Friday, April 27, 2007
Thursday, April 26, 2007
YouTube debuted a bunch of new features Wed night (we tend to do major pushes every few weeks as anyone who tracks the site closely can observe). Included in yesterday’s release is Active Sharing, a fun opt-in thing that allows you to publish what you’re watching in real time and let others watch those videos too.
Active Sharing is the type of feature that makes YouTube special because it continues to evolve the community viewing experience. And it’s one:many – even if a small number opt in to be followed, anyone can follow them without needing to log in or expose their viewing preferences.
I hope we do a lot more Active Sharing-type features this year reinforcing the network effects within our community. In 2006 the YouTube team essentially helped create the checklist of basic features users expect to see in an online video experience. And while we continue to strengthen that core set, new “wows” are important. Especially when the “wow” is dependent upon and enabled by having a really big enthusiastic community because then it’s harder for other sites to mimic successfully.
My journalist friends consider writing and editing to be different skills and very distinct parts of the creation process. Sure a writer looks over their own materials and changes words, cut extraneous sentences and re-crafts passages which just don’t feel right, but turning it over to an editor is a specific moment. The creation has reached a certain point and it’s now ready to be put in the hands of someone who will read it with a neutral mindset, a dispassionate glance and an eye towards the audience. The editor doesn’t try to make the writing fit her worldview, just focuses the author’s words and make sure it works within the context of the magazine, newspaper, book, etc where it’s being published.
I don’t know enough people in either profession to estimate how many people could do both jobs, or whether editors make good writers but not vice-versa. I also don’t know whether one group thinks they are superior to the other or they just live amiably side by side.
But I think the writing vs editing distinction is metaphorical and applies to my world.
Product managers start out as writers and the best ones develop strong editor skills although they’re the type of editors who assign story ideas in addition to scrub copy.
Managers are editors but sometimes you get one who thinks they’re still a writer. You know when you send a document to someone for a review and they completely redo it to reflect their point of view? That’s writing, not editing.
But sometimes when you’re asked to be an editor, it’s helpful to indulge in writer roleplay. When asked to review a presentation I don’t start by thumbing through the slides and giving notes on each one. I look at the topic and then write my own outline of what I’d cover and how I’d order it. Then I provide feedback not only on the contents of the current presentation but what might be missing (but not necessarily their hypothesis – I can disagree with portions of someone’s presentation and still help them make it better). By answering the question of “how would this look if I did it,” I’m able to go beyond wordsmithing. And I learn about myself too because the gaps between what I would have done and what actually is in the document teaches me something.
Many venture capitalists I know are proud and talented editors. One told me that I wouldn’t be a good VC because I still want to be a writer and the writer-editor VC (aka player/coach) is largely a myth.
The best professors I’ve had are editors.
The editors I admire used to be writers and can still write the hell out of something when they need to.
My mother is an editor. My father is a writer. I think it’s reasonable to generalize that writing is a male dominant trait and editing a female one.
I used to be a very good writer and an average editor. I’m now an increasingly good editor but sometimes I just want to write. And I get nervous that if I don’t write frequently, I’ll lose the skill.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Even though they note that this doesn't necessarily mean that 80% will be using Second Life (proper noun), this is a pretty big statement. Hyperbole? Not with products like GAIA Online and Club Penguin growing at a rapid rate.
There's also a little bit of ego here in seeing 'second life' as a way to describe people's identities in virtual worlds. I coined the name at Linden Lab and it's exciting to watch people adopt.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
This month her My Humps tribute burned up YouTube. The LA Times has a nice piece about what these types of releases mean for the artist and YouTube. Some excerpts:
Morissette's video is armed with a provocative subtext that has people abuzz with debate. It's a fascinating piece of video art, an inspired combination of satire, social criticism and career reinvention that is a signature artifact of today's viral Web culture....
This is what gives YouTube its real power. It is a forum not just for amateur pranks but also for career reinvention. For Morissette, this video — made at her home on digital video for roughly $2,000 — may transform her persona as much as taking a part in "Pulp Fiction" did for John Travolta.....
Universal Studios isn't going to disappear anytime soon. Nor, sadly, will Fergie and her humps. But the era of video activism is here to stay. Whether you're a political activist or a singer eager to try your hand at social comment, the pop culture playing field has never been more open to ideas than it is today.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
The Dan Band: Best known for their appearance in Old School (the profane wedding band), I caught them on tour in February. Heard about the gig via a local email list, invited several friends via email (and sent them some video clips from web) and bought tickets online.
