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Saturday, April 12, 2003

WAR BLOGGING: Kevin Sites, CNN journalist and blogger, captured and released in Iraq 

The media reported yesterday that Kevin Sites, one of the most CNN visible journalists in Iraq, was captured and held for four hours before being released. Boing Boing post here, CNN story in Kevin's own words here.

Apparently, CNN is still adamant about not cross-posting onto Kevin

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Highly meaningless data from serious sources
Q: The fattest people in NY: where do they live? A scientific study from Time Out NY
A: Fatties are high-density in the poorest neighborhoods, such as East New York, Bed-Stuy, and Mott Haven. Folks on the Upper East side are the thinnest (Tom Wolfe's 'social X-ray"). Upper West Siders and Flushingites are both in the top 30% of lightweights.

JOKING: Top 10 Passover Pick-up lines 

My friend Toby sent me this today in anticipation of Passover, which begins this Tuesday night.

10. Let's make this night really different from all other nights
9. I'm going to have to search you for chometz
8. I could never Pass you Over
7. Did you just read we were in bondage?
6. I bet I could make you sing Dayenu!
5. After four cups of wine, you look like Cindy Crawford
4. Nice Hagadah
3. What will you do to me for two zuzim?
2. I hear that horseradish is an aphrodisiac

And the #1 Passover Pick Up Line is:
1. Maybe when Elijah shows up, we can make it a threesome
BUYING: Barbie's Bombed-Out Dollhouse
Ever Sparkle Industrial Co. Ltd. offers the Forward Command Post

Kids you love can occupy a Baghdad palace when you buy them this tricked-out battlezone set. $44.99
(Source:Common Dreams News Center, via Popbitch)

WORKING: Off to New York for a bunch of meetings. More later.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

IM-ING: How much freedom should AOLTW have to build out its proprietary platform?
Last week, AOL Time Warner submitted a petition to the FCC asking to be excused from the instant messaging interoperability requirements imposed by the Federal Communications Commission. According to Jim Hu's ZDNet story, AOL asked the regulatory agency to remove a restriction forbidding America Online from offering video streaming through its popular instant messaging services. The FCC currently requires AOL to open its IM network to competitors if it launches "advanced" high-speed IM services as a condition to approving AOL's January 2001 merger with Time Warner.
The petition argues that AOL's IM services, AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ, face more competition from Microsoft and Yahoo, both of which have launched video conferencing features on their IM clients.
At the same time, University of Pennsylvania professors and former FCC officials submitted their petition to the FCC last week arguing that it was too soon for the FCC to lift the restrictions on AOL Time Warner, Inc.'s provision of advanced instant messaging (IM) services.
Gerald R. Faulhaber, who was the FCC's chief economist when the restrictions were enacted, and David J. Farber, the Commission's former chief technologist, wrote a brief--available here-- suggesting FCC guidance would be required to ensure that AOL does not lock up the entire IM market through proprietary platforms and denying interoperability.

Quick quote: "By denying its customers interoperability, AOL TW is denying them access to more than 40% of the IM market. The only reason it might want to deny these benefits is if by doing so it denied even greater benefits to the customers of its competitors."

Who's Bringing Blogs to the Mainstream?
Dave Sifry reports that on average, over 3,000 new blogs each day are created, in dozens of languages; Technorati, a service that tracks links to news sources, blogs and blog postings, has over 200,000 blogs in their indexing group.

Nevertheless, is anyone developing blog software that has the ease of use that will push blogs into a more mainstream audience, much as AOL software pushed the Internet to a broad range of consumers? I'm not seeing it, yet.

Moveable Type is elegant, but requires installation on your own server, which is a deal-killer for most people, Radio Userland, Diaryland and Live Journal are all growing services, with good consumer applications, but none of them have the marketing and relationships that indicate they want to go after a mainstream market--Diaryland and Live Journal seem to have tremendous teen and college followings, and Radio Userland seems more focused on the enterprise and group market if there is any market they are looking at. That leaves Blogger, and it is unclear what Blogger's distribution strategy is, if any.

Blogger now has the funding and support to build a base in a consumer market and strategies to acquire users, but will they? And if so, how?

As a friend said the other day, "Is Google going to put a blogging tab on the Google search box? And, if so, will people be searching blogs or writing them?"

To put it another way, there is a definite opportunity to have someone step forward and move blogs further into the mainstream by making the applications friendlier and more accessible.

There's a clear market opportunity to create and more importantly, market a product that can capture a large segment of the mainstream adult audience as well as be branded the blogspace of choice for teens and college students. Who's got the best chance of moving into this space? Who would you bet on?

