Tina Fey blogs 30 Rock!

Post ImageI really like Tina Fey – I think she’s incredibly smart and obviously very funny. I didn’t watch 30 Rock last night, but I am hoping to catch it soon, because it looks like it will be a pretty good show (and I like Alec Baldwin too). I went to the website to see what time it airs, and I realized that Tina Fey has a live blog:

After tonight’s east coast premiere, sign on here for the live blog Q&A.

Hi, this is Tina Fey. I’m in New York at a little party we’re having for our cast and crew. We’re eating chicken wings and getting ready to watch the show and I hope you’re doing the same. Especially the chicken wings part.

I’ll be back after the show to answer your questions. Feel free to chat amongst yourselves while you watch.

And chat amongst themselves they did! That post has over 1100 comments on it! By the end of the evening, Tina had made over 20 posts talking about 30 Rock, SNL, and her movie writing career.

I think this blog is an incredibly smart thing for NBC to do. In a way, it is like a return to the golden days of television, where everyone would watch the same show and then chat about it the next day at the watercooler. Now obviously not everyone is watching 30 Rock, but the blog brings back that conversational aspect to watcing television. And I realize there are popular TV show forums and things online, but they are created by fans, not by the producers and creators like this blog is! It’s television conversation on a whole new level.

Very cool, and I hope they keep it up.

Read: 30 Rock Blog

b5media funded – congrats Jeremy!

Post ImageThe news broke on Wednesday that Toronto-based b5media, a blogging/media network started by Jeremy Wright, had landed $2 million USD from Brightspark Ventures and J. L. Albright Venture Partners. b5media describes itself as “a gobal new media network” with over 150 blogs on a variety of topics. Today, National Post reporter Mark Evans announced that he is leaving mainstream media to join b5media as VP of Operations. I wish Mark the best of luck, though I don’t think he’ll need it – I think he made the right decision.

I have known Jeremy for a while now, and I’m a long time reader of his blog. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him a few times (such as at Northern Voice) and he has always struck me as an intelligent, fairly down-to-earth kind of guy. That’s not to say he’s completely grounded though – you might remember that Jeremy was the first blogger to auction his services off on eBay. There’s a lesson there though – Jeremy is an innovator, and he really understands blogging. I know he’ll do great things with b5media.

I am not sure what b5media plans to use the money for, but maybe they can purchase a laptop or two for Jeremy? That guy has the worst luck with portable computers.

I’m really glad that Jeremy has become successful with b5media. He’s had his fair share of tough times in the past. Congratulations Jeremy!

Read: b5media

Has TechCrunch lost its edge?

Post ImageI’ve been subscribed TechCrunch for quite a long time, and I rather enjoy reading about the various companies and technologies they profile. Lately though, I’ve noticed that TechCrunch seems to be reporting on “big company” or “big media” things far more than the little stuff. A good example of this is what happened today. I opened up my aggregator for the first time today, and there were five posts in the TechCrunch feed:

  • Live.com and Yahoo! bulk up for local search brawl
  • Zune Unveiling Tomorrow
  • NBC to put new primetime shows online for free
  • Major Google/Intuit Partnership
  • Skype Video For Macs Launches Today

See what I mean? These look like headlines from CNET News.com, not TechCrunch! Now don’t get me wrong, these are all very interesting posts, and TechCrunch always has some inside information or extra analysis which is worthwhile, but they didn’t get to 113,000 subscribers by covering the big guys. They got there by finding and sharing the smaller companies and products that no one else could find.

Which begs the question – is TechCrunch becoming more like a mainstream business news site? Can we expect more of the “big company” type posts? Has TechCrunch lost its edge?

Blog Control Update

Just a quick note to mention that I changed the “enter the code you see” control (known as a CAPTCHA or HIP control) found on the comment form for my blog. Instead of letters, numbers, and a bunch of random characters, all you have to enter now is a three-digit number. Should work more reliably I hope.

The same change has been made on the Paramagus Blog, my Dad’s blog, and all of the Blogosphere blogs. If you encounter any problems, please let me know.

In case you’re wondering, the control I am using now was created by Timothy Humphrey for Community Server. It appears to work fine in CS 1.1, CS 2.0, and the old .Text 0.95!

BlogosphereRadio Archives

Post ImageLong time readers of my blog will know that BlogosphereRadio was my first foray into podcasting, created way back in September of 2004. In my initial post about the site, I said it would probably always be a work in progress. I guess that was sort of correct – the site has been dormant since roughly March 2005. The idea has lived on though, as BlogosphereRadio was definitely the inspiration for Podcast Spot (at least in the beginning).

I have been doing some cleanup work on some our servers lately, and I realized that I hadn’t touched BlogosphereRadio in a very long time. Things were broken, etc, so I made some changes. The forums are now unavailable, and the “play” links don’t work. I fixed the download links however, so you can now download any of the shows in both WMA and MP3 format. I also stuck a little “dormant” message at the top of most of the pages.

