Posts from July 17, 2005



: There are two kinds of stuff on the internet:

* Resources and articles and other static gems.

* Feeds and lists and conversations and other dynamic goodies.

Even that is a quite imperfect bucketing of the wonders of online but stay with me for a second, for it’s at least a useful means of distinguishing some fundamental aspects of Web 1.0 from 2.0 and what’s coming next and what’s needed.

Web 1.0 is built primarily on the former, the resources and articles and pages and mostly static things: It’s about stuff that sits and is found at an address. It’s about search. It’s about URLs and permalinks. It’s about Google and Yahoo before that. All that is valuable, always will be.

But Web 2.0 adds on the wonders of the latter: feeds (RSS, Atom, FeedBurner, et al); lists (OPML, etc.); conversations (blog posts, Technorati links, PubSub feeds, comments); swarming points (tags on Flickr,, Technorati, Dinnerbuzz); heat sensors (Blogpulse et al); aggregations (e.g.,; communities (Craig’s List, et al); alerts (Craig’s List feeds); decentralized distribution (bittorrent, etc.); and on and on.

See Fred Wilson thinking about feeds and asking what businesses will be needed and will emerge, especially as Microsoft embraces RSS in Longhorn. See also Kevin Hale’s wonderful post, which I linked to a few weeks ago, on how RSS is the new search.

But it’s more than that a new Microsoft or a new Google. It’s bigger than that. This is a new architecture. It’s a dynamic architecture.

And it’s not as if this is entirely new. About five years ago, when I arranged an investment in Moreover (which is when I met Nick Denton, which is when I met blogs, which is when my career and life changed, leading to the wonderful world of un-self-employment), what excited me was that this company — which scrapes headlines to create categorized feeds — was a means of getting to the dynamic web. There are many other examples, such as Technorati and Pubsub. Now, they’re coming together to form the next generation.

One of the things I couldn’t get done at the last job was to rearchitect the news sites around feeds and RSS. When you think about it, that’s exactly the structure a dynamic news site should take and once it does, it becomes easy to replace static, produced pages with collections of feeds: I could put together my town page with feeds of newspaper headlines, blog headlines, forum-thread headlines, new classifieds (these homes added to the market since you were here), weather information, and so on: all categorized, all conscious of what I last saw here. It’s really not a gigantic change, it’s just that it’s hard to take something already built with bricks and rebuild it with hoses.

I’m also grappling with this in my present consulting gig at The New York Times Company’s, which has an incredible collection of valuable reference material in about 500 topics and will also build lots of dynamic (current and conversational) material around those topics. Presenting each and organizing each brings different issues and opportunities.

In both these cases, the borders between the two buckets become very fuzzy: Dynamic content can turn into static reference content (e.g., a blog post you point back to again and again). And static content can become dynamic (e.g., Wikipedia).

And there are plenty of other issues that are only beginning to surface: There are not the means to measure audience for such things as RSS (readers don’t cookie). You can throw out the definition of a page view when we shift to a world of the post view (post as in an element of content). You can throw out the definition of content when much of this is about conversation and interaction and just plain action. You can forget control of time and display when people can timeshift/placeshift/mediashift their stuff onto their iPods and phones and such. You have to worry about how people will find stuff in a post-search world where Google is no longer the answer to everything.

Now back to Fred and his quest for new opportunities….

I’m still trying to hook up with Dave Winer across vacations and travel to figure out what he’s up to with OPML editors. I’m eager to play with his newest tools.

One great thing about OPML is that it exposes the depth of possibilities of working with lists. Any feed or any list of feeds carries with it the option of action: Click on a headline to see the article. Click on the classified alert to get a job or a house. Click on the eBay alert to make a purchase. Listen to a podcast. Respond to email or posts. Mush it all together and rearrange it into your own to-do list. Make that your calendar.

Feeds are dynamic in what they present, how they present it, and what you can do with it.

Five years ago, I worked with a smart bunch of people in Munich who were creating a company called Twest that aimed to create much of this functionality: They were making the module that let a family create and edit a shopping list via browsers and phones anywhere anytime. Or party lists. Or quizes. Sadly, they were ahead of their time. But I still want that functionality today.

