Saturday, June 30, 2007

Mika Brzezinski’s lesson to journalists afraid of web 2.0 revolution

The biggest problem for journalism is not web 2.0 or something .
It is that there are too many journalists out there who in the name of news reporting are covering banal, useless news.

Mika Brzezinski is not one of them. A seasoned newscaster and journalist, she was there on Ground Zero when the South tower of World Trade Center went down.

Recently, she refused to read her segment’s lead news item on recently freed jailbird Paris Hilton.

In India, there are more politicians, small-time dancing actors and assorted cricket administrators along with ghosts on News TV than meaningful hard news.

The Indian news media takes scues from the West and I hope some of them are inspired by what Mika Brzezinski did.

When Paris Hilton came out of Jail, it was a bigger moment than Michael Moore’s “Sicko” a documentary on the U.S. healthcare system.

While most Americans aren’t that enamored of Ms. Hilton, the media and the blogosphere don’t want to let go of Paris – many online properties including and owe their early success to covering Paris Hilton.

The media continue covering celebs, of all kinds, low lifes especially, knowing fully well that the subject probably benefits more from the coverage – an interviewee on CNN noted that each extra minute of TV coverage increases Paris Hilton’s value – he meant the money Ms. Hilton would receive from nightclub owners for making an appearance.

But when Mika Brzezinski tried to put fire to the script on Air, she gave vent to many journalists’ frustration against the present ‘celeb-centric, ratings-manic’ media establishment.

A blogger writes:
I have a new hero and her name is Mika Brzezinski.

Journalists who fret that the two-way web 2.0 revolution will eventually eat their lunch are wrong. Conviction about what’s news will win the day. Look around and you will many stories that need your attention - go aheda, write a blog about it; make a video blog on it.

Link to Youtube Video of Mika Brzezinski is here.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

How the biggest value of Digg is enjoyed by Digg itself

We still don’t know what part of Digg’s massive traffic shows actual users browsing through Digg’s 6000-7000 a day submissions, making those submissions and how much outbound traffic Digg actually provides. We already know that only a select group of sites make to Digg's homepage on a regular basis.

Till now we only have Compete’s outlandish claims that Digg has the same amount of traffic as Facebook. I don’t know what crazy piece of tech Compete is powered by (many believe it not different from Alexa, another dodgy counter) but we won’t know the truth until Digg makes its Statcounter (or any variant) public.

One theory behind the huge reported traffic numbers is the rapid growth of “Add to Digg” widgets and “Integrate this on your site” tools which force users to go to the Digg Submission page.

Basically this means that readers on any site are forced to leave the site and go to Digg.

I doubt it we will ever know Digg’s incoming-outgoing traffic ratio and in all probability, we won’t be able to the true benefit of social news sites.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Techmeme and Techcrunch launch Pownce

Following the lead of Guy Kawasaki and Jason Calacanis, who are trying to cash in on their successes and big name status in the Silicon Valley by launching new ventures (and getting tones of bloggers’ response in return), Kevin Rose of Digg-fame has launched Pownce which happens to be a mix of Instant Messaging (in the Twitter mode) and social networking.

While at first glance there doesn’t appear to be anything new with Pownce, Techmeme and its swarm of blogs/sites and Techcrunch (with its sizeable RSS subscriber list) have made sure that this me-too product gets maximum coverage.

I have often said that the comments in Techcrunch are better than the write-ups. One commenter on Techcrunch explains that the Silicon Valley of 2007 is the same as the Grunge scene in the first half of the 90s – all roads led to Seattle and being too place centric, Grunge went down after that.

The question arises: will a self-obsessed, Hollywood-like Silicon Valley, led by a group of pied piper bloggers/columnists bring a similar fate to the Web 2.0 boom?

A good write-up on Techcrnuch can get you some VC money but it is no indicator of success, whatever a select band of RSS subscribers may say. These readers are most probably not your end users.

By the way, dear Kevin Rose, aren’t there problems with Digg itself?
When was the last time you all discovered a good story on Digg?
How about improving the Bury feature?

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Free daily in Sweden pays citizen journalists through pay-per-view model

The Swedish version of Metro, the free newspaper chain is using the pay-per-view model to pay citizen journalists.

Whenever any individual blog in the daily’s network crosses 5000 pageview per month, Metro credits the blogger’s bank account through MasterCard with US$20 (EUR 16).

Paying citizen bloggers is laudable.

However, I am not sure that pay-per-view is the right model.

I credit Metro for having a low traffic threshold of 5000 pageviews per month, but the pay-per-view model pay ensure that only topics that bring traffic are covered, much like what is happening in the blogosphere, with every blogger running after gadgets and gossip.

Some news sites are practicing pay-per-view and I wrote about it on MediaVidea explaining how damaging it can be the cause of journalism.

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Microsoft’s new low cost PCs for India are expensive than existing models

Microsoft has announced that it will sell $513 PCs (Rs. 21000 each) in India, which will be built on AMD hardware and will come pre-loaded software for students.

