Archive for August, 2007
Or, more accurately, Zing doesnâ€™t have podcasting. I hadnâ€™t heard of Zing before the iMeme conference, so when I saw the sponsor display in the hall, I asked about it. Zing, as it turns out, is the connector between providers of content and various kinds of mobile devices like the Sansa Connect and the Sirius Stiletto 100.
The Connect is of particular interest to me, because itâ€™s a Wi-Fiâ€“enabled MP3 player. That means it has the potential to bring podcasting to a wider audience. If my mother, who doesnâ€™t own a computer, could buy an inexpensive device that let her not only find and subscribe to podcasts but download them at Wi-Fi hotspots (most public libraries provide free Wi-Fi access these days, as do many cafes, hotel lobbies, etc.), I wouldnâ€™t have to send her a CD every time I appeared on a show.
Multiply my mother by all the other people in the U.S. who either donâ€™t own computers or donâ€™t have high-speed connections, but who do have interests about which people are podcasting, and you have the potential for a huge explosion in podcast listenership. That would benefit podcasters, listeners, and advertisers/sponsors alike.
Alas for the podosphere, the Zing representative explained that podcasting is not a feature of the Sansa connect. She further said that content is provided to the Connect through Yahoo! Music Unlimited To Go. An examination of their site shows that the service costs $14.99/month and is only valid in the US.
Thatâ€™s less than the cost of a high-speed Internet connection and comparable to the cost of signing up for a music subscription service on your cell phone. I wouldnâ€™t pay it for music, myself; I donâ€™t listen to much music. I might be willing to pay for podcast access, or for combined access to podcasts, YouTube, and music.
Right now, however, if I bought a Sansa Connect and paid the monthly fee, I would not get any podcasts. When I spotted someone from Yahoo! during one of the conference breaks, I asked him why not. While I had him there, I asked what was up with Yahoo! Podcasts in general, because the site appeared rather neglected.
He told me I should ask VP of Product Strategy Bradley Horowitz, who was also at the conference, but I didnâ€™t get the chance, so I sent an e-mail afterwards. Horowitz referred me to David Mowrey of Yahoo! Music, who responded a few days ago.
I had never thought about who within Yahoo! â€œownedâ€ podcasting. Mowrey explained that, podcasting, like most new offerings, started out in the advanced technology group, which develops products and technology but doesnâ€™t manage them. Once it was sufficiently developed (I wonâ€™t say â€œfinished,â€ because itâ€™s still in beta, or so the site says), the music division took it over.
This got me wondering whether Yahoo! has misfiled podcasting. While Mowrey seemed quite pro-podcasting and assured me that podcasting will be included in a future version of the Music To Go/Zing/Sansa Connect partnership. Itâ€™s not just that most of the podcasts I listen to arenâ€™t music podcasts. Even the music podcasts donâ€™t seem like a good fit with a site that was developed in negotiation with the major record labels.
Apple has made it work with iTunes, but the fact that iTunes was created as a store is part of what makes it so annoying as a podcast directory/podcatcher. Yahoo! kept its podcast directory onlineâ€”no software downloads are required to search it. I thought this was one of its big advantages over iTunes, and breaking away from the music model might also be an advantage.
In any event, I can certainly see why podcasting might not be Yahoo!â€™s first priority in arranging something like Y! Music to Go. Because most podcasts are free, thereâ€™s nothing for Yahoo! to take a cut of, and no particular indication that people would pay more to have podcasts included with the To Go service. David Mowrey acknowledged that between time-shifted consumption and the one-time subscription to receive content indefinitely, podcasting is difficult for Yahoo! to monetize.
