Aloha-hulu-wiki-waki is the Hawaiian word for branding fads

Observation #1: The page about Hulu.com on Mahalo.com will be the Mahalo-hulu page. In other words, are Hawaiian-ish “wiki”-sounding words on their way to replacing dropped-vowel spelling as the new trend in branding web-services?

Observation #2: If Newscorp/Universal didn’t purchase Hula.com, they’ve just added a zero or two to the value of that domain name.

Observation #3: Is it a trend story that people hang stupid names on Internet startups? Stupid names for web-stuff is old skool.

Later: TechCrunch discovers some translations for “hulu,” including “butt” in Indonesian and “cease and desist” in Swahili.

The Kaboodle lesson – If you have a great platform and the wrong niche, shift your niche

When you’re an entrepreneur — especially an online one — you need the ability to re-create yourself on the fly. If you want a great real-time example, here’s one for you: Kaboodle. Today, the Wall Street Journal reported that the “Shoppers Site Kaboodle” is being purchased by Hearst. Om Malik reports the price is around $40 million.

When I saw this news, I thought to myself: Huh? When did Kaboodle become a “shopping site”? I remember using Kaboodle and liking it a lot — and the last thing I’d ever do is sign up for a shopping site. But, sure enough, when I click over to Kaboodle.com, it says, right there at the top of the page, “Have fun shopping with friends, share and discover new products.”

I used Kaboodle back when it started. I blogged about it in December, 2005 at which time I described it as “sorta like del.icio.us but with a much more attractive interface.” I even blogged a second time about Kaboodle when Mike Arrington mentioned them being at DEMO. Even then, the site was being referred to as a “clip service,” but I do note that Mike added to his mini-description of their DEMO appearance, this: “A lot of people are finding Kaboodle to be a very useful shopping tool.” In Kaboodle’s first appearance on TechCrunch, it was described as a bookmarking + wiki site.

I used it for nearly a year for organizing a sub-set of bookmarks, but, then moved onto the next shiny object. Wait, no, that’s not right — I moved back to a less shiny object, del.icio.us/rexblog. As much as I liked it, I thought Kaboodle was getting redundant with del.icio.us and, even moreso, StumbleUpon. What I missed by leaving the site was the savvy repositioning its founders and backers shifted to.

Fortunately, my Kaboodle page is still alive at the great URL, www.kaboodle.com/rex. If you look at my Kaboodle page, you will find nothing about shopping. Nothing.

However, they sold the site today for $40 million as a “social shopping” site. That, my friends, is what I call impressive footwork. And some smart shopping by Hearst, as well. Kudos to some smart, savvy folks.

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How I assert my identity on this page

I’m quite honored. Kim Cameron says that while reading my weekend post about Facebook & identity, he “had a bit of an epiphany…we need a wider suite of standards that make identity useful for building social networking applications, rather than just basic identity assertions (as important as these may be). Otherwise, what can you do once you’ve pushed out the walls of your garden? Not much.”

I honored because I’d never heard of an “identity assertion” before (as important as they may be). I did know, however, that Kim is one of those people I was alluding to in that earlier post when I said I didn’t want to trivialize the serious study very smart people devote to the topic I was discussing.

Kim is Architect of Identity and Access in the Connected Systems Division at Microsoft — and he has some positive things to say about Facebook’s initial steps along the journey to the portability of identity and social network I mentioned in my first post.

Says Cameron:

“Facebook has had to provide access to the user’s information in order to become an application development platform. And I need to underline that they should be congratulated for using email (e.g. universal) addresses as identifiers. As a result, the list of friends I download from Facebook will work with any other system that is based on email identifiers and uses validation of ownership of the accounts. I think that deserves a standing ovation.

I didn’t think about it, but he’s correct: both Facebook and Linkedin allow me to upload my list of e-mail addresses so that I can bounce that network against their network — they then present a list of their registered users who are among my personal contacts. I can also download the list that I build there and synch it with my contacts later. That’s a big deal and it helped me jump-start my network of friends on each site. (It will be an even bigger one when I don’t have to do all that uploading and downloading, but can automatically synch it among all the services I use.)

