“The political logic of Kerry’s attack is obvious. Dean is the only candidate with momentum and excitement, and he’s the only big threat to Kerry in New Hampshire. Discredit Dean, win New Hampshire, and nobody else has the gas to pass Kerry.
But does Kerry’s attack make sense on the merits? Not unless he’s willing to disqualify himself as well.
Tuesday, April 29, 2003
CNN.com – Oregon man charged with conspiracy to levy war against U.S. – Apr. 28, 2003
In a 41-page affidavit filed along with a criminal complaint in U.S. District Court in Portland, an FBI agent attached to the joint terrorism task force alleged that Hawash had traveled to China in an attempt to gain entrance into Afghanistan to fight U.S. forces after September 11, 2001.
When Hawash was unable to enter Afghanistan, he returned to the United States and, when questioned, told officials he had traveled to China for business purposes, the agent said.
I wrote about this earlier this month, so figured it was only fitting to announce the other shoe dropping. Interestingly, supporters held a rally this morning for Hawash as scheduled. Wonder what they make of the claims he was trying to enter Afghanistan?
Monday, April 28, 2003
Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor running for president, has told an audience in New Hampshire that the United States “won’t always have the strongest military,” an assertion that drew a strong rebuke today from one of his rivals for the Democratic nomination.
For those of you reading this site in a browser, you’ll notice some changes. First of all, this site is now managed in Movable Type. All the old pages are still here, just with a slightly new look and feel. Most of the changes are structural and should be transparent. But comments are now turned on, so feel free to participate in this site moving forward.
Also, for those of you reading this through an aggregator, Movable Type is now outputting multiple XML feeds. The existing XML feed is still valid. An abbreviated feed with just the first few lines of the post is also available.
Stay tuned. More to come.
Saturday, April 26, 2003
Nearly 30 people came by our house today to learn more about Governor Howard Dean. Here’s what they learned: he’s honest, he’s passionate, he’s committed, and he’s got a great sense of humor.
He understands a broad range of issues that are critical to our country at a time that we need him. He engages people, doesn’t always tell them what they want to hear. He listens. And he proves that he’s given this race, this country and this office a lot of thought.
This much I know: I want to be around more people as they see and hear Governor Dean for the first time. The reaction is palpable: at first they marvel that someone out there is speaking up for them, saying what hasn’t been said this forcefully or passionately in years. Then they smile – when they realize they’re not alone. And finally they resolve to do something – anything – to help.
This is what grass roots is all about. And this just might change our country.
Friday, April 25, 2003
Dave Winer responds (sort of) to my post:
I’ve been pinged and pecked by people working for specific candidates telling me how cool their guy is because he Gets weblogs. That’s not very interesting. More and more I wonder if people actually read what’s written on the Web. I think they just scan for key words, and immediately open up their emailer or browser and start writing their schpiel about the key words, not what the writer was saying.
Full disclosure: I e-mailed him a URL to my post. Sue me.
For the record, here’s what I read in Dave’s piece that made me think he was looking for information about the candidates, not the voters:
First step — clearly — go to NH myself and find some candidates. Luckily I’m speaking at Dartmouth on May 9. I’ll go looking for presidential hopefuls. With my camera and some questions. I’ll try to explain weblogs. (emphasis mine)
Now after re-reading the post it seems pretty clear that Dave’s use of “candidates” referred to the prior sentence where he talks about “citizen bloggers”. But how to explain the next sentence?
In other words, Dave’s frustrated that I (and others, presumably) didn’t read what he wrote. But did he?
In the interest of answering the question Dave thought he asked the first time, here are some links:
- The Scrum. Good site detailing the run-up to the 2004 election.
- Daily Kos. Political junkie after my own heart: a JD with a political addiction, scours the web and is often well ahead of the punditocracy in making salient observations about which candidate is saying what.
- Atrios’ Eschaton. Not focused on the primaries, but good focus on politics in general.
- Talking Points Memo. Lately more focused on the war on Iraq (who isn’t?) and the emerging Korean crisis, but one of the best left-leaning pundits out there (and a good friend of mine !).
- Best of the Web Today. I rarely agree with anything written here, but find Wall Street Journal’s Taranto to be a pretty savvy commentator and comprehensive in his coverage.
- Primary Monitor. More or less a blog (in concept, at least) focused exclusively on the NH primary.
Dave Winer writes:
2. Blogging and the New Hampshire primary. Citizen bloggers covering the candidates for US president, follow it where it goes. First step — clearly — go to NH myself and find some candidates. Luckily I’m speaking at Dartmouth on May 9. I’ll go looking for presidential hopefuls. With my camera and some questions. I’ll try to explain weblogs. And here’s another way to proceed. Are there any people in NH reading this site who think weblogs could make a difference? We need a citizen’s committee for evangelizing the concept. Everyone who hears it goes Hmm, that might work. [Scripting News]
Dave – no need to explain blogs to Howard Dean, one of the candidates for President& ;- he’s already got one. (And yes, they’ve got an RSS feed.) The blogroll at the “official blog” also links to more than a dozen blogs (including mine) that are focused on the campaign.& ;They also are smart-mobbing, using a service called Upoc to delivery SMS text messages to supporters several times a week. And they’re the most popular group on Meetup, with nearly 18,000 Americans signed up. Bottom line – the Internet has already changed Presidential politics, with Governor Dean leading the pack.
And that’s just the beginning. :)
Wednesday, April 23, 2003
Ben and Mena are now family…. Six Apart (Ben and Mena’s company, the creator of Movable Type) just announced their hosted service, TypePad. They also announced that Anil has joined the team. Also somewhere in the announcement is a bit about my company, Neoteny investing in Six Apart. I’m very excited both as a Movable Type user/fan and as an investor. [Joi Ito’s Web]
Sure would like to know how much Neoteny put into Six Apart, but this is great news. It’s significant for a couple reasons:
- It establishes Six Apart as a viable, independent company with financial resources to scale its product.
- It further validates the weblog concept as more than the vanity publishing platform (Google’s acquisition of Pyra, of course, was the first such step).
Don’t get me wrong – there are other viable weblog applications out there (this weblog is created and maintained in Radio, for example). But this certainly gives MT a leg up in the future development of weblog apps. I look forward to seeing what they do with the money…
UseNet searches delivered to your inbox. NetNews Tracker searches Usenet newsgroups twice each day for any phrases that you choose, then delivers any new hits to you via e-mail. This is a terrific way to monitor UseNet postings, which are a valuable but often untapped research source. (Via LawSites) [Inter Alia]
This sounds like a great service.
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
This is starting to sound a lot like the Trent Lott debacle. First the quote. Then the media mentions, with attempts by various spin doctors to marginalize the comments (in this case, the Santorum staff tried to say that his comments were “limited to the Supreme Court case”).
