de.tech.ting

Posts Tagged ‘AOL’

Should I date Steve Jobs or Eric Schmidt?

Posted by andreaitis on June 9, 2010

Steve Jobs VS Eric Schmidt

Image by Dakiny via Flickr

This is what it’s come down to:

1. The open web is only as open as its benevolent dictators allow it to be.

2.  We are all Sophie and we must make a choice.

3. Poor AOL (er, I mean Aol.) can’t catch a break.  Had a wall when walls were decidedly un-cool.  Tore it down and a few years later walls are all the rage again courtesy of digital overlords  Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt and Mark Zuckerberg.

As Michael Hirschorn confirms in his latest piece in The Atlantic, the open web is, in fact, an illusion; closed is the harsh reality.

The shift of the digital frontier from the Web, where the browser ruled supreme, to the smart phone, where the app and the pricing plan now hold sway, signals a radical shift from openness to a degree of closed-ness that would have been remarkable even before 1995. In the U.S., there are only three major cell-phone networks, a handful of smart-phone makers, and just one Apple, a company that has spent the entire Internet era fighting the idea of open (as anyone who has tried to move legally purchased digital downloads among devices can attest). As far back as the ’80s, when Apple launched the desktop-publishing revolution, the company has always made the case that the bourgeois comforts of an artfully constructed end-to-end solution, despite its limits, were superior to the freedom and danger of the digital badlands.

via Closing the Digital Frontier – The Atlantic

Look, I don’t think the browser is going away any time soon, but someone always has the power in a relationship.  When it comes to technology, media and communication,  it’s not us.  I repeat: We are not running this show.

Which CEO got people to camp out overnight to buy a product sight unseen?  Apple CEO  Steve Jobs.

Which CEO runs a company that was “inadvertently collecting data about people’s online activities from unsecured Wi-Fi networks” over the past four (FOUR!) years?  Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

It’s all coming down to a choice between Apple and Google.  They are already far along the path to dominate our every interaction with media and information.   Sure, Mark Zuckerberg has the big murky moat around Facebook Island, but it’s contained.  We can choose to live with or without Facebook.  With Apple and Google, that choice is not as clear-cut.

Apple and Google both have mobile operating systems — Apple’s iPhone OS 4 vs Google’s Android.  They both develop, build and distribute devices for their own platforms.   They’re both in the advertising business — Apple’s iAd vs Google’s AdMob, to start.    They’re both also in the app-etizing business:

Like Apple’s (AAPL) iTunes App Store and Google’s (GOOG) own Android Market, the Chrome Web Store will showcase free and paid videogames, magazines, productivity apps and the like. As Web applications, they’ll run on most modern browsers. But if you happen to be running Chrome, you can “install” the apps directly in the browser so that they can be accessed via a sort of “super-bookmark.”

via Google’s App Store for the Web – All Things Digital

All this before we even get to TV.   If video killed the radio star, then Apple and Google are going to kill video.  Pay attention, because television as we know it is dead.  The concept of a television set is history;  it’s now just another (bigger) screen in your house.  Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt understand that one of our most important relationships is with the screen — small, medium or large, mobile or docked.  This is the relationship they want to control.  They want to be by our side every time we touch a screen:  anytime, anywhere, any way.

This is why I say it’s pretty clear Apple and Google are courting me.  Obviously they each want to build a future with me.  They’ve both managed to create an experience that strategically leaves me unfulfilled with a simple  flirtation.   Oh, I can have a casual encounter with Apple or Google products and see all the possibilities and potential but I have to actually commit to really get what I need.  They want me to commit, to share my personal information so they can lock me in, take me off the market.   It’s not even dating, really, more like a common-law marriage because once I choose between Apple and Google, that’s it.  I’m in it for the long haul.  Who wants to go through that break-up drama, trying to save and export data,  having to go back into that confusing scene to try to find a better match and then having to start all over again with the settings and preferences and the getting-to-know-you routine.

Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt are the controlling forces here, they are establishing how these relationships work and how they and their respective companies will benefit from consumer acquiescence.   Factor in their personal rivalry, and the stakes are high.  Think about how often you interact with a screen each day.  Google and Apple are truly our significant others.

I know I can juggle them for only so long, but I am not yet sure who will win my affections.  Apple focuses on fewer things but pays attention to every detail.  Google is more experimental but typically skips the finishing touches, the last 20% that puts some polish on rough edges.  With Apple, you’re in for elegance, style and whimsy.   With Google, you’ll have wide-ranging experiences but have to carry your own bags and at some point end up sleeping in one of those Google Street View cars.

Image by DonkeyHotey via Flickr

And where does Mark Zuckerberg fit into all this?

Seriously, we’re just gonna be friends.

Facebook is the BFF for more than 400 million people around the world.   Zuck’s got his hooks in us and he’s got our data, but he’s platform agnostic so he can play the field with both Google and Apple.

In the end, that may make him the best catch of all.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Advertisements

Posted in Business, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Arianna Huffington, Steve Case and Jay Rosen walked into a bar…

Posted by andreaitis on March 2, 2010

WASHINGTON - JANUARY 19:  Arianna Huffington a...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

“I didn’t kill newspapers, darling.”

Arianna Huffington knows a good soundbite when she says one.  Perhaps that’s why The Huffington Post co-founder quoted her own 2009 Webby Awards acceptance speech at the American Association of Advertising Agencies’ conference in San Francisco yesterday.  Ariantrepreneur (my new nickname for her) was at the4A’s conference to speak about their theme,  Transformation 2010.   Here’s a description of the conference from 4A’s site.  To help, I’ve highlighted in this lovely hue some of my favorite jargon-y phrases:

It’s time for a transformation. Not just of words, but of actions. Of the ways of thinking that influence how brands communicate with consumers. About moving the mindset from disruption to partnership. Of even changing the ways that agencies conduct business and think of their products and deliverables.

Transformation 2010 is not just the amalgamation of the 4A’s Media and Leadership Conferences. It’s a unique opportunity to get everyone—managers, creatives, media, digital, production—into the same room at the same time to discuss the pressing matters of the day. Collaborate with and ask questions of one another. Listen to leaders who have first-hand experience in transforming their own businesses to meet the emerging needs of a new era. Be a part of the bigger picture, the solutions to the time-consuming age-old questions of monetization and evolution.

via American Association of Advertising Agencies

Well.  You might expect a conference of ad agency types to have better, clearer, less trite copy.   What’s it actually mean, what’s the conference about?  A reasonable question.  Arianna provided some perspective by revisiting her famous five words:  “I didn’t kill newspapers, darling.”  In that she captured the ever-growing gap between traditional media and digital media, and the need for various bridges to help consumers, content creators and advertisers walk (or even run)  from single-minded media to social multimedia.

Arianna was there to help.  Knowing she was speaking before the national trade association of the advertising agency business, Arianna worked the room with a tried but true formula:  List + Alliteration. While she may have tossed off the old line, she unveiled some new ones as well:  the 4E’s.

She charted the “4E’s” — engagement, enthusiasm, empathy and energy — needed to tap into the zeitgeist of the digital era that’s transforming the content business.

“This is the era of engagement,” Ms. Huffington said, then quoted musician Will.i.am’s assessment of the news climate, where consumers used to get news on the couch, and are now getting news on a “galloping horse.”

via Arianna Huffington Preaches 4E’s of Web Content at 4A’s — Advertising Age

The second I heard the 4E’s I recalled a similar list from my AOL days.   Back when Steve Case and Bob Pittman held company meetings dressed as the Blues Brothers and, yes, threw the requisite beer bashes on the lawn, Steve Case also talked about the 5C’s.  This from a 2004 interview:

When I was trying to popularize the concept of the Internet — ten or 15 years ago — I came up with this concept of “the 5 Cs.” Services needed to have content, context, community, commerce, and connectivity. After that, when I was trying to think of what the key management principles were to build into the culture, I started talking about the Ps. The P’s were things like passion, perseverance, perspective and people. I think the people aspect is really the most important one.

via Steve Case interview, 2004 — Academy of Achievement

I don’t remember much talk about the 4P’s, but the 5C’s were the backbone of many strategic discussions at AOL.  Steve came up with this list in the early 1990s, and many of the words he selected are still relevant today.  Looking at the 5C’s, 4P’s and 4E’s together, we can group them pretty easily.

