Blogged in Boston, Day 2: Yesterday I learned that one of the characteristics of a blog is its reverse chronology. Obviously, I have been doing this for years, but until yesterday, I did not realize it was a characteristic. Ironically, I had created a separate page to blog the event live in order to have it in a chronological order, top to bottom (which, come to think of it, is redundant). So, for other bloggers who may be reading this, I apologize this is in reverse-reverse chronological order. To everyone else, just intuitively scroll to the bottom to get the latest addition.
Joi Ito has the best list of who’s blogging here. Which is cool, because he’s in Japan and not here. Here is his list as of now, but it’s being updated, so check back here:
Heath Row Media Diet
Martin Röll (auf Deutsch*)
Bill Seitz (wiki)
Tima Thinking Outloud
First Presentation: Digital Self Fashioning
Speaker, Matthew Berk, senior analyst, Jupiter Research
He says there are two “metaphorical” ways people represent themselves in “the virtual world.” 1. Anthropormophically – A reconstitution of oneself online. 2. Topological – An extension of a real place.
Analysts interpret this in two ways: 1. Freedom of self; 2. Alienation of self
He observes we are all (in the audience) clinging to our laptops “to mediate” this event. I don’t know what he means, however, I am definitely clinging to my laptop. Okay, where was he? Oh, yes. He attributes to someone the concept that people constitute themselves as a collection of documents: drivers license, etc. In a digital age, the collection of the documents become infinitely larger.
He has a slide that says “The Online Self as Content” with the following:
What is Content?
Human-legible destiny of data, information resources Possesses structure within, between Can enrich, cement ties between people, groups of people
(I’ll have to agree with what Doc said yesterday on this topic: Has anyone ever sat down to blog and said, “I’m about to provide some human-legible data and information resources?”)
Here’s his next slide:
Digital Self Fashioning: The Rules
1. On the internet, people constitutie themselves as assemblies of content
2. The more structure in and between this content, the greater its action potential
3. Content, like identity, is always pure, differential.
He makes the observation, “Online, people are content.”
(Warning, warning. This does not compute.)
He then has a slide about what is community which I’ll skip because it’s equally lame. Community is content, or something.
(I guess I would also see everything as content if for a living, I studied content management applications.)
Next slide – Blogs: Technology of the Self
Pure expression of content management application
Tool for self-fashioning
-self as content container, relay
-community as network of interlinked content
Keynote: Where Weblogs Matter, Speaker: Jason Shellen, Associate Program Manager, Blogger
At Blogger (Google) they don’t think in terms of “What is a blog?” but “What is a blog post?” Says something about it being “granular.”
He shows an example of a “mob-blog” (mobile blog) picture that works with camera phones. Also, talks a sentence or two about audioblog.com.
He explains that to read blogs efficiently, you need to use a “news reader” which he says is not a news reader, but is a blog reader. Also shows a “reader” that converts reads to mp3 files to sync with iPod. (I’ll link later.)
Business blogs can help your company grow a community, he says. The links in and links out are very key.
Today, people find blogs through Goggle.
“We are not taking blogs out of Google,” he declares.
Any content that is fresh and in this type of format, Google would like. “What we wil say, Blogger is at Google now. It would be silly not to take advantage of some of the intellectual property there.” For example, a separate weblog search. However, he reiterates that it will not mean blogs are not searched via Google.
Slide: Blogs for businesses?
How businesses will use them?
1. Tools for collaboration
2. Keeping up with news
3. To tell the world what you’re doing
4. To speak in a human voice
Blogs have been around long enough to develop code of ethics, best practices and dedicated “members.” Jason says, “Doc Searls weblog is a community.”
The big fear: Does Joni Mitchell have a blog? (“Take paradise and put up a parking lot.”) There’s a fear that big business is going to come in and mow down small blogs and replace it with a Wal-mart.
Other websites need to be open to bloggers for linking. “You can’t link to flash.” He’s saying, which may be obvious to at least two people reading this, that you need to allow people to link to a specific page if you want people to link in to you.
Who has a business blog?
External: Macromedia, MSNBC, Groove Networks
Internal: Cicso Systems, Sun, Stanford
It’s hard to tell who’s using blogs internally? (Yesterday, John Stow of userland said they have 2,500 clients.) Jason’s examples are kinda lame.
Shows VentureBlog as a great example of a business blog.
Loosetooth.com is shown as an example of a small business using a weblog.
