Friday, December 30, 2005

"People are Lazy"

I can't keep from comming back to this Kedrosky post on the flawed thinking behind structured blogging: Structured Blogging Will Flop:

Darn it all, techno utopians are so cute. Nevertheless, structured blogging — the over-ballyhooed idea that people will post to their blogs using different forms depending on what they’re posting — is going to be a flop. It’s the usual three reasons I trot out repeatedly to technologists with utopian visions who want to change the world on the back of altered user behavior:

* People are lazy
* People are lazy
* People are lazy

The same goes for all of this feed/tag/reader stuff. I don't want to have to tag all of this stuff. I want other people to do it for me. I don't want to even have to subscribe to anything.

I want the blogger/reader tagging, trackback, technorati diaspora to figure all of this crap out for me and present me with relevence. Simple. That's it. I don't want to ever have to look for anything again.

Only need two main nav links in the interface: More Mainstream & More Obscure. Add a management console that allows you to tune your tastes, build cluster groups and I'm done.

I'll never have to read javascript or HTML, or jack around with RSS, XML, Feedburner. I'll have the fringe pushed to me, to whatever extent and direction is comfortable for me, and the ability to optimize my own experience without having to become a software developer.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Rubel Sees Comments Search in His Crystal Ball

The effervescent Steve Rubel over at Micro Persuasion today kicks off his blog series, 2006 Trends, with a promise of a new trend discussed every day for the rest of the year.

He claims that's 10 trends for 10 days left in the year. His first trend is one of those stupid simple yet brilliant ideas that makes you wonder why it doesn't exist already. If 2005 was the year of blog search, then 2006 will be the year of blog comments search.

Steve makes an excellent point that comments often contain very good information that sometimes clarify a point a blogger made or reveals it to be false. Yet you would be hard-pressed to find any comments in search engine results today. Sure, many comments are often of the personal-attack sort or proclamations of"frist!", but I'm sure smart programmers can find a way to strip thoseout.

As the big players try to find new sources of information to mine, comments do seem like a probable target. This effort will likely prove more difficult than it seems on the surface, however.

Systems like Haloscan don't seem to be easily indexable, but you better bet that comments providerswill have a strong incentive to find a way to make their systems play well with Google and the others.

MSFT Strikes Again?

I am curious about this RSS integration into Outlook. There's not a whole lot of chatter about his one, but there are a few doom-saying posts out there.

The most relevent point I saw was in a response to a comment on a post by Nic Cubrilovic

...but RSS is more than just ‘reading blogs’. The company I mentioned in the post is using RSSPopper to subscribe to an internal blog, bug tracking system, a wiki that is used for project specs and many other sources all relevant to the company. I am also currently advising a large UK firm on using blogs and RSS, and they will probably use RSSPopper as well until this new version of Outlook is released. This move is huge as it will introduce RSS and feeds to more businesses who will look at ways to use it effectively with internal knowledge management...
The point is: There are vast areas where social networking practices, tools and techniques have yet to catch on -- the workplace is the biggest and most lucrative one. The tools and techinues that optimize social information exchange will be different in the workplace. The balance between push and pull may be different. At the very least there will be a notion of 'obligation' --an employee must subscribe to X division update feed, and will be held responsible for mastery of its contents.

Think push Intranet that can actually be tailored to each job. You subscribe to what you need to know, you publish what you have to communicate.

The tools associated with blogging, which are so affectionately promoted, reviewed and defended by the web2.0 crowd are still niche offerings. They are still tech offerings and their value (as expressed in the chatter at least) is proportional to the cleaverness of the latest spin on the latest new new thing.

The promise of Outlook is in its breadth. Lots of people have general knowledge of how it works and open it every day anyway. And it comes at the social network from the other direction -- the pure push medium of email. Its a way to improve on email distribution lists as the primary mode of mass communication in the workplace.

I've always been surprised when these lists are treated as solutions -- 'we'll just create a new list and these communication problems won't happen again'.

The opportunity is huge for integrating social networking functions into the fabric of workplace information management. I don't know if this Outlook thing is really about this or not, but it probably is. And this could change the game for social networking applications.

