Category: social

Personal Media = Personal Control Over Ad Revenue

A flurry of stuff in last few days about media, news, web links, news, revenue models, etc:

Here is about who owns what (control)… and gets what (revenue)… in the new world of web-mediated media.

Here is about new media companies not being able to monetize through advertising:

Here is about “Models for Preserving American Journalism”:

Here is what Craig Newmark sees as one of the pillars of trust:

“…a clear separation between reporting and financial needs.”

And something Fred Wilson says:

“If you are a content owner, the front door to your content has moved to a place you don’t control.”

Notice the common thread – separation - of:

  1. Content from revenue
  2. Content from consumption

Now, after having done my “selecting” and “linking” – here is what I think.

  1. The link economy is here to stay. Linking (along with selecting) are the two (yes, only two) basic generative mechanism of all we humans do.
  2. The current business of aggregating will also lose – to end users – the function and value of “selecting” and “linking” it now offers.
  3. Offering of infrastructure for “selecting” and “linking” will be the only business left – with a relatively diminished role in the processes of connecting production with consumption (compared to old media).
  4. End users will own and control the bulk of the media space – think of all kinds of personal (web-enabled) interfaces – blogs, microblogs, start pages, streaming services – that’s where most of the “selecting” and “linking” will be happening. That’s where most of the programming will be happening. That’s where most of the context creation will be happening. That’s where most of the content creation will be happening. That’s where most of the media consumption will be happening.
  5. We (as content consumers) will have full control over how, where, when, and what of our own consumption. We will be doing the bundling (classifieds no more supporting the news reporting, OK?).
  6. We (as content creators) will lose control over how, where, when, and what others consume.

The revenue model for content creators will change – from transactional “paying” to relationship-based “giving”. Yes, sounds like NPR – however, we will not need NPR – it will be more like PPR – where “National” is replaced by “Personal”. Remember the infrastructure of “selecting/linking”…

Just some thoughts… no real ending, sorry.

What To Do About Contextual Ad Blunders – “Opinion-Based” Advertising

I blog about the elections – meaning my support for Obama – only to get ads from McCain’s campaign right there with my post. Bummer.

The current capability in Google AdSense to block specific domains from serving ads is not practical in so many ways.

Here is an idea – a (self-service) positioning matrix… that could be implemented by contextual ad services like Google Adwords/AdSense. Here is how this might work:

  1. Start a list of hot topics/issues (crowdsource the list)
  2. Let publishers (in AdSense) browse/search the list, look up the topics/issues of concern to them and position themselves along dimensions like “love/hate,” “for/against,” “approve/disapprove,” etc…
  3. Let advertisers (in Adwords) do the same.

The result:

  1. Ads matching the attitudes of publishers and their audiences
  2. Possibility for advertisers to differentiate between “converted” and “non-converted” audiences… and eventually try to selectively engage those who admittedly don’t like their message/product/cause. Something like – “We know many people don’t like {whatever}. But we work hard to change this. Gives us a chance.”

UPDATE (March 2009):

Google introduces “interest-based” advertising… good, but still missing the point of “opinion-based” advertising.

May be I should start a category “free ideas to Google” … here is another one…

Ads On This Blog… And JuiceTorrent

Here is what Fred Wilson says back in June 2006 in a post on his blog titled “Ads on this blog“…

“I don’t like leaving money on the table. This blog does around 2 million page views per year on the web and another million plus views in my feed.

Those page views are worth real money and while I don’t need it, someone does.

[…]

I hope to generate $40,000 this year to charity with this blog. I am certain I’ll generate at least $25,000.

That’s real money that will get a tribeswoman in Africa a cell phone or a underprivileged child a scholarship.

So that’s why I run ads on this blog. I hope you agree that its a good cause…”

Fred is a “star” blogger with a big audience. So he makes a meaningful chunk of money (let’s say $36,000) to donate at the end of the year to charities.

Now… let’s assume that a typical unknown blogger could make an average of $12/year (that’s $1/month) in ad revenue from AdSense.

You’d have to put 3,000 such bloggers together to achieve what Fred does with his blog in terms of ad revenue. And you’d have to wait over 8 years before Google releases the $100 min checks to each of these bloggers… and you’d have to remind these bloggers and their audiences that the money was intended for charity. Not very practical… nobody does it.

Enter JuiceTorrent (see the JT widget in left column of this page)

With JuiceTorrent, 3,000 regular (non-star) bloggers (like me and most of you) can create and maintain a monthly revenue “torrent” of $3,000 flowing directly into the account of a charity… or multiple charities. No waiting for months or years, no writing of checks, no “donation” accounting (who cares about a receipt for a $12 yearly donation anyway). Added benefit – being part of an online community of supporters and actively promoting the causes you care about.

