This, the first of our regional blogs, is authored by the technology and financial journalist Dominic Basulto. Dominic is a New York native, has been a senior editor at Corante since day one and has written for a number of online and offline media companies. Send tips or story ideas to: email@example.com.
About this weblog
Here we'll report daily on the latest tech and business developments in New York City. Impossible we concede: comprehensive coverage of the city's every story. What we hope you'll find: tips, tidbits and perspectives you won't find elsewhere. As well as unique insights, original interviews and more that should be of interest to New York's vibrant community of technologists and those who track, invest in and report on them.
John Battelle of Searchblog discusses what he calls "traffic of good intent." Look at recent deals in the Internet space, says Battelle -- the types of companies that are most valuable to buyers are companies like Flickr, Bloglines and Ask Jeeves -- companies that have lots of high-quality traffic that is growing rapidly. This is more than just the "eyeballs" argument used during the early days of the Web, says Battelle. In essence, search has changed the competitive dynamic:
"It sure smells like Web 1.0, where it was all about eyeballs. But the shift from eyeballs to intent is important, because thanks to search, intent = revenue, and that can be measured, bargained for, and purchased."
So what's a start-up, independent site to do? Get traffic -- and get it in volume. Maybe this is over-simplifying things, but if you have high-quality traffic, you are valuable:
"My new measure of a company's success is pretty simple - forget the technology, the promises, or the backers. Just look at the traffic. Is it good, and is it growing? Getting good, growing traffic is a really hard thing to do. If a company manages it, it tells you a lot. Pretty simple stuff, but there you have it."
According to Newsday, the NYC Department of Education is looking to "ease" its tough ban on cell phones in schools. Over the summer, there will be a review of the ban, with an eye toward lifting the ban for the next school year.
Currently, cell phones are banned in all city schools -- "meaning students not only are prohibited from using them inside campuses, they're not allowed to carry them in the buildings." Parents and other community members have been putting pressure on New York City to lift the ban for safety reasons, "arguing that they'd need to communicate with their children in the event of another terrorist attack or unforeseen catastrophe..."
Barry Diller's proposed $1.85 billion acquisition of search engine Ask Jeeves is a significant deal -- but not for the reasons you think. Over at Tech Central Station, "Barry Diller's Search for Meaning" looks at the ways that Barry Diller can use his various Internet properties to squeeze value out of Ask Jeeves. To paraphrase President John F. Kennedy, "Ask not what search can do for you... Ask what you can do for search." It's a theme that the Financial Times developed earlier in the week, too. Paid Content teases out a key point that Barry Diller made in the FT interview:
"Many people think one of our considerations [in buying Ask Jeeves] was to help our current business. But they are not traffic starved. We are motivated by being able to help Ask Jeeves grow, using our travel business and all our other businesses."
The Wall Street Journal Online has a fascinating look at persistent search technologies that enable individuals or institutions in need of real-time information (e.g. day traders and hedge funds) to watch the Web on a minute-by-minute basis for market-moving news or a "spike in online chatter."
One of the companies mentioned is New York-based PubSub, which picked up news about the Indonesia earthquakes minutes before the information appeared on the U.S. Geological Service's own Web site. Another is Monitor110, which provides persistent search services to Wall Street investors looking for a competitive advantage.
Before you rush out to buy stocks or make life-changing decisions based on a willowy wisp o' information, keep in mind one important caveat: "Only reckless investors would trade a stock based on information contained in a few blogs or message boards, a domain rife with short-sellers eager to spread rumors."
"The Comdex folks today announced that the Comdex tradeshow is taking another 12 month vacation (making it 24 months) of rest cure, but that it will be back in 2006. I can only presume that the team that runs MediaLive (the owner of the dead Comdex show) must think we are all on Jim Jones' Kool-Aid if they think anyone in the world believes that Comdex will ever run again."
Even if Comdex somehow does manage a miraculous return in 2006, says Meckler, "it probably could fit into the lobby of the local Starbucks about two blocks away from the Las Vegas Convention Center."
Today marks the first Thursday issue of the New York Times without a full Circuits section. Don't worry, there's still an article by tech guru David Pogue on the front page of the Business section about DVD rentals by mail and two pages of gadget-related articles on pages C9 and C10. And, as always, J&R has a full-page spread next to the gadget articles -- apparently, J&R is the only tech sponsor who hasn't abandoned the New York Times.
The Neighborhood Project is an "experiment in collective knowledge" that first went live in San Francisco, with plans to roll it out to other cities later. We assume that New York has to be high on the list of cities for future roll-out, given its rich concentration of diverse neighborhoods. From The Neighborhood Project's Website:
"The Neighborhood Project is creating a map of city neighborhoods based on the collective opinions of internet users. Addresses and neighborhood data are translated into latitude and longitude values, and then drawn on the map. The address and neighborhood data are collected from housing posts on craigslist, and from people filling out the form below. The coordinates are generated using the free geocoder.us. The map is from the TIGER/Line US Census data."
Craig Newmark of Craigslist gives it a thumbs up, calling it "a rather notable effort using craigslist data."
"Arianna Huffington, the conservative-turned-liberal author, pundit, California gubernatorial candidate, and bona fide blogger, is adding "media entrepreneur" to her list of titles with a new online publishing venture, the Huffington Report."
Business 2.0 speculates that "the Huffington Report appears to be a culture and politics webzine in the classic mold of Salon or Slate. It will have breaking news, a media commentary section called "Eat the Press," and its most interesting innovation, a group blog manned by the cultural and media elite..."
Rafat Ali of Paid Content has already done some behind-the-scenes sleuthing on the matter and came up with the following:
"HuffingtonReport.com is registered by Jonah Peretti, the director of R&D at Eyebeam, an experimental art and technology non-profit based in NYC (and Eyebeam recently granted a fellowship to uber-blogger Jason Kottke). Is Eyebeam funding it, and is Kottke involved in this?"
Newsday says tomorrow is "D-Day for the Dolans," with two major decisions expected that will have significant impact on the future of the Dolan family and the Cablevision empire:
"In one decision Thursday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is to announce whether Cablevision, the Jets or longshot energy concern TransGas will get to develop a 13-acre site on the West Side of Manhattan. Thursday also is the day an agreement expires between Charles Dolan, 78, and the board of directors to keep alive the Voom high-definition satellite TV service."
Oh, and if that wasn't enough, Cablevision is also mulling over whether to seek a merger with bankrupt cable operator Adelphia Communications.
Speaking at a media conference in New York, Gordon Crovitz, president of electronic publishing at Dow Jones, predicted that more Web sites will start charging subscription fees for online content. Crovtiz implored other publishers to follow the lead of the mighty Wall Street Journal:
"Charging for news that appears in print -- and then giving it away over the Web -- is an unsustainable business model... It would be good for the industry for more publishers to follow suit. Publishers in all mediums have tended to devalue their brands. I am very confident that other publishers will find ways to generate online subscription revenues."
The Village Voice reviews the new "Accumulations" exhibition by Emily Jacir at the Meatpacking District's Alexander and Bonin gallery. One of the works in the exhibition is "Inbox," a series of 40 paintings on wood that the Voice calls a "brave and beautiful tour through the artist's e-mail correspondence."
E-mail messages from the artist's inbox are hand-painted in oil on panels of wood in such a way as to "skewer the formality of digital correspondence via an unapologetically handwritten approximation of the typeface that exists when these works are on-screen." The details of the e-mail paintings include "wryly appropriate advertisements tacked on by Internet providers."
The physicists at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island have been accelerating gold nuclei (atoms stripped of their surrounding clouds of electrons) to 99.995% of the speed of light using a Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider and then smashing these nuclei together, head-on. The result? "A sort of tiny, short-lived black hole - very, very tiny and very, very short-lived. It lasts less than one-10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000th of a second." At the time of collision, the temperature is in excess of one trillion degrees.
This may sound like a bunch of really smart kids slamming together their toys at really high speeds and really high temperatures and seeing what happens. To others, it also sounds like a scary little experiment with black holes and anti-matter and bizarre gravitational effects: "Before Brookhaven began its gold collision experiments in 2000, it issued assurances that the experiment could not accidentally create a black hole that would destroy the earth..."
Some of New York's largest companies are facing "an embarrassment of riches as cash on their balance sheets swells to record levels," says Crain's New York. At the end of 2004, in fact, 20 of the largest nonfinancial companies in the New York metro area (e.g. PepsiCo, Pfizer, Time Warner, KeySpan) had a combined total of more than $80 billion in cash.
According to analysts, there are two ways of looking at things. Either these companies are reporting record profit levels at a time when there's simply "a dearth of attractively priced assets to buy" or -- and here's the glass-half-empty scenario -- these companies are building up "rainy-day" funds in expectation of a recession in 2006 or 2007.
The Wall Street Journal Online reviews WikiCities.com, a for-profit, ad-supported venture from Jimmy Wales, the creator of Wikipedia. Using WikiCities.com, "groups of Web users can create their own free Web sites and fill them with, well, nearly anything." There are currently about 200 different Wiki Cities. In the middle of the article, there's an interesting comparison between WikiCities.com and About.com (which features expert-written information on hundreds of topics), recently acquired by the New York Times Company for $410 million.
Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine comments: "It's just starting so it's hard to tell whether this will work as well as Wikipedia. I think that wikis work best when they try to gather the ongoing wisdom of the crowds on lasting topics; they work when they hit a critical mass of interest, people, contributions, and time... WikiCities is a third model: A portal where people can create free, ad-supported special-interest wikis. On the one hand, I wonder whether people won't just do that on their own sites, in their own communities. On the other hand, perhaps special-interest wikis need a portal to gather that critical mass of contributors."
Information Week has a wrap-up of last week's "Wireless on Wall Street" summit, including a discussion of Wi-Fi security concerns. Some financial services firms, like Wachovia and AXA Financial, "see promise in the emerging 802.11i security specification for wireless networks." However, "it's still unclear if the financial-services industry is ready for widespread adoption of wireless, given broader security concerns..."
Mitch Ratcliffe nominates "The Long Tail" (coined by Wired Magazine's Chris Anderson) as the "most abused phrase of the year." People are over-simplifying the meaning of the term or abusing it in wrong-headed ways to explain just about any phenomenon, says Ratcliffe.
Sarah Boxer of the New York Times finds that many content sites on the Web are simply recycling content from other sites in an effort to get noticed by other, more important sites. Generating original content is not so important -- what's important is only contributing a bare minimum of original observation so as to make it onto the Internet A-list. As a result, there are lists of lists, reviews of reviews, and museums of museums. As if that werent enough, there are also reviewers who review the reviews of others.
