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Sunday, October 31, 2004

Spidering The Web

Orb Weaver
Front porch tenant (family Araneidae, I believe)

Here Comes The Son

"Beggin' your pardon ma'am, I'd be much obliged if y'all could please tell my mama real cowboys think twice about going with the satin and sequins."

Happy Halloween

Saturday, October 30, 2004

P2P You And Me

My Wired CD arrived yesterday, what tasty goodness. Then, more good news re Creative Commons came in today's L.A. Times business section, Musicians to Place Songs on File-Sharing Network:

The musicians who license their works with the help of the Creative Commons advocacy group will soon have their songs spotlighted on a new version of the Morpheus file-sharing network, which has been vilified by the mainstream entertainment industry.

The Times biz section just doesn't seem complete these days without a P2P story. Yesterday's was Sony BMG, Grokster Join Forces, about MashBoxx.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Hi And Bye, Digital ID World!

It's disappointing to have to make such a surgical strike appearance at Digital ID World, but I'm glad at least to have an unbroken attendance streak at this event. It's an important conference that still flies somewhat under the radar. And Doc's keynoting tomorrow, which is inevitably a "Don't Miss."

Phil Windley did a great job blogging our panel, and asked me to take a look to make sure he got the message across. He did, with one clarification: Courts have been surprisingly active lately in upholding, defining, and enforcing fair use rights (Kelly v. Arriba Soft; Lexmark v. SCC; OPG v. Diebold). The Betamax doctrine has also been confirmed, and software that has been characterized as potentially a copyright violation in its own right has been found legal (Grokster). There has been enough of this in evidence lately that it begs the question what courts will think of hardware that gives software and content creators the ability to undermine the recent clarifications to these doctrines.

Boarding, see ya.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Sounds Like A Job For Corduroy

Traveling tomorrow to Digital ID World, just for the day (unfortunately). Sez Marc: "Meanwhile this place is filled with suits."

DMCA, Protector Of Fair Use

No, really! Fred von Lohman explains:

Watch for more ISPs and Internet publishers to invoke ยง512(f) to vindicate their fair use rights in court. Armed with an affirmative cause of action, as well as a mandatory fee shifting statute, fair users may find themselves magically transformed from defendants into plaintiffs, entitled to bring litigation on their own terms against copyright owners who fail to think twice before sending out DMCA takedown notices.

Very good for bloggers, as you've not doubt already discerned; Mary Hodder's posts from last year provide the context. (Love the line at the top of Mary's blog right now: "No, you don't have to pick up spam off the floor.")

Navigating The Ballot

California's Proposition 64 takes aim at the "private attorney general" portion of Business & Professions Code Section 17200—the part that lets non-injured parties sue on behalf of the general public. For good coverage of the coverage, see the UCL Practitioner. While Dan Gillmor thinks both this initiative and Prop. 71 (stem cell research) go too far, unless they make their living by bringing these actions legal practitioners are likely to tell you the opportunities for abuse are plentiful and frequently taken. Two of my Los Angeles colleagues wrote an article last year that expands upon this viewpoint: "The public...does not need lawyers, motivated by attorneys' fee awards, to 'protect' them from business practices that may cause no harm or were already resolved in prior litigation."

Lexmark Injunction Reversed

In a detailed decision, the Sixth Circuit today reversed the district court's injunction in favor of Lexmark and against Static Control Components concerning copy protected printer cartridges. No time to blog more or even read the opinion yet (so I don't yet even know whether the amicus brief we filed gets any discussion), but Jason Schultz at Copyfight has the lowdown, and here's Static Control's press release.

Monday, October 25, 2004


(My October contribution to IP Memes follows.)


The last three weeks have seen an explosion at the kind of lightning speed only the Internet can deliver. If you haven't heard of "podcasting" (1) you're not spending much time at all reading weblogs, and (2) you just did anyway. Podcasting is a brilliantly simple concept that involves creating an MP3 audio recording and making it available for download. Why is it a "killer app?" Several reasons. More and more people now have a portable digital audio player of some kind, probably an iPod based on the success Apple has had with its product. And a new, open source software application, iPodder, conceived by blogger and former MTV veejay Adam Curry, combined with RSS enclosures (don't worry too much about what those are if you don't know), does timeshifting for MP3 players like TiVo did for television. On the listener side, podcasting is just another example of the Internet opening doors to places people want to go that mainstream media outlets can't cover or just ignore. On the creator side, podcasting was practically inevitable in a world ever more replete with individually and independently created content, aka microcontent: weblogs, moblogs, photo/animation/digital video sharing, etc.

