Monday, January 30, 2006

Some diversionary posts

I've run across some old digital scribblings, some of which are hauntingly familiar. I didn't really know I had these and don't really remember putting them down. I guess this was an early digital log of mine. I'm going to post a few of them. So much of this stuff is on paper, but I guess I have some digital stuff, too.

At some point, this stuff turned from bleary-eyed pulls at the poetry bong to something that attempted to be lyrics (I learned the guitar in the early 90s). This puppy from October 1999 is somewhere in between:

Create & compete

Analyze & evaluate
Decide and act.
There’s nothing but politics in the way…and you will win.
See all, feel pressure and let go
No solution lacks simplicity
No error lacks intention
No agreement lack misunderstanding.

It’s found without.
Strength conviction and genius through Quality
Comes only in completion:
Scope perspective actors and aggravations
See me, me, and me see you, him, her and them (the motherfuckers)
Doubt question pick and pry.
Without for within…and you will win.

GapingVoid - VC - Jan 08 2006

GapingVoid - VC - Jan 08 2006
Originally uploaded by spierzchala.
I love these gapingvoid cartoons.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


If you are new to this thread (as anyone would be because I'm the only reader -- I like to rehash my notes, ya know), there is a great post on Publishing 2.0 that will serve as a quick catch-up on where all of this RSS, blog, edge, peer, feed discussion stands today.

This piece seems to join a quietly growing chorus of folks starting to focus on the everyday user. Paramount to this trend is the observation that most of the people in the discussion are hyper-users of this technology. Its starting to crystilize that what works for them may not work at all for the everyday email & trade photos public out there.

The implication: The easy-geek that is web2.0 today has scale limits. The economics of web2.0 are about to excert some force on the technology. Either is will adapt to a form more fit for broad scale adoption, or it will settle in a a niche technology.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Mainstreet will never know RSS

There was a post yesterday on Feld Thoughts about phasing out My.Yahoo. He's basically ditching his longtime personalized homepage for a FeedReader-based start up. He's doing this in part as a way to filter out the distracting noise of the news -- mainly stock market chatter after a read of Fooled By Randomness.

I find this funny because the book had the same effect on me, but to different effect. I actually got reengaged with my yahoo for the first time in ages, using RSS to steadily purge the noise in favor of thought provoking feeds.

Today, A VC discussed the topic, and came out on my end of the experience (I think). Though he's clearly a bigger feedhead than I am and requires software for some purposes.

The most interesting part was in the comments, where I seem to find all of the best material. Mike Orren's reply lays it out clearly:
Friends, in the rest of the country, in the heart of middle America, in major metropolitan markets, there are people: smart people, even VC's and merchant bankers who have NEVER HEARD of RSS. Even worse are those who pretend to grok it but have never used it, even in the context of My Yahoo.

And consumer adoption is almost as bad.

If there is one bit of Media 2.0 hubris (and I'm guilty of many others) that needs to die, it's the notion that RSS feeds are the mass-market editors of 2006.

Don't get me wrong-- I believe a media of ultimate customization is nigh. But most people are lazy. And even lazy people buy stuff. Yahoo! and others who cater to them are going to rake it in.

..Cheers Mike, whoever you are.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Ya Who?

I'm a little baffled by all of this noise around Yahoo's statement about not being focused on being #1 in search.

Peer-pundits take everything to extremes. Extremes start good conversations, specially in this kind of environment. Its kind of funny to watch everyone punch the topic from one side to the other.

But its also kind of sad -- a kind of Napolian Dynomite solo teather match -- A studied excersize in exploiting momentum for its own sake, with it or against it.

What people seem to forget is that Yahoo is much bigger than search, even if the grass roots go there. Digital media is also bigger than search. To say that there are other relevent score cards, and that these score cards present a better opportunity for lasting advantage is business.

Business is always uncertain, opportunities are never obvious -- certainly not to outsiders, cheerleaders, or enthusiasts. Was Yahoo a genius when they bought Overture? Sponsored search was a novelty at the time. Good move, it turns out. I'm sure there were bad ones, too.

