored blogging okay?

Fun with Stereogum

Pix of Kelly Osborne and Britney Spear's new little dog: Seperated at birth? Stereogum is always fun--check it out.

(Pix from Oh no they didn't)

Thankful to be alive: A different Jeff Jarvis

For those who know and love Jeff Jarvis, it was a bit of a shock (albeit a delightful one) to come across this holiday editorial in the Heber Springs Sun-Times (that's in Arkansas, folks) by Jeff Jarvis.
The piece starts off:
"This is the real deal about prayers, luck, and medical science. I'm Jeff Jarvis, and I have experienced all of these things."
I was half way down the page, reading about how Jeff Jarvis's life had been saved, when I realized it was a different Jeff Jarvis.
This struck me as the most surprising coincidence. Yep, it's a different guy--but one who has the same appreciation for life as the blogosphere's Jeff. And who feels just as lucky to be alive.
Heart-felt sigh.
(Side note: There isn't any inherent danger in being named Jeff Jarvis, is there?)

Parade's Kravitz: (Good) Advice on writing for teens

Editor and Publisher: Lee Kravitz, Parade Magazine editor-in-chief, and founder of the now-defunct teen magazine and web site React, offers editors some good advice in crafting products for teens. Some of Lee's tips (and the essay has lots more):
  1. Don't pander, don't preach.
  2. Respect their far-from-monolithic culture.
  3. Celebrate good kids and their achievements but not too much, and not exclusively.
  4. Truly give voice to young people.
  5. Don't fear controversy.
  6. Never report a problem without suggesting solutions and/or resources.
  7. In presenting stories, color, energetic photos, playful graphics, and variety on every page help.
  8. Make stories interactive.
  9. Ask and your teen readers will respond.
  10. Use your Web site and newspaper together to create a dynamic community.

Truth is, these are good guidelines for any web site, magazine or media product. What other teachings would you add to the mix?

This just in: Two-Thirds of Media Multitaskers Read the Paper While Watching TV

Editor and Publisher reports that a new study done for The Media Center at the American Press Institute reports that 74% of all consumers read mail while watching TV; 65.4% read the paper and watch TV, and 55% were watching TV when they elected Bush (no, they didn't really say that, I wanted to see if reading this and watching TV affected your comprehension skills.)

Jason Kottke: Sony's Chilling Effect

Perhaps you've been following the Kafka-esque experiences of designer and uber-blogger Jason Kottke as SONY (yes, that big corporation) puts the legal screws to him after he discloses Ken Jenning's Jeopardy loss before air date on his blog.
What, you didn't know a big company would sue a blogger for breaking that kind of news? Especially when the Washington Post ran the same story? Apparently, neither did Jason.
So now Kottke's in some kind of legal hot water and talking (I think) with the Chilling Effects folks, the nonprofit legal group that helps protect free speech (we still have that, don't we?). Meanwhile, this is alarming a number of people, who are both concerned for Jason, a pioneer in this space, and worried about legal precedent.
Tom Biro, Jason Calcanis, Steve Rubel, Chris Feola, Jeff Jarvis, Anil Dash, John Battelle , Rex Hammock and others (this is a PubSub feed) have all written about this situation. Scary thing is, it could happen to anyone--and it stinks.

Le Monde launches blogs (must read)

Pourquoi un blog? French newspaper Le Monde has launched a blogging area. The newspaper offera blogs to readers, highlights selected blogs, and tracks most-read and recently published blogs. Blogger and Six Apart exec Loic LeMeur has a good post about it (presumably, they are using Loic's Moveable Type)
Here's a picture of the section front--it looks great. (Broad hint, US newspapers, how about having some courage yourselves?)

NetNanny: MSN Spaces gets out the soap

BoingBoing's Xeni Jardin, responding to reader input, logged in at MSN Spaces to see whether it was true the software censored users. It does, but perhaps not as throughly as MSN may have intended--for the full dirty words patrol, read the post.

