I’ll be speaking January 23 (tomorrow) at 1pm at the Holmes Report’s In2 Innovation Summit in San Francisco on a panel discussing: “Smash the Agrarian Clock and Other Innovation Mandates.”
When 22 year olds can call the shots, the office hours can't be 9am-7pm, and 'always on' is the cost of entry if you want an innovative environment. This talk is all about bending the rules of the game, challenging the old ways and daring to evoke real innovation by provoking new behaviors.
I left the Financial Times at the end of May 2004 because I could see that there was something enormously game changing going on in the media industry. I felt it at a gut level at the time ( I can quantify it much better today . . .).
I took most of the summer off, lunching and hanging out with friends. It was a perfect way to spend a sabbatical (every four years at the FT + 6 weeks vacation.) But after the summer I didn't have a safe office, and a safe job to go back to, I was on my own, I had decided to be independent, to see if a professional journalist could make a living as a blogger.
And I didn't realize that I would become the first mainstream journalist to leave one of the top jobs in the media industry to become a "journalist blogger." It just felt like the right thing to do.
After my carefree summer it it was suddenly September and I needed to get into gear. I had to start writing, but I was facing a blank screen, and thinking what is blogging?
My friends Om Malik and Dave Galbraith had taunted me for a long time (at our Harrington sessions (where unique business formulas were developed)), "start blogging Tom," they would say. My reply, which is the reply of all newspaper journalists, was "yeah, yeah, I write all day long... stfu."
At the FT, it wasn't uncommon to produce three news stories a day, two before 10am, a news analysis for the next day, and if you were really lucky, a lead feature for the next day too. We could write bloggers under the table.
But Om and Dave were right. And I had no idea what they were talking about at the time. Because it wasn't until I started "blogging" that I realized that this is totally unique activity and experience.
I will write about some of my totally unexpected times as a journalist blogger in the next few weeks...
I want to focus on content and not technology and yet I have been off-line for days because of hardware failures. And trying to learn the new worlds of "many-media"--how different types of media are prepared, produced, and then distributed.
These have been frustrating weeks but I am reassured with a vision of the future. We are almost at that cusp in history when technology will matter less. It'll be what we do that will matter more than how we do things. And then I'll be able to focus on content instead of technology.
A 1-click future
Right now, I am suffering the multiple agonies of dealing with resuscitating two notebooks, a failed external backup drive, and setting up up a completely new notebook--plus learning video and audio editing for Podtech.net related projects.
One of these days very soon, these types of things will be all one-click problems because we'll have pushed so much of our lives into the cloud where such problems are cheaply outsourced.
Standards get wrapped
Much of my week has been spent with either trying to revive my old hardware or getting to grips with new hardware such as Sony hi-defintion video camcorders. The puzzle is that Sony and Panasonic have adopted a high definition video compression format that has no editing support from the major video editing software vendors.
Are Sony and Panasonic so bad at evangelism that they couldn't get support for their video format from dozens of software companies a year before launch? It's been six months since the launch and there is only a trickle of low-end video editing software coming out. Corel's ULead DVD MovieFactory is one of the first to offer some limited support for AVCHD.
Lost in Video Translation
Because of my Podtech.net deal to produce a Silicon Valley Watcher show I've gotten to shoot lots of video but translating and publishing the video content takes hours of computer processing time, and that's without the editing time.
I would like a magic button that automatically takes the video from the camcorder and loads it into my editing software and then when I'm finished, in the time to make one-click it publishes my video interviews all over YouTube, PodTech, AppleTV, iPhone and wherever else. That's a fantasy because right now, just getting the video content out of the camera and into a format for the editing software takes about 7 to 8 hours per hour of footage. And then exporting it into different publishing formats can take another 3 to 4 hours per hour of footage. That's way too much time lost.
Why can't we have inexpensive video co-processors specifically designed to zip through such tasks? A general purpose microprocessor is good at many tasks but not as good as a specialized processor at specific tasks. We already have DSP chip technologies and powerful graphics co-processors that process many similar tasks within PCs. It would be good to get some video co-processors, too. I should thing there must be some on the way...
I've been hampered in my posting lately because my usually trusty Thinkpad X31 crashed early last week and I have to send for the recovery CD and install a new drive.
Vid Shots and Shorts
Plus, I've been trying to learn how to use my Sony high-definition camera and load it into an editing suite and then publish here on SVW and on podtech.net. It has been a very good learning experience and part of the solution means I have to get a Mac.
I've also realised, (again) how things are not made simpler by technology, but often are made more complex. My Sony video camera uses a hi-def format called AVCHD, which Panasonic also supports. But editing suites don't--and it is only just now that products such as from Ulead are coming out with editing tools...but it is about 6 months after the cameras were introduced you'd think Sony and Panasonic would lay the groundwork ahead of time, they are certainly large enough. Does this show how much or little they care about third party support?
I hear the AVCHD format has many good qualities but it is an example of how everyone is overlaying a proprietary layer on top of existing standards, which makes a mockery of the whole standards process.
This strategy is not new, tech companies have always sought the proprietary layer because that is where the margins are excellent. And if you can get there with a de facto industry standard, such as Intel and Microsoft--it is a gold mine. (And that is why we no longer have de facto industry standards being established.)
In open source you make the money on services, which is people dependent and less scalable and profitable. But it is still a good business. Open source puts money in people's pockets but they have to earn it by the hour.
IP or software licenses--that's money that you make without having to get out of bed. Much more attractive.
BTW: My frustrations with all the video stuff will be solved very shortly, and that is when you will see more video on SVW and elsewhere.
I used to be impressed by Wells Fargo, professional and with great service. My local bank manager even used to call and invite me to barbecues. That was when I had money in various accounts. He never calls anymore, now that I'm a semi-liquid media entrepreneur, but that's OK, I'd rather he didn't anyway.
As with all startups, revenues--if you are lucky to have them in the first place--tend to be a bit lumpy. Money comes in some months and in other months it doesn't--that's just the way things are.
Last month I deposited a check for $7500, a sponsorship payment from Edelman, the world's largest private PR agency. My bank put an immediate hold on it for five business days because of "unusual checking activity."
Yes, it has been unusual for me to get a check this year but it shouldn't be a flag for suspicious activity and a freeze on the funds. I'm not N.Korea and I'm not buying centrifuges.
After 5 days Wells Fargo cleared $5000 but kept a hold on the remaining $2500 for a further five days.
How is it that a check only clears partially?
How is it that a check takes so many days to clear? Especially in this day and age and with all the massive investments in tech made by the banking industry over the past three decades?
I put these questions to a hapless manager at my Wells Fargo branch. I was told: because the check is over $5,000 and it is an out of state check.
And because I had used an ATM to deposit the check, it takes longer because it is a different bank unit. I should have brought it into the branch.