Now Daily Kos unearths a 2002 fundraising letter. And it’s a doozie.
To paraphrase Governor Dean, where’s the Republican leadership on this issue?
April 22, 2003.
This week, both InformationWeek and Baseline have feature stories about new technology at Delta Air Lines, so it’s a good opportunity to benchmark Baseline, a new IT magazine from Ziff Davis, to its old school press-release republishing counterparts.
The difference: while the InformationWeek article is just a poor rewrite of bland warmed-over press releases and vague generalizations, the Baseline article is detailed, interesting, and specific. For example Baseline noticed that Delta’s new information system crashed for two hours at the worst time possible: when I was in New Orleans trying to reschedule my flight home during last month’s blizzard. InformationWeek didn’t mention the outage. In fact the whole Baseline article looks like it was written by an investigative journalist. It’s about time the industry press got its act together.& ;Go for the& ;free subscription, it’s worth it.
[Joel on Software]
Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) yesterday made remarks referring to the current sodomy case before the Supreme Court. About the case, he said:
If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.
Governor Dean just released his response to Sen. Santorum’s remarks. A couple key quotes from this release:
The silence with which President Bush and the Republican Party leadership have greeted Sen. Santorums remarks is deafening. It is the same silence that greeted Senator Lotts offensive remarks in December. It is a silence that implicitly condones a policy of domestic divisiveness, a policy that seeks to divide Americans again and again on the basis of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation.
It is a policy that must end, and it is a policy that will end with a Dean Presidency.
It’s clear that Gov. Dean is making two different points: one, that someone needs to speak up. Two, that someone needs to lead the Democratic party. That’s good news on both fronts.
Lieberman Looks For Money. Connecticut’s News 12 cable channel reports that Sen. Joe Lieberman was “back home in Connecticut Monday looking to raise some much needed cash for his presidential campaign at a Norwalk fundraiser.” The biggest problem for the Lieberman camp is the headline: “Lieberman campaign in financial trouble.”… [Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire]
Monday, April 21, 2003
More bloggers are picking up on Gov. Dean’s Common Dreams article:
“I am what is commonly referred to as a social liberal and a fiscal conservative.”
In other words, he’s not only about the war, it’s the economy stupid. [metafilter.com]
Dean is my choice for the next president. After reading this, I’m even more impressed. [Mike Cohen’s Weblog]
In many circles (certainly several that are reading this blog), having Rush Limbaugh despise you is as close to an endorsement as we’ll take from him.
Be sure to head over to Rush Limbaugh’s web site, where he rolls the quote from this week’s Fox News Sunday – Mara Liasson (NPR) proclaims Howard Dean the big winner from the war in Iraq. It shocks Limbaugh that “people from my own staff think Howard Dean might have a chance.”
Thursday, April 17, 2003
Turns out I’m not the first to notice Prof. Bailyn’s comments about pamphlets being very similar to weblogs. Dan Bricklin, co-creator of VisiCalc and founder of Trellix, remarked on the very same thing two years ago (almost to the day, oddly enough):
I think reading some of what Bailyn had to say back in 1967 about the 1700’s can help us better understand the role and peculiarities of today’s writers who use web sites (web logs or essays).
Reading something like this, as a person whose main job is to create software and help run a business while expressing himself on a public web site, gives me a wonderful sense of fitting into the flow of history. Hopefully our give and take, about liberty, empowerment, the role of government and big business, the joys and dangers of technology, etc., will lead to as meaningful result as theirs.
Thanks to Will Cox for pointing this out…
Governor Dean just published a position paper at CommonDreams.org, a progressive web site:
On day one of a Dean Presidency, I will reverse this attitude. I will tear up the Bush Doctrine. And I will steer us back into the company of the community of nations where we will exercise moral leadership once again.
And not only will I seek to heal the divisions this President has caused in the world community, but I would also begin the process of healing the divisions he has exploited here at home.
John Palfrey, Executive Director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law weighs in on my pointer to Prof. Bailyn’s discourse on pamphlets:
“Rick’s analogy rings true to me, given a recent experience testifying against the mini-DMCA proposed in Massachusetts. In a centuries-old hearing room, dozens of technologists had come to testify against a lousy bill, with one special interest lobbyist representing the other side. How did the techies know to show up in that hearing room off Nurse’s Hall? They read today’s online pamphlets, just as our forebears read paper pamphlets. The spirit, it seems to me, is precisely the same.”
And as for Prof. Bailyn?
“Prof. Bailyn was on the committee that reviewed my work as an undergraduate in History and Literature and grilled me at my orals. He is a so-called University Professor, which is probably Harvard’s highest honor; it means, some say, that he’s so smart that he can teach in any discipline. He is a giant of an historian and a wonderful man. To be able to claim him on our side would be quite a coup.”
You may recall that my wife and I are hosting a house party for Governor Dean next Saturday, April 26. This is part of the campaign’s “Stand Up!“ effort – to commemorate Gov. Dean’s courageous actions in Vermont when he signed the civil union bill into law ensuring equal rights for all Americans regardless of sexual orientation.
The online registration site is now live – please stop by and contribute even if you can’t make it to the event. We need all the help we can get to make this event (and the dozens of others going on nationwide on the 26th) a success! (Note – there may be a house party closer to you; feel free to browse the list of all house parties to see what’s nearby.)
I’m looking for a multi-user image management system. The goal is to be able to centrally store images in a database, where users could then query the system on a variety of criteria (show me images of this person with that person, show me images in this state, etc.). A web-based solution would be ideal, and the cheaper the better. This is for a lean organization.
Leave suggestions in the comments, or just drop me a line. Thanks.
“The weblog is a one-man show. One has complete freedom of expression, including, if one chooses, the freedom to be scurrilous, abusive, and seditious; or, on the other hand, to be more detailed, serious and ‘high-brow’ than is ever possible in a newspaper or in most kinds of periodicals. At the same time, since the weblog is always short, it can be produced much more quickly than a book, and in principle, at any rate, can reach a bigger public. Above all, the weblog does not have to follow any prescribed pattern.& ;… All that is required of it is that it shall be topical, polemical, and short.”
Of course, this isn’t really about weblogs. Take the same quote – verbatim – and swap out “pamphlets” for “weblogs”. The author is Harvard historian Bernard Bailyn, writing about the “literature of revolution” in his Pulitzer prize winning book The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. It’s on page two.
Bailyn starts out his book focused on the role of pamphlets in the run-up to the Revolutionary War. Later in the chapter, he writes, “the primary goal of the American Revolution, which transformed American life and introduced a new era in human history, was not the overthrow or even the alteration of the existing social order but the preservation of political liberty threatened by the apparent corruption of the constitution, and the establishment in principle of the existing conditions of liberty.”
