Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Rabble Community

When I got home yesterday I remembered that there was another point to my previous post. After months of the same Flash animation on out homepage we rolled out a significant change. The point of the change was to let outsiders peer into the world of Rabble. If you go to the Rabble homepage right now you can see a number of our users and their most recent posts. You may find it juvenile or banal but I find it fascinating.

Back to the previous post, I do hope that over time we can put together some good case studies and stories to contribute to a conversation on how communities evolve and govern themselves, etc.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Community Blogs

Last week I was running through my normal RSS/blog reads. Hit the social media blogs. Hit the advertising blogs. Hit the youth culture blogs. Hit the community focused blogs. Wait. There aren't any. Or more correctly there aren't many.

I talked to a couple of friends about this and received a couple of really good recommendations and found a couple of others that I will link to at the end here. But what am I talking about? If you go back to communities 2.0, (I would argue that Usenet and BBS systems were probably virtual communities 1.0) there was a lot of excitement and interest around Geocities and iVillage and the like. With the flameout of the advertising market there was in my opinion a vast discrediting of the community space as large ugly noisy places with lots of people and no business models to speak of.

Fast forward to today (Community 3.0) and you have the monsters of the community space in the likeness of MySpace, Xanga, Live Journal in the youth market in addition to the various online gaming communities around Warcraft, Everquest, etc. What I don't really see though are the serious discussions about how communities form, or how do communities govern themselves, or what are the different types of members of communities etc. etc.

I am sure there is more out there than I am finding but in general see a lack of concentrated thought and discussion on some of the more academic or cerebral parts around a community. My obvious fascination grows out of my past experience watching a large artist community at MP3.com and my current experience watching the fledgling community on Rabble where the most interesting commonality is that it is generally an entirely mobile phone based community.

Maybe Dana Boyd will be taking on this subject in the coming months. (I hope so)

Some of the recommendations I was given or that were made to me were the following:

The Digital Vision Project from Reuters/Stanford.

Christopher Allen - Life with Alacrity

Corante's Many to Many

Have some ones I should check out?

Small Is In

Although the RAZR has been a good example of consumers flocking towards thin or smallish handset designs, last week there were two things that caught my eye that make me think that small is in.

The first one was all the hype and noise around Bluepulse that I first caught wind of from Mobile Crunch. I am not going to get into what OADP and SPOT are, but I will say that the thing I am really interested in is that although the platform and application support Symbian, more importantly they support J2ME. It's nice to demo or release products on a Series 60 platform except here in the United States, there are very few people buying data products who have those kind of phones. If you want to market to data consumers in the US, you have to support BREW and J2ME.

The second one was the release of the Opera Mini mobile browser. I have had Opera on my P910 for the last year and it is without question a great browser. The day that the Mini was announced I downloaded it expecting to be underwhelmed as it is targeted at low end handsets. Boy was I surprised. It rocks. I think I may actually prefer it to Opera 6 which I have been using for over a year now. Again, like the bluepulse work, here is a product focused on handsets that people actually have instead of handsets that work well when you want to demo products to people unfamiliar with handset intricacies.

As the hottest properties on the web start to look at mobile extensions to their platforms, you can bet money that Myspace, The Facebook, Friendster and others will be using extensive SMS and MMS hooks to support their massive audiences but on the client side their mobile strategy will have to be focused on developing BREW and J2ME applications, at least in the US.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Rabble mentioned in New York Times article

Subscription required. Here is the story.

User Generated Content Explained

In the last several weeks I have seen an incredible influx of traffic of people looking for the word or combinations of the phrase user generated content . Since I am approaching two years of blogging on this blog I guess my google, yahoo and other search love juice is strong. So if you are one of the people who happened to wander here looking for user generated content then welcome. I guess it would be helpful for me to explain why I called this blog that to satisfy your interest.

Back in the early part of 2003, Vivendi had made the decision to divest some of the assets that they had acquired during the reign of CEO Jean Marie Messier. At that time I was President of the Internet Music division of Vivendi following the acquisition of MP3.com where I was the COO while we were a public company. The group of companies that I oversaw at the time included Rollingstone.com, eMusic and Get Music (Which I see UMG is now resurrecting).

