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Archive for June, 2003

Gelernter likes blogs, but doesn’t know it

by henrycopeland
Monday, June 23rd, 2003

Yale comsci prof David Gelernter gives a nice philosophical overview of print and online newspapers. Along the way, he offers a brilliant brief for blogging, although he appears not to know the word. On print papers:

A newsprint paper is a slab of space (even a closed tabloid is larger than most computer screens) that is browsable and transparent. Browsability is what a newspaper is for: to offer readers a smorgasbord of stories, pictures, ads and let them choose what looks good. “Transparent” means you can always tell from a distance what you’re getting into (Are there lots of pages here or not many? Important news today or nothing much?)–and you always know (as you read) where you are, how far you’ve come, and how much is left. The newsprint paper is an easy, comfortable, unfussy object. You can turn to the editorials, flip to the back page, or pull out the sports section without thinking. It’s light and simple and cheap: Spread it on the breakfast table and spill coffee on it, read it standing in a subway or flat on your back on sofa or lawn, on the beach or in bed. You can write on it, cut it up, pull it apart, fold it open to an interesting story, and stick it (folded) in your pocket to show to someone later. These small details add up to brilliant design.

On “online newspapers:”

The web-papers of tomorrow should be “objects in time,” and here is the picture. Imagine a parade of jumbo index cards standing like set-up dominoes. On your computer display, the parade of index cards stretches into the simulated depths of your screen, from the middle-bottom (where the front-most card stands, looking big) to the farthest-away card in the upper left corner (looking small). Now, something happens: Tony Blair makes a speech. A new card materializes in front (a report on the speech) and everyone else takes a step back–and the farthest-away card falls off the screen and (temporarily) disappears. So the parade is in constant motion. New stories keep popping up in front, and the parade streams backwards to the rear. Each card is a “news item”–text or photo, or (sometimes) audio or video. “Text” could mean an entire conventional news story or speech or interview. But the pressure in this medium is away from the long set-piece story, towards the continuing series of lapidary paragraphs. There’s room on a “news card” for a headline, a paragraph and a small photo. (If the news item is a long story or transcript, only the opening fits on the card–but you can read the whole thing if you want to, by clicking the proper mouse-buttons.) So: a moving parade (or flowing stream) of news items–new ones constantly arriving in front, older ones moving back.

In a footnote, Gelernter admits that the online newspaper (blog) sounds a lot like his company’s attempt to revamp the basic OS, Scopeware.


by henrycopeland
Thursday, June 19th, 2003

A number of people have asked me whether I’m worried about Adsense, Google’s new ad service for publishers. Frankly, not at all… unless there’s room in Google’s spartan-25-characters-utilitarian worldview for the likes of this brilliant Gapingvoid blogad:


NYC trajectory

by henrycopeland
Thursday, June 19th, 2003

I’ll be bouncing around New York for the next 36 hours. In addition to seeing a couple Pressflex clients, I hope to consume hot or cold beverages with blog friends and make 601AM’s [url=]happy hour[/url]. My mobile number is 413 441 3098.

Reason #472 journalists need blogs

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, June 18th, 2003

Cathy Seipp reprises the joys of freelancing.

LAX x 4

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, June 18th, 2003

Great to see that LA Examiner has returned to its Tabloid(.net) roots with a redesign and an increased dose of scuttlebutt and snark.

Influence for ‘the price of a half-can of soda’

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, June 18th, 2003

Hugh MacLeod, the man who sums up the world on the back of a business card, has enjoyed promoting his art with Blogads recently. “With blogads I’m getting about 50% of the customers as [name deleted].com delivers… for about 5-10% the cost. Plus it’s a better demographic. Buying a Blogad is a bit like getting this really cool person to tell everybody she knows about your work, for the price of a half-can of soda per day. Blogads are the next best thing to word-of-mouth.”

Blogs deliver ‘word of mouth’

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, June 17th, 2003

Joe Senft, a marketing executive in Europe, sent comments about my Vienna paper on hubness and passion.

1. I know that some clients, particularly those in high-involvement
(consumer electronics, financial services, automotive) or restricted categories
(alcohol, tobacco, firearms, pharmaceuticals) would ache to talk with you
afterwards, to understand better this spiffy “hubness” factor.