Without JuiceTorrent – we leave money on the table. With JuiceTorrent – we can pay for a scholarship for an underprivileged child. All it takes is embedding a few snippets of code on our blogs.

Personal notes:

  • I really, really can’t care less about the aesthetic implications of having ads on my blog (JuiceTorrent is set for now to serve text ads only though). Looking “sleek,” “clean,” or “non-commercial” (read “anti-commercial”) somehow doesn’t make it even close to the top of my priorities. Finding new ways to make the web meaningfully social does.
  • I don’t want to wait for the “ad-free” web of the future that may come or may not come about any time soon. If NPR and WGBH can put car dealers’ ads on their websites – for a good cause – so can I.

Read more about JuiceTorrent:

JuiceTorrent Is On!!!

Yeah… !!! We (at People Networks) did it!

The points about JuiceTorrent:

  1. Gives organizations and individuals (we call them JT stars) the possibility to start their own self-expanding ad networks through the blogs and websites of their fans and supporters.
  2. Gives people (fans and supporters) an easy way to start and manage micro-streams of ad revenue from their own blogs and websites – and join them into meaningful “torrents” going directly to entities (JT stars) they choose to support.
  3. Gives the JT stars a fast and easy way to plug into and test/compare contextual ad markets (Google AdSense, YPN) without the hassle of changing ad code and micromanaging ad placement.
  4. Makes (ad)sense out of the largely unused micro-pools of ad space controlled by the new class of (personal) media owners and publishers – “the people formerly known as the audience.”
  5. Creates a new category of social vectors across the online identities of people and organizations – adding the moral and material dimension of “supporting” to the existing “linking,” “friending,” “visiting,”and “following.”
  6. Separates “utility” advertising from “high quality” content while keeping the economic link between them. Mortgage ads on my blog where I rant about home prices will support the independent star blogger/journalist/artist I admire and read daily… or the Red Cross… or both. JT “stars” can stay as high minded, ad free, and/or commercially non-viable as they wish – while the ads on my blog can be trivial, pedestrian, useful, and indeed effective.
  7. Gives musicians a possibility to establish ongoing flows of exchange – streaming music for streaming support – as opposed to the discreet consumption/transaction models of the industrial era past.

See how JuiceTorrent works…

We are now actively looking for candidates for JT stardom – nonprofits, star-bloggers, musicians – to start them up with JuiceTorrent.

Please, contact me – in comments here… or by email (emil at sotirov dot com).

Big Thoughts from Small Minds

Here is a guy who’s (in his own words) “supposed to be thinking ‘big thoughts’ all day as part of a fellowship program that recruits PhD-level scientists into public service with the federal government.”

And here is one big thought he produced:

“But at a fundamental level, studying complex behavioral and genetic networks in animals is not so different from understanding human social networks.”

Oh yeah… on a fundamental level… we’re all animals. So heartbreakingly true.

But here is the scary part:

“So to some extent, when it comes to explaining social software to military policymakers – I’m the perfect guy for the job.”

Read more… 

Reading Blogs and Articles About Our Health Care System…

…written by people who know a thing or two about the subject… as opposed to listening to our presidential candidates.

Running a Hospital (blog)
by Paul Levy, President and CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston

Repairing the Healthcare System (blog found via Brad)
by Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

The Health Insurance Mafia
(article in today’s Wall Street Journal found via Stanley Feld)

The Myth of Home Ownership

“NEW YORK (AP) — The Federal Reserve says Americans’ percentage of equity in their homes has fallen below 50 percent for the first time since 1945.

The Fed’s U.S. Flow of Funds Accounts shows homeowners’ percentage of home equity slipped to a revised 49.6 percent in the second quarter of 2007 and declined further to 47.9 percent in the fourth quarter. It marks the first time homeowners’ debt on their houses exceeds their equity since the Fed started tracking the data in 1945.” (full story)

It is co-ownership at best – people investing massive amounts of time, energy, and emotion to manage assets owned mostly by banks.

Clay Shirky Talk in Harvard – February 28, 2008

Clay Shirky on his new book, “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations” (6PM on the Harvard Law School campus, location TBA).

In story after story, Clay masterfully makes the connections as to why business, society and our lives continue to be transformed by a world of net-enabled social tools. His pattern-matching skills are second to none.“-Ray Ozzie, Microsoft Chief Software Architect

From the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard:

All events are free and open to the public… Invite your friends, students, colleagues, co-workers, fellow faculty, research assistants, interns, family, and others to celebrate and collaborate with us. Please don’t hesitate to forward and blog this information.

