Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Yahoo! to bid for AOL?

More deal rumours...

Google snaps up JotSpot

Google has just acquired JotSpot. Look out for Google Wiki.

To blog or not to blog?

Steve Rubel lays out the pros and cons of allowing bloggers to blog live from conferences. I have to say I'm with him - blogged conferences are much, much more interesting, lively, interactive etc etc etc.

Digg next on the block?

Rumours are flying that Digg is in talks to sell out to a search giant. The Web 2.0 feeding frenzy continues...

Google goals

An  internal paper which sets out Google's goals as a business has been seen by Google Blogoscoped and the highlights drawn out.

Google getting tetchy

Google is getting worried about the inappropriate use of its brand name.

Express outsourcing

The Daily Express has decided to outsource its business section the Press Association. This is part of a campaign to cut 60 jobs, reports the Guardian.

GoogleTube background....

Mark Cuban posts an interesting account of what supposedly went on behind the scenes in the YouTube and Google deal.

Google to beef up ad options?

There are signs that Google is developing its advertising model, according to John Battelle.

He quotes from Read/Write Web that this possible reconfiguration of the advertising model by Google is similar to what Microsoft and IBM have already done:

One interesting sub-plot here is that Google needs more "inventory" to sell the different flavors of advertising. Jeff mentions adsense for podcasting in his post - and that is certain to be one way Google will increase their inventory. Also this puts the likes of Feedburner, Meebo, edgeio and Commission Junction squarely in Google's sights as potential acquisitions. All of those 'web 2.0' startups have no shortage of inventory!
In terms of Google's overall goals, as summarised at
Google Blogoscoped, this rumored re-org falls under the "push their ad system" category. It really makes sense for Google and shows not only that they are innovating in technology - but maturing and expanding as a media/advertising entity. The benefit for Google's customers is that it enables them to target certain leads across different types of media. They can do that from one 'console' and they will work with 1 Google salesperson/account manager on their account.

US newspapers traffic surge

Jeff Jarvis reports that US newspapers have enjoyed a surge in traffic.

Quoting the Newspaper Association he says:

On average, over 56.9 million people visited newspaper sites each month in Q3 2006, up almost 24 percent since Q3 2005. . . . The group earlier this month reported unique visitors to newspaper sites rose 31 percent during the first half of 2006 over the same period in ‘05. Unique visitors to paper sites averaged more than 55.5 million per month during the first six months of ‘06, up almost a third from the 42.4 million during the first half of last year. Newspaper sites generated 2.7 billion pageviews in the third quarter, and visitors spent more than 41.5 minutes each month on the sites, according to the report. During that period last year, visitors viewed around 1.9 billion paper pages, spending 40.4 minutes on the sites on average monthly.

But, he says, this is not good news.

I think this further feeds the idea that newspapers are in “free fall,” as The Times said last week: The rush online is getting faster and faster and if media execs and ad execs don’t catch up, they will be left behind… sooner than they think.

I call out ad execs for a reason: They are holding back the progress in media.

Unless they get their act together, he argues, they will lose the market. There's a lesson here for all of us, I suspect.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Engagement - the new black

Robert Scoble makes an interesting point about quality audiences. He says, and I paraphrase, that one Digg user is worth many more Register users as they are more engaged with the product and do more as a consequence of what they read.

Too many journalists?

Jeff Jarvis weighs in on the debate raging about the downsizing of US newsrooms. He criticised Howard Kurtz (and "most of the newspaper industry") for missing the point about downsizing. He quotes Roy Greenslade saying:

Without wishing to be unduly rude about US journalists, seen from the British perspective, it appears that there are far too many of them being far too unproductive. The LA Times has 980 journalists at present, a huge staff compared to any serious British national paper. Yet we manage to hold our government to account. Ask Tony Blair is he can get away with anything without being scrutinised.

Now, I’m fully aware of the different journalistic cultural differences between us and them. I’m certainly not urging that US newsrooms should be cut to the quick. But it appears to me that there’s been a lot of feather-bedding on big monopoly metro papers in the States and the current crisis is providing an opportunity to hack away the hacks who do not contribute. Kurtz concludes: “If this erosion continues, it would be bad news for serious journalism, and good news for corrupt politicians.” But Howard, please get this into proportion. There’s a revolution going on and we need to think positively about that.

That is surely the point.

The Sun enters the community game

MySun, the community play from The Sun newspaper, quietly launched this week. It allows readers to comment on stories, start their own discussions, launch their own blogs, set up profiles etc.

FT joins the blogosphere

The Financial Times has launched a free daily blog aimed at the financial sector. Called Alphaville it says it offers "instant market insight".

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tracking people in blogs

pmeme is a new site which aims to track mentions of people in the blogosphere. It's a nice idea, and looks to be nicely executed.

