One Man and His Blog: December 2006 Archives

December 2006 Archives

December 25, 2006

Happy Christmas


Wishing you all a very merry Christmas.

December 23, 2006

links for 2006-12-23

December 22, 2006

Al Fayed is Blogging

I note, via Jackie, that Mohamed Al Fayed, owner of Harrods, has a blog.

I'm surprised that it took such a relentless self-publicist so long to get on the bandwagon. (And no, I still haven't forgiven him for zombifying Punch).

Training For YouTube

December 21, 2006

The Naked Blogger: Authentic and Transparent

I must admit that I've never been a great fan of the Blog Herald. All too often it felt like a bunch of fanboys running what purported to be a news blog. To me, it failed to live up to its aim of being a news source for the blogging world. However, since the blog's purchase, a whole bunch of new writers have arrived.

One post, by new author Liz Strauss, stuck a chord:

Authenticity and transparency are the reason I love blogging. They are what connected me. They make strong, brave, and vulnerable. They are the power of the truth. Nothing can undercut, overwrite, argue down what I say, if I write in my own authentic, transparent voice from the truth I know. I am safe and I am able to add something valuable.

She's right. These two ideas are what make blogging so powerful - and why it's hard for journalists to become good bloggers sometimes, as we're trained to take ourselves and our processes out of what we write.

Which is why the observation about two-faced reactions to Le Web 3 made by Tom and Nicole puzzles me so much. Says Nicole:

It is not new, but it amazes me to see the amount of people being two faced.

As for example people telling you �you voiced exactly how I fell and I will never talk to him again� (being far over the top on this) and then suddenly when writing their own posts or giving comments they state that everything was great, wonderful and no problems to be seen?

Tom points out that people will notice, and he's absolutely right. The web is a transparent medium, where all your comments and posts are easily collated and compared. People will read around a subject and will make comparisons.

So why on earth do it? Are these people really savvy enough to be reading blogs discussion the cutting edge of social media, without being savvy enough to know that unexplained contradictory positions will come around and bit them on the bum?

Perhaps this is just the result of a transitionary stage, with people seeing the possibilities of social media, without really understanding the full and total implications. If that's true, we're in for some very red faces in the blogosphere in the years to come.

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Delicate Media Handling of Suffolk Murders

From the resurgent Casino Avenue:

You are a TV news network. You see a man has been arrested, suspected of being one of the worst serial killers for some years.

You discover he has a MySpace account. What do you do? Do you....

a) Not mention it.
b) Show some pictures from it, taking care to obscure tell-tale details that'd allow people to hunt down the site.
c) Show a screen grab of the whole bloody thing!

You gather together all your knowledge of the internet, and chose.... c. You get a reporter who knows nothing about the internet to declare he'd �kept a blog on the website MySpace�, even though the bit where the blog should be is empty.

The whole spate of murders in Suffolk has taken place not terribly far from where my Mum lives. It's shocked the whole area, and seems to be a constant thread of conversation in pubs, butchers and supermarkets.

Having idiot journalists with a cursory understanding of the internet blundering in really doesn't help.

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December 20, 2006

'tis the season

Somehow, Christmas seems to have caught up on me by stealth, this year. We're only a few days away from the big day, yet I'm still here in the office, coding some changes into our Movable Type templates to make all our blogs more friendly to the search engines.

The building is getting strangely, quiet, and I suspect there will only be a tiny handful of us here by Friday. Perhaps I can get some serious work done now...


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December 19, 2006

Figleaves is Blogging

I was just doing some last minute Christmas shopping, when I noticed, to my surprise, that Figleaves, the internet lingerie retailer has a blog, hosted on Typepad.

That'll add a little cheer to my daily RSS trawl...


Why Do Farmers Get Naked?

The Black Sheep blog asks the important questions this Christmas time.


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December 18, 2006

Le Web 3: One Man's Verdict

Loïc Le Meur has responded to the criticism made about Le Web 3 in a long, thoughtful post.

Le Crowd 3

I do want to directly address some of the issues mentioned, but I'll save that for another post. I do, however, want to get my own, personal feelings about the conference down, just for the record.

I had a blast. The conference was far from perfect, but I had an enjoyable, stimulating and though-provoking few days. I probably come from a slightly different perspective from many people there. I uneasily straddle the line between the old media (I've been a business journalist for 13 years now) and the new (I've been blogging in one form of another for the past five years, and am now a blog evangelist within a business publisher). In many ways, this conference was built for me, because it was an uneasy meeting of the core of long-term bloggers and the wider, mainstream world who have gone from mockery and cynicism about blogging to a business interest.

