Friday, August 31, 2007

Fantastic Friday Links! 8/31/07

Labor Day weekend--the traditional End of Summer--is upon us. And for your consideration: hyperlocal in Australia, more on private space as public space, the possible end of MuniWiFi and more on the ethical connundrums at the NYTimes and CBS's odious Kid Nation and an independent filmmaker has probably lost the copyright on his work to Viacom:

from Australia:
Hyperlocal highlights some of the hyperlocal/placeblog/citizen journalism sites in Melborne (from the Fitzroyalty blog.) Blogger Brian Wilson says: We may usually think that virtual social networks exist to bring together people from opposite ends of the country or other sides of the world, but they are as effective in connecting people who may live only a street away but who may never otherwise meet. how true!

Very Bad News for muni wifi:
S.F. citywide Wi-Fi plan fizzles as provider backs off
a serious blow to the MuniWiFi movement as Earthlink reveals its plans to slash 900 jobs and close offices in SF, Orlando, Knoxville (TN) and Harrisburg (PA). Also see GigaOm for important follow-up on this.

Dr. Magic -- or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Starbucks From Mike Ho, post from '06 that kind of predicts we'd be having that conversation about the relavence/importance of private spaces to troubled neighborhoods. From the comments on this post

Fixing Old News: Business Opp as well as Obligation? Amy Gahran follows the comments trail on the issue of how to "fix" old news stories that keep popping up on Google search--a particularly sticky problem for the NYTimes (pardon the pun).

'Kid Nation' Plays in the Adult Nation from Mediapost's Wayne Friedman a great post on some of the (many) problems with CBS'Kid Nation If you haven't seen the commercials, Kid Nation is something like a cross between Survivor and Lord of the Flies. I'm sorry, but this was an ethically specious concept from the very beginning, and all the crap I'm hearing from CBS about it (oh, it's just like summer camp!) has nauseated me. Luckily, I'm not the only one who's nauseated. Freidman raises the questions of whether or not the children are actors or game show contestants:"It all goes to the issue about whether those on reality shows are really "cast members." Right now, reality show producers already openly use the word "casting" when talking about their programs. So why not take the next step - and pay "cast members"? Freidman also looks at advertiser's reactions to this--who aren't reconsidering their upfront for the show, even with question of whether or not the show will be pulled before it airs.

There's just something wrong when we sign up kids for a "summer camp" experiment, promise the winner $20,000, and then film it for the spectacle of broadcast TV. How this thing got this far only shows how low television is now willing to go. If it airs, I'll be waiting for the "post-traumatic stress disorder" lawsuits in 15 years.

And then there's independent filmmaker Chris Knight..Viacom hits me with copyright infringement for posting on YouTube a video that Viacom made by infringing on my own copyright! Yep, this is what can happen with all those hinky Terms of Service agreements that are floating around for "user generated content." I hope Chris can sue the pants off Viacom, VH1's WebJunk 2.0 and we all learn to stop freely giving big coporations our Independent-Produced Content. Follow the comments on Chris' blog for an excellet discussion of this problem and the fact that Chris *may not* have any legal recourse due to the Terms of Service.

Have a great Labor Day...if you can. . .

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Google Blogger under attack--beware of malicious links.

According to a BBC report since Aug. 27, a gang has been hijacking Blogger blogs and boobytrapping them with links that either mine computers for "saleable data" or use them to attack other computers.
Security researcher Alex Eckelberry from Sunbelt Software first noticed the booby-trapped links turning up on Blogger on 27 August.

Now many hundreds of blogs on the site have been updated with a short entry containing the link.

Mr Eckelberry said it was not yet clear how the links were posted to blogs. The bogus entries could have exploited a Blogger feature that lets users e-mail entries to their journal.

The blogs themselves could also be fake and set up solely to act as hosts for spam.

The latter part of this could mean trouble for folks who use particular templates that sploggers also like to use. Google blogger doesn't have the greatest reputation for the "personal touch" and to deal with a problem of this magnitude, may simply narrow down the template search and zap whomever. We'll see...

The Beeb report goes on to comment that the text of the entries echoes some spam emails that the same gang started sending out in January--the virus became known as the "storm worm":

(courtesy of the BBC site...)

A quick note on spammy email--as in how to tell if you've got spammy email, even if the url after the "@" looks legit. Since I don't use Outlook, I don't have that hinky view window that gives me the preview. This Outlook feature has actually triggered viruses/worms before, hence my reluctance with Outlook. Usually, anything that comes in my email with what looks like a European url is, for me, spam and is directly deleted. This past weekend, however, I got something from what looked like a non-european website with one of the subject lines listed in the box above--I believe it was the "I can't believe you did this" subject line. Since the addy looked legit (and I've received some email nasties in the past with subject lines of that sort) the thought crossed my mind to open it--that is until I checked the url associated with the email addy. I'll do this just to check out the sender. The url lead to the blog of a gamer guy--a legit blog with legit entries. Because there's nothing on my blog that would necessarily piss off a gamer, I decided something had got to his computer and I deleted his email. I'll admit this is not the best way of dealing with these things (and you're probably thinking I'm not the brightets bulb in the ceiling on this particular issue), but sometimes unknown email has lead to interesting speaking opportunities, so I don't like to delete everything (esp. when not everything makes it to the bulk email.)

With security experts expecting the virus to have infected over a million Windows PCs, I'm going to be paying careful attention to what's coming into my "In" box.

The Beeb report also mentions that the infected blogs were ones that were either set up to accept email postings or were intentional splogs. I wonder, too, if the infected blogs are ones that have been abandoned. From my cruising of Blogger blogs, I've found some interesting anomalies: (1)sometimes if a blog is deleted, the title will be ursuped by a splogger and (2)abandoned blogs that are not taken out of search are ripe for sploggers and possibly also for this kind of attack. So, if blogging's gotten to be too much for ya, deleting the blog and the account might be the best for everyone. It's pretty easy and can save all of us some serious headaches.

Besides, you can easily open up another blog when you get the "bug" again...

A quick shout-out to....

the Thursday Meetings at Berkman blogger group--for making me feel really welcome and for all the great questions they asked about "crowdsourced" journalism! It was great fun and I hope to get out there again soon (this time to hear what some of y'all are up to).

SXSW Panel Picker helps set 2008 agenda

It's panel picking time at SXSW Interactive 2008!! and my friend Bill Anderson's got a panel up there that sounds pretty interesting for anyone interested in the ways social media. Go check out Web Presence Management: Business Need or Passing Fad and cast a vote.

If you think about it, with all the hoopla re using Facebook for business networking, how blurry is the line getting between the professional and the personal? and is this making doing business (or even getting a job) more difficult? I don't know--but I kind of like keeping a certain healthy space between my business life and my personal dating, some things come out in time...

There are a number of other really cool and interesting panels to vote for, too. So, take a minute, read thru, and pick a few.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bookstores Not Obsolete, Just Repurposed for Social Media

Repurposing the local bookstore...Scott Karp bemoans the local bookstore's slow descent into obsolescence but it seems more to me that Scott simply doesn't see that most people don't use the bookstore to buy stuff like Dave Weinberger's new book. Rather, bookstores--from small locals to big chains--are doing things to make their space social. Look around at the folks sitting in the cafe. Cafes are great places to meet friends or have first dates (they're quite safe.) Many bookstores also have book signings, discussions with the authors, host book groups, knitting circles, poetry readings--lots of social stuff.

Get it--SOCIAL. As in real social, f2f, not virtual through IM, Twitter, Facebook, etc....

But nobody in Scott's comments seemed to mention these factors (except maybe me)...considering the commenters were mostly men who spend a lot of time in front of their computers (sorry to the guys there who I actually like), and are married, I'm not surprised to see them neglect the simple social things that are going around them in the local bookstores...

Takes a woman to know this stuff. Many of us value both the Social and the Media--and in ways that many Web 2.0 dudes just might not understand. :-)

another note on why chain bookstores with cafes are great first date spots you met a guy online and he seems all right. Nothing that makes you think he's an axe murderer or something like that. But, a girl can never be too sure (esp. as she gets older.) Because they're so huge, and usually full of people, chain bookstores with cafes are great "let's met for coffee" venues--and, if you're really paranoid, you can have a friend circling the store while you're meeting your date. The date never has to know at all...and you don't have to compare notes with your friend until *after* you've both left. Heck, the friend can even be a trusted guy friend (if you're *really* paranoid.) Then again, if you feel you need the guy friend, chances are you shouldn't be meeting the dude in the first place.

