The schedule for Wikimania. It starts tomorrow.
News.com: Wikipedia bans Stephen Colbert.
Scott Rosenberg wonders why Technorati is “so unstable.”
Marc Canter: “PeopleAggregator is for people who want to build and run social networks.”
I’m at LaGuardia, where it’s still sweltering, even in the air conditioned terminal you can’t avoid the heat outside (100-plus). I’m waiting for a flight to Boston, and checked the temperature there, and see that it’s just 73. Can’t wait to get there!
A Google engineer, Mihai Parparita, ranked the most popular namespaces used in feeds.
Two friends, Robert and Patrick Scoble, embark on a fantastic road trip today, from the Bay Area to Livingston, Montana. I’ve done the drive myself, in the opposite direction, and it’s a great one. Lots of fantastic scenery and lots of empty miles on great roads to space out and relax in. Wish I was along for the ride, but Wikimania should be pretty cool, esp if the heat wave breaks, as it’s predicted to. Tomorrow’s high in Cambridge is forecast at 81. Man, that’s coooool.
Yes, I have put ads on some of my sites, but never on Scripting News. I didn’t want to interfere with my message by selling rides to hitch-hikers. Frankly they weren’t offering enough money to make it worthwhile to me. In order to get me to share the space with them, they’d have to compensate me for the distraction, and for the bad vibes that comes from trying to distract the people whose attention I value most, the readers of Scripting News.
An example. As you know, I’m in the process of buying a house (the closing is a week from tomorrow), so I do a lot of email with my mortgage broker, accountant, realtor, insurance agents. They’re all using email these days, so there’s less phone tag, and it’s easier to compare offers, juggling details is possible, even while I’m traveling. Last time I bought a house, in 1992, it wouldn’t have been possible to go to NY and Boston in the week before the closing, but you can do it now.
So every time I get an email from one of these people, Google shows me ads for their competitors. I get an email from my accountant, ads from other accountants appear in the margin. My insurance agent sends me a quote, and links to other insurance agents appear. This is per the design of Internet advertising, but it’s pointless. If I wanted information about competitors I know how to use the search engine, and I would go look them up (as I did when I was getting started).
That’s the key point, we are seeking out commercial information all the time, as we live our lives in a material society. All day every day. I have to go into the city in an hour or so, and I used Google to decide to take a bus instead of calling a cab to take me to the subway station. I was able to estimate the cab fare, and since I don’t live in NY and they keep changing the bus fare, I was able to find out how many quarters I needed to get on the bus (eight). It may seem trivial to you, but it wasn’t to me. They require exact change. Now did any of the ads I’ve seen in the last hour get me that information? No.
When they finish the process of better and better targeted advertising, that’s when the whole idea of advertising will go poof, will disappear. If it’s perfectly targeted, it isn’t advertising, it’s information. Information is welcome, advertising is offensive. Who wants to pay to create information that’s discarded? Who wants to pay to be a nuisance? Wouldn’t it be better to pay to get the information to the people who want it? Are you afraid no one wants your information? Then maybe you’d better do some research and make a product that people actually want to know about.
At a meeting yesterday, at a famous media company, to illustrate this point, which can be a little subtle today, but will be making people billions in a couple of years, I pointed to my computer and my Blackberry. I said maybe Apple would provide software that made the Blackberry work as well as the iPod works with a Mac, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Then I pointed to something I noticed, another person in the meeting had a Blackberry and a Mac too. Amazing that we would both be customers for the same product that doesn’t exist, and isn’t likely to exist, the way things are going.
And that’s why things will change. The current product development process, that focuses on a few supposed geniuses and ignores the intelligence that’s in the user’s minds, same as with unconferences, is about to run its course much as the old style conference can’t possibly compete with one that involves the brains of the people formerly known as the audience. Think about it. There’s a big trend here, imho it’s the difference between the 20th and 21st centuries. In the past the flow of ideas for products was heavily centralized, and based on advertising to build demand. In the future, the flow of ideas for products will happen everywhere, all the time, and products with small markets will be worth making because we’ll be able to find the users, or more accurately, they’ll be able to find us. “Targeting” customers is the wrong metaphor for the future. Instead make it easy for the people who lust for what you have to find you. How? 1. Find out what they want, and 2. Make it for them and 3. Go back to where you found out about it, and tell them it’s available.
I’ve been singing this song since 2000. I think we’re almost there. I saw that Microsoft, Google and Yahoo are banding together to fight click-fraud. That’s about as likely to work as the fight in the 80s to stop people from copying copy-protected software. The incentive to defraud is too great. And who’s frauding who, I think it’s the companies that take your money to hitch your message on “content” where it isn’t welcome. Imagine taking people’s money to turn their products into a nuisance. The kids being born today won’t believe it used to work this way.
User-generated content is actually on the road to nirvana, but it’s not a sustainable model in itself. In all that content, which today’s companies view as frankfurter meat, undifferentiated slurry, a medium for unwanted hitch-hikers, is the idea for the next iPod, or the formula for peace in the Middle East, the campaign platform for the President we’ll elect in 2012, perhaps even a solution for global warming. You just have to believe that intelligence isn’t concentrated among the people who rose to the top of the 20th century’s ladders to believe that there are nuggets of wisdom waiting out there for the taking, among the minds that created all that UGC.
Yogi Berra: “You can observe a lot just by watching.”