September 30, 2004
Adam Penenberg's article (Google News: Beta Not to Make Money), which I read yesterday (but was too sick to blog -- can't wait to get over this stupid cold) mentioned Google News' business model, or issues with it due to the fact that they do not have agreements with the news sources they use to populate the service.
At the time, his assertion that headlines and snippets of the stories were not used under fair use, but rather would have to be negotiated for some consideration, and that's why they can't place Ads on the site, made me want to mention this case I blogged some time ago.
Ernie Miller wrote up the case that occurred a while ago about copyright and newspaper headlines in Japan. I wrote in my post then, and think still, that something similar aledging that headlines are copyright protected would not win here in the US because the title of an article would fall under the "names, titles and short phrases" which don't get copyright protection, partly because they are factual, even if they are a kind of expression (tends to fall more in the trademark area of IP for names and phrases).
But the snippets of the stories themselves that Google News uses are more of a question for me, as far as the original publisher's ability to control their copywritten content placement in commercial situations. Google News might not get to use that content next to ads, if this were tested. And that may be because they are so big. Other smaller services (see this search on Feedster) are using both headlines and snippets of both blog posts and news articles, and they all sit right next to Ads on their site. And so far, there appears to be no problem.
September 29, 2004
I Have Become, Like, So Lazy
or, This is an RSS love letter.
So, wanna know how lazy? So lazy that I just read a fantastic essay by Paul Graham, who has previously written other fantastic essays.... And yet, after searching all over.. I missed his RSS feed... and thought to myself, oh, I can't come here a couple times a month to find his latest -- no way popcorn -- and then I found the RSS feed.
Thank fucking goodness.
I am addicted to my aggregator.
But it dawned on me, I'm so lazy! Is this what it's come to? I find something engaging.. and won't consider reading the author consistently, unless there's an RSS feed? I was turning cycles trying to figure out how to get it... scheming... I even looked it up on a few feed services to no avail. To have to think about revisiting something I bookmarked at some forgettable day in the past? For real. Nooo way. This hand will not be clicking around websites that periodically change, the old-fashioned Web 1.0-way more than for the initial check out period, and to find the feed. I mean, who even uses bookmarks? I just use other people's del.ic.ious links or subscribe. That's when I realize, I'm spoiled. Rotten. Rotten!
Thank you NetNewsWire! I love you... I want to smooch you... Okay you have flaws but we all do... let's just surf into the sunset happily and never speak of your flaws except in a whisper... or when I get so annoyed I have to blog them.
Okay, you're wondering, what the fuck is up with her? Well, I been sick in bed for a few days... cooped up, and I'm dying to get out of here.. okay, not by that method.. this cold WILL go away! Now... I have things to do besides blogging love letters to my RSS feeds/aggregators. I'm so tired of this cold.
September 28, 2004
Wikipedia: They've Got the Geeks, but Not the Nerds
Much has been noted about Ethan Zuckerman's study of Wikipedia's breadth and depth, or lack thereof. Cory Doctorow thinks they need to cover non-nerdy subjects. But I'd say the problem is that geeks are online, we think about computers a lot, and so it shows in Wikipedia. One of Ethan's examples:
- Nigeria's brilliant author, Chinua Achebe gets a 1582 byte "stub" of an article, while the GSM mobile phone standard gets 16,500 bytes of main entry, with dozens of related articles.
The nerds, the people interested in computers only as a means to a communication, knowledge management and connecting end, need to be enticed to work on Wikipedia, to share their extensive knowledge of subjects outside 'computers as sport' or 'politics as sport' which is what the original blogosphere spent lots of energy on, and what Wikipedia now seems very focused on. Geeks being technology obsessed, and nerds being bookish, is the stereotype I'm referring to here, btw. So I would expect, following this politically incorrect stereotype, that someone interested in Chinua Achebe would either be just a nerd, or a geek and nerd combo. But if it's literary criticism and a catalogue of Achebe's work and life that you're looking for, or some such non-geeky topic, especially with an international flavor, I'd turn to a nerdy expert first and not Wikipedia.
And in the meantime, how do you get the nerds? Well, for starters, really good UI, really good social interaction, something that doesn't just appeal to geeks who code and write blogs and Wikipedia posts on mobile phone standards. It's got to work well for more than the geeks, or it's never gonna cover more than geeky topics. That's not to say that I don't like the looks of Wikipedia. But it does require a certain amount of understanding, though they have made it pretty easy. But it's not clear what happens before you do things, and when you are in the middle of editing, it's not clear what's happening without a lot of FAQ and other reading, and still, you must understand some terminology, learn about the protocols, etc. For those not technical, I can imagine the number one fear using Wikipedia would be, what if I ruin something. Well, we know that you can't ruin anything, but if that is a fear, and users with expertise and not much technical confidence feel it, expertise will not be shared. It's a hard one, because often with new systems, users are very tentative, cautious, and if they feel they might break something, they often won't do it unless someone is there to reassure. So would that mean that to draw in the nerds, we will need to teach people, one at a time?
