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Archive for May, 2004

When a tree doesn’t fall in the forest

by henrycopeland
Friday, May 14th, 2004

A reader criticizes Josh Marshall for not decrying Nicholas Berg’s murder. Marshall responds:

You’ve just misjudged how I run the site and why I do so. I don’t write about everything I think. I don’t write just to say that X is good or Y is bad. I write when I feel I have something I can add to a discussion, and only then. I could write a post saying that I thought Berg’s execution was horrifying and awful and that I couldn’t get to sleep last night because the ugliness of the images wouldn’t leave my mind. But what would that tell you? That al Qaida is awful and that I think they’re awful too? Perhaps I simply have nothing to add. The online world has lots of vociferous me-too-ism, going on record saying in fist-clenched tones things I think we all know we all feel. That’s fine; I just don’t like doing that. Once, when I wrote nothing about a rapid series of court decisions touching on gay rights issues, one reader wrote in and attacked me mercilessly for being homophobic since clearly, he reasoned, I had judged these to be of no importance. He was wrong; and you’ve made the same misjudgment. This isn’t a publication of record. And you’re not in a position to judge what I think based on my silence.

Out of control

by henrycopeland
Thursday, May 13th, 2004

Headlines on CNNfn.com this morning:

Stocks sink softly

Oil near $41 a barrel

Wholesale prices up

Retail sales slow

Jobless claims rise

You know that stomach-bending time-is-really-slow-and-how-will-this-end feeling you get when the car spins out of control on black ice?

That’s the feeling Greenspan has right now.

He hasn’t tightened rates, and 10 year note rates are up 100 basis points in six weeks. That’s huge, with more probably to come. The Fed can’t not tighten, with inflation on every front. But Greenspan, who spent the 70s and 80s examining the huge impact that housing markets have on the national economy, also knows that tightening will crush home sales and dunk the economy faster than a lead fishing sinker.

Uncorporate journalists heading to DNConvention

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, May 12th, 2004

You’ve heard that the weird angles get covered, making corporate journalists groan or harrumph.

Throughout it all, the best/cheapest/maddest place to advertise will be here. Remember, uncorporate doesn’t mean noncommercial — just means you don’t have to pay for 11 layers of corporate overhead to push ads to your target audience.

Two photos from Hungary

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, May 11th, 2004

Lunch with Zalan, 2.5 year old son of Miklos and Marie-Eve.

The food was great.

Blog advertising = fast and furious

by henrycopeland
Monday, May 10th, 2004

One of the things that most excites me about blog advertising is its immediacy.

Blogs are fast, furious and unmediated. Smart blog advertising leverages these same characteristics.

Take the latest blogad for congressional candidate Jim Newberry:

The moral of this story isn’t that other Democratic candidates should consider running “Rumsfeld must resign” ads — although I’m sure a couple will.

The tactics to be copied are topicality and passion: carpe diem. Blogs dare advertisers actually to put their mouths where their money is, to speak immediately and bluntly about the issues of the moment.

Blogtalk 2.0

by henrycopeland
Monday, May 10th, 2004

Hope I can make it to Blogtalk this year. I gave a talk there last year and had a fantastic time. The folks organizing Blogtalk are wonderful hosts, and the speakers chew on lots of arcane but essential angles not covered by more commercially driven events. Where else would you find this range?

* Mortensen, Torill Elvira: “Dialogue in slow motion ‘ the pleasure of writing and reading across the web”
* Lumma, Nico: “The German Blogosphere – some facts and figures”
* Schuster, Michael: “Applying Social Network Analysis to a small Weblog Community: Hubs, Power Laws, the Ego Effect and the Evolution of Social Networks”
* Azhar, Azeem/Niederhofer, Max: “Does blogging suck?”

…and Vienna is spectacular.

My presentation last year covered “Blog advertising metrics: passion and hubness.