Tony Perkins plans Always On 'blogozine'

AP: Always-On founder Tony Perkins is planning a new magazine--a 'blogozine' that repurposes free content from the Always On site. According to today's AP story, Perkins plans a 100,000 copy, controlled-circulation run for what will basically be a "Best Of" selection, with revenue coming both from paid subscriptions (marketed on the web site, natch) and advertising (if the magazine goes to the same upper-income demo as the site, he's got a decent ad story to tell).
Scheduled for release in 2005, the blogozine will have virtual staff and low overhead--and presumably look great on the office consoles of Always On executive members who joined up but rarely go online.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Guest-blogging Engadget: That would be me

If you noticed a certain smart-assed, yet feminine flavor creeping into Engadget over the past 24 hours, that would be me, guest-blogging my little heart out. (Note to self: Have to stop...being..sarcastic...) Except for, uh, having to get up at 4:30 am to publish, it's been fun, and Peter Rojas is a good editor.

Chris Locke: From Rageboy to Chief Blogging Officer

Highbeam Research has hired Chris Locke, author, blogger and iconoclast, to act as 'Chief Blogging Officer'--a job that's intended to demonstrate to bloggers how they can use Highbeam's research documents in their sites. I'm delighted for Chris, but am a bit amused(bemused?) at how many companies are now starting to think about how they can make money off bloggers, at the same time that biz folks are (still) saying there's no money in blogs. In other words, a good chunk of the Chiefblogging site that isn't Locke's sharp perspective seems to offer links to abbreviated versions of Highbeam client's archived articles, like this April 2000 Nation piece by Katha Pollitt, linked to an upsell offer.
On the other hand, reading this is priceless--Scoble, move over.

Wired News: Mary Hodder is virtual grrrl

Adam Penenberg wrote a piece in Wired News about my friend Mary Hodder basically saying she was so far off the grid in terms of being cyber that she was a) almost a bot, and b) a possible bellwether for the rest of us. It's a cool article, but it doesn't adequately communicate that Mary is fun, and that she's amazingly social, undoubtly a balancing act with all that screen time.

Tanglao: How to be a newsmaster

Roland Tanglao's got a great set of posts on how to be a news master, ie track information and news using RSS feeds, aggregators and subscription services. Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 are all worth a read. (Roland, how about a PDF?)

Scoble: Selling'em with truth

God, I love Scoble! He's got a new post on MSN Spaces--first he critiques the service big time, then he tells us everything he likes about it--what a refreshing perspective for a company employee(note I did not say paid shill).
Not paid shill is the genius of Scoble--he works for Microsoft, has access to all the insider info, has an agenda he's pretty clear about--and he seems very trustworthy--I dig that.
This one guy has done more to warm up Redmond for me than years of PR people.
Soi, some reasons he doesn't want to use MSN Spaces for his blog:
  1. I can't totally redesign my MSN Space (I don't have access to the HTML/CSS that makes up the templates).
  2. I can't get my own domain (like
  3. I can't put Google Adsense ads on my blog (and I can't move or remove MSN's ads from my blog and I can't figure out any way to get revenue sharing from MSN).
  4. I can't get more than 10MB of space. (Only photos count against that limit, but I have 8,400 photos on my hard drive, so can probably fill up the limit pretty quickly).
  5. There's no developer story (no API you can use to build stuff). I'd like to see developers, like Laszlo, build things like their BlogBlox for MSN Spaces, but that isn't possible.
  6. There's no service integration story (no Feedster, Pubsub, Technorati,, Memeorandum links, etc).

And so on..

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Ecommerce: Shopping News

Top cities for online shopping this season are San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, according to an AOL-commissioned survey of consumer holiday shopping plans. Ratings were based on how often consumers researched and bought items online.
New York was 10 on the list, down from 8 last year, Raleigh, NC, was 4, down from 3 last year, Dallas/Fort Worth was 5, up from 17, and Atlanta moved from 13 to 6.
(Via Direct Marketing News)
Susan says: Is this about rising gas prices? You bet.