Product: Content, Context, Perspective

Interaction: Community, Engagement

Audience: People, Empathy

Drive: Passion, Perseverance, Energy, Enthusiasm

Revenue: Commerce, Connectivity (Rupert Murdoch would add Content here as well)

These all add up to a social, digital media experience.  While it is now mainstream, it is definitely not new.   Different words in different times, but Steve Case was undoubtedly the godfather of social media.  From Q-Link to AIM to AOL Chat… message boards, Member Directory, Hometown, AOL Journals and AOL Live… Steve Case and AOL paved the way for MySpace, Facebook, Skype, Flickr, Twitter, ChatRoulette and so many more.   Arianna calls this the “Era of Engagement,” and she’s right.  But this era dawned years ago with Steve Case and the 5C’s.  It often seems his contributions are overshadowed by finger-pointing over  the failed AOL Time Warner merger.  Were there flaws and mistakes in his leadership?  Of course.  Make no mistake, though:  Steve Case and AOL forever changed the way people communicate.

I should note that while I enjoy mocking jargon, I’m not entirely opposed to it.  When we first started working on True/Slant we came up with our own jargon-y phrase for the news experience we wanted to create:  Open  Social  News  Exchange.   It wasn’t really a list, there was no alliteration and the initials didn’t create a cute name (OSNE?  Uh, no.).  Still, each word meant something to us.   We also talked about what’s most important to us, jargon aside:   authenticity,  credibility, transparency, intimacy, knowledge.   These words are filters not just for our contributors, but also for marketers and our real-time advertorials,  T/S Ad Slants.   To us, true engagement means breaking down walls between news providers and news consumers, but it doesn’t stop there.  It also means breaking down the wall between  marketers and consumers.   In this scenario the sixth C — credibility — is crucial.  That’s where NYU professor Jay Rosen comes in.  I found his post on Twitter today: Eight key terms for determining legitimacy in journalism.

Veracity, accuracy, transparency, intellectual honesty, currency, inquiry, utility.  That’s where I would start in attempting to define legitimacy in journalism. Providers of news, information and commentary who devote themselves to those seven things are solid citizens of Legit-a-land.

I have to add one more, but you will probably hate me for it because it will strike you as jargon, and all journalists claim to hate jargon (but “lede” is okay, right?) Anyway, my eighth pillar of legitimacy is polyphonicity. I know: awful term! It means “more than one sound.”

Journalism to be fully legitimate needs to present a plurality of voices, not just one.  I don’t mean to invoke the gods of balance. They are false gods. I mean to suggest that journalism isn’t a monologue. More than one person speaks in it. More than one angle is taken on the object.

via Eight key terms for determining legitimacy in journalism — Jay Rosen

I have to say, Rosen nailed it right down to polyphonicity.   He’s applying these eight terms to legitimacy in  journalism, but I think they go beyond.   They are really 8 commandments for good citizenship in a social media world.  These are the values that will make for productive social exchanges around news or any other subject.

As I thought today about  Steve Case with his 5C’s and 4P’s as America first went online, Arianna with her 4E’s at the 4A’s, and Jay Rosen with his 8 Commandments for credibility, I got dizzy (hah) and then I embraced the polyphonicity.    Plurality of voices, dialogue vs monologue, intimacy of engagement, this platform that is above all the great equalizer…

“I didn’t kill newspapers, darling.”

Posted in Business, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Today's celebrity Twitter fight: Steve Case vs Sarah Silverman!

