Corante

About this Author
Dana Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist for over 25 years and has covered the online world professionally since 1985. He founded the "Interactive Age Daily" for CMP Media, and has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age, and dozens of other publications over the years.
About this Site
Moore’s Law defines the history of technology. It held that the number of circuits etched on a given piece of silicon could double every 18 months as far as its author, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, could see. Moore’s Law has spawned constant revolutions since then, not just in computing but in communications, in science, in a host of areas. Moore’s Law applies to radios, and to optical fiber, but there are some areas where it doesn’t apply. In this blog we’ll take a daily look at new implications of Moore’s Law in real time, as it rolls forward to create our future.
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February 23, 2006

What Must Craigslist Do?

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

legal%20scals%20Image.gif
News of the Civil Rights lawsuit aimed at making Craigslist mediate its listings has hit The New York Times.

The Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law says that the company’s current ads often violate laws against non-discrimination. People advertise to hire folks, or to rent apartments, and don’t think that “whites only” applies to them.

The newspaper industry is downright gleeful over this. Julie Bosman’s lead is dripping with sarcasm.

FOR several years, Craigslist.org has been aggressively taking classified advertising from newspapers.

Now Craigslist is the one under attack.

The story, and the suit, are deliberately misleading. They both ignore the fact that the ads in question are free.

In that way they’re not really ads at all. They are speech.

Which changes the legal principle. To force on site managers a responsibility to police all speech for all potential legal violations would render free speech impossible.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Copyright | Internet | Journalism | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

February 22, 2006

Google Images Ruled Illegal

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

HowardMatz_small.JPGGoogle's Image Search service is illegal.

U.S. District Judge Harold Matz of Los Angeles delivered this stunner in a suit originally filed by a porn firm, Perfect 10.

At issue is the Google Image Search caching and delivery of "thumbnail" images, which is the only way to tell someone what an image hit consists of. Perfect 10 not only sells its images to Web sites, but sells smaller "thumbnails" of those images to people with mobile phones, and those thumbnails, by themselves, represent product it wants money for.

Last March Agence France-Presse also filed suit against Google, claiming its delivery of thumbnails as well as portions of its news stories violated its copyright.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Copyright | Internet | Telecommunications | e-commerce | law | online advertising

February 17, 2006

Blog Pimple About to Pop?

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

pimple.jpgSlate has another of those "blog bubble about to pop" stories out. (The doll's name is pimple, available here. We are not into grossing y'all out here at Mooreslore.)

As a business story it may be 100% accurate. As a barometer of blogging itself, it's dead wrong.

Blogging is not a separate business from the Internet. Blogging is simply another way of producing a Web site. It brings coherent, regularly-updated Web sites within the budgets of every business, every individual, everywhere.

Blogging can be journalism. A blog can be a personal journal. A blog can be a store. A blog, like a Web page itself, can be anything you want it to be.

So when someone writes "blogging bubble about to pop" and cites a few business case studies involving the creation, purchase and selling of companies involved solely in blogging, I laugh. Because that's not blogging.

...continue reading.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Internet | Investment | Journalism | blogging | marketing | online advertising

February 05, 2006

AOL, Yahoo Will Sell You Out for a Penny (Maybe Less)

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

goodmail%20partners.gifAOL and Yahoo have begun offering corporations "preferential delivery" of their marketing e-mails to users for prices ranging from .25-1 cent per message.

The scam is being run by Goodmail Systems, whose home page advertises "if it's certified, it's safe." (The illustration, from the Goodmail Web site, is an animated .gif of the company's "partners.")

The claim is that this is "opt-in" only and "not spam." But the incoming lists aren't audited. This is, in fact, a pay-off to let "spam that is not spam" through the company's spam filters.

Here's the real Clue to what is going on, from the New York Times piece found on the International Herald Tribune:

The two companies also stand to earn millions of dollars a year from the system if it is widely adopted.

Get it? They want to charge protection to spammers.

For outfits which have been part of the Internet for a decade and more, Yahoo and AOL don't know much about the Internet, do they?

I run a mailing list which may be subject to the charges, and I can tell you right away it's no sale. No operator of a free e-mail newsletter service is going to pay protection on what is legal opt-in traffic.

Who will? Marketers .

...continue reading.

Comments (6) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | e-commerce | ethics | law | online advertising | spam

February 02, 2006

Corruption On The Web

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

sclavos.gifVerisign CEO Stratton Sclavos is a big investor in incumbency. And he gets value for money.

OpenSecrets.Org reports that he gave $84,000 in political contributions during the 2004 cycle, and has (with his wife) given another $24,700 in 2005. The Verisign PAC, meanwhile, has spent another $36,200 this cycle, in hard money contributions.

That’s not all. The same Web site reports Verisign put out $124,000 in “soft money” contributions during 2002, and $88,600 in the 2000 cycle. While some of the money (about 15%) goes to Democratic incumbents, the vast majority goes to Republicans.

That's just the money I found searching OpenSecrets under Verisign and Sclavos. It doesn't count other money that may have been sent from Verisign executives, or their families, or third parties under Verisign's direction.

What does Verisign get for this money? It gets the full legal authority to rob the Internet, to take you, for everything it can grab.

And it's grabbing with both hands.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | Politics | e-commerce | ethics | law | online advertising | personal

January 30, 2006

The Law and Google

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

googlesignII.jpgGoogle has to obey the law.

Doesn’t matter if the law is oppressive, as in China. If Google wants to do business in China, it must obey the law.

Google can fight stupid laws, as in the EU Google can argue in court against some laws, as it’s doing in the U.S.

But Google must, in the end, obey the law.

I’m sick and tired of sanctimonious claptrap from people who state, baldly, that Google’s stated intent to “do no evil” means it must defy the law. Google is a public company. Google can’t do that. No public company can.

You can complain all you want about Google’s actions within the law. People do. They complain about its cookies, about its tracking usage patterns. They complain about its habit of leaving projects out to dry if they don’t work, about how some projects aren’t worth the spin that’s placed on them. They complain about its lack of lobbying prowess, or how little it has spent lobbying.

But Google has to obey the law.

...continue reading.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | Politics | e-commerce | ethics | law | marketing | online advertising

January 29, 2006

This Week's Clue The Entrepreneurial Team

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

This week's issue of A-Clue.Com is on-topic (for once).

It's about e-commerce, and about how to make start-ups work.

Specifically we're talking about what it takes to get a start-up launched and the character of a successful entrepreneur, who is at its heart.

You're invited to join the A-Clue.Com community by clicking this link. Always free.


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I learned a great and terrible lesson recently.

While it's true that anyone can launch a business, an entrepreneurial business must be a team from the start.

Sure, you need the entrepreneur, the idea person. You need someone who can find the money, who can sell the scheme, who can adjust to events, who can lead. You need someone of boundless energy, determination, ambition, and (especially) ruthlessness.

If your business is going to be on the Internet, you need a content guy. Having an Internet business without a content guy is like having a restaurant without a chef. On my latest venture, I'm the content guy (not the entrepreneur).

The content guy is committed to the editorial mission of the site (and even stores have an editorial mission). The content guy has contacts, a voice, an understanding of what's needed to attract attention and credibility. A content guy might be able to run the whole show himself, if this were a small business. But it's not, so keep the content guy in his place.

There's a third team member needed, and many businesses fail to plan for this. That's the tech person. In a restaurant this would be the maitre 'd. In an old-line manufacturing business this would be the engineer. In retailing it's a number cruncher. A geek, in other words. Gotta have a geek.

While today's Web tools are much more powerful and simple to use than ever before, they're still tools. Every step toward simplicity is matched by a step toward power. While users may use your Web site to simplify their lives, or even their own creation of content, that's not how it works inside the site business.

...continue reading.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (1) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Investment | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

January 25, 2006

Porn Fight Kills the E-Mail Guy

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

matthew%20prince%20unspam.jpgEveryone hates spam. But there has been no political constituency potent enough to fight the well-organized Direct Marketing Association, which has successfully defended spammers from meaningful regulation for a decade.

Now Matthew Prince, a young Chicago lawyer, thinks he has the answer. Porn. Well, anti-porn.

Using the Christian Right as his political base Prince’s company, Unspam Inc., has gotten laws passed in Utah and Michigan that could both make him rich and make most e-mail disappear. While fighting for the law in a Utah court, he has taken his show on the road to Georgia, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, trying to get identical laws passed there.

The laws create a “do not porn” registry, run by Unspam, that e-mailers must filter their messages through. Anything in an e-mail deemed “harmful to minors,” even in a link, becomes a felony. Not just porn offers, but alcohol, tobacco, gambling, firearms and illegal drugs are covered. Parents on the list get the right to sue for up to $1,000 per message (Utah) or $5,000 per message (Michigan). There are also criminal penalties, including jail time.

Prince spends money through his “base,” using Susan Zahn’s WDC Media (the same folks used by Christian broadcasters) for his PR, and emphasizing the porn angle in his releases. An Unspam press release sent out via Webwire identifies only the porn industry as fighting the new laws.

But the direct mail industry is now energized as well. WindowsSecrets editor Brian Livingston put out an article on Earthweb last year blasting Prince as essentially a patent troll. (The company has filed U.S. patent application 20040148506 to protect its registry, he says.) Prince claims he wins his registry contracts through competitive bids, but if you got the law through and patented the required technology, well, you figure it out. (I should note here that WindowsSecrets is an e-mail newsletter, so Livingston would have to filter his lists through Unspam if the law holds up in court.)

A recent Wall Street Journal story on Unspam estimates compliance costs this way:

Businesses are charged $7 for every 1,000 email addresses examined each month in Michigan, and $5 per 1,000 in Utah. Companies must have their lists examined once a month. A company with a list of 100,000 emails would pay $14,400 annually to have its list examined by both states. Unspam receives the majority of the revenue to administer the registry, and the rest goes to the state.

