"I can’t think of anything that demonstrates the sovereign nature of the self better than a blog.” - Doc Searls
About the Author
Stowe Boyd is a well-known media subversive, and an internationally recognized authority on real-time, collaborative and social technologies. His new blog is Message.

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November 30, 2005

Behind The Scenes at Behind The Scenes

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Check out the the successor to the "Podcasting on Windows" series thaat we've been doing for a few months, called "Behind The Scenes: The World Of Podcasting". The first show is just Greg Narain and me chatting about the new approach, and a short video of me fiddling with my video gear, and explaining how I use it: Sony Ericsson S710a cell phone, and Sony DCSR-HC42 Camcorder.

Behind The Scenes is produced by Corante, and sponsored by GoToMeeting.

Comments (48) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Media

Jarvis States Newmark Is Angel In Stealth News Startup

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Jarvis is trying to clarify what Craig Newmark hinted at recently, in a presentation in London and then, here. It looks like he is an investor in the news startup that Jarvis mentioned in May:

[from BuzzMachine... by Jeff Jarvis]

: I will act as editor in chief of a new news start-up founded by Upendra Shardanand (ex Firefly, Microsoft Passport, AOL, and Time Warner) and a sterling team. More than a year ago, when Upendra first described his idea to me, I lurched at it. I was so determined to work on this that I gave up plans to start my own blog company. The start-up remains in stealth mode -- this is the first public mention of it -- but you'll hear more about it soon. (And we are, of course, hiring engineers.)

I love this new world! A news startup is... of course... hiring engineers, not editors!

Comments (10) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Media

Going The Distance: Getting To Clueful PR

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Steve Rubel and Constantin Basturea are spearheading a good effort at the GoingThe Distance wiki at TheNewPR.

An introduction from Steve Rubel, VP, Micro Persuasion Practice at CooperKatz

On October 6, 2005 I issued a call to action on my blog for the PR community to go the distance. Specifically, I believe that as an industry we are way behind where we need to be in our understanding of how to apply the new world of social media in our day-to-day jobs. I reiterated this call in a byline in the November 28 issue of PR Week.

The good news is we have 75% of social media under our belt. As an industry most of us conceptually get its importance. We know how it evolves marketing from a monologue into a dialogue and the significance of listening. However, many PR professionals still don't grasp the last 25%. In other words, our agency and in-house teams don't know how to put blogs, RSS, wikis, podcasting, etc. into action immediately. They don't know how to subscribe to RSS feeds and, what's more, develop conversational marketing programs.

I am not alone in this belief. Others, including Richard Edelman, share this conviction. On November 21, he suggested the industry: retrain its work force, recognize the influence and credibility of blogs and experiment. Now it's time to go the distance.

On this wiki page, I have invited several executives from the PR community to discuss different initiatives that we can each take back home and apply in our own agencies. Hopefully we can establish some best practices. In the spirit of transparency, those who are willing to participate will hold this dialogue out in the open. I suggest - to keep this organized - that we address one subject matter at a time until we close it before moving on to the next. However, I defer to the wishes of the group. Once we have identified a series of best practices, we will open these ideas up to feedback from a broader group.

Who's participating

* Steve Rubel, VP, CooperKatz
* Tom Biro, Director, MWW Group
* Niall Cook, Director, Hill & Knowlton
* Mike Manuel, Voce Communications
* John Bell, SVP/Creative Director, Ogilvy PR
* Paul M. Rand, Partner, Global Chief Development and Innovation Officer
* Stuart Bruce, Partner, Bruce Marshall Associates

Insightful discussion of the level of awareness and practice in various PR firms at the vanguard in the social media revolution. Although I think it would be better as a weekly podcast...

Comments (13) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Marketing

November 29, 2005

Everybody Loves Free Stuff

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Good lord: a blog dedicated to tchatckes! And he links to a post of mine about the few bits I have actually found useful (see Everybody Loves Free Stuff: Blogworthy Promotional Products).

[tags: ]

Comments (18) + TrackBacks (1) | Category: Marketing

Get Real Minute 29 Nov 2005

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Using the new Nokia N90 ("awesome"), I complain about the difficulties of getting back in the groove after a week off.

Comments (13) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Life

Ev Williams Ten Rules For Web Startups

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Ev has a great list of Ten Rules for Web Startups, including recommendations about being focused, balancing life with work, and being picky about who you work with (also known as the "No Assholes" rule). And he even includes rule #0: Be Willing To Break The Rules, although he misnames it #11: Be Wary: "Overgeneralized lists of business "rules" are not to be taken too literally. There are exceptions to everything."

Comments (12) + TrackBacks (1) | Category: Business

Apple Entering The Battle For The Livingroom: Mini Becomes The Tivo Killer

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

The folks at Think Secret have leaked the blueprints of Apple's plans for the home entertainment market: A revamped Mac Mini with DVR capablities, bigger hard drive, and iPod dock, codenamed Kaleidoscope.

[from Think Secret - Road to Expo: Reborn Mac mini set to take over the living room]

Specifics surrounding Front Row 2.0 and Apple's DVR application are limited at this point, although sources with knowledge of the project have dubbed the latter a "TiVo-killer." The moniker might not be without some bias, however, as sources report that talks of an Apple-TiVo deal recently fizzled, prompting TiVo to independently announce this month that it will soon offer customers the ability to copy stored content to a video iPod.While Apple surprised watchers when the company delivered Front Row alongside updated iMac G5s recently, Apple's media center intentions have become startlingly clear in the past year since Apple first delivered the Mac mini and customers first started connecting the system to home theaters and installing it in automobiles. Sources have hinted that additional media announcements will further propel Apple's strategy, and with the hardware, software, and iPod sales behind it, Apple now seems poised to firmly plant its footprint in living rooms.

The only thing missing is an Apple game system...

Comments (18) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Technology

Thank You, Michael Drenchen: Phone Woes Resolved

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Not too long ago, I threw a hissy fit here, about my wonderful Sony Ericsson S710a phone (see Why I Hate Sony Ericsson And Cingular).

The issue was my inability to get the phone connecting to the Web as advertised; in particular, I wanted to get the phone to work as a modem, as I had been able to do with an earlier Sony Ericsson phone. This was truly a life saver on many occasions when no other approach would work, like on the train to NYC. And the coolest thing was that it worked through Bluetooth, so no cables were required.

Well... it seems like the squeaky wheel gets the grease, becuase I was contacted by Michael Drenchen, a diligent employee of Cingular, who happened upon my screed and then proceeded to straighten my mess out.

Turns out that buried in the bowels of my profile at Cingular was the identity of my old phone, but not the new one. When I bought the new phone (from eBay, to save a few hundred bucks) the folks at the local Cingular store said that all I needed to do was swap the SIM chip -- which made it work as a phone, but apparently you need to actually inform the network software about the phone's identity to get things like email and net access to work.

Comments (15) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Telecommunications

Joshua Porter on Web 2.0

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Even though he says he doesn't want to define web 2.0, Joshua Porter does a pretty good job here, and avoids the complexities (ineffabilities?) of Tim O'Reilly's now famous diagram.