Weblogs, in a very real way, are simply a continuation of a tradition that began several hundred years ago. It becomes obvious that what we’re now calling warblogs (at least, those that are not just reporting the war but are advocating a particular point of view) are a continuation of a very American tradition from 250 years ago. Dave – you should look him up. I’m guessing there’s an interesting conversation or two to be had – and maybe you’ll get Prof. Bailyn to start blogging?
Update: Turns out Dan Bricklin made this same observation almost two years ago, talking about the same book…
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
I won’t be picky – this is great news. (Would love to see the body of the posts in the XML feed too, but I’m just happy to see this feed so that posts to the campaign blog will show up in my aggregator.)
Other uses for XML/RSS:
- Campaign appearances
- Press releases
- Position papers
How about it, Matt & Zephyr?
It turns out that someone bought all of the remaining shares in this site over at Blogshares. What exactly that means is beyond me. (Remember – I went to law school because there was no math.) More worrisome is that this “someone” is actually called – no, I’m not making this up – Biff Gnarly. Who is this Biff? What if he tries to do an LBO of my site? My head hurts.
But it’s caused shares of tins to quadruple in value in just a couple days. So I guess that’s a good thing. Options – I could issue more shares, depressing the share price but extending the joys of owning tins to so many of you (like, seven). Or I could sell my own shares, enriching myself while knowing that the temporary peak in share price is just a result of that silly April Fool’s joke I played, which is almost certainly not going to be sustained… (that sounds positively Enron-ish, doesn’t it?) Anyone have any opinions?
What does Sarbanes-Oxley say about this anyway?
Monday, April 14, 2003
Yet more fawning praise for everyone’s favorite Internet company. A “googol,” from whence the search engine derives its name, is a really big number — specifically a 1 followed by 100 zeros. Well, Google isn’t worth quite that much yet, but it’s getting there:
Google, a private company, does not disclose revenue or profit. But it says it has been profitable for nine consecutive quarters. Moreover, its executives have privately told the board that revenue will soar from less than $300 million in 2002 to $750 million or more this year, with gross profit margins of 30 percent, according to a Google executive and several people who have knowledge of the company’s financial situation.
No tremendous surprises in this piece, but for all us Google lovers, yet another interesting profile. [MarketingFix]
Can you imagine what this IPO would have looked like three years ago? In any event, Google is proof that a solid business model, laser-like focus, rapid innovation and really smart people all add up to tremendous success.
$750 million in revenues. Profits. Who knew?
Saturday, April 12, 2003
Was Saddam Statue Event Staged for Cameras?. David Theroux of the Independent Institute sends a link to a page that may raise serious questions about an event… [Dan Gillmor’s eJournal]
Can the tail wag the dog..? [Curiouser and curiouser!]
There’s some intersting stuff here. It certainly has more than a whiff of conspiracy theory to it, but one does wonder about 200 (or less) people in a square sealed off by tanks while fighting raged just a few blocks away. Was this really spontaneous? Or was it staged? Read the article.
Note: I wrote about this the other day, and Terry Frazier and I had a back and forth in the comments.& ;In the comments, I pointed to Josh Marshall’s post about the significance of the US flag that was used – it had flown over the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
Palm “Aggregator”. BlogPluck (New). BlogPluck converts web logs in RSS/RDF format to Plucker documents for offline reading. BlogPluck is a Java Web Start application. It can be downloaded, installed and run with a single click. [PalmOpenSource.com] [Ian’s Messy Desk]
This is worth checking out – might be a great way of making some weblogs available to my Treo when I’m offline…
Friday, April 11, 2003
Calling Howard Dean “the indie rock star” of the Democratic race, Garance Franke-Ruta writes in The American Prospect that Howard Dean “makes you feel like you’ve been waiting your whole life for someone to say what he says.”
The article analyzes each candidate’s performance:
- Kerry: “surprisingly unimpressive, almost listless”
- Sharpton: “a boon to the race, [despite] his faults”
- Edwards: used “cloying, pre-fab phrases that make him sound like anything other than ‘regular people.’”
- Kucinich: “got a new haircut” (really, that was the best Franke-Ruta could say)
- Lieberman: “has no chance of winning the presidency”
- Gephardt: “slow and steady”
- Graham: “needs a breakout moment, and Wednesday wasn’t it”
- Moseley Braun: “gracious gentlewoman”
Dean’s concluding statement? “He finished off on a high note with what should become known as his ‘I am a liberal’ speech. It was a thing of beauty and should be emblazoned across T-shirts, postcards and buttons in the year ahead. And I hope he puts it up on his campaign site as soon as possible, because I got so wrapped up in listening to him at that moment that for the first time all evening, I forgot to take notes.”
(If you want to watch his concluding statement, follow this link and fast-forward to 1:49:42. It’s a brilliant two minutes.)
Good-Bye 3G – Hello Wi-Fi Frappuccino. One of the ( perhaps too often repeated) themes around here is always about how businesses should keep an eye out for disruptive technologies and be ready to embrace them before they take over a legacy business. Unfortunately, there are plenty of examples of companies failing to do this – and not many of companies that really do embrace new technologies before it’s too late. So, while this isn’t a new story, and we still don’t know how it will turn out, it’s good to see an article saying that this is exactly why T-Mobile USA is embracing WiFi. When T-Mobile USA’s chairman heard Michael Dell say that all Dell laptops would soon include WiFi, he realized that it was a disruptive technology that would have an impact on his business. That’s what led to T-Mobile’s eventual acquisition of MobileStar, and subsequent push into the WiFi hotspot business. Though I’m still not convinced T- Mobile has the business model proposition figured out correctly, this is still an excellent example of recognizing a disruptive technology and moving to embrace it – rather than denying its existence. [Techdirt]
Good to see some folks digging into this in a bit more detail. I’m a T-Mobile subscriber (both for my GSM cell phone and for their WiFi access), and have been very happy with their service.
On a related note, I’ve been intrigued by the notion of disruptive innovations ever since reading The Innovator’s Dilemma, a fantastic book about disruptive technology innovations by Clayton Christensen. If you haven’t read it, go pick it up. It’s very accessible, and reveals some surprising conclusions about how companies can stay viable.
This is a significant win for Governor Dean’s campaign – as Silicon Valley’s Congresswoman, she is extremely influential on tech policy and should provide some needed weight in the effort to raise money among the Valley’s entrepreneurs. I look forward to seeing some policy declarations out of the Dean campaign on issues like privacy, Internet security, encryption, civil liberties online, and the like. With Lofgren on board, Governor Dean will have a very credible advisor and access to the leading thinkers on the subject.