As a result, the traditional objects of culture - books, movies, art - are becoming ever more distant, says Boxer. In their place are reviews of reviews, museums of museums and many, many lists The review is being replaced by a shopping list The more lists you're on, the more you're wanted The Web is not really a web after all. It is a list of lists.
In this week's New Yorker, there's an amusing look at the slowest morning commutes into New York, as determined by the outcome of a race sponsored by Ford Motor Company. The three most congested early-morning routes were the L.I.E., the Holland Tunnel, and the George Washington Bridge. (Hat tip: Kottke)
In the wake of the New York Times article about a housing bubble in the making, this was bound to happen -- the sudden appearance of a cottage industry of "housing bubble blogs" and other naysayers looking for the New York real estate market to collapse. Curbed points to two blogs that popped up on its radar: Housing Bubble and Home Bubble. Curbed also provides a comprehensive list of its bubble coverage, with a caveat to its readers: "Of course there's a bubble; you can't do anything about it; go ahead, keep buying; see you in hell!"
We like what Curbed is doing -- opening up the corporate kimono, emphasizing transparency, and telling readers both sides of the story... Anyway, if you're worried about a possible housing bubble in the New York real estate market, check out an interesting post from Housing Bubble called Will Your Editor Get Priced Out of the New York Market?. It's from Jay Taylor, the editor of J. Taylor's Gold and Technology Stocks newsletter.
In this week's New York Magazine, professional hedge fund manager James J. Cramer explains that it's not too late to make some fast cash from the run-up in oil prices: "You can be your own OPEC! Okay, maybe thats a little glib, but it sure beats the notion that I hear every day: that the rising price of oil is a no-win situation for American investors. You can, even after the tremendous run that crude has had, make a fortune owning a portfolio of oil and oil-related stocks..."
According to Cramer, here's five stocks worth holding: ConocoPhillips (an integrated oil major), EnCana (a Canadian oil play), Valero (a refiner), Cimarex (a wildcatter) and Halliburton.
Are blogs like Defamer, Gawker and FishBowlNY putting an end to the one-page gossip column in newspapers across America? According to long-time gossip columnist Liz Smith of the New York Daily News, "It's really hard now to get a scoop. With the whole world writing gossip, where is the place for the professional gossip?"
A gossip columnist from the Washington Post also points out that today's Internet gossip sites and blogs are meaner and cruder than the newspaper gossip columns: "The Internet and blogs have returned gossip to its earliest human roots--the kind of gossip that the priests told you was a venal sin... You can make it up. You can speculate wildly. You can accuse people of the most taboo practices, all in this sort of merry way."
According to FishBowlNY's Guide to Blog Snobbery, though, even gossip columnists who refuse to admit that they know anything about blogs check in daily, if not hourly, for some hot scoops.
Last week, the Online News Association launched Meetup groups in cities across the U.S., including New York, Seattle, Minneapolis and Washington, DC. The New York group is headed up by Vin Crosbie of Digital Deliverance.
Briefly noted on Crain's New York: "Nasdaq Stock Market Inc. has emerged as the likely winner of the auction for Instinet Group Inc., and a deal could be announced this week... Terms couldn't be learned, but Instinet has a market value of about $2 billion." Definitely worth watching over the next few days as Q1 2005 rolls to a close.
Two stories on blogs in two days for Joe Williams and the New York Daily News... Today's article takes a closer look at blogger rights in the workplace. Obviously, discussing sensitive internal corporate matters, taking potshots at the boss, or posting photos of dubious taste are things to avoid on a personal blog -- any of these actions could get you fired if someone finds out. The bottom line: be cautious and use common sense:
"While blogging can seem like a private diary between the blogger and a few close friends and family, it's important to remember that it is a form of publishing that anyone can stumble upon... You wouldn't say nasty things about your boss to his face, and it's probably not appropriate to do it on your blog either."
Blogs are causing a stir in the New York City public school system, says the New York Daily News. However, it's not the kids, it's the teachers who are taking the first tentative steps into the deep end of the blogpool: "Teachers all over New York are talking out of school - confessing their most shocking and sincere feelings about the city's struggling classrooms on popular Internet blogs." For now, most of the teachers are anonymous, but that could change once teachers start using their blogs for discussing lesson plans rather than "just dishing on co-workers and unruly students."
On Friday, a New York Times article analyzed whether or not there's a "real estate bubble" in the making, using the obvious comparison to the dot-com speculative frenzy of the 1990's. Whereas books like Dow 36,000 once added to the froth in the marketplace and TV shows extolled "can't miss" Internet stocks, now there's real estate blogs and TV shows about "can't miss" home improvement opportunities. In short, people are flipping housing properties the way that they once flipped Internet stocks. Not only that -- they're doing the equivalent of buying "on margin" -- putting no money down on properties that they have no intention of ever using.
Internet sites like Curbed.com, says the New York Times, are doing their part to fuel the speculative frenzy: "Real estate bulletin boards and blogs like Curbed.com and Real Estate Pimp have taken the place of financial chat rooms like Tokyo Joe's."
To which Curbed responds: "Knowing we've officially done our little part to one day bring down the global real estate market, we can now pass on from this life..." (Oh, and check out the cute little "Mr. Housing Bubble" graphic on the Curbed site, too.)
Apparently, Meckler contacted Paid Content about the Jupiter Research rumors: "These have been going on since Gartner announced the Meta deal. We have no deal going on -- however we are always for sale as a company -- that is the fiduciary obligation of a CEO for a public company. We also owe to stockholders to listen to any offer..."
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) just signed a deal to develop a state-of-the-art building automation system (BAS) to "protect its priceless art collection from environmental damage by maintaining perfect environmental conditions." The new monitoring and control system will link all the mechanical and electrical equipment within the museum and enable facility managers to have a dashboard view of all the building's systems. That means that all the security, heating, venting and air-conditioning, lighting control, and fire detection/suppression systems at MoMA will now be able to talk to each other in real-time.
So what's the perfect environment for a Picasso? According to MoMA, it's 72 degrees Fahrenheit and 50% humidity.
Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal test drives two full-featured ultralight laptops: the Sony Vaio T250 and the Fujitsu LifeBook P7010. So which one does Mossberg advise the business traveler on the go to choose? "If the extra features and lower price matter a lot, go with the Fujitsu. But if lower weight, thinner size and better battery life are your key considerations, the Sony is the better choice."
Just a day after we linked to Tom Watson's post about AdSense NonSense, the Wall Street Journal publishes an article ("Automated Ads Serve Up Nonsense") pointing out the glitches in Google's contextual advertising service. "Behold the bloopers of hyper-automation" -- like links to "Dead Bodies, New and Used" and "Great Deals on Sewage." The bottom line, says the WSJ, is that "such ads highlight how search-engine advertising is still immature, and not always the super-targeted media it is touted to be."
In the Village Voice, Jerry Saltz was writing about the film Los Angeles -- but his comments could easily be adapted for the blogging world:
"It dawned on me that we're entering a new era. Warhol's dictum is being turned inside out. Soon it will simultaneously be "In the future only 15 people will be famous" and "In the future everyone will be famous to 15 people."
C-list and B-list bloggers of the world, rejoice -- In the future, everyone will be famous to 15 people.
We've added a "podcasting" category here at Corante New York, but until now, we've been a bit slow on the uptake to cover New York City podcasters. We hope to increase our podcast coverage around here soon.
Anyway, fiddling around on Google turned up an interesting use of podcasting technology by Kamen Entertainment Group called Marina's Podcast -- "the first website offering a new free subscription service that automatically downloads new fitness programs by Nationally acclaimed fitness motivator and recording artist MARINA right into your MP3 player."
From the Marina's Podcast web site: "MARINA"s Podcast website premiers with 3 - 10 minute Cardio Aerobic workout Podcasts (enough for a 1/2 hour workout of walking, running and aerobics), a Body Sculpting Podcast workout (stretching, body sculpting and circuit training), and a "Confessions of a Food-A-Holic" Podcast... New workouts will be added every few days, so you can add to your library of MARINA"s High-nrg Fitness Podcasts, then mix and match them. Your workout routines will always be fresh and entertaining."
Barry Diller's $1.96 billion bid for Ask Jeeves is too low -- at least, that's the opinion of an Ask Jeeves shareholder who's suing the company. The lawsuit could jeopardize IAC's acquisition of the company. According to the New York Post, Ask Jeeves shareholder Richard Wiltsie filed suit in a Delaware court complaining that the company's board of directors "agreed to the deal without fulfilling their most basic obligation to conduct a full and fair sale process to get the best price."
FM radio is under siege, thanks to technological innovation and the corporate suits who are willing to sacrifice artistic originality for bottom-line profitability:
"MP3 players, satellite radio and the trend toward M&As in the radio business have degraded traditional FM radio and possibly driven away an entire generation of listeners... In the past, listeners relied on DJs to expose them to new types of music, and play what they thought was the very best stuff. Now, with station consolidation, fewer choices and centrally-dictated playlists ("McMusic"), music is too uniform and bland to be of much interest. Little wonder that Internet radio and P2P music sites are filling that void..."
The evolution of media just took another step forward this week, with the announcement that three big-time newspaper publishers -- Gannett, Knight-Ridder and the Tribune Company -- are combining forces to acquire a 75% stake in Topix.net, a Web site that monitors more than 10,000 online news sources. Financial terms of the deal were not divulged. This deal comes on the heels of recent Internet-related acquisitions announced by the Washington Post, the New York Times and Dow Jones.
Online grocery shopping has been a life-altering experience for Jean Chatzky of the New York Daily News:
"There have only been a few times in my life when I've stumbled across a technological innovation (I am, quite often, late to the party) and thought: This is going to change my life... This online grocery stuff is pretty incredible and I'm not the only one who thinks so. FreshDirect has a list of 100,000 active consumers in New York City. Peopod, which works through Stop & Shops and Shop Rites in this area, has another 150,000."
The BBC is finally getting a news bureau of its own in New York. According to the New York Daily News, the Brits will be subleasing space from WNET/Channel 13 at 450 West 33rd Street. (BBC currently has 20 or so staffers in New York, spread out in various locations) Not surprisingly, "the move means the BBC and WNET are likely to cooperate on more programs," similar to their collaboration on news programs like "Wide Angle."
From SC Magazine: "Fans of hit Broadway musical Spamalot could end up getting lots of spam after a security glitch exposed names and email addresses of 31,000 visitors to the show's website." We're told that the glitch has since been fixed by New York web designer Mark Stevenson, who helped to build the site.
