Thursday, June 30, 2005

The semantics of social media, aka What do ya call it all?

Social media
Citizen journalism
Participatory media
DIY content
Micro content
Community publishing
Hyperlocal content
We Media
User-generated news

So many names, with so many overlapping meanings.
Which terms do you favor, and how would you define the ones you use?

Less travel, more posting

Whew.
Just finished the tail end of what turned out to be a couple of months of endless travel--and working.
Some short trips planned, but nothing like the 15,000 plus miles I logged in June.
That means more posts, more thinking--more often.
Can't wait for the jet lag to subside.

PS I pick up my pets this weekend--thanks for taking care of the animals, Spence.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The read/write web: DIY content explained

John Markoff's NY Times' story does a good job of explaining the participatory culture of the read/write web.
Quotes and sound bites from many of the usual (emerging tech) suspects highlight ideas many Wrst Coasters are thinking--and living.

The Yellow Chair

Free wireless. A yellow chair. A house.
Who uses it?
interaction designer anab jain documents her wifi universe.
(Via Smart Mobs)

Cousin Billy is blogging

Personal milestone: First relative over age 11 with a blog--Billy Mernit's Writing the Romantic Comedy (yep, he's an expert.) Congrats, cuz.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

China: Mobile data stats

Yep, China's a big country. Lotsa people. Lotsa mobile phones.
From Dan Farber, via Emergic, some numbers provided by a China Mobile general manager:

* Mobile phone subscriptions in 2004: 340 million (15 percent growth year over year, 26 percent of the population in China)

* Total number of wired and wireless subscriptions in China: 650 million

* Mobile phone subscriptions by 2007: 500 million, 35 percent of the population

* China Mobile Communications profit: 20 percent on revenue for 2004

* Subscribers who use 300 minutes every month: 200 million (costs about 100 yuan renminbi?$12 US)

* SMS messages sent in 2004: 220 billion

* SMS messages sent during Chinese New Year holiday this year: 11 billion (three times normal usage)

* China telecom industry annual growth rate: 10-percent-per-year for wired, 15-percent-per-year for mobile

Google Earth-Did ya see it?

Google Earth is very impressive. It's a downloadable exe. that offers 3D graphics capabilities for the images...Try it and see.

Welcome to the vlogosphere

Vlogging or video blogging--Mary Hodder writes: "Vlog-posts are little movies, or a post wrapped around a little movie. One cannot link from within a movie, but one can reference, remix, explore...As I discover vloggers, get to know their work, see what they are thinking about as they explore and forge ahead with their vlogging work, I find myself presented with similar sensations of discovery and mystery as I did when I first was discovering blogs."

Monday, June 27, 2005

Online news: Free ain't the kicker

Pew study: Only 8 percent of the Americans interviewed in a new Pew Research Center for the People and the Press Report say they read news online because it's free--and 73% say reading online news is more convenient.

Of course, the web continues to move from the edge to the center--Key quotes:
" The internet continues to grow as a source of news for Americans. One-in-four (24%) list the internet as a main source of news. Roughly the same number (23%) say they go online for news every day, up from 15% in 2000; the percentage checking the web for news at least once a week has grown from 33% to 44% over the same time period.
While online news consumption is highest among young people (those under age 30), it is not an activity that is limited to the very young. Three-in-ten Americans ages 30-49 cite the internet as a main source of news."

And newspapers? Many of the interviewees said they preferred local cable TV news...They think it's more relevant--and more convenient.


Sunday, June 26, 2005

NYC: Mermaid Parade, aka Opening of the Beach

It was today! I am in California, but Blue Jake and others took pix of this wonderful annual event.
(Via Viviane)

Microsoft: Longhorn support for RSS--and lists

Microsoft's got a well-articulated developer's document on RSS, and another on a simple RSS list feature. The spec has some fantastic features articulated, including adding enclosures in a way that, for examples, allows a user to publish a feed of their calendar with an enclosure that allows the calendar app to operate within the feed. Also, there's a simple list spec that sounds very much like a product concept a friend and I wrote last summer--only this is Microsoft and they're building it--Most importantly, the new list spec allows developers to embed additional data into list items (think about product specs, rankings, etc.) and permits multiple views of the same list (because of the new metadata, folks.) Susan sez: Can't wait to see this one play out--the game has just changed, again.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Noted: Geekology & then some

Matt McAlister's post on his tagging and semantic web talk. Very nice. PPT here.
LA Voice: Writers' Guild to go after reality shows-they say staffs are underpaid--and they're not start-ups.
A&E's INKED: New Tattoo art blog linked to A&E show--not the greatest, but evolving--it's brand new.
Bonus: Chef's tattoos
Blogebrity: Jarvis says he likes it, but not cause he's A-list (of course, that's not the reason!). Me, I like the fact it's annoying.

Art: John Finger in Plein Air


My friend Lisa Petrides knows John Finger, a talented Calfornia watercolorist. I am on his mailing list and every time he sends out a new watercolor, I wish I could buy one.
Here's the latest, a lovely look at California's Mt. Diablo as we head into deep summer.

Not bad, eh?

Literal Thoughts on old school techies

Kerry, Literal Thoughts: "...do you know what else I have noticed? There are two distinct groups of techies. What I call the old school techies: Doc Searls, Jeff Jarvis, Tim Oren, Esther Dyson, etc, mostly baby boomer generation. And there are your new young techies: think Civicspace, Echo Ditto, etc. There are very few representations of people in their thirties and forties (my generation) in this group."

