Thursday, September 30, 2004

User Generated Content: User Generated Programming

Early this week I saw the post on the Blogger Con website the post concerning a session on Podcasting. I of course thought to myself that the weirdo Mac people had some new fangled thing that isn’t that interesting to talk about. Mac people are so religious. (You have to take your shots if you are Windows user) By yesterday I had seen a ripple of posts about podcasting and decided to dig out the iPod I bought for my wife for a gift when they first came out. The iPod had been hiding in the bottom of my computer bag waiting for the next cross country trip providing very little value other than making my heavy bag heavier.

I went to and started digging around. Then the light went off. I have been listening on and off to Ken Rutkowski’s Ken Radio show, and recently I have been listening to it a lot. So much so in fact that I have been periodically burning CDs for the drive home. If I miss the last NPR slot its drive time going home with right wing radio or air America, and I am getting a bit worn out with the shrillness on both sides. Ken and Andy Abramson do a great job doing a daily tech roundup that is worth the mention.

So last night on the way home I listened to a burned CD of Adam Curry’s show from a couple of days ago about Dave Winer, and some history etc. and I really started getting into the whole idea. When I have talked with people in the past about User Generated Content, one of the examples I like to point out is Tivo. It’s not strictly User Generated Content, in that people are creating the narrative like blogging/online gaming/reality TV etc. but it is user generated programming. It’s my network. Of course mine is full of news shows, football games, and the occasional outlier. On my network I am Brandon Tartikoff.

Ipodder is Tivo for internet radio, albeit with a bit of a homebrew flavor. What I find interesting is that in traditional media distribution, arguably, high quality content is pushed out of the center of the network in a rigid distribution construct. It may be that Friends is on at 9 PM on Thursdays or that I can only see a movie this week, or a show is on at this time on the radio. In the world where content comes from the edge of the network, the control is pushed to the user. I watch the shows when I want on my Tivo. I can now create my own radio for the drive home and I don’t want to listen to Clear Channel Radio USA.

Although I have only found the relatively few shows on the iPodder site a bit techy and sort of limited in content, this is clearly just the beginning. Kudos to those with the vision to use the combination of RSS and iPod synching to make it a really cool experience although still a bit more tweaked to the technically inclined. The path to some interesting grassroots radio which will surely develop professional quality over time is a refreshing counter example to the high cost, homogenized content that comes from the center of the traditional media network.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Domain Name Branding

Russ wrote an article today about the shortage of mobile friendly names. Shawn and I were laughing about this as we have been enjoying the exercise of 'domain name branding'. It has to be short. It has to be cool. It has to work.

Guess what. Those are all taken. ALL OF THEM.

On the brighter side, if you can find one, I can guarantee that the frustration of finding a domain, paying either the $15-30 or $1000s of dollars is a walk in the park compared to the process of having your lawyers clear the Trademark office.

Guess what, if it wasn't taken in the domain name registry chances are that it may be in the PTO!!!!!

We need to start all over with this again. Can every one just give back their domain names and trademarks and start all over again?

Maybe not.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Scoble Overload Quote

I read this article yesterday at Scobleizer mentioning the upcoming session at Blogger Con on Information Overload. It was funny to me to realize in the last 6 months or so, I have adopted RSS and have become way more on top of so many things as a result. The by-product of this is a daily chunk of time that is spent 'staying on top' of the trends du jour. Again, I recommend RSS reading to those who don't do it yet....You will.

So in reading his post I was astounded to see that he reads somewhere north of 900 blogs a day. This got me to thinking, how many do I read? Currently I am reading just over 70. This number is growing, and as he mentioned I clean the list periodically as some go silent or I find that they have too much noise without much sound.

I don't know how this ends up with more and more smart/cool/insightful people embracing blogging, but its my hope that it continues to create a fascinating world of user generated content that stands in stark contrast to what most people have become accustomed to reading/hearing/seeing/playing etc.

User Generated Content: data mining was always focused on the collection of data from every point we could collect it. The 800,000 unique visitors generated 4,000,000 page views and 4,000,000 downloads and streams a day. We had an extensive data collection/warehousing/analytics team that could slice it many different ways.

One of the most ironic data points to me was the most searched for artists. Generally speaking, from the beginning until the end, our most searched for artists closely mirrored the top selling Billboard artists. This was a great testament to the power of marketing dollars, MTV, radio and retail distribution. These resources really did create demand. Wow.

Looking at this data at the macro level didn’t really provide any sort of insight that I thought was worth anything. Joe Fleischer (now at Big Champagne) during his tenure at had come up with a product called Single Serving, which was an attempt to create an online product that supported the efforts of the radio departments at the labels to promote singles online into specific geographies.

