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March 2006 Archives

March 30, 2006

Maxtor and Fabrik team up to drive the digital media home

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

I had an interesting briefing by Maxtor and its stealth software partner Fabrik on Tuesday. And I really appreciated them sending a car service to whisk me off 1 1/2 miles to the Hilton in downtown SF.

What was interesting is how Maxtor, one of the top hard drive companies (currently being acquired by Seagate Technology) is making its bid for the digital home. It is doing it through a strategy that leverages its brand and also moves it up the value stack.

I used to cover the hard drive industry when I was at the Financial Times. [It was a thrill to meet the legendary Al Shugart, a couple of years ago!]

In the late 1980s the hard drive industry used to consist of more than 40 companies and Silicon Valley was ground zero for this industry. This is also the region where IBM developed the first hard drive:
From Wikipedia:

The first hard disk drive was the IBM 350 Disk File, invented by Reynold Johnson and introduced in 1955 with the IBM 305 computer. This drive had fifty 24 inch platters, with a total capacity of five million characters. A single head was used for access to all the platters, making the average access time very slow.

The history of the hard drive industry followed the same pattern of consolidation that has characterized other tech industry sectors. Wall Street provided a lot of encouragement for the M&A, not just to fuel its investment banking business but also to promote the carrot that greater consolidation would lead to better profits.

The problem with the hard drive industry was that it continually got ahead of itself. The race to pile more bits per square measure was brutal. The technology breakthroughs were piling up and continually disrupting the industry. The hard drive industry, year-after-year produced faster, higher capacity hard drives for a lot less money. The performance gains were always greater than Moore's Law.

The hard drive companies couldn't make money in most years and were in this constant battle to undercut each other, either with technology or price cuts. But Wall Street urged even greater consolidation and the argument was plain: fewer players would mean more control over pricing. But it didn't happen, Wall Street analysts, perplexed, started to refer to the "profitless prosperity" of the hard drive industry.

[Please see SVW: Seagate and hard drive sector hit hard times again—is this the reward for sector consolidation?]

Silverlake Partners, the savvy Silicon Valley investment group acquired Seagate as part of a complex deal with Veritas and set to work on remaking the company--with some limited success.

However, it has been a tough, tough market, and it comes during a time when we have a data explosion of enormous magnitude. We save every bit of data multiple times and we generate a galaxy of data through our storage of photos, digital home movies and enterprise transactional data to...everything else.

So, back to Maxtor. It realized that it needed to move up the stack and add value to its drive. EMC, for example, was buying up low-priced hard drives, sticking them in a cabinet--wrapping some software around it--and getting 60 percent plus margins on the enterprise storage systems it was selling.

Maxtor has been following a similar strategy and has built up its brands such as its successful "one-touch" drive line. One-touch and it backs up your PC. Brilliantly simple and obvious.

Now, it wants to go further--it wants to be the media server in your home, it wants a piece of the digital home. And it might just get a decent sized chunk with its unique strategy.

A lot of the product introductions are under embargo--but you'll see them from April 10 onwards into the summer. What isn't under embargo is its business strategy which for me, is where the juice is. Maxtor has teamed up startup Fabrik, a software and data hosting company for its "Project Fusion" which is a way for people to manage, organize, store and share their media: photos, movies, music, etc.

Now, you might say, we've seen this, and heard this pitch before and there are a ton of companies that seem to say similar things, and want a similar slice of the future digital home entertainment system. And you are right.

But Maxtor and Fabrik are coming at it in a different way. They believe that the data is where the value lies and therefore they can provide a software application layer along with their hard drives, that can coexist, and support, the user interface applications for the digital home from Microsoft, Apple, Logitech, and many others.

It is a crafty strategy because the software interface is AJAX based so you can access and manage and organize your media from any computer with a web browser. Which also means that while you might be a "server hugger" and want your media files on a terabyte Maxtor data storage system sitting at home--you could also choose to store it in the cloud somewhere. The approach accommodates both types of users and Maxtor plays in both realms.

The software from Fabrik offers tagging to help organize, it produces multiple resolutions of photos automatically, and it has many other useful capabilities. But what it really is, is a desktop user interface for media file management that sits on the web. This means that Maxtor and Fabrik have the opportunity to establish a file management system that is web based rather than client-based as is Windows or Mac OSX, (which are also file management systems.)

It's a good strategy because you can still run whatever user interface/application you want to play on your clients. So in that way, Maxtor/Fabrik doesn't have to go toe-to-toe with the big players already in the home and on your desktop.

You'll only be able to get the drives bundled with Fabrik, or the Fabrik software by itself--through Maxtor. It's a variation of the Apple Computer/iTunes model...and you can bet there will be opportunities for added services.

Keep an eye on this Maxtor initiative led by ex-Apple exec Mike Williams, vice president and general manager, Maxtor Branded Products--I will certainly be watching. And take a look at Fabrik and its software here: http://www.fabrikinc.com/index.php.

March 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Thoughtleaders
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This & That Three-Dot style: Thursty Thlacks toast Strumpette Thursday eve; I'm number 4 in Silicon Valley; The Beat Museum moves on down the road

(Hat tip to Dan B.) Bite Communication's unaffiliated (responsible) drinking club Thursty Thursday (TT) is hoisting a few to toast "Strumpette" the latest sensation in the PR BlogoSphere (BS). Come join TT president Steve Kerns at:

Steve "I promise to not use the term blogosphere seriously in one of these invites" Kerns
President, Thursty Thursday, Inc.
The "A Toast to Strumpette" TT
- Date: Thursday, March 30, 2006
- Time: Happy hours starts at 5 pm.....I'm shooting for sometime close to there
- Location: 90 Natoma (Natoma is an alley off of 2nd Street close to Howard)

. . .

We're Number.jpgOwn-trumpet-blowing: My son Matt mentioned that if you were to Google Silicon Valley (no quotes) Silicon Valley Watcher ranks number 4 out of 101 million results.

If you use quotes around "Silicon Valley" SVW gets a number 3 rank out of 87.7 million results That's not dang bad...for a guy with a notebook.

I love having this top association with this region which I consider the world's greatest engine of innovation. And I love being immersed in its stories, its people, and in helping to create the future.

If you live and work in this part of N. California you are part of an elite group. And whether you are working in the trenches or in the executive suites, you are helping to create a future world that will impact the lives of billions of people. That's not dang bad...

. . .

My TotalChoice Hosting service or as I prefer to call it TotalUseless keeps sending me emails that I am about to run out of my monthly bandwidth allotment. However, to purchase a gigabye or two ($2.50 a piece) I have to contact the sales department during normal business hours. I can't even click an online box to purchase the gigs. My apologies if SVW goes dark at some point today... If I can't get my order through on time they will shut me off until April 1! As soon as I can manage it, I'm going to transfer over to Dreamhost which hosts my other projects.

. . .

I've been writing a fair amount this year about what I see as a strong cultural lineage between the writers of the Beat generation and the Blog generation. Both celebrate a rawness and passion in their literature. I've attended some of the events organized by the newly created Beat Museum in North Beach.

Let it roll: A celebration of beat and blog literature; shoot-from-the-hip-one-take-journalism

The Beats: celebrating the obscenity of literature

The new and old Beatnicks celebrate Neal Cassady's birthday

Fellow beatblog fans might be interested to hear that the Beat Museum is moving temporarily to The Cannery at Fisherman's Wharf while it looks for a permanent home in North Beach.

From the announcement:

We knew from the very beginning that our stay at 1345 Grant Avenue was only going to last through the end of March. This gave us the opportunity to see if The Beat Museum was viable in North Beach and the answer came back with a resounding, “Yes!”

Now we’re on the hunt for the perfect permanent location. We’re looking for a place that is large enough and flexible enough to grow with us as we grow The Beat Museum.

So, come see us at our new temporary home! We closed today at the Grant Avenue location and will open up on Wednesday, April 5th at The Cannery. It’s only a little more than a half a mile away from Broadway and Columbus.


Thanks for your support!

Jerry Cimino

New Hours:

10 AM – 6 PM
7 Days a Week
(starting Wednesday, April 5th)

Our mailing address is:

The Beat Museum
2801 Leavenworth Street
San Francisco, CA 94133


March 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Mediasphere
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Did anybody solve my Google atom bomb/treasure hunt riddle?

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

Atom-Bomb-Redux.jpgMore than a year ago, on February 3 I wrote the this post and it caused a stir in the nascent BlogoSphere. I stated a hypothetical scenario and something which could be one of several flaws in the pay-per-click advertising model--the dominant form of online marketing.

There were quite a few people that didn't understand it, but that was fine because I didn't want to seem as if I were yelling "fire" in a crowded place. The people that did understand it understood the significance of the scenario.

Today there are larger numbers of people that will understand the riddle. And although I use Google as an example, it is not specific to Google, it is something that would affect many other advertising networks.

Here is the original post and I'd be interested in an original solution (I think I have one :-)

Here is the scenario:

A billionaire has arranged to give $100m to the first person that clicks on a special link that looks like a Google text ad.

March 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Google [GOOG]
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Jupiter Research is sold -- one year after SVW scoop that it was up for sale

A year ago I wrote that Jupiter Research was up for sale only to get significant push back from Jupiter itself.
Here is the original: Jupiter Research is up for sale with multiple bidders

Here is Jupitermedia CEO's Alan Meckler's response contained in this post from Rafat Ali at the always excellent PaidContent.Org.

[BTW, it is interesting to note Mr Meckler's pump of Jupiter Research on his own blog. It is a good job that those days of pump and dump are long gone.]

From: PaidContent.Org

Jupiter Research For Sale? [by rafat] : Update: Meckler writes in to us: "These have been going on since Gartner announced the Meta deal. We have no deal going on -- however we are always for sale as a company -- that is the fiduciary obligation of a CEO for a public company. We also owe to stockholders to listen to any offer. Are you a buyer!" Ah, well..
Jupiter Research, part of Alan Meckler's Jupitermedia, is up for sale, according to Silicon Valley Watcher, with multiple bidders for it.
The sale of Jupiter would further consolidate the market research analyst community, which is down to a handful of companies dominated by Gartner, the largest, according to the story.
Meckler's a master at mixing and matching businesses, and has had the golden touch of getting out of business at the right time. He bought the entrails of Jupiter Research (then Jupiter Media Metrix)for a mere $250K in 2002, and has gone on to rename his company based on it.
The research firm has been doing well, at least according to Meckler himself, who wrote up a post titled "Jupiter Research Rising", a week ago on his blog: "Syndicated research clients hit 297 the other day (up from 241 at this time last year). Contract value renewals have climbed to close to 100%. JR is now profitable and we expect healthy financial growth this year."

Here is the announcement of the sale from Jupitermedia:

(New York, NY - March 29, 2006) - Jupitermedia Corporation (Nasdaq: JUPM) today announced that it has sold its JupiterResearch division for $10.1 million in cash and the assumption of certain liabilities by the purchaser, subject to certain post-closing adjustments. The purchaser is JupiterResearch, LLC a subsidiary of JupiterKagan, Inc., which is a portfolio company of MCG Capital Corporation (Nasdaq: MCGC).
"The sale of JupiterResearch closes an exciting and successful chapter for Jupitermedia. During our nearly four years of ownership, we were able to revitalize this important business through the combined efforts of the JupiterResearch team and our operating acumen," stated Alan M. Meckler, Chairman and CEO of Jupitermedia Corporation. "The sale of the JupiterResearch business is further evidence of Jupitermedia's strategy to be primarily focused on our rapidly growing digital asset collections. The funds received will continue to strengthen our balance sheet and allow us to have greater buying power for more acquisitions for our Jupiterimages division," added Meckler.

March 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Mediasphere
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March 29, 2006

Case study: The elegant social engineering design of Strumpette wreaks havoc in the PR BlogoSphere

Amanda Chapel is a real character if not a real person, and the content on Strumpette is real. In an inaugural post, Ms Chapel baited the top PR blogger Steve Rubel who works at Edelman.

This is becoming an interesting case study on how to react to negative news/opinions, especially if one or more of the participants are fictional. Usually, the strategy would be to focus on the source (Strumpette) and correct any inaccuracies, address any negative comments right there at the source through comments and trackbacks.

Edelman's people have tried to do that but so far, have failed to do much that isn't fueling things the wrong way. And that is largely because of the marvelous social engineering design of Strumpette. Take a look at "Edelman Gang Gets Rough with Strumpette"

We could get some best practices out of this very interesting situation, one that has an array of moral and ethical high grounds occupied and fought over with zest and extra-hardened fingernail polish...:-) In which some of the participants could be of questionable gender and questionable morals. Let the questions continue--it is marvelously entertaining--but is anybody working in PR?

March 29, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: PR Watch
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March 28, 2006

Howard High-Intel's leading PR chief is retiring this Friday

Howard High, one of Intel's top PR leaders and communications strategists is retiring after 27 years. I've worked with Howard for nearly 20 years and to me, he has always represented the very best qualities of Intel and of his profession.

I'm glad Howard gets out to play :-)

Here is his note:

Hi Tom – I don’t know if you have heard, but I wanted to tell you that after 27 years at Intel, I have decided to retire. My last day in the office will be this Friday. I want to play a bit and see what it is like to enter a week without 50 hours of my schedule pre-committed. I’ve enjoyed working with you over the years and wish you and Silicon Valley Watcher nothing but success in the future. Thank you for the kindness and the fairness you have given me and Intel over the years.

If you'd like to contact Howard you can reach him here:

March 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: PR Watch
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The importance of not being Earnest...

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

Not-Earnest.jpgGiovanni Rodriguez from Eastwick Communications, seems to think that Strumpette, the latest out-of-left-field blogging sensation written as a stylishly erotic PR blog, by Amanda Chapel--is a fake.

Maybe, but...does it matter? It is wonderfully entertaining and I sent a personal email of encouragement with some of my top blogging tips and said I'm happy to help out with any advice needed. I also said that I would respectfully keep confidential any private correspondence between us--unless agreed otherwise by both parties. [This has to become a basic rule of social etiquette in this day and age when anyone can publish.]

And, I would also keep quiet if Amanda were to be a single or group project. Either way my blogging advice remains the same.

Here is Giovanni's comment and my reply. Let me know what you think about my idea for creating a persona that several writers could share on a weekly basis...I might enjoy it, I'd give it a try, anybody else?

by: Giovanni Rodriguez on March 27, 2006 06:20 PM
Strumpette is a H-O-A-X. Sez me.

Do we have any evidence that "she" exists? Yes, there's a blog. Yes, there's email. What else?

Reply by: Tom Foremski - Silicon Valley Watcher
That's what you said last time G. You said SandhillSlave was a man and I said no way and I betcha I'm right.

Strumpette's Amanda might very well turn out to be a group hybrid personality--it would be fun either way. It is certainly entertaining so far. Maybe we could all take turns to be SandhillSlave or Amanda and play out a persona. Perhaps the real person could be hidden among a flurry of writers and able to protect their insider identity...?

What if we were to adopt a real or imaginary persona, one with a distinct blog voice/online personality, and several people agreed to write one blog post per day within the character of the blog persona? That could be interesting, and maybe even compelling content...

So for example, if Amanda is a composite of several persons then we could have several writers randomly writing as Amanda... They could be semi-fictional semi-factual stories for entertainment purposes only...and they might even protect the anonymity of insiders?

What do you think G? Could you pretend to be Amanda, or an Angela or an Angus, for one day? I bet you could do it with your theatrical background... you could probably manage all three :-)

March 28, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Tom Watch
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March 27, 2006

Apple Computer's CTO is leaving within days - SFGate scoop

SF Chronicle's blog supremo Al Saracevic, senior bus. editor over at SFGate.com's new tech blog The Tech Chronicles has a very nice scoop hot off the server!

It is Adios to Avadis "Ave" Tevanian, Apple Computer's Chief Technology Officer and operating system expert. He is heading out of the Infinite Loop for unknown pastures and his last day is March 31st. Bang on the April 1st 30 year anniversary for Apple.

March 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Apple [AAPL]
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Every company is now partly a technology-enabled media company--I explain in moving pictures

foremski-a2.jpgAndy Plesser, who organized the impressive Impact '05 conference at New York University in September, sent me this note about his plunge into blogging.

It includes a link to a video clip of myself (blush), I was on a panel with Joe Trippi, Howard Dean's political consultant and probably the most high profile political consultant in the US right now because of his experience with blogging and other media technologies, used to great effect during Mr Dean's presidential bid.

[Andy is a consumate professional and has been one of my earliest and staunchest supporters especially when I left the FT and ventured forth to test out the new media waters nearly two years ago...He and his family are also wonderful hosts whenever I'm in New York, which is not often enough.]

Hope all is well. After sitting out the blog world for a while, I've jumped in with a video blog, which I have titled Beet.TV - it's on the very cool VideoEgg/TypePad platform.

It's a work in progress. I wanted to present thinkers in the
media/PR/tech space - it's a great way for my firm to keep in a
leadership position and to create a new platform for our ideas and

Here's a clip of your excellent appearance at last year's Impact.


All the best, Andy

Andy Plesser
Plesser Holland Associates New York + Washington

March 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: About SVW
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A Case Study for how to correct an online article

This interview appeared in Bulldog Reporter's Daily Dog. It's well done, but I needed to correct a few points. [My comments and corrections are in bold and in brackets.]:

Blogger and Tech Scribe Foremski Shares Seven Timely Tips for Building Relationships with Influential Bloggers in Your Market

“Because I blog, I am sometimes introduced as a ‘former journalist,’” [I'm a "former FT journalist"] says Tom Foremski, editor, publisher and founder of Silicon Valley Watcher (www.SiliconValleyWatcher.com). “But my advice to PR people is not to distinguish between the two. If something looks like journalism—then it is. There’s no seal of approval,” says Foremski, who used to file columns for The Financial Times[I used to work full-time as a news reporter for the Financial Times before leaving in mid-2004.] “Those distinctions don’t make that much sense these days. For example, a lot of newspapers ask their journalists to be bloggers in addition to their usual assignments.” [So then are they temporarily no longer journalists if they are writing their news blogs at work?]

His point: “The real issue isn’t whether someone is a blogger or not—but whether they’re credible. It doesn’t matter if they write in AP style or grandma style,” he jokes. “What’s important is who they reach and if they’re influential in your market. You can look for reciprocal links to determine that. But links don’t show where conversations are actually started. It’s more complicated than that. There really is no silver bullet other than getting involved.” Foremski offers these blog-savvy tips for doing just that:

1. Start small—simply visit relevant blogs. “You don’t have to launch your own blog to get involved in this,” says Foremski. “Just start by reading blogs in your market. Then move up to leaving your comments on other blogs. The danger with starting a blog is that you have to feed it every day—and that can be stressful [...if you are not a professional journalist--the monster has to be fed and fussed over everyday :-) ] It also might not be the best use of your time.”

2. Treat bloggers like journalists—with these exceptions. “While bloggers shouldn’t be treated that differently, you do have to make the rules more clear,” Foremski says. “That includes being very specific about what you mean by things like ‘off the record,’ ‘on background’ and ‘embargoed.’ Make sure the definitions are very clear on both sides first.”