So where's the IP in this meme? There're probably more than I've thought of yet, but at least three sticky areas are apparent at the inception of the podcasting wave. First: is podcasting just another form of Internet radio, subject to all the attendant regulation? It seems pretty clear the answer is "no" because there is no streaming involved, but the issue remains untested. Second: what about copyrighted material incorporated into a podcast? As podcasters are unlikely to be universally scrupulous about obtaining licenses and permissions, the fair use doctrine should get a good workout here. Third: will Apple pour linguistic cold water on the movement by seeking to enforce its iPod trademark? Last spring it did just that with a now defunct application called "pPod," which created an iPod-esque interface for PocketPCs. Unlike the present phenomenon however, pPod didn't come with functionality that makes the iPod an even more attractive purchase than it already is, coupled with an impressive groundswell of support. Google already shows some 110,000 hits for "podcasting," and advertisers have bought sponsored links for podcast-related searches.



When I started out in college, all I remember being given by my alma mater was dorm room wallpaper in the form of innumerable parking tickets. In contrast, this year's crop of Duke University freshmen were given Apple iPods -- not just as a really nice perk but to assist them academically. In response to criticism of the program as frivolous and excessive, Duke's Manager of the Office of Information Technology, David Menzies, recently explained how students are putting the iPods to work. Professors are making course materials (podcasts?) available for the students to download, and the students are encouraged to use them to record lectures and other course-related audio. Menzies is also quick to squelch rumors the student 'pods came packed with 5,000 songs: "The only preloaded songs on these iPods are the Duke fight song and alma mater."



TiVo CEO Mike Ramsay did a hallway interview with technology journalist JD Lasica at the recent Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco. Ramsay discusses dog-mangled TiVo remotes, his vision for Internet television, the marriage of TiVo and DVD burners, program sharing via TiVoToGo, the role of the FCC, and more. There has been a bit of a compatibility flap lately about the DVD burning TiVos, which will play but not burn content from other Series 2 TiVos. This does not appear to be due to any copy controlling digital rights management added by TiVo, but rather to differing compression standards between the products.



No surprise here: on October 8, the RIAA and MPAA filed their petition for certiorari concerning the 9th Circuit's recent Grokster decision, which upheld the legality of P2P networks. The petitioners clearly want the high court to revisit its Betamax decision, citing in their Question Presented the "millions of daily acts of copyright infringement that occur on their services and that constitute at least 90% of the total use of the services."



The high court will not review the D.C. Circuit's determination that the DMCA does not require ISPs to turn over identifying information about suspected file sharers in the absence of a court order.



This Wednesday I'll be part of a panel at the third annual Digital ID World conference that will look at "trusted computing," a big part of which is Microsoft's NGSCB (Next-Generation Secure Computing Base) due out in the next version of Windows. Microsoft insists NGSCB is not "DRM on a chip," but critics say digital rights management was the original motivation for the architecture, and that it is designed to increase controls by hardware and software manufacturers and content providers. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently leveled a back-handed criticism of the unobtrusive DRM used in Apple's iPod by quipping the most common format of iPod music is "stolen." In January, DRM will be the subject of its own conference in Berlin.


Saturday, October 23, 2004

Simply Brilliant Concept

Subscribe to broadband at home, get it on the road. ArsTechnica summarizes SBC's new DSL+WiFi promotion:

SBC Communications has launched a promotion offering its DSL customers free WiFi through April, if they sign up for a full year of WiFi service. After April, WiFi access would run US$1.99 per month. The service is offered through its WiFi arm FreedomLink, which operates WiFi hotspots in McDonald's, Barnes and Noble, and UPS Stores. SBC FreedomLink subscribers would also be able to log on at Wayport sites through a partnership with SBC.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Whales Lack Standing To Sue Bush And Rumsfeld

Cetacean Community v. Bush, et al. (PDF), an opinion authored by Ninth Circuit Judge William A. Fletcher and published today, begins as follows:

We are asked to decide whether the world's cetaceans have standing to bring suit in their own name under the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act. We hold that cetaceans do not have standing under these statutes.

According to their counsel, the cetaceans are disturbed about the Navy's use of Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System Low Frequency Active Sonar during wartime or heightened threat conditions, which apparently does no good at all to cetaceans and other sea life. I have not closely read the opinion or listened to the audio (WMA) of the oral argument, but suspect the cetaceans might have had greater success if they had once again persuaded the NRDC to pursue claims on their behalf.

[P.S.] Please note the considerable restraint it took to refrain from heretofore using the phrase "Free Willy" in connection with this post...

Monday, October 18, 2004

Improbable Blog

The folks behind the Ig Nobel Prizes are blogging: Improbable Research: What's New. Stephen Nipper highlights two of this year's Ig Nobel winners — the Combover Patent; the scientific validity of the Five-Second Rule — in this week's IP Memes. It's worth noting that Howard University freshman Jillian Clark, responsible for the landmark research on the safety of dropped food, is the youngest ever Ig Nobel recipient. At this writing, 74% of those participating in CNN's Five-Second Rule poll pick those Cheerios right back up and pop 'em down the hatch.