These events will take place on the campus at Harvard Law School unless otherwise noted, with more information on time, venue, and topic posted on the events page. The events page also includes a complete list of luncheons and other events, which we hope you’ll also be able to join us for!”

One More Thing The Internet Could Disrupt – Car Ownership and Sales

Here we go – I’m back on this blog after a long hiatus.

And it’s Fred again (he’s good at this) – with this post – making me share a “vision” I had a few days ago. The idea is probably in the heads of other people for some time already without me knowing (see Fred’s comment under my comment). Fred’s post was inspired by Seth Godin.

And I should say – I am constantly inspired by Umair Haque.

Here is what I posted as a comment on Fred’s post:

“How about transforming the car ownership into an investment type of thing.

Imagine people being able to lend their own cars for the times they are not using them. Or even making a small business out of owning a few cars. Everybody sets their own prices.

Think of Zipcar – but without the centralized ownership of the cars.

Think of an Internet platform (could be open source… or even at the level of a protocol may be) which supports the data and logic for such a distributed environment.

Imagine the effects of a dynamic price competition for a short term leased transportation… not to speak of the long term disruption of the car sales market… not to speak of all the “green” goodness coming out of it.

The hardware could be developed and sold by any vendor.

Please, whoever starts doind this – give me a credit… :)”

In fact, Zipcar could open up their platform – and become the Goggle/AdSense of cars. Scott Griffith, do you read my blog.

The Structure of Today’s Political Discourse

I’ve been following the French presidential elections on TV5. One thing is becoming quite clear. The French are discussing the same stuff that we’ll be arguing about in 2008. There are differences in the way things are talked about or the specific realities discussed, but the underlying ideological structure seems very much the same to me. Or, at least, that would be what I see as a pertinent structure for today’s political discourse here in the US too. Here are the main dimensions:

competition — cooperation
locality — mobility
predictability — fluidity
identity — context
effective — affective

Most of the other stuff that may come to mind – like “security vs. growth” or “dependence vs. autonomy” for example – seems derivative to me.

"The Giant Zero" At The Berkman Center At Harvard

Doc Searls (blog) gave an interesting talk today at the Berkman Center at Harvard. The talk was called “The Giant Zero” – pointing to the image of the Internet as a hollow sphere enabling all periphery (end) points to connect.

Doc talked a lot about the importance of the metaphors we use when thinking about the Internet. He referred to Lakoff’s books about the language as something that largely operates our thinking (the language “speaking” us) as opposed to the everyday understanding of language as something we merely use as a tool to communicate our thoughts (we “speaking” the language). Without having read Lakoff, my impression is that he is mostly re-telling European post-structuralist theories from 20-30 years ago to American audiences nowadays reluctant to read French authors (for whatever reason).

Update: It seems I was completely wrong about George Lakoff in my last sentence above… Tom Maddox’ comment on Doc Searls blog sent me read about Lakoff. It is clear that Lakoff has his own intellectual path independent and different from the post-structuralists I had in mind.

"Relationship Blend" vs. "Productive, Rational Behavior"

Another good article in The New York Times by David Brooks. Here is the starting snippet:

“In the world of public policy, there are ecologists and engineers. The ecologists believe human beings are formed amid a web of relationships. Behavior is shaped by the weave of expectations and motivations that we pick up from the people around us every day.

The engineers believe all this relationship talk is so much mush. They believe behavior is shaped by incentives. You give people the resources they need and socially productive, rational behavior will usually follow.

Most politicians are ecologists who turn into engineers once in office…”

I totally agree with his criticism of Hillary Clinton’s “American Dream” plan. I had exactly the same reaction when I read about it – such a tired approach, such a lack of imagination, such an inability to produce something that may “change the rules of the (social) game” and inspire constituencies…

And here is the predictable (for me) conclusion:

“But the fact is, when it comes to helping people flourish, the ecologists are usually right.”

I find David’s argument absolutely pertinent to my own preoccupation right now – building an online social software service. I am talking about Aidpage – and our current work on its next major upgrade… coming soon on a computer near you… :)

"Progressive Realism"… Not Too Different From "Considerate Idealism"

An online test recently defined me as a “considerate idealist.” I liked that. It is very close to what I am thinking of myself.

I also identify with what Robert Wright describes as “progressive realism” in his recent New York Times article.

In my previous life under a communist regime, I almost inevitably would bring a conversation to the point where someone would call me a naive idealist for believing in democracy and market economy. To which, my reply was “no, I am not naive… don’t you see the US is stronger than the USSR.”