I can’t see a revival of BlogosphereRadio being likely, but never say never. My intent for now is to leave the site up for archival purposes and nothing more. I won’t be adding to it, so don’t bother subscribing to the feeds.

If this is the first time you’ve heard of BlogosphereRadio, download my favorite episode.

Podcasting is not more popular than blogging

Post ImageI want podcasting to be as popular as anyone else does (hey, my business depends on it) but at the same time, I am not naive enough to think that podcasting is more popular than blogging. That’s precisely how Podcasting News interpreted some recent Nielsen/NetRatings data however:

Nielsen//NetRatings announced today that 6.6 percent of the U.S. adult online population, or 9.2 million Web users, have recently downloaded an audio podcast. 4.0 percent, or 5.6 million Web users, have recently downloaded a video podcast. These figures put the podcasting population on a par with those who publish blogs, 4.8 percent, and online daters, 3.9 percent.

The key word there is “publish” – not people who have read a blog, but people who actually create one. You can’t compare listeners for podcasting to creators for blogs and call it a fair comparison! When the number of people creating podcasts gets to be the same as for blogs, there might be a story.

You’ve really got to think about what you’re reading these days.

Read: Podcasting News

Podcasting or Text?

Post Image“Why listen to a podcast when you can get ten times the content when you read?” That’s the question Peter Davis recently asked, and I’d like to attempt to answer it. Scoble chimed in with his response, essentially saying with communication, you should use the right tool for the job. Maybe that’s text, but in other cases, it might be audio or video.

Here’s why I think you should listen to or watch a podcast, even if you can get ten times the content when you read:

  • The Right Tool For The Job
    Like Scoble, I think that sometimes audio or video is better suited to the job than text. I’ll just cite his example too – I’d much rather watch a short video about Halo 3 than read an essay on it. It really depends on what you’re trying to communicate.
  • Mobility
    Can you read an email or the newspaper while you’re driving your car? I certainly can’t. But I can listen to a podcast. Do you carry all your books and magazines with you everywhere? Probably not, but I’ll bet you carry an MP3 player! There are a lot of scenarios where podcasting on the go works and text simply doesn’t.
  • Show Some Emotion!
    Try to write a really emotional blog post. Or a post that is sarcastic. It’s not as easy as you’d like to believe! Most times, your emotion or sarcasm will be misinterpreted. Audio and video allow you to convey emotion, sarcasm, and other things using tone of voice and body language. Sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it.
  • Ease of Creation
    You’re probably thinking I’m nuts, saying that it’s easier to create a podcast than write a blog post, but in some cases it’s true. The tools to create a podcast will soon be as easy to use as blogging tools, and when that happens, the creation time really depends simply on the content. Most people can talk a heck of a lot faster than they can type, and with regards to video, a picture really is worth a thousand words! Sometimes it might be easier to get your message across in a podcast. Heck, I should be podcasting this post!
  • Multitasking!
    I’ve always got some sort of background noise going on, as it helps me concentrate. Sometimes I just block it out, while other times I’ll sort of half listen and if I hear something interesting, I’ll pay attention. The idea here is that I can play a podcast in the background and continue working, and if something being said catches my interest, I might pay a little more attention. Can’t do that with text. I’ve called this multitasking, but you can think of it as passive podcasting consumption!

Don’t be fooled by the comments on Peter’s post and elsewhere – this discussion is about more than just those who listen in the car and those who don’t. Podcasting is an extremely viable communications technology, for a wide variety of scenarios.

To be clear, I’m not saying one should always use podcasting. The most important of the reasons above is to use the right tool for the job. Developers are told this all the time – use the right programming language for the task at hand! Same holds true with communication. If you can communicate something better using text, go for it. If some sound or a short video is better, maybe podcasting will work for you.

Peter is correct in stating that podcasting is not as efficient at delivering information as text is. However, if you consider the amount of overlap that exists in text (look at Google News for a news story, or the hundreds of blog posts on a given topic) it might start to even out. At least for the time being, podcasting does not suffer from the same “echo chamber” as text does.

Now hopefully I’ve offered some good reasons for why you might use podcasting over text. There are many more reasons that podcasting is great, but they go beyond a comparison with text, so I’ll save them for another post. There’s still a long way to go to make podcasting incredibly useful, but it definitely has some inherent properties that make it pretty attractive.

Read: Peter Davis

Scoble is leaving Microsoft!

Post ImageNews is flying fast and furious that the blogosphere’s most famous blogger has decided to leave Microsoft to be a videoblogger at PodTech.net. I’m really quite shocked at the news, and as Chris Pirillo notes, most of the blogosphere won’t even find out until Monday! Scoble himself is yet to post any extensive commentary on the move, save for this:

This is a rapidly-evolving part of my life. I just made this decision and it got out before I was completely ready to talk about it. I invite you to meet with me at the VLoggerCon tomorrow evening at 3 to 6 p.m. in San Francisco where we’ll talk about it further (and I’ll post again tomorrow about what’s going on in my life and why I made this decision).

