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.

Preview of the del.icio.us publisher api (Yahoo! Developer Network blog)

Preview of the del.icio.us publisher api (Yahoo! Developer Network blog)
Matt McAllister at Yahoo has a nice screencast on an upcoming del.icio.us blog extension that shows what terms users are tagging posts with and drives the clickthru to the del.icio.us page showing all articles or pages tagged with that term. This is “more like this” on steroids.

Matt does good work.

“The del.icio.us team gave me a preview of a new service for publishers that is really interesting. We’ll post more details about it when they’re available, but I did a short screencast (7 minutes) explaining some of the ways it can be used and why it matters. Enjoy.”

Back update

Went to the neurologist earlier this week and was put on a seven-day course of steroids to try to knock down the pain issues that have plagued me since the middle of November. (I love it when physicians say “It’s time to break out the big guns.”)

Three days in and I am definitely feeling improvement, sleeping better, and otherwise coming out of the pain-lethargy cycle of the past six weeks.

The End Of The Page View

Fred Wilson: 2007: The End Of The Page View

Om weighs in this morning with the resignation that the page-view model is what we have for a benchmark of web audiences and therefore it is the benchmark we have to live with. Knowing that Om’s GigaOm network is dependent on advertising revenue, he has to conform the prevailing metric in the market, which is the 1990’s Web 1.0 measurement of audience as expressed by page views and unique visitors.

Fred sparked Om’s defense of the PV with this:

“…there are changes afoot in the Internet measurement business. Everyone is recognizing that pageviews matter less now. Ajax and other more modern web technologies allow for new ads to be diisplayed without a page reload. Ad views can grow even as page views decline. I know that there have been a number of discussions about this at the highest levels of the leading Internet measurement firms and the leading Internet businesses. And we’ll be seeing the outcomes of those discussions at some point in 2007.”But it doesn’t even stop there. Web pages themselves are changing, moving from pages controlled by publishers to pages controlled by users.”

I’ll reiterate my position from the point of view of a buyer of traffic, which is ultimately the onus on the site I buy from is not gross tonnage of views, nor even clicks, but the end-of-funnel conversion that occurs on my site after the publisher delivers the traffic into it. This of course is further complicated by the reality that the “deal is everything”, no publisher can control the creative run on the page — AJAX or static — but in the end, when I operate the campaign, optimize the creative, retraffick the placements and optimize the backend landing page for A/B and multivariate possibilities, I will look at those sites or networks which sent in the best traffic conditioned to respond to me.

I don’t buy large numbers. I don’t buy CPMs. I look at publishers as providing me blunt approximations of an audience, and then it is up to me and my agency to put the right offer in front of that audience at the right time. If I believe a publisher’s pitch on gross tonnage, then I’d be buying into the fact that they are pushing forced page refreshes to hit their campaign guarantees (which I did in former lives) are needlessly chunking long stories into multi-jumps to force up their pages per session, and otherwise playing the games with the logs that I played myself.

It takes one to know one and I know that ad impression numbers are wholly unreliable and again, reiterate, that the burden is on the buyer — aka, let the buyer beware — and take responsibility for the user experience once they wind up on the destination site.

SECOND LIFE: A debunking, in five acts – Valleywag

SECOND LIFE: A debunking, in five acts – Valleywag

“At Valleywag, we’d long had an inchoate irritation with Second Life and, more specifically, with the uncritical press coverage that the virtual world enjoyed. Often, a company’s publicity can get ahead of mundane reality; it’s often more the fault of a credulous press than an over-eager PR operation. But, when a virtual land baroness in Linden Lab’s online game claimed she was now a millionaire, it was clear that Second Life was begging for a takedown. The story arc, a recap of Valleywag’s more cynical reporting, after the jump.”

The anti-Second Life bandwagon grows more crowded. Last week yet another proposal to move into the virtual world crossed my desk, but I invoked the “I only discuss Second Life inside of Second Life” and of course that conversation hasn’t taken place yet as me and the other party send each other off-line instant messages and have yet to determine when and where the discussion will take place.

The proposal seems to focus on using Second Life as a more difficult version of WebEx — which I also thinks sucks — for internal briefings, training etc. I stand by my position that Second Life is solving a problem that doesn’t exist.

Whereabout 12-26 to 1-7

This “officially” a vacation week for me, the last of 2006, but I am of course staying close by email and the cellphone and working on a presentation for the first week of the New Year.

12.26: Cotuit, doctor’s appointment re: back

12.27: Boston, mother-in-law to Logan for flight back to San Francisco

12.28: local roadtrip, R&R

12.29-1.1: Cape Cod, New Year’s Eve

1.2: Massachusetts to RTP

1.3.-1.5 RTP for meetings, move into new office

1.6-1.7: weekend in Cotuit

No major international trips planned in January. Just business-as-usual back and forths from Massachusetts to North Carolina.

Holiday Cotuit Film Festival – Fires on the Plain/The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

Two down, forty-eight to go in Eliot’s Xmas gift — The Essential Art House — 50 Years of Janus Films.

He started me off with Kon Ichikawa’s 1959 Fires on the Plain, (Nobi) a grueling Japanese war film about the horrors endured by a Japanese soldier trying to survive the final days on Leyte in the Phillipines. I have never seen a war picture as unflinching and brutal.

“It is the Philipines, 1945. The Japanese Imperial Army has been reduced to a ragtag mob hiding in the jungles. Among them is Pvt. Tamura. The situation goes from bad to worse and in the face of the brutal conditions facing the men, some go insane and resort to murder and cannibalism. In the midst of this, Pvt. Tamura tries to survive without giving up his principles.”

That was followed by a Technicolor antithesis — The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp the 1943 story by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger of Clive Candy, the quintessential stiff-upper lipped British Army officer. The film follows the arc of his career from the Boer War to the Home Guard in WW II. The writing and wit was superb. Even though the film could be regarded as semi-propaganda coming as it did in the midst of the war, it paints a picture of service and devotion to country that is stereotypical today, but interesyting in the sense that this is the film that defined the cliche.
More films today, but with some moderation so I don’t completely go the way of the couch potato. I am still having serious back issues and have to restrict my sitting time, especially when I sprawl and let my posture go to hell. Off to the neurologist this afternoon for some more tests and consultations.

Wii insanity

So Uncle Fester’s Wii was a huge hit today. The oldest, an ardent Sox fan, is into the baseball game, emulating Trot Nixon’s batting stance with a mixture of Ted Williams thrown in for good measure. The youngest is into boxing and takes it waay too seriously, proving why the controller straps break and the thing goes flying through windows and television sets. My wife is into tennis, but plays it sitting down which sort of defeats the purpose. Me, I played three games of golf and made par on the last game. No one is into bowling.
Pretty interesting console — the sheer physicality of it has already smoked the youngest and put him into a full sweat — with all asking for more games already.

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