In addition: “It can be hard to find blogger names and contact information. The only advice I can give is to follow the links. Another difference is that bloggers get really, really upset if they find something in their email inbox that wasn’t requested. The rest of us are used to getting pitches that went to everybody. But bloggers resent it. They will blog about lame PR practitioners. You can become the story in blogs if you’re not careful,” Foremski warns.

3. Help bloggers with fact checking and due diligence. “It’s not a bad idea to consider bloggers without media backgrounds as ‘juvenile’[I said "inexperienced"] journalists,” Foremski continues. “They have that natural ability to reach audiences and write—but might not be familiar with the processes of vetting information and fact checking. That’s because their minds are focused on commenting and responding quickly. In fact, bloggers seem to rely on the mainstream media to do the fact checking for them. To be honest, there’s not a lot of fact checking going on in the mainstream media, either.”

[This is very, very true we trust and use the factual information provided to us by a company and its representatives. We don't trust claims of being the first, or best or anything of that nature.]

His point: “We all assume that the stuff in your press release is 100 percent accurate. So make sure the numbers, spellings and everything is completely vetted. Few newsrooms I know of have fact checkers any more. Some high-end magazines might, but they’re usually just fact checking stories that come in from freelancers.”

4. Play to bloggers’ egos—offer exclusives. “Bloggers like juicy pegs and controversy,” says Foremski. “They like dirt. [I did not say "dirt" although the statement is true for some bloggers.] Any journalist likes exclusivity—but bloggers are especially interested in anything that let’s them say, ‘I know something you don’t know.’ The ego and byline are a big part of why bloggers blog. They want to be on top of the[link] pile.”

His advice: “Understand this when reaching out to bloggers. They are far more competitive. I’ve been in pubs with other blogger journalists and have had to run out and file a story while pretending to go to the bathroom. [I was with other professional journalists who are also bloggers-- journalists love scoops even more.] It’s more personal. We don’t want anybody to beat us. If you understand that, then you offer more things like exclusives or behind-the-scenes information and access.” But, he warns: “Don’t offer an exclusive that isn’t really one. Remember that hell hath no fury like a blogger scorned.”

[You'd better believe it -- I strive to be nicer-than-nice if an honest mistake occurs but niceness is only appreciated if you occasionally demonstrate how unpleasant things could be otherwise...]

5. Revisit the basics and dust off the “old rules.” “The new rules of reaching bloggers are the same as the old rules of reaching the press—just more intense,” Foremski says. “If it was about trust, credibility and building relationships before—it’s more so now. If you had to tailor ideas before—you have to make sure you customize every single pitch for a blogger now. In other words, don’t pitch a blogger without reading him first. It’s all the same media relations as before, except that there are more ‘outlets’ to deal with. That means your job is now focused on doing more of what you should have been doing before. What you weren’t doing right in reaching out to the media will become glaringly obvious reaching out to bloggers.”

[Which means you have a heck of a LOT more work to do. But hey, don't cry too much, PR professionals are rolling in work and are getting 1999-dotcom era salaries. When they signed-on, I'm sure they knew they just sold most of their best hours of their day--their personal life and families get the lower quality hours...]

6. Bring bloggers “into the tent.” “I had breakfast with Richard Edelman recently,” shares Foremski. “He has a term he uses: ‘bringing people into the tent.’ That’s what he did by having breakfast with me. It really works.” [It is also a way for a blogger to get into the tent and get access . . . it works both ways :-) ] His advice: “Don’t leave bloggers out. For example, some bloggers don’t get press passes. Change that. Treat them equally. Also, offer bloggers access to senior-level people. It doesn't matter if it’s not a big business magazine across the table. Embrace these guys. There are millions of blogs out there—but only a few top ones in your sector. It shouldn’t be hard to find them and bring them in.”

[I said that meeting with key bloggers should be a normal part of traditional media relations, as it is with professional journalists. But you cannot make your senior executives available to anybody--there just isn't enough time in the world. It is not just bloggers but journalists from small, or little known publications, that constantly have this problem of access.]

7. Don’t forget freebies—they can open doors (and hearts). “Tchotchkes work with bloggers more than with normal journalists,” says Foremski. “It’s much easier to buy them off in that way,” he jokes. “They love it. Goodies really work—especially tech goodies.”

[I did not say "buy them off" but I did say that bloggers tend to get excited by freebies. Ninety per cent of the time the freebies are not digital but pens or t-shirts--the rest of the time it's a USB flash drive, (I receive and give away a lot of them.]

You can read the original and other good pieces here: http://www.bulldogreporter.com/dailydog/issues/1_1/dailydog_journalists_speak_out/index.html#label%202
Postscript: The article was well put together, covered a lot of good points and because I am a journalist blogger I was able to correct a few points.

BTW, this is a good case study on one way you can handle a similar situation and put the record straight. By using a trackback to the article, or leaving a comment with a link to this post, I can address any issues--at the point of readership--not in a letter to the editor days later.

- - -

Here is my pitch: If you'd like to learn more about how to communicate in the new world and avoid some of the many pitfalls, starting in April I'm setting aside a few days per month to come in and spend half-a-day or so to chat with comms teams at companies and agencies, and set aside more time to speak at conferences.

Please contact Jen McClure, the founder of the non-profit think tank, the Palo-Alto based Society for New Communications Research (of which I am a founding fellow.) Jen's number is 650 387 8590 and we also have a stable of senior fellows with expertise in all areas--from building the technical infrastructure to podcasting and beyond.

There is a consulting fee for commercial organizations, which helps to fund our work with non-profits and educational institutes. But even with commercial organizations I do a lot of free 45-minute-or-so visits (if in Bay Area), and you can ask me anything you'd like :-).

March 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Mediasphere
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DARPA TinyOS developers get $5m from Intel and others

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

Big-Bro_Arch-Rock.jpgWho says Big Brother/Sister isn't coming? It is but under a different guise...Here is mesh/sensor network company Arch Rock, who today announced $5m in funding for:

Arch Rock’s vision is to help customers create and manage billions of sensor-based touch points with the physical world of matter and space and generate new actionable intelligence that can be leveraged in a wide variety of new industrial and consumer applications.

An investor said:

By being able to measure anything, monitor it on the Internet and act on the information, businesses will be able not only to predict the outcome of a situation, but actually influence or control that outcome. That’s the promise of wireless sensor and control networks” said Forest Baskett, general partner with NEA.

The Series A funding comes from New Enterprise Associates, Shasta Ventures and Intel Capital. And the Berkeley inventors of TinyOS (DARPA funded) are the founders of the new company.

I predicted such investments two months ago: Big Brother brings business opportunities

Here is the release:

Berkeley Inventors of TinyOS Found Arch Rock to Scale Wireless Sensor Networks as the Next Tier of the Internet

Company Raises $5 Million Series A Funding from NEA, Shasta Ventures and Intel Capital

San Francisco, March 27, 2006 – Arch Rock, a company founded in mid 2005 to develop products that enable wide adoption of wireless sensor networks within the broader context of Internet technology, announced today that it secured a $5 million Series A investment from New Enterprise Associates, Shasta Ventures and Intel Capital. Forest Baskett, general partner with New Enterprise Associates, Rob Coneybeer, managing director with Shasta Ventures, and Judy Estrin, CEO of Packet Design, LLC, have joined the company’s board of directors. The Series A funding will be used to expand the company team and its sales and marketing capabilities. It will also be used to further develop Arch Rock’s cohesive set of portable operating systems, layered networking protocols and service oriented architectures, the three critical components that enable scalable deployment and rapid application development for sensing and control across numerous industries with diverse needs.

Wireless sensor networks are collections of tiny computers that can monitor almost anything – such as light, motion, proximity, temperature, biometrics and chemical substances – and are networked by forming wireless meshes using low-power radio. Arch Rock’s Internet-enabled wireless sensor network solutions allow companies to apply business logic at all tiers of these sensor networks in order to easily capture new kinds of information from the physical world and harness that information through their enterprise software and web services applications. Arch Rock’s vision is to help customers create and manage billions of sensor-based touch points with the physical world of matter and space and generate new actionable intelligence that can be leveraged in a wide variety of new industrial and consumer applications.

The Arch Rock management team is comprised of renowned experts in the fields of wireless sensor networks and embedded systems, Internet networking, and enterprise software.

· Roland Acra, President and CEO. Acra is a 20-year networking industry veteran who was President and CEO at Procket Networks and held several senior executive positions at Cisco Systems.

· Dr. David Culler, Chairman, co-founder and CTO. Culler is a professor of Computer Science at University of California, Berkeley, former director of Intel Research Berkeley and principal investigator of DARPA's Network Embedded Systems Technology program (DARPA NEST) that created the open TinyOS platform for wireless sensor networks.

· Dr Wei Hong, co-founder and vice president of Engineering. Hong brings over 15 years of industry experience in databases and enterprise software, including as Principal Investigator at Intel Research and senior architect at Informix and Peoplesoft.

"Arch Rock brings a great team to this emerging area and we are excited to see their focus on integrating wireless sensor networks into the service architecture of the enterprise” said Prasad Rampalli, VP, Digital Enterprise Group at Intel.

“By being able to measure anything, monitor it on the Internet and act on the information, businesses will be able not only to predict the outcome of a situation, but actually influence or control that outcome. That’s the promise of wireless sensor and control networks” said Forest Baskett, general partner with NEA. “The company’s strategy to enable sensor technology to integrate seamlessly with the Internet and the Web has the potential to unlock the next wave of innovation on the Internet.”

Arch Rock is already deploying tailored customer solutions across several industries and applications as diverse as industrial automation, logistics, and information technology.

“Our vision is that sensors will far outnumber computers and that the Internet architecture and value system is the way to scale” said Roland Acra, CEO, Arch Rock. “Multi-vendor hardware, networks spanning diverse links, and distributed applications - these are the principles around which the Internet has thrived. We will bring forward these principles and look forward to building a healthy ecosystem in order to scale wireless sensor networks for the benefit of our customers,” said Acra.

About Arch Rock

Arch Rock provides software, systems and services enabling wireless sensing and control networks to be easily deployed and integrated at scale within the Internet and enterprise frameworks. The San Francisco-based company deploys open-systems that bridge the gaps between manufacturers of sensor devices, wireless networking technology, and Internet based software applications. The company has secured financing from New Enterprise Associates, Shasta Ventures and Intel Capital. More information can be found at http://www.archrock.com

From SparkPR

March 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: VC Watch
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Scoble and the A-list; a beatblog Howl; Strumpette launches with a trail of breadcrumbs...

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

Microsoft A-list blogger Robert Scoble says he wants to be off the A-list blog roll--things are getting way too mean. Yep, that's true. I try not to be, it's too easy.


. . .

I went to the "6 Poets at 6 Gallery" event Friday in North Beach because of my interest in the Beat Generation and its historic lineage to blogging, and thanks to Allison and Erica who got there early, we had the best standing room in the house, right next to the poets. It was a fun event and I met a lot of interesting people.

The rest of the evening, however, is less easily recalled. I remember something about expressing my own personal "Howl" at the world towards the end of the night...

I could claim to have been aroused by the passionate poetic visions so wonderfully recreated. But I think forgetting to eat during the extended social part of the evening had something to do with an interesting, but highly unrecommended odyssey back home.

Let it roll: A celebration of beat and blog literature; shoot-from-the-hip-one-take-journalism

The Beats: celebrating the obscenity of literature

. . .

Strumpette: A naked journal of the PR business is the new chick on the blogging block, smart and se.x.y, and that's just her writing. Her physical description of herself promises pert parts and other fine qualities of a pertinent nature.

And she has the top male PR bloggers eating out of her hand and she just launched(!) Amanda, don't you just feel some days that it is all just too easy :-) Or, are you really A-Man-Da!

Personally, I try to go for the more challenging muckraking--I figure I can do the easy stuff later...

[BTW, Steve Rubel couldn't, wouldn't, and doesn't need to take on Richard Edelman. He'll be there a long time...that's where I'd put my 25 bucks. I'll even put 25 on you making it to Edelman within the year, if you can build your pagerank :-)]

March 27, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Mediasphere
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March 24, 2006

Tivo: The great failure of viral marketing (and Naked Conversations?)

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

Viral Marketing.jpgI was sitting in Harrington's chatting with Julie Crabill and her colleague Khristine Valdez from Shift Communications Thursday evening, and we were talking about this and that, and viral marketing came up. And it struck me that viral marketing was a huge failure when it came to Tivo.

Tivo received a tremendous amount of viral marketing--I heard about it from enthusiast friends of mine for several years before I bought one and became a convert, and a viral marketer. Yet, despite my friends/colleagues passion for the device, and despite the fact that they are peers (high on Edelman Trust Barometer)--I didn't "get" Tivo, until I got one.

To put it another way, I didn't dig it until I got it.

That's not the way viral marketing is supposed to work, I should have become a customer years earlier. And I know many others who are late to Tivo despite massive amounts of positive viral marketing.

And this is a phenomenon that i see a lot. Viral marketing is not all that it's supposed to be. It is usually hailed as the holy grail in marketing because it is free marketing. Yet viral marketing also can produce an opposite reaction, sometimes conscious and sometimes not. It can cause a determination not to buy. For example, going to a movie or reading a book or seeing a TV show that everyone loves.

Is it equal parts positive to negative when it comes to the benefits of viral marketing? I would guess a 70 to 30 per cent split in favor of positive. What would you say?

- - -

BTW, Tivo could have become the Netscape web browser to the TV--instead it thought it was a box maker.

Most recently, it has switched to an annual subscription/commitment model instead of month-to-month payments. Why would someone hand over an annual payment or make a year-long commitment to a company struggling to find its way? Shouldn't Tivo remove obstacles to gaining customers and make it as easy-as-pie to be a subscriber?

March 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: PR Watch
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Travellin Loco Luco on artz and kultur events....

Bling, bling..... bling, bling, bling... BAM! Back on the
radar and back in the swing of things here at SVW. Time for
your Friday wrapper from Loco Luco.

Winter has been VERY kind to me: spent New Year's Eve on stage in SF,
singing in front of 7,000 withThe String
Cheese Incident;
rocked an intimate, holiday show with Miss Sarah King
in Portland, OR; and sang silly love songs at the Corazon de Amor" Valentine's day event.
All the music has left me a wee bit
behind on the tech front and I'm only now catching up with the latest
and greatest in recent, new media developments(although it always seems
to be a revolving door!).

Ok, so, back on the scene... and 'bling, bling'... I'm addicted
again. Wearing my pho-chanell, pho-diamond studded
glasses(like, major bling, bling, yo!) passing through Vegas airport
this week, I was wishing I could pull up the network on the interior
lenses and kick it 'round the metaverse. I even pretended it
was happening, tapping my fingers against my thumbs, as if I had the
perfect user interface to sort data while I stood in line to board the
plane. yea, I read too much sci-fi.

But here's one step
in the right direction of interface design. Indeed, I'm tired
of sitting... and I've wondered if someday I'll be able to interact
with the machines while going through the primary series of Ashtanga...
or playing basketball.

Ok, but enough about me and my super future, fantasies.
Here's a list of some hot things happenin this weekend round the bay,
through the metaverse, and beyond:

Gogol Bordello in SF this weekend: Ok, so you probably can't get tickets to the show at this late notice(you should still try) but at least you'll know for next time. This incredible gypsy-punk-performance rock act will blow your mind!  By far, the best show EVERYONE I know has EVER experienced.

Then, if you're travelin through Chicago(as I am), check out Andy
Warhol at the MCA
'nough said.

Traveling round the country this week, you may have noticed a
swarm of hipsters stealin up all the bar stools at your favorite
airport bars. Indeed, some of them are headed to spring
break, but the other, more mature, variety(the ones that don't have
"nice ass" stenciled on their pants) are surely headed to Miami for the
music fest. Get an ear full, if you're near, at theWinter Music
in Miami, Fl. 

And, on the home entertainment front... if you've had enough of main
stream, commercial-flix, check out some under-appreciated, indie flicks
at Greencine.com.
 I recently watched the CRAZIESTflick
'bout 'noodlin(the
age old sport of catchin' catfish wit yo bare hands)!  Nah,
you won't find that on netflix...

And, finally, a bit of eye candy from my latest obsession: street art.
  Check out the Wooster
orWe make money
not art
for some killer street art and underground beauty.
Or, if you're in the Bay Area, see Logan Hicks' and Adam5100's new show, "Layered," at the Urbis
Artium Gallery
on Geary Street.

See ya on the flip, Luco

March 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Guest Writer
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Let it roll: A celebration of beat and blog literature; shoot-from-the-hip-one-take-journalism

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

For a long while I've felt a strong connection between the culture of the Beat generation and the Blogging generation. Both celebrate a raw and passionate expression and a use of language that is both novel , and designed to snag your social sensibilities.

Both cultures have found themselves at the forefront of major changes in their societies. And both cultures have taken advantage of the momentary freedom in the controls that society's interests usually place on ideas and personal expression.

In October 1955 Allen Ginsberg performed his "Howl" poem for the first time in public, an event commemorated tonight (March 24) at the Beat Museum in North Beach, a recreation of the "6poets at 6 Gallery" performance.

The original performance was in a dilapidated storefront on Fillmore street in San Francisco. Yet this small event eventually led to a show trial on obscenity charges and propelled the small writers colony of New York and San Francisco writers, dubbed by SF columnist Herb Caen as the "Beatnicks" into media superstars.

This period of the late 1950s was a tumultuous one. The Beatnick writers were ahead of their time, they were developing their ideas and their works in the late 1940s and now their seed fell on fertile ground--the rest of society was ready.

These were mostly white middle and upper class kids but completely out of odds with the confined culture that limited expression in those times.

The long second world war had created an oppressive government propaganda machine that seemed necessary during the time of war--but it kept on going after the war finished. It quickly became the Cold War and ideas of any political kind were punished in show trials such as the McCarthy hearings.

The writers of the Beat generation were initially apolitical, amoral ,and hedonistic. It was all they had to rebel with. They couldn't rebel politically in those times--but they could rebel in the classic way youth has always rebelled: in the pursuit of intellectual juice, the joys of physical attraction, and the exploration of the edges of our mortal beings.

In the mid to late 1950s there was a thaw in the Cold war. It showed itself in the Hungarian uprising in 1956, and its brutal suppression brought with it a momentary lifting of the Cold War hostilities. It was as if the ruling powers on both the US and Russian sides felt guilty or realized their populations needed to let off some steam and there was something of a cultural renaissance.

This is exactly the time when my parents managed to leave Poland. This momentary and minute raising of the Iron Curtain meant that for the first time some Poles could take vacations abroad in Austria. My parents lined up for three days to get on a package trip to Vienna, Austria. None of the people on that trip of 60 some persons came back to Poland.

During the night my parents skipped out of Vienna, took a train to Salzburg and were housed in one of the refugee camps still in place from the war. Six months later I was born in Salzburg and six months later we were in London, where my grandfather was living.

This period of my parents escape and my birth was when the Beat Generation and their ideas hit fertile ground because in the US there was also a thawing of the oppressive culture of the 1940s to the mid-1950s. Despite being black-listed by McCarthysm or prosecuted for obscenity, here was a culture and an intelligentsia that felt able and confident to challenge the rules of the day--and win.