Posted by andreaitis on February 15, 2010

Sarah Silverman on stage at TED2010 (via ted.com)

Sarah Silverman on stage at TED2010 (via ted.com)

Yesterday it was Kevin Smith in a blistering twitter tirade about having his chubby self chased off a Southwest Airlines flight because he was ‘too fat to fly.’

Today it’s AOL co-founder Steve Case in a snit-pick with comedian Sarah Silverman.

The Issue: Sarah Silverman spoke at a fancy schmancy conference and used the word retarded over and over (and over) again.

Let’s see how this scene unfolded…

The Place: TED2010, a conference that describes itself as “a lineup of amazing speakers, performers and attendees…gathered for four days of TED in Long Beach and Palm Springs.”

The Background: It costs six thousand dollars to attend TED.    Six.THOUSAND.Dollars.    According to blogger, author and tech evangelist Robert Scoble (he’s worked at Microsoft, Fast Company and is currently at Rackspace),  TED never even gives out more than 15 press passes.  It’s been called elitist, smug, pompous and unattainable; the Conference for the Rich & Famous.  Scoble himself suffered from TED Jealousy in 2008.  Now, though, he’s a convert.  In a Scobleizer blog post he wrote yesterday:

Truth is, TED has opened up its content to the world. More than 500 talks have now been shared on TED Talks.

On the TED stage I saw that they had hundreds of events where the live feed was broadcast, including many into Silicon Valley (several VCs and entrepreneurs invited me to view TED with them at their houses, or work offices). Rackspace bought the feed too and lots of my coworkers were talking with me about the talks. So, getting access to the content might not be attainable by everyone in real time, but is certainly attainable eventually by everyone.

via The elephant in the room at TED — Scobleizer

The very first TED conference took place in 1990; over the years speakers have included Lost creator J.J. Abrams, novelist Isabel Allende, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, magician David Blaine, True/Slant’er Michael Shermer, Avatar director James Cameron, Richard Branson, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates and Bono.  This year TED ran from February 9th through the 13th, and included the one and only  Sarah Silverman.

The Incident: TechCrunch has a good write-up of Sarah’s TED performance, from someone who was actually in the audience.

(I’m recalling from memory):

“I want to adopt a special needs child (to which one person applauded), because adopting a special needs child, who would do that? Only an awesome person, right?” I looked around the room and I knew exactly what was coming next. She was going to say retarded and not only was she going to say it, she was going to drop it like 10 times. I knew it wouldn’t be ok, but I was excited about it…

…She went on to say:

“The only problem with adopting a retarded child is that the retarded child, when you are 80 is well, still retarded and that she wouldn’t enjoy the freedoms of setting them free at age 18, so she was only going to adopt a retarded child with a terminal illness so it has an expiration date, because who would adopt a retarded child with a terminal illness? Well, someone who was awesome like her”.

The room went silent and she went on with her show and sang a song about how all of the penises in the world couldn’t fill your heart holes.

The Aftermath: Aside from a mixed reception from the crowd, the man responsible for pulling TED together  took to the Twitter waves with his own reaction.

Chris Anderson on Sarah Silverman and TED

Wikipedia describes Chris Anderson as “the curator of the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference, an influential annual conference.”  I’d describe him as someone who 1. couldn’t wait to distance himself from the expectedly controversial Silverman and B. has a hypocritical sense of the free thinking that TED is supposed to embrace.

At any rate, Silverman posted her own Twitter message, which prompted AOL co-founder Steve Case to jump in, and…well…Gawker pulled together the entire She Said/He Said exchange:

Earlier today, TED Organizer Chris Anderson called Silverman’s “retard”-filled talk “god-awful,” which set off this exchange between Silverman and AOL founder Steve Case:






The Analysis: What caused all of this?  Robert Scoble has the most prescient and balanced perspective on  Sarah Silverman and TED:

Silverman succeeded because her talk was a science experiment, albeit one of trying something out on a much different audience than she usually gets to perform in front of. TED is all about trying out ideas and seeing which ones are the best and hearing from the people who do the best experiments, from dance to algorithms. Silverman is the best at her craft alive today. Or certainly in the top .001%.

