December 2007 Archives
December 31, 2007
Hey, there, my much-neglected but ever-beloved readers.
I've been having a quiet, and largely offline, Christmas with my family, and have been enjoying the break from all things bloggy. But I couldn't let 2007, the first year where my working life has been largely centred around blogging, pass without one last post.
First of all, thank you all for reading, linking and commenting. It's something of a cliché, but this blog really has changed my life and is continuing to do so all the time. Having a place where I can express ideas, discuss them and, yes, have them challenged is invaluable to me, especially as I try to communicate those ideas to other journalists. And the regulars here have been a huge part of that.
Thank you. I owe you all a drink. But, uh, not until I've paid off the Christmas debts, OK?
In the meantime, you can catch me guest posting on Deep Muck Big Rake and experimenting with a more essayist style of blogging over on Coffee & Complexity. And then you can catch me back here with my agenda for 2008 tomorrow.
In the meantime, a very Happy Hogmanay and a Fantastic New Year to everyone who has shared the last year's journey with me here on this blog. May 2008 bring you every happiness.
December 21, 2007
Sometimes the most amazing things arrive from one of our overseas offices:
December 20, 2007
For an opening session focusing on eeeevil on the web, it proved to be rather quiet. I think everybody was knackered, thanks to the early start...
"It's another form of human expression - prone to human frailty like any other conduit," said Chris Alden, CEO of Six Apart. The internet can have a distancing effect on communication and anonymity brings out the ruder aspects of human natures. "You have more interesting conversations when you have a sense of identity."
Jaewoong Lee of Daum Communications pointed out that there are 14m Koreans using internet. 99% of young people use it for more than an hour a day. And the privacy problem is bigger for users, leading to very, very few people writing bad comments. Why? There's a history of identity in each site, and that's driven by the users not the government.
Dan Rose of Facebook got given something of a rough ride. The social network has been on the recieving end of some bad publicity around privacy issues of late. His response to behaviour concerns? "50% of users come every day - that's true now and was true in the early days," he said. "It's not a social network, it's 50k+ individual networks. and so people behave on Facebook as they would in real world."
I appear to be the only one who sent in a really flippant answer. Ah, well. Be true to your own voice is the first rule of blogging...
December 19, 2007
Doc Searls gave what turned into a rapid fire presentation about 11 ideas he had about the future of the web. Here they are, in their abbreviated glory:
- Bullshit will lose leveredge - advertising does not scale to the sky
- Advertising as we know it will die - Google does not get irony or metaphor
- Herding people into walled gardens and guessing about what makes them social will seem absurd - and it already is
- We'll realize that the most valuable producers are what used to be called consumers
- The value chain will be replaced by the value constellation
- What's your business model will no longer be asked of everything - not everything is a business, something is just useful.
- We'll make money by maximising "because effects"
- Markets will be understood in terms of relations
- The Live web is more important than Web X.n
- We will marry the Live Web to the value constellation. The individual is the real platfom
- We'll be able to manage vendors at least as well as they manage us
December 18, 2007
December 14, 2007
December 13, 2007
I'm in the process of uploading all my photos from Paris to Flickr. It'll take me a few days to get through them all, but you can enjoy the 50-odd that are already up in my Le Web 3 '07 Flickr set.
Tags are open for editing, if anyone feels like adding relevant ones.
December 12, 2007
The presentation that most people have mentioned to me as changing the way they think about something was Joi Ito's talk on gaming. Me? I loved it, but then the talk was about World of Warcraft, and I'm a player. ("Hi, my name's Adam Tinworth and I'm a night elf druid").
Ito started of with a crowd-pleasing assault on the perception of gaming in society as a whole.
"We still say 'addicted to games'," he said. "We don't say 'addicted to church' if people go to church every week."
He's quite right - it's a non-useful way of viewing the situation. It's rooted, he explained, in the way we use language around the internet, at least in the English-speaking world. We have this word "cyberspace", which implies a separation between the online world and the "real" world. We have "real" friends and "virtual" friends.
"For kids the internet is ubiquitous. It's not something you log into or out of," said Ito. And, to them, gaming is certainly not the "masturbation-like activity" many adults seem to view it as. For one thing, people are often interacting with existing friends in the game...
So what is it?
During the question and answers section of the video session he was challenged on the story, and confessed that he's leaving PodTech in January.
He wouldn't confirm that he was joining Fast Company Company, but did say that it was one of the offers on the table, but as it wasn't signed yet, he couldn't say for sure.
…there's always pizza!
There were a couple of interesting, but ill-attended talks yesterday before lunch, which I wanted to draw together.