These four aspects I broke down as follows:
  • Learning from the Dot Bomb Survivors The Four Horsemen: Google, Amazon, Yahoo, and eBay. These companies have become clich�, and we take them for granted, even though they have consistently come up with the most innovative designs. Amazon’s reviews? Yeah, they’re cool. But why are they consistently better than anyone else’s reviews? That’s the question.
  • New, Enabling Technologies RSS, APIs, REST, and Permalinks. These technologies haven’t been around all that long, and they’re crucial to today’s applications.
  • Social Software Best Practices Folksonomies, Blogs, Wikis are changing the way that we interact with each other on the Web. What are the best practices in implementing these? We’ve learned a lot about folksonomies, but it seems we’ve only scratched the surface.
  • Design by Modeling User Behavior This is what the other quadrants point to. Learn from the Dot Bomb Survivors and identify best practices in social software while observing analog user activities. Then use new, enabling technologies to model them digitally.

    In other words, I think that Web 2.0 is all about learning how to design systems that model user behavior.

I agree, mostly. Web 2.0 is the convergence of a number of trends, and the emergence of something more than the sum of the parts.

Comments (16) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Technology

Corante 2.0: Hubs In A Network Of Stars

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Today, after years (literally) of discussion and planning, we are opening the kimono on Corante 2.0. The most obvious manifestation of the new Corante -- leaving aside the first of our Corante events, the Symposium on Social Architecture, which took place two weeks ago -- is the unveiling of the first three Corante Hubs. The Hubs are aggregations of the writing of members of the growing Corante Network in various sectors, and the three Hubs launched today are related to Media, Web, and Marketing. We have reached out beyond those who had been writing blogs for Corante, and the Network has grown past the 70 something contributors of a few weeks ago to include an additional 50 or so thought leaders. My writings at Get Real will now be collated into the Corante Web Hub, along with a stellar group, including Robin Good, Emily Chang, Pete Cashmore, and Nancy White, to mention only a few. We have similarly talented contributors in the marketing and media Hubs.

When Hylton and I began noodling about Corante 2.0, years ago, we were concerned about the barriers to attracting more great writers to start blogs with us, because many of them don't want to relocate their blogs, or are afraid of the schitzophrenia involved in creating yet-another-blog somewhere. The Hubs concept does away with that. We can simply invite those that we consider great writers and thinkers to join the network, and pull in a feed from their blog. No costs in moving. And of course, contributors share in the advertising revenue that we will be gaining from the Hubs. It's not just for fun. We have had -- little surprise -- very high levels of adoption so far.

This means that we can add our value for the community. Consider the hypothetical marketing executive, who is dashing into her office to check on email and what's happening in the world for 26 minutes before her first meeting. She scans email, responds to one or two critical ones, and then opens her RSS reader to find... what? Hundreds of new posts. There is no way for her to simply find the most critical posts in the 22 minutes she has available. Our goal is to provide some stucture to what is otherwise a haphzard process. Our editors provide pointers to posts that we feel are most critical -- in the outside world or from within the network -- as well as a merged feed of the Hub's contributors.

And of course, we have just started. Francois Gossieaux joined us recently as CMO and all around ball-of-fire, so we are planning to roll out many more Hubs in the upcoming weeks and months. I can envision the Corante Network growing to include thousands of the world's most influential minds in dozens of Hubs in sectors like economics, art, entertainment, management, games, telecom, politics, and so on.

So, be prepared to see us rolling out more Hubs, more technology embedded in them to make the reader experience more involving and rewarding, and new forms of media -- video, for example -- integrated as well.

Comments (25) + TrackBacks (2) | Category: Corante

November 19, 2005

Acting White: Roland Fryer Links Black Popularity and Academics

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

A recent post at Centrality, based on recent research of Harvard's Roland Fryer on "acting white":

In the Winter 2006 issue of Eduction Next, Harvard's Roland Fryer takes an economist's tilt at social network analysis to dig into the issues surrounding "acting white" -- the long-discussed theory that young American blacks intentionally do less well in school that their talents would lead them in order to remain socially engaged with other blacks who, the theory goes, associate academic success with various negative attributes of white students.

[Read the entire post at Centrality.]

Comments (15) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Economics

PR Flap Between Zawodny And Krause Taylor

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

A recent post by Jeremy Zawodny, in response to a piece of PR seems on one hand a tempest in a teapot, but actually may shed some light on the emerging ethics of PR vis-a-vis blogging:

[from PR Spam to Bloggers Continues (by Jeremy Zawodny)]

Today a message arrived at the address (the feedback address we publish on the Yahoo! Search blog) which started off like this:

Hi News,

As you may know, AOL today announced a trial for the new "AOL Hi-Q" high quality video format, allowing broadband users to access to video on demand features to watch online movie trailers, music videos and soon a selection of hundreds of classic TV titles from the Warner Bros collection. Kontiki, the leader in legal, secure peer-to-peer networking, is providing AOL with its Kontiki 5.0 grid delivery networking solution that enables the distribution of DVD-quality videos to consumers more quickly and efficiently.

It went on to include more text as well as a full copy of the press release.

Now here's the best part. Krause Taylor Associates, the PR agency that's spamming bloggers, also does work for a high-profile blogging company: SixApart. (Check their client list) They really ought to know better!

I wonder if the folks at SixApart can help get the message across to their PR agency: DO NOT SPAM US.

The interesting part is the argumentation raging in the post's comments. Because Six Apart is mentioned, Anil Dash and Mena Trott both jump in, supporting Krause Taylor as a very clueful agency. Many others point out that spam is awful, and just becuase the agency knows the rules in general, they shouldn't be left off the hook when they goof.

Barabara Krause of Kause and Taylor weighs in, and after some give and take, clarifies that Zawodny was 'turned up' in a search using MediaMap, a marketing tool. Zawodny is ok with being in MediaMap -- he is aware that his name is there, and is open to being contacted about tools and products. Krause points out that in the entry about him the following information is included: "BEWARE! Proceed with caution when contacting this blogger." To which Krause adds, "good advice."

The remaining ethical questions are these:

  • If you are a blogger, and you want to be informed of information pertinent to you and your research (or "beat" to use a media term), is it spam when PR flacks email you news stories? How should bloggers stipulate what they want to receive?
  • Should we self-censor after a flap like this occurs, and it turns out that the inflammatory title we have created in a post is potentially damaging to others' reputations? In this case, Jeremy did in fact alter the title of the post from "Krause Taylor Associates Spams Bloggers" to the current, more benign "PR Spam To Bloggers Continues". Jeremy states in one of the comments on the post, "Many people seem concerned that "Krause Taylor Associates Spams Bloggers" will have negative affects on the company because it'll show up in Google. While it's not my "problem" I've changed the title to something a bit more vague. (A discussion of why I should or should not censor myself because of where Google may surface it is a discussion for later...)

In the first case, I bet that it would be very difficult to set up some means for bloggers to state -- unequivocally -- what they are, and are not, interested in hearing about. But we should come up with some approximation, because in general, this is this is the same approach we should take for all individuals to opt-in to marketing. (A microformat approach might be good, something wrapped around the Technorati blog tags that I set up in the right column, for example.)

The second case is very thorny. Zawodny states that the potential damage to reputation from his words is not his "problem" (what do the quotes indicate?), but obviously they become the author's problem if they lead to damage and if they are erroneous. There are weak and strong definitions of spam, and this is clearly not spam, in either sense, from my perspective. Zawodny is open to receiving marketing email in the general case, but just gets pissed off if the stuff doesn't interest him. Then it seems like spam (with a little "s") to him, but that doesn't make it Spam (with a capital "s"). So I think Jeremy did the right thing to change the title... although a quick search for the old title on Google shows that the meme that links Krause Taylor with spamming has been loosed on the world, now, and will never, never die.