I said I use an ATM because it is faster for me and faster for the bank.
I had no idea it was better to engage with a bank teller--clearly bank automation is far less efficient than we supposed. Don't be surprised if millions of ATMs start to be pulled out of walls leaving ugly patched holes along streets and on corners.
I then pulled out a $10,000 check from a very reputable company. So how long will it take for this check to clear?
A careful examination revealed a problem, the check was drawn from a bank in N. Carolina. It will be 5 days for the first $5k and five days for the second $5k.
Is N. Carolina on some dodgy-check watch list? And how is that any faster than using an ATM?
The Wells Fargo person said that in two days time a phone call could be made to the N.Carolina bank to check on the money, as a special favor to me. Actually, make it three days.
Amazing. All that technology and someone has to make a phone call to check on funds.
Do other banks do this? Maybe, but that's no excuse. Everyone and their grandmother knows that the banks could clear deposited checks in a microsecond if they wanted to. Do they think customers are stupid and don't know that?
It is flagrant fleecing of customers because every time a check bounces there are three different $35 fees plus overdraft charges.
I hope Wells Fargo and any other bank that engages in such fleecing gets royally disrupted by PayPal and its ilk. I used to recommend Wells Fargo, I'd recommend otherwise now.
Interesting stuff about Wells Fargo here... http://www.innercitypress.org/wells.html
I've been enjoying time with my 12 year old daughter Sarah, who is on spring break and came down from Sebastapol to stay with me for a few days.
Monday we were down in Santa Cruz at the Boardwalk, one of our favorite local spots. Tuesday we popped into the excellent Vivianne Westwood exhibit at the deYoung. Sarah has an interest in punk music. I should be back to work soon...
I tend to work late in the day and into the night because the evening events are often poorly attended by other journalists, and so there is a greater chance of bringing back a scoop.
Tuesday evening I went to HP's launch of enterprise OS and server products. I quickly recovered from that event and happily looked forward to one of my favorite bands Los Amigos Invisible, playing a five minute walk away at The Independent. It was a show that I couldn't imagine. Lucky me.
My Invisible Friends are playing at The Independent today, too, Feb 14.
(Let me know if you like them.)
By Tom Foremski
Twyla Tharp, the celebrated New York based dancer has a hot book that is making the rounds out here in Silicon Valley. The Creative Habit is her blueprint for how she primes the creative and inspirational pumps.
The popularity of her book represents something much larger. It is our search to be more productive, more creative, to become more inspired. Ms Tharp's techniques offer no shortcuts: "set up a routine" is the most valuable advice. At least for me.
Here is a recent video of my friend Andy Plesser in New York, dancing with Ms Tharp:
This is an impromptu dance created and directed by Twyla Tharp. Joining her is a complete amateur Andy Plesser, a 55-year old with no formal formal dance background but considerable enthusiam.
This was part of a taping session of several interviews about dance, video, creativity and the Internet done for Beet.TV, a videoblog about the online video revolution and it's implications for business and society.
Over the past few weeks I've had time to continue my exploration of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS): the glue that holds together the Web 2.0 generation of web sites.
It is easy to get lost in that CSS space and lose hours, and days, because it promises supreme control over any web enabled computer user interface--which is where the crown jewels are to be found.
The beauty of CSS is that there are many techniques to get to the same place, which means there are endless arguments on many issues, within the CSS webmaster communities. Yet two or more years ago, CSS was still very much in the background because web browser support was patchy and differed.
These days Internet Explorer 7.0 is a much better citizen of the CSS world, and so are the other major browsers. But there is still no universal CSS understanding among browsers. This makes it more difficult, more time consuming, and more expensive to build web sites using a pure CSS approach that look the same within all browsers.
One way to avoid the madness in chasing workarounds, is to realize that a web site should look good in all browsers, but doesn't have to look the same in all browsers.
Yet within the web master web design communities there is a strong Puritan streak emerging in regards to CSS. Now the trend is to try to develop pure CSS based web sites--without taint from any other, or older web design technologies..
There is almost a mania to validate web sites as pure CSS (by using free online services) to make sure everything is kosher and copasetic. And web masters will sneer at sites that don't validate as pure CSS. (By the way, if a site fails CSS validation it doesn't mean that it doesn't work...)
I don't care if my sites validate as pure CSS, as long as things function they way they should.
For example, the use of tables, a common way to layout web page elements using html--the core web language--is one of the biggest sins in the CSS community. Yet this is technique is easy and offers greater browser compatibility.
Such hybrid approaches are fine; and chasing after pure CSS layouts is money wasted at this point in our web tools evolution. The point of web user interface design should be to figure out a way to implement it using all available techniques and technologies. The end justifies the means. Web design projects do not have to validate as pure CSS if there are faster, hybrid approaches available, IMHO.
Still, CSS is incredibly compelling once you start getting to know it and use it. It's because it promises to abstract all content from all form. CSS defines the look and feel of content such as text, images, video, with incredible control and dexterity, and can be changed in a micro-second. You'll be surprised how much separation from content and form can be achieved. CSS Zen Garden is a stunning example of the power of CSS.
My goal is not to become expert in these areas but to know enough about how they work, how they slot together. Because then I can potentially design new types of media products. After all, these are all media publishing technologies.
Tools I've been using and like:
- StyleMaster 4.6 from Westciv.com in Australia. This is an excellent CSS editor with dozens of tools plus inbuilt tutorial and support functions that work very well. StyleMaster makes for an excellent CSS development platform--you don't need DreamWeaver of GoLive and everything validates 100 per cent.
- EditPlus is a great text/html/CSS editor, it is small, fast, and clean.
- Microsoft's Live Writer is a very good "Word" for creating blog posts and then posting to multiple platforms. Many users are also developing and releasing a lot of good plugins, so it is only going to get better. We'll have to see how Microsoft decides to monetise this free Beta.
. . . It's good to be back in London after nearly three years away. When I arrive with my son Matthew, the weather is pretty much as I remembered it, mild and gray, and night falls early--by 4.30pm it's nearly dark.
The streets are full of people and their diversity is striking. Women in full burkhas are a common site, along with people of many colors. Lots of mixed couples abound, and many different languages can be heard on the Underground, the main way for getting around town. London is much more multi-cultural and integrated than I'm used to seeing in US cities.
. . . There are also lots of twenty-something Poles, seemingly everywhere. The UK and Ireland have welcomed their new European Union member neighbor by allowing Polish citizens to come over and work. By some estimates there are about 1m Poles working in the UK and Ireland--a smart move that harnesses the energies of the most motivated Polish workers--much to the benefit of the local economy. Other European countries have strict barriers on their entry.