"We think new media is new," she said. And it is. "But old media is astonishingly new in the whole of human history."
Using the clock metaphor for human existence, "old media" appears about two minutes to midnight.
"Before that, all media was social," she suggests. Without mass media to carry messages, people communicate on an individual or group basis, in the same place as each other. The mass media age has, against expectations, created an anti-social media. Media delivered from on high is new and "frankly, really horrible". TV has isolated us, Cohen suggested..
"US 50 year olds watch 40 hours of TV a week - that's a full time job".
Alas, for those of us who were here last year, the wonderful Hans Rosling's presentation was much the same as last year.
A few points of interest - his narrative statistics software has been bought by Google. Hope they make it available for free…
He also thinks that interactive websites don't work to communicate messages - the TED video of his talk has been the storytelling tool that works.
December 11, 2007
One of the most peripheral presentations has just turned into one of the most interesting. Robert Scoble briefly hijacked Philippe Starck's presentation by presenting him with an Amazon Kindle, in the interests of getting a design critique. Starck's verdict? He suggested you need the minimum of elements around the interesting thing, in this case, the screen. "The designer not humble enough to disappear," he said. "The design is less modern than the concept. It is almost modern."
He thinks Steve Jobs is "a genius. I look like a genius because of the leather pants."
What else did Starck have to share with us? Well, it was something of a philosophical discussion, about lifestyle, business and design. He envisions a more ethical future, where we leave behind the age of the "targeted consumer" and object where they are "10% used and 90% shit".
In the fine tradition of Le Web 3 softball interviews, Sarah Lacy just gave Kevin Rose of Digg a warm, fluffy loving feeling up on stage, and she asked him again and again why he's so awesome. I made a few notes in between the moments of nausea:
There was "no Web 2.0" when Rose started Digg. He would have been happy with it paying his rent through AdSense. At the time there were a handful of editors controlling the front pages - he wanted to empower the masses. (The masses being the top 100 users, presumably)
He recommends that you don't start three companies at once. He also thinks that people raise investment capital too early sometimes - when they don't need it. Scares me when ideas are unproven. All three start-ups grown organically. Rose was working a day job when started he Digg. Pownce, was launched the same way.
Lacy asked how he keeps control of the company now venture capital is involved. Apparently it's a matter of picking the right investor. Yes, but how?
This hasn't been announced on stage yet, but a little (Belgian) birdie tells me there's a Le Web 3 Community Site.
Lots of mini-keynotes today. Evan Williams, late of Blogger and now dark lord of Twitter just gave one. and, surprise, surprise, it looks like the majority of people here use Twitter.
Ev had a very simple message, or if you like, a message of simplicity. Twitter was born of keeping it simple - they developed for SMS because it was simpler. Helped keep web interface simple. And, interestingly, most people now use the the web interface - but starting with SMS forced them to keep it simple. So little to think about with that simple interface that it encourages frequent use. (One might say obsessive use…)
"What can you create by taking things away?" asked Ev.
Photolog - one pic a day - more comments. 11 comments per photo - like crack for web users. Much more addictive than uploading multiple photos..
Google - simplified Yahoo?
Plenty of questions from the floor:
Bandwidth is somewhat flaky (just like last year). I'll get posts up when I can.
And off we go. After a horribly early start and a decent Metro and coach ride, I'm in the conference centre and this year's Le web 3 is underway. The Le Meurs took the stage first, and Loïc gave us a quick potted history of the conference, with some good-natured barracking from the stalls about last year. Geraldine gave an account of how they've changed the conference based on feedback (some of it rather vigourous last year…): more networking space, more space to meet entrepreneurs.
And we can follow the conference horizontally, apparently, if we're in the networking area. Well, it is France.
I had the chance to finally read the whole report last night and, while I won't get the chance to write up my reactions until tomorrow night at the earliest, on the whole, I'm impressed. It's far from perfect, and there's much to quibble about, but it's clearly a step in the right direction.
December 10, 2007
So, while the rest of the Web 2.0 crowd are swanning to Paris from St Pancras with its champagne bar and swanky central London location, I'm waiting in a shed in Kent.
Yes, glorious, scenic Ebbsfleet marks the start of my journey and it's, well, not bad, actually. The car parking is right by the station. The terminal itself has that straight-from-the-shop brand new smell and it's really, really quiet. I have the entire departure lounge to myself, bar three pensioners and a copper. And, best of all, there's a Caffe Nero, my favourite of the coffee shops.
So, I'm sat here, sipping a black Americano and tapping out this post on my iPhone (free WiFi with The Cloud on the O2 contract). It's all rather civilised, actually.