Comments (16) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Marketing

November 18, 2005

John Battelle on Building A Better Boom

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

John Battelle makes a strong case that the Web 2.0 resurgence is not a bubble, but represents a structural change in economics, technology, and society, and that in the final analysis, Web 1.0 led to a tech boom and bust because critical factors weren't in alignment then which are now:

[from Building a Better Boom - New York Times by John Battelle]

But regardless of all this deja vu, we are not in a bubble. Instead we are witnessing the Web's second coming, and it's even got a name, "Web 2.0" - although exactly what that moniker stands for is the topic of debate in the technology industry. For most it signifies a new way of starting and running companies - with less capital, more focus on the customer and a far more open business model when it comes to working with others.

And ubiquitous broadband, wifi in every cafe, and incredibly cheap hardware and open source software, which has made the cost of entry for innovators almost zero.

He addresses the notion that the web is an application platform -- although he doesn't use the Web OS term -- and the missionary zeal that seems to pervade the Web+2.0+osphere (yes, you saw that here first). People involved in this movement -- and it is a movement, having a lot in common with others, like open source, emergent democracy, and those who are trying to keep governments away from Internet regulation -- are, as John puts it, "decidedly missionary - from the communitarian ethos of Craigslist to Google's informal motto, "don't be evil.""

His final point isn't as compelling to me as those that precede it, but may help to convince finance types: it's not a bubble because there is little public financing through IPOs. That may come back to haunt him -- and us all -- if that bubbilicious model begins to be used.

But the natural economics of Web 2.0 development argue against that. I was just on a tour, talking with a handful of Web 2.0 tech start-up founders, and the tendency is to stay small, almost humorously small. At Mary Hodder's Bloqx, for example, three developers were crammed into a room no larger than a large closet. Jason Fried of 37 Signals advocates keeping teams small, not just from a desire to reduce the burn, but to increase the likelihood of less features creeping into products. This week, I saw the same reflected in the jampacked three-room office of, where Scott Beatty, the CEO, described the company's plans to the 'rolling beta' model of developing more and more rich services, which rely on small, agile development coupled with an obsession with end-user experience.

It's an austere and highly philosophical era -- which John only tangentially touches on -- but one that is likely to lead to very different outcomes that Web 1.0. I believe that it's also a generational thing. These are either young veterans of the Web 1.0 mess, or those that witnessed the fall out of "irrational exuberance" from afar. And they are at least going to make new mistakes, if mistakes are to be made.

Comments (9) + TrackBacks (1) | Category: Technology

Open Source Media: Yet Another Blog Network

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I was supposed to attend the kick-off for Open Source Media (OSM)-- the relaunch/rebranding of PJ Media -- this week in NYC, but events conspired against that. But they managed the launch (and a swanky party at the W) without me, it seems, and flew into storm of controversy.

First of all, it seems like the name Open Source Media belongs to some other group:

[from Open Source Media group met with harsh criticism | | CNET by Jennifer Guevin]

But for all the work OSM is putting toward supporting the blogging movement, the group hasn't exactly won over the hearts of the blogging community. Of course, anytime a "best of" list of bloggers gets put together, there are bound to be complaints about who got in and who was left out. OSM's list of invitees is no exception. And OSM has some added trouble related to its new name. The group is now involved in a trademark dispute over the name "Open Source Media," which is already owned by a non-profit production company. In short, most of the complaints surrounding OSM's launch come down to a question of how much respect the group actually has for independent Web publishers and what they stand for.

I think the 'non-profit production company' is OurMedia, so I will ask JD Lasica what's up on that front.

Second of all, I looked at the new OSM portal, and it's sort of silly. The 70 blogs in the network are listed on a page a few levels down, but mostly it seems like they are posting news from the newswires, and not even aggregating the blogs there. I looked at Little Green Footballs -- one of the blogs in the network -- and there's no indication of that blog's involvement in the network there. Strange.

I guess there'll be more to follow, but now it just seems a yawnfest. Of course, as a competitor, I am strongly biased.

[Update: JD Lasica emailed to clarify:

Hi Stowe! Nope, it's not Ourmedia. It's Chris Lydon's Open Source Radio/Open Source Media program. Brendan Greeley has the skinny here.

Comments (12) + TrackBacks (9) | Category: Media

November 17, 2005

Podcasting on Windows: Today's Webcast Postponed

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Due to a timing conflict with our planned guest for today's webcast, we are postponing the show. We will announce a new time and date as soon as possible. Apologies.

Comments (7) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Instant Podcast, Just Add Feed

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I was invited to fool with the closed beta of a new service from Aperto (Felix Petersen, of Plazes and other projects) and Readspeaker called The idea is to use trained speakers -- not synthesized speech -- to automatically generate podcasts from your blog posts.


The sample posts I listen to demonstrate some of the issues with this approach:

  • There are problems with specialized stuff, like "" -- which we pronounce without the dots, but which becomes something like "del-i-cio-us" in
  • doesn't handle punctuation very well. I would expect a longer pause after periods, and some indication of paragraph breaks. And it should be possible to handle parenthetical phrases with pauses, too.
  • The tools doesn't make a distinction between blog junk and content. It's kind of strange to hear the voice reeling off the technorati tags... but i don't know exactly what I would like as different behavior.

All in all, a very interesting experiment, and -- given a few tweaks -- I would be likely to include it as a permanent widget in the margin of Get Real.

Comments (30) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Technology

November 16, 2005

Is Business Ready For Social Software?

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I am just starting to come back to normalcy (such as it is, for me), and pulling together my thoughts about the Symposium on Social Architecture. I have been trying to catch up on the excellent posts by David Weinberger and others (see Corante SSA), but I couldn't resist the attention that out slacker ethic seems to have caused:

[from Is business ready for social software? by Bob Brown]

The conference, held in a Harvard Law School classroom, oozed casualness, as speakers donned jeans and hats, and repeatedly encouraged attendees to join in the discussion. Attendees included a mix of social software developers, bloggers armed with laptops (see a collection of blogs on the event here) and even employees of well-known tech vendors such as IBM and HP. Social software discussed included not just blog programs but also community-oriented Web sites such as Flickr and

I wonder what hat he was talking about?

The session sparked one major insight for me. As individuals adopt social software, and attempt to use it as an adjunct to their professional work, they might pull it into their organization... or maybe they won't. Imagine that many small or medium sized companies (and in the future, large ones...) individuals might simply use the tools that they are conversant with. So people in the music business might network directly through MySpace, rather than through soem company specific solution. The same model may repeat in other sectors -- lawyers collaborating through a future solution, or new media people coordinating through the social solutions offered in the online solutions where they are posting their video podcasts.

This could lead to a hollowing out of the corporate role in defining and deciding what are the appropriate tools for business to be conducted.

Comments (13) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Events

November 11, 2005

Symposium on Social Architecture

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I am happy to say that things are moving ahead for the symposium next week.

Some new news:

  • Seth Goldstein, of Transparent Bundles and Root Vault, will be joining Kaliya Hamlin, John Hagel and me, on the session entitled "Is Business Ready For Social Software?".
  • Thomas Vander Wal, who coined the term "folksonomy", will be offering some closing observations with me, at the close of the day.
  • I don't know if I mentioned earlier that Tina Sharkey, of AOL, and Joe Hurd, of Friendster, will be joining us.

