Saturday, April 07, 2007

Stages of a blog post

Paula Scher of the New York Times has drawn a useful diagram flowcharting the action taking place on a popular blog after a new post is born. Observe if you will the travails of ego-tripping.

Keep talking.

Via Pentagram


If Newspapers were Wikis

The Information Architects have written a couple of good posts on the modalities of newspapers being run as wikis, covering two important issues:

how would they look and who would what rights.

They make two very important points:

1. Editors will have n important role.
“Only editors can edit articles.”

2. Amateur authors/Citizen journalists can have their blogs on the newspaper's website where they can publish their own stories.

Read the stories in detail here and here.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

The Web, the giants, the opportunity

The time has come when we find more intelligent ways to ride on the success of web giants like Google, Myspace , etc because the Giants won't give way easily.

As far as I could understand the 'Web 2.0' idea, it meant web users having access to better tools for wholesome 2-way conversation on the internet. It never meant everyone getting rich from using those tools.

If better user experience meant getting rich, just staring at Flickr and on a daily basis would have made many of us richer than ol' Bill Gates.

That’s why I do not understand the sappy sentimentalism of Om Malik when he does a nice linkbait article with a corny heading like 'Web 2.0: End of Innocence', pointing to the growing trend of web giants such as Google taking more control of their APIs and stuff.

In form of Pagerank, Google already had a monopoly over the current scene of web user experience, using crowd intelligence and all that hooey.

Basing business models on mashups was never a wise strategy. So when Google launched MyMaps, which let users create their own personalized maps, the days of mashups-using startups such as Platial are indeed numbered.

I wrote about it a posting titled “the end of web revolution”, where I talked about the next phase of web innovation being focused on making existing tools work better – a phase of refinement if you will – much like the aftermath of the earlier web boom at the end of the earlier millenium.

Take for example, the new Firefox bookmark extension for

In fact, Firefox is going to be one of the pillars of next generation web innovation – people are very excited with the next version of Firefox which promises to have social networking features, which will be disruptive for many startups, in this case, Flock may get hurt. Soon, Firefox will have offline working capability.

Where is the money?
First of all, do not use the Web 2.0 term. It is old, get over it. Those who could have already made money out of it – Tim O’Reilly, Digg,, Flickr, Six Apart, Craigslist and others.

Things that I think are trends for the future:

1. Attack Microsoft niches: For example, Zimbra is targeting Outlook with its Desktop version of Email application. As Om Malik says, Desktop Hybrids are in. Look closely at where Microsoft is making most of its money and whether you can do it better.

2. Build and sell tools for people to a have a better experience online – for example, people are making money selling people tools for posting videos online.

3. Game the big sites, ride over their success. (Ride a big star)
Not everyone of us are lucky (and smart) like Michael Arrington of Techcrunch blog network, who was only the second person after Tim O'Reilly to made big money on the idea.

On behalf of plebians like this writer, I have nothing but praise for people who successfully game big sites – SEOs (Gaming Google), SMMs( Gaming Digg), so on and so forth.

4. Continue tracking the changes happening in the internet space. Especially, know this: who sucks …and target that space.

Enough of preaching.
Let me first try and do some of thatmyself.

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Sex and gays are driving Craiglist’s growth: what’s new?

There is nothing as liberating as the Internet. According to Compete, which tracks web users' consumer behavior, 17 million people visit Craigslist, the popular classifieds site that Newspapers hate, every month.

Compete analyzed eight major American cities and found that erotic services consistently garner the highest number of individual visitors; in fact, they take in almost twice as many as the next ranking category, averaging 265,000 people per city. Casual Encounters and Women seeking men follow erotic services in popular categories. Among non-erotic services, cars come first.

Looking deeper, Compete reports that the ‘men seeking men’ category garners views over 50% more pages and 20 more minutes on average searching these posts than any others. Moreover, this category enjoys Top 5 status in two cities by visitor volume.

So, what’s new?
Sex has always driven the growth of Internet – porn on Google, Myspace liaisons, Ebay erotic auctions, Youtube videos, dating sites like Plentyoffish and Adultfriendfinder – adult sites have always led in making money on the internet.

