Last night I was going through my very comprehensive "baby and parenting" topic in Jyte. I use it for fun, and for writing posts for .
So what is it that I can't help? It's a compelling question.
I've got a crazy plan. Let me outline it for you. I had a little idea about a co-operative babysitting network so that moms could get more involved in neighborhood associations, volunteering, and activism, that I talked about briefly on my oregonlive blog. ...
If you're interested in helping, let me know. Cooperative @ spamama.com.
The mamas and I are fed up with what the world has to offer in the realm of daycare (for us working mamas) and preschool (for us at-home mamas). We have been talking cooperative this, cooperative that. We're thinking about starting a commune. But until we give up on all our beautiful houses, we'll have to stick with the distance co-ops.
I've been wanting to blog this for a while...
Last week was the Global PR Blog Week, which coincided with my very own PR experience here in Stumptown. We at Jyte are investigating hiring an actual professional PR agent (or consultant, or whatever they're being called now).
Up until now, I've been doing the "PR" in a soft-serve, viral-style campaign, mostly via blog with a little bit of email thrown in for good measure. ...
Yahoo!'s purchase of Oddpost firmly underscores their webmail strategy, leaving RSS questions open - July 12, 2004—
We in the IMAP email business have been eyeing the machinations of Gmail and Yahoo! carefully, waiting to hear if any major players will enter the IMAP business. We know they've trumped part of our strategy with the large storage capacity (sure, we go up to 3 gigabytes, but we're not free). But we still win on the ability to download your email and work offline without fear.
The purchase of Oddpost seems to open a window into Yahoo!'s thinking:
I work in a very small office building, all three floors of which probably would fit into the atrium of the World Financial Center in New York, just one of the gigantic buildings where I've worked in my lifetime. There are restaurants and shops in my building. There are a dozen or more businesses on my floor, all small - a psychiatrist's office, a couple of real estate developers, a photographer, an orthodpedic office.
And, evidently, all completely living in 1980.
There's been lots of talk. Lots. Apple unveiled its new Tiger operating system (planned for 2005 release) at the Worldwide Developers Conference yesterday. The big news to me was the new Safari RSS reader.
This new (well, proposed is probably the right word, as it won't be available for about a year) RSS reader has a lot of commonalities with Jyte, and has some cool features Jyte has yet to develop, and has some interesting limitations.
So, yesterday NewsGator announced they had closed a "round of funding" with Mobius Venture Capital. They're using the money (no telling how much) to "expand their product set and market position in both consumer and enterprise content aggregation." Other companies with a foot in the RSS world, notably Technorati and Feed Burner, have also received a bit of venture funding. Again, I'm not sure how much, but I'd be willing to bet that none received upwards of $5 million. Update: according to Red Herring, NewsGator received seven figures in funding - wow, that's a lot of $5 per month accounts.
There was a lot of buzz about the funding.
I'd like to announce the second of two Linux releases in my company this week. Today's release is Jyte's Linux version - if you're working on Linux, please check it out! Sunday's release was Linus, the son of one of Jyte's creators, named after Linux' creator. Cute huh?
As we're working on a product that is quasi-competitive with Gmail, Big IMAP, I wanted Gmail largely for the insights into its inner workings. Let's be honest, though, I mostly wanted it for the cache, and the thrill of the chase.
When Al from Blue Hole announced his coming invites on ORblogs, I was one of the first to respond with options guaranteed to tempt his tastebuds: shrimp jambalaya, or an organic French chocolate torte. From reviewing Al's archives, I was pretty sure my picks were on the money.
I was right, and soon I was awarded my Gmail account. It was great. All the options I checked were available so I went with sarahgilbert@, a choice that is NEVER available.
Dave Winer, in his cool "Really Simple Syndication" site, wrote an invitation to review our favorite aggregators.
How Ironic: Google lets you use competitors' keywords unless your competitor is Google - June 4, 2004—
I had a shock today when reviewing my latest submission to Google Adwords for our free trial of Big IMAP email accounts. I consider Big IMAP and Gmail as similar due to their huge storage space, so I used the keyword "gmail" and "gmail invite".
The keywords had a little red "Disapproved" next to them and had zero impressions. Google has a key that explains all my other status words: Strong, Moderate, At Risk, Slowed, and Disabled - but no "Disapproved."