Not Yet; Finally

No hits yet for "prenatal soccer," but you know it's just a matter of time. Katie Couric tossed the term out this morning while noting the ubiquity of the sport for America's youth (and plugging Brandi Chastain's deliciously titled new book: It's Not About the Bra). This prompted me to wonder for the umpteenth time why we're so keen to teach our kids soccer but not so much an exercise they can do the rest of their lives: yoga. Then later in the same broadcast the Today Show did a segment on My Daddy Is a Pretzel: Yoga for Parents and Kids, so it seems this may be catching on.

Pod Lawed

Just as a film containing unlicensed copyrighted material (e.g., a soundtrack mixed from your favorite tunes) can lead to legal problems, the same is true in the world of podcasting. A discussion sparked by Doc Searls is exploring the differences between downloading audio to play at your leisure (probably on a portable device) and Internet radio (the latter of which is subject to a labyrinthine royalty process and other regulation).

Meanwhile, Adam Curry, John Palfrey, and Derek Slater are wisely paying attention to the copyright ramifications of using recorded music in a podcast. If you're not a Mac/iMovie user you might not be familiar with Freeplay Music, a serviceable resource if you're looking for free background music for "private non-commercial use" — which the site's FAQs define as generally including "using music on a personal Web site" or "content that you produce for friends and family." It's not entirely clear that would include music put in a podcast (probably not if there is any commercial aspect to it), but it's a good start. So is Creative Commons's Search. Soon, you'll be able to add Ourmedia to the list, which at the moment is a worthy cause in search of some forward looking pro bono legal assistance.

Personally, I'm wondering how long before the trademark shoe drops.


Bonus link: don't miss Larry Lessig's comments on Creative Commons recently emailed to Dave Winer:

No author gives up his copyright when putting content under a CC license. A CC license is just permissions given up front. It rests upon a copyright (without the copyright, you couldn't impose the permissions). But the copyright owner holds the copyright, and just says, "here's how you're free to use my work."

Friday, October 15, 2004

Today's New Blawg is "a Web magazine sponsored by the Manhattan Institute that brings together information and opinion on the U.S. litigation system." (Link, and I couldn't help it, a capital "W," added.) It's edited by the astute Walter Olson, and has some whip-smart contributors too. (How about some women on that masthead, fellas?)

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Need It, Need It So Bad

I'm on record in the ABA Journal this month, copping to my utter dependence on Google to help me get things done professionally: In Google We Trust. I suppose I should have clarified that if someone is able to field a worthy competitor, I'm certainly not the closed-minded type. The article is an interesting one, despite my inclusion, for at least two reasons:

  1. It highlights the growing role of the Internet in the judicial decision-making process.
  2. It also quotes Tom Mighell.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Trusted Computing Panel Prep

Below are some of the things I'm looking over in connection with speaking later this month at Digital ID World on the Trusted Computing panel (Oct. 27, 5-6 p.m.), featuring Peter Biddle (MSFT) and Lark Allen (Wave Systems), and moderated by Dan Gillmor:

More? Please chime in.

Supreme Doings

As expected, the MPAA has petitioned for certiorari in the Grokster case. It's worth pointing again to Professor Tim Wu's post on why he thinks cert will be granted, and C.E. Petit's dissenting view.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court announced its refusal to grant the RIAA's petition for cert in the Verizon litigation concerning the ability of ISPs to protect the identities of alleged file swappers.

Monday, October 11, 2004

World's Greatest Want Ad


Steven Levy in Newsweek on Web 2.0 (via JD): "Forget surfing the Web. From now on, we're speeding on cigarette boats." I really enjoyed meeting Steven at the conference, and getting the chance to thank him for being largely responsible (with his book Hackers) for my technophilia.

From The Inbox

I'm still going through the things that piled up (literally and virtually) while I was running around last week. Some worthwhile stops—

  • The Great Sonsini: "Sonsini is 63 years old, and as chairman and chief executive officer of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, he runs the largest, most successful law firm of its kind in the world."
  • Fettered Access, on litigation concerning the Prelinger Archives (here's BoingBoing on same): "The suit argues that recent changes in copyright law produces an extraordinary 'orphan class' of creative work that shrinks the public domain and thus limits free speech."
  • Full Disclosure, on patenting legal work: "Among the patents that have been issued are a method for network-based legal services (#6,366,925), a method for an Internet-based attorney-client billing system (#6,622,128), and a method for providing electronic discovery on computer databases and archives (#6,738,760)."
  • Michael A. Clark on digital voicemail: "[W]hat do we do about the digital VM on Denise's desk-top or laptop? Because, all other things being equal, it is unquestionably discoverable."
  • In addition to letting users easily apply a Creative Commons license, Flickr now lets you browse photos by type of license.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Terra, Firma And Otherwise