In many London neighborhoods there are Polish delicatessens, and most grocery and supermarkets have Polish food sections catering to the homesick home grown tastes of the new residents. Newspapers and magazines are printed in Polish and Polish language classes are readily found (for English people, for managers and new English spouses of Poles.)
The Poles are not work shy, which has prompted the UK government to institute new policies that seek to encourage long-term unemployed UK workers to compete for some 600,000 job vacancies.
. . . On Tuesday lunchtime I popped into the Cheshire Cheese (rebuilt in 1667), a pub on London's Fleet Street, a street that once well known as the center for nearly all of the UK's national newspaper editorial and printing offices.
Rupert Murdoch broke the power of the print and journalist unions in the early 1980s, moving out of Fleet Street. Other newspaper barons soon followed with moves to less expensive facilities in London's Wapping and Isle of Dogs districts, and further afield. I remember being on the picket lines and taking part in the tumultuous demonstrations.
The Cheshire Cheese has been the venue for an annual Christmas-time gathering of journalists. It was started many years ago by Bill Moores a prominent public relations chief (now retired in Rio de Janeiro) and the tradition has continued under Sourcewire.com, a PR firm.
I walk down a narrow alley and turn into the side door of the Cheshire Cheese. Inside it is dark but warm, a welcome feeling because the weather has become a chilly in the few days since I arrived. I can smell the smoke of a fireplace as I walk down a steep flight of stairs, ducking my head under the low beams.
I turn the corner and there is a large cavernous room where people are sitting at long tables, eating steak and kidney pie and ordering drinks at the bar. I notice some familiar faces who seem pleasantly shocked and surprised by my appearance--it's been about five years since I attended this traditional holiday event.
More people arrive and the next seven hours are spent in excellent company and conversation, catching up and hearing about changes in the UK media sector from former colleagues at many publications.
The journey back to my parent's place, on the outskirts of London, Wanstead is eventful. My tube train stops at St. Paul's, and remains firmly stopped because of "a serious incident at Bethnal Green" a few stops ahead of my eastbound Central line train. I wait 15 minutes before deciding to try my luck with the buses.
I take the long escalators back to the surface of the city. The temperature has fallen further and it is quite chilly as I walk to the bus stop. The sound of sirens from emergency vehicles seems to be everywhere, bouncing off the old buildings.
I wonder what the "serious incident is" naturally thinking it could be terrorist related. St Paul's cathedral looks stunning, lit up from below.
I'm lucky to get on board a very crowded bus heading east, to Ilford. Others, waiting at bus stops along the route are not as lucky, as the driver refuses to let more people in (some sneak in through the exit doors.)
After about ten minutes, I'm lucky to find a seat, and soon start to doze, the effects of a boozy afternoon. But I'm an experienced Londoner, my inner alarm clock always wakes me as we near my exit stop.
. . . I have to use Internet cafes the first few days because my parent's house isn't wired for broadband. I'm shocked that I can't access SVW, I find out my web site host, TotalChoice Hosting, has canceled my account.
I'm angry and frustrated as I try to use their support procedures to try and sort out the problem. It turns out they have moved to a new billing system and canceled my account. I'm hoping that they haven't erased my files--the last thing I want to do is reconstruct my Movable Type installation with some 1300 posts, and comments.
Fortunately, I sort out the problem and my site is back up. But two days later it is canceled again! I'm back at step one trying to get reconnected and back online. Hours later it is done . . . my apologies for the downtime.
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Please also see SVW: London's Hipster markets attract US companies
I'm heading out to London later today for my parent's 50th anniversary, with my son Matt. I have to figure out my internet access once I get there so I might be offline for a day or two.
In the meantime, here are a few items:
. . . Jon Swartz, reporter at USA Today just published:
"Young Wealth: Trade Secrets From Teens Who Are Changing American Business" (Rooftop Publishing: $14.95).
Dan Fost over at the SF Chronicle reviews it. My advice to teen entrepeneurs is not to publicize their business models, no good can come from it except copycat competitors. It is best to fly under the radar as any new rules enterprise knows... ;-)
. . . Silicon Valley startups get Sarbanes Oxley relief:
Technet applauds SEC action to ease burden of compliance.
But startups want to get acquired so they want to be SOX compliant like the big boys so that they can be integrated faster.
. . . AMD says it's still ahead in electric power consumption
Marty Seyer, Senior VP, Commercial Segment gave a presentation at today's AMD analyst day. http://www.amd.com/us-en/Corporate/InvestorRelations/0,,51_306_14668,00.html - click Marty's picture for the server-specific presentation. AMD says is it is "3% faster in 2P than Intel and ahead by 7% in 4P." (Intel is an SVW sponsor.)
I wonder what level of percentage improvement in server power is significant enough to sway buying decisions? It seems that the biggest savings come from the first decision to replace older power hungry servers with the new generation of power-lite servers from AMD or Intel. After that, the incremental savings between the two energy-saving brands are not that significant...?
. . . The dark side of the chip industryDavid Sonnenfeld tells me about a new book he coedited with Ted Smith and David Naguib Pellow:
Challenging the Chip: Labor Rights and Environmental Justice in the Global Electronics Industry (Publication Date: August 24, 2006) is the first comprehensive examination of the impacts of electronics manufacturing on workers and local environments across the planet.
From Silicon Valley in California to Silicon Glen in Scotland, from Silicon Island in Taiwan to Silicon Paddy in China, the social, economic, and ecological effects of the international electronics industry are widespread. The production of electronic and computer components contaminates air, land, and water around the globe. As this eye-opening book reveals, the people who suffer the consequences are largely poor, female, immigrant, and minority.
I do a lot of talking about media, blogging and what it all means. I talk to groups of marketing, PR/comms, journalists, entrepreneurs and executives and I like doing it. I like talking about media even if I haven't been invited to talk about media such as at parties, bus stops and similar ad hoc opportunities. It's difficult to stop me on this subject, I've bent many an ear.
I was recently invited to speak with a large group of Hewlett-Packard people alongside Eve Batey , San Francisco Chronicle's new blogging supremo. It went well, it was the second time we've spoken on a panel together, this time sans Sam Whitmore of the excellent Media Survey.
The event was HP's Horizontal Influencer Summit and Eve and I spoke and answered a lot of interesting questions. I think we made for a good double act.
I left old media for the new media when I left the Financial Times to be the first mainstream reporter to become a full-time journalist blogger--without the safety net of a day job.
Eve went from new media to old media. She used to work in PR at Porter Novelli and at the award winning SFist.com blog site. She was recruited by the legendary San Francisco Chronicle publisher Phil Bronstein to help the newspaper in its blog publishing.
So between us, we have experience in several sides of the mediasphere. And what's interesting is that we provide a consistent view on media developments even though we get there in different ways.