I looked up Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and because I've read all his books, seen all the movies he's written screenplays for based on stories in his books, and seen him speak, I was disappointed. Yes, the basics were there, but the entry felt completely devoid of the richness and pleasure I've enjoyed from his work and voice. There was no mention of the movies, which can now be rented, but traveled the film festival circuit, the gravely voice he speaks with when reading, the way he answers questions from audience members very different in experience and background from him, yet he manages to connect so deeply with the questioner. No mention of the short stories, some of which are brilliant, and make beautiful use of the short format, and how different those are to experience from the long works (which are really really long.) It's been some time since I read these things, and I don't think that just liking them qualifies me to add or change the entry. But I'd love to have someone currently up to date on this add to it.
Nerds are needed to finish this project. People whose expertise is deep in subjects that have nothing to do with technology and that live around the globe, but who can provide insight and experience with the people and subjects, enliven them. I hope Wikipedia goes soon from an early adopter tool, to something nerds can pick up and contribute to easily.
Maybe the answer is, every geek needs to pick one novice user, with some expertise, and teach the system to them. Get them hooked, and sharing their knowledge.
September 24, 2004
Stephanie Olsen/cNet has this on RSS and Ads: Web news feed syncs up with ads.
I'm quoted with this:
- "When you're just slicing and dicing information, does that give you the right to sell it?," said Mary Hodder, a Web product manager for Technorati, a search engine for blogs and RSS feeds.
- "There is a business model there, but you have to manage it responsibly, because the social media (of RSS) is different from old media--it's an active group, and they're not interested in being 'overmessaged' to," Hodder added.
In between those two statements, though, I said that we (all of us online, those that create and those that search or reuse) haven't really worked out what's fair between those small online publishers and those that cache, search, re-serve or reuse data. We're just sort of winging it with copyright, social norms around caching (think Google and their cache of everything for starters), what we have as creators that we want shared verses what happens when someone repackages. And as a user, when paying for the repackage, are we paying for content, or the time saving repackaging or search? I'm not sure and but I do think some of this will be decided by what is in the minds of users as they create, reuse, or subscribe to RSS feeds of many people's content, laced with ads, or sliced and diced in other formats.
But I do think there is a business model in RSS, in fact, several different business models, though it's extremely early adopter at this stage of technology use right now. So there is a lot to be seen. But it's very interesting stuff, and I definitely encourage experimentation with it all, as Olsen chronicles in the article, so that the online community can figure out what works and what doesn't technologically and with users / creators.
September 23, 2004
ONA Talks Available in Audio
Niall Kennedy has done a terrific job recording the ONA event the other night and posting the audio files. In particular, he managed to boost the sound (there were no mikes at the event) for my talk. I hadn't met Niall before, but he was really very sweet.
Also, Jeff Veen gave a terrific talk on "amateurism." Other folks I enjoyed seeing there, either speaking or in the audience include Scott Rosenberg, Paul Grabowicz, Susan Mernit, JD Lasica, Jackson West, Mark Fiore (who does really need an RSS feed!) and many others I'm sure I'm forgetting (sorry!).
September 22, 2004
Blogging and the Future of Journalism at ONA Last Night.
I addressed what I think has just become the present of journalism and blogging: the social relationship and conversation in a severely collapsed time frame, online, between journalists and bloggers. The extended entry has my notes that I used to frame this for myself beforehand, but I did not cover them completely. What matters is that the Dan Rather/CBS story kills the notion that bloggers are antagonistic or separate from journalists. That's not to say that there is love all around. What I mean is that while bloggers have an ethic around their work that often includes some agenda, but also is about iterating ideas and issues, and journalists have an ethic of objectivity, in order to report facts and issues, so each of their goals are not necessarily always the same, the new working relationship by bloggers interested in news stories, and journalists who get blogs and online conversation, is extraordinary.
I know, you're a blogger or a blog reader. You're thinking, I've been seeing this in one form or another for a couple years. Big deal. But ONA is a conservative organization, and I think, reflective of the rest (and most of) the population that doesn't participate in blogs, and it seems important to take a second to highlight how extraordinary this new (for the last couple of years) social interaction is. Clearly many journalists, including CBS/Dan Rather, still don't understand it. It's foreign to them. You have to realize, we are ahead of the curve, that's ahead of the curve, that's ahead of the curve here... with RSS and aggregators, with understanding the social interaction between bloggers and journalists because we participate in it on some level, with online queues for communicating that people who haven't spent time online don't see -- what's happening in some ways is invisible to them.
The conversation between bloggers and journalists is new and radical. And the CBS/Dan Rather story takes things to a new plateau, where bloggers participated in a feedback loop with journalists who get it. Both sides participated in fact checking each other. And both sides riffed on each other's work, analyzing, investigating further, making journalism of different sorts, from one writer to the next. However, the common factor was they published online, they connected to each other via links and their websites, and they did it damned fast.
Aside: last night, Paul Grabowicz from UCBerkeley's JSchool told me that for journalism students are suddenly saying, gee, I think I need to know about this blog stuff because of the CBS case.