No tricks, just trades. Where anonymity, neutrality and unbiased access to liquidity are the rule we live by every day.
-- Instinet ad
Electronic brokerage firm Instinet is launching a shot across the bow of traditional Wall Street firms with a series of display ads in the Wall Street Journal, according to the New York Post. The ads will feature a tagline (Still think the old way of doing business works?) as well as headline clippings about all the troubles and scandals plaguing Wall Street brokerage firms.
"So, I'm pleased to report that starting sometime later this month, I will be an Eyebeam R&D Senior Fellow for the next year or so. Eyebeam aims to be a center for art and technology and with recent projects like Fundrace, ForwardTrack, and ReBlog, there's quite a bit of overlap in what Eyebeam and I are interested in. They are not supporting me financially and I won't be officially working on any projects for them, but I will be working in their new R&D space in Chelsea..."
Looking for some VC backing for that socially-conscious venture you've always wanted to launch? Crain's New York reports that NYU's Stern School of Business is accepting proposals through April 11 for its Student Social Venture Fund:
"The fund, which NYU touts as the first student-managed fund at a U.S. business school, will distribute up to $100,000 in grants during its first cycle to organizations that provide aid to students in underserved communities who are undergoing transitions--to middle school, to high school, to college, or to the workforce. The grants will range in size from $5,000 to $50,000 and be used for programmatic, organizational-development and capacity-building support."
Gothamist points to Daylo, a Craigslist-eBay hybrid for buying, selling and exchanging services co-founded by two Brooklyn residents. Daylo tries to incorporate the best features of both services, as well as a few bells-and-whistles -- like the opportunity to search by zip code. Gothamist explains:
Basically it allows you to create a profile and offer services on a recurring basis. They've combined this with a feedback system, so you know which buyers and sellers are good, and which ones are not. You can browse profiles (if you are looking for services) or requests (if you are a service provider,) and everything is organized by zip-code, so it's pretty easy to find people close to where you live or work.
The Daylo posting caused a mini tempest in a teacup over at Gothamist, with readers calling the blog post a shameless plug and an advertisement and a few other terms that perhaps shouldnt appear in a nice, friendly, cant-we-all-get-along place like Corante New York. (Apparently, there are fewer than six degrees of separation between the editors of Gothamist and the co-founders of Daylo, and that rubbed people the wrong way.) But as Gothamists Jake Dobkin explained, Its just a cool service run by some very cool New Yorkers. Nothing more, nothing less. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
Corante New York readers who tried to drop by early this morning probably encountered the following message:
Bandwidth Limit Exceeded: The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit.
Yes, our audience is growing by leaps and bounds here at Corante, and the inevitable happens we run out of space to grow. Or, if you like, weve outgrown our bandwidth britches here and need to buy a new pair. Please bear with us during this temporary inconvenience. The train will begin moving momentarily.
If you've been following the debate about U.S. innovation, you might want to check out an article that I wrote for Tech Central Station: "The Death of Idea Factories... and the Birth of Idea Networks." Business Week recently ran a cover story article about "Outsourcing Innovation," claiming that the same outsourcing trend that swept through the manufacturing sector is set to wipe out the U.S. R&D sector as well. That's serious stuff, if indeed the U.S. is willing to outsource innovation to places like China and India.
The fallacy, of course, is thinking about innovation in terms of factories, manufacturing and "things." In other words, R&D units are not "idea factories" that manufacture innovation and design and other goodies. Hence, the title "The Death of Idea Factories."
In mid-January, Corante interviewed the two co-founders of NYC-based Dodgeball as part of its Future of Wireless series. The Dodgeball service started with a simple premise -- to coordinate social interactions between mobile users -- and has since morphed into a way for cool singles to "flirt and party" using text messages.
Amy Sohn's column on "Mating" in this week's New York Magazine features Dennis Crowley and Alex Rainert, calling Dodgeball "the hottest social-networking program to emerge in recent months" and an "addictive" technology for New York singles looking to meet up at bars and lounges around the city.
A clever infographic from The Onion takes a tongue-in-cheek look at eight reasons why wireless Internet access is popular with the "needy laptop-toting underclass." If you blog while doing laundry, you need to read this... (Hat tip: Paul Boutin)
In The New Yorker, James Surowiecki takes a closer look at the "cult of the billionaire next door." Hotshot CEOs like Ebbers, Rigas, Lay and Scrushy all were local boys who made it big before seeing their hometown empires crumble away. They were "outsiders and visionaries" who also turned out to be "hucksters":
"They all presided over companies that they essentially built from nothing. They all treated these companies as their own personal property. And they all came to be dominant figures in their home towns... Some of these ponds are smaller than others, but in each instance the soon-to-be-disgraced C.E.O. was the biggest fish around."
Tom Watson shares some of his experiences with Google's AdSense program and walks away unimpressed. So-called contextual advertising rarely delivers as planned -- especially when it comes to making sense of politically-charged blog postings:
"AdSense delivers little value, certainly doesn't pay the bills (as per my buddy Pamela Parker), and is fast becoming a humor meme in the blogosphere for its insane matching algorithms. Say it again folks: good advertising takes the mind of a human."
From Smart Mobs via PC Pro: "Google is inviting open source developers to swarm on its code..." If you know anything about perftools, coredumpers, sparsehashtables and goopy/functionals, you're golden.
After noting that there are "hundreds of blogospheres" and even more sub-communities of weblog users, Anil Dash of Six Apart looks at "some of the common steps of evolution within a blogging community." The first step, of course, is a long and vociferous debate about "What is blogging?"
"Once you see these trends, it becomes much easier to see how there is no one monolithic weblog medium, and that these trends are likely to repeat themselves forever... The other interesting generality about these issues is that they almost all end up not being a big deal. They seem like huge, all-consuming issues of great importance at the time, but they almost always end up being resolved with no clear answer and a vague sense that maybe it wasn't the end of the world after all."
Gothamist provides a list of the five best "old-school" Internet mailing lists that are essential for any New Yorker trying to stay informed about events happening around the city. The usual suspects -- like Daily Candy and Manhattan User's Guide.
Based on an executive survey, research firm Jupiter Research reports that most marketers are still wary of making the transition from search engine marketing to RSS-based marketing. The bottom line: "Most marketers remain skeptical of using RSS as a mechanism to supplement their e-mail marketing newsletter content." According to Jupiter, 45% of marketers have no plans to deploy RSS to supplement e-mail, with only 5% of marketers having current RSS-related marketing plans. That being said, Jupiter notes that "RSS is ideal for media firms and publishers that use e-mail as a broadcast tool."
How much is Ask Jeeves really worth? Barry Diller's IAC/Interactive Corp. offered to buy the company in an all-stock bid worth $1.95 billion. Shareholders are grumbling about the amount, while Wall Street analysts think that Diller once again proved his prowess as a big-time dealmaker. (the deal values Ask Jeeves at about $28 a share, well below the company's 52-week high of $44.66) In fact, one analyst issued a report called "IAC's Big Heist," in reference to the low price offered by IAC.
In general, Internet analysts were upbeat about the potential effect of the deal on Mr. Diller's company -- "it gives his company an entry into the rapidly growing market for advertising on search engines and also provides it with a broad Web site that could tie together its disparate parts, which include the Home Shopping Network, Ticketmaster, LendingTree, Match.com, and Citysearch."
"Sophisticated criminals have begun to use the unsecured Wi-Fi networks of unsuspecting consumers and businesses to help cover their tracks in cyberspace. In the wired world, it was often difficult for lawbreakers to make themselves untraceable on the Internet. In the wireless world, with scores of open Wi-Fi networks in some neighborhoods, it could hardly be easier."
The article goes behind the scenes with, among others, a New Jersey official at the Department of Homeland Security, who explains how easy it is for cybercriminals to tap into the Wi-Fi networks of unsuspecting neighbors. Moreover, the wireless networks at coffee shops, college campuses, and hotel lobbies are also exposed, say wireless security experts.
In The New York Times Magazine, Christine Rosen writes that "ego-casting technologies" like cellphones and TiVo "have put us out of touch with the manners and mores of public life." After explaining how private cellphone conversations sometimes "makes our daily commute a living hell for our fellow citizens on the bus or a danger to other drivers on the road," Rosen wraps up with an appeal for a bit more consideration of others:
"As a society, we need to approach our personal technologies with a greater awareness of how the pursuit of personal convenience can contribute to collective ills... Rather than turning on, tuning in and dropping out, we might perhaps do better, individually and socially, to occasionally simply turn our machines off."
For a rebuttal of Rosen's arguments, check out Douglas Kern's essay at Tech Central Station, "iPod, Therefore i Am."
Self-service photo centers at convenience stores and camera shops are turning into places to socialize for customers, most of them women, who like the leisure of editing their photos in a cafe-like atmosphere. Some shops are so intent to tap into the high-margin digital printing experience that they are providing all kinds of perks for busy customers, like coloring books for children.
And it's not only the shops that like the kiosks - companies like Eastman Kodak are eager to regain their dominance in the film industry by promoting digital printing kiosks. According to Kodak, kiosk printing increased by 356% in 2004. What's interesting is that "even with the proliferation of home printers designed specifically for photos, many camera owners are content to go out..."
With the departures of Michael Eisner from Disney and Hank Greenberg from insurance giant AIG, it looks like the end of an era, says Terry Keenan in the New York Post: "The reign of the imperial executive is officially over. R.I.P., celebrity CEO." Oh, and don't forget about Bernie Ebbers, the folks at Enron, the CEO of Boeing, and a whole raft of other top-level executives who now find themselves out of a job. In February alone, there were more than 100 high-level management changes, says the New York Post -- the highest number in more than four years.
Status-conscious New Yorkers are finding out that it's sometimes possible to obtain a cellphone number with a 212 area code. Once they do, they'll stop at nothing to obtain one: "In part because of the cachet of a 212 number, some people fight hard to obtain one, either by converting a land-line number or nabbing one of the few recycled 212 numbers that have slipped back into the wireless pool..."
The details are just coming in, but it looks like Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp is putting together a $2 billion acquisition bid for Ask Jeeves. The rationale for acquiring Ask Jeeves, the fourth-largest search engine company, is clear: "Advertising spending on search sites is rapidly growing and Mr. Diller's company appears to be trying to tap into a market dominated by Google and Yahoo."
The BBC notes that both the Wall Street Journal and New York Times are reporting that a formal announcement could take place as early as Monday.