Thatâ€™s hardly surprising. Podcasting is difficult enough for podcasters to monetize, let alone anyone else. The economic incentive to provide podcast support in mobile devices is not likely to be the money to be made by offering it, but money lost to competitors by not offering it.2 comments
At 8:30 AM on Friday, July 13th, I found myself at the â€œLessons of the Digital Media Revolutionâ€ breakout session almost by default. I donâ€™t listen to a lot of music, so the way the Internet is changing the music industry interests me primarily because of possible parallels to other industries, like print publishing. And, given the recent furore about changes in music licensing fees for Internet radio stations which has had many For Immediate Release listeners up in arms, this panel seemed more likely to be of use than the one on venture capital. (Neither the Asylum, nor my other two businesses, nor FIR, is seeking VC funding, after all.)
I found myself fascinated by the discussion of digital rights management, because all five panelists agreed that DRM is bad for the music industry.
Terry McBride, CEO of Nettwerk Music Group, argued that DRM is the reason thereâ€™s no one-stop shop for downloadable music. Record labels have deals with certain resellers, and you canâ€™t play the songs you download through iTunes on your Zune, or the songs you download from Urge on your iPod. The music you pay for and download legally is far less portable than the music you download illegally, and whereâ€™s the sense in that?
Indeed, the trusty iriver I used to record the interviews I conducted at iMeme will not let me transfer MP3 files to my computer, even if they are DRM-free podcast files with Creative Commons licenses. I was not in the least amused when I discovered that, and itâ€™s one of the reasons I use it only as a recorder and not as a player.
Rob Glaser of RealNetworks had it absolutely right when he said that DRM for digital downloads of music is â€œasinine.â€ As he pointed out, record companies have been releasing digital music in DRM-free form since the first CD was produced in 1982. (And we all know how well Sonyâ€™s experiment with building DRM into CDs was.)
Whatâ€™s more, analog music was also DRM-free. When I was in high school, people used to make tapes from their vinyl albums and give them to their friends. Or even make tapes for their own use, to play in the car, or to create a dance mix for a party. Before I had a CD player in my car, I used to copy my paid-for CDs onto cassette so I could listen while driving.
Lauren Berkowitz pointed out that EMI realized they were in the music business, not the record business, and that their job was to â€œenable consumers to have proper access, to buy and enjoy their music wherever whenever and however they are.â€ This is what the people want, and what theyâ€™ll get, one way or another. Weâ€™re paying for the music, not the format.
I bought a song from iTunes once. (I told you I donâ€™t listen to a lot of music.), Silly me, I expect to get an MP3 file. I got something called an M4P file, which I could only play in iTunes (since I use a non-iPod MP3 player). Generally speaking, I donâ€™t want to be listening to music at my computer any more than I want to listen to podcasts at my computer. I promptly recorded the file into MP3 form and then put it on my MP3 player.
A client once bought me a copy of his e-book. I had endless hassles trying to get that document to open, to the point where my client called the CEO of iUniverse at home to get it straightened out. (And it was still inconvenient, and I couldnâ€™t print it.) The argument for DRM in books is really no better than for music CDs; I remember plenty of fellow graduate students happily photocopying entire booksâ€”on the departmental machine, so they didnâ€™t have to pay for it. And, of course, thereâ€™s the library, which makes it legal to read books without buying them.
DRM serves primarily to irritate and inconvenience the honest people who pay for your music, e-book, video, or whatever. Just look at the widespread use of â€œcrackedâ€ software if you donâ€™t believe me. And most of the people with illegal copies of your intellectual property never would have paid for it in the first place. Even if you could make absolutely tamper-proof DRM, they would either do without or use something else thatâ€™s free.
Now, almost a month after the conference, Universal is about to join EMI in selling DRM-free music online. Neville Hobson, adjunct professor at the Podcast Asylum and co-host of FIR, argues that DRM will not go away because everyone on the planet is downloading illegal music.
I thinkâ€”the panelists from iMeme thinkâ€”itâ€™s the other way around. DRM is one of the main reasons so many people prefer downloading music illegally. Unless DRM can get out of its own way, itâ€™s only going to slow sales down.1 comment
And in all honesty, Iâ€™m one of them. Iâ€™ve been online since 1985, when I discovered BITNET as an undergraduate, sitting at a terminal connected to the campus mainframe. Most of the people using BITNET were computer science majors and may actually have known what they were doing. I was a classicist, but fascinated by the ability to â€œtalkâ€ instantaneously with people at universities around the worldâ€”not to mention flattered by the attention I got as one of very few females. I did know there were other networks, because some of my friends at other schools were on ARPANET and I had to take extra steps to get e-mail messages to them.
