December 2007

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Losing our best

Bruce Steinberg was my best reader, one of my best email correspondents, and one of the best friends I’ve never met in the flesh. We always talked about getting together, but never made it work.

This morning I received an email with news that Bruce passed away yesterday after a brief illness. He was 64.

I just put up a post about Bruce, over at Linux Journal.

If you knew Bruce, or have some links to add to the short list I put up there, please add them to the comments under that post, or send me pointers to blog posts of your own.

As a photographer with nearly 18,000 shots on Flickr (and hundreds of thousands on hard drives), Dave Winer’s FlickrFan looks like a killer thing. I’m especially interested in turning our idle flatscreen “TV”s into useful ways to display the work photographers and services (such as the AP) that I like. When I get home to Santa Barbara later this week, I’ll give it a whirl.

Meanwhile, I think we’re going to see TV undermined absolutely by “content” of the users’ own choosing. TV itself isn’t even TV any more. It’s just one way among many for people to display pictures and video that could come from anywhere, produced and distributed by anybody, including (and especially) the user himself or herself.

When the TV ceases to be a TV, and can be whatever you want, wherever you want — yet still remains that attention-grabbing thing that a screen tends to be — all kinds of interesting things can happen.

I think we’re not only seeing the end of TV, but the beginning of a new life for digital photography.

Y Hoosgot

A couple nights ago David Sifry floated an interesting idea past me: a LazyWeb facilitation service that would flow tweet or blog requests for answers through a bloglike site to which readers could subscribe. Something like that, anyway.

I liked it because it looked to me like a Live Web service with aspects as well. (For example, it empowers individuals to issue requests, independently of any supplier’s silo.)

Dave was looking for name ideas. One I came up with was “hoosgot” — as in “who’s got ___?” Coming up with names isn’t easy these days, with nearly every possible word combination scarfed up, either by legitimate sites or domain squatters. Anyway, Dave went with that one.

Interestingly, the Live Web was first named by my son Allen, whose company GlobeAlive worked to shorten the distance between questions and answers — as did Wondir, the next company Allen worked for.

This is different, but it moves toward a related ideal: getting answers (and things) from the lazyweb. It’ll be interesting to see how Hoosgot goes.

Here’s where Dave explains Hoosgot, and how he’d like feedback and suggestions.

Cliff Baldridge.

The self-described “Multi-Award Winning Super-Producer and Director” has just put out a press release that begins,

  SANTA BARBARA, Calif. & LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Santa Barbara Arts TV today announced that they have formed a content and advertising partnership with YouTube, now allowing the YouTube community to engage, interact and monetize the Exclusive, A-List Social Media Content on The Santa Barbara Arts TV YouTube Brand Channel at http://www.youtube.com/SBARTSTV.

A few (among many) money grafs down is this pair:

  Santa Barbara Arts TV content is now monetized through our YouTube Partner Channel via Google AdSense Video Units and The Google AdSense YouTube Video Units Player. Santa Barbara Arts TV Content is now listed in the AdSense Content Providers Area as Santa Barbara Arts and AdSense publishers are currently monetizing our content.

  Google AdSense Video Units enable AdSense publishers to display relevant, targeted video content within a customized, embedded player that’s ad-supported. Google is working with select YouTube content partners including Santa Barbara Arts TV to supply the video content. AdSense Video Units Program is available in the US and will roll-out to the UK, Ireland, Canada and new countries where video units are available allowing the enabling and enriching of websites and blogs with relevant video content while enabling Webmasters and Bloggers to earn extra revenue from the relevant, non-intrusive ads that accompany the videos.

As if this weren’t scammy (and spammy) enough, there’s THE OFFICIAL SANTABARBARAARTSTV.com YOUTUBE PARTNER CHANNEL itself. It contains this subtle message from Cliff:

  WE ARE ADSENSE ENABLED!!! WEBMASTERS AND BLOGGERS MAKE MONEY THROUGH YOUTUBE AND GOOGLE ADSENSE…SPEAK THE TRUTH AND HELP PEOPLE AND CHARITIES AND KARMA WILL LOOK OUT FOR YOU..RESIST NEGATIVITY..SHOW COMPASSION TO THE MISGUIDED…LIVE YOUR DREAMS…DO NOT MISUSE PEOPLE…BE LOVE BE LOVED…WEBMASTERS AND BLOGGERS MAKE MONEY THROUGH YOUTUBE AND GOOGLE ADSENSE AND THIS PROGRAM IS NOW AVAILABLE IN AMERICA AND SOON TO ROLL OUT IN OTHER COUNTRIES IN A STAGGERED ROLLOUT AND THE PUBLIC CAN NOW MAKE MONEY FROM OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL THROUGH GOOGLE ADSENSE WELCOME TO THE YOUTUBE MONEY CASHCOW REVOLUTION: SANTA BARBARA ARTS IS ONE OF THE HUNDRED COVETED ORIGINAL YOUTUBE PARTNERS WHO IS CURRENTLY ADSENSE YOUTUBE VIDEO UNITS ENABLED.