Jayson shows B.I.G., Blogger in Google, as the behind the firewall blog at Google. “You can keep tabs on other groups.” Popular blogs are kept by evangelists. Or, there’s an engineer keeping a blog about search quality. “It’s really good to see the documentation he’s pulling out.” The blog media coverage of Google and other issues, but they keep it behind the firewall. They have a thing called “Love notes to Google” from people who have wild stories like, “Google saved my dog’s life” that are blogged behind the firewall.
They don’t have a “B.I.G.” appliance product, but one just got put on a radar screen. Someone asks the obvious: Is that going to integrate into the Google search appliance.
One from the audience says, “I’m having deja vu all over again.” Same things being said as in 1995 “homepages” discussions, especially the “add lots of links” thing. Speaking of deja vu. Haven’t we discussed this also over the past decade?
He says that small companies can use blogger as a private weblog tool if privacy isn’t critical.
Panel: Weblogs: New Syndication Models Or Uncontrolled Platforms
Moderator: David Shnaider, Former President ZDNet, Founder of Prodigy; Speakers: (I’ll link later) Rafat Ali, Editor/Publisher, PaidContent.org; Vin Crosbie, Managing Partner, Digital Deliverance; Jeff Jarvis, President & Creative Director, Advance.net; Elizabeth Spiers, Editor, Gawker.com
David Schaider says, “blogging has more to do with journalism that what one sees in journalism these days.” Recalls when Hunter Thompson’s first writings was deemed, “not journalism.” “Looking back, he was blogging.” Compares to I.F. Stone in Washington also. “No one would say he wasn’t a journalist.”
Ironically (and he notes it), he holds up a NY Times page and says, “there’s an article about Elizabeth (and blogging) in it.” Compares it to a scene in Woodstock when someone holds up a paper and says, “Hey, were in the NY Times.”
Jeff Jarvis says, “I’m a journalist, don’t shoot me.” “We (Newhouse) get it. We understand that online media, it’s all us.” One-third of the traffic to their sites are to user-generated content. “Audience content.” He says a weblog is the highest form of this ‘audience content.'” Not like forum, which is more akin to a Sat. night discussion in a bar that’s forgotten in the morning.
Weblogs do make a difference. In Iran, at the NY Post, to Trent Lott, to Howell Raines?
Weblogs are merely tools: fastest, cheapest tools
Four fundamental uses for blogs: community, nanomedia, advertising, and personal.
Weblogs will gain video (vlogs), audio, photo, mobility.
He had to learn weblogs first hand before being a coach to others. Now they’ve started blogs across all their sites. Still new, but everyone’s learning how.
“There’s no money for us. It’s just so dam cheap.”
Who should give a dam? Have a reason for blogging.
Marketers (Dr. Pepper made a mistake only in trying to cover-up)
Expertise marketers (Attorneys, duh, custom publishers)
Small advertisers (A simple way to update)
Consumers via ISPs
Elizabeth Spiers of Gawker.com is talking about how Gawker is constantly ripped off by traditionial media and “pitched” by traditional PR firms. “I’ve yet to spend 30 seconds reading a press release that a few seconds later I wish I had those 30 seconds back.”
Man, Tony Perkins is getting demonized by Elizabeth for hiring a PR firm to pitch bloggers and then “positioning” Alwayson as a grassroots thing.
Rafat Ali of Paidcontent.org starts his comments by saying, “Let me just get this straight: Alwayson sucks.” (And gets a sprinkling of applause.) Paidcontent is a series of B2B blogs that covers different verticals. Gives examples of other vertical blogs (although doesn’t call them vertical blogs): Marketingfix.com is an example, he says has better traffic than Adweek/Adage.
Rafat quotes someone as saying blogs will kill weak publishers. Man, have I heard that before over the past ten years.
Vin Crosbie is a consultant to publishers. Shows a quote from a newspaper online manager, “Mercifully, blogging will join the ranks of mood rings, pet rocksks…in the not too distant future.” Says that if Lewis & Clarke had access to one, they would have blogged. (I said that about Teddy Roosevelt in an Amazon book review.) Vin says, “There’s no conflict between what a journalist does and a blogger, if people are truthful about what they’re doing it.”
Can media companies use blogs? Examples: (sorry for the lack of links) Dan Gilmour, the Guardian. Matt Drudge said yesterday, “Call me anything you want but a ‘blogger.'”
Crosbie’s advice to newspapers. “Don’t assign blogs.” They should come out of enthusiasm and not out of responsibility.”
