Posts from September 2003

Blogging the bus

Blogging the bus
: I’m making reservations for Bloggercon next week. Yesterday, someone who’ll remain nameless yelled at me for going. We are a dysfunctional family, we are. I also saw that Dave Winer just put up rules for the conference and the hubris of that idea bothered me until I read them: “All conversations, whether to the entire room or one-to-one, unless otherwise stated, clearly and up front, are on the record and for attribution.” Fine.

But here’s my real travel note:

I’m taking the bus to Boston. But not just any bus: The new Limoliner: Manhattan to Back Bay in four hours on a single seat with high-speed Internet access the whole wayand a DVD movie and a stewardess with snacks and only 28 privileged seats.

I’ll do anything not to fly.

The ombudsman’s ombudsman

The ombudsman’s ombudsman
: Matt Welch has some very funny moments from an ombudsman under attack.

A world without editors

A world without editors
: The LA Time’s Tim Rutten takes a long time to say little in the controversy over the Sacramento Bee’s blog policy. At the end, there’s this:

Question: Perhaps blogs, which derive their immediacy and vibrancy from the Web’s essentially egalitarian and libertarian ethos, and conventional news organizations simply are incompatible in their pure forms?

“An edited blog is a contradiction in terms,” said Orville Schell, dean of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. “It’s a characteristic of the Internet in general that forms like the blog emerge with great exuberance and edgy promise and then the overseers move in. That’s a pity. We need frontiers of plain-speaking, even it’s politically incorrect. I understand why the Bee did what it did, but it leads to a restraint on free-thinking, which is lamentable.”

Rutten’s question is pretentious and silly. There is no “pure” form of either medium; when there is, it will lie dead in a museum.

Schell’s answer is almost right. But the issue isn’t so much free-thinking, it’s immediacy and honesty and understanding what makes blogs great.

Nick Denton said it better in an IM exchange I’ve quoted often here. What do we love about blogs? Denton: “No editors.” That says it all.

If you have to explain…

If you have to explain…
: My favorite caveat! (From the LA Times story on blogminders, above):

(Exclamation points signal irony on Kaus’ site.)

Gov. Spam

Gov. Spam
: In a desperate, last-minute move to get stay elected, California Gov. Gray Davis is signing into law a tough anti-spam measure.

I wish other politicians in Washington were feeling just as desperate to stay elected and did likewise.

Blogbiz: Bubble boy or baron?

Blogbiz: Bubble boy or baron?

: Jason Calacanis, late of the late Silicon Alley Reporter, has announced the start of his weblog company.

Nick Denton has already tried to burst Jason’s bubble:

Jason Calacanis, founder of Silicon Alley Reporter and boomtime hype-merchant, has re-emerged as a blog booster. God help us…. Calacanis is a smart and engaging guy, and I’m a believer in web media, but the last thing the world needs now is his brand of late 90s enthusiasm.

But rather than trying to hype weblogs, Calacanis is trying to dehype big media and thus look bigger in comparison. In this worldview, there’s zero-sum hot air and one must deflate the other guy’s bubble to inflate one’s own.

On my comments, below, Calacanis argues that big media can’t really do blogs; it’s an either-or, he says:

At a certain point a weblog stops being a weblog and starts becoming a newspaper, or perhaps more accurately a newswire. I think fact-checking and editing is one of those points.

Now, the public has an expectation that weblogs are unedited so they can be frequently updated, and that because of this dynamic sometimes there are errors on weblogs….

Now, the public has the *exact* opposite expectation of newspapers….

If publications like the NYT get into blogging they are going to confuse users—at least for a while. However, users are very smart and if the NYT put a disclaimer at the top explaining about what is going on… then there would be no issue….

He comes around grudgingly. But you can tell: He hopes newspapers don’t blog. (They will.)

: Now to Calacanis’ own business: It’s essentially a weblog syndicate for b2b blogs (in media, technology, business, life sciences — 100 in the first year, 500 in three years), offering hosting and other services; in return, he covers all his costs with the first cut of revenue and then splits profits 50/50 (by my calculations, he’s figuring each blog will pull in six figures). The Denton model, on the other hand, is to pay a pittance but pay nonetheless. The About.com model is (or was) a combination: a guaranteed payment with a split of the upside. Take your pick. The question for any of them is whether there is sufficient advertising revenue to support anyone in blogbiz. The answer: Not yet.

And that is why this has to grow slowly. It cannot grow ahead of advertiser acceptance and performance unless you want to go get a whomp of VC cash and start the implosion clock ticking down.

In the world of weblogs, small is good; small is what makes it possible for them to succeed. And patience is more than a virtue. Patience is an asset.

: But if that’s where Jason stopped — with a business plan and a prayer — I’d tip the hat, wish him luck, buy him lunch (which I’ll do anyway) and watch his progress with eager interest (which I’ll still do).

But what’s more interesting to me is the zero-sum hype game he plays (when — Denton’s right — hype is a dangeros toy to be playing with right now).

In his mission statement, Jason plays to flavor-of-the-month media bashing:

Traditional journalism is, in a word, broken. We’ve spent the last decade working in publishing (online and offline) and we believe that traditional journalism is imploding. Traditional news outlets like the New York Times are experiencing huge embarrassments like Jayson Blair. We believe these episodes are based on the increasing pressure media companies have to the

World’s smartest stripper

World’s smartest stripper
: Howard Stern et al went to Scores yesterday to audition contenders for the World Smartest Stripper contest.

Only one of the many strippers tested knew how many states there are. One said 700. One said 52. When told she did pretty well, she was only two off, she said, “Oh, 54.”

When asked who the vice president is, one said that she’s not into politics. “I don’t even know whether the president is Republican or Dominican.”

And when Howard asked one what animal is used to make pickles, she said, “What’s a pickle?”

Big-guy blogs

Big-guy blogs
: Mark Glaser gathers advice for how newspapers should blog.