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Archive for June, 2004

Slicing survey by politics

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, June 8th, 2004

Here are more reader results from Blogads’ survey of 17,159 blog readers May 17-19, 2004, this time broken out by party affiliation. This page contains the results for:


To recap: here’s the aggregate survey. And here’s the breakout of women and men.

Blogads on the radio

by henrycopeland
Monday, June 7th, 2004

As a long-time Prairie Home Companion listener, I’m thrilled to have made a brief glide today across the airwaves of Minnesota Public Radio. I put in plugs for Wonkette, Talkingpoints, RealClearPolitics, Dailykos, Instapundit and the rest of the blogosphere.

Here’s the spot and here’s the blog for John Gordon’s radio show.

Only one problem… uhm… I thought they had a machine to edit out the “uhms.” With my tendency towards elipses and subclauses, you can see why I like the control that writing affords. Will do better next time, I promise Mom.

Game face

by henrycopeland
Sunday, June 6th, 2004

Lunch Friday with a couple of execs from a successful gaming website.

As we parted, we exchanged cards. On the back of each of theirs was an odd sounding name.

“Those are our player names,” they explained.

Hmm. I joked (or was I serious?) that I really haven’t played an interactive game since Pong, when name choices were limited to either “left” or “right.”

I returned home to find that my (similarly ancient) friend Steve has just programmed a java version of pong.

Through both ends of the telescope

by henrycopeland
Saturday, June 5th, 2004

A map of media mogoliths in Manhattan. And collection of photos of the new “no photos, please, we do the filming!” notices before movies. Insert insightful essay about dinosaur grave-yards and the resourceful longevity of microbes here:


Today’s agenda

by henrycopeland
Saturday, June 5th, 2004

“When you and I were born there were 6,000 languages spoken on Earth. Now, fully half are not being taught to schoolchildren. Effectively, they’re already dead unless something changes. What this means is that we are living through a period of time in which, within a single generation or two, by definition half of humanity’s cultural legacy is being lost in a single generation.”

Interesting and depressing. Half of all human languages gone in our lifetime. (Via my buddy Lee Barstow.)

The good news: a decent-sized meteorite is headed our way very soon (give or take 20,000 years) and will wipe out human life (and most other life) anyway, so we’ll be amply punished for our stupidity.

Which isn’t to say we should drop our moral compasses and start tossing Milkyway wrappers in the park, letting our kids watch American Idol or read Wonkette, drinking martinis before noon or stealing quarters from blind beggers.

But we humans shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously. We’re a passing ripple on an ocean that is 1 million light-years across.

Agenda for today: enjoy t-Ball and Harry Potter and a sweet carbonated drink and a cheesesteak sub, and also try to do some good things — lasting 5 seconds or 80 years — for other people.

Help wanted

by henrycopeland
Thursday, June 3rd, 2004

A small, positive sign of the signs: Taegan Goddard is looking for a paid editorial assistant to help power his highly regarded blog [url=]Political Wire[/url].

Where are they now?

by henrycopeland
Thursday, June 3rd, 2004

What news from Hiawatha Bray, who wrote in a March 2002 article for the Boston Globe that “blogging is an ephemeral fad, destined to burn itself out in a year or two.” The original article has disappeared into the Globe’s archives, but its trace is here. Isn’t it time to revisit that prediction Hiawatha?

And from April 2002, there’s this subtler but no less erroneous prediction by a Smith college economics professor,

People work for companies when it’s too difficult to provide goods and services directly to the marketplace. For example, print newspaper columnists could theoretically sell their works directly to consumers. They could go door to door selling their opinions for, say, two cents a copy. Obviously, it would be too difficult for a print columnist to physically distribute his writings directly to households. It’s far easier for him to join a newspaper and rely upon the entire paper being sold to his readers.

Blogging has succeeded because it has made it possible for a solo web journalist to create and distribute his research, reporting, and written opinions. A few years ago a good writer who lacked programming skills would not have been able to create a decent news web site. The efficient way to publish news on the web was for journalists to band together in some media company and have this company provide the necessary computer expertise. Because of Blogger, it’s now feasible for someone who is only mildly computer literate to create his own professional-looking regularly updated web site. Blogger has reduced the need for media companies because individual journalists can now physically produce and distribute their own content. Alas, Blogger has not eliminated the benefit to journalists of working for firms.

The weakness of solo blogging can be illuminated by considering why professors work for colleges. Imagine a world where there are no colleges, only professors. Professors would advertise their classes and students would pick which classes to take and directly pay their teachers. Professors could still issue grades and some organization could determine when a student has taken enough classes to qualify as a “college” graduate.

Information costs are the primary reason this solo operator model of higher education is impractical. It would be too difficult for a student to determine which professors are competent to teach. It’s far more efficient for the student to pick a college and for the college to incur the information costs of assessing professors’ abilities.

To deconstruct the argument: the reason we can’t eliminate colleges/newspapers is NOT that professors/journalists would lose their tenure, it is that students/readers couldn’t be sure they were getting a good eduction. In hindsight, it seems Smith isn’t living up to its duties of “assessing professors’ [predictive] abilities.”

And finally, last week was the second anniversary of my manifesto “Blogonomics : making a living from blogging.” Seems like decades ago. Now that battle-cry seems mildy credible, but as the two blurbs above indicate, sounded idiotic at the time.

Design by committee

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, June 2nd, 2004

Why are many TV political ads so bad? Joshua Green reports:

Design by committee, Brabender says, stifles creativity and produces lousy ads. Less is often more in a visual medium like television, but many pollsters and campaign managers seem blind to that: they try to cram as many issues into an ad as they can. If someone throws five tennis balls at you, he points out, it’s tough to catch any of them. But with a single ball it’s easy. … political ads have remained strikingly similar since the 1950s, even as consumer ads have evolved dramatically. The difference seems to be that consumer advertisers prize originality, whereas political advertisers prize conformity. In that regard political ads function as a microcosm of politics generally’characterized by frequent and dramatic hyperbole, but resistant to all but the most incremental change.

More pieces in the puzzle

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, June 2nd, 2004

Daniel Drezner surveys journalists who read certain weblogs and finds… that they read certain weblogs. More interesting than the list of blogs read is the list of journalists reading ’em.

Speaking of journalists reading weblogs, when Kathleen Pender interviewed me about Blogads for the San Fransisco Chronicle, she was almost giggling when she glimpsed how much money some bloggers now make. “$700 for an ad? Wow.”

I was busy last week in New York visiting current blog advertisers and calling on prospects. You can get a huge amount done with phone and IM, but, as one friend puts it, face2face is the ultimate in bandwidth. I used Starbucks/T-mobile as my mobile office and managed to stay reasonably on top of things.

Chatting with Jeff Jarvis at the New School’s personal democracy forum, I discovered that this sister Cindy was a preacher in my family’s church in the mid-seventies in Ohio. (Vis the forum, I’m not going to another event that has a panel on political blogging in which 3/4 of the panelists aren’t political bloggers.)

The week ended in New Haven at my 20th reunion. Who were all those middle-aged people? One friend’s teenage daughter told her pop that we were “a bunch of old farts talking about stupid shit.” Indeed.

We chewed on all sides of Iraqi war. As I walked among the halls and courtyards, many of them carved with rollcalls of the battlefields and casualties of World War I and II, I wondered: have any alumni of Yale — the alma mater of our two presidential candidates — died in Iraq?

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