We are getting up toward our limit, so if you are interested in joining us, hurry!

We start with a reception Monday 14 Nov at the Harvard Faculty Club, and the symposium itself is Tuesday, 8:45am-5pm at Harvard.

Comments (13) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Events

Susan Mernit on The Quote Of The Day at Hypercamp Day 2

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Susan channels Fred Wilson, who distills the future of media:

[from Susan Mernit - Quote of the Day 2]

Here is the future of media:

1 - Microchunk it - Reduce the content to its simplest form. Thanks Umair.
2 - Free it - Put it out there without walls around it or strings on it. Thanks Stewart.
3 - Syndicate it - Let anyone take it and run with it. Thanks Dave.
4 - Monetize it - Put the monetization and tracking systems into the microchunk. Thanks Feedburner.

I wish I were there, now.

Comments (7) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Telecommunications

Cue The Funeral Dirge: Newspapers (and Mainstream Media) Collapsing

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

More proof that people are turning away from industrial mainstream media:

[from The Globe and Mail: U.S. newspaper circulation falls]

Here are the average weekday circulation figures for the 20 biggest U.S. newspapers for the six-month period ended Sept. 30, as reported Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations. The percentage changes are from the comparable year-ago period.

1. USA Today, 2,296,335, down 0.59 per cent
2. The Wall Street Journal, 2,083,660, down 1.10 per cent
3. The New York Times, 1,126,190, up 0.46 per cent
4. Los Angeles Times, 843,432, down 3.79 per cent
5. New York Daily News, 688,584, down 3.70 per cent
6. The Washington Post, 678,779, down 4.09 per cent
7. New York Post, 662,681, down 1.74 per cent
8. Chicago Tribune, 586,122, down 2.47 per cent
9. Houston Chronicle, 521,419, down 6.01 per cent (a)
10. The Boston Globe, 414,225, down 8.25 per cent
11. The Arizona Republic, 411,043, down 0.54 per cent (a)
12. The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J., 400,092, up 0.01 per cent
13. San Francisco Chronicle, 391,681, down 16.4 per cent (a)
14. Star Tribune of Minneapolis-St. Paul, 374,528, down 0.26 per cent
15. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 362,426, down 8.73 per cent
16. The Philadelphia Inquirer, 357,679, down 3.16 per cent
17. Detroit Free Press, 341,248, down 2.18 per cent
18. The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, 339,055, down 4.46 per cent
19. The Oregonian, Portland, 333,515, down 1.24 per cent
20. The San Diego Union-Tribune, 314,279, down 6.24 per cent.

As print in general looks like it's headed for the Elephant Graveyard (magazine circ is flat, but newsstand sales are at an all-time low).

Might be interesting to go out to the next Syndicate conference, and listen to all the mainstream moguls puffing out their chests, talking about how they are going to conquer the online world with their household names and superstrong brands: "all we need is to get RSS working! And then we'll monetize all those eyeballs."

And where are all these people all going? Online.

[Pointer from Chris Anderson]

Comments (11) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Media

Ian Urbina's Life's Little Annoyances

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Richard Rohrer of Henry Holt sent me a (yes, it was free) copy of Ian Urbina's hilarious compilation of passive aggressive revenge: Life's Little Annoyances. I read some of the pieces to my wife the other night and we were gasping for breath -- we were laughing that hard.

My favorite piece is about John Kador, who tired of rejection letters, and wrote his own rejection rejection letter, which reads like the best Marx Brothers:

Dear ___________,

Thank you for your letter rejecting my application for employment with your firm.

I have received rejections from an unusually large number of well-qualified organizations. With such a varied and promising spectrum of rejections from which to select, it is impossible to consider them all. After careful deliberation, then, and because a number of firms have found me more unsuitable, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your rejection.

Despite your company's outstanding qualifications and previous experience in rejecting applicants, I find that your rejection does not meet with my requirements at this time. As a result, I will be starting employment with your firm on the first of the month.

Circumstances change and one can never know when new demands for rejection arise. Accordingly, I will keep your letter on files in case my requirements for rejection change.

Please do not regard this letter as a criticism of your qualifications in attempting to refuse me employment. I wish you the best of luck in refusing future candidates.

John Kador

Comments (9) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Culture

November 10, 2005

Doc Searls on Microsoft In Reality

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Doc jumps in with both feet on the new zeal with which Microsoft's Gates and Ozzie are trying to do a landgrab on the Web OS/Apps/2.0 revolution:

[from Microsoft in Reality — a look at the latest memos from Gates and Ozzie | Linux Journal]

Now that everything is being built by everybody with fewer and fewer dependencies on any one vendor as a sole source of technology, it will be harder and harder to build silos for people and companies that are losing their willingness to live in them.

Which is why I see this whole thing as an adjustment of Microsoft to reality, rather than a call by Microsoft for the reverse.

Doc, as usual, cuts like a scalpel. And, no surprise, harmonizes with my recent post, Scoble on Google, on the same topic. [In fact it was a recent Scoble post (see Paying Attention To The Post-memo Blogs) that drew my attention to Doc's piece.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Technology

Russell Beattie on 37 Signals

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Russell, like me, sees 37 Signals as the poster child of Web 2.0: not only are th products cool, but the company has figured out how to make money.

[from Russell Beattie Notebook � Making Money?]

This is actually why I like 37Signals so much. Yeah, they drive me nuts because of the Ruby on Rails hype they generate, but they definitely shouldn’t be rolled in with the rest of the startups I’ve seen lately in the sense that they have a real business with real products which they actually charge real money for, and which people are happy to pay for. They’re not aiming to change the world just yet that I can see, but they’ve got a real business there and it’s great for them, and for industry as a whole. What they’re doing is a great example that the other startups, in my opinion, should follow.

I recently interviewed Jason Fried of 37 Signals, and that is likely to be the first of the New Visionaries series to go live. Don't miss it.

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AOL Instant Messaging Survey

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

AOL has released the results of its annual instant messaging survey, and among other results, IM is up 19% in the past year:

[from AOL's Third Annual Instant Messenger Trends Survey

IM has taken over as the communications vehicle of choice with 25 percent of users saying they would also like to consume entertainment content within their IM service and 20 percent saying they would like to use IM to make voice calls to landlines and cell phones alike.

More top level findings:

[from email press release]

Email is Old School: Thirty-eight percent say they send as many or more IMs than emails, and the younger users are, the more likely they are to favor IM. Two-thirds (66 percent) of teens and young adults (ages 13-21) say they send more IMs than emails, up from 49 percent last year.

Meet the Parents: More than half (53 percent) of teens (ages 13-17) surveyed say their parents now issue guidelines and rules about instant messaging. Teen boys (55 percent) are more likely to have parental IM rules than are teen girls (50 percent), and fully 65 percent of teens who have rules say they follow them.

Hit the Road: One in three (33 percent) IM users send mobile IMs or text messages from their cell phones at least once a week. This is a dramatic increase over 2004, when just 19 percent said they do so, and 2003 when the figure was 10 percent.

IM Too Busy: At-work IM users now send IMs to communicate with colleagues (58 percent), to get answers and make business decisions (49 percent) and even to interact with clients or customers (28 percent). Twelve percent have used IM at work to avoid a difficult in-person conversation.