U-Students No-Question Google Rank--Bad News for Old News

PC World today reports on a study conducted at Cornell University that found that a group 0f 22 student with various majors didn't question where and how Google ranked a story in its search.
When participants selected a link from Google's result pages, their decisions were strongly biased towards links higher in position, even if that content was less relevant to the search query," states the report.

Okay--so it's only 22 students at Cornell...but what about when the SEO meant to get articles first in search, and first in front of the eyeballs of students, is leading them to old, outdated information? Well, for The New York Times, this is proving to be a problem: as in the case of Allen Kraus, a former deputy commissioner in the New York City Human Resources Administration. Kraus found that an old NYTimes article about his resignation from the department--an article that did not give his side of the story from 16 years ago--was coming up first in search for his name.

Nick Carr looks at the Times SEO dilemma, noting that Clark Hoyt (who wrote the Times article) makes this interesting argument for bad info "ageing out" of search:
Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, an associate professor of public policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, ... thinks newspapers, including The Times, should program their archives to “forget” some information, just as humans do. Through the ages, humans have generally remembered the important stuff and forgotten the trivial, he said. The computer age has turned that upside down. Now, everything lasts forever, whether it is insignificant or important, ancient or recent, complete or overtaken by events. Following Mayer-Schönberger’s logic, The Times could program some items, like news briefs, which generate a surprising number of the complaints, to expire, at least for wide public access, in a relatively short time. Articles of larger significance could be assigned longer lives, or last forever.

Meanwhile, JD Lasica suggests
I have a better suggestion than trying to manipulate search engine results to "sunset" negative pieces of information (which will never happen). Start a blog. Post photos on Flickr. Join a social network. There are only 476 results in Google for everyone in the world named Allen Kraus. Within a few months, your blog home page will be the top result in Google, some of your blog posts will also be at the top, perhaps your photos will be up there as well, eventually knocking that 16-year-old story down to the second or third page. Google loves blogs that are frequently updated and part of a larger conversation.

I like JD's thinking--which could lead to just about everyone hiring a p.r. person to go in and commence with the Googl'ing to fix stuff up.

But it beats going in and deleting the paper of record--which really IS what happened in the days of Mao, Lenin, and Stalin....(as the Times notes with the quote ""like airbrushing Trotsky out of the Kremlin picture." yes, it happened, folks...)

But what might be fair and ethical would be to list updates at the tops of articles with links to the updated information--thus letting know readers that an article supersedes the one they're reading at the moment, and to go to that article first. You really can't miss it when UPDATE is posted at the top of an article and there's a big ole horkin' link you can actually click to see another story.

Oh, but this might *require* hiring people to do this work. It might take way too many man-and-woman hours to complete. There's a better solution out there beyond going in and fixing things with social media--but at this moment in a world where money is tight, it might be the only thing to do....

Hmmm...maybe *this* is what Google's thinking with its new "comments" feature--and then this would make Google, with the better and corrected information, the real "paper of record."

Very creepy indeed....

ABC Network's new iCaught: a lot like Jackass (without the Knoxville charm)

Normally, I don't watch the ABC Network. Around these parts, they come thru on a Sinclair-owned affiliate and are pretty much famous for their right-wing rhetoric. But it was hard to click away when i saw the bold logo of iCaught, ABC's latest entry in the news-magazine genre (as it's very loosely defined...)

The Hollywood Reporter describes iCaught this way: It's mostly innocuous and fluffy. And it would be perfectly harmless as well except that it adds to the popular notion that news is just another way of delivering entertainment.

If you call the old guy-getting-cannonball-in-the-groin entertainment. Yeah, it's amusing, but without the guy wearing leopard-print speedos, the entertainment value is dubious....;-)

Hosted by the cutely helmet-headded, sometime Good Morning America anchor (another term used loosely) Bill Weir (hmmm...could we convince him to take the cannonball in the groin??) , iCaught was described by ABC exec David Sloan (in Varitey)as taking on "a wide breadth of potential stories, including breaking news; celebrity journalism; investigations; and stories of politics, crime, Internet hoaxes or just the moments of everyday life."

Um, do we really need a major network to reprocess and give us the stuff we can find on YouTube? And doesn't that make a show that's basically cannibalizing YouTube clips and then giving 15 minutes of fame to the clip via backstory kinda like "news" the way that yesterday's papers can be used as fishwrap and bircage liners?

Given that one of my biggest pet peeves is big networks (or even small networks) that take all rights to user-generated content, I checked the Walt Disney Internet Group's Terms of Use for iCaught and found the following:
If there exists any doubt or ambiguity about whether any User-Generated Content constitutes a Submission, such User-Generated Content shall be conclusively deemed to be a Submission. No Submission shall be subject to any obligation of confidentiality on our part and we shall not be liable for any use or disclosure of any Submission. Without limiting the foregoing, you hereby grant us (and our licensees, distributors, agents, representatives and other authorized users), without the requirement of any permission from or payment to you or to any other person or entity, a perpetual, non-exclusive, irrevocable, fully-paid, royalty-free, sub-licensable and transferable worldwide license to use, re-use, reproduce, transmit, print, publish, display, exhibit, distribute, re-distribute, copy, host, store, cache, archive, index, categorize, comment on, broadcast, stream, edit, alter, modify (including, without limitation, removing lyrics and music from any Submission or substituting the lyrics and music in any Submission with music and lyrics selected by us), adapt, translate, create derivative works based upon and publicly perform such Submissions, in whole or in part, in all media formats and channels now known or hereafter devised (including, without limitation, on WDIG Sites, on third party web sites, on our broadcast and cable networks and stations, and on our broadband and wireless platforms, products and services) for any and all purposes including, without limitation, news, advertising, promotional, marketing, publicity, trade or commercial purposes, all without further notice to you and with or without attribution (the "Submissions License").
so, essentially, you give big media the rights to make money from your stuff....

They are also quite particular as rights pertain to music:

To the extent that any Submissions submitted by you contain original songs or recordings, you hereby represent that you are a member of ASCAP, BMI, SESAC or any other applicable performing rights society and that all musical compositions (including lyrics) contained in such Submissions are available for licensing to us (and our licensees, distributors, agents, representatives and other authorized users) directly from such societies. Notwithstanding the foregoing, regardless of whether you are a member of any performing rights society, you hereby grant us (and our licensees, distributors, agents, representatives and other authorized users) a perpetual, non-exclusive and irrevocable license to publicly perform each and every musical composition (including lyrics) contained in such Submissions

So you can lose your music too....

iCaught (also please note the "i"-ness of it. wonder if they've got a deal with Apple) is only supposed to last 6 weeks, and we're in about the third or fourth week of it, and it *did* replace The Batchelor....does anybody even watch The Batchelor any more? I'd hedge a bet though that there's more to iCaught--that it's a bit like exploratory surgery...that networks are looking at this as a viable method for more cheap programming. If people like iCaught, what's to stop other networks from developing more cannonball-in-the-groin user-generated content shows? And what's to stop them from insisting that we like them--the same way they keep insisting we like reality tv shows (even after The Sopranos kicked realty tv butt.)

But, then again, what can we do with video fishwrap other than try to, like Frankenstein's monster, re-animate it in some way?

makes my head hurt just thinking about it...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Newmark Still #1 Customer Service Guy at Craigslist

After a "rumormonger" post on ValleyWag hinted that he was gone, Craig Newmark, in the SJMerc, clarified that he's still with craigslist....

Craig also mentioned to the Merc that he's joined the advisory board for a new project out of the Annenberg Public Policy Center that will help teachers and students "cut through the fog of misinformation and deception" on the Internet.

If schools aren't going to do anything about media literacy (most of the time they can't), then there has to be some sort of program developed somewhere that *will* help them. Having heard Craig at a number of conferences (and talked to him at some of those), I've got the impression that he's very concerned about media literacy and how we discern the facts on an Internet full of disinformation (or where the public record can be easily altered--see this in on who's altering their Wikipedia profiles) as much as good information.

And if you don't live here, it's hard to jump on and know, right off the bat, what's what. Guides are needed--

So, it's great that Craig's on the advisory board for this new venture--and that he's still at craigslist after all...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Almost forgot...Lisa Williams and I will be at the Thursday Berkman Blog group giving presentations on Placeblogger and Assignment Zero (respectively.) So, if you're hanging out in Cambridge, and you've got nothing to do, stop in--even if it's just to ask us silly questions :-)

Old-School meets New-School as YouTube Ads P.O's Vid Makers, Viewers

So, YouTube has started experimenting with those nasty little flash ads in the corner of some of their most popular video....and guys like Matt Harding, who has one of said popular videos, is, According to CNet none too happy with the idea "As a viewer, I don't like this at all," said Harding, whose video has been viewed more than 7 million times since it was posted a year ago. "As someone who makes videos, I would object to allowing them to put an ad on the screen. Put it on the margins, above the player but not on the screen itself."