The time period between our acquisition and the decision to divest the assets was an interesting time for me. Our company went from a technology driven innovator to being focused on primarily creating an advertising supported media business. My focus was on rationalizing the business and trying to build a media sales force. I was big on advertising. I know that there were many people who gave me funny looks when I said advertising was coming back but ultimately I felt justified in the return of the advertising market and the acquisition of Myspace by News Corporation this last year.

Because a lot of our technical resources were engaged in a variety of projects for the various sister companies at Vivendi we were fairly constrained on new development and ultimately decided to spend a fair amount of time trying to gain some market intelligence to support our advertising efforts and to explore content trends by rolling out some interesting data mining experiments that I have documented in the past here. I think it's very interesting that the MP3.com successor companies like Pure Volume and Myspace are now in the content business. Hmmm.

Around the end of 2003 I met with Ken Cron who at the time was the COO of Vivendi under Barry Diller. My goal was to convince Ken that Vivendi should keep MP3.com, at least in a shell form at the very worst, as it would be a valuable content laboratory for UMG. I knew going in that I wouldn't be successful but I thought it would be a good conversation. Towards the end Ken asked me what I wanted to do. I told him about the story linked to above and said that I wasn't sure what exactly I wanted to do but that I was going to focus my career on working on various aspects of user generated content.

Fast forward through a TV pilot that went nowhere(although the idea isn't too dissimilar to Current TV and some others) to Intercasting. We set up Intercasting to take advantage of the intersection of user generated content and the development of media capabilities of the mobile device. Shawn lays a great foundation on our blog for a lot of the stuff we are working on. To me, at it's core, we are creating a platform for the production and consumption of mobile content. Rabble is specifically the first instance of what we envision to be a suite of products around a common concept. Although we are very much focused on location based applications of media production and consumption, we are at out core a media company contrary to what some others may think.

So that's the business part of why I called my blog user generated content. Then there is the personal part. This blog to me was quite literally, my user generated content. I knew at the time that I was committed to creating text that I have managed to consistently do over almost two years. I also knew then that I would be photoblogging using sites like Flickr where I document my family and my travels. What I didn't know at the time was that I would be podcasting an indie rock show. Or any of the other things like videoblogging etc. that I have been dabbling with over the last several years.

So this site may or may not be what you were looking for. If you like I'd invite you to stick around or I'd recommend that you check out my favorite user generated content site unmediated. This is my daily first stop and over time have come to know a variety of the people working on this group blog. It's a definite must read if you were looking for user generated content.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Sony Ericsson P990

I must have been in some kind of haze, but back in October Sony did a press release about the new P990 coming out in Q1. Oohh, Aahh. I cant wait to get this. Here is the Engadget writeup. All I have to say is WIFI, Edge, 2 Megapixel, Videoconferencing and FM Radio. Not sure about the radio part but the rest rules. I can't wait until later this year when it becomes available in North America. My P910 is still doing well but the WIFI possibilities have me really excited.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Skype Spam

So there I was yesterday busy typing away on my laptop when my Skype window popped up with a request from one Svetlana to chat with me. Last I recall I don't know any Svetlana. At least not one who uses that as her real name. So she says hello. I say hello. She says something else I don't remember and then I ask who is this?

She is looking for online friends. Nice. Block.

Today my Skype phone rings with a call from Toni 101. I don't answer and say hi on chat. She says hi. I say who are you. She says she is looking for online friends. Block.

Hmmm. Ok, so AOL wants to embed some weirdness in IM as of one of my last posts and now Skype is spamming me with dare I say women of dubious background. Sigh. What to do.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Stowe Boyd's New Blog Message

Stowe Boyd, who I am a big fan of, has started a new solo blog called /Message. If you are interested in collaborative tools and social media, this is a must add to your aggregator or reader of choice.

AIM Mail

So I fire up the computer this morning and what to my surprise but a weird AIM mail prompt. Oh my, I am so excited! Yet one more piece of garbage running on my computer. Why can't AOL let me choose whether or not I want crappy things like Wild Tangent and now this email thing to run on my computer? I think its a really bad way to instill loyalty in a user of a product, especially in this world of spam and adware proliferation. I'd like to make the decision on whether or not I have more things running in the background on my machine. I have been increasing the migration to Skype and I think things like this make it more and more likely that over time I will probably make a new selection on IM clients.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Shozu thoughts

I was playing around yesterday with Shozu. Shozu is a mobile application that allows you to mass upload picture from your mobile to the web. The application is very cool in that it doesn't really feel like an application as much as it is more similar to an overlay on the Symbian OS that interfaces with your media.

