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Archive for August, 2002

Newsweek on blogs: from competitor to cure-all

by henrycopeland
Monday, August 19th, 2002

Newsweek has returned to cover blogs for the second time in three months. The sharp shift in tone, from skepticism to evangelism, sums up blogging’s trajectory.

In the May 20 story, blogs were interesting only as newspaper competitors. Journalist Steven Levy concluded, “Blogs are a terrific addition to the media universe. But they pose no threat to the established order.”

Now, on August 26, Newsweek decides “the fun has just begun.” Mr. Levy portrays blogs as friend-finders, PR-boosters, brainstorms, and potential life-proxies. “Real-life… sometimes intrudes on the Blogosphere. One day there may not be a difference.”

Mr. Levy even writes a pseudo-blog. (My bet is that Mr. Levy started anonyblogging in the last three months, inspiring his conversion to the Church of Blog.)

There’s even a hint of Newsweek‘s next story as his blog closes with a reminder to “call Glenn Reynolds and ask him if he’s made any money.” Yes, Mr. Levy, we’re working on it.

(Via Instapundit.)

Long weekend

by henrycopeland
Thursday, August 15th, 2002

It’s a long weekend in Hungary, where people will be packing sandbags and/or lighting firecrackers for St. Stephen. In the US, my wife and I are travelling get together with a group of old wind-blown friends and drink beer and trade photos of our kids. So, if you’ve happened upon us via luck or a string of obscure links, you are early. We’ll be fully open for business next Wednesday. We’ll be back then, full of energy and contrariness and ready to roll out our next wave of betas.

Thin media

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, August 14th, 2002

Launching Gizmodo, Nick Denton says, “Media has never before been this lean.” Go, thin media!

Update: Blogroots readers debate Gizmodo’s prospects, and the word “catablog” is born (but still not bought.)

What if 0.1% of the Internet likes your tune? That’s 500,000 fans…

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, August 14th, 2002

“His first album, self-published in 1992, gathered dust at local shops. Then along came the Internet. Around 1995, Nevue created his first Web page, DavidNevue.com. In 1996, he launched a site for piano enthusiasts, featuring music reviews and links to other sites, plus information on everything from sheet music to the history of the piano. Nevue also promoted his own, New Age CDs online (soon, he’ll have seven of them). As a result, he now sells $1,000 worth of CDs a month and distributes his music digitally through MP3.com.”

That’s from Business Week, which rounds up the impact of the technology on musicians. Olga Kharif’s great article enumerates the Internet’s benefits to the independent artist.

It’s not just about reaching bigger audiences. The margins are much fatter with no middle man; “Artists who sell their work independently usually garner $8 on a CD retailing for $16, instead of $3 or less when they record for a label.”

And don’t forget to give the music away. When Napster provided free versions of Janis Ian‘s songs, her site got 100 extra visitors a month. According to an article on Ian’s site: “Of those 100 people (and these are only the ones who let us know how they’d found the site), 15 bought CDs. Not huge sales, right? No record company is interested in 180 extra sales a year. But’ that translates into $2700, which is a lot of money in my book. And that doesn’t include the ones who bought the CDs in stores, or who came to my shows.”

As Ian puts it in another article, “Water is free, but a lot of us drink bottled water because it tastes better. You can get coffee at the office, but you’re likely to go to Starbucks or the local espresso place, because it tastes better.”

(Via Blogcritics.)

Why the Titans can’t ‘get’ the Internet

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, August 13th, 2002

Reviewing a stupid book, Scott Rosenberg writes, “Individually, these contributions may be crude, untrustworthy, unnoteworthy. Collectively, they represent the largest and most widely accessible pool of information and entertainment in human history. And it’s still growing. In this context, statements like ‘Web content is dead’ or ‘AOL Time Warner will dominate’ aren’t so much wrong as irrelevant. Web content is everywhere. No one can dominate the Internet. And the Web belongs to its users. That’s not the end of a story, it’s the beginning.”

Swimming practice beneath Niagara falls

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, August 13th, 2002

Ok, beta Blogads are live on two sites: Techblog and Scifan. Many thanks to Ben Sullivan and Olivier Travers for taking the plunge with us. We’ve done beta testing with adstrips offline; these two niche sites are running the first fully public Blogads. In the next few days, once we’ve stomped out whatever glitches arise, we’ll roll out with a second group of betas with sites inside the blogging feedback whirlpool.

As software developers know, no amount of offline testing can compare with the raw fun of live usage. What features will people use, what will they ignore? Will you get one user the first week, or ten, or 100?

The additional challenge for companies aspiring to serve the blogging community en masse is how to launch a service and tweak it out of the limelight. Because the blogs are so interlinked and quick to assimilate new information, there is no Philadelphia audience to fine-tune your show on before opening on Broadway.

As Ben wrote us after posting his adstrip, “In the immortal words of Socrates, ‘I drank what?'” Our sentiments exactly.

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