Addendum: Search Engine Watch has a search of the moment roundup that gets all the players --and the rankings--on one page

MSN Spaces launches Thursday

I was interviewed by a Merc News columnist today about MSN Spaces--he's seen it, I haven't. Clearly, it's meant to give a shove to the blogging services, but given that's a relatively small percentage of online users, what else could be involved, he asked?
We had an interesting discussion, some points of which I wanted to share:
--Maybe MSN Spaces isn't so much about being a blogging tool for the masses as being an acquisition play to go deeper with a personal space for people who use IM, especially the 13-25 year olds.
--One of the features of the system is that (like AOL Journals) you can publish via AIM. MSN is very competitive with Yahoo and AOL and they surely noticed how Yahoo jumped ahead in the AIM race when they added IM music playlists from Launch(they added 22 MM users when they did that, as I recall).
--So, perhaps this is a set up to position MSN to have something they can use as a platform to drive teens and younger people into, with AIM and music and entertainment promotions and giveaways as the front end.
--That would do something for their ad strategy as well as for their audience numbers (and it could explain why they backed away from doing/redoing a teen portal--couldn't this solve it more neatly?)
Also, is MSN still obsessed with AOL? If yes, the roadmap for development on this project is ironic--according to the columnist, one of the features was being able to set up cohort groups, or restrict access to your personal page to various hierarchies.
--This sounds to me like both a practical feature and one potentially meant to be competitive with AOL's Parental controls and teen focused site (which only lets you in if you have a teen account).
And the focus on photo albums, contact cards and RSS feeds for a MY MSN space certainly sound like one of the plays here is a big catch up--to AOL, Yahoo and Google.
One intrepid blogger--Mick Stanic in Australia-- has gone into MSN Space's Japanese site and created a home page--and done a Bablefish translation. Earlier, Phil Ringwalda deconstructed the Japanese version (which is still live at the URL in the press Japanese).
The story is all over the wire, but the site's not accessible yet. Given how fed up I am with the post-chewing Blogger, I might be a good candidate for religious conversion (or at least a new blogging platform).
Can Microsoft actually create a good consumer product this time?
Ask me in a couple weeks.

Update: Sounds like my speculations jumped the gun a bit. Michael Bazely says there is no posting access from IM--and the press release seems to confirm that.
Update 2: Creating a space for myself..more tk.

Mark Glaser: The Media Company I want to work for

Mark Glaser is getting fed up with 'don't get it but maybe things will change back' media companies.
He's a bred to the bone journalist (I crossed a couple biz and blogging lines some time ago) and his comments are worth a read.
Some of the must-haves Mark outlines:
--A news outlet that creates new content, aggregates the best outside content, and makes sense of everything, presenting it in a clear, simple format for the consumption of everyone.
--A company founded on the values of serving the public and allowing the public to serve journalism by participating in all discussions of mission and direction.
--A company that answers directly to its readers and consumers and doesn't talk down to them from editorial ivory towers.
--A company that is focused on the value of journalism, the practice, and not only of marketing and stock dividends.
--A group of like-minded people who are willing to start from scratch and build a new way of doing smart, groundbreaking citizen journalism. Not too amateur, not too professional but something in between.
--A company that is flexible and knowledgeable, with people who "get it" and understand how they can tap the latest technology to improve the craft of journalism -- and help it survive.
Mark also wants more transparency, more enlightened advisors, active practice of journalistic integrity, a global outlook, and an interactive, participatory culture, involving readers, writers, and editors." (--and biz folk too, I trust.)
Mark sees advertising and syndication as revenue sources, and an information coop, similar to the AP, only perhaps closer to my food co-op in overhead (like, zero.)
His final cry: "It's time for the readers and enlightened journalists to take back their power, to set the media's agenda, to rip out the reins from the graying media barons who have their blinders on."

The funny thing about this moment in time is that many of the media barons, I venture, would agree with Mark--they just don't know what to do to replace their ad base. Like dragons sitting on piles of treasure, publishers have built up client relationships and sub lists that fuel their businesses and keep margins high. Like the polar ice floes, that all seems to be melting away, and at a similarly alarming rate.

Since I don't believe new dragons are necessarily better than old dragons, I would invite everyone to change and rethink their business as well as start new ones (this is what our consulting practice is increasingly about). Having said that, Mark is damn right and I applaud the articulateness of his cry.

(Via Press Think)

Blogging in Pajamas

So this is the first time I've ever sat down at my computer in a pair of pajamas and blogged. The occasion was the 5 am PST/8 am EST publish date for Engadget, where I am guesting for a couple days--since I like to get up early, it seemed that rising an hour (or two) earlier than normal to do some additional blogging might be fun.
Now, back to my regularly scheduled life.

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