CORANTE Symposium on Social Architecture at Harvard University

Yes, I was there… and I am definitely a smarter person now.

Here is a thing David Weinberger said about hierarchies in general (and that would be my modest blogging of the symposium):

“The pyramid brings out the worse in people.”

Since I am not a real blogger (I write and type slowly)… here are some links:

Thomas Kriese: http://www.omidyar.net/user/u720884578/news/30/
David Weinberger: http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/
Network World: http://www.networkworld.com/news/2005/111505-social-software.html

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

From the Alertbox of You Know Who… Read It!

I always read Jacob Nielsen’s alerts… But this one is really important. It’s about the next step in the democratization of software interfaces. To put it shortly… using an analogy… if given a choice, most people wouldn’t cook their meals… they’d rather select them from a restaurant menu… with pictures… Sorry geeks… yeah… dumb users, what can you say… 🙂

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.

My personal DNA map…

Seemingly, I am a considerate idealist 🙂 … At least, this is what I got from the personality test at personaldna.com.

Mouse over any part of the box or strip to learn more about the traits that the colors represent.

My Wife – One Cool "Boston Area Creative Type" – Says CREATE Magazine

My wife Virginia (dba Zayko) was selected to be featured in the main story (Branding Your Creative Business) of the Fall 2005 Boston edition of CREATE Magazine – along with only three other “creatives” from the Boston area.

“We unravel the mystery behind cutting-edge branding by revealing what creative types in Boston are doing to brand their own businesses” – says CREATE Magazine.

Linda K. Pilgrim (the writer) explains the strength of the Zayko brand as coming from a mixed “professional/personal touch.”

Gina is given almost a page of precious “professional press” space – in a story about the holy grail of marketing and design – branding. Not just any branding – but branding of the creative business itself.

I feel a mounting pressure inside me – to stop bragging. Ok… that’s it.

Americans Are Poorer… But Otherwise The Economy Is Doing Great!

It’s a shame – at least for those getting poorer. For those getting richer – it only makes sense.

Here are some changes over a one-year period only (2003-2004) just published by the U.S. Census Bureau:

    “Real median earnings of men age 15 and older who worked full-time, year-round declined 2.3 percent between 2003 and 2004, to $40,798. Women with similar work experience saw their earnings decline by 1.0 percent, to $31,223.”

“There were 37.0 million people in poverty (12.7 percent) in 2004, up from 35.9 million (12.5 percent) in 2003.”That makes 1.1 million more people in poverty.

    “There were 7.9 million families in poverty in 2004, up from 7.6 million in 2003.”

That makes 300,000 more families in poverty.

Update (August 31, 2005):

From today’s article in New York Times…

    “‘It looks like the gains from the recovery haven’t really filtered down,’ said Phillip L. Swagel, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research group in Washington. ‘The gains have gone to owners of capital and not to workers.'”

And also…

    “Since 1967, incomes have failed to rise for four straight years on two other occasions: starting in the late 1970’s and in the early 1990’s. The Census Bureau does not report household income for years before 1967, but other data show that incomes were generally rising in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.”

So, we have a total of three documented periods of such “stabilization” of incomes – one under peace maker Jimmy Carter and two under the House of Bush Warrior Clan.

Update (September 1, 2005):

From today’s editorial in New York Times…

    “And additional census data obtained by the Economic Policy Institute show that only the top 5 percent of households experienced real income gains in 2004. Incomes for the other 95 percent of households were flat or falling.
Income inequality is an economic and social ill, but the administration and the Congressional majority don’t seem to recognize that. When Congress returns from its monthlong summer vacation next week, two of the leadership’s top priorities include renewing the push to repeal the estate tax, which affects only the wealthiest of families, and extending the tax cuts for investment income, which flow largely to the richest Americans. At the other end of the spectrum, lawmakers have stubbornly refused to raise the minimum wage: $5.15 an hour since 1997. They will also be taking up proposals for deep budget cuts in programs that ameliorate income inequality, like Medicaid, food stamps and federal student loans.