In this post, a few weeks ago, I suggested that blogging and feeds should become a metaphor for how newsrooms operate — and thus, a new content management tool for them.

See Dinnerbuzz, below (or at least the Dinnnerbuzz of my hungry imagination).

Like Fred, I’m eager to hear what opportunities there are in this next world. As you can tell from this rather rambling post, I’m not even ready to categorize the opportunities in buckets. But let’s try a few:

* New means of creating: that new newsroom system, that OPML editor….

* New means of finding what you want. What’s the next Google?

* New means of aggregating. Dinnerbuzz (to overuse that example!).

* New means of acting: That family shopping list (with buy-it-now buttons).

* New means of organizing: The ultimate calendar/to-do list/alert machine.

* New means of communicating: Use SIP to give me that urgent alert in the best medium for me at the best time.

* New means of recommending: Beyond Technorati’s one-size-fits all authority.

* New means of policing: What to do about the next generation of spam scum.

* New means of marketing: If I’m going to be motivated to deliver via RSS I may need to make money doing it.

* New means of consuming: What happens when you take the best of every RSS reader out there today and coordinate with all my Windows and Apple applications and all my devices? What’s the next browser?

What else? What are examples?

: See also Heather Green’s chat with Yahoo’s RSS pointman Scott Gatz.

Made for the distributed world

Made for the distributed world

: I just came across Dinnerbuzz (catching up on my RSS after vacation; saw it via You’re It). Though the execution is iffy at best, the concept is close to what I’m talking about in creating new information services for the distributed world. Here’s the deal:

When you post a review of a restaurant on your own blog, you tag it and Dinnerbuzz picks up the link and aggregates it with other links to posts about that restaurant, other posts with those tags, and other posts in those cities. So when it comes time to eat, you can come in and find what locals are saying about a restaurant or you can search for “outdoor” “Mexican” joints in “New York.” Further, you’ll be able to get RSS feeds so you can get an alert whenever someone writes about a great new vindaloo in your neighborhood.

In old-centralized-marketplace-think, you’d try to get all those people to write restaurant reviews on your big-media site. And the question is: Why the hell should they? What do they get out of it? And in the old world, you tried to get people to read the reviews on your site when they knew there were reviews on tons of other sites out there as well and it’s a pain to find them all.

In new-decentralized-distributed-think, you recognize that people will write about what they want to write about where they want to write about it and if you’re smart, you’ll find ways to take advantage of all that great information and aggregate it and and aggregate audience around it, sending traffic out to all those writers on the edge because readers know they can come to you find find it all.

To make this work, you need to get people to tag their posts and you need a critical mass of them so that people can start to agree (e.g., “byob” instead of “dry”) on the right tags as happens on Flickr and But people will do that if they see that people are finding what they right because they tag and also if they start using the service themselves to find restaurants and so, in this gift economy, they realize that you need to give to get.

The example I’ve often used about how tags will work best in a distributed world is jobs: You tag your resume anywhere on the internet and a specialized successor to Google (who may, indeed, use Google’s API to get raw data) finds jobs and matches them with job seekers without forcing anyone to pick one centralized marketplace or another. I’ve also said this will work in hyperlocal: I don’t want to write an entire blog about my town, but I would tag the occasional post to be aggregated into a community of them — because I’d want to read that collection myself.

This is a model for the future of media. There is tons of great stuff to be had out there; it’s impossible to find and keep up with it all; search won’t do the trick; tags and feeds will help. The key is not to collect the content and traffic — the old, centralized media way — but instead to collect enough information about that good stuff to help people find it when they want and to help support the people who create it all.

: OOPS: Well, it appears I was projecting what I wanted Dinnerbuzz to be. I misread one description of it. As I see the service now, I have to go there to add tags to it with a link to my post.

It would be better if I could just put the tags on my post (Technorati tags) or on (with a for:dinnerbuzz tag) or simply add the posts and ping them and that would travel to Dinnerbuzz automatically. Those would be the better, more distributed ways to accomplish this.