This was a really cool product in that it forced us to require zip code information which was something we had always taken as an optional field. Consumers, who were enticed with the opportunity to get material before anyone else decided that this was a worthwhile endeavor. Sometime around the Vivendi acquisition the US identifiable database by zip code was somewhere in the range of 7-8 million consumers (approximately and I might add that of course there were the various anomalies you would expect 90210, 11111, 22222, 54321, 12345, etc.)

In an effort to derive greater meaning from this data, Rick Walker, who headed label sales for me after Joe’s departure, asked the analytics team to begin slicing this data into most requested songs by DMA. This data was fascinating. Although the roll up of the data reflected the billboard charts, the specific markets were populated with a number of bands that were not on any charts, but were unsigned and not obviously on the radar of any of the major labels. Although the numbers were fairly small in absolute terms, these bands were present in the specific markets on a relative basis with bands that had major marketing support.

We spent a fair amount of time analyzing this data which included actually contacting the bands to find out why they were in our charts. After interacting with somewhere around 20-30 bands we came up with a series of characteristics of these bands which included:

  1. These bands were generally pre-Soundscan (they didn’t show up on local retail sales figures because they only sold their CDs at shows.)
  2. They were organized online using a combination of IM, blogs, and street team tools to get the word out.
  3. A majority of them were playing all ages venues which didn’t normally pop up on the radar of club goers. (Who wants to hang out with 15 year olds ;-) )
  4. The genres of music were genres that weren’t typically represented by MTV, radio and retail and were clustered around emo/pop punk and grindcore.
  5. These bands generally played around 50-100 shows a year.

There was a lot of more fascinating data, but once we had this data we decided to take a look a level deeper.

Most content businesses are driven by people with a subjective understanding of content whose taste can discern whether or not something can be a hit. My hypothesis was that when you have a large number of people, quantitative data can be used as a proxy for subjective or qualitative measures that typically come from A&R etc.

We decided to spend a week showcasing some of these bands which included Coheed and Cambria, Madison (New Jersey), Locale AM (San Francisco), and All That’s Left (Miami). I should add that some of these bands did have label interest, but I think that what we found was interesting and the vast majority of the bands in the survey didn’t have interest at the time.

For a 24 hour period on equivalent terms we placed the different bands in the lead slot on the homepage of The bands generally got the typical response you would see on the home page of with one notable exception. The band All That’s Left had an amazing pick up on a second track not featured on the homepage which elevated the feature song to number one on the charts, and put the second song in the Top 10. To me this was an interesting gauge of quality borne out by numbers.

Based on this finding, we decided to continue down a path. We had determined that the search results by zip code could identify bands that were below the radar, but had a strong following in a local market. We had taken these initial results and tested them on an audience of approximately 800,000 people. These pieces allowed us to find meaning in a sea of data and then small scale test to find quality in quantity.

The band All That’s Left was interesting for a couple of reasons. I had met them on a trip to Miami and at the time they were generally playing Miami area clubs with local forays out into other parts of the southeast. They had no manager, no lawyer, etc. and no real label interest to speak of. We decided to continue the experiment by sending an email to 11 million people highlighting the band. This had a very interesting effect in that it obviously got the band a lot of notice and arguably fast forwarded their career to some extent. They recently played some second stage dates on the Vans Warped Tour and are finishing up their next album sometime in Q4.

There are a lot more details and probably some things I forgot to mention but to me the key takeaways were/are:

  1. If you can create a platform to distribute content that has detailed data, you can identify trends in large populations.
  2. Content that has promise can be then test marketed to groups of people within that network to determine if the interest is specialized or broad.
  3. Based on whether or not the interest is broad or specialized, one can devise a marketing program to fit the right criteria of benefit / return based on the preliminary findings.
  4. Although data is an indicator of a potential audience for content, there are intangibles that cannot be captured in the data, i.e. will a band do well on TV, can they maintain creative output or even manage enough output to warrant additional investment.

I think that this sort of path of analysis and experimentation is the place where the development of new lower cost content can and should occur. I am not saying that the traditional method of content development and marketing goes away, but I do think that a more low to the ground approach has a lot of promise for a new economic model that is more sustainable in the long-term.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Baby names

You would think that when you have three kids at once, it would be easy to name them. That has not been the case. Over the last couple of days we have finally settled on the names. The identical twin boys are Brit and Tucker. Our girl will be named Mallory. This is a much better nomenclature than Baby A,B and C.

Friday, September 24, 2004

The Changing Face of Content

David Weinberger writes an interesting blog post about his attendance at an Entertainment and Media session of the World Economic Forum. This sorts of discussions always get me started. My comments below:

The greatest challenge for the content companies IMHO is how the explosion in distribution changes all the economics of their business. What has been a hit driven - venture capital style model has seen the erosion of limited distribution which deteriorates their margins. When the promise of a 'hit' to fund the 'misses' disappears, then the model isn't sustainable. In a world of previously untold distribution capacity, yes content is still king, but the marginal value of the content has to outweigh the cost to produce it. This is fundamental. In this world, content creation becomes less of a large scale enterprise and more of a cottage industry. I recognize that 'big hit' style content will continue to be produced, but the majority of content must become cheaper to make and has so if you consider non-mainstream music, reality based TV. etc.