They should be ashamed of themselves.”I wonder… in what country do the editors of New York Times live. Don’t they know that America is all about “winners and losers”, “competition, competition, competition…”, “it’s a jungle out there”, and “the winner takes all”. And finally, since “God is in control”, obviously “winners” have “Him” on their side – try argue this point with an American.

And a bit more from today’s Reuter’s story about Katrina:

    “With household debt now up 60 percent in just five years, rising short-term interest rates will already be crimping wallets. Consumer mortgage interest payments alone were up 14 percent in the last year…
Consumer spending on gas, fuel oil and natural gas accounts for just 2.4 percent of the income of the richest fifth of households but 11.2 percent of the poorest fifth, said David Kelly, Senior Economic Advisor at Putnam Investments. ‘Sadly, it is the poorest Americans in the regions and areas that have seen the weakest recovery from the recession of 2001 who are being hurt most by higher oil prices,’ he said.”

 

 

Technorati For Sale?… Well, I Told Ya So!

Yeah… I told ya… on July 9, 2005 in a comment on BusinessWeek’s blog.

Here is what I said:

“I just don’t see how Technorati could keep a hold on blog search. What they do is purely technical… and easy to replicate by Google and Yahoo. What’s more… the effects of G/Y’s entry into blog search would be felt literally overnight. I am not aware of anything in the business model of Technorati that may offer any kind of resistance. May be I don’t know something that the venture capital folks backing Technorati know… But, as I see it, if they haven’t already arranged the sale of Technorati to ???… it might be too late now.”

Filling in for my question marks… anyone?

My guess: IAC.

Here is where the rumor started.

Update (August 30, 2005):
For now, it seems that this may have been really a rumor only… But… in the meantime… nothing good is happening with Technorati. On the contrary, some people (starting with Kottke, and then a VC in NYC) have already declared Technorati useless. May be, my “told ya so” bragging should have concentrated on the “it might be too late now” part of my July 9, 2005 statement.

Update (August 31, 2005): Here goes Jason Calacanis too: Technorati Worthless

“Authorship” and “Mediation” – Battelle on Disintermediation in AdAge… and My Comments

Here are the self-explanatory title and subtitle: “ARE YOU BECOMING IRRELEVANT TO YOUR CUSTOMERS? Why Marketers, Agencies and Media Execs Need to Understand Disintermediation“. Here is a link to the full article (AdAge requires registration). Here is a link to John’s posting on his own SearchBlog.

Among the many good points by John or as he calls them “ground rules for media in a Web-dominated world“:

  • join the ‘point-to’ economy,
  • make your living in the long tail,
  • creative no longer driver,
  • writers go directly to readers,
  • rise of the new middlemen – meaning Yahoo, Google, IAC, etc.

I would like to comment though on something John says:

“Publishers are born connectors, they bring like-minded people together. They are also conversationalists of the first order. They foster the interaction between the three key parties in commercial media: the audience, the author/creator and the marketer. This facilitation is still very much needed. And as much as the folks at Google would beg to differ, when it comes to true value, nothing beats human communication. Figure out a way to be part of the conversation, and you will always prosper.”

I would question a basic assumption underlying the discussion – the “author-audience” relationship – as a given… as something that still needs facilitation by marketers – even in a conversational framework.

I would argue that – on a deeper cultural level – we live through (for quite some time already) a crisis of the idea of “creation” itself as a mode sustaining its terms: “author” and “audience“. Our culture is steadily re-telling the hierarchical “one-to-many” structures through “many-to-many” network models. In a conversation, we don’t really have a “teller” and an “audience.” Everybody is both “talking” and “listening” in a peer to peer environment.

So, what kind of mediation such a conversation needs. “Moderating” comes to mind… which may be as good as Ted Koppel’s televised town square meetings, but is that the conversation John is having in mind? Ted will be retiring soon.

Then, there is the “creative” in the “mediation” business itself. Once you are “creative”, you stop being “part of the conversation” – you try to take “the center” of it. And this, again, reminds me somewhat of Ted sitting pretty on a high chair.

My point being… I am not sure that “authorship” and “mediation” are sustainable values in the context of a real non-moderated conversation.