This amused me, in no small part because she's right.

July 3rd

Halley's hanging with Tony Pierce in Venica, CA...would love to meet up, but I am going to the Fillmore Street Jazz Festival.
What are other people planning for the holiday weekend?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Fran Hauser, Time Interactive GM on magazines and brands

At the Media Center conference, Fran Hauser, the general manager for Time Interactive, gave a talk on magazines, brands and the web focused on deciding when convergence makes sense.
I thought her points were worth sharing, both as an insight into how Time Interactive approaches their business and creative, and as a useful reference point for other media publishers.

Fran says that much of her job was to work with the magazine brands and vet or support their ideas. In that vein, she shared the question she asks editors when they have online ideas, or want to use new technology--Is this an appropriate way to extend the brand to a new media platform?
At Time Interactive, Fran gets requests to use the following tools:

She says: "A lot of what I do it talk to staff about whether a platform is on brand and whether there is an acceptable return to move a brand to a specific platform."

One example of a project she greenlit was enabling InStyle.com to spend about $75,000 to shoot 30 minutes of fashion video for the fall. The shoot features 80 looks on the theme of what you can wear and what's hot this fall, with merch provided by Macy's, Target and The Gap.
The video is being cut up into 80 little clips that will live in a VOD database and be available for members to watch.
Of course, all the clothes are available for purchase.
Fran says "InStyle is branded runway to reality and this video is exactly that..plus, we found a sponsor for it."

But, as Fran explains, she doesn't greenlight everything. Parenting.com asked if they could do some instructional video; Fran said no way. "Parenting is about useful info to Mom on raising kids, "she explained. "So, what can you do better in video? Nothing--photo galleries and articles do enough."
Similarily, Fran told Real Simple no RSS feeds--Although Fortune.com has them, Fran feels that RSS " is a male, tech-savvy thing" so, Real Simple doesn't have them--nor will the other women's brands. (I disagree with that decision.)

The two brands where Fran has supported blogging are EW, because the site is "all about opinion" and All You, the Walmart Magazine that is" informal and accessible."

One of the most interesting areas Fran discussed were Time Interactive mobile programs. Mobile is an emerging category, but the emphasis for many publishers would be on emerging. Fran said, " Teens are big mobile consumers so we did a teen people mobile program with Ringtones, wallpaper and video. However, the most successful mobile program that we have done is the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue downloads onto your phone--consumners paid for 500,000 images."

Final words from Fran were lessons learned:
Susan sez: It's always fascinating to hear someone in a decision-making role explain their choices. If I were the person dealing with these issues, I would approach it completely differently--I think the best questions for media brands are to ask--what tools and technologies are your current audience using and are you on par with those?-- and then, most importantly--what tools and technologies are new audiences I want to acquire using--and shouldn't I look at how those tools can help me get this new audience?





Noted

MIT Bloggers survey: 46 percent of the blogger respondents to a recent survey say they attract 25 or fewer visitors to their blogs on a typical day. 22 percent say they get between 26 and 100 readers on any given day. Less than 1 percent say they have 250 to 1,000 visitors per day. (Via Depraved Librarian)
Dave Pell: What kind of tabloid reader are you? (Compulsive, says Susan.)
Blogger gets photo hosting--cool!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Yahoo! UK editor says newspapers aren't trustworthy

Editors' Weblog: Yahoo! UK editor Simon Hinde says ""Young people are leaving newspapers in droves because print news isn't trustworthy. It's vanity on the part of newspapers to push a particular political view. Facts are distorted to fit a particular view of the world and they don't give a dispassionate view of events. Niche subjects are very well covered online because of semi-professional commentary. There are now mechanisms for blogs to be monetised and that is opening up a whole range of possibilities."

I'm eager to see reaction to this one. Is Hinde too far away to get blasted by the folks who said LATime's wikipedia was a failure--or will the long arm reach out?

Visit to NPR and bonus powerpoint deck

The visit to NPR was great. For someone who listens to All Things Considered and Morning edition on a regular basis, getting the tour was a kick (and I LOVE radio stations.)
Even better, there were about 60 NPR folks--from the online group and other parts of the company--come to listen to my talk about digital media and emerging technology tools/companies and share their own ideas.
The group had some good observations and we connected.
Afterwards, I talked with some of the senior staff about ideas they were considering.
I won't spill them here, but will say this group is interested in podcasting, understands tags and tag clouds (at least some do), and is very aware they need to distribute their content beyond the browser (mobile, anyone?)
Went off to the Metro feeling good, especially after the catch-up lunch my old friend and had post talk. B has spent significant time in Asia--Bali, Vietnam, Thailand--it was inspiring to hear his stories and made me want to head East the next time I take time off.

Bonus: If you would like a copy of the powerpoint deck I used in my talk--on Emerging Technology and Digital Media, new technologies and companies to watch, email me at mernit at gmail dot com and I will send you one.

Microsoft: Seeking bloggers

Journalismjobs.com has a post from MSFT recruiting telecommuting bloggers to 'moderate, write and produce blogs in five topic areas: television, music, technology, sports and fashion/food/style." Time estimate is 15 hours a week, and the email goes to filtered@microsoft.com

Susan sez: This is a cheap and clever way for MSFT to fill out their content and build interactive community...Interested to see how it evolves and what placement these blogs get overall.