Was there an inherent conflict there? Yes, of course. There's been a strong streak of "down with the mainstream media, down with existing business" in much of the early blogging rhetoric, and many people are deeply committed to those ideas. Seeing such an obvious point of meeting between the mainstream and the revolutionary is not going to be to everybody's taste. But, if blogging, and Web 2.0 in general, is going to be as revolutionary as the claims made of it suggest, it needs to enter the mainstream somehow, either by destroying the existing mainstream, or by subverting it from within. And given my job right now, you can guess which method I favour…

Continue reading Le Web 3: One Man's Verdict.

December 16, 2006

Snappy Guardian Interview With Six Apart

Wow. I completely missed this brief interview with Mena Trott and Andrew Anker of Six Apart. It's a great wee posting, because it give some real insight into where the company's going over the next six to nine months (which is something I care about seeing as I use every single one of their products from Vox to Movable Type Enterprise).

It also gives some initial, and quite amusing, reaction to the L'affaire Lo�c:

Mena Trott: I don't think anyone thinks that as a company we're pushing a French political agenda. Loic's a very large personality, but we trust our team members and groups to act independently.

AA: It's a bit like a case of �we don't mind what people say as long as they spell our names right�: we don't mind what people say, good or bad, as long as they're using our tools to do it.

NIce work, Mr Johnson.

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D&D: Not For Geeks, Honest

When your teenage years comes back to haunt you:

Found via Workbench

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Le Web 3: Loïc est mort?

Loïc Le Meur is dead(knowledge of French handy, if you follow that link)

And, through a blogging medium, no doubt, he speaks from beyond the grave on the Sam Sethi issue.

*not really

December 15, 2006

Le Web 3: All Photos Online

I've just finished uploading the last of my Le Web 3 pictures to Flickr.
Le Web 3 Photoset

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Sam Sethi posting again

Sam Sethi, late of TechCrunch UK (itself possibly late…) is posting again on his own blog, Vecosys.

December 14, 2006

Le Web 3: Blogstorm reaches a fourth stage

Today I've realised that there are multiple stages to a really good blog storm.

  1. Criticism
  2. Pile on the band wagon
  3. Defenders wade in
  4. The rise of humour

We've clearly just reached stage 4. Boris pointed me towards this very unofficial merchandise. And Tom has contributed this little gem:

Le Web 3 comic

Also on Flickr.

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Le Web 3: Le Web 4 Beta challenge underway

The Gay Expat is the first to take up the Le Web 4 Beta challenge.

Who's next? Remember, just say what you'd like to see in a theoretical Le Web 4 and tag your post leweb4beta.

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Trackbacks: A Small Apology

I've just discovered that Trackbacks haven't been working on this blog for, well, months. Probably since the Movable Type 3.3 upgrade. Somehow, I managed to delete a crucial file, which I have now restored. D'oh.

Anyway, if you've linked here and not got a Trackback acknowledged on the post, please feel free to reping me. It should all work now.

Once again, sorry.

Le Web 3: Did You Love or Hate It?

The Internet Entrepreneur is running a poll on how much people enjoyed Le Web 3. The results so far are� interesting.

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December 13, 2006

Le Web 3: Mike Arrington Explains Sam Sethi Situation

Mike Arrington has put up a long post on CrunchNotes explaining why Sam Sethi was sacked, from his point of view. It's a very different one to the story Sethi has been promoting:

The actions that resulted in his dismissal were additional comments he wrote on that second post, announcing "that TechCrunch UK will be doing a series of seminars and a conference next year as well as a series of smaller meetings in conjunction with friends & partners which have been in the planning for sometime now."

These events were not discussed with me, and certainly were not approved. The fact that he announced and promoted them while trashing a competing event was a clear conflict of interest and was not appropriate. I do not consider this to be ethical behavior.

The Guardian's media blog, Organ Grinder, has some coverage of the story, too.

Le Web 3: What should Le Web 4 Look Like?

Y'know, I'm not a great fan of relentless criticism.

It's obvious that there are a lot of people who were unhappy about what happened at Le Web 3. But, by now, most people have already expressed what they though about it and what made them happy. And, until Lo�c recovers enough to post, I'm not sure there's huge amount extra to add.

Now, how about we turn that on its head, and start saying what they'd like to see in a Le Web 4 (or equivalent) conference. And I do mean �conference� here, rather than unconference. I think there's room for both a good unconference and a good conference in Europe.

So, post what you'd like to see at a theoretical Le Web 4, and tag your posts leweb4beta.

And let's see if the blogosphere can do creativity as well as criticism.

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Le Web 3: Hugh Spreads The Love

Fashion & Love 2.0

Hugh MacLeod makes some 15 good points about Le Web 3. Here are the two that struck me the most:

I think what some of my fellow bloggers failed to understand is that we bloggers are not his only constituency, and with Le Web 3 Lo�c was trying to put a show on for all of his constituencies, not just our little niche. That explains why he changed the name of the event from Les Blogs to Le Web. That explains the curious mashup of folk that were there: bloggers, techies, VCs, politicians, entrepreneurs, mainstream media etc. Evolution is a good thing. Vive le difference.