2. Personally, I like to find and use new terms as they appear in the industry,
particularly those which add incremental value such as “passion”
and “hubness”.

However, because the world of web marketing continues, frustratingly, to be
misunderstood and just plain-old ignored by major marketers, I wonder if it
would help your cause to describe passion and hubness using terms usually
applied to mainstream media. For example: “affinity”, “index”, and “loyalty”.
These big-media terms may not be sufficiently precise to describe what happens
on blogs. However, using them would help clients, marketers, and media
planners to be more receptive to your message.

Go ahead and use the terms “passion” and “hubness”, but make these subordinate
to vocabulary used by major advertisers and major media.

3. While we’re on the subject of media vocabulary, there’s one particular term
which is very often used to sell advertising campaigns in mainstream media…
but which is actually very seldom delivered! Word-of-mouth. Of course, I
don’t have to remind you that this is precisely what blogs do best.

Whilst showing belonging by referring to blogs using standard media terms,
reveal the distinction of blogs — not in terminology — but in results
delivered. Right now, I guarantee you, somebody in New York is selling a :30
spot or a billboard campaign by saying that “its unique creative execution will
generate word-of-mouth”. It certainly can. Just look at the Super Bowl spots
you referenced. But only a truely naive person would believe that a memorable
TV spot, alone, creates as indellible an impression as 100,000 people
discussing that TV spot on 100 web sites, on line.

I would move word-of-mouth — the Achille’s heel of big media — to the fore of
your argument and justify this with affinity, loyalty, passion, and hubness.
After a right-good bashing, I would then return to show that blogs extend the
value of mainstream media — both paid and unpaid (public relations).

4. I liked the way your speech takes a swipe at mainstream media when it says, “So
what if you can reach 80%… for free if every competitor” can too? This line
sounds great and I bet many heads nodded with empathy when you said it.

But the solution to clutter and fragmentation is not necessarily blogs; indeed,
special interest magazines and web sites are already referred to by some media
departments as “hubs” because they enjoy extremely high affinities, if not
large audiences (skate shop owners or expatriates or people who are especially
fond of cats).

What’s more, in many categories, particularly in retail, in FMCG and in
automotive, share of voice in mainstream media continues to be a key
determinant of sales volume and marketshare.

I wondered if some borish big-media type might not pick a fight with you over
this “So what?” statement. Why not pull the carpet out from under him by
refocusing the argument on the word-of-mouth that blogs deliver best?

The untouchable past

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, June 17th, 2003

Josh Marshall visits the scene of his mother’s death: “Coming back to California this time I realized that through all those years I’d never touched it. I’d driven by it countless times and very rarely I’d feel some rush of the impact of her death as my car swept past the point in space where hers stopped in its tracks. But I’d never gotten out of the car and walked up to the spot or touched the dent. There must have been grooves cut into the metal — perceptible only by touch. But I’d never stopped to feel the metal against my fingers or find its contours.” (Via LA Examiner.)

Best Blogad clickthrus

by henrycopeland
Monday, June 16th, 2003

I’m catching up after a fascinating week in France. I’ll type up some of my notes later. For now, I wanted to highlight this nifty page that tracks top clickthrus for blog advertising. In theory, an advertiser could use this feature to hone his/her presentation and learn from the experience of others. Give us feedback.


by henrycopeland
Tuesday, June 10th, 2003

Not far from Beaubourg in a steamy Internet cafe; saw great march; train journey this AM took 90 minutes, people do a good job of routing around striking line, since info is posted on Internet. People seem sympathetic to strikers; see this poll for example.

Spent the metroride talking with friend about innovation inside places like France Telecom; he does consulting there: like selling balloon rides to agorophobes. Wandered into a France Telcom boutique at lunch and waited in line ‘à mintes for service. Paid 30 Euros for phone number and 10 minutes of calling time; then paid 3 euro for 30 minutes of Internet. Same in UK would cost 30 Euro for 30 minutes and 1.5 euros for an hour.

Internet will bring deflation to Europe.

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