As seen on the Gawker web site... a flashing banner ad for The Captain's Blog: Drink Captain Morgan's Puerto Rican rum and "blog with the captain." This is genius - check out the "blog party starter kit."
Blogger Jason Kottke is winding down his micropatron campaign at 12 noon today. Give what you can. If not out of altrusim, then out of pure self-interest -- kottke.org is awarding gifts to a limited number of donors who give $30 or more.
Amazon is analyzing the text of books to find statistically improbable phrases -- by knowing which phrases are unique for any one book, the reader (or prospective reader) knows instantly what a book is about. With that in mind, Onfocus lists the SIPs for Malcolm Gladwell's new book Blink: rapid cognition, intuitive repulsion, sip test, adaptive unconscious.
Viacom is mulling over plans to break the media conglomerate into two smaller pieces, driven by the failure of Wall Street to attach a higher valuation to the company. According to CEO Sumner Redstone, one piece will consist of the CBS television network and Infinity radio unit, while the other unit will consist of MTV and other high-growth cable assets. Since 2000, shares of Viacom have dropped by more than 50%, as investors grew dissatisfied with growth rates at the various media properties.
Viacom's decision will surely influence the strategic direction of other large media conglomerates: "Dividing Viacom also raises the question of whether media consolidation, which led to the formation of Time Warner Inc. and Walt Disney Co., the first- and second-biggest U.S. media companies, makes sense." Going forward, will the trend toward bundling together media properties be reversed?
911, 411, 311, 211. No, it's not some kind of funky Fibonacci sequence -- it's a list of information and hotline numbers in the greater New York metropolitan area.
According to The Journal News, the new 211 number will enable two million residents in Rockland, Putnam, Westchester, Orange, Ulster, Dutchess and Sullivan counties to make a free phone call "to learn about food pantries, housing, child care and financial aid in the region." In its first year of operation, the 211 hotline is projected to answer as many as 50,000 calls.
Newsday reports that, under the terms of a government agreement, the major credit card companies will refuse to participate in Internet sales of cigarettes nationwide. New York AG Eliot Spitzer puts the deal into perspective: "The result is that virtually all credit cards will no longer participate with Web sites based in the United States and abroad that sell cigarettes and tobacco products in every state."
"Scenester blogs" (as in "Friendster," not as in "sinister") can tip you off to private after-parties and hard-to-find secret back rooms at New York lounges, according to the New York Post. Blogs are emerging as a way for "bohemians to differentiate themselves from dilettantes, and dilettantes from the herd..." Among the blogs mentioned: Gothamist, ManicMess and GoodTimesRoll.
"Mena Trott, President and co-founder of Six Apart - makers of the MovableType software that runs Gothamist and most of the other blogs in the universe - will be in town and she wanted a chance to say hi to all the New York City bloggers and blog readers."
A special for St. Patrick's Day: Accenture's Guide to Strategic Outsourcing in Ireland. The PDF document offers an on-the-ground account of "the exciting possibilities that outsourcing offers, not only for cost reduction but also for real and sustained increases in customer satisfaction, productivity and profitability." While much of the talk about outsourcing involves India and other Asian nations, the value of the outsourcing market in Ireland is close to $234 million annually.
U.S. firms are already taking notice. In February, for example, IBM acquired Irish financial services outsourcing firm Equitant, which offers back-office financial services for several high-profile clients, such as Microsoft, Cisco and HP.
It's tax time again and the Bush Administration is buzzing about ways to overhaul the federal tax code, so the Wall Street Journal invites economist bloggers Tyler Cowen and Max Sawicky to weigh in on the tax reform debate in Washington.
Anybody with even a passing interest in the stock market (or a more than passing interest in Maria Bartiromo) has probably tuned into CNBC's Squawk Box at least once. What exactly is a "squawk box," though?
Wall Street & Technology has an interesting piece on the 50-year-old technology behind the squawk box -- and looks at how VoIP technology could lead to significant changes in the way that investment management firms think about their analog communication networks.
Forbes takes a closer look at how Wall Street investment bank Lehman Brothers was finally able to overcome its fears about wireless security and install a wireless network. Until January 2004, Lehman Brothers had a firm-wide "no wireless" policy, and, due to nagging concerns about enterprise security, the firm was putting off any plans to deploy wireless access points indefinitely.
That all changed, though, once Atlanta-based wireless security firm AirDefense was able to show that it was possible to erect a nearly ironclad wireless defense system. In addition, AirDefense was able to give Lehman remote access ability and the capability of monitoring possible rogue wireless activity. Now Lehman has more than 500 wireless access points deployed worldwide -- and plans to add more.
In a special PressThink commentary, Eric Nelson (a senior editor at John Wiley and Sons) "explains why he reads blogs obsessively, and why you don't do a book deal with the big name columnist to whom no one links..." Who wants to sign a book deal with a big, branded columnist who's "famous" -- but that nobody reads or links to?
He also explains why great bloggers with great (but under-publicized) Web sites are like great writers who manage to write a "handsell" book on the first time out. "Handsell" books are books that the publishing industry initially ignores -- but through steady word-of-mouth, these books steadily build a following and generate buzz weeks after they've been published. They are, quite simply, "those very few books that find astonishing success without a six-figure marketing campaign, Daily Show appearance, established author following, or cant-miss topic."
A growing number of Wall Street analysts are bullish on blogs, says Crain's New York. During the days of the tech bubble, David Jackson was a Morgan Stanley telecom analyst. Now, he's the blogger behind Internet Stock Blog, which dispenses daily advice on what companies are hot in the Internet sector. According to Crain's, about a dozen former Wall Street analysts have launched blogs in the last few months "in an effort to strut their smarts before a new audience and revamp reputations that took a severe beating when the stock market bubble popped..."
17-year-old Bronx teenager David Bauer, a senior at Hunter College High School, won the top prize in the Intel Science Talent Search for creating a sensor that detects exposure to toxic agents such as nerve gas. According to Bauer, the project could be useful in the event of a terrorist chemical attack.
In today's New York Post, media columnist Keith Kelly notes that New York Times investigative business reporter Tim O'Brien has signed a six-figure contract with Warner Books to write an unauthorized biography of Donald Trump. The working title is "Trump World: The Art of Being the Donald."
Adam Balkin of NY1 goes backstage at one of IBM's R&D Labs to get a glimpse of the Next Big Thing in computing. So what's new at IBM? Well, there's the assistive mouse adaptor "so that computer users with hand tremors or Parkinson's Disease don't get frustrated trying to point and click." There's also a new watch that is "designed to do everything from unlocking your car to displaying your medical history in an emergency."
Wi-Fi Planet profiles John Geraci, a graduate student in NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program, who is using Wi-Fi technology to create "an online meeting place where near neighbors can post and read messages of very local interest." Geraci explains the underlying concept of NeighborNode:
"What I wanted to do was reintroduce the idea of an old town center in a big, modern city. To create a non-threatening place where people who didn't know each other could have a dialog."
For now, there are 13 NeighborNodes up and running, with the majority of them clustered near Greenwich Village.
On March 29, Yahoo will launch a new service called Yahoo 360 that will integrate blogging and social networking features with other Yahoo product offerings:
"The service is designed to enable Yahoo's 165 million registered users to pull content from the Web site's discussion groups, online photo albums and review section to plug into their own Web logs, or blogs... Yahoo also is making it easier for the service's users to connect with others who share common interests and friends a practice known as social networking."
The MTA failed to pass the much-debated subway photo ban. Gothamist points to an article in Newsday detailing the reasons why the MTA failed to get all its ducks in a row: "Officials said the hold-up is the result of an outpouring of criticism about the move, which would offer exemptions to working photojournalists but give police wide latitude in limiting even the most innocent souvenir-taker from clicking away."
NYC photobloggers will be granted a reprieve until May, when the MTA is set to conduct a full board meeting.
"Sirius' radios as yet remain a bit on the uninspired side, at least when compared with the MyFi and other previous efforts from the XM camp. That's the feeling I have after trying the XACT STR1 Stream Jockey receiver from XACT Communications... If Sirius is your choice for satellite radio service... you could do worse. But certainly I think that Sirius and its hardware partners can and should be doing better."
The Project for Excellence in Journalism has concluded that "the future of traditional news organizations, in particular newspapers, could be in cyberspace." Recognizing this fact, mainstream media -- especially newspapers -- should invest heavily in their online news operations in order to make up for a decline in traditional offline readership.
That's the prescription, but the medicine is hard to swallow. Most mainstream media organizations are actually adopting the opposite strategy -- they are slashing their Web operations while trying to win back traditional readers. According to the director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, "Cuts in Web newsrooms have meant less original content and fewer updates, along with a reluctance to embrace new technologies that allow for video reports, blogs and greater interactivity."
The New York Post has a brief item in today's paper about a new e-mail notification system from the LIRR that enables commuters to receive e-mail alerts sent to their computers or pagers about service delays. Apparently, it's as easy as visiting the MTA site and clicking on the LIRR button.
New York-based VC Ed Sim, who was recently recognized by Fast Company for his Beyond VC blog, explains why the ability to say "No" to a possible deal is sometimes more important than knowing how to say "Yes." Sim explains: "Having done enough deals, I am of the opinion that if it is extremely one-sided and never makes economic sense, it is a recipe for disaster." One of the problems, says Sim, is that over-heated market segments lead to decisions made by the heart and not by the head. Instead of focusing on bottom-line profitability and ROI, companies start thinking in terms of customers acquired (even if they are money-losing) or market share (or, even worse, "mind-share"):
"From my perspective, one of the huge problems is that there is tons of VC money out there and lots of me-too deals... A space gets hot, lots of venture money pours in, and only a few companies survive while the rest vaporize. We do live in a competitive world and taking market share and killing your competition is part and parcel with being in a startup in a large market. That being said, what killed many companies during the bubble was pursuing market share at all costs..."
IBM is taking the wraps off its newest on-demand supercomputing facility, which will showcase the power of its Blue Gene supercomputers (the world's fastest). By making access to Blue Gene more available to researchers and corporations, IBM hopes to stoke demand for the super computer itself.
So who needs this kind of ultra-fast, ultra-powerful computing power? According to experts, "the system is well suited for applications in the life sciences, such as genome research, the petroleum industry, for seismic analysis and reservoir modeling, and automotive and aerospace manufacturing for computer-aided engineering." Oh, and Wall Street firms might also be willing to tap into the number-crunching possibilities.