Can media companies make money from a blog? Says Crosbie, “Probably a business-to-business company could.” It will be hard for a consumer media company will.
(Man, I’m having deja vu. The past decade should teach us, however, that big media will not be threatened by blogs.)
From the audience, “One of the biggest benefits of a blog is ‘aggregation’ of the news.” Elizabeth explains the “game of gossip” that takes place when people don’t actually read a post or some news, but reading a comment about a post or some news.
Jeff says something about the “nichificatioin” of media and how advertising will catch up with what’s happening and advertising revenues will spread out. Like the model of monster.com and hotjobs.com has done to newspaper help-wanted ads. (I doubt it, but will comment on that later.)
Vin Crosbie says something is “killing mass media.” (Huh? Where are the corpses?)
Panel: The Law of the Blog
Moderator: Mark E. Young, Communications Counsel, PARTNERS+simons
Speakers: Arik Hesseldahl, Senior Editor, Forbes.com; Denise M. Howell, Counsel, Reed Smith Crosby Heafey LLP; John Palfrey, Executive Director, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard Law School; Catherine E. Reuben, Partner, Robinson & Cole LLP; Maurice J. Ringel, Esq., Founder & President, Ringel Law Group, PC
Mark mentions a recent article in Inc. magazine called “Blogging for dollars,” which I read and have no idea why he finds it relevant to what this panel is talking about.
Here comes the rain on parade people. Denise says once a company puts up a website, they are going beyond the bounds of what they do and become “publishers.” She tells a cautionary tale about the parent of a law firm associate who was keeping a personal blog that got googled, blah, blah, you know the rest. She talks about “risks”: “Interaction is the root of all litigation.”
What are the risks? Tort liability that is inherent in maintaining any website. Issues such as defamation and libel are a fear if you’re commenting about competition. “Inappropriate disparagement,” (surely, that spelling is wrong) is the business form of defamation.
“Misappropriation” is another risk. This refers to such things as the inadverdent release of information or the misuse of an image of an individual.
Denise refers to a couple a examples of good employee policies for use of corporate blogs. I hope to link to them.
John Palfrey, who is a lawyer and the executive director of the Berkman Center, says, “I’m going to take off my lawyer’s hat” so that he can ingratiate himself to the audience. Says Harvard is giving all its students, employees and alumni the tools for creating and hosting weblogs: over 100,000 potential users. From a legal standpoint, says they’ve explored what this means to them as an “ISP” and their liability for what goes on in blogs hosted by Harvard. According to John, there are at least 40 different ways someone can classify you as an “ISP” according to case law in U.S. and worldwide.
There are hundreds of people already using the weblogs from Harvard. As soon as you get people using this, you are going to wonder if you were doing the right thing. “I’m convinced that more content is a good thing,” says John. “The right thing to do is to push more good speach out there.” However, he advocates that one needs to clarify intellectual property rights.
“Creative Commons license” should be a part of the blog and even “baked into” the RSS feed. (I will link to something about this later.) Hire a lawyer to mitigate your risks, John says.
Catherine Reuben says that there are legal issues with employees gaining information from a blog. The employer can learn something on a blog and take action against you. If the employee blogs something that the employer
Catherine’s advice for empoyees: Don’t keep a personal blog on company time and equipment. Don’t do anything that you don’t want company to see. Don’t sign a confidentiality agreement until you read it. Do read the policies regarding internet use. If you’re job is like a journalist or analyst, you need advice from counsel on what you own and what your employer owns. Get advice on ways you can engage in “protected activities.” For example, there are guidelines from the National Labor Relations Board.
Catherine’s advice for employers: Have a reasonable confidentiality agreement. Have a policy about use of computer equipment and what can and cannot be revealed on the blog. Get counsel if you employ journalists or analysts about what you own. Understand what is and is not “protected activity.”
Maurice Ringel says that some blogs may be considered “advertising” and therefore can come under regulations and laws at the local (and international) levels. These laws can originate from many sources. Laws, treaties, regulations, even ‘quasi’ regulatory boards like Bar Associations. Such guidelines as fair housing, election laws, trade and business regulations, all could come into play, depending on what the blog’s role is.
(Actuallly, it sounds to me that Maurice is running down a list of all risks and regulations that any company can be subject to by simply existing. If I lived my life in fear of such lists, I would not get out of bed in the morning.)
Maurice says, “I’m bringing up issues that I don’t have answers to. One broad suggestion is to use ‘disclaimers.'” For example, on his blog (if he had one), he would disclaim that his content is “legal advice” and therefore would require someone to “engage” him, reducing his risk from those who do not engage him.