Then came graduate school. By that time Iâ€™d already passed out of the starry-eyed â€œThis is cool!â€ phase when it came to things like chat rooms. We had Macs in the Classical Studies department and a new set of protocols for communicating. It was 1990 and the Internet was just opening up to the non-university public. The text-only interface of Gopher, Fetch, Telnet, Usenet, and the amazingly primitive e-mail program the University of Michigan favored shaped my online experience. When I bought my first computer and modem, 14.4 kbps was fast.
Never at any point in time did I really understand how any of this worked. I was comfortable with computers and good at following directions. As with many tools of modern society, we donâ€™t have to know how the Internet works to be able to use it. I can drive a car with a manual transmission, but I couldnâ€™t build one, or repair it.
The World Wide Web and our modern browsers and e-mail clients are the equivalent of the automatic transmission. Itâ€™s easier than ever to get online, and the Internet is no longer the domain of geeks. In fact, weâ€™ve very nearly achieved the self-driving car, and this may not be such a good thing.
The first question Kirkpatrick asked was about government attempts to control the Internet. Vint Cerf is an advocate of Network Neutrality, not a fan of control, and believes (or at least hopes) that it will get harder and harder to restrict access to information the Internet. Kirkpatrick then asked why we needed to worry about Net Neutrality if itâ€™s so easy to route around obstacles.
Cerf explained something most of us donâ€™t think much about: that the Internet is made up of layers, with the physical layer of fiber-optic cable, copper wire, modems, and Ethernet on the bottom and the applications we use online at the top. The higher you go through the layers, the easier it is to find alternate routes. No one in Australia can get high-speed access while Telstra keeps Fibre to the Node under lock and key pending a resolution of its dispute with the government.
Despite the 150 million botnets he mentioned in Davos in January, Cerf asserted that the biggest â€œperturbationâ€ in the Internet over the next few years would be the shortage of IP addresses and the need to move from IPv4 to IPv6. â€œIPâ€ stands for â€œInternet Protocol,â€ and if you want to see something really scary, you can look up the Wikipedia entry.
Every computer, router, modem, etc on the Internet has an IP address, a collection of numbers which acts as a unique identifier. Although these addresses do generally indicate something about geographical location (at least to those who know how to read them), the name â€œaddressâ€ is misleading.
The address of your home tells people where to find you, but just knowing where you live doesnâ€™t allow someone to follow you everywhere you go. An IP address is like the â€œsilver cordâ€ which links the spirit to the body. However far you wander in the astral plane, all you (or anyone else who can see it) need to do is follow that cord to get back to your body.
Wherever we go and whatever we do online, we leave a trail behind us like Ariadneâ€™s thread in the Labyrinth. The Internet offers the illusion of anonymity, because most of us lack the skill to find out who is behind a screen name or a junk message. But even people using tools like the TOR anonymity network can be tracked by skilled and determined â€œadversaries.â€ If you want to be truly anonymous and untraceable online, you have to resort to practices of questionable legality that fall into the â€œKids, donâ€™t try this at homeâ€ category of danger and difficulty.
And whatever else you know, or donâ€™t know, about the Internet, itâ€™s important to realize that you are neither anonymous nor invisible. The decision to post something online is irrevocable. And if Big Brother wants to watch you, itâ€™s easier than it ever was before.No comments
The opening panel of iMeme 2007 posited that Google, Second Life, Facebook, and Salesforce.com are (becoming) platforms rather than applications. Moderator David Kirkpatrick asked whether becoming a platform was the ultimate goal for a technology company. The responses from the panelists tend to suggest it is, at least for themâ€”but if it werenâ€™t, itâ€™s unlikely theyâ€™d have been invited to present on that panel.