Indeed. And, 10-seconds or not, these little ads are bloody well annoying! We already see ads like this on "commercial" TV stations--the most egregious ones on Turner stations TBS and TNT, where the ads take up far more than a small 20% corner of the screen (which is the amount of video real estate YouTube is saying its 10-seconders will take up)(BTW, the ads do start w/cable tv--more on this below...)

Thing is, so far, YouTube's expressed no intention to share any profits from these ads with any of the people who are producing the videos where the ads are placed. So, essentially, YouTube will be making money off of someone else's work. Or, depending on where they place the ads, they might even be making money off of pirated works. (nothing new to anyone looking to generate income off their own "user-generated content.")

It's not just viewers and video producers who've been squabbling over these ads--it's other video upload networks that claim they came up with this first (including VideoEgg's Troy Young in But wait guys! if my memory serves me, we've been seeing these kinds of ads on video for awhile now--they're ubiquitous on the TNT and TBS content, and have been way before YouTube or even online video came about.

And, indeed, Om Malik recalls old-fashioned broadcast TV....using these types of ads...and so do I!

Now, the technology for putting these sorts of ads within online content may be different (as Om notes), but the idea isn't any different from the annoying ads at the bottom of most TBS/TNT shows (I believe other networks like Bravo, USA, etc. are also now using those types of ads) This ad idea, however, came about as a way to halt piracy--unfortunately, it came about before the Internet, so finding a link to a news story about it is impossible. But, let me explain what I recall: Turner decided to put in these ads as ways to halt piracy of its first-run movies and of its shows. It also stopped the 5 second "dark" break between shows and commercials. Both the ads and the breaks were meant to try to halt piracy--as video pirates, using old VHS technology, were taking shows, skillfully editing out commercials (the 5-second jumps gave enough wiggle-room so the edits wouldn't affect content) and selling/broadcasting them as first run (usually in bars and such) This was also a problem with sports programing on TNT, so it also helped the MLBA make good on their prohibition on the re-broadcasting of games.

So, oddly, what was to broadcast TV a means of trying to stop piracy, may help a new media concern to possibly make money from "pirated" video. But if we take pirated videos out of the equation, what becomes disturbing is that YouTube currently has no plans to share its ad income with the producers of videos, then it's doing what many companies want to do with user-generated content: make money from it for themselves.

This was different than the goal of broadcast--which was to prevent piracy and keep money in the pockets of those who produced the product.

My, how we've taken an odd detour in all this....

The copyright fights that are hinted at by companies like VideoEgg might prove to be very interesting...

More: Lost Remote notes that the ads only appear when clips are run on YouTube. The photo above is courtesy of LR. Thanks!

Update: Gavin O'Malley at mediapost: 'OMG Advertising!' YouTubers React To In-Video Ads jha!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Freakonomics Guys Answer Question on Partial Feed

Check this out: Stephen Dubner has answered the question that's been driving Freakonomics fans crazy: Why only a partial feed?
As much as people like to say that “information wants to be free,” content does not like to be created for free. In order to pay all the writers, editors, photographers, graphic artists, technologists, and the few dozen other kinds of folks who create and curate the Times’s content, most of which is free on the web (and perhaps all of which soon will be), the Times sells ads on its site. But can’t they sell ads on a full feed, so that feed readers can still get all the content they want delivered to their computers for free without having to visit a single web site? The short answer is yes, they can, and our friends at FeedBurner, who have been distributing our feed, created a great business by doing so. But the Times and its advertisers aren’t crazy about this option. (Nor are they alone, apparently.) Why? This is the fundamental point: many advertisers do not value feed readers as much as they value site readers, since they believe that feed readers are far harder to measure and track. (The folks at FeedBurner have a different view, of course.)

In my response to Max Kalehoff's 8/10/07 post in Online Spin I said: The move to only post a partial feed could have a lot to do with wanting to drive traffic back to the NYT site–it obviously doesn’t have anything to do with reader preference. Since the Times is planning to do away with Times Select, and the Freakonomics content would have been prime for Times Select, I’m sure management is looking for another way to drive traffic and stimulate income. I’m not sure of the current state of ads on feeds, but if there’s still trouble with income gained from ads on feeds, that’s another angle to the Times doing a partial feed.

Another angle is that it makes it easier to track traffic. One can indeed count feed subscriptions, but if people have to actually click over to the article, it will display as traffic. So, depending on what’s valued more–subscriptions or traffic–I’d hedge a bet that traffic’s more important. Thus, only a partial feed.
(Note: the Times has not confirmed doing away with Times Select just yet--that is, for now, a rumor in the Daily News)

Mathew Ingram in his post on the matter also acknowledged my supposition. Big Thanks and hug to Mat!

Back to the issue at hand: the partial feed argument is what lots of us thought was simple Blogging 101--but the really odd thing is that full feeds also drive traffic to blogs, as Mike Masnick noted in an 8/13/07 Techdirt post....and, from my own experiments with my own meager traffic, I'm finding some credence in this, just like Techdirt.

For this blog, I find some regular readers will come over from full feeds at their Bloglines, Google, and Yahoo RSS readers. Sometimes they leave me comments, sometimes they just want to see the full post, maybe checking up on comments. I'm not sure if I "lose" anyone to RSS or not. How can one really know unless one counts *all* RSS reader subscriptions across as many RSS readers that are out there, and then knows everyone's particular reading habits.

Still, one could start with aggregating all of a blog's subscriptions from all various RSS readers to start. I don't know how difficult it is to collect *all* RSS reader subscriptions to get a full subscription count. Once we had this, we might then be able to calculate some data on the numbers RSS full-feed subscribers who also click through to a blog....

But this is a piece of data that doesn't exist at the moment. It then makes total sense for both the NYTimes and its advertisers to think what most of us thought was Blogging 101--that partial feeds drive traffic back to blogs, thus getting more ads in front of more eyeballs. Even while disappointing many a loyal Freakonomics reader.

It would be great to generate this kind of data to have a better idea whether full or partial feed is better. It would be invaluable to newspapers and to their advertisers.

Gad, I'd *love* to do this research! For now, nobody really knows what's what--and the default position of "partial feeds drive traffic" wins out.

Where's the Diversity in the Blogosphere?

Is Jane Hamsher right?: Perhaps there is no "cabal of straight white males who sit around a table and decide who does and does not get linked to"....**

and yeah, Jane's right about the political blogosphere. Even if we look beyond the examples given in her post, since the '04 election season, there's been an increase in diversity in the political blogosphere. There's some good representation on the state level in gender diversity--as with Connecticut and Massachusetts, where there are women bloggers with significant voices (I'm thinking of Left in Lowell and CT News Junkie for instance...)Not to mention the fair number of minority and women bloggers on the Right...

But what about diversity in the rest of the blogosphere?

In the recent AdAge Power 150 only 13% of the bloggers are women--as calculated by Kami Huyse...which precipitated The W List (Toby Bloomber's iteration here) Sure, 13% ain't a huge portion of 150--but there's been small progress over the past two years (I'm not sure of the participation of minority bloggers in the marketing blogosphere--the percentage may even be fewer than women. theres an interesting conversation re the W list at Lewis Green's blog--the issue's raised a good, solid conversation in the marketing 'sphere.)

And women in the tech blogosphere??? Well, when we're pretty under-represented in so many of the bastions where link-love occurs..

But there were two things that happened last week that demonstrate there's some troble with both gender and race diversity in the tech blogosphere: Kara Swisher wrote The Men and (No) Women Facebook of Facebook Management and the Feldman ignorance/subsequent debacle at PodTech. In these post, it became a bit clearer that there are plenty of places where women aren't, as there are places where those who are quite visible are unaware there are indeed blacks their 'sphere...

So, yeah--there may not be a cabal of white guys sitting around a table deciding who does/doesn't get linked to.Maybe that whole idea is out (and maybe the A-list idea is out, too) But maybe women could link to one another more often and help one another out. Maybe it's a matter that we don't support one another as much as we should--and maybe in certain corners of the blogosphere it's still a bitch for women to get a link in edgewise among the boys...

And I do wonder if Feldman was, in some weird way, channelling the way *some* tech bloggers see their world....which means they might need to get out more and look around at their world.

Still, there's been some progress. Incrementally. But let's also not forget that the blogosphere's still got a long way to go...