Thing is, students in India already have access to PCs for under Rs 15000 ($350) which they can configure with a wider range of freely available software.

If Microsoft is really serious about helping students in poor nations, they ought to use some of Bill Gates’ charity money and use that to give out free PCs and software.

This way Microsoft also ensures Bill’s money stays in the company.

This also says much about the blanket PR coverage that such news items are given by traditional newspapers and news sites, most of whom do not even bother to go to the local tech marketplaces to research the stories.

An example is here.

Related Stories on MediaVidea
How Microsoft and Intel are trying to muzzle OLPC
How Microsoft is trying to buy poor people’s loyalty for $3

How low cost mobile sub notebooks can bring affordable computing to the poor

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What will challenge adwords?

Decision makers in most companies still don’t get the ins and outs of the Paid per Click (PPC) online marketing, which is the famous cash cow for Google.

London-based ISM (Internet Search Management) says that most companies overspend while buying paid search results.

So, is ignorance on part of business executives making Google richer?
This is not a simple as this and is only as true as the fact that the web newbie constitute a big part of adsense clickers.

Banner ad campaigns, which were kings of the hill before adsense, are coming back to form. Ebay which recently stopped PPC ads on Google, has opted for banner ads on other networks.

However, this must also be seen in light of eBay’s nervousness vis-à-vis Google checkout and Google Base.

Can Paid Search build brands?
The jury is still out on this.

CPA (cost per action) is new but promising.

Openads, which sells open source ad servers already used by thousands of web sites is fast entering the ‘in thing’ brandspace. Consider Openads as the free version of Doubleclick, which was recently bought by Google.

Then there are those who say that instead of spending huge amounts on PPC, site owners must make their sites as SEO-friendly as possible, going only for now-and-then small-sized adwords campaigns.

Paraphrasing what others have already said:
To defeat Google, you need to defeat it in the ad business.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Blogs as magazines: the flip side

Blogs such as Engadget, Autoblog, Techcrunch and its 'arch enemy' Valleywag are more like magazines; the matter has been covered on this blog before. The blog owners prefer to call these properties multi-author blogs but that is pure wool.

Goes without saying that it is good thing, blogs becoming part of the mainstream, but ironical, no poetic, when a lame poll put ‘blog’ as a high-flying irritant.

On the flip side, the ‘magablogs’ suffer from the same disease that their print counterparts suffer from: toeing the big-pocket advertisers’ line, hyping up big company products as revolutionary items (something that also says much about the mainstream journalists’ understanding of technology). The ‘magablogs’ are no different from the News 1.0 sites like CNet either.

The term ‘blog’ is just a huge PR ruse.

You can safely presume this disease of ‘Blogspokepersons’ (Valleywag’s invention) will spread out from the comfy environs of Silicon Valley and New Tork to other parts of the world, which is a sure thing since the patients blatantly deny they suffer from any such ailment.

So, dear Virginia, there is no such thing as News 2.0, there is only money.

In the words of Dave Winer,
... it's a f***** up little industry and everyone needs to clean house. There are some pockets of brightness, and we need to help those shine, and we also need to shine the light on the dirty practices that pay your bills, but hurt everyone else.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Twittergrams, anyone?

Dave Winer, who is an indefatigable idea fount, has now come up with Twittergrams, which are essentially 200Kb and below-sized very short audio files.

Respondents of the Twittergram add their own Audio files eventually adding up to a potentially rich human conversation.

You can complete a song using Twittergram.
Or, do a survey using Twittergrams.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Jeff Jarvis' advertising policy/code for bloggers

Responding to the recent case where some top bloggers allegedly took ads for singing praises of Microsoft, Jeff Jarvis has made his stand clear - he is against the practice however smug the accused bloggers may be.

You can almost see them smirking on the other side of your monitors.

Mr. Jarvis has posted his 10-point advertising policy:
1. My voice is not for sale.
2. My editorial space is not for sale.
3. When I am paid to write (as in a freelance article) or to speak, I will still determine what I say and I will disclose that relationship.
4. I will attempt to disclose relevant financial relationships so you are free to judge me and my words accordingly.
5. In some cases, such a relationship will prevent me from speaking on a subject (as in talking in detail about an employer). However, I will not be compelled to speak because of such a relationship.
6. If I say something openly and freely here, it may be quoted by a commercial entity (the blurb) but I will not be compensated for that.
7. My acceptance of advertising here does not constitute an endorsement of the advertiser. However, I will at times turn down advertising I find unacceptable.
8. I recognize that many blog, vlogs, etc. do not pretend to live by editorial standards and that is their right and freedom. But when they say some things, I will need to take when they say with appropriate salt.
9. I have financial relationships with others who do not follow these rules and in many cases I do not believe these rules apply to them (e.g., entertainment). I enjoy and respect many sites and products that do not follow these rules, but I expect to be able to find out what rules they operate by. I believe one’s rules and relationships should be disclosed.
10. I do not believe I have a price at which I would sell out. But if I did, I can say I certainly haven’t seen it yet.

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