Thursday, October 27, 2005

October month in review

Eric Zorn e-mailed me a couple weeks ago to participate in his popular month in review series, in which he surveys various Illinois bloggers for perspectives on which were the important stories of the month. With apologies to Eric (who, it should be noted, was warned this might happen), my suggestions are rather inwardly focused:

Most Significant Story of the Month:The birth of Rebecca Adeline Klau
Winner of the Month:Rebecca Adeline Klau, who already has her father tied around her finger
Loser of the Month:Me, who breaks into a cold sweat thinking about a teenaged daughter (that this moment is 13 years away is no consolation whatsoever)
Most Under-Reported Story:Quite possible I missed any MSM coverage of her birth, but I’d have to say that the calls from the press about Rebecca’s birth were shockingly few (er, none)
Most Over-Reported Story:Something about a baseball team happened this week, I’m sure of it… I swear I heard someone talking about it on the radio as I changed Becca’s diaper at 3 this morning.
Story to Watch in the Coming Month:Will Rick ever get sleep again?

Like I said, apologies in advance to Eric for bailing on this. But I haven’t seen a paper or followed the news much in the past week, and my view of things has been more than a bit myopic for the past 7 days. If I’m invited to participate again (what are the odds?!), I promise to devote more time to it. Really.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Rebecca Adeline Klau

Born this morning at 7:34am, Rebecca Adeline Klau:


6 pounds, 15 ounces and 19 inches long. Mom and baby are doing wonderfully, as soon as her oldest brother gets home from kindergarten, the boys get to go meet their new sister.

Exciting times!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

New camera

In anticipation of our upcoming arrival, I brought home a new Canon S2 IS digital camera. It’s not an SLR — those are still a bit pricey for my tastes, and I likely wouldn’t take full advantage anyway… I’ve been out of the camera saddle for too long, spoiled by years of point-and-shoot.

This camera sure appears to have the goods — and in reading through the manual (you know I’m serious when I do that!), it’s occurring to me just how much I’ve forgotten about how to take a good picture. Exposure bracketing, flash adjustments… not to mention all the tweaks that are possible with this kind of camera that weren’t even thinkable a mere 10 years ago (the last time I really used an SLR).

Anyone care to point me in the direction of good sites, books, downloads I should be looking at to get back up to speed?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Erik Heels on Tim McCarver

Erik Heels: “When I was a kid, my cat chewed up Tim McCarver’s baseball card. Smart cat.”

The heard word

These days it’s old news to say that marketing is a conversation, and that companies who ignore the blogosphere do so at their peril. (See Jarvis, Jeff for more.) Along with several other co-workers at FeedBurner, I’ve made monitoring the blogosphere part of my routine, thanks largely to services like Technorati. By setting up saved searches in Technorati, I can see whenever anyone around the world talks about FeedBurner — whether they’re in Norway, Delaware Australia (see comments), or more recently, Australia. (OK, so with the update it seems like they talk about us a lot in Australia. There are other examples, but most of them involve languages I don’t speak. Sue me.)

It’s that most recent comment from Australia on Sunday night that is a textbook example of why engaging people is so important. In this case, Vicki opted to leave FeedBurner, in part because our explanation of how we help people leave the service confused her — and appeared to be only available if you pay us. (To be clear: it’s not.) I commented on her blog, then we followed up with an IM session where I figured out where the confusion stemmed from, and was able to clarify for her how things worked.

Result? In just two days, Vicki went from an unsatisfied user to a very satisfied user. What’s most intriguing is how universally positive people are about this kind of engagement, regardless of their feelings about FeedBurner in general. This isn’t particularly hard — it doesn’t take a lot of time, and it’s nothing but upside for us as a business. We rely on positive word of mouth, and when we see anything that asks a question or (gasp!) complains, we make sure they hear from us in a constructive way.

