Monday, 31 October 2005

MNSpeak is the New City Pages

The Star Tribune’s Jon Trevlin writes a FUD-mongering piece on “the City Pages’ parent’s possible merger“. In his first 2 sentences there’s; an ‘if’, a ‘may’, and two ‘mights’.

As a sign of things to come, Rex at MNSpeak pointed me to the online article. I read MNSpeak 2-3 times a day, during my regular NetNewsWire skimming. Don’t remember the last time I picked up a City Pages. I do remember that the last time I did, the entire second half was page after page of phone sex ads. Didn’t inspire me to pick it up again – no matter the investigative cover articles.

We went to a movie this weekend – historically, we would have gone to to check their listings. This time we decided their site was far to difficult to navigate and we hit instead. Ended up at the Hopkins $2 theater for the Wedding Crashers. BTW – It’s one of the best movie theater-going experiences I’ve had in a long long time. The staff was friendly, the seats comfortable, the audience quiet, the tickets reasonably priced.

If my current habits are any indication, as long as the City Pages is a printed publication – it doesn’t matter who owns them. As long as they have a printing press, will eat their lunch, and review it.

Sunday, 30 October 2005

The Niche is You

There must be something in the air, Seth Godin picked up the ‘who’s the audience when everyone publishes?’ argument.

Seth is of course right – the cost of the production is quickly reaching zero. Fantastic blog software like WordPress is free – just the cost of implementation. Other hosted services are free. Once a blog is up, it’s one step away from offering audio or video. Hurrah.

I’m unclear about what Seth is asking here:

So there’s more, but is there better?

Better than what? Than mass-media? Than what doesn’t exist today?

From my perspective, having more voices is better than having fewer. Knowing that everyone I have a personal relationship with can share video, audio, or text with me (and everyone else in their circle) easily is better than not. I’m recalling Dan Gilmor‘s quote,

“Everyone will be famous for 15 people.”

A while back, Eric Larson from the Ericast asked what his niche was. I responded, the niche was him. If people want to hear what he has to say – there’s only one place to go.

Coincidentally, I think Godin proves this point in his last paragraph.

“It didn’t matter if it was the best movie Walt [Disney] ever made, because it was the only one right now.”

Replace “Walt” with your nephew, with your best friend, your sister, with Seth Godin, Dave Slusher, Garrick Van Buren, or anyone you’d like to hear from regularly. It doesn’t matter if anything from them is the best ever (on any scale) it’s the only thing from them.

In the choice between an expensive, high production-value, special-effects laden, movie and one from someone I have a personal relationship with like Chuck Olsen, I’ll pick Chuck every time. If I’m looking for tips on choosing a good bottle of wine, I’ll choose Tim Elliott over Wine Spectator every time.

The bar is a lot higher – for movie studios, broadcast radio, television networks, and newspaper companies. For now they’re competing with your nephew, your best friend, your sister, and everyone else that doesn’t have to make millions of dollars in profit to continue – just something to say and people that care about them.

“We are people with hearts, lives, families, aspirations, hope and something to say. That’s by far the more interesting story, and it has legs, it’s going somewhere, unlike the tail, which is a vestige of times gone by, when you could count on people to be idiotic couch potatoes, ready to be harvested by advertisers with their intrusive and mindless ‘messages.'” – Dave Winer

So, yes – More is Better.

Saturday, 29 October 2005

No, Not Schaumberg

On tonight’s SNL Weekend Update, Tina and Amy were trying to prove their Chicago cred with someone from the Sox (this is me, not a sports fan).

He was kind enough to donate the World Series win to all Chicagoans. Southside, Northside, Skokie, Evanston, Wilmette, but not Schaumburg.


(For the Minnesota readers unfamiliar with Chicagoland geography: Schaumburg = Bloomington.)

Add Cable Public Access to the Endangered Species List

The MACTA talk was interesting. I sat next to tech lawyer, Brian Grogan. He explained the regulatory difference between cable companies and phone companies in this age where everyone is offering video over IP.

I believe the difference came down to whether the video was offered exclusively on the proprietary network or available on the public Internet. He used the example of a music video. If the video was watched on MTV’s television channel via coaxial cable, the service provider was regulated. If the video was downloaded from, the service provider was not.

To me that feels like an microscopic hair-splitting. Though, I’m sure when the laws were originally written the public internet was non-existent and production tools like digital video cameras were extremely expensive.

Either way, today a portion of your cable bill (not your phone or satellite TV bills) pays for the public access channels. These legislated-into-existence channels great way for citizens to create media and for a community to distribute city council meetings and other governmental events easily.

In 2005, when media production tools are inexpensive and everyone with a website can be a television or radio channel, public access television channels should shutter their studio doors. For any moment now, Comcast or TimeWarner could decide to deliver all video programming over the public internet and POOF – no legal requirement for a public access channel.

Now, I believe, all government meetings – at all levels – should be podcast (audio or video, though audio is preferrable). This transparency currently provided by public access channels is of utmost importance to our democracy, but cable television is the wrong delivery medium for five reasons:

  1. Searching and retrieving archived programs is inherently cumbersome.
  2. Programming is limited to a 24-hour clock.
  3. I don’t have cable and don’t plan on purchasing it anytime soon.
  4. RSS can automatically deliver audio, video, or any other file type.
  5. Municipal Wi-Fi eliminates the need for a cable access channel.