Today Blogging challenges the rules of today--is it journalism? Is it rubbish? Is it a new literature? It is all those things...it is all other things too. I used to think blogging might be a subset of literature, a cousin to journalism. Now, I sometimes wonder if it is a superset of all other forms of writing because all other forms of writing can fit into its format.

We are entering another period of big changes, just as in in the mid-to late 1950s and blogging is the most revolutionary and most exciting literate art form to emerge since the Beat generation, imho.
- - -
Written in one take :-) Try it . Just put this Technorati Tag in your post:
and it'll be easier to cross-link.
Please also see: The Beats: Celebrating the obscenity of literature

The Beat Museum
1345 Grant, San Francisco
Please also see SVW: The new and old Beatnicks celebrate Neal Cassady's birthday

The Beat Generation influence on blogging

Please also see Evelyn Rodriguez:

How Bloggers Ate the World

Salons, Primal Howl and Satisfying Yourself First

March 24, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Mediasphere
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March 23, 2006

How does public relations work in the blogosphere?

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

I took part in a Bulldog Reporter teleconference this morning, on the subject of Blogger PR and it was a record turnout, more than 80 leading PR agencies and corporate communications organizations called in, each with maybe two dozen people or more at each location.

The panel included Shel Israel of It Seems to me, Alice Marie Marshall of Technoflak and Jeremy Pepper of Pop!PR blog. We covered a lot of ground in the ninety or so minutes and we were all agreed on most points. And that was because we all have extensive experience of being involved in the blogosphere (I prefer mediasphere).

We heard a lot of the same questions I hear wherever I go, such as: who are the influential bloggers? How do we deal with negative posts? How do we measure how we influence the influencers? And many more...

I was the only one on the panel that is working as a journalist blogger. I do not work in public relations, I am the target of public relations. And in that capacity I am happy to share what works, what doesn't, and offer some good practices for PR.

And we all agreed on one key point: the best way to find out who is influential in your sector is to get involved in the online conversations either by blogging, monitoring, or commenting.
(Please see SVW: The metrics of influence.)

Every company to some degree, is now a media company. Every company constantly publishes stories and has conversations: within its own organization, with its peers, with its communities, with its potential hires, with its customers. Make sure that those conversations are honest and truthful.

And let go of the out dated attitude of control, or the idea of controlling a message. You have no control over how the world will "tag" you or your company. The only place you have control is with yourself, and that means that you are consistent in the things that you say, the things that you converse with the world.

I love this blogging format and I love sharing what I've learned so far. And there is a tremendous amount that we are still learning, and a tremendous amount of answers that we don't yet have--and that adds to the fun part.

I will help individuals, non-profits and educational organizations become more effective communicators. And I will help PR agencies, corporations--any commercial organizations-- figure out how to tell their stories, and have honest, truthful conversations. And also how to best use these media technologies, such as blogging, RSS, and wikis, to enable direct communications.

I have no interest in spin or marketing: those are concepts that belong in the last century.

If you need me to give a talk, or come in and speak with your teams about the many questions and issues out there, then please contact the non-profit think tank, of which I am a founding fellow, at the Palo Alto based Society for New Communications Research and its founder, Jen McClure, at 650-387-8590. There is a fee for commercial organizations, which helps to fund our work with non-profits and educational institutes.

March 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: PR Watch
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The Beats: celebrating the obscenity of literature

six at six.jpgJoin me in celebrating the literature of the Beat generation of writers and the 50 year plus link to the literature of blogging.

Both these forms of art celebrate this: words delivered with passion and truth.

On Friday, March 24th, the Beat Museum in San Francisco recreates the infamous 6 Poets at the 6 Gallery Reading.


From http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/5963 :

In the days leading up to October 7, 1955, postcards circulated in San Francisco inscribed with the slogan, "6 poets at 6 Gallery." The Six Gallery was a run-down art gallery at 311 Fillmore Street, and the six poets were: Philip Lamantia, Michael McClure, Philip Whalen, Gary Snyder, and one unknown poet from the East Coast, Allen Ginsberg.

Organized by Ginsberg and his good friend Jack Kerouac, the poetry reading became one of the most notorious literary events of the 1950s. Wine flowed freely from jugs and crowds cheered during the reading. It was in this energized atmosphere that the 29-year-old Ginsberg, having published little up to that point, unveiled an early version of his poem, "Howl," to a mesmerized audience whose relentless cheers of "Go! Go! Go!" brought him to tears by the end of the performance. The poem begins:

"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night"

Society's response to Ginsberg's "post" was a trial on obscenity charges, one of several brought against the writers of that era. It's wonderful that words can evoke such a response, and these were apolitical words at that...

Join me in an online beatblog celebration this Friday March 24, 2006. Just Technorati tag your post beatblog and let's see what we get. [Include this link in the body of your post:

Use your imagination, use your instincts, produce something or point to something Beat/Blog-like--and share your experience of being a mortal being. Remember: The Gods envy us because we are mortal :-)

And come along and let's meet up at the Beat Museum at 8pm and/or at Speck's bar (sp?) around the corner off Columbus, after the performance...(and before...) Maybe Speck will tell you about his time with the Beats, Malcolm X, and the rest...he is part of living history.

The Beat Museum
1345 Grant, San Francisco

- - -
Please also see SVW: The new and old Beatnicks celebrate Neal Cassady's birthday

The Beat Generation influence on blogging

Please also see Evelyn Rodriguez:

How Bloggers Ate the World

Salons, Primal Howl and Satisfying Yourself First

March 23, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Mediasphere
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March 22, 2006

The ambitions of Ingres: A small company with the executive team of a giant

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher
Jim Finn, Tom and Dave Dargo (by Dan Farber)
I met with the executive team of Ingres Tuesday evening and it's clear that this newly minted company has major ambitions in the open source enterprise software market.

Ingres was formed in November when Computer Associates spun out its enterprise database group to Garnett & Helfrich Capital--which specializes in venture buyouts. And over the last few months Ingres CEO Terry Garnett has been pulling together one of the top executive teams in the industry.

It's a team that has spent many years in Oracle--its top target. Dave Dargo, senior VP and CTO came from Oracle and is a respected authority on Linux; Dev Mukherjee, CMO, came from Microsoft and IBM and is credited with key thought leadership in establishing utility computing and software as a service. In recent weeks, Jim Finn, who led Oracle's corporate comms for many years and is credited with managing the tricky acquisition strategy, and was recently head of comms at IBM Americas; Tom Berquist, a former star Wall Street analyst was appointed CFO; and earlier this week Bill Maimone joined as Chief Architect, he had lead database development at Oracle.

Mr Garnett also used to work at Oracle as senior vp of worldwide marketing, and he says Ingres collectively has about 1,000 man years of experience at Oracle. Check out the rest of the executive team: http://www.ingres.com/company/Executive_Profiles.html

Ingres is offering an open-source enterprise-ready database that can compete against Oracle. MySQL is one of the leading open source databases but it has run into a problem: Oracle has acquired open software companies and controls the transactional database engines that MySQL needs for the enterprise market.

Dave Dargo, CTO, says that MySQL now has to replace those database technologies and that could take 18 to 24 months. This helps Ingres win business that might have gone to MySQL.

With such a stellar executive team Ingres clearly has ambitions that go beyond being just one of several open source database companies. The opportunity is in being able to offer the database and the rest of the enterprise software stack , and the question is how will that be done? Will it be done through acquisitions or partnerships?

Oracle's increasing share of the enterprise applications market, combined with its database and middleware stack--is pressuring large enterprise players such as SAP, BEA Systems, Red Hat, Symantec and others. These now become natural allies to Ingres, and potential partners in the fight against Oracle.

The business opportunity is in attacking high IT costs. "Oracle customers hate the high license and maintenance fees. There is an opportunity to come in at one-half to one-third of Oracle's fees," says Mr Garnett.

The enterprise IT market is also switching to a services pricing model, annual fees instead of licenses. Oracle faces a stressful transition to the new model which could take two years to complete; Ingres doesn't have that legacy issue, making it attractive to enterprise customers.

"I think we can carve-off five to ten per cent of the enterprise database market, which is $16bn. And if we can do that, I don't see why we couldn't get to ten to twenty per cent of the market," says Tom Berquist, CFO.

A trend in its favor is the acceptance of open-source software within large enterprises where new IT projects increasingly have open-source components. Ingres challenge will be in how it can leverage the open source community in the same way MySQL has benefited. And how quickly it can build the enterprise software stack.

Other considerable challenges come from IBM and Sun Microsystems, which already have a substantial enterprise software stack and can commoditize the software at a faster rate because they can sell the hardware services.

Suddenly, the enterprise IT market has become very interesting as these large players try to commoditize each others core markets. [See "Stack war" by Nicholas Carr] And the players that only have one part of the stack are forced to scramble for allies or seek mergers.

This is why Ingres has become the dark horse of the enterprise market--and one of the hottest and most interesting Silicon Valley companies around. It is a small company with the executive team of a giant--so you can bet that it won't be sitting around quietly. I'll be meeting with Dave Dargo soon--watch this space :-)
- - -
Please also see my fellow ZDNet blogger Dan Farber: Ingres prepares for assault on Oracle's turf

March 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Thoughtleaders
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Warning! Emotional content ahead

Lou Nyari and Sarah Foremski - Nov 2005

I said goodbye today to one of the most important and wonderful people in my life -and I am heartbroken.

This is Lou Nyari my beautiful grandmother of my children Matthew (18) and Sarah (11); in the picture is Lou and my daughter Sarah.

Lou maybe has a few days left in her battle against cancer and I wish she were not leaving. She has been my mother-in-law but never became that stereotype. She has been a third parent in my children's lives and a rock solid support over the last seven years when I was seperating from her daughter Mervana.

Lou is one of the most incredible persons I have ever known....along with her husband Bob Nyari. And it fu*!ing sucks !!!! ... that she won't be here.

[My apologies for bringing this here, but this is where I live and this is my life.]

March 22, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag:
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March 21, 2006

Defending MySpace: WTF!!! Stay away from the kids let them express themselves any damn way they want!!!!!!

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

say_what?.jpgI'm sick of all this criticism of the content on MySpace.com. All the fuddy duddies are warning of hell in a hand basket again.

I peeked in on MySpace more than a year ago and I was very impressed with the writing, the tone that teenagers could set with very few words. I found some great writing and I found some writing that could only be described as Joyceian in its form and ambition. I was super impressed. Yes, I didn't understand a lot of it--but I'm not the target audience.

Let the kids express themselves in the manner and way they want to. We are lucky that they feel able to express themselves in such a public way that we can occasionally look at it. They could lock it up and share it only among themselves.

I wonder what they would say if they read our ramblings about Web 2.0, and online business models, and Google this, that and the other?

Here is Scott Karp: Ticking time bomb.

Here is Nick Carr.

Update: Here is Dana Boyd on MySpace.

Here is some wisdom from a Lebanese writer K. Gibran:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

March 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Mediasphere
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You have to read this!!! Evelyn Rodriguez on Salons and the Beat writers....

You really do have to read this!!! It's an excellent discussion of blogging and the Beat writers and Salons by Evelyn Rodriguez on her excellent Crossroads Dispatches site.

Evelyn is also writing the piece as she creates it...in a raw form but one that carries powerful communication of ideas and feelings. This is exactly why this blogging format is so fantastically wonderful and important and game changing and mind changing and life changing, imho.

[Here is some of my writing about the Beat generation and its connection to blogging:

Evelyn quotes a few lines from Jack Kerouac's "Essentials of Spontaneous Prose" but I think that it is worth reading the entire Kerouac piece because it is the best advice you can find on finding your "blog voice."

Here is Jack Kerouac:

Essentials of Spontaneous Prose

The object is set before the mind, either in reality. as in sketching (before a landscape or teacup or old face) or is set in the memory wherein it becomes the sketching from memory of a definite image-object.
PROCEDURE Time being of the essence in the purity of speech, sketching language is undisturbed flow from the mind of personal secret idea-words, blowing (as per jazz musician) on subject of image.

No periods separating sentence-structures already arbitrarily riddled by false colons and timid usually needless commas-but the vigorous space dash separating rhetorical breathing (as jazz musician drawing breath between outblown phrases)--"measured pauses which are the essentials of our speech"--"divisions of the sounds we hear"-"time and how to note it down." (William Carlos Williams)

Not "selectivity' Iof expression but following free deviation (association) of mind into limitless blow-on-subject seas of thought, swimming in sea of English with no discipline other than rhythms of rhetorical exhalation and expostulated statement, like a fist coming down on a table with each complete utterance, bang! (the space dash)-Blow as deep as you want-write as deeply, fish as far down as you want, satisfy yourself first, then reader cannot fail to receive telepathic shock and meaning-excitement by same laws operating in his own human mind.

No pause to think of proper word but the infantile pileup of scatological buildup words till satisfaction is gained, which will turn out to be a great appending rhythm to a thought and be in accordance with Great Law of timing.

Nothing is muddy that runs in time and to laws of time-Shakespearian stress of dramatic need to speak now in own unalterable way or forever hold tongue-no revisions (except obvious rational mistakes, such as names or calculated insertions in act of not writing but inserting).

Begin not from preconceived idea of what to say about image but from jewel center of interest in subject of image at moment of writing, and write outwards swimming in sea of language to peripheral release and exhaustion-Do not afterthink except for poetic or P. S. reasons. Never afterthink to "improve" or defray impressions, as, the best writing is always the most painful personal wrung-out tossed from cradle warm protective mind-tap from yourself the song of yourself, blow!-now!-your way is your only way-"good"-or "bad"-always honest ("ludi- crous"), spontaneous, "confessionals' interesting, because not "crafted." Craft is craft.

Modern bizarre structures (science fiction, etc.) arise from language being dead, "different" themes give illusion of "new" life. Follow roughly outlines in outfanning movement over subject, as river rock, so mindflow over jewel-center need (run your mind over it, once) arriving at pivot, where what was dim-formed "beginning" becomes sharp-necessitating "ending" and language shortens in race to wire of time-race of work, following laws of Deep Form, to conclusion, last words, last trickle-Night is The End.

If possible write "without consciousness" in semi-trance (as Yeats' later "trance writing") allowing subconscious to admit in own uninhibited interesting necessary and so "modern" language what conscious art would censor, and write excitedly, swiftly, with writing-or-typing-cramps, in accordance (as from center to periphery) with laws of orgasm, Reich's "beclouding of consciousness." Come from within, out-to relaxed and said.

March 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Mediasphere
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New rules: emerging mashups in C-level strategy and corporate comms

By Tom Foremski for Silicon Valley Watcher

There is a very interesting trend emerging in how companies are dealing with the key issue of business strategy. The savvy ones are beginning to realize the benefits of combining the roles of business strategy with corporate communications.

And if you think about it--it makes perfect sense because strategy and communications are naturally linked. Yet in most organizations the corporate communications is run by the marketing group. In my opinion, corporate communications and business strategy should be one and the same. And I'm beginning to see some examples of companies implementing such positions.

Here are some examples of strategic and corporate communications roles being combined:

-Dan Scheinman is head of Cisco's mergers and acquisitions, this is the key strategic role within the network giant because it relies on acquisitions to become the drivers of future revenues. It must choose acquisitions that are on the cusp of large markets but it has to figure out what those markets will be, two years and more into the future.

Mr Scheinman also heads corporate communications at Cisco, and in this role he can direct the company message, make sure that internal communications and external communications are synchronized. And also communicate to customers and investors Cisco's strategic roadmap repeatedly and consistently--and now, potentially collect feedback with blogging tools.

Cisco is thus able to keep tight control over its message and repeat it, time and again, and make sure it fits in with its business strategy. And that is the way it should be. Corporate communications should not be run by Cisco's marketing group or an outside PR agency. However, PR agencies can provide useful support services in executing media/business strategies.

-Charles Philips is one of Oracle's presidents, he is not head of corporate communications, however, he does have a personal media brand that he uses to support Oracle's business strategy. As a former star Wall Street analyst, Mr Philips built a large following among the analyst communities, and in the press as a savvy and insightful analyst.

He still has a lot of respect within those communities and we've clearly seen how Oracle waged a media campaign that helped it beat considerable obstacles to its acquisition strategy.

-Ingres, is a revitalized open source database company which is building a very interesting high-powered executive team. Ingres has doubled up on the concept of combining business strategy and communications. Among the star executives at Ingres is CFO Tom Berquist, a former star Wall Street analyst, and Comms Chief Jim Finn, former head of corporate comms at Oracle for many years, and more recently, head of comms at IBM Americas.

Together, Mr Berquist and Mr Finn will have no trouble in raising Ingres out from the white noise in the enterprise software space. Mr Berquist knows how to speak to the financial analyst community and Mr Finn has strong relations with top media from his time at Oracle and IBM. It's a potentially very effective strategy and communications team.

[BTW, I am meeting with part of the Ingres team on Tuesday evening and will have more to report about this company later in the week.]

-SAP has Jeff Nolan, head of its Apollo Strategy Group. I met with Mr Nolan recently (Please see: Exclusive: Jeff Nolan). He is in charge of developing business strategy for the German enterprise software apps leader--and developing a new internal and external communications infrastructure for news dissemination and for gathering competitive intelligence.

Part of his mandate is to "Attack Oracle" by making sure SAP has its message heard loud and clear in its customer communities and can challenge anything Oracle says. And because Mr Nolan has built a media brand as a top VC blogger, he understands how corporate communications could be used in extremely strategic and creative ways.

Mr Nolan's position as an A-list blogger is far more useful to SAP than his experience as a VC. But his understanding of revenue models, market trends in enterprise software, and his media savviness make for a potentially very powerful role within SAP. I'm very interested in seeing how Mr Nolan uses that position--which is very new.

It has been my experience that mainstream media does not understand the new media technologies and how the mediasphere operates, but the A-list bloggers do. They know how to build media brands because that's how they got to be on the A-list.

That type of experience is hugely valuable to any enterprise--however there are not that many A-list bloggers, so it could be said that SAP was fortunate to be ahead of the game.

--Edelman, the world's largest PR agency has a twist on the strategy and communications role. Its strategy has been to acquire the top communicators in the blogosphere.

It is not a surprising strategy if you consider that its chief executive, Richard Edelman is an A-list blogger himself. The personal networks that top bloggers build provide a knowledge about the propagation of ideas and influence that cannot be gained by reading about it. It only comes from involvement in blogging and that is why Edelman has been scooping up top A-list bloggers such as Steve Rubel,and Phil Gomes.

It is a very smart strategy because it is harder than ever to break-into the ranks of the A-list bloggers--so therefore see if you can acquire them, or make sure you have good access to these top media brands.

Microsoft has two parallel media brands: Bill Gates and Robert Scoble. Mr Scoble is a two-way technology-enabled media brand that and costs just $100k per year in salary. Mr Gates is broadcast only--let's see if MSFT understands the difference--I bet it doesn't quite get it yet.
_ _ _

- Here is another take on this subject from my ZDNet blog...

[Please see: - Exclusive interview with Dan Scheinman...]

- Ingres'  CFO is Tom Berquist, a former star Wall Street star analyst, and its Comms Chief is arguably the top practitioner in the US, Jim Finn,

I met with Mr Nolan recently....

