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Ben Barren - Confessions of a Mad Man » 2005 » November

Monthly Archives: November 2005

Jeff Jarvis has been Listening to The Who

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ysl jessica single
Originally uploaded by redbarren.
“FREE MY FEED SUBSCRIBERS. HAND OVER MY NUMBERS.” Jeff Jarvis.

I’M FREE - THE WHO
I’m free,
And freedom tastes of reality,
I’m free-I’m free,
AN’ I’m waiting for you to follow me.
If I told you what it takes
to reach the highest high,
You’d laugh and say ‘nothing’s that simple’
But you’ve been told many times before
Messiahs pointed to the door
And no one had the guts to leave the temple!
I’m free-I’m free
And freedom tastes of reality
I’m free-I’m free
And I’m waiting for you to follow me.
How can we follow?
How can we follow?

Give Jeff his feed numbers : When I crack 1000 RSS subscribers I want mine too.

Reading Brad Felds always excellent rss metrics
from the trenches view, I was thinking about how this compares to other media, and ironically its similar and different ! Different to The Google/CPC/CPA/CPL Customer Acquisition WorldView : Similar to Low Circulation Magazines which are often not audited, and tell you they have X thousand readership/circulation - It is then (in the traditional world) up to the advertiser/agency to draw out intrinsic value/audience based on understanding flaws of the system. In RSS’ case though, we really want to advance on Google’s self service, auction based, cost per click text advertisements benchmark, rather than regress. Like the podcasting tracking issues, the solution may not come from the aggregators.

Auditing is not required, said Jason Trubowitz, brand planning director at Mediacom. “It’s good if you can but it won’t automatically eliminate you from consideration. If we said we’d only do measured publications, half our media plan would fall off.”

Update : del.icio.us has a Help Section !!!

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white love
Originally uploaded by redbarren.

Ok. So to retrieve or reset my bookmarklet for delicious was in the “help” section, which snark snark is pretty obvious dont you think Ben. Well actually, no not at all. For starters, sections like ‘help’, ’settings’, ‘your account’, etc are garbage. We dont use it. Users dont use it, and anyone that looks at log files knows that unless they are in Seattle, and the love-child of that hedge fund mathematician who decided to sell books, the only time post registration for these little buttons to be used are when a credit card is used. Forget Web 2.0 sites then.
Tagging needs to be made more mainstream yet not chcesy. Im honestly not sure its possible, but I hope delicious do it. What I really want is something with the hyperutility of del.icio.us (which is kinda like a 70’s LandCruiser Jeep / Lamborghini Truck) and the newskool UI of riffs, minus the plastic community and ecommerce API’s. Im thinking a Hummer for tagging. If it was a video game, blogging system, or myspace, I could choose my level, page template, and added extras. So yes thanks delicious, bookmarklets are under help. Oh, and Im still addicted.

Specific Example of del.icio.us Annoyance

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jess mohair
Originally uploaded by redbarren.

Yeah, so del.icio.us is totally integrated into my (web link) classification, discovery, sharing, splicing and tagging behaviour on the internet. I spend more time on delicious than google, if you dont include gmail. So anyway, to tag on delicious thru firefox I have a bookmarklet on my toolbar - “remember this” / On the Imac it says “post to delicious” or similar. Anyway, something just happened to firefox (ibook keyboard is oversensitive on tracking pad) and the toolbar button sizes were minimised, which I resized, but the bookmarklet is gone. So, I go over to the delicious home page / my home / settings, but nothing.

Given tagging is the sole and core purpose of del.icio.us where, as a registered user, do I find my “tagging tool”… bookmarklet, call it what you want…

I love the whole European art house meets East Coast thing with del.icio.us. Im an addict. I love how the redesign when I rollover the navy blues are very strong now and the design sparser, cleaner, but still the same. I love the utility. Pure functionality. Anyway, where is my bookmarklet ? OK, back to del.icio.us and Ill see if I can find it : If it was in an obvious section I’ll update post and apologise to Joshua and Fred.

Something Google. Something New

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something borrowed
Originally uploaded by redbarren.

She left where she was born. Wasn’t averse to hard work. Knew the casting couch, and how people wanted her in it. Was smart enough not to get nailed, too often. Sidekick II. Liked shoes, rotating her handbags and a nice cleansing white dress. Didn’t think about google’s white background, certainly used it when required. From Seth’s (not OC) Blog : “12,000 people have taken a blind taste test . You do a search you’re familiar with, it shows you the results from Google, MSN and Yahoo. Which is the most relevant, it asks? About 65% of those tested said that Yahoo or MSN was the most relevant.
Which reinforces my point that Google isn’t “better” for most people if “better” means more relevant or deeper. Google is better because it feels better and quicker and leaner and easier to use. The story we tell ourselves about Google is very different, and we use it differently as a result. Think about that the next time you insist you need a “better” formula or a faster server or a stronger first baseman.” She was Jessica Alba after all.