Comments on Stephen Baker’s "How to appeal to non-bloggers? Think virus wikis"

In a recent blog post, Stephen Baker writes:

    I’ve tried to interest my wife, for example, in our local Montclair, NJ, blog, baristanet. She’ll use it for movie schedules but has no interest in reading or writing comments (and has trouble understanding why anyone would).

So true… Yes, most people seemingly are not inclined to be active media producers or actors. Most of us prefer the “one-click” media engagement. Click – your TV is on; click – look at your new picture; click – go from this web page to that web page.

Most people will not learn the “blog speak”. How about “trackbacks”… Oh, yes… these are links to somewhere on the Web where somebody already said something about what you read here. And this is supposedly happening automatically. For example, I am writing this post hoping for a “trackback” to appear on Stephen Baker’s blog linking back to this post right here – automatically – because I’m linking my post here – back to his original post there. How about easy to imagine… Not to mention “rss”, “pings”, “tagging”, and other similar nerd niceties. Not enticing for most normal people.

And what’s all the fuss about “blog this”, “blog that”… I still cannot get it. How in the world bloggers see each other on the web. It’s not obvious at all. There are the links in the side bar… and in the text itself… true. But how do you easily put these links there. As obscure as any old-fashioned DHTML/Javascript coding. My guess is – bloggers see each other on CNN, may be on Google, locally everywhere in SF, and on Web 2.0 conferences.

And… where is the information? As Stephen Baker points out:

    …it will take new types of blogs to broaden the appeal. They’ll function as tools, and will feed less from comments to other types of input. One example is this new virus wiki (from Ross Mayfield). Here users create the value by contributing data. It’s promises clear value, even for the comment averse.

Yes, most blog posts are comments about other blog posts that are comments on something already produced on old fashioned web sites, TV, or newspapers. There is no much hard data on blogs. But this is to be expected from a publishing format that thrives on quick “real time” typing done by people with other day-time jobs.

And yet… and yet… people can be surprisingly prolific in writing and reacting when faced with serious issues – like personal physical or financial survival, choosing between Kerry and Bush, or more recently – the incredible wave of Internet activity for the tsunami disaster. So, here is a point I want to emphasize – the issues. And then again… the large amounts of useful information.

And here comes the plug – AidPage. How is AidPage relevant? Read my recent posts about AidPage.

Update (July 8, 2005): Turns out Blogger does not support trackbacking yet. No hope for an automatic trackback appearing on Steve Baker’s original post. I did an old fashioned comment there referring back to here… 🙂

The Gates – Christo and Jeanne-Claude in Central Park, New York

Gina (my wife) and I finally saw a real Christo event… We know about and admire Christo since our college years back in Sofia (Bulgaria). He was a kind of a hero for us for the obvious reason of his success as an artist but also for the fact that he had left then communist Bulgaria for France (and later for the US) – seeking artistic and personal freedom.

In 1993, while studying at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, we had the chance to see Christo at an event hosted by the Detroit Institute of Arts… where the organizers were a bit quick to interrupt Christo when he started talking about freedom. I guess Detroit’s “bourgeoisie” expected a lecture strictly about “art”.

And now – “The Gates” – really beautiful. I’ll post our pictures of The Gates later. For now… here is one… of us… happy… at the event:

Have Syke and Bod – Will Compute. The Near Future of Personal Computing.

About the wanna-be-buzz words

“Syke” I derived from “psyche” and is pronounced the same way. “Bod” is simply an obscure (at least for those of us non-natives) English word for “body”. You be the judge of my marketing lingo creativity.

Syke

My syke is my digital “soul.” My syke is everything digital I own – identity, profiles, operating system, applications, configurations, preferences, and data.

Bod

A bod is a digital “body” – a computer with processing and storage capabilities. Bods are as small as to be easily portable in bags and even pockets, interchangeable, cheap, and retailed as widely as batteries. I need a bod to run my syke.

Periphery (display, input devices, etc) is like furniture. I expect to find periphery everywhere (including in cars, planes) – the same way I expect to find chairs when I enter a room. I just “plug” (wirelessly, of course) my bod and start using my syke.

All I have to carry is my bod. Not that I couldn’t use another one, but at least for the foreseeable future it will still be somewhat inconvenient to download a whole syke. A syke could be many, many gigabytes.