I feel that the golden age of �The Blog Conference� is passed. It seems all that needs to be said about blogs has already been said, and said well. Now it�s time to stop talking about the blogs themselves, and start finding new stuff to do with them. Blogs are great, but real life is more interesting. From the way Loic had organized the conference, I think he would agree.

Mucho food for thought there.

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Telegraph Blogs are 1 Today

I just wanted to say a quick �congratulations� to The Telegraph's blogging team. Their blogs are one year old today. I remember reading about the launch of their blogs in a copy of the paper I found in a hotel lobby on the Isle of Wight a year ago. They've been doing an excellent job over that time, and I subscribe to the RSS feeds of several of them.

Who says that old media can't start to use new media techniques?

Shane Richmond has collected some of the best posts from that year. Go and enjoy.

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Le Web 3: Sam Sethi Fired? Mystery deepens…

Pat Phelan at Roam4free has confirmed that the "disappearing post" I noticed in the TechCrunch UK feed earlier does indeed mean that Sam Sethi has been fired for his posts about Le Web 3.

Update: OK, now this post has vanished. What the hell is going on here?

Update 2: Pat assures me that the post linked above should still be online, but I can't see it. Still, there's other confirmation of Sethi's firing on Cubicgarden.

Update 3:Confirmation from TechCrunch UK and Pat's post is visible again.

Le Web 3: Lo�c Le Meur To Comment

Looks like Lo�c will be responding to the criticisms. From a comment he left on TechCrunch UK:

I will post more on my blog later,

Excellent news. He also gives a reason for his earlier, brief comment on the same blog.

take the insult as an exhausted organizer after a few crazy weeks.

I hate to think what it must have been like, coming back from an exhausting few days to find a shitstorm of criticism waiting�

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Le Web 3: Round the Blogs

Anthony Mayfield, who was great company during the Le Web 3, has posted his measured reactions to what happened.

Nicole Simon singles out Orange for criticism about the WiFi in the hall. I'd like to go further than that, because not only did their WiFi in my hotel periodically log me out for no reason, the WiFi in Gare du Nord refused to recognise my week-long account while I was waiting for my train. Really, I will avoid Orange whenever possible in future.

Ewan Spence gives a speaker's eye view of the problem:

Unfortunately Lo�c Le Muir, the organiser, (�) cancelled my session for another �surprise speaker.� By deciding (for whatever reasons) to provide a platform to the ex-Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Perezm and French Presidential candidates Nikolas Sarkozy and Fran�ois Bayrou, Le Web 3 was turned into a political rally, all the attendees and sponsors will now be used to provide legitimacy for the candidates views, a good number of speakers have not been able to put on a great show, and the general feeling from attendees is as close to a lynch mob that the blogosphere can muster.

Ewan managed to put on a superb show anyway, and I'll be blogging about that later, as gaming is a subject close to my heart.

Scoble noticed.

And his Naked Conversations co-author has wise words:

Ian, enjoy the conference. Meet people. Share thoughts. I hope the food is better. At the end of the event look back. I have a hunch you will feel you got your 600 Euros worth.

You know, what? I have many criticisms of the conference, but the chance to meet people like Tom and Stephanie and Hugh and Maarten and others made it more than worthwhile for me.

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Back from Paris

I'm back in RBI towers after my sojourn in Paris, and finally had the chance to check my feeds. My, oh my, the reaction is just growing and growing isn't it? Tom Morris is continuing his superb job of collating the reaction to LePolitics3.

Oh, and Loïc has (allegedly) made his first response to the criticisms… And, interestingly, a post has popped up in my feed reader saying that the author of the post, Sam Sethi, has been asked to leave TechCrunch because of his comments about Loïc. The post has since disappeared from the site.

I've got a few more posts to make on the subject, and I'll get to those once I've had the chance to deal with a few problems that have cropped up in my absence.

December 12, 2006

Le Web 3: New Democracy or New Media?

Dave Weinberger

Dave Weinberger started with the acute observation that politicians don't own the internet - we do. And that many of today's visitors seem to have missed that.

But moving on, he's talking about the Howard Dean as an example of the potential power of the internet in bringing people back into democracy. Broadcast has a distorting effect on democracy, he asserts.

There are three key ideas in his argument that the web and mainstream media are very different:

The media is self-contained. Media sits on its own. Blogging is built out of links and a little bit of generosity. Gives an example of the NYT not linking out. It is �narcissism�. �We're bigger than they are!�

The web uses metadata to help determine what is good and relevant, which is the distributed equivalent of the panel of white middle class men making decisions.