Tents to disrupt housing market?

by henrycopeland
Monday, May 10th, 2004

WSJ (May 10) “The trusty old tent isn’t just for camping any more. Schools, churches and even prisons are choosing tents over buildings these days because they are cheaper and quicker to erect. A new, elaborate generation of products can accommodate elevators and chandeliers. Instead of canvas, the novel tents have vinyl walls. Instead of poles running up the center, giant metal frames support the structures. Some have doors that lock, windows with screens, wood floors, heating and air-conditioning, and wall-to-wall carpeting. Strong ones can withstand winds of up to 80 miles an hour.” …

“As its membership grew, New Life Church considered putting up a metal or concrete building. But the tent won out because it cost about $800,000 less than a traditional building and shaved four to six months off the construction time. The unconventional design appeals to teenagers, who use the facility for youth-ministry meetings and concerts, says Brian Newberg, financial controller for New Life, which has a main church building, as well.”

The subscriber-only article.

For housing the tent has all the classic traits of “disruptive technologies” as defined by Clayton Christensen. Tents are weaker, cheaper, simpler, easier to use, appealing to different types of customers, sold through different sales channels, and migrating quickly up market.

We still rely on stone, concrete and wood, building materials first used by ancient man. Why not dwell in computer-optimized structures and materials?

Pushing the envelope

by henrycopeland
Friday, May 7th, 2004

In the drive to raise money for candidates, some folks are playing all the angles. Rewarding his readers for their donations, Atrios links to a photo of boobies for Kerry. What will the FEC say?

Open source ad campaign

by henrycopeland
Thursday, May 6th, 2004

Film-maker Brian Flemming bought a Blogad on Talkingpointsmemo promoting a book called “Sue Me,” which is intended to shame Arnold Schwarzenegger. He’s posted the results of the ad campaign so far — lots of clicks and some of that juicy stuff that PR professionals crave: “earned media.” Any revenues from the book campaign will be plowed right back into more advertising.

Wpost print loses readers to site

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, May 4th, 2004

Newspaper circulation declined nationally in the first quarter. The fundamental problem — there are lots of other places to get the same information.

Some of the steepest declines among big papers were registered by The Washington Post, which lost an average of about 24,000 readers on weekdays (a drop of about 3 percent, to 772,553) and a similar number on Sundays (representing a drop of 2 percent, to 1,025,579.)

Boisfeuillet Jones Jr., publisher and chief executive of The Washington Post, said in a telephone interview that several factors appeared to have contributed to the declines, including a spike in readership during the early months of 2003, which he attributed to interest in the buildup to the war in Iraq.

But citing something of a mixed blessing that will be watched closely by other newspapers, Mr. Jones said that the newspaper’s Web site – as well as a free tabloid-size affiliate of the paper, called Express, which was introduced last summer -appeared to be siphoning some readers from the main paper.

Of course, this could just be rationalization. Most publishers see that for every two subscriber’s lost to the web, two or three new ones are attracted. But maybe that game is coming to an end, as the marketing effect of having a web site is wearing off.

In any case, if the web is going to be the scapegoat for circulation losses, the Post steps into a difficult paradox: try to make online readers pay, and you’ll lose out to the free competition, whether that is NYT or bloggers making fair use of excerpts of online material.

Hey, I love newspapers too. Great editors make a great difference. And newspapers fund lots of investigative stuff that freelancers can’t shoulder themselves. I ain’t sayin its right, I’m just sayin.

But things ARE changing, even as the industry has been lulled into thinking, “gee, we thought the web was going to kill us all in 1999, I guess we were wrong.”

Read Clayton Christensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma and/or Solution for an excellent framework for understanding the challenge the web poses for traditional publishers. Every now and then an industry is transformed when a cheap, lowpower solution comes along with a lower cost structure, different marketing channels and (intially) different customers who are ignored by the current marketplace… then the “disruptive” solution slowly improves and knaws into the muscle of the existing market.

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