  MEANING PEOPLE, CHARITIES, WEBMASTERS, BLOGGERS, WEBSITE CREATORS CAN ALL MAKE MONEY NOW, THIS IS AN ECONOMIC REVOLUTION. COURTESY OF YOUTUBE.

  THE SECRET THE SECRET OF ATTRACTION IT IS NO SECRET IT IS A GIFT WE GIVE AND WE GET! POSITIVE KARMA

  NAMASTE

Cliff seems to be a happy guy who enjoys what he’s doing, so … what the hell.

Via Edhat.

[later...] Cliff, clearly a good-natured guy, posted a response here.

In The RIAA is Right, Robert Scoble offers a tongue-in-cheek take on the RIAA’s insane idea that ripping one’s own CDs is illegal.* Among other things he says,

  5. This behavior will make sure people buy (or steal) music directly from bands. See how Radiohead did it. By doing that the price for music will go down thanks to fewer intermediaries. RIAA is just helping us get rid of them, which is good for everyone who loves music. See, they are on our side! I’m looking for a site that lets us do Vendor Relationship Management with bands. Doc Searls taught me about VRM. What is that? When we can get the company to do what WE want. Radiohead put the power of setting the price in OUR hands. Brilliant.

Robert is right about all but one thing. Because VRM is about independence as well as engagement, it can’t come from “a site”. Or from anybody other than ourselves. It’s something that lives on the buyer’s side, allowing him or her to relate independently with many suppliers, on terms that are mutually agreeable.

I unpack some of this in a comment under Robert’s post.

A few months ago I also proposed a VRM system that would extend the RadioHead model to any artist.

* According to this post, that’s not really what the RIAA is doing, but they’re “still kinda being jerks about it”.

In her view

Nice to see this interview with Lisa Gates, one of our good friends back in Santa Barbara.

Tristan Louis is done with Palm. While his tale of tech support woe (ask for support, fail to get it, vow not to continue supporting the company), it does contain an interesting veer from the typical to the surreal: a tech support supervisor who claimed to be the company CEO.

The basic problem, as often happens with lame CRM systems, was that the company forgot that Tristan was ever a customer — even though he had been one for many years. I had the same problem with Dish Network last year.

So one advantage to VRM, as we build it out, is that customers can become trusted respositories of relevant relationship data. That way when the company forgets that somebody is a customer, the customer can remind them and business can proceed.

Meanwhile, Tristan is looking for a replacement phone and provider:

  I’m now shopping for another device and would welcome any recommendation. I also wouldn’t mind getting some information about how other people feel about tech support not only at Palm but also at other unlocked devices sellers. Is unlocked a category of the market that most vendors dismiss, reserving their best services for 3rd party mobile providers and is it something that might change in the future? I don’t know but what I do know is that I am now part of the group of people who must say: “Don’t ever buy a Palm device.”

Tristan’s basic request (for an unlocked device, presumably with some specific featurs) here is a personal RFP. Simple market logic is required: a request for a variety of specifics, broadcast selectively to providers of those specifics — without necessarily giving up any more information than the deal requires.

When helpful customers show up, suppliers are much more likely to help them.

This story by Dennis Howlett, on how spread and processed news of the Bhutto assasination, casts light on the continuing birth of The Live Web.

We also saw it a couple months back with coverage of the California fires near San Diego.

And it’s still early. It’s important to remember that. Everything on the Web is still just a prototype.

Here’s a Techcrunch story on a patent application by Tony Fadell, Senior Vice President of Apple’s iPod division. Under “Summary of the Invention”, it begins,

  A processing system is described that includes a wireless communication interface that wirelessly communicates with one or more wireless client devices in the vicinity of an establishment. The wireless communication interface receives a remote order corresponding to an item selected by at least one of the wireless client devices. A local server computer located in proximity to the establishment receives the remote order from the wireless communication interface and generates instructions for processing the remote order. The local server computer then passes the processing instructions to an order processing queue in preparation for processing of the remote order.

The comments below the story are worth reading, and a few are very clever. In any case, draw your own conclusions.

Mine is that this is a VRM move. If so, that makes it cool in my book. (Even though I’m no fan of software or business method patents. Still, companies like Apple are going to file them. It’s what they do.)

I also know Tony and like him a lot, so maybe I’m prejudiced a bit.

Think of markets as three overlapping circles: Transaction, Conversation and Relationship.

Our financial system is Transaction run amok. Metasticized. Optimized at all costs. Impoverished in the Conversation department, and dismissive of Relationship entirely. We’ve been systematically eliminating Relationship for decades, excluding, devaluing and controlling human interaction wherever possible, to maximize efficiency and mechanization.

Even the Net has been seen as a way to remove the humanity from markets — one more way to maximize transaction and minimize everything that, from the transaction angle, looks like cost and friction.

With that small pile of theses in mind, check out Peer-to-peer lending hits its stride, in USA Today. Looks to me like the the long tail has a longer tale to tell than can ever be told through the prism of Transaction. One interesting irony is that it appears P2P lending can actually reduce transaction costs.

Anyway, some grist for the mill. Now we really are on our way outa here.

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