**Jane also notes the preponderance of white males attending Yearly Kos--well, no real surprise there. Most of the conferences I've attended, including some of the better ones, are still attended by predominantly white males. But that's a socio-economic/free time thing as much as any other factor. Women may not have the free time, and lots of people across all gender and race lines don't have the requisite funds to attend pricey blog-related conferences. Holding more un-conference style events on a regional basis may help this--but can we get important names to these events? Perhaps.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Could a Blogger's Union Help Us Negotiate Fair Wages?

On the issue of bloggers getting paid...Marshall Kirkpatrick suggested that bloggers should be paid between $5K - $8K per month for their work. This is about right, if you consider the time and research that has to go into creating relavent content; writing and editing that content; pinging search; and monitoring any comments and buzz emanating from daily posts.

But are we being paid anything near that amount? In most instances--no. And sometimes bloggers are asked to do a bit more than just blog...

Tom Abate at MiniMediaGuy wrote about the bloggers-starting-a-union thing, which raised the question of blogger compensation. What isn't widely known is that freelance writers have a number of different resources for comparing rates at various publications--and bloggers, at the moment don't (freelancers are also asked to do far less than probloggers.) I commented extensively on Tom's post, which he then turned into this post revealing a bit more about writer's unions and how bloggers don't have anything to really help them figure out whether or not their getting paid a fair rate for the amount of work they're being asked to perform.

So, when it comes to freelance article writing and problogging, problogging has the potential to be more time-consuming than freelance article writing, and have more legal responsibility (filtering for libelous comments *and* making sure your own posts go in without anything specious). Yet probloggers are in many instances being paid much, much less than the average freelancer.

If we think of blogging for a publication or organization as having more responsibility--and I don't mean responsibility for designing and implementing the back end--in the way in which they research and develop their own post content and how communication is maintained with commenters and other bloggers, then probloggers should probably be paid more for their work than most freelance article writers are paid. Marshall's figures are far closer to what reality should be than what's currently being paid out by most concerns looking to hire probloggers.

And maybe this is where a union might help...but is it possible to be part of already established writer's unions? or would bloggers be stepping on too many toes if that were to happen?

Just a thought....

The Common Ground Between Bad Dates and Bad Terms of Service

What's the biggest thing we risk when we go out on a date or when we make a pitch to a publication?

We risk REJECTION. And we all universally hate rejection...esp. when it comes to our attractiveness or our creative abilities...

But rejection's part of the whole dating and publishing scenes. There's no avoiding it. Yet, after awhile, some of us end up a bit bruised, and we settle for whatever comes down the pike...

With publishing, we may want to be validated so much that we might be willing to settle for Terms of Service or licencing/right agreements that don't quite have our best interest at heart. And, in the long run, could end up like that really bad relationship...

This all kinda hit me today after seeing Mark Hamilton's comment on this Techcrunch post, and then his post on's licensing--and something that made both of us a tad uncomfortable. Now, there have been others sites with hinky ToS or licensing or rights agreements, so I'm emphatically stating that Helium is NOT the only one and will elaborate further down...Mark, however, quotes the following from Helium's licencing agreement:
By submitting your content to Helium, you grant Helium (and any Helium successors-in-interest, subsidiaries, or parent companies), a worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, transferable, non-exclusive, sub-licensable right and license to, in whole or in part, with or without attribution to you, use, copy, modify, edit, adapt, publish, publicly display/perform, translate, display, create derivative works from and/or license (or sell with your authorization) and/or distribute content posted to the Site. Helium’s rights to content you submit include the right to make editorial revisions to your content; to use in any way the materials you submit on the Helium website or in other Helium media, whether now or hereafter created; to use for our own internal business purposes; and/or to reproduce and distribute the materials for Helium’s marketing and publicity purposes.

My emphasis on what I personally would not agree to in any desperate attempt to get my content published.

Now, as I stated, I am not singling out Helium--many companies that are offering to publish with the remote possibility of paying for UGC have strange Terms or other licence agreements. Associated has a number of different content licencing/Terms of Service agreements. So many so that they can make one's head spin--but it behooves anyone who wants to publish there to read all of them and decide how much content one wants to give up. Also see this post from 3/2/07 where I compare two citizen journalism sites with NBC's "First Person" initiatives. From the NBC ToS:
All materials submitted to MSNBC (the “Submissions”) become the property of MSNBC and will not be returned. Without affecting any of your ownership rights to the Submission, by submitting your Submission, you grant MSNBC an irrevocable royalty-free, worldwide right, in all media (now known or later developed) to use, publish, alter or otherwise exploit your Submission and to sublicense such rights to a licensee at MSNBC’s discretion

But the whole scheme of little or non-existent pay and loss of rights is very similar to another time period and another industry. Mark and I had a quick email conversation this a.m. about these various requests by both New Media and Old Media for UGC in many ways reflects what happened in the record industry in the 1950's and 1960's. That particular industry made similar requests of various artists--some of whom would become one-or-more hit wonders. Many artists lost control--and income--from there work, while third parties and big corporations reaped the rewards.

This has also been the case with models. In most recent memory, Jane Bainter, the inspiration for Jane's Addiction, has claimed that she was never compensated for the profits made on numerous re-prints of her iconic image...

So, there are many ways, and many instances, in which one is only thinking of the moment--that it's great to give over one's articles, or one's short stories, or songs or even images of oneself--to another entity, thinking that it's either a cool thing to do, or it will help get one's foot in the door, or for a myriad of other reasons.

But, on some level, these reasons, IMO, just don't add up when it looks like someone else might either make a good profit, or might re-purpose my content to eventually make some money from it.

As for disclosure: yes, I do occasionally give free content to's E-Media TidBits column. Poynter, for me, is a good way to get my name and thoughts out to a particular audience. I'm not pressured to feeling like I *must* contribute there--it's when I feel I want to contribute. I also get some editorial oversight. Clips on Poynter carry a bit of "weight"--and can be viewed as publishing creds. Poynter is also a 501(c)3, so payment isn't necessarily expected.

So, there are indeed instance where giving free content to particular outlets can be beneficial. But whether or not one's going to benefit should be weighed against what one may, potentially, be giving up.

Lest one wake up in the morning and find oneself not just hungover, but also feeling a tad cheated...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Super Sunday Links 8/19/07

I'm about to go out and have A Life (whatever that means--it's relative) but before I head out, here's some things to check out....

Web Users Reading More, Saying Less, Study Says According to Nielsen, we're watching a lot of video, but don't have much to say about it. Video isn't that easy to interact with anyway. But we're also using all kinds of other means to communicate--and we've had an explosion of those things in less than two years. So, who really knows how much we're saying because some of the ways in which we're using to say them aren't easily traced.

Stephen Colbert v. Andrew Keen, online troll extraordinaire Andrew Keen media whore's it up with Stephen Colbert.

BarcampBlock Shows the True Promise of Web 2.0 and BarCampBlock Day 1: An Amazing Day! BarCampBlock (the 2-year anniversary of BarCamp) is going on right now, and sitting over here on the Other Coast, all I can think of is how so much of the world of tech/blogging/tech business and so many of the discussions on that are centered on the West Coast. I wish we could do something like this out in Western Mass--these conversations are important and should be spread out across the country just a bit more. But does anyone out here really even care? I wonder.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Tagged on a Meme: Four Things....

Just found out I was tagged by tech/business journalist and travel blogger WriterJax on a really fun meme on four things....

Four jobs I’ve had in my life:
Dietary Aide (the kid who serves you food in the hospital)
Secretary for a general contractor
Assistant to the Treasurer of a non profit
Professional Blogger (yes, they paid me for doing this...not alot, but they paid me)

(Rather boring jobs, eh? yes, my life was always more fun than my work...that happens for some of us women though....)

Four places I have lived
Edison, NJ
New Brunswick, NJ
Northampton, MA
Easthamtpon, MA
(hmmm...I've travelled a lot, but keep living in the same places. wonder what that's about?)

Four of my favorite foods
Creme Brullee
Steak w/ chimichurri sauce
Chicken Curry
Spinach (go ahead, make all the Popeye jokes you want)

Four Places I'd rather be right now

Down the Shore (it's not "the beach," if you know what I mean)

New York City
Austin, TX (because it's Saturday, and they got lots of music there)
Bar Harbor, ME (where I don't ever think about the Internet)

And now I have to tag Four people (she tagged mutual friend Morriss, so he's out...) So I'll tag...

Celeste at Average Jane (got to add you to the blogroll!)
Mike at Concrete (just because)
Jason at Webomatica (because we share a love of really weird, bad cinema)
and Terry at I See Invisible People because out of all the bloggers, I've know her the longest :-)

Oh, and I know I was tagged lo these many months ago on two memes on my other blog, which is now offline, but now that I have one "home" out here, I'll just transfer those memes to this blog.