Livingston disputes the WSJ conclusions. He says monthly screening won’t protect e-mailers, that 85% of the money goes to the state. He then offers two illustrations of how easy it would be for the law to be abused:

  • A conservative activist puts her e-mail address, which is also used by her daughter, on a state registry. The listing takes 30 days to become effective. She then e-mails a health clinic for information about morning-after pills. If the clinic replies with the information, the sender is guilty of a felony.
  • A liberal activist registers his and his son's e-mail address. After 30 days, he e-mails a gun dealer, asking for product listings. If the dealer replies with details, he's guilty of a felony.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Politics | Telecommunications | e-commerce | law | marketing | online advertising | spam

January 24, 2006

4 Years For Spammer: How Much For His Enablers?

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

spam.gifCalifornia spammer Jeanson James Ancheta, who turns out to be a 20-year old kid, has pled guilty to computer misuse and fraud charges which should draw him a four-year sentence.

Good.

Ancheta is the first to be convicted of creating a "botnet," a network of infected computers hired-out to spammers and other malware authors.

Good.

Now for the big question. We've established that bots are bad. We've established that the people who create this poison deserve prison.

Now what about those who enable the crime? What about the people who bought spam generated by these botnets, or who bought ads sent by that malware? This was an economic crime, after all. It can't exist without both sides of the transaction.

Like drugs.

We don't just want to throw the pot producers in jail, the Pedro Escobars and their ilk. Isn't the point of our law enforcement to get at the "street dealers" and "users," those whose dollars enable the crime? I've seen tons and tons and tons of ads along those lines, produced by the federal government, over the last decade and more. The propaganda is accepted. We all agree.

So why not here?

Why isn't it a crime to buy the services of a spammer, or to buy the services of a botnet? Why isn't it a crime to advertise through someone's stolen bandwidth, using their stolen PC?

Spam and malware would be a lot easier to stop if those who paid for it faced hard time, too. And I don't want to hear any garbage about "distribution channels." Don't give me that nonsense that you can't police your distribution channels. Of course you can.

Or you, too, should be going to jail.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: e-commerce | ethics | law | online advertising | spam

January 06, 2006

Making Microsoft Disappear

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

risk.jpgEver play the old board game Risk?

There were two winners at the end, and one ultimate winner. The first kid would pile all his counters up in one spot (usually Greenland, because it was big on the Risk board) and place one or two on adjacent squares. The second kid, the one who won, would right their way across the board strategically, taking on the first kid only at the end. Once the final battle started, and everyone knew how it was going to go (the first kid was going down), they'd walk away, someone would upend the board, and the first kid would claim he won, or got a draw, or something.

In computing Bill Gates is the first kid. The desktop is Greenland. Everything is focused on Windows and Office. And when computing was based on the desktop -- in the early days of the Great Game -- Gates looked dominant.

But the world is connected. Larry Page is playing the role of the other kid. He's sweeping the board right now, thanks to the Google Bubble, and today at CES he showed the hand he'll play against Gates over the next year.

The talk is going to all be about Google TV, and the scuttlebutt will all be about the Google PC, while software types (like me) will look really closely at the Google Pack of software.

It's what the Google Pack doesn't contain that most intrigues me.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Investment | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

January 02, 2006

Fox' MySpace Violates Net Neutrality

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Rupert%20murdoch.jpgFolks who were wondering how Rupert Murdoch and Fox would try and capitalize on the purchase of MySpace over the summer don't have to wait any longer.

They're doing it by trying to break network neutrality, from inside a Web site.

Net neutrality is a basic principle of the Internet. It means you can go where you want. But if you are a registered user of Murdoch's MySpace today, you can't go to YouTube, which MySpace has deemed (without telling anyone) a competitor.

Alice Marshall's Technoflak reports that Murdoch's site has blocked access to YouTube from MySpace users, giving them white space instead. The site has also erased all references to YouTube from MySpace posts.

I thought that as word of this gets around the MySpace site it would be interesting to see how enthusiastic people are to remain there, and how many might be looking for a new online home. Oh, wait, it's already getting around. (Things happen fast in the blogosphere.)

Here is the story at the BlogHerald, with more details (the idiots are even modifying user profiles to erase references to YouTube) and while the rebels tried to get organized against this, they made the mistake of trying to launch their campaign from within MySpace.

...continue reading.

Comments (9) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Economics | Internet | Investment | blogging | e-commerce | online advertising

December 23, 2005

Family Fun, for Christmas

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

myheritage%20mingaling.jpgJust in time for Christmas, Atlanta blogger Mingaling (right) offered me (and therefore you) access to a great family fun game for the holidays.

It's actually the beta test for something called MyHeritage. It will act as a genealogical research site, helping folks find relatives based on facial characteristics.

The beta test lets you input a mug shot into the site, and have it select, from a collection of 2,000 celebrities, who you most look like. I know of one family where the father looks like Donald Rumsfeld (supposedly), the mother looks like Shirley Temple (supposedly) and the kids look like Muhammed Ali (also supposedly). And they're not even black!

Mingaling looks like Luci Liu (lucky girl). Who do you look like?

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consumer Electronics | Internet | fun stuff | marketing | online advertising

December 21, 2005

Web Bloatware

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

bloatware.gifOne of my favorite Web bugaboos has always been bloatware. (This cute guy came up in a search for the term, but he's a blowfish, delicious batter-fried with tarter sauce. Like an aquatic drumstick.)

My first run-in with this imperative was over a decade ago now, at the old Interactive Age. The art director wanted to force folks to go through her home page before getting to my daily news hole. The home page was pretty, a mock-up of each magazine's cover. But it was bloatware.

Bloatware wastes time without providing value. And it's creeping into the Web again.

Two examples:

...continue reading.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | computer interfaces | e-commerce | online advertising

December 19, 2005

Time Warner Dips Into the Funny Money Again

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

aol-timewarner.jpgLike an addict going into a bar after just getting out of jail for their last bender, Time Warner is going for the Internet funny money again.

This time it's Google, which has promised to rescue Time Warner's AOL investment by valuing the failing online service at $20 billion.

For Google, this is funny money. When your stock is like gold, while you know it's water, it's easy to give everyone a drink. Bubble companies always go through this phase. Yahoo did, Microsoft did, and now Google could buy Time Warner about five times over so why not toss it a bone?

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Internet | Investment | marketing | online advertising

December 16, 2005

Is This Google's Riskiest Move Yet?

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

googlelogo.gifGoogle has launched a music search service, just a week after the Music Publishers' Association launched a legal move to close lyric sites and put their owners in jail.

Google has been at the forefront of the Copyright Wars and has always taken an aggressive position in favor of the free flow of information. It has yet to back down in court, although it has watched some things (newsgroups and Blogger) wither on its watch.

In this case, Google insists it will only act as a link, using legitimate "music partners" like iTunes and providing only snippets of data on its own, like song lists. In fact, there is no Google "tab" as there is with News, for instance. Instead, a "search music" button appears when you do a search on a relevant term in the regular Google search box. This can be based on a specific term, or the button can lead you to music-related results even on a general term.
By combining with other tech companies in this effort, Google seems to be pushing a compromise on the recording industry, which has tried to force users into accepting its technology choices, its terms and conditions.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Economics | Internet | Podcasting | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

December 06, 2005

Web 1.0 Bust on Web 2.0 Boom

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

ecost_logo.gifOne of the hidden ironies in the present Web 2.0 boom is that it occurs against the backdrop of a continuing Web 1.0 bust.

Companies that arose in the 1990s in such niches as e-commerce have never really recovered from the dot-bomb of 2000. In particular online department stores like Buy.Com, Overstock.Com and eCost.com have come to look as faded as old Penney's and Sears department stores did a decade ago.

Nothing unusual here. The reason we've had so few recessions in recent decades, and such short ones, is that new booms pile on behind the old ones, so that a failure in one segment is matched by the rise of another.

Anyway, Buy.Com is planning an IPO because they need the capital, eCost is being de-listed, and Overstock.Com lost money in its last quarter.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (1) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Internet | Investment | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

November 28, 2005

Mapquest Going Down

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

mapquest.jpgMapquest, the AOL-owned first-mover in online mapping, is about to fall.(That's their map of Cancun to the right.)

The Clue here is an AP story that looks like it was ordered-up by the AOL marketing department, but which can't resist showing cracks in the veneer.

The headline is about Mapquest pushing mobile mapping (which is good). The unwritten story is how Mapquest may be signing carriers to exclusive deals that keep rivals off, something that is possible since mobile "Internet" service is not Internet service at all, but private networks controlled by carriers.

Still, there are big problems revealed here, such as:

...continue reading.

Comments (5) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Telecommunications | cellular | computer interfaces | e-commerce | online advertising

November 18, 2005

Blogging Bubble

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

bubble.jpgThe launch of so-called Open Source Media (no, they're not open source, in fact they try to keep people from even using fair use quotation through a EULA, don't get me started ) is proof that a Blogging Bubble is well underway.

Why? No business model.

Everyone doing a blogging network, whether AOL (Weblogsinc), Gawker Media, Metroblogs, Huffington Post, OSM, you name it -- they're all using a media strategy. And Dana's First Law of Internet Commerce is:

It's not publishing, it's not TV, it's the Internet.

Any strategy based on bulk advertising, based on pure page views, is going to fail. No strategy based on pure star power can succeed, because it doesn't take into account the fact that stars fade and stars emerge. (It's not who you are, it's what you're saying, that counts.)

So, smart guy, what do we REALLY want?

...continue reading.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Internet | Investment | blogging | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

November 09, 2005

How To Be A Big Time 21st Century Brand

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

dana05b.jpgEasy to say, tough to do.

Ready? OK.

  1. One thing. Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) must be simple, powerful, easily understood by everyone you do business with -- employees, suppliers, customers.
  2. Fulfill the promise. Do what you say you will do, always, Any failure to meet your USP can be fatal. But failures will happen. Meet them with kindness, and redemptive behavior. Think of the result as customer make-up sex.
  3. Don't lie. This starts with no lieing to yourself. Delusion is the first temptation of success. Always keep someone close who will tell you the truth about yourself, and let them. It's going to come out, whatever it is. The rule is not, don't let it. The rule is, don't do it.
  4. Identify with your customer. It's not just, the customer is always right. It's, you're the customer. Your interests are their interests.
  5. We're all publishers now. Your job is to organize and advocate a community or lifestyle. That's your business. Organize what your customers want into one place, and be an advocate for their interests.
  6. Keep it simple. Don't let the complexity of a growing business tear you away from a simple, coherent message. Some profits aren't worth chasing. Stay in your niche.