I wish him the best of luck, but man, what a blow to Microsoft. Or a huge mistake on their part if they didn’t try hard to keep him. Some might argue that Scoble has single-handedly made Microsoft a “nicer” company in the last couple years. He is the reason they have adopted technologies like RSS, and his Channel9 initiative has been amazing at kickstarting the trend at Microsoft to open up to the community. Scoble is not the kind of employee you can replace.

Here’s a bunch of notable “first mover” posts on the news:

I am looking forward to Robert’s post on this. There must be something truly special about PodTech for him to leave what he liked to call “the best job in the tech world.”

You might think that a blogger leaving his current job for a new one isn’t news, but I think you’re dead wrong if you hold on to that belief. Scoble leaving Microsoft is huge, and I don’t think we’ll truly understand the effects of this for quite some time.

UPDATE: Robert has posted about his decision. There’s also an excellent Reuters article on the story. Isn’t that crazy? A blogger switching jobs makes Reuters. Told you this was big news!

Unmesh

Post ImageNow that Mesh is over, I’ll need to begin reviewing the things I heard discussed, the things I learned, and the different perspectives on things I already knew. Conferences like this one always give me so much to consider – I never leave empty handed or bored.

As I mentioned previously, the conference wasn’t quite what I was expecting. It was far less geeky than I had anticipated. Even the two “15 Minutes of Fame” sessions were not demos, but rather introductions or high level overviews. Things like Ajax or Javascript or Ruby on Rails were rarely mentioned, and even then only in passing. More people had paper notepads and pens than laptops for taking notes (there were still a lot of laptops, don’t get me wrong). All in all, the audience seemed much more “business-like”.

I think this conference was good for me. I got some interesting perspective on “Web 2.0”, and I met some very intriguing people. I also think the conference is good for Canada, we need events like Mesh to remind us of the talent and opportunity that we have – we don’t need to go to Silicon Valley. At the same time, Mesh reminds us of the areas that we could and should be doing much better.

Thanks to Stuart, Mark, and the entire organizing and planning team for putting on a superb conference! I look forward to next year’s Mesh (and yes I think there can be one, even if we no longer talk about “Web 2.0”, because the discussions held over the last two days are still relevant).

Is Web 2.0 Changing the Software Industry?

Post ImageThe last session of the day that I am attending is with Mike McDerment, Chris Messina, Matt Mullenweg, and Stowe Boyd, who will be discussing whether or not they thing Web 2.0 is changing the software industry. Here are my notes (my comments in italics):

  • Matt describes a web service as a web page meant for a computer.
  • Mike is confusing web services and web applications maybe? What Mike means is a service like Basecamp, where users pay a monthly fee to use the service.
  • Stowe likes the term/phrase, “the freemium model”, where base capabilites are free and you turn on a for fee model after some limit is hit. I like the phrase too, and the business model. It’s a natural way that people get hooked and then like a service so much they’ll pay.
  • Matt points out that a nice thing about these services is that you don’t have to worry about security, or upgrades, or any of that sort of thing.
  • The significance of consuming apps online instead of in a shrinkwrapped way, is huge, according to Stowe. Products will get much better, much more quickly. It’s like the difference between American Airlines and JetBlue.
  • Matt thinks the unsexy name for freemium is shareware, and it’s been around for a while. The difference now is that we have broadband.
  • Chris thinks wifi is also a huge change, and that we have laptops everywhere.
  • In three years, Stowe thinks the software landscape will look increasingly web-based. People will have connectivity all the time, on increasingly more capable mobile devices.
  • What Chris wants to see is interfaces and interactions with software that translates into something real.
  • People are the center of the universe, not data, not information. Stowe thinks the buddy list is the most important metaphor for the future. He says RSS aggregators follow the wrong model, we don’t need bits of information coming through a pipe, but instead we want to know what Chris has written lately, for example.
  • Good question from the audience about innovation exhaustion, what happens after the 38th signal? How do these web apps become useful for real people?
  • Stowe: another trend, small companies.
  • If you can make things intuitive, you wont have as many people bug you, says Matt.
  • Chis says microformats is an area he’s been doing a lot of work right now.
  • Matt says at the end of the day, formats and standards don’t matter. He says they should arise afterward as codifications of market trends. All of the great standards were not written first, but followed an existing market trend.
  • Stowe says we don’t need a replacement for Office on the web.
  • Stowe thinks apps with the social stuff built in will be the most successful Web 2.0 apps.
  • The “social architecture approach”, look at the social stuff during design.

Very interesting session, lots to think about after this one.