December 8, 2007
Shane Richmond from The Telegraph gets a Kindle and gives it a lukewarm review. Waiting for version 3, I think…
Oh, I should read this. It's making my eyes bleed, though.
Nice comparison there
Basically positive response, with some serious reservations
A more graphic response
December 7, 2007
Not good news for those of us with a dual love of the countryside and the internet
The Campaign to Protect Rural England is using a Wordpress blog to start a debate…
December 6, 2007
The NUJ's Shaping the Future report on multi-media working is out this morning. Martin Stabe has some intial thoughts about it over on the Press Gazette blog. The NUJ has publishing a story on its new-look website, predictably attacking bosses.
I've downloaded it, and will be working my way through it later, once I've finished some work for our Computer Weekly and Electronics Weekly web editors…
However, I do want to highlight one aspect of an otherwise impressive website redesign of the NUJ website. This is just painful:
So, the good first: the ability to leave comments at the bottom of stories on the site is great. The bad? Well, that big "Blog It" is something to do with putting it on your own blog, right? Wrong. It's that horrible misuse of the word blogging that has found its way into some mainstream media sites: "blogging" is leaving comments on blogs, and "bloggers" are people who do so.
The report may be fantastic, but this just leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
December 5, 2007
So I spoke to Sam Sethi just now. He told me that he sacked Oliver two months ago and that he therefore hasn't been party to discussion and updates on the Blognation back channel that say funding has slipped back, but is on its way.This does rather beg the question "if you fired him two months ago, why did he still have posting rights today?" It's nice to hear something from the horse's mouth, as it were, but there are still more questions that answers right now, even if Sethi does admit that his editors haven't been paid.
While tracking what's happening around the Blognation business, I've discovered that an old friend has something of a new face. Yes, Technorati has undergone an overhaul. I particualrly like the new Blogger Central area, as well as the fact that blogs are up there, front and, well, left on the main page. It feels like Technorati is returning to its blog tracking roots, after a spell wandering towards an ill-defined "everything tracking" route. I still recommend that all our bloggers use Technorati to get to grips with what people are saying about the main subjects in their beats, and now I can do so without the growing unease I was feeling about the site in recent months.
It must be a rule or something. If it's time for Le Web 3, it's time for a Sam Sethi controversy. This time last year, he was the apparent victim, crashing out of a working relationship with Mike Arrington and Techcrunch. This year, one of his bloggers on Blognation has very publicly departed with a long open letter, still visible on the site, and reproduced on Techcrunch.
Allegedly, Sam has not only not been paying his bloggers, but he lacks the funding he claimed he had. I haven't found a direct response from Sam, but will link to any that emerge, and he has offered The Guardian's Jemima Kiss his side of the story over Twitter.
It will be interesting to watch this develop over the next few hours, and it'll give us something to talk about in Paris...
Update: The departing blogger, Oliver Starr, has the letter up on his own blog.
Update 2: Sam has left a comment on the Techcrunch post.
Update 3: Nicole Simon posts about the situation, telling a similar, but more measured, tale to Oliver's.
Update 4: Debi Jones posts a lyrical account of her Blognation experiences. The anti-Sam posts are mounting up.
Update 5: Tris Hussey, a Blognation Canada editor, is saying "no comment" - apart from the fact that he is "excited and support blognation".
December 3, 2007
There's a couple of good points in the article:
Aside from the professional blog software Movable Type, hosted blogging software TypePad, and free ad-supported blog site Vox, there was LiveJournal, which hosted a different demographic and was built on a different code base and platform that the company never updated. "I think the world of LiveJournal, but we felt like we needed to figure out our focus," Alden says. "It's all about [Six Apart] growing up."
Livejournal initially looked like a good fit into Six Apart, but with the launch of Vox, which offers much of the same functionality as Livejournal as well as having Perl-underpinnings like MT and Typepad, it increasingly looked like the red-headed stepchild. If Chris Alden spotted this and has both clarified the company's technological focus and released some cash for reinvestment, this could be good news for the firm.
Sup, on the other hand, have a vested interest in investing in Livejournal, because of the heavy Russian user base.
Win-win? Valleywag doesn't seem to think so:
Sup already operates the Russian-language version of the site, and is run by Andrew Paulson, an American entrepreneur. But let's be real: This is a company operating in Vladimir Putin's Russia, where the media increasingly is falling under state control, either explicitly or tacitly. One does not need to be a conspiracy theorist to find this prospect discomfiting.
That said, Livejournal Inc, which will run the site, is actually based in the US, which seems like a sensible move, in the circumstances….