Saturday, July 21, 2007

Why Comment when you can start your own blog

Joel Spolsky suggests that if all anonymous posts disappeared from his site's discussion group the quality of the site would definitely go up. He quotes a post from blogging pioneer Dave Winer who as you know does not have comments on his blog. Winer has said:

The cool thing about blogs is that while they may be quiet, and it may be hard to find what you're looking for, at least you can say what you think without being shouted down. This makes it possible for unpopular ideas to be expressed. And if you know history, the most important ideas often are the unpopular ones.... That's what's important about blogs, not that people can comment on your ideas. As long as they can start their own blog, there will be no shortage of places to comment.

There is some truth in this, and fellow bloggers will attest to this: if you say something that is against the prevailing wisdom, something unpopular, you can be sure you will have at least one commenter who would bring you down bad. That in Dave Winer's, and Joel's book is an 'infringement on our freedom of expression'.

The tyranny of comments, if that is what you want to call this phenomenon. I fear this keeps many of us keep our views and ideas to ourselves, lest any self-important commenter comes around with his vitriol.

On a blog like Techcrunch, comments make the blog post much, much better and that is the strength of Techcrunch.

People like Seth Godin who use blogs to push their reputation as a marketer/author, don't bother putting comments.

The Iron Triangle of Rubel, Scoble and Arrington (of Techcrunch) are reduced to zilch if they did away with comments. For these A-listers and wannabes, comments are the currency of blog success.

For a small blog, like this one here , turning off comments would help, especially since few people comment anyway.

Then there is the problem of spam comments which are a strain to your resources.

Some mainstream media outfits such as The Guardian have made a virtue out of comments. Recently, The Guardian updated its Comments policy.

For newspapers hungry for web 2.0 flavors, comments are necessary.

As for people who love commenting, I humbly propose this: there are other benefits of starting a blog instead of commenting on, say an A-lister's blog:
Why must the A-lister have all the cake and eat it too? Sometimes, you can do the sharing thing on your blog for a change.

The downside is, who will read you blog in this case? Well, you can always reproduce your blog post as comment.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

7 Perspectives on Andrew Keen's hatred for User Generated Content

What makes Andrew Keen so angry at the 'ameteurish' web 2.0 people? There was this Indian film from the 80s and I paraphrase, in Hindi: "Andrew Keen ko gussa kyon aata hai?"

The top reasons, in no particular order:

1. Some say Andrew Keen still hasn't gotten over the failure of, a casualty of the 2000 web bubble burst.

2. Some say Andrew Keen is unhappy because someone deliberately posted this on his bio entry on Wikipedia, which incidentally is one of his favorite hate objects: "he was also "a child actor who found fame in a series of soup commercials" (not correct)

3. Some say because his blog is not as famous as others, he has gotten around to saying that "bloggers don't read enough". Don't tell this to Robert Scoble. I wonder what the people at Google Reader, Feedburner and Bloglines make of this gem.

4. Others point out that maybe Andrew Keen does not consume mainstream/old media fodder and that is why he can't find any fault with it, despite of Fox news, Jason Blair and other old media luminaries.

Or maybe someone paid him well to ignore the corrupt and compromised part of old media and do a hatchet job on new media instead.

5. Or, maybe Andrew Keen was a librarian or an editor in his previous life.

6. Some say Andrew Keen wanted to become a gatekeeper, ala Old Media, but no one put any grass before him.

7. Finally, Andrew Keen knows the truth but will deny it, for there is no money in truth : "Amateurs built the ark; professionals built the Titanic"

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Do "Top Videos" lists on Youtube hinder creativity?

Here we go: visiting the "Superstar Economy", again. Youtube is a phenomenon, drawing in thousands of video uploads in any week but often there have been cases where high quality videos do not get the required exposure in face of the general public's attraction for the popular "top videos" lists on Youtube.

Like MTV Top music videos and Video countdowns of the TV age, these top 10 lists often do not include insightful but 'nichy' videos. Bloggers who write long, insightful pieces face a similar problem.

Nick Douglas has written a useful article on the subject. Particularly, he points to sites such as, which does not have Top lists and lets users "discover" great stuff.

You might also want to read transcripts of a talk between Nick and Slate readers where he analyzes Youtube and Video sites in detail.

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New Research report exploits companies' fear of web 2.0 technologies

A survey conducted by Forrester Consulting for Proofpoint says that almost 10% of companies have fired an employee for 'violating blogging or message board policies'.

There is nothing that is new with this survey. A McKinsey report on web 2.0 in companies explains FEAR and DISTRUST as reasons why many companies are not enthusiatic for web 2.0 technolgies such as blogs, wikis, forums etc. More on that here.

The fact that this redundant report was paid for by Proofpoint which sells message security solutions tells you where its priorities lie.

Instead, it would be nice if a Wiki company (or Six Apart) brought out a survey on how companies are using blogs and Wikis?

Related post
How to use blogs for business

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Web 2.0, Facebook and the frog who got out of the well

For many online users, the open, chatting, poking, scrap-booking, befriending and sharing climes of the web 2.0 world might make them feel they are frogs who just got out of a deep and dark well. The older frogs are finding that there are many hot chicks to look in the college campuses they never went to…the sun is shining and the grass is green.

