Friday, December 14, 2007

Is Google going Microsoft’s way?

Through two almost successive product announcements, Google has started to convince me that it may be going Microsoft’s way. Microsoft used its dominance in the Desktop OS and Office business to clone existing successful programs with great success in the 90s, destroying many startups in the process.

Google is doing the same things but I suspect Google’s ability to defeat the incumbents with two upcoming services.

First, Google announces a Wikipedia-type system called “Knol” where people can write encyclopedia type pieces and share ad revenues with Google, benefiting from Google’s easy indexing promise.,,,, hubpages,,…these are some of the heavy weights that Google aims to defeat just because it enjoys 70% dominance in the search business.

Earlier Google launched to challenge Craigslist, to challenge easy web page creators. What happened to all these?

Then there is the trust thing. Will Google go Yahoo’s way and show links from only its properties as top results. That is easiest way to lose credibility in the market.

Coming on to the second announcement of Google introducing a redesigned version of the long dead Google Answers, where it will most probably show results from Google search. If this is the case, the new service can be as vague as some Yahoo Answers replies can be. At least the original Google answers had people who gave detailed, researched replies for a fee.

Suggestion for Google:
Combine the above two services and create an army of 10000 people (when it died, Google Answers only had 800 people answering questions) who are willing to search on demand and try to create a better service than existing human-powered search services, including

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Revisiting the Ethics for Blog Network owners

Exactly 1 year ago, on December 2006, I wrote a short piece titled Ethics 101 for Blog Network Owners, covering the Spat between Sam Sethi and his erstwhile Boss Michael Arrington. 1 year onwards, Sam Sethi started his own Blog Network BlogNation and now has decided to shut down Blognation’s operations owing to a funding crunch.

I work in a country where the media rarely chooses to review and point mistakes with each other, where there is nothing like the CJR, and where most Big Media are chums and have an unwritten ‘I don’t talk about me, You don’t talk about me’ pact between themselves.

I suppose things are relatively new in the Blogosphere where new media startups are being formed on a daily basis and people are still exploring the boundaries of what’s right and what’s wrong at this bleeding edge of media publishing, and where many owners can cover a lot of Gray Area as the general course of business.

The path to Media Moguldom is almost never pretty and ‘Citizen Kane’ is the timeless story about it.

What makes the New Media so special is the sheer number of potential New Media Mogul wannabes and thus many bloggers and site owners’ fear to write anything bad about others – this being the age of Digg Friends and all…

There are two ways of looking at the Sam Sethi’s story, vis-à-vis Blognation:

1. Taking it as the latest Deadpool story, looking at where Sam went wrong while running Blognation. I suspect that bloggers taking this route including this one here are being supposedly objective just to be in the right books of the powerful Michael Arrington.

2. Put yourself in Sam Sethi’s shoes. First, you disagree with your Boss (Arrington) and run a story anyway, leave the company, start a new company. Your former boss (Arrington, in case you are not keeping up) is so powerful, monied and connected that he has easy access to the latest happenings/troubles at your new startup.

Any new startup has troubles but I think Arrington did not cover any of those stories with the zeal he covered Blognation.

Do I believe Sam Sethi’s accusation that his VC funding was denied because Michael Arrington scared the VC away by choosing to publish confidential documents sent to him by a disgruntled Blognation Employee?

My answer: WWNYTD?

What would the New York Times Do?

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Participant Generated Content vs. User Generated Content

PGC or UGC? Which one will it be? To tell you the truth, I have been in this blog business for more than years now and I still can’t get a hang of the terminology.

Are blogs UGC? (Nope) Are Comments UGC? (Yes) …

So, it comes to pass that Robert Scoble, supposed purveyor of cool web tools sporting a freshly minted career along the lines of ‘David Frost meets Jay Leno kind of interviewer/chat show’ decides to write a useful blog post for a change, revealing with a purposefully accidental flourish that he will soon be leaving Podtech, where he did interviews and other stuff, for FastCompany where he will continue to explore new stuff in video.

Scoble gives out some insights into the Online Video Business and if you like Jaywalking on the Tonight Show, Smile, you are on Candid Camera, and similar public involving shows and if you are into recording rock concerts and other public events on your cell phone and if you dig Road Movies, you will understand where Scoble is heading.

Pointing to sites like,, Scoble goes on to say this:

I’m tired of getting used by companies who just use and use and use without giving me anything in return.

… I actually love it when Christopher Coulter calls it “loser generated media.”

Digg users, take note.
But, I still don’t see whether ‘Participant Generated Media’ will make the participants rich.

Can PDC make participants make participants happy? Yes.
But, aren’t Youtube and its clones making from PGC?

Some things never change. Only the terminology does.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Blogging vs. Social Networking

The Karmic Cycle seems to have turned a bend. Earlier into 2007, bloggers pitching Facebook, no need to glorify them by names, used to tell us that we should turn from blogging and use social networking sites to further our careers by meeting and influencing (read: poking) new people on the social network sites.

For a while, we took to it gladly - substituting commenting below other blog posts with poking, scrapbooking, subscribing to useless applications, among other things.

We used to find at least some solitary meaning with writing a blog post that few read, and giving thoughtful responses (ok, sometimes, plain silly) to fellow bloggers’ posts.

We understood the time and effort fellow bloggers took to pen their thought.

I can’t say, I have had the same understanding feel take over me when I am browsing my social networking profiles – some sort of a weird email meets spam meets needless feel takes over and I have had enough of having to log in to 15 different social networking sites every time I get a message.

Blogging was never that much of a nuisance.

I don’t make my living off blogging – as things stand, my annual earnings from blogging will barely pay a one ticket to see my parents in Bihar. But I like the power of blogging, the new voice that it has provided me with.

I may get few or no comments for my posts but that is better than what I get on social networking sites.

I don’t get the importance of knowing friends from past who have ceased to matter at this point of my life.

I have tried but I still see no dignity in barging into other guys’ profiles and spam them with links and putting tons of links in my profile.

Truman Capote was sometimes known to pay people to praise his writing when Truman was in the company of influential people. What Capote did was more elegant than what we do today to make a statement for who we are.

Maybe, Danah Boyd or some other equally intelligent person will do a study on “Links and Dignity”.

Coming back to blogs, I can show this post to a prospective recruiter, venture capitalist, etc. to show my web 2.0 chops, if you can pardon my arrogance even for a brief while.

That bit about my liking Ritwik Ghatak films, which I have mentioned on my social networking profile means nothing to the recruiter guy.

Moreover, unlike a social networking site, you blog is really your own, and this is true for hosted applications like, among others.

All you get for your social networking activity is SPAM and much, much less control over your data.

Someday, some bright kid might turn blogs into social networking tools.

Till then, my dear friends, don’t loose heart, plug your posts on your social networking profiles and blog on!

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Can the Blog Council change Corporate Blogging?

As expected, a new association of bloggers, which is backed by some of the biggest companies in the world including Microsoft, under the high falutin name of Blog Council, was launched and it garnered enough Press Coverage (and links). That was expected when rich PR firms are working in the background.

So, is the Blog Council any Good?
Bloggers in the General Category Blogosphere :-) are not impressed.

Jeff Jarvis suggests that Blog Council should get its priorities right.

His message:
Focus on conversations, not blogging.

Jeff goes on to suggest that the big corps should have called it the Listening Council and give it their best to listen to consumers, complaints, employee satisfaction etc.