In DC today, seeing an old friend at NPR and giving a talk

In DC today, seeing an old friend at NPR and giving a talk.
Taking the Metro in from Arlington, I realize how much confidence I go from my solo trip to Asia.
It was easy to jump on the train and switch twice, not only because I've done it before(and the DC Metro is amazingly well-marked), but because I got around Shanghai by myself.
I can tell that for the next few weeks one of my personal mantras is going to be You can do this, you made it through Asia alone, what's the big deal.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Discussion notes: Forman and Kramer

More from the discussion going on with this talk:

Audience member--Please elaborate on what Yahoo going open means:
Craig Forman: This means going from a world of proprietary content that is licensed or bought to providing that plus what we provide from other sources--
We make a light oversight decision as to what feeds are in our RSS aggregators--and we focus on our Yahoo News feeds from that perspective--as opposed to My Yahoo, etc.
We'íre not an electronic scraper of the web, nor a full news entity--we package news with a small team to provide a focused experience. We have a combination of profound search technology and great depth of sources that we combine with packaging and oversight.

Audience member: How do you see your sites in relation to Google News?
Larry: What the Internet does is remove the middleman...it puts a buyer and a seller together in a more efficient way. Yahoo (and other portals) can create communities via being a portal with integrated services. Google tries to separate itself completely from that process and be your pathway to information. We offer a filtered and edited experience.

(Note: Will post more from the sessions later in the day.)



Larry Kramer and Craig Forman on the future of news

At the Media Center Cross Platform teams seminar, listening to an on the record discussion by CBS News' Larry Kramer and Yahoo's Craig Forman on the future of news online and working across media platforms. Some points from the talks:

Larry Kramer:

Additional comments--
On brand and delivery format:

On growing traffic:

Craig Forman
Craig says: "I got to Yahoo about 2 years ago ad have looked a news and media from the news, cable, TV production and magazine perspectives--the lesson I have learned is that we are in the middle of still figuring out what they types of engaged media are going to be and what the user benefits are"

We've learned 5 things I want to share:
  1. Comprehensiveness--Yahoo is an aggregator that has great strength because of the partners and open content ecosystem--there is comprehensive breadth and depth in our sources, in real time.
  2. Accuracy-When we talk to our users about news consumption, accuracy is rated #1 characteristic.
  3. Real time--News is being reported as it happens and users expect real time access to news--it's the virtual news desk--whenever and wherever you are.
  4. Respect my intelligence--a qualitative call-We acquire users for multiple reasons, but we can use that distribution to provide users with value. Yahoo news is now on Yahoo Mail with a news headline box--it's the electronic equivalent of getting the mail in the real world.
  5. Open content ecosystem--everything that might be considered social media from blogs to RSS feeds--when it comes to our users, the balanced view is that the big changes--a new way to have the conversation that shifts control from few to many--and that in turn changes the way news is created and distributed. Examples: Tsunami coverage, Trent Lott--the way we are reporting stories is changing

More Craig:
We see "Go open" as a business lesson--Our entire business model is based on closed models and business models/licensing,but our audience is MUCH larger if we can have Yahoo News as the central dashboard for the quick hit.
As we go from 22 to 30 MM users as we have changed the product and user values--we have driven more traffic back to our partners and driven revenues up--We have re-monetized our audience.

The guys have some predictions to share with the group--


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Open Media 100: Honorable Mention

The Open Media 100 list is out--and I have an honorable mention, much to my surprise.
(Guess I'm part of the Almost Open Media 150).
More on the list itself later.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Noted

E&P: Merrill Brown to direct Carnegie-Knight's 'News21' J-School Initiative.
Any Gahran starting a site covering the practice of citizen journalism--and a training program as well.
The new AOL startpage is up. Beta link here.
Suw Charman's covered Supernova Day 1 (okay, workshop day)

Blottered: A life--no, a blog-- of crime

Andrew Krukoff, one of my favorite NYC blogger types, has launched Blottered, a group-written crime blog.

Tristan Louis: Data-crunching Yahoo and Google

Tristan Louis has done a wonderful job of crunching numbers to compare how Google, Yahoo and Technorati index the blogosphere and report links back.
This info-rich entry is a super satisfying read.
Some highlights froim his post--
"Yahoo! generally does a better job at indexing the blogosphere than Google does. We know they have been working hard to improve their index and here's proof that they are getting results
Even if Google is the one with the motto about not doing evil, Yahoo! seems to be the one interested in giving equal opportunity to the little guy: smaller blogs seem to have a better chance of being recognized by Yahoo! than they do of being recognized by Google
While the front page of Google advertises they are currently indexing over 8 billion pages, it is very difficult to find ways to support that claim via the link feature they are offering: this can be seen as confirmation that Google does not tell you about all the links it has in its index/"

Tristan also notes "how much larger the number of links found in the Yahoo! index was, compared to the number of links found in either Technorati or Google." He also says that Technorati is getting a better handle on the Asian blogosphere than Yahoo--"a surprising result considering how much time and effort the latter has put into its Asian operations."

Great data, thanks--can't wait to see your stats on MSN.com.