What would have happened if the memo's were discovered to be fake 4 months from now? What would have happened if the memo's were seen as fakes by CBS and others who published the original story, but the answer was simply to publish a letter to the editor or a correction on D17 as would have occurred 10 years ago? It would be the same old scenario we've tollerated for years where incorrect information is front page and corrected in the back, and people are cynical about the media.
What's different here is the social interaction, the ability to connect to people, to see what matters so fast, analyze it, moderate the more useful up, moderate the not useful down, in a group fact checking process.
Last night, after the talk, one person asked me how this was any different from Usenet discussions from 10 years ago. What's changed and why does this matter? In other words, he posited, it's nothing new. I agree in a way, but I strongly disagree in another. It is discussion by people, readers or audience, right after some news article goes online, or TV, and yes the timeliness factor is similar. But newsgroups can go off topic, writers don't "own" their words in the sense that they are publishing in their own "house" or blog, for everyone the see, search, look up links and see links out to sources and others. It's a change in tools that may in a way be relatively minor, but the effects of the increased attachments of words to a single writer/blogger, and the ability to see that persons words on their site, attributed to them that in some ways is dependent on this presentation, causes readers, and journalists, to react differently. It feels different. I would make the analogy to telegraph communication verses phone communication. Usenet feels like a series of telegrams, but blogs feel like a phone call.
I believe this new level of cooperation and interaction, as embodied by the CBS case, is not early-adopter-new, in that we've seen a few smaller examples of this before. But CBS is the case that signals the sea-change of a new standard, a new understanding, and shifts the interaction from those people who are so far ahead of the curve, to those less literate with online conversations. This new cooperation causes journalism from both professional news organizations and bloggers to be seen as a conversation, as productive and useful and symbiotic. It's a chance to break out of the cynicism and frustration the audience has felt for years by not being able to effectively converse with those reporting news. Neither blogging nor journalism is going away. They can't live without each other. They need each other, and the CBS case makes it clear that we have a better news world because of the cooperative conversation they make together.
Notes for the talk:
I think the future is right now.... it's this week... being demonstrated in the blogosphere and in online news...
--- it's a process and a relationship...
--- it's social...
--- it's a conversation between bloggers and journalists..
You know parts or all of this story...
I want to emphasize the process and relationship...
Three ideas to review...
1. The Dan Rather/CBS story puts the final nail in the coffin that blogs are antagonistic or separate from journalists
2. blogs cooperated to make analysis and news, with journalists who understand this new symbiotic relationship
3. fact checking -- another layer because traditional journalists talking about process and editing..
--- blogs accelerate the fact checking to a tremendous degree
--- blogs were the first ones to bring public criticism
--- blogs winnowed weak criticisms from the strong ones
--- -- between the right wing, looking to knock down the memos
--- -- left wing looking to knock weak arguments
--- Note: Bloggers can have different agendas and that's okay in the the blogosphere, whereas journalists are not supposed to, they have different ethics policies...
-------bloggers are allowed to have any ethics though they may be moderated down in the discussion if their words are not useful or valid, -------while journalists are supposed to abide by an ethical standard of objectivity and fairness
so the story continue...
---- experts' reviews were considered by both journalists and bloggers
---- Howard Kurtz -- and his column in the WDC Post led the way in mainstream attention
---- and Michael Dobbs led the way in investigation
----- took the ball from the blogosphere and ran with it,
----- they have money, put together experts, talked to sources, and got access to CBS news, and when they sent questions, there was an official CBS response which a blogger might not have gotten
--- bloggers took what the Post did, and continued the second round of fact checking, and started to put the pieces together..
--- Boston Globe spoke to an expert, that a blogger had already spoken to and written up this expert's work...
-----The Boston Globe screwed up their work because of misleading heading:
------ saying there the expert backed up the authentication of the story
------but really, that expert was skeptical..
------and wanted to reconsider some new information...
------but since the Boston Globe said it ...
------the bloggers took on the title and the story differences
------ Boston Globe was corrected by bloggers,
------ The Globe then ran a correction on the headline
SO, blogs are part of the fact checking process, and it's a developing iterative process, how bloggers and journalists can cooperate in the fact checking process...
fact checking goes both ways....
-because blogs need to be fact checked,
-so newspapers followed on with more fact checking of what bloggers came up with,
It might have come out.. but it might have taken months...
after the original 60 Minutes story came out,
other newspapers printed the news with no skepticsm...
so if the blogosphere hadn't fact checked,
would there have questioned it in the traditional press....
Stupid to talk about blogs vs. journalism.. because it's not an either or situation..
but this story does prove that it is a symbiotic relationship
Everyone needs to be fact checked...
when the right puts up something the left will fact check,
when the left puts up something, the right will,
there are rational people on both sides..
...so Josh Marshall said, hey, these are some pretty good arguments on the right, about the memos, and we should look at this...
Fact checkers will be on both sides,
and have agendas
but the hardest fact checking will come from the opposite side..
but its still a symbiotic ... relationship
If CBS had recognized the contribution that bloggers had made,
they would have come out looking good...