Security

Instances of my syke are stored in (1) my bod and in (2) a secure digital bank. Whenever I connect to the Net, my syke is synchronized.

I am the only person that can start and run my syke – the bod recognizes me via some bio stuff (finger, eye, dna, etc…). Forget passwords… don’t need them. Criminals need my bio body to crack my syke – nothing new about this. There’s a long tradition in bio body protection – it’s not a computer problem.

That’s it.

Ah… one last thing. For those of you who pretend doing something with a computer outdoors… just wait for the cool periphery coming: clothes with keyboards “painted” on them, sunglasses with microdisplays, and other such stuff.

Disclaimer
I’m not a computer scientist. I’m simply a knowledgeable present day computer user (“user” here is very close to being a euphemism for “slave”).

Update January 2010… five years later:

Just saw a good anti-Apple essay by Paul Graham from November 2009 in which he writes:

“Could anyone make a device that you’d carry around in your pocket like a phone, and yet would also work as a development machine? It’s hard to imagine what it would look like.”

And then Paul goes on by putting out an RFS (Request for Solution) on Y Combinator:

“There seems a reasonable chance that handheld devices will displace laptops as development machines in the same way that laptops displaced desktops… Maybe you’d have to make significant innovations in input and display devices. The real test is whether you can create an acceptable development environment on something small enough that you’d be willing to use it as a phone. Whatever the solution turned out to be, the result would end up being useful to more than just developers.”

Poland Probes The Killing of Thousands by Soviet Secret Police in 1940

I saw the news on BBC… and I remembered my father telling me the story of the Katyn Forest massacre.

I was probably about 8-9 years old. Against my parents’ usual instructions, I, of course, told the story to some of my friends at school. Nobody believed me (but I was already accustomed to that – they didn’t believe me either when I was telling them that the Americans would be the first on the Moon). At that time, most Bulgarians still could not imagine a “bad” USSR… or even a “bad” Stalin. And I was already starting to think “evil” USSR – had to wait almost 20 years to hear an American president say it outloud. Even then, many in the world still thought that Reagan was “too extreme”.

Here is part of the story and a link to the full text:

The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939 after Moscow and Berlin signed a secret pact to divide Eastern Europe. Millions of Poles were arrested by the Soviet secret police and most sent to labour camps. But more than 21,000 army officers and intellectuals were executed in Katyn and other parts of the USSR.”

Read full BBC story…

So Much for Flip-flopping: Excerpts from John Kerry’s Speach on Iraq Before the War – October 9, 2002

“In giving the President this authority, I expect him to fulfill the commitments he has made to the American people in recent days–to work with the United Nations Security Council to adopt a new resolution setting out tough and immediate inspection requirements, and to act with our allies at our side if we have to disarm Saddam Hussein by force. If he fails to do so, I will be among the first to speak out.

If we do wind up going to war with Iraq, it is imperative that we do so with others in the international community, unless there is a showing of a grave, imminent–and I emphasize “imminent”–threat to this country which requires the President to respond in a way that protects our immediate national security needs.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has recognized a similar need to distinguish how we approach this. He has said that he believes we should move in concert with allies, and he has promised his own party that he will not do so otherwise. The administration may not be in the habit of building coalitions, but that is what they need to do. And it is what can be done. If we go it alone without reason, we risk inflaming an entire region, breeding a new generation of terrorists, a new cadre of anti-American zealots, and we will be less secure, not more secure, at the end of the day, even with Saddam Hussein disarmed.

Let there be no doubt or confusion about where we stand on this. I will support a multilateral effort to disarm him by force, if we ever exhaust those other options, as the President has promised, but I will not support a unilateral U.S. war against Iraq unless that threat is imminent and the multilateral effort has not proven possible under any circumstances.”

…..

“The threat we face today with Iraq does not meet that test yet. I emphasize “yet.” … it is not imminent, and no one in the CIA, no intelligence briefing we have had suggests it is imminent.”

…..

The international community’s support will be critical because we will not be able to rebuild Iraq singlehandedly. We will lack the credibility and the expertise and the capacity.”