Sunday, January 29, 2006

Get Google

Ivan Fallon, chief executive of Independent News and Media, takes
a couple of pages of the Independent on Sunday to make the case that Google is going the way of GM and IBM: "every company contains the seeds of its own destruction and it may be that even Google, the miracle of the new media age, has reached the tipping point in the past week" he writes. Given the challenges that Google is presenting to "big media" there may be more than a little wishful thinking here...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

More on blog interactivity

More on the Washington Post blog comments story from BuzzMachine's Jeff Jarvis who offers advice to "old media" companies struggling with the fire hose of interactivity. Insightful stuff.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Washington Post Blog shuts off comments

Alarmed at the personal and vernacular nature of the comments it has received the Washington Post Blog has shut down its comments facility for the foreseeable future.

UPDATE: More here on the article which created the problem in the first place and its aftermath.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Blogging advertising trends

This blog from the MIT Advertising Lab looking at the future of advertising and advertising technology is well worth a browse.

Citizen media - the other side of the argument

Seth Finklestein posts some thoughtful"Skeptical Questions" on Citizen Journalism for Dan Gilmour, who will be giving a talk at Harvard on 17th January on the subject.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Gathering a bubble?

Gather is a new Boston-based web business which is about to close a $6m funding round this week, according to Paid Content which aims to "gather" gifted writers by providing them a share of ad revenue collected. It's a kind of modern-day publishing company.... and sounds a bit similar to the business John Battelle is founding.

Keyword Prices Fall

Average keyword prices fell by 16% during 2005 according to SEM company Fathom Online who is quoted by this post from MediaPost.

The magazine as process

Interesting quote from Jeff Jarvis on The Buzz Machine: "Perhaps it is better to make magazines less of a product and more of a process, less of a subscription to a thing and more of a membership to a community." He was discussing the practice of holding back stories for publication rather than talking about the developing story as it is being researched. Worth reading...

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Blogging blog advertising

Jeff Jarvis is blogging about his experiences with the various ad solutions which are springing up to allow bloggers to support themselves with advertising dollars. BuzzMachine has tried the lot....

Thursday, January 12, 2006


The EU will shortly have its own alternative to Google and Yahoo! in the shape of Quaero, a multi-partner, multi-language "second generation" multi-media search project. What are the chances you'll set your homepage to Quaero rather than Google?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

China becomes number 2 online

China now has the second largest online population in the world according to SmartMob reporting US-based research firm eTForecasts. Some 20 millon Chinese went on line last year pushing the total to 120 million, second place in the world rankings. The US share slipped to 18% and will continue to slide as the developing nations, in particular China, India, Brazil, Russia and Indonesia, grow rapidly, SmartMobs says. The world internet population has now topeed one billion for the first time.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Million Dollar Home Page

The curious story of the Million Dollar Home Page takes an interesting turn as the last 1,000 pixels are auctioned on eBay. As of this moment the going price is $160,000! And there are three days left to go!

If you are not familiar with the story, the site was set up by 21-year-old Alex Tew of Swindon in Wiltshire "to fund his degree studies".

The idea was simple: he divided up his "home page" into 1,000,000 pixels (in 100 pixel blocks) and then sold these pixels for $1 each (minimum $100). He guarantees to keep the site running for five years and probably for much longer than that, and so he points out that this equates to very good value for money.

Actually, it is a really good contract for both parties: Alex gets his $1m which makes for a good start in life; the advertisers get a huge amount of exposure as the idea has grabbed so much attention. Most of the advertisers are small outfits (and some have posted testimonials which seem genuinely pleased with the response). There are even larger firms, like The Times .

To get some idea how much value these advertisers are getting, take a look at this Alexa chart which compares his traffic to that of New Scientist, one of RBI's largest sites...
It is actually as of this moment about the 400th largest site on the internet - extraordinary considering it is really just the one page.

It does by now have its imitators, such as the Million Yen Home Page - yes, really. As yet, this site has not sold a single pixel. And there is a fair chance that none of these imitators will actually be worth the investment.

The magic of this idea was that it was a first, and genuinely captured the imagination and attention of the internet world, thus ensuring huge visibility for no outlay for Alex. I doubt if successors will be so lucky.

Still, nice to know innovation isn't dead.

Trust in online sources

Jeff Jarvis in BuzzMachine cites a survey in the last edition of Advertising Age which carried a survey asking which sites provided the most reliable source of information on the web.

In the US Yahoo came top (11.3%) then MSN (10.4%), Google (9.9%), CNN (8%), AOL (5.2%) and Consumer Reports (3.1%). Google scored first among youngsters, with 22% of the 18-24 crowd's vote.

In Europe Google scores top in France, Germany, Holland and Spain and was second in Britain behind the BBC. Thank God for the BBC!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Electronic publisher that also prints a magazine

MIT's august Technology Review is cutting its frequency and beefing up its online offering reports The publisher says: ""Technology Review has been a print magazine with a website; from now on, we will be an electronic publisher that also prints a magazine."