Let’s see which CEOs follow Lofgren’s lead and lend their support to the campaign – they could be a nice boost for the Q2 fundraising efforts.
Wednesday, April 9, 2003
If the dojo fight in The Matrix was a kung fu sonata, the Burly Brawl is a symphony. Neo tears the sign from the ground and wields it as a kendo sword, vaulting pole, and battering ram. A woman walking by can’t believe what she’s seeing; suddenly her body is hijacked, she drops her grocery bag, and another Smith charges into the fray. Whole battalions of Smiths arrive, mount assaults, attack in waves, scatter, regroup, and head back for more. (At ESC, one massive pile-on was dubbed the “Did someone drop a quarter?” shot.) In the thick of it, Neo is dancing, chucking black-tied bodies skyward, pivoting around the signpost, and using shoulders as stepping-stones over the raging river of whup-ass.
Fans will wear out their remotes replaying the scene on DVD, but what they won’t see, even riding the Pause button, is a transition that happens early on. When Neo and Agent Smith walk into the courtyard, they are the real Reeves and Weaving. But by the time the melee is in full effect, everyone and everything on the screen is computer-generated – including the perspective of the camera itself, steering at 2,000 miles per hour and screaming through arcs that would tear any physical camera apart.
I’m thrilled that the regime in Baghdad is by all accounts through. While I still believe that the botched diplomacy that led to the war will create tremendous challenges for us in the years ahead, I think that the end result is a positive one for Iraq.
That said, don’t you think we could have resisted this? I mean, what image does this send to a region already convinced that we’re doing this for the wrong reasons?
(Photo from Desert-Voice)
From Dan Gillmor comes this update on the plight of Mike Hawash. (For more information,& ;visit the Free Mike Hawash site.)
Well, at least it’s now official information that the federal government is holding Maher (Mike) Hawash, an engineer who has worked for years at Intel, in an Oregon jail. Hawash, a U.S. citizen who was born in the Middle East, has been held since March 20 as a “material witness” — not charged with a crime — in a case the feds won’t discuss in any way.
His detention, like so many others, appears to be an abuse of a 1984 law that the Bush administration has used with a vengeance to hold people it may (or may not) suspect of being in league with bad folks. Unlike many other such jailings, all shrouded in the kind of secrecy the Bush people love so much, this one has attracted some powerful attention.
One of Hawash’s friends is Steve McGeady, a former Intel vice president who was Hawash’s boss for years. (Hawash was laid off and had been working as a contractor at Intel, a common situation in today’s troubled tech industry.)
McGeady has set up a “Free Mike Hawash” Web site with considerable background on this case. McGeady told me the other day that this case is “like Alice in Wonderland meets Franz Kafka’‘ — and his analogy resonates.
It appears that Hawash is being held in part because he donated money to a charity that was later determined by the federal government — possibly incorrectly — to have provided financial aid to terrorists.
On Monday, a federal judge did what the government wouldn’t do: acknowledge that Hawash was being held. But he let the government keep holding its prisoner for at least the next three weeks.
If Intel, the company, is doing anything to help Hawash, the assistance isn’t apparent. But as I said last week, I hope a prominent immigrant, whose name is almost synonymous with the company, will take note of this situation. His name is Andy Grove. [Dan Gillmor’s eJournal]
Speaking of Kafka, it’s criminal that Steven Soderbergh’s Kafka is not available on DVD.
I’ve added about a dozen articles to the Press Clippings page from April, and added a new video at C-Span of Governor Dean’s presentation to the New York State United Teachers Meeting last week to the Video Page.
The speech is a variation on his standard stump speech, but tailored to an education audience. He also presents three promises for the first year of a Dean administration. (This is the first time I’ve seen these, but it may not be the first time he’s made them.)
- We will reverse the trend and work towards a balanced federal budget.
- We will ensure that every citizen has access to health care.
- We will fully fund special education.
Monday, April 7, 2003
got the Agonist to ‘fess up. I checked with him and yes, Daniel Forbes who got the Agonist to ‘fess up is the same reporter who outed the US government’s secret promotion of anti-drug TV plots for Salon a few years ago. Not sure how he does it, but I’m impressed. [Paul Boutin]
AP just reported that former Virginia Lieutenant Governor Don Beyer is joining the campaign as treasurer:
“What I liked most about Howard is his unpretentiousness and his plain-talking, heart-of-the-message style. He’s very bright and seems to be fearless,” Beyer said.
Gee – first the former Oregon governor endorses Dean. Then a former Lieutenant Governor endorses Dean and joins the campaign. Is this the start of something big?
What Warfighters Can Teach Business Leaders. Literally from it’s earliest issue, Fast Company has looked to the best minds and most effective units in the military for lessons about strategy, tactics, and execution that can be applied to business. At a moment in which the attention of the world is focused on military conflict and its aftermath, we’ve assembled a collection of articles that may change how you run your company — and shape how you behave as a leader. [Fast Company]
A wonderful group of relevant stories amd lessons
[Robert Paterson’s Radio Weblog]
Sunday, April 6, 2003
I was intrigued by the Dean campaign’s announcement, so I did a little bit of digging to find out more about upoc.com, the provider who’s making it possible to use SMS as a communications platform for the campaign. Turns out they have a corporate site, with info about what they do, why they’re different, and features of the system.
Finally, they link to their research site – GenWireless.com – which provides quarterly stats, downloads and other info about the wireless generation.
Well, well. A presidential campaign with a weblog? That’s so, well, last month. Now the Dean campaign announces it’s got a “phonenet” – where Dean supporters can sign up to receive SMS text messages from the campaign.
From an e-mail today from Zephyr Teachout, who’s involved in the campaign’s Internet strategy:
- Go to www.upoc.com
- Click on register now. Enter your phone number.
- Respond to the text message you receive.
- Search for Howard Dean 2004.
- Join the group!
- Let all your Dean friends know.
One thing that impressed me about upoc.com – when I accessed the site from my Treo (which uses Handspring’s Blazer browser), it did a good job of recognizing that the browser was a microbrowser – and stripped all images from the site to make the page load quickly. I wish more sites did that.
(For more on the concept of Smart Mobs – a term coined by author Howard Rheingold – see the site dedicated to the topic and Rheingold’s book.)
Friday, April 4, 2003
I won’t be going tomorrow, and I’ll share my thoughts on today’s discussions later, but I couldn’t help but note this: the WiFi network at TechShow was nuked, apparently by an unsuspecting TechShow attendee whose computer was infected and was flooding the WiFi access points with bogus requests. (Hence my spotty posts today.)