Externalization: We're building an infrastructure of meaning by externalising opinions and information.

(Of course, one has to ask if there's any good reason why professional media can't do all this.

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Le Web 3: Maarten's WebCam Perch

Maarten's WebCam Perch
Originally uploaded by Adam Tinworth.
What to do when a supermodel is blocking your webcam�

Maarten has been making some Le Web 3 videos.

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Le Web 3: The Sarkozy Show

Nicholas Sarkozy at Le Web 3

So, the political roadshow continues with the arrival of not-yet-a-French Presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy arriving with a huge media pack in tow.

So, what does he have to say to us eager bloggers? Well, I can't help feeling he's not talking to us, but to the attending French TV cameras. But here's a taster of the relevant stuff.

France is lagging behind on internet, he says. "We are trying to catch up. The access rate to high speed internet is good. We have exceptional bloggers.

"We are lagging behind in culture and government. The state did not create the conditions to make France a country of innovation. It wasn't ready."

The French Media

He mounted a defence of copyright and respecting people's right to be paid for the work. The internet must be one of the priority sectors along with life sciences.

There are some interesting ideas here, such as free sites with the digitised public archives on them, but fundamentally he's making an election speech to the cameras. Not much he's saying is relevant to the 50% of the audience that isn't French.

He does say that he wants to make France a more hospitable place for entrepreneurs, instead of people fleeing to the UK, Switzerland and the like.

Most controversially, he's making an impassioned flee for regulation and censorship of the internet. He's using the standard bogie man: eeeevil people abusing the internet for nefarious ends. Having ethics is not the same as restraining liberty, apparently. We must be aware that our liberty is bound (liberty is bound??) by responsibility.

In summary: he thinks we are the future and he plans on regulating the hell out of us.


And now he's gone, without a chance for discussion. A hit and run speech.

Le Web 3: Danah on Youth Culture

Danah Boyd

danah boyd gave a break-neck pace presentation of youth culture and its interaction with MySpace earlier. I couldn't blog it at the time, because I'd lost all connection to my blog server, but all seems well again. It gives some idea of the importance she places on MySpace's role in teen culture that If you do not have a MySpace page in US as a teen, she thinks that socially, you don't exist.

MySpace's growth, particularly in the music area is partially attributable to the misstep of a previous player in the field Friendster tried to control how people used it and saw a backlash as it kicked people who weren't using in in the prescribed way kicked off the site. MySpace actively sought out these people.

It's since become a whole new paradigm of communication, actually articulating a community in the wider sense.

However, there are two growing problems in the MySpace world: parents and predators (mainly marketers).

Parents can go check out what you're up to on MySpace now it's widely known about, And there are thousands of people trying to figure out how to become a teen's friend and sell them stuff. Now teens can't even talk to their friends on MySpace because 2000 messages from people trying to sell to them are in the way.

The future is likely to be on mobiles, but the lack of interoperability, between networks and handsets is still a barrier.

Interested in this? Check out this fuller précis.

Le Web 3: Mena Trott

Mena Trott of Six Apart

Mena Trott, star of last year's big controversy is on stage, giving a very, very quick presentations on what Six Apart has learnt about social blogging.

Main points:

  • Personal blogging is probably bigger than "publishing to the world" blogging.
  • It's not just about women
  • Have a posting prompt, like Vox's QotD feature is a great idea
  • Make it as easy as possible to post rich media, because that's what many people care about.

And she's done. That was quick.

Le Web 3: Hijacking

There's no doubt that today's conference has been hijacked by French politics. Sessions have been compressed or bumped to accommodate the political beauty parade, and the discussions are of tangential relevance to the conference at best.

I'm in two minds about this. The blog-champion geeky part of me is irritated, frankly. I came here to learn about the cutting edge of web media, and this just a distraction. I imagine the people who paid to attend out of their own pockets, rather than their company's, will be even more annoyed. It feels like the conference has been used to promote a political agenda of blogging's role in French society. And, when 50% of the attendees are from overseas, that's pretty thoughtless.

On the other hand, that's exactly why the journalist part of my brain is excited by it. On a meta level, the fact that Lo�c has been able to attract the calibre of person here that he has is mind-blowing. Can you imagine politicians in other countries dropping by a geeky conference at very short notice? No.

There's plenty to learn about the role that social media is playing in France. It's a shame the conference hasn't given us more of that.

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Le Web 3: French Presidential candidate Fran�ois Bayrou

A French politician this time, Fran�ois Bayrou from UDF, a centrist party. He's talking in French, so be aware that I'm blogging a translation.