IBM sues Amazon

eWeek reports that IBM is suing Amazon over the alleged infringements of 18-year-old patents relating to online shopping.

The patents that IBM says are being violated are U.S. 5,796,967: Presenting Applications in an Interactive Service; U.S. 5,442,771: Storing Data in an Interactive Network; U.S. 7,072,849: Presenting Advertising in an Interactive Service; U.S. 5,446,891: Adjusting Hypertext Links with Weighted User Goals and Activities; and U.S. 5,319,542: Ordering Items Using an Electronic Catalogue.

Of course, the point of patents is to ensure inventors get the benefits of their inventions but these all sound a bit vague and illustrate the dangers inherent in the patent system.

AOL's difficult road

PaidContent.org has a piece analysing the detail of AOL's move from subscriptions to advertising and setting out just how painful this move might be. It suggests, for example, that it should bring in $140m from advertising in the UK, but that this represents a third of UK subs revenues. The piece quotes Jonathan Milier, ceo,  saying: "One of the hardest things in business is to realize that your legacy business isn’t going to be a successful model going forward. ... We were one of the first companies of the digital era to have to confront this.”

Google's roll-your-own search

Google has launched its own version of customisable, vertical search, reports John Battelle. The service uses Google Co-op which the company admits has stalled a bit since launch, and differs from other offerings, like Rollyo, by allowing any number of domains to be searched, filtering for particular pages, and adjustment of the weighting of results.

Update: there is also a feature to allow "volunteers" to add sites to the vertical in question which could be great to getting a bunch of like-minded people to collaborate on building the ultimate vertical search for a sector.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Google Reader

I've been a long time fan of Newsgator - especially when used as a plug-in to Outlook, but I've been taking another look at Google Reader which relaunched recently. I'm impressed by a lot of the features, especially the way it is so easy to share blog posts on a public page - here's mine. From now on I'm going to share more posts this way rather than blog about them.

Do-it-yourself success

We've had the Web 2.0 logo creator, now comes the automatic web acquisition story writer.

Seven ways to optimise your blog

Given the speed with which new blogs are appearing it is imperative to make sure your's stands out from the crowd, argues Folksonomy.org, which has published it's own list of seven tips that it says will do the job.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

WetPaint - wiki made easy

WetPaint is a site which offers easy-to-create wikis with a web 2.0 feel about them. Lots of nice community tools built in.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Scrybe - online/offline organiser

Scrybe is an Ajax organiser which, if the YouTube video they posted on their site is to be believe, will be a really useful combination of calendar, todo list, clipping tool and collaborator. You can email to be added to the public beta. (By the way, using YouTube to host your product demo is a really clever idea!)

Reuters in Second Life

Reuters has opened a bureau in Second Life headed by Adam Reuters, real name Adam Pasick, a veteran technology and media journalist. He will be covering the alternative world for the news agency.

Paid by the second

An assisted search start up ChaCha Search has come up with a novel way of paying it's "guides".

From Wired: "Workers at ChaCha are experts in specific topics, and they help users of the search tool find information that, presumably, only somebody in the know would be able to uncover. The ChaCha guides earn between $5 and $10 an hour as a starting wage, and any money they earn can be dumped instantly onto a debit card and spent right away. The guides keep track of their earnings on the ChaCha site and can get their earnings by clicking a "Pay Me Now" button on their personalized page."

Kite power

Wired reports on a new Italian technology which could generate as much electricty from kites as from a nuclear power plant.

HotSoup for debate

HotSoup is a new online community that claims to link up Opinion Drivers both famous (Bill Clinton, Lance Armstrong) and "the roughly 30 million rassroots influencers we know through our communities: friends, neighbors, PTA members, firefighters, homemakers, small business owners, and non-profit directors to name a few". It's basically a discussion forum but with (somewhat confusing) bells and whistles.

NY Times gets the video bug

The staid New York Times carried an embedded YouTube Video in a story about the way corporate announcements are made. The main motivation was probably to allow readers to see for themselves the self-congratulatory way founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen announced to their audience that they had sold out to Google.

Funny Money

Jeff Jarvis quotes the New York Post speculation that in the wake of the YouTube deal Gawker Media is worth $400 million, CraigsList $250 million, and Digg.com $200 million. He dismisses the valuation of Gawker as over-optimistic compared to the others. And he takes a poke at the NYPost; he was going to link to the original page but the Flash made his browser crash. I had a go at finding the piece, but gave up in the wake of so much tabloid online...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

MSN's move into movies

MSN has launched a beta video sharing site called Soapbox on MSN.  It is only available to invited beta participants, but you can request an invitation...


One YouTube-ers' view of the future under Google...

IE 7 debuts?