Isn't life ironic. Today, in the Wall Street Journal, was an article about this "new" RSS technology. As I'm marketing an RSS reader, Jyte, I tried to sell the reporter on our product when he interviewed me months ago.
Has there been a new strain of email virus that contains laughing gas? Or, to quote The Princess Bride, is it that "I don't think that means what you think it means"? All I know is that people are LOL at things that are decidedly not laughable.
Yesterday, the track team was visited by a kinesiologist, hypno-therapist, and follower of the "psych-k" philosophy. It's all terribly new-age and would have never been permitted, or even considered, when I was in high school. Times have changed.
Yesterday NPR's president and CEO, Kevin Close, was visiting OPB (the local public radio and TV station and NPR "gem" as Close called it). As one of a select group of people who give obscene proportions of their money to public radio, I was invited to attend one of his talks.
To begin with, my overall impression of Kevin Close is that he looks and behaves more like the dean of a southern college than a CEO. Not to say he doesn't have that all-important CEO-esque presence, or he doesn't know business - it was more his attitude and his sentence structure and his habit of looking over the heads of his audience when he talks (oh, that drives me bonkers!). Sure, he used lots of big words, and he had lots of smart things to say. But all in all I found him pompous and, like many people who believe that their Way is the Only Way, utterly dismissive of anything but NPR.
Are hyper-local news blogs the wave of the future? I'd like to think so, and it seems that OregonLive is ahead of the crowd. This article from CBS MarketWatch (requires registration) reports that, in a American Society of Newspaper Editors panel session on blogging this week, only five of the 200 participants said that their papers published blogs, and only a handful more were even thinking about it. Jeff Jarvis of Buzzmachine.com, one of the panelists, spoke of his vision of a network of volunteer "hyperlocal news blogs," and how these could attract smaller neighborhood businesses to online advertisements.
The Guardian reviews Gmail critically - April 22, 2004—
In the Guardian today, a very insightful review of Gmail, from a writer who has used it and knows a lot about email in general. Here is the excerpt:
Gmail also has some drawbacks, the most important being its lack of standard POP3 or IMAP mail support. Web-based mail services are OK for beginners and people who don't make much use of email, but they are horribly slow and far too inefficient for serious use. ... If the compromise works for you, it's a brilliant innovation. If it doesn't, it could be a terrible mistake.
And then there's the name. Gmail. Striking titters in the female half of the web, Gmail: do we really want an email address that makes us think of sex?
All of the social networking, none of the software - April 19, 2004—
Here's an idea. Instead of spending all of this time trying to get people together on Meetup and Orkut and Blog this and Blog that and Craigslist and Ryze and all the other billion networking sites I use, casually or seriously... Why can't restaurants, coffee shops, community centers, and bars create their own social networking? People are going to the same places anyway...help us out here! We can't get together on our own.
How about this: cool brunch spot A declares every other Saturday morning "mamas with new babies under one morning" and provides free diaper wipes and pureed apples.
Why business people need to get to know their customers BEFORE they build - April 18, 2004—
Reading a recent article in the Wharton Journal, a world-renowned professor remarked that the attitude of the music industry to his research and analysis was dismissive at best, "This is how we've done things for all of these years, and this is what has made this industry great...they don't like MBA types coming in and treating music like a regular business."
In the types of businesses with which I have been involved in my short career, I have confronted this attitude again and again. I hear comments like, "why change it if it works?" and "don't mess with success" and "don't fix it if it isn't broken." Business people, especially entrepreneurs, often seem paradoxically unwilling to think outside the box.
Not an "Apprentice" - April 2, 2004—
I attended open casting calls for "The Apprentice", Trump's brilliant hour-long weekly Trump empire commercial. I figured I would be a shoe-in; I look cute in a business suit, I have a quirky sense of humor, and hey, my credentials are pretty good. I went to the same business school as the Donald, for goodness' sake. What other reality TV show could ever be so perfect for me?
Two major new products in my "spaces" - April 1, 2004—
Today, April Fools Day, we had big news in the two spaces in which my company's products are competing: aggregators and email. When I first started downloading the news in Jyte, I was fearful that the competition for Jyte and my soon-to-be-released email product, Big IMAP, was going to be much tougher than it was in March. Kinja, I learned, had been featured in the New York Times technology section, while Gmail was giving away the same amount of storage we want to *sell* for FREE. I wanted to run for the hills.