My Personalised Manual Spliced-LinkRoll Mashup

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wow alba
Originally uploaded by redbarren.

I’d decided to rationalise my 1719 del.icio.us items, 700 flickr photos, 200 rss feeds, and was about to stop using gmail because I really f’n hate their “conversations” feature (pls Y-Oddpost “launch”), which enables me to track the thread, but not see an email from my mom 2 minutes ago. Brad Feld also mentioned the aged old problem (of at least the last 6 months :) ““I’ve subscribed to your del.icio.us tag feed – I like it more than your blog because it tells me what you are thinking about.” Or as someone else explained it to me : “You do all the work that I dont have the time for, and I just click on the links. It’s great.” As for all the boring blog reading in my life I was getting close to finishing the Safran Foer book on the bedtable getting dust, but I also agreed with Marathon Man when he said “I’ve been seeing a lot of “this sucks, that’s great, that sucks, this is great” blog posts lately, but rarely do I see anyone decompose what’s actually bad or great and explaining why. Occasionally there’s some stuff from an end-user perspective (especially whenever Google rolls something out), but I’ve been surprised by the general lack of technical depth and public debate.”

So I set out to solve these problems (definitely feeling complicit in having mentioned Google before), when serendipity reared its head and I came across Xoogler : I was hungry, but thought do I really need a feeddigest, buzzboost, or delicious tagroll, to create my own personalised manual spliced linkroll mashup ? No way, I’ll just xoogle it : “I’m going to give you five minutes,” he told me. “When I come back, I want you to explain to me something complicated that I don’t already know.” I reached for a piece of scrap paper as my mind raced. What complicated thing did I know well enough to describe to Sergey?… I began regurgitating everything I could remember onto the paper in front of me: The five P’s (or was it six?), the four M’s, barriers to entry, differentiation on quality or price. By the time Sergey came back, I had enough to talk for ten minutes and was confident I could fill any holes with the three B’s (Buckets of Baffling Bullshit). Sergey paid real attention as I went to the whiteboard and drew circles and squares and lots of arrows. I found out later that he asked almost everyone to do this, so if a candidate wasn’t hired, at least it wasn’t a total waste of his time… “We just hired a chef, so this is a temporary setup,” Sergey told me. “And we’ve got two massage therapists coming in as well.”.. Two weeks later, I started as Online Brand Manager.”

My curiosity was also piqued on the equation between internal massage therapists vs PHD’s in nano-Search : “One top-notch engineer is worth “300 times or more than the average,” explains Alan Eustace, a Google vice president of engineering. He says he would rather lose an entire incoming class of engineering graduates than one exceptional technologist. Many Google services, such as Gmail and Google News, were started by a single person, he says.”

And it seems if, like Jeremy Zawodny you forget to upgrade Itunes regularly you get done : “Now it turns out that the tracks really are there and the metadata is still around, but iTunes simply thinks the tracks are elsewhere. When I click one to play it, it asks me if I’d like to try finding. Of course, it doesn’t mean that iTunes will do its best to locate it in my music collection. No, it means *I* must manually browse my library to point it at the file (as if there are no ID3 tags on the files that it could simply match against its own catalog).”

I do like the logo they have on gmail at moment for Thanksgiving, as annoying as gmail is and even though it’s not celebrated at all in Australia, back to Xoogler : “Sergey provided the final sign off and he always encouraged Dennis to push the envelope a bit. Every once and a while things went off the rails. There was the time one of Dennis’ Olympians displayed an unfortunate tenting in his toga and we received about a dozen emails asking why the Greek Guy on our homepage had a boner. And the time Dennis’ Shichi Go San logo for Japan featuring a crane, a turtle and a traditional candy bag was read by many non-Japanese users as a turkey, a turtle and a thermometer.”