Like I said, easier said than done.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (1) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Investment | Journalism | blogging | e-commerce | ethics | fun stuff | marketing | online advertising | personal

October 21, 2005

Economic Lesson of Google Print

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

little red hen.jpgI have been reluctant to dive into the Google Print controversy because all the rhetoric is phony.

The rhetoric is about principles, fair use vs. copyright.

The reality is this is about money, about monetizing something that had no previous value and the obligation that places on the person doing the monetizing.

The plain fact is that everything Google has done, and everything Yahoo did before it, is based on monetizing fair use. The concept of fair use arose based on the idea it had no economic meaning, that it represented a necessary intermediate step on the way to meaning (and money).

But now we find, 10 years after the Web was spun, that fair use has enormous economic value. Through the magic of databasing, finding is now more valuable than having.

What then is the obligation of those who extracted this value to the holders of the data providing the raw material? The legal question has been answered, there is none. If publishers can stop Google from offering books online without payment, they can stop Google from linking to books without payment, because Google is only going to offer extracts that represent fair use free. It's the physical equivalent of the "deep linking" proposition we dealt with in the 1990s. If a book isn't read because it can't be located it makes no sound.

The moral question is something different entirely. If Google extracts a profit from Google Print, I think it does have a moral obligation to spend some of that money on activities that benefit writers and other content creators.

...continue reading.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (1) | Category: Copyright | Internet | e-commerce | ethics | law | online advertising

October 14, 2005

Yahoo's Blogging Dilemma

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

yahoo news.gifYahoo has begun offering some blogging results on its News search page. This, they think, puts them a step ahead of Google, which isolates blog results caught in the RSS net to a separate blogsearch page. (Both sites are in beta.)

Yahoo thinks this puts them ahead of Google in an important functionality. I think the folks at Yahoo would actually use a word like functionality.

But it does them little good (or this is barely alpha software):


  • Most blogs aren't indexed. This blog isn't indexed in Yahoo News.
  • No more than the first page of results are really available in any search that comes up with blogs. I got timed-out repeatedly trying to get past the first page of results today.
  • Blog results are segregated to the right of the news results. I think this will continue.

...continue reading.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Journalism | online advertising

This Week's Clue: The Open Source Business Model

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

We're back on task at A-Clue.Com , discussing our original charter -- electronic commerce.

Of course, if you had (subscribed already these thoughts would be in your inbox right now.

Still, better a few hours late than never, right?


bingobangosoftlogo.jpgThe recent agreement between Google and Sun highlighted a fact that has struck the tech industry in the gut, the effectiveness of the open source business model.

Marc Andreesssen, Bingo Bango Software in Atlanta, and even I (watch this space next week) are all working along the same path. Ad sales and e-commerce, when properly scaled, can pay for a lot of development. Those development costs can be spread so thinly that people can use powerful tools for literally nothing.

There are strict limits to this, I believe. A lot of entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists, look at the success of Google AdSense, they read about big companies ramping up their online ad spending, and they figure the same stuff they've been doing before will now start making big bucks.

Not really.

There are some key variables I believe will make the difference between success and failure in this space. One of the most important is the value you can derive from each page view.

Raising that value does not mean throwing ever-more-intrusive ads in front of people, or demanding personally identifiable information from each reader you then will share with advertisers.

What it means is making the offers on each page so relevant to the reader's interests that they will proceed down a sales funnel. How far will they go? That's where I part company with the "experts" in terms of strategy.

I'm proposing we think of three key elements in raising the per-page value of content::

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Economics | Futurism | Investment | Linux | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

October 06, 2005

The Secret Behind the Quick Sales?

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

myspace logo.gifInternet businesses are easy to get into, easy to compete with, easy to replace.

This is a truth Internet entrepreneurs know and big media companies have yet to find out.

That's why Jason Calacanis sold out Weblogsinc after just two years. That's why the owners of MySpace were willing to take Rupert Murdoch's money so quickly.

They know they can come up with another idea quickly, and compete effectively with it quickly, if they get unhappy with their new corporate parents. They also know that their peers in this business know this, and would gladly sell out to the same companies if they don't.

Thus, as soon as a position is a established, and a big company thinks, "ah hah, a barrier to new competition," the owners of those companies are going to take the money.

weblogsinclogo.gif
They know there's no such thing as a "barrier to entry."

The cost of building a scaled Web site is falling, not rising. It's attention and talent which are the quantities in short supply. So talent will take the money and look for the exits every time, knowing that, since no one online knows you're a dog, no one knows that you've slipped your chain, either.

What does this mean about today's Weblogsinc deal?

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Investment | Journalism | blogging | e-commerce | online advertising

Thoughts on Web 2.0

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

web 20 conference.gifSan Francisco is hopping this week over Web 2.0.

What is it? It's a database.

When you use a database as your basic site design template, then everything becomes a database call or a database interface. Thus, you can do anything. You can do blogging, you can do identity, you can do customization, you can do community.

The problem is getting stuff into that database. Can you share data among databases? Users don't like that. But how do you get permission for all the relevant, needed data to get into the database?

The obvious answer to that is that users have to live inside the database. A lot. This restricts choices, because time is limited. It means there are only a few "winners" -- a few sites will scale to get everyone's data and everyone else will lose out.

Thus there's a self-liimiting aspect to Web 2.0 trials. Unless....as with Sxip, you can take your personal data (the stuff that would fill a database) with you, and control it. Then you point that data to whatever database you choose to be a member of.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Investment | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

Blogging's AOL Moment

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

jason calacanis.jpgThe dot-boom ended when AOL bought Time-Warner. (People forget that AOL shareholders got 60% of the combined company's shares.) Will the blogging boom also end with an AOL purchase?

I ask because friends of mine in the business are thrilled over AOL's purchase of Jason Calacanis' Weblogsinc for a price reported to be $25 million. (Russell Buckley thinks AOL overpaid.)
Calacanis' company is probably the biggest in this space, but $25 million is less than the cost of a single good magazine title.

The bloggers are happy because they assume this means they now all have high-paying jobs with AOL. I don't know if that's true or not.(Jobs, yes. Highly paid? I don't know.) I'm wondering, however, just how big a business phenomenom rolling-up the news end of blogging can be, if the top group in the field is worth only that.

...continue reading.

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Investment | Journalism | blogging | e-commerce | online advertising

October 05, 2005

Who Should Lead Google?

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Eric Schmidt.gifI wrote something today suggesting that Dr. Eric Schmidt leave Google.

I was told, by my editor, that it was over-the-top. "A series of cheap swipes," "rather than a reasoned case."

Maybe it was. I didn't post it. I wrote something much milder, more humble, more seeking of counsel rather than snarky and smart. (I like editors. They save us from ourselves. They're very important people. Buy an editor lunch today.)

But like many people here I feel a personal kinship to Google. And I think that is the company's chief asset. Mess with my GoogleLove, and you're messing with your own GoogleSelf.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | e-commerce | online advertising

September 26, 2005

Murdoch MySpace Deal Going Pear-Shaped?

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

intermixmedia.jp.jpgRegular readers here will recall how I called Rupert Murdoch's deal to buy the owner of MySpace, well, ill-advised.

It may be worse than that. The company now finds itself fighting a rear-guard action by former CEO Brad Greenspan, who wants to buy a controlling interest for more than Murdoch's paying.

But it doesn't stop there. Greenspan is also making some serious charges against Intermix management in his Web site on the deal, Intermixedup. He charges, among other things, insider trading the price-kiting, essentially saying they used pump-and-dump tactics.

Despite all this chicanery, Greenspan charges that MySpace is worth far more than Murdoch is paying, and he could get a better price. Which leads to some questions:

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | e-commerce | online advertising

September 25, 2005

The Source of the Times' Strategy

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

espn_logo_150.jpgWith The New York Times' new Web strategy having been in place for a week now, and with its having been debated for months before implementation, it amazes me that no one has identified where that strategy came from.

ESPN.

ESPN has been a part-pay site for years now, and did it the same way the Times is trying to, by putting what it considered valuable content behind a paid firewall.

Even the tiny thumbnail "in" icons used on the two sites to designate content that is behind the firewall are nearly identical.

So, why did it work for ESPN but it isn't working for the Times?

...continue reading.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Journalism | Telecommunications | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

September 14, 2005

Financial Battle for the New Interface

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Here is the situation:


  1. If blogging has a business model, it is based on advertising.
  2. Blogs are posted on Web sites, which carry the advertising.
  3. RSS feeds are increasingly adding ads to the feeds, BUT
  4. The revenue from the ads goes to those providing the feed, not to the content creators.

Below is a typical Feedburner RSS ad, which appears in Newsreaders but not on Web pages. We'll discuss it after the flip:

tpmcafe-main.gif

UPDATE: After this was posted, Feedburner vice president-business development Rick Klau wrote the following. It is directly on point (as the lawyers say):

While I can only speak for FeedBurner, we only splice ads into feeds for publishers, on behalf of the publisher. We never splice ads in a feed that the publisher didn't ask for, make money from, or know about, ever. It's the same type of model as web advertising solutions that you use on your site, and you make most of the money.

FeedBurner is a publisher service. We only perform those services on a feed that a publisher wants us to perform, and that goes for everything, whether it's splicing ads, applying a stylesheet, or tracking statistics.

No blog site manager running our service can be unaware that their feeds have ads in them because it is impossible to get ads in your feed at FeedBurner without either directly contacting us or selecting the AdSense for Feeds program and providing us with all the details needed to splice in those ads.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Journalism | blogging | computer interfaces | e-commerce | online advertising

September 09, 2005

Murdoch's Internet Strategy

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Rupert murdoch.jpgAfter $2 billion, Rupert Murdoch's Internet strategy has become clear.

Capture kids.

Murdoch finished off his buying spree by putting $680 million into IGN, which runs Web sites devoted to video games. This followed his earlier purchases of Scout Media, which runs sports sites for various sports teams, and the company that owned Myspace.com, the music fan site.

Murdoch has called a special "summit" of his top corporate chiefs for this weekend at his California ranch. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding Company of Saudi Arabia has apparently endorsed his strategy. (Didn't know the Saudis had their hooks into Murdoch quite that deeply, did you?)