By the way, the personals section of any classified are full of sex. Now, to the newspapers’ dismay, this has gone online.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Metaverse Marketing 101: or, why Google should buy Second Life

How do you sell stuff to gamers? Cynics might ask how do you spam the spammers of Second Life?

Wagner James Au at GigaOm reports about the first survey done by Komjuniti (a Hanover based research firm) of what Second Lifers think about attempts made by marketers.

72% of 200 Second Lifers who were surveyed that real world company activities did not interest them. Moreover, over 40% think that real world companies’ Second Life ‘adventures’ were one-off flings.

Just checking out what the hype was about.

For companies still willing to spam a spammer’s universe that Second Life is, it would be wise to learn how Second Life operates:

This world-in-a-server (s) can be seen on a map as a world of green dots, every green dot representing an avatar.

Each dot is trying to attract as many dots towards it as it can. Successful Second Lifers have so far mostly been early entrants who are represented on The Second Life map by heavy concentration of dots. These guys came first and attract other dots by doing normal marketing stuff like holding events regularly, holding contests, games and giveaways, etc.

Many of these Dots represent smart and talented who got in early and display their talents (designing, party organizers etc.) enthusiastically.

In other words, real world companies would find it hard to compete with these smart dots.

What should marketers do?

1. Be in the right business: The Komjuniti survey participants say, “They would like to be able to interact more with the brands represented” in Second Life. Nor surprisingly, they are more positive towards ‘metaverse versions of established hotels and retail brands.

2. Employ the normal marketing tips: If you can’t win, buy them out; give these Second Lifers what they have been waiting for: your moolah. Buy the dots out and let them hold contests, etc. on your brand’s behalf.

3. Or, maybe Google could buy Second Life and plaster the metaverse with adsense PPC and CPA ads and show up what Second Life really is – the metaverse version of spam blogs.

In such world, every dot becomes an ad – it will be an achievement in hubris.

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The future of Advertising is incomplete without the Search specialists

In its latest issue, Businessweek did a survey of the 121 judges at the annual Effie awards on the future of advertising.

As expected, the confused agencies and clients were not so sure about search.

Only 18.2% of respondents believed that Appearing at the top of Google Search results is a more effective form of brand building than a national TV campaign.

Maybe such perception will change if Google’s new CPA (Cost per action) model works.

63.9% of agencies and 41% of clients did not believe that generating press and buzz is the most important part of building a brand.

What’s more, two keywords that respondents were sick of this year were ‘Buzz’ followed by ‘User Generated content’.
Next year, they said they would get sick of Second Life.

I did not find any SEO or SMM firm mentioned in the survey. I am sure that search advertising is a big part of the industry by now. The Ad agencies know this, for sure.

Tip for ad agencies: buy a SEO firm
SEO is no more a cottage industry.
I am waiting for a big ad agency to buy Seomoz and get heavy on linkbaiting and Social Media Marketing.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

There is no age limit to blogging

The ageless project list blogs by the year of birth of their authors.

As expected, bloggers born in the 70s and 80s, make up 60% of the 1700 or so blogs listed. It is a small sample, but it illustrates the popularity of blogging as a tool for expression among the older generation, going as far as those born in 1910.

Real-time Stats as of Tue 04/03/07

Born in the 1910s: 2 0.12%
Born in the 1920s: 17 0.98%
Born in the 1930s: 41 2.37%
Born in the 1940s: 105 6.08%
Born in the 1950s: 193 11.18%
Born in the 1960s: 319 18.47%
Born in the 1970s: 646 37.41%
Born in the 1980s: 383 22.18%
Born in the 1990s: 16 0.93%

Total Listings: 1727
Via Research Buzz

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Is the blockbuster-model in way of DRM-free movies?

One reason cited when we talk about why movie companies are against DRM-free downloads is that while music artists can make money touring (often their main sources of money, ask the Rolling stones), this is not in case of movie stars, who can’t act like touring drama groups.

The blockbuster-model has spoiled the production houses:
The producer spends huge sums on signing up big, marquee stars, spends a bomb on production including overblown digital effects and when the film is finished, upto 40% of a film’s total budget are spent on marketing. It is imperative that the movie makes at least 150% over its production costs for the movie to make a profit.