Its VERY easy to see buisiness models around corporate social networking integration. Software, technical integration, business practice integration, consulting. Have to remember that most people don't have a clue about any of this stuff, and the value will be very easy to deliver.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Blogging Explained

Originally uploaded by cmbert.
Simple answer. Slightly more complicated to execute. If people blog to make money, then there is a business in facilitating distribution in networked ways.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Full Circle...

Wow, Tim Berners-Lee (the inventor of the WWW and one of the Time 100) has started a blog as of this past Monday. He always said the reason for the web was to provide the general population the ability to share (self-publish). I was always interested in why he had not been a big Blog guy and why he was not pushing this technology and the associated technologies (i.e. RSS).

From his first post on his blog:

'In 1989 one of the main objectives of the WWW was to be a space for sharing information. It seemed evident that it should be a space in which anyone could be creative, to which anyone could contribute. The first browser was actually a browser/editor, which allowed one to edit any page, and save it back to the web if one had access rights.'

Talk about full circle, this is it. Now Tim actually is a part of the revolution and is an active part of it. This is important because he is one of the first people to really see this potential. Now, don't get me wrong, he has been publishing technical notes and ideas online for 20 year, just in the more traditional form of online publication.

Anyway, this is an interesting day. It shows that we are coming full circle, and we are going to start to see some of the original theories and ideas come back. We are going to start to see more grassroots efforts that pay off. We are going to see technology and companies reinvent themselves. The technology is more advanced, the developers are more advanced, the business environment is more advanced, but most importantly, the everyday consumer is much more advanced!

Welcome to Web 2.0 Tim!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Volume vs. Trust...

Why is the everyday larger publisher scared? I was thinking about this the other day when talking to one of the largest publishers in Chicago. Common sense says they should not be scared because they have volume. The readership for the Chicago Tribune in any give day is around 2MM consumers. The Tribune website gets around 1.2MM visitors every month. Why would a large company such as the Tribune Company be nervous? The reason is trust

Cameron does a great job of addressing this issue in his post on the root of media value. The issue is the consumer is burned out, or maybe just burned on traditional media. There is a reason the Drudge Report has an average of 1.5MM unique visitors per month (more than the tribune). The average consumer is looking for something new and fresh. This does not only apply to publishers and media sites, but also corporate information and research. Consumers are becoming more likely to visit a consumer opinion site over a site from Apple computer. This phenomenon has been embraced well by some companies, such as Apple, and has been a problem for others, i.e. Ford motors.

The viral nature of the internet has allowed for some rapid success stories that may not have been possible in the traditional media (your welcome Paris Hilton). The issue with self publishing and the growth of RSS, Podcasting, Blogging and social networking online could be a disruptive event in the life of corporations as we know them.

Blogs are darn scary for the big newspapers, and even more scary for consumer oriented companies. The negative side of this technology is, anyone can post anything they want online. The positive side of this technology is: anyone can post anything they want online. Of course there are going to be the fringe and conspiracy theorists of the world, but the world of self publishing and social networking is not fringe any longer. This is mainstream, and it is moving faster than anyone (including Rupert Murdoch) can control it.

The companies out there need to embrace this technology and environment, not fight it. There are many companies forming that are offering services to large Fortune 500 companies to combat the Blog world and save their image. This is the wrong approach. Companies need to use this rich environment of consumer data to learn. Self-publishing should be one of the biggest areas of learning from large companies and those that set-up their service and business around this technology will succeed. Look at it this way, where else will a company like Comcast ever have access to unadulterated comments, opinions, ideas, and insights on themselves and their competitors.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Couple of Kernels have popped. It seems that most of the focus on read/write development are still focused on building better 'pull' technology to navigate the sprawl of peer-based publication. To date, I have found nothing that places value on 'push' technologies that deliver optimized, customized content from this same sprawl.

I see a real opportunity on this front. Part of this is personal bias. I value 'push' media as a way to reveal items of interest that I might not have found on my own, or might not have time to look for.

In the context of Umir Haque's take on emerging Micromedia Economics (massive PPT on the topic, my basic/simple discussion), the relative scarcity of Attention increases (vs Production) as the Media value chain shifts towards peer-based production. This creates opportunities to add value in distribution by building tools that economize Attention. This is widely observed, but remains focused on 'pull' methods (as far as I can tell). I don't know if this is because search is in vougue, or if hyper-efficient pull approaches will completely replace push methods of distribution in a micromedia environment. I think its Google hype.