I feel for Dave Winer here, I dont understand why the GEMAYA’s of this world dont have a Secret Team of SAS trained Blogosphere CleanerUp’ers like Mr Wolf in Pulp Fiction (The Wolf: That’s thirty minutes away. I’ll be there in ten.), so when something goes wrong it can be fixed in 23 minutes before the next post which has to affect market cap by more than the cost it would take to solve the problem and stop snowballing : “Arrrgh, I plugged my new iPod into my old Mac and lost everything on it. Never got a confirmation dialog asking if it was okay if it wiped out the music and audiobooks that I painstakingly took hours of my time to set up. Never mind that the originals are on the other side of the United States. Honestly, how dare they design software that’s so brutal?”

Back to Jeremy’s Ipod Nano/Itunes ‘Ode to Failure Mashup’ (which btw almost reminds me of whether you are lying to your girlfriend if you dont tell her something, the answer to which is of course it is a lie unless you can prove it really is insignificant) : Yeah, silent failures. The worst thing you can possibly do is to fail silently. The arrogance of which ever Apple person decided that it should fail silently is difficult to comprehend. There’s absolutely no feedback in the UI at all when this happens.”

Such smartypants at google, how do the rest of us compete (unless you have a PHD in common sense) : “So Jim Reese, a neurosurgeon became head of operations. Courtney, who was hired as a market researcher, became a media buyer, Dennis, the assistant webmaster, took on logo designs and search quality for our Korean site. I took on responsibility for building out customer service and internationalization, neither of which I knew anything about.”

Does Don Dodge have the coolest name ever ?
“The idea behind Simple Sharing Extensions is to allow multi-directional synchronization of data and objects across multiple applications.”

Brad Feld would be getting some pretty good data on this I’d say :) - “Fundamentally, the approach that I’m starting to see appear results in a false sense of a true subscriber count via personalization (presumably one of the goals of personalization is to get an accurate subscriber count), doesn’t scale for the aggregators, the subscriber count quickly diverges from reality as people search for or share feeds, and it’s hard to redirect your subscribers correctly if you decide to do something different later.”

Hackoff, Im now sorta blooked, esp to the format
(how many blog posts, press releases, memeorandum articles can we all read) : “If you do think of anything — anything at all — you have my card. Anything you think of, no matter how strange, don’t filter it. Just tell me.”

Even though there are a small amount of current acquisitions in the $50M-$500M valuation range from David Beisels excellent post, the deals in this size are for more interesting for valuation purposes to break-up the value of a Web 2 Co’ in terms of technology, engineers, revenue, users, growth, profit, margins, industry etc (for companies such as feedburner, newsgator, technorati, del.icio.us, simplyhired, indeed for example) : “If one assumes that nearly all of the “undisclosed” prices are also under $50M, we can clearly see this bipolarization emerging. The internet acquisitions have been either small “venture acquisitions” (to Kedrosky’s point) –or– pricy purchases of companies with demonstrable viable business models (Shopping.com, ASK) or expansive reach (MySpace, Skype). As such, there has been a dearth of everything in between. There just aren’t that many companies in the $50M to $500M range being acquired by the big guys – they’re either gobbling them up early or waiting (perhaps to a fault) until these startups are too valuable to pass up.”

Fred Wilson comments on the research : “I heard some say this summer that Yahoo! “was thinking that $25M is about the right price for these web services things”. That is not a direct quote, but directionally correct. Buyers are either picking things up before they have a business model, scale, and significant VC investment, or much later. The middle ground (between $50M and $500M) is where the effect of VC comes into play.”

Mr Feld had to jump back in with a 2005 investment; Yellowpages business really dont know whats about to hit them locally, hehe : “Judy’s Book is at the forefront of three major trends: consumer-generated content, local search and word-of-mouth marketing,”

He must have just been to the GYM, ohmigod Im so funny. (GYM = Google, Yahoo, Microsoft for those living under a rock and “dont get” Web 2.0 and its soo amazing) : “When Sergey showed up, my initial impression was even more reassuring. He was wearing gym shorts, a tee shirt and inline skates. He had obviously been playing hard. I’d known better than to wear a tie, but he took office casual to a new level. I sat back and began toying with one of the rubber balls, feeling so relaxed that I accidentally removed its stopper, causing half the air inside to rush out with a hiss. Sergey seemed to find that amusing. He quickly pored over my resume, and began peppering me with questions. “What kind of marketing did you do that was most effective?” “What metrics did you use to measure it?” “What types of viral marketing did you do?” “What was your GPA?” I was doing fine until that last one. I just looked at him.”