Wired's Monkey Bites blog notes that Microsoft is expected to release the final version of Internet Explorer 7 later today, but right now you can grab the final build from Yahoo. Yahoo has packaged a version of IE 7 that's been optimized to run with the latest version of Yahoo Mail, it says.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Google Office

Google takes another poke at Microsoft with the announcement of Goolge Docs (renamed Writely) and Spreadsheets, simple online wordprocessing and spreadsheet creators with built in collaboration.

Create your own search engine

Microsoft's Live team has produced and updated version of the Live Search Macros which allow for custom searchboxes to be created which search sub-sets of web content.

Maps in the Palm in your hand

I just downloaded the Google Maps mobile version to my Samsung D600 mobile phone. The site recognises your phone and allows you to download a specific Java app for your phone. The quality of the interface is really impressive...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Securing 100 Million Laptops

eWeek points out that Nicholas Negropote's plan to deploy 100 million laptops will create the "largest computing monoculture" in the world, and hence the world's biggest security headache.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Print to video

How to make a newspaper talk: "At Online News, Chet Rhodes of WashingtonPost.com gives an inspirational talk about how he is turning the paper into video, training print reporters to take video (it takes 55 minutes, he says) and how it is working. Why do this? he asks. Because you have to. When we looked at video from a number of news sites in my CUNY class, the students liked WashingtonPost.com's video best because it was still somewhat raw, not overproduced. And that makes it easier for print people to learn how to shoot good video, I say, as the definition of good shifts away from the priests of the tools. " Jeff Jarvis.

Google, YouTube and the future of TV

Jeff Jarvis explains why Google's purchase of YouTube "makes perfect sense". Google will become the "world's largest TV guide" and YouTube brings a respect for the wisdom of crowds to Google's algorithmic world.

Lost Remote on the future of TV reporting

Lost Remote TV Blog: "Fox News had some of the first live video on the air from the scene of the NYC plane crash, thanks to a cell phone held by a Fox photographer. Turns out it was a Treo running CometVision software, which is set up to broadcast live video and audio with a touch of a button - even automatically alert newsroom staffers with an email."

YouTube explored

Jeff Jarvis rounds up the weekend media stuff on Google's YouTube buy. He points to Steve Rubel's list of sites which use the YouTube API. "If you want to be big in media in the future, make yourself into an API," he says.

powered by performancing firefox

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

AOP keynotes now available in video

The AOP has published links to streaming versions of the keynotes from its recent conference which I blogged about last week. It's particularly worth watching Tim O'Reilly and Carolyn McCall.

Google + YouTube: What it means

Forrester's Charlene Li gives her take on Google's acquisition of YouTube. In her view and astute move and not over priced.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Google Nears Deal With YouTube - WSJ.com

According to WSJ.com Google's deal to acquire YouTube for $1.65bn in stock could be announced as early as tonight. As the 19-month-old company has just 67 employees, that $24.6m for each of them (assuming equal shares)!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

(a) giant step

Neil Armstrong may have thought he fluffed his lines, but an Australian researcher has now found the infamous "a" which was thought missing from "a small step for man; a giant step for mankind". Gives a whole new slant to machine intelligence.

Biofuels blog

Simon Robinson from ICIS has just launched blog on biofuels. ICIS have being producing quite a few alternative product pricing reports lately and this blog is an attempt to gather together parties interested in alternative fuel around a blog. It could just be the next big thing...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Wired on Ozzie

The current issue of Wired has a feature on Ray Ozzie, the man who will take over the spiritual guidance of Microsoft from Bill Gates next summer.

Google to buy YouTube?

Internet search leader Google is in talks to acquire the popular online video site YouTube for about $1.6 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing a person familiar with the matter. (from Wired News)

Friday, October 06, 2006

Amazon.com grocery

I have just found out that Amazon launched a grocery store in the US in May in beta. It may have been well recorded elsewhere but it passed me by, anyway. Jeff Bezos' commentary on the project is here.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Kids #2

Charlie Redmayne founder of mykindaplace and monkeyslum. Some statistics:-

  • Teens spend more time online than watching TV.
  • The younger you are the less TV you watch.
  • 51% of 10 year olds have a mobile phone.
  • £1 in £10 of teen money is spent on ringtones.
  • According to the IAB many 10-18's have been online since before they could read.

He says his two sites have three components - editorial, social networking and UGC.

Kids #1

Ben Perreau:

What kids want:-

  • simple
  • quick
  • multiple applications at once
  • learning through doing
  • sociability

What kids think:-

  • content and technology is the same
  • they deserve respect

Yahoo! bloopers

From Lloyd Shepherd of Yahoo! - When Yahoo! Answers hosted a session with Al Gore on climate change the moderating team in the Phillipines who hadn't heard of Al Gore saw the huge burst of traffic, assumed it was spam and deleted the whole session.