Dulles, VA: Heading back to my past

I'll be in Virgina later this week, presenting at Cross Platform Media Teams for The Media Center, and giving a talk at NPR for an old friend.
As I'm getting ready today, I realized that the conference is being held at the Hyatt Reston Regency, the Hyatt at Reston Town Center.
Back in 2001, I spent 10 months literally living at that hotel--I was commuting to Dulles from California, arriving after midnight on Sundays, leaving on Thursday night to go home. My recollection is that I would come into town, work like a maniac for 3-4 days, leave and try to recapture my personal life, which had become very part-time, then get on the plane 36-48 hours after I'd come home to do it all again.
Needless to say, it was not a great time in my life--coming back to stay, 4 years later, will be strange.

Hyatt Reston--Haunt of traveling AOLers on a budget

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Hanging at the Hillside Club

Went to Berkeley for dinner pre SuperNova and a fireside chat with Dan Gilmor, Becky O'Malley and Peter Merholz. A full houseof folks including Mark Graham, Kevin Werbach, Mary Hodder, Buzz Bruggeman, Sylvia Paul, Jan Hauser, Jeff Ubois, Nina Davis, Kaylia Hamlin, Greg Elin, Suw Charman and a couple dozen others.
Some pix:

Mary Hodder and Suw Charman



Dan Gillmor and Becky O'Malley speaking at Hillside Club

Update: Suw Charman says the discussion seemed to miss the point--I agree--but seeing folks was fun--and meeting Suw was GREAT.

Halley: Happy Divorced Father's Day

As usual, Halley's spot on:"Just like Happy Divorced Mother's Day, the irony of the day when you have kids and are divorced is that you are essentially the one helping your kid celebrate their other parent -- that person you divorced."

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Gifts for Geeks 1: Telephone wire baskets

Okay, these crafty baskets from Africa--made by Zulus of telephone wire--speak to me.


(Via PCL Linkdump)

Neal Stephenson on Star Wars and geeking out

Lovely NY Times op-ed on Friday. S writes of the Star Wars fascination: "Modern English has given us two terms we need to explain this phenomenon: "geeking out" and "vegging out." To geek out on something means to immerse yourself in its details to an extent that is distinctly abnormal - and to have a good time doing it. To veg out, by contrast, means to enter a passive state and allow sounds and images to wash over you without troubling yourself too much about what it all means."
He then goes on to compare scientists to the Jedi--we need'em, but they make us uneasy.
Another snippet:
"Scientists and technologists have the same uneasy status in our society as the Jedi in the Galactic Republic. They are scorned by the cultural left and the cultural right, and young people avoid science and math classes in hordes. The tedious particulars of keeping ourselves alive, comfortable and free are being taken offline to countries where people are happy to sweat the details, as long as we have some foreign exchange left to send their way."

Read the whole thing--well worth it.

Jeneane betas Kavena, a video marketplace

Jeneane Sessums writes about her beta trial of Kavena, which the site describes as "the world's first online digital entertainment marketplace enabling customers to watch, play, create, and market films and games." J says: "But you know the net--films and games are a start....video blogging, podcasting, combinations thereof, the sky could really be the limit. Kaneva could easily become a one-stop shop for downloading the newest (think blog-post frequency)amateur and indie entertainment. Because Kaneva also deals in currency, it gives new media creators a place and an audience for distributing and selling their work."

Anyone else noticing how quickly online video distribution is exploding and how many platform and distribution efforts are underway?
Wow, it's an express train.

Friday, June 17, 2005

China watch

Rebecca McKinnon tries to set up an MSN spaces Chinese blog using prohibited words like democracy. The response comes back: "You must enter a title for your space. The title must not contain prohibited language, such as profanity. Please type a different title.?
Innovation at Wharton writes about Chinese entrepeneur Jack Ma and Alibaba.com, his China-based e-commerce companybrings buyers and sellers together online.
Dan Washburn: China blogger looking for writers to launch a new local Shanghaist site.
Blog Herald: Gamepolitics calls for XBox purchasers to boycott the new model in protest of China censorship restrictions.

AOL on the web: David Card comments

Jupiter exec David Card has some comments on the *new* AOL web-based strategy:
He writes:
"To me, one of the key challenges is getting non-members to use AOL.com as a hub. AOL execs say, yeah, but if you take our existing Web reach, we?re only a few million users under Yahoo, so Job One is to increase page views, and get people to move across the network from within the network, rather than from the home page."
And:
"Shockingly, AOL is positioned to be the leader in RSS among the big portals, search engines, and Internet media companies. Gasp. While frankly, I don?t think RSS is really that important to the masses yet, if AOL does it right, it could teach a lot of mainstream users to use it...Nah, it?ll never happen."

Susan sez: Has AOL explained whether all the ad dollars it is planning to spend are what it takes to launch a new portal destination? Back in the day, it took deep, daily web apps and tools--email, search, personals, etc. to drive daily usage and content got shorter shrift--Will ads for all that AOL free entertainment pay off--or just drive the price of audience acquisition up to dizzying heights?

I share Card's skepticism...AOL is gonna have to pull more than one rabbit out of the hat to make a quick turnaround work.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Things I tell clients you might want to know

1. It's not just main stream media and citizen/grassroots journalism--think about do it yourself media--the playlists, event blogs, yahoo groups, shared playlists, photo streams friends, family and unorganized communities create for one another--this is claiming a growing share of Americans' attention--think of it as a throwback to the '30s, when people sat around singing and telling stories for one other--only now we have digital tools to work with.
2. It's about attention, not platform. People don't say Hey, now I want to read a newspaper! Which one is it? --They want news and they go for the most immediate form--0ften web or cable TV. If you are an entertainment information brand, you are competing with brands you may never have considered--but they'll cut into the time your product used to get.
3. Don't overvalue your product online. There's a huge chasm between good and good enough that self-absorbed brands can fall into. If you think making your audience sign up or subscribe as a means to get them to use some cool tool or read some neat content, forget it--they won't--they'll find something good enough somewhere else and leave you behind.