My point is that opportunities do not make themselves, and capitalization requires some level-headed risk taking. In sponsored search MSFT didn't do it, AOL didn't do it. They waited to see if it was real and missed the search advertising game (yeah, yeah, they both make money off of their search-base, but they share it with Y or G today).

Yahoo has said that it thinks they see the next opportunities elsewhere. Can anyone tell me that this is wrong? What is Google doing? Maps, email, video, feed readers, earth. The search tidal wave is receeding and Google knows this as well as Yahoo does. This market will grow slighly faster than the overall online advertising market, and become more an more crowded and commoditized.

Sure, there are all sorts of applications that can and will hang off the side of the gigantic search vessel, and many of these may become very important strategically. Search will be an important aspect of digital media, but not necessarily in a 'who's #1' kind of way.

Audience matters. Search is not the only place to get it. If Y percieves an advantage they can press on other fronts, and is not going to burn all of their fuel chasing yesterday's game, then good for them. They seem wide awake to me.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Recommendation RSS

Very interesting article on recommendation engines in the NYT this monring. I think these developments are very much on par with the kind of subscription-less preference-based RSS feed platform.

I'd love for my delicios cloud to be the only input to a fully personalized feed...

I'm getting a little frustrated about all of this. It can't be very hard to do.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Some fresh air -- finally

There has been a lack of interesting things out there over the past few weeks. I havn't felt like there was anything to say. The CES seemed to soak up too much attention. The only thing I can really take from all of that noise was that Google is pretty much 2nd rate beyond their core business. Great at search, and gained heaps of first mover advantages in contextual advertising. But they seem lost in the media space...


I came across a fantastic read today (thru r/w web) -- Stanford Law professor Lawrence Lessig review of how peer publishing is pushing legal boundaries on Read it.

Monday, January 02, 2006

RSS for business

I finally found a thread discussing RSS applications in the workplace. About F-in time.

RSS Applied has a aggregator section devoted to corporate applications of RSS.

Now, granted, this is basically a PR avenue for these guys. They are trying to sell the same kinds of services that I was getting at a couple of weeks ago.

But I think they've got it a little wrong. It isn't about marketing channels. It isn't about external operations. This is the 'build a better home page' approach.

The opportunity is in using appropriate technology for certain types of vital communications. Most of corporate operational communications are many-to-many engagements. Meetings are the core of this system. Phone calls, faxes, emails, have all augmented these systems.

The social platforms serving blogging are a much better fit for many-to-many communications than any of these transformative technologies.

Anyway... its good to see that I'm not the only one recognizing this fact (though I already think MSFT is on the scent). Its also good to see that the idea has not advanced very far. The pricing info is also useful.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

TiVO & Lazy Reader

I want to elaborate a little bit on my last post, "People are Lazy".

There is deep-seeded power behind this observation. It the engine behind the rise of Tivo, search, and just about any other innovation you can think of. Tivo is my favorite example. People have been recording shows since VCRs came along when I was a kid.

It was known as 'recording shows' until Tivo came along and it became 'time shifting'. As far as I know nobody raised much of a stink about it. It wasn't until it became really easy that it gained traction and mainstream adoption.

There are all sorts of pertinent observations here. Recording was possible with existing technology (VCR), but it was a pain in the ass. Try recording 12 shows using a VCR and 240 minute tapes for an extended period of time.

Throwing a hard drive and basic processing at the situation was also relatively easy to do, but you had to be a very patient hardware engineer with fairly advanced software expertise as well. All the skills were learnable, and all the materials were available at Radio Shack, but who has time.

The guys who built the TiVo business said to themselves 'People are Lazy' (I am guessing here really. They could have been saying 'I'm a geek god, look how cool my shit is!!!', but I don't think so). Along the way, they stumbled into benefits, like pausing live TV.

The same thing applies to peer-based publishing, RSS, Tagging, and all of this stuff. Its all there. Anyone can dive in and play around. But no one will -- not enough to build a real bustling, profitable market. Not until the 'cool shit!!!' mentality gives way to the 'people are lazy' approach to building services.

And by 'People', I mean non-blogger, non-developer, non-techie, non-VC, non-geek people. They are not stupid, they are just busy with the rest of their lives. Services that make all of this networked value easier to access are the ones that will matter.