Right after watching An Inconvenient Truth

Posted in Arieanna & Ianiv

A good family photo opportunity ;)

News Aggregators: Gnomedex 6.0

Posted in Blogging, Social networking

The Bloglines team came here to talk on, of course, news aggregators!

It’s not just ideas in any product, but also execution on those ideas. Don’t do everything, do some things and do them well. Basic product development ideas. You’ll always have strays who ask for crazy things, and you’ll have crazy ideas too. It’s deciding what bits and pieces will be big and useful and easy.

Question: What are the next big ideas?

  • Open access of full demographics: (age, location) for readers so people can build upon them ex. add a map to the readership to get what’s hot by location
  • Existence cleaner: erase or mass modify all or part of your online profile
  • Add context and relevance to blog posts (through blogosphere analysis of like content) [Winner]
  • Feed bundler for user & publisher to spit out only one feed from many input feeds. Subscribe to a person not a person’s X, Y, Z
  • Add more social components to the feed readers: add social components to engage the readers (versus them remaining solely on the site – where does the community reside, issues of monetization)
  • Digg elements
  • Content based clustering
  • CC License info
  • Rate blogs (not just posts)
  • Social network management
  • Tag subscription from within our existing network of friends: smart filtering
  • My addition: an ego feed with my own posts filtered out

These are audience ideas, and the ‘best big idea’ wins a giant bottle of wine.

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Marc Canter on Open Standards: Gnomedex 6.0

Posted in Business, Events, Social networking, Technology

What is a standard? How do we evolve the standards? How do you disseminate the standards (top down or ?) ?

RSS was an open standard that we all embraced & nobody owns it. And people make a lot of money from RSS.

We want to embrace other open standards in the same way. Create new standards.

What should be standardized? What not? What can be company specific/proprietary. For example, what part of a Calendar is the same, and what can be unique? Vendors need unique features over and above the open standards in order to differentiate. Have their own value-add.

At what point is it appropriate to draw the line?

If vendors cannot have proprietary features then the unique things they do have, their value add, are simply re-integrated back into the open standard and they have nothing left to sell you or provide you value with.

On the flip side, when do features become irrelevant? When they are added for the monetary value but provide nothing to the user, or even detract from it.

What do you when we encounter ‘closed’? ex. When Myspace tells people no YouTube and we own your data.

Myspace does not own those users or their data. The social capital those people invest in their friendships is theirs only. If they want to take those relationships somewhere else (Tribe, etc) they should be able to. To export it and go.

Being open is a two-way street. You must commit to import & export, for example, with your APIs.

What is the new publishing model?

It’s not about publishing content any more, it’s about providing an experience. A Digital Lifestyle Aggregator / portal or whatever. Amazon.com is a portal – Buy.com still operates on the publishing model.

The point now is to build a user experience around the open standards. The end of the day, marketing is this user experience. The base product is not the "sell" itself. Basic marketing teaches us that what we need to do is fill a void. A toaster is a piece of technology, but it solves a need to make your bread into toast and satisfy your hunger in a way more meaningful than if it were untoasted. It’s the end product -> product + user experience = value


"It is the open standards that are the bridges and causeways that interconnect the small isolated islands [of startups] together."

Companies are going IPO now with very few unique features on these standards. So it’s not about being completely unique anymore. It’s about embracing standards and adding some value on top – a little or a lot, it doesn’t take much anymore.

Open standards allow for competition and for growth. If there are no open standards, the only ‘out’ or ‘growth’ for a small company is to be bought out and funded. Open standards allow for small companies to thrive on their own.

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Steve Rubel on creating conversations: Gnomedex 6.0

Posted in Business, Marketing

Steve Rubel: marketing is about conversations, and he works in PR to help companies join the conversation.

Question: How can marketers become more collaborative without giving up control? You cannot control the conversation, only become a part of it. Value is created not in a vacuum, but in collaboration.

Listening is part of the focus, and marketers understand how to do this, but not what to do with the information derived from this listening. That’s stage one. Then you need to create programs to respond and interact.

The value relationship is 2-sided. The companies/PR firms want to work with bloggers to give them value back. Not use you as a vehicle for a message, but to give something back of value and relevance.