To become a platform, you have to let other people play with your toys. All these companies have done so, with the most recent example being the phenomenally successful release of the Facebook API. (That stands for â€œApplication Programming Interfaceâ€ and means you make enough of your source code available that anyone with the right skills can develop plugins for your software. A plugin, as my mother-in-law explained when I first met my fiancÃ© the software developer, is like the software equivalent of an attachment for your mixer.)
So there was a lot of talk about openness and how you can bring anything into Facebook: Twitter, video, blogs, etc. and so on.
Yes, but can you take it out again? Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com, pointed out that the reason so many people are stuck with IBM mainframes is that they canâ€™t export their metadata. You might be able to export your list of contacts, but not the connections between the different contacts and the networks within the company, not the workflow, not the customizations. And those are the things that make the data really useful.
If your computer dies, you can reinstall your operating system in a couple of hours, but it might be days before youâ€™ve got everything customized back to the way you were using it: the fonts, the icons, the themes, the view settings, the browser plugins, the hotkeys, the e-mail filtering rulesâ€¦ To back all of that up, you need a complete drive image, and if you try to restore that to a computer that isnâ€™t identical to the one you made the image from, it probably wonâ€™t work.
FIR correspondent Dan York has talked a lot about â€œwalled gardensâ€ on the Internet, places like Second Life and social networks where members can communicate with others inside the network, but not reach outside. But the issue isnâ€™t really that thereâ€™s no communication between those within these new spaces and those outside of them. Itâ€™s that once you create your profile/build your avatar and build up a network, you canâ€™t take it with you. You canâ€™t move your Facebook friends into LinkedIn, or vice versa. (You canâ€™t take your graphically superior World of Warcraft character into Second Life, either.)
Esther Dyson, chief asker of provocative questions, expressed this as a tension between these would-be platforms and their users over data ownership, though it might be more appropriate to describe it as a dispute over metadata ownership. And while Mark Zuckerberg blithely assured her that the solution was to give the users total control over their data, Facebookâ€™s terms of service explicitly prevent that, by giving Facebook a license in perpetuity to use whatever you put into it.
Beyond the issues of cross-platform incompatibility of things like avatars (a trickier technical issue than matching up the categories for profile data and the type of relationship someone else has to you), beyond even the fact that many of these sites make their money from advertising and therefore sell your contact information and stated likes and dislikes to corporations, not to mention displaying ads next to your content, thereâ€™s a more serious issue.
The thing which makes social networks interesting is the thing which makes them dangerous. Itâ€™s extremely useful to type in a single query and find out who out of the people you already know has a connection to a person you want to meet. Itâ€™s fun to find out who has read the same books or seen the same movies. But boy, does it make you vulnerable. And it makes all your friends vulnerable, too.
Suppose someone I know owes money to an unscrupulous creditor. The creditor has connections to organized crime and gets their phishing/pharming specialists to hack into the social network both I and my acquaintance belong to. Now, instead of just harassing the person who owes the money, the creditor can call all the debtorâ€™s friends and colleagues in an attempt to enlist them in getting the money. In the process of doing so, the creditor will annoy a lot of people and probably ruin the debtorâ€™s reputation.
Or suppose youâ€™re an author marketing your book through MySpace. You accept all the friend requests made to your book (or main character). Then one of your readers gets arrested on suspicion of terrorism. That gives the U.S. government the right to that personâ€™s data, which means you are going to show up on the list of that personâ€™s â€œfriends.â€ So even if youâ€™ve never met the suspect and had nothing to do with whatever s/he is accused of, you might find yourself having a chat with Homeland Security.
And thatâ€™s why we canâ€™t just transfer our connections from one network to another without asking their permission. The people we know have a right to decide in which context they want to admit to knowing us. Even those who know and trust us might prefer to limit the amount of collateral damage they let themselves in for by staying out of certain environments and keeping their metadata to themselves.No comments
The opening panel (â€œPlatforms for the Next Netâ€) risked making us feel old, at least when we were listening to Mark Zuckerberg talk about Facebook. The first MyMeme segment guaranteed it: seventeen-year-old Catherine Cook, co-founder of myYearbook.com, was definitely the youngest person at the conference.
The thing about myYearbook.com is, somebody had to do it. Where are the kids going to go, after all, now that their parents are invading Facebook in droves?
Back when Facebook was restricted to universities and a few select corporations, the founder of LinkedIn described it as â€œMySpace for grown-ups.â€ In reality, most people on MySpace these days are not kids. Nevertheless, most social networks seem to be designed for students, not for people in business. This goes for Second Life, as well: the thing that put me off right from the start was having to choose a made-up name for my avatar.
The ubiquitous word â€œfriendâ€ is particularly problematic. Not everyone that I know is a friend. Certainly not everyone Iâ€™ve exchanged a couple of e-mails or blog comments with is a friend. Not all of my clients are friends, nor everyone who belongs to the same professional organizations. While notably lacking in terminology appropriate to the thousands of independent consultants out there, LinkedIn at least uses the neutral and appropriate term â€œconnectionsâ€ and offers several possibilities for ways you might know a person that you want to connect with: colleague, classmate, business partner, friend, or â€œother.â€
Even teens might like a way to differentiate between the people who are really friends and those who have a more distant relationship. Certainly they donâ€™t want to add their parents to their list of friends. â€œFamilyâ€ seems like an obvious sort of category, but it rarely appears in either contact management software or social networking sites. (Flickr has managed to include it; perhaps itâ€™s easier to think in terms of family with reference to sharing photos.)
Professionals moving into territory designed for teens, university students, or gamers will always have to rely on workarounds to make these systems fit their needs. Itâ€™s like a podcaster dealing with ID3 tags developed for music. â€œArtist,â€ â€œalbum,â€ and â€œtrack numberâ€ donâ€™t quite do it for us, though thereâ€™s a general trend toward putting the podcasterâ€™s name under â€œartist,â€ the show name under â€œalbum,â€ and the episode number under â€œtrack.â€ Our square corners grate against the round edges of tools that werenâ€™t meant for us.
Despite the essential awkwardness of the fit, many companies and independent professionals put tools like MySpace to good use. More power to them, but between the aesthetics(?) of MySpace and Facebookâ€™s Terms of Service, Iâ€™ll stick to the â€œjust the facts, maâ€™amâ€ approach of LinkedIn, and continue to lobby for the addition of relationships appropriate to independent consultants.
Meanwhile, if everyone over 21 would stay out of myYearbook.com, Iâ€™m sure our kids would appreciate it.2 comments
Actually, I interview people all the time, but theyâ€™re clients, and Iâ€™m asking them to tell me all the details so I can condense them, later, into writing. No one hears those hours of MP3 recordings but me. Recording an interview to be played on a podcast is something different, particularly when youâ€™re asking strangers if you can record them.
The asking was not the hard part. After all, everyone expects the people wearing â€œpressâ€ badges to ask for interviews. Of the people I asked, only the PR staff helping out at the conference refused.
But getting even a few minutes to talk to a person that everyone else also thought was brilliant and fascinating is a challenge. At a conference which had a large number of people packed into a small area during the breaks, with sponsor demos, conference videos, and loud music simultaneously blasting away in the background, it was nearly impossible.
I did get to talk to some great people, though. The audio quality varies from adequate to abysmal, even after following the editing tips in Shel and Neville’s book. But everyone I interviewed said something worth hearing, and you get to hear some concluding remarks from David Kirkpatrick at the very end of the conference.
Here is the list of interviewees:
- Sam Whitmore, Sam Whitmore Media
- Eva Chen, Trend Micro
- Paul Plushckell, Spigit
- Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone
- Esther Dyson, EDventure, Release 0.9
- David Kirkpatrick, Fortune
Recorded July 12 & 13th, 2007. Edited on July 22nd, 2007.Posted to the FIR Interview Feed on July 31st, 2007.
At first glance, Herman Miller seemed like an odd choice of sponsor for a technology conference, but when I walked into the main conference room and saw the rows of Aeron work chairs, I understood. The conference attendees, with the possible except of those of us with press badges, were precisely the kind of people who buy high-end office chairs, and a two-day conference provided an opportunity for all of us to take an extended test-drive.
The chairs are actually hideously uncomfortable unless they’re adjusted properly, so the conference started with a lesson from one of Herman Miller’s representatives. I have it on good authority that it’s possible to work comfortably for 16 hours in an Aeron chairâ€”assuming you’re the kind of person who can work for 16 hours, of course.
But before I’d even sat down, I’d discovered that these high-performance chairs were not meant to be arranged in rows in a conference setting. It was particularly obvious because I was trying to roll my laptop behind me, and it kept banging into the wheels of the Aerons I was trying to work my way among. And, of course, the chairs roll, which means that even if you set them in rows, they don’t stay there. By the end of the day, I’m pretty sure that room was in serious violation of the fire code.
Herman Miller does make an Aeron “side chair,” which would probably be ideal for conferences. But it’s not the chair that Herman Miller most wants to sell CEOs, and it’s much too expensive for venues, even the Ritz Carlton, to buy in the hundreds.
As for me, I’m holding out for the Aeron bed.1 comment
Andy Serwer, Fortune‘s Managing Editor, does not like the word â€œmeme.â€ And David Kirkpatrick, the conference organizer, complained of people calling to ask what this â€œi-Mimiâ€ conference was about. (Or maybe that was â€œI-Me-Me,â€ the conference for narcissists.) Next year’s conference is already scheduled for July 2008 in Half-Moon Bay, but there’s a good chance Fortune will be resurrecting the name “Brainstorm.”
I love the word “meme.” Richard Dawkins coined it in The Selfish Gene in 1976, and it’s gotten around some since then. It spawned an entire academic discipline, memetics. The word is popular with bloggers, who can find endless subject material in the blog memes replicating across the Internet. TechMeme, formerly known as Memeorandum, exists to collect memes. Memes have given their name to software that analyzes DNA sequences. David Brin invented a dimension called E-space, populated by “meme organisms,” in his book Heaven’s Reach.
The word also provided the conference’s great (albeit unintended) comic moment. Andy Serwer asked Richard Dawkins what a meme was, and that professional atheist exclaimed “Oh, God.”
It’s possible, however, that “iMeme” really is not the best name for a conference whose subtitle is â€œThe Thinkers of Tech.â€
It takes more than thinking to make a meme. A meme is not just an idea, however brilliant. It is, to borrow Seth Godin’s term, an “ideavirus.” A meme is a unit of imitation. Its root is mimesis, the Greek word for “imitation.” Plato and Aristotle both talk a lot about mimesis in reference to theater. Art imitates life: that’s mimesis. Actors represent the characters in plays: that’s mimesis. Impressionable young people may go home from the theater and model their behavior on Orestes or Oedipus: that’s mimesis, too.
A meme is not precisely a trend or a fad, but a style that gets copied or an activity that becomes popular is certainly a meme, or has come into existence because of a meme. Memes may be fast-spreading but short-lived, like the Four Things blog meme. They may spread themselves by force and endure for centuries, like Islam and Christianity. Anything that “everybody is doing” is a meme.
There were certainly plenty of memes present at the conference:
- Social Networking
- Virtual Presence
- Going Green
- The Ad-Sponsored Business Model
But there were also a lot of panels and presentations focused on the future, on ideas that the speakers either hoped or feared would replicate memetically. And some discussing what might be described as dying memes, like the music industry and non-VOIP telecoms. Lisa Hook of SunRocket joked that she and the other telecoms providers (Telstra, Avaya, QUALCOMM) constituted “The dinosaur panel.”