I'm back SoCal after an incredible time in San Francisco last week, capped off by watching my ten month old *get* (for the first time) what's happening when an airplane lands. So cool. Some assorted things that caught my eye since I went offline last Friday:

  • Nike's Mp3 Run is no iPod killer, but has some neat features: "Wireless Bluetooth speed-and-distance sensor attaches to your shoe and records time, distance, and pace during your workout. On-demand voice-audio system provides above stats at the press of a button." Could be key for all y'all training hard right now for the NY Marathon.
  • promises to teach you about flower therapy.
  • If the flowers don't fix your mojo, it's time to break out the Money House Blessing air freshener (spotted, goodness knows how, in my 95-year old grandmother's powder room) and the Double Fast Luck Soap.
  • Finally, they don't make you Harvard Business School Dean for nuthin'. Here's Kim Clark from tonight's 60 Minutes story on the current generation of moms, Staying at Home: "[Bussinessmen are] asking the wrong question. The right question is, how do we change to keep this talent active and involved with us?"

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Web 2.0 Pics

Jerry Yang
Jerry Yang

I took a paltry number of mostly crummy photos at Web 2.0, in marked contrast to Derrick Story, who took copious great ones. But I didn't have to lug around all the gear he did ;).

Jerry Yang at Web 2.0

Why does Yahoo! have permission to do anything (mail, calendars, personals, etc.), asks John? "The only good decision we made was calling the company Yahoo!"

Speculations about where Terry Semel might go next, can you address those? "As far as I know Terry's very happy. As far as I know, he's got a lot of Yahoo! stock, which is a good motivator. ... He makes his own decisions, but I know he intends to have a great time at Yahoo!"

Data, in the Yahoo! sense is a very personal thing. "Privacy is a huge issue that I would rank right up there with IP." Yahoo! is able to analyze user preferences and spot trends. "That data is their thing, and if they want to take it somewhere else, I don't think anyone can stop them."

Re forthcoming services: "I don't think we're going to do what Kim is doing because that looks reallly hard. If you do it right, it's really cool." "If we can do a better job by integrating it into Yahoo!, we should do it."

What are you worried about, what are you excited about? Whether you call it Web services or something else, they're spending a lot of time thinking about today's big C word, Convergence. Worries? "The next two guys at Stanford working on their PhDs."

Jeff Jarvis asks whether Yahoo! is too cluttered today for his taste? Yes. "If I got a dollar for every time someone comes to me and says 'I didn't know that...'" Audience memeber: "You do!" As far as the UI, consistency, quality, and knowing what to expect matters. He thinks they're going to begin uncluttering.

Marc Canter asks about open source infrastructure, financial support. "What do you think about the idea of helping the world?" "I like helping the world." But if they don't get the necessary number of page views each night, they don't have a business. Yahoo! are big advocates of open source infrastructure things. On the issue of APIs: Yahoo! is a ten year old company, that has radically transformed itself multiple times. There is an effort to standardize the way we communicate with each other, someday, Yahoo! will open its APIs. On the first point, "giving money away is a lot harder than making it." You have developers all around the world now. He's less worried about the monetary piece than whether they're doing enough to advance developers as a whole.

Esther Dyson asks what he's doing in China re the government (e.g. ban of Google News). Jerry says there's now a tremendous amount of hope and confidence there. As a society, they've started down a path that's a one way street, to feed this economy, they have to give the middle class more support and independence. Yahoo! operates in China and Jerry has concerns about supporting a government promulgating values he may not personally support. Ultimately, he feels that by being there, Yahoo! is helping rather than hurting. If you can influence the new generation of thought leaders now, this cuts below the rhetoric. This is what you've got to invest in, create that dialog now.

Kim Polese at Web 2.0

Innovation is moving to a new layer. She's now running a company, SpikeSource, that makes software the way Ford built cars, the way Dell builds computers. It's a new breed of company, open source IT services. How do you take advantage of all the abundance you see in the open source world? They're building an automated system for assembling software.

Web 3.0 will be when any application you can conceive of can be built using open source components. Goodbye egosystem, hello ecosystem. The humble IT guy will lead us there — The Medici of Software.

Doc Searls is consulting on it, so you know it's gonna be good.