The interesting thing about this sort of distribution is that it gives you an extremely powerful mechanism to market to a select audience in an extremely cost effective way. It really is a rethinking of the whole business, and requires a different skill set for success, but it is possible and I would argue, the inevitable outcome of what is occurring.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Definition of Moblogging - Take 2

Funny how life presents things to you. This is moblogging to me. Our offices are in what is called the Golden Triangle Area of San Diego. This area is just east of UCSD and encompasses the area known as University Town Center. It's where we are, where used to be, DIVx Networks is here, Linspire, etc.

On my way to work today (late - nanny was sick) traffic was terrible. I didn't know why until I crossed the bridge on Genesee over Interstate 5. This person just missed out on a 40 ft plunge onto the 5 in heavy traffic. I all of a sudden had the presence of mind to grab my cell phone and snap a picture. Of course I would have never written a blog post about this, but in moblogging, its blogging while you live.

Two other important factors. 1. Time is key. This picture will not be as interesting tomorrow. If you are stuck in traffic right now and had an alert, you would be more sympathetic to the reason for the delay. 2. Location is key. If I had the lat and long, you would know to avoid that area like the plague.

My new Favorite Commercial

This Nextel Ad rolls me!!!!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Wireless Sensor Networks Part 4

I saw this article today about Dust Technologies. It reminded me that my brother in laws company got some great press last week on....

Grand Forks Herald

Minneapolis Star Tribune

WCCO Minneapolis

They are starting to do some cool early experiments and pilots with sugar beets, potatoes, pasta...

More to come I am sure.

Definition of Moblogging

I read with interest yesterday the post by Dave Winer regarding the definition of moblogging.

I agree with the definition put forth and would add to the thought a bit.

My partners Shawn and Tom worked at/ran Moviso. One of the applications that Moviso rolled out before it was sold to Infospace was Match Mobile. They came away from that experience with the realization that porting internet applications to mobile, doesn't really work in the same way that you would expect on the web. It's similar to the TV to Internet transition. Remember Pathfinder? Putting TV on the Internet wasn't a wild success. The best Internet content is generally created on and for the Internet. I would say the same holds true for mobile, or at least it should.

Moblogging takes the normal experience of publishing/creating content and adds a layer of time and place value that doesn't necessarily exist when I am sitting here typing on my laptop. On my photoblog I have pictures I took just for family, or pictures that I took because I didn't have time to type the information I needed into my cell phone. The mobile part in the last example was purely a method of capturing information for me. Sorry if it didn't help you out. In an LBS world that picture would have informed you that the Lat and Long corresponded to Costco in Carlsbad. Now maybe that information would be more relevant to someone other than me. Maybe not.

I think that the time/place overlay is a key different piece in the moblogging equation that will reveal itself more clearly in the not to distant future. To that end, yes moblogging is what we do when we are away from our normal blogging environment, but there is an element of context that definitely flavors that experience. Take for instance my bluetooth keyboard for my phone....

Friday, September 17, 2004

User Generated Content: unmediated

Got turned onto my new favorite website, unmediated. Their about section says -
unmediated is a group blog that tracks the tools, processes, and ideas being used to decentralize media production and distribution. I love it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

3D Baby yawning with elbow near face Posted by Hello

Same with Caption Posted by Hello

3D triplet picture Posted by Hello

Triplet 3D Images

My wife had a surprise planned for me last week on Thursday. For those of you who know me, I am not a sports fan. I don't really care much for sports. The exception to that is the Church of Football. I am a devout follower who rarely misses a game, literally a game as I have Two Tivo's and the Directv Football package, both pro and college.

My base instinct was that my wonderful wife, who knows I adore Peyton Manning (My 2 year old now says on command that he is the best QB in football), had planned a surprise evening out to watch the first game of the season between New England and Indianapolis.

Ok, so maybe I was on crack. The surprise was a visit to a place called Fetal Fotos. Ok, so don't get me wrong, I think ultrasounds are very cool. The problem with having triplets is you have Dr. appts. that include 3 hour anatomy scans of the kids. Do two of those, and you too can be an ultrasound tech.

This store actually does something cool in that they do 3D imaging. Granted the quality of the scanning isn't the best, and your children can look very odd, but all in all it was really cool and I am glad we did it. Photos included.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

User Generated Content: Gallina

Ok, so this isn't the User Generated Content post I was going to write, but this is really good. This new application, Gallina, allows people to hack their Gmail account and use it as a blog. Nice. A while back I wrote this piece about people being a part of the narrative. What I think I failed to elaborate on was the interesting part of User Generated Content that is exemplified by Half Life / Counter Strike. Half Life was made a a mod friendly game, that was ultimately surpassed in popularity(arguably) by a mod know as Counter Strike. Sometimes it's best to give users a platform and let them create a new context that suits their entertainment needs even more than originally imagined.