I’m certain this will be standard fare in a few years for marketers, but it’s surprisingly still the exception rather than the norm. And the more uninformed (or misinformed) information that stays out there unrefuted, the more likely it is to spread, and do real damage to the company. By contrast, simple corrections generate tremendous goodwill, and may even win over some users that might have stayed away. Seems like a no-brainer.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Giving gVisit a try is quite cool: insert a line of javascript in your website HTML, and it’ll spit out a Google mash-up of your website traffic against a map of the world.

Here’s mine.


Favorite new blog

I’ve been following the Long or Short? blog for a few months now, and it’s absolutely hysterical.

Sunday, October 9, 2005

ProgressNow gets some ink

My friend Bobby Clark gets some nice press in today’s Washington Post. Bobby’s the executive director at ProgressNow, whose website is geared towards organizing activists at the state and local level. This is exactly the kind of thing that is needed at a state level.

Uptake has been slight so far, but I think they’re poised for great success in the upcoming year. Best of luck to Bobby, and congrats on the good press!

Friday, October 7, 2005

Let the bidding begin...

According to Tristan Louis’s great analysis of the AOL acquisition of Weblogs, Inc., each inbound link at Technorati is worth around $564.

Which means that my blog is worth around $150,000. Send your offers to rick at


Update: Technorati just tweaked its index, and now says there are 413 inbound links, which means the price has jumped to $232,932. I tell you – if want to get in on the tins juggernaut, now’s the time. Price is only going up folks.


Interview on PC Talk

A couple weeks ago I spent an hour in a wide-ranging interview about RSS, podcasting, advertising, and a whole bunch of other things related to FeedBurner. The interview, which airs nationally on Rich Levin’s PC Talk Radio program, is available online here.

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

WeMedia -- We Market

Rich Skrenta talks about how they launched Topix with one IM to my buddy Mike Masnick at TechDirt, Mike blogged it, and from there it launched the company. Gave the company immediate credibility from subsequent Google searches once journalists got pitched, then wanted to do due diligence before deciding to write about the company.

John Bell (Ogilvy PR) sees this is a chance for companies to become more transparent. There’s a real split in their client base: those who are ready to make that leap, and those who are resisting; sees Ogilvy’s role as helping advise clients about what that transition might look like.

[Side note: when conferences are so Internet-oriented, they should have someone to the side of the stage plugged into the monitors visiting websites, or at least typing out URLs, in real time as they’re mentioned. How many people here know that “Scobleizer” is actually Robert Scoble’s blog, and that he works for Microsoft?]

Henry Copeland just had a unique suggestion: bait some “idiot opponents” into hating you, which drives people to your defense, which raises the volume of discussion about your product/service/etc. (My observation: that’s precisely why existing, established companies have such a hard time working with blogs. That’s just so counter-intuitive…)

WeMedia -- We Invest

Susan Mernit asks why the investing and acquisitions are going to tools and platforms and not content/media. Rick Ducey says that the infrastructure changes the dynamics of how people participate, how content gets contributed. The platform drives the business model.

Paul Gionocchio points out that the newspapers are investing in the new media plays, in part because of the declining readership in their print publications. Points to Greensboro News & Record embracing blogs, it’s hard for publishers to have such a paradigm shift (from one-way conversation to a dialogue), but that they’re starting to see how much higher the page views are (which means that the inventory goes up).

Brad Feld — “in the 20 years I’ve been doing this, one thing has stayed the same: computers and software suck.” The challenge is that the content’s easy to create — organizing it, filtering it, etc. is hard. Platforms are necessary to streamline that. Google demonstrated the value of a business that’s 100% automated.

Brad Burnham takes a different view from Feld. Suggests that Skype’s acquisition — in light of Microsoft and Yahoo building their own VoIP apps — was about more than just the technology. Questions whether Google’s automated — pagerank, after all, piggybacks on people making links. If you try and build a network, can you really sell a network? The network isn’t owned by the platform company, it’s owned by the community — and if the network is sold to the evil empire, will the community sustain the network?

Feld “violently agrees” with Brad Burnham. Building a network — to the scale of tens of millions of people — brings its own revenue opportunities down the road.