What I tend to find is that talking with media and PR professionals who are active in the new media often means speaking a common language. There is an intuitive understanding of media and communications in this small community that is absent among media professionals and PR people that do not participate in new media, and its conversational forms.
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If you'd like to inquire about speaking opportunities, or anything else about Silicon Valley Watcher you can contact my colleague Kristie Wells, the Diva of Details. kristiewells at gmail.com
I'm still digging out from my recent India trip, here are a few bits and pieces...
Here is a hot search engine that gives old meaning to that term: http://www.MsDewey.com
(Hat Tip Dida Kutz)
. . .
I recently spoke at an event organized by SVASE, the Silicon Valley Association of Startup Entrepreneurs and I can heartily recommend its programs. Co-founder Mark Addison set up the lunchtime session and I found it interesting talking with entrepreneurs who hope to leverage blogging in their businesses.
. . .
My buddy David Galbraith, co-founder of Moreover and co-author of RSS 1.0, just launched his second Wists shopping blog. Wists is a universal wish-list, with a click or two users can save images of things they like or might want to buy.
Dave's first Wists product is Cribcandy. His second, PopGloss, "covers women's clothing and accessories, an eclectic mix of quirky and fun or innovative design - fashion without the attitude. It has a similar feel to Cribcandy, lots of pictures, few words, updated dozens of times a day and with the ability to save pictures and links to anything you like with one click."
. . .
Giovanni Rodriguez officially launched his PR agency HubbubPR, which is a great name. Social media PR is his focus and he says things are going very well. Here is a recent piece he wrote about social media in the enterprise.
"The essay is based on a survey I conducted of 40-plus publicly available case studies. My thesis: the business benefits of social media are becoming quite apparent, but the pressure to stand out -- and do something different -- is mounting," says Giovanni. Read it here:
. . .
Coming up at Stanford University is Web 2.0 Wave in the US and Poland. I'll be there to check it out on November 29 at Stanford's Clark Auditorium. Book your tickets here:
Clay Bullwinkel helped to organize the event along with the US-Polish Trade Council. Clay says: "Did you know Poles are much more Web 2.0-oriented than other people? Check out Wikipedia’s home page. The quantity of Polish articles ranks 4th after English, German and French. And this is with a much lower percent of PC ownership and broadband connections."
Clay says that Poles continue to win world champion computer coding events. Case in point: Marek Cygan, who beat out programmers from IBM, Microsoft and Baylor University.
. . .
Interesting evening at Sun Microsystems' media dinner Thursday night about eco issues. This was the first time I had heard of PG&E's incentive program for data centers running virtualization software. PG&E's Mark Bramfitt, High Tech, Biotech & Health Care Segment Supervisor, said that by using renewable sources of energy and by encouraging businesses and residential customers to save power, PG&E has saved the equivalent of 25 power stations.
I mentioned that PG&E should wire up all the treadmills and stationary bikes in all the gyms in California. That way, it could pump up the power grid, we could even get paid for working out, (or our gyms would pay us to go there! (Hat tip Elsa Butler). And our healthcare service providers would provide us with big cost breaks, we'd be independent of Middle East oil, and we would all look damn good
My good buddy Tom Abate at the San Francisco Chronicle keeps reminding me that I should share my "Foremski's Law." It is something I've been talking about with small numbers of select individuals over the past 18 months or so....
Here is is. Foremski's Law: Content is infinitely scalable.
I"ll explain, some time soon, or if you ask me in person. This points to the keys to the kingdom, if you dig, and I know that you do... :-)
I'm back from a very interesting trip to India, I'll have at least one more post on my trip. I just wanted to let people know that I will be at the de Young from 6.30pm to 8.30pm for "First Friday with Foremski." Come on by and enjoy the museum. There is a no-host bar and music with Conjunto Romero celebrating Día de los Muertos. This is not a networking event, it's about connecting :-)
Tuesday morning I'll be flying to India, my first visit, and I'm excited. I'll be travelling with Tibco (an SVW sponsor) as Vivek Ranadive, CEO of Tibco, launches his book over there - "The Predicitve Enterprise." I'll be a fly on the wall as Mr. Ranadive meets with the local captains of industry and many others.
I'll be back November 3rd and will post as I can. I hear India has a pretty good Internet connection :-)
I've been thinking about how ideas are created and how they are used. There seems to be a life span to good business ideas in that most ideas eventually become obvious because at some point they will make sense to most people.
Within the startup community there is great fear of ideas being stolen. Many people hang onto their best ideas as if they were unique to them and won't share them easily. Maybe those ideas were unique at some point, they were the first to spot things/trends, the first to connect the dots, but they won't stay that way forever.
Others will find their way to the same ideas sooner or later because they are also working with a similar base of concepts and information. We are all exposed to the same things, although at different times, and that leads to the development of similar ideas.
It is wise to be protective of business ideas for a while so that you can try to monetise them first. But many people hang onto their ideas for far too long, and this can interrupt the process of new idea creation. At some point ideas need to be let loose so that at least you can get a date stamp on the idea, and more importantly, create more good ideas.
I've noticed that more good ideas I talk about, or give away, the more ideas will take their place. Because there is now space within the colloidal supercomputer, our brain, for new ideas to take root and flourish.
Linus Pauling, the two-times Nobel prize winner, said that the way to have great ideas is to have lots of ideas. By having lots of ideas you can pull out the great ideas.
I've noticed that the brain does a tremendous amount of work processing information in the background. Then it will throw its conclusions, ideas into our consciousness and we get that eureka moment coming from seemingly no where. And it's important to write things down otherwise the thoughts will be lost and forgotten.
That's why it is important to turn off the chatter, the many conversations around you. Listen to your own conversation. The reason we get great ideas in the shower is that this is often the only time we are not bombarded by outside chatter from the radio, TV, family, or colleagues. In the shower we have an opportunity to hear ourselves, and that's the source of all our ideas :-)
I would love to buy the San Jose Mercury if it's still for sale. I know *exactly* what to do with it, how to turn into a superbly profitable cash printing laughing-to-the-bank golden-goose machine.
Maybe I could buy it for $1 and be paid $66m as when the Hearst Corporation did in 2000 when it divested its San Francisco Examiner as part of its acquisition of the San Francisco Chronicle.
And they should sell it to me because I know the secret formula. Well, it is secret for about the next 18 months to two years. All secret formulas, just like all great ideas, eventually become obvious to all. But a two year window is nothing to be sneezed at, although you could try :-)
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 :-)
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 :-)
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.
I have completely fallen for Slave Girl (http://www.sandhillslave.com) and I think that every other red-blooded person in this somewhat emasculated region has too. I have had some correspondence with Slave Girl, who admits to sometimes falling into a groupie mode when communicating with SVW--which is something I would not recommend but I'd be hard pressed to discourage.
