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Archive for July, 2003

The price of a conversation

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, July 23rd, 2003

Lee Barstow quipped recently that a “conversation is worth a thousand e-mails.” Wise words. I’ve been having fun using the phone more recently. Using Vonage for calls (free in the US and 5 cents to UK and France) has certainly lowered the cost of talking.

New tune

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, July 23rd, 2003

Sitting at the table after dinner last night, we heard our son in the living room fiddling around. He came in and said, “I’ve learned a new song.” Frowning slightly and pausing occasionally to correct himself, he played Gavotte by Martini, a violin tune he’d heard ten times on his CD player and had never practiced before. This is the first time we’ve seen him do this. Amazing.

I’ve told my wife that in patiently and persistently shepherding our kids through music lessons she’s accomplished something far more valuable and tangible than anything I’ve built in business.

New social structure for dissemination of ideas

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, July 22nd, 2003

Cameron Marlow, creator of Blogdex, writes: “Webloggers are a great leading indicator of trends in the news simply by being part of a group that intends to keep each other informed.” And adds, “As a community, this is the first time researchers have been able to track the spread of ideas through an informal social network in such a large proportion. I’m hoping to describe the process by which information spreads by epidemic proportions, namely the properties of the information itself and the social structure that enables it.”

It’s a new world.

Long walk

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, July 22nd, 2003

Sounds exciting.

Rising rates: Black Monday for home prices?

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, July 22nd, 2003

Bond yields have jumped 1.10 percentage points in the last six weeks. In relative terms, the rise is equal in severity to the rise that led to the stock market crash of October 1987.

Unfortunately, the NYTimes article I’m citing doesn’t mention Japanese arbitrage sellers or the rocketting the projected Federal deficit. Both mean lots more bonds for sale, but myopic economists ignore these factors because they prefer to think “interest rates” are driven by “economic variables” and not raw supply and demand for debt instruments.

Since June 13, the US Treasure ten year note has risen from 3.11% to 4.21%. That 35% rise in yield is nearly as severe in relative terms as the rise in ten year note yields (from 6.98% to 10.23%) that occured in the nine months before October 19, 1987… known to many as Black Monday. Go read this Black Monday chronology. Here’s the entry for January 1, 1987: “The year opens with bond yields near their lowest levels in nine years.”

Stocks may well get hit this time around too as the rate at which investors discount future earnings rises, but the dividend tax abatement may counterbalance this effect.

Another asset is more likely to get gored now: homes. Falling federal borrowing and rising tax revenues meant rates could tumble in the 1990s, and falling rates boosted everyone’s house price as buyers could afford more house for their money.

Now that the government will be issuing $1.4 trillion more securities in the coming two years than the prior two years, borrowing costs will rise and housing prices must fall. Here’s the math: if the rate on a 30 year mortgage rise from 4.5% to 5.5%, a family that can afford a $1013 monthly payment will pay only $179,000 for a house rather than $200,000.

If I were a Democratic Presidential candidate, I’d jump all over the escalating deficit (“driven by reckless Republican fat-cat tax cuts and defense industry sweetheart deals”), since it is going to crush housing prices.

e-Influentials prefer web to print ~ 2 to 1

by henrycopeland
Sunday, July 20th, 2003

“Influentials,” the 10% of the population that leads the other 90%, are over-represented online, according to a Roper survey commissioned by WashingtonPost.com. (If the Post is trying to influence web influentials, why put the findings in 1.2MB PDF?)

The numbers are grim, if you’re stranded in print. When “online influentials” wanted to “learn more about topics that interest me” 87% turned first to the web, with 50% turning second to magazines. For “sharing views and opinions” 51% turned to the web and 19% turned second to newspapers.

But the numbers can be read as negative even for traditional publishers like WP with strong online strategies, says entrepreneur Arnold Kling. He points out “The Roper study appears to be commissioned as a way to help convince advertising agencies to buy on the Web. But the typical Web ads are Old Media, and my guess is that they do not affect the ‘influentials’ very much.” Too bad the Roper folks didn’t think to ask about blogs. (Thanks Hylton.)

Ads make sense

by henrycopeland
Saturday, July 19th, 2003

Edward Rothstein, reviewing the new three-volume, $385, 1,873 page Advertising Age Encyclopedia of Advertising in the New York Times, writes“…the ordinary academic model of advertising and its effects is inadequate. Advertisements are a form of communication, not mere manipulation: they help make sense of the world, defining its differences and essences, filtering through its variety, making claims and constructing images.”

Blue light special on blogads…

by henrycopeland
Friday, July 18th, 2003

For a limited time only: Blogsearchengine.com is offering free one week Blogads. He’s got 1700 visitors a day and growing fast. (Update: the free ad offer is now closed.)

Tunes reviewed

by henrycopeland
Friday, July 18th, 2003

Some great music by the Glass Harps.

Boston notes

by henrycopeland
Friday, July 18th, 2003

Great day in Boston. A blur of caffeine and syllables.

David Weinberger introduced me to Zaftigs. I’ve wanted to chew the fat (or as things turned out, an egg sandwich) with David since meeting him briefly in Vienna at Blogtalk. His Small Pieces Loosely Joined expresses the genius of the Internet’s imperfection and he’s an author of the Cluetrain Manifesto, one of the sparks that lit my first blog post. David showed me the Palm pilot he’d just run over.

Next I had coffee with Biz Stone in Wellesley, where he’s designing and sneaking blogs into that Ivory tower. Damn, Biz is a genius and his name is Biz. Turns out the only thing not to be taken seriously about Biz is his blog’s photo.

Next I dropped by the office of a Pressflex investor who shall remain surnameless. (Welcome to blogs, Glover. Here’s the Gelernter post I mentioned.)

Finally, I hung out with Hylton Jolliffe, the micropublishing impressario of Corante. We compared notes at the Miracle of Science Bar and Grill near MIT between runs to stuff coins into parking meters. We brainstormed about how blogs might leverage tactics from newsletters and conferences.

As I mentioned at the outset of this post, the day was a blur. My lasting memory: bloggers are, as a group, smarter, wittier, humbler, more social, more articulate and more ambitious than the average Joe. Bloggers together make a formidible army.

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