Google May Extend Advertising Into Video Games

DailyTech – Google May Extend Advertising Into Video Games

Tim Supples sends along this del.icio.us link about getting advertising into video games. Hey, the industry is a lot bigger than films, and product placement is a fact of life in Hollywood, why not the Palmolive Sword of Two-Handed Cleanliness in World of Warcraft? An Army recruiting poster in Halo III?

“Google, the current force in online advertising, could now be looking to expand its reach into the video game space. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google is in talks to acquire Adscape Media, a company whose technology allows for in-game advertising.”

Charles Ferguson — tech strategy, Web toolmaker, documentary film maker

I was about to delete some press release spam this morning when I caught the news that Charles Ferguson is releasing a documentary on Iraq at Sundance.

My first contact with Charles was in the mid-80s when I was a business reporter at PC Week and I believe he was a faculty member at MIT. I continued to use him a source because he definitely belonged to the smartest man in the room club, and was refreshingly blunt about his point of view of the computer industry — which at the time was only beginning to be revolutionized by the PC.

His book, with Charles Morris, Computer Wars: The Fall of IBM and the Future of Global Technology, was and still is, the definitive explanation of the tectonic shifts from the mainframe to mini- to microcomputing architectures, but is also, in my opinion, the best discussion of the impact of standards on creating immense power and wealth in the tech industry. In short, if you want to fully understand the implications of the Microsoft-Intel standard – Wintel — you need to read this book.

I relied on Ferguson when I was writing about the decline of IBM, the decline of DEC, and the other computing behemoths in the early 90s.

When I shifted my reporting focus from the PC industry to the internet in 91, I began writing more and more about early information retrieval tools and page description languages such as SGML, Veronica, WAIS, Gopher, etc.. Along the way, I stumbled upon the new that Ferguson had launched a company in Cambridge, Vermeer, so we arranged a demo at his offices near Fresh Pond.

There I saw FrontPage — the first truly WYSIWIG web page/web site builder — I knew Charles had a hit, even before launching, and for the next few weeks I negotiated with him and my editors to get the exclusive into Forbes.

Charles sold Vermeer to Microsoft for over $100 million, pocketed a nice piece of change himself, and then sort of vanished for a little while, re-emerging with a new book in 1998, High Stakes, No Prisoners, a piercing account of his travails as CEO of Vermeer, his battles with evil venture capitalists, and his efforts to get the highest price possible for the company at a time when the battles between Netscape and Microsoft for dominance of the emerging internet were very real and very vicious.

His MIT Tech Review article on Google was brilliant.

I pinged Charles a couple years ago while gathering string for a book on technology standards. He had written an excellent polemic against the telecommunications industry, The Broadband Problem, while working as a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institute.

Now, this morning, I learn that Charles has made a film about the early days of the Iraq occupation, and was filming in the streets of Baghdad with a personal security force of heavily armed Kurds.

From the press release:

“Policy wonk-turned-rookie filmmaker Charles Ferguson’s “No End in Sight,” making its debut this month as one of 16 films in the documentary competition at the Sundance Film Festival, is among several docus this year about the war on terrorism.

Ferguson gained access to experienced players on the ground in Iraq, including then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage; Gen. Jay Garner; Barbara Bodine; coordinator for central Iraq in charge of Baghdad; and Col. Paul Hughes, who explains with all-too-vivid candor how Iraqi administrator L. Paul Bremer came into Iraq and swiftly made enormous decisions with devastating consequences as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority. “No End” clearly lays out what happened in 2003 and ’04 from the inside out — at a time when the new, Democrat-controlled Congress is taking a hard look at the U.S.’ Iraq policy.

The film was fully financed by Ferguson, who earned his doctorate in foreign affairs at MIT and later sold his Silicon Valley software company, Vermeer Technologies, to Microsoft for about $133 million. His 1999 tell-all book, “High Stakes, No Prisoners: A Winner’s Tale of Greed and Glory in the Internet Wars,” is angry, analytic and piercingly frank.

So is “No End,” which debuts Monday in Park City and is being sold by ubiquitous attorney John Sloss. On Tuesday morning, several participants in the film will take part in a panel. Garner will participate via satellite, joining Bodine and the articulate, Harvard-educated Marine Lt. Seth Moulton.

Other Iraq-themed films at this year’s festival include “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib,” an expose of the 2003 abuses at the notorious Iraqi prison, from HBO’s documentary unit headed Sheila Nevins, directed by Rory Kennedy; the Danish film “Enemies of Happiness,” which digs into conditions in Afghanistan; and, on the dramatic side of the ledger and one of the most eagerly anticipated Sundance unveilings, James C. Strouse’s “Grace Is Gone,” starring John Cusack as a parent grieving for his wife, killed in the Iraq War. It remains to be seen what the market is for these films.
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None of the recent crop of theatrically released Iraq-related docus has performed as strongly at the boxoffice as Michael Moore’s rousingly emotional and partisan anti-establishment 2004 diatribe, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” which won the Festival de Cannes’ Palme d’Or and is the highest-grossing docu ever at $119 million domestically. None of the more conventional war docus that have followed — “Iraq in Fragments,” “The Ground Truth,” “The Road to Guantanamo,” “Why We Fight” and “The War Tapes” — has cracked the $1 million mark.

