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But Is Henry Blodget Any More Rational? August 31, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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He’s still exuberant. I loved this:

    These theories, once proved wrong, were replaced by others, often equally erroneous: Netscape would topple Microsoft, Amazon’s growth would soon justify its stock price. (This was an unfortunate theory of mine – one that, along with some e-mails that caught the notice of the Securities and Exchange Commission, helped my Wall Street career go the way of eToys.)

I wonder, will guest columnists go behind the paid wall when the Times launches its new archive/columnist for-pay-only product?

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Dime-a-Dozen Sturm und Drang at the Beach August 30, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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In the middle of a good story about MTV’s pretty-darn-brilliant cross-media marketing campaign for Laguna Beach, the Gray Lady reveals that, once again, she’s writing for the parents, not the kids:

    It is a show that gets its tension from observing how rich, beautiful adolescents with few discernible responsibilities – no curfew, no housework – introduce Sturm und Drang into their otherwise unfettered lives.

Ah, yes, it is the Times, after all. Of course, the show’s exec producer, spills the beans herself:

    “At that age, it’s all about the alpha clique – people trying to get into the alpha clique, how brutal it is to be in the alpha clique,” said Ms. Gately (Liz Gateley, the “Laguna Beach” creator and executive producer), who grew up in Palos Verdes, Calif., a wealthy oceanside enclave roughly 50 miles from Laguna, and who knows a thing or two about a certain kind of privileged West Coast adolescent. “Everything is relationship-driven. It’s a warped reality. I think the biggest hesitation was, ‘Can you tap into a clique of friends and have them all be interesting and beautiful?’ I told them, ‘They’re a dime-a-dozen in Southern California. They’re everywhere.’ “

But Will It (They?) Fit in Your Change Pocket? August 30, 2005

Posted by David Card in Digital Home & Personal Tech.
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I can’t resist:

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For those who are hyperventilating about downloading songs over the air to a mobile phone, just remember some history. The iPod didn’t succeed because of the iTunes store. In fact, it was the reverse. The ratio of iTunes sold to iPods sold is about 20:1. Twenty songs won’t fill a Shuffle, let alone a Mini or a White model.

iPods take advantage of existing collections of MP3s, and so should a music-capable phone. “Sideloading” — or docking a phone to your PC — is much more interesting than over-the-air downloading, at least for now.

Don’t Steal Movies! August 28, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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The Times mouths 2,950 words on movie piracy.

    “It’s hard to say exactly what amount of money is involved, but it’s huge,” said Bob Wright, chairman and chief executive of NBC Universal, the parent company of Universal Pictures and a division of General Electric. “There is a very dark, black cloud in this game. It’s not in the hands of kids who live next door to you; it’s organized groups and organized crime.”

But three quarters of the story’s all about warez (pronounced “wares,” says the Times, helpfully, by those who have online “nics” or nicknames) file-sharing, and goofs in theaters with videocams.

Geek sensei Peter Jackson chimes in:

    “Piracy has the very real potential of tipping movies into becoming an unprofitable industry, especially big-event films. If that happens, they will stop being made,” said Mr. Jackson in an e-mail message from New Zealand, where he is putting the final touches on his version of “King Kong.” “No studio is going to finance a film if the point is reached where their possible profit margin goes straight into criminals’ pockets.”

Gotta hand it to the MPAA, if the RIAA had press coverage like this early enough, people wouldn’t hate the labels for suing their customers.

Big-Time Nostalgia Fix August 25, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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One of my college roomies was a Robin Lane & the Chartbusters fan. Played the vinyl flat. It was a Boston thing. Anyway, thanks to the wonders of digital music, Rhino Records has made this long out-of-print masterpiece of “new wave” (gee, sounds like pop to me now) available on iTunes.

Yeah, that’s a shameless plug. But hey, with the earbuds in, I’m back in the dorm….you know, “soundtrack of your life,” etc.

“Nobody Knows Anything” Part XXIV August 24, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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I gotta stop quoting William Goldman, but the movie industry just won’t let me. On countering the 2005 box office slump:

    Mr. Lynton (Michael Lynton, chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment) said he would focus on making “only movies we hope will be really good.” At Fox, executives said they are looking to limit marketing costs. At Universal, Mr. Shmuger (Marc Shmuger, vice chairman of Universal) said he intends to reassert “time and care and passion” in movie production. Some of his own summer movies, he conceded, should never have been made.