If they said they had just made a mistake..
but the test for any of us in any profession
not just journalism
is how do you fix your mistakes,
so if they'd been as diligent about fixing the mistake as they were about getting the story..
they would appear more credible and legitimate...
they even ignored criticism from the Washington post and NYTimes..
they had both published that morning
when Dan Rather talked Friday night..
so while CBS ignored bloggers,
they also ignored the Post and Times...
---- CBS should have been able to look at all the activity, the press and, and the bloggers, and say hey, something is wrong... and do more fact checking...
Where as the WDC Post has come our really well...
in this new world and with these new relationships
they recognized the importance of journalistic ethics,
but they knew evidence was there...
they only wrote and investigated because the information was there....
even though bloggers gathered it and analyzed it....
Instead, CBS is still saying "we can't prove they are authentic"
What's key is this recursive behavior:
-where journalists put out information,
-bloggers fact check, information is filtered and the best information rises,
-journalists fact check bloggers and report again,
-bloggers follow on with more investigation and fact checking
-and on and on.
It's what should have been going on all along, pre-Internet,
but we haven't had the tools to be able to collapse the time it took to do this,
or the space between people, to make this possible,
until now, where these tools and publishing platforms were made
to connect information and people on the interent,
to allow people to participate in the journalistic process.
Before, it would have been a small correction a week later,
a letter to the editor,
or months later a realization that in this case, the documents were false.
But now, with blogging and journalism operating in a symbiotic process,
we can realize information analysis, fact checking and correction very quickly.
September 21, 2004
Social Commentary on EBay
- Like new, this Master U-lock is perfect for temporarily attaching your bike or scooter to a pole or bike rack. This temporary attachment is very handy if your bike does not have a proper kick-stand.
- It’s sturdy steel design and black color are intimidating for thieves who don’t have a way to open it.
- Comes with two keys. Keep one with you, and the other safe at home in your desk drawer.
Talk I'm Giving Tonight in SF!
Tonight at the Online News Association event at CNet. On the Future of Journalism and Blogging. 5:30-8:30pm. Don't have a website to direct you to, but CNet is located on 2nd Street in San Francisco, between Howard and Fremont. Many others are talking as well. RSVP to Patti Smith, psmith at knightridder.com
The State of (Bay Area) Online Journalism
235 Second Street, between Howard and Folsom
5:30 – 6:30 Registration, wine and cheese
6:30-6:35 Welcome, Jeff Pelline, Editor, CNet News.com, and Bruce Koon, Executive news editor, Knight Ridder Digital
6:35-6:45 THE STATE OF MARK FIORE
The groundbreaking, medium-shaking cartoonist shows off his latest
6:45-7:00 TECH TRENDS
Jeff Veen, principal, Adaptive Path
7:00 -7:20 THE RISE OF THE OUTSIDERS
Blogging and the future of journalism
(Me! I'm going to talk about the relationships between journalists and bloggers.)
Jackson West, Editor, SFist.com
7:20-7:50 THE ROLE AND IMPACT OF NEWS AGGREGATORS
Moderator: Neil Chase, managing editor, CBS Marketwatch.com
Panelists: Bill Gannon, editorial director, Yahoo!
Jeff Pelline, editor, CNet News.com
Tim Olson, interactive director, KQED.org
Salon (invited representative)
8:10-8:30 Closing comments and farewell
September 17, 2004
Ernie Miller Has The Definitive Timeline on CBS/Rather
Here. It's long. It's worth reading. It tells a story of traditional media that is further and further out of step with the way people interact with information, credibility and conversation, and what matters.
September 16, 2004
Call for Entries: Samping Contest from Three Notes and Runnin'
The first remix is already up at Three Notes and Runnin'.
What's the contest? Make something good by sampling the music and they'll post it to their site. Here are the details:
- SEPTEMBER 15, 2004: Michael Bell-Smith and Downhill Battle are seeking submissions for 3 Notes and Runnin', an online music compilation commemorating and protesting The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Case No. 01-00412 (pdf).
- In the case, the court found that NWA violated copyright law when they sampled 3 notes of a guitar riff from Funkadelic's "Get off Your Ass and Jam" for their song "100 Miles and Runnin'". The ruling reversed a district court finding that because "no reasonable juror, even one familiar with the works of George Clinton, would recognize the source of the sample without having been told of its source", sampling clearance should not be required.
- Hear the guitar riff in question from Funkadelic's "Get off Your Ass and Jam"
- Hear a sample of the NWA song, "100 Miles and Runnin'", which contains the sample. (hint: the sample comes in after the line "when in a black and white the capacity is two", and is looped for 16 bars).
- In doing so, the court broke from decades of established sample practice by ruling that all samples, regardless of how heavily manipulated or unrecognizable they may be, are subject either to "clearance" (obtaining permission for use of the sample, usually in exchange for money), or litigation. In an instant, this act made the majority of sample based music illegal. For more, read Why Sample Rights Matter.
- To protest this decision, we are creating a forum for sample-based musicians and artists to share their own 30 second songs which have been created using only the sample in question. By doing so, we hope to showcase the potential and diversity of sample based music and sound art, and to call into question the relationship between a sample and its use. All entries will be posted on this site as they are received.