So, is this going to be a gusher or a dry hole?

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | e-commerce | online advertising

August 29, 2005

Fight for the New Interface

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

feeddemon_logo.gifThe fight has barely begun for control of the new Internet interface, the RSS reader.

NOTE: We were honored to get two important responses to what follows.

Markos Moulitas says he never had an "exclusive" on Cindy Sheehan (I usually reserve the term for the first to get a story, but Sheehan's words have since been on many other blogs) and that there are RSS feeds to Dailykos diaries. (My point is the feeds are separate from the main subscription.)

Nick Bradbury, creator of FeedDemon, wrote to say that FeedDemon inserts no ads in feeds, that those ads are placed by sites. (This may mean the New York Times has a major ad campaign underway, using blogs as delivered by feeds. If you use another reader, let me know if you see Times ads.)

CORRECTION: Upon further investigation, I have learned that the Times ads come from Feedburner.Com, which is in the feed creation-and-management business. So Nick's right.

Please note that the data in parantheses does not question the honesty or truthfulness or veracity of either correspondent's words, but simply describes the responses I gave them, and the thoughts I had in writing this post.

We're always honored here at Mooreslore when newsmakers respond to our posts about them, when they correct what I write or report. Thanks again. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled post.

But already it's getting interesting.

I have written before how publishers have been placing ads in raw RSS feeds. this means my e-mail list of RSS stories is cluttered with "brought to you by" notices. This is on top of the outright advertisements sent as RSS, which if they hit a keyword you like means they're coming right at you.

What's more interesting, perhaps, is what's happening in stand-along RSS readers.

There are many in the market, but the examples here are going to be concerning FeedDemon (logo at left), now owned by Newsgator, which I have been using a few months:

  • Some advertisers, notably the New York Times, have taken to advertising within these products. I have gotten a steady stream of Times ads in FeedDemon, a reader I paid for. (Before, ads only came in shareware.)
  • Some site owners, like that of Josh Marshall, have begun truncating their RSS feeds to near-meaninglessless, in order to force users to go from the reader to the site, which then displays in the feeder's window, exposing you to their ads. Full disclsoure demands I mention that Corante is a leader in truncation. If you see Mooreslore through FeedDemon you see just a few lines of content, not enough to know what the story is about.
  • Other sites, like TPMCafe, meanwhile, publish everything in a feed, but without the paragraphing. Go figure, since TPMCafe and TPM are run by the same people.
  • Sites that use "diaries," based on Scoop, don't automatically send out RSS on what's in the diaries, only what's on the main site. Dailykos, which at first seemed to have an exclusive on the thoughts of anti-war protestor Cindy Sheehan, may have lost that because of this. (That's speculation on my part, but on a blog you speculate, and if you're wrong someone writes to correct it. Hint, hint.)

...continue reading.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Software | blogging | online advertising

August 28, 2005

The Other Katrina

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

While using the Web to track Hurricane Katrina (get out of New Orleans and Biloxi while you still can) I found the high-ranking site for another Katrina, Katrina Leskanich.

Don't remember her? How about her band Katrina and the Waves? Still nothing? OK, how about this:

Now I'm Walking On Sunshine (whoa oh)
I'm Walking On Sunshine (whoa oh)
I'm Walking On Sunshine (whoa oh)
And Don't it Feel Good (Hey) (All right now) And Don't it Feel Good (Hey)
(Yeah)

If you're of a certain age (anywhere from 35 to about 45) that should send you running screaming from the room. The band made a living off that for years, but by the mid-1990s even the Germans were tired of them.

So Katrina, who was an American Army Brat but has been in England since 1976, went back to the drawing board. She actually had some success, even winning the Eurovision Song Contest for England in 1997, but she wanted back in the pop game.

So how do you make a comeback in 2005?

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Internet | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

August 06, 2005

Outgrowing the Grownup

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

larry page and sergey brin.jpgBack in the 1980s, Wall Street played a game on Microsoft's duo of Gates and Ballmer, demanding "grown-up supervision" for the then 20-something computer software duo.

Fortunately, Bill and Steve did not take the hint (get lost). They kept their stock, kept control, isolated a succession of adults, and finally came out the other side, billionaires and still in control to this day.

Well, I think Google has now outgrown its grownup.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin not only founded Google, but set many of its most important standards. They understand Google's corporate direction in their bones. But, like Gates and Ballmer back in the day, they were forced by Wall Street to get "adult supervision" in the form of Dr. Eric Schmidt.

Schmidt is, at heart, a computer scientist, and a good one. He is known as the "Father of Java," for his work on that language while at Sun. Then he went to Novell, and nearly rode the thing into the ground. (This should have been a hint, boys.)

...continue reading.

Comments (7) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | computer interfaces | e-commerce | ethics | online advertising | personal

July 23, 2005

Marc Canter's Clue

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

marc cantor closeup.jpgI'm a big fan of both Marc Canter (right) and Joi Ito . (NOTE: The picture, by Dan Farber of News.Com (and ZDNet fame), was taken off Marc's blog.)

They're both brilliant. They're both A-list bloggers. They're both rich. I've known both for about two decades.

But I think Marc has a vital Clue Joi has missed, about one of the most important trends of our time, the rise of the open source business process.

Here's why I think that.

Joi has put a lot of money into SixApart, which runs Movable Type, which powers this blog. It's good stuff. But it's being left behind because it is, at heart, proprietary. It doesn't interconnect with other software. It isn't modular, scalable, and it can only be improved by the SixApart team.

In other words, it doesn't take advantage of the open source business process, and thus there are whole new worlds it hasn't been able to scale into. It's not a Community Network Service (like Drupal), and it's not a social networking system (like MySpace).

Marc, on the other hand, has just released GoingOn. It's a new engine for digital communities, like MySpace. He launched with Tony Perkins, who will use the system as the new heart of his AlwaysOn network (no relation to my wireless network application idea of the same title).

Marc calls GoingOn an Identity Hub, something to which other identity systems can connect. (It's interoperable with Sxip Networks, for instance.)

But Marc also understands that his stuff can't be the be-all and end-all. Let him explain it:

...continue reading.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Always On | B2B | Business Models | Business Strategy | Futurism | Internet | Investment | Software | computer interfaces | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

July 21, 2005

Lazy Reporter Calls Reporter Lazy

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

rafat ali.jpgThat headline could have been written about me. (But let's see if I can't make it up to you right now.)

It's the oldest dodge in the blogging world. You call another reporter lazy in order to cover up the fact you haven't looked at a story.

The usually-reliable Rafat Ali (right) did just that this week in his PaidContent, calling out The Guardian's Emily Bell for her skeptical take on Rupert Murdoch's $580 purchase of Intermix.

Just how lazy is that? Click below and find out.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Journalism | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

Pay for Play Is Already Here

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Pat Kenealy.jpgAdam Penenberg channels IDC IDG head Pat Kenealy (left, by Jay Sandred) on another of those occasional "you're going to have to pay for Web content someday" pieces we see every so often.

Well, he's right. But he's also wrong.

He's right because there's already some Web content people do pay for. Dow Jones loses reach and influence, but does make money selling online subscriptions. Lexis-Nexis and Dialog haven't gone free with the dawn of the Web. Last time I checked iTunes was selling songs online, at a profit.

He's wrong because he insists that "micro-payment technology" will stimulate the growth of pay-for-play content. We've been hearing that one for 10 years now, and it's as wrong now as it was in 1995.

There's already a micro-payment program in place. A very successful one.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Internet | Journalism | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

July 15, 2005

The New Interfaces (co-starring Steve Stroh as "The Expert")

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

rss feedreader.gifFor people who like gaming, their games (or online environments) are their main interface to the Web. This has been true for some time, and unremarked upon.

There are other new interfaces that many people depend upon. The iTunes player can be an interface, when linked to Apple's Music Store. Any music player, or multimedia player, is a separate Web interface, which may or may not connect to a Web page at any time. People who swap files use those programs as interfaces.

The point is in many niches the Web browser has already been replaced as the main interface to the Internet. Microsoft's five-year campaign to dislodge Netscape was worthless, which may be why they're letting Firefox run off with so much market share.

And now, even readers are getting their own, separate interface, the RSS reader.

I use FeedDemon. Steve Stroh uses NetNewsWire on his Mac and calls it fabulous. This field has yet to shake out.

I have noticed some big differences occur in my work when I'm using FeedDemon instead of the browser as my interface to the Web:

  • I'm seeing more content, faster.
  • I'm seeing fewer ads.
  • I'm finding great differences among sources in how they react to readers. Some post just a few sentences to the reader, others let the whole article run. The latter sites are seeing far fewer "hits" on their pages than the former, thus far fewer page-views overall, and far-fewer ad reads.
  • Publishers are waking up to this by shortening, even eliminating, the text that goes into the "newspaper" format of feedreaders. The Wall Street Journal is especially aggressive in this. US News is especially lenient.

Steve Stroh has more after the break:

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Economics | Futurism | Internet | blogging | online advertising

July 13, 2005

CBS Bets On Ververs

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

vaughan ververs.JPG CBS has decided to do a Web log.

It sounds stupid, but isn’t necessarily. The Public Eye will be written by Vaughan Ververs, formerly editor of The Hotline, which has been drawing crowds of paying customers for The National Journal since 1992.

In its earliest incarnation the Hotline made Mike McCurry a star. McCurry was then the spokesman for candidate Bruce Babbitt, and his missives there gave Babbitt a boomlet. Later he was a Clinton press secretary. The point is there's a history of online financial success here.

The point is that Ververs, rightly or wrongly, is being given credit for some long-term success, and told to duplicate it on a larger stage, just as local anchors are often given the network gig and expected to produce big numbers.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Journalism | blogging | online advertising

July 11, 2005

The Citizen Journalism Fad

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

will ferrell.jpgThe papers are full today with stories about "citizen journalists." (That's Will Ferrell as Anchorman Ron Burgundy to the left.)

Here's one in the Wall Street Journal. Here's one in The Washington Post. Editor and Publisher ran the official AP story. The Salt Lake Tribune copied the Chicago Tribune's coverage.

All these stories convey a common misconception. They assume this is a trend, and they assume that mainstream media will be able to dominate this new field.

Both assumptions are wrong.

