Friday, March 14, 2008

Memo to Mark Cuban: Bloggers aren’t going anywhere

Dear Mark, you write in your blog (hope you note the irony) that since “anyone can be a blogger in 10 seconds”, you were forced to make a judgment call and you banned bloggers from accessing your Dallas Mavericks team.

What was it that you didn’t like about Bloggers?
- Did they not hero worship you, like the clueless mainstream people do?
- Was it the trademark bite and spite from bloggers, which you thought wouldn’t gel well with the Mavericks’ fantastic comeback run?

- Is it about controlling the message?

You write that a blog is a blog is a blog.
Yes indeed. A blogger can do things a news reporter cannot. It was a blog that brought the Larry Craig story to light. Bloggers are in jail in countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia for daring to speak out. Bloggers are running for political power in Thailand and Ukraine.
I can go on and on…

You say that ‘there is TV, and there is HBO’.
Agreed, American Idol is for kids, but what about PBS? Bad analogies do not a argument make. Public broadcasting and Free voice are the touchstones of democracy, always building beachheads against the relentless tides of hidden agendas and stakes.

You became rich by making a fool out of Yahoo.
Wikipedia notes that the sale of to Yahoo for, what was it, $5.7 million, was a ‘silicon valley joke’ - As of 2007, neither nor are distinct web addresses.

Point is, you made it big, playing all the 'right' cards in the Digital Industry.
Hell, in some circles, they even consider you as free-wheeling ‘maverick’, a poster boy for ‘get rich quick’ dreams – please do not kick your fellow bloggers into a digital ghetto.

Your blogger ban is plain silly.
Some day, the Mavericks may hit a trough, as is the circle of life, and then it will be a lonely fan who will blog on for your team, galvanizing other fans, not some big media outfit, which prefers to ride with the stars only.

Do what is right.


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How to make social networking sites give a return on investment

From a great article at Gigaom, comparing buyouts of social networking/web application sites; Bebo’s $850 sale to AOL - $21.25 per user, News Corp buying out Myspace for $580 million in 2005 - $27.60 per user, Ebay buying out Skype for $4.1 billion (and subsequently eating away its innovation mojo) - $52 per user.

Finally, Microsoft’s investment in Facebook propelled its valuation to $15 billion – valuing 50 million users at that time @ $300 each.

Bebo managed to create a TV channel of sorts on its site.
Surely, buyout is not the only business model for social networking sites?

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How Newsroom 2.0 deals with breaking news

Speaking at the DNA 2008 conference, the Telegraph Media Group's digital editor, Edward Roussel talked about their much-talked about new newsroom and how the Telegraph newspaper deals with breaking news:

*When news breaks send out immediate alerts: SMS, email, desktop
* After 10 minutes get 150 words on the website and solicit reader help with images/video or other accounts
* Within an hour update story to 450 words and add additional images and video
* Then look to commission analysis and opinion pieces, develop a topic page with multiple angles and multimedia

Special web pages for ‘Really big stories’.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Deal Briefing: Bebo, attractive, middle level social network site bought by AOL

AOL has offered to buy middle-level, attractive social networking site Bebo for $850 million, in cash.

Founders: Michael and Xochi Birch, may leave the company after the sale
Users: 1.4m unique users in the UK; 40 million worldwide.
Minus Points: Bebeo has a small presence in the U.S.; strongest in New Zealand and U.K.In comparison, In contrast, Facebook is strongest in U.S. and ahead of Bebo even in U.K.
Plus Points: Bebo tries to combine the best of Facebook and Myspace - has Facebook'like clean look and engaging content like Myspace, including original content offerings such as Katemodern series.
Focus on user engagement: Users spend more time on Bebo. For example, UK users spend 33 minutes on the site per user day.
Potential of Social Network advertising: Results not encouraging so far but eMarketer says that by 2011, $4.1 billion will be spent worldwide on social network advertising.

Preparing AOl for a sale? Om Malik says maybe Time Warner is sprucing AOL up before a potential sale off.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Why the mystery behind geeks is gone (and why SXSW-like conferences are nonsense)

After having borrowed some good news practices from mainstream media, professional bloggers have said 'enough' and have now returned to the old heavy-duty navel gazing again. They know they can't make money by writing about the problems with this world.

The world faces an economic slowdown - stock markets are tanking, joblessness looms, enough has been said about the home loan debacle and even the sage of Omaha, Warren Buffet has said that these are troubling times.

This doesn't trouble the Silicon Valley (one of the twin Capitals of the Blogosphere), which is obsessed about silly conferences where some of their own are worshipped like Gods and if a reporter tries to ask probing questions, the audience gets tough with her.

In this post-industrial, pre-nuclear, knowledge world, we are creating more Gods than ever before. Conferences like SXSW are temples where geeky pastors preach to the converted and then the converted fan out the message through their blogs and Twitter accounts, singing paens in praise of this person or other.

Some blame it on Google. An entire industry of blogs has formed up around covering these geeks and their love life. They are also saying that the Valley Entrepreneur geeks of today are more obsessed with becoming famous that they are falling extremely short of bringing 'revolutionary' changes in the marketplace with their startups.

'Revolution', 'Different' - these were the calling cards for geeks. But, geeks are no more the 'cool' people they used to be before. The mystery is gone. Besides all those silly Facebook profiles, movies from Judd Apatow have also the done the damage.

No longer the lonely kid coding away (or, playing with Light Sabres) in mama's basement, now we know that geeks are normal people just like us - with maybe stranger fetishes. Now we know that the geeks have only read more computer programming and designing books than the rest of us.

Where is the mystery? The average geek (or nerd, of you will) is just as mad for money, girls and recognition as the rest of us. Only the order of these three crucial things may vary.

Result: Kevin Rose of Digg is content letting Digg be a mere niche news player, allowing the cabals a free run on the site. I rarely use Digg anymore. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook boldly shirks away from hard questions from users and reporters, comforted by the cushion of a vociferous bunch of bloggers, API developers, consultants, all of whom have a stake in the growing hype around Facebook.

In the valley itself, there is a gulf. A cousin of mine, who lives in San Francisco, says he has never heard about these bloggers and New Media moguls that I say live and work in his city. When I probe more, he enquires about any web 2.0 startup for helping people who have taken home loans beyond their means, for whom foreclosure is a sure thing.

It used to be that earlier, the news media - TV and the big papers were the ones who held big functions awarding anyone they were pleased with (and who pleased them in return).

In this age of blogging, a new generation of incestuous, self-congratulatory range of events has sprung up, churning up large amounts of link love, which I think is the only reason for these events' success.

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