Posts from June 11, 2004

The right to an obituary

The right to an obituary

: Ronald Reagan is eulogized and memoralized and buried. And some around the world don’t understand how we do this here. Some don’t understand why we — his political friends and foes — can remember only the good at a time like this and nevermind the “buts.”

But that is how we do it in America. We believe in a right to an obituary that pays tribute and remembers the good and says a fond farwell. So that is what we gave Ronald Reagan, (almost) all of us.

That is what I want. I always said when I worked on newspapers that the only fringe benefit I will ever get for having worked there is a nice obit. When I go, I expect obits to run wherever I worked: in Chicago and San Francisco and New York and Detroit and even Burlington, Iowa (perhaps that’s why I worked so many places, to get so many obits). I hope for the courtesy of an obit in even The Times. And I expect that when they briefly run through my checkered career, they leave out the black squares and omit the customary word “troubled” before the phrase “launch of Entertainment Weekly,” for example. I wish for a few nice words from family and friend.

That is how we say good-bye in America. I’m shocked when I read British obits that rehash the nasty bits in a life. I’m surprised when people expect us to dredge a life as we say farewell. That’s how others do it. That’s not how we do it.

Farewell, Mr. President, and rest in peace. Thank you for your service.

God and the White House

God and the White House

: Ron Reagan had a message as he talked about his father at his burial tonight. He said his father was an unabashedly religious man who did not make the mistake of other politicians: wearing his religion on his sleeve to win votes. When he was shot and almost killed, Ron said, his father saw it as God’s wish that he stay and do good. “He accepted that as a responsibility and not as a mandate — and there is a big difference.”

Blogs ‘n’ brats

Blogs ‘n’ brats

: Yup, we’re definitely doing this weblog get-together thing all wrong. We have conferences. Iranians have festivals. And Germans grill wursts.

Different

Different

: When Americans go to Germany, the big cultural difference that hits them in the face is store hours. It’s a very inconvenient place. And a high German court just ruled it’s a matter of constitutionality to keep it that way.

: Heiko’s unhappy.

Celebrating weblogs in Iran

Celebrating weblogs in Iran

: Hoder, who started the weblog revolution in Iran, couldn’t go to the Weblog Fesitval just held there — imagine how hard that must be — but he summarized some Persian reports on some remarkable quotes from officials on blogs:

In Weblog Festival’s closing ceremony, deputy of IT ministery and head research institute raised some important things about blogs in Iran.

The former, Nassrollah Jahangard, wished that every Iranian could have a blog one day and expressed the government’s support for persian blogs which, in his mind, are defining the presence of Iran on the Net and make an identity for the Iranian community on the Internet. He also added that blogs are sort of cultureal heritage for Iran and they will make the future of it.

The latter, Sohrab Razeghi, said that blogs and the values they carry with themseves are the begining of a modern society in Iran. He said that the openness, subversiveness, and a sense of individualism which are visible among Iranian weblogs are completely new things in the society. he then rejected the idea of government support and said that they should leave the persian blogoshpere alone and let it go in whatever direction it wants.

I’m actually surprised by mr. Razaghi’s comments and believe that he is one the few officials who has really understood the nature of blogging and how it’s been evolving in the Iranian online commuinity.

What’s also amazing about this is that the government is taking a prideful role in weblogs in Iran — a country that has arrested bloggers for what they’ve blogged — while here, the government could care less about this new trend. Come to think of it, I probably like the latter course better.

See Hoder’s post for links to photos that look like no blog confab here.

A place for my stuff

A place for my stuff

: I want a place on the Internet where I can store all my stuff so I can get to it from anywhere on any device to consume, modify, store, or share. This stuff could be anything — my movies, music, to-do lists, shopping lists (for the family to update), contacts, documents, search history, bookmarks, photos, preferences, voicemail, anything, everything. And it should come with the functionality necessary to execute all those verbs I listed (e.g., a nice little list-making ap).

I want the ultimate — in the words of George Carlin — place for my stuff.

Count on this: It will be a big consumer business. I said below, in the middle of another post, that this could come from phone or cable companies, from Google or Microsoft or Yahoo, or from a new company (VCs: pay attention!). A server for everyone and everyone on a server.

I’m writing this again to highlight it because I see lots of people dancing around this need and desire. See Jason Kottke’s smart post about his three wishes for TiVo, inspired by their move into Internet-delivered programming. I agree with two of his wants: He wants TiVo to make better, smarter, categorized recommendations. And he wants TiVo to create community around TV since it is, after all, a social experience.

But I disagree with his third wish: That TiVo becomes the Internet-accessible place for your stuff, complete with that list application. I wonder whether that’s not better up in the cloud because (1) you can get to it from anywhere — even multiple TVs, (2) the storage can be unlimited — see GMail, and (3) it won’t go obsolete. But I agree that I want it, too. Is technology like Christmas: If I hint enough, I’ll get it?

: I once worked with a German company called Twest.de that was going to deliver the shopping-list ap and other great little bits that treated the Internet like a life’s operating system. Wrong time, wrong platform, wrong VCs, too bad. But now the time has come.

The click vote

The click vote

: CBS Marketwatch quotes Nielsen on online political traffic and spending:

John Kerry appears to be the candidate of choice among Web surfers, but it’s still a close race. During April, about 1.6 million people visited the Democrat’s site, while 1.5 million perused GeorgeBush.com.

These numbers come from Nielsen/Net Ratings (NTRT: news, chart, profile).

Apparently, the Republicans’ online advertising isn’t doing them much good, even though the party is spending a lot more money. Re-election messages were flashed at 190 million people in April, compared to just 52 million who saw Democrat banners.

Citizens’ TV: The people’s commercials

Citizens’ TV: The people’s commercials

: In response to my Explode Your TV post below, Maury Rosenfeld emailed to tell me about the wonderful SpecSpot site, where filmmakers go to show off the commercials they’ve made on spec and on their own dime to impress the advertising community.

Any newspaper classified campaign should try this spot. Budweiser: Ditto for this one or even better this one. Canon (or any video camera maker): Grab this one. Coke: If you have any sense, go take this commercial and just run it. And MTV: Why not?

Maury explains:

Young directors are creating well thought out and well executed TV commercials, on their own dime, in order to “get discovered”. These guys usually shoot high end video, sometimes film, with “real” LA crews… they beg/borrow/steal favors, and make promises of future work (when they “make it big”)… burn through their credit cards, and, as you mentioned, they take maximum advantage of the inexpensive software: editing, audio, fx etc to make these. I’d imagine that the typical budget for one of these spots is between $500 and $5k, most closer to the former. For reference, comparable spots produced “conventionally” would cost at least $180k – $200k, and that would be hard to do. More typically, they’d be budgeted between $240k-$350k and higher.

This raises all sorts of great possibilities. We’ve seen contests to make commercials for brands within tight restraints. But why not open it up? Help your customers sell your products: Give them footage and product and prizes and attention and money. Sure, there are risks: They could put up commercials that aren’t compatible with your carefully crafted and expensive brand message. But what if one of those commercials becomes viral; what if your customers love it; what if it drives sales; what if that’s their way of telling you what your brand message really is? What could be better than hiring your customers as your agency?

I think I’ll make commercials for brands I like. I have no problem using this space to warn you away from companies I don’t like (see DoubleTree Sucks). So I’ll recommend my favorite brands: Taco Bell, Apple, Ikea, Lexus, Boss, Stern, HBO… After all, these days, we are our brands.

Now wouldn’t/shouldn’t that be a marketer’s orgasm: Citizens using their creativity to sell products to each other… for free.

: I see that Tom Biro just wrote about SpecSpot too.