In many ways this is a fad. It's a fad because, as camera phones proliferate, the volume of such pictures available is just going to become overwhelming. Making sense of what's out there, and getting rights to the good stuff, are going to be keys to success.

Also there is nothing really new here. Cable shows have been taking calls from individuals at news sites for decades. Talk radio is all about the callers. What's new here are the means the the medium, not the phenomenon.

But there's a more important point being missed in all the self-congratulation:

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Internet | Journalism | blogging | online advertising

This Week's Clue: Mr. Pulitzer, Tear Down This Wall!

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

The search for online business models is a continuing fascination of mine at A-Clue.Com.

This week I returned to the theme, and readers of A-Clue.com got an earful. (You can get one too -- always free.)


pulitzer.jpg
Most online stores fail their editorial mission. (That's Joseph Pulitzer to the right, from his eponymous journalism school at Columbia University in New York.)

You may have great merchandise, you may have great service, you may have a nifty shopping cart. But if you can't bring the values of your shop floor to your Web site, you won't succeed online. Over time you may not succeed offline either.

An editorial mission replicates the value of your store online. What is your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)? For Amazon it's a database, a huge variety of merchandise. Works for Amazon, works for Wal-Mart, but it won't work for you.

In fact, Wal-Mart's failures online can be attributed to this editorial mission failure. They were unable to replicate the values of a real Wal-Mart in their online efforts. While the store looks a jumble, regular shoppers know you can actually get what you want there fairly quickly. What they should have enabled was a form of "shopping lists" that people could print-and-use at home, adapting to their own needs, then input regularly on the site, along with a delivery service.

The difference between editorial values and commercial values is that the one defines what you are, and the other puts your name in mind. If branding is to be worthwhile you must deliver the values the brand promises. That is exactly how editors think, too. What you call your reputation they call credibility.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | Investment | Journalism | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

June 17, 2005

This Week's Clue: Two Trains

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

blogging time copy.jpgWe returned to the topic of e-commerce, and the effort to make money in journalism, with this week's A-Clue.Com, which went out to subscribers this morning. (You can get one too -- always free.)

The topic this week might be called the new media's old media problem, with a proposal for solving it. (I have no idea whether the book here is good or not. If someone can send me a link to sales, we'll see.)

Enjoy.


In software terms blogging and commerce are incompatible. They're two trains running on different tracks.

Bloggers aren't really thinking of making money. They may put up begging bowls, and they make take BlogAds, or put in Google AdSense, but their Achilles Heel is that, when they think of money at all, it's in Old Media terms.

Let's sell ads.

Community Networking Systems like Scoop, Slash and Drupal also share this problem. They have an advantage over blogging systems in that they can scale. They can take a lot of traffic, and a lot of users. Those users are empowered to create their own diaries, or polls, or multi-threaded comments. But again commerce is secondary, in this case even tertiary. The most successful "commercial" community sites are those, like DailyKos and Slashdot, that direct people off-site to give money or time to important causes. There is no built-in business model.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Journalism | e-commerce | online advertising

June 10, 2005

A Note to Pew

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

carol darr.jpgThis is a note to the nice people at the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Some of your money has gone astray. Specifically, it has gone to George Washington University for something called the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet, formerly the Democracy Online Project.

GWU put a woman named Carol Darr (right, from the Center for National Policy) in charge of this group, and she has proven to be, well, not to put too fine a point on it, an idiot. Clueless, in the parlance of this blog. To be blunt about it, she is using money given for promoting democracy on the Internet in order to destroy it.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consulting | Internet | Journalism | Politics | law | marketing | online advertising

June 03, 2005

This Week's Clue: Deep Commerce

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

logocartmanager.gifMy free weekly e-mail newsletter, A-Clue.com was launched in 1997 as a discussion of e-commerce.

This week I returned to the topic.

Enjoy.


The reason why publishers have no editorial budgets with the move to the Web is simple. (Image from Websitecenter.)

None engage in Deep Commerce. Instead, they still just sell ads.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Consulting | Economics | Internet | Investment | Journalism | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

June 02, 2005

Glaser's Best is Just a Start

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

mark glaser.jpgMark Glaser's best column yet for USC's Online Journalism Review is on the subject of Googlebombing. (The picture is from Kristenlandreville.)

He works off a case study on Quixtar, which has apparently hired a number of people to make sure its reputation looks stellar and critics aren't found. Yet one of those critics, Quixtarblog, is the third result I found just now, on Google, with Quixtar as my sole keyword.

So it works both ways.

Glaser identifies one of the pro-Quixtar Googlebombers as Margaret S. Ross, identifying her as a Quixtar IBO. But a few more minutes on Google would have picked up this, a Peachtree City, GA outfit called the Kamaron Institute, which she runs, that has been accused of manipulating search results for, among others, CNN. Glaser also identifies Ross as a "writer" for something called esourcenews.com, while in fact she's the registered owner of that domain.

My point here isn't to dump on Mark's work here. It's very good. I just want to make two important points:

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Journalism | e-commerce | online advertising

June 01, 2005

Uncounted Costs of Spam

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Templeton.jpgWhen we count the costs of spam we usually think in terms of bandwidth, the hours spent clearing it out of our systems, and (sometimes) the cost of our anti-spam solution sets.

But there are other, uncounted costs to spam which dwarf those.

One is the loss in productivity we get from being unable to get in touch with people when we need to. On my ZDNet blog for instance I did a piece today on EFF chairman Brad Templeton (right), based on something he'd written on Dave Farber's list.

I e-mailed him as a courtesy. I had no questions. I just wanted to thank him for his wisdom and let him know I would use it.

What I wound up facing was Brad's spam filter, a double opt-in system dubbed Viking. Apparently I didn't respond quickly enough to Viking's commands, because its response to my opting-in again was to send me a second message demanding an opt-in. (All this was done with the laudable goal of proving I'm a man and not a machine.)

The bottom line. We never connected. I had a deadline, and used Brad's words. Perhaps there was no harm done.

But frequently there is harm done in these situations. I've had occasion to accidentally delete someone's note in my Mailwasher system, and then call the person in question asking for a re-send.

What if they're not in on that call? What if they sent something I needed? What if I were disagreeing with Brad in my Open Source post, or he decided after publication I was twisting his words?

The point is this sort of thing happens every day. People can't be reached in the way e-mail promised they would be, due to spam. This raises the cost of doing business for everyone, and the mistakes that result can be catastrophic -- to people, to companies, to relationships.

Now, in honor of the man formerly known as Deep Throat, I'm going to offer yet-another anti-spam solution.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Journalism | ethics | law | marketing | online advertising | spam

May 31, 2005

The Short Tail

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

obligatory_1.jpegChris Anderson's blog, The Long Tail , is a "public diary on the way to a book" about the economic impact of mass customization.

As the graph shows, the phenomenon is familiar to anyone who blogs, and the challenge is to find a way to profit from it.

Stuff on the left side of the curve has business models. Stuff in the middle is struggling for a business model. Stuff on the right has no business model.

As you can see by looking at the endorsements on the left side of Anderson's blog, the Digirati are reacting like Anderson just discovered fire. And the Long Tail is no less obvious.

What's non-trivial is finding a way to profit from these atomized markets.

Google does it. TiVo does it (sometimes). But must those who profit from the "market of one" all be scaled? What about the creators? And what are the consequences of that?

What we've seen in the market, since the rise of the Internet, is an increasingly-shorter tail. Middle market books don't sell. Independent movies are having more trouble getting produced, not less. Musicians who used to live decent lives on record company contracts find today they can't get a sniff.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Digital Divide | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Journalism | blogging | e-commerce | online advertising

May 25, 2005

The News Cartel

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

local-news.jpgOne of the most interesting ideas I heard at the recent Blognashville event was Glenn Reynolds' suggestion of "local blogs." (The image is from Notbored.)

I looked into it. Won't work.

Local blogs don't scale, except in a small number of instances, in localities that are in fact quite large. You can, in theory, have New York blogs, covering the whole city, but how local are we talking about?

There's not enough of an audience for a single local blogger to cover, say, school board meetings, or crime, or even business, and bring in any money at all.

The answer to scale is comprehension. But that brings its own problems.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Internet | Journalism | blogging | e-commerce | online advertising

May 23, 2005

The Right Blogging Business Model

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

jason calacanis.jpgI have been criticized soundly here by the early leaders of the blogging business community,(Pictured is one of these leaders, Jason Calacanis. From Vertikal.Dk.)

And why should these people listen? They have what they consider success. I'm a "low traffic blog." If I'm so clever I should be doing it, not talking about it, right? (Right.)

But the plain fact is, most of today's top blogs are using the wrong business model.

Their model is a media model. I tell you, you listen, and maybe I advertise to you on the side. This is what newspapers do, what magazines do, what radio does, what TV does.

But is the Internet a newspaper? Is it radio or a magazine or TV? No, it is not. The IN in the word Internet is short for Intimate. So why then should a business model imported from one of these other industries be appropriate? Only because, like TV entrepreneurs in the late 1940s, you can't think of a more appropriate one. You don't have the right vocabulary. You weren't born to this medium.

What would work better?

The community business model would work better. This is driven, not so much by what bloggers want to say as what their readers want to say. There are many high-traffic sites now using the community model -- Slashdot, Plastic, Groklaw, DailyKos. What they have in common is true community software -- Scoop, Slash, even Drupal.

The problem (and this is the nut of the issue) is that most of these community sites have deliberately shied away from having a business model. The only site I mentioned above that has a true business model is Slashdot, and Slashdot is so unusual people with an editorial background can't get their arms around what that business model is.

...continue reading.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Internet | Investment | Journalism | blogging | computer interfaces | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

May 21, 2005

This Week's Clue: Jerimoth Hill

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

belmont statue01.jpegIn last week's issue of my free weekly e-mail newsletter, A-Clue.com, I took a look at business models , following a weekend at beautiful Belmont University in Nashville (left).

This week I continued the discussion, asking why so many responded to that piece denying they had any such thing as A Clue, let alone A-Clue.Com.

Enjoy.


There was an interesting reaction to my piece last week, denial.

Many of the leaders in the blogging business read it, and all of them denied its inherent truth, namely that they had A Clue.