It took me a day or two to figure out how to grant permissions to Shozu to use my GPRS network. Once I did, I accidentally began an upload of 160+ photos to Flickr. I managed to stop it about halfway through the process but not before knocking most of the relevant user photos for my friends and family way off the first several pages. Oops.

So for the most part a really cool application. One MAJOR pet peeve though. The application tagged all of my photos with the ShoZu tag. Not a problem, I will just go into Flickr and delete that. I can't! That sucks. I need to send an email to customer service.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Good Company Listing Source

Last year when we were out raising money, a friend from Time Warner Ventures, introduced us to Tom Gieselmann at BV Capital. Tom was super smart, as most of the people we met were, and had some really good insight into the community space. One of his co-workers at BV Capital, Christian Leybold, did a year end roundup of companies that they looked at last year that you can find here. We are included of course. If you want to find a good one stop place to find a list of new/cool/up and coming companies, I would recommend you take a spin with this list.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Rabble Widget

On the right hand side of this page, I added our new Rabble Widget. Right now we only have a couple, but we plan to make some more. Because I synchronize my Blogger posts to Rabble I had to select a couple of posts that were created inside Rabble that didn't come from Blogger. On the top, and in honor of his recent departure from this planet, is my fish Ralph.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Podcastercon Video

Randall Greg sent me a link to a 14 minute video he took at Podcastercon that was mostly of the Copyright Session. You can see the video here. I couldn't figure out the direct link to the page but the website main page is here.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Link to Audio of Copyright Session from Podcastercon

Ray Moore who attended Podcastercon this last Saturday sent me a copy of the audio he took from the Copyright session. The file is just under 100 Megabytes and clocks in at just under two hours. I put the file here and will also put the link on the wiki for Podcastercon.

Podcastercon 2006 - Epilogue

Got back home around mid-day yesterday. I was pretty burned out from the trip as I had a hard time sleeping the whole time on the road. Not really sure why. A couple of thoughts:

1. What a great event. It had a decidedly different feel than the Portable Media Expo. None of the main blogger intelligentsia was there, which I though was actually kind of cool. Not much of a cult of personality was in play. I also thought Brian did an amazing job getting more than 300 people together for a very ad hoc yet effective event. I think the protests that Dave Winer had, and he is entitled to his opinion, were misplaced. It was anything but a commercial conference. It felt like an educational seminar.

2. The session that I led, actually I would say co-led with Chris McDonald, was really well attended and received. I took a long deep breath at the start of what was to be a 2 hour session with the fear that there was no way we would go longer than an hour or so. I couldn't have been more wrong. We had an amazing group gathered together with a variety of opinions and experience coming from podcasting, journalism etc. which made for a lively discussion that was meant to be more informative than scary. I know that Richard/Madge from Yeast Radio thought we were slightly scaring people but that wasn't the intent at all. I think he made it through most of the session but I think he missed the part where we came back to the point that this wasn't meant to scare as much as it was to inform.

3. The after hours hang out was a total blast. Ryan Irelan documented the group of us that hungout afterwards here. There is also a good picture here. I especially enjoyed hanging out with the Libsyn guys who Chris McDonald had carpooled with. I think those guys are doing some great work and wish them a ton of success.

Chris recorded our session and as soon as I track it down I will stick it up on my server on Acme.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Podcastercon 2006

I am at Podcastercon today in Chapel Hill. I'll be doing some occasional posts and a lot of Flickr pictures. Search for tag podcastercon2006 if you are interested.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The $250 Million Radio Show #29

Hot off the laptop. Show #29 is here. Notes will be updated on the podcast site tomorrow here.

North Carolina

Flew into Charlotte yesterday evening. Spent the night with a good friend and his family and puttered around Charlotte a bit before heading to Chapel Hill. I always imagined that North Carolina was a lot like Oregon without the rain. What I didn't realize is that it is in fact kind of cold here. I also didn't realize that there aren't as many evergreens either so it looks a bit like an East coast winter landscape with hints of a lush time in the spring. Uploading a podcast and off to bed.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Copyright Law and Podcasting

I am facilitating the session on Copyright Law and Podcasting at Podcastercon on Saturday, January 7th. The format of the overall conference is an unconference. If you are not familiar with this style of event, please look at this overview by Doc Searls.

