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Archive for December, 2002

Inflation in “deflation”

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, December 31st, 2002

Paul Krugman notes: “In the first 30 days of December 2000, according to Nexis, only six articles in major news sources contained both the word ‘deflation’ and the phrase ‘United States’; none of those articles suggested that deflation in this country was a real possibility. In the same period last year there were 292 hits; this past month there were 566.”

The pricing quicksand is watered in part by Moore’s law that computing prices fall by 99% every ten years. Dell handheld computers that now cost $299 outstrip the laptop I bought in 1999 for $2700. My phone bill has dropped from $300 to $100 a month thanks to Vonage.

The baby bust also contributes to deflation, as baby boomer couples realize they’ve bought every toy their 3.7 person household can use. Car prices have been flat for 2 years. Golf club memberships go begging.

And finally, the Internet, the great aggregator of supply, demand, coupons and automation, gives another downward kick to prices. Great CRM now costs $50 a month rather than $500. Medical insight is free and instantly available rather than $75 and an hour in the waiting room. Advertisers can enthrall opinion makers for $30 rather than $3000.

Pop historians usually start a new decade a few years after the calendar. If The Sixties started in 1963 with the Beatles and the Pill, will the 00s open in 2003 with closed wallets and free 64 MB memory cards? If the nineties roared like the twenties, will the 00s now sink, tumble, flounder, flush and drizzle like the thirties?

If so, nothing but cash will be worth more tomorrow.

Puppy love: how dogs trick humans

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, December 31st, 2002

Steven Budianky: “Biologists routinely speak of animals exploiting their ecological niche. Well, it turns out that we’re the ecological niche for dogs, and exploit us they do. While lions are busy scanning their field of view for prey to pursue, dogs are watching our hands to see where the food is stashed.”

Doctors elbowed aside by web

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, December 31st, 2002

Pew Internet Project asks: “Where would you turn for information? For health care information, 31% of all Americans said they would first turn to the Internet. For government information, 39% of all Americans said they would first turn to the Net.” Doctors and bureaucrats are being disintermediated. Why didn’t Pew ask the same question about news, which featured prominently in the rest of this survey?

More proof things are (not) changing at NYTimes…

by henrycopeland
Monday, December 30th, 2002

The New York Times impressive sounding roundup of business trends called The Balance of Media Power Is Poised to Change. The FCC, Cable news, Satellite TV, TiVo, ViaCom, sexy magazines, EMI, newspaper profits… but no blogs. No mention of the media that is growing 200%+ a year, the media that unseated the Senate Majority leader, the media that helped shame the New York Times’ own editor into publishing columns that contradicted his campaign against Augusta country club. Ahh. Yes. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. As Mickie Kaus noted at the Yale blogging symposium, the New York Times wants a journalist to pen a hit piece on blogger triumphalism.

In constrast, the Washington Post is not in denial. Wrapping 2002, Cynthia Webb writes: “Blogs, or online Web logs of news and views, were the hot story of 2002, the year when blogging caught the eye of the mainstream press in a big way and pundits began to recognize blogs as useful tools for everything from venting about politics to raving about a favorite band.” (Via Hylton Joliffe.)

Closing 2002

by henrycopeland
Monday, December 30th, 2002

We’re back from Black Mountain, where we enjoyed seeing my parents and sister and her family. The kids enjoyed sharing a bedroom and giggling late into the night. Christmas day, we hiked an abandoned rail track and gawked at giant icicles hanging from the rock outcroppings.

On the 23rd a mutual friend called my wife with the news that Igor, the eight-year-old son of friends in France, died. He had a stomach ache, was diagnosed with leukemia and died three weeks later. Igor’s parents and older sisters doted on him. Our six-year-old worshipped Igor, wearing his hand-me-down clothes and adopting his mannerisms.

Season’s greetings!

by henrycopeland
Monday, December 23rd, 2002

Most of us are off this week, but e-mail to info@blogads.com will be answered promptly. I’m in Black Mountain, NC, where the weather is unseasonably warm and the food is overly and overtly copious.