I'm not a business, insisted Jason Calacanis. Never mind that he has 65 blogs, a uniform look-and-feel, that his writers don't even get their pictures on their blogs and, when they leave, they leave with nothing. No, it's all about passion, he insists. We do this for love, he says. Business? We're not building one of those.

So it went.

I'm not a success, insisted Rafat Ali of Paidcontent. I'm not powerful, insisted Markos Moulitsas of DailyKos. I'm a dilletante, said Glenn Reynolds. I'm only here for the beer, said Dave Winer. I'm no one at all, said Pamela Jones of Groklaw.

...continue reading.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Futurism | Internet | Investment | Journalism | Politics | blogging | e-commerce | online advertising | personal

May 19, 2005

Google's New Strategy Serves Shareholders

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

google natl_teachers.gifI was planning on writing this afternoon about Broadcom's new patent suit against Qualcomm. Regardless of the merits, it looks like a good corporate strategy, creating uncertainty about a market opponent just as you're entering their space.

But in researching the story I learned something new about Google that may distress you. And that's a better blog item than the one I started with.

...continue reading.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

May 18, 2005

Waiting for Grokster

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

grokster.gifSome time in the next month the copyright world may (or may not) reel from the Supreme Court's decision in the Grokster case.

The facts on their face are as favorable as the plaintiffs can make them. Grokster is all about making money for itself off the property of others. Its business model is to sell ads, including adware (sometimes a polite word for spyware and malware). It hoses both sides of every transaction. And the software really does little more than a good FTP server (with an automated database) would.

The vast majority of Grokster's use is driven by hoarding. People fear losing access to the music they love (or might love). So they load up, until they have gigs-and-gigs of it they have to haul around. (Thanks to Moore's Law of storage this gets lighter and less expensive over time, but it still has to be kept.)

The hoarding in turn is driven by the industry's threats. Threats of rising prices. Threats of lawsuits. Threats of copy-protected CDs.

The market solution to the facts is already in the pipeline. Many have proposed the idea of taxing people for unlimited access to the industry's wares and in fact schemes like Yahoo's Music Unlimited work just that way. Pay the "tax" (which starts at $5/month but could go up subject to negotiations with the industry) and download all you want. No need to hoard. Stop paying and all your files magically disappear. (The genie is found in Microsoft's DRM.)

More on the jump.

...continue reading.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Internet | Software | e-commerce | law | online advertising

May 13, 2005

Blogging Business Models

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

bl_ochman.jpgB.L. Ochman (the picture is from her Whatsnextblog) has already broken this, but this week's a-clue.com newsletter features a piece on blogging business models, written following the Blognashville conference.

Enjoy.


I spent the weekend at Blognashville, a gab-and-egofest for about 100 (mostly male, mostly middle-aged) bloggers at Belmont University in Nashville (a pricey pimple on the bottom of Vanderbilt) to fuss over Glenn Reynolds (much nicer in person than online) and to search for meaning.

The big question: how will we make money off this?

People are investing a ton of time and effort in blogging. Volunteers get burned out if they can't find money. All institutions are built on money. At Nashville we all felt we were in the gold fields and no one seemed to have made a strike.

There's a Clue there. Nearly all those 49'ers (and Alaska 98'ers) who went in with pick and shovel failed. It was those who went in with a business model, professional mining companies or merchants such as Levi Strauss, who succeeded.

Some 99% of blogs (including mine) go about the publishing question backwards. That is, we look at the process from the writer's point of view, not the reader's. This is forgivable in that bloggers are writers, but this is one of the key differences between writers and publishers. Publishers create for the market.

That is, publishers define the readers they want, the content those readers need, and the advertisers they will hit-up to pay the bills. They then order the production of the product, and keep an eye out to make sure it meets the readers' requirements.

In other words, the difference between blogging and journalism lies entirely on the business side of the shop. Publishers are just as likely to pay for lies as bloggers are to make stuff up. The difference is the publishers create lies that appeal to their audiences, while bloggers write lies that appeal to themselves.

This is easy to understand when you look at the professional blogs that are run by publishers - Weblogsinc, Gawker Media, and Paid Content. Jason Calacanis, Nick Denton and Rafat Ali defined the readers they wanted, created a business model, then hired writers to fulfill the mission.

In contrast I found, at blognashville, that even the most-popular bloggers are mere dilletantes. This is a term Glenn Reynolds applied to himself. Dave Winer, with whom I spent pleasant hours, is also doing his blog on-the-side - his business is RSS. I was surprised to find myself the most knowledgeable businessperson in the room, and I'm a complete failure.

When you're led by amateurs you can't expect professional standards to be upheld. Yet, on the editorial side, blogs often do just that. It's on the business side where they all fall down.

Still, I saw several potential business models at the conference:

...continue reading.

Comments (6) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Journalism | blogging | e-commerce | online advertising

May 09, 2005

Googlejuice, Googlejuice, Googlejuice

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

google mothers day.gifGooglejuice is that precious elixir which makes the difference between a site or blog that has tons of regular traffic, and those that don't.

Getting Googlejuice, legitimately or not, is a real industry. It iranges from Search Engine Optimization to spamdexing.

Google is constantly adjusting and re-adjusting its algorithms in this area to be fairer, and keep people from playing games with it. Just last week it sought a patent on new Google News technology it claims will enhance that site's credibility. This may backfire, because the major media certain to get more Google Newsjuice out of this are the same companies looking to charge for links.

But that's another show.

One of the great ironies of my recent mistake here was that it actually increased this blog's Googlejuice. Between those who linked to complain, my responses in apology, and those who followed up on my explanation saying they hadn't seen my apology, the incoming link traffic here actually rose 50%. If some of those people stick around (maybe wondering when I'll fall on my face next) it's actually a good thing.

Jonathan Peterson, who did the Amateur Hour blog here for a while, made this observation to me over the weekend.

I think there are a few good lessons - the most important of which you
already knew - the firestorm around an error is good for your link
popularity. Andrew Orlowski has been playing this game at the Register for years (and it's the reason I stopped
reading The Register, but his anti-blog idiocy brings in the googlejuice.

...continue reading.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | blogging | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

The Real Difference Between Blogging and Journalism

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

henry copeland.jpgThe real difference between blogging and journalism is on the business side, not the creative. (That's Henry Copeland of Blogads on the left of the picture, taken last year from Dan Bricklin's blog.)

On the creative side, blogs are just as likely to care about journalism, public service, and lies as any other media.

On the business side, however, nearly all bloggers do things backwards.

That is, we look at the content from the writer's point of view. Journalism looks at all content from the reader's point of view.

This is no small point. You can see it clearly in examining the "blog journalism" companies which have found success -- Weblogsinc, Gawker Media, and Paid Content. Jason Calacanis, Nick Denton and Rafat Ali all defined the readers they wanted, created a business model, then hired writers to fulfill the mission.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Digital Divide | Economics | Internet | Journalism | blogging | online advertising

Dirty Little Secret: Glenn Reynolds Is OK

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

GlennReynolds.jpgThe dirty little secret I uncovered at Blognashville is that Glenn Reynolds is actually a very nice guy. Smart, too. (Not truly handsome like I am but OK for a hair-head.)

Reynolds, who teaches law at UT Knoxville and apparently enjoys it, also plays a right-wing crank on his Instapundit site. He does this part-time and, in part thanks to first-mover advantage, he dominates the right half of the political blogosphere, with over 15,000 incomng links at last count. (This blog, by contrast, has 262.)

Reading Reynolds, and those who admire him, one gets a completely false impression of the man.

In Nashville I found an erudite, intelligent, and amused gentleman of the old school, always in a suit and tie, never seeming to sweat, with a genuine smile that looked nothing like the MegaChurch preacher readers might expect. The haircut looks like something out of a 1968 Young Republican Club, and the blog reads like that as well, but the mind and the man behind them are quite different.

There was some real wisdom in the man as well. Don't believe me? Following are some quotes lifted directly from my notebook during the event:

...continue reading.

Comments (28) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Journalism | Politics | blogging | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

May 05, 2005

Scaled Credibility

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

PRESS hat.jpgDmitri Eroshenko is warning the Internet advertising space that the sky is falling due to click fraud. (Illustration from Coolstuff4writers.)

There is click fraud, and the higher the value attached to a click the more likely it is. There are both human and automated click fraud programs out there.

But the sky is not falling. Click fraud is not destroying Internet advertising. In fact, business is booming. CP/M (as in cost-per-thousand) programs are making a comeback. Sponsorships are on the rise.

Besides, Eroshenko's hands aren't clean. He writes as an executive with ClickLab, a company in the business of solutions for click fraud. In other words, he's selling something.

This sort of thing happens all the time. The mobile phone virus scare is driven, in part, by people who want to sell you mobile phone anti-virus software.

What has changed?

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Journalism | e-commerce | ethics | marketing | online advertising

May 03, 2005

Pitch Credibility

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Dak2000.gifWhy is it that politicians have done a better job on the Internet than publishers?

It has to do with a concept I call Pitch Credibility.

Journalists understand the concept of credibility. It's the trust readers place in us. If there is a journalism profession, it's based on this idea of credibility. I took a huge hit to my own credibility when I screwed-up an item on Ev Williams. I went through hell on that not to regain my credibility, but to minimize the losses, and in hope the damage would not spread to innocent Corante authors.

But just as editorial work must have credibility, so must advertising. That is the innovation the Internet makes necessary.

Moveon.org understood this right away. It knew that if it suggested you give to Candidate X, then Candidate X better fit the desires of the Moveon audience, or the endorsement would damage Moveon. Because it had pitch credibility with its audience, Moveon was able to gain honest information (a mailing list) from its members, and even financial support, based solely on its promise to deliver.

While Moveon failed in these last two cycles as a political force (ask Presidents Gore, Dean and Kerry) it has succeeded in creating a business model that everyone else on the Internet needs to pay attention to.

So if Roger Simon, for instance, is to succeed in his efforts to unite the right-wing blogosphere and extract money from its members, he must retain pitch credibility. He better not let anyone like me in because I'd damage it. And he better use that credibility only to solicit for products, services and people the audience will surely endorse.

Perhaps you can see now why this idea is easier for a politician to understand than a businessman. Politicians are attached to what they're selling in ways businessmen aren't.