Lessig at Web 2.0

Free Culture came out about six months ago. A Forbes writer called him a moron, idiot, and a buffoon. This was a right to remix without permission that our culture guarantees, and the world of text knows this freedom well. Beyond text, "multi-media" (it's all one now, no more multi) democratized. Music (DJ Danger Mouse), Film (Tarnation), Animation (Hey Ya Charlie Brown, just awesome), political ads footage (My First Love, RLM, omigod! Can't find the link, someone please send it. Thanks Mike, via Jason).

Observation: Lessig could go on Def Poetry Jam in a heartbeat, his delivery is that artful and rhythmic.

Text heads (people who think of the world as text) are oblivious to the problem. Jack Valenti, on the other hand, sees this as a terrorist war, where many of the terrorists apparently are children. You do it with Shakespeare, it's creative writing. You do it with a George Lucas film, that's theft. Free culture becomes a lawyer's culture. Louis Daguerre, in 1839, produced the Daguerrotype. Later, Eastman was conceiving technology for Kodak. If the (D)aguerre (M)achine (C)ontrol (A)ct had required you to obtain permission before taking someone's picture, the world would be a drastically different place today.

Be sure to listen to this one (and Jason's right next to me on the right, some of those cackles you hear are yours truly). Standing ovation, Lessig Rocks!

Ding Dong INDUCE Is Dead?

John just made an announcement to that effect. [Update: he clarified shortly after that vigilance is necessary as long as Orrin Hatch draws breath.] I have the feeling Professor Lessig will have something to say about that in a moment, as Ernie Miller did last night: "[T]his is only a postponement. Expect the INDUCE Act to rear its ugly head once again, either during the lame duck session or next term."

The Information Legacy

Elliot Noss from Web 2.0 on Brewster Kahle: "the internet archive is such goodness." Click through to Elliot's post for Brewster's magic quote.

Web 2.0, Media Panel

Good coverage of IP, DRM, and all kinds of juicy issues, listen to the whole thing.

Martin Nisenholtz: "Journalism is largely about storytelling, and if it's going to touch you, it's going to do it based on emotion." But no matter how compelling a story, "We [the NY Times] have a massive UI problem. ... We want to expose this stuff by having the Web [i.e. bloggers] expose it. I don't think we can solve this UI problem on our own, the UI is the Web." Shelby Bonnie agrees, and wants to do more internally at CNET to break down the barriers between big journalism and the blogosphere. Martin and John debated whether bloggers report "news:" can you attend and participate in a school board meeting and "cover" it in a traditional journalistic sense? John's point: traditionally, editors had the role of ensuring the validity of the reporting, now (as Dan Gillmor has written) it's the readers.

Steve Gillmor asked about the implications of podcasting for their business models. Shelby: RSS is one of the great blessings of the last couple of years. Interestingly, in all the ensuing discussion no one on this panel mentioned seeing diverse/distributed/independent content creation as a threat.

Cory asked about TiVo and Replay. TiVo cooperated with Hollywood, while Replay got sued out of existence. Recently the studios tried (unsuccessfully) to block TiVo-to-Go. "You spent years playing ball with the studios and they still are dicking you over." Mike Ramsay sees the company as more on the consumer advocacy side, but sees working with Hollywood as just part of reality. Cory: "No one ever successfully gave the studios a say in their future." Mike had to disagree.

Sometimes It's What They Don't Say

Peter Norvig demo'd an upcoming feature from Google at Web 2.0 that will allow you to see clusters of search results related to specific search terms. The concept is you put in, for example, someone's name, and you get a list of related links that help you focus the search based on the fact the terms you searched for are frequently associated with other terms. So when you try "George Bush", you get search clusters including "dubya," "jenna," "gaffe," and "idiot" (among others). "John Kerry" produces his own long list — but no "idiot."

Commuters, Rejoice!

Adam Curry's directory for where to get yer podcasts (automatically transferable to your little white-n-silver pal using iPodder).

Good Morning San Francisco (Web 2.0, Day 3)

Jason blogged (and podcast) Cory.

Mitch Kapor: "If Thomas Paine were writing Common Sense today, he'd be doing it on a Linux laptop."

New reads:

Speaking Of Spending Eye-Popping Amounts On Enterprise Software

Dennis Kennedy has a great rant on this as to the legal industry over at The Blawg Channel: "[F]axes!! It's almost 2005!"

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Day 2.0, Web 2.0

My only recently de-melted TiBook has been wheezing and coughing all day, so between that and frequent visits with Master Tyler (we're working on getting him a tiny lanyard and badge) my ability to blog today in any detail went out the window — and hopefully smited several of the incredibly loud, obnoxious, and decidedly baby nap-hating hotel strikers below. No worries, Jason Calcanis and Sean Bonner are doing a super job over at the Weblogs, Inc. Web 2.0 Blog, complete with a flurry of MP3s from the sessions. Podcasting is getting a lot of buzz here. (Recursion excursion: when enough people link a word to its Google results, does Google eventually list its own search in the results? Just wonderin'.) Scott Rosenberg has good coverage and commentary from yesterday, including this on making sure your slides are stripped of confidentiality labels before flashing them at a conference (!). And Jeff is just a machine, Buzz or otherwise.