Fran�ois Bayrou

He things that bloggers are important to a candidate who isn't supported by the mainstream (and powerful press). And we've seen in the US how powerful blogging can be for politicians. Then he cites Howard Dean, who probably isn't the best example. There was more hype that real results there.

Bayrou suggests that the internet is a fifth power which carries great hope for the future. He like open source software and wikis, He knows how to play to the crowd.

He thinks we represent about 60m readers, and that's why he though it important to come address us today. The growth of blogging is an important moment in human history.

And lots of jokes which have the French people laughing and which aren't being translated�

Lo�c has publically declared his support for Nicolas Sarkozy (Wikipedia has a summary of the French presidential candidates) and thinks it was good of Bayrou to come despite that.

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Le Web 3: Backchannel

Backchannel: #leweb3 � join us.

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Le Web 3: Is old media dead?

Here we go, another session about the death of Old Media, with four new media types and a single old media chap as the chair. And precious little revealing content.

Are people making money from their sites yet? Not really. Will journalists go? No, they'll still be there are selectors of other content.

Chappaz suggested that most media companies in Europe are poor and can't invest in the web, or acquire Web 2.0 companies, but didn't back that up.

The audience seems to think that the small companies on the stage will be bought by bigger firms within five years. Those on the stage disagreed.

Tom Morris just chipped in with a question about the journalists getting in for free and the bloggers paying, pointing out that the Old Media gets priority even at this conference, and referencing this post on Comment is Free. Pity no-one really answered it.

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Le Web 3: Farewell, coffee break. We barely knew you�

The coffee breaks are gone. The conference is going to run pretty continuously and we can wander out and get refreshments when we need them.

That's a problem. It takes networking out the back and shoots it in the head. And it emphasises how the timing of Le Web 3 is up the spout.

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Le Web 3: Shimon Peres On The World's New Age

Peres is here, surrounded by slightly more television cameras than is feasible. As one, the bloggers rise to greet him with their digicams.

Peres thinks people around the world are depressed by how much of a mess it's in. He disagrees- it's pregnant with a new age. �The stone age is over, not because there is no more stones, but no more age. Finished. You people of the internet are trying to give birth to this new age. You are the midwife.�

Shimon Peres and Lo�c LeMeur

And he certainly thinks that information technology can change things: �Why should we waste our intellectual energy remembering things? Google can do it for us.�

The sort of comment only an old man can make, perhaps.

He went on to make an interesting assertion about the future of world politics: �States, countries, borders and governments are no longer so important,� said Peres. �They were important when we were making our living from the land.�

This lead to setting of boundaries, and wars for land. That time is gone. �You cannot put borders on science. It is nonsense. You cannot have armies defending wisdom.�

And there are some inherent problems with current politics. All ministers want to be popular, in his experience. �And if you want to be popular, you lose freedom of action.�

In the old age: wealth was a matter of accumulation. Today, what you accumulate doesn't stand the test of time. It devalues all the time, It is not what you have accumulated, but what you have �penetrated�. It's not square miles, its the number of patents.

Continue reading Le Web 3: Shimon Peres On The World's New Age.

Le Web 3: Shimon Peres

Shimon Peres
Originally uploaded by Adam Tinworth.

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Le Web 3: Pierre Chappaz, Take 1

Blah blah blah�diffuse media�blah blah blah�Ajax. Nothing new here. And now he's been bumped by an Israeli politician's arrival.

It's tough keynoting here.

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Le Web 3: Lo�c's Plea for Manners

Lo�c's on stage and making a plea for a little respect from the audience to our political visitors later in the day. We can write what we like on the blogs, apparently, but we need to be a little bit respectful in the hall �because this is rare�.

That seems fair.

However, he also asked people to close their laptops during the politicians' addresses. Some chance.

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Le Web 3: Hell, It's The Pigs

As I staggered out of my hotel and lurched towards the conference centre, I couldn't help but notice the large number of gendarmes on the street. As I approached Le Web 3 itself, their numbers markedly increased. The police were everywhere.

Getting through the door required a security check (conference badge and passport), as well as a search of my bags. Maarten from Six Apart mentioned that a collegue of his that had been here early this morning had seen a bomb sweep with sniffer dogs.

Looks like Mr Peres is coming to talk to us�

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December 11, 2006

Le Web 3: Photos

You can see my pics from the first day of the conference in my Le Web 3 Flickr Set.

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Le Web 3: The Old Media Strikes Back

So, will communities kill the media?

Umm, no. The people on the floor didn't think so. The panel didn't think so. However, as Yossi Vardi pointed out, there will be a shakeout in existing media as people's balance of time and attention shifts. He also said that �blogs� is too general a words, and that we need to start creating a breakdown of categories. David Sifry should create them, suggested Vardi.

