Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Word of the day: playatards

Courtesy of Valleywag: those people who venture out to Burning Man each year.

Black Rock CIty: Burning Man arson suspect caught - Valleywag

HP Invests $300 Million in Print 2.0 - PhotographyBLOG

HP Invests $300 Million in Print 2.0 - PhotographyBLOG: HP is spending $300 Million on a global marketing campaign to help promote the company’s Print 2.0 strategy.

Huh? When did marketing spend become an investment? Hey boss, call me confused. I'll give you more Print 2.o that you'll ever see from that marketing spend for 0.5% of that sum.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Web 2.0 way to find a community manager

Now this makes perfect sense.

SquidBlog >> Blog Archive >> A little bit Wonka

At Squidoo, when we decided it was time to bring on a Community Organizer, we did a reverse-Wonka. Over the past year and a half we’ve had the privilege of hearing from and watching a few hundred passionate lensmasters as they’ve used and evaluated and championed and criticized and grown and talked about our site. We’ve taken their comments to mind, and their support to heart.

So we didn’t have to look among unknown faces and unproven talent to find someone for the job. We had her right in front of us, in the SquidU forums, in our inboxes, on lenses, and on other sites around the web talking about Squidoo. Who better to hire than a lensmaster who has been on the site since beta, seen our ups and downs, and has never failed in her enthusiasm for trying new ideas, mentoring other lensmasters, pushing the platform just a little harder, and bringing new people in.

Makes me wonder, what if right when you launched your startup site, you let everyone know that you'd be using participation as a primary tool for recruiting future employees? Would that motivate more and better participation?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Japanese discus collecting cartoon character come to life

Can you tell the 2007 World Track & Field championships are being held in Japan? - Osaka 2007 - Latest Photos

Credit: Getty Images (via

This is a remote control discus shuttle, one of those surprising modernizations of what is a very simple, pure event. These are fun to watch doing their thing.

The Dilbert Blog: Invent This Product

Sigh, too bad I had to mothball Virgil due to lack of interest inside HP. Now even Scott Adams is asking for this!

The Dilbert Blog: Invent This Product:
Invent This Product I’d love to have a complete scrapbook of all my vacations, but it’s too much work. That’s why I need a service that would create the scrapbook automatically, online.

Here’s how it could work. First, my digital camera should have GPS so it always knows where I am. When I download my photos, a Google map would pop up, and the photos would go into storage according to the points on the map where the pictures were taken, ordered by date. The map forms the backdrop for organizing the scrapbook.

Everything Scott goes on to ask for was under consideration to be included in Virgil, which I began working on about 7 years ago. The project has been inactive the last two years, I just had to give up due to lack of uptake by HP product divisions, and start working on The Next Big Thing. The good news is that Yahoo and Google are continuing to drive geotagging services and applications, and this vision is coming together gradually.

I think Yahoo! is outrunning everyone in this space, but I am growing impatient with their slooooow progress pulling it all together. But I empathize with their Big Company challenges, which I'm sure play a part in that. Here are a few Yahoo-ish places for the interested to begin:

The Flickr World Map Flickr's geo features kick ass.
Yahoo Trip Planner So much potential in this app, c'mon, work it Yahoo!
ZoneTag If you're a mobile user, you'll like this.
TagMaps Killer tech here, c'mon Yahoo, use it!
Dan Catt's Geobloggers site Stop teasing and tell us what you're doing.

For a dark horse in this space, head on over to Slovenia for a look at TripTracker.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Kitty said what?

New favorite trashy video around the house:

This is fantastic. Meow, meow, ...meow-meow!

End of the road?

End of the road, originally uploaded by aefitzhugh.

K2 Zed 4.0. I used up the rest of my REI rebate on my first new mountain bike in ~20 years. I haven't ridden my road bike since Mia was born one year ago, I may never return to the road now! Besides the lack of time that comes with a newborn, it seems some poor cycling soul is run down every week now in the Bay Area. I have enough fun things to do in life than to deal with that.

My previous mtb is the only one I've ever owned. As crappy as it was (a Performance store brand, feels like 40 pounds, even has a hole in one of the welds!), it went to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado with a former teammate in its younger days. Hard to believe how crappy it is compared to this one.

I've never even ridden with shocks or disk brakes before, I've been in a time warp!

Andy McKee - Official Website - Andy

Long vacations are nice. They allow you to lose touch with all your local news, and life slows down to a more natural and comfortable pace. But how often have you discovered, long after the fact, that some noteworthy person died while you were so disconnected, but you never heard about it? This has happened to me a couple of times. The notable person dies, there is a brief burst of news about it, but by the time you've returned it is all over. It can be 6 months, a year!, before you find out, and then when you do it is oddly stunning. How could that famous person who I am so familiar with have been gone all this time, and everybody knows, and I was completely unaware of it until now?

This happened to me recently when a long time, well known local newscaster died. We were on the east coast for 10 days, he died the day we left, and by the time we got back there was nary a sign he was gone. I only read an offhand reference to his passing two weeks after we returned, and wow, I was stunned.

This same thing happened to me with my guitar hero, Michael Hedges. I'd seen several of his shows, owned all his albums, etc. After I brought up Hedges in a dinner conversation one night, lacking the expected somber tones, my colleague asked, "You do know that Michael Hedges died in a car crash, don't you?" I was floored. How could such a notable passing occur without my hearing about it?