It was why she was on the TED stage. She used that opportunity to try to challenge the audience. That was successful and I hope TED invites her again to perform another one of her experiments on stage.

But it failed too. I found her talk repulsive and challenging. I was in the second row. I actually was one of those who called for her to come back out on stage, although I knew that she had challenged the audience in a way that would be viewed as a failure. She challenged me quite a bit with her experiment. It wasn’t until later that I discovered that Chris Anderson, the guy who runs TED, had said she was “god-awful” on Twitter (he now has removed that tweet).

I didn’t have a chance to discuss that talk with Chris, but I would say that he was wrong and right. He was right that her talk wasn’t up to the usual TED quality but that she represented the best of what TED is: science experiments in human living.

via The elephant in the room at TED — Scobleizer

“Science experiments in human living.”   We can apply that to Twitter as well.  We’ve been granted access to intimate moments we might otherwise never see.  We all experienced first-hand the emotions around Silverman’s performance because Sarah Silverman and Steve Case allowed us to do so, as did Chris Anderson (until he deleted it).   With Twitter, Facebook and now Google Buzz, we’re all experimenting with what we share, how much we share when, where and with whom.  It happens to the rich and the poor, the known and the unknown, the savvy and the meek.   I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  Technology, social media, social publishing, digital community — it is collectively the great equalizer.

Chris Anderson should not shy away from this.  It is, as Scoble states, what TED is all about.   It’s exemplary of what we are all going through now as we fumble through new social terrain.   It is what you should have expected  from a Sarah Silverman performance, and you should have embraced it at that moment.  Why did it split the audience?  Why did it trigger such strong emotions?  That’s the hard but most interesting part.  Don’t favor political correctness at the expense of greater understanding.  We can look at @thatkevinsmith’s rabid ‘too fat to fly’ twitter rant and see the very same thing.

The Conclusion: It’s all so awesomely exciting that I’ve come up with a new word for this phenomenon:  twumble.

Twitter + Rumble = Twumble.

@johncmayer, I’m pretty sure you’re up next.

I’ll leave you with one last thought on the Sarah Silverman saga and, really, it’s all we need to know:  She’s f**king Matt Damon.

[youtubevid id=”WTADSFR0E_c”]

Posted in Entertainment, social media, technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

World's first dedicated Twitter device now available. Because this is what the world needs.

Posted by andreaitis on November 3, 2009

Get a look at Twitter Peek while you can.

Get a look at Twitter Peek while you can.

The guys at Twitter apparently thought this was a good idea.  They partnered with Amol Sarva, founder of Peek Inc. , to build a new mobile device only for Twittering.  This is a variation of Peek’s other device, a “simple gadget allowing you to send and receive email while you’re on-the-go.”    Kind of like a mobile phone  minus the phone, calendar, address book, web browser, alarm clock….you know, all the other useful parts.

Anyway, the Twitter + Peek collaboration led to a version  of the Peek device exclusively  for sending tweets.

Clad in “Twitter blue,” the TwitterPeek allows all the same functionality of a desktop Twitter client – reading tweets, sending tweets, replying, retweeting and direct messaging – only it gives users that access on the go.

It’s really nothing new, though. Most new smartphones have access to Twitter. Sarva said the TwitterPeek is built for consumers looking for an affordable alternative to expensive smartphones with higher monthly fees. The TwitterPeek sells for $99 with a $7.95 monthly fee or $199 with a lifetime of service.

via The First Mobile Device Dedicated Exclusively To Twitter – Venture Capital Dispatch – WSJ

I have two questions:

1. Anyone remember the AOL Mobile Communicator?

I still have  one.  It doesn't even work all that well as a paperweight.