But we're now talking about burger marketing. Not quite sure what this has to do with the media. Stephanie Booth made a valiant attempt to turn the conversation around, to no avail.

Ah, but now she's hitting her stride. The old media is transforming, she suggests. On the 7/7 bombings, she heard about the vent from a friend, but when she went to the BBC site, it was soliciting user reporting. Professional th can bring analysis and reporting, and a load of first hand information comes to complement that.

Scott Rafer of MyBlogLog is suggesting that Old Media only adopts community by accident, giving the example of US newspapers. In my experience this is, well, a load of MyBlogLogs. In the UK there are plenty of management level community moves in the old media. I'm part of one, for a start.

And hang on, why was there no-one from old media on this panel? D'oh.

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Le Web 3: The problem with today's sessions

I think the problem with this conference is a lack of hard chairing: too many speakers are getting away with dodging hard questions and pretty straight product plugs, and the restlessness in the audience is palpable. These are some good speakers: they need equally good moderation to get the best out of them.

Mind you, better air con in the hall would help, too�

Update: an example: �Where are your users coming from?� �Everywhere.� And then he changes the subject. Aaargh.

Another comment on this from Inside Web3.

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Le Web 3: Going Global with NetVibes

So, what's behind the success of NetVibes? Openness says Tariq Krim of NetVibes. They let local customise the site locally for them. It's an open architecture so people can build their own modules for it.

This openness, and harnessing the power of the community, allows them to expand much faster.

A short presentation, and not great delivery, but some very interesting ideas. I must play with NetVibes more. I know that Piers is a great fan.

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Le Web 3: Old Europe vrs Silicon Valley

For some reason, this conference seems tgo be more about slightly negative affability rather than confrontation or passion. Loic came on after this session and said that he wanted to stop things getting too negative. Maybe the fact that I'm the only person in the hall who seems to have reliable WiFi is influencing the atmosphere�

The panel, on the whole, came down on the side of Silicon Valley, because Europe is such a diverse, fragmented area.

Brent Hoberman pointed out that couldn't go pan-European organically - it had to acquire to do it. It might be easier to roll out tools rather than services.

Marc Canter of Broadband Mechanics talked up his product. Ho hum.

Martin Varsavsky of Fon suggests that people want to pin down companies as being national. You can accept that, but spin it a different way. (Readers might like to note that I pinned his firm down as �Spanish� in my last entry.)

The broadband differential between the US and Europe (Europe has better bandwidth now) should allow European innovators to build the high-bandwidth applications first. But, says Georges Nahon of Orange, California has risk taking in its DNA in a way that Europe does not. Go there and get infected.

Canter finally chips in with something useful - focusing on the region is weird, he suggest, because there are multiple regions of specialisation in any field.

Hoberman points out that interoperability of mobiles across Europe just isn't there yet, so location-based services don't work where they're really useful: abroad.

Onwards to NetVibes, which is a success and which should pick people up a little.

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Le Web 3: Getting International The Spanish Way

Martin Varsavsky, of the Spanish company Von, is giving a curious presentation on how difficult it is to create an international business from Spain, citing certain cultural resistance to entrepreneurial success. He's been challenged from the audience suggesting that the entrepreneur mindset is rare in any culture.

And that's probably true.

But is it a problem?

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Le Web 3: Selling Online

Another panel, this time about selling online. (Transactions! Hurrah!)

There was some discussion of allowing users to create their own products, through a community of creativity using an online service to create and sell their work. This is the Cafe Press model.

Google's domination of traffic can be broken, if you create a creative community around your shop, according to Lukasz Gadowski of Spreadshirt. In contrast, Bjorn Kvarby still feels that Google is king, and they "buy" traffic through Google advertising.

Brent Hoberman, a co-founder of, noted that the smart companies who looked to acquire the firm asked where the traffic was driven from.

Otherwise, there didn't seem to a huge amount of coverage of ideas significantly beyond what you might call Web 1.0 ideas. Hmm.

Le Web 3: Enterprise 2.0

Enterprise 2.0 @ Le Web 3.0

There's something wrong with a panel where the participants are trying to figure out what the panel's about half way through...

A few notable things:

SocialText has 2,000 customers for its wikis, slightly over double last year.

Lee Bryant of Headshift: People are using 1990s software based on 1950s management principles. Tools like Microsoft Sharepoint "try to roll themselves across companies like a nasty flu", whereas those grown internally from the users are much more successful.

Enterprise 2.0

Ross Mayfield of SocialText: "Kids do their homework on MySpace. In school, that's cheating. In business, that's collaboration."

Second Life might well be Enterprise 2.0, with companies opening up within the virtual world, and using its currency.

(I'm a bit bored, frankly)

Le Web 3: LinkedIn to the Future?