Gawker and Jarvis: populist innovators

by henrycopeland
Friday, December 20th, 2002

I thought Gawker just aimed to recycle gossip and cool Manhattan anecdotes. That would have been good enough. But there’s more. It’s worth listing the editorial tropes Gawker is exploiting:

a) Posting editor/publisher IM conversations.
b) Recycling reviews of Gawker.
c) Taunting Mefi and recycling the retorts. (a + b = c)
d) Lists and (coming December 31, I predict) lists of lists.
e) Celebrating classifieds as content.
f) Publishing footnotes.

None of this is unique. But consistently applied and exploited, these tropes make for Really Brilliant New Media.

At the same time, Jeff Jarvis has spent $99 on a new piece of software and is experimenting with video weblogging, or vlogging. He says: “The truth is, all you do to make TV is stare at a camera and read and say something: It’s easy. There’s no reason a blogger should not be the next Andy Rooney or Charles Grodin or Ann Coulter (easy marks, all!). I’d take any of their jobs, tomorrow.”

Actually, there’s a common theme between vlogging and Gawker. While some Mefi folks are deriding Gawker as elitist, totally missing the site’s irony, they also miss the site’s populism in style and content. Hiding beneath the veneer of “real estate porn” and “social climbing,” the most interesting content is purely found media — classifieds, IM, recycled reviews — other people’s discards. Like vlogging, it is something anyone can do… but only 1 in 10,000 will do well.

Link redundancy good — visitors immaterial.

by henrycopeland
Thursday, December 19th, 2002

“Petco.com’s marketers wanted to add a “button” that would take shoppers from the home page to a page featuring monthly specials. But the site already had a tab on its navigation bar and a link at the bottom of the home page to the specials page. The marketers worried that the extra link would clutter up the home page and only split existing sales from the specials page with the other two links. Instead, they discovered that the extra link boosted total traffic from the specials page by about 10%. What’s more, they determined that while the three links split the number of visitors to the specials page about equally, the new button drove significantly more sales.”

“The number of visitors was a popular indicator of success in the early days of e-commerce, but now it’s considered a terrible way to tell if a site is doing well. Yet 97% of the retailers in a recent Forrester survey said they count site traffic. The number of visitors to the site may show you’re attracting a lot of shoppers, but it won’t tell you why some are buying and some aren’t. ‘Traffic for traffic’s sake is not a metric that retailers ought to be focused on,’ says Carrie Johnson, a Forrester analyst. (WSJ.com, PW protected.)

Sullivan succeeds in “reader-supported journalism”

by henrycopeland
Thursday, December 19th, 2002

Raising $79,020 from 3,339 readers, AndrewSullivan.com has proven that “the web has the potential to deliver truly independent, reader-supported journalism.” Congratulations Andrew!

Sullivan asked for $20 contributions. And that’s roughly what he got. So now we’ve got an initial pricing point for high-quality online journalism. Wonder what would have happened if Sullivan had asked for $25? Or $10?

It is interesting to note that Glenn Reynolds had a wide range of donations yesterday. “Changing the PayPal button to let people pick the amount clearly unlocked untapped demand. It used to just take donations in the amount of $2.50 — somehow I set it up that way and never got around to changing it. (This site, unlike, say, Andrew Sullivan’s or Bill Quick’s, isn’t set up to be revenue-maximizing). But I got several emails close together asking me to change it to let the user choose the amount, and lo-and-behold, people responded with donations ranging from $75.00 to one cent. Yes, one cent. As an economist would say, it’s a diverse mix of preferences.”

Whatever the pricing point, whatever the naysays grumble, don’t miss the trend: commerce and culture are inseparably entwined. We are going to see lots more of this.

Interviews with bloggers

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, December 18th, 2002

Kiruba Shankar is compiling a list of interviews with blog innovators.

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