Apparently Martha Stewart has found a way to pass the time while she's under house arrest at her estate outside of New York City: she's chatting online with her adoring fans. Typing away from her kitchen, Stewart discussed the chances of writing a tell-all autobiography, debated the merits of her now-infamous ankle bracelet and provided a glimpse of her Easter dinner plans (kielbasa).
If you think oil at $55 a barrel is bad, what about oil at $100 a barrel? The New York Daily News talks to some Wall Street analysts who think that scenario is not so far-fetched. If true, "New Yorkers can expect to be socked for items from gasoline and heating oil to rent and groceries."
The New York Post reports that cable TV titan John Malone, who was rumored to be considering an acquisition of Cablevision's Voom satellite TV unit, is no longer interested. In a conference call with investors, Malone distanced himself from Voom: "I wouldn't do it with my money. We were offered on a number of occasions an opportunity to participate in a third satellite competitor and we declined because we didn't think the risks were warrented by the potential returns."
Considering that Malone was "handpicked" by Dolan to sit on Cablevision's board, the negative comments about Voom are somewhat surprising. Or is it just a clever negotiating tactic to talk down the value of Voom so that Malone can swoop in and buy the company at a sharp discount?
At the same time that the domestic airline majors like Delta and American are cutting costs to the bone in an effort just to survive, low-cost airline rivals like JetBlue continue to add premium in-flight technology options. The New York Times explores this seeming paradox, noting that Song (the low-cost subsidiary of Delta) has "quietly introduced a costly in-flight entertainment system that rivals the fancy audio-visual diversions found on the most luxurious international carriers - and one that is far superior to anything offered on any major domestic carrier, including Delta." Taking a cue from JetBlue (which pioneered the idea of in-seat TV monitors), the Song system offers 10 pay-per-view recent movies; 1,600 audio tracks; 11 video games; and satellite-transmitted TV programs.
The resolution, introduced by Council Member Gale Brewer, is one way that the city is working to bridge the digital divide between the Internet haves and the Internet have-nots.
The effort to bring high-speed Internet access into affordable housing buildings was also made possible by the One Economy Corporation's Bring IT Home campaign, a national public policy initiative to enable lower-income families to tap into the power of the Internet.
Below, City Council Member Gale Brewer and Mark Levine, the One Economy executive who helped to draft the resolution, share their thoughts on what Resolution No. 669 means for New York City in an interview for Corante readers.
Q: For readers who may not be familiar with One Economy's nationwide "Bring IT Home" initiative, can you outline the key ideas behind the initiative as well as the likely impact of the initiative on New York City in particular?
Levine: "The fastest-growing sector of Americans using computers and the Internet is low-income individuals. Over the past several years, public and corporate investment has brought widespread technology access to Americas schools and has created thousands of computer technology centers. The next frontier for this critical work is in the homes of low-income people.
One Economys national Bring IT Home campaign promotes state-level public policy changes to make high-speed Internet connectivity standard practice. We work with State Housing Finance Agencies to craft policies that provide incentives to affordable housing developers to build and renovate housing that provides in-home high-speed Internet access. In some cases, the access is provided at low or no cost to the residents. Since Bring IT Home launched one year ago, housing finance policies have been amended in 29 states, affecting nearly 70 percent of all tax credit-financed developments. By the end of this year alone, more than 200,000 people in 80,000 homes across the country could have access to valuable online services and information in the comfort and convenience of their own home.
If fully implemented, in New York City alone, policy changes influenced by Res. No. 669 could impact at least 30,000 low-income households over the next three fiscal years."
Q: What is the nature of the collaboration between One Economy and the New York City Council in bringing high-speed Internet access to affordable housing residents?
Levine: "The New York City Council turned to One Economy for our expertise in this type of policy development. Weve been working with Council Member Brewer and the Committee on Technology in Government for more than a year to help fashion the policy and ensure the successful passage of the resolution. Thanks to the Councils leadership and vision, New York has set the bar for other cities to consider similar action for the benefit of their communities."
Brewer: "The Committee on Technology in Government is working with One Economy because we both believe that broadband access has the potential to empower low-income children and families and expand their economic, social and educational opportunities. Broadband is not an amenity in today's world; it is a necessity. It helps adults find jobs and children do their homework. Encouraging high-speed Internet to be built into all new affordable housing developments in New York City is a cost-effective way to have an impact on the lives of many low-income New Yorkers."
Q: Can you also comment on the role that technology companies are playing in the build-out of the initiative? From the One Economy Web site, it looks like the New York Times Company, InterActiveCorp and Time Warner's AOL unit -- in addition to eBay, Yahoo and Google -- are all playing a role.
Levine: "One Economy is fortunate to have many generous and visionary corporations supporting our work. Members of the Bring IT Home campaign including Bell South, Cisco Systems, eBay, Fannie Mae Foundation, Freddie Mac, Google, InterActiveCorp, Intel, Microsoft, Qwest, SBC, Time Warner, Verizon and Yahoo!, and more than 120 nonprofit housing and community development organizations provide financial support and, in some cases, tailor their offerings to make them affordable and accessible to low-income Americans."
Q: What are the key criteria for determining which affordable housing developments in New York City are next in line to receive broadband Internet access? How many housing developments in New York have already been selected to participate in the program?
Levine: "One Economys primary role is at the policy level; our Bring IT Home Policy Change and Implementation kit helps states and municipalities craft policies that encourage developers to include high-speed Internet service in the homes they build. We also can help implement policy through a comprehensive education program that teaches developers how to bring the Internet to their residents.
In New York City, once the policy is implemented by the Citys Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), individual affordable housing developers will decide how they want to include broadband as part of their application for funding. Housing policies which have the most impact for low-income families consider both the provision of high-speed Internet infrastructure and service. For instance, HPD's Tax Credit Allocation Plan could require the installation of wired or wireless infrastructure in all tax credit properties and the provision of broadband service to be included in the rent. In other cities and states where similar policy changes have been made, housing developers are quickly realizing the benefits of incorporating broadband into their units, from both development and property management perspectives."
Q: Could you quantify, please, the scope of the "Bring IT Home" initiative in New York City, in terms of # computers, # housing developments, # residents to receive Internet access, etc.
Levine: One Economy has been working with individual affordable housing developers throughout the city in advance of formal policy change. Twelve hundred apartments in the Mt. Hope section of the Bronx have been wired for broadband, 200 more are coming online in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, and additional projects are in the early stages of development. A New York City computer distribution program is being crafted and will launch in the near future."
Q: What other steps are planned by the New York City Council and the Committee on Technology in Government, specifically to address the digital divide in the city?
Brewer: "We are working aggressively on many fronts to address the digital divide in New York City. The New York City Council unanimously passed Resolution Number 669 on February 2, 2005. Our next step, working with One Economy, is to meet with the housing authority and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to discuss the resolution. Using our ability to hold oversight hearings, we are scheduling a hearing on April 7 regarding the Mayoral Administrations study of the New York Citys telecommunications infrastructure. At that time, we will hear public comments from stakeholders and telecommunications experts. We are particularly interested in hearing the Administrations position as well as the testimony of witnesses regarding how the Administrations telecommunications plan addresses the lack of affordable and universally accessible broadband in New York City. We think the commissioning of this study is a step in the right direction, but we hope to keep the Administration focused on our position that affordable and universally accessible broadband is a right of all New Yorkers. The Committee is also planning to introduce legislation to create a broadband commission to study the fiscal and technical feasibility of New York City implementing a metro-wide wireless broadband network."
Stop and gawk at the new technologies: DestiNY USA is building an 800-acre tourist theme park in upstate New York to highlight emerging new technologies. According to the online version of the Daily Telegraph, the park will be so massive that could "rival Silicon Valley." Is that all Silicon Valley is -- a giant theme park full of carnival amusements like Google and Yahoo? A British investment banker comments on the deal:
"It's really a very Victorian idea, like a bigger version of Kew Gardens. The concept is based around science and technology research but with opportunities to gawk, as well as shops and restaurants."
MaxDelivery.com generated a fair amount of buzz last week with the news that it was planning to pick up where Kozmo and Urban Fetch left off. (Or, is that "drop off where Kozmo and Urban Fetch picked up"?) According to one New York blogger, it looks like the same folks who brought you Kozmo are back in the game:
"I called a friend from my Kozmo days. Lo and behold - it's not just a bunch of no-name kids trying their hand at the "from the internet to your door in under an hour" game. It's Chris Siragusa - the former CTO at Kozmo."
Getting personal items back from the clutches of airport security
Ever had a personal item confiscated by an airport security screener? Now, there's a solution to those problems from ReturnKey Systems and ItemReturn.com: the two companies are "setting up automated kiosks near screening areas that will, for $6 to $22, send a restricted item home by mail." The kiosks are currently in five U.S. airports, including La Guardia and Newark Liberty.
Alan Meckler revels in the fact that Jupitermedia generated nearly $1 million in revenue, virtually overnight, by creating a new stock photo Web site (Comstock 1700k) that enables users to download royalty-free photos in bulk via paid subscription:
"We launched the site a few weeks ago and sales are moving in on $20,000 per week and building. Our promotion effort was nothing more than running banners on our various image Web sites as well as some of our developer sites in the JupiterWeb network... This is an example of terrific organic growth for virtually no cost. It is also an example of how amazing the Internet is as a distribution channel. No promotion cost, no inventory cost and very little effort."
Out for bid: the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) is looking for "one or more highly qualified contractors to build, install, and maintain equipment that will deliver groundbreaking enhanced technology services to taxicab passengers." These technology services include -- but are not limited to -- credit/debit card payment capability, an interactive passenger information monitor (PIM) and text messaging capability.
According to the Commissioner of the TLC, bidders responding to the RFP will be doing their part to make New York City's taxi cab fleet the best in the world:
"This RFP allows the City to bring all of its knowledge, experience and buying power to bear on behalf of both the taxicab industry and the riding public. The way it was structured will allow this project to culminate in improvements in customer service that are light years ahead of anything taxicab riders have ever seen anywhere in the world..."
Randall Stross analyzes why Sony -- despite having invented the Walkman in 1979 and owning major entertainment companies like CBS Records -- was woefully unprepared for the success of Apple's iPod digital music player:
"On one side, Sony has 50 years of experience in producing portable music players, beginning with transistor radios in the 1950's and extended by its Walkman franchise that has sold more than 340 million players. On the other, it owns one of the world's largest music labels to supply content. Yet in the iPod era, Sony's headstart counts for nothing. It's as if the company were the Sony Graphophone and Wax Record Company..."