Reid Hoffman Reid Hoffman, one of the founders of LinkedIn, is giving a rambling vision of the future, so I'm going to match it with a rambling summary of what he's saying.

What does everyone being a publisher mean? Everyone will have some sort of professional profile online, which will have both social and commercial benefits. MySpace worked because it created a place where you could play cool to your classmates. On the other hand, there's places where a real community matters, like Facebook and Vox. (I'm on Vox!) The filtering of real information becomes more and more important on these virtual representations of physical net.

Ubiquity of usage will start to have an impact: more PR and brand blogging, more wikis. As you get ubiquity, the problem of getting enough people in to make it useful is solved.

And interoperetability between systems will become more and more important.

There's a need for separation between your social and business online presence. Do you want people to find the pics of you dancing on tabletops? (Yes, if you're a table dancer...)

And now we've moved into the LinkedIn plug. Time to upload some pics.

Le Web 3: Blogs, both Worldwide and European

Dave Sifry at Le Web 3Dave Sifry of Technorati is up and giving the live version of his State of the Blogosphere speech.

One interesting thing he has pointed out is that there are spikes of blog activity whenever a major world event happens.

And now, he's begging the French to start pinging Technorati so his service better represents the French market.

Oh, now here's something for my colleagues to start thinking about. How is trade media doing in the link rankings? Not well. They're disappearing down the listing ranks as niche bloggers start to gain more popularity.

And now, a word from the French. Alexis Helcmanocki of IPSOS has been researching the use of blogs and UGC across Europe. The countries surveyed were UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Britain is the lowest internet penetration.
Alexis Helcmanocki

90% of internet users in France know about blogs, compared to 50% in the UK. In fact, the UK is lagging the rest of Europe in this. BUT readership levels are only in the teens, and posters only in the single figures. France leads the pack, but this time Germany lags it.

Another shock: only 20% of people in the UK trust the media, compared to 40 to 60% in the rest of Europe. It's the "tabloid effect", as Alexis described it. And when it comes to blogs, the same pattern applies. The most trusted media is recognised websites at 31%, followed by newspapers at 30% and blogs at 24%.

Strangely, the UK leads the way in using the internet in purchasing decisions. And there's over-whelming evidence that blogs effect buying decisions, especially amongst high spenders.

Le Web 3: Lunchtime Verdict

For a brief chat with other Brits over lunch, the verdict on the conference so far is "mixed". The big companies panels has been universally slated, because none of them really said anything, and a few people commented on the latent aggressions from the VCs...

On to the afternoon session.

Le Web 3: Is there a Web 2.0 bubble?

Here comes the VCs...

Is there a web bubble? It seems not, but there are some issues to be resolved. For example, is the available talent split amongst too many small start-ups? Would some mergers pull more talent together?

The lack of a market bubble may be attributable to Sarbanes-Oxley, legislation which makes IPOs harder.

Micro-bubbles might be a more likely risk, where particular markets in particular geographic regions could well happen, as multiple people go after a concept. So, you have star-ups in London, Paris and Frankfurt all competing for the same video sharing market, for example.

Opportunities? Recommendation engines sitting on top of Amazon, eBay and the like. eCommerce is really hitting the mainstream. Search is getting worse by the day, says David Hornik of August Capital because all companies have to game search. Search may start to look different. (Zibb?)

We may just be at the start of the video industry, despite the number of start-ups.

Le Web 3: Surprise Guest

Oh, by the way, I forgot, Shimon Peres will be addressing the conference tomorrow. Blimey.

Loic does the introductions

Loic does the introductions

Le Web 3: Is Open Source Becoming Commercial?

Gil PenchinaApparently, I'm one of the usual suspects. Here I sit, a blogger working at a mainstream media company, and the open source advocate is telling me that we all hate the idea of letting go of traditional copyright. I hate these false dichotomies that people create to try and build their cases. Ah, well.

Gil Penchina of Wikia is talking about the (evident) commercialisation of Open Source. So the gist of this seems to be that if you give some stuff away free, you'll make money in other ways. He mentioned a company which posts its beer recipe for free and makes its money from merchandising. Free Beer!

He's suggesting the idea of free hosting and bandwidth, and the blogger gets 100% of ad revenue. Business model? Doesn't know yet.

OpenServing has bought a MadiaWiki-based company and will be building a site around this. You can turn your readers into writers, create more valuable information, along with ad inventory.

Tristan Nitot Summary: "Open source has been very commercialised, open content is on its way."

Is Mozilla commercial? "Yes," says Tristan Nitot, because people are building commercial projects off it. "No," he says, because there will be no IPO and it's a not-for-profit company. Firefox will always be free. The point here, he suggests, is that by sharing resources on one project, the improved knowledge gained can be used elsewhere, in a more commercial environment.