Mark describes the typical view of lawyers like those on the panel as, “the can’t do people.” But, says Mark, they can be, “can do people.” Okay.
Arik, senior editor of Forbes.com, shares some lawyer stories and legal issues that he believes apply to him as an online journalist and that could apply to bloggers as well.
The “mother of all legal issue” is the First Amendment, says Mark. However, one has to understand the tension between free speach and “regulated speech.”
From the audience, “The scariest thing is the Internet spreads over the entire globe. (I fear) liability from Australia.” Says John, “You can mitigate it, but you can’t shield yourself completely.” Denise says, “You can be sued anywhere, but the level of interactivity on the site is one of the things that is taken into consideration by a court.”
Keynote Address: The Open Source Media Movement
Speaker: Tony Perkins, creator and editor of Always On.
He tries to diffuse the audience with a little humor during a computer reboot.
Why I should not be a keynote at this conference?
Why I think it’s a great time to be an entrepreneur? (Which, he says, is ironic in that I got my ass handed to me.) (Gee, that sounds familiar.)
Says he will explore the opportunity to leverage “participatory journalism” into something big and to do great things. He reboots his Mac to the most god-awful desktop I’ve ever seen. If his mind is this disorganized, it explains lots.
Views himself as a “media entrepreneur.” He says, “while I’m a posser” when it comes to blogging (what else is he going to tell this roomful of blogging pioneers, “I’ve never been so excited.” He shows a slide that is described as “fictitious” on “The cost of starting an Internet company” that goes from $100 in 1996 to $5 today and back up to $80 in 2010. (I think this means millions.)
Flashback to what he said when he was in the launch mode so that you can compare it to what he says now.
Tony shows a picture of his two daughters and marvels at their use of IM last summer.
When Tony joked that he was a posser, I thought he was trying to break the ice and display his humility. But now I think, you know what, he really IS a posser. He’s linking together some obvious facts like “more people are going to have broadband” and concluding
Tony shows a “wacky slide I stole from John Chambers” that shows three waves of what has driven PC purchase and then shows even more statistics to display that the Internet will explode via non-PC devices, blah, blah.
He wrote, he’s mentioned for the third time, that he wrote The Internet Bubble.
“I so believe in this, that he started ‘working on’ a business idea about a year and half ago.
Here are Tony’s rules for Media start-ups:
It is better to boot-strap than to go to board of director meetings Build a community advertisers care about Create multiple revenue streams Build a virtual team Trust your guy, but listen to your readers Building a media brand is black magic
He says he has yet to find a reason to lease an office. Has 14 “virtual employees.” (Translation? I can’t afford to lease an office.)
“I can’t tell you what made Red Herring reach 350,000 readers worldwide,” he says. He attributes it
“Forgive me for not being a member of the grassroots communitiy, but here are the trends that ‘set off lights.'”
1. Trend toward reality TV (voyerism is good for stickiness)
2. Open source movement (viewer ownership)
3. eBayization of media (great business media)
He says, “our average reader stays on three times longer than the redherring.com reader.”
He describes his “vision” for “open source media” and says this has plent of “black magic”
Members can post comment (people should own their words) Members can post original blog entries Members are transparent to each other Members can recommend links Members can nominate companies/people RSS feeds available to any site
Multiple revenue streams
Sponsorship & advertising Producing events (he claims an event at Stanford this summer is going to allow him to pay off the development costs of the Paid membership for premium services Pay per drink for AO generated archive Re-selling research and other info products Build you own classified AO Media Labs – new network development
Why is he here?
To get feedback on how to improve AO Engage developmenrs to deal w/ real issues Looking for new network opporutnies for AO media labs Let people know I am out preaching the gospel of the power of harnessing low-cost social software to build participatory media businesses.
He ends with a slide of a Red Herring cover with Steve Jobs with the quote, “These overnight successes sure take a helluva long time.”
From the audience, some asks, “What do you mean when you say, ‘you’re blessed?'” He says he’s blessed to be in the room when there are lots of people who would like to be in the room.
Someone asks, “Can you quantify the business opportunity of blogging?”
“If you were to look at every magazine on the newwstand, there is an opportunity to build a network around that title. the most expensive part of a magazine is building a an audience.” He says if the magazine can enable the readers to “be a part of the community” they can succeed.
From audience, “If you’re successful, how will what you are doing look like weblogs?” The element of what I’m borrowing from the blogging world is the participatory element.