Now, every film in Hollywood is not made in the blockbuster mould. My big Fat Greek Wedding, Napoleon Dynamite, the Blair Witch Project lead a long list of independent, on-a-tight-budget filmmaking.

The movie industry doesn’t not want DRM-free downloads and instead has so far provided awful download experiences on so-called ‘authorized’ sites.

Sales of DVD titles, the obvious fall back alternative are not that exciting as they were in 'Shrek 2' days.

Cost of cinema production promises to go down with increased adoption of digital projection, thus doing away with expensive film.

One option would be to go for DRM-free downloads within 15 days of a movie’s release. I bet we will still flock to theaters – for the big screens, for the social aspect of movie viewing.

More people go to watch movies in theaters around than they go to music concerts.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

EMI goes DRM-free, or does it?

EMI’s announcement of launching a new premium downloads for worldwide retail sale is indeed a break from the norm for a recording company, but some niggles remain:

1. EMI has less than 10% market share:
This may be old data, dating back to 2005. However, According to Nielsen SoundScan, the 2005 world music market was divided up as follows:

- Independent labels' world market share: 18.13%

- The combined total world market share of four majors: 81.87%.

Out of which:
- Universal Music Group: 31.71%

- Sony BMG Music Entertainment: 25.61% (13.83% Sony, 11.78% BMG)

- Warner Music Group: 15%

- EMI Group: 9.55%

Via the now defunct Google Answers)

Although, you can credit EMI for doing savvy branding, ala Steve Jobs.

2. EMI will continue using DRM elsewhere.
According to the announcements on site,
EMI Music will continue to employ DRM as appropriate to enable innovative digital models such as subscription services (where users pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to music), super-distribution (allowing fans to share music with their friends) and time-limited downloads (such as those offered by ad-supported services).
Nonetheless, it is a start.

The Downtime Toppers

As expected, Google’s Youtube and Blogger services are the toppers with over 4 hours of downtime each. In Youtube’s case, one can understand, whereas in Blogger’s case, it is probably the spam blogs which reportedly comprise 75% or so of all blogspot sites.

The report was complied by Pingdom using the Top 20 sites on Alexa.

Via Techcrunch

Monday, April 02, 2007 becomes and follows Wikia’s path is undergoing a change, involving that much-hyped word, citizen journalism. This change process could easily be termed as "How Topix ditched a working .net address and got a personality..." was basically an aggregator of news from over 50,000 sources, claiming to cover 500,000 topics. Like other aggregators based on clustering (Google News, Techmeme) Topix touted its own special algorithmic sauce.

Moreover, it searched for news and classifieds on a ZIP code basis.

However, the only success Topix may have had was the Topix Forum service. People were still not sure about the effectiveness of the 500,000 topic pages.

One problem with the topic pages is that the news is often not up to the mark. The pages were not great like Techmeme which uses lesser sources and is more interesting to read. For example, look for Social software news in Topix and you will find what I mean - boring and often stale news.

There was no personality. Your RSS reader worked better.

Moreover, the claim to cover 500,000 topics is redundant. Google News and Yahoo News can search more than that in their news index but they do not advertise this.

Rich Skrenta and his group at Topix have decided to change things and come up with what else, but a copy of’s model – open source/citizen journalism pages for every zip code in Topix database. With this, Topix aims to drive its commenters onto local pages.

These ‘community-edited blogs’ will be supplemented by the ‘roboblogger’ concept, where automatic aggregation populates a city page if citizen bloggers are not coming in large number.

Now why didn’t all other local news sites think of this? If citizen contributions are not coming in, hack your RSS reader - aggregate and populate the pages.

All this will be ad-supported by Adsense. However, for Topix, the words will be limited to town or community names, enabling local businesses to get valu for money.

However, I am not sure things will be that easy. Commenting freely on topic pages is one thing – writing news items for the local town blog is other.

Plus, what about revenue sharing? For example, when I comment on other sites I am aware that the site owner gets to benefit from my efforts. However, when I write a story, I may expect something in return. On, the new submitter can at least remove his articles and pots them elsewhere.

Topix ought to spend some of that $15 million VC money on citizen journalists and give the faltering movement a proverbial 'shot in the arm'.

The fight between man and software is not over yet. We still have to see a mix of Google and Techmeme’s automatic ranking algorithm and NYT’s journalistic brain.

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