Let's start with the biggy, in more ways than one: Gmail. When we first heard rumors of Google's 1 GB mailbox, we heard that it was an IMAP mailbox. Google's claims that, with Gmail, "you can search through them for information anywhere you are, whether that's at home, in the office or in an Internet cafe" to the IMAP diehard might at first seem like the mother lode; after all, IMAP is famous for the ability to synchronize the email folders on all your computers, and even access them from a remote site. And the reason most ISPs don't offer IMAP is simple storage space limitations - with IMAP, all emails are kept forever on the server, even though copies might be downloaded to several machines.
Now for something completely (not) different: Kinja. Kinja has a cool logo, some great PR, and nice people working behind it. Someone mentioned that it was a year late in coming out. For something so carefully developed, I was certain Kinja would solve some open problems (that we're hoping Jyte will ultimately be recognized as solving): the ability to create consistently refreshed custom keyword searches through both blogs and news, the ability to read news on and offline, the flexibility to change the way you communicate your favorite news with your friends, clients, and colleagues.
"In this space" - April 1, 2004—
I had a professor in business school whose buzzphrase was "in this space." As in "this is the leading company in this space" and "in this space, banner ad clickthroughs are 0.5%." One day we counted over 100 repetitions of the phrase in a 75-minute class. He said it when he was nervous and when he was confident. He said it as a way of emphasizing his point. "It's a great strategy, in this space." He sometimes used it like "ummm" in the middle of completely unrelated sentences.
Marketing through the blogosphere - March 25, 2004—
I have been paying a lot of attention to the way some companies use the blogosphere to promote themselves, do damage control, keep connected with their customers, and generally stay in the public eye. Most companies have stuck with the safe-but-still-edgy format of creating their own blog, per product or per key employee, in which they discuss new software releases, industry news, and other information they deem pertinent. It's the rare company that goes outside the press release territory with a blog hosted on their own website. Those that go outside the lines are the little guys; companies run by one person, or a few people, funded out of their own pocket, kept alive by Google ads, donations and the occasional Cafe Press t-shirt.
Journalists and the companies that employ them have embraced blogs in a big way, using them as a forum for entertaining ideas that don't yet fit into a publishable column or article, soliciting feedback from potential sources, and engaging the reader. It is an intelligent way to keep a reader involved in the journalistic process (and therefore keep those eyes tuned into the marketers' messages and keep the ad dollars flowing in). Intelligent, but not brilliant, exactly. Dave Barry has a hugely popular blog, for instance, in which the funny man makes cryptic statements about news items with links attached. I'm sure he occasionally uses the comments in his columns. And lots of people are reading, and I'm sure, laughing. The blog recently migrated to a Miami Herald-hosted site, and I would love to know what the Herald hopes to get from it.>
How blogging alters social network theories - March 6, 2004—
I've been doing a lot of thinking over the past several months about network theory as I prepared to market Jyte and a few other products we're working on. One theory, from books like The Tipping Point, holds that trends and news and technologies start with the "Innovators" or the "Mavens", then travel to the "Connectors" who know everyone; the Connectors introduce the ideas to the "Salesmen" or "Influentials"; the Influentials convince the masses through their newspaper columns, positions of political power, radio talk shows, or whatever methods they utilize.
Here's where it gets interesting, I think: blogging can consolidate all three network roles into one individual, or small group of individuals posting on a single blog. Bloggers are Innovators by nature: they are the very definition of early adopters. They also are Influentials due to their blogs (which are often extensions of their work as reporters, venture capitalists, PR professionals, or whatever). And lastly, as Marc Canter and Joi Ito have proved to the nth degree on Orkut, they are Connectors.
So can we really influence the masses with one individual? Or are the masses not paying any attention to the blogs? Does it even matter when most of the most influential bloggers have non-blog influence, anyway?
My theory is that this small window of history will allow any truly great technology, trend, joke, or idea to be adopted by a huge number of people vastly more quickly than it would have a few years ago. I'll be the first to say "I told you so" if my theory works... ;)