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Archive for January, 2004

Outline for UNC blogs and journalism forum

by henrycopeland
Thursday, January 22nd, 2004

I’ve been asked to do a short session Tuesday at the UNC Weblogs in Journalism conference. The session addresses “how bloggers are disrupting traditional publisher’s role as gatekeeper.” Here’s my outline:

Blogger advantages over journalists
* link network
— 10 newspaper readers become a 100-synapse blogosphere
— expensive distribution & marketing versus free
* freedom of voice
— authentic
— niche-plumbing
* partisanship
— great newspapers were partisan, founded around war or political causes (“neutrality” concocted by AP business folk)
— most great blogs dynamized by partisans, enemies, trolls

* blogs get 100 times more traffic per keystroke than traditional journalists…
* some individual bloggers equal audience of $200 mln newspaper chains
* some bloggers net $2500 (Drudge gets estimated $100,000) a month in ad revenue, growing 15%/month

Blogs open new advertising dimensions
* extra room to communicate (versus portal) means more nuances
* feedback and ricochets (versus control) means more buzz
* audience affinity (versus demographics) means more traction
* affordable (versus high overheads of publishers) means usable by entrepreneurs, causes

More press on political blogs

by henrycopeland
Thursday, January 22nd, 2004

Newsday: “Political Web logs (or more popularly, blogs) – freewheeling hybrids of personal observations, reportage and opinion that are updated several times a day – have become surprise players in the 2004 campaign. The political blog sites are many and varied. They also are influential. … the Internet is a major political information source this year.”

WP: Bloggers join cartoonists and talk radio as political taste-makers

by henrycopeland
Thursday, January 22nd, 2004

Dan Balz’s front page story in the Washington Post says Howard Dean has two problems: his below par finish in Iowa and the concession speach “war cry that has quickly become the target of editorial cartoonists, radio talk show hosts and Internet bloggers.” Is this a new low or a new high for national blogger influence? (Via Josh Marshall.)

Me, I’m not so bothered by Dean’s shriek, per se. People made fun of Steve Ballmer when he hollered, shrieked and danced around like a squirrel who got into the pepper-shaker… but Microsoft could still whup France’s derriere any day. You think Dr. Dean sounded freaky? See the Ballmer video and you’ll hear that his pitch is identical to Dean’s and about 10 times longer.


by henrycopeland
Wednesday, January 21st, 2004

Just stumbled across a summary of a study of 450 start-ups via a comment on Fred Wilson’s post. Some interesting insights:

* “Over-funding actually allows companies to follow a flawed strategy for too long.”

* Success is a “a trial and error process.”

* “In 93 percent of the cases, the strategy that a company emerges with (at exit) is completely different from the strategy it set out to implement. The report cites a Harvard Business School study that found it takes four to five years for the right product and business model to emerge.”

Everything I’ve seen of entrepreneurship suggests there’s a huge amount of trial and error involved. Just as in baseball, where 4 runs out of 5 are determined by luck rather than skill, it is usually impossible for the outside observer to see, in the short run, who really has talent.

Footnote: These timelines are uncannily applicable to our start-up’s experience. Pressflex was founded in 1998 to serve as the webmaster for local publishers. The business premises that underlie Blogads — ASP, single decision-maker, low (or no) price point, telesellable, networked, generating ROI, splicable into any platform, serving outsiders rather than insiders — jelled in late 2001 as we head-scratched about agonizingly slow publisher uptake of our superlative Pressflex service. The idea for Blogads pinged in March 2002 and the service launched in August ’02… almost exactly 4 years after we created Pressflex.

Political blog traffic gushes upward

by henrycopeland
Wednesday, January 21st, 2004

Another record day for political blogs, as you can see from the logs of the server that pumps out blogads. (Left edge is most recent.) pic

Iowa vignette about Dean and Edwards

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, January 20th, 2004

The best reporting I’ve seen yet on Iowa comes in a Daily Kos post. Here’s a telling vingette about how Dean’s troops mishandled one caucus:

the Dean precinct captain on the floor was ineffective and diffident. I watched with amazement as a more-motivated, more-mature Edwards captain named Susan Voss (sans T-shirt, sans sideline coaches) went over to the Gephardt folks in Precinct 63, who at that point had only seven members but needed nine for viability. Susan sat down at their table, looked them in the eye, appealed to them about how Edwards is an “articulate, bright, caring person.” You can tell not only that she meant it, but that she could personalize it. She didn’t have any training, and it showed – it showed as authentic, that is.

Then, with grace and aplomb, she got up and said she would make room so a guy named Arturo, from the Kucinich group (also non-viable, and hoping to move Gephardt’s people to them to achieve viability), could have his turn.