This puts cable access channels on the same list as record distribution companies – the endangered species list. If either of them want to stay in the same business, they need to offer bandwidth. Lots and lots of it, with BitTorrent thrown in. Otherwise in 5 years, they’ll be footnotes the technology history books.

Memory Cards are More Convenient than Flash Drives

Yesterday, my trusty 128MB USB Flash keychain drive gave up the ghost. Dead. Unrecognized by any machine. I originally picked it up a couple years ago to transfer a large number of files too big for email, yet passed back and forth too frequently for the slow mount/unmount of the iPod.

It’s served me well.

After the moment of mourning, I still had this problem of 30MB of files needing moved from that machine to this machine.

For whatever lame reason, the Powerbook isn’t aware of the SD/MMC card in the Treo. So, when I picked up the card, I also picked up a USB Memory Card reader from OfficeMax.

After I tossed the Flash drive, I popped the memory card out of the Treo – into the Reader, plugged the reader into that machine and grabbed the files.

I love when technology works. Oddly, this solution feels more flexible, more secure, and more portable than the keychain drive. I’m sure that’s because around the house, almost every device has a SD/MMC slot (cameras, Palms, Rios) – and only the computers have USB ports.

Friday, 28 October 2005

Who Are Garrick’s Favorite Podcasters?

Funny you should ask. I’ve added a new page to the site – gPod – Garrick’s Must Listen Podcasters. These are the podcasters that make my day. The ones that work my braincells, get me thinking, and remind me why podcasting is so much better than broadcast radio.

Like the other pages on this site, this one will probably change with my mood and theirs. Though, if you’re looking for a good tried-and-true listen – you can’t go wrong with someone in this list.

Thursday, 27 October 2005

Garrick Talking to MACTA About Podcasting

Oh, sorry I forgot to tell you, in just about 9 hours I’ll be speaking on a panel at the Minnesota Association of Community Telecommunications Administrators‘ annual conference.

General Session – IP Enabled Services
“The internet has catapulted a plethora of innovations in communications. It will continue to be an exciting ride both in technology and regulation. This panel will highlight webstreaming, the basics of mesh technology, incident area networking, pod-casting, and the regulation that may be following.”
Speakers: Charles Blanchet, Brian Grogan, Jason Prock, Garrick Van Buren

Should be interesting.

Tuesday, 25 October 2005

Amazing Race 8 – Episode 5

“I’m so excited we’re getting out of the country.”

Yeah, me too. What fun is the Amazing Race if you’re only touring the east coast (midwest *cough* midwest). Then again, the Amazing Race producers have double the people this season – so much higher airfare costs. But here’s the real reason families haven’t left the US yet:

“Hable inglés?”

“A little”


My favorite thing about the Amazing Race is how a multiple-hour lead can evaporate waiting for an airplane or the next destination to open. It keeps things interesting for everyone.

Detour: Rhythm or Coos?
Coos – spying fake birds seems more interesting than running around town collecting instruments. I think I’d find a greater sense of progress with the birds.

Based on the edit we watched, the fake birds in the trees we in the same position as their representation on the sheet-of-birds. Position seemed like at least as effective way to identify the birds as color – though color is probably easiest to communicate to someone else.

How do you dress for a non-elimination round? Let’s have Phil respond,

“Did you know it was illegal in Panama to wear underpants on top of underpants?”

Current Standing of Garrick’s Favorites:

  • Lintz – #4

On Weblogs, Product Placement Worth More Than Banner Ads

Yesterday, A List Apart, Signal vs. Noise and Coudal announced a new ad network in the vein of John Grubers’ Daring Fireball sponsorhip model. Limited capacity, reasonable rates, blah, blah.

Yes, all 4 of these blogs are extremely popular, and I can’t say enough good things about Daring Fireball. John is frank, curt, and snide on Apple – and I think it’s fantastic. The point is, I don’t read them for the banner ads – I read them for the posts, the commentary, the stuff I don’t know yet.

I don’t remember the last time I clicked on a banner ad (I’m blind to them, and they don’t come through in feeds), I do remember the last time I used a new product or service because I read about it at SvN (The fantastic CampaignMonitor immediately comes to mind).

So, why are blogs selling banner ads when they should be selling product placement?
An artificial separation between editorial and advertising? Transparency solves that problem.

Watch this space throughout the day there’s more behind this that I don’t have time to write down yet.

If you’re on the Work Better RSS feed, expect this entry to flip back to ‘unread’ throughout the day. Until then, remember RSS is an ad.

UPDATE 29 Oct 2005:
Back in my college speech classes, I’d play an informal product-placement game. Just before my speech, I’d have another student pick an unrelated concept or product to work into the speech.

If non-banner-ad, paid advertising were to work in weblogs, this is how. Counting click-through – not impressions – on links using the NoFollow tag inside posts.

  • The advertiser and author agree on how frequently to link to a specific page.
  • The author retains the rights on link word selection and context.
  • The relationship is fully disclosed on the site.
  • The creative writing might even provide a little joy to the readers.