Did technology increase value?: Marginally. If not for the web I still would have heard about the show via the weekly local arts paper. Email and online video helped me spread the word but not beyond a circle of friends I would have invited anyway.
Did technology shift value?: Somewhat. Pretty traditional overall - heard about a concert, had originally seen the performer in a major film. $ still accrued to the venue, the band and the ticket sales agent. The only perceptible shift is that ~10-12 years ago i very much relied upon the local free weeklies to keep me up to date on new concerts, now most of that is available online.
Jimmy Buffett: Yes, it's true, I'm a Parrothead and this means seeing Jimmy at least once each tour. So we purchased tickets to an upcoming show and will start limbering up for our "fins left, fins right" workout. Buffett is a classic 2.0 performer - he has built a direct relationship with his fans, gives away product free (streams all his concerts live online) and has expanded to all sorts of media and products in an almost comical manner (frozen dinners?).
Did technology increase value?: 5,000 words could be written on Buffett's use of technology but let's focus on just this transaction. I keep abreast of info at fansite BuffettNews and bought the tickets on the StubHub secondary market. The reseller made ~10% over face -- incremental dollars that the artist won't see.
Did technology shift value?: Incrementally in this transaction. Here I passed some money to an aggregator reseller instead of an ordinary scalper. Buffett's connection to his fans pre-dates the Internet -- i used to receive his paper newsletter "The Coconut Telegraph" when i was in undergrad.
Ghostface Killah: Read very enthusiastic review of his last album in Rolling Stone magazine. Happened across a song on Last.fm. Purchased album via Amazon. Decided to get a second album. Read wikipedia entry and selected another CD from Amazon.
Did technology increase value?: Mostly in the commerce area - Amazon provides me great convenience in purchasing. The Last.fm and Wikipedia experiences were helpful accelerators of my transaction but not necessarily influential on their own.
Did technology shift value?: I don't listen to radio anymore so some value has been shifted from that platform to services like Last.fm. Wikipedia is a non-profit -- maybe I'd otherwise read up on Ghostface from a branded media outlet.
Neil Young: Since Wolfgang's Vault controversially started streaming the Bill Graham archives I've listened a few times to their limited Neil Young offerings. One of the concerts in particular reminded me that, man, he's got one of the most distinct soulful voices ever. This sent me to Amazon where I picked up the recent live release "Live at Massey Hall."
Did technology increase value?: Yes. Although several artists have sued Wolfgang's Vault, my interest in Neil Young was rekindled because of the concerts I sampled there. Interestingly, one of the concerts they are streaming for free was also officially released on CD. I haven't decided whether or not to buy that one - admittedly, I'm a little less inclined knowing that I can stream it for now.
Did technology shift value?: Online retailer versus traditional retailer. My discovery occurred not because of marketing from the label but the general availability on Wolfgang's Vault. Does Neil Young see this as beneficial? Would he like to know that I'm streaming his music and have the chance to interact with me directly? Probably.
Mims: Apparently Mims is hot. Why? Because he's fly. You're not. Why? Because you're not. Mims' dada lyrics have been deconstructed by a surprising number of sources. I got curious about Mims and wanted to hear the song. Did I turn on the radio? No. Did I buy the single from iTunes? No. Did I click over to a leading music portal and try to find the song to stream for free? No. I went over to YouTube where Capitol Records had uploaded the track.
Did technology increase value?: IMHO, absolutely. I was able to see a hot artist that people were talking about. I watched it on YouTube and became part of the conversation. Now I've got no interest in hearing the song again (just wasn't my thing) but Capitol and Mims have at least moved me from ignorance to awareness. They made discovery easy for me.
Did technology shift value?: Dramatically from 10 years ago, lightly from five years ago. A decade ago I would have two choices - radio or music store - to sample a new artist. Now both of those are waning or gone. Five years ago I likely would have gone over to mtv.com or Yahoo Music. Now I still stay online but I go over to the artist's website or a place like YouTube. The former gives me more direct navigation to what I'm looking for a general music portal. The latter gives me a wider range of multimedia and community.
2006: Stephen Colbert
2007: Rich Little
Maybe Rita Rudner for 2008?
I'd like to see the next administration, whether Democrat or Republican, invite Colbert back. That would be a giant poke in the eye.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
The videos of GTG dancing, talking and vamping continue to stir up the comments (and grab viewers) while others debate her authenticity and wait for the big reveal.
Who knows - the lines on all this stuff is blurry. Is GreenTea Girlie a nursing student as she suggests on her website or a MBA student as she notes here? My opinion? I think there's more than meets the eye but rather than some corporate campaign, think it might be a class project on viral marketing (or similar). Either way, I'm a subscriber to "her" channel and we'll see what happens.