I remember all this after getting shunted to YouTube today by some random link, where I came across Andy McKee, the second coming of Michael Hedges. Hedges came before online video, and even sitting up close at a small show I could never quite make out just *how* he could sound like three guitarists playing at once. Andy McKee has a series of videos on YouTube that gets me that much closer. Apparently these videos have led to his discovery by the masses, no orchestrated marketing by record executives involved.

He says a bit about this on his website, Andy McKee - Official Website - Andy:
IC: Your videos really exploded in popularity late last year, and have now received millions upon millions of views! What kind of an impact did all the publicity have on your career?

McKee: It's been stunning to say the least. I had been teaching guitar for the last 10 years but recently stopped due to all of these gig opportunities. I was on the late night show Last Call with Carson Daly back in February. Someone there had seen the YouTube videos and emailed me. I recorded a tune for Josh Groban's next album in late April. He was really a nice guy - unreal voice. Apparently he saw my videos while on his tour bus in Arizona! I performed in England, Germany, and Austria a couple months ago, and will be in Portugal in June, Canada this summer, Japan in September. The impact has been huge on my life to say the least. CD sales are going strong as well as transcriptions. I'm really living my dream, making a decent living playing music! It's all I've wanted to do since the age of about 14.
Check out the videos! Start here:

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Scott Adams on... web design?

Scott Adams is a geek, so should we be surprised that he has taken to the Web better than any other cartoonist? I've long read his blog not only for its general hilarity, but also for the candid insights into a famous cartoonist's life. Recently he has been running the blog version of a reality show, where he mentors a wannabe cartoonist to make it big. This has been fascinating stuff and I liked today's more than ever.

The Dilbert Blog: Basic Instructions, Part 6:
There are only about a hundred jokes in the universe. All humorists recycle them with their own twists and characters. In this case, you’re seeing a variation of “advice that makes things worse.” Scott’s twist on it is great because doing a bad job calming a child is naturally worse than doing a bad job at most other things. His setup does half of the work. That’s how he can find four separate humor points on one setup.

I took that same excellent setup and put it in an office setting. By featuring Dilbert, there’s a lot I don’t have to explain to the reader. You already know Dilbert has no skill in dealing with people, much less children. And you know his impulse for honesty and quantifying things causes him trouble. I don’t need words to describe any of that.

Click to enlarge How_to_calm_child

Using familiar characters, in familiar situations, makes humor work more easily.
Wow, is that class A instruction or what? He whipped up an illustrative example on the spot to demonstrate the point, awesome. So I'm not a cartoonist, but I like his punchline, "familiar characters in familiar situations makes humor work more easily," because it applies to many other processes that have nothing to do with comic strips or humor. Think about this in the context of building a successful web site: once you've established a familiar context with your users, what advantages do you accrue?

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Huffington Post Allows Top Commenters To Become Bloggers - Publishing 2.0

In The Huffington Post Allows Top Commenters To Become Bloggers - Publishing 2.0, Scott Karp tells how The Huffington Post is now allowing top commenters to become featured bloggers. He then asks,
What do you think?
I think this may completely change the dynamics of commenting on the site as the reward for commenting has changed dramatically. Now that there is a specific, external reward, we should see new behaviors emerge as a result of seeking that reward.

The question is, will this improve the quality of the Huffington Post to readers? If comments become skewed somehow as a result of efforts to become featured, I don't think so. We can only wait to see what develops.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Blurring of content/ads, and magazines/books

What does it say when the latest issues of fashion mags are over 70% ads, and hundreds of pages long? It tells me that ads are legitimate content that readers are willing to pay for. It also tells me that number of pages is not what distinguishes a magazine from a book. The author below even makes an offhand reference to these mags as "fashion books"!

Advertising Age - MediaWorks - It's Another Sweet September for Fashion Mags [Emphasis mine]:
The September Vogue shot up like the champion should, clocking 727 ad pages for a gain of more than 100 -- helped only a bit by this year's CondeNast-wide Fashion Rocks insert, which is 15% thicker than last year's. The number of ad pages ranges, depending on the title, from 75 to 100.

Not surprisingly, given the spending strength in the accessories category this past year, the other fashion books were fat as well. W, Vogue's sibling at CondeNast, racked up 477 ad pages, improving over last September by 85 pages. Elle, part of Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S., nabbed 398 ad pages for September, up 27 from last September, according to the Media Industry Newsletter. Time Inc.'s In Style matched Elle at 398, a gain of 33 pages. Harper's Bazaar from Hearst is running 360 ad pages in its September tome -- the largest issue the title's ever published -- for a gain of about 48 pages. And Glamour, though not as strict a fashion play as the others, has 285 ad pages in September, up 10.
These are numbers for fall issues that are not necessarily representative of the rest of the year. But one still might ask, is any editorial content required in these magazines? My instinct tells me that nobody would buy these mags if they were 100% ads, yet it is clear that 85% is ok. What is the curious power of 15% editorial content that turns a catalog one expects for free into a magazine that one would pay for?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Externalizing my blog presence

Not that anyone could tell from this blog, but I've been actively blogging for several years -- on my internal blog at work, sequestered behind a firewall, basically invisible to the real world. A disk crash on my internal server, and my ultimate inability to get MovableType back up and running, could be the final bit to push my blogging outside the firewall for good.

The one thing that kept me going behind the firewall was the relatively free reign I had to comment on company confidential subjects, often critically, without having to worry about ruffling feathers in public. I'm not sure that I'm committed to cease those kinds of posts, but I am committed to thinking them over more thoroughly now :-).