Similarly, when confronted with all the abundant evidence (see this and this just from today) about how morality must be left aside if you want to make real money, I would simply point to the fact that the two richest guys in the world (you know who) do not seem to be morally bankrupt crooks.

And I liked David Brooks’ “Democracy’s Long Haul” from a few days ago. It reminded me of my own theory about the sometimes necessary “Pinochet” period for countries transitioning from long dictatorial one party systems to democracy.

So, now you know where I stand… :)

Even Anger… What Is Charity… Terrified Nonprofit Leaders… Does Compassion Need Incentives?

A colleague found a very interesting article – “The Kindness of Strangers” by Robert V. Levine. Here is a snippet:

“Over and again, New Yorkers told us they cared deeply about the needs of strangers, but that the realities of city living prohibited their reaching out. People spoke with nostalgia for the past, when they would routinely pick up hitchhikers or arrange a meal for a hungry stranger. Many expressed frustration—even anger—that life today deprived them of the satisfaction of feeling like good Samaritans.”

I just hope that Aidpage will eventually give those unhappy New Yorkers… and the many like them all over the world… the informal and immediate ways to be good Samaritans again. That’s my work now… and the work of my team at Aidpage… Ivan, Tzenko, Boby, Valcho, Pencho, and Stamen.

And then… another good… somewhat philosophical article… from The New York Times… “In Pursuit of Unhappiness” by Darrin M. McMahon. He writes:

“… the philosopher John Stuart Mill, came to a similar conclusion. His words are all the more worth heeding in that Mill himself was a determined proponent of the greatest happiness for the greatest number. ‘Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so,’ Mill concluded after recovering from a serious bout of depression. Rather than resign himself to gloom, however, Mill vowed instead to look for happiness in another way.

‘Those only are happy,’ he came to believe, ‘who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness; on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit, followed not as a means, but as itself an ideal end. Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness by the way.’ For our own culture, steeped as it is in the relentless pursuit of personal pleasure and endless cheer, that message is worth heeding.

So in these last days of 2005 I say to you, ‘Don’t have a happy new year!’ Have dinner with your family or walk in the park with friends. If you’re so inclined, put in some good hours at the office or at your favorite charity, temple or church. Work on your jump shot or your child’s model trains. With luck, you’ll find happiness by the by. If not, your time won’t be wasted. You may even bring a little joy to the world.”

And then another article from The New York Times… by Stephanie Strom… originally titled “What Is Charity?“… as of now suspiciously archived under the totally meaningless “Aftermaths.” What were the “maths” for changing the title… I wonder. Did it sound a bit too much of a “questioning” for the good taste of some influential charity?

Here are snippets from “What is Charity?”…

“… among the many who had been turning away from Americans most in need of charity was the philanthropic sector itself. Last year, the share of giving going to organizations most directly related to helping the poor hit a record low, accounting for less than 10 percent of the $248 billion donated by Americans and their philanthropic institutions…

Other statistics also suggest that the nonprofit sector has drifted from core notions of charity. Nonprofit hospitals provide no more charity care than taxpaying counterparts do. While university assets soar, tuition continues to outpace inflation. Only a sliver of giving to churches is spent on social services…

So what is charity today if it is not aimed primarily at the have-nots? Has its definition been stretched so broadly that it no longer has meaning? If so, are the tax breaks that propel our philanthropy justified? Representative Bill Thomas, Republican of California, the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, has raised those questions in a series of hearings examining whether tax exemption is justified for certain types of nonprofits.

The question, in his words, is, ‘What is the taxpayer getting in return for the tens of billions of dollars per year in tax subsidy’ offered to donors through tax write-offs or to nonprofits through their tax exemptions? According to the Treasury Department, the charitable deduction will amount this year to a $40 billion tax subsidy, mostly to upper-income households – overshadowing the roughly $20 billion the human services sector is likely to raise. No official estimates exist for the cost of the tax exemption covering money that nonprofits spend and for the property they own.

The hearings have received little public notice but have terrified nonprofit leaders, more than a Senate Finance Committee threat to tighten regulation of charities.

‘When you start to ask what is the fundamental underlying rationale for tax exemption and the charitable deduction for donors, it leads to questions that are far more difficult to answer than questions about greater disclosure and better governance,’ said John D. Colombo, a tax-law professor at the University of Illinois who testified before Rep. Thomas. ‘It gets you to questions like, why should an institution with billions in the bank get tax exemption?'”