- Meet Richard Edelman, --an A-list blogger.

Edelman is scooping up A-list bloggers Steve Rubel, and Phil Gomes for the price of a salary?

March 21, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: new rules
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March 20, 2006

Sunday CyberSalon: Blogger/Journalist elite discuss elitism...

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

It was a glorious Sunday afternoon and I was taking a rare trip across to the East Bay to catch a panel on elitism in the media. Normally I try to stay away from such things on a sunny Sunday but my friend Suzanne Hartman, a well respected top PR maven from Seattle was in town, and she was delighted to take part in this gathering of our local blogger/media elite, discussing the elitism of mainstream media and the challenge from blogging.

I have to say that Sylvia Paull, the organiser of the CyberSalon, was very impressive in how she handled what very nearly became an anarchic free for all...:-)

Here is the setting, 5pm at the Hillside Club, open to anybody with $10, and hosting a collection of some of the most influential people in the mediasphere--on and off the podium:

A Cybersalon panel of experts – including NY Times technology reporter and author John Markoff, BlogHer cofounders and bloggers Jory des Jardins and Lisa Stone, blogger/podcaster/digital reporter Steve Gillmor, and freelance trade journalist Joshua Greenbaum -- takes a critical look at the concepts of expertise and elitism in the dynamic Web 2.0 world. Our moderator is Andrew Keen, founder of the AfterTV.com podcast.

But we could have picked randomly from the audience and assembled 20 similar panels from the people in the room.

Dan Farber , senior VP at ZDNet, was in the room so was my buddy Tom Abate from the SF Chron ,and Al Saracevic, senior editor at the San Francisco Chronicle and new blog supremo, launching a new tech blog The Tech Chronicles.

In the front row we have Dave Winer next to Niall Kennedy (no longer at Technorati now his own man at hattrickmedia.com ) and many, many, many more known names. Each one in the audience could have been, and should have been, up on that podium.

And that's what made for a great evening because the audience, after a respectful 15 minutes or so of listening to panel members droning on--grabbed control over the means of communication.

Before I could figure out how it happened Dave Winer has the microphone and is patiently lecturing John Markoff on the new media model, and RSS, and Mr Markoff's role in the mediasphere--and berating him for not writing about RSS and Mr Winer's personal contribution to these important things. Then Sylvia Paull manages to take the microphone into the audience and she does a great job making a conversation happen and making sure a lot of people get a chance to talk.

And the people on the podium seemed disadvantaged in some way. They have to fight their way in to the conversation with the audience, even though they have a microphone right in front of them. And that made things all the more interesting.

Suzanne was really enjoying the scene--and it was all classic stuff. The wrestling over the means of communications was fun to see. And it was a mixed crowd, men and women, young and old, many familiar faces,

It was, as Sylvia said, this was like being at our own "Homebrew Club" for the new next big thing--along with our very own, marvelously eccentric, and brilliant set of characters. This is our club and it cost just $10 to gain entry--it is open to anybody.

There is lots to write about what was said that evening but what struck me as shocking was that the mainstream media--in the form of John Markoff and the moderator, Andrew Keen--were so far behind in their understanding of what is happening in media.

However, that will change soon, I hear Mr Markoff is about to become a blogger for the New York Times. That is a good thing because then he will understand the same language as mostof the audience and panel members.

Steve Gillmor, a long time journalist and blogger, stood out on the panel and provided lucid, succinct commentary and kept to the point. Lisa Stone brought gender into the discussion, as always. Jory des Jardins contributions were always interesting, and Josh Greenbaum also made some good points.

But the moderator and Mr Markoff seemed to have formed some kind of alliance, one that questioned the validity of blogs, asked for concrete examples of blogs having any meaning at all--and said that mainstream media was reliable and trustworthy and checked all the facts. As opposed to the lax standards in the blogosphere...

Steve Gillmor calmly took that argument apart. He made the point that bloggers build their reputations by putting themselves out there every day, inviting abuse, ridicule, and challenge. They are risking their reputations every day. Personal reputation is not something bloggers play fast and lose with; there is nothing lax about being a blogger. I would argue that a large media brand provides a lot of protection if you occasionally mess up--bloggers don't have that same luxury.

Then about 16 of us head of to Dave Winer's neighborhood restaurant for an excellent Thai meal and superb conversation. I get to sit next the man himself: DW. And I get to find out a little more about what the future holds for the inventor of the key media technologies that enable the blogosphere and Internet 2.0...more on that later this week.

Please also see: Dave Winer on the CyberSalon

March 20, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Mediasphere
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March 19, 2006

You know you are a journalist and not a blogger when...

. . .You start getting pitches from PR folk and companies.

Here is Robert Scoble--Microsoft's A-list blogger:

Who made me a gatekeeper? I don’t want that job.

Don’t send me more email pitches please. Don’t beg for me to try out your software. Don’t wait for me to blog about your company or your team or your product or you. That’s what comments here are for. You have direct access to anyone who is reading this post. Pitch in the comments! If your stuff is good, someone will try it out and say so. Maybe even me.

Please read more at Scobleizer...

BTW, I am always amazed when bloggers such as Mr Scoble and others, start becoming very irritated at the hundreds of emails they start getting from PR people and others wanting a plug. Welcome to the world of the journalist--we have to deal with this stuff every day, it comes with the territory.

And as for journalists who now have to blog for their employer:

Editors at the Washington Post are wrestling with discontent from reporters who think they should be paid extra for contributing to a group Web log. The Washington City Paper reported staffers on the Post's metro section asked for extra money after learning some prominent byliners were being paid for Web logs while they would not be.
Please read more at Bloggersblog...

I used to tell my colleagues in the mainstream media "start blogging as soon as you can otherwise you will have to blog for your employer and build its media brand instead of yours!" I don't like to have to say I told you so...

And as for extra cash for extra work? Forgetaboutit. It would just accelerate the decline of your newspaper because your newspaper cannot monetise your extra work anyway.

March 19, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Mediasphere
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March 18, 2006

Who is Dave Winer?

I enjoyed writing the tongue-in-cheek news parodies announcing that Dave Winer, the Original Blogger, and inventor of the key technologies that make the BlogoSphere possible is shuffling off to the offline afterlife....

I enjoyed writing about the A-list bloggers scrambling for the abandoned Winer eyeballs. And because bloggers tend to do things herd-like, I speculated that Robert Scoble, Microsoft's top blogger might be next to go.

The trouble is that so very few people know anything about Dave Winer. He is probably the most influential blogger that no one knows. But he is universally revered among the A-list, he is easily the most influential voice in the blogosphere, and I think for many very good reasons.

But his stuff is difficult to understand at times--especially if you haven't spent much time in that rarefied ozone of the elite reaches of the BlogoSphere. I think he is one of a small number of original thinkers online and I think he'll continue to be influential online or offline.

You do not need to know about Dave Winer because you will get to know his ideas and influence as it is filtered down from the A-list and presented to you in a more digestible format. But if you did know Dave Winer, you might have enjoyed my news parodies and your cubicle neighbors might have wondered what you were laughing at, and you could have mystified them further by showing them my posts :-)

Other comments were:

He mentions wanting to matter less -- Does he matter at all?

I used to run into those folk all the time, and I could never tell who
was DOING anything, and who was just crowing a lot.

I can only repeat what my readers said to me: 'who's Dave Winer?'
Tom, Your spoof on Dave Winer had me laughing out loud at my desk. Unfortunately, no one around me got the humor.

Dave Winer shock wave

Pop the Blog-sm.jpgThe creator of the BlogoSphere throws in the towel. Blogger reaction ranges from skepticism and denial to outright parody. [Read]
-Update: Will Robert Scoble be next to abandon the BlogoSphere?
Experts warn of copycat behaviors. [Read]
-Update: Some mourn while others plot
Winer's abandoned eyeballs are a potential gold mine. [Read]

March 18, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Mediasphere
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March 17, 2006

The creators of open-source 386BSD mark 15 year anniversary

I just got this in from William and Lynne Jolitz. They are a very interesting couple and among my favorite valley people--they know where a lot of the bodies are buried in this area :-)

William and Lynne Jolitz, creators of 386BSD, celebrate the 15 year anniversary of the article series that started Open Source systems. Along with reacquiring all rights to 386BSD from CMP Publishing, to recapture that revolutionary moment they have spent countless hours restoring the articles from notes, e-mails, written correspondance and the rememberances of team members. As the articles are restored, they may be found on the website http://porting-unix-to-the-386.jolix.com . "Most people don't know about the limits of space in a publication", said Lynne Jolitz. "We had to edit severely due to space considerations every month, so quite a bit of good stuff got on the cutting room floor". The series covered all aspects of the project, from its inception in mid-1989 as a personal project done under the auspices of the University of California at Berkeley to its first complete operational open source release on March 17th, 1992 of 386BSD Release 0.0 -- 386BSD releases are officially 14 years old today.

The Porting Unix to the 386: Creating the Software Specification (January 1991) feature article in Dr. Dobbs Journal was the first public introduction of 386BSD in a major trade press magazine, and launched a frenzy of interest in open source kernel development that continues to this day.

"There's a lot about the original genesis of Open Source that has remained clouded", said William Jolitz. "In the rush to work on the project, write an article series, and negotiate with University and other parties, there simply wasn't enough time to sift through intrigue and rumor. We chose to carefully communicate what was happening in real time through the article series as a technical tour-de-force."

No only did "Porting UNIX" have a major impact on Open Source Berkeley Systems, it has also been written up by many others as the goad to Linus Torvalds, a reader of the series, to begin serious work on LINUX. Linus even contributed an early floating point emulator he had written for inclusion in 386BD Release 0.1(July 1992). Many open source pioneers have claimed that this article series spurred them to begin their own work in open source projects such as Apache. Lynne Jolitz received an Oracle E-Business award in 2001 for technical innovations in 386BSD as well as her subsequent work in very high speed TCP/IP communications in silicon, for which she has received granted patents.

Dan Kusnetzky, former IDC analyst and now EVP of marketing strategy of Open-Xchange, says "BSD is a project that made a major contribution to the world of IT. In its early days it contributed to Sun's SunOS, IBM'S AIX, and HP's HP-UX. The contribution didn't end there. It's at the heart of Apple's MacOS"

As the articles are restored in full, relevent observations, reminiscences and accounts from the open source community as they become available.

William Jolitz (http://william.telemuse.net/william-jolitz-contact)
Lynne Jolitz (http://lynne.telemuse.net via her web page)

March 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Thoughtleaders
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Software 2006 is coming up and selling fast -- SVW readers get a special discount

Software_2006.gifI've run into MR Rangaswami from the excellent Sandhill.com, several times this week and each time I see him I've been hassling him about giving my readers a special discount to his upcoming Software 2006 enterprise software conference.

I didn't think I would say it, but MR has made enterprise software interesting again and he puts together what is easily the best enterprise software conference in the industry. This (3rd) year there will be 20 key startups showcased, and lots of key leaders of the VC and enterprise software communities will be speaking and wandering around.

Here is a the deal: Use this promo code: svw (all lower case) and SVW readers will be able to bring two colleagues for the price of one entry: $1,195. The regular price is $1595 (and the current lowest special is $1395.)

The conference is more than half sold out already so make sure you reserve your place with the svw promo code and save as much as $400!

Software 2006: Unifying the Ecosystem
April 4-5, 2006
Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA

Software 2006: Keynotes & Speakers. . .

Shai Agassi, President of the Product and Technology Group, SAP AG

Mark Bregman, Chief Technology Officer, Symantec

David DeWalt, President, EMC Software Group, EMC Corporation

Thomas Kurian, Senior Vice President, Development, Oracle Application Server, Oracle Corporation

Ray Lane, General Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

C.K. Prahalad, Distinguished University Professor, Ross School of Business, University of Michigan

S. Ramadorai, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Tata Consultancy Services Limited

Simon Witts, Corporate Vice President, Enterprise and Partner Group, Microsoft


Con Goedman, Head Business Information, Shell International

David Green, Project Impact

Erik Keller, Principal, Wapiti

Andreas Kluth, San Francisco Correspondent, The Economist

Dennis Kneale, Managing Editor, Forbes

James L. Koch, Founding Director, Center for Science, Technology, and Society, Santa Clara University

Adam Lashinsky, Senior Writer, FORTUNE

Ashwin Rangan, CIO, Walmart.com

Toby E. Redshaw, Corporate Vice President, Corporate IT Strategy, eBusiness & Business Development, Motorola

Bruce Richardson, Senior VP, AMR Research

Richard G. Sherlund, Senior Analyst, Goldman Sachs

Peter Sobiloff, Insight Venture Partners

John Wood, Founder and CEO, Room to Read
- - -
Make sure you reserve your place at Software 2006 and save money with the svw promo code!

March 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: SVW recommends . . .
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Guest column: The lack of transparency among leading PR bloggers is a problem

By Daniel Bernstein

Transparent-PR.jpgIndividuals are blogging in every profession, but one profession where citizen journalism seems to have caught on like warm cookies is Public Relations.

Maybe the popularity of the PR blogger isn’t that surprising to most people. For many of us, leaping to bloggerdom is a rather small leap because of the skills we share with journalists, like writing ability, basic smarts, wit, etc. I mean, scores of individual PR professionals blog regularly, most notably Edelman’s Steve Rubel, but there are many others, from fellow PR neophyte Blake Barbera of Horn Group to industry luminaries like Next Fifteen’s Tim Dyson and Richard Edelman. It also shouldn’t be surprising then that we, like many journalists, could become big-time influencers, especially given the profile and reputation of Dyson, Rubel, Edelman and the like.

I’ve been taught from a very young age to be skeptical of those influencing me...

To counteract this expected reaction from his readers, Rubel cheekily maintains a “Shameless Promotion” section of his website, tagging blogs related to things that money is motivating him to do or say.

In this same sort of ethical vein, my employer’s blog (Bite Communications) counteracts this skepticism by linking directly to our company website that proudly lists Bite’s clients (not in stealth).

Edelman, admirably large and independent, does not list their clients despite touting its Me2 Revolution. Hill & Knowlton also blogs, but similarly doesn’t name their clients. Most agencies, especially the large ones, keep this from the public eye. I think it’s a problem.

One of the conversations that comes up again and again in the blogosphere is the issue of transparency. Tom Foremski and I batted it around for a few hours last week over drinks at Solstice in San Francisco. He wrote some great things about it a few days later in a post titled “Transparency chatter is a current fashion.” I’ve never been involved in a current fashion in my entire life, so it’s flattering to be finally part of one. Tom wrote:

Media organizations/blogs are already very transparent. You can see who is advertising and you know who the blogger works for. Thus when Robert Scoble blogs about MSFT, the monetary connection is transparent yet it doesn't detract from his passion or his views.

I appreciate what Tom is saying here, but how can we consider a blogger “very transparent” if he or she is not being forthcoming about who is paying the bills? (Bloggers like Robert Scoble and Bob Lutz are an exception to this, of course.)

The emphasis on a blogger’s transparency, authenticity and disclosure is far from being new; thesis 39 of the The Cluetrain Manifesto states, “The community of discourse is the market.”

That being said, as a skeptical consumer of news and information, I’m literally fearful of individuals producing supposedly unbiased content that are also “on the take.” Tell me, am I being too paranoid, or is this new type of media organization demanding an entirely different brand of critical analysis?

A-list bloggers have already begun developing some best practices to help mitigate these conflicts. Rubel’s Shameless Promotions tag is an example; John Battelle provides another.

In January, Battelle blogged about a newly-forged partnership between his company FM and Norway’s FAST Search & Transfer, a deal that included Battelle’s (paid) speaking engagement at FAST’s February user conference. In the same entry, Battelle wrote, “…it's my policy to disclose any dealings I might have with companies in Searchblog's space. They are few and far between, and if they do happen, they happen because I personally believe in the quality of the company I'm working with, and on the condition that I disclose them here.”

Battelle overtly puts his reputation on the line for each company he endorses (for better or for worse), and I respect that, but he still stops short of providing a simple list of the companies boosting his bank account. I’m not saying this will fix the problem – it does solve more problems than it creates.

Some agencies will argue that certain client engagements demand absolute confidentiality and cannot be disclosed. (This sounds extremely shady, but many startups operate in stealth mode while they refine their product offerings or messaging.)

What if agencies approached an NDA-bound PRSA standards body to assess clients potentially “immune to disclosure” on a case-by-case basis? That might makes things easier. I mean, there must be exceptions to every rule.

PR professionals are familiar with these dilemmas because we’re faced with issues of transparency every day, even for clients we list on our websites. Esteemed documentary filmmaker Kent Bye raised a similar debate a few days ago on Rubel’s Micro Persuasion.

Bye questioned the role of “public interest…within the job description of a PR professional,” and admitted that while he shares Rubel’s “optimism that transparency and authenticity will help keep corporations honest,” he wonders how PR professionals can balance the forces of public good with “tactics that PR professionals use that are designed to deflect and downplay legitimate criticism of their client's behavior - even it is harming the public interest.”

Bye’s points are valid. PR bloggers push for a feeling of greater transparency, but we are also bound by the tenets of our profession to not practice it fully. This issue goes far beyond whether or not to list clients on your website and relates more to the relationship between people and companies.

As gatekeepers of information, we understand this conflict better than most. We understand that all information should not be publicized and all questions cannot be answered. We understand that our clients (for a variety of reasons) are hard pressed to disclose, admit and discuss their vulnerabilities.

Edelman’s work with Wal-Mart raises this question again, but it’s already played out in the blogosphere (a little over a week after it occurred!). In my opinion, if the Wal-Mart episode teaches us anything, it’s that PR professionals, like others who are self-publishing, now hold a bigger stake in the discussion.

I think we’re also beginning to see that our industry will be held to a “do-or-die” standard of ethics. The onus is on us, as a community and profession, to make sure we don’t squander this opportunity by perpetuating the shadowy business tactics that have typified the darker side of our industry.

Is the first step creating a PR industry standard compelling agencies to disclose clients? I tend to think so. Who knows? Maybe in five years we’ll be publicly filing communications strategies like 10Ks or court briefs. Wouldn’t THAT be civilized!

March 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Guest Writer
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About SVW: email policy; the SNCR non-profit think tank; the importance of F2F-V2V; speaking and consulting...

Contact policy on Emails:

I love getting comments and trackbacks but emails are a constant challenge because there are so many, and I can never keep up.

I spend a lot of my day running around San Francisco and Silicon Valley, interviewing the shakers and makers, sometimes talking on panels at conferences, and then coming back to focus on the basic principles of 101 Journalism: build readership through exclusive content. That means I have to stay away from the distractions of my inbox for several hours at a time so that I can interview people and write.

These you-can-only-get-it-here principles of journalism go back hundreds of years. Those principles are: scoops, original news, interviews and insights. The content *has* to be original and it has to add value--otherwise why bother?

So please send emails to Tom at SiliconValleyWatcher.com or pitches to news at SiliconValleyWatcher.com but please understand that I might not get to them in a timely manner--while other times I respond immediately. It all depends on where I am and how heavy my schedule, but please do not take it personally :-)

If you'd like to talk with me my cell phone is 415 336 7547. If you'd like to meet with me, call me on my cell phone--or try my email.