- Rules for Submission
- 1. Your song must be thirty seconds in length.
- 2. Your song must use only the designated two seconds of the intro to Funkadelic's "Get off Your Ass and Jam" as source material. You can slice it, layer it, loop it, stretch it, filter it, smack it up, flip it, and rub it down, but you can't bring any other sounds into the mix.
- Download the sample: 1.5 second 44.1 khz 16 bit Aiff 200k
- 3. All Entries should be encoded as mp3s and emailed, along with artist name, email or URL, and a brief description / statement to email@example.com. All entries that adhere to the format of the call will be posted to the website.
- Participants are encouraged to process the sound in creative, unconventional and excessive manners, stretching the relationship between the finished result and the source material.
Courtesy of Jason Schultz.
The New Business Model Is the Old Business Model, Sorta...
I've been thinking about why people in the top down, traditional journalism media business have so much trouble with the new distributed horizontal media 'business' (if you can call it that, what with all the free online media from bloggers and other content creators).
The traditional media folks keep getting stuck on trust and credibility, upset as they are by the fact that people pay so much attention to Fox news or blogs or The Daily Show, all of which require the user to decide what is credible, real, questionable or a flat out lie, or a joke. This conflict between people with different frames of trust has always been with us, but it's amplified by information technology, and the ease with which networked communities flit around from source to source, gathering information wherever they decide, not the traditional media editors of old who used to control our access much more than they do now, which is zero.
The conflict is one of metaphors and frames, where users have varying concepts of how they see trust, credibility and truth, depending on who says it and how it grooves with the information purveys stated role (ie, when Fox tells us something, users know it's a half truth, so if we expect it, we are not upset by it, verses say, Dan Rather/CBS, who tell us they are telling us the complete truth, and we should 'trust them,' so when the alarm bells go off, we are much more apt to be upset about it, and feel betrayed by them or disgusted.)
So depending on how each of us frames trust, credibility and truth, information takes on different meanings. For some of us, watching how bloggers link, and what they link to, is a kind of trust model we understand and want to see. Political bloggers link to an article or blog post or book, and it means something, a kind of truth. For others, this is bunk. They only 'trust' a recommended book or article from the NYTimes, or CBS. They don't want a bunch of cranks and crazies pointing out what interests them. They frame trust as information from controlled editorial sources, following traditional journalistic processes.
What does that have to do with business models? Well, the old model, pre-internet, was that the local newspaper published news framed in the local views around truth and filtered by trusted editors, and the locals bought it. End of story. The publisher, the reporters, the editors and readers, all lived in the same physical community, and so didn't have to think about what that community was. They self-selected into it because they moved or lived there to begin with. And because they lived together, they understood each others frameworks around trust and credibility, even if they disagreed over them, or had differing political frameworks. It was subtext in all of their minds. Living together physically gave them some common contact and frame of reference for each other's understanding. So the information filter, the local newspaper, simply reported based on the physical community its framework of trust and truth, and there was the business model.
This new information model, which traditional media folks seem to be avoiding and utterly confused by, because it doesn't fit with their framework of journalistic integrity, editorial control or truth and trusted information, has to do with networked communities with a great variety of frameworks of truth. These communities are hard to see if you are looking for a physical representation. They are expressed through links, blogs, comments, forums, games, chat rooms, and the people, well, the people are fickle. They flit around from site to site, or worse, the use those damned aggregators to read hundreds of blogs and news sites. They have different information values, are time sensitive, and abomination! They have such a variety of frameworks of trust, truth and credibility. It's out of control!
Some people think a blog is okay, if they read it for a while, to find some truth, some information, to iterate on a question, to find expertise greater than those in traditional media. Some people get all their news from the Daily Show. Cripes. And some people think they NYTimes is still it. Thank God for small favors.
The new business model? It's a lot like the old one. Just perpendicular. And it feels invisible if you look on the internet, and can't see it the way you could look at your physical community. It's about finding a networked community, one that might include 20 people in Silicon Valley, 20 people in India, and 20 in Belgium. But they might just be exactly the right 60 people, if small by old media standards. Or maybe it's 60 thousand or 6 million. Just depends on how they self-select into the community. But you can be sure it's most likely not location based unless it's specifically, topically about a location.
Then work backwards. How do those networked people frame trust, truth and credibilty. Figure it out, then figure out why they self-selected (user experience, a desire to connect over a topic or game or share their creativity), and then figure out how to filter information for those frames and community needs. And figure out the user interface. It's the interface, stupid.
But wait, that's not all. You must also figure out the social interaction between people. Because just like when the telephone was invented, and they thought it would all be about people making business calls, but they were wrong, it turned out people just wanted to talk to each other, the internet is also all about the distributed social communication between people, whether it's a business person or a friend or a blogger you don't know. It is the social interaction that matters. It's a lot of figuring, to be sure. But get all that, and voila! You too can be in the information business online.
