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Archive for March, 2005

SXSW: Davos for hipsters and weberati

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, March 16th, 2005

I’m getting stale on conferences these days, going to an average of two a month.

But I’m definitely going to SXSW next year. I’ve never had a better time conferencizing. The panel sessions were OK-to-good, the evenings were OUTSTANDING.

Normally at a conference cocktail hour, you find yourself spending ten minutes trying to find some common ground with the person next to you. At SXSW, you just had to turn to your left and introduce yourself and instantly, ka-ching, you were saying “wow, I’ve always wanted to meet you.”

Other friends, old and new, I enjoyed seeing: Will Pate, Steve Reading, Jim Cudney, Biz Stone, Eric Case, John Vars, Milan Negovan, Jackson West, Tony Pierce, Tantek Celik, Evan Williams, Richard Luckett, Ana Marie Cox, Philip Kaplan, Jason Calcanis, Tiffany Brown, Gokul Rajaram, Lockhart Steele, Jason Shellen, Alaina Brown, Jake Dobkin, Marc Brown, Mitch Ratcliffe, Susan Kaup, Rex Hammock, Mike Slone, and Edward Cossette.

As Jenifer Hanen told me “this is my tribe.”

PUD gave me a copy of his F-ed company book. He signed it and I got dotcom survivors Biz, Ev, JasonC, Richard, JasonS, Jake and Tony to add dedications. JasonC, who can be witty when he tries, scribbled out: “to a gentleman and a scholar: may we be never be f-ed and may we always be in good company!” Ev wrote: “I once f-ed a company. Don’t recommend it.”

Here’s a photo of Biz and me taken by Eric.

Update: a more jaundiced view of our Woodstock@Motel6 from The Register and Jossip.

A new blog classified ad unit

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, March 16th, 2005

Here’s a fun new angle to blog advertising, actually an old angle revived.

When we started blogads, we imagined an intra-community bulletin board filled with birthday greetings, rants, books for sale, party announcements, personals, lost dogs, lost causes… all the advertising ephemera that makes life fun and interesting.

We got a few of those ads. Then prices started rising, and gradually squeezed out the human-scaled stuff.

Well, here’s back to the future. Another unapologetically anti-IAB unit: 500 characters, no image, no edit, no HTML, no breaks, no bulkbuy.

You can buy the first of these ads here here to run on the great blog Politicalwire.

The unit is still malleable, so let us know what you think. Just don’t tell us it doesn’t conform to IAB standards, because that’s the point. 🙂

If you are currently selling blogads and one to add an adstrip like this to your page, just click “create an adstrip” on the “adstrip manager” page and then choose “classie” on page 4 of the adstrip set-up process.

Go west… man

by henrycopeland
Sunday, March 13th, 2005

I’ll be at SXSW through Tuesday. If you are going, drop me a line and we’ll coordinate a collision. Speaking Monday at 5PM, though not yet sure where.

I turn 43 Monday, which may explain this post’s title.

30,079 blog reader survey responses aggregated

by henrycopeland
Friday, March 11th, 2005

I’m at an IPDI Online Politics conference. Fascinating people and topics, including the FEC’s wrestling match with the idea and execution of blogs.

I haven’t been able to get an e-mail out, so here is the URL for the results of this year’s blog reader survey.

United Church of Christ buys blogads

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, March 8th, 2005

The United Church of Christ placed a nice block of blogads today. You can read about the reasoning behind the order here.

Though we work with a growing list of religious blogs, both Christian and Jewish, this is, as far as I know, the first time a church has bought blogads. (This is also the first time I’ve seen a blog post written about a major blogad buy by the buyer.)

The blogads are part of the church’s attempt to end-run the TV networks who have rejected the church’s ad. As the UCC ad buyer put it:

In the tradition of this nation’s earliest pamphleteers, bloggers are sharing news and information as a mark of a truly free society, not as something that can be controlled and manipulated by multi-national corporations.

As well as being on the cutting edge of the evolution of media, there’s a certain historical symmetry in the church’s blogad order. The United Church of Christ represents America’s Congregationalist churches, which are the theological descendents of the Puritans. The Puritans came to America to speak their own minds and escape England’s rigid and heirarchical religious orthodoxy. And there’s more than a hint of the emphasis on personal autonomy and bottom-up truth-seeking in the blogging community.

This ad had a personal impact on me. When I mentioned my experience to the UCC’s ad buyer, he asked me to post to the UCC’s blog. You can read that post here.

Denton innovates

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, March 8th, 2005

Some of the great fun of the blogging business is the way small shifts in perspective can open up a huge new avenue of opportunity. Most days you stare at a brick wall, but some days you take a small step forward or sideways and feel like you’ve turned onto the Champs Elysee. One long broad straight road lined with trees and lights. The way forward is obvious.

I think Nick Denton just stepped around one such corner. Standing in as editor of one of his publications, Nick says: “I’ll be checking tips@gridskipper.com, but I had another idea. If you’re using Wists, Delicious or Flickr, and you’re posting an item that might be good for Gridskipper, just add a gridskipper tag. I’ll be monitoring the feeds. Maybe we can even syndicate them to gridskipper.com.”

Keller v. Jarvis

by henrycopeland
Monday, March 7th, 2005

The recent e-mail exchanges between Bill Keller, editor of the New York Times, and Jeff Jarvis, blogger, are kinda surreal.