Belief is at the heart of pitch credibility.

How can we take advantage of this in the business realm?

Click to find out.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Internet | Investment | e-commerce | online advertising

April 26, 2005

Two Blogging Markets

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

the blog herald.jpg In The Lost Point, I wrote that Google risked being outmanuevered because it didn't pay proper attention to Blogger.

Today Duncan Riley of The Blog Herald goes further. He says the game is already over, that Microsoft won, that the field is consolidating into the three big portal players so Movable Type needs to sell out to Yahoo, quick.

Riley is right as far as he goes.

But if you click below, we'll go a bit further.

...continue reading.

Comments (4) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Investment | Software | Telecommunications | blogging | computer interfaces | online advertising

April 25, 2005

New Week, New Reading List

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Today I want to introduce you to another new member of our blogroll.

It's Tom Abate, whose blog is called MiniMediaGuy. He doesn't post nearly as often as I do, but his posts are always thoughtful.

Tom's blog is in the media space. He's constantly brainstorming about how the "minimedia" of blogs and mobiles and podcasts can succeed against Big Media types who are constantly looking for new ideas.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Internet | Journalism | blogging | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

The Lost Point

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

The point lost by my stupid mistake is that Google, despite its enormous short-term success, is showing cracks in the armor.

...continue reading.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | Investment | blogging | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

April 20, 2005

Advice for Young Journalists

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Want a career in the exciting, fast-paced world of 21st century journalism?

Get an MBA.

Don't go to journalism school. You can learn to write anywhere. The way to write better is to practice. If you love writing you can pick up the rest on-the-fly.

Instead, go to business school. Why? Because the only way you're going to have a good career in this business is to have the skills of a publisher. And those are the skills taught in business school.

In my first lecture at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, in 1977, we were told firmly that if you wanted to make a good living there was a fine businesss school on campus, the Kellogg School, and we should go there. So I've got their logo at the top of this item. I should have taken the advice.

More on why you should go to business school to learn journalism after the break.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Consulting | Copyright | Economics | Futurism | Internet | Journalism | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising | personal

Broken Links, RSS Abuse and Beyond

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

I have written before about advertising being inserted into RSS feeds, and that is increasing. (Image from Case Western Reserve.)

I'm not just talking about RSS items that are in fact links to ad pages, but RSS items that, while containing links to stories, have additional ads inserted into them.

Now there's another, far more dangerous abuse of the RSS system, phony links.

Phony Links are RSS items from registration-only sites. Most U.S. newspapers are now requiring registration. RSS feeds from these sites now go to sign-in pages, not to the stories themselves. In other words the link is a bait-and-switch. It doesn't go to content, but to a sales pitch.

The AP is abetting that requirement by demanding royalties for online content.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Investment | Journalism | blogging | computer interfaces | e-commerce | online advertising

April 13, 2005

Citizen Blog

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Nick_Denton_web.jpgOne problem journalists have with blogging is it does away with gatekeepers.

Printers are gatekeepers. They cost money and make you think before you publish.

Editors are gatekeepers. That's their job. They assign stories and edit them carefully so you don't mispel words.

Publishers are also gatekeepers. Traditionally their role has been to shield the poor, innocent journalist from the nasty world of business.

Mark Glaser of OJR examined this today without reaching any conclusions (as good journalists are taught to do). (The recent picture of Nick Denton is from the OJR story.)

Glaser interviewed three people whose blogging companies seem to be bringing in bucks -- Denton (of Gawker, Wonkette, etc.), Jason Calacanis (of Weblogsinc) , and Rafat Ali (of Paid Content) -- about how they pay people who work for them.

By the month, said Calacanis. By the story, said Ali. By the reader, said Denton.

Shock! Shock and dismay, responded the folks at Slate and Salon, representing the traditional industry.

To which I respond, huh?

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Journalism | blogging | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

April 12, 2005

The Attention Economy

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

DPRPhotoSmall.jpg In a nice commentary about how Wired is now Tired, David P. Reed (left) got me thinking about what today's key economic good might be.

The answer is attention. The world is entering an attention economy.

In many ways this is not news. What's news is how we're bifurcating our attention -- splitting it into parts -- and how media must now compete for slices of it. (Would this item get more hits if I called it The ADD Economy?)

It's a worldwide phenomenom because cellular or mobile service is worldwide. Mobile service competes well in the Attention Economy. Watch people chat on their phones while driving. (It's like elephants tap-dancing -- what's amazing is they do it.)

More after the break.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | Consumer Electronics | Economics | Futurism | Podcasting | computer interfaces | marketing | online advertising | personal

March 31, 2005

Dana's Law of Content

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

lawbook.gifThe cost of making something good is directly proportional to the complexity of the tools needed to create it. (The picture is from Freeadvice.com.)

This blog item is quite good. The tools needed to create words are very cheap. Even if the tools were more expensive, as they were when I began writing, my cost to create this text would not go up much. And the likelihood of its being of high quality would be just as high.

If I read this on the radio it would not be as good. The tools needed to create a Podcast require knowledge of radio or music production values. Even if Podcasts were as cheap to make as blog items, the proportion of good ones would be smaller than they are for blog items.

And so we come to the latest moves by Microsoft and Sony to deliver consumer video.

...continue reading.

Comments (7) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Consumer Electronics | Copyright | Economics | Internet | Investment | Moore's Lore | Podcasting | blogging | e-commerce | online advertising

March 28, 2005

The Demonization of Google Has Begun

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

google_fark.jpgThe demonization of Google has begun. (Image from InternetWeekly.org.)

It's one of the great laws of politics. As soon as people decide you have power, and you can be moved, everyone and his auntie is going to try and move you.

I hinted that something might be happening more than a month ago, but it was probably the controversy over Google News that tipped it over.

With Google News, from the very beginning, Google did something it claimed it wasn’t doing. That is, it exercised editorial judgement. As SearchEngine Journal noted, “While an algorithm based on publishing popularity chooses which articles are found under which keyword phrases, the news-authority sources themselves are supposed to be pre-screened by a human.” And some immediately started writing programs to see what those humans might be doing.

But just as I was objecting, wanting to get in, others were objecting wanting to stay out. Agence France-Presse has won an agreement from Google that News won’t even spider stories sent to its affiliates, while Jeff Jarvis is crowing that Google News no longer spiders “hate sites.”

And now the atmosphere of controversy has spilled into the main site. French law demands that ads for competitors not be placed against trademarks. Google complies, on its French site, but continues to employ them on its U.S. site, where the standard is different. So the French sue.

...continue reading.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Investment | Journalism | Politics | e-commerce | online advertising

Gator Comes To Yahoo

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

john dowdell.jpgOf all the things that Gator (and its ilk) did, the worst may have been how they corrupted the file download process.

Click download and you get...who knows what?

Now Yahoo, desperate to catch up with Google, has corrupted the downloading of basic Web tools, by sticking its toolbar in with Macromedia Flash.

The attempts by Macromedia officials like John Dowdell (right) to explain this away speaks to a growing lack of ethics within the Internet business community.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Internet | computer interfaces | ethics | online advertising

March 25, 2005

How To Kill Your Newspaper

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

newsboy.jpg

This weekend Slate offers a feature of Philip Anschutz, a conservative businessman (and big soccer fan) who has launched printed papers under the name the Examiner in Washington and San Francisco.

Jack Shafer syggests Anschutz needs to invest more in editorial and consider the Web in order to be taken seriously.

Correct and double correct.

I wrote about this several weeks ago, and what follows is that original copy. You can get it free
any time.


I have a love-hate relationship with newspapers. (This newsboy is advertising news of the Titanic's sinking.)

The business has been at the heart of my "profession" for a century. The whole idea of a journalist as a professional is also a product of this business. I took my graduate degree from the Medill School of Journalism. Joseph Medill was the old reprobate who built the Chicago Tribune empire.

But as I've said many times here this whole idea of a "journalism profession" is a fraud. Professionals can make it on their own. Journalists can't. If you don't have a job you are not part of the fraternity. Even if you build a journalism company based on your vision of what the profession should be, you are always nothing more than a businessman.

The New York Times recently quoted a newspaper consultant as saying "For some publishers, it really sticks in the craw that they are giving away their content for free."

Here in one sentence we have the utter cluelessness of the industry. Here is an opportunity waiting for someone to exploit it.

...continue reading.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Copyright | Economics | Futurism | History | Internet | Investment | Journalism | e-commerce | online advertising

March 21, 2005

Et Tu, Barry Diller?

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

barry diller.jpgThroughout the dot-boom Barry Diller stood aloof. He promised he would never overpay for "Internet real estate," that he would grow his business by finding bargains. (The picture is from this Wired article where he displays far more wisdom about Internet valuations than displayed today.)

For several years he stayed true to that. You can justify the prices paid for Home Shopping Network, Expedia.Com, Hotels.Com, and Ticketmaster based on revenues and earnings. They sold stuff -- toasters, travel packages, concert tickets -- and earned real money.

But $1.85 billion for an outfit with trailing year sales of $261 million? That's over 7 times sales, about 40 times earnings.

Sorry, Barry, you finally drank the Kool-Aid.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | Investment | e-commerce | online advertising

AOL Surrenders To The Net (AFP Take Note)

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Whatever idiot at Agence France-Presse is pushing to keep its stories from being linked widely might want to do a re-think after reading this.

AOL is far more powerful than Agence France-Presse. At one time its walled garden was the most powerful force online. Its shareholders took 45% of Time Warner's equity in 2000, and while that's now worth a fraction of what it was (thanks to the fact they weren't really worth the price), it's still a lovely parting gift (and thanks for playing our game).

Well, after spending billions of dollars and five years fighting the inevitable, AOL has succumbed.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Investment | e-commerce | online advertising

March 17, 2005

Can SMS Save MMS?

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

bugs_bunny_k700i_klein.jpg
One of the biggest problems we face in cellular data is the lack of MMS interoperability.

If I'm on Cingular, and you're on Verizon, and our friend is with U.S. Cellular, in other words, we can easily exchange short text messages. But exchanging, say, photos or music is nearly impossible.