Stay Tuned....

Photo courtesy of Belmar, NJ

Friday, August 17, 2007

Sifry Departs Technorati --- Now what?

I saw the news last night: Dave Sifry announced on his blog that he's leaving the top post at Technorati...and if y'all are like me, you've been reading all the other posts on this...but what's bugging me right now is how the heck am I going to track any links to my blog???

Several blogs--including Business Week and others see more potential in Google's
blog search--even Matt Ingram has said that Google is eating Technorati's lunch. But the thing is Google blog search is awful for find out who's linking to your blog

In a term, Google sucks for this. Google doesn't go deep enough into the blogosphere to find links to blogs. It also doesn't care all that much about blogs if their not high-ranking, so it doesn't aggregate them for "Google alerts" nor for search.

Icerocket's been suggested as another alternative. It's okay, but I usually end up finding more splog links than blog links. That's helpful if I want to get peeved. Icerocket simply doesn't go as deep into lower-traffic blogs as Technorati.

Google's also done some very awful things to bloggers like me, who didn't want to lose access to the template HTML in the Google/Blogger turnover. If one didn't convert, Google's bots immediately assumed your blog to be a splog, and put NOFOLLOW tags in your metadata. This was an automated process--not a person-determined process. This stopped any bots from crawling and adding your blog to their results, thus making you a Blogger non grata. There were two steps to getting back into Google search and getting bots to follow--first, send an email to Google/Blogger about it, where, supposedly, a person reviewed your blog. Then, you have to petition the automated Google Indext to re-index your blog. Which could take from 4-8 weeks. Meanwhile, you lost any search traffic that you may have been building because Google de-indexed even all your old, legitimate blog entries!

Still, in many cases, one has to go into one's metadata and manually remove the NOFOLLOW stuff. This hasn't stopped sploggers. They've just used other blog software or did their own hacking. The majority of people who got zinged were legit bloggers.

Okay, so you're probably asking Why do you need to know who's linking to you? Well, it's a social thing! When I know who's linking to me, I know whom to go take a look at, whom I might want to leave a comment for, and who I might want to either add to my blogroll or RSS reader. This way I create social capital that can later lead to more traffic and other opportunities. FWIW, maybe I've even just made a nice blog-friend. For some of us, blogging is as much social as it is professional. It's a fine line and one that is sometimes defined differently by different people. But for me, the friendships have been very important.

So, I am sincerely hoping that Technorati can diversify enough with their other ventures to generate enough income so that and they can continue their blog search--and perhaps tout its superiority to other search features for finding blog links. The folks involved in Technorati, I believe, know the blogosphere (and bloggers) better than anybody, and that's something that a fully automated Google cannot replicate.

Note: when I worked on Assignment Zero, daily searches on Technorati for buzz were incredibly important. Technorati was one of several blog search tools that I used. Because I'm familiar with its level of accuracy and its ability to dig pretty deeply, I started there, then used other search to find overlap or other entries. Google was never used because it never gave me anything going on in the blogs that was related to AZ.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Lights are On, but Nobody's Home: USA Today Sees Soc Networking Slowdown

Social networking isn't for everybody--and social networking around news is an even rarer bird than what some newshounds may believe. Techcrunch takes a look at some signs, signals and graphs that indicate a slow-down in USA Today's experiment in social networking....but while the slowdown can be demonstrated by facts and figures, the more important questions of why cannot be answered by facts and figures...

The most undervalued, and perhaps most important questions for social networking, esp. around news are:

  • 1) Why do people want to get social with news?

  • and
  • 2)What will motivate people to stay involved?

  • Hint: it's got a little to do with the software's usability and a lot to do with who's interacting with The People.

    Far too often in social networking projects launched by Big Media outlets is the assumption that The People will just come in because the content is so cracking, and will feel an overwhelmingly desperate need to leave comments--and create profiles so everyone will know who they are and desire to communicate with them.

    Well, not really. The People nowadays have many ways to comment on the news as well as ways to build community and interact with others who are interested in the News. We've got Digg, and Newsvine and NewsTrust (among othes)...of course, we still have our own blogs, where we can profusely comment and draw in others by linking and other strategies....and if we want to we can even use our Facebook and MySpace pages to leave snippets of our opinions for our friends to see and to leave comments.

    So, perhaps the social networking and news combination doesn't fit for Big Media--especially if Big Media (like USA Today) sees itself only as the Provider of the Platform--a Big Daddy overseer that expects The People to mix and mingle while keeping a safe, objective distance from the goings-on.

    Now, Steve Yelvington's learned with Bluffton Today that in some small towns in certain parts of the country, people do indeed like to come onto the site of a small local paper, put up profiles, and network with one another, sometimes around the news, sometimes while writing their own....

    And at Assignment Zero, we learned that even if you have a site that's got some seriously user un-friendly features, that People will become passionate if they know there are other People with whom they can interact--when there are folks involved with the publication or project where ideas and thoughts and concerns can be exchanged.

    There has to be a kind of editorial involvement as Howard Owens put together for the

    Editorial direction--a clear stated purpose for People to leave information about themselves on a site, and for the content that outlets want people to talk about--is more important than some thing. As we saw with, adequate community outreach is difficult to maintain, as well as it is difficult to create strong editorial direction in an open participation environment.

    Take a look at Jonathan Weber's NewWest site to see how strong editorial direction helps build community involvement.

    So, the implementation of good social news by a newspaper isn't about sitting back dispassionately, providing cracking soc. networking software, and just letting folks have a go at it without any direction or committed staff can potentially lead to nothing happening. People now expect folks involved with a project that incorporates social networking to be involved with the community--not just be traffic cops monitoring for nasties. That means leaving comments, answering emails, moderating boards and communicating. That's what's gone on with Newstrust, and Newsvine, and even sometimes at NowPublic and Digg and even Netscape's not-as-successful social news feature.

    If the lights are on and nobody's home, you can bet that people will be curious...but they'll eventually say "that's nice" and move along....

    And maybe that's what we're seeing in this graph comparison of USA Today, NewYork Times, and the Washington Post...

    An explanation of the figures from Techcrunch: Here’s the data, showing monthly visitors down from 14 million in March to about 10 million today, a 29% drop in unique visitors. I added in the New York Times and Washington Post for comparison purposes - both are at about even levels with March....

    But nobody asks People to be as involved with NYT and WaPo as was being asked with USAT. Some have speculated that it's a content-quality problem. The only way to tell if that's a valid consideration would be to see a graph of the three outlets before social networking/news was implemented at USAT. I'd still hedge, though, from the troubles with Backfence and the successes of Bakotopia and BlufftonToday, that there's much more to my theory about editorial team involvement (and to editorial direction of the social side as well) than there is to the type of content and software.

    Just my $.02

    Update: Mark Potts has an excellent post on the Shorenstein Center's look at web metrics (and their flaws) and makes this important point:In the end, uninspired Web sites face the same fate as uninspired print products: irrelevancy and disappearing readership and advertising. If newspaper Web sites are to be the future of the industry, they need to get truly serious about their local focus and step up and take advantage of the latest technologies to deliver what readers expect from a Web site in 2007...

    and Webomatica adds his casual user's perspective on some of the problems with USAT's site (not just with the lack of people-presence over there.) Jason also point to an instance when someone from USAT got involved in a conversation--and, yes, USAT could use more folks like that!
    Hey! How did *this* happen?

    B-List Blogger

    Well, if you can't poke some fun at yourself, you just can't reserve the right to poke fun at others :-)

    Wednesday, August 15, 2007

    Will telecoms put the kaibosh on muni WiFi? (and could this seriously hurt W. Mass...)

    Well, if we go by a recent story in BusinessWeek, telecoms are at least getting cold feet:
    While 415 U.S. cities and counties are now building or planning to build municipal Wi-Fi networks, "deployments are slowing down slightly," says Esme Vos, founder of consultancy Vos's tally still marks a nearly 70% jump from mid-2006, when there were 247 muni Wi-Fi projects on tap, but that's down from the torrid pace of a year earlier, when deployment plans doubled.

    Perhaps the clearest hint of trouble ahead is that some of the companies partnering with cities on these projects, including EarthLink (ELNK) and AT&T (T), are having second thoughts about remaining in the municipal Wi-Fi business.

    Impacting this is what's gone on in the city of San Francisco, possible the most wired city in the U.S. A 15%-30% sign up rate is needed for muni wifi to be feasible--right now only 1%-2% have signed up (says Glenn Fleishman, editor of Malik gives the inside scoop on SF's muni wifi woes.