I Want IM TV!: One in four (26 percent) IM users say that live streaming television is the one feature they wish was available on their IM service. Music on demand came in second (25 percent) and video on demand was third (21 percent).

The Sound of Your Voice: Meanwhile, 20 percent say they currently enjoy, or would like to try, making live voice calls to other computers, landlines and cell phones directly from their IM service. Another 12 percent say they would be interested in an IM-based VoIP service that could replace their primary household phone line.

Another Day, Another "Away Message": Half (47 percent) of those ages 13-21 change their away messages every day, to let others know where they are (71 percent), to list a cell phone number or alternate way to be reached (47 percent) or to post a favorite lyric or quote (47 percent). Seven percent have even posted a call to action, like "Please donate to the Red Cross to help hurricane victims."

"Instant messaging is a part of everyday life, with more and more people using their IM service as a starting point for all communications, from sending mobile messages to friends on cell phones to placing VoIP-based phone calls," said Chamath Palihapitiya, vice president and general manager, AIM and ICQ, America Online, Inc. "Usage is spiking, and not just among teens. Parents, grandparents and professionals are all using instant messaging to stay in touch and enhance their day-to-day communications."

Nationwide and around the world, instant messaging use is growing, with nearly 12 billion instant messages being sent every day worldwide, according to IDC. ComScore Media Metrix reports that there are more than 300 million people across the globe and more than 80 million Americans who regularly use instant messaging as a quick and convenient communications tool.

Maybe I will start to see more attention to the idea that the buddy list is the center of the online universe, now that these results clearly show IM is mainstream and pushing out email. This takes me back to the flap I caused at Supernova last year when I asserted that "email blows" and said IM was going to displace it, along with technologies like blogs and RSS. Ha!

My Nerdvana client idea -- which is something like what Google is doing with their desktop client (for Windows only -- hiss...) but not quite -- is still an awesome idea, if there are any Web 2.0 hungry developers out there who are just looking for a cool product to build.

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Go Flock Yourself

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Go Flock Yourself is an unabashed Web 2.0 antihype engine. It's not at all tongue in cheek, which makes it almost a self-parody:

[from Go Flock Yourself

Oh no! Some people are seeing through the Web 2.0 hype! Obviously they just don’t “get it”!

Those who say we’re just being reflexively hostile simply don’t realise that we’re in on the ground floor of this bullshit. We see this every day. The majority of the latest leet “Web 2.0″ sites are nothing more than gimmicks angling for bubble capital.

It sounds like the author is an insider -- or at least he appears to be -- laboring within the bowels of a Web 2.0 company, but deeeply unhappy about it.

GFY has become the #10 blog on Wordpress. No surprise, with a tagline like this: "This is newer media. News clouds. Tag me. Splog is an aggregate noun."

[pointer from Bingo]

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November 09, 2005

Joshua Schachter on The Future Of Tagging

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Beth Kanter blogged the recent Berkman Center interview of Joshua Schachter by David Weinberger. One snippet before the live broadcast:

[from Beth's Blog: Joshua Schachter: Future of Tagging

Weinberger: “What irks you?”

Schachter: “I’m labeled as the Web 2.0 poster child and I don’t know what it means. Oh, maybe I do, a logo with a gradient or diagonal lines in the header and CSS forms.

More antihype. And Schachter dismissed David's contention that he is "the poster child for Web 2.0 and folksonomy," syaing that he doesn't use the term folksonomy, and believes that is more about rembering that sharing.

Hmmm. I really need to interview him myself.

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Nicolas Nova on Objects That Blog

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

NIcolas and a bunch of other folks in Munich have been stirred up by a recent Bruce Sterling presentation on Shaping Things to Come:

[from [Future] My notes on Bruce Sterling’s talk in munich]

Shaping Things to Come: there are six trends, convergent and integral part of a general concept, six sides of a black box:

1. interactive ships, objects can be labelled [?] with unique identity
2. local and precise positioning systems
3. powerful search engines
4. 3d virtual models of objects
5. rapid prototyping of objects
6. cradle to cradle recycling

One outgrowth of this is the interesting prospect of everyday household objects that blog:

[from pasta and vinegar -- Objects that blog!]

Tonight I had an interesting debate with Julian about the notion of ‘objects that blog’ (he calls them blogject), that is to say artifacts that would upload their story up to web. They would report the history of interactions the object had with people. It’s something very intriguing and close to Bruce Sterling’s idea of spime. Julian wrote an insightful post about it. This is part of a project he’s carrying out for his seminar on Location-Based Mobile Media.

He goes on to mention a lamp that does this.

I would personally like a whole host of gizmos to blog. Think of all the value I have gotten from sharing the 'blogging' of iTunes at While it might be less interesting to me to have the contents of my refrigerator blogged, daily, it might be interesting is I were a real foodist, and interacted with a circle of other foodists. Likewise, a blog track of what movies I have watched on my DVD player, or blog history of (public) IM interactions.

Autobiographing objects, apps, and appliances are coming.

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Joel Spolsky on Web 2.0: The Antihype Is Thickening

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Hmmm. More and more of the mainstream Web 1.0 voices (yes they are, and if they don't like it, tough) are lining up against the Web 2.0 moniker. Joel Spolsky is just one of the newest ones:

[from Joel on Software

The term Web 2.0 particularly bugs me. It's not a real concept. It has no meaning. It's a big, vague, nebulous cloud of pure architectural nothingness. When people use the term Web 2.0, I always feel a little bit stupider for the rest of the day.


Not only that, the very 2.0 in Web 2.0 seems carefully crafted as a way to denegrate the clueless "Web 1.0" idiots, poor children, in the same way the first round of teenagers starting dotcoms in 1999 dissed their elders with the decade's mantra, "They just don't get it!"

I'll do my part. I hereby pledge never again to use the term "Web 2.0" on this blog, or to link to any article that mentions it. You're welcome.

Very interesting.

So, this reminds me of a great session (I only attended two, and they were both great) at Ad:tech this week. My old friend Charlie Buchwlater of Nielsen was chairing, and he had three fabulous panelists: Jorian Clarke, CEO, SpectraCom; Kathleen Gasperini, SVP and Co-Founder, Label Networks; and Mary Meehan, EVP and Co-Founder, Iconoculture. The session was The Internet According to Kids and the 21st Century Woman. The session was intended to focus on the thinking of interesting groups: the young (my thrust, here) and various sorts of women, segmented by age and identity.

One observation that struck me, and which is relevant to this Web 2.0 antihype, is that young people are not stuck in a long historical perspective. They are inventing what they do, what their interests are, and what they think is important. They do not listen when older people explain away their style choices as stupid or unbecoming. They listen to themselves, and to others who authentically seem interested in the process involved.

I predict that people like Joel, who intentionally distance themselves from a bottom-up movement like Web 2.0 because it is fuzzy and incomplete, are in fact labeling themselves as out of touch with the new segment for whom such terms make sense, if only as a means of self-identity. The fact that they don't make sense to other, older people and outsiders is part of the appeal. It worries me that Joel sounds like a troll here, like PC Magazine's Dvorak, howling at whatever newfangled stuff is coming down the pike. The message from curmudgeons like that is that everything important has already been invented, catalogued, and understood.