The session is meant to be a conversation among those present about the things they are interested in. Certainly we all have opinions on the topic if we are podcasting. One of the challenging things about podcasting is that there is in fact a lot of legal implications of what you do if you are playing copyrighted material. Although there are legal structures in place, there is also a lot of ambiguity about what you need to do to make sure that you don't stumble over one of these legal areas and expose yourself to penalties and fines.

Some of the things we may want to discuss during this session can be the following:

What are the underlying rights associated with copyrighted works?

Who administers permission and payments if you want to use copyrighted materials in your podcast?

What copyright protections can I have in protecting the intellectual property that I create in my podcast?

What is Creative Commons?

Let's talk about acronyms like DMCA, DRPA, DPD, and CARP.

What is the case law that has been established thus far in digital music that may be relevant to our podcasting?

What is Fair Use?

What do I need to do to play cover songs in my podcast?

If I am concerned about playing copyrighted music, what are my alternatives?

As the session moderator, I am familiar with some of the above topics and will contribute to the best of my abilities, but will only do so in a conversation with everyone present. I am not a lawyer. Hopefully there will be some of those in attendance.

The stark reality of copyright law and podcasting is that it is a fairly new area that has some precedence and some indications of a legal/not legal framework and associated fines. Making yourself aware of what those areas are, and identifying alternatives to taking risks in our podcasts is what I hope we get to have a lively conversation about on Saturday. Please feel free to join in the session and contribute your opinion and knowledge on the topic.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Rabble.com Website

When we went live last summer, we slowly rolled out a website that was used primarily to let our users synchronize their rabble activity with their web activity. In my case that meant importing posts from Blogger like this one into Rabble for other users to see. It also meant taking posts that I create in Rabble and publishing them out to Live Journal and Zoto.

Over the holidays we pushed out a beta website for our mobile users that allows them to pretty much replicate the phone functionality on the web. We designed it primarily for users of the application, rather than to create a web competitor to other websites. Frankly, we think a lot of really great websites do an amazing job on the web and we would rather find ways to partner with them instead of trying to re-create their functionality. We prefer to focus on the mobile aspects. One thing we did do was allow people to view with guest privileges if someone wants to send a post outside of Rabble to their friends or family. So if you don't have a Verizon phone and want a sneak peek at what's going on inside the Rabble world. Click on this link.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

CPM Based Advertising in Podcasts

Paul Colligan wrote this post in response to some Adam Curry comments about avoiding CPM based advertising in podcasting. I can't agree more. How would an advertiser know that they are truly getting value from a purely impression based medium. I think that advertisers should pay for performance. Sure it's great if a million people download my podcast, but what if none of them come to the website to buy my product. Now clicks, I'll pay for that. :-)

The challenge with podcasting is that it is today a small medium. Of course it doesn't want to move to a CPM based model because it doesn't have enough advertising units to support itself. If we apply the Google/Overture performance based structure then it gets worse.

A move to sponsorship model makes sense if the sponsor feels they are getting value and would be in line with the old "soap" sponsorships of days gone by.

Or you could do it because you love it.

Mobile Monday San Diego / January

Ok, so the mobile crowd up in San Francisco has a lot of technology companies that are interested in wireless. We have Qualcomm. We are hosting this January's Mobile Monday in San Diego at the Intercasting Corp Office on January 16th with people from the Media Flo group. If you want to hear about the future of media on your handset, swing on by. Details here. Map here.


I don't believe that I have ever blogged about Machinima but I thought it would be worthwhile to mention to people who may not have heard of it.

While digging through my contacts to clean up for the new year/send out holiday cards, I realized that I hadn't talked to Paul Marino in a while. Paul worked with me at Vivendi and left to pursue Machinima full time. Currently he is the Executive Director of the Academy of Machinima Arts and Sciences.

So what is it? The various filmmakers of this genre utilize tools such as gaming engines to create movies/film etc. Imagine leveraging something like the Quake engine to create a movie. This is the type of stuff that they do. You may be thinking that it only applies to making movies like Aliens, but the Quake engine allows you to customize environments and scenery to make just about anything you can think of.

Why do I care? User generated content or any sort of edge of the network media needs to use platforms and tools that allow the costs to remain low. By cleverly repurposing tools such as gaming engines, these filmmakers can do some really crazy things at very low cost. I would highly recommend that you take a look at some of the projects that have come out of this group.