From my analog notepad:

  • Dave Sifry mentioned the following direct correlation: the more people that link to a site, the more likely the site is to have a syndication feed.
  • DJ Danger Mouse (The Grey Album) stole the show on the music panel. Cory and JD asked good questions about whether today's musicians will be dissuaded by the copyright structure from sampling. Short answer: man, no way. (Looks like things are going to be more than a little busy in all jurisdictions that decide to follow the Sixth Circuit.)
  • The search panel covered tons of ground, but talked a good deal about doing creative things with the UI. Udi Manber had this great spiel that sounded like it had tripped off his tongue one or two times before, concerning Google's insistence on the clean and simple: "Google succeeded in reducing the cacophony to a single clear note. It might now be time for chamber music, and eventually perhaps a symphony."
  • John Battelle, in his conversation with Mark Benioff, copped to The Industry Standard spending some $6 million on enterprise software back in the day. But he went on to note it was far from a lightweight business model. Now he's involved with BoingBoing, which has twice the readership The Standard had — and four people. "Now that's a lightweight business model."

[P.S.] On reflection, it's probably misleading to characterize BoingBoing as having only a four person "staff." As the direct result of how much people love and trust the site, some of the work is distributed to the hundreds (or more?) who submit links they deem Boing-worthy.

Today's New Blawg

Nomination Nation turns the microcontent microscope on the judicial nomination and confirmation process. Another illustration of the niche so readily filled by weblogs: this topic has a high wonk factor, a small but passionate following who recognize the importance of getting and keeping good people in the judicial branch, and the political cyclones that surround that process. A group of knowledgeable bloggers can quickly become a, if not the, definitive source for information in this kind of area. Let's hope they do. NN's "Senator Spectator" reminds me that things should really heat up for them, as far as interesting related events, around and after the elections.

Mood Lighting

From Andy Smith (via the offical Conference Coverage page), pics from last night's Google Lounge. Also, Lobby Crashing Web 2.0; LobbyCon.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


It's tough to blog at dinner (unless maybe you're at the EFF table at Digital ID World), but Mark Cuban tonight at Web 2.0 was his usual razor sharp self. Some highlights:

  • Mark was saying that if he learned one thing in the NBA, it's that a general manager's job is to keep his job. It's a good life, who would want to give it up? So if something goes awry, there's always Shaq to blame. Piracy is Hollywood's Shaq.
  • Cuban is backing search engine IceRocket (no "r"), and he made the point that often, you don't actually care about getting the "most relevant" search result. If you're familiar with the subject matter, you already know the most relevant related site. What you want to know is what's new. Here's the IceRocket blog. He also suggested searching your name in IceRocket Images. You might be surprised what comes up.
  • "CNBC has turned into QVC for stocks." Chortles all around.
  • When asked for a Rorschach test response re David Stern: "Nice guy. Too much of a lawyer."
  • Cory Doctorow, in a question from the audience premised on how high definition displays are more pervasive than most would think: "TVs are just like dumb laptops that are hard to carry around."
  • Cuban, on the slower penetration of broadband in the US vs. elsewhere — it's politics: "Had there not been a DMCA, there probably would have been alot more bandwidth coming into the home."

The Price You Pay

John Battelle (after Jeff Bezos, Bill Gross): "I really want to be blogging right now."

Aggregation Hits

Feedster's Web 2.0 aggregator.

Saw Rojo demo'd this afternoon. Aggregator+social software — more interesting than it might sound. Hoping to try it out in beta.

Wired, The Long Tail

Wired's Chris Anderson has a thought-provoking article in the current issue (that now is available online): The Long Tail. Though it uses the entertainment industry as its model, and doesn't say anything all that new, I'm hard pressed to think of an area where roughly the same principles do not now apply. The article crystallizes a great deal. And, it contains this heart warming parenthetical: "This is one of those rare moments where the world needs more lawyers, not fewer." Go read.

Web 2.0 Workshops, Enterprise Social Software

From the Web 2.0 attendee wiki:

This workshop will provide an introduction to the best features of "wikis" and "weblogs" and how to bring them inside your enterprise to create a collaboration and knowledge tool that works the way people do. Traditional groupware and knowledge management tools use top-down constraints: pre-defined roles, workflows, and categories. Socialtext takes a bottom-up approach to collaborating and empowers people to develop their own solutions. With Socialtext, people form groups flexibly, and build lightweight structure on the fly, as part of getting their job done -- without needing design or coding skills. Michael Pusateri will share his experience deploying bottom-up IT within Disney, including Socialtext, Moveable Type and Newsgator. This ecosystem of simple tools based on open standards is not only cost-effective, but may change the way we think about enterprise IT.