I still have one. It doesn't even work all that well as a paperweight.

2. Anyone still using the AOL Mobile Communicator?

[chirp. chirp.]

I rest my case.

Posted in technology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Can Twitter learn from AOL's mistakes?

Posted by andreaitis on September 9, 2009

Biz Stone

Image by Joi via Flickr

When a business’ growth chart looks like a hockey stick, it’s sometimes hard to keep up.   In the case of Twitter, co-founder Biz Stone describes the incredible upswing as  “growing like gangbusters.”   I like that description.  There’s inherent joy and wonder in those words, and the Twitter team certainly deserves to revel in their 20 million users (according to ComScore) for at least a minute or two.  As they do, though, the revenue chant continues to grow.  A business is, after all, a business.  And it goes to reason that 20 million users oughta translate into some kinda cash flow.

Yesterday,  Stone announced that Twitter plans to add services for businesses to generate revenue in Q4 ‘o9.

The products might include an “analytics dashboard” to help companies monitor Tweets about their business, or verified corporate Twitter accounts, Stone told reporters yesterday at an event in Mexico City…  Companies using the service to communicate with customers may be willing to pay for added features, Stone said.

The paid services would probably be offered on a limited basis at first, Stone said. He didn’t say how much they will cost or how much revenue they could generate.

via Twitter to Generate Revenue as Site Grows Like ‘Gangbusters’ – Bloomberg.com

Fair enough.  The Twitter team strikes me as a smart and thoughtful bunch.  When they first started growing and fail whale sightings were far too frequent, Twitter  bought the Summize team to increase their development prowess.  I’d be skeptical of a knee-jerk revenue plan.   I think this steady progress is encouraging.

Three points in the story caught my eye, though.

1. Stone said the company has a goal of expanding from about 65  to 100 employees this year. Sixty-five employees.  Sixty-five!  That sounds like a lot to me.   Summize had 5 employees, so that purchase didn’t increase their Twitterage by much.  And a when the Guardian reported from Inside Twitter HQ six weeks ago, the staff number was 52.  Sounds like some explosive growth is happening inside the company, too.

2.  Twitter has 20 million users.  Not all of them actively engaged, but in Dr. Evil terms that’s still 20 meeeellion users.  When I joined AOL in 1997, they were just hitting 10 million.  I remember because I was a contractor at first, and I didn’t get the 10 Million Member plaque.  At its peak, AOL had 30 million members, and in 2007 it was back down to 10 million.   I think entire college courses can be taught on the rise and fall of AOL, and the continuing revisioning.   Communication was AOL’s initial and longstanding core; Twitter might learn a few things about how to handle their future by looking at AOL’s past.

3.  Stone also said they’re “working on a project to help new users discover others who might have similar interests or who live nearby.”    That gave me a Wayne and Garth back-to-the-future flashback:  AOL. 2002.  Match Chat.

I was managing AOL’s community products in those days, and we were trying to make it easier for AOL users to discover others who shared their interests.  Sound familiar?  We created Match Chat, allowing people to search in real-time for other users chatting about specific topics, along with relevant chat rooms.   Instantly connect with others who share your interests.   Here, I dug up a pic from  my files.

1205_matches_large

You could search on usernames, keywords or topics;  schedule a Match Chat and receive an alert or reminder; even invite others to Match Chat.  All in real time.   Pretty cool, right?  Epic fail.   Oh, it all worked and did what we said it would do, but no one was really interested at that time.  Of course, there are things I would try today that we didn’t do back then.  But seven years later, people  are much more adventurous and outgoing in their online interaction in large part thanks to Twitter.   We had a good idea but bad timing.

As Fred Wilson said in his post today,

“Don’t hide your failures. Wear them as a badge of honor. And most of all, learn from them.”

So, @biz, @ev and @jack: I learned a few things from AOL and Match Chat.  I”ve got some more screenshots and notes lying around.  Maybe even a PRD.  DM me if you want to (match) chat.


Posted in technology | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »