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.

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.

First Crack 63. Coffee Technology with Timothy Tulloch of

Timoth Tulloch, CEO and Roastmaster at Minnesota-based European Roasterie (, and I talk coffee technology, from brewing to packaging, and why he’s aggressively moving into the single-serve coffee pod program (declaring the Black & Decker Home Cafe the best pod brewer). We wrap up with the culture of specialty coffee and how independent coffee shops can win against Starbucks.

I’ve been really enjoying their Mulawi and the new theme song is by Jeremy Piller.

Listen to Coffee Technology with Timothy Tulloch of [27 min]

Google Buys Then Kills Urchin

If you’ve been tracking the ‘Most Popular Episodes by Downloads/Day’ way down on the far left column of the website, you’ve probably noticed it hasn’t been updated in a while.

I know I have.

The great guys at TextDrive moved servers and as such needed to revise their licensing on the Urchin – the server log analysis tool Google bought a while back.

Prior to the server move, I’d grab the mp3 download numbers via Urchin and update the ‘Most Popular’ list.
After the move. Nothing. The people at Urchin won’t return TextDrive’s phone calls.

TextDrive hosts 5000 domains, 1 of them is this site. None of them have any idea how their sites are performing because Urchin is “re-evaluating” their pricing model. In the mean time, all their existing customers are left in the dark. Not cool Google. not cool.

For more, check out the Where’s Urchin? thread on the TextDrive Forum

Laptop Killing TV and Stereo

I had a post on my personal blog about wanting my favorite movies and TV shows available as digital downloads, rather than DVDs. Looks like I’m not the only one considering my laptop the all-in-one media and communications center. PSFK points to an article on British youth not owning televisions. I picked up a Tivoli iPAL this weekend to replace the bulky 5 CD stereo system we haven’t turned on in months (because there’s no line-in jack for the iPod).

RSS is the Molecular Unit of the Internet

Strip the web of all the graphics, all the CSS, and all the AJAX, and you’re left with a list of things, their detail information, and the forms to add more items to the list.

RSS is the list. The web browser is simply a presentation of it. Same as my feed aggregator, my email client, and my instant messaging client.

As such, the list as RSS should come first, it’ll be needed anyway, with all the various presentations simply parsing it out. The RSS file is the molecule of the internet, made up of atoms, er, items.

To add to the list, Web Services. The create, read, update, delete functions offered through web services are always needed by Web developers. Seems like the site itself should simply be another customer of its web services.

Subscribing to the First Crack Podcast is Easy with iTunes 4.9

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