At the heart of the issue, says Stross, is the fact that "Sony is accustomed to thinking of itself as consisting of two well-matched halves: electronics and entertainment." But can the company be simultaneously an "entertainment company" and a "widget company"? If the two sides of the company talk to each other only grudgingly, the answer is no. There are a whole litany of other problems: a determination to use proprietary standards, fears of digital piracy, an inability to price new product offerings competitively and a naive belief in synergy.
On late Friday afternoon, Warner Music filed with the SEC for a $750 million IPO. Details are still being worked out: "In its SEC statement, the company did not estimate how many shares or at what price it planned to offer its stock..." In addition, the company isn't even sure whether it will list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange or on the Nasdaq." Since Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are managing the deal, we trust that Warner Music has the matter under control.
Adam Penenberg, an assistant professor of journalism at NYU, weighs in on the problem of click fraud, in which pay-per-click advertisers end up footing the bill for thousands of dollars in clicks from illegitimate sources (i.e. bots or competitors) who have absolutely no intention of buying anything. At the Search Engine Strategies Conference in New York, Penenberg served on the "Click Fraud: Problem or Paranoia" panel, where he had a first-hand chance to hear stories from the trenches about click fraud. According to Penenberg, some small business owners can report losses anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000, with one victim even abused for as much as $300,000.
At the O'Reilly Emerging Tech Conference next week, staff writer James Surowiecki of The New Yorker (author of the highly-popular The Wisdom of Crowds) will be giving a presentation called "Independent Individuals and Wise Crowds, or Is It Possible to Be Too Connected?". Surowiecki and Malcolm Gladwell are probably two of the best examples of New York media figures who are doing some of the most creative and innovative thinking about trends that affect the future direction of business & technology. Among the questions that Surowiecki will be tackling:
"How can we reap the benefits of collaboration and collective decision-making, while still ensuring that people remain independent actors? Are networks problems as well as solutions? What might it mean to be too connected?"
After receiving hundreds of anonymous tips and suggestions, FishBowlNY felt compelled to offer readers a peek at the increasingly public war-of-words between blog publishers Nick Denton and Jason Calacanis:
"If you're interested in blog warfare and graft issues related to blogs, Gawker media's Nick Denton and Weblogs, Inc.'s Jason Calacanis are lobbing virtual grenades at each other over whether bloggers should be allowed to take junkets. We'd much rather see Conde Nast and Hearst lobbing grenades at each other over whether highly paid journalists should be allowed to take junkets, and the commercial blogosphere is irritatingly similar to academiatempests, teapots, small stakes (microscopic, even)but some of you care about this stuff or we assume you wouldn't have Anonymous Tipped us those 347 times..."
The New York Post reports that Chuck Dolan of Cablevision is busy scraping together $10 million to keep his cherished Voom satellite TV unit alive. Voom is a money-loser ($640 million in losses and counting), but the senior Dolan is determined to make it work -- even if it means re-jiggering the board of directors, feuding with his son in public, selling shares of the company to raise cash and borrowing against his Class B "super-voting" shares. One scenario has Dolan and cable titan John Malone (recently installed on the Cablevision board) pooling their money & resources to buy the Voom unit outright.
Since finding a yellow cab in Brooklyn can be tricky, the borough's leaders are working on a new plan that would enable residents and tourists to hail a cab or private car service using a cell phone and simple GPS technology: "You make a call, and a taxi knows exactly where to pick you up." The initial plan calls for London-based Zingo to "import" its GPS system to well-recognized tourist locations in Brooklyn; from there, the system could be rolled out borough-wide.
After hearing news about the launch of a new urban delivery service in the city, Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures analyzes how MaxDelivery.com can avoid the pitfalls of forerunners like Kozmo and Urban Fetch. Given that Fred is a VC, Rule #1 might strike some as counter-intuitive: "Don't accept venture capital."
The problem is that failed ventures like Kozmo tried to become too many things to too many people and expanded to too many cities, too quickly. By not raising a venture capital round, MaxDelivery.com can focus on keeping its inventory down and serving a specific geographic location -- New York City.
In this week's "Circuits" section, The New York Times takes a look at how cell phones are changing the rules of social interaction and blurring the line between "efficiency" and "dependency." For one thing, nobody memorizes phone numbers anymore. But does that make us more efficient by freeing up room to memorize other more important details -- or does it have the insidious result of "dumbing people down"?
Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine calls for open source ad tags as a way to "enable advertising across citizens' media, to support our new medium, and to serve marketers more efficiently than we possibly can today." The idea builds on some notions of Sell Side Advertising discussed by, among others, John Battelle of Searchblog and Dave Morgan of ClickZ.
IBM has been given the green light to sell its PC business to China's largest computer maker, Lenovo Group, for $1.25 billion. The deal was finally cleared by a U.S. national security panel, according to Crain's New York. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. had voiced concern that China might conduct industrial espionage at IBM's Research Triangle Park facilities or gain access to technology with possible military applications.
Engadget reports that Mitsubishi is the latest auto manufacturer to make Sirius Satellite Radio a factory-installed option on new models: "Mitsubishi tags along behind all the other auto makers already offering Sirius: Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Infiniti, Jeep, Lincoln-Mercury, Lexus, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Porsche, Scion, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo."
JPMorgan Chase is thinking about building an Internet-based payment system similar to PayPal, according to senior executive Heidi Miller. During an interview with Reuters, Miller hinted that "the bank has a payments steering committee studying the best way for it to take advantage of changes in the way consumers and businesses make and receive payments... The creation of PayPal is a good example of how big banks in general, with extensive knowledge of payment systems and with infrastructure in place, failed to keep up with smaller, nimbler companies." The move would put JP Morgan Chase in direct competition with eBay, setting up a potential battle between a 20th century titan and a 21st century colossus.
Gothamist points to an article in the New York Observer ("Revenge of the Apple Nerds") about a brewing feud between Apple and Tekserve, an independent Apple repair shop that prides itself as a "true indie." According to some Tekserve employees, Apple has been specifically targeting the company with its two new locations in Manhattan in much the same way that Starbucks targets independent coffee shops with new locations. Gothamist calls it a "gentrification story within the niche technology sector."
The New York Inns Hotel Group, which bills itself as "Boutique Hotels for the Budget Minded", will now offer Manhattan hotel guests broadband wireless Internet access as a standard feature. According to the company's press release, Wi-Fi is a valuable marketing perk: "Quality hotel accommodation at affordable rates in Manhattan, become even more affordable with much broader spectrum of offered amenities."
The New York Daily News gives readers an advance preview of SongLink'd -- a new music recognition service from Manhattan-based MusiKube set to launch next Monday. According to Maki Becker, it's a "new service [that] can turn your cellphone into your own personal "Name That Tune" machine.
Say, for example, that you're shopping for new clothes at a store in midtown. A catchy tune is playing in the background -- you recognize it (kinda), but can't seem to make a positive ID. So you pull out your cellphone, dial 866-SONG-411, point the phone in the direction of the music, and within seconds, you'll get a text message with the name of the song and the artist as well as a link to a Web site where you can buy or download the song.
PR blogger Steve Rubel of Micro Persuasion is offering a unique opportunity for large New York-area companies to learn more about blogging: "If you work in corporate communications or marketing for a New York Metro Fortune 1000 company and you're curious about blogs, podcasting, RSS and/or citizen marketing, I'd be happy to come in for an informal chat with your team gratis..."
SiliconValleyWatcher breaks some news about Yahoo that could be good news for small publishers everywhere: "Yahoo, through its advertising network Overture, is testing "YPN" a competitor to Google Adsense -- the hugely profitable advertising network."
According to Paid Content, YPN stands for "Yahoo! Publisher Network". A link found on the Yahoo site explains: "To support the publishing community, Yahoo! will be introducing new products and services-including publishing tools, advertising products and access to our Yahoo! audience. Our products will leverage the Yahoo! network to provide the most value for small publishers..."
Adam Balkin of NY1 explores a virtual Chinatown, courtesy of a "Mapping Our Heritage" project at a Chinatown museum. The virtual Chinatown is a "new permanent, high-tech installation designed to give you unique insight into the nation's largest Chinatown" -- complete with a 3-D, interactive map. Visitors can find it at the Museum of Chinese in the Americas (MoCA), 70 Mulberry Street.
As part of an ongoing attempt to turn itself into a "full-service financial firm," online brokerage E-Trade is planning to build a new 3,000-square foot flagship office on the ground floor of the Colgate-Palmolive Building at 300 Park Avenue. Once the new office is completed, the company will move from its current address at 445 Park Avenue. What's interesting is that 300 Park Avenue is also the current home of one of Charles Schwab's 8 branch offices in Manhattan.
The symbolism of a brick-and-mortar presence is key: "It shows customers E-Trade's not a virtual company that only exists on the Internet and could evaporate - but a tangible place that will take care of their assets."
Business Week's Heather Green profiles del.icio.us founder Josh Schachter, a 30-year-old New Yorker who has developed an intuitive, easy-to-use tagging system to organize the Web's information. Tagging is growing so fast, in fact, that Business Week refers to it as a "grassroots alternative to traditional search." Schachter has another way to characterize del.icio.us: "It's a way to augment your memory and a fountain of interesting things."
To see tagging in action, check out Nick Denton's tagging experiment over at Gawker Media's Gridskipper: "If you're using Wists, Delicious or Flickr, and you're posting an item that might be good for Gridskipper, just add a gridskipper tag. I'll be monitoring the feeds. Maybe we can even syndicate them to gridskipper.com..."
The strange death of the New York Sun's business section
FishBowlNY on the news that the New York Sun's business section is being scrapped after only two months: "Budgetary issues, we hear. (Doesn't Michael Steinhardt want to read about his friends and enemies? Isn't that why financiers put money into print media properties? It's certainly not the ROI.)"
McGraw-Hill will acquire consumer quality and satisfaction ratings provider J.D. Power, considered by many to be "one of the most-courted information properties on the market." Outsell Now comments on the significance of the transaction, calling it "a sign of the ongoing convergence between the ad/media/marketing and the market research industries."
In the press release announcing the deal, McGraw-Hill says that "the addition ... will significantly strengthen our core business information platform by providing a new direct link to consumers, while also providing new collaborative opportunities with our leading franchises including BusinessWeek, Platts, McGraw-Hill Construction, Aviation Week and our healthcare group."
As Yogi Berra would have said, "It's deja vu, all over again"... MaxDelivery.com is billing itself as the latest reincarnation of Kozmo or Urban Fetch: "MaxDelivery allows you to buy all of the things you need every day, from food to drug store items to DVD rentals, and get them brought to your door in under an hour! GUARANTEED."