But wait. Maybe the frogs are getting too naked for their own good. Sometimes in future you are going to wonder at the amount of data you have left open online – your pictures which you realize must never have been brought in public, your contacts, your rants, abusive blog posts, silly incoherent writing - it is a long list.

You also realize that you spent most of your online time acting like a voyeur. There are footprints that you left behind.

It might be late but you realize that the web not might be the best place to put yourself and your stuff out for display in a backyard sale fashion.

Some things the frog should have left behind in that deep well.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Chronicles of Microsoft the evil: Part…

When was the last time you heard a story that put Microsoft in a good light? Can’t remember? Rejoice. You are not alone. Here’s the latest gem:

Ars Technica
reports that Microsoft has filed a patent application for ‘for an "advertising framework" that uses "context data" from your hard drive to show you advertisements and "apportion and credit advertising revenue" to ad suppliers in real time’

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? The desktop version of Google’s context-ad system is what it is.

Basically, some cynical Microsoft dude, tired of being called ‘second-hand, late-on-the-scene’ version of Google, thought up this Orwellian scene where the customer who pays for an OS, is made to endure ads based on contents on his/her hard drive.

But hang on, maybe Micrsoft plans to use this ‘not new’ (patent office take note) ad system in its probable versions of free OS which it might launch in near future to take on the rise of cloud software, including Google’s online office offerings.

Or, maybe, Microsoft is going for 'noblehood' this time and plans to use this new patent to go after adware producers for patent infringement.

I am looking forward to more Orwellian Fantasies centered on Microsoft’s new ad system.

For your consideration: – ‘this post was written on MS Word and was sponsored by Disney (Chronicles of Narnia) and the net access was sponsored by Nescafe’.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What happened to crowdsourcing? Assignment Zero and beyond

In all probabilities, lack of editorial support led to the supposed failure of Assignment Zero, the hyped crowdsourcing experiment undertaken by Wired Magazine and New

The target was 80+ original feature stories. The output: 7 original essays and 80 Q & As.

Jay Rosen, who started the project, reckons that Assignment Zero could achieve only 28% of its target.

However, critics of crowdsourcing, including die hard old media mothballs, need not celebrate. Wired Magazine reports that the quality was at par with the output of profession al reporters.

If only they had put in more editors to support, counsel, edit and channelize the output of enthusiastic citizen reporters, you bet Assignment Zero might easily have come up with 100 original feature stories in the given time.

At one time Assignment Zero was supported by one editor only.
Goes without saying that to make a good idea work, you need more than hype and widespread press coverage. You need commitment.

IMHO, what Assignment Zero needed was the type of the editors that work at top end news sites and blogs, who understand online news publishing software (Assignment Zero used Drupal) and are comfortable with the workflow.

The reporters behind the project should have known better: mere words are worth nothing.

The quality of Assignment Zero articles show that Citizen Journalism may not necessarily be ‘not professional enough’.

Crowdsourcing and Citizen Journalism can work together.
As they say, ‘all you need are many good online editors’.

These are still the early days of Citizen Journalism 2.0

Related Reading:
Interview Directory at Assignment Zero

Tish Grier, who is Dep. Director of Participation for Assignment Zero, has written a good account of Assignment Zero on her blog.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Will someone please write the history of all those who were made by blogging?

As usual, the mainstream media made a hash of understanding new media, and while we are at that, understanding any new piece of technology. The WSJ seems to have been sloppy with fact-check about how old blogging is (hint: ask Dave Winer).

Michael Arrington adds in to say that it is time someone wrote the history of blogging.

My money is on someone writing a comprehensive history about how people used blogging to meet specific ends – making money, creating new media brands, bringing change, uncovering facts, building is a big list and there are many people to interview.

Start with the tactics (and timing) behind the success of big blogs including Mike’s Techcrunch, Gawker and Weblogsinc network, Treehugger, and a host of other champions.

P.S.: The emphasis should be on tactics.

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Behind every social network …

Call it the Godfather rule of success if you will. The Godfather begins with a quote; I think it is from Honore D. Balzac, which says that “behind every great wealth is crime”.

In midst of all this Silicon Valley-fed hype about Facebook, Venturebeat brings up an old case which is still alive in the courts:

Apparently, Facebook‘s Marc Zuckerberg has long been sued by brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra for stealing code for the site. They complain that Zuckerberg stole the source code, design, and business plan for Facebook in 2003 when he moonlighted as a programmer for ConnectU, a social-networking site.

There are many instances of great success rising from dubious means. Look around in the digital arena, code theft and plagiarism are commonplace and are often deemed hero-worthy acts among geeks.

However, I do not mean Facebook did it as the matter is before the courts - chances are Facebook will settle the suit for millions of dollars. Or maybe, the people from ConnectU are opportunists. Go figure.

A typical recipe for tech success may include these essentials: timing, luck and opportunity.

The hostel warden during my school days used to say – “to be successful, you need to be the right person, at the right time, and at the right place.”

So, fill this up for me: Behind every social network …

The Facebook case details are here.

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