But “No End” could do better than that because it boasts the same assets as 2005’s Oscar-nominated Sundance docu “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” which grossed more than $4 million: dogged reporting, penetrating insight and a strong, angry point of view. It is not coincidental that “Enron” screenwriter-director Alex Gibney helped Ferguson on “No End” as executive producer.

Ferguson had the sense to realize that his friends who were telling him not to make the film were right about one thing: He needed help from someone more experienced. An admirer of “Enron,” he turned to Gibney, who is something of a documentary brand name with such films as “Lightning in a Bottle” and “The Fifties.”

“It was the weirdest experience,” says Gibney, who got a call from Ferguson out of the blue in late 2005. “He had never made a film before. He’d invented a Web construction program and sold it for a zillion dollars. He was a political science professor. He knew a lot of people in the foreign-policy arena. He’d done some writing. He wanted to do a film about the occupation of Iraq. He came to New York, and we discussed it. The subject was important. ‘Would you help me?’ I gingerly went forward: ‘Let’s see how it goes.’ ”

Gibney — while working on his own Afghanistan prison expose, “Taxi to the Dark Side,” and a Hunter S. Thompson docu — taught filmmaking 101 to Ferguson, offering support and guidance every step along the way, especially when it came time to edit a five-hour rough cut. But “it’s Charles’ film,” he says. “I’d focus him, helped him hire the cinematographer. He was trying to do too many things. I helped him with clarity. He was a quick learner. He had a lot of resources.”

Although Ferguson is reluctant to discuss it, he sank almost $2 million into the movie. “I tried to make it clear, factual: Here’s what happened. I tried to keep out theorizing and grand statements. I want the film to be widely seen by a lot of people so they can come to understand what happened there,” he says.

Much of that money went into a month of filming in Iraq, which was extremely dangerous. The fledgling filmmaker spent about $7,000 a day on an armored Mercedes and a large Kurdish security detail armed with machine guns. He went into the streets incognito, never for more than 20 minutes, never to the same place twice. Ferguson gained extraordinary access to people who were close to the action and willing to say astonishing things.”

Move over bus plunges — Shark Attacks win

globeandmail.com: Shark attack survivor describes being almost swallowed alive

A family member who will go unnamed is a municipal bond trader — the classic trader type-A type who sits at a turret looking at screens, barking orders, and working the telephone. He is the type of guy who utterly depends on Bloomberg — who views his Bloomberg the way the rest of us view the InterWeb — it’s his job, it’s his email platform, it’s his news source.

He is obsessed with shark attacks and has set up alerts on his Bloomberg to let him know whenever an attack occurs. I then receive an email from him within seconds letting me know: “Lucky abalone diver in Oz ystdy…”

Grant Willis of the Sydney Aquarium said that after the shark bit Mr. Nerhus, it probably realized “he didn’t taste anything like a seal — sort of a bit bony and horrible and nothing like a seal at all — so possibly it spat back out.”

I want to build a PC

Maker Store from MAKE and CRAFT Magazines

This is one of those projects I’ve always wanted to tackle. This time I want to kill off a four year-old HP tower which serves as the house’s server and replace it with a no-frills behemoth that will carry a terrabyte of storage, and serve as the central media storage facility for the house. No dis to my employer, but I want to roll up my sleeves and build something myself. Uncle Fester — frequent commenter here — is an old hand at this type of project. I need to avail myself of his expertise.

Regardless of your technical experience, Building the Perfect PC will guide you through the entire process of building or upgrading your own computer. You’ll use the latest top-quality components, including Intel’s Core 2 Duo and AMD’s Athlon X2 CPUs. And you’ll know exactly what’s under the hood and how to fix or upgrade your PC, should that become necessary. Not only is the process fun, but the result is often less expensive and always better quality and far more satisfying than anything you could buy off the shelf.

Goodbye Treo — Hello Blackberry

After a full year of resisting a transition from my Treo 650 on Sprint, to a Cingular Blackberry, I made the switch over the weekend, getting a RIM Blackberry Pearl.

I needed to make the switch simply to get onto the corporate Notes mail system. The organization doesn’t support Notes on the Treo model — so goodbye Treo and hello Blackberry.

I’ve held onto the Treo for three years because I like the Palm interface, liked the Sprint PCS web service and POP3 email integration with my churbuck.com mail, but alas, it was becoming more and more of a pain in the neck to stay in synch with the company and roam internationally.

I had been an old AT&T GSM customer when I worked in Switzerland, but their Cape Cod coverage was sub-par so I killed them off and switched to Sprint — who has been very good to me.

I am getting comfortable with the Blackberry interface, and first impressions being important impressions, believe it to be a perfectly adequate phone, in a nicer form factor than the Treo, with some improvements such as much better Bluetooth support for my headset.

After I get the email integrated I’ll really be able to form an opinion.

Derek Slater at CSO Magazine is blogging

Reassembler

Derek is an excellent editor and reporter, and a former colleague at CXO Media at IDG — at CSO Magazine, the authoritative title on security management — physical and digital. He was a big driver of CSO’s online strategy.

“This is a blog that’s loosely about putting together things you don’t normally put together.

The blogger, which is me, is Derek Slater. In my professional life I’m the editor of CSO, a publication about security. The publishing industry is undergoing a great deal of change. As is the security field. Throw in my interest in fusion cooking and mixed martial arts and Web mashups, and the fact that all the good URLs using Pangaea were taken, and you’ve got Reassembler.”

PC Week Alumni Blog Ring

Those of us fortunate enough to spend the mid-80s at PC Week — the Weekly Newspaper of IBM Standard Computing (I think I am recalling the tagline more or less correctly) — are all part of an amazing shared experience in what was, at the time, the hottest publication in tech journalism. Most went on, in one way or another, to do some cool things in the tech business. Here’s an ongoing list of some of PC Week contemporaries

who are blogging.

  • Paul Gillin — former senior editor of software, went on to be the Editor-in-Chief of ComputerWorld, then to TechTarget, now working on a book on the impact of social media on corporations. He’s blogging social media and the corporate enterprise here.
  • Sam Whitmore — former editor in chief, now the leading expert on tech media trends, at Sam Whitmore’s Media Survey — SWMS
  • Rob O’Regan — former copy chief, then news editor — went on to join me at McKinsey’s Business Knowledge Services, then editor in chief of CMO Magazine at IDG’s CXO Media. Now blogging at Magnosticism.
  • Dan Lyons — business reporter, went on to write a hysterical novel, Dog Days, now at Forbes as the senior technology editor. Blogging at Floating Point and the Secret Diary of Steve Jobs as The Fake Steve Jobs
  •  Jim Forbes — senior editor in PC Week’s west coast bureau, onwards to DemoMobile, now retired in San Diego and blogging at Forbes On Tech
  • Chris Shipley — senior editor, went on to lead IDG’s Demo conference, founder of GuideWire, blogging at GuideWire Connection.
  • Gina Smith — reporter at PC Week, went on a career in television, CEO of an Oracle subsidiary, blogging at I’m Gina Smith
  • Lisa Picarille — reporter, now blogging at RevenueToday.com
  • Jeffrey S. Young — west coast editor, now editor in chief of a Sacramento-area business mag, was blogging at ZDNet, but seems to be dormant.
  • Jimmy Guterman, reporter, went on to start Vineyard.com, an online media consultancy, founding editor Forrester Magazine, blogging now at Jewels and Binoculars.
  • John Dodge, former executive news editor, now EIC at Design News. [thanks Rob O’Regan]
  • Dan Farber, former EIC, now blogging at ZDNet’s Between the Lines
  • David Berlind, former director of the PC Week Labs, now at ZDNet blogging at Testbed

Anyone I missed? Please let me know in the comments.

My Recipe for an Online Editorial Infrastructure

Another good buddy just became the editor-in-chief of a regional business magazine. He called me up for an hour of consulting on his online operation. The magazine already has a web presence — sort of the standard web 1.0 website. He wants it to do more things for more people.

Here’s what I told him.

  • Identify a good local ISP. Not a global ISP, not a National ISP, but a local ISP where you can look someone in the eye. The kind of place where you get the home number of the head of operations in case the site goes 404.
  • Build out on LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP)
  • Hire a strong LAMP sysadmin with some AJAX chops.
  • Hire a graphics person with strong Adobe chops and some strong Cascading Style Sheet knowledge
  • Install WordPressMU — as the base content management system
  • Install vBulletin — for reader forums and moderated discussion threads
  • Install PhpAdsNew — to serve ads from local advertisers
  • Open a Flickr Pro account — this is the publication’s photo library
  • Open a Technorati account — this is for ranking
  • Open a Feedburner account — to launder the RSS feeds and manage subscriptions
  • Open a del.icio.us account — for tagging and submitted tags by readers
  • Open a YouTube account — for hosting videos produced by the staff
  • Open a Google Analytics account — metrics metrics metrics
  • Open a Google AdSense account — $$$$$
  • Give the staff digital cameras, and portable MP3 recorders. I prefer iRivers. Buy a decent digital video camera and a tripod.
  • Convert the old magazine archives and populate pages hanging off the page interface in wordpress.
  • Never force a registration on the users.

Total price? Aside from the salaries and capture equipment: ZERO
Develop a CSS template that maps to the brand. Figure out a “homepage” play. Give every staffer a blog. Don’t set any submission