Curbed, though, is less than impressed: "Huh, whatta concept. Beta service starts March 15; free t-shirts, pints of Ben & Jerry's, and cover story in Silicon Alley Reporter, er, Calacanis' blog to follow..."
Writing in this week's New York magazine, Kurt Andersen suggests that the end of Dan Rather's Old Media reign is yet another sign that a grander, less democratic (but more Democratic) age is over, flushed out by bloggers with little or no regard for institutional media.
While Andersen appreciates the power of bloggers, he still views them as "a second-tier journalistic species":
"They are remoras. The Times and CNN and CBS News are the whales and sharks to which Instapundit, Kausfiles, and Kos attach themselves for their free rides. (Remoras evolved special sucking disks; bloggers have modems.)"
Andersen offers his vision of the future -- Big Media eventually absorbing the blogging intelligentsia -- but not before journalism returns to its 19th-century roots:
"Journalism is reverting to a very old-school status quo, when most coverage was as partisan as todays New York Posts. In the middle of the nineteenth century, New York City had a population of 500,000 but more than a dozen daily papers and countless weeklies, most of them small-scale, idiosyncratic reflections of their editors and owners, chockablock with summaries of stories nicked from other publicationsin other words, very bloglike. Back then, too, papers and magazines depended overwhelmingly on revenue from selling copies to readers, not from ads. The advertising tail did not yet wag the media dog."
According to sources close to the New York Post, an investor group led by Edgar Bronfman, Jr. is planning to take Warner Music Group public anytime within the next 30 to 60 days. The IPO could raise anywhere from $750 million to $1 billion for Warner Music, currently the world's fourth-largest recording company with 38,000 artists (like Madonna and Green Day) under contract.
Now, Tyler is back with an independent project that he's doing on his own dime. It's called Chameleon Reader -- a Bloglines alternative blog reader that makes use of the Bloglines Web API. Tyler explains why he created Chameleon:
Do you like Bloglines? I do. But the number of feeds I was trying to deal with quickly got away from me. I don't think folders are the answer. Therefore, I've created this work-in-progress, which does a few cool things:
* Keeps track of which feeds you read, how often, and when
* Figures out which feeds are your favorites, using a few novel algorithms
* Identifies the top links in your feeds -- like Blogdex, but for your feeds only
* Shows you your usage scores based on the algorithms
If you're a heavy Bloglines reader, it's worth checking out.
Newsweek profiles "super-blogger" and "micro-celebrity" Jason Kottke, comparing him favorably to the "Today" show's Matt Lauer. By some estimates, Kottke's site receives 25,000+ visitors a day, so for any blogger hoping to build a large, loyal audience, it's worth finding out Kottke's take on journalism, blogging and micro-advertising.
A brilliant essay in The New Yorker from Sasha Frere-Jones explains why ringtones are so fascinating:
"The ringtone also teaches us how songs work. Which clip best exemplifies a song? Did the ringtones maker select the right bit? Do you even need to hear the singing? Perhaps the part of the song that arouses our lizard brain is the instrumental opening. It may be stranger and more sublime to hear a polyphonic impression of George Michaels voice than to listen to the real thing one more time. If a song can survive being transposed from live instruments to a cell-phone microchip, it must have musically hardy DNA..."
Clive Thompson agrees, calling ringtones "a curious artform, part metaphor and part metonym: both a version of the thing and the thing itself."
"Rifts like the Dolan-clan conflict often occur between a self-made father and the eldest son, who feels the most pressure to follow in his dad's footsteps... [Chuck Dolan] is the kind that says, 'I have taken all the hard knocks and done all the hard work, and I don't want to share the glory.' Although he doesn't purposefully set traps, he makes it really tough. In turn, the son feels really aggressive toward the father."
But, wait, there's more... Two Wall Street research analysts have just issued "one of the more amusing and unusual research reports ever filed" -- it compares the Dolan-Dolan family squabble to three of literature's greatest father-son rivalries: Henry IV and Prince Hal, Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker & Dr. Evil and Scott Evil. Now this is getting silly.
The family squabble over at Cablevision is getting nastier by the day, says the New York Post. Apparently, Charles Dolan (the patriarch of the family) has taken control over the company's board of directors by taking advantage of his Class B "super-voting" shares and is threatening to kick his son, Jimmy Dolan, from the board. Then, he'll attempt to stall for time until he can put a financing bid together to buy the assets of Voom, Cablevision's satellite venture.
Cable industry rivals are enjoying the show but are a bit concerned about any spillover effects: "It makes for fascinating theater. But it's a big step away from normal corporate governance. I bet the first shareholder lawsuits are being drawn up..."
"I appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night (March 3), in a taped "report" about the new journalism with correspondent Rob Corddry. It was fun and a little unnerving. Bill Doskoch has a blow-by-blow, and Crooks and Liars has the video, if you want to see. I didn't see the whole show (traveling) but I am told Stewart asked Ari Fleischer straight out if the administration just saw the news media as just another special interest group."
In "Preparing Today's Student Journalists for Tomorrow's Journalism," Steven I. Weiss, the editor and publisher of New York-based CampusJ, talks about the issues of covering Jewish news on campus and the challenges of training a new generation of Jewish journalists. According to Weiss, Jewish campus life matters more than ever before for the wider Jewish community:
"Major concerns of Jewish life are increasingly influenced by what goes on at college campuses. Whether it's academia's approach to teaching Israel, or anti-Semitism faced by students, events and issues that resonate with the entire Jewish community often are located there - and there's no better place to get that information than from the students themselves."
In his weekly e-commerce report, Bob Tedeschi of the New York Times looks at the new generation of Web-enabled ATMs. Banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America are finally realizing that it's time to give their "painfully low-tech A.T.M.'s a dose of Internet technology aimed at speeding transactions, reducing paperwork and exposing customers to a much wider range of transactions."
Since online banking customers are generally more profitable for a bank than offline-only customers, the technology boost could prove to be a win-win for both banks and customers. A New York-based marketing consultant explains why banks are trying to migrate customers online: "What banks love about it is that people who bank online tend to hit their bank, so to speak, more times per month than people who just go to the branch. So it gives banks more marketing opportunities."
"We believe Yahoo is likely to continue to invest in the blogosphere; we see Yahoo building and buying blog tools and RSS search capabilities to complement MyYahoo's readership/aggregation service."
What's interesting is that the article refers to Yahoo as an "Internet media company" and that the words "blog content" and "advertising" were mentioned in the same breath. No surprise, really, that Yahoo is moving into blogging -- they almost have to, after Google bought Blogger and AskJeeves bought Bloglines. Stay tuned for more about Yahoo's possible blog media empire.
In November, the Gotham Gazette ran a piece by Sarah Myland Kaufman urging the MTA to put Wi-Fi Internet access on commuter trains like Metro-North and the LIRR. While other major metropolitan areas like London, Paris, Seattle and Tokyo are all considering Wi-Fi on various forms of commuter transportation, the MTA has stated several times that it has no intention of providing wireless Internet access. As of now, writes Kaufman, "New York City provides Wi-Fi on no transportation mode other than the Hampton Jitney and the LimoLiner luxury bus to Boston."
So who better to ask about Wi-Fi for the New York commuter rails than Craig Plunkett, a self-described "New York Wi-Fi guy" who was instrumental in putting Wi-Fi on the Hampton Jitney? (Be sure to watch his QuickTime movie about Wi-Fi on the Hampton Jitney - an "epic tale of bandwidth and mobility for high-powered Hamptonites.") Last June, the New York Times profiled the Hampton Jitney's Wi-Fi rollout, mentioning Plunkett and his company CEDX.
Below, Plunkett answers a few questions about Wi-Fi and the MTA for Corante readers:
Q. Does it make sense for the MTA to install a system-wide Wi-Fi network in the subway or on the commuter rail lines like Metro-North or the LIRR?
"Wi-Fi in the subway would be a total loser, unless it was a comprehensive, vendor-neutral network that could carry both licensed and unlicensed network traffic (I include voice here too, whatever your opinion on subway cell conversations are).
Commuter Rail is a much easier, lower hanging fruit to pick with far better returns, especially in the New York Metro region. If you confine your revenue source to public wi-fi, there wouldn't be nearly enough revenue to cover the cost of a subway buildout. Plus, better subscriber devices and authentication methods more suited to subway travel need to come along. Dual mode Wi-Fi/Cell phones are the most likely devices to drive that usage. Average people (AOL users, not geeks and early adopters like Corante readers) also don't stay long enough in a subway station to use a laptop, which is where the revenue is coming from right now."
Q. What would be the cost of retrofitting one subway line with Wi-Fi?
"A really big number, because in the subway system, you have to use leaky coax to form the edge of the network, which is what is used to provide wireless coverage in the east river and hudson tunnels. Extrapolate from what it cost Verizon to do the East River Amtrak tunnels. You'd also have to use fiber to connect each station together. There's fiber in the subway tunnels for comms anyway so that's in place. I had heard that Nextel was negotiating with the Real Estate Department of the MTA to light up the subway, but that was at least a year ago."
Q. Based on your experience with the Hampton Jitney, what are the major stumbling blocks to putting Wi-Fi in the subway and on the commuter rail lines?
"The major stumbling blocks are the MTA and the Railroads themselves. I don't know if its a lack of will or concern, or the reservation of the MTA as a private hunting ground for firms represented by well-connected lobbyists, but in the three years I've been trying, I haven't met a single person that was even willing to champion the idea. I've applied to our local congressional delegation for an appropriation, and it seems reasonable to get the funds for a pilot buildout, along the lines of the Washington State Ferry system's model, but a basic requirement of getting an appropriation like that is that you have to have somebody within the MTA willing to work with you, and that's like looking for Hen's teeth. The federal reps have been gracious and met with us to discuss the idea, but without a driver within the MTA, you're going nowhere.
One MTA guy laughed when I asked the question,"Is there anybody in the organization that is measured on passenger satisfaction?" I met Katherine Lapp at a Long Island Association meeting last year, and she said that onboard internet access was going to be left to the discretion of the individual railroads. The first Metro-North guy that I demoed Wi-Fi to in November of 2002 said, "How come AT&T isn't coming to me with this?" The LIRR is drinking the 3G kool-aid peddled by the wireless carriers who say that everybody will have a cellular connection in their laptop in 2 years. One guy doesn't even return phone calls from me after I was referred to him by his boss.