The program described the MyMeme segments as “a short talk on what matters.” Catherine Cook, Geordie Rose, Vineet Nayar, John Chambers, Esther Dyson, and the others who spent 5-15 minutes sharing their visions are all innovators. Almost by definition, the ideas and projects that excite them most have not yet replicated across the “meme pool” of human consciousness.
Perhaps more importantly, memes, unlike people, lack consciousness and volition. They propagate whether or not they are good for the people who believe and embody them. Along with the social networking meme, for instance, comes an abandonment-of-privacy meme which has already gotten many people in trouble when their current or prospective employers looked at their MySpace pages and which opens up a massive potential for witch-hunts.
It’s good to consider the memes, the things that have spread like wildfire, the behaviors everyone in the world engages in. And it’s important to think about the consequences of that replication. But it’s also important to look at the new ideas, the shifting definitions, and the choices we still have regardless of how popular a destructive meme becomes. We need to hear from the people who aren’t jumping on the bandwagon and those who have alternative routes to offer.
It may be that renaming the conference “Brainstorm” will give the people who say things like “You can’t build a global economy on advertising” and “Not everyone who goes online wants to buy or sell something” more of an opportunity to be heard.
Anyway, the “i” in “iMeme” is redundant. Memes, like genes, are all about information.
Technorati Tags: imeme
Thereâ€™s been a lot of debate over the last few years about whether bloggers and podcasters constitute â€œthe media,â€ or rather, about whether bloggers are journalists and entitled to the same privileges and protections as members of the so-called Old Media.
For purposes of the Fortune iMeme conference, bloggers were definitely journalists, and I discovered at lunch that I wasnâ€™t the only representative of the New Media whoâ€™d been offered a press pass. â€œThereâ€™s a press luncheon at 12:30,â€ the nice young man at the check-in desk explained while one of his colleagues re-printed my badge to correct the spelling of my name. (The â€œSallieâ€ part, if youâ€™re interested.)
This was a polite way of saying that the press was not invited to lunch with the speakers and paying delegates. The fifty of us with green â€œpressâ€ ribbons on our badges had our own small room upstairs with a rather elegant buffet and one of the ubiquitous, impeccably-mannered Ritz-Carlton staffers to serve drinks (the non-alcoholic variety). I found myself at a table with John Nail of the blog/news aggregator The Industry Radar, Neerja Sethi of MedicineandBiotech.com, Sam Whitmore of Sam Whitmoreâ€™s Media Survey, an FIR listener.
By the time lunch came around, I was already wishing Iâ€™d had the time to find out more about the speakers, and that Iâ€™d had the list of attendees ahead of time. A real journalist would have done more homework and been better prepared to conduct interviews. Come to that, a real journalist, at least one who covered business and tech regularly, would probably already know most of the people there, and have interviewed them before.
And a real blogger would have been posting from the conference floor, or at least the hotel lobby. Somehow Iâ€™ve never mastered the spontaneity of blogging. Blogs are wonderful tools for publication and discussion, but I prefer to do some reflecting before I write.
You really wouldnâ€™t want to read my notes as I take them, with dashes instead of punctuation and my irrelevant personal observations and comments tossed in all anyhow. (Even if you would, I donâ€™t want you to read them.) Besides, I think itâ€™s helpful for the reader to know right away that â€œthe woman in the pink shawlâ€ who asked the question about tensions between platform creators and users about data ownership is in fact Esther Dyson, who proved to ask many valuable questions throughout the conference.
Of course, if I were a real journalist, Iâ€™dâ€™ve known who she was before I got close enough to read her name tag. But then, if I were a real journalist, I wouldnâ€™t have spent the night before the conferenceâ€”and the day after itâ€”finishing the last set of edits on a clientâ€™s book manuscript.
After all, David Kirkpatrick didnâ€™t invite me to the conference: he invited Shel and Neville. It was their blogger and podcaster credentials that got me in, not my own. And while I am not really a blogger, a podcaster, or a journalist, I am an FIR correspondent, and corresponding is something I can do.No comments