Blogger Flying Solo

Hmmm … Jason Kottke just announced he’s going into blogging full time. How will that work out? He has no idea. That’s part of the fun (and fear).

Dan Gillmor – probably the highest profile blogging journalist at the time – ditched the day job last December for some yet-unspecified grass-roots journalism project.

This is getting interesting.


Dorkagen. A physical object that holds the attention and affection of a dork (see also geek). Often used collectively.

Ah, a little cleaning over the weekend unearthed the slide rule I used all through high school physics (this was PC – pre-calculators).

The damn thing is, I still remembered how to do a few (very few) things on it: Multipication, division, square roots, some trig.

Dorkage is oddly personal, but fun…

New Business Models

Steve Outing has a good, yet short, article about communication services (think Net access, cable TV, Dish TV, cell phones).

Obstensively, the article talks about how newspapers may get the short straw in the rush to get other communication/data subscriptions: News has become a commodity – so newspapers may well be cancelled in favor of, for example, NetFlix or whatever for those without unlimited budgets.

Newspapers have already become aware of this – slowly, but they are adopting and adapting (see Dan Gillmor’s blog on any given day for more on this). Large newspaper companies are starting to experiment with free newspapers for commuters and other city dwellers, betting the ad revenue for this non-subscription product will be great, as the target audience’s appeal to advertisers – younger, professional, conspicuous consumers – will feed the coffers.

Papers have also begun to embrace the blog mentality – that’s content that IS unique to a Web site. When Gillmor was at the San Jose Mercury – blogging daily for their Silicon Valley property – I’d read him daily. And there’s those ad impressions….

But the article also touched on the idea of “bundling” services (as Comcast has done with their Triple Play – VoIP, TV and Internet), but didn’t explore it much.

Bears more thought, methinks.

What are some of those thoughts? Consider the following:

  • For the average consumers, a package is usually easier to consume than hand-picking parts to make a custom package. And there are far more average consumers than the opposite.
  • Packages usually keep costs down. A Triple Play type package is usually cheaper than three subscriptions from different companies. That said, such packages often make people purchase what they don’t really need (“Gee, I don’t need high-speed internet, but for only $5 extra a month…”).
  • So – as consumers – we need to make sure that unbundling – or lack of bundling – is supported. Who wants to go through a Microsoft-type lockin for communications/data subscriptions? Not me, that’s for sure.
  • Related the the previous point: Bundling can be a good thing, but it can lead to monopolies, or – at least – a handful of large companies. There are upsides and downsides to such consolidation, but it bears watching. The rapid consolidation of the telco industry in the recent past (seems like there’s a $XX billion merger every other day) is both troubling (lack of choice) and welcome (telcos are so f’d up, some consolidation is welcomed).
  • Outing is really talking – to a degree – about the end to traditional print media as we have known it. While print won’t disappear, it will be marginalized. Looks at the precedent of networkTV news dominance: CNN was scoffed at, but now is the first place the White House turns (OK, maybe FOX News first…). Talk radio came out of nowhere to be a right-wing staple, getting the message out. Then this thingee called the internet…with online news, blogs… To quote Bobby Zimmerman, the times (including the New York Times) they are a changin’.
  • I’m a big reader, yet I’m also a huge computer dork. And I now subscribe to less magazines than at any post-high school point of my life, and that includes times when I really didn’t have a lot of money to spend on non-essentials. There’s little need for them for news – be it computer or world news. By the time it’s in print, I’ve read about it extensively online.
  • I still subscribe to a newspaper, but I read it less and less. And I know very few (if any) younger co-workers who even subscribe.
  • The explosion of data/delivery systems is great in that there is a lot of [whatever] out there. That doesn’t mean there is a whole lot of good stuff out (by any measure).

What this all means today, tomorrow or next decade I can’t say.

But it’s all a way different way of looking at a lot of things – data, content, delivery and distribution systems – than were not really even on the radar a decade ago.

OSN: Open-Source Newspapers

I was driving home from work the other day (last week?) listening to NPR.

They were talking about some experimental (for lack of a better word on my part) newpapers. Basically, some metropolitan newspapers are experimenting with free, “lite” newspapers (news snippets, entertainment news) to hand out to commuters.

This is an effort to gain readers in the age bracket that traditional newspapers just don’t have a foothold – the young, but professional, crowd.

I’m really not certain what the target of this effort is – it could be to keep spooling out the free papers that are supported by ads (to an age group coveted by advertisers). Hence the OSN title of this post.

Or it could be an effort by the traditional papers to try to gradually get these folks hooked on papers, so they convert to the paying version.

Or a little of both. Whatever.

My point is this: This NPR report talked to some wanker professor at some well-known college who basically dissed the whole concept, trash talking the whole snippet concept of the newspapers blah blah…you’ve heard it before.

But it made me think. What’s about the most common intellectual/non-fluff newspaper out there consumed by professionals? Uh, The Wall Street Journal maybe?

What’s on its front page? SNIPPETS – with [hard-copy] links to the details. But you can peruse the top page and “be informed.” A fairly recent addition is color, and the color coding helps the, uh, non-newspaperish reader.

The WSJ. Stooping to OSN tactics.

Take that Professor Wanker.

Hello Google Maps!

And goodbye Mapquest/Yahoo Maps and so on.

Beta only, sketchy Mac support (Netscape/Mozilla) at this time…still kicks butt.

I saw this and kept pestering people throughout the day at work, showing it to them like I invented the damn thing.