    What's getting to the potential subscribers? Competition and weak signal (a real killer). According to BusinessWeek, Lompoc, California (a wifi'd city) has about 422 subscribers, but ideally needs a total of 4,000 subscribers to cover costs. Muni wifi is about $16 a month, but folks can get super-speedy broadband for about $33--double, but better. Esp. when considering that the wifi is great downtown, but the signal isn't as reliable when going indoors.

    Telecoms would like cities to foot most of the bill for muni wifi--thing is, cities sometimes can't do it alone
    Similarly, cities that have deals that don't currently require a government investment are being asked to renegotiate existing muni Wi-Fi contracts. In Portland, Ore., MetroFi says it is pushing the city for a formal commitment to buy network services. Thus far the network is about 20% complete, and serves the downtown area

    And there's *lots* of reasons why governments don't want to get involved in providing money for muni wifi...

    So, what does that mean for a place like Western Massachusetts--not a very wired place, where many towns aren't even within shouting distance to a major metropolitan area, and in desperate need of good broadband to help education and economic growth. In fact, a major metropolitan area within our state, Boston, for many years didn't even know we were part of the state (and some still prefer to think of us as Northern Connecticut or Southern Vermont.) Pioneer Valley Connect, a combined effort between Hamden, Hampshire and Franklin counties, since 2003 had been making concerted effort to get through to our state government the need for better connectivity in this part of the state (from the FAQ):
    "Pioneer Valley Connect is a regional initiative to create a more competitive and robust telecommunications landscape in the three counties of the Pioneer Valley region. The purpose for greater access to broadband in traditionally, underserved areas is to encourage economic development as well as promote improved communication systems for education, health care and public safety purposes. The effort is led by business and community leaders from Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden Counties.

    Another great boon for the state has been the election of Governor Deval Patrick. Unlike Mitt Romney, who, I don't think, ever set foot out here (being one of those who may have preferred to view us as CT's stepchild) Patrick's been very involved, has visited Springfiled, many of the hilltowns, as well as Pittsfield (which some think of as a suburb of Albany.) Patrick's office recently (8/2/07) unveiled an $25 Million Broadband Incentive Fund (pdf) and appointed Sharon E. Gillett to the post of commissioner in the Department of Telecommunications and Cable (recently Q&A'd in the Boston Globe:
    Q The big news is the state's $25 million broadband incentive fund, which will help bring broadband access to 32 towns that don't have high-speed Internet. What are the details?

    A [The fund] is to be used to invest in hard capital assets with long lives -- things like conduits, fiber, wireless towers. Those are big parts of the up-front capital required to serve communities, and the idea is having the state invest in those assets lowers the cost for private companies to come in and do the rest of the job. The state is not a service provider . . . We're also technology neutral -- whatever works

    So, it appears that, at least in Massachusetts, there will be some funds to help assist with the build-out in different ways (towers, fiber, etc) which will then help smaller, community- centered companies, like Crocker Communications, to finish up and spread the service around (although Crocker's done a fairly decent job of things so far. There are other companies in some of the hilltowns that will most certainly benefit from this initiative.)

    So, while the issue of money and muni wifi are inseparable, the issue may play out differently in rural areas such as Western Mass than they do out in high-tech, high-stakes places like San Francisco and Boston (which, I believe has its own issues with wiring places like Roxbury.)

    I always say, the issues of the Country are far different from the issues of the City and its suburbs, and the solutions needed are different as well. Let's see if W. Mass can float the best solution for itself and get high-speed broadband to its people (perhaps, in some places, via WiMAX?) without falling under the long shadows of its far off urban cousins.

    Karp and Co. launch social networking for journalists and those who love them ;-)

    Best of luck to Scott Karp (and partners), who's just introduced Publish2 a new social network for journalists--as broadly defined as "independent “news bloggers,” “citizen” journalists, student journalists, i.e. ALL journalists" More than doing anything for "social news" (we've got lots of that) I'm hoping that it will lead to better networking.

    Scott's been at times a bit hot under the collar about using Facebook for business networking (I don't think it's the greatest for that either)so perhaps he's constructively channeled that ire in Publish2. We are, I think, coming to a point where publishers/journalists need to be able to find quality, experienced bloggers to help them with interacting--and that's something some of us online interacting veterans can certainly do. It's not a one-way street either. For me, I've always learned great stuff from the journalists I've encountered and have worked with, and welcome the opportunity to work with more of them.

    Perhaps Publish2 can be of good service to this particular (and sometimes prickly) community.

    The Better Half of BlogHer2007

    Lest all y'all think that all I have is harsh critique of a small slice of the women I encountered at BlogHer (as Anonymous feels in a comment on this post) I had planned yesterday to acknowledge today the number of great bloggers and non-blogges I met or renewed connections with in Chicago (and in no particular order)....

    Peace activist N.F. Hill--it takes great courage to be a peace activist these days....

    Sannon McKarney who blogged the panel I was on, and did a really great job...(the session was also blogged by Beryl Burns, Pepplady, and a couple of others I can't find now...)

    Farm owner Julia Wiley who blogs about running a small farm and sustainable agriculture....

    Lisa Williams, who found a number of great women placebloggers to add to her collection (in hindsight, I should have gone to the sessions Lisa attended...they sounded great...)

    Amy Gahran, my editor over at's E-media Tidbits (who I owe a column...argh...)

    The wonderful and amazingly knowledgable Susan Mernit--I always love catching up with Susan and all her adventures...

    Viviane of Viviane's Sex Carnival--a tasteful erotica blogger. She also blogs at Perverts' Saloon. She's got the grace that only comes with being older and wiser...

    Renee Blodgett who I met at the first Blogher, and seem to run into at a number of conferences....

    My great roomie Stephanie Cockerl probably one of the hardest working women in the blogoshpere...

    DaringYoungMom's Kathryn Thompson who's dealt very gracefully with criticisms of her beliefs (she's LDS) and wrote a great post about the panel and some post-panel stuff...

    Laina Dawes who keeps an excellent blog that covers topics of race...including an incident at a restaurant in Chicago that should not be happening in this day and age...

    The irrepressible Liz Henry--with too many blogs to link to! I met Liz at the first BlogHer--and am really amazed at all the stuff she's doing now (which I get to follow over at Facebook.) Guess none of us knew what would happen with our blogging careers...(and it seems like lots of us had parties in rooms...)

    and I missed Grace Davis...

    There was also Beth Kanter who I admire for the work she's done in Cambodia and the money she's raised through her blog....

    Fabulous marketing blogger Susan Getgood who did something great with her hair, and who I also didn't get a chance to talk with. We really need to catch up...

    And Barb Dybwad--we've kinda known each other off and on since the first BlogHer without knowing each other, and found out we have odd, similar sense of humor on some things...

    Photoshop queen Jan Kabili--another one of those women I've crossed paths with over the years and finally got to say "hi" to--and love what she's doing with the pod and video casts...

    Andy Sernovitz darned great, smart guy, CEO of, former CEO of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association and author of "Word of Mouth Marketing" (if you get the chance, read it...great book)

    Super-liveblogger/consultant/conference organizer Josh Hallett who I always love to run into at these seeing an old friend...'s Alex de Carvalho who I met at We Media Miami--it was just great seeing him again!

    Liz Rizzo and Celeste Liddel whom I've both known from the first BlogHer--always great to run into them. So much has changed for all of us!

    Mur Lafferty of who I shared a lunch and great conversation about videocasting and what's going on with Lulu (in general...)

    Adele Stan of National Women's Editorial Forum--something I need to dig into further...

    Maureen Caplan Grey at Grey Consulting who's also writing these days for ZDNet--not a small feat for a woman, but she's got the experience and the chops to do it. Wish'd I'd had more time to talk with her...

    Filmmaker Laurie Kahn-Leavitt, who's made a great film on the people who made Tupperware into a multi-million dollar corporation. A great story about a time when there were very little opportunities for women...

    and Paula Bruno of Golden Seeds a VC firm that focuses on women entrepreneurs....

    And Elisa, Lisa, and Jory--who make the thing happen every year...

    I know I've left some folks out--sometimes it gets tough to keep track of people and business cards. Who a couple of months, everything may surface again...

    You never know....

    Tuesday, August 14, 2007

    Rude! Rude! Rude!: today I received yet *another* email from another BlogHer alumna offering me her business blogging consulting services! I continue to be horrified by the over-zealous marketing in which some fellow BlogHers are engaging. Had this woman read my blog, she'd seen the link to the Business West article where I was interviewed about business blogging.