Rafat Ali (from from the audience says that VCs don’t understand content, they understand technology. Feld says early advice he got was to invest in core technology that’s hard to duplicate — and uses the bubble from ’97 to 2001 as an example: after focusing on core tech, they started investing in a lot of things that looked like content (, anyone?).

Interesting back-and-forth discussing the difference between media and technology. Burnham: traditional models for investing in tech and media don’t work moving forward; services that enable those models are where the next phase of funding will focus. Ducey is similarly interested in middleware. Gionocchio: aggregating small audiences. Feld: stuff today that’s being used by a small number of people where the interaction is automated and user-generated are where the next stage of growth comes from.

WeMedia -- Al Gore

Al’s giving a fiery talk about how broken the marketplace of ideas is. I’ll leave the live-blogging to others (I’ll compile links shortly), but it’s an intriguing topic — especially considering the audience.

I wonder how many times Jon Stewart is going to be mentioned today: we’re up to four times in the first two sessions.

Update: Good coverage by Susan Mernit, video highlights from Andy Carvin and podcast.

Morph - live blogging WeMedia

John Burke is live blogging the sessions right next to me on Morph, one of the Media Center’s blogs. He’s much better at taking notes than I am. Guess that’s why he’s at the AP and I’m not.

Update: Andy Carvin is also doing a great job on his blog taking notes on the sessions.

WeMedia -- WeNews

Richard Samborn, BBC: BBC is shifting from broadcaster to aggregator to facilitator. Notes that the strength of the news organization depends entirely on its relationship with the public.

Tom Curley, AP: We’re in a business-to-business model, we intend to stay in a b2b model. Notes that costs are driving access: HD cameras used to cost 400k, now they’re 4k.

What’s next for AP? A youth product, just launched, aimed at the 18-35 segment. Huh. With a third kid on the way and my 34th birthday at the end of the month, I don’t feel young. ;)

There are two artists who are drawing on a mural on the far side of the room throughout the entire presentation. I can’t see what’s there yet, but it’s fascinating to watch the images and words develop.

Chills - Citizen Generated Images

Tom Curley, CEO of AP, just did a collection of citizen-generated media that has become iconic in our generation. The images included the photo of the Concorde that blew up, the jet before hitting tower two, the tube after the bombing, the American soldiers storming Elian Gonzalez’s hiding place, and video from vacationers during the tsunami. All stunning, instantly memorable images — and it had never occurred to me that every one was taken by a citizen, not by a pro.

(Interesting side-note: the video, which we’d all seen before, was heavily edited before airing at the time. The full video includes the Dad, with thick British accent, saying “Jesus Christ.” Followed by his son (I’d guess 8 or so), mimicing his Dad. Then “Bloody hell.” Again, mimicked by his son. Then “Fucking hell” which the son wisely didn’t mimic.)

WeMedia Stats run-down

Interesting, in the intro video at WeMedia, these are the stats they’ve quoted:

  • Daily Kos weblog gets 700,000 daily visits. (It’s actually 750,000, but that’s still a huge number.) I’m sending Markos an e-mail right now, he’ll get a kick out of being the representative weblog at an AP conference.

  • Dawn & Drew podcast has 200,000 daily listeners.

  • Wikis take off, leading to 1.3m articles in 100 languages. (That actually seems low to me.)

  • Technorati tracks 19m weblogs (as of 8am this morning – gotta love on-the-fly PowerPoint)

  • 80,000 weblogs are created every day

(Lots of other stats quoted, I am clearly out of practice live-blogging conferences.)

The video says that people are increasingly asking the news orgs to predict the future, that things are uncertain. Then, they suggest that “we already know where this leads” —

  • One world

  • Many voices

And one thing I’ve already learned? Listening to a hip-hop song with a sinus infection just further aggravates an already annoying situation.


I’m at the WeMedia conference today hosted at the Associated Press building. Al Gore is the keynote speaker, he’s on in a little over an hour. I’ll check in during the day…