Blogging, Startups

Matt of WordPress: Blogs Dead? No.

Found this writeup of a conversation between Andrew Keen and Matt Mullenweg via Matt’s blog (so I assume he endorses this quote):

“Blogs will become aggregation points,” the shamefully youthful, soft-spoken Mullenweg explained, as he mapped out the future of blogging for me between bites of Dutch smoked salmon. “They will become our personal hub. Places where we store all our personal media content such as our flickr photos and Twitter posts.”

That’s a vision we buy into at Vodpod.

When we launched Vodpod 28 months ago, we started by offering cool, simple widgets that let you put your favorite videos in an interactive gallery on your blog.  We’ve expanded the array of tools for bloggers since then; some bloggers have built entire sites using our API.

We’re big believers in both blogs, and bloggers.  If they were stocks, we’d be long. That hasn’t changed, our belief hasn’t wavered these past two years, despite the hype give to other platforms.

We have some very interesting things up our sleeves for the blogging community. Stay tuned.

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Blogging, Internet

Fan Note

I don’t know her, but I am happy to see Caterina Fake is blogging again. She writes intelligent, interesting posts, particularly if you are a practitioner of the web arts.

I stumbled upon her blog in late 2004, when I developed a mild obsession with flickr (and last.fm), and I promptly added her blog to my feed reader. Seems like she stopped posting a while back, maybe shortly after Flickr was bought by Yahoo!  Start by reading her post today (and the related post from 2003).

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Blogging, Google, Internet

Bounty of the Internet

This is the kind of blog I love to find, and the raison d’etre of the medium as far as I am concerned.

It’s called “Shoefiti” and dedicated to documenting — both in words from the collective community and on google maps in a great mash-up —  the urban phenomenon of shoes dangling over powerlines and telephone wires.

NB: I stumbled on this site after doing a Google search on “meaning of tennis shoes hanging on telephone wires.” It was result #1. Yeah, Google!

Of course, no definitive answer is provided (maybe, there isn’t just one?) but some fun urban legends recounted. Check it out.

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Blogging, Colophon

Quick Colophon

Tips and tricks from the community of bloggers are helpful, so here are mine for the moment.

Obviously, I publish on wordpress.com here, but also worth noting I maintain a typepad blog here. Those are my publishing tools, they work fine for me, I haven’t so far felt compelled to run a full stack of blogging software on my own. Yet. I prefer in some ways the simplicity and stability of wordpress, but typepad has a some additional flexibilty (in terms of putting little html nuggets into sidebars, that’s fun) and so I’ll continue to use and experiment with both, from time to time.

As far as html nuggets, there are a few I like. The last.fm badges on my typepad blog; I think they provide a great clue as to how we’ll use services like that to build out our digital identities on the net, in our blogs and through services like MySpace (post coming on that shortly). I also like the idea of chatango and flickr badges, but confess I don’t really use either very much.

Most importantly, my writing tool. I type these words on the Performancing Firefox extension. I really like it as a tool, I’ve played with ecto, but in the end this works fine and its free.

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Blogging, China

China, Blogging, Censorship

Rebecca MacKinnon, Dave Weinberger and Robert Scoble provide a great public service today. MacKinnon first and most importantly with her post on Michael Anti (Zhao Jing), and Weinberger and Scoble with their follow posts to bring the issue more public attention (I saw it first on Weinberger this morning, and then again on scoble through memeorandum, leading ultimately to MacKinnon). These posts are evidence of how blogs can actually be good and useful and important (I’ve been a skeptic in the past; posts about important issues, written with authority and passion, like these three cause me to revisit that skepticism).

We don’t know all of the specifics yet about this case, but I think the latter half of MacKinnon’s post about her tests of Chinese language blogging tools is as troubling as this specific report about Michael Anti’s blog. I wrote last fall about this issue more broadly, and have been surprised there was less reaction to Yahoo’s actions last fall (and other companies, like Cisco, I might add).

I have some limited personal experience and opinion to bring to the dialog. When I headed up Real’s international consumer business in 2002-04, I travelled often to China, and spent a lot of time talking with friends and colleagues there about the potential censorship of our services (it was clear the Chinese authorities would not let us bring in streams from CNN and BBC, for example).

Whenever I broached the censorship topic, my young Chinese friends would tease me about my paternalistic ways, and never hesitated to remind me about my own government’s alleged human rights abuses (our captives at Guantanamo Bay being exhibit A at the time). They would also tell me how it was easy to find Tianammen Square massacre video, or other anti-government video, on the Internet (none was so brazen as to actually show me), and not to worry so much about censorship. These were smart, thoughtful, independent, well-educated people, some of them “Sea Turtles” — American citizens either Chinese born or of Chinese descent, returning to China — who lived there full time and just didn’t seem as worried as I was about the issue.

In the end, I didn’t have to confront the ethical and moral issues personally — I was let off the hook. Real decided not to invest as much in our efforts there as I wanted at that time, and the things we looked at were in music and games. It would be easy for me now to claim I would have made the right decision; I personally felt the powerful lure of that market, and understand why western firms are so intent on getting a beachhead there.

But ultimately, I do believe there are universal principles and human rights at stake, and freedom of speech is without a doubt one of them. While I personally understand the lure of the Chinese market, and appreciate the advice from my friends there not to behave paternalistically towards them, it’s just wrong for us to use digital tools, technologies, and inventions we’ve created to help the Chinese government censor speech of individuals, especially political speech. We have export restrictions on many technologies, including most importantly armaments. Why not also make it illegal to export technologies that enable governments to censor the speech of their citizens?

I “get” that others will fill the void (perhaps Europeans, ever willing to court the Chinese, perhaps other Asian countries, perhaps even local Chinese companies). But isn’t this an issue where we should be on the side of the people (generally, as a people and government), and not on the side of shareholders of Cisco, MSFT, YHOO, and maybe GOOG?

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Blogging, Internet, Music

Last.fm, My Favorite Service of the Past 18 Months

It wasn’t until after I left full time work at Real in July 2004 that I (ironically) began to get re-connected with the web. In my final years at Real, because I spent so much time working on our own web services, I had neither the time nor energy to explore other folks’. Plus, after nearly a dozen years in digital media, I had gotten sick of the internet, my computer, my mobile phone, my iPod, my digital life. I wanted, and was ready, to unplug.
Which I did for about three months. By October 2004, I was back on the Net. First, to follow in excruciating detail the election from London, followed by a gradual re-immersion back into the world of technology. I dived back in because, well, I was refreshed after some time away. But more importantly, I was excited about a bunch of new services like flickr, del.icio.us, and rss feed readers like bloglines. These are now hailed as canonical “web 2.0” offerings, but I wanted to give a shout out to my favorite, one that seems to get less attention.
That would be Last.FM (powered by sister service, audioscrobber). More than any other service launched the past few years, theirs has had a real impact on how I consume, and enjoy, media. In this case, music. For those of you who haven’t tried the service, there are two essential components: Audioscrobbler, a plug-in for your jukebox that tracks what you listen to in iTunes, WMP, WinAmp etc. The second is Last.fm, which hangs a bunch of useful services off of your listening habits as tracked by the audioscrobbler plug-in.

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