Noted

Internet Search engine: A list of alternatives to Google Ad Sense for web sites. (Via Threadwatch and Tim Yang)
bubblegum generation: "The NYT is locking up it's editorial content; the LAT isn't just open-accessing it, it's open-sourcing it (ie, you can remix wikitorials, not just read them)."
American Press Institute new study on women managers in newsrooms:"Only 33 percent of the women anticipated moving up within their organization, while 42 percent of the men were confident of such a move." (Via editors weblog)
little yellow different hits five years of blogging--and still a great read.
Paid Content: More on the new Google Search Subscriptions.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

"How about asking Mr. Musharraf to focus on finding Osama, instead of kidnapping rape victims who speak out?"

Kristoff writes of the plight of Mukhtaran Bibi, a Pakistani woman gang-raped by order of a village tribunal who brought her attackers to court and used the money she received from their convictions to set up a local school--and who is now being detained by the Pakistani government and is being held without a lawyer.
Jason Chervokas says:"Pakistan's treatment of Bibi and the US government's failure to hold it's ally's feet to the fire on this most basic of human rights issues starkly exposes the bald, two-faced, lie that is the Bush Administration's supposed campaign for democracy in the Arab World."
So far, the US government has been silent on this human rights violation by an ally.

Read Tom Watson on how to speak out. Blogger LazyCat has some added links and resources.


Update
: She's home.

Dinner with Eleanor

E's going to Paris for the summer to be an RA (resident advisor) in a dorm in an exchange program; this will be her 4th trip to France--not bad for a girl from San Jose, CA now living in New York.
We got together to have dinner in the city (NY); this was our chance to meet up--we hadn't seen one another since March.
Of course, it was fun, it's always fun-- E is one of the great people of the world and the fact she started out as a friend of my son's doesn't mean we don't have a great time together, it just means our friendship has that greatmulti-generational fillip of being honorary members of one another's family.
Have a great trip, my friend--and drink some wine for me.

Park Slope, revisited

Can you go home again?
This afternoon, I did.
I lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn for 15 years, right before I started what's proven to be the most recent nomadic path between two coasts.
Hadn't been back for, oh, 5 years.
Wanted to see if it had changed as much as I have.
Nope. Not really.
The streets were just as green and leafy, the bakeries and coffee shops were unchanged, and the early afternoon strollers seemed just as relaxed and mellow.
And the dogs! Almost as many as in California--Labs, little French bulldogs, and chubby mutts.
On the way back from my friend's house, I stopped in at the copy shop on Flatbush Avenue. Almost 10 years ago, I'd helped Gloria, a local waitress I'd befriended, get a job there--Jay needed someone and Gloria wanted to quit waiting tables.
On impulse, I went in.
Yes, Jay and Gloria were both there, behind the counter.
"Remember me?"
Yes! They did.
We chatted--I told them I lived in California now, they asked about my son, I asked about their families..it felt good.
"I've gotta go," I said, "But I'll stop in again."
And I meant it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

New: Shanghaist

Shanghai Diaries Dan Washburn joins the Gothamist team to start Shanghaist.
English or Chinese?
I hope both.
(Via The Black Journal)

Monday, June 13, 2005

AOL: Why pay?

NY Daily News quotes AOL EVP Kevin Conroy today on the cool entertainment content being launched: "Imagine 27 channels that were never available before on the Web, plus email for everyone."
According to AOL market research--and EVP Jim Bankoff--current subscribers are spending to get customer service and all in one protection from viruses, spyware and Internet predators. "They didn't say they were paying for the content. They expect that to be advertising supported, " Bankoff says.
That's fine, and if Yahoo can do it, I'm sure AOL wonders why they couldn't, but I'm curious how many paying subscribers are going to leave in the wake of this shift in plans.
If you can get free email, free content, and IM without that monthly nut, why not go for it?
Surely, AOL has done the math and concluded they can gain more revenue--and hopefully higher margin--from this latest a la carte strategy, but it's a radical refocus that may leave numerous customers confused.
(On the other hand, AOL's gotta do something, right? And it just wouldn't feel right to focus on becoming the web services partner for Time Inc, CNN, and Warner--those bridges were long ago burned, even if some of the brands are still floundering out by themselves in web land).




Rebecca McKinnon on Chinese bloggers and free speech

Rebecca McKinnon writes: "In my experience, most Chinese, like all other human beings I've ever met, would very much like to have freedom of speech."
She goes on to skewer Scoble who said: "I'm not Chinese. I'm American. So I have ABSOLUTELY NO BUSINESS forcing the Chinese into a position they don't believe in."

Isn't this one of those moments where there is the business reality (i.e. software companies, like all businesses, are concerned about revenues and market share), and then the humanistic reality (we believe that freedom from repression and personal opportunity are core values for the world's citizens) ?

I'd lean toward Rebecca as the person who can teach me a lot of things about the Chinese business environment and Chinese freedom of expression (or lack there), but I'd also remember much it is not in the fabric of big business to take an overt political stance.

