Sunday, 31 July 2005

What I Read in the Sunday Paper

Jen and I have subscribed to a Sunday paper as long as I can remember. In Chicago, it was the Chicago Tribune, here in Minnesota on the west side of Highway 280, it’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Leisurely reading the paper over doughnuts and coffee is a tradition I’m quite fond of.

In an effort to determine what I’m getting in return for my $1.25 per week, I offer the following list of what I paid attention to this Sunday, July 31, 2005:

  • Money & Business; paged through, nothing interesting. Ironically, I’ve found it less compelling since they added Wall Street Journal articles.
  • Variety; Only read horoscope – predicts a decent day. For sure, I’m having powered doughnuts for breakfast.
  • Arts & Entertainment; Fringe Festival starts this week. Right, I added the Fringe Fest podcast to PodcastMN
  • Metro; paged through, nothing interesting
  • Comics; Opus, Get Fuzzy, Doonesbury. Looks like all the comics are larger this week. They probably pulled a couple and didn’t replace them.
  • Opinion; The headline said it was going to compare Minneapolis and Vancouver, cool. It didn’t (double checked to make sure I wasn’t in the Travel section). Paged through, nothing else seemed competent.
  • Best Buy weekly ad; Nice price on a 300GB hard drive
  • Circuit City weekly ad; Nice price on a 1GB SD card.
  • CompUSA weekly ad; Nice prices on USB flash drives
  • Office Depot weekly ad; Color laser printers are falling in price nicely.

I actually feel pretty good about the time paging through the weekly flyers. The newsprint, on the other hand, left me unfulfilled (could also be the doughnuts). Nearly all the newspaper articles I’ve read in the past year left me wondering a) where’s the story? or b) where’s the editor?

Did I get $1.25 worth. For sure, and I’ve easily ignored 50% of the paper – and most of the locally written articles. I’m even cool advertisers subsidizing the remaining costs. I make a commitment each Sunday morning to this local paper, it’d be nice if I got more out of it than hitting refresh on my RSS reader.

First Crack 54. On the Set of A Prairie Home Companion Filming

This summer, student filmmaker and long-time friend, Jon Steinhorst worked on the set of Robert Altman’s A Prairie Home Companion movie in St. Paul. I sat down with him the day filming ended to talk about how he got the job, what he did, and what he learned about filmmaking, directing, and fans.

You may remember Jon from First Crack #28 The Movie Episode and First Crack #29 Jon Shares his Geo

Listen to Jon Steinhorst on the Set of A Prairie Home Companion [46 min]

Saturday, 30 July 2005

The Power of Podcasting 2: Feeling Bad for the Dead Guy

Dan Klass shares some fantastic stories on his podcast the Bitterest Pill. My all time favorite is #41 So, You Don’t Even Live Around Here.

If you’ve listened to #39 CSI:Naked Man Body or #38 CSI:Private School or checked out the little cartoon image of him. You know he’s not as svelt as he once was. In both those episodes Dan describes his audition and subsequent landing of a part in a CSI promo. How he auditioned for both parts, how his head got wacked and wacked and wacked as the dead guy. How it still stung as he was retelling.

Last night as I was watching CSI (Vegas, though I prefer Miami), Dan’s promo came on.

My first thought: “He’s much better looking than his cartoon.”

My second thought: “I feel bad for the dead guy.”

Without the Bitterest Pill, I would have assumed the dead guy was some synthetic person-like mass, not a part to audition for, let alone feel empathy for.

Friday, 29 July 2005

The New Phonebooks are Here, Please Recycle

The Jerk

Growing up, I always looked forward to the new phonebooks. Visiting my grandparents, I spent hours exploring the big city via their encyclopedic yellow pages. Steve Martin’s classic Jerk only amplified my enthusiasm and provided a chorus.

“The new phonebooks are here! The new phonebooks are here!”

Today, unexpected as always, a new phone book lay on my front step. As I look to Google and a company’s own website for phone numbers the massive yellow tome wasn’t welcome. It went straight from the front steps to the recycling bin at the back of the house.

Steve Borsch seconds.

A Case for Attention.xml

A couple months back, I was shopping for a new car, Jen and I spent hours combing automakers websites looking at their models, the model’s specs, comparing it against the car we wanted to buy.

Ford knows I went to their site. Honda knows I went to their site. Both know which models I looked at, which pages I loaded, and where I left. If they don’t…well…that’s a different post. They don’t know what of their competitors’ offering I studied. I’m happy to share that with them and anyone else interested. Ford might just glean I’m intrigued with the Honda Element but feel its mph is irresponsible. Honda might just glean that Ford still doesn’t have anything interesting. You might glean I’m looking for a stylish 4-door wagon-type vehicle with decent mileage – and might be able to make a recommendation.