I realize it's not so simple to execute. That each of those elements is a big sticky nightmare of latenights, user testing and consideration up the wahzoo, each requiring much thought. I'm just really damned tired of arguing about whether we do it, why people don't trust old media (because they are just as trustworthy and just as untrustworthy as the next website or blogger, ya know? Use your judgment on each, please, and you'll be better off, though it's true the traditional guys don't keep much power in this model, except as authors who earn trust and respect through transparency, openness about biases and honesty, not to mention linking love for their fellow creators.)
Oh, and btw, this is very democratic in the Jeffersonian sense, where makers of information have to think about what they create, and users have to think about what they are seeing, and those that are smartest win. Those that are most controlling and have the most money and lobbyists and distribution channels, don't necessarily, as they have in the traditional media business of late. I mean, they may win in court, or not, but those that overcontrol on the internet are losing in the practical sense that users have control, and will self-select into a different system or whatever, if you put up a roadblock. Just ask Napster and the children of Napster. Napsterization is about the loss of control, among other things.
Just get on with the business of your model: filtering information for a community that understands truth and credibility in a certain way, and wants to interact with each other.
September 11, 2004
50% Drop In Use of Landlines Since 1997
- The data shows what we all know from day to day experience - the information technology industry is annexing communication as an application - email, IM, VoIP, e-commerce, etc. We have fewer and fewer reasons to use plain-old-telephone-service.
This is an amazingly fast shift in behavior for people. But it is what I experience, and what I see others doing as they go through their lives. At the office, we use laptops and cell phones... we move around the office from spot to spot, and we reconfigure our work groups based on tasks at hand... we take our offices with us as we go... and we work at home or in a cafe or at a friends... using wifi, the cell phone as an internet connector... why be tethered?
My friends and I use text messaging and IM as well as talking on our mobile phones to communicate -- much more than our landlines. In fact, when my home phone rings, it's always such a surprise because it only happens about once a month. Only when Cingular gets stupid and starts dropping calls, when I'm at home, do I pick up the landline. I just keep it because the dsl is tethered to it, and I guess it's a backup of sorts in case of emergency.
Most of my friends don't even have landlines. We only connect only through untethered methods.... It's just convenient and easy. Though I must admit, I have an old bakelite rotary phone from 1932, and I love it.. weighs about 9 lbs... and I sort of like the idea of having it connected. But not for $360 a year.
He's on a panel at the National Press Club: Policy interests of VC funded insurgents versus Wall Street funded incumbent telcos (9/24/04, WDC).
They certainly got the framing right on that panel.
September 10, 2004
Scoble on RSS Aggregators Frequency of Polling
Robert looks at how often aggregators poll for new posts, figures out that we are heading for a mess of bandwidth issues what with all the aggregators constantly going looking for news posts and other content across blogs and websites. He asks what we might do to solve this and how often different aggregators update. Many of those listed in the comments look for new posts hourly. And many of the commenters suggest that sites should only serve changes or give a 403.
But, I was thinking, what about smarter aggregators that learned the posting patterns of the writers? How about aggregators that got a sense for the frequency of posting, and then polled at that rate? I tend to post once a day, often in the morning, because that when I have time to write. Robert posts practically in his sleep. Why can't my aggregator poll a blog like mine once or twice a day, and Robert's hourly? And Jay Rosen about once every 5 days or +5 days after his last post since he tends to do long essays about that often?
Rather than trying to engineer just based on changes to the website content, why not get smart about people's social patterns and then users can do a complete auto-refresh if something comes up and there's a conscious need....
This is social media after all, and it's not just about the tools, but the social interaction... we have the engineering part figured out somewhat as far as syndication and aggregation, but where is consideration for the social interaction built into the tools... if we are to be polite about our polling, we ought to think about how the other end works (writers - people) and react accordingly in the makeup of the tools.
Oh, and one other thought, what about using the pings put out by blogs with new content? Why not have my aggregator subscribe to ping-o-matic or whatever, so that when pings come into ping-o-matic, pings go out to subscribers like a dinner bell. Content that's good and good for ya. MMMmmm.
Hampton's Man: Burning the Man With Peace Love and Gucci
A parallel event to Burningman, Hampton's Man burned last Saturday night at the same time Burningman was getting ready to launch their burn in Nevada. 3 hours ahead they were on the east coast. But for their very first burn, with 250 people, they saw the power of the fire, the same way the 35,000 people saw it in Nevada.
Burningman was all about peace, love and public art (the cool stuff they never let you climb all over in a museum -- and like I've never seen in either NY or SF Moma). Mad Max imprinted on the art world, and the art world shifting max. But the host of Hampton's Man told me that the moment the man was set to burn, the debutants and the stuffy shirts got into the primal burn: they danced, they swayed, they threw up their Cartier clad arms to the power of the burning man.
How sweet that such a thing can alter the state of minds of people who are not on drugs but just feeling the natural beach or desert, the burning effigy, their fellow people and knowing this doesn't happen in their everyday life. No matter what coast they were on.