I prefer face-to-face and voice-to-voice, F2F/V2V communications, although email is fine for logistical stuff.

I like F2F/V2V because the quality of the interaction is higher; the relationship building is of a higher quality; and when you think about it, relationships is all we have, and the more higher quality relationships we can create, the better.

To summarize, email is fine but please don't think badly of me if I don't get to it right away, or even days later--it is not personal. You are welcome to resend emails. And you are always welcome to call or SMS my cell: 415 336 7547.

My Address is:

Tom Foremski

1900 Eddy Street Suite #6

San Francisco CA 94115


You can send evaluation units etc to the above address. SVW is not running many, if any reviews currently, but I/we do like to try out new things when we have the time, And we honor all conditions.

Embargo policy

I honor all embargoes but I will not sign any non disclosure agreements.

All journalistic principles apply--I am still a journalist!

Sometimes I am introduced as a "former journalist." No, I am a "former Financial Times" journalist.

I still work as a journalist and adhere and practice all the expected practices of being a journalist. Please do not let the "blog" part confuse you. Think of me as a journalist blogger, the journalist term comes first and last :-)

I love this blogging platform because I can express my writing in many ways--ranging from straightforward business news reporting and analysis, as in the FT, to sometimes more experimental posts (my long-time readers will know what I mean :-)

Events/Speaking engagements

I have been doing a lot of speaking at various conferences and also to internal audiences within tech and PR companies on the new media technologies. I just recently agreed to book my speaking engagements through the non-profit think tank the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR).

I'm a founding fellow of the SNCR non-profit, which was established by Jen McClure
Executive Director, and it has a stellar list of the best minds working in this new communications/new media sector, imho.

We have lofty goals at SNCR. We want to take what we are learning about the new media technologies and how best to use them--and offer that knowledge for free to non-profits and schools. We will have fund raisers and we will also generate money for the the non-profit through our work and services.

Media Consulting/Strategy consulting

I'm happy to share what I've learned pro bono with non-profits and social enterprises and schools.

I've avoided commercial consulting but through my involvement with SNCR, I can offer media technology/strategy consulting-and it helps fund SNCR work and research.

What I offer is good practices in the new communications/new media world. How do organizations tell truthful, compelling stories? How do organizations deal with bloggers? How has news dissemination changed? Who in your organization should *not* be blogging, etc, etc. And I answer many other questions too--all very typical across companies.

At SNCR we also have a geek squad to help organizations set up internal and external media communications platforms. We also have legal experts and we have the legal stuff sorted out--we tell you what you can and cannot do/say as a public or private company.

And we have people at SNCR that will put together boot camps/training workshops within your organizations--to teach your people how to use wikis, blogging and all the other blogerific media technologies out there.

And we have plenty of experts on podcasting, vidcasting--and on the academic side of things. For any of the above please contact Jen McClure: jmcclure at sncr.org. Or on 650-331-0083.

March 17, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: About SVW
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March 16, 2006

The Predictive Enterprise book launch

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

Predictive_Power.jpgThe place to be Wednesday evening was the Asian Art museum and the launch party for Vivek Ranadive's "The Power to Predict : How Real Time Businesses Anticipate Customer Needs, Create Opportunities, and Beat the Competition" He is the CEO of Tibco, which is a founding sponsor of SVW and one of my earliest supporters.

It was a smart, cultured crowd in a smart, cultured venue. And I met several outstanding people--a perfect evening.

The Power to Predict is surprisingly good for a book about IT strategy. My former colleague at the Financial Times Louise Kehoe contributed her formidable editorial skills to the project. The book explains how enterprises can take the next step beyond real-time IT systems and take advantage of predictive patterns.

The problem with the Predictive Enterprise concept is that the message--once you get it--is very powerful. And so Tibco is finding it difficult to get its customers to talk abut how they are using its real-time predictive technologies.

I'm not surprised that they are reluctant to talk because this is something I have seen happening time and again. If IT strategy is strategic to my business, why would I tip off my competitors and have them copy my process? There is nothing in it for me.

Tibco is also, very much an old school Silicon Valley company, the culture of the software engineer has an important standing within Tibco, along with its close ties to Stanford University. It is a conservative organization--but one that is trying to break out of its mold.

Tibco is willing to take a chance on the new media technologies, the podcasts, the vidcasts, books--whatever it takes to establish its thought leadership. And the new rules of the new communications reward the less-scripted interview or presentation. The more real, off-the-cuff, less-controlled--the more effective the communication.

And that was clear at the book launch. When Tibco senior executives didn't stick to their scripts that's when their stage presence became more noticeable and more interesting.

That is why I recommend to people: don't over prepare for presentations--and ditch the PowerPoints. You know the subject by now, tell a narrative--and if there is no PowerPoint the audience will look you straight in the eye. Why distract your listeners from you?

- - -

March 16, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Sponsor Watch
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March 15, 2006

650 words on the beauty of simple messages simply said

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

The best stories have a beautiful simplicity. And this blogging medium has revealed a tremendous amount about how we consume and express ideas.

One revelation is that our minds comprehend things one at a time, and we will quickly forget whatever wasn't first, or last. Therefore it is best to say one thing and say it many times.

I used to think that fitting more information into an 800 word news analysis was a good goal. The challenge that I adored was how to explain the many strategic nuances of markets and large companies in a way that covered the entire waterfront. In just 600 to 800 words.

My thinking has changed over the past two years, especially since I left the Financial Times to become a journalist blogger. I learnt a lot at the FT, and I have learnt a lot from the blogging community--and I am a better journalist and person because of this.

One of the things I learned is that less is more. In print, we would would have to "fill" a 400 word news story or a 2400 word feature--we were filling space with lots of related information. In the online world, where there is infinite space, brevity is rewarded. There is no need to stretch a 200 word news story into 450 words just because the page has been reformatted for the next edition and there is just 30 seconds before it is sent to the printer.

In the online world, less is more; plus keep things simply direct. And don't afraid to say the same thing as many times as seems fit.

Journalists used to laugh and bemoan USA Today. When it launched, my colleagues would point to the 100 word news stories, the 600 word features. Where were the 8,000 word New Yorker type analytical pieces that you could get your teeth into? To its critics, USA Today represented the dumbing down of America, it was sound bites in print.

But now, I would say USA Today was way ahead of its time. USA Today should receive recognition for its understanding that the best way to communicate important ideas is to communicate just one thing, and to do it as simply as possible.

Case Study

Earlier this week I popped into an event hosted by Wyse Technology to promote their "Thin Computing" concept. This is the use of thin-PC-client hardware combined with centrally managed Citrix and VMware software to replace thousands of PCs.

The presentation included a big audience magnet: super star blogger John Battelle, the lead Google watcher who moderated a panel on Thin Computing. And Wyse gave away hundreds of copies of his book The Search.

There were some well produced videos showing customer deployments. And there was an interesting social enterprise side to the message too: making internet access more affordable to the emerging middle classes in the poorest regions of the world. This technology could help bridge the digital divide between those with or without-- Internet access.

Wyse was able to say the same message about the value of Thin Computing in at least a dozen different ways. It got to repeat its message many times, and keep things interesting.

And the message was: thin-PC-clients managed and updated from a remote location = huge savings on support costs with exactly the same PC user experience. We call it Thin Computing--here is where you buy it.

Let me ask you, can you say what you or your company does in two sentences? Try it, put it in the comments. I'll even let you have a whole paragraph... :-)

March 15, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Media Watch
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New blogs launched from SF Chronicle, HP Labs; a creative Ruckus; and the new media hackers...

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

Al Saracevic, a senior editor at the San Francisco Chronicle has launched a tech blog called The Tech Chronicles. Take a look at www.sfgate.com/blogs/tech and get involved.

. . .

Dave Berman, who runs media communications for HP Labs has launched a blog called HPLablog to help disseminate information on HP Labs projects.
Mr Berman says:

I've launched HPLablog, http://h20325.www2.hp.com/blogs/hplab, with the intent of providing you with timely information about what's going on in HP Labs. I intend to post entries weekly, if not more often. Over time, other HP Labs researchers will also contribute to it.

The blog is intended to inspire ideas for stories, either about HP Labs or a technical trend in which HP Labs (I hope) will play a part. This first entry, "The Silence of the Labs," will give you a sense of what I'm up to. Don't say you weren't warned.

I know that last thing the world needs is yet another blog, but a long time ago, in a galaxy far away, I used to write a newspaper column. I hope you'll find HPLablog stimulating, or at least entertaining. For me, it's cheaper than therapy.

. . .

When there is not much news around, create a Ruckus :-) Here is some creative corporate blogging from Ruckus Wireless: So we then began matching up CEOs, trying to predict the outcome of an 8-round, industry-sanctioned bout. Here were some of our match-ups and decisions:

Meg is a better technical fighter and breaks Carly's nose with a hard left early in the fight. But Carly has a quicker jab and a stronger will to win. After the nose incident in the first, Carly gets to work in the second. She goes to the body then to a voracious jab. Fiorina's long reach and stamina just can't be matched by Whitman. This fight goes the length with the judges scoring the bout: 5-3, 6-2, 5-3 - Fiorina.

Read the rest here...Fight Night at Ruckus

. . .

Tom Vendetta tests out the mediasphere by issuing a fake press release announcing that he is Google's youngest hire--and huge numbers of media outlets fall for it.

These are the new script kiddies, the new 15 year old media hackers. And it is only going to get more interesting...


March 15, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Mediasphere
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Scoop: Wyse says in talks with Google and Yahoo on thin computing

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

50x15_Initiative.gifWyse Technology, the leading thin-client manufacturer, told SVW that it is in talks with both Google and Yahoo, for the design and production of powerful low-priced computers integrating data, voice, and broadband connectivity.

Two senior sources at Wyse confirmed the discussions were underway. One of the two sources added that AOL had not approached the company but that Amazon and Ebay were exploring similar approaches.

Details of the discussions with Google were not revealed. However, Wyse attempted to make the connection with Google more obvious in the public eye.

On Tuesday, it hosted a large promotional event in San Francisco attracting senior IT managers at large corporations and featuring John Battelle moderating a panel on thin computing. Mr Battelle is the lead Google watcher with his Searchblog and Wyse gave away hundreds of copies of his latest book: The Search.

The internet giants are interested in using low-priced PC-compatible computers to capture millions of users in developing countries. Those millions of users will be needed to fuel their future growth as Western markets begin to slow and mature.

By making their online services easier to access on developing world PCs, Google and Yahoo would also be able to make sure that their search box and services are foremost. Google recently reached a deal with Dell to distribute new PCs with Google's Toolbar and search prominently displayed on the start page.

Accelerating Global Googleization?

The growth of Internet users in developing countries could be dramatically accelerated if GOOG and YHOO were to subsidize the hardware and communications platform.

Similarly, Ebay and Amazon, could provide their trading platforms to massive new markets in the developing world.

Prices could be further reduced if the computers used Linux instead of Microsoft Windows to run a web browser-the only user interface required to access online services. And the use of Intel-compatible chips from AMD and others, could further reduce prices.

The internet rivals would be competing for hundreds of millions of new users within a hot demographic: the young middle classes forming in the developing world, primarily in India and China.

By making the PC and internet technology significantly more affordable, such moves would help bridge a massive digital divide: 84 percent of the world's population has no Internet access.

50 percent in 15 years

Wyse is a key supporter of the AMD-founded 50x15 digital inclusion initiative, which seeks to provide 50 per cent of the world's population with Internet access by 2015.

Microsoft, the largest rival to Google and Yahoo, last week showed off prototypes of its version of a thin-client computer--the Origami. But at around $800 it is too expensive to be used in the developing world.[Please see: MSFT's Origami: MSFT succeeds in converging all the disadvantages of a PDA and Notebook]

The non-profit organization Inveneo is a keen supporter of 50x15 and Kristin Peterson, chief development officer says that thin-computing systems are already being installed in remote villages. "We have systems that are powered by solar or by bicycle and they are providing a lot of value for people. They can check weather patterns, check the price of their market goods--and also make phone calls using VOIP."

Huge corporate markets

Wyse also sees tremendous opportunities in Western corporate markets. It favors the term "thin computing" to describe a system of hardware services and software that can include a mixture of PCs and thin-clients. That way, customers can gradually replace PCs with less-expensive thin-client systems while taking advantage of centrally managed administration and maintenance capabilities that save on labor costs.

PC use in corporations is expensive because of the need for large support staffs. Any technologies that can leverage the work of existing IT support staff can rapidly catch the attention of large organizations.

David Watson, CTO at Kaiser Permanente, the healthcare giant, told SVW: "I have a budget of $1.4bn and I have hundreds of people supporting our PCs. Thin computing could reduce my PC support and other costs which we can reinvest in healthcare."

Wyse has also teamed up with Citrix and VMware to provide technologies that can run powerful corporate applications remotely or client-side, making thin computing solutions more attractive to a wider range of corporations.

March 15, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Google [GOOG]
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March 14, 2006

Winer Update: Some mourn while others plot--power vacuum disturbs the blogosphere

[Warning: social satire ahead--for entertainment purposes only! The only genuine quotes in this are from Tom Foremski, who also wrote this piece under his alter-ego A. Tom.]

By A. Tom for AP (Apparent Parody newswire) and SiliconValleyWatcher

Amidst the mourning for the loss of their top visionary, A-list bloggers began to maneuver for Dave Winer's abandoned audience.

"It would be a shame to have those eyeballs go to waste," said Doc Searls, Mr Winer's loyal right hand man for years. "Dave would have wanted me to take care of his beloved readers."

But others, such as Om Malik, who writes the popular GigaOm news blog said that he was Mr Winer's natural successor. "It's time for the old guard to shuffle off and join Dave Winer in the offline afterlife. I've sucked up to those bastards for years, I've got the worn-out kneepads to prove it. I've been waiting for this to happen and I've got a dozen stealth blogs ready to roll at a drop of my hat. I'll help them get on the Cluetrain and get out of here."

Mr Malik won't be the only one trying to scoop up the millions of eyeballs looking for a new home following Mr Winer's sudden departure from the blogosphere.

Tom Foremski, who writes the popular news blog Silicon Valley Watcher, denied that his series of news parodies ("Dave Winer takes his ball home") was opportunistic.

"I'm just doing my job as a reporter and chronicler of these amazing times. Dave Winer is the single most towering tower of intellect in the blogosphere. It is completely believable that he might suddenly have a moment of lucidity and remorse that his life had taken a wrong turn and that he had to take back his real life. This is a great news story--parody or not"

The jostling for position caused by the power vacuum in the blogosphere could get ugly and experts fear that unless it is quickly corrected, the blogosphere itself, could collapse.

"Winer single handedly was responsible for about 40 per cent of all blog traffic directly and indirectly," said Dave Sifry, CEO of Technorati, the leading blog tracking service. "We've already seen an alarming drop in traffic and linking between blogs. But that could be because of the new Sopranos."

One fear is that if other bloggers cannot fill the huge gap in informed, and intelligent reasoning, that was the hallmark of Mr Winer's selfless contributions--blog readers will abandon the blogosphere as quickly as they discovered it.

And the blogosphere's biggest enemy, mainstream media, is already gloating and happily predicting the downward spiral and demise of blogging--a thorn in its side for years.

"I always said it was all a bunch of twaddle. Now I can go back to doing just one job instead of having to write a blog as well," said a jubilant Kevin Maney, senior reporter at USA Today.

Other mainstream media reporters said that this demonstrated the fickle and temporary nature of the blogosphere.

"These bloggers think they are journalists but then they just walk away when they get bored. We have to do it everyday, whether we like it or not. They make me puke," said an unnamed news editor in the San Francisco news bureau of the largest financial daily newspaper covering Wall Street, Don Clark.

Dave Winer left because the blogosphere "is BS, it is a gigantic failure that benefits no one except big business," said Andrew Orlowski, news editor for The Register--a tabloid-like daily news tech site. "He should be arrested and sent to The Hague for trial. Winer is responsible for massive crimes against humanity, His efforts have alienated millions of people from their experience of humanity, and convinced them that computer based communications is a real "conversation."

The pugnacious Mr Orlowski, who has tangled with the BlogoSphere many times before, said he was celebrating with friends at the Edinburgh Castle in San Francisco, minutes after hearing the news that Dave Winer was leaving the blogosphere. "I didn't care that it was 9am in the morning--we kept going until 2am!"

"I've got a bit of a hangover this morning" he admitted. But he said his mood of righteous victory would easily carry him through many more celebrations and hangovers. "I'm taking salsa lessons so that I will be able to dance on the grave of the blogosphere," Mr Orlowski said.

- - -
Please see related:

Dave Winer shockwave

The creator of the BlogoSphere throws in the towel. Blogger reaction ranges from scepticism and denial to outright parody. [Read]
-Update: Will Robert Scoble be next to abandon the BlogoSphere?
Experts warn of copycat behaviors. [Read]

March 14, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: News Parody
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Winer Update: Will Scoble be next to abandon the blogosphere?

[Warning: social satire ahead--for entertainment purposes only! The only genuine quotes in this are from Tom Foremski, who also wrote this piece under his alter-ego A. Tom.]

By A. Tom for AP (Apparent Parody newswire) and SiliconValleyWatcher

In the wake of the loss of Dave Winer from the blogosphere, experts fear copycat behavior... "they often act as lemmings" says a leading sociologist.

Robert Scoble, the MSFT A-list blogger could be next to jump and friends are worried because he has exhibited symptoms similar to that of Mr Winer, such as criticizing tech.memeorandum, just before he disappeared from the blogosphere.

And there are questions about the viability of the old-boy circle of Mr Winer's blogger buddies--a veritable aristocracy of the blogosphere. Will they be able to continue on without Mr Winer's visionary intellect. Who will carry out original thinking? Who will invent everything that's needed for the next phase of the internet?

Will masses of bloggers follow Mr Winer, and switch-off and turn-on to an uncertain analog-based reality?

"It made me rethink my future for a minute or so," said John Battelle, a leading blogger. "I tried switching off from blogging, for several minutes earlier today and the experience of reality was incredible and intense-I could only handle it a little bit at a time. The high resolution images and the tactile feel of the real world was extraordinary--I don't know how god does it! But I'm not ready to plunge right in yet--there's no revenue model for off-line businesses. I have a very healthy online business that pays for my modest life style and for my fetish for buying cool eyeglasses."

Others are following Mr Winer's example. "Thanks Dave, I'm out of here, I never could stand blogging anyway--I'm off to find some fun..." was the final post left on an abandoned blog that used to be written by Josh Windberger, 23 years old.

Six Apart, which runs the TypePad service hosting millions of blogers said that it had not yet seen much churn in blog numbers.

"There is usually a seasonal effect this time of year anyway, due to Lent. Many bloggers give up blogging for religious and spiritual reasons," said Anil Dash, senior vp at Six Apart. "We won't know the true extent of Dave Winer's actions until after Easter when millions of bloggers usually return to blogging."