I've tried to encourage Slave Girl to write a column for SVW and she is considering my generous offer. However, I think it best that no one, not even I, find out who Slave Girl really is.
Because we all need a person such as Slave Girl, a persona that knows us all so well. And we appreciate the attention that she gives to us poor Neanderthal males--studying us in such detail that we learn so much more about how not to meet women.
Therefore, I forbid anybody to reveal the true identity of Slave Girl, and I encourage all that share her sensibilities, to use the alias Slave Girl so that her identity becomes completely lost among many.
We are all Slave Girls, in the same way that we are all Sparticus--a rebelliousness of spirit that communicates across millennia and is part of our core humanity. That is why I feel that Slave Girl should be kept as a mysterious, seductive, and marvelously forbidden fantasy, imho.
I've been away from the blogosphere, or rather mediasphere for three days, and I noticed that it is still here.
I spent those moments with my kids and I've grown to like spending my time offline. The resolution of offline images is incredible--much better than on a plasma HD.
We went up to Mount Shasta and you could really feel the cold at night, 14 below, and the sensation of the ice crystals from a snowball down the back of the neck was incredibly realistic. I felt the ice slide all the way down my spine . . .
And then when we we were driving up the mountain, we hit an icy patch and slid sideways into a snowbank, that flipped us around like an LP on a turntable. We collected our thoughts, and went back down the hill, but the feeling of crashing into a snowbank was very realistic.
We bought a sled and found an incline and played. And the sensation of being with my kids and goofing around was fantastic, incredibly realistic and three dimensional.
It was a great Presidents Day weekend, I hope yours was too!
By Tom Foremski, Silicon Valley Watcher
It's a warm Wednesday evening in North Beach San Francisco and it is Neal Cassady's 80th birthday and the remnants of the Beat generation, Jack Kerouac's remaining drinking buddies, are inside a small storefront.
It is also the opening of the Beat Museum, and I'm there with my buddy Paul Hrisko to chat with Neal Cassady's son John, and visit with a slice of San Francisco's history from the late 1950s.
I've become very interested in the Beat generation, the mostly East Coast/New York intellectuals that came to San Francisco, and were chosen by the media to represent the rebellious youth of those times.
From Wikipedia: "The members of the beat generation were new bohemian libertines, who engaged in a spontaneous, sometimes messy, creativity. The beat writers produced a body of written work controversial both for its advocacy of non-conformity and for its non-conforming style...
. . . Echoes of the Beat Generation run throughout all the forms of alternative/counter culture that have existed since then (e.g. "hippies", "punks", etc). The Beat Generation can be seen as the first modern "subculture"."
The Beat Generation created a literature that was passionate, raw and emotional. This was a time when a poem, Allen Ginsberg's Howl could spark arrest, and trials for obscenity. The poet Czeslaw Milosz said of Ginsberg: "Your blasphemous howl still resounds in a neon desert where the human tribe wanders, sentenced to unreality".
I've become interested in Neal Cassady, who was somewhat of a mysterious character to some degree, because his writings are rare. Yet Neal Cassady became the muse, an influencing force on the writers, poets, and cultural icons of those days. People such as Jack Kerouac, Michael McClure, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and later, Ken Kesey, Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson and many, many more.
My apologies--but I've been in Greta Garbo mode this past week--I just needed to spend some time alone, with myself. That's why my email is so backed up along with all my other conversations.
It's nothing personal about anybody, except it is personal in regards to myself. In this Always On world the greatest luxury is time to yourself.
That means switch off the chatter of the blogs, the chatter of the radio, the chatter of TV, the chatter of marketing messages, the chatter that is the white-noise of our existence.
Do you get to listen to yourself? That's when you get your ideas. That is precisely why you get great ideas in the shower, or walking down the street--you get a rare moment to listen to yourself (and you should write stuff down immediately).
I "throw things in the back seat" and then my brain throws them back up and out when it is done processing--sometimes they are good ideas and sometimes they are not. But I write them down always.
Linus Pauling, the twice-Nobel prize winner (Chemistry 1954 and Peace 1962--died 1994) said that the trick to having great ideas is to have lots of ideas. Yes, most of your ideas will bite the dust, but the rest...?
The law of large numbers is in your favor but you have to switch off from the chatter once in a while so that you can hear yourself; and that means switch off the blogs too, (including this one :-).
I didn't do much work this Martin Luther King three-day weekend. My 18-year old son Matthew was staying with me for a few days so it was good just to hang out together while being able to do things seperately too.
Hang out is one of the great American cultural gifts to the world, especially for someone who grew up in London. It means being there and not being there, it means being in the vicinity of another person; a comfortable space (except, of course sometimes when it's not :-).
Matt and I did a few things together. We went to see King Kong (v.good), and visited our favorite Punjabi restaurant twice [and loaded up on to-gos.] I'd tell you where the restaurant is located but I'd rather not--I'd hate to have to line up for a table because it got crowded...
Therese Poletti from the SJ Merc plus Paul Hrisko, and Tom Abate from the SF Chron joined us one of the evenings at the Punjab restaurant--but we had to confuse them along the way, with many false turns and double-backs, so please don't pester them about the location of the restaurant :-)
By Tom Foremski, Silicon Valley Watcher
The religous discussions around intelligent design cropped up during my recent dinner with Irving Wladawsky-Berger, IBM's chief strategist on Linux and all things open-source/industry standard.
I mentioned I had seen that day, a headline that said the Vatican had spoken up against intelligent design, but I did not know on what basis, I hadn't read the article.
We chatted about intelligent design, and the premise that an entity called God, would interfere in the universe in order to create the earth, and mankind. I commented how absurd this is, whether you are religious, believe in God, or not.
In fact, the premise is nothing less than blasphemous. It assumes that God needs to intervene in creation, at various points, to create humanity and the planet's abundance of life.
Intelligent design assumes that God could not get it right the first time: the creation of a universe in which the natural qualities of matter, energy and time result in the emergence of life and ourselves--a perfect manifestation of the original design.
Intervention in the original design could be viewed as devilish rather than divine.
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By Tom Foremski, Silicon Valley Watcher
I spent most of Monday in the valley. First in Palo Alto with the Society for New Communications Research, a recently formed think tank. Dan Farber of ZDNet, and Tom Abate of the SF Chronicle, and I are among the members. It's looking at the societal implications of these media technologies that we work with.
Jen McClure put the think tank together and is keeping everyone on track--it should be interesting to see what we come up with.