Digital Music Take 23 - MusicMatch

I was very excited today to see that Yahoo had purchased MusicMatch for $160 million. Ironically I had lunch with Michael Robertson yesterday and spoke with him about when if ever he thought that MusicMatch would sell, as we both know the executives at the company.

Two thoughts jump to mind. One is that a lot of great people who worked with me at and others who I know from my interaction with them in business at MusicMatch have a great conclusion for an admirable run competing against Microsoft and Real Networks. The second thought is that we are approaching the conclusion of this phase of digital music. We have gone from early pioneers, through the lawsuit phase (Napster,, Kazaa), the early .99 download phase, and consolidation of a wide number of businesses into a relatively small number of big players (Apple, Microsoft, Napster 2.0, and arguably Yahoo)

The next phase isn't clear to me, but the 9th circuit court decision, and the thin margins of the download stores, doesn't reveal a clear path to the creation of a viable and meaningful market. I see more eMule and Fast Track style clones popping up, more people getting sued, and not much real progress in the near term.

On the other hand, more people are listening to more music than ever, And more importantly, more people are creating music than ever before. I think this may be a good topic for my next User Generated Content posts.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Weird Internet Search Results

So the really freaky thing about the Internet is that it becomes a history of what you have done in the net in a way. In an earlier post, I found some of my goofy comments from Usenet in 1994. Of course you can find my old employment agreement in conjunction with's acquisition by Vivendi Universal. OK so these type of things are ok. You kind of want to make them go away, but at least they really happened. What I don't like is this. As part of the internet domain name land grab, I registered a domain that was called, or something like that. I don't recall what it was for exactly, but over time I have registered prolly close to 50 domains. The problem with this, is that it is wrong. It had nothing to do with cars. It had nothing to do with anything, but somewhere the same people who manufacturer spam created this untruth. Who do I get a hold of to make it go away?????

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Think Outside Stowaway Bluetooth Keyboard

True to form, I picked up that Bluetooth keyboard I mentioned previously. It is really cool. The one big issue is that they wont come out with the J2ME Bluetooth driver for a little while. The form factor is amazing. It looks really small but when laid out on top of my massive laptop, it is almost indentical. I managed to 'pair' it with my laptop and desktop and managed to get it working. I figured out how to hack a 'pairing' with my cell phone, but no services were available. Bummer. I should have a new phone for demo's when we go out on the road next month so I can use it then for some truly mobile blogging. If you want more check out their website at Think Outside.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

My life on Sony

Branding - When I worked at Sony Pictures Studios from 1992 to 1997 (wow 5 years!) I became a big fan of Sony consumer products. We got a really good discount on Sony products and I really fell in love with the brand. Today I have....

4 Sony televisions (1 that is HD)

A Sony Mini CD Stereo

Two Sony Ericsson Phones - A T300 and a T610. They have some issues, but they are my favorite cell phones I have owned. I really need a P900, but can't rationalize the price point, yet.

Sony VHS Deck

Sony DVD PLayer

Sony Play Station 2

A Sony Clie PDA

A Sony 5 Megapixel Camera

A Sony DV Cam

I think that's it, although Jessica also has a Sony Ericsson T637 phone I think.

If you can create a consistent consumer experience, a fair degree of operability among your media devices, and a sense of a high quality product, you can own a consumer. Or at least you can own me. I think Apple is on the right path with this on the iMac and the iPod, etc.

A 2 year old heading to his first day of school. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, September 07, 2004


Although I am a political junkie, I have decided that its probably not a good idea to get partisan given the religious tone of the current election. That said, those of you who know me, know that I come down hard on one side. What I have been doing is checking out the blogs on both the left and right and I find them very fascinating. Specifically, Instapundit and Daily Kos. If you are a junkie, these are two good starting points.

Monday, September 06, 2004

ChangeThis - Part 2

I recently signed up for ChangeThis. I mentioned it in a previous post. Today I got an email that was a Blogger preview of their next newsletter and collection of manifestos. There are one or two in the list I am interested in, especially the one about/from Jerry Colonna about the value of misfits. I should read this later today, but I find it an interesting marketing tactic to get bloggers to read the stories before, link to the stories, and build interest before the 'official' release. So I guess blogging continues to evolve.....

Saturday, September 04, 2004

In Vegas for my fantasy football draft, see post from last month. I will be posting pics @ .

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Started using this site based in the UK, Phlog. First real easy MMS upload of camera phone picks I have used. Check out my pics here. Parental advisory on the latest picture.