- - -

Please see related:

Dave Winer shockwave

The creator of the BlogoSphere throws in the towel. Blogger reaction ranges from scepticism and denial to outright parody. [Read]
-Update: Some mourn while others plot
Winer's abandoned eyeballs are a potential goldmine. [Read]

March 14, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: News Parody
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Shockwaves as BlogoSphere creator Dave Winer abandons blogging

[Warning: social satire ahead--for entertainment purposes only! The only genuine quotes in this are from Tom Foremski, who also wrote this piece under his alter-ego A. Tom.]

By A. Tom for and AP (Apparent Parody newswire) and SiliconValleyWatcher

I made it--I'll pop it!This Monday, March 13, started off as a normal morning in the blogosphere--there were a lot of top bloggers convening at the South By South West conference in Austin, Texas and the mood was a happy one.

Yet within minutes word had started to spread that Dave Winer, the inventor of Internet 2.0 and its greatest product: the blogosphere--had announced he would leave the blogging community and blog no more. Bloggers were seen wandering around aimlesslly in a daze, while others were overloading an already fragile WiFi network and frantically IM'ing colleagues to find out more.

At the scene of his disappearance from the blogosphere, investigators found this note typed into the last remaining disk sectors on Mr Winer's server on his Scripting News blog:

"I've done it all, I invented everything of value, my work here is done. And now I want to go home and get a life. My fame has brought with it tremendous opportunities to occasionally share a hot tub with someone other than Robert Scoble or Doc Searls," he wrote.

[Please see the real words of Dave Winer here: Why I will stop blogging.]

The news of Mr Winer's disappearance from the digital ether brought a mixed reaction from other bloggers.

"I think it is a blatant attempt to boost his PageRank," said one blogger, who declined to be named. "It was no secret that his Alexa ranking was slipping, he lost an egoSurf contest with a relatively newbie blogger, so he wanted to go out at the top of his form--I can't blame him for that. He represents that old Geek guard and the blogosphere is going mainstream at a supernova rate and leaving them all behind. Nobody cares anymore about their esoteric religious debates over nuances in blogging."

Others were angry that Mr Winer, who had hyped and promoted blogging and the blogosphere for so many years, and had helped to convince tens of millions of people into becoming bloggers--no longer wanted to be a memebr of the community.

"I feel betrayed," said Mary Highground. "I got into blogging because I truly believed in what Dave was saying, and he was the first man I thought I could trust, that he would always be there. Now he just cashes out and walks away and I am stuck with feeding my blog several times a day--I have no life left at all. He's probably sipping pina coladas and partying with super models somewhere tropical."

In October 2005, Mr Winer sold his company, Weblogs.com, an innovative RSS ping service to VeriSign for several millions of dollars. [Please see SVW: Selling the BlogoSphere Part 2: Why are the Geek new media/blogging pioneers selling out to the big corporates?]

And in recent weeks, people close to Mr Winer said he began showing disturbing signs of restlessness and lack of interest in geek matters.

"He suddenly began attacking other blogs and services for no reason," said a long-time reader of Mr Winer. "He used to love tech.memeorandum and then suddenly he set off a wave of criticism against it."

Gabe Rivera, the media engineer genius that singlehandedly built tech.memeorandum said, "I'm still shocked by Dave Winer's attack, and then Scoble and the rest of his gang also attacked me. They were my most ardent supporters just a few weeks ago. And I just did a redesign and put rounded corners on everything, because that's what they said they wanted. And I hate rounded corners!" He then made this expression: :-(

Mr Winer said he would still continue with some blog posts but gradually withdraw completely by the end of this year. Even though he is still blogging, many in the blogosphere already speak of him in a past tense.

"He'll always be remembered for his original thinking and his oversized ego, and his taking the credit for nearly every new idea on the internet in the last 10 years. The funny thing is that he actually did invent all the things that he said he invented. We have lost a towering intellect," said Tom Foremski, editor of SiliconValleyWatcher.com.

"RSS and trackbacks were pure genius--these are some of the unique technologies that characterize this new Internet 2.0 phase were are in. I always said this is the Next Big Thing, that the media technologies behind blogging are the next big thing, and that is totally and completely due to Dave Winer." Mr Foremski said. "I'm dead serious," he added, seriously.

The general sentiment is that the blogosphere will go on, that it has too much momentum, it is too large to be affected by just one departure.

Charlene Li, lead Internet analyst at Forrester Research, said, "The silver lining in all of this is that companies will be much more productive. We calculated that a single Dave Winer post can be referenced by thousands of bloggers, and each of those bloggers has one thousand to several thousand daily readers. Eliminating all Winer posts could add as much as 1/2 percent to national GDP--we could rebuild New Orleans seven-times over."

(Keep tuned for live coverage of SVW's "Dave Winer takes his ball home" series.
And please send us your "citizen journalist" contributions to this event. Such as where were you when you heard the news? What this means to you :-)

Please see related:

-Update: Will Robert Scoble be next to abandon the BlogoSphere?

Experts warn of copycat behaviors.

-Update: Some mourn while others plot
Winer's abandoned eyeballs are a potential goldmine.

March 14, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: News Parody
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March 11, 2006

I have the third largest ego says egoSurf

I'm not sure how I came across egoSurf. I couldn't resist plugging my ego into its search box and its algorithm calculated 17,731 Ego points. Which apparently is quite good putting me into 3rd place on the "biggest egos" chart.

Somehow I beat out Dave Winer, who has the seventh largest ego, with 9,763 Ego points. Which makes me a bit suspicious that there is a bug in the algorithm :-)

egoSurf says:

Why do I need to egoSurf?
egoSurf helps massage the web publishers ego, and thereby maintain the cool equilibrium of the net itself.
We, the publishers of this here internet thing, need the occasional massage, the odd stroke. We aren't paid. We aren't recognized. Our sites hit count used to be enough, but no longer.

Give it a spin: http://w1.egosurf.org/

March 11, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Tom Watch
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March 10, 2006

The metrics of influence--the mania for measuring the blogosphere

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

AudienceMeasure.jpgThere is a current mania among corporations and PR companies to figure out which tools to use to find the influencers in the blogosphere. They are combing through the PageRank and Alexa rankings of online news sites and blog sites, figuring out who has the audience, who do they try to engage in a conversation about their clients. It's PR 101.

I am often asked "which blogs are the important ones, which ones should we be paying attention to, which ones should we be reading?" I can give you a decent list, but you should be able to figure that out yourselves.

In fact, you will come to know the important bloggers because they will be the ones that your peers share with you. As blogging moves out of the Geek communities and into many more sectors, that sharing principle is how influential blogs become created and distributed and that is how you will recognize the leaders.

Finding the right metrics to measure a blog's value as an influencer will never be as simple as measuring numbers of links, comments, trackbacks, Alexa rank, Technorati rank, etc. Because you have to understand the context of each blog and how it fits into its online communities. And you can only do that by being involved in those communities, online and offline.

Let me say it again: the best way to figure out who the important bloggers are in your sector is to go into the online communities as a participant. It'll become apparent very quickly.

I'm lucky to be be publishing a popular and influential news blog. Yes, I'm happy that the numbers are very good, but I don't look at them that often. The metrics that please me the most is when I hear back from readers, from emails, from comments.

What I love the best is when I meet people, from the trenches to the boardroom, and they tell me "I read you and I share you with my team." That's the kind of feedback that energizes me and makes me feel that I have one the best jobs in the valley.

March 10, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: PR Watch
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Transparancy chatter is a current fashion. . .

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

There has been a lot written recently on the subject of transparency in media, PR and blogging. Josh Hallett over at Hyku blog has a nice roundup.

Media organizations/blogs are already very transparent. You can see who is advertising and you know who the blogger works for. Thus when Robert Scoble blogs about MSFT, the monetary connection is transparent yet it doesn't detract from his passion or his views.

Do people want to peek into the PR pitching and story-production-process? I doubt it, it's boring but hey, if they have the time on their hands let them check it out.

I often write and speak on the topic of how news is written and how PR companies attempt to manipulate the press through many strategies. I think it's useful to know how the media sausage is made, and this is a form of media literacy that we should be teaching in the schools.

But I'm not sure there is much usefulness in having access to every minute of my day--who I interact with, where I ate lunch (today at Town Hall--guest of Horn Group and their clients RightNow Technologies, Collabnet, and MySQL.)

I sometimes publish the pitches sent to me, but only if they are well written. Sometimes the pitches will be better than the press release that is sent out. And I will publish more about how the sausage is made because there is a tremenous amount of misunderstanding at how media is produced.

One of the ways PR companies manipulate the press is through granting or refusing access to their top executives. This is part of the belief that they must control a company message and punish those that seem hostile. Let's make such processes and attempts at manipulatin transparent.

This is very much old rules thinking and doesn't work anymore. The new rules approach is let go of trying to control the client's message and the interaction with the media.

I don't like to be manipulated and I don't know any other journalist who likes that kind of behavior. I get fantastic access to Silicon Valley's top executives which is great, but I don't require it to do what I do.

Fortunately, top execs seek me out, they want access to my readers, which is wonderful. But smaller publications are easier to control through granting access to interviews and pre-briefings.

Unfortunately, there is no level playing field, there is no universal right to access to top management. And there cannot be, there is not enough time in the world.

That's why most of the blogosphere has to comment on the work of others, because they can't get the access. Unless they can boost their PageRank. It's a cruel law that affects every publication, online or offline.

March 10, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Mediasphere
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MSFT salary frustration is high says Union...

From WashTech News, the following peice by Jeff Nachtigal:

Internal Microsoft documents obtained by WashTech News show that Microsoft salaries have been stagnant or nudged only slightly higher over the past two years. Comments from current and former employees about the company’s compensation and performance review system suggest a growing level of frustration among rank-and-file workers.

To read the full story see:

If you'd like a regular helping of WashTech News:

March 10, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Microsoft [MSFT]
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Cell Phone Data: A Protection Racket says Ferris Research

From the recent FERRIS Journalist Insights. Written by David Ferris at messaging reserch company Ferris Research.

Cell phone operators believe they have the right to levy a fee on the type of traffic that passes over their data networks. The justification is that they've had to invest a lot in their networks and need to recoup those investments. Still, it feels like a protection racket.
For example, suppose you subscribe to a cell phone operator in a developed country. You then go on the Internet and find someone selling ring tones. The ring tone is delivered to you over the cell phone network, and all things being equal, your cell phone operator will demand a large share of the ring tone revenues.

Now suppose the vendor is in a developing country, where the charges for sending are much lower. As the world is today, the chances are your cell phone operator will try to detect that ring tones are being sold cheaply. It will then either block the traffic or, more likely, go to the vendor and demand a large chunk of the revenues.

Another example is where you try to buy an application for your cell phone using BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless). A large chunk of what you pay will go to the carriers.

In both cases, the carriers are using their strength to extort cash, where it seems their added value is very minimal.

Long term, the outlook is optimistic. As operators turn out their 3G IP services, competition should erode content-based tariffs. All-you-can-eat IP pipes should become common. ...

I'm not as optimisitic as David. I don't see the mobile operators being any different plus they are often one and the same as the carriers.

Wimax or Google might break the last-mile choke point...

March 10, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Tech Watch
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NYU is tracking newspaper bloggers

A very good resource for watching what is going on in newspapers and their struggle to come to terms with blogging is BluePlateSpecial.net, put together by Jay Rosen and his students at NYU.

I was at NYU last September at the Impact '05 conference. I was on a panel alongside Joe Trippi, Howard Dean's political strategist . Since then, the work being done at NYU by its journalism school has been popping up regularly on my radar screen. For example, the excellent IWantMedia is put together by Patrick Philips, an adjunct professor at NYU.

Facts About the State of Blogging at America's 100 Biggest Newspapers

Blue Plate Special combed through the 100 largest sites. The results show who's blogging, who's not, and which newsrooms are doing what. Look up your newspaper, and compare. (And please: help us fact check this chart!)
By Trisha Chang, Kat Ocampo, Kaitlin Jessing-Butz
Alexis Krase, Toli Galanis and Sara Williams

. . .

Also, notable on the site is Renee Alfuso's article on journalists who blog, and how obsessive it can become. She interviewed the Philadelphia Inquirer's full-time journalist blogger Daniel Rubin, a 25 year newsroom veteran and George K. Polk award winner.

But talk to him today: Rubin doesn’t believe in objectivity, hears the Net calling to him at all hours of the day, and craves the freedom to talk about whatever the hell he wants to talk about—unfettered, unedited. Yup, he’s a blogger.

And I can really identify with Rubin when he is quoted saying the following:

“It’s a great confidence builder knowing you can do it,” he explains. “It causes you to be really at the top of your game, as fast as you’re working to be aware of not getting it wrong and still pushing it as hard as you can. Not being too conservative, too cautious, and that takes a lot of concentrating.”

and. . .

“It’s all-consuming. To do it right takes everything I have.

Here is the full article... http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/blueplate/issue1/rubin_reporter/

. . .

Also worth reading is a post from the future : the article by Ed Cone, set in 2012 ...here is an extract:

It’s hard to believe, looking back, but there was once considerable resistance to blogging within newspapers. In fact, it persisted well into the last decade.

As late as 2007, many papers were only dabbling with blogs – if they were using them at all. Even as the Internet was blowing up the ancient newspaper business model by unbundling advertising from editorial, a lot of editors and writers disdained blogs and bloggers as faddish and frightening and somehow unclean.

Some of this resistance stemmed from a misunderstanding of what blogs actually are: a drop-dead simple publishing platform that allows any user to post text, images, audio, and video onto the web without much technical know-how or support.

One possible reason for the confusion over blogs was the hype about “citizens media” and the avalanche of adversarial rhetoric aimed at the professional press by noisy amateurs, which perhaps caused journalists to confuse the tools with some of the tools using them. And there was also an aversion by underpaid staffers to doing what they perceived as more work – writing online in addition to print — for the same meager wage.

The rest is here...

Newspaper Blogging 2012: A Look Back at the Early Days

My only comment is that blogging won't save newspapers but it will improve them. The newspaper business model is being disrupted by online marketing, largely by search engine marketing and not the blogosphere. To disrupt an industry you have to disrupt its business model and that is being done by Google, Yahoo, Craigslist etc.

Please see SVW: The disruption of PR by blogging.

March 10, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Media Watch
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Part 2: SAP Jeff Nolan's strategy to disrupt Oracle. . .

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

[Part 2 of my meeting with Jeff Nolan, he heads the Apollo Group, it is a strategy and communications organization within SAP that is sometimes called the "Attack Oracle" group.]

Part One is here...it discusses Oracle open source acquisitions...

Creating a stack

Will Oracle's open source plans cause open-source communities to fork-off? "I don't know," Mr Nolan says. "Oracle has good reputation in the developer community and I'm not sure that it is that easy to for a community to fork off if they don't like the way Oracle is running things."

Mr Nolan's view is that Oracle is probably assembling a middleware stack and wants to use open-source components so that it can offer a subscription based pricing structure. This is exactly the direction that Sun Microsystems, Computer Associates and other IT vendors are moving towards.

He is right, we are coming to the end of the licensing model for enterprise IT software, and in Sun's case, John Loiacono, Sun's Software chief, told me late last year there would be a time when Sun would even throw in the server hardware for "free" as part of the monthly enterprise software subscription price. SAP is riding that trend and so are others.

IBM is very strong in middleware but Mr Nolan points out "this whole middleware stack is becoming commoditized very quickly." SAP's strategic strength is in its dominant position in enterprise applications and business process; and with a very broad customer base of more than 32,000 companies. It also has a large number of vertical applications which puts it in a good position to grab for more of the coveted small and medium enterprise (SME) market--the fastest growing IT sector.

SAP's strategy is different from that of Oracle, IBM, and Microsoft. SAP believes that the value is in the application and in the business process. Its software is reconfigurable which gives it a lot of flexibility because it doesn't have to create new code--and it owns its own vertical applications.

Oracle's strategy

Oracle's strategy is based on the belief that owning the database is the key to owning the glass house of the IT organization. And its database is used by most of the Global 2000 enterprises, which is a trusted role. It can try to commoditize the middleware through the use of open source components, and use the open-source platform to integrate its PeopleSoft and Siebel enterprise applications--which would create a powerful alternative to SAP.

IBM is app-less

The Oracle strategy could hurt IBM because IBM does not have any enterprise applications. [BTW, Ray Lane, former president of Oracle and now a leading VC, at Kleiner-Perkins has advised IBM that it should acquire SAP. Otherwise its lack of apps will hurt its software business.]

Like Oracle, IBM has a large database business (mostly mainframe) and a strong middleware business but the commoditization of middleware by Oracle and Sun mean that Steve Mills, IBM's Software chief, has to push higher up the stack. And for IBM that means automating business processes, and a creating a closer partnership with its top business consultants from its acquisition of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

In the past, Mr Mills has told me that the PWC business consultants were not as knowledgeable about IBM's middleware stack as he would have liked--but I'm sure many have completed his boot camp since last we spoke--Mr Mills is a determined, hard-driving executive running IBM's most profitable business.

IBM recently announced a new facility in India that would produce business process modules based on its IT consulting work. Such modules would integrate applications with its middleware, third-party applications--and could also be sold with an IBM hardware component.

Its SME strategy is to partner with companies that already operate in vertical markets and want to port their apps to IBM middleware and hardware platforms.

Microsoft's strategy

Microsoft is hoping to move into the enterprise IT market by way of the SME market. It hopes to parlay its dominance in desktop and workgroup platforms into ever larger enterprise deals. It has plans for SME web services and large, mission-critical IT enterprise applications.

To that end it has been acquiring companies and is making huge investments in web services versions of its desktop applications such as Microsoft Office.

Is the value in apps or data?

I mentioned to Mr Nolan that owning the database within an organization seems to be a sweet spot because companies are so very protective of their data. It is a potentiall good choke point for Oracle--once it integrates its acquisitions it can offer a one page bill every month.

"I'm not sure that the value is in the data. I could argue that the data is of little value--and you could store much of it in flat files. The value is in the processing of the data and in the business process," he says.

It is true that data is just data until it is processed to become information and then it is analyzed to produce knowledge about your particular business process. But companies could choose to process their data by a different application and that is a lower risk than moving their data. (That's also the strategic positioning of Network Appliance, as explained in this SVW interview with CEO Dan Warmenhoven and co-founder Dave Hitz.)

SAP could become squeezed at the top by IBM's business process push--and Oracle pushing from its database customer base--into enterprise applications. Then there is the roll-your-own software brigade, or what I call skinny apps, custom crafted IT applications created by departments using powerful application development platforms. Jotspot and SocialText are examples of this type of technology, which will only improve over time.

Then there are the numerous web services applications companies using AJAX-type technologies that will allow organizations to create mashup suites of IT applications.

Mr Nolan acknowledges the many challenges SAP faces and even named a couple more that I hadn't considered--such as streaming data processing. However, he knows SAP has time and that web services apps and other potentially disruptive innovations take time to build (BTW Mr Nolan agrees with me that innovation has to be disruptive please see my discussion with Geoffrey Moore...).

(Please continue reading part three: Blogging is crucial to SAP's attack Oracle plan)

March 10, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Thoughtleaders
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March 9, 2006

MSFT's Origami: Converges all the disadvantages of a PDA and Notebook

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

Origami Turkey.gifMicrosoft's Origami device is trying to exploit a new form factor, similar to OQO. The size of the device is larger than a PDA and smaller than a notebook.(See Engadget.)