During my week in China, last week, I met with some bloggers and other social media types, and heard a great deal about how ast risk individuals felt about being singled out for crackdown, and the need to back doors and alternative platforms for blogging etc outside of the Chinese government's control. This is an issue that I heard from more than one person--Along with complaints about difficulty of doing business in China, the general practice of registering companies and banking in Hong Kong, these conversations sent the message to me that China is still a fairly closed society--with exceptions it makes much of.

Yes, the potential is there...but it's still potential.
For this China newbie, these dialogues demonstrate how much there is to learn...and why contact between our countries is so important.

Editorial innovation: LA Times seek read/write relevance

NYTimes story today on Michael Kinsley's efforts to breathe life into the op-ed pages of the LA Times:
Apparently, Kinsley's ruffled some feathers, but these features sound like much needed new thinking for online news.


Update: Someone on the Online News list, whomI will not quote by name since I didn't have a chance to ask permission, thinks this is a bad idea and comments: "...Wikitorials"? Given the factthat Wikipedia, which I find terrific in every other way, is weakest and most problematic in areas of politics, does this strike anyone else as a calamity of Ishtar proportion?"

I think it is great...my interest is in letting citizens have at versioning local commentary..that sounds very satisfying.

Update 2: " Unfortunately, we have had to remove this feature, at least temporarily."

China blog restrictions--more info here

Rebecca McKinnon: "Microsoft has launched a Chinese-language version of it's Spaces blog hosting service, and guess what? Users are banned from using the word 'democracy' and other politically sensitive words to label their blogs - although it does appear possible to use those words within blog posts, for now. (As noted in my interview with Isaac Mao,, people who set up blogs under this service don't have to register with the authorities because MSN is already obliging the government by policing their content.)"
Rebecca's got more on this important story here. Check out Global Voices to stay informed.

Kron 4 SF welcomes Bay area bloggers

File this one under sweet: This weekend, SF's local TV station KRON4 hosted 100+ local bloggers--The local news story says : " In the coming days and weeks, KRON4.com will be launching two major new initiatives designed to support the Bay Area Blogosphere. We will be posting and maintaining a comprehensive list of Bay Area blogs. Also we will be launching a new aggregator that will allow you to come to one place to see the latests posts from local bloggers."
Way to go, folks!
Also heard a rumor that KRON may support BlogHer--that would be most appropriate, me thinks.
(Disclosure: I am co-leading discussion there and on advisory committee.)

bloggers at Kron...

Friday, June 10, 2005

50 ways to leave yr lover, uh, Feedburner

What's the exit strategy? Feedburner blog explains how to quit. And redirect your subscribers. And what the next 30 days post-feed might bring.
And...oh hell, forget it, why quit--it's not like it's easy or something.

Technorati's new look

Technorati's gone consumer, kinda:
Once I adjust to the new "friendly" interface, I'll comment on the features.

the unconference meets the hivemind

Binary Bonsai on tech conferences as springboards for interaction: " I see someone, read their nametag and Google them. 'Excuse me, you're X, right? I love your work, listen, I have something you might be interested in'. When machines become more portable and this technology more ubiquitous /easy to use, things are going to become very interesting."

Susan sez: Consider not only how search and social media tools power this post, but intellectual stimulation--perhaps the new unconference is about people who really want to share ideas, not just network.

Update: Follow reboot7 conf via group notes.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Press releases and new tools

More announcements and new tools:
Gallup Org has 8 RSS feeds for news and data reated to Government and Politics; Business and Economy; Health and Healthcare; Religion and Social Trends; Education and Youth; The Nation's Pulse; PollTalk; Gallup Poll Daily Briefing video segments.

The Airset calendar/scheduling tool's got a new version with slicker UI, RSS feeds, public calendaring.

Alex King and Scott Saunders have launched an alpha of Feedlounge, a newRSS reader. Love the clean design. Claim to fame: "Enjoy the most powerful and elegant web-based feed reading experience ever created." Scott's blog says: " I was continually frustrated by the fact that my favorite news reader, NetNewsWire, only allowed me to read items on one machine."

Old media quote of the moment

E&P conference opens with blogging and journalism panel (guess this is new for some folks).
Quote of the moment is from Joshua Jennings Moss, managing editor of FoxNews.com, who told the attendees: "The media needs to be more aggressive, because bloggers are coming at us. Bloggers are aggressive, and the mainstream media needs to be more aggressive back."

Another critical insight from the conference was by ESPN's John Skipper, who told this crowd newspapers need to be more interactive online to be successful. How true.

(Susan sez: If this is news to anyone, please take me out back and shoot me.)

Noted

Paid Content: Engadget's publishing in Chinese. Calcanis is smart.
CBC.ca (via Romensko) Jon Dube gets tapped for editorial director role--is anyone left at MSNBC.com?
E&P: SF Chronicle lost $62MM in 2004--wonder what they make from the web site?
WSJ, via Paid Content): AOL hype machine picks up for web launch; "AOL and affiliated sites get nearly as much traffic as Yahoo and its network but only take in $1 billion in ad revenues compared to while Yahoo's take is close to three times as much. The development cost of the launch is estimated at $400-500 million."

By the way

I am in the airport in Seoul, posting from the Internet lounge--$3.00 for an hour on a machine--and my version of Blogger is localized in Korean. How cool is that--best part, interface is the same, so I am okay so far.