Pre-emptive IM Strike from MSN August 23, 2005

Posted by David Card in Digital Home & Personal Tech.
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MSN called a quick briefing as a preemptive strike against a rumored Google IM announcement. Microsoft exec Blake Irving even admitted that was the reason for the call — that otherwise, who’d announce a dot release? When have you ever Microsoft say that kind of thing?

Anyway, MSN Messenger 7.5 has improvements in audio, interoperability, safety, and fun stuff.

– Claims a new stack gives better VOIP quality than VOIP.
– “Interoperability” means the Vodafone connection is rolling out – nothing new on AIM interoperability (the only one that counts).
– Safety means you can turn links and file transfers off (it’s binary: off or on, no varying for different buddies).
– Fun stuff is animated backgrounds — good for sponsored promotions.

Finally, MSN wants to remind everyone that it’s got six years of experience in this stuff — hear that, Sergey? — and is sticking to its promise of thrice-yearly upgrades, so watch for more goodies in November.

The upgrades are all fine, but I was actually more impressed by Irving’s crisp articulation of the IM Big Picture. MSN is trying to move the conversation away from IM (defined as “real-time text messaging,” how dull) to “contacts.” I think they downplay presence management, but that’s okay, presence sounds too much like AOL-friendly talk. As does Buddy Lists, but I can’t break the habit.

What’s critical about IM isn’t real-time text messaging but the Buddy List as a communications/presence management hub.(Link is ancient history for geek/vision cred.) You manage your buddies and buddy groups and their relationships to you (and each other), shifting those according to what persona you’re inhabiting (work, home, fun, shopping, etc.) and what communications are available to you or you want to make available to them. Then broadcast that selectively. The company that can teach consumers how to do this, and own that management tool is in a very powerful position. The portals will be duking it out with the mobile carriers for this, I suspect.

MSN’s vision is pretty parallel to the one above. Irving claims Microsoft has an “ABCH” — Address Book Clearing House — that is a repository for all those contacts, relationships and permissions that come from Messenger and Hotmail. You can imagine how powerful that might be — we’re not just talking “gleams” and sharing playlists here — and how much grief Microsoft will get for playing Big Brother.

Anyway, MSN gets it.

Bismillah! We Will Not Let You Go! August 22, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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I suppose the fact someone could do a pretty much note-for-note cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody” is what counts, not the why of it. (Kind of a new twist on the old talking dog jokes.) But why AOL would promote it on its front page is more mysterious. Heck, American Idol is between seasons, and it’s on Fox anyway. Sadly, AOL’s Music Channel-Media Channel integration falls a little flat too. Poor Constantine Maroulis has no artist bio yet, and links to ring tones actually produce Keanu — they’re quotes from the “Constantine” movie. The movie was from Warners/Village Roadshow, so maybe it’s all a synergy conspiracy.

A Browser By Any Other Name? August 22, 2005

Posted by David Card in Digital Home & Personal Tech.
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I’m going to claim partial victory. I said Google would do a browser before it would do a portal. Tell me, how much more does this look like a browser than this looks like a portal?

I guess the plan is to demote browser to “rendering engine,” and combine all its other functions into “desktop search,” er, that is, “Google Desktop.” Gee, it wasn’t that long ago when Microsoft set the agenda for personal technology nomenclature. What’s next, “operating system” becomes “device drivers” and “graphics libraries?” (File system functions are already under assault…)

I reiterate the mantra that built Microsoft: who controls the UI controls the user; who controls the API controls the programmer. Great businesses are made of this.

A Little More Technology Editing, Please August 19, 2005

Posted by David Card in Media.
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This graf ran toward the end of a Wall Street Journal article:

    SBC’s Internet-TV boxes will be smaller than a typical cable box. Cable boxes need to be big enough to store all channel programming at once, but because Internet-based boxes stream only one channel at a time, they don’t need the extra space.

Um, isn’t that a little like saying: “Flat panel sets aren’t as good for watching team sports because a CRT has more room to hide all the tiny little players”? (As a kid, my dad believed there were little men inside the TV set acting out the shows.)