Dave Winer, “Do you know what weblogs are?
Tony is visibly flummoxed and says something like, “I have to make money.”
Tony says, “I didn’t say Always on is a blog.” (However, Tony did say to a friend and Fortune.com columnist that it was going to be, a superblog.)
From the audience, What happens when people start posting negative things about your sponsors? He claims they know what they’re getting into.
Someone points out the Fortune.com quote I referred to earlier.
“You used the word,” says Dave Winer.
“I’m doing this hybrid thing. My mentor (I think he means model) is slashdot.org.
Dave explains, “Slashdot is the very opposite of a weblog.”
Dave says, “Tony, your thing is not a weblog.”
“Mine is a superblog,” kids Tony.
(Bottomline: Tony is calling Always On a weblog because there’s a lot of buzz about the term weblog.)
Speech: Live Blogging
Speaker: Christopher Lydon, WGBH talk show host and co-creator of “The Connection”
Lydon, a former NY Times reporter, says, “the downfall of Howell Raines is a ‘tipping point’ in my life.” The Times, he says, is in ‘total jeopardy.'” We have no idea of consequences of this event, he says. But (quoting Gary Hart), the event could be the consequence.
Now Lydon is saying something about the war in Iraq being a genuine media crisis. And now he’s ranting about America being an imperialistic power. “And Americans don’t know shit about it.”
“To me, Jayson Blair is a tiny little fact that we’re trying to thrash out the fact that we don’t believe the media anymore.”
Now he’s describing an radio show idea in which international college students at U.S. universities who are e-mailing back home share a discussion.
Wow, that’s sounds really entertaining.
Now he’s pandering the crowd by saying that bloggers could assemble a daily medium that would be more insightful than the NY Times.
Now he uses the “tipping point” phrase again to say some more cliches about media consolidation.
But now he says things he doesn’t like about the web world. Too much quoting and not enough reading. Compared to a hockey game.
“I still don’t know what RSS stands for,” he says.
Takes an obligitory shot at Tony Perkins, “the difference in a blog and superblog is the difference in night and day.” Asks the question, “How do we aggregate the talent, diversity of views and share it?”
Lydon wants to do a “college-based” radio show that will draw on the blogging community. Wants to make it “truly international.” Refers to it as Blog City. Wait a minute, this is beginning to sound like a Super Blog.
Dave Winer says that the NY Times should have a blog where anyone who is quoted can add any clarification they want to about a story the paper runs.
Final Session: Questions to Experts
Are people just blogging to say they’re blogging? Dave calls it a dumb question and Jason says, “Do skiiers ski just to say they’re skiing.”
Dave recalls a question from yesterday about, “how do you know if your blog is successful”? When you have a high school friend find you, says Dave. Or a bug fix suggestion.
Doc (from the audience) says, “my blog is the mail I send everyone. “I think of my blog as a public event.”
“It might be a scene,” says Jason, “but to stay around, you have to want to be seen.” (Or something like that.)
Once more, the question is asked, “What is a weblog?”
Dave Winer says, “I’ve been working for three months to try to answer this question.” 1. Is it the style or technical features of website? It’s the style, not the The unedited voice of the individual. That rule can be broken (boing-boing). The BBc weblog looked like one, but was not, because it was merely transcripts. If its an individual posting his own ideas, it’s a weblogs.
Jason, who answered the question in his speech this morning, says the “post” is the key. It’s a journal, a diary, a place to put pictures….the key is the post. (I’m not quite following his answer.)
Rebecca Lieb says, “It’s opinionated, but honest.” A businessblog should be an open loop, no a closed loop.
Dave says, “I want to make a suggestion to you: Give every member their own weblog.”
What has to happen for businesses to adopt weblogs and make them a reality. Dave says, “It’s going to happen because blogging is happening in higher education.” Tony says, “I was just at Sun selling ads to my Super Blog. Sun says there is a move to have more than one person per desk. Blogging will be necessary to maintain a culture of a team and of a company.
Jason says, “you may have to take a liberal interpretation of what the legal panel said. If you take all their advice literally, you’ll want to run wildly from the room.” (I’m kinda paraphrasing him.) It’s going to take people taking risk.
What organizations are never going to blog? Rebecca says, the music industry, Disney. You’re going to have to be a company with strong enough values to handle it. (again, I’m paraphrasing.)
At the end of the session, Tony invites Dave onto the Always On network and teach them what a weblog is. “Bottomline, it’s a democratizing force.”