Or perhaps it was just karmic payback for that draft report circulating from an ABA section on WiFi?!
Thursday, April 3, 2003
If there were any doubt about the effectiveness of the grassroots effort being marshalled by the Howard Dean campaign, go visit the comments at the DeanBlog for affirmation. City after city report stunning turnout (most impressive: Oregon’s former governor showing up at the Portland meetup to announce her support for Dean!) – according to Meetup, more than 4,000 Dean supporters attended Meetups nationwide.
Kevin Drumm (aka CalPundit) is thinking about the 2004 presidential election, and Jesse Berney (aka Wage Slave) are doing some good out-loud thinking about what the 2004 election holds for the Democrats. There’s some good analysis on all sides, with the conclusion appearing to be that only Dean and Edwards have a credible shot.
It’s worth a read.
Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, Orin Kerr debunks the EFF analysis of the now dead Patiot II proposal from the DOJ.
ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION ON THE CRYPTO-AS-A-CRIME PROPOSAL: The Electronic Frontier Foundation has released an analysis of the now-dead-in-the-water leaked DOJ proposal that many have dubbed Patriot II. I haven’t read the whole EFF analysis, but given my interest in the proposal to criminalize use of cryptography, I figured I would start there to try to get a feel for the quality of the EFF analysis as a whole. The experience doesn’t leave me particularly confident in the rest of the document. [more…]
With the end of Q1 has come a slew of announcements from the major Democratic candidates about their fundraising efforts. Here are the totals:
- John Edwards: $7.4m
- John Kerry: $7m
- Richard Gephardt: $3.6m
- Joe Lieberman: $3m
- Howard Dean: $2.6m
Those who read this blog regularly know I’m a partisan of Howard Dean’s, and his total – while low – is actually quite strong considering his complete lack of national name recognition and lack of any national fundraising network at the beginning of the year. He’s got $2m cash on hand, and another $2m+ is coming from the FEC when matching funds hit.
But that’s not the story here. The story is that the Democrats – in a three month period in which we went to war and our President enjoys a 70% approval rating – raised nearly $24m. (Surely the totals when Kucinich, Moseley-Braun and Sharpton announce will top $25m.)
Erik Heels is now testing out Movable Type as a blogging platform for his law firm web site. In his latest post, he’s wondering what the ROI on the weblog app is. Based on a conversation at lunch today with Tom Mighell, I got to thinking about Erik’s experiment and decided to finally chip in $.02.
I’m glad to see Erik evaluate this software (in addition to being a friend for coming up on – this is shocking, but true – 10 years, he’s a really sharp guy whose opinions I’d like to see more of), but I think he’s asking the wrong question. He took a static web site and republished the entire thing using Movable Type. After a while, he then looked at how many pages were indexed in Google, how much traffic he’d received, etc. From this, he wants to know whether MT was worth it.
Well, I don’t think you’ll be wowed by the results if you use a weblog app to publish a website. In other words, weblogs serve a purpose: they create linkable content that invites commentary and encourages cross-site communications. Websites, on the other hand, exist to convey relatively static information. Just putting website content into a blog app does not a weblog make.
That said, I think the weblog app may make the maintenance of the website an easier thing – which may be worth it on its own terms. But just because it’s in a blog format doesn’t mean it’ll instantly get grabbed by Google: the rules still apply. You need others to link to you (which happens more frequently the more you publish, and the more interesting the content is to your readers), you need to update the site on a regular basis, and you need to give it time.
(And you need to get rid of the dark grey background. The text is hard to read!)
E-mail from a fellow audience member during the “blawg” panel at TechShow:
Rick, I’ve been reading your blog for a long time but it’s really neat to be in the same room with you and read it in real time. l guess they really don’t realize that you’re in the audience! Great job on the blog.
And here I was jealous of the guy down the row with the cool Tablet PC. Turns out he was reading this site. Cool.
Had lunch after the panel with fellow blawgers Dennis Kennedy, Tom Mighell, and Sabrina Pacifici. I’d met Sabrina several times before, and have spoken with Dennis in the past. Great to get some time exchanging ideas with them, and it was a pleasure to meet Tom who knows more about weblogging than he lets on.
I’ll be back tomorrow at TechShow, where I’m presenting two sessions: one on emerging technologies (no, I’m not sure what it means yet either) and one on marketing your practice on the Internet (guess I’ll have to read my book!).
What app do you use? Tom uses pMachine, Sabrina uses Movable Type. Both Tom and Sabrina are talking about the value of meta-data (i.e., categorization) to posts to add value. One question from the audience – does your weblog app support multiple categories? MT does, Tom isn’t sure if pMachine does. (The pMachine site isn’t clear on this.)
They just showed a screen shot of Ernie’s directory of law blogs.
Business applications of weblogs (Tom):
- Marketing tool for clients
- breaking news
- provide timely items of interest in client’s industry
- breaking news
- Internal tool for law firms
- discuss cases, evidentiary issues, a “virtual trial advocacy course”
- learn what other lawyers in teh firm are doing – encourages/promotes cross-selling (I think Tom’s over-stating this aspect of a blog – but I’ll address that in a later post)
- discuss cases, evidentiary issues, a “virtual trial advocacy course”
Weblogs – the future (Tom):
- Audio blogs
- Video blogs
- Mobile blogs (moblogging) – “If real journalists aren’t using this, they should be. Moblogs are breaking news ahead of the press.” (Side note: Ernie just posted this morning about how SARS broke, courtesy of Dan Gillmor. Yeah, that sounds about right.)
To find out about weblogs in general, Tom suggests going to Weblogs.com, MetaFilter, EatonWeb (lists 10,000+ weblogs by category), Daily Whirl& ;(focused on legal news and weblog information). Tom shows NewzCrawler as a good news-reader, and recommends a few others (included in the program materials).
Before you blog:
- Don’t attack
- Give proper attribution
- Don’t attack
- Faithfully cite your sources
- Avoid defamatory statements (cites a Virginia case handed down in the last week that address journalist’s defamatory statements; Tom suggests that same analysis would apply to blogs)
Tom and Sabrina are both wearing t-shirts with “BLAWG” written across their chests. Tom just explained the derivation of “blawg”, and gave credit to Denise Howell at Bag & Baggage for the origin of the term. Nice. (Maybe this means my shares in B&B will go up?!)
Types of blawgs (Sabrina):
- Practicing Attorneys
- Knowledge Management
- Law Students
Sites cited with screen shots:
- Donna Wentworth’s Copyfight
- Bag& ;and Baggage& ;(“long list of new blawgs, mixes personal interests with her practice”)
- Ernie the Attorney& ;(“great list of blawgs, loves techie gadgets”)
- How Appealing& ;(“one of the best examples of a practicing lawyer’s weblog”, cited his coverage of the Michigan case as a great example of live, first-person coverage of breaking news)
- The Trademark blog
- tins& ;(Tom doesn’t appear to know I’m in the audience! And he still says nice things about the site.)