Keller is right (and pretty damn funny) in pointing out that Jarvis is a self-appointed chair of a committee of one and speaks for no-one but himself. But Keller seems to be realizing that he himself, an employee designated by some profit-seeking pension fund managers, lacks any unique non-corporate claim to the epistemological or civic podium.

The context: corporate media is on the run, and the Keller/Jarvis e-mail mud wresting is a sign of the times. On the business side, publishers see revenues leaching away to Google, Craiglist, Monster, eBay and thousands of no-overhead publishers. On the editorial side, publishers realize that their 400-year-old monopoly on the publishing megaphone is gonzo. Thanks to free blogging software and the blogosphere’s speed-of-light neural network, a rag-tag army of swarming individuals increasingly leads public opinion.

Ten years ago, the New York Times’ editor might have claimed that the newspaper’s one million readers had “elected” him truth-meister. But today Keller knows that some bloggers individually and many in aggregate can make the same claims. Worse, Keller knows that bloggers themselves helped oust one of his own predecessors, Howell Raines.

It used to be that the editor of the NYT or LAT could say “it is not news until we report it.” That used to be literally true — most people didn’t pay attention to a story until a big paper or three jumped into the fray. “News” was something manufactured by publishers. Now the thought sounds ludicrous.

Vis the economic and communication function of media, the key question is what/how we
constitute “common knowledge.” There’s lots of emerging economic theory around the importance of “common knowledge” — the idea that I know that you know that I know that you know something. Corporate media used to be the unrivalled engine for creating common knowledge. That’s less true every day.

At present, bloggers can’t run a news cycle on their own, from gossip to factoid to outcry to resignation. Blogs still need corporate media to complete the chain-reaction, because blogs lack corporate media’s mass market reach. We haven’t yet reached the point where everyone says “everyone knows ABC…” because ABC has been covered by DailyKos and/or Instapundit. But that day is coming fast. And when blogs become the acknowledged manufacturers of common knowledge, corporate media will be superfluous to advertisers. (Which is not to say bad or societally useless.)

Sounds pretty draconian, I know, but if you connect the dots — persistently rising blog
traffic, opinion maker migration into p2p communication, eroding corporate publishing audiences, cannibalization of corporate revenue streams by online players — that’s where you end up.

I will miss corporate media’s thoughtful investigative journalism and great beat reporting. But I’m pretty sure the market won’t.

(I originally wrote this in answer to Hugh Forrest’s question for the SXSW Q&A page. http://2005.sxsw.com/interactive/?PHPSESSID=e2a4e0d0c3f91251d3ba662eab189f24 … other answers will be posted there later this week.)

Kottke on advertising

by henrycopeland
Saturday, March 5th, 2005

Lots of people are excited that Jason Kottke is turning “pro” as a blogger.

Well, not exactly professional because he’s not getting paid by anyone for a specific good or service, he’s asking for donations, patronages, whatever. Fine. A hyper-text busker.

Heck, I sent him $50 last week and wished him luck.

But why sneer at bloggers who sell ads? Jason: “A lot of people don’t like advertising, and I wouldn’t want advertising to change what I write’you know, having to change a post because it offends an advertiser or writing posts in a certain way where it would make sure that certain Google ads appear on the page.”

Hell, a lot of people do like advertising, Jason. Craigslist does 1.4 billion page impressions a month of the sordid stuff. Many magazines are bought as much for their ads as their articles. eBay, the biggest cultural institution invented in the United States in the last 100 years, is one giant advertising factory. And some of our political culture’s most interesting scraps of 2004 are ads bought and unbought on blogs like Jason’s.

Anyway, good luck busking.

Misc notes on a Friday night

by henrycopeland
Saturday, March 5th, 2005

Ken Layne, who recently had a son, notes that our friends “Charlie & Bonnie had a baby girl last night, and I was mighty happy to hear this good news. This whole “let’s all have a bunch of babies” thing is fun as hell. There’s a serious Martian Mining Colony gang in the works, in 20 years or so, and I hope they all send lots of e-mail & photos back to their folks here on Earth.”

I’ve decided next Christmas I’m only buying presents from blog advertisers, as part of our “We wish you a bloggin’ Christmas” (TM) campaign. The early contender for my chief Santa’s helper is the irredeemably irresistibly Reemco.

We went fishing last Saturday and briefly landed a catfish. First soccer practice on Thursday, cool but brilliant. Walked to school today, after a long winter of riding. T-bones with Tig Tillinghast last night here, introducing dogs and telling him about our favorite children’s books. Two great videos this week via Netflix, Small Change and the Dinner Game. Dinner at Carrburittos. A captivating child’s copter game. As with most human endeavors, gravity rules.

Yale does a good thing.

Another great book blogad

by henrycopeland
Friday, March 4th, 2005

Alex Lencicki of Crown Books, pivotting off of Knopf’s advertising for the esoteric cult hit Kafka on the shore, serves up a blogad for the new book Angry Black White Boy, a hip-hop inversion of Invisible Man.

Instead of serving up the publishing industry’s online standard, a shrunken and fuzzy book cover that insults the viewer, Crown gives us custom-designed bold, ink-dripping image perfectly sized to fit on a blog.

Crown doesn’t quite equal Knopf’s genius of excerpting/linking to blogs — the book hits stores tommorrow — but does link directly to a review in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Crown one-ups Knopf, though, with an MP3 of the book’s prologue, including the click-bait “explicit lyrics.”

Great to see a couple of book publishers brainstorming and learning from each other in public, real-time text.

Like bloggers, really.

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