Other people that I admire, like David Weinberger, have trouble with the Web 2.0 moniker too. David seems to say that many of the characteristics attributed to Web 2.0 are in fact things that have been operational in the Web all along, and therefore the term may be superfluous.

I maintain that -- from the viewpoint of those involved in Web 2.0, the visionaries pushing it at the nuts-and-bolts level -- the differences are stark. On the other hand, Web 2.0 builds on Web 1.0, it doesn't replace Web 1.0. Just like the mammalian brain didn't leap into existence all by itself: it incorporates the reptile brain, and extends it. And the earliest versions of the mammalian brain looks amazingly like reptile brains: but we were on the road to something truly different.

People who don't get the difference between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 aren't idiots, but they certainly aren't out there creating and promoting Web 2.0 apps and concepts: they are commenting, looking in from afar, and reading and repeating the comments of other uninvolved, or actively hostile, watchers. I would rather talk to the people doing it, rather than those saying its just the same old junk recycled, and focusing on the term instead of the spirit of what is happening out there. And I am sure that others close to the Web 2.0 vanguard will do the same.

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The First Alphabet

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

The have discovered the first alphabet (or aleph-beth-gimel) was inscribed into a drinking bowl in the 10th Century BC in a hill town near present day Jerusalem (seeScientists unearth earliest known Hebrew ABCs - Africa & Middle East - International Herald Tribune).

Its astonishing how long we have been at this, and how we keep rediscovering the wonder and art involved in writing, and its value to all of us.

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Jonas Luster Joins Socialtext

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Socialtext continues to snap up brilliant people:

[tags: Ross Mayfield's Weblog: Jonas Luster Joins Socialtext]

Jonas has played an active role in OSS projects including Apache, mod_ruby and Drupal. He is has worked with Lycos, CollabNet, Technorati and Blizzard Entertainment. He got his doctorate in Social Psychology and Criminology from the University of Amsterdam, and is an occasional guest lecturer at UofA.

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Jeneanne Sessum on Stone Age

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Jeneanne Sussum does a great rewrite of an Ad Age poll about all those bad, bad employees frittering away company time blogging when they should be back at the work bench doing piecework (she includes the original, too):

[from ALLIED by Jeneane Sessum: Stone Age

Help Us Feel Useful in the Age of the Net - VOTE IN THE AD AGE WEEKLY ONLINE POLL BACKGROUND: A report last week by one of our guys who's hanging onto his MSM title for dear life noted that about 35 million workers -- or one in four people in the U.S. labor force -- spend an average of 3.5 hours, or 9%, of each work day educating themselves without dipping into your "professional development" budget while at the same time escaping the tedious mindlessness of watercooler chitchat. This blogification of workplace time is no minor concern -- when the slaves find out they can make money without living in the quarters out back, your business stands to lose 551,000 years of indentured servitude, which means fewer workers to fire just before retirement. Another important point was that the time spent reading blogs on the job was in addition to the time already spent surfing the Web looking for jobs at clued companies, not yours. The debate appears to be one of reasonable limits. At what point, or at what length of time, does the use of company assets for building tighter connections with your markets become a problem? And is the problem likely to become an even greater one as more and more of our print subscribers use the publication for toilet paper, potentially in your own office bathrooms? Do employers need to find new ways to police their computer systems? Because we're having to find new ways to seem interesting. THIS WEEK'S QUESTION: Should employers allow their staff to read blogs in the workplace?

And man, the tone of the original is offensive: "This blogification of workplace time is no minor concern -- the total losses across the national work force are estimated to be the equivalent of 551,000 years of paid time that is being spent on blogs via the employer's own computer systems." Gasp!

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Web 2.0: Compact Definition

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Tim O'Reilly, who asserts that he is not fond of definitions (hmmm... what a strange world that would be, without at least approximate definitions) offered this as a handwave at Web 2.0:

[from O'Reilly Radar > Web 2.0: Compact Definition?]

Web 2.0 is the network as platform, spanning all connected devices; Web 2.0 applications are those that make the most of the intrinsic advantages of that platform: delivering software as a continually-updated service that gets better the more people use it, consuming and remixing data from multiple sources, including individual users, while providing their own data and services in a form that allows remixing by others, creating network effects through an "architecture of participation," and going beyond the page metaphor of Web 1.0 to deliver rich user experiences.

In my recent travels interviewing a batch of incredibly focused Web 2.0 folks, I have uncovered a few central tendencies in their approach to developing Web 2.0 apps:

  • Users First -- The user experience is a proxy for the user, and all of the folks I touched base with so far agree that user experience is the pivot point of everything. That means that the norms of human expectations, social interaction, and interface goals become the central motif of these apps. For example, sharing with others becomes a basic principle, not something tacked on later.
  • Build from personal need -- In every case, these visionaries have decided to build something because they wanted to exist for their own personal use.
  • Build small, fast, and iteratively -- The nature of Web 2.0 app frameworks, and why they have evolved, is to support a extremely agile development mantra. But across the board, I have seen very small teams building the core functionality of some potentially larger product, and rolling it out to real users to see how it works. And then respond to feedback, and roll out the next version. This is not just a technique for the initial development stage of these products: its here forever.
  • Build small, focused apps, that could serve as building blocks in larger assemblages -- All these folks are resisting the tempation to bloat apps with more and more features, opting instead to build small, highly focused apps that could be integrated (though APIs) into larger assemblages (mash-ups).

More to follow, but I thought I would offer some bottom-up thoughts on the 'spirit of Web 2.0' discussion raging these days.

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Scoble on Google

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Scoble has peered deeply in to the archaic model of Microsoft, and seen the light: Google.

[from Scobleizer - Microsoft Geek Blogger � The new Robert Scoble Services agenda]

Larry Page told me last week that teams inside Google often try to create projects to copy Microsoft. And he kills them. Why? Cause he knows that he will never get a big audience by copying something we do.

He says that Microsoft is basically running the '80s model of software: target the business buyer, the guy making the decision inside a company about purchasing software. Google is looking at the influentials, the artists, the young and hip: those whoe are inventing the future of software use, and by extension, the future of monetizing software.

One of the things I have turned up in my new series -- The New Visionaries: Rebooting the Web -- is this obsession with getting software into the hands of those most interested in fiddling with it, not business managers trying to make company buys. In particular, Satish Dharmaraj of Zimbra talked about departing from the old software model: making them buy a server license for tens or hundreds of thousands, and them charging 15% per annum for support. He argues that such a model is dead, for all intents and purposes.

Google knows that, and Microsoft doesn't.

Scoble's observations support my contention that Microsoft will be regarded, in the not-too-distant future, as one of the last of the industrial era companies, who struggled mightily to quash the Internet revolution, and lost. The fact that they are now trying to get hip to Web apps is another attempt by them to keep their constituency bottled up. But it won't work, and eventually (a few years down the road?) they will fall, just like IBM, DEC, and Sun fell, trying to hold onto an eclipsed model of business. There is a long tail for Microsoft to ride, but its really unlikely that they can get out in front of this revolution, and they certainly can't stop it.