- beSpacific (Sabrina’s blog)
- inter alia (Tom’s blog; “As a lawyer, I’m interested in helping lawyers learn how to use the Internet to be better at legal research, how to be better computer users, how to protect their computers, etc.”)
Sabrina& ;just mentioned& ;RSS and explained how the syndication of weblog content is a powerful extension of weblogs. Suggests e-mail subscriptions as an alternative to RSS subscriptions. (She provides this service at her site.)
After explaining the basics of weblogs, Tom talked about the advantage of a distributed network of individuals who may represent better expertise than a media organization. One individual in the audience asked “how do you evaluate accuracy” when reading these sites? Sabrina pointed out that the same critical eye when evaluating news sites should be used when reading weblogs.
It’s hard to explain to people who don’t get weblogs yet, but there’s another element here: the vast linked nature of the blogosphere means if you’re full of it, others will point that out quickly. (And loudly.)
Because there’s a live net connection in the room, they’re now pulling up some examples of blogs live. They pulled up warblogging.com and The Agonist& ;as examples of warblogs. The Agonist just posted at 12:24pm EST – in other words, now. People are starting to be curious as to what this means, though they’re still a little fuzzy.
Tom started out talking about the history of online communities in the legal profession. (One note, Tom: Google bought DejaNews, not Usenet. Usenet’s the protocol, DejaNews was the commercial enterprise that archived Usenet posts. Google then went out and scoured various collections to complete the Usenet archive into what is now Google Groups.) Some other examples of communities – PrairieLaw (bought by Martindale-Hubbell).
Sabrina then talked about weblogs – show of hands: how many people read weblogs right now? Five people said yes – of course, by “right now” I assumed she meant right now on the ABA WiFi connection. So yes, I’m reading weblogs right now.
His talk was loosely focused on the role of law in the new economy. In his words, the product of the new economy is intellectual property. “The cardinal characteristic of intellectual property is that the making of copies is extremely cheap.” Wherever a producer incurs significant costs before being able to sell the product, he said, “the threat of copies – where the cost is close to zero – means that the producer of the intellectual property can’t recover their costs.” This, he concludes, drives a wedge between upfront costs (very high) and continuing costs (marginal).
He noted that if IP producers sell directly to their buyer (no middleman), then the producer can impose any contractual limitations they want. For instance, copyright law has firmly established that buyers of copyrighted works have the right to make a second “backup” copy. But you can waive that right by contract if you choose to. Similarly, you can contractually bind yourself to agree to never copy a copyrighted work – regardless of the actual copyright term as established by law.
Fair use reflects a belief that the “vitality and dynamism of intellectual property depends on the existence of a public domain.” The nature of intellectual property is that today’s producers build on a body of prior intellectual property by “ borrowing it” or incorporating those ideas into their own. The reason that public domain is so important is that the alternative – a model where any producer today needs an explicit license in order to incorporate prior work – would be stifling to creativity.
He noted that today’s IP – much of which is digital – is increasingly reliant on digital protections (i.e., encryption) to safeguard against unlawful copying. This use of encryption, he noted, can have the effect of shrinking the public domain – which can be damanging to the longer term goals of future creation.
“I’m concerned about the shrinkage of the public domain through the use of encryption,” Judge Posner started. “However, the issue with the DMCA is more complicated than that.” He noted that if you don’t have some limitations on the circumvention of encryption used to protect copyrighted acts, then you “set off an arms race between the offense (the circumventers) and the defense (the producers who use encryption to protect their property).”
He allowed that if you limit circumvention, you probably also have to limit the encryption that’s used too. He concluded this section by stating that the “technology may present challenges for the law that the law may not be in a position to rise to right away.”
Judge Posner talked at some length about the Tasini case, in which The New York Times was sued by a freelancer who didn’t believe the Times could lawfully include their articles in the Times’ online database without explicit authorization. Tasini, said Posner, “is a fairly literal-minded opinion of the Supreme Court”, and creates a cumbersome process of negotiation which is necessarily flawed. (“What do you about dead authors?”)
The decision had a “kind of futility” to it – in that it ends up frustrating both the Times and the majority of its authors who, by Posner’s estimation, “are perfectly happy to get the reach accorded them by being included in the Times database.” Most authors, he believes, want the widest possible distribution. For authors who wrote for the Times prior to Tasini, now the Times has to chase the authors down or the authors won’t get the benefit of that wider distribution.
The next topic of discussion was the question of whether software code can be copyrighted. The law says yes, and the fact that the code is read by a machine and not a human is “a detail.” Posner explains why this is important by saying that in the absence of some kind of property right, there’s no incentive to produce. This is a bit at odds with a statement he made in the prior section, where he noted that copyright law can be used to frustrate technical development (à la Tasini).
(Aside: Someone should tell Judge Posner it’s “say-ga” and not “see-ga”.)
Facts of the case weren’t entirely clear to Judge Posner: “for technical reasons I don’t entirely understand, Accolade had to make a copy of the entire Sega OS. It did that, made its game for the Sega platform, and then destroyed it.” The court held that since the purpose of copying was to further a lawful purpose, then the copying was a fair use. This was a daring interpretation, since the whole doctrine of fair use arose around the notion of copying “pieces” of copyrighted works and not the entire work itself.
Economies of Scale & Production and Network Externalities
Judge Posner touched briefly on the idea that as a firm scales, the cost of production goes down. The result? The IP producer has more customers and the value of the service goes up. The network externalities in this situation are twofold: the cost of producing such mass-market IP is high, and the lack of standardization necessary to encourage the growth of such networks is also very costly. Successful companies are able to both shoulder the burden of that cost and the effort required to build the standards. Of course, once someone successfully does both, they’ve got a monopoly. Judge Posner admitted that this was a tightrope of sorts. (No kidding!)
After the presentation, I asked Judge Posner about his comments on the DMCA. Weren’t the IP producers asking the legal system to create an environment in which it was impossible to break the law? In other words, today’s system is one that creates a framework for punishing those who break the law. But mandating anti-copying technology in new devices, for example, is radically changing the law’s role in the protection of intellectual property.
“Yes,” he admitted. “The law has limits, while the technology does not.” Furthermore, he said that because copying is so easy (he had not heard of Morpheus or Kazaa, but was intrigued to hear that they are incorporating offshore and building decentralized systems to be “better” than Napster), it is impractical (if not impossible) to punish the violators. So now the IP producers are stuck trying to use contributory infringement as a weapon to go after the companies who make the products. And the current law on the subject – especially Sony v. Universal Studios – suggests that contributory infringement is difficult when there are significant non- infringing uses of the technology.