September 09, 2004
The Power of Word of Mouth
Online It's Cluetrain
If you are in one or another online communities, you know they are powerful amplifying tools for spreading information. Sometimes the information is good/true/real and sometimes it's not, and it's important that readers and other writers pay attention to the credibility of those passing information as well accurately passing information along as they restate and comment on it. But often information and communication take on a life of their own online, and that's why I think the previous post, on blog comment spam caused so much commenting, as well as email directly to me. In fact, Tom at LevelTen emailed me after the post, and describe the entire situation, saying he didn't really want the information out online. But nothing he said would appear to be damaging to him. Rather I encouraged him to post the whole thing in comments to my blog and those others that had experienced the illegitimate comment spam.
I think the way to fight false information is to shed light on it. This medium is about iteration, and bloggers know the value of getting the most true and real information out there. The point is to get to it, often through the group process of multiple bloggers linking and discussing, to inform, to question, to learn and to create the best information about an issue that we can. It may well mean conflicting opinions or frameworks are stated, but still, readers and other writers over time have the option of reviewing those varying viewpoints, and adding or iterating themselves. That reflects a healthy discourse and is, I think, the main goal of many bloggers, though not all blogs fall into this category of purpose.
I met Jonathan Carson, the CEO of Buzzmetrics at Ad Tech a couple of months ago, and he told me that his company assesses online communications from sources such as usenet groups, public IM, chat groups and forums, bulletin boards, public email lists and blogs, among other things. They take everything, and crunch it, attempting to make sense of all the different types of online communications and the kinds of things being said, usually when a company or entity asks. The analysis is packaged into a report for that entity. They started four or so years ago, weathered the dot-com bust, and more recently have done lots of work for health care companies.
So the study they just did, on online communications around Transfats, Oreos and a lawsuit filed against Kraft/Oreos for using Transfats is interesting. Key findings summarized by the Center for Media Research:
Key Findings of the Report:
- * Prior to the lawsuit, consumers did not link Oreo and Kraft to trans fats, but rather to other topics like recipes, purchasing, product feedback and dieting. However, following the suit, 90 percent of messages mentioning Oreo referenced trans fats or the lawsuit.
- * Before the lawsuit, 82 percent of conversations about trans fats occurred in dedicated nutrition, fitness and health forums with self-appointed and often authoritative subject-matter experts. But after the suit, mainstream forums, such as wedding planning, home management and teen communities, grew to account for over 30 percent, while health forums accounted for just over 50 percent.
- * Numerous international consumers jumped into the U.S. Oreo suit, highlighting anti-trans fats steps taken by their governments. Some consumers even expressed conspiracy theories involving food manufacturers and the U.S. government.
But reading < ahref="http://www.buzzmetrics.com/about/pc_news_transfat.htm">Buzzmetrics writeup, this came up:
- * Consumer-Generated Content Accounts for 40% of Trans Fats Web Searches – Online commentary from consumers played a crucial role in moving trans fats from isolated pockets of interest to mainstream discussion. Nearly 40 percent of the top 100 Google search results for "trans fats and oreo" were consumer-generated, i.e., blogs, personal home pages and message boards. Top media sites – like CNN.com, NYTimes.com and MSNBC.com – accounted for only 20 percent.
Amazing but not surprising. So online, the perspective as determined by Google search results is that of the top 100 results, at least with the Transfat issue, 40 were consumer generated, 20 were from top down media, and the remaining 40 were other? Corporate sites? Non-profit? Government?
That's facinating. It's very strong evidence that entities who are used to dealing top down with carefully scripted messages and broadcast mentalities, like Kraft, are very much in need of rethinking what marketing and PR are about, how people want to get information, who they trust and why online communities which often deal with a level playing field, where no one controls the message, where individual integrity and transparency of motive are often more valued by individuals.
September 08, 2004
Blog Comment Spam - A New Low and So Bizarre
I received the following blog comment spam two days ago, for a web design firm:
- LevelTen, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, is a professional web consulting and design company. We specialize in best-in-class website design, Flash multimedia, corporate identity, and print graphics. LevelTen features an integrated team of web consultants, creative designers, writers, programmers and marketing professionals that know how to get online results.Our business-driven approach separates us from typical web design companies. For more than five years, we have built a reputation for creating a positive return on investment for our clients. If you are serious about your web success, we can get you there. Strategic thinking, top designers, personal attention, competitive prices, real world results - discover the LevelTen difference.
Normally, I just add the URLs into the spam blocker, and report them to the larger spam blacklist. But this seemed like a legitimate company, and very odd that they would do this. Usually I just delete the spam comments, but I decided to email the company with this:
- Spamming people's blogs is offensive and not the way to generate traffic to your site.
- It's rude and shows you have no idea what social media and blogging are about.
- Stop this practice now. It's ridiculous. I've banned you from my site and let other bloggers know as well, and put you on the blacklist for blog comments.
Tom at the company responded:
- Thank you for your message. We are not posting these spam attacks. Someone is using an automated script to do this and we have already invested many hours trying to stop them.