Microsoft has managed to produce a product that combines all the disadvantages of a PDA and a notebook with none of their advantages.

A PDA such as my Treo fits in my pocket has very long battery life, has a cell phone, a camera and a touch screen and has my calendar, email and contacts database.

My three-year old 12 inch IBM ThinkPad X31 is lightweight, has a good keyboard, has decent battery life of nearly 4 1/2 hours, and is my main and only system.

Combine the two and you get Origami, a form factor that is too small for a keyboard, won't fit into a pocket, has a battery life half that of my notebook, and at a price similar to a notebook. And it doesn't have a cell phone. Brilliant.

My ideal ultraportable computing device would have a 12 inch screen as in my ThinkPad, have 12-hour battery life, have a touchscreen, have ubiquitous wi-fi, it runs on a simple microprocessor, doesn't require Windows, and I have access to all my information and applications on any device. It all lives in the cloud but uses AJAX-based technologies to bring things down to my client should my wi-fi connection be interrupted or unavailable--but all this is done seamlessly, and transparently.

I can record voice notes on the device, take photos, video, I can tag my geographic location with my notes (great restaurant, order the wings) I can throw all my personal data into the device, maybe even record every minute of my life - and retrieve it later through search algorithms that become tuned to me and my habits. All for $300.

I described something like this last year calling it a portable wiki or a Walkabout Wiki. It would be so durable and robust that you can play Frisbee with it, with your dog, and it would still work: dog slobber and all :-)

March 9, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Microsoft [MSFT]
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Exclusive: Jeff Nolan--SAP's top strategist speaks to SVW

. . . Oracle-JBoss deal imminent...

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

Jeff.jpgI'm running late for my meeting with Jeff Nolan, one of SAP's key strategists, and a former venture capitalist at SAP Ventures. I pull into the car park of SAP Labs, located next to Xerox PARC, in Palo Alto, and the car park is full, but there is a spot out towards the back of the building and I find my way into a bright, tastefully furnished lobby and get my visitor badge.

Mr Nolan offered to meet me in downtown Palo Alto, but I like visiting people on their home turf because you get to feel the vibe of a company. Plus I like to see the car park--is it full, what kinds of cars, etc. All these things indicate something about the culture of an organization and its people.

SAP Labs has been coming up on my radar screen from several different sources over the past year and I've liked what I've been hearing. SAP is a German software company but it has had a presence in Silicon Valley for many years and Hasso Plattner, the company founder has a home nearby.

And with the battle over enterprise software markets being fought by SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, IBM and others, SAP Labs has been gradually expanding its workforce in Silicon Valley and has developed a momentum buzz.

Mr Nolan has an interesting job. He runs the Apollo Group, it is a strategy and communications organization within SAP, that is sometimes referred to as the "Attack Oracle" group--because Oracle is SAP's largest competitor in enterprise applications. And with Oracle's acquisitions of PeopleSoft and Siebel, Oracle is getting serious about its so far lackluster applications business and is eyeing SAP's huge 32,000+ customer base.

Mr Nolan's goal is to make sure that SAP develops a strategy that enables it to compete against Oracle, whether it is through acquisitions, investments or just pure communications of SAP's message--the goal is to rise above any noise that Oracle produces.

Mr Nolan has a key role to play within SAP, and it is one that he clearly recognizes because of his blogging activities. Mr Nolan writes one of the top VC blogs and because he is involved in the blogosphere he understands the importance of online influencers and how this process works. [That's the reason I get to have a face-to-face with him.]

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison commands a lot of attention and can easily insert Oracle's point of view into many influential publications, consulting groups, and Wall Street brokerages. But Mr Nolan's knowledge of how ideas and conversations propagate around the internet, gained from his experience as an A-list blogger, works to SAP's advantage.

I sit down with Mr Nolan in the company cafeteria which is nearly empty since it is late afternoon. The topic of the day is Oracle's open source strategy and its acquisition recently of several open source companies. Mr Nolan says his sources expect Oracle to announce the acquisition of JBoss, another leading open source company, at anytime.

"I'm not sure what Oracle's open source strategy is going to be," he says. "The deals fell into Oracle's lap but I think Oracle could make good use of the acquisitions because it does have good developer relations."

Mr Nolan says that Oracle could be putting together a middleware strategy because middleware is becoming very commoditized. Sun Microsystems, IBM and Ingres, (a company that SAP is interested in building partnerships) are offering easy to digest per user licensing models.

What is SAP's open source strategy I ask. "I'm not sure that we have one yet, but that's not necessarily a a bad thing, we've made a lot of investments in the open source community and we are waiting to see how things develop...."

(Please continue reading Part 2 tomorrow. . .)

March 9, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Thoughtleaders
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The old rules and the new rules of business...a reply to Tina

(This is a reply to Tina in the comments section, just in case you missed it. I think Tina brings up some good points...)

Tina, it is people like you that I like to chat with. Because you are new, you haven't been taught how not to do things.

I'm tired of people telling me "that's not the way it is done we've been doing this for 15 years." I hate that attitude.

In my world, there is always a big Undo/Go-Back button. I want to try new stuff. But that's because I don't have a business model to defend. In fact, I don't yet have a business model--(but I know I will have one :-)

If you have a business model to defend, one that is paying the bills--you can't readily jump to the new. It is what I call "You can't get there from here" a wonderful uniquely American expression but one that is so well suited to what is happening now; it speaks to the culture and business gap (chasm) that has opened up between old rules and new rules companies.

The old can't move to the new because the business model won't support the cost structure of the old.

I left the Financial Times because I realized that I could produce a column inch (a measurement of editorial copy) of Tom Foremski, more cheaply than the Financial Times. And on a very robust and powerful technology media platform that was virtually free (a $100 Movable Type license plus $40/month hosting.)

Yes, I don't yet have a business model that can keep the lights on, but it can only get better for me and more difficult for my former employer, and its peer group of newspaper businesses.

I'm a journalist blogger with a laptop--the only way you can compete with me is if you are living rent-free at your parent's home, and using your sister's computer (plus 20+ years building your personal brand...).

These are great times for journalists and PR people because at no other time in our lives will we be at such a disruptive point in our professions. And disruption is good if you are not married to the old--because that's where the next generation of leading companies will grow.

Tina's prior comments:

by: Tina Lang-Stuart on March 7, 2006 07:08 AM
Oh Tom, it's always a pleasure reading your "devil's advocate" posts! First the press release is dead, now it's PR all together! (Bad news, since I just got a new job in PR.)
For one reason or another, you don't seem to think that PR people have the guts, foresight or passion to adjust and embrace PR 2.0. Come on, the whole blogosphere, CGM, viral marketing, etc. is an opportunity for us to do something new and exciting. I've been in PR a long time and I am truly thrilled about the changes taking place. So, the traditional press release and the traditional media pitches will go away - I won't shed any tears. And many of my colleagues feel the same way.

Now here's directly to some of your points:

Blogging does disrput the MSM because it takes time away from it. If I am spending 1 hour each day to keep up with my favorite blogs and podcasts, I might not read the paper anymore or skip People Magazine or GQ or Cosmo or Travel & Leisure.

Who says hired communicators can't blog. If they're honest and transparent about what they're doing, just wait and see. It's what you said about Robert Scobel - it they're passionate about their jobs and what thye're writing about - they'll be heard! It will all get blurry after a while - who's blogging for whom.

I agree, however, that PR people (including me) are still trying to figure out how to integrate blogs, etc. into their PR routine. Maybe trying to find out how to pitch bloggers is not the right approach. Maybe it is indeed offering ourselves to companies to blog for them (since most of us know how to write well) as long as we feel passionate about their product or service. This might not work in B2B but for sure it's worth thinking about for B2C. Maybe we need to find a way to become a part of GCM. There are all kinds of opportunities!

Keep those disruptive posts coming!

by: Tom Foremski - Silicon Valley Watcher on March 7, 2006 12:15 PM
Tina, thank you for your kind words...all I'm saying is that the press release and PR in its current forms will have to change. It will take time to change, I'm just hoping to point some of you in the direction things are going.

And yes, I do think some PR people have the guts to change, but many others would prefer that nothing change and that things go on as they are. We've had to make big changes in the media world and we are not done by far.

Blogging by itself, would not disrupt mainstream media--you have to attack the business model for something to be disruptive. Search engine marketing is taking hundreds of millions of dollars from mainstream media. The blogosphere is taking a small, incremental amount.

And BTW, both cannot compete against search engine marketing. I had my electricity cut off last week for three days--blogging can't even keep the lights on :-) Unless you have something else to sell--blogging is not (yet) a profession. But it is the most honest form of self-promotion bar none! Because if you can't walk your walk it becomes readily apparent.

by: Tina Lang-Stuart on March 7, 2006 01:30 PM
Thanks, Tom, for acknowledging that some of us PR people can be movers and shakers, too. Yes, I am all for honesty and transparency and - for lights on!

March 9, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: PR Watch
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March 7, 2006

Andy Lark agrees...blogging is disrupting PR

Here is an exceprpt I fished out of my trackbacks of a post written by Andy Lark, former comms chief of Sun Microsystems:

The Disruption Of PR
Tom speaks to the disruption of PR by blogging and search. He couldn't be more right. I speak to many PR people on the impact of blogging on communications. Most view it as an overlay to traditional communications. It isn't.

While there is a clear case for viewing blogging as complementary to PR, you can really only hold that point of view from the shoes of a PR person. When standing in the shoes of a CMO, it is a very different view. As you look to optimize spend for awareness and lead flow - and juggle priorities such as shortening the sales cycle - you become acutely aware that PR is yet another budget area that should be cut in favor of new communications tools.

Tom focuses heavily on the economics of the new mediums: "You can get a company message out to your potential customers far more cheaply and far more effectively through the blogging medium." While these are significant factors - especially the fact that your message is unfiltered - others to consider include the utility of the medium. If I want to reach my audience, I just blog. It takes about a tenth of the time to blog as it does to craft a release, liaise with an agency, pitch media....

(Continue reading over on Andy Lark's blog. . .)

March 7, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: PR Watch
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Six Apart beefs up its hosted blog service for business users

I nearly got to speak with Anil Dash, vp at Six Apart, the publisher of Movable Type--which we use here on SVW--but we kept missing each other.

Basically it boils down to a hosted solution for corporations and a way to do an end-run around a slow moving corporate IT team. Why wait for the IT department to implement your corporate blog! You can set it up in minutes...

Here is the press release for more info:

From Six Apart:

New TypePad Business Class builds on Six Apart’s experience powering over 75% of Fortune 500 blogs today

San Francisco, CA—March 7, 2006—Six Apart, the world leader in blogging software and services for individuals and businesses, today announced a new strategy for expanding its business blogging solutions to meet the needs of this rapidly expanding market in 2006.

The strategy includes several new product and service launches, growing the company’s already large developer network, expanded partnerships, increased engineering resources devoted to developing business services, customer education programs and enterprise-level support options.

“2006 will be the year that blogging becomes an essential business communication tool,” said Barak Berkowitz, Six Apart’s chief executive officer. “With more experience in business blogging than any other company in the world and the widest network of partners, we are the leaders in helping small and large enterprises across the globe make the most effective use of blogs. This strategy will further cement our place as the provider of choice for business blogging.”

As a first delivery on its strategy, Six Apart today launched TypePad Business Class, a new service designed specifically to meet the integration, security, control and management needs of enterprises and large organizations. It also ensures that Six Apart offers the broadest range of blogging solutions for business available today.

Among the many companies currently using Six Apart’s blogging software and services are Adobe, Amazon, Boeing, Casio, Cisco, Conde Nast, Discovery, eBay, EMI Music, Fuji, Forbes.com, General Motors, Hitachi, Honeywell, Intuit, Los Angeles Times, Motorola, MSNBC, Nissan Motor, Oracle Japan, Proctor & Gamble, Ricoh, University of Michigan, Viacom, Visa, Wal-Mart, Washington Post, Xerox, and Yahoo.

TypePad Business Class was created using the real-world experience of thousands of companies who use Six Apart’s blogging platforms to create internal and external blogs read by millions of employees and customers. Combined with Six Apart’s current offerings, extensive professional network of developers, systems integrators and IT professionals, new business blogging tools and a host of support options, Six Apart aims to demystify business blogging and give customers the tools they need to leap into a new era of communication with their customers and employees.

TypePad Business Class is a cost-effective hosted service geared specifically to companies with high-traffic sites who want to use blogs to engage with their audience, like media companies. With TypePad Business Class, companies can easily create and manage multiple blogs that reach numerous customers in both niched and broad communities. It offers:

· A set-up process so simple that companies can literally be ready to publish overnight

· Ability to set up and maintain blogs without the need to use IT resources

· Automatic updates to the latest software versions

· Advanced customization for total flexibility and control of layout and design

· Advanced comment and spam controls

· Four distinct administration roles per blog, with the ability to assign an unlimited number of bloggers to each role

· Enterprise services such as added bandwidth allowances, invoicing options and priority technical support with guaranteed response times

A second new product Movable Type Enterprise was announced for the Japanese market and is in beta tests with several companies in the US. Movable Type Enterprise is a server-based blogging platform used behind a company’s firewall and is ideal for companies looking for secure enterprise-wide deployments, advanced configuration and integration with existing enterprise systems. It offers:

· Fast creation of fully-featured and easily customizable blogs

· Platform integration for the Oracle 10g database, as well as MySQL, PostGres and many other open source databases

· Quick and easy set up using existing enterprise authentication tools like LDAP, giving site managers control over blog comments, who can blog and what permissions they have

· Powerful anti-spam protection

· Customizable email integration

· Support for unlimited blogs, allowing companies to easily create separate blogs for each project, client or workgroup, all centrally managed

· World-class customer support

In addition to TypePad Business Class and Movable Type Enterprise, Six Apart also offers solutions for home offices and smaller businesses, as well as versions and special pricing for educational institutions and non-profit organizations. A complete listing of products and their benefits can be found at http://www.sixapart.com/business.

As part of its education outreach, Six Apart is helping produce or is participating in a series of in-person seminars to help companies get started in blogging. The first of these is the Blog Business Summit on March 16, 2006 in Los Angeles, with more information available at http://blogbusinesssummit.com.

For companies looking for additional assistance, the Six Apart Professional Network offers access to thousands of developers, designers, consultants, system integrators and IT professionals around the world who have expertise in Six Apart’s business blogging solutions.

TypePad Business Class is available immediately, starting at $89.95 per blog per month, for 4GB of storage and 40 GB of bandwidth per month. Movable Type Enterprise is available today in Japan and will be available worldwide later this year.

March 7, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Mediasphere
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LaLa.com launches-a clever way to monetize your CD collection--we have betas available!

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

LaLa.com launched today--an interesting business that seeks to monetize your CD library. Think of it as monetizing your long tail collection of CDs you rarely play anymore...

For a buck each you can exchange each one for a CD you'd love to hear.

The people behind LaLa are led by Seven co-founder and chairman Bill Nguyen. I popped in to see Mr Nguyen and John Kuch, in business development, a couple of weeks ago to get the prebrief.

LaLa is in downtown Palo Alto in an interesting building and in a spacious office setting that has tons of natural light and high ceilings. When I walked in, Mr Nguyen was escorting out family members who had dropped by to surprise him on his birthday.

We walked into a cooler, darker conference room and sat down on foldable wenge-colored Rex chairs, and switched on the LCD projector. Up comes a user interface that is friendly and intuitive.

"We wanted to be able to give people access to a much larger library of music than ITunes or anybody else. And we have some great search algorithms that can recommend music that you didn't know you might like," said Mr Nguyen.

Basically, the service works this way: you list your CD collection and you mark each one with a "I want" or "I have" and others can browse your CD collection and request your CD(s). You get an email saying that a member wants your CD and you pop it into a pre-paid envelope, as in Netflix, and off it goes.

Similarly, you receive CDs you've requested from others. Each transaction costs just $1. And the artists get a royalty.

You get rid of a CD you weren't listening to, and you get a CD you want, and the artist gets paid about the same as if they had sold a new CD. It is win-win-win.

Clearly, the temptation is to rip the CDs and then move them on. But, should such abuse of the system take place, the artists are getting paid each time. The record companies are missing out on their cut, but hey, they already got their cut...

Check it out and let me know what you think. We have betas available for SVW readers! But sign up quickly because there are a limited number available...


Here is the official announcement:


The most extensive music catalog available for trading and purchase goes live

Tuesday, March 7, 2006 -- PALO ALTO – According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) nearly 30,000 album titles are released each year. With nearly 3 million available titles, the largest reseller, Wall-Mart, stocks about 5,000 titles or less than 1% of available music. With choice quickly disappearing, ‘la la’ opens the largest, most diverse music store on earth with 1.8 million album titles all available for $1 each – same price as a song download except the extra penny buys the rest of the album.

‘lala.com’ is an online co-op where members trade-in CDs they have for CDs they want from other members. CDs are sent through the mail in pre-paid envelopes. If an album is not immediately available for trade, members can buy the CD new or as a digital download at retail prices.

“Trading CDs is an affordable way to experiment and try new music,” says Bill Nguyen, co-founder of ‘la la’, “but when you find that album you can’t wait to enjoy, we offer it as a new CD or as a download and often with additional bonus material at retail price.’

First Sale Doctrine and Supporting Musicians

Trading CDs has always been legal under the first sale doctrine codified in the U.S. Copyright Act. The doctrine allows the owner of a lawfully made CD to dispose of the possession of that copy without permission or payment of additional royalties to the copyright holder. As a result, artists were not compensated from the sale of used CDs. Until now… While there is no obligation to do so, ‘la la’ is taking a bold and independent direction in supporting musicians. ‘la la’ is setting aside 20% of trading revenues to honor musicians. Working with artists, labels, and industry groups, ‘la la’ will soon announce a creative way for musicians to financially benefit from the sale of used CDs.

How Search Brought Back the Record Store

Need help finding music? ‘la la’ is introducing the first community-based search engine to help discover music the old fashioned way – through conversation.

As depicted in Nick Hornby’s book, High Fidelity, the local, independent music store was once the social hub where music fans gathered to hear, discuss and buy music. The social aspect which once drove music discovery is disappearing. Today, songs are sold online one at a time or two aisles down from deodorant and laundry detergent.

‘la la’ brings back to music the most important contribution of the local record store: a venue for an ongoing conversation about music-the new social hub for music fans has been born. The more members trade, buy new, share what they’re enjoying and listening to on iPods, iTunes or Winamp, the better ‘la la’ becomes at recommendations. ‘lala.com’ uniquely introduces members to new artists but, just as importantly, ‘la la’ has developed advanced community tools to enable old friends to stay in touch, because the desire to influence a friend’s taste in music didn’t end in college.

It Started with a Song

Conceived by Bill Nguyen and John Cogan while listening to Fountains of Wayne, ‘la la’ is their personal response to how terrible the music buying experience had become.

Billy Alvarado and Anselm-Baird Smith joined with the conviction that music selection should be nearly infinite and conversation should drive discovery not search robots. To back their vision, Bain Capital and Ignition Partners generously funded ‘la la’ with $9M.

‘la la’ the name comes from some of the first words said by Bill’s son.