Wednesday, April 2, 2003
It’s not on the scale of last month’s NYC meetup, but a terrific group of 14 Dean supporters showed up tonight in Naperville to discuss the campaign and find ways to help out. Thanks to those who showed up – and if you’re interested in learning more, be sure to visit the Dean2004.meetup.com web site for details .
Is Your Television Watching You?. Here’s a nice article for all of you interested in privacy issues. It turns out that under the beloved Partiot Act, the government can now demand from non-cable companies such as TiVo or DirecTV a list of everything you’ve watched on your TV – and those companies will be forbidden from telling you that the information has been requested. So, not only can they find out what books you’ve been checking out of the library, they can also see what sort of subversive programs you’ve been watching. I’m sure the “Joe Millionaire” watchers are probably considered upstanding Americans, but I’m not sure about all you PBS viewers… [Techdirt]
Always nice to see a campaign manage expectations and then blow them away:
BURLINGTON, Vt. Dean for America today announced that first-quarter fundraising totals are expected to exceed $2.6 million, with more than $2 million cash-on-hand. Contributions came from more than 12,000 individual donors. More than $2 million of the contributions will qualify for federal matching funds under campaign law.
… Campaign Director Joe Trippi [noted] that the average contribution was about $180.
That means that once matching funds are distributed, the campaign will have about $4m on hand. I think that “ underdog” label will start to go away.
Today, Dean Meetup members have raised $112,000 for Howard Dean. With FEC matching funds, that’s nearly a quarter of a million dollars raised through The Meetup Challenge in exactly a month. It’s been an amazing demonstration of Howard Dean’s grassroots support and the power of Internet activism. But the Challenge is not over. Tonight at 7 pm, many of the nearly 12,000 Dean Meetup members will gather in venues across the country to discuss ways to help Howard Dean win the White House. If you’re going, spread the news about the Meetup Challenge’s success so far. Make it a goal tonight to keep the Meetup Challenge going. The million dollar goal was suggested when there were less than 5,000 Dean Meetup members; today, with nearly 12,000 members, the goal is even closer.
- Mathew, 4/2/2003 [DeanCallToAction.blogspot.com]
Great news on the power of grass roots, net-based fundraising. Get out to those Meetups tonight!
This is worth a lengthy read, but here are the highlights. Patriot II would:
- Dramatically widen the government’s ability to compel information from ISPs, colleagues, family members, etc. – without prior notification.
- Create end runs around limitations on surveillance and information sharing.
- Create broad new exceptions to the Freedom of Information Act.
- Increase the breadth of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), lowering thresholds for initiating surveillance and limiting court oversight.
- Broaden the scope of the law’s applicability, in many cases running far afield of the war on terrorism.
You can read the full text of the draft legislation here (HTML) or here (12 MB PDF file). Other links that provide background and analysis:
- ACLU section-by-section analysis of the legislation.
- Comments of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ranking Democratic Member on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
- Analysis by Prof. David Cole, Georgetown University Law Center
By any measure, this legislation (much like its predecessor) is creating a definition of patriotic that I want no part of. Far from showing an abiding trust in our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, this administration appears to be afraid of them.
I’ll close with a quote that seems a propos:
In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. […] The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it—and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.
And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.
My fellow citizens of tho world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
(John F. Kennedy, Inauguration Speech, January 20, 1961.)
Or, I guess we could just tell Americans what rights we’ll take from them in this time of need, and demand compliance from our fellow citizens of the world. Maybe that could work too.
Starbucks innovates again by offering a dual use Visa. The card boasts the reloadable stored-value feature of its successful Starbucks Card, but also works like a credit card. When using the credit card the customer gains reward points that can then be redeemed at Starbucks retail locations. Expect to see many other retailers copy Starbucks and introduce dual-use cards of their own over the coming months.
What a cool idea. Starbucks continues to impress me as a company that is answering the question “What business are you in?” in ways that the average customer wouldn’t necessarily anticipate. Starbucks isn’t a coffee store – it’s an “experience retailer”. Between the synergistic launch of Cranium (inspired by, and considerably helped by, Starbucks locations throughout Seattle), the integration of WiFi hotspots into their retail store chain, and their alternative payment methods (pioneered by their use of the Starbucks card, a reloadable cash card that you can “fill up” online), Starbucks is developing revenue streams (in some cases, considerable revenue streams) that have nothing to do with their coffee. And each of these ancillary efforts increase the likelihood that you’ll pay $4 for a cup of coffee.
Other businesses that are in a similar position who I admire:
- Cisco. It’s not a router company. Its business is the acquisition and integration of technology companies.
- Amazon.com. It’s not a bookstore. It’s an e-commerce fulfillment engine, powering everything from ToysRUs.com to Target.com to Borders.com. (Go figure!)
And after searching around, I found an interesting article at Optimize Magazine that talks about all three of these companies, and adds several others to the mix: Charles Schwab, Harley Davidson, Wal-Mart. The article is already over a year old, but worth a look.
Well well. Looks like Pillsbury Winthrop has settled with Frode Jensen. Details of the settlement are confidential, but it’s safe to assume money changed hands. Forgotten about this juicy soap opera? I wrote up the salient details back in October. American Lawyer has a copy of Jensen’s complaint here (PDF).
For the record, the full statement by Pillsbury Winthrop (apparently a condition of the settlement, though that’s not made explicit):
Pillsbury Winthrop deeply regrets making its public statements regarding Frode Jensen. Mr. Jensen was a valued and respected member of the firm and was one of the firm’s most productive corporate partners.
Mr. Jensen is an accomplished corporate transactional lawyer, and he made many important contributions during his tenure at the firm. Pillsbury wishes him well in all his future endeavors and employment opportunities.
Anyone care to guess what (if anything) will happen to senior management at Pillsbury Winthrop now?
Tuesday, April 1, 2003
Looks like I was trying a bit too hard to read the tea leaves when I could’ve taken the news at face value (chalk it up to being chastened at listening to one too many Ari Fleischer press briefings): Sue Allen is a mother of two teenage boys and the campaign grew much more quickly than expected. As a parent of two children (albeit much younger ones), I can totally sympathize – I flew over 100,000 miles last year and left my wife at home with an infant and a toddler… and that takes its toll on the family.
From a contact within the campaign, I understand Sue will continue to work as much as possible with the campaign, and will help build an infrastructure that will support the growing interest in Governor Dean’s campaign. Meanwhile, she’ll get back to spending some time with family. Excellent news.