Ross Mayfield (SocialText) and Michael Pusateri (Disney) are discussing using SocialText (and blogs and wikis in general) in business. Michael works for the television/ABC arm of Disney, and they're using SocialText. He has a great point: how do you get users to accept the new methodologies? Simple. Don't tell them. Don't make a big deal about trying some revolutionary new tool. Just train them and let them discover things like why email doesn't make a great file system, but a weblog is another story. They're also using Newsgator with Outlook to help people aggregate and survey what's going on on all the Disney weblogs. Told the users: "We're going to put some stuff into Outlook so you don't have to go check the Web pages anymore. Response: cool! No discussion needed about the joys/promise of RSS, etc. Finally, they're using the wiki part of SocialText, and putting the "recent changes" RSS feed in the aggregator. Let's people see if there's anything new on the wiki they need to be checking out

Why do this? 1) It's orders of magnitude cheaper than other alternatives. 2) You can hack at this stuff, it's eminently tweakable to fit your needs. Their wishlist includes RSS aggregation in Exchange, remote administration. There also needs to be more RSS/Atom code like Rome APIs, and authentication and authorization standards for RSS that makes it easy to specify user permissions, who sees what.

Ross: you get a sense of the kind of workflow that this combination of tools permits. Ross demonstrates user control of information flow. The things that are being pushed and rammed down peoples throats are the the things that wind up costing way too much time. Shows the ease of setting up a new project blog, which automatically starts generating an RSS feed (they're also supporting Atom, not just feeds but the API). To create a new workspace using SocialText, all you need to do is give it a name, and suddenly it's there. Then you just invite people in. An email with login information gets sent. Rapid, easy group forming, almost as easy as using the cc line on an email. What did we have before? "groupware, "collaboration." SocialText's philosophy is the Web as a laboratory, watch how things work on the 'Net to see how they scale. What's beautiful with Wikipedia is you have strangers trusting each other, toward a common good. Lots of people have been using the Internet socially for a long time. What the early users have given birth to are open source, blogging, disruption of the media industry and publishing. All this is way too high level and has nothing to do with the enterprise, except this: the motives for participation are much the same.

Ross discusses portals and the problems of a top-down approach. Portals aren't updated enough because they're not group editable. Shows example of client Informative and the categories they've set up for their own use. Talks about how one user posting an answer to a problem can, across boundaries of time and geography in the organizataion, provide the answer to a different issue the poster didn't think of. Wiki pages document the process. There's no barrier to getting work done (unlike a document management system, where you have to check in and check out a document).

So what you have is a great, living site that never gets out of date and documents everything.

Change of behavior: once people are there, everyone knows how to navigate a Web site, that's easy. But how do you get people to contribute? One way is to give them options, like contributing by email. Each space has its own email address. You can also do fantastic things by assigning a tiny bit of metadata to any post. You can cross-post to multiple locations. If you post by email, making an existing category the subject line, the send goes to the right place and becomes the next entry on the wiki. Ross is now on a gaming site client's space, 1up. People are adding metadata and structure without even knowing it yet. The group used to have 100 emails per day, occupational spam. How do you get people to change that behavior? First, invite people to route information through the work space. It's moving from a point-to-point architecture to a hub and spoke architecture, like the airlines use. There are some things that each individual is going to subscribe to. Occupational spam happens for two reasons: people want to cover their ass, and people want to be informed. SocialText solves both problems, and eliminates the occupational spam.

Import/export to Word is in the works. (Imagine drafting/editing a legal brief on a Wiki, exporting the finished product to Word, and having it actually look right...)

Strong user community developing among the SocialText clients, including Best Practices info bank.

Photowiki is in beta right now. Lets you upload any photo. Click "add a note." and you can assign metadata to the image in a very specific place. Puts notes on the photo that are stores as part of the .jpg. There's lots of this experimental, weird stuff on the SocialText Customer Exchange.

SocialText could, in a heartbeat, support Audblog, Podcasting. Disney's RSS aggregator uses enclosures to distribute video. The simple plug-in architecture of these open interfaces lets people mix tools in interesting ways. Users in reality straddle tools. Users use the tools of their own choice. If IT doesn't provide it, users will go out and get a hosted service, then push for adoption by their company. Ross discusses Pierre Omidyar, who started off as a user, became an investor. He started a group, invited 3 people in, started to have a little bit of a conversation about the future of the company. Started getting angry emails, "why aren't you letting me in?" That's when he knew he had them hooked."