About ‘la la’

‘la la’ is the first online music co-op where music fans can trade CDs they own for CDs they want. ‘la la’ also offers new full length albums and digital downloads, no singles. With immense admiration and gratitude to musicians, ‘la la’ is the first to introduce payments to performing artists based on the resale of used records.

‘la la’ is based in beautiful Palo Alto, California.

March 7, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Startups
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Welcome to the Conversation Age! All conversations may be monitored...

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

(From my ZDNet blog post: Nakedness, overload and other maladies of the Conversation Age .)


Conversations are good, they are good for your company's bottom-line if you become involved in those conversations. And monitoring the conversations in the blogosphere and selling the results to corporations, as companies such as Technorati do, is a great way to figure out who is bad-mouthing your company and also, it is the cheapest and most effective market research you can buy.

The involvement of many tens of millions of people in the blogosphere, all involved in online group discussions from just a couple of people, to many tens of thousands--is a marketers' gold mine. All those conversations that might have happened over the garden fence, or in the cafe, are now public and searchable.

And Technorati and many others, will analyze the links, the authority of a site, and report to their corporate customers on the "conversations" around a product, service, company or individual.

This is not a bad thing if it leads to highly hyper-personalised marketing. That way, I would be targeted with what I needed--say new shoes. And I would be subject to fewer advertisements littering my psyche.

But this will never happen. Fewer adverts because of better targeting would be a false promise, it is like the promise of the paperless office, or the Leisure Society from labor-saving devices. So therefore, naked conversations are a bad thing--(let's go semi-private pronto).

Conversations have become a big feature of this Internet 2.0 and it is not surprising because to me, the internet is a media technology. And now with Internet 2.0 we have an asynchronous media technology: we can publish outwards--and we can collect and publish inwards the comments of others.

Is  blogging a conversation? Of sorts; it enables people to comment and discuss a blog post. But the conversation is often clumsy and short.

What blogging enables you to do, is to handle mass conversations--one person to have a "conversation" with many tens of thousands of people.

Blogging is a lot like sending out a family newsletter with a paid-reply card. We all hate the family newsletter but in the blogosphere it is okay because I can have an experience of a  conversation with a top blogger such as Robert Scoble. Or rather, a short stilted conversation, since bloggers have become masters of minimalist conversations :-).

Conversations about conversations leads me to think of this Internet 2.0 age as the Conversation Age.

This is different from the Information Age--which is associated with Internet 1.0 and our ability, through the web browser, to publish a page to any screen attached to any computer.

The Information Age led to one of the early maladies of the digital age--Information Overload. This is familiar to all--it is that mild-to-extreme feeling of paranoia that we haven't kept up with our reading/surfing.

In the Conversation Age we will suffer from Conversation Overload. This will become familiar to all, it's the mild-to-extreme feeling of paranoia that we haven't kept up with our email, blogging, IM, SMS, and voicemail, etc.

I think that Conversation Overload is a worse malady than Information Overload. Because I can walk away from reading Business Week this week, more easily than I can walk away from a conversation through blogging, email, etc. Those conversations are all important to me, yet I can't keep up with them.

Conversation Overload is tough because we don't want it to seem as if we are ignoring someone but there is not enough time in the world to keep up with all the conversations.

That's why I spend a chunk of my day in a conversation blackout zone so that I can think, write, and so that I can hear my own conversation with myself. And I want to have a chance to have a conversation with my kids.

After I've done that, then I try and keep up with my online and offline conversations, comments, emails, voicemail, etc--and I'm sometimes unable to keep up with them all. But what can you do?

Well one thing that  I do, which works very well, is that I only give out my cell phone number and I make it clear that it is my cell phone number. If something is important--don't send me five emails--call me! It works great--I get the conversations that really matter.

My Conversations, in order of importance, preference and attention:  

  • face-to-face
  • cell phone
  • SMS
  • IM
  • blog comments
  • email
  • trackbacks
  • landline phone
  • fax

What about you?

- - -

- - -

March 7, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Culture Watch
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March 5, 2006

Oops! I just killed the press release...

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

hands-bloody.jpgHere you go, the coup de grace on the delete-on-receipt press release:

PR professionals have an ethical duty to communicate their client's message in the most effective format and manner. The press/news release in its current format is not effective.

(And many journalists will give you the same feedback.)

I am one of its intended targets and I am using my own time and money to inform the PR community of professionals around the world, that sending out press releases in their current format, unchanged in decades, is not effective or that useful. I hate to see the enormous waste of human resources.

It would not take that much extra work to change the press release into a format in which it is more useful to me, and to many other journalists. Such as:

The press release should be changed in format: it should be new media ready, by which I mean give me the html source code, so I can more easily cut and paste sections and links; and give it to me in the font I'm using; or strip out formatting/font data so that I can impose my own cascading style sheet onto it.

Sections of it should be clearly tagged. That way I can write a news story, put my spin on it then paste factual information into the story and identify it as this is what the company said: it was founded in 1998; the ceo said; the stock quote; what the analysts said, the specs of the product, other relevant news story links, etc.

These things are facts and can be clearly shown as coming from the company. You can't spin facts.

Media and PR professionals need to work together as partners in communicating a truthful and honest message. That is an ethical approach and it is also the best use of people's time.

I would advise companies that work with PR agencies to ask them how they intend to modify their press releases and any other forms of communications, for the online publishing world. (Notice I'm not saying: for the blogging world).

If they tell you no modification is necessary then you should consider a savvier PR firm, imho.

- - -

BTW, anybody interested in working with me on a proposed improved format press release please drop me a note at tom at siliconvalleywatcher.com. Please include "new media press release" in the subject line so I can fish it out of my terribly cluttered inbox :-)

March 5, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: PR Watch
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Exclusive: Software 2006 showcase winners

Software2006.gifThe Software 2006 conference is coming up very soon and I've got the scoop on the 20 companies out of more than 100 chosen for the Software Showcase.

This is a Sandhill.com event organized by co-founder M.R. Rangaswami. [Software 2006 on April 4-5, 2006 at the Santa Clara Convention Center.]

M.R. single handedly has made enterprise software interesting again. And as part of this year's conference, there is a Software Showcase. These are the ones that stood out in four areas: open source, security, new media and enterprise software.

Enterprise Software

Ework http://www.ework.com

Itemfield http://www.itemfield.com

Kalido http://www.kalido.com

Storeperform http://www.storeperform.com

Wyse http://www.wyse.com

New Media

BDMetrics http://www.bdmetrics.com

Blinkx http://www.blinkx.com

Clairmail http://www.clairmail.com

Jotspot http://www.jotspot.com

Socialtext http://www.socialtext.com

Open Source

CollabNet http://www.collab.net

Compiere http://www.compiere.org

Digium http://www.digium.com

Ingres http://www.ingres.com

Zimbra http://www.zimbra.com


Columbitech http://www.columbitech.com

Courion http://www.courion.com

Fortify http://www.fortify.com

SOA Software http://www.soa.com

Vontu http://www.vontu.com

March 5, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Top Stories
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Microsoft's ROI on Robert Scoble - the disruption of PR by blogging

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

It's the last hour of the New Communications Forum and Shel Israel and Robert Scoble are performing their very entertainiing double act promoting their book "Naked Conversations." The room is full of marketing and public relations people--some of them are high-PageRank bloggers themselves.

Both men are promoting the idea that blogging provides corporations with valuable feedback, and it provides an effective message delivery medium, and they cite many examples. This is all very true about blogging--it is an incredibly powerful communications technology.

Robert mentioned a startup company that collected 400,000 beta users in one week from a mention on just a few key tech blogs. I thought it a good time to stand up and join the conversation and make an important point that many people don't understand about blogging.

I said that blogging is not disrupting the mainstream media--blogging will disrupt public relations. The company geting its message out to 400,000 beta users is a great example, and I've been collecting many more.

It's an important point to make because many PR people come to conferences such as New Comm Forum because they want to learn how best to pitch to bloggers and how to use the blogosphere as a channel for corporate and marketing communications as the mainstream media gradually melts away. What few realise is that mainstream media is being disrupted by online marketing--specifically search engine marketing--and not blogging.

It comes down to this simple fact:

It is far cheaper to sell products and services through search engine marketing than through mainstream media.

The millions of bloggers aren't taking any money away from mainstream media...but Google, Yahoo, and Craigslist certainly are.

The inability of the blogosphere to find a business model that can keep the lights on, is similar to mainstream media's struggle to survive. They are both in the same boat (except the bloggers have a day job.)

Let me say it again: Blogging is not disrupting mainstream media--blogging will disrupt public relations.

It comes down to this simple fact:

You can get a company message out to your potential customers far more cheaply and far more effectively through the blogging medium.

However, the company message in the blogosphere cannot be delivered by hired communicators. It has to come from the people inside, or close to the company, who are passionate about the company and its products. It has to have an authentic voice. You cannot fake an authentic voice.

Therefore what role can public relations professionals play in this new world? They cannot be "authentic-voices-for-hire" because that doesn't work in this medium. (Try it and you'll see...it will look and smell fishy.)

Look at Robert Scoble--who I sometimes describe as Microsoft's second most powerful executive. This A-list blogger has single-handedly spruced up Microsoft's public image in so many areas. And he continues to be Microsoft's best promotional engine because he is passionate about his job and his life and that reflects well on Microsoft.

The value of the positive PR that Microsoft has managed to reap from Mr Scoble's authenticity, his passion, and his stellar PageRank--must easily be in the tens of millions of dollars--and that's a conservative estimate. I would estimate his software engineer salary at about $200k--so that's a pretty damn good ROI.

As the Robert and Shel lunchtime New Comm Forum show started to wind down, I realized a delicious irony: I'm sitting next to a senior executive from Waggoner Edstrom--Microsoft's long standing PR company. Wagg Ed receives many tens of millions of dollars from Microsoft for PR work.

Robert is a far more effective communicator than Wagg Ed. Okay, he doesn't write press releases, but you can see the point I'm making. (If Wagg Ed were to be benchmarked against Robert...!)

This is why PR in its current form is becoming less relevant and less effective because of blogging and its technologies.

Yet just the opposite seems to be happening: PR companies are hiring like crazy--one PR exec told me, "it's just like 1998--we are paying ridiculous salaries to try and recruit people."

That's why the coming fall will hurt because the economics of communication through the blogosphere are at least a factor of ten less expensive than through traditional PR. It just hasn't hit yet--but it will.

When the PC industry started forming in the early 1980s the mainframe and minicomputer companies were doing better than ever. But eventually the economics of the PC caught up with them and they were the victims of a disruptive innovation.

Blogging is a disruptive innovation; I define a disruptive innovation as something that is so powerful and happens so quickly that companies cannot get out of its way. They can see the train-wreck happening right in front of them and they can't get out of its way. That's what happened to all those minicomputer and mainframe companies--even IBM barely survived the disruption from the PC--it had to reinvent itself as an IT services company.

Blogging is a disruptive innovation and the PR industry will eventually see the train wreck happening in front of it and not be able to get out of its way.

Traditional PR won't go away but it will shrink considerably--just like mainstream media. It will be replaced by something else--I might tell you what that will be if you if you ask me in person :-)

- - -
(tag newcomm)

I met the very impressive Denise Howell at Newcomm, she is a lawyer working in some of the grey areas kicked up by blogging--and she is also a blogger: http://bagandbaggage.com/.

Please read her post on advertising--it is an eloquent way of describing how blogging is changing things in marketing.

- - -

March 5, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Media Watch
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March 1, 2006

An SAP view on Oracle and open source from Jeff Nolan

Jeff Nolan was one of the top VCs in the Valley and worked at SAP Ventures for many years before shifting to this role within SAP, as director of the Apollo Strategy Group in SAP Marketing and Customer Operations.

Informally, he heads the "Kill Oracle team" I'm told. BTW SAP Ventures is an investor in MySQL.

I think Jeff makes a good point. I have a meeting with Jeff early next week...

You have been all over the oracle/open source topic, do you think they may be trying to buy their own LAMP stack in order to bolt on Fusion middleware or is it really as simple as they want to frustrate the best open source efforts from moving into Oracle home turf? Ellison is spending a lot of time talking about subscription revenues and all-you-can-eat pricing models… and much of the middleware is in fact moving to commodity levels.

Just some random thoughts, my team is doing a lot of work in this area if you are interested in comparing notes.

Jeff Nolan
Director, Apollo Strategy Group
SAP Marketing and Customer Operations

March 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: Enterprise IT
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Defending the delete-on-receipt news release. . . and an example of a better format

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher
There has been lots of whining from the PR community about my press/news release should die post. Lots of business models to defend I suppose.

I am providing the PR community with feedback on what works and what does not. I'm a target of the product and I'm using my own time and money to to help it become a more effective and useful communications entity. You can ignore my feedback if you want, but change will come, I guarantee it.

Also, there seems to be some mistaken belief that the SEC mandates news releases in their current format. No, it does not.

The SEC wants broad distribution of company data as quickly and as efficiently as possible so that all investors have equal access to material information. The only thing that is efficient about the news release is in getting access to client money!

Anyway, while a bunch of the old guard have been stalwartly defending the classic delete-on-receipt news release, others have spent their time more productively.

For example, the always resourceful Julie Crabill, from Shift Communications on Tuesday sent over what she called a "Foremski style" news release, and the same release old style. And it is a good example and a great step in the right direction--just these simple things already made the news release a lot more useful.

Take a look:

Hi Tom: We took a whack at re-formatting a release that's already gone out, to comply with some of the ideas from your blog .We've also attached the original. Is this "Foremski-style" version close to what you had in mind? (Please keep in mind that we were constrained to quotes that had already been approved by client and analysts, and, that this is a privately-held company, so the financial data is as robust as we could reasonably make it.)

What do you think? Feedback welcome.

Old Style:


For More Information

Julie Crabill       Marie Domingo

SHIFT Communications for UGOBE    SHIFT Communications

Office: +1-415-591-8411     Office: +1-415-591-8409

Mobile: +1-408-219-5617     Mobile: +1-650-888-5642

[email protected]      [email protected] 



Organic Robotics
Blends Technology and Behaviors in a way that Breathes Life
into Robotics


EMERYVILLE, Calif. – Feb. 6, 2006 –
UGOBE, developer of organic robotics, today revealed the company’s
first Designer Life Form®, Pleo. Pleo is modeled after a one-week-old
Camarasaurus Sauropod, or long neck dinosaur, and incorporates basic
traits of autonomous life. Pleo has been specifically engineered to
mimic life with organic movement and behaviors that allow him to relate
to humanity on a personal level.

UGOBE’s unique and patented robotic
motion platform enables Pleo to move in a fluid, lifelike way, while
behaving completely autonomously. Equipped with nearly 40 sensors, including
infrared and stereophonic sound, Pleo requires no remote control and
is free to interact with his owner and environment. Through UGOBE’s
“Life Form Operating System,” Pleo is able to use simultaneous sensory
inputs along with a sophisticated behavioral platform to act independently
and express himself through motion and sound. Pleo can convey emotions,
is aware of himself and his surroundings, and evolves in behavior over

“With this flagship product, UGOBE
has shown that they are a forward-thinking company that sees the shift
within the industry toward interactive organic robotics” said Tim
Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies.

UGOBE is made up of a multidisciplinary
team of robotics experts, animators, technologists, scientists, biologists
and programmers. Through a unique blend of life sciences, artistic design
and sophisticated engineering, UGOBE has created its first scientifically
authentic designer species. Pleo has an astonishingly realistic form,
which is revealed in his amazingly fluid motions, advanced sensory systems
and lifelike body language.

“UGOBE’s goal is to re-animate life
by transforming inanimate objects into lifelike creatures exhibiting
organic movement and behaviors,” said Bob Christopher, CEO of UGOBE.
“Through evolving companionship, Pleo will suspend disbelief by bringing
magic and beauty to life.”

Pleo features include

  • 14 servo joints (torso, head,
    tail, neck, legs) with force feedback

  • 38-touch, sound, light and
    tilt sensors including nine touch sensors (mouth, chest, head, shoulders,
    back, feet) and 8 feet and toe sensors

  • Fluid quadruped motion

  • Ability to avoid obstacles
    and not walk off edges

  • Sound output, stereo sound
    sensors and music beat detection

  • Autonomous interaction with
    owner and environment including coughing, blinking eyes, chomping, twitching,
    sighing, sneezing, sniffing, growling stomach, tail drift, and yawning

  • Distinct moods including anger,
    boredom, playfulness, hunting, cautious, cuddling, disgust, disorientation,
    distress, fear, curiosity, joy, sorrow, surprise, fatigue, hunger, and
    a desire for social interaction

  • Upgradeable, Life Form OS
    and Personality System

  • SD card memory expansion

  • Ability to communicate with
    other UGOBE Life Forms

  • Rechargeable battery


Pleo will be available in Q3 2006, in
time for the holidays, and will MSRP for $199.


UGOBE develops and markets revolutionary
robotic technology that transforms inanimate objects into lifelike creatures
that exhibit stunning organic movement and dynamic behaviors. Ugobe’s
multidisciplinary team of robotics experts, animators, technologists,
scientists, biologists and programmers are led by polymath toy inventor
and Furby co-creator, Caleb Chung, one of the most successful and respected
toy creators in the $25 billion U.S. toy industry. UGOBE’s groundbreaking
line of robotic creatures called Life Forms, promise to inspire and
entertain the child in all of us. For more information about UGOBE,

Foremski Style:

Feb. 6, 2006:
UGOBE launches first product at DEMO 2006


, SHIFT Communications, 415-591-8411 


UGOBE, a new company started by Furby
Caleb Chung, today revealed its first product, Pleo. 
Pleo is modeled after a one-week-old
Camarasaurus Sauropod, or long neck dinosaur, and has been specifically
engineered to mimic life with organic movement and behaviors. UGOBE’s
patented robotic technology enables Pleo to move in a fluid, lifelike
way, behave autonomously, convey emotions through motion and sound,
and evolve in behavior over time. Pleo will be available in Q3 2006
and will MSRP for $199.

Executive Quote:

“UGOBE’s goal is to re-animate life
by transforming inanimate objects into lifelike creatures exhibiting
organic movement and behaviors. Through evolving companionship, Pleo
will suspend disbelief by bringing magic and beauty to life.” –
Bob Christopher, CEO, UGOBE

Analyst Quote:

“With this flagship product, UGOBE
has shown that they are a forward-thinking company that sees the shift
within the industry toward interactive organic robotics.” –
Tim Bajarin, president, Creative Strategies 

Financial Information:








Coverage To-Date:



UGOBE develops and markets revolutionary
robotic technology that transforms inanimate objects into lifelike creatures
that exhibit stunning organic movement and dynamic behaviors. Ugobe’s
multidisciplinary team of robotics experts, animators, technologists,
scientists, biologists and programmers are led by polymath toy inventor
and Furby co-creator, Caleb Chung, one of the most successful and respected
toy creators in the $25 billion U.S. toy industry. UGOBE’s groundbreaking
line of robotic creatures called Life Forms, promise to inspire and
entertain the child in all of us. For more information about UGOBE,

March 1, 2006 | Permalink | Comment on this post | Tag: PR Watch
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