As I don’t think about this stuff in such a way, I failed to recognize that networks that offer such a service are recognizing a person’s email address as a universal identifier. Linkedin even lets you enter former email addresses into your private profile so that you can allow people to find you who have your out-of-date identifier. And Plaxo is a social network built from the ground up on allowing one to assert their identity in the form of an email address and their social network in the form of a contact list with email addresses being the key identifier.

Geez, I’m having my own epiphany here.

There is another universal identifier (beyond their API and email-address-based identifier) Facebook offers for which I didn’t give them credit. One is RSS. There are many things they allow me to export from their site in the form of an RSS feed. In theory, I guess, that is their recognition that exportability (is that a word?) of content is required in the context of all those things we collectively call Web 2.0.

If you are reading this post on my weblog (and not on a newsreader via my RSS feed), you can see on the right-hand column of this page a whole series of “identity assertions” that I am able to “port” to this page from other places on the web via RSS or an API. Under the heading “rexblog nano,” you’ll see the last three “tweets” I’ve posted on twitter.com, then comes my “reader roll” via Mybloglog.com. Then you’ll see my link blog, which is merely an RSS feed of my del.icio.us posts. Below that is a feed of my most recent photos shared on Flickr.

You may think of those as “badges” or “widgets” or “flare” or whatever, but for me, they are expressions of who I am. And, frankly, I don’t want people to have to go surfing all over the place to discover those expressions. I use those other services to “assert and express my identity,” but, then, I want all those assertions to recollect themselves on one spot — right here.

I’d like to be able to display all the identity assertions I’m managing over at Facebook right here on this page, as well. Videos I post. Networks I create. Statuses I update. It will happen one day.

I’ll leave it up to the pros to figure it out. I’m just a user of this stuff. I have no idea how it works — or what it’s called.

Hyperlocal media pioneering when the pioneers leave

[Note: The comments on this post include some important links and comments from ‘players’ in this issue. Please read them all.]

[Note #2: Newscoma does everyone a favor and later puts some organization to the conversation that has jumped from blog-to-blog, and comments posted all over the place.]

The first “traditional media” in Nashville to dive into the deep end of this pool called “citizen’s media,” “hyperlocal media,” “blogging,” etc., was — as I’ve often mentioned, WKRN-TV — especially its blogging aggregator website, Nashville is Talking.

With the loss of the consultant and executive who together conceived and championed it and the departure of the voice that developed its personality, Nashville is Talking seems to be stumbling its way into the future. While it has been ably maintained for the past few weeks by local blogger Katherine Coble, there has been some indication that a rudder is missing, so there is no indication of the direction where the captain of this ship wants it to head.

Yesterday, this message appeared on the site, which, for those who need it to be translated from corporate-speak into English, means, “The management of this station would like to announce, we have no idea what the heck is going on here.”) Here’s the statement, before translation:

“Nashville Is Talking has the distinction of being one of a kind… and a first of sorts. A few weeks ago, Nashville Is Talking lost a voice who helped cultivate a vibrant community of bloggers. Like any innovation, change presents an opportunity to assess and evaluate. During the last couple of weeks, we have talked about the value of this community and how to continue its progression. Working on “what’s next” is a process, not an event, and we have been looking at a number of options.

I appreciate the many folks who have stepped in to keep things going in the meantime. We are close to finalizing a working solution that will take NIT to a next step. We like the idea of helping the community grow by deploying innovative tools that expand the ability to express ideas and share experience.

Gwen Kinsey,
WKRN General Manager

That message was, apparently, in response to the comment thread that followed a message the other day that the practice of paying guest weekend bloggers $100 is being dropped. Actually, that’s not what was being announced, but they asked for volunteers who would not be paid. (Note to Gwen Kinsey: You’re beginning to understand, I trust, what the ROI on that $100 was.)