Le Web 3: Does Size Matter?

Post-coffee, we've got a panel of people from the big online players discussing whether size matters in this market. We've had a chap from Microsoft admitting that they need to be more agile, and that the Live series of products is an answer to that. The majority of the audience seems to think that the big firms will still be here in five years. But what will they be like?

Dominique Vidal of Yahoo sees the firm as a media company. "UGC isn't going to kill what I call to 'head content'," he said. "From head content, you can build huge amounts of tail content."

Microsoft's Phil Holden sees search as a utility, that needs be embedded into everything. It's all about content and communities. (All but Microsoft employees in the hall use Google's search. Bit of work to be done there, chaps...)

Nokia wants to make the internet truly mobile. (Surprise!) Orange is talking about providing the tools that people need to do what they want online.

Vidal suggests that there are two communities: ones of interest and ones of platform. Building communities is easy. Building content around that? Hard, but a huge opportunity. Media and community can become one.

Now, nobody seems to be exactly sure what a community is. Everyone seems to want one, and to make money from them, but it seems to be a word without clear meaning.

Somebody from the audience suggested that value is the key differentiator here. Holden suggested that the audience here aren't 'normal' (the cheek of the man!) and that we have a way to go until some of the community tools become mainstream.

Is part of the disconnection with normal people the lack of access from TV, mobile phones or the like? Mikko Pilkama of Nokia thinks that the big guys can build those ways in.

Monetising? Transaction before advertising, apparently. Interesting.

Le Web 3: Taking our seats

Taking our seats

Originally uploaded by Adam Tinworth.

It's a grey, miserable day in Paris, but once you're through the painfully slow badge collection, there's a distinctly party atmosphere at Le Web 3. 1001 laptops are open and in use, and people are rooting through their Vox Swag Bags eagerly.

Lots of lights, music and anticipation. Lots of cameras of all sorts.

This should be fun.

Le Web 3: Going Down

Barely 30 mins in, and the broadband is down. Heigh-ho. Blogging from the conference when I can.

December 10, 2006

Observations from the Eurostar

Things I've noticed on my journey:

  1. For some reason, French trees look distinctly French. They're the same species on the whole, so I suspect it's just planting patterns.
  2. Eurostar Power SocketI was busy plugging my laptop into the covenient power outlet next to my seat, when it struck me that it was odd to offer just a French socket on a London/Paris train. A little later on, the lady the other side of the aisle from me headed to the bar, and I noticed that the socket on her side was a UK one. A quick scout down the train confirmed it: France and UK sockets alternating. What a strange way of doing it. They clearly don't assign seats based on where you booked, or I wouldn't have ended up with a French socket.
  3. There's so much more countryside in France than the UK. Intellectually, I've known that for years, but watching it fly by on the train makes it that much clearer.

Beneath the Sea

On a Eurostar train
Here's a first for me: I'm blogging somewhere under the English Channel. I'm off to Le Web 3 in Paris and finally getting to travel by Eurostar.

And, hmm, well, it's a touch disappointing. All the adverts they show you of the service certainly don't show you the economy class which, like a good corporate citizen, I've chosen. It's cramped, just a little too warm and feels ever-so-slightly grimy. In future, I'll see if I can wing it into business class.

December 8, 2006

Some Ruminations on the NHS

I know it's traditional to complain and tut and nit-pick about the NHS in blogs at the moment. After all, a very large amount of extra money has gone into the service in recent years to very little apparent benefit. That's something we should all be annoyed at. Hell, I've even helped the guy who's broken most of the stories about the complete screw-ups in the NHS IT systems start blogging.

But, really, I believe that without the efforts of the NHS, my Mum wouldn't be alive to spend Christmas with us this year. She's been battling cancer since early this year, and the medical treatment she's received, both from her GP and local nursing team and the specialists at the Norfolk & Norwich has been excellent.

There's still much to quibble about. The admin of the hospital is clearly chaotic and the nursing staff can be terrible indifferent in their care sometimes, but all told, it's done well by us. And that's worth noting.



December 4, 2006

10 Ways to a Killer Blog

Spotted at Communication Nation.

Do You Know This Man?

Just over a week ago, Jackie was assaulted. She got a picture of her attacker. Have a look, and should you recognise him, get in contact with her.

The Home Office has Blog-Watchers

According to Guido Fawkes, us poor taxpayers are paying people to read blogs.

Guys, click on some Adsense links while you're doing it. Spread some love.

YouTube of the Day: the Birmingham Complaints Choir

Found via Open.

Honey, I'm Home

Sorry for the interruption in service here. A family member was hospitalised a week ago, and, on the whole, blogging seemed less important than dealing with that. Anyway, the emergency is passed and so I'm back at the keyboard. Miss me?


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