Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Out and about in the valley...think tanks, SocialText and Louise Kehoe

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 15, 2005

By Tom Foremski, Silicon Valley Watcher

I spent most of Monday in the valley. First in Palo Alto with the Society for New Communications Research, a recently formed think tank. Dan Farber of ZDNet, and Tom Abate of the SF Chronicle, and I are among the members. It's looking at the societal implications of these media technologies that we work with.

Jen McClure put the think tank together and is keeping everyone on track--it should be interesting to see what we come up with.

I also managed to briefly catch up with Mike Manuel, the Media Guerrilla, at Voce Communications. Mike was one of my very first blog reads, and I discovered him because he was writing about me :-)

It was over a year ago, June 2004, I had just left the Financial Times was preparing for my blogging debut (which didn't happen until September.) But Mike, being very perceptive, started asking questions on his blog about what I might be up to. He even ran a survey on his blog, asking his readers to vote on which prominent journalist would become the first one to leave their newspaper and become a full time blogger. I thought that this was very perceptive of Mike, he had connected a bunch of dots and connected them in the right way too, very much as a journalist looks for clues.

His survey said that Dan Gillmor would be the first to leave, but his readers chose the wrong horse. It was myself, a full 7 months before Dan, and....where are the others?

Come on in, the water is a bit chilly but it'll warm up, I know it'll get better. where you are (in a crumbling business model) it isn't going to get better...

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After all the thinking in the think tank meeting Jen McClure, Dan Forbush of ProfNet and I took a languid stroll through the clean, dappled-sunny streets of Palo Alto, which felt like a very pleasant village.

It has always struck me as bizarre that just a couple of miles away, on the other side of highway 101 is East Palo Alto, a tough, poor and unpleasant neighborhood where a much faster pace of strolling is encouraged, if you find yourself there.

American metropolitan areas have always surprised me with their stark and abrupt changes in neighborhoods. The demarcation lines between neighborhoods safe and unsafe often is just the width of a city street, as if a fence separated the two communities. In my home town of London, there is usually a several block buffer zone where thing steadily worsen or improve.

- - -

After lunch we stopped in on Ross Mayfield, head of wiki company SocialText. Ross recently received $4m in Series B funding from SAP, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Omidyar Network.

Ross put some of the money into a new office on the High Street (where Dan Gillmor is renting a cubicle).

I spoke with Ross about the Rooster Club and he is putting together a wiki that we can use to organize the club (more on that v.soon!)

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Then I stopped into visit with my former FT colleague Louise Kehoe, who recently returned from the UK helping her mom recover from hip surgery. I'm always hoping Louise could join with me in becoming a journalist blogger, I think she would do well.

As usual, we ran through all the industry stuff happening, caught up on moves among our former colleagues at the FT. Obviously, the pushing out of the FT's editor Andrew Gowers was a brief topic of conversation.

It seems as if the writing is on the wall that the FT might become a a non-Pearson company. . .I think Rupert Murdoch might be the best owner, he understands newspaper brands very well, imho.

- - -

I'm heading back into the valley Tuesday for meetings and a reception in advance of the IDB Under the Radar event, whcih I'll be moderating...I hope to see you there!

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