[pointer from Evelyn Rodriguez to Hugh McLeod to Scoble]

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November 06, 2005

David Weinberger on Tags

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Early in 2005, David Weinberger, danah boyd and I were involved in an interesting project, called The Operating Manual For Social Tools -- something that might be thought of as the predecessor for the upcoming Symposium on Social Architecture. I recently came upon an interesting project called (that I will write about later on) and they had a great quote of David's highlighted, having to do with the social vlaue of tags, a quote that I did not remember. It was actually in a post at the Operating Manual blog:

[from Operating Manual for Social Tools: By their tags shall ye know them]

Tags matter for social reasons. They allow the grassroots to create the way in which stuff is classified, instead of having to file things in pre-built categories. But the words we use to tag things depend on our intentions and our social context. Find people who tag items the same way as you do and you've now found a social group based not around shared interests but around shared wayas of thinking and shared ways of speaking: Communities of tags.

David is kicking off the Symposium, on the 15th, setting context and framing some of the big questions that we are trying to deal with there. It's going to be a great day.

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November 04, 2005

Micah Sifry on Rasiej Campaign Post-Mortem

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Micah Sifry has put together an appropriately in-depth blow-by-blow after action report on the Andrew Rasiej campaign for New York City Public Advocate. I think it is a impassioned cry for a return to civic involvement, and that latent in the perhaps overly long analysis lie the lineaments of a new sort of social action, and a wake-up call for the Democratic party. Specifically, the campaign flagged for a bunch of reasons:

[from Rasiej Campaign Post-Mortem

We fell short because:
1) We started very late, which meant a cascading chain of difficulties including low name recognition, weak ties to potential endorsers, intense pressure to raise vital funds, and difficulties in quickly finding experienced staff and building the necessary organizational infrastructure;
2) We didn’t anticipate how hard it would be to gain traction in a low-intensity election cycle, with an indifferent electorate that, along with the media, was paying little attention overall to municipal politics and practically no attention to the office of Public Advocate (even though it is first in line to succeed the Mayor), and essentially felt things in the city were moving in a positive direction (to the benefit of all incumbents);
3) We misjudged how much people would care about our initial pledge to not take more than $100 per donors, and we overestimated how much the Internet could compensate for our weaknesses, in terms of spreading our message and assisting with fundraising;
4) We didn’t realize how much self-proclaimed progressives and reformers in New York City would take an essentially conservative (i.e. indifferent) approach to an office that could be an innovative force for change in the city; and
5) Low name recognition plus low voter attention meant that network effects (such as a message spreading virally, or friends of the campaign being able to convince their friends to donate money) were almost impossible to produce.

I am a strong advocate for open source politics, but I also believe that for it to work, people need to be attracted to issues that are critical to them personally: very personally. People have to really care about the traffic, the corruption, the war in Iraq, whatever the issues are, if they are to get involved with campaigns that run around the established, top-down, mainstream politics as usual.

In the lull between Katrina and the compin flu pandemic, local preparedness is a hot issue. Local response is really the only rational model for handling disasters, anyway, but it seems that we are just becoming aware of that. I anticipate a groundswell of local involvement around this issue, that will lead to more than stockpiling water and bandages. I expect that municipal wifi -- for example -- will ultimately become widespread because of the growing awareness of our need for ubiquitous communication infrastructure -- accessible to all, not just governmental, fire and rescue services -- in the face of devastation. As a side effect, we will also further extend a democratizing medium that can counter the power associated with money in the political process. It's a shame that it requires disaster at our door to shake off the torpor and indifference of power politics, and usher in a new era.

While Rasiej did not get elected, his campaign is just a bellwether of what is to come. And the lessons -- as Micah has enumerated -- that we need to learn.

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Mary Jo Foley on Microsoft Needs To Say No To Web 2.0

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Over at Microsoft Watch, Mary Jo suggests that Microsoft should stick to it's knitting, and resist the temptation to jump on the Web 2.0 bandwagon:

[from Microsoft Needs to Say No to Web 2.0

Only a few Softies seem to be all caught up in the Web 2.0 hype. The majority of them seem oblivious to the weak business ideas, buzzwords and bloviation that make me think "Bubble 2.0" every time someone mentions "Web 2.0."

Some Microsoft watchers may characterize Microsoft's failure to talk the Web 2.0/Internet economy lingo as proof that the Redmond software vendor has fallen behind the times.

Undeniably, Microsoft has had some infamous near misses when it comes to capitalizing on new industry trends. The company almost missed the Web/browser revolution. It came dangerously close to letting Google and Yahoo completely dominate search.


But just as there were some folks in the tech industry who wisely decided against trading their real, tangible jobs for spots at, and, there are thousands of Microsoft employees who seem interested in building less-glamorous but more useful products like Visual Studio, Office and BizTalk Server.


If Microsoft officials tout any of its pending MSN services as examples of Web 2.0 deliverables, I'll take it as a sign that management has lost its way. There's no doubt that Microsoft needs to find a way to continue to grow in a world where its top two brands, Windows and Office, already have cornered in excess of 90 percent market share in their respective categories. And extending these applications with services is a sensible way to do this.

But Microsoft doesn't need to snap up a bunch of Web 2.0 startups, out-scour AJAX or invent the 38th signal to do this. The Redmond software maker just needs to stick to its knitting by developing new ventures that mesh with its established businesses. Microsoft needs to just keep saying no to Web 2.0, at least until Web 2.0 means something more than just "we want venture funding."

I think Mary Jo is wrong -- this is yet another opportunity for Microsoft to miss the changing of the tide -- but on the other hand, they have years to fall down that particular set of stairs, and even if they do misstep and fall, it doesn't mean they'll break their necks: there is going to be a long tail for Microsoft's existing products, even if the Web 2.0 revolution becomes really real, and not just a buch of cool experiments.

I'm betting on the innovators, and it's clear that Gatea and company are at least hedging their bets by investing in a "live" -- meaning Web-based -- version of Office. The buzz around Web apps that support Office-like functionality -- like Basecamp, Writely, Gmail, Google Base, and a slew of other offerings -- are obviously getting Redmond's attention, especially when growth rates on the Web can be astronomically fast.

Ina Fried
[from Gates: We're entering 'live era' of software]

Gates likened the services push to other major strategy shifts at Microsoft, including its December 1995 move toward the Web and a June 2000 commitment to Web services.

The idea of an online adjunct to Office and Windows is not entirely new. The company already has its Office Online Web site that gets about 55 million unique users a month and offers items such like downloadable templates.

And in years past, Microsoft has attempted to build online alternatives to Office. One widely rumored project, developed in the late 1990s under the code name "Netdocs", was never made available.

One reason: Infighting between Office executives and Web advocates, according to sources at the time. David Smith, an analyst at Gartner, says that same tension still exists within Microsoft.

"There are different factions within the company, like before, and it is unclear what the corporate strategy is going to be," Smith said.

My hunch is that this is the outcome of the power struggle within Microsoft that recently led to the reorganization of 8 divisions into 3, and Ozzie's consolidation of pawer as the CTO instead of a CTO there (see Ray Ozzie and The Regrooving Of Microsoft). You'd be crazy not to stall this market, and not to try to provide your own off-ramp from desktop Office to web office solutions. Once they're gone, it will be hard to get them back, and Bill and Ray know that. Whether they can direct the energies of the company toward that goal, without ongoing infighting, remains to be seen.

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Gettting Real: A Killer Theme At Signal vs. Noise

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

The smart, smart folks at 37Signals have been building on the 'Getting Real' theme for some time (no relation to Get Real, by the way, just convergent evolution at work). I interviewed Jason Fried last week for the upcoming New Visionaries: Rebooting The Web series, and we touched on those ideas at some length (along with some interesting news about features they are planning to roll out at Basecamp over the next few months -- you'll have to wait for the show though!).