- Have you received a spam posting in the last 24 hours? All blog owners report the attacks coming from IP 188.8.131.52 which is a gateway at ixwebhosting.com, e.g. they can't just shut it down without shutting down hundreds of websites. Do you see a different IP?
- Do ban the IP and let all blog owners you know to ban the IP as well.
- In the mean time if you have any info that could help us stop this person, please let us know.
- You can read more here: http://www.leveltendesign.com/help.php
- Tom McCracken
Lorentz Consulting / LevelTen Design
What possible gain could comment spammers achieve with what Tom characterizes as "cyber terrorism" on his Help site? Is it cyberterrorism? Or do the spammers hope that some legitimate looking comments might allow them to also post other kinds of spam that connects back to their interests in gambling, porn or prescription drugs?
This is bizarre, and a new turn in the comment spam fight. I get around 500-1000 a week, and oddly enough, it is often attached to this post on comment spam.
In any event, if you get the same spam, please email Tom because he is collecting information to go after the spammers. Unfortunately, right now, he appears to be able to do little to stop the practice.
September 06, 2004
Just got back from Burningman... will upload a little video shortly... but in the meantime, catching up on the aggregator, I saw a story about Conrad Black. Reminded me of the Toronto airport, in July, sitting, waiting for my plane. There was a flight to NY, that repeatedly made a 'last call'... there was some tention a few gates down over it. Everyone was on the plane, and it seemed odd that they kept announcing last boarding, where as our plane, and the rest were barely getting any notice for boarding at all (gotta love Air Canada - which btw, I DO NOT recommend.. just avoid it.. worst rt flights ever).
Anyway, he walked in to the area with about 10 gates, walked very slowly down past me, 3 or 4 gates down toward the NY flight, waited while a giant (as in big, though not quite as tall as Black) goon followed 20 feet behind. Black looked kind of unnerved there, wading through the riff raff. When the goon caught up, Black turned left, walked slowly to the gate and got onto the plane. Oh for the love of a private Gulfstream IV. Those were the days.
September 02, 2004
Burningman and Hampton's Man
So I'm on my way to Burningman to see what it's like, and will attempt to post video to this blog from the event.. taken with my Nokia 7610.
Not so coincidentally, Hampton's Man is also burning a man on Saturday, September 4th at 6:00 PM on Coopers Beach, Southampton. Hampton's Man is decidedly different than Burningman, though.
Their motto: Radical Consumption. Conspicuous Anarchy. Dry Martinis.
- What is Hamptons Man?
- Trying to explain Hamptons Man to someone who has never been is a bit like trying to explain crashing a P. Diddy party or getting on the list at polo to someone who lives in california and wears Birkenstocks. At Hamptons Man everyone and everything is fabulous. Just showing up is genius. It is a celebration of the human spirit and of radical expression. People come to Hamptons Man from all walks of life and all from all over the world: from above 59th street and below. From Downtown and even Flatbush. Such is the global diversity and transcendent spirit of Hamptons Man.
- Hamptons Man is all this and more: The sacred schmooze. The ritual sip of a martini. The crash of the ocean and the crash of the market. At Hamptons Man, the everyday is left behind for the commute with nature for creation, expression, and being--- at least until the next party on our list. It is where the energy of the summer combusts, culminating in the burning of Hamptons Man, lime blazer and all, as an expression of our spirit, aspiration, and belief that that lime jacket has got to go because fashion week is just a few days away and something else is surely in.
You heard it here first, people. Check it out, as they will have videos taken with their Nokia 7610 as well, for coordinated east and west coast burns, if not asymmetric philosophies!
Where Burningman is inclusive (okay, it's now $350 for a ticket today), Hampton's man is exclusive (okay, it's free but you have to get out there)... where Burningman is free love and doesn't take money (okay, except for coffee and ice), Hampton's man is laise faire about putting Gucci loafers with linen Bermuda shorts (okay, except for the sunglasses.. you have to have cool sunglasses) ... where Burningman is a techy community art / light show (except for the fact that people trade hard for batteries), Hampton's man is all about working your "community" for the next deal (community sounds so, I don't know communitarian, don't you think, how about 'niche market' instead)....
Anyway, you get the idea. So have fun whether you're drinking martinis or beer, popping zanex or reds, it's all fun. Okay, I won't be doing any of that, but you get the idea. And I do intend to have fun. N'est pas?
Oh wait, there's more:
- Where did this idea come from? Is it really OK to Have Fun in the Hamptons?
- Every year during Labor Day week there is a legendary gathering and celebration of creativity in the Nevada desert: Burning Man. It is, perhaps, the greatest week long party on earth attracting 35,000 people. Back when Burning Man started, in the '80s, it was just a small party on the beach. Who are we to let all those folks out West have all the fun? So we're starting a small party on the beach.
- Both Burning Man and Hamptons Man are being chronicled on blogs (frequently updated web postings), and both events are blogging one anothers activities. Come back to this location for a link to Burning Man reports and their coverage of Hamptons Man.
Go to it. If you're in the Hamptons. It's the Anti-burningman. Go to Burningman, if your in Nevada. It's the Anti-Hampton's man. But do something people! Do it now!