You see this happening all the time with blogs. Users gravitate to the software because it's effective and cheap to free. Let's them get the job at hand done without jumping through hoops.

We're not doing as good a job as we could at making this as easy as possible. Should you have to learn wiki punctuation? There's now a wysiwyg interface that inserts the wiki punctuation, you use it enough, it teaches you the punctuation. (reminds me of "reveal codes" in WP). Mike says the wiki punctuation has been tough for Disney's users to learn, the wysiwyg editor has helped considerably.

Ross has never had a customer say, I want RSS/Atom/fill in the blank. But support of all these standards winds up improving the customer experience overall.

Last question is about permissioning: it's on a per-space basis, not on a per-page basis. Thus, everyone in a workspace can see the whole thing. But not everyone can see every space. Mike comments that nteresting things happen when you can see what other groups are doing. "There's no more dirty laundry, it's just laundry."

Web 2.0 Workshops, Lightweight Business Models

I got to this session just in time to catch Marc Canter. [Update: Marc's slides.] A few notes:

Open infrastructure makes this a really exciting period of time. Paradigm shift. It's about the end-user experience, not about how much money you're going to make. Get that right. It works in reverse to the way you're used to.

Users bring technology into the enterprise through the back door, around the IT department. This happened with the laser printer. The old framework still exists (e.g., Apple v. Microsoft), but it's getting pretty boring

Come flog me, says Marc, I made one of those closed standards. Open standards make these small modules coming together work.

Part 1: blogging. Conversation, keeps the memes moving around.

Part 2: namespaces. Create lots of them and you can get around the techno/religious battles and you wind up with all kinds of new microcontent. The power of open standards means no one company controls it. You build some internal consensus, the aggregator vendors start to support it, as it catches on the VCs come into fund it, on we go. This is what's happening now with RSS and blogs, but there's no need for it to stop there.

Part 3: people. Let's get "people" right, and things will flow from there. FOAF includes a shared digital id wrapper that translates across platforms. FOAFnet is the antithesis of "customer lock in." Peoples' data moves with them, no need to enter the damn list of names (or other unique personal data) with each new tool. Sxip is doing this. We're going to give away the infrastructure, open source digital identity. Will gateway via PingID into enterprise digital id standards. Creates interconnected digital id. A person's digital life is scattered all over the Web, when you have a user experience that moves fluidly through the network you have a digital lifestyle aggregator, but you can call it what you want.

Part 4: ourmedia. Shared open source image albums, jukeboxes, and directories. Giant registry of licensed, usable content at your disposal. Includes the means for artists to take works out of Creative Commons licensing and re-trigger the standard copyright scheme. Called retraction. Designed to protect artists and ensure they're not disadvantaged by making works more publicly usable for as long as this is advantageous.

Part 5: OpenReviews. ePinions, Amazon reviews are the antithesis of Marc's model. OpenReviews aren't locked in a data silo. The idea is to provide a very thin layer of infrastructure that apps can be built on.

Put 'em all together, and you've got new kinds of microcontent that will drive the industry so much further.

Marc asks Steven Levy what he thinks; Steven says it sounds cool.

Flickr right now is having a viral effect because it's a viral experience. People will pay for that.

What's ahead: two business models, meeting in the middle. AOL and Yahoo! will become digital lifestyle aggregators, and the small fry will be better able to compete with them.

Listings: scraping listings (e.g. Craigslist), but with credit. The brand/meme is spread. No transaction fee, except on the way in. Gets the marketing.

I asked a question about the "retraction" point Marc raised, wondering if this would require a change in the Creative Commons licensing scheme. No, what Marc has in mind is the same scenario as exists now, licensed works remain licensed, but an artist retains flexibility about how to treat new works.

What's in it for Amazon, Craigslist, etc. to unwall the garden, why aren't the investment communities into this? Steven Levy wonders why reviews are so important, doesn't think there's a gap in his life concerning restaurant information. Regarding the altruism point, let's have a conference called Web 1.0 and go from there. Regarding reviews, it's fragmented, there's no central resource that gets you to the fine grained information you need.

Social networking:, idea is thousands of small social networks that interconnect. Sounds good to me, this is why blogging works as social networking software without additional infrastructure.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Conference By The Bay

Traveling today to Web 2.0.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

No Orginary Justice

How Appealing has the lowdown. Sadly, Thankfully, [I can't decide] Ninomania does not supplement with photos.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Imagine The Filing Frenzy If It Were

Push Polling

C|Net, on Gnomedex: "[M]ore than 20 popular Web loggers plan to assemble at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, to fire off perspectives in real time during the debate."

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