Meanwhile, the Deanies are sitting with their hands folded. They are not even talking to each other. No comity, no motivation. The precinct captain eventually comes over, unsure of what precisely to do with himself or how to speak to people. The Geppies are still sitting at the school library’s tables at the far end of the room.

The Dean captain meanders over, stands over the Geppies, providing physical distance that is conveyed in a non-verbally and dismissive way. Worse, his main message is little more than, “C’mon, don’t you want to join us?” or “Are there any questions or issues you have about the Governor?” The Geppies are literally staring at his navel, because it’s hard to make eye contact with somebody whose head is three feet over your own with craning your neck.

There were six delegates to be assigned by the 60+ people who turned out at Precinct 63. Dean had 16 of the caucus-goers at the start, and ended up with 14. Kerry didn’t budge much, but Edwards gained strength. Gephardt managed to cobble together the two defections from Kucinich he needed, and got one delegate, as did Dean and Kerry. But Edwards left with two, and he can thank the dynamism, assertiveness and tact of Susan Voss for that second delegate.

Referendum on the Internet?

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, January 20th, 2004

Yaooouweee! Gotta love a horse race.

If you read any pundits today opining “yes, the Internet’s impact on politics was greatly overrated,” PLEASE send me the URL so I can put the pundit in a barrel and take a few shots.

The revolution in 18 words

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, January 20th, 2004

Publishers strive to monopolize distribution and commoditize talent. But blogs commoditize distribution, restoring the writer’s monopoly on talent.

Democratic bloggers outpace Republicans

by henrycopeland
Monday, January 19th, 2004

Noting that Ed Cone has started selling Blogads, Glenn Reynolds writes,

“I haven’t done a survey, but it seems as if BlogAds has more penetration on the lefty side of the blogosphere. If so, I wonder why? UPDATE: Henry Copeland emails: ‘God knows I’ve tried to get more centrists, libertarians and Republicans aboard. :)’ Hmm. I guess for non-lefties it’s all about the love, not the money! Actually, Henry’s been after me to join blogads for quite a while. I’m not sure why I’ve been slow to do it, actually. I just have been.”

Love or money?… Or does $50 or $2000 a month make a bigger difference to leftie-blogger households? Funnily enough, many of the first folks to sign on to blogads —Matt Welch, DailyPundit, Tacitus, Jane Galt— had libertarian or right-of-center audiences. As I’ve noted before, it does seem a little odd that Andrew Sullivan, avid partisan of the grand-ol’-party-of-the-market-place, sticks so loyally to PBS-style pledge drives. (BTW, Sullivan made $80,000 in last year’s pledge drive. When are we going to hear the results of this year’s drive… have I missed something?)

Meanwhile, there’s some of interesting theorizing about on why the left has been more vigorous in its blogging recently. Republican blogger Tacitus looks at DailyKos and says “Hands-down, in terms of efficacy, reach, influence, and intelligence, it simply has no match.” He asks, “Why are the explicitly pro-Republican weblogs so anemic?”He continues:

some of this may simply be a function of the partisan power dynamic: Democrats are hip-deep in the internal debate period known as the primaries, abetted by the lack of a single standard-bearer attendant to the party out of power; Republicans have a President to rally ’round, and hence less incentive to thrash out issues. But some of it is also, I think, a function of the differing approaches to organization and the internet taken by the national parties. I can’t speak for the DNC, but I am fairly sure that the RNC is a top-down, strictly hierarchical organization. They’ll rely on their own devices; certainly not Meetup, certainly not blog-based fundraising, and they certainly won’t allow comments on their candidate’s official weblog.

Tacitus suggests that Republican political operatives may not be ready to cede autonomy to the bloggers: “what, after all, is their incentive to surrender even a small amount of control and decentralize? Conversely, what is the incentive for the independent Republican blogger to make the effort to help his party and his candidates if the formal hierarchy is going to be lukewarm at best.”

Here’s my view: being out of office makes a big difference. First, the primaries fuel the D-blogosphere. Horse races are more exciting to report/comment on, particularly when the feedback loop closes and the bloggers become participants in the race they’re reporting on. Also, David is usually the innovator; David grabs the cheapest tool at hand while Goliath sticks to the traditional heavy armor and expensive sword.

Tacitus rightly concludes, “Almost without realizing it, the Democrats will emerge from this election cycle with a seriously good and adaptable internet machine.”

Self-service ad vending machine

by henrycopeland
Monday, January 19th, 2004

Ed Cone: “I spent a few minutes at the Blogads site, and the next day I got an email saying that someone wanted to give me money. Click, click, cash.

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