    I imagine that, because I'm not on the list of latter-day blogging gurus (mostly connected to Wordpress) nor am I on any other certified blogging guru du jour list, that I can't *possibly* know a whit about business blogging and that I obviously need this person's services.

    Good Networking Tip: when you get home, check out the urls on the business cards you picked up that day. Find out who the people are that you spoke to. And *don't* stick us all on your crappy email lists if you've slotted us into your "unworthy" pile.


    Fabulous Links! 8/14/07

    Found some great stuff today and want to pass it along....

    Why Full Text Feeds Actually Increase Page Views (The Freakonomics Explanation) From the TechDirt guys--a pretty compelling argument. I've had a full feed for awhile now...but since I never had a short feed, I'd be interested to see if the TechDirt guys are right

    Blogging is IT, not Journalism? from Adam, who works for a business publication. So funny! yet so true! When tell folks I'm a professional blogger, I'm always asked IT questions, too. Adam's also got a great sense of irony :-) (via Mark Hamilton)

    The Story of O Mark Hamilton baits the perverty-search crowd and gets them to read a very good piece on how journalist's views on "objectivity" are outdated.

    First Amendment Protects Posting of Unlawful Video: The court ruled that the First Amendment prevents law enforcement officials from interfering with an individual's Internet posting of an audio and video recording of an arrest and warrantless search of a private residence, even though the individual had reason to know the recording was made illegally. the case involved is Jean vs. Massachusetts State Police who got very upset when Worcester political activist Mary T. Jean posted an incrminating video on her site (Jean's been openly critical of former Worcester d.a. John Conte.)Sometimes it's only through "illegally" recording something that one can find the truth. This is an important decision and will more than likely impact all sorts of video, going all the way up to YouTube.

    Maybe it's just not the same A-list anymore

    Something's been sticking in my craw since I got back from BlogHer a couple of weeks ago...and,a post from Hugh MacLeod ("Why We're All Blogging Less) combined with a rather cockeyed view of comments posted at the BlogHerald has just pushed me to right into looking at what's changed since I started blogging.

    Let's start with Hugh (who obviously cracked me up) of his reasons why folks might be blogging less is "We got busy" And that's true for lots of folks I know. Not to mention that lots of folks are also using Twitter, and Facebook, and all sorts of other stuff that make blogging a supplemental form of social media, something you get to when you have the time. me? I've had lots of time recently as I sit around waiting to hear on interviews and such. and I don't Twitter. even though I use Facebook. So, we're busy--and we've got other nifty doo-dads to use to keep in touch.

    But Hugh was talking about "veteran bloggers"--I'm not sure I actually qualify for "veteran blogger" status. And I know I don't qualify under A-list blogger status (although some of my friends are A-listers...) This, however, got me thinking about some of the arrogance I encountered at BlogHer--which was so NOT evident at the much smaller, first BlogHer. At the first BlogHer, there were loads of A-listers (I mean, serious A-listers. People like Mary Hodder, danah boyd, Mena Trott, Halley Suitt, and Charlene Li...) and they were perhaps some of the nicest people I'd ever met. There were no pretensions, even though they had been the ones blazing a trail for women bloggers....

    This year, I was just bowled over by the arrogance of so many women bloggers. Women who'd been blogging less than a year, worrying about trademarking their blog titles, copywriting all their posts (it's implicit), and incorporating. One woman telling me about ALL the cocktail parties she'd been invited to (hmm..I didn't get any invites. I spent a really fun evening with Amy Gahran, Lisa Williams and Beth Kanter--we've just done some cool stuff, like raise over $100 grand for charity (Beth) or won Knight foundation challenge grants (Lisa and Amy) but what do we know? I later found out that some--don't know which-- of the cocktail parties may have been thrown to woo women bloggers into giving free content to various corporate we weren't missing much. My content may be free on my blogs, but it ain't free for some multi-billion dollar publishing corporation.)

    But the thing that absolutely pushed me over the edge and, thank god I was leaving early, or I would have just walked out in disgust, was an encounter with a young woman and her friend in the ladies' room. The young woman--some tall blond 20 something thing--who was bemoaning that she needed more "attention" at her blog. So I said, rather jokingly "Flame an A-lister." I don't know...I did it and it worked for me ;-) But I was absolutely stunned when she said, not jokingly, "Oh, I'm considered an A-lister, so that won't work."

    Considered an A-lister? wow. I'd been on a panel at BlogHer, with a bunch of great women, and I've had a bunch of speaking engagements over the past year, and worked on a pretty significant project that's been recognized by the Knight Foundation, I wouldn't consider myself an A-lister. I don't think of myself as a "-lister" of any kind. Further, none of the A-listers I know would *ever* say that they're "considered" an A-lister. Some don't even want the label. We do what we do. We blog for lots of reasons, but those reasons aren't for A-lister bragging rights.

    Sheesh. (I realize however, that this may have been a joke--which kind of indicates that the person making the comment doesn't know who's considered an A-lister. Then again, she could also have been doing the old female thing of complaining without wanting a solution. I encountered a lot of that at BlogHer this time--and when a soluciton was offered, a filp response "oh, I know" was given. I felt like the token guy in the room--hard to imagine with my shape...)

    But this kind of blatant arrogance *must* be being bolstered *somewhere,* and in an article in the BlogHerald on "Legal Issues With Comments" highlighted some of the thinking that just may be fueling some of the community-adverse, ego-centric stuff I'm seeing lately. Jonathan Bailey first says how allowing comments is "easily one of the most important decisions that any new blogger will be face[d]." Hmm...I thought comments were about conversing with the blogger. I thought comments were about community and that we actually *want* comments on our blogs. I thought it was comments that separated a blog from a static website. And that it isn't this gut-wrenching consideration...

    Jonathan continues: "Giving strangers free reign to post information to your site, without any editorial oversight, is a scary thing, especially in today’s legal climate on the Web." wow. we're just all inundated with *so* many comments that we can't control what others say! Also, look at the tone: "strangers" and "information"--heaven forbid anyone read our blogs other than people we know! oh my gosh! those horrid strangers! If a blogger's so concerned about strangers reading and perhaps commenting, go to LiveJournal, where you can easily regulate who reads you. Or spend some time in other online social milieu to understand how things work out here. The statement assumes malice aforethought on the part of commenters--which most people aren't going to have to deal with. Or at least not deal with on a regular basis enough to have their kinckers all bunchy...

    But it's not that comments could be left in the spirit of good will and a desire to connect--rather, comments are "an excellent opportunity for free content." wow. again. So anything I do to interact with another blogger is really giving him/her "free content." wow....what can be said about that?

    So, it seems to me that there's been a number of changes in the blogosphere--great people getting really busy with other projects, a ton of arrogance, and a certain level of detachment from community that makes some bloggers see others as "strangers" giving them "free content" (beware of strangers offering free content???) The tone and language about blogging has changed as much as the attitude about where one sits in relation to other bloggers has also changed. And I'm just not sure if these are attitudes that will sustain blogging as a form of conversation and community building(over a business proposition.)

    Maybe in the long run, I should just get more busy.....or use Twitter....where I'm surrounded by strangers telling me all sorts of little things about their lives all the time....

    who knows...

    Note: this a.m. I received an email from another BlogHer alumn offering me her course in business blogging--complete with setting up a Wordpress blog! Apparently, she hasn't read my blog. Yet once again, I am taken by the sheer arrogance of offering everyone from whom you received a business card your particular services without even finding out something about the business card giver. It's not just arrogant, but not really conducive to making friends.

    Monday, August 13, 2007

    Why does journalism education lag behind in new media offerings?

    Even at the age of 40-something, I still think about grad school. And when I think about grad school, I wonder if I should go to journo school (hence, I'd become a journalist) or if I should do an MS in communications (hence, lend some credibility to what I already know about communicating online) or if I should do something in marketing or IT I was *very* interested to read New Media Meets Campus Media from today's Inside Higher Ed....

    and it confirmed a bit of what I've had a notion of about journo and higher ed: that something's not getting thru to academia about the importance of knowing about new media. Bryan Murley (who I've corresponded with) says:
    “We don’t face the same problems economically that the industry is facing. . .” Murley, who found in a survey of college newspaper advisers that 58.7 percent in 2006, and 53 percent in 2007, thought campus media had not kept pace with the advances in commercial media. “But the industry is requiring reporters to have different skill sets.”

