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Archive for December, 2003

Blogs through history

by henrycopeland
Saturday, December 20th, 2003

The Economist notes:

WHERE do you go when you want to know the latest business news, follow commodity prices, keep up with political gossip, find out what others think of a new book, or stay abreast of the latest scientific and technological developments? Today, the answer is obvious: you log on to the internet. Three centuries ago, the answer was just as easy: you went to a coffee-house.

then offers lots more historical context. (Via Instapundit)

Here’s an old mumbling of mine about the continuities between blogs… European coffee-houses… and salons and newsletters in pre-1789 France.

More history: an old post comparing Instapundit to Socrates.


by henrycopeland
Friday, December 19th, 2003

Amy Langfield takes a sledgehammer to the reported purchase of Daily Candy for $3.5 million. “Daily Candy is a load of marketing crap,” she says.

Blog entrepreneur Nick Denton trades punches with web designer Noel Jackson.

The Slashdot community of programmers chews on outsourcing and an MBA’s Trojan horse to introduce outsourcing to management.

And, to end on a happier note, Hugh MacLeod launches business cards with cartoons on the back. I’m gonna get some.

Calpundit selling Blogads

by henrycopeland
Friday, December 19th, 2003

Kevin Drum, the Calpundit, is selling Blogads.

Reader reactions range from: “You are performing a valuable service here and deserve to be rewarded for it,” to “You capitalist running dog!” to “I like the small-format ads, hate the new three-column format.”

Kevin is one of the leaders of the Democratic blogosphere and worth the $150 a month his rate-card indicates.

To set the record straight: Kevin says I “kept bugging” him. I think of it as persistent nudging.

Meetup in Chapel Hill

by henrycopeland
Thursday, December 18th, 2003

Had lots of fun at the Chapel Hill blogger meetup last night. Good notes and a photo at Ross White’s blog.

Cave man art: not precocious but mature

by henrycopeland
Thursday, December 18th, 2003

Tiny carvings 30,000 years old, recently discovered in a cave in the Swabian Mountains southwest of Ulm, are being haled as proof that early man was a precocious figurative artist.

Says Nature magazine, where the findings were announced: “the complexity of the findings undermines the traditional view that art began crudely and gradually acquired sophistication. ‘The new evidence refuses to fit,’ says [archaeologist Anthony Sinclair of the University of Liverpool, UK.] ‘It seems that the first modern humans in Europe were astonishingly precocious in their skills.'”


I’ve talked before about ancient artifacts with my father-in-law, a Hungarian artist and avid artifact-scavenger along the Danube river. I once tried to argue that the cave paintings at Lascaux, supposed dated at 15,000 BC, were modern fakes. “No way ancient man could concoct something that subtle and stylized,” I opined.

On the contrary, he said. Early art doesn’t look like the art of a five-year-old because it is actually the work of a mature culture. Europe’s current artistic tradition is less than 3000 years old. Is it any wonder that early man, with 5-10,000 years to perfect his technique and mannerisms, was a great figurative artist? It would be remarkable if early man had not developed a sophisticated artistic tradition.

Blogads code is in good hands

by henrycopeland
Thursday, December 18th, 2003


Tigger, Csaba Garay and Tamas Decsi.

Small is bountiful

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, December 17th, 2003

Less information often means more, a point brilliantly illustrated yesterday by designer Jason Kottke, as he parodies the metadata overload around many blog posts.

Google, the metadata mogul, has done a great job of furling distracting details. Says Google interface guru Marissa Mayer

I think Google should be like a Swiss Army knife: clean, simple, the tool you want to take everywhere. When you need a certain tool, you can pull these lovely doodads out of it and get what you want. So on Google, rather than showing you upfront that we can do all these things, we give you tips to encourage you to do things these ways. We get you to put your query in the search field, rather than have all these links up front. That’s worked well for us. Like when you see a knife with all 681 functions opened up, you’re terrified. That’s how other sites are – you’re scared to use them. Google has that same level of complexity, but we have a simple and functional interface on it, like the Swiss Army knife closed.

Unfortunately, a lot of sites are like geeky see-through watches — they are so proud of all the stuff under the hood they insist on inflicting it on the innocent passer-by… who just really wants to know the time, after all.

Hmm… what else should we strip out of this blog… or all of Blogads? (Yes, our order form will be reworked in coming weeks.)

Frictionless politics

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, December 17th, 2003

Economist Robert Coase argued in 1937 that the cost of gathering information determines the size of a corporation, notes economist Everett Ehrlich, who then riffs on implications of Coase’s theory implications for modern political parties in the Internet age.

To an economist, the ‘trick’ of the Internet is that it drives the cost of information down to virtually zero. So according to Coase’s theory, smaller information-gathering costs mean smaller organizations. And that’s why the Internet has made it easier for small folks, whether small firms or dark-horse candidates such as Howard Dean, to take on the big ones.

Here are some predictions. First, if Dean loses the nomination, he will preserve his organizational advantage and reemerge as a third-party force four years from now. He has done with technology what Ross Perot could not do with money alone. Second, the evangelical right will become a separate political party in the near future, and will hold its own conventions and primaries. Like the Conservative Party in New York state, it will usually endorse Republican candidates. But evangelicals will use their inherent party-ness to make the Republican candidate stand in front of them and give a separate acceptance speech. And finally, in the next six or eight presidential elections, a third-party candidate will win the presidency. Issues — most likely the coming fiscal debacle and the inescapable abrogation of promises made on Social Security and Medicare — will give the third-party candidate an opening. But technology will give him, or her, the means.

(Since he’s writing in the Washington Post, Ehrlich graciously demurs from deconstructing the news business with the same logic.)

Funnily enough, I ran across this June 6 post earlier today, “Mark my words: blogs are going to drive the next presidential election.”

Domain registration surge suggest e-commerce vitality

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, December 16th, 2003

Moniker.com reports 40,000 domain registrations in the last two months, up from 7200 in the same period last year. That’s another sign that online business is booming as entrepreneurs realize that going online puts you only 1 click away from 600 million people.

Advertising reverb on blogs

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, December 16th, 2003

Buying blogads delivers lots of things: boat-loads of cost-effective clicks, face-time with opinion makers, 150X200 pixels plus 300 characters of text…

Blog advertising also creates an intimacy traditional media can’t match… or doesn’t want to match. This weekend, five bloggers who had sold ads to the John Kerry campaign asked Kerry to disavow TV ads linking Howard Dean to bin Laden.

“We write this open letter as a group of bloggers whose audience you respect enough that you advertise on our web sites,” they began.

The provenance of the attack ads was murky and seemed entwined with Kerry’s operatives. “We feel it is incumbent on you and your campaign to make it clear that this kind of attack is unacceptable,” wrote bloggers Atrios, Talkleft, NathanNewman, Oliver Willis and Pandagon.

The Kerry campaign has since disavowed the ad.

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