Dont scrape the scraper or Sergey will get on his skates and come after to you with his massage therapist : “Well I finally got the Cease and Desist email from Google for scraping Google news and then posting the results on a web site. So I guess I’ll have to take those feeds down and convert them to use Yahoo! News search. I figure that using Gnews2rss[1] to feed into a personal aggregator is not going to worry them too much. The problem seems to be posting the results to a public website. If you do use gnews2rss, please host it yourself. I shouldn’t really complain as I’m fairly clearly breaking their terms. However, I’m getting increasingly fed up that they don’t have an XML (RSS or Atom) output from their search results. It’s also become pretty disappointing that their SOAP API still only covers the main search engine and hasn’t been extended to support the other parts of Google.”

Feedburners post as Richard McManus broke, confirms RSS is the bomb : “If we manage syndicated content at a more atomic level by attaching “threads” to the item, we can provide tools to publishers that enable not just the tracking of the thread, but also use the thread as a communications line between the world of web services and the content item. We can essentially staple rules, patterns, and meta-data to the content in a live and “always on” way, wherever the content goes. Of course there will be nefarious entities (aka evildoers, spammers, and bad guys) that will “snip” the threads in order to hide their repurposing and use. So be it. The act of snipping removes any doubt about the bad guy’s intentions, and the publisher’s spiraling guesswork in determining good from bad repurposing is eliminated. Further, by inserting complexity into the equation for the spammer while not increasing the friction of any other reuse transaction, the spammer’s “zero marginal cost” business becomes more difficult at nobody’s expense (contrast this to email spam fighting techniques in which making the spammer’s life more difficult makes everybody else’s life more difficult too).”

My GPA?” I asked. I hadn’t thought about my GPA since the day they handed me my diploma in 1981. And given that Brown allowed me to take as many classes as I wanted with a pass/fail option, I’m not sure I ever knew what my GPA was. I laughed it off, thinking he was joking, but even after I had an offer on the table, the HR people kept pestering me for a college transcript and my S.A.T. scores. It was a classic Google moment. Your S.A.T. score was the measure of your intellectual capability; your GPA represented the numerical summary of your ability to execute on that potential. Your value to Google could be plotted using those two data points.”

“Like anything, you want to be as quiet as possible. There have been misinterpretations that the woman can’t make any noise, and that’s just not true. It’s nutty.”

Google License Plate Frame If you’re feeling lucky, let your fellow motorists know where things stand. (We can’t guarantee they won’t tailgate, though.) Google logo highlighted in white raised letters on a sturdy black plastic license plate frame. Fits most cars and attaches with two license plate screws (not included). Approx. 6″ x 12″. #GO40004

Price: $1.20

MySpace Metrics : Old Story

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f600 testarosso maybe
Originally uploaded by redbarren.

Rupe buys holding company Intermix for $580M, because all teens use it, which he lacks.
He soon realises it has 32m registered members. Bonus.
Growing by 125,00 a day. For real.
If you are 16 years old in America, you use MySpace, or say you do.
Daily Sign ups have increased 10-20% since acquisition, forget subcultural complaints from people who would have never been hired by MTV.
More Page Views than Google. Today, Tomorrow.
Top 4 Property on the Web.
Not yet doing anything much outside LA-NY-SF
Google does $6 Billion + in Ad Revenue.
Rupert will be judged on whether he closes the Gap, as he has done in many categories, technologies, and countries. MySpace is anywhere from dead. It’s about 15% into the cycle.
Newscorp stock is down though, even though he bought IGN (Gaming content) and Scout, etc
Whatever.

Om : “MySpace ranks higher than Google in terms of pageviews, but Google will gross $6 billion in revenues this year, while MySpace will generate about $30 million. The delta, which can be measured in orders of magnitude, is almost unbelievable. I realize the comparison is not directly apples to apples, but even so ! I bring this up because this is where Murdoch’s strategic opportunity lies… in eliminating that gap. Put another way, MySpace has a multi-billion dollar opportunity to exploit, which promises to break News Corp out of the media stock depression that it and all its fellow conglomerates have been suffering. Success on this front will demonstrate that News Corp can tap into the fastest growing segment of the advertising industry in a manner that befits Google and Yahoo!”

Now Crawling the Deep Web is Exciting

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kates back at it go grrl
Originally uploaded by redbarren.

Dipsie. Sounds like a very smart model : Getting website owners, big and small, to pay to get their ‘deep web’ hidden pages, onto the Public Search Engine Optimised Internet. Kate is back. Pete’s gone.

Coffee Time..

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she’s arrived
Originally uploaded by redbarren.

Taking bids on how much Michelle Leslie earns in first week in Australia : $350K earnt, another $350K locked in, $700K total is my guess.