In fact, I think that personalized push distribution would represent greater distribution efficiency than any pull approach. The 'find me quality' techniques and mechanics would actually be almost the same as search, only everything is preprocessed and presented to the user without any user action (though a feedback mechanism is the keystone).

Some of this already exists in various forms. Google news alerts are a good example of the functionality at its most basic form. In a micromedia environment the key will be to leverage the information expressed in peer networks -- feed subscriptions, user posts & tags, and expressed preference -- to optimize relevency & merit. The good news is that most of this information already exists in all of these web2.0 services.

Examples of Value in Push Media

Exhibit A: Yahoo! LaunchCast. I love the personalized radio station. It is not perfect --some things it chooses to play I hate -- but I have also found music that I love that I may have never found in a retail situation, and certainly never heard on commercial radio. This is all driven by user expressed taste, and network preference clustering (or something along these lines) that personalized value based on media attributes (like genre in the case of music) and aggregations of peer taste expressions.

Exhibit B: Satellite Radio. I love the heavily niched push in this environment for many of the same reasons I love . I actually use Satellite & Y! LaunchCast together -- listen, learn, seed, listen, repeat -- to deliver myself a very fresh, current and high-quality music environment (though my wife would disagree).

I've had debates with people about how best to spend $12 per month on music -- 99c a song and an iPod, or Satellite+Y!LaunchCast. It usually comes down to how much you travel, and how you get to work. iPod fanatics will talk about the vast array of tools that they have at their disposal, which includes user playlists and other bundles of people with similar tastes. They value a certain degree of push also to help them keep fresh. The value of push is in the time savings to idenitify high quality content.

Exhibit C: Feed subscriptions. Once you've found a source that you like, you add the feed to a collection of things that you want 'pushed' to you -- through some RSS Reader or a web-based service like My Yahoo! I've been juggling my feeds around to make sure that I don't miss anything that might be relevent across a number of sources. I want this stuff pushed at me.

But I have hit a limit. After adding more and more feeds, I am hesitant to add new things. Its just too much. A personalize push engine built from expressed taste, would be a great way to maintain bredth without all the noise.

Where 'push' becomes so important -- queue the web2.0 background music -- is at the edges.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Tag Value

I started rambling in my last post about the value of Tags and their relative status in the social network pecking order and realized that it probably deserved its own post if I was ever going to find these thought again in the future.

From my success publishing my delicious links though this blog, I feel like I might actually 'get' the Y! / Delicious news. There are several levels to these social networks that all center around open information and how its handled.

Blogging is actually a fairly high-touch activity -- you've got to sit, write, link, and maybe even review spelling, logic and rhetoric.

Link tracking is about the least you can do to express preference, relevence, classification. But in aggregate its still a fantastic way to establish preference networks, and relative network quality valuation.

I am aware that things that I tag are way down the pecking order compared with things that I actually digest and discuss. But its good to have the list handy (which delicious was doing for me), and to extend this to anyone who happens to read this post (which I think is just me -- but you never know).

I'm also a metric head, and it is pretty obvious that there is enourmous value in the information behind these simple little tags. The value is not in the individual tag, but in how various tags are clustered for different types of people; how tags proliferate and penetrate various segments.

There is enough information here to build a nice recursive analytic environment where both content and attention gain qualitative attributes from one another -- and this value grows exponentially with the size of the network.

I've talked a little bit about the challenges in scaling peer-based media beyond blogger niches... and the most complelling example of how to tie media together into useful packages for individual tastes is still Y! LaunchCast, which builds individual playlist based on user classifications.

LaunchCast works. It works in large part because of scale. Digesting individual input on a finite information base can generate decent aggregations for individuals. This can extend an individual's network to include high-value elements of virtual peer networks.

When I step back, its pretty clear that the value that could be generated by scaling link-pooling as much as possible. Establishing these networks will be critical to delivering relevent content in a micromedia market.

It works in radio, is needed in peer-publishing, will be necessary for micro-video to ever get off the ground.

I think that Y! is way ahead on this. It will be interesting to see if these dynamics ever take over the media marketplace. If they do, Y! will be king.