This recent observation at Signal vs. Noise is just one example of the value of their less is more, just in time philosophy.

[from A design and usability blog: Signal vs. Noise (by 37signals)

Don’t sweat stuff until you actually must. Don’t overbuild for scalability. Increase hardware and system software as necessary. If you’re slow for a week or two it’s not the end of the world. Just tell your customers you’re experiencing some growing pains. They’ll appreciate the candor.

Bottom Line: Make decisions just in time, when you have access to the real information you need. In the meanwhile, you’ll be able to lavish attention on the things that require immediate care and feeding.

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November 03, 2005

Corante Is Looking For A Few Good Humans

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

We are actively recruiting for an innovative, soup-to-nuts web design and development firm to help us in a thousand ways:

  • Why don't my tags get recognized by Technorati?
  • How come I am getting email from Mapstats saying that my blog will be 'deactivated' because our server isn't responding?
  • I'd like to tweak all sorts of widgets on Get Real, like the calendar of my travels - why is it so hard?
  • We have been trying to move from one hosting service to another for several months, and can't seem to get it done -- why not?
  • We have some very innovative ideas for aggregation of the best writing on the world, but we seem to be struggling on the look-and-feel aspects of our design.

We are looking for a truly awesome, Northeast design and development firm who can step in and allow us to focus on what we do best. Please contact me if you can solve my problem. And right way.

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Get Real Show: Interview with Eric Rice, Audioblog

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

Chatted yesterday with Eric Rice about the future of Audioblog and video podcasting. Oh, and his new boat.

This Get Real Show is sponsored by

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Get Real Headed Toward Technorati 1000

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

When I last posted on Get Real's Technorati rank, back on 28 September, Get Real's rank had just jumped to 1,559, up from around 3,400 based on a change in the Technorati rank algorithm introduced around that time.

I keep chugging away here, so it was rewarding to see that Get Real's rank has been inching up, and is now 1,175: headed for the Technorati 1000.


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TagBack: The Term Is Already In Use

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

I stumbled across a thread started by Shelley at BurningBird, where she introduces what she calls 'tagback': the creation of a more-or-less unique tag, based on the title of the post (I think). She also prepends a 'bb' to the tag to indicate 'BurningBird'. (For the original post, see Burningbird � Introducing: Tagback).

Needless to say, this is not what I meant by tagback in my recent post on the subject (iTags = Open Tags?). My definition of tagback is much more akin to the meaning of trackback: a blog-program supported ping mechanism, so that one program signals to another a trackback relationship between two posts. In tagback (my version), there is a ping from the taggregation service, like Technorati, to the blog application hosting a tagged blog post.

As I said inthe earlier posts (the earliest on this subject were in the spring, I think), open tagging should include tagback, so that the tagged entries can accumulate a list of those tagspaces where the content is aggregated. How can an author know, at the time of writing, the location of these tagspaces? Sure, you can pick one -- Technorati likes that -- but that's just a de facto tagopoly emerging.

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November 01, 2005

iTags = Open Tags?

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Posted by Stowe Boyd

While on this protracted road trip (headed back tonight, at last), I got the chance to spend some time with one of my favorite polymaths, Mary Hodder. I was in Berkeley, yesterday, interviewing her for a new video series, The New Visionaries, where she was outlining what her new company, Bloqx, is up to (and you'll have to wait for that show to find out since she hasn't announced much of anything publicly yet). That show is likely to be posted in mid to late December.

Mary was also at Tag Camp on Friday, but I missed her session on iTags. (One of the things I would like to fix in the Tag Camp format is dropping the multiple tracks in favor of shorter presentations -- just as many, but only 10 minutes. This would allow everyone to hear everything, and if someone is really howling-at-the-moon crazy, you'd only have ten minutes of it. You could institute some anonymous voting system to allow the best 3-5 presenters to do an encore, near the end, of longer duration.)

She's been noodling with Drummond Reed for the past six months (and more recently with who was introduced to her by Kaliya Hamlin, who has also been involved in this whole effort) on the issues around open tags (see Open Tags: Made For A Distributed World).

This group has advanced a new approach, called iTags, that leverages the proposed XRI standard as a means of gaining what it is I was clamoring for: a way to denote that a post relates to a concept, without necessarily pointing to a particular tagspace, such as the one managed by Technorati. My point re: open tags is that we -- the authors -- can't know where in the future our posts may be referenced based on these tags. But Mary and her co-conspiritors go further:

[from Napsterization]

The idea is that a user could tag an object (photo, video, sound file, text or an entire blog post), where the tag, and the object, would then go out through the RSS feed or be spidered, with some additional information that doesn't now exist in tags. That tag and object would include the user's identity, the licensing for that object (presumably people would use this more for rich media objects than for just a blog post, as most blogs already have licensing generally for text on the blog) if needed, and the tag. It would remove the requirement for a tag to be coupled with the originating URL (blog post URL) because identity would be inside it. It would allow individual CC licensing which rich media producers want to do sometimes, in order to differentiate the rich media object from the rest of their blog, which may have different licensing.

They are proposing a microformat approach to collating the tag, the author, and the license to use the context and the tag. Hmm. Very endeavorous. My sense is that they may be reaching too far.

My hunch is that it is going to be hard enough to just get the various taggregators, like Technorati, to invert the basic model, as I suggested they ought to. What I mean by inversion is this. Instead of declaring the tag by pointing to the technorati page associated with "Thai" for example, I would like to use some contrivance that points to the place on my post where that tag will be displayed when posted:

<a href="" rel="tag">thai</a>

This seems purely self-referential, but imagine the rest of the scenario: taggregators like Technorati should switch to a trackback model of use. That is to say that once they spider a site (or read its RSS feed, or whatever) and discover a new tag, they would send a trackback ping to the underlying blog software. That would lead to the association of the trackbacks, for example, that point to the "thai" tag on my post. A reader looking at that post could also see a list of trackbacks from various taggregators that have picked up on the "thai" tag, and they would be free to wander there.

This might look like this:

[tags: thai
technorati, taggregator2, taggregator3
cigar afficionado, other

At some point, listing the various taggregators won't make sense, perhaps, or may need to be displayed in a different fashion. And of course, the blogger would have control as to which trackbacks he/she wants to display. But the reader would be presented with an array of other locales to browse based on the tag terms.

Alternatively, as I have outlined in earlier posts, the blogger could create (via plugins or builtin blog functionality) a local tagspace, where all the entries that mention a tag would be listed, much like existing category archives (which is conceivably one way to implement it). Taggregation could be simply achieved by taking RSS feeds from such local tagspaces, and consolidating. For example, we could create a Corante tagspace by instituting local tagspaces at all Corante blogs, and aggregating those into a Corante-wide tagspace. But current blogging tools don't support this sort of 'tagback' -- just trackback. Trackback can be used, but the trackback reference should be back to a specific tag, not to the post as a whole, although the URL of the post would be likely what would be displayed at Technorati and elsewhere.

But the tag trackback mechanism is critical for open tags, from my viewpoint. And it is the thing still missing from all the efforts I have see. I applaud Mary, Drummond, and Kaliya for their proposal, but I wonder about people's willingness to adopt XRI, and I still want the tagback mechanism in place.

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