User interaction #2

Adriana Cronin-Lukas from the Big Blog Company says the one uber-trend is that the consumer is no more - its a two-way street now. Some soundbites:
"The process of conveying messages to audiences has been disrupted."
"People saw the internet as another channel but it's not - it's the sea in which those channels float - and it's corroding them."
"The demand side is now supplying itself."
"The rise of the amateur professional."
"The problem with "new media" is that it doesn't change the core competencies; social media does."
"Think 'audience' not 'content'."
"The net is not a place where audiences access content."
"The internet will be a network of digital natives bypassing gatekeepers."

User interaction #3

Lloyd Shepherd, director of news, sport and info of Yahoo! Europe says social media is at the heart of what Yahoo! does and advertisers are responding - he cited Ford and Chevrolet as examples where innovative approaches have worked.

User interaction #1

Tom Bureau from CNET Networks ( 115 million monthly unique users) spoke about CNET's approach to architected participation. He says they avoid the 'true freaks' but target the 'avid contributors' and 'smart consumers'.

Architected participation has some challenges around brand values as advertisers care about the environment, he says. Social environments can wither without a centre of gravity which means strong brands can have an advantage.

His advice: set the bar high - must register, must have used the site for several weeks etc. Allow users to promote themselves alongside the journalist's copy.

Tim O'Reilly's keynote

What is common about the successful web 2.0 businesses, asks Tim O'Reilly?

  1. They are information businesses
  2. Software as a service
  3. Using the internet as a platform
  4. Harnessing collective intelligence. "Amazon is a great example - they aren't a breakthrough service but they just work really hard at getting users to add value."

He argues that Web 2.0 is the era of asymetric competion - Craig's List is a great example - 7th most trafficked site on the web with 23 employees!

Types of User Generated Content
1. volunteerism (Wikipedia)
2. self-interest (Craigs List)
3. Defaults which encourage network behaviour (Flickr)
4. Software as journalism (mash-ups)

To finish: "The challenge for publishers is that we are intermediaries and it is doubtful if we will remain intermediaries unchallenged. We need to build webservices so that we have a place in the user generated world."

What about payment in a user generated world?
People do pay, but not in usual ways.

Will you shift to an ad driven model?

Safari (O'Reilly's online books play) is a subscription business - 30% of the page views are coming from books no longer in print. We asked 'what business are we in?' and then developed businesses to match.

What role for content creators in the UGC world?

We are in the age of the computer aided editor.

Will publishers face cynacism?

Absolutely. Companies are bubbles on the wave not the wave itself. There will be a huge amount of consolidation. There are so many frontiers for innovation. Think about when every device reports where it is, for example. Web 2.0 is just the internetisation of everything.

Web 3.0?

There are one or two candidates - device connected web; humans as a component of the software (Amazon's Mechanical Turk or Google Image Labeler; blending of real and virtual - he cited a company called Electric Sheep which has a virtual office on Sheep Island in Second Life and no real-world office at all.

First panel session

Rod Henwood, new business development director of Channel 4 says the TV business model is under threat. The main defence? Brand, exclusive content, cross-promotion, corporate focus and adaptability. The strategy: protect programming budget, new services, ubiquity, VOD and online investment.

Zach Leonard, digital media publisher of the Times says Times Online has now reached 9m unique users and the commercial deals are starting to be as big as those offline.

The main points:-

  • The story telling process has changed for ever;
  • integration in the platforms and the newsrooms;
  • advertising market is critical;
  • user generated content and community is key;

Tim Weller, ceo and founder IncisiveMedia says 14% of revenue is online. The strategy is to "surround narrow markets with the complete range of media types."

The challenges? Sellers want ROI and buyers want intelligence in real time.
The cultural challenge is making the journalists deliver the news when in happens on many platforms.

The strategy:-

  • Aggregated portals
  • Community content
  • Peer to peer networks
  • Workflow tools

The key is developing rich data, he says.

AOP Conference keynote

Carolyn McCall, ceo Guardian Media Group was the first keynote speaker. She says we are entering a new economy where competition comes from everywhere. For instance the Guardian's Trader site makes £120m profit a year and eBay has just changed its business model to compete head on. Life is much more simple if you are a pure play she says; media companies may have to make decisions which are not obvious from a finanial standpoint. One of the biggest management challenges is that some people find this incredibly scary.

However there is a real opportunity:-

  1. from words and pictures to film
  2. from national to global
  3. from passive to active communities (brands without active communities will die).

Five big challenges:-

  1. Build on your brands and your talent
  2. Stay close to your users
  3. Innovate to learn (being scared of screwing up is fatal)
  4. Excel at software development (delivery is everything) ("our best developers are as important as our best journalists")
  5. Drive digital revenue growth. Scale is important - first for respect internally and second because we know there will be a slow down and we need to be at the highest possible base when it happens.