So I'll ask the question that everyone seems to be asking indirectly... What will Y! want to buy next? and can I build it in 9-12 months?

Required Reeding

I've been messing around with delicious over the past week or so, which has been timely with all the hype around the Y! purchase of the service.

I figured out how to push my delicious links through feedburner, like you would a blog. Its pretty cool. With this distribution channel set up, I can pull my delicious links through onto this blog -- the "Required Reading" section in the right sidebar -- and have them up to date and current -- always reflecting what I've been tagging recently.

This is a great way to reference the interesting posts without having to actually blog about what I've been reading. All I have to do is tag it, and it will show up here. Nice.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Mass Media & Micromedia Economies

I followed my nose through A VC to Bubblegeneration run by a guy Umair Haque (who I can't seem to find out much about).

On the site he has posted a presentation reviewing the changing economies of Media. Interesting observations, and at least a little economic logic to support some of the web 2.0 Hype. Nothing like a little analytic rigor to get me bought in.

There a couple of specific concepts (nothing new) that are particularly helpful to my quest to figure out the opportunities in this shift. First is a break out of the basic Media market (sorry about the crap graphics)

And the value chain that delivers the goods:

In the mass media world, Haque goes on to describe how the economics favor investment in Attention at the expense of Production due to relative scarcity along the value chain. Basically, while Attention is scarce, it is not nearly as scarce as infrastructure, production, and all of the other things in the value chain.

The Mass Media space is essentially driven by these economies.

The Haque posits his view of how the Micromedia economy forms around these same concepts, and how the relative scarcity of Production vs. Attention changes everything. Worth a read (or maybe two or three)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Wharton Posts

A few Wharton links I ran across dealing with how the big web portals are responding to all of this web2 stuff. Generally, nothing new in here, but a useful consolidation.

MSFT & Google

On the long tail

Friday, December 02, 2005

Aggregation is the opportunity

Originally uploaded by cmbert.
There is a lot of noise in this new r/w space. I think the real business opportunity is in the aggregation

Its Google's Fault

Reading that last post about being overwhelmed got me thinking about a different thread. There is a great discussion on Fred's thread about the worm turning moment and anxiety that is surfacing around google's power.
I found the comment by David Gibbons most interesting in highlighting that Google is not a Web 2.0 company.

I think google is sticking to their knitting of "owning the internet's rawest material" but they're applying what worked for Web1.0 to the read/write web, and if they do, they will become the tirants that Mark describes.

Google own Web1.0 because they own its rawest commodity, the URL. The URL, is the "crude oil" of Web1.0 and indexing it is the refinery process that provides the gas for our internet experience, namely search. Google has the biggest, most efficient URL refinery on earth, so they take home the spoils (of web 1).

The raw material of Web2.0 is you and me, the user. Web 2's commodity is our time, expertise, attention, productivity, assets and our wallets. I'm increasingly feeling that Google wants to "own" me, and that's partly what I take from your Google posts, Fred. Problem is, this strategy of owning the web's raw material isn't going to work when applied to humans ... we aren't URL's and we wont stand for it :-)

I think Google's going this route because;a) They realize that the URL refinery will loose internet market share and,b) They think they can use URL ownership to lock in "people ownership" ... hence the google box and the "cube" (frightening) ... c) ... but they're also in a corner over the fact that the new internet could increasingly choose to workaround the URL ... thanks to increasingly intelligent clients (VoIP etc.) and increasingly "dumb" central servers.

I'm personally torn over google; gmail rocks but they are lame in that they so poorly support Mac users and revenue model's a bit of a on-trick pony. When the whole world is your client, how do you dominat a new market without competing with them?

Now, I will point out that Google is a big facilitator of web 2.0 -- and they make a ton of scratch on it.

AdSense is about you and me, not just the URL. But they have built the network; they are not necessarily a part of it (like eBay).

Of course, the point is that they are in a position to exploit the environment that has emerged around their platform (like MSFT), and there ain't nothin Peer-based about that.

10 Rules

I ran across this sort of elementrary post on 10 Rules for internet start ups through A VC a few days ago and found it worthy of keeping in the file.

I have to say that I am (of course) skeptical about the importance of qualifying things like this with the term 'Internet'. People seem to use it because it gives them license to say old tried and true things as if they were new, or to make some sage pronouncement without evidence. It doesn't matter, really. Bullshit will gather no links.