I also find it terribly frustrating that I can’t find the way to get from a Dinnerbuzz listing to the actual posts!

Or I’m wrong again….

Well, at least in my imagination, I see potential here….

More snark

More snark

: Dave Winer on professional reporters: “They take longer to get it wronger.”

Live by the snark, die by the snark

Live by the snark, die by the snark

: Somebody stuck a sharp stick up somebody’s rear.

Unknown outside the dork-infested waters of the Blogosphere, her name is Jessica Coen, and she’s the co-editor of, where she regurgitates newspaper and magazine stories and slathers them in supposedly witty sarcasm. Every time we bump into Coen, 25, who likes to accessorize with a stuffed dog poking out of her handbag, she smiles and showers us with sycophantic praise. But her every mention of PAGE SIX on her Web site is snide and snarky. Word to Coen: Next time you see us at a party, keep walking. Or slithering. You can’t be a boot-licker and a back-stabber at the same time.

But enough about you

But enough about you

: In dissecting Current.TV‘s relationship with its content contributors, Umair Haque at BuggleGeneration gets right to the heart of what’s wrong with most big-media attempts to interact with the citizens via citizens’ media. The big guys think it’s still about them. They don’t understand — and perhaps never will — that it’s not about speaking but listening, about blowing up their networks to take part in vastly bigger networks than they ever could have imagined.

This raises a very special problem for Current TV. Namely, that more Web 2.0 focused competitors can always and everywhere offer a superior value prop, because they can leverage complementarity. Put another way, Current TV, by tying itself heavily to cable and satellite distribution, may be foregoing the real opportunity. If you follow this analysis, Current will never be able to raise relative switching costs.

Is this a symptom of a deeper…uhhh…thing? Check this out:

“…Assignment: London

Okay: We want to put together a reflective piece on the London bombings and their implications. Get out a camera — a webcam will do — and start talking.”

Look, peer production is not about ordering prosumers around to meekly do your bidding. It’s about building a platform/community that does theirs.

Not to sound harsh, but perhaps Current has the whole dynamics of this stuff backwards.

In a sense, this is the same kind of mistake that 1.0 dot commers made – assuming that the www was just another distribution/mktg channel. Dot com 2.0 peer production plays like Current seem to be assuming more and more that the www is just another production channel (supply chain, if ya like). It’s emphatically not.

The deep economics of peer production are very different – they’re about supply-side network fx, strong complementarity, and increasing returns. All of which are very different from traditional media competitive dynamics, and create very different industry structures.

Right. It’s impossible for the big guys to think outside their networks. They can only think centralized; that was their core value, after all. They must learn how to think distributed: If they want to play in this new world at all, if they can, they must find out how they can help enable people to do what they want to do where they are already doing it.

This means sharing content. It means sharing promotion. It means sharing knowledge and training. And, most of all, it means sharing money. It means supporting citizens’ media in every way.

Think eBay: It lets people start new businesses. What is the media equivalent of that? How do you create the world’s biggest network by not tying it to a network, by even giving up your old network?

I haven’t seen many examples of this. I’ve seen big-media companies try to suck up content and cool from the new guys; that will expire like milk at a 7/11. I’ve seen new, little-media companies use the old, big-media models but make it work just because it’s so much cheaper. I haven’t seen many, if any, truly enable (and then exploit) the distributed universe. I’m working on my little corners of it, trying to push notions of the open-source infrastructure that become necessary if you’re going to enable a distributed model. But it’s not easy. Media always — always — existed thanks to its closed networks, thanks to controlling the means of distribution. When the advantage of distribution disappears — and, in fact, becomes just a cost that weighs you down vs. your new, Web. 2.0 competitors — these guys don’t know what to do. They want to impose the old models on the new instead of accepting that the old is gone and understanding the opportunities of the new.

Current.TV isn’t it, or doesn’t look like it’s going to be. Blog posts quoted in print or on TV isn’t it. Enabling the distributed world … now that’s it.