I’ve met many, many people through the community that Nashville is Talking helped to foster, however, I feel a little like Jackson Miller, who writes, “It is either time to become something new or to continue to whither away.”

Today, responding to the demise of another early “hyperlocal” citizen’s media experiment, BackFence, Kent Newsome makes the point that one would be wrong to interpret the “failure” (whatever the measure may mean) of any such venture as the failure of the “citizen media movement.”I could not agree more.

I have been doing this a long time, but I have no idea where all of this is heading. Indeed, I’ve never been comfortable with the whole idea of “citizen’s media” as, well, this is just me talking. And despite my appearance in the first — and still definitive — book written on the topic, We the Media, by Dan Gillmor, one of the founders of BackFence (Later: correction: Dan started Bayosphere, that was later acquired by BackFence. Sorry for my fuzzy memory.) (he left a couple of years ago), I’ve never thought of myself as a citizen’s anything. I just am.

Today, I spent an hour talking with the editor and publisher of a very large business-to-business publication who asked me to look at a redesign of their website. (I have a blood-oath not to say what it is until it is launched.) I was amazed to see a website that is, perhaps, one of the most enlightened displays of participatory media I’ve yet seen. It’s not the technology on the site — in fact, it’s not that Web 2.0-looking — but the site is all about serving as the hub for the industry it serves. And it plays that hub role by embracing every voice it can find in that industry. It is a website that embodies what Dave Winer calls, somewhat in jest, Web 3.0: a traditional media news site where, in Dave’s words, “Professional media fully embrace new media, no longer seeing it as a threat to their continued employment. Seeing amateur public writing, the former audience who is no longer silent, as sources who can get attention for their ideas without going through an intermediary.” In a few weeks, I look forward to discussing this re-designed news website and displaying what I mean. (Note: I had nothing to do with its development. I’m just a reviewer.)

When I see major media companies “getting it” in such a dramatic way, I can’t help but feel that, while certain companies may fail in their efforts, a movement is marching forward.

Frankly, WKRN probably “failed” when they perceived “Nashville is Talking” as something to relegate into a separate brand, rather than making it a center-focus of the front page of WKRN.com.

Again, I don’t know where all of this is heading. Is it going to be hyperlocal aggregators, like the Nashville page of Outside.in, that will find a big following? Or perhaps the blogger-posse approach of the Metro Blogger folks (Later: or Music City Bloggers). Or maybe folks like sphere will help traditional media companies pull in reader voices.

However, the one thing the WKRN folks did that no one else has done — at least in Nashville — is to reach out to bloggers off-line. The “community” of bloggers in Nashville became a true community because of several meetups that WKRN helped to sponsor. That community will survive without WKRN and, frankly, that’s what is important. However, I appreciate their role in getting the ball started.

I doubt, however, they’ll be the media entity that reaps the reward of their pioneering efforts. At least, they won’t if they waste much more time believing “what’s next” is going to present itself as the result of some process.

Later: Newscoma is volunteering at NiT this weekend and has a good roundup of links on this topic. For the no BS, cut-to-the-chase POV, read Sarcastro’s take.

Chime.TV ties together all the tiny TV sources

So wouldn’t it be great if there was a service that culled and categorized good stuff from video sharing sites (blip.tv, Break.com, DailyMotion, Google Videos, Kewego, MetaCafe, MySpace, Veoh.com, YouTube) and then had one place where you could organize and watch all that instead of hoping back and forth between all of the services? That’s sorta the idea behind Chime.TV. It’s another creation of my young friend, Taylor McKnight, who also created PodBop.org, and with whom I hang out at SXSW each year in order to appear less clueless. I became a fan of Taylor several years ago when I went looking for a source for the little icon buttons one sees on weblogs and discovered his repository of all things buttony: Steal These Buttons. By the way, Taylor is 23.