"Tell him he treats Warrior fans like dookie," said Rololfo Flotte
"In 1965, we needed three spots to reach 80% of the U.S. population. By 2004 it was 117 spots to reach the same amount of people, which is why we also have to be active with these below-the-line channels."
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Comedy has a really interesting status system and respect (or lack of respect) among standups is paramount. See Joe Rogan v Carlos Mencia for example.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
I spent that summer in an internship at Mattel as part of a very small corporate new products group. My job specifically was working with Mattel Interactive on a video game strategy. What became apparent to me over the course of the summer was that Mattel lost their definition of core competency. Instead of saying "we're a company that brings entertainment and education to kids ages 3-13," they settled on "we're a toy company and that means plastic dolls and diecast metal cars sold into specialty retailers." The former would have left them flexible to thinking about technology as an important component of their target consumer's experience. The latter was stagnation.
Problem was that every single part of this statement was under attack by 1999: kids were "growing older younger" and turning towards the Internet, video games, etc. Specialty toy retailers founds themselves undercut by big box stores and the online retailers. And Mattel got chomped in the middle.
An interesting side note to why Mattel was so hesitant to pursue video games: they tired it in the early 1980s (Intellivision) and it almost bankrupted them. So the organization built up this amazing fear, a loadstone that weighed them down and, ironically, almost cost them their company a second time.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Monday, April 16, 2007
- Daniel Huebner, a customer support guys, speaks at Stanford's Humanities Lab
- Over 200 employees? Geez, I feel old
- Daniel wrote our first police blotter (which i loved -- we did a bunch of non-standard things - this was to publish a roster of those anonymous users that broke the ToS and what we did to them - inspired by my love of the Palo Alto Daily at grad school)
- BusinessWeek did another online special on "The Coming Virtual Web" with a heavy focus on Second Life (and a cool slideshow on SL's top earners)
- BBC did an in-world newscast
- AP story on the virtual gold rush
- Coke is doing a cool in-world promotion
- Joe Laszlo at Jupiter says Second Life will not remake CRM ;-)
Sunday, April 15, 2007
But there is one watch I've always coveted - the Jaeger-Le Coultre Reverso Duo. This classic design dates backs to the 1930s when a noted polo player needed a watch which could be protected during play, hence the design where the watch crystal can fold over to expose a stainless steel back (pictured here). Although they now make fancy versions in gold and with a second dial on the back for another time zone, I love the original leather band and blank back. My understanding is that the watch gained popularity here in America with up and coming middle managers. They were still spending time on the factory floor but needed to also be appropriately dressed for the corner office. So it was steel side up for blue collar, crystal side up for the white collar. Poetic capitalism at its best.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
MLB's online efforts have been tremendously successful - in fact they've explored but so far rejected the notion of spinning off the group via IPO. Two things jumped out during my purchase:
1) Pricing. I would love to see their price sensitivity data - $14.95 feels really cheap - i know i would have paid at least 33% more and thrown down $20.
2) Video trial. They also off two really interesting video services, even with a five day trial in April. I likely would have trialed one of these and became a paying customer if not for one issue - the auto-conversion. If you don't cancel your trial by the end of the five days you automatically become a subscriber. Note - consumers hate this mechanism. It's not a trial - it's a subscription with a five day cancellation period.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Personally it's been interesting to get and know Steve and Chad. Over the past seven years I've gotten to know Philip Rosedale at Second Life, Larry and Sergey at Google and now the YouTube founders. All very successful folks but very different people. It's fun to look at them and understand what makes 'em tick.
But the YouTube story doesn't end at Chad and Steve. In fact, one of the underreported factors in their success is the product, design and engineering team they assembled. Almost all of the original team worked together at Paypal/eBay. As YouTube grew incredibly quickly they were able to sound the bell and keep bringing on more former colleagues. All folks who were vetted, trusted by one another, etc. Imagine the time, hiring risk and integration friction they saved -- the ability to "get the band back together" was without a doubt a reason that YouTube scaled.
Sunday, April 08, 2007
...a total of $391.1 billion moved in and out of the U.S. in irregularly priced trade in 2004. The goods include dishtowels priced at $153 per towel sent from Pakistan to the U.S. and bulldozers priced at $1,700 each sent from the U.S. to Colombia.
Adam, also the very talented lead singer of cover band powerhouse Chaingarden, and i first met when he sent an email to me at Second Life about the wrong design decisions we were making. Although I disagreed, his arguments were well thought out -- i felt like i had to know this guy. And in the years since we've shared some great music and conversation.