Mernit mashup

Saurier Duval's got some funny mixes--including this blog. A quote:
"Yikes. A couple of publishers we are all aware of. Of course, now we have a page that just said Welcome to Russell's RSS Blog? and underneath there was an orange XML icon and that's the mark of a limited group. Ethan finds the Googlezon good. MediaPost: Yahoo says display ads work. So, don't you think that makes it easy to manage and share resource; on the newly tilled ground? and that's it? Thanks, Richard Did AOL execs sink the Corcoran Gallery of Art in a way to sell printing supplies to 13 million people,"

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

New photos on flickr; Shanghai

Created a set of Shanghai pictures on flickr--have about another 60 to add.
Lots of street scenes, bicycles, ambiance.
All taken with a Canon Cybershot (thanks, R!)

Almost home: post trip (Asia) resolutions

Back in Korea for 24 hours and then heading home to California and right back to work.

This has been a great trip...I have met people from all over the world, benefited from some folks' amazing generousity in time and spirit, and have learned so much--with still so much to learn.
And had so much fun!
Some post trip thoughts:
Back in Korea for a bit, I feel how different Seoul is from Shanghai--the business district where I am stayng (same as last time) has very little diversity--although many Koreans live and work here, the streets lack the startling contrasts of Shanghai--it feels much more like midtown Chicago or New York. At the same time, Seoul is also fascinating--and maybe a little less different and exotic in the end.

Of course, all this travel makes me want to go more places--I am curious now about how Bangalore might compare to Shanghai in terms of being a rapidly Westernizing area (Many of the wekk-educated young Shanghaienese I met live with their parents!)--and I realize that I could probably manage the more touristy areas of Thailand, Bali and everywhere else in Asia with little trouble--and plan carefully to cope with language barriers further afield.

If you're heading to Shanghai and want tips, let me know...it is a great city.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Home in 2 days

Did I mention that I am running out of t-shirts and underwear?
2 weeks on the road can be a little challenging--especially since I've seen no laundromats in Shanghai.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Global Voices: Continuing the (China) talk

Interesting discussions about China happening over the Rebecca McKinnon's Global Voices--Some links to note here.
Posts commemorating the June 4th Tiananmen massacre here--
And more on NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof's recent op-ed about how broadband will kill the Chinese communist party here.
(Yep. I'm hooked. So much to learn and McKinnon's got a lot to teach.)

Info: Fellowships for June Media Center Program

The Media Center invites bloggers and leaders of small, independent, alternative or start-up media ventures to submit applications for two fellowships to: Cross-Platform Media Teams: Strategic Thinking for a Multi-PlatformWorld from June 21 - June 24, 2005, Reston, Virginia (in the Washington, D.C. metro area)
The fellowships cover tuition only.
Recipients will be responsible for their own travel and lodging costs.
Recipients must be able to attend the entire program and take on the role of program reporters.

For more program agenda and other details,visit :http://www.mediacenter.org/content/5103.cfm
Please send to gpan@mediacenter.org a brief statement about who you are and why you're interested in the program.
The application deadline is noon ET, Friday, June 10, 2005.

Shanghai--one day left here

Shanghai has the global bustle of NY or London, but with quirks that seem unique--hordes of Chinese on bicycles, packs of them, taking up half the road, and with their own lanes on the thoroughfares. Racks of clothes hanging everywhere, on telephone wire, balcony railings, fences outside of street side yards--even the fanciest high-rises have masses of drying clothes fluttering outside.
On a street filled with chic boutiques and glittering shop windows, a man walks balancing a bamboo pole that holds two heavy rattan baskets filled with small melons--he is selling them on the street, and people are stopping to buy.
This morning, I went for a walk and explored the wet market--a cavernous garage where merchants display plucked chickens (head and feet on), little yellow squabs, hunks of pork, all sorts of dead fish and some live ones), buckets of pickled cabbages, radishes, and heaps of yellow tofu, all alongside beautiful arranged masses of plums, peaches, cherries, fresh lychees, long beans, radishes, greens, lotus root and so on, all for pennies.
After that, I stopped at a corner stall where people were standing around eating--as I'd hoped, it was a place that made fresh dumplings and crullers--breakfast food. I pointed at the basket of long narrow crullers, miniature baseball bats(cricket for the Brits) and asked for one by holding up one finger, and the handing over 1 yuan (about 10 cents). I then asked for jook or congee--rice porridge--and they stared blankly. I gestured at an old woman with a bowl of something and said I wanted that--it was hot soybean milk and it cost another yuan. So I had my glass of soy milk and my cruller and I stood there with the Chinese and started to eat. Everyone burst out laughing watching me---apparently they did not expect me to manage the food so deftly or to enjoy it so much (I've eaten similar things in California and New York...and wanted to try them here) But it was a friendly sort of laughter, and afterwards they agreed I could photograph them and the shop and now I have nice photos of the place.
Eventually, I walked about 2 miles, using the map to head toward the knock off market, where I allowed myself to be suckered into buying a fake Cartier watch before escaping from the offers of DVDs, Prada bags, Coach, and so on, all fake of course.
The rest of the day was just as interesting, but more focused on hanging with my friends who live here, meeting some interesting entrepreneurs and visiting the Shanghai Museum.
I am also conducting a delightful love affair with my friends' 4 year old, who is beyond charming and feels the same about me (this entails playing puppets before bed time, telling silly stories, and taking photos of our feet with the digital camera).
I go back to Korea on Wednesday and fly to California on Thursday, managing to land 14 hours earlier than I took off, in the middle of the day I left.
This has been a great holiday...first one alone in many years and surviving just fine.
Tomorrow is my last day in Shanghai, and I want to make the most of it.
Once I get to where I can go online with my own computer, I will upload all the photos.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

File under China, Tech

Via bubblegum generation: An Indian CEO's view of Beijing.
Always On: Warcraft launches in China and it is gonna be huge.
Blogherald: Only 10,000 of Chinese bloggers register with government--or as someone said to me in Shanghai this week--"Why make it easy for them to crack down?"