CTIA didn't answer that challenge, but it turns out CeBIT in Germany did . An outfit called conVISUAL in Oberhausen, Germany (near Dusseldorf, in the Ruhr, the heart of the Bundesliga), did.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Consumer Electronics | cellular | e-commerce | online advertising

Microsoft adCenter Ignores 90s' Lessons

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

adcenter.jpgBack in the 1990s (not that there's anything wrong with that) a lot of companies drew a lot of venture capital promising to target ads based on who you were rather than what you were looking at.

The ploy failed. It turned out the cost of targeting exceeded the premium advertisers could charge for the space.

On the other hand context-based ads, targetting based on the content of a page or a search, continued to draw premium prices. It still works.

So Microsoft actually took a step backward this week when it launched adCenter, which targets based on users' use of Microsoft resources, plus Experian credit scores.

They also, once again, didn't do a complete trademark search. Finding this particular example, which I don't believe has any affiliation with Microsoft, took me all of 10 seconds. (On Google.)

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | History | Internet | Investment | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

March 14, 2005

Newspapers Are Your Big Opportunity

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

The New York Times quotes a newspaper consultant as saying "For some publishers, it really sticks in the craw that they are giving away their content for free."

Here in one sentence we the utter cluelessness of the industry.

Newspapers have always given away their content. Always. The money you pay for your daily paper goes only toward its distribution costs. The ink, the paper, the printing, and the entire editorial budget (which is just 8% of the total, although publishers act like it's the whole thing) -- that comes from advertising.

Where does the money come from? Many sources:

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Copyright | Internet | Journalism | online advertising

March 11, 2005

Permission in Big Transactions

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Note: The following was published today in my free weekly e-mail newsletter, A-Clue.Com, now in its 9th year. Join us -- always free.


The last time I wrote about Permission Marketing (from the book by Seth Godin, right) I described the "permission tree" and urged you to audit all levels of permission so you could make use of them.

Now I'm going to tell you how to apply permission to the highest levels of personal transactions, the selling of homes and cars.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Consulting | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

March 06, 2005

Moore's Law of Market Acceptance

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Intel says its Wireless USB is going to eliminate Bluetooth. (Bluetooth image courtesy Babok Farokhi.)

It's faster, has less interference, and it's just better.

Uh-huh. Maybe that's all true. But even if it is, that will take time.

Bluetooth has taken over a half-decade to reach its present level of prominence, and many mobile phones still don't have the capability -- despite cool applicationsl like Hypertag being written for it. (Thanks to point-n-click and Billboard for that link.)

I have headlined this Moores Law of Market Acceptance because, again, there is none. (It's like Moore's Law of Training.) Market acceptance is a human process, involving many actors.

The rate at which a new technology is accepted and replaces an old one depends on how revolutionary it is, how nimble its sponsors, and how rapid is the replacement within the older market.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: 802.11 | Moore's Lore | cellular | computer interfaces | e-commerce | marketing | online advertising

March 02, 2005

A Waste of RSS

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

I have written several times about RSS in this space, often wrongly.

But now I have something which, I hope, will prove non-controversial. (For those who want to know more about RSS, O'Reilly has a fine book out on the subject.)

If your story is behind a registration firewall, don't put it in your RSS feed.

Many newspapers today routinely run RSS feeds on all stories, often through Moreover. Many also have registration firewalls. If you're not willing to deliver your personal data (and remember a new password for each publisher) they don't want to see you.

Well, I don't want to see them, either.

Fortunately, there are solutions.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Copyright | Internet | Journalism | e-commerce | online advertising

February 28, 2005

Girl Scouts, Kidneys and Slippery Slopes

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Back when e-commerce was new, some Girl Scout troops decided to get a jump on their neighbors by offering their wares online.

The national organization successfully snuffed out this form of e-commerce. Check out Google on any keyword relating to the cookies (which go on sale soon in your neighborhood and mine) and you won't find any outlets.

The Girl Scouts got away with this restraint of trade because, frankly, it wasn't fair for the non-savvy girls to see money flowing only to those whose parents knew the online ropes. Money raised from sales is shared, after all, between the national organization, the local troop, and its community organization.

What does this have to do with kidneys? Plenty.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Journalism | e-commerce | ethics | marketing | medicine | online advertising

February 25, 2005

The Podcasting Boom (How to Profit from it)

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Podcasting is the trend of 2005.

It's driven by simple facts.


  • 6 million iPods today, 2 million sold last year.
  • The average music collection is 10 Gigabytes, total. Of this most people listen regularly to about 1 song in 10.
  • Even the smallest iPod has 4 Gigabytes of space.
  • We don't just want to listen to our own music, y'know.

The result is millions of units and millions of hours waiting to be used by someone.

What else is the result?

...continue reading.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consulting | Consumer Electronics | Moore's Lore | blogging | computer interfaces | e-commerce | online advertising

February 05, 2005

MCI Fingered for Spam Flood

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

MCI grossed an estimated $5 million/year violating the law in its home state of Virginia, by knowingly hosting sales of a Russian virus used to turn PCs into spam zombies.

The full story, by Spamhaus' Steve Linford (below) was distributed online today. It charges that MCI knowingly hosts Send-Safe.Com, which sells a spam virus that takes over innocent computers and turns them into spam-sending proxies. Linford tracked Send-Safe to a Russian, Ruslan Ibragimov. Linford estimates MCI earns $5 million/year from its work supporting spammers.

The theft of broadband-connected PCs by viruses, mainly Send Safe and another Russian-made program, Alexey Panov's Direct Mail Sender ("DMS"), is responsible for 90% of the spam coming into AOL and other major ISPs, Linford charged.

Here's the nut graph:


MCI Worldcom not only knows very well they are hosting the Send Safe spam operation, MCI's executives know send-safe.com uses the MCI network to sell and distribute the illegal Send Safe proxy hijacking bulk mailer, yet MCI has been providing service to send-safe.com for more than a year.

Want this made a little more explicit? Read on.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: B2B | Copyright | Internet | Journalism | Politics | Security | Software | blogging | ethics | law | online advertising | spam

January 24, 2005

Spam Blogging

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

A "blogger" named "Oscar" has dozens of blogs on Blogger, which seem to have no purpose other than to to churn out spam. (Like the image? It's from Rhetorica, which was talking at the time about comment spam.)

Blogger does have some fine features for the spammer. You can set it to e-mail everyone on a list whenever the blog is updated. So if you're a "master spammer" all the little spammers get the updated script simultaneously.

New entries also act as "RSS spam," as in this example, "Oscar's" cell phone "blog."

Google, which owns Blogger, is either blind or willfully complicit to what's going on here. (I'm guessing blind. It's a big virtual world out there, and Google does try to get things right.)

The more significant point is that what's going on is the systematic destruction of RSS as a medium for conveying thought. Already it's becoming impossible to maintain a "keyword" RSS feed. By that I mean that if I tell Newsgator, "send me everything on cellular," I'm going to get a lot of junk, not just from Oscar, but from direct sales sites, resume sites, and "wrap" sites, which place their ads around other sites' content and broadcast it via RSS. (What I need, Newsgator, is a way to create keyword-searches while at the same time blacklisting specific URLs -- then I wouldn't be able to write items like this one.)

But that is not all, oh no, that is not all. Because wherever crooks go unmolested, honest businesses are going to follow.

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | Software | blogging | e-commerce | ethics | online advertising

January 17, 2005

Googling The World

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Hartmut Neven, who does research in computer vision at USC, dreams of using cameraphones to build a database that would essentially Google the world.

Take a picture of a painting and get an audio recording, through your phone, all about it. Take a picture of a restaurant and get a review.

There's even a sound business model for such a plan. But, as Google's local service illustrates, there's also one big hurdle toward creating it.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Internet | e-commerce | online advertising

A Rose By Any Other Name

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

One of the dumbest things a company can do is pay big bucks for a domain name. (That's CSpan's flower, by the way.)

What does eBay mean? What does Amazon mean? For that matter, what does Google mean? They mean what they have become. There was no intrinsic value to the name when it was purchased.

So why should picturephone.com be worth $1 million? There's no good reason. The fact that the company which owned the name changed its name so as to sell-on the old name is proof of this.

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | Investment | online advertising

December 07, 2004

ESPN Phone

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

There is a lot of wailing-and-gnashing-of-teeth going on about ESPN entering the mobile phone business, through an agreement with Sprint.

It's not that big a deal. Sprint made these co-branding deals, called MVNO in the biz, a big part of its strategy. Virgin, Carphone Warehouse and 7-Eleven are signed-up, and Wal-Mart is reportedly taking a look.

What do you need to become a Big Time Mobile Phone Brand?

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Consumer Electronics | Investment | cellular | e-commerce | online advertising

November 30, 2004

RSS Ads

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

I was hammered here recently for a piece in which I warned of what I called RSS Spam. (The image is from the home page of Geekzone, and it's a Clue to what comes next.)

Well it's my own fault, I figured. I'm looking for everything on a specific keyword, and if some store is keyed to that word I'm going to get their stuff. Yes, a good RSS editor should be able to filter-out that stuff, allowing me to unsubscribe to anything that I don't like, but still...

But now that trend has taken another step, so I feel compelled to come back to the subject of my humiliation.

If you don't want to hear about it, don't click below:

...continue reading.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Business Strategy | Economics | Internet | e-commerce | ethics | online advertising

August 17, 2004

More Thoughts On The Blogging Business

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Every day, it seems, I see more and more people trying to use the blogging metaphor to make money. (The image, naturally, comes from business-blog.com.)

The question remains whether blogging will become subsumed into other media (lots of high-tech publishers, like Business 2.0, now have things they call blogs), whether new journalism businesses can be built on blogging, and whether blogging will be an individual or community endeavor.

Following are some Clues to this future:

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Models | Consulting | Internet | Investment | Journalism | blogging | online advertising | personal

July 23, 2004

"Gaming" AdSense

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Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

Remember those stories a week ago to the effect that there was a shortage of Google AdWords? (I don't think OneWebHosting will mind my linking to that illustration, especially when I link to their own ad as well.)

I noticed, on these pages and on my own newsletter's home page, that this is no longer the case. In fact, many technology terms are now going begging. I know this because Public Service Ads from Google have been appearing in both locations.

All of which gave me an idea for "gaming the system."

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business Strategy | Consulting | online advertising