I also managed to briefly catch up with Mike Manuel, the Media Guerrilla, at Voce Communications. Mike was one of my very first blog reads, and I discovered him because he was writing about me :-)
It was over a year ago, June 2004, I had just left the Financial Times was preparing for my blogging debut (which didn't happen until September.) But Mike, being very perceptive, started asking questions on his blog about what I might be up to. He even ran a survey on his blog, asking his readers to vote on which prominent journalist would become the first one to leave their newspaper and become a full time blogger. I thought that this was very perceptive of Mike, he had connected a bunch of dots and connected them in the right way too, very much as a journalist looks for clues.
His survey said that Dan Gillmor would be the first to leave, but his readers chose the wrong horse. It was myself, a full 7 months before Dan, and....where are the others?
Come on in, the water is a bit chilly but it'll warm up, I know it'll get better. where you are (in a crumbling business model) it isn't going to get better...
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After all the thinking in the think tank meeting Jen McClure, Dan Forbush of ProfNet and I took a languid stroll through the clean, dappled-sunny streets of Palo Alto, which felt like a very pleasant village.
It has always struck me as bizarre that just a couple of miles away, on the other side of highway 101 is East Palo Alto, a tough, poor and unpleasant neighborhood where a much faster pace of strolling is encouraged, if you find yourself there.
American metropolitan areas have always surprised me with their stark and abrupt changes in neighborhoods. The demarcation lines between neighborhoods safe and unsafe often is just the width of a city street, as if a fence separated the two communities. In my home town of London, there is usually a several block buffer zone where thing steadily worsen or improve.
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After lunch we stopped in on Ross Mayfield, head of wiki company SocialText. Ross recently received $4m in Series B funding from SAP, Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Omidyar Network.
Ross put some of the money into a new office on the High Street (where Dan Gillmor is renting a cubicle).
I spoke with Ross about the Rooster Club and he is putting together a wiki that we can use to organize the club (more on that v.soon!)
Then I stopped into visit with my former FT colleague Louise Kehoe, who recently returned from the UK helping her mom recover from hip surgery. I'm always hoping Louise could join with me in becoming a journalist blogger, I think she would do well.
As usual, we ran through all the industry stuff happening, caught up on moves among our former colleagues at the FT. Obviously, the pushing out of the FT's editor Andrew Gowers was a brief topic of conversation.
It seems as if the writing is on the wall that the FT might become a a non-Pearson company. . .I think Rupert Murdoch might be the best owner, he understands newspaper brands very well, imho.
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I'm heading back into the valley Tuesday for meetings and a reception in advance of the IDB Under the Radar event, whcih I'll be moderating...I hope to see you there!
I love road trips and in a few minutes I'm hitting the road to Portland to meet with Mike Faden, our editor, and also Lucaso, our contributing editor. I'm driving up with my 17 yr old son Matt so it's a special time for me (and hopefully for him too :-)
See you in a few days or maybe even earlier if I get the hankering for some key poking...
My apologies for being so very far behind in my email correspondence. A combination of moving apartments/office and family obligations forced me to be off-line for much of a two week period and now I have close to 10,000 emails to work my way through.
And because I'm travelling to New York city this week to be a panelist at the Impact 2005 conference, it could be a while before I get through all the emails.
If you have sent me something that is urgent please give me a call on my cell (4 one 5 three three 6 seven 5 4 seven) or resend it and I will try to get to it and get back to you. Thanks!
I had forgotten how very painful moving apartments can be. That is what I've been doing for the past 10 days or so. And it is why I haven't been blogging or checking my email.
Unwiring and rewiring my life has been my preoccupation, and I'm fed up with the whole process. If I were better organized I would have thrown most of my stuff into a truck and sent it off on a one-way journey to somewhere else. But instead, I was forced to carry my stuff up and down and across and up and down for days, as were the people who helped me.
I don't even like most of my stuff, yet I ended up with boxes of it all over my new apartment. I finally understood that saying (was it George Carlin?) that when you own stuff, your stuff owns you.
My apologies for the loss of some RSS feeds...I thought I'd do some legacy axing now instead of later... :-)
So, if you've been complaining that I haven't been posting anything lately it's probably because I'm trying to whittle things down to just RSS 2.0, (sorry...it wasn't personal.)
The good news is that I've traced the source of the problem we've been having with our comments section--which sometimes seems to work. I traced the problem to me, unfortunately.
I've been geeking around the past couple of days and tinkering with our Movable Type templates and scripts and CSS file. Once I get stuck into it the hours just whiz by and I haven't posted any entries.
Except that I can post about it as I am right now, therefore I'm always covered, it's always research :-)
Outside in world
But what a strangely interesting inside out world this has become.
I can write about the changing media/technology landscape; the emerging media technologies; and write about the new rules enterprises emerging--while at the same time be it.
And the strangeness of this situation makes me think that we will probably never again in our lifetimes witness this kind of massively significant intersection of trends.
It's interesting, don't you think?
. . . rare insight into blogging #64
Wednesday I was due to meet with a consultant to some of the most senior Silicon Valley executives.
His advice spans business and lifestyle. He helps our harried elite find balance in their lives. Yoga, etc.
However, I was up until 5am trying to import my contacts file into Gmail and missed the meeting. This puzzle of why I couldn't import my contacts file took up most of my day (and night). I knew that it was all totally unnecessary but I couldn't let it go and that's why I missed the meeting and I apologize.
My life is out of balance but (it is Always On [Tony, you are dead right...!]) what can you do?
One of these days my life will be in balance and I will be able to visit with him. That's my goal, maybe even next week if I can reschedule.
Here is Sarah, in the blue shirt, just recently 11 years old, with her best friend Lilly, now also 11 years old--(happy birthday Lilly!):
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Here is my 17 year old son Matthew, who is cultivating a reclusive spider-like persona ;-) [he has editing rights so this image might not last long...]
As media and communications and marketing professionals, we are all taking part in something very interesting: the birth of a new media landscape.
We will never again, in our lifetimes, experience/witness/participate in anything of such scale and importance as what is now developing in our industry sectors. imho.
That's one of the things I said Wednesday lunchtime to a very interesting group attending the monthly meeting of the San Francisco Publicity Club.
Was I being too dramatic? I don't think so, I'm certain it will be seen that way by historians :-)
It's another day and I'm on another panel, and I like taking part in things like this. But what's not to like about being in the Waterfront Restaurant at Pier 7 on a gorgeous day, talking with a smart and ambitious group about my favorite subjects: Silicon Valley and disruptive media technologies?!
My fellow panelists were interesting picks. Event organizer Ellisa Feinstein and colleagues picked Don Clark, deputy bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal; Mark Robinson, a senior editor at Wired magazine, and Lindsey Turrentine, an editor at Cnet's gadgets review section. The panel was a nice spectrum representing old to new media organizations.
The Q&A part of such events is the best part, because that's when talk turns to conversation. And I get to hear stories, concerns and issues.
My apologies but our comments section is not working and I'm trying to fix things. I speak a little bit of Geek so I might be able to put things right very soon.