Using web stats to tune content

There's a great column from The Seattle Times which examines the most popular stories from 2005 according to web stats analysis and concludes that the "soft" stories, so often discounted by journalists, are actually the ones that are the most read. It also mentions a Chilean newspaper Las Últimas Noticias which has gone the whole hog and writes stories entirely based on web traffic: if people read a story they write more like it; if they don't the story type is axed. Going too far, you may say, but Las Últimas Noticias is now the most read newspaper in Chile!

Google news as you've never seen it

Interesting mash-up showing current Google news as a tag cloud - brought to you by NEWZingo.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy

Internet commentator Clay Shirky wrote a very interesting piece on the dynamics of internet communities which I found contained some real insights for those of us interested in building up these interest groups. Particularly interesting is the notion that pure democracy is the enemy of the successful online community. Worth the read, even though it is a bit long.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Google and AOL

There's an old saying that if you owe the bank £100, you have a problem; but if you owe the bank £1m, then the bank has a problem.

This is the reason most commonly credited as being behind the AOL/Google deal. The $300m earned from AdSense on the AOL portal was just too large a percentage to comfortably put at risk.

But there's another saying the money makes money. And it seems from the SEC filings that the deal creates the conditions for a floatation of the AOL business in the foreseeable future and if that were to happen - and if Google's other properties like Video Search really work some magic with the underused AOL content - Google's stake could end up as a real investment.

How's that for having your cake and eating it?

Yahoo Options in Demand

Looks like it's not just me reading the tealeaves about web advertising in 2006... if eWeek's reading of the reasons behind Yahoo's share price movements are correct

Interview with UBM CEO

David LevinRafat Ali of has published an interview with David Levin, for the past 10 months CEO of UBM where he has sold off £1.6bn worth of assets in order to refocus the company on b2b magazines, websites and trade shows.

Internet wins over older consumers

According to research from Burst Media, reported by The Kelsey Group blog, Americans over 55, often thought to be the really difficult market to crack, are deserting traditional media in favour of the internet with 36.6% now spending less time reading magazines, for instance, in favour of the delights online.

A year of Google new products

According to theOfficial Google Blog Google launched 77 new products in 2005!!!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Tagging - connections as value

Jeff Jarvis' Guardian column on tagging makes the point that the huge rise in the popularity of tagging demonstrates that the value of the connection between ideas outweighs in the nakes ideas themselves. This is similar to a psychological point Doc Searls was making that conversation is the basic form of human interaction and the human brain is optimised to work at this level.

2006 - the year of unbundling

Doc Searls predicts that 2006 will be the year when media unbundling really takes hold. He has a long post on the implications here.

Human Chip Firm Plans IPO

Red Herring reports that VeriChip, a firm which specialises in RFID tags for human implantation, intends to file for an IPO. In 1993 when I was involved in the Reed Elsevier Innovation Programme with Strategos one of the more outlandish discontinuities we came up with was the move to chip everything, including humans. This seemed to be hard to take at the time, but it's interesting how, bit by bit, the story is unfolding. The Red Herring article goes on to say that the RFID industry is slated to become a multi-billion dollar industry over the next five years.

Co-incidentally, CIO Insight reports at the same time that Kimberly-Clark, the paper products giant, is investing millions in a factory to prove the uses of RFID - even though it is not expected to bear fruit for a couple of years.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Boing Boing story

This is one of the more pointless ways to spend the past 28 and a half years.

News agenda for the citizen journalism era

An interesting and inspiring online "leader article" by John Robinson, editor of the News and Record sets out to explain how the traditional newspaper is going to use its websites to expand citizen journalism. It sets out very clearly what it believes local newspapers will need to do to continue to be relevant in a Web 2.0 world. There are clearly lessons here for all publishers...

New Year's Wishes

A few things I would like to see in 2006:
  1. Longer life batteries for laptops - 10 hours would be useful
  2. Large -size flash memory - say 40GB
  3. Gadget makers standardise on one data connection and one power supply - it drives me crazy that my house is so full of adapters and cables

Sunday, January 01, 2006


Kurzweil predicts, on current trajectories, that $1,000 will buy you a PC with as much processing power as a human brain by 2020. Given that kind of time frame, anything goes!

Linear vs. exponential growth

Two of my recent posts have talked about the prospects for online advertising revenue in 2006. The first suggested that 2006 could prove to be the ""tipping point" for online advertising. The second suggested that there could be a substantial rise in absolute terms in the coming year.

I have a strong feeling that traditional publishers are not factoring this possibility into their thinking; I saw an internal projection the other day from a senior advertising working party in which they were predicting that the total amount of online advertising would overtake conventional print advertising by, I think, 2014!

The basis of this assumption is a linear interpretation of current (internal) trends. This could prove to be badly wrong.

I've just finished reading Ray Kurzweil's book The Singularity is Near and he makes a strong point about the dangers of applying a linear view if, in fact, we are looking at something with exponential characteristics.

Given the notorious difficulty of forecasting this market (Veronis Suhler forecast a market of $9.9bn in the US by 2005; Forrester have just put the figure at $14.7bn) an open mind is probably required.

If we are, indeed, at the tipping point or the "knee of the curve" as he calls it, our future planning assumptions could be dangerously out of kilter with reality.

At the very least, we should have a couple of alternative views of the future...