- tins ::: Rick Klau’s weblog (1500 shares)
- Bag and Baggage (100 shares)
- Ernie the Attorney (100 shares )
- McGee’s Musings (100 shares)
- The Shifted Librarian (50 shares)
- (More to come, but the site limits you to five “purchases” per day before imposing “commissions” on trades.)
Like Joi Ito, I wish I could sell some blogs short. And as long as we’re thinking of ways to extend what could be a very interesting social networks experiment, here are some other ideas:
- Site traffic as a leading indicator. Traffic spikes should have some corollary to stock volume, and could be taken into account when factoring price and demand.
- Quarterly traffic averages as “consensus estimates”. If a site significantly outperforms (or underperforms) its quarterly average for traffic, this is akin to a company making or missing its number. You’ll likely see the “stock” of a blog rise or fall in traffic stats before the links disappear from blogrolls. You could even publish traffic stats relative to quarterly and annual averages.
- Inclusion of metadata. Blogs traded on blogshares.com could be categorized by type, industry or other factors. Once done, you could measure not only the relative value of stocks in particular “industries” but you could also measure the popularity in those sites from across other industries. End result would be an identification of the “industrial” stocks (i .e., those with broad appeal that act as a kind of mutual fund for many stocks – think G.E.) versus “vertical” stocks (those who are primarily linked to from within their own industry).
This is cool stuff.
Dennis Kennedy Launches Solo Career. Yes, I am leaving Thompson Coburn to start a solo career. The mix of what I want to do no longer fits within the context of a large law firm and Ill be starting a couple of new enterprises. [DennisKennedy.blog]
I’m looking forward to seeing Dennis at this week’s TechShow. Who else is planning to attend? (Leave a note in the comments and we’ll try to coordinate…)
Nancy Manzo has written up her impressions from last month’s panel in San Francisco at the Legal Marketing Association annual conference. Except for my photo (lesson learned: when head shots are more than four years old, find them and burn them), I think she does a great job of recounting what was said. My only frustration with the discussion was that it wasn’t longer so that we could’ve engaged the audience more.
In addition to talking about CRM, I made a few comments about how new apps (i.e., blogs) are creating bottom-up environments where individuals can create value and derive benefits without the need for strong “top-down” direction. Jim McGee had some good thoughts on this a few weeks ago:
Weblogs accomplish something similar for knowledge workers. They lower the barriers to sharing ideas far enough that it becomes possible for nearly all of us to do so. Bring that inside organizations and you have a powerful tool for being effective as opposed to merely productive. Scary to the established order? Sure. But if value does truly depend on how well and how fast organizations can create and share new knowledge, then the winners will emerge from those who commit to making it work.
And for a little more on the subject, check out this article from Knowledge, Inc. from last summer (thanks to John Robb for the link):
Bottom-up knowledge generation will have significant impacts on the way work, and workers, are perceived by corporations. Management will have to develop new incentives for knowledge workers to contribute high-quality content. For more traditional firms now adopting KM practices, decentralization of knowledge generation will be difficult, as it is antithetical to some ingrained management principles and habits.
The bottom-up knowledge capture trend will have a direct impact on technology. The technologies developed to capture and publish knowledge all have had to compromise one way or another between simplicity and specificity. Relatively unsophisticated techniques like text search are easy and cheap to apply; gather up a collection of documents and point a search engine at them, and in a simplistic way you’ve created a knowledge base — but the results are often not very specific.
Ernie’s been talking about bad law firm web sites lately.
In the interest of furthering this oh-so-important debate, I submit Russell & Tate. On this day six years ago, the best law firm web site on the Internet went live.
And if you had any doubt that the web can generate business for your law firm, check this out: exactly two years later, Russell & Tate represented Visa in the “deal of the century.” I have it on good authority that the firm’s web site was instrumental in landing this plum client.
Word first broke, predictably enough, at evnoggin.com, the weblog of Blogger’s founder Evan Williams. “Holy shit. This is really, really, really big. Even bigger than the last time I said it was big. Way bigger.” evnoggin.com then immediately went offline.
The post, made while Williams was a panelist on a session at the CDExpo weblog conference moderated by Robert Scoble, created a stir in the audience. Within minutes, rumors were confirmed. A press release from Google explained the motives behind the purchases. “Since these companies are decidedly not evil,” said Google founder Sergey Brain, “it seemed an appropriate next step. We are folding the Movable Bloggerland operation into a new division within Google, the Axis of Non-evIL apps.” Sources close to Brain indicate that Google’s ANIL group will be headed by none other than well-known blogger (and presumably non-evil) Anil Dash. “With Anil on board, we’ll be even less evil,” continued Brain. “Evil evil evil.”
Dave Whiner (founder of Userland), contacted at Harvard, was thrilled at the news. “Well, as you know I’m at Harvard now. Which only makes sense – I invented weblogs, and Al Gore invented the Internet here. And I like spicy noodles. But not the ones in Cambridge. Palo Alto – now there’s some good spicy noodles. And one other thing – I like Google again.”
Seven Together’s founders, Ben and Eenie Gallop, were returning from being voted Blogistan’s cutest couple when the news broke. “We couldn’t be happier at this development,” said Ben and Meenie in unison. “It’s a further validation of our belief that Perl is a superior programming platform. Perl rocks.” When asked what their first project would be at Google, Minie suggested that details were sketchy, but it might involve rewriting Google’s search algorithms in Perl. “As long as, you know, it’s not evil,” continued Moe.
Industry analysts were mixed on the news. A Jupiter analyst predicted that the combined companies would add “trillions” to Google’s valuation in a much-anticipated IPO later this year. Most everyone else in the industry disagreed, but few would go on record with a number. One chastened analyst stated, “We never knew what we were doing back in the 90s. We just added commas to numbers and people bought it. How do you expect us to know what the hell this means?”
News of the deal rocked blogshares.com. Trading was halted as the BSEC requested more details from all parties. One trader, who preferred to remain anonymous, had this to say of the news: “All I know is, this should catapult my share price to at least a dollar. Whatever that means.”
Asked whether this was a shot across Microsoft’s bow, VP of Microsoft’s Platform Group Jim Allnose said “Absolutely not. People are already blogging with Microsoft software. You just download the .NET framework, install some service packs, grab a few things from MSDN, install Sharepoint Team Services, and upgrade everything to Office 2003. Once you do that and upgrade to Windows Server 2003 which ships in the next few weeks, you’re ready to go. It’s simple, and we think it represents the future of consumer-based blogs.”
Details of the transaction were not disclosed. Representing Google in the transaction was the law firm of Russell & Tate, a firm that rose to prominence when it represented Visa in its acquisition of The Internet in 1999.
# # #