Our media architect Nick Aster is out in Alaska, up in the Arctic circle, bringing blogging to the most extreme boundaries of human civilization. Not even the Mormons have made it to the remote Eskimo village where Nick is staying.
Actually, Nick is in this remote region of Alaska with a small group of business eco activists hoping to argue for the economics of not drilling for oil. And a documentary film crew, of course, is gawking their travails.
In the meantime, I have to pull long days at the server farm, on top of my many other daily duties. Such is the unglamorous life of a (sometimes) standalone journalist.
Running out of bandwidth is something I have to watch out for, since our traffic continues to jump higher - especially when we have scoops and exclusive stories.
But running out of bandwidth can be a frustrating experience, as we found recently with our web hosting service TotalChoice Hosting. There was no phone number to call, just a "live" chat channel and the opportunity to email support "tickets."
SiliconValleyWatcher was off line for about 6 hours as traffic surged above our monthly quota. And I couldn't open up the pipes because there was no way to buy more bandwidth online. I found that I would have to wait until the next morning and email the sales department!!!
Nobody to call in times of trouble, plus hours spent sorting out problems. That's why I will be changing hosting providers. When your business is offline, you had better get somebody on the line pronto.
Fanatical support sounds fine to me
I went along to a dinner hosted by Mercora Wednesday. The event sounded interesting - it promised to discuss the impending MGM versus Grokster court case on file sharing.
Mercora, which offers music search and sharing services, lined up a good collection of music industry lawyers and others to discuss and promote the issue of legal file sharing.
Unfortunately, Mercora did not know when to stop. An attentive group of key journalists dutifully listened and scribbled notes. Then the salad arrived, and we listened and scribbled notes. Then the entree arrived and was dispatched, then it was time for desert and coffee, but the CEO stood up and said, now, let me show you the demo...
...the final prequel to the climactic pre-finale of the series recounting a week's epic adventures at the Syndicate conference in New York...
Time Out journalists and Star Wars geeks
It's Tuesday in New York city, the first day of the Syndicate conference, and it's almost lunch time. I run into my buddy Dave Galbraith, a co-author of RSS 1.0, co-founder of Moreover and now, the founder of the flickriscious Wists.com (is that enough plugs Dave?). With Dave is Buck Smith, channel dev manager from Moreover.
Buck suggests we skip out and visit the geeks lining up for the opening of the latest Star Wars prequel. We walk about six blocks to where the movie is scheduled but there are no geeks, just a few tents with British flags. There is a guy in a stormtrooper uniform on the corner, but it turns out to be a bunch of journalists from Time Out magazine raising money for charity and charging $5 per Polaroid pose with the stormtrooper.
The second installment of a journalist-blogger's somewhat patchy recollections of a hectic week in New York.
The trouble with Thursday last week was that my Wednesday was still going strong. The Syndicate conference finished Wednesday, and somehow afterwards I got caught up with a motley crew of RSS company execs and an investment banker or two.
I seem to remember it was all Bill Flitter's fault. Bill is the chief marketing officer of Pheedo, which serves ads on RSS feeds and also offers behavioral marketing services and analytics. Bill is a big fan of SiliconValleyWatcher and so is his friend, Tom O'Neill, managing director at Summit Private Capital Group. Bill invited me to join his merry band for a meal and a drink. Little did I know it would be 5am before my head hit the pillow.
A fun time was had by all - thanks Bill! Also, I must mention Rok Hrastnik, who by midnight had been dubbed “The Rok of Slovenia.” Rok, just 23 years old, is an astounding character and already a seasoned entrepreneur. He is an expert in online marketing techniques as E-commerce Manager at Studio Moderna in Slovenia.
Part One: Friday May 20
Is that Barry Diller over there, someone asks? I look around and see some people walking past our table in Michael's, one of the power centers for the media elite in Manhattan. I don't think I could recognize the media mogul anyway...
It is Friday and I'm having lunch as the guest of Andy Plesser of the PR firm Plesser Holland Associates and his long time friend Nancy Smith, the sharp and savvy managing editor of Smart Money magazine.
It has been an exhausting but fulfilling week. I moderated two panels at the Syndicate conference and made a ton of interesting contacts, gave a presentation at Financial Dynamics, caught up with buddies and now I'm telling Andy and Nancy about my first SiliconValleyWatcher sponsors, that we launched our sister site ionRSS.com, and our plans for the future. “So that's why you walked in with a swagger,” Nancy teases.
I wake up early, it's nearly 10am, but I can't sleep anymore. I flip on the TV and catch a few minutes of the excellent Deutsche Welle news in English on channel 32. I wander over towards the shower, but make the mistake of popping into my office and checking email for any changes to my meetings that day.
I recently started using Gmail and it rocks. It really rocks. It is by far the best user experience I have had with a software application in a long time. It is well thought out, and as a committed tag-o-nista, I love the fact that you can tag anyway you want. And it is fast. And it is all server-based!
But I must make a plea:
I wanted do a parody/homage on Hunter S. Thomson’s seminal book “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” But, my co-driver Jochen Siegle from Der Spiegel, pulled out at the last minute.
The plan was to drive a convertible to Las Vegas for the National Association of Broadcasters show (world’s largest electronic media show!), where I was speaking Monday, as part of a panel of top media execs from Sony, Electronic Arts, CinemaNow, Disney Interactive, moderated by Cisco Systems’ head of M&A, Dan Scheinman.
I tried to get a replacement co-driver but it was too late. I resolved to drive anyway, it would be about 8 or 9 hours and I’d been hankering for a road trip for some time. I picked up a blue Mitsubishi Spyder from Fox Rentals, almost brand new, just 66 miles on it, and headed south. But I was late getting out of the house, I was finishing up a piece on the future of journalism, for Jennifer McClure at New Communications Forum until about midnight Saturday. Then I fell asleep on the couch and didn’t leave for Las Vegas until 5.30am Sunday.
I did find a co-driver along the way, and the day was pleasantly spent playing music loudly, and stopping at greasy spoons for snacks. Not much more to report than that. Blogo-journalism is clearly not quite so exciting as Hunter’s Gonzo-journalism :-)
The Apple trade secrets case has hit squarely on one of the most vexing questions that our society currently ponders: who is a journalist? It is an answer that established media might prefer to print on page 92, if they had the pages.
The French Revolution defined the press as the fourth estate, as important as the monarchy, church and government. That’s quite a responsibility, yet this is a private sector that has no legal requirement to act as society’s guardian.
However, most journalists, and most readers, believe that there is an underlying responsibility of a high order, which shapes their work. There is a sense of contributing to a common good.