NYTimes on Silicon Valley

NYTimes story on serial Valley entrepeneurs: Profound conclusion--rich, smart entrepeneurs would like to stay that way. Du-uh.

More on Shanghai trip

This is my fourth day in Shanghai and it continues to be interesting--the city is huge and varied, with amazingly affluent and sophisticated areas and humble alleyways and street stalls almost side by side.
Lunch yesterday with Edwyn Chan at a local Shainghainese restaurant--great meal and great talk, but caught the waitresses giggling at us...seemed like Western folk in this branch was a novelty.
Drinks last night in Xiantiandi, a huge outdoor complex of bars and restaurants, locals and expats thronging the clubs..very cool and commercial spot.. could be anywhere...a party theme park that looked nothing like my previous impressions of China.
Dinner last night at the Isaac Mao, an exciting person to meet because, like me, he supports education projects and non-profit initiatives while working commercially. More on Isaac later..but a great person to connect to.
In addition to meeting these folks--and the bloggers at our Friday night meetup, there's been constant walking around the city.
So much of what I love are the glimpses of things that seem unique to Shanghai--the throngs of biycles speeding down the boulevards, wet clothes hanging from lines everywhere, fruit sellers carrying melons in big bamboo bags.

More notes from Shanghai

Have been in Shanghai for three days and have been fortunate enough to meet a number of Chinese and expat bloggers and some tech/social media entrepreneurs.
Some common themes of the conversations:


Saturday, June 04, 2005

Noted

eBay buys Shopping.com Good comments here.
flickr gets a new home page redesign. Nice.
Anil Dash: "I'm realizing that the really terrifying thing is that everybody in my social circle knows what Goatse is."
MSNBC.com: Can China build its own Silicon Valley? (In Beijing, that is...) (Via IFTF)

Notes from Shanghai

First of all, this is a world-class city.
If you enjoy New York, Barcelona, Vancouver, London, etc, you will enjoyShanghai. Like San Jose, CA, Shanghai can be very dirty and polluted--the air quality was so poor the day I arrived, I could see what I was breathing--but the beauty of much of the early 20th century architecture, the picturesque nature of some of the older streets juxtaposed against the modern new buildings going up everywhere, the trees along many of the boulevards, the visual pleasure of thousands of people getting around on motorbikes, scooters, motorized bicycles, and bicycles, some with hauling carts attached--is without peer.
(I am staying in the French Concession--the older part of the city--where my friends live, and it is vibrant, great for walking, and very polished/somewhat upscale.)

Second of all, it is a city filled with interesting, motivated young people from all over the world. Native Chinese seem to have thronged here from across China and a strong and growing expat community is quickly coming in as well--there's a feeling of energy and purpose tied to modernization and opportunity that is very compelling.

Finally (and Blogger ate this part of my post), it's a safe and diverse city with low crime and where it seems possible to walk and explore without much danger. Yesterday, we walked around local streets where small shopkeeper's stalls fronted older, derelict buildings, often across from huge construction sites where big new apartment houses were going up, and felt extremely safe and accepted, obvious tourists though we were.
(The only exception to that feeling was at Yuyuan Gardens, where we went to eat Nan Xiang dumplings and I felt like a big wallet designed to be plucked clean (nope, didn't buy anything except an expanded memory card for my camera.)

Friday, June 03, 2005

Shanghai--Interesting discovery

Seems like I can access blogger to post items--but cannot actually see my blog on the web. Hmmnn.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Quick update: posts and Shanghai

Packing for Shanghai and leaving in an hour.
Will be posting here about WEF's visit to Oh My News, Korean women bloggers and journalists, and some more observations of the country.
Right now, gotta pack up all the cables and get ready to catch the airport bus.

In Shanghai, connectivity-challenged

Arrived in Shanghai around noon and am fascinated by the city--it is huge and urban--kind of a Terminator-type landscape of huge cranes and unending industrial construction edged by 50 story high-rise beehive apartments in some areas, charming Colonial buildings edged by nicer modern high rises in others.
Went to a Chinese gymnastics class with my friend and her 4 year old--the class is in a building that houses elite gymnastics students, ages 4-16. Looked like a converted stable, very austere, but with some very talented students--if I can get decent connectivity, I will upload the pix.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

New: PubSub tool expands stats and tracking data

PubSub has new features available for tracking feed metrics and usage: Linkcounts are a means to track linksfrom and to a blog--with a neat visual format.
Example here.
Anyone doing anything with this you'd like to share?

Blogdigger goes local

Search engine Blogdigger launches a new local feature. Greg writes: "Blogdigger Local uses geographic categorization technology to dynamically create pages of blog posts and news within a specific distance of any geographic location. You can view the results page on the Blogdigger Local site, or subscribe to an RSS or Atom feed of the latest posts in your news aggregator, so that you will automatically be updated of new posts from your area of interest."
So I typed in 07079 and what did I get?
Voila--a blog map and links to posts with the option of a feed.
Not bad...

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