People want to talk to real people. They don’t want a plastic corporate response. Just like with politicians, we want from companies a human touch and response. Also those companies that do a lot of the listening but never take the step to respond – as fake as a bad response.

Doing it (blogs) well: Southwest
Doing it badly: Clorox

Find a voice for a product & express it well: encourage dialogue on your own site and those of others.

Boris Mann: product images (with open fair use), permalinks (easy nav), personality.

Don’t send word documents (or PDFs!!!) – be interactive. Use a survey online and let me share the results too.

You cannot create a passionate user – but you can encourage it. And you can seek it.

Don’t be averse to risk.

Question: How many startups are monetized by advertising?

Lots of hands. Steve and others consider it broken. Someone else clarifies PR is busted and Steve agrees.

Good subpoint that its not advertising which is busted, but our single definition of it in relation to the Internet. Any communication is, in a way, advertising. So, it’s a shift in perspective and therefore perhaps it’s not advertising that’s busted but our definition of it.

Question: How do you leverage technology for better advertising? Make it two-way.

Advertising cannot just give away to conversation. There is a whole industry devoted to traditional advertising one-way models that it cannot just change, no matter how the market appears to be shifting.

Control is a language of marketing, but it’s much more credible to give up the control.

It’s the product not the pitch.

Advertising is broken for bad products. Pitching a bad product is hard and tedious and so much of our viewspace is saturated with bad product pitches that we tire of advertising in general. Truth here. A good product sells itself, or needs very little selling.

There is an "us versus them" mentality. About reaching the masses. Push marketing. "Consumers" Be a part of the community you serve. Turn "consumer" into "customer" and "person".

Hack marketing the way you hack a program.

Question: What do you think about character blogs?

Steve thinks they are a pathetic way to avoid authenticity (kids’ blogs being the exception). People can express life experiences and human emotions.

Scoble: you cannot have a relationship with a facade, but you can have one with a person.

Last thought: Help us help the community.

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Senator John Edwards: Gnomedex 6.0

Posted in Events, Opinion

Senator John Edwards is one of the big guns here today at Gnomedex. You should see the number of flashes hitting the stage.

The online world is the strongest tool for changing democracy. For creating a meaningful dialogue among people and with government.

Where are we? How should we move forward? How can we create a meaningful dialogue for the country?

Side note: funny that I’m writing "we" when I’m Canadian. ;)

Blogs are about authenticity – speaking in a human voice – but in politics we don’t get this voice. We get spin and misleading phrases and party not personal opinions and soft statements. Being normal, real and authentic in politics requires shedding the political conditioning and getting out of the safe zone.

Being ‘normal’ is easier in a person to person situation, but it’s harder in an environment of pressure – surrounded with the press. Being cautious and guarded is the training of politics – John Edwards believes the next President of the United States will be the one who speaks most like a human being.

My sense is that enough PR specialists will take wind of this and retrain politicians to speak in a more human voice – although this may just be another front. A more devious one for its apparent honesty. Honesty is much harder to pinpoint under the guise of apparent openness.

How does democracy based on location (state) work when people are mobile now than ever?

What is the government role in monitoring the Internet? John states it should be limited and careful – but that some areas, child exploitation being the example, require it.

What are people like John Edwards trying to do about the "reframing" in politics. This is semantics – the framing of the war in Iraq based on the language of fear – "terrorism" being the big word – and there is major danger in this. "Homeland Security" "Patriot Act" Politicians right now spend a good deal more time on framing situations rather than dealing with them.

Unfortunately, language does matter. And the party or politician who commands the language most effectively, wins the race. The language of fear is currently winning the day. The government, in my opinion, is using the language of fear to support a continued budget leak that is killing the US economy and its internal issues. The guise is maneuvered so effectively the country has been blindsided (IMO).

John Edwards thinks this language will not control the presidential election. It’s more about trust and character in the election. About opinion and honesty and appeal. The governing of a country and the debate of issues is more pivoted on language.

The web, and blogs in particular, had a large impact on the last election. What will it be this time?

We need to find a bottom-up approach. Last election blogs were used top down. Basically a podium of a different type. It was not a "blog" as we know it. John Edwards is trying to have a community-centred blog creating conversation. But he’s eager for new ideas that will allow people to start these conversations – to open the floor to them and allow government to respond. So, it’s a conversation beginning with the people, not with the government.