Defining who is a journalist is easy; here is my definition:
On his blog today, Dan Gillmor suggests that the post about our first sponsor is "advertising, and should be explicitly labeled that way." He compares the situation to a newspaper running a front-page story announcing that a new company is now advertising with the paper. We can all agree this would be unseemly pandering and on the face of it the posting amounts to the same thing.
But here is the difference. SVW is both blog and publication. We reserve the right to act like a blog at times. Landing a serious company as a founding sponsor is a very big deal to us; in the context of what most any other blog is earning on the basis of editorial content, it's a big deal.
So we'll take a page from Hunter S. Thompson and put ourselves in the story when we're a story. I really think this is a story about our success and about the kind of sponsors we are seeking, and to call it advertising is less honest than writing it up the way it is.
I have been making a pest of myself lately, haranguing my long-time friend Carol Dukes in London. It was her fault anyway.
In early December she innocently sent me a note asking for my new address and telling me what she had been up to over the past four years since we’d last met.
As I wrote a reply and told her about my media venture plans, it suddenly struck me that Carol would be the perfect person to help me build these ventures! Because Carol is one of the savviest business executives I’ve ever met--and I’ve met a lot--and is one of Europe’s top media executives. And that’s before you count the many gender-related accolades she has received.
"I began reading [SVW] a few weeks ago and kind of got hooked. Not sure how it happened but it's now a daily read, probably cause it's chocked full of good content and Tom's a former journalist."
The phrase "former journalist" is interesting; as if you can't do journalism online only on paper. Ah well, not to quibble.
Tom here: Jason, you are making me blush, thank you for your kind words.
(I had an excellent time last week when I ran into Jason at the launch of Become.com...which is a very interesting company, I'll tell you more about them v.soon.)
If we were in Pulp Fiction, I know what Mr Wolf would be saying ;-)
And yes, Richard is right, I'm not a former journalist. I'm a former journalist at the Financial Times. I'm doing more journalism now than ever before...this blogging stuff is a heck of a thing!
I’ve been nursing a bad cold but I wanted to take the opportunity of introducing a new look for Silicon Valley Watcher and to praise the work of my colleague Dida Kutz. The creation of a three column layout using Movable Type, or for that matter any other server-side web publishing application, is not an easy task.
Watchers of the Silicon Valley Watcher site might have seen some (momentary) strange displays of our entries, sidebars, ads and other unusual things, over the past couple of days.
I'd like to say we were experimenting with innovative publishing formats, but that was not the case.
It was me tinkering around and seeing what does what and trying to map out in my head how various things interact.
I do speak a little Geek. I had worked as a software engineer in a past life and it was a much simpler life then. Today, developing web services and combining them into different applications is way more complex. Things are nested within each other and point to code on different locations on the same server, and on servers all over the internet.
When I worked as a software engineer, I worked on a mainframe, I would "point" my code to go fetch data from a known and trusted location on that same computer. The data flow is way more complex these days, and this is the opportunity and the challenge. The opportunity is in crafting sophisticated web services applications from either free, or very low cost software components, such as Linux, PHP scripts, etc. The challenge is doing it in such a way as to make it easy to make changes on the fly, and those changes are instantly reflected across an entire web site, or collection of web sites.
In Movable Type (MT), the trick to being able to use this publishing tool in different ways is understanding the interaction between the main index file, and the many different modules and templates--which are then defined in cascading style sheets.
It is interesting to see how sophisticated much of the server side software components have become. However, there is still an amazing amount of integration that has to be done between the tools available. You need a good-sized "box" of tools to do the work. For example, I would love to point and click and drag and save and rebuild and open and delete and undo, and other stuff--server side, as easily as I can do client side today on my laptop.
Playing around with MT was an engrossing, fun, and often frustrating experience, and I managed to wipe out a bunch of modules I had been working on. Fortunately, my colleague Doug Millison was feeding the blog here at "the watcher" with excellent entries. You'll see more of Doug when we launch Silicon Valley Media Watch in the next couple of days.
I have a problem and an opportunity in that I can publish at any time of the day or night.
I’m sure everyone has had the experience of sending an email to someone when on further reflection you would rather have not. My fear is that I will publish something I would rather have not.
The other day, my ex- said I was self-obsessed because I had created a category on this site, called "Tom Watch." I tried to explain that this had nothing to do with my ego, or that I was developing an unappealing personal characteristic. It was all to do with "blogging."
Blogging is many things, and among those many things, it is also about the blogger. It is a form of communication/journalism, in which the author is clearly identified, his opinion is tightly bound to his name, and it also provides a vehicle for a remarkable range of flexibility in terms of subject matter, form, and delivery.
In writing Silicon Valley Watcher, I quickly realized that there are many types of content I wanted to publish. Some of the content might be more like an essay/thought piece to encourage discussion and debate. Some of my content would be more like a news story, feature, or column. Some of my entries would cover specific industry sectors or types of companies. And some of my entries would be about me, my daily experiences, my efforts to make a living, to recruit a team of colleagues, to launch a venture, etc. Thus I started labeling my entries as Tech Watch, Media Watch, etc.
By publishing a Tom Watch entry, I ask that my readers not think of me as self-obsessed, but that I am merely attempting to guide them to entries that they might enjoy, or would rather avoid.
This is an exciting day, because I just earned my first dollar blogging. It's $1.45 to be exact and on just my second day with advertisements on my site. And my traffic has soared by 600 per cent since yesterday. At this rate of growth SiliconValleyWatcher.com, will be the world's largest within just a couple of months...
Unfortunately, I can't frame my first dollar, but maybe I can frame the screen shot of my G**gle account (I'm not supposed to even mention that there are G00Gly things down there..., or even call them @ds, or else they could cut me off, and then how would I survive?)
My ambitions to become a micro-media-mogul are now officially underway, and it is all thanks to YOU, my (hopefully) loyal readers. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I am learning a lot about the daily travails of "blogging" or being a "stand-alone journalist," as Chris Nolan puts it. You also have to be a stand alone IT expert sometimes, a stand-alone publisher, and a stand alone anything-else-that-needs to be done. That's at least four jobs rolled into one.
I wasn't handling the IT job very well Tuesday morning. I had been slowly rolling out this site over the past few days, just telling small groups of people at a time.
But traffic spiked up quite quickly and I ran out of bandwidth. I didn't notice for a while, then it took me hours to find the right combination of username and password to get into my service provider and open up a bigger pipe. So, my apologies, and I hope you come back.
or how to flag down a taxi cab from three blocks away on a busy Friday evening.
I was running late and needed a taxi, but there were few to be seen along Geary Street, and with six lanes of traffic, it was difficult to be seen. Then, I spotted a taxi three, maybe four blocks away, but it was in a far lane, and likely unable to see me until closer, and by then it would be difficult for it to pull across two lanes of traffic to pick me up. But, pulling out my trusty Treo 600, I...