At the transaction level, all I’d let Ford and Honda know about me is: in Minnesota, on a Mac, currently owns a Dodge Neon. No other personally identifiable information – unless they gave me a reason to offer it. You on the other hand, may know more about me. You might even have my email address, phone number, and some other bit of information both unique to me and integral to my car buying.

Notice the difference between in the information you, my friend and loyal reader, have and the information I’ve given the automakers.

What would the automakers have to offer me for the same level of information I’ve offered you?

Welcome to the Attention Economy.

Steve Gillmor’s Not Kidding about it. He’s started the non-profit AttentionTrust to prove it. Seth Goldstein is on board, and concisely states the need for an Attention marketplace,

“Our attention establishes intention; and our intention establishes economic value. Once one recognizes the value of one’s attention, it is shocking to see how cheaply most people offer theirs to companies looking for their business.”

Attention.xml, or something like it has huge implications for measuring the success of a conversation. It has the potential to solve the problems of Nielsen ratings, web metrics, and counting a podcasts listeners.

Thursday, 28 July 2005

How Social Networks Can Actually Help

Sometime in the past couple days, something really bad happened and I lost all but 2 entries in my Powerbook’s Address Book. Just me and Apple Computer. Thankfully, I could pull them off my Treo.

As I corrected a number of importing errors and generally cleaned up the address book, I thought about how many old addresses, bouncing emails, and disconnected phone number might be in contained. It’d be nice if the person owning that information could edit it as it changed and my address book would update accordingly.

Over at Linkedin I could download a vCard for all my contacts – with the self-entered information. That’s helpful once, not ongoing. And it only handles about 10% of my current contacts.

That being said, helping friends maintain current contact info is how social networks can actually be useful and not just “look how many friends I’ve collected” novelties.

Wednesday, 27 July 2005

Tuesday, 26 July 2005

How Wikis Work Best

Hugh Macleod released the HughPage, a wiki for bloggers, yesterday. As always he concisely captures the power of a wiki.

“The Hughpage wiki is up and at your disposal….Just blogged about something that doesn’t have a section? Then create a new section by yourself. No need to ask first. Exactly.”

Like describing the idea of wikis in general, he concludes:

“This is either a totally great idea or a totally insane idea. Maybe a bit of both…”

(Yes, Working Pathways is listed in the Blog and Podcast Consultant sections.)

I’ve worked with wikis for project documentation and team communication. Their power is in their organic growth and how they put the responsibility of accuracy on the reader. When I talk with others about wikis, one question always arises:

What if somebody writes something that’s not good?

At the heart of a wiki lies 2 equal responsibilities;

  1. The Author is responsible for writing accurate, useful, and interesting things.
  2. The Reader is responsible for changing things to make them better.

For the most part, these 2 responsiblities quickly make a very comprehensive knowledge base. If for whatever reason they fail, there’s always rolling back to a previous version of the page.

On a related note, over at we’ve been playing with a wiki to create a Minnesota internet talent directory.

Sunday, 24 July 2005

Friday, 22 July 2005

Back from Boulder, Thanks All Around

Balance Rock

Jen and I just returned from Boulder, Co via Rapid City, SD and Kansas City, MO and I wanted to send out thanks to everyone helping to make it a fantastic journey through the midwestern states. In roughly chronological order, I’d like to extend a big thank you to:

  • Jen for booking the hotels and being in the car with me for 6+ hours a day for 6 days.
  • The RVing clerk at Wall Drug for recommending the Mt. Rushmore lighting ceremony.
  • Deadwood, SD for reminding me every town has a story to tell.
  • Lindsay, Brian, and Sidney for their exceptional hospitality and driving recommendations through the Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Two Hands Paperie for giving Jen her paper fix and putting a spring in her step.
  • Jen Bohmbach for originally recommending the Boulder Dushanbe Tea House and joining us for dinner. Try the Persian Vegetarian Kooftah Balls and you can thank Brian also.
  • Roland for suggesting we stop at the Garden of the Gods.
  • Brian, our server at the Kansas City Kona Grille for a meal (amazing Maui Tacos with catfish) I’d gladly pay double for and service to match. Special bonus thanks for recommending the local Latte’Land when asked where to get a good cup of coffee. Yes, a Kona Grille would be an excellent addition to the Minneapolis dining landscape.
  • Griffin Technology’s iTrip and MacAlly’s PodCig for filling the long stretches of South Dakota and Wyoming with our favorite driving songs.
  • Chrysler for making a car that stays cool on the inside even when it’s 100+F outside.

A couple dozen photos are now up over in my Flickr site in the Boulder Road Trip 2005 set.