Internet is just a medium... and while the medium IS the message, business still runs on money.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

My name is Jim and I am an Internet Junkie.

I am a master of the internet and am drawn by new technology and new ideas daily. Luckily I work at comScore Networks, which gives me the opportunity to surf the web 20 hours a day and get paid for it. Realize, this is like an alcoholic working as a bartender or an addicted gambler working at the racetrack.

I must tell you though, I am Perplexed; I am Over Stimulated; I am Overloaded;

The Internet is Overloaded - Actually, the Internet User is Overloaded…

How do I know? Because I have been surfing the web for 20 years and I am a part of a rapid moving jet… That is not going to slow down. One metric of the rapid expansion of creativity on the web can be seen through the number of buzz words that were introduced into our mass media vocabulary just in the past 18 months…

Some examples of these include:

  • Blogosphere
  • Podcast
  • Wiki
  • RSS Feed
  • Social Networking
  • Micro-Chunking
  • Firefox
  • Roker
  • Skype
  • Alcara
  • Linkroll
  • AdSense
  • VOIP
  • Bubble Generation
  • Flickr
  • Riffs Roll
  • Razr
  • Icerocket
  • Feedster
  • Typepad
  • Trackback

There are over 1,000 of these terms floating around, and they are all new and unique. Consumers are being blasted every time they go online with every type of stimulation possible. There are 100’s of companies out there trying to find the next killer app.

Consumers are exposed daily to…

  • Ad Banners
  • Ad Pops
  • Pop-ups
  • Pop-unders
  • iPops
  • iFrame
  • Flash Frame
  • Flash Ads
  • Flash Roll
  • Roll over
  • Roll under
  • StreamRoll
  • Streaming Media
  • Rich Media
  • Media Mail
  • eMail Spam
  • Spam
  • Spam Spam Spam

There was a new study done that estimated if the recent growth of SPAM over the past 18 months were to continue at a straight line, the average consumer in 2009, for every one actual legitimate email, would receive 248 SPAM emails. Think about the repercussions of that situation.

Now there are many companies out there who are working on solutions for SPAM and every other virus of the web. Most are still very broad stroke solutions.

We actually found that within a given year, almost 30% of all households will reformat their hard-drives on their home PC’s to deal with the many issues with the machine.

Help - I am under water...

Audio Pool for Posting

Why can't I place a call to a voice log when I'm in my car to dump my ideas down to a location that I can easily post from?

It couldn't be very hard convert to text from their either.

How hard could this be? Might be an attractive service for the telcos.


I was reading some notes on Jim's blog about how he hoped he would be creating a living history on his blog that he could return to many years later to relive the happy (and sad) moments that moved him to post entries -- even if they are raving rants about soft drinks.

I'm in the process of moving and I've run across all of my old Journals, letters, pictures and all sorts of stuff that I have saved and carried from city to city. Crazy. I love this stuff, but it is so inaccessable. And I only seem to run across it when I move.

Jim is right. There is unique value in digital journals ...

Why can't I digitize my offline "Log" and access it like I would my Blog?

That would be infinately more interesting to me, personally, than digitizing the stacks in the Library of Congress.

R/W Media Hits your TV

Blogs have changed my approach to reading content online, completely pushing "traditional media" our of my line of site... Will the same thing happen to how I consume Video?

Will the networks keep content dominance due to their production infrastructure? or will indy production catch up as technology proliferates? Probably a little of both. But it doesn't really matter. Its the distribution network that matters (the Media is the Message).

In a R/W video environ -- just as in the text or podcast eviron -- the challenge will be content consolidation. How do you deliver, or suggest, content that people would like?

There are a couple of good examples here (and this is really nothing new):

'Push' based on Market Research: Mass Media
Get specific info from the user: Search
Get user input on tastes: Y! LaunchCast
Let users self-select: Social networks

There are draw backs to each approach... I'll cover these and the implications in later posts.

The point here is that people consume video differently than text, and there any dislocation will be different. It is much more of a push media that will require a certain degree of bundling to accomidate the more passive nature of video entertainment.

The social network model will be weak as a model for how this dislocation will happen, and where the opportunities will be.