(Here is more than you ever wanted to know on the “questions about greater disclosure and better governance“…)

I am tempted to ask my own questions though… Does compassion need incentives? If you want to give $10… why would you want a $1 tax break? Why not simply give $9? What’s the point of this tax incentivized “giving”…? But I must be too simplistic here… I probably don’t know enough about the complex dynamics of the partnership between government and private (some call them “special”) interests… bla-bla… bla-bla… whatever…

That’s it for today… and may be for this year. Hopefully, I did not break too many laws by doing these extensive quotes.

Here is a mirror of this post on Aidpage.

Hey Digerati, Blogorati, Technorati…

“… CBS poll this month found that 51 percent of respondents believed humans were created in their present form by God. A further 30 percent said their creation was guided by God. Only 15 percent thought humans evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years. Other polls show that only around a third of American adults accept the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe, even though the concept is virtually uncontested by scientists worldwide. ‘When we ask people what they know about science, just under 20 percent turn out to be scientifically literate,’ said Jon Miller, director of the center for biomedical communication at Northwestern University.” – from CNN.

What should I say… I spent a great many percent of my life in a country where way over 5o percent of the population used to believe that humans were created in their present form by The Great Wheel of History.

Hey digerats, blogorats, technorats… are you with us… or against us?

Just joking… :)

Listenomics…?

Read about it in AdAge… I saw it via Jeff Jarvis… Here is a “free” version

Here is a snippet:

“Hear that?

In the distance? It’s a crowd forming — a crowd of what you used to call your “audience.” They’re still an audience, but they aren’t necessarily listening to you. They’re listening to each other talk about you. And they’re using your products, your brand names, your iconography, your slogans, your trademarks, your designs, your goodwill, all of it as if it belonged to them — which, in a way, it all does, because, after all, haven’t you spent decades, and trillions, to convince them of just that?”

And one more…

“If the conversation is dominated by consumers themselves, and they’re paying scant attention to the self-interested blather of the marketer, who needs ads — offline, online or otherwise? This raises the question of what agencies are left to do. “

See related:
Battelle on Disintermediation in AdAge… and My Comments

Tales From The Web 2.0 Frontier… The Platform Thing

Richard McManus from ZDNet asks the question “What is a platform?“… under the general topic of “Tales From The Web 2.0 Frontier“… and finds good answers from Amazon’s Jeff Besos and Aidpage‘s Emil Sotirov (taken from a comment I made on Jeff Jarvis’ blog)… I like seeing Amazon and Aidpage in one paragraph.

Richard’s own blog is Read/WriteWeb.

Oh, I Wish an Era Was Ending…

The era of the:

  • sales person
  • creative marketing
  • Bush-Gumpiesque stupidity
  • health care system for millionaires by millionaires
  • unequal opportunity education system
  • thousands of “brilliant” Microsoft engineers
  • sports “heroes”

I’m just starting something here… :)

Please, suggest items for the list… or tell my why I should reconsider some… let’s dream a bit… together…

Give a Platform to Your Customers and Let Them Talk

Consumer-generated media exceeds traditional advertising for influencing consumer behavior, finds Intelliseek study (via Emergence Marketing). Consumers are 50 percent more likely to be influenced by word-of-mouth recommendations from their peers than by radio/TV ads… see press release from Intelliseek.

Advertisers of the world… stop spending on “pushing” image and message… it doesn’t really work well anymore… in the near future it won’t work at all.

Invest in Aidpage instead… :) … or in similar projects… Give a platform to your customers and let them write, talk, sing, make pictures. You don’t even have to be “creative”… let them be creative. Do not judge or mediate. Now, just imagine how will they think of you.

Millions of Eligible People Don’t Get Food Stamps

More than 3 million needy people in big cities could be getting food stamps but don’t for a variety of reasons, an anti-hunger group says (see story in CNN).

That translates to $2.1 billion in unused food stamps, the Food Research and Action Center said in a report released Wednesday, Sep 28, 2005.

The Food Stamp Program is a critically important but very underutilized resource for urban America, according to the new Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) report, “Food Stamp Access in Urban America: A City-by-City Snapshot” (see full report as PDF file). The FRAC report analyzes food stamp usage and the incidence of hunger and poverty in 25 of America’s largest cities, spread out over 20 states and the District of Columbia.

Collaborative Tagging Systems – A New White Paper From HP Labs

Don’t have the time now to comment on the paper… will do later… eventually. In the meantime, here is a link to the abstract – “The Structure of Collaborative Tagging Systems“… and here to the full text PDF file.

Very much related to… and explaining some of the stuff we already do at AidPage. The paper’s main example is of course the very popular Del.icio.us.