    The easiest target to blame are the profs: they don't understand new media. They can't shoot video or do a podcast. They're all newspaper guys who hate bloggers. yadda-yadda-yadda. Yet David Wendelken, an assoc prof of journo at James Madison University, sees there's a bit of student culpability in this. Says Wendelken: "A lot of college students select their medium in high school. When they come onto campus, they’re already a TV person or a radio person or a newspaper person. . ." yep, I've heard this before, and oddly enough, from journo prof friends who *don't* hate bloggers.

    So, in some sense, it may be that the people coming into programs have aspirations that are rooted in an old worldview of how the news business works. and maybe they're meeting up with profs who can't challenge that worldview, don't have the tenure to challenge that world view, or really don't want to deal with the hoo-ha they'd get if they challenged that worldview. (I wonder what Mindy McAdams and Dan Kennedy might say about this...hint, hint...)

    I can attest a bit to this, based on a conversation I had with a UMass journo student at New England News Forum meeting in the spring. Now, I think Mike's a great kid, but I was a little stunned on his viewpoint of blogs and online interaction. He was a dyed-in-the-wool budding hardcore print journalist, who appeared, to me anyway, to not really have considered what he might have to do with new media once he got a job (and that includes interacting with people.) He'd bought a lot of the line that bloggers are pretty bad folks who distort the news and create echo chambers--esp. when it comes to politics.

    So, I worried a bit about Mike--and hoped he'd be going to a good j-school for grad work, and hoping that some news org might actually push him to look at what's going on outside of his j-school classes...

    And speaking of j-school classes, I was contacted about two weeks ago by Philip Meyer who's running a grad seminar out at the University of No. Carolina, who on a referral from Jay Rosen, asked me to come down and talk about Assignment Zero--which is an amazing honor considering Meyer's career. In talking with him, though, I found something that I've also found in talking to other pre-corporate owned and independent journo guys: a real desire, and knowledge about, connecting with people! Guys like Meyer, who spent years in the pre-corp trenches, really get how, if journalism's going to survive, it has to start talking with people again--not just observing them from afar, like lower life forms. And part of that talking may involve talking Dan Rubin learned from Blinq....

    So it goes...journo education has to move forward and find constructive ways to get the kids to think outside the box. Journo educators and newspaper editors can't rely on demonizing life online and referring to it as a lesser form of journalism as a viable strategy for keeping journalism education pure. It's too late for that. And if the kids don't catch up, they may find themselves outsourced before they even get started.

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    NBC & iVillage: Can old and new media live together without driving each other crazy?

    I kept hearing the Odd Couple theme when I read Henry Blodget's post on iVillage and NBC and how their dreams are yet "unfulfilled": like Felix (NBC-staid old media) and Oscar (iVillage--savvy but messy new media) these are still learning how to peacfully co-exist...

    And Henry makes some excellent points--but there's some reasons why NBC made the decisions it did..well, at least some I could Henry's points:

    Henry's #1 point sez: "Viewers don't visit web sites just because you promote them on TV." But the thing is if you look at how PBS's sites get all sorts of traffic during and after shows are broadcast, it might lead a broadcaster to think they can do it too (wish I could find the stats/report on this. if I do, I'll repost link). But what may work well for PBS and independent producers like ITVS may not work for lots of MSM sites because of....

    ...Henry's #3 point: "Don't create bad TV shows to promote web sites--viewers hate bad TV shows. Excellent and compelling programming will keep people comming back and engaging in conversation (although maybe more with each other than with the content.) If you have wan, somewhat lifeless, pop-y content, that a site may not be known for, then you could, in all likelihood, kiss your community good-bye.

    Which raises the notion of disgruntled communities--both in-house and online. These matters are addressed in Herny's points #2 ("Don't decide to move Manhattan staff to New Jersey. " and #4 Don't panic and buy web properties just because Rupert Murdoch hit a home run with MySpace To point #2: just because people can work virtually, doesn't mean they want to be pushed to the other side of the river and made to work virtually. This also forces a disconnect within the main office--what is out of sight (or is it site??) is out of mind. Which it shouldn't be.

    And to point #4: if you as a main portal have trouble understanding social networking and social networks, by all means DO NOT try to Be Like Rupe! Rupe's an exception--also, I'm not sure how much Rupe tried to steer the MySpace guys' editorial direction after he bought the site. So, the MySpace guys had a direction, Rupe let them run with it via a huge cash infusion, and really didn't monkey with it by trying to incorporate it into any main Fox Network portal in the manner that NBC tried with iVillage. iVillage had a very good reputation for being a nice community as much as for its content, and sometimes to switch ownership can cause a downturn in the community. It's a loyalty thing for some people who play in online communities. And if you don't have an iron-clad strategy for re-building that community (as Rupe did with marketing MySpace to a much-younger than average MySpace demographic) you could get the downturn with no upswing.

    So, there's always much more to a disappointment than meets the eye...still, with a little bit of reflection, all isn't necessarily lost in the NBC/iVillage merger. Depends on if NBC is willing to invest in good content to propell comments and create community, and if it's willing to find other strategies to building loyalty among those community members.

    just a thought...
    Update: At MediaPost, Seana Mulcahy reviews habits of teen-agers as to how they relate to TV content...this could give NBC some insight....maybe...

    Do women want Glam? or does it take an iVillage?

    In the dating-and-mating game, women learn to conceal as much as they it's been quite interesting to follow the conversation at TechCrunch re the Glam ad network--with Arrington's concluding (after revealing some of the numbers): "Glam is an advertising network, and runs a very good SEO operation, but they are not the no. 1 destination site on the Internet for women."

    I spent some quality time with Glam this a.m. and wasn't all that impressed--lots of ads confronting me, with content buried somewhere within. I had to click around and click around before I was able access anything that resembled original content. Even then, I wasn't sure of who the authors were of the original content--for all I could tell, they might be "character" content producers (a single name covering up for a couple of people.) All I could think of was "hmm, easy way to keep women on the site--make them click through everything before they find something to read..."

    Still, in Arrington's comments, there are two from Glam "publishers"--yet neither of them links to whatever it is that they "publish" either on or for Glam. So, I can't take what they say too's a transparency thing...

    In looking at the Glam Network, I find a number of blogs that haven't been updated in recent memory: such as "Ageing Fabulous" (which hasn't been updated in 66 days, 3 hours, 22 minutes--thank god. The last condescending post was on age spots...) I did come across "Stiletto Jungle," which also has a blogspot blog (and may get a whole bunch of links from the feitsh community--that's one quick way to boost your SEO!) But once again I'm troubled by a site that has blog with no discernible author. (sorry, no links. the link to Glam was enough...)

    So, perhaps it's that Glam isn't about providing information at all--and thus just an ad network.

    Still...why must there be preponderance of no-name anonymous blogs? Is it that the blogs are simply there to shill product rather than provide content? Perhaps...

    Which, for this woman, makes Glam one big yawn...

    Aaron Wall looks at the Google/SEO side of the story...

    Oddly related to this is a piece in the NYTimes on NBC's troubles with iVillage. iVillage was, and could still be, the #1 destination site for women. Part of that had to do with iVillage's communities (which were very popular.) The Times makes a salient comment: "But NBC Universal’s struggles with the online property underscore the snags that can arise when trying to bolt a new media operation onto an old one. " and most definitely there were back-end problems trying to put the two together (no minimizing that aspect) but there also may have been some trouble understanding iVillage's community. As in what women who used iVillage were looking for and why they kept coming back. This could be two things: they could have come in for the content, and later stayed for the community("iVillage survived the dot-com collapse partly because of its devoted user base and experienced sales staff".) iVillage has always had a good level of transparency as well--so an ad network can also provide credible content.

    So, a lot remains to be seen out of Glam...but the lack of transparency is something that doesn't engender a lot of trust or loyalty. Maybe it will end up being one of those bursting bubble 2.0 things. will be interesting to watch....

    Important Update: The WSJ published Web Network offers Reebok Flexibility from 4/25/07 describing the ad campaign that did for Reebok:
    Glam Media is one of several emerging Web networks that offers advertisers the chance to run narrowly targeted and heavily customized ad campaigns -- with customized the operative word. Lots of Web firms, of course, help advertisers target specific groups of people on different sites. What makes Glam and other networks, including female-oriented properties SheKnows and Sugar Publishing, stand out is their willingness to devise new marketing formats, ad executives say.
    So, in a sense, Glam has duplicated what many fashion magazines are all about--loads of advertising with no one really caring about who's writing the copy in between. So, it doesn't hurt that the copy is anonymous. It's just fluff between the ads. I didn't think that was the reason for blog networks...(disclosure: WSJ linked to this post before this update fact, that's how I found it the article. who knew? thanks WSJ!)