The technology is the smallest issue. The same box we use on the bus can be inserted into the hole left by the removal of the RailCall phones, and we could probably deploy in about 90 days. The largest technology issue would be getting clean power from the train itself, but that's trivial. We work with a firm that did power supplies for the San Diego Trolleys, and they say it's easy. The most recent official reason for not doing it was the excuse that they are phasing out older cars, but of course we wouldn't deploy to those, we'd put them on the new ones, and install it in the older ones as they go through the overhaul process. So not every car would have wi-fi, but not every car has a bathroom, either.
The MTA is such a large organization, they don't want to work with a small firm such as ours, even though we have a system in operation and have more experience at running Wi-Fi nets than any other firm in the area. If they wait for the full fruition of 3G, they may wait forever and be shut out of a revenue source, both direct and indirect, because the carriers don't really need to rent much real estate from the MTA. Any additional fannies in the seats are more direct revenue from a ticket sold, more indirect from the revenue split on the Wi-Fi, and another car off the road, with all the social benefits that come from that. It's just such a no brainer, especially in the areas not served by electric trains, it mystifies me why all these doors are closed to my firm.
There's buckets of money left for 9/11 rebuilding, that could be used to strengthen the region's transportation system and ease the burden on the motor facilities. If I had $2 million to put free Wi-Fi on the LIRR, I could probably get more people to use the railroad in a year than the East Side Access Project will in 2010 when it's projected to be completed after Billions in costs."
Q. How would the MTA fund the build-out of the Wi-Fi network?
"The MTA wouldn't spend a dime, the provider would build out the network and do a revenue split, or at least that's the deal I proposed. Metro-North just issued an airport style RFP to build out a vendor-neutral cell/wi-fi network in Grand Central Terminal and the Park Avenue tunnels."
Thanks, Craig, for your time. Be sure to check out the Wi-RAN site for more information and updates about Wi-Fi and public transportation.
The New York Times previews the new online digital gallery of the New York Public Library, which includes over 275,000 images of manuscripts, dust jackets, menus and sheet-music covers, among other oddities. Beware, though, browsing through the images can be addictive: "If you dive in today without knowing why, you might not surface for a long, long time. The Public Library's digital gallery is lovely, dark and deep. Quite eccentric, too." There's 340 images from the NYPL science collection, for example, which chronicles more than 700 years (!) of science breakthroughs in fields like astronomy, chemistry, geology, mathematics, medicine, and physics.
In its Wednesday "Dining In" section, the New York Times takes an inside look at the world of online food delivery in NYC. Sites like MenuPages.com, for example, now have comprehensive menus available for almost any restaurant you might consider ordering from -- and New Yorkers are responding in huge numbers. After launching in November 2002, MenuPages.com now gets as many as 485,000 visitors a month.
MenuPages.com, started by New Yorker Greg Barton, has a small full-time staff (4 employees) but a staggeringly large database: 4,500 menus and growing. For those keeping track, the nearest competitor is actually Amazon.com, with 2,000 menus. There's some handy Zagat-like functionality at the MenuPages.com site: the ability to search by neighborhood (e.g. "West 40's") or by type of cuisine (e.g. "Brazilian").
Blogads is conducting a brief survey ("Blog Reader Demographics 2005") to learn more about typical blog readers. The goal, presumably, is to give advertisers as much information as possible about the types of people who read blogs. (Hat tip: NewYorkology)
Corante recently launched a new Science and Society blog from David Lemberg, the executive producer of the Internet-based talk radio show of the same name. David -- a New Yorker who recently relocated to the sunnier climes of Southern California -- has been interviewing some of the top minds in science since he launched the show in June 2003. On the blog, he'll be continuing his coverage of many of the same topics - the life sciences, physical sciences, planetary and earth sciences as well as discussing K-12 science education and the intersection between science and art.
Personal finance blogs, in which bloggers share tips and advice about how to manage money by using their own portfolios as examples, are becoming increasingly popular, says Terri Cullen of the Wall Street Journal. They're also becoming increasingly personal -- almost too personal:
"What really struck me about many of these blogs, and the people behind them, was the level of sensitive financial information they were willing to reveal. In the 'real world,' people tend to jealously guard the intimate details of their financial lives: What you earn, how much you've saved, what you owe is viewed as so personal that many are unwilling to share the details with anyone -- occasionally even their spouses... But the anonymity of the Web allows bloggers to open up the books and let others see how well, or how poorly, they're doing in the finance department."
One of the best personal finance blogs out there is PFBlog.com, which recently won accolades from InsideBlogging.com as the Best Personal Finance Blog of 2005.
Buzz Machine summarizes some of the key ideas circulating at a Harvard conference on blogging & journalism, including one notable quote from Len Apcar, editor in chief of NYTimes.com, who said that he is "ecstatic we bought About.com because it says the New York Times is not a newspaper company."
That's right, says Buzz Machine, the New York Times is not a newspaper company: "The New York Times is a news company, an advertising company, an audience company, a company in need of diversifying its ad base and in need of new sources of growth; it is and must be more than paper."
The New York City government has already spent $20 million in taxpayer dollars on a new computerized mapping project, known as NYCMap ('nice map'). However, as the Gotham Gazette points out, access to NYCMap is "tightly regulated" due to fears about terrorists getting their hands on it. Therein lies the dilemma: "Though the public paid for it, this really cool map is largely unavailable to the public... How dangerous is it to let the public see the world-class map its tax dollars made possible?"
NY1's Adam Balkin explains that Napster's Shawn Fanning, once the "most hated man within the music industry establishment," is back with a legal peer-to-peer file-sharing system that's already a a big hit at the New York Digital Music Forum.
Fanning's new company, Snocap, is attempting to win over former detractors of Napster: "What we're trying to do is enable that vision and enable that excitement and selection that Napster brought to the world, but do it in a place where people don't have to worry about getting sued; where they can get access to music and know when they download a track they know that it will bet the track they believe it was..."
How Not to Blog notes that the South Huntington Public Library on Long Island has started lending out iPod shuffles loaded with audio books from the Apple iTunes store. No word yet on whether the folks "checking out" the iPod shuffles have any plans to return them...
More than a month after Curbed mentioned the possibility of a new Apple store on Fifth Avenue, the New York Times "breaks" the news about a new glass cube structure at the GM building that will lead visitors to an underground Apple Computer store.
The real news, says Curbed, is the prospect of a third Apple store somewhere in the Flatiron District: "Plans are on the table for a boutique Apple store (about one-tenth the size of the Soho outpostthe iPod Mini, as it were, of retail outposts.) at an as-yet undisclosed site in Flatiron."
The New York Public Library's collaboration with Google must be paying off: on Wednesday, the library announced that a collection of 250,000 digital images (including maps, Civil War photos, illuminated medieval manuscripts and historic menus) will be available online later this week.
It's an exciting period of time at NYPL: "By opening the doors of our acclaimed collections to users over the Internet, we are plunging fully into an exciting new era of library service. These visual materials, many of which are unique to the library, will be available to anyone in the world with an Internet connection at any time, free of charge."
At the Search Engine Strategies conference today, a number of bigwigs from the leading search engine companies -- Google, Yahoo, AOL, AskJeeves, MSN -- talked on the general theme of "Search Convergence," sharing stories and insights about the ways that Internet search is continuing to evolve.
From a blogger's perspective, Yahoo seems to get it. During a 20-minute talk, Bradley Horowitz of Yahoo discussed the different forms of digital media, the Long Tail effect, the blogging ecosystem, the democratization of media, and the need to give equal status to both "mass" media and "micro" media. The final result is something that Yahoo is calling "My media" -- a highly-personalized media experience that can be integrated with a growing number of other Yahoo tools like Yahoo! Search. Good stuff.
"Circuits," one of our favorite sections of the New York Times that appears only on Thursdays, is apparently on the way out, says the New York Post. As if to add insult to injury, the section will probably be replaced by a new section dedicated to shopping, fitness and fashion.
At Micro Persuasion, Steve Rubel sees the demise of Circuits not as the final death knell of the dot-com era, but as a sign of the growing significance of gadget-oriented blogs: "Did the rising influence of the major gadget blogs like Engadget and Gizmodo play a role? This may be a sign of a coming shakeout in tech media..."
After apologizing for a 9-day blog absence, David Pogue of the New York Times dives right in with a glowing review of a piece of Tamrac photographic luggage -- the perfect carry-on for geeks with lots of electronic gear to haul around on vacation or business. According to Pogue, "Its absolutely perfect for anyone who travels with electronics gear; instead of lenses, boxes of film and so on, I loaded mine up with camcorder, power adapters and all the other stuff I mentioned. Everything is protected in a case thats small enough to qualify as a carry-on. And incidentally, at least half of the virtue is the locker-like design; everything is easy to find, easy to extract, and easy to put back."
Timeshifting -- the ability to watch or listen to a program where and when you want (think TiVo) -- is suddenly a hot topic in the world of satellite radio. Start-up company Time Trax Technologies is unveiling software that "won't take the place of a subscription but is designed to help XM and Sirius subscribers make the most of the pay services by letting them record and timeshift. One twist gives TimeTrax more appeal than its would-be competition: content (music, talk radio) is recorded as individual MP3 files in what [the founder of the company] describes as "useable chunks."
More details at Engadget, which published a lengthy interview with the CEO of Time Trax Technologies, Elliott Frutkin.
The New York Post explains how the regulated are now the regulators: "The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission set up a hotline and e-mail address to field complaints about its 495 inspectors from brokers, investment advisers, and others subject to regular SEC exams."
A hat tip to Steve Rubel of Micro Persuasion, who somehow found time to give a talk at the Search Engine Strategies Conference ("Blogs, Boards and Posts: Capturing Consumer Buzz Online") and still post a few reflections and comments on his blog about the conference.
While most of the sessions and clinics appear to be focused on search engine optimization and search engine marketing, there's also a bit of buzz about blogs and RSS at the conference. In the morning today, a four-person panel discussed "Web Feeds, Blogs & Search" and the various ways that corporations are experimenting with blogs and RSS feeds. A lot of Cluetrain Manifesto-type stuff about the need for corporations to "join the conversation" and understand what people are saying about them. People read blogs about sports, news and travel -- not about corporations -- so companies need to find ways to inject themselves into the conversations that people are actually having.
At the Search Engine Strategies Conference today, Jerry Yang of Yahoo talked about the future of search and the ways that the company is using search to link its various properties and create a cohesive Web-browsing experience for its users.
Internet News has more on Yang's kickoff speech, including details about the Yahoo Search Developer Network and some news about Overture Services (now in the process of being re-branded).