We’ve spun back to the danger encroaching on personal privacy in the name of terrorism. That the word "terrorism" is being abused in the name of observation and the encroachment of the personal right to freedom. The purpose is not to get terrorists – we have laws that can do that without encroaching on the personal freedoms of all citizens in the US. The government is not above the law.

One idea: get a citizen on the tour with politicians to blog each and every day what’s happening. An unbiased outsider perspective.

Top down politics kills engagement. Douses it out. The public is spoon fed with biased, framed information that discourages engaged discussion. The language of politics is meant to distance politics from everyday life and from the concerns of everyday people. They feel powerless to have opinions, to share them, or use their democratic rights.

The voting machine source code should be available – that the public has a right to know this information.

Bill Clinton had the ability to gain public favor because he was persuasive – used common language and did not speak down to people, and made sense on issues. It was not persuasion through fear, but through sense. Big difference. This feat needs to be repeated.

John Edwards is here not to ask for political support, but for support in politics – to open the forums for discussion. That should be the goal of every politician. Period.

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David Dederer on music and web 2.0: Gnomedex 6.0

Posted in Business, Events, Music

David Dederer (Presidents of the United States of America rocker) gives us a musical tribute, which Ianiv is recording and we’ll upload later.

Right now the Internet is the ‘grey market’ and we’re its biggest consumers.

In music, there are a great number of people who are ‘due’ their cut of revenue. From tours, online sales, CD sales, radio license, etc. The long and short of it all is that music has a very clear monetization model. It’s complicated, but it can be described and understood.

How do musicians move sales to the web? iTunes is incredibly profitable – the margin is high. 3% of the music market produces 50% of the PUSA revenue.

Music is only a tiny piece of online commerce. But it’s a shift in mentality for musicians. How do you shift the mindspace for musicians to adopt this sales model?

It’s easier to market to the longtail – it’s easier and cheaper to find your fan base.

How do you explain what the market is, how it works, and how tools and services can serve fans & artists? How can you encourage artists to embrace digital media as a business model?

"Go here, buy this" is not the endgame.

Myspace as a distribution model for musicians. Mass traffic and distribution of your music. Even if you’re an ‘unknown’, the longtail can still provide mass traffic and fans. People love music. Use the tools. Everybody is a store. Everybody can share music.

It’s about communities – about the experience, which is non-linear. It’s not "go to store, buy" online. It’s about linking around, hopping between spaces, and creating a community. It’s not the "store" as sales model in the online world. A store is a walled space – the Internet is not a walled garden.

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Michael Arrington on Web 2.0 startups: Gnomedex 6.0

Posted in Business, Events

Michael Arrington starts off his speech by looking at CouchSurfing – a site that accidentally deleted themselves a couple of days ago. Everything. All 90,000 user data and all. Will it rebuild? Does it have a business model? Can it monetize itself?

This is a lead in to the world of startups and acquisitions. The growth of services such as digg and youtube beyond ‘early adopter’ to mainstream. The industry is going to see more IPO and/or acquisitions.

Steve Rubel: these start-ups/websites cannot depend on advertisers to bankroll them the way the model is now

Do you need economies of scale? Is acquisition or major partnership the only way to succeed in the mainstream marketplace?

YouTube jumped to success by facing controversy and legalities of copyright – mainstream media is only now realizing it’s not "us versus them" and that so-called stolen material can be good for you (exactly how I feel in my b5 entertainment blogs). Fans are good.

There need to be better models for monetization – it’s not just advertising dollars or IPO or acquisition.

Will success be hampered by net neutrality? The increased bandwidth costs being shifted back and hampering growth of startups

Digg – it’s not just the technology. That was easy and cheap. But even with that, copied Digg models fail. It’s the network effect. Nobody can match it now. And soon it will surpass the NY Times. It’s the people who make the startup valuable – the power of the end-user.

Michael Arrington’s measure of success for a Web 2.0 startup: "they make money and they make the Internet a better place to hang out."

What is the difference between starting a company now and in 1999? Simply the reduced cost to begin a startup. Thousands versus millions.

Can you fail when you have network effects? Meaning – can you have mass market numbers of users and still fail? Netscape – did it have network effects? Did it fail?

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