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Evil Trick #1:
Does anyone besides the evil sixteen year old boys I am related to use IP-relay? Not to talk to deaf people, but to embarass the IP operator with the outrageous comments they are forced to repeat?
Bloggers Own This War: Michaek Tomasky story, New York Magazine
"...newspaper dispatches are merely a sideshow. The media keep telling us that the military difference between this Gulf War and the last one is technology. True. But itís the media difference, too. The change is the Web, and the people really following this war are following it online."
Embed Nation: Howard Kurz story, Washington Post
"Television owns this war. We have become an embedded nation...(yet) Reporters without camera crews, it turns out, can sometimes get closer to the action, or coax more revealing admissions from soldiers, and tell the tale through evocative writing."

The Hilton Sisters Blog: Fake and funny
How long can grubby kid keep this going? Dunno, but it rocks.
I hate the Hilton Sisters
I love the Hilton Sisters
The Hilton Sisters are hot!
DEEP DISH: Is Avril a fake?
Does dressing in every item of clothing put out by Hot Topic make a girl punk? Jess Zeitz wants to know.

These girls don't like her either.
Note: People don't seem to have the same concerns about Pink or Gwen Stefani.

Pearl River Passions: Asian Candy Rocks

Anil Dash posted a link to this item from bluejake by Jake Dobkin.
"My greatest ambition is to one day track down the world's sourest Asian candy--something so sour your face becomes frozen in the puckered position."
--Jake seems to have a great blog with excellent NYC pictures. He's also one of the contributors to Gothamist.
Want some Asian candy of your very own? Not near Pearl River? Buy here.
IM-ing: The Return of Smarter Child

It took almost a year of meeting with one group and then another to get Active Buddy's Smarter Child up on AOL, but the company pulled the service down this past summer because it was expensive to run and had shown AOL it could scale to a larger number of users.
Now Smarter Child is being relaunched as a premium service across the AOL, ICQ, and MSN platforms. says "The decision to turn SmarterChild into a paid product was likely driven by AOL, which charges a fee to provide provisioning services (removal of 'warning' capabilities and character limits) to commercial bots running on its network." My understanding from talking with folks close to those involved (disclosure: I know the original start-up team quite well) is that the AB team never thought Smarter Child was particularly valuable as much beyond a demo, but that the user stats were impressive enough to encourage them to charge.
" SmarterChild was an accidental success so, for a very nominal amount, Steve Klein, the CEO told "It was a demo. We never spent a penny marketing SmarterChild and it got out of control."

POUND OF FLESH DEPARTMENT:: Time Inc to collect payments from AOL for exclusive use of content

Ad Age ran a story yesterday outlining how AOL has agreed to pay what is estimated at $40MM a year to Time Interactive, to be disbursed to the magazine brands now carried exclusively on AOL.
Three things about the story caught my attention:
--There are no quote from any AOL executives. Another demonstration of the complete powershift over the past 10 months.
--There are numerous quotes from Time Interactive executives, many of whom have been working on the Time Interactive side for many years, but who have not gotten much attention in press releases or from media. Suggests Squires, head of Time Interactive, is demonstrating he has a real team there--one he has confidence in.
--Time Inc is basically asking AOL for its money up front. This suggests they may not be not confident in the ability of the interactive marketing group to sell eough advertising to make the margins Time Interactive wants to have and it's cleaner to have AOL pay up front, accounting the money as a licensing and content cost.
Given that Interactive editor-in-chief Ned Desmond is quoted as saying that the fee "covers a significant share of our expenditures online for those 14 titles," another way to look at it is that Time demanded AOL provide this payment so they could both cover their online expenditures and be guaranteed a certain revenue right upfront.

Interesting question: Wonder if EW and People, the two most popular of the TII brands on the web, are expecting a drop in traffic once they go inside AOL?

Sunday, April 06, 2003

This just in: In the U.K. only 1 in 7 trust the honesty of the U.S. adminstration, according to a recent survey.
"The war is almost too big to comprehend."
Touching entry by BBC correspondent Hilary Anderson, April 6, reported in WAR BLOG -2003,THE HARRY TIMEZ/opedworldpress

/---Basra is cut off for most of us, all we can do is get close and watch, talk to the few who come out of the city and imagine what it must be like for the rest. Those like the Iraqis that Britain is trying to win over with war. The people caught between their own oppressors and the coalition soldiers. The Iraqis that, to most British soldiers, appear on the landscape as dusty, ragged children waving, and crying out for water as they drive by in armoured land rovers. Or the Iraqis in cars who have to be checked in case they are militia. Who sometimes are made to kneel on the ground in a pen by British soldiers until they are checked. ---/

(Source: BBC)

My son IM'ed me this morning, saying "3,000 killed." He wanted to know if they'd found any weapons of mass destruction yet.
Does anyone really believe the US is being upfront its its agenda in this war? Whether you support the reasons for going in or not, it is obvious that the government is following its own agenda, one that has to do with killing, taking control of the oil fields, and feeling like a winner.

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