jump to navigation

Value of Content = Nearly Nothing? February 25, 2003

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
comments closed

Very good Michael Wolff piece in New York about how media companies have devalued content in consumers’ minds by making it ubiquitous and cheap. No solution suggested though.

Geek Cred February 23, 2003

Posted by David Card in Digital Home & Personal Tech.
comments closed

Joe Laszlo posts on the first instance of crime detection by photo-phone. Just to reinforce my geek cred, I’ll point to David Brin’s 1991 novel, Earth, where most crime – and privacy – is eliminated by seniors toting Web-linked videocams for personal protection.

Office 11: We’ve Heard this Before February 23, 2003

Posted by David Card in Digital Home & Personal Tech.
comments closed

I can’t resist taking shots at my colleagues – all in fun, of course, and, more important, to further debate.

There’s a whole lotta love going on for Office 11. Schatsky calls it a tipping point and Matthew waxes poetic.

Guys, guys, this is the second or third time MSFT has tried to turn Office into an XML publishing tool, and the nth time it’s tried to use Office as a structure for unstructured data. What is it that makes Office 11 so much more likely to pull off this admittedly noble vision than previous attempts?

Are you making the classic “MSFT gets it right the third time” (Explorer, Excel, LAN Mgr/NT, etc., etc.) argument? Or is it massive improvements in UI? Critical mass of some other platform technology? Dramatic price/cost improvements?

Please don’t say technology or vision. Technology never succeeds on its own; it usually depends on one of the above. And the Office vision’s been largely the same – and correct – since version 3.

Do tell.

Niche TV: Sports February 23, 2003

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
comments closed

A New York Times article describes how a small horde of cable sports networks are arising. The article notes:

Few agreements have been announced, like the Tennis Channel’s contract with Time Warner Cable, under which the network will get no fees from subscribers for three years in exchange for a 15-year deal to carry it.

Some channels have nearly all the financing they believe they need; others are busily raising theirs. Generally, they need $75 million to $100 million.

This illustratest the problem for niche networks, even as digital cable deployments open up bandwidth to distribute new programming. Unsolved problems will doom most of these networks:

– Audiences will be too small to attract advertisers. The ad industry talks about targeted marketing, but conventional cable CPMs are still 20-40% lower than broadcast, even though audiences are better targeted. That affects CNN and Fox News – it’s hopeless for niche startups. As shown by the deal above, the startup networks can’t depend on subscriber revenue sharing.

– Much, probably most, of the new bandwidth will be absorbed by networks that are spinoffs of existing players (e.g., multiple ESPNs, HBOs, etc.). Their negotiating leverage is huge.

– The best chance for small niche networks would be for MSOs to offer their customers a true choice: i.e., the viewer chooses his lineup and adds 50 cents or a dollar to his monthly bill per network. But few MSOs are even dabbling in this, and even if they did, the marketing expenses for the networks would be huge.

Product Placement Nirvana? February 19, 2003

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
comments closed

This combination – tween girl surf apparel maker Roxy, HarperCollins, and MTV – sounds like a surefire product placement/synergy hit. But wait, won’t mostly guys watch the show while girls read the books and buy the clothes? And will the show stick to the younger “team members, ranging in age from 10 to 28” that the clothes target? Or take the obvious course and focus on the older teens and up, rather than risking kiddie porn accusations? Anxious fans want to know.

Swanni, Say It Isn’t So February 13, 2003

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
comments closed

I often like Phillip Swann’s brazen predictions but…

Case’s vision is right. Emerging technologies, such as video-on-demand, digital video recorders, interactive TV features and high-speed Internet services, will generate billions of dollars in the coming years. AOL, which has a stake in everything from books to films to television to cable, is the perfect company to maximize the benefits of this revolution. For instance, AOL could take an episode of the WB’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and repackage it as an on-demand program on cable, a broadband video stream on the Internet or even download it to a handheld device.

…Buffy isn’t from Warners; it’s a Fox/Mutant Enemy production. And it runs on UPN these days.

1st Match Chat February 12, 2003

Posted by David Card in Digital Home & Personal Tech.
comments closed

Got my first Match Chat invite from AOL tonight. Match Chat searches all the chats on AOL in realtime to notify you about preselected topics. Great idea and awe-inspiring technology if it works.

Unfortunately, it’s not working very well yet:

– “8 members online are chatting about movies”. I feared the topic of movies would be overwhelming. I’d tell you how many chats were really going on about movies except…

– Clicking on the option to see the next match hung my system….

– First it said the server was busy, then it just thrashed.

– The chat seemed mildly interesting, as far as chats go (“I’m looking forward to Xmen 2, you?” “Here’s a funny stat, I’ve seen Grease 100 times” “I like Ben Affleck” etc., but I couldn’t join in because of the above.

I use an OSX Mac at home, so maybe Match Chat works better with Windows. And although I couldn’t chat, it didn’t crash my Internet connection – I’m posting this via another browser. It did prevent me from doing anything with the AOL app, so far for almost 15 minutes.

I’ll keep watching; I still think it’s a great idea.

Journalism and Identity February 11, 2003

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
comments closed

That Computerworld was faked out by an elaborate hoax claiming terrorist credit for a cyberattack is fascinating on several counts:

– I originally thought this was an example of sloppy online journalism. But it’s not. It could have easily happened in print. And the fake was so well-done that I can’t tell if Computerworld was being particularly sloppy. That said, back when I was a journalist, I wasn’t allowed to use e-mail alone to verify a source.

– However, here’s the hoaxer’s explanation, where he points out some things that should have tipped his hand. He claims he was going to out himself, but didn’t move fast enough.

– The journo-ethical debate – the hoaxer is a journalist – is old hat, but still open to heated argument. Should journalists lie to get a good story?

– Once again, online identity is ambiguous. Usually that’s talked about in a legal or transactional sense (see Jupiter report Identity Services). Isn’t it equally interesting when identity is more loosely tied to self – more persona than identity?

– The fact that the press all too easily jumps on board cyberterrorism hype – the hoaxer’s point – is frightening.

BizWeek “Cure” for Time Warner February 11, 2003

Posted by David Card in Uncategorized.
comments closed

BusinessWeek’s Tom Lowry writes an open letter to Bob Parsons on Time Warner’s travails. It’s thought provoking. My comments:

– He’s right to think of Time Warner first, not AOL, but otherwise I think he’s missing the value of AOL.

– Don’t sell Warner Music, but not because it’s a keeper that’s ready to turn around. Rather, because you’d get such a bad deal on currently devalued goods that it wouldn’t help much in paying down TW/’s debt. And that is assuming that anyone who wants it wouldn’t get trust-busted.

– Interesting idea to meld AOL with TW Cable, but not for the reasons described. You don’t want to milk AOL till it withers and dies, it’s still too valuable a promotional vehicle and cash generator.

– I agree you shouldn’t sell Time Inc. But that’s a no-brainer.

– Selling New Line is interesting, but who would buy it? Especially for cash?