Posts from June 22, 2005

Career a clef

Career a clef

: This is awfully inside baseball, but I have to report that everyone I know in media was giggling and gaffawing today over the news that former Conde Nast head Steve Florio is going to write a book about management. The perfect media oxymoron.

Taking the pledge?

Taking the pledge

: Dan Gillmor asks contributors to his Bayosphere to take a pledge. I respect Dan more than anyone I know in journalism. I know what he’s aiming for, to establish a paragon of citizen journalism, and I respect that as well.

But I don’t know about taking his pledge.

Anybody can nitpick any such pledge or code of ethics. In fact, that’s what I say the public should do in this case. Dan suggests discussing the pledge in a forum. Better yet, Dan, why not put your pledge up as a wiki and see what the people think it should be? Let your public create it. The days of the guys with the power and the presses and the initials — ASNE, APME, NAA, etc. — setting the standards are over. Now the public sets the standards, right? Well, they always did set the standards but we didn’t listen.

Among my nitpiks with this pledge:

He requires us to promise to “work in the community interest.” What community? What interest? Who’s to say what the community interest is? I can only guarantee that I will post in my interest; whether I post in the community’s interest, the community will have to decide.

He requires that I be “fair: I’m always listening to and taking account of other viewpoints.” No, there are some viewpoints I will not take into account and not listen to. I won’t listen to trolls I’ve put on my ignore list. I won’t listen to terrorist sympathizers. I know that’s not what Dan and company are asking with this, but others would. This is the issue with such a pledge: It’s open to such varying interpretation: Someone will say gotcha, you didn’t listen to people who hate America. And I will say: Damned straight, I won’t.

Most of the pledge is very mom-and-Apple pie: I will be open and transparent and correct errors and such. I can’t argue with most of this.

But I would sum the pledge in two words:

Be honest.

Doesn’t that pretty much cover it?

Still, I’m not sure I want to go signing any pledges. Signing a pledge doesn’t make me more trustworthy or more accurate or more decent or more ethical. Either you trust me or you don’t. That’s up to you and it’s based either on my abilities or your fairness. Pledges are not the measure of honesty. Codes are not the measure of ethics. Actions are.

I’m just not a pledge kind of guy. I’m not a joiner. Guess that’s why I am a blogger.



: We are seeing signs of the new distributed world of classified ads:

: Lost Remote reports that Monster is now providing jobs to TV sites from ABC and Worldnow. Except for a brief time in the boom when I heard job ads on radio, classifieds have never been right for broadcast because it’s, well, broad; it’s more expensive and inefficient than newspapers. But once broadcast brands came online, they could start snarfing up some of the classified marketshare they’ve long lusted after.

: Scott Anderson points to a Bambi Francisco column arguing that the big news from Google won’t be a new PayPal but will be an entry into classifieds:

In fact, I’d go as far as to say that if Google really wanted to get at the heart of eBay’s business, it would simply turn on a classifieds or listings business.

After all, it wouldn’t be a big leap for Google to let users list an item for sale much as they post an advertisement….

By a listings or classifieds service, I mean listings by individuals of their one-off items, or listings of items from small or medium sized merchants. I don’t believe it matters if Google chooses not to get into auctions. EBay would still feel the pain from a Google listings business in a fixed-price format. That’s because 30% of eBay’s gross merchandise sales are done in fixed-price formats….

A classified/listings business would also be a smart and easy way to fill up Google’s Local search-results pages with advertisements from local merchants, and listings of goods from residents. For now, Google’s Local page says, “Find local businesses and services on the Web.” It would be easy to add a line saying: “place your items for sale here.”

I’m not sure she has that exactly right but I do think that if it can target, Google will grab local retail and merchandise advertising and compete not only with eBay but with papers’ sites. And then others will come along and compete with Google in an ever-more-efficient (and thus, ever-less lucrative) market.

I’ve said here before that the future of classified is decentralized and distributed. What we’re seeing happen in content today — as it spreads out like dandelion seeds in the wind — will come to classifieds. How anybody makes money — or at least, as much money as they used to — in such a new, declassified world, I’m not sure. But I do believe tat the future is distributed.

: YET MORE: More on the distributed future: eBay is finding people establishing businesses on its platform and then leaving because they can do better on their own. Middlemen are falling like flies. The WSJ reports (not a free link):

In 2002, John Wieber started worrying about his business, which sold refurbished computers through Internet auctioneer eBay Inc. Although he was earning $1 million a year in revenue, profits had started to slip as competitors flocked to the site. EBay also raised its fees, further cutting margins, and fraud was becoming a problem.

So Mr. Wieber revamped his Web site and began selling through other online companies, such as Inc. and Yahoo Inc. Last year, his sales neared $5 million, but his eBay revenue grew at a much slower pace, making up only a quarter of the total. …

EBay, with more than 147 million users world-wide, has long been regarded as the dot-com survivor that could do no wrong. Mr. Wieber’s story shows why the company may be losing some of that luster. Setting up an online store is so easy these days that sellers needn’t rely on eBay as a source of customers. Advertising is simple and inexpensive, thanks to new technology from companies such as Google Inc. And multiple competitors, including Amazon and Yahoo, are pulling once-loyal eBay sellers into their orbit.