Ten Predictions for 2007

Get ready to laugh. Here is my obligatory foray into the trite, predictable and erroneous.

1. 2007 will mark a return to analog media and face to face community.
2. The Web 2.0 bubble will deflate, not burst, stranding a few acquirers who paid outrageous amount for unprofitable services.
3. The IPO market will remain moribund, limiting the exposure of the Web 2.0 bubble popping to the few companies capable of making acquisitions.
4. Vista will not drive a significant hardware replacement cycle among small businesses and consumers.
5. Online advertising rates will rise at least 15% due to declines in page views, the inability of metrics solutions to track AJAX page refreshes, and a pending love affair by corporate advertisers with video advertising.
6. Yahoo will end the year up in terms of its share price thanks to improvements in its paid search model due to Panama and a new executive team.
7. Yahoo will acquire CNET or Ziff Davis, marking a deeper committment to a content model versus a search model in light of Google’s major lead and brand strength.
8. VOIP will double its consumer household penetration causing further agony with the Bells.
9. Online collaborative services will go mainstream following a terrorist threat or incident which significantly disrupts travel and makes work-at-home and remote meeting capabilities a must-have for uninterrupted business continuity.
10. AOL will be acquired. By whom I cannot say, but I’d put bets on Microsoft or  News Corp.

The rat in the roses is back ….

So I am trying to catch a nap and I hear the shrieks from the kitchen.

“It’s back. It’s back. The rat is back.”

Figures the little rodent would make a reappearance two weeks after I resumed bird feeding. So I get the weapon out, recharge it with a new CO2 cartridge, open an window, and immediately realize I have better things to do than sit in front of an open window in December on Cape Cod waiting for a rat.

So to the hardware store for a rat-sized Hav-A-Heart trap which has been robbed three times today by squirrels and is now loaded with a chunk of cheddar. I do not intend to have a heart when I finally nail the rodent. It’s Goodfella time into the trunk and down to the town pier for the ol’ cement overshoe treatment.

10 Things I want to do in 2007

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. But I do believe in long-term plans and wishlists. Here’s mine for the 12 months to come.

1. Get back on the bike: Yep, I miss cycling way too much to sit out another riding season. With some good economic luck I intend to purchase a dream machine and return to road biking in the spring of 2007, a year after the infamous bike-meets-car incident of last Memorial Day.

2. Finish a book: It’s time to focus my evenings on a book. I have two projects underway, I am about to park one on the sidelines and go whole-heartedly after the other. The topic will be the new principles of Interactive Marketing — the 1.0 to 2.0 transformation.

3. Take up Yoga: I know, I know. Yoga is the predictable fad du jour but I need to do something to limber up a once athletic body made hidebound by such repetitious sports as cycling and rowing. If I want to spare myself the agony I just went through for the past two months with a trashed lower back then I need to put on my Danskin and learn the Down Dog.

4.  Transform Interactive Marketing: it strikes me that a new model is begging to be born. The last time I felt like I actually innovated was in 1995 when I had the blindingly obvious insight that a vertical banner — aka the “tower” or “skyscraper” — stayed visible when a web page visitor scrolled down a page. I sense there is something similar and just as obvious begging to be born.

5. Get my Technorati Rank up 10,000 points: I started the year in the mid-80s, now I am teetering around 30,000. I want to end the year in the teens and I don’t plan on gaming the system to do it. I love organic growth and am in awe of people like Intuit’s Avinash Kaushik who rose to a four-digit ranking in less than six months.

6. Travel to India:  I went on a whim in 1991 with my wife when it looked like Pan Am would go bankrupt and strand me with a bazillion frequent flier miles. The one move we could do that would burn up the miles was First Class to Nairobi or First Class to New Delhi. Thanks to a boss who was an old India-hand (Jim Michaels, the legendary editor in chief of Forbes who won the Pulitzer for his coverage of Gandhi’s assassination) I found myself in India for an amazing month. Now I want to return to see the changes over the past 15 years.

7.  Perform one major home improvement: I am the ultimate un-handyman. But I have a rotting boat shop sagging off the backend of the house that is a living museum where my great-great-grandfather ran a sail loft and started the first Masonic Temple in Cotuit, and where my grandfather built Cotuit Skiffs. The roof is leaking, the shingles are blowing off, and I intend to fix it up myself.

8. Get one of my children into a Cotuit Skiff: I own two of the things, one of my three kids needs to step up, climb aboard, and start racing.

9. Come to terms with my commute: I need to figure out a better and more economical approach to a life divided between 750 miles of home and office.

10. In all my getting, get understanding: That’s a rip-off from Malcolm Forbes, who wrote: “In all your getting, get understanding.” Read into it what you will, but I need to take a deep breath and get a better grounding in the important stuff, and less distraction from the buzz and chaff.

The Hardware Free Lunch

Today’s imbroglio in Blogistan over a certain software goliath giving away notebooks from a certain PC marker, sparks memories of being an utter review-unit-whore back in my tech journalism days at PC Week and Forbes.

If you want to make a tech journalist happy, send them a “review” unit and never ask for it back. This makes the journalist happy because a) they can use the thing for free and show it off to other people as an example that they are indeed a member of the inner circle of coolness, b) the thing will get some exposure, c) if you don’t ask for it back then the reporter doesn’t have to save the packaging and remember to get it in the mail to absolve their sense of pure journalistic ethics.

I used to get some over-the-top bling. Full PCs, notebooks, wireless modems, stuff that was fun to play with, sometimes resulted in a review, and more often than not ended up in the attic in the graveyard-of-dead-technology. I never resold the stuff (this was pre-Ebay) and often it would arrive, indeed, usually it would arrive without being requested. My philosophy was, if you send it without asking me, then it’s mine, fair game. If I requested it, then indeed, I was under full obligation to return it at the end of the review period.

There was a period in the early-90s when the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal began to focus on the conflicted ethics of the technology trade press — of which I was an alumnus from my stint at PC Week. While I had no first hand knowledge of ethical lapses by people I worked with, the opportunity to benefit from paid junkets to Taiwan and free “review” units abounded. The PC Week labs were a goldmine for spare hard drives, accelerator boards, and other detritus the lab’s people were too hassled to box up and return, but dipping into that trove was something I avoided.

My ethical rules were never to resell review equipment, make every effort to generate some copy out of my usage, and if I felt I would be inconvenienced by temporary ownership, to refuse delivery from the UPS or Fed Ex delivery. Book reviewers were apparently notorious for selling galleys and first editions after they were done with them, my approach to free lunch press benefits was cemented in place during the 1984 New Hampshire presidential primaries when I watched reporters from the Washington Post pay campaign staffers for “free” cups of coffee.
Lenovo has an excellent review program managed by Jeffrey Witt and indeed, we have to insist that all machines get returned due to rigorous accounting rules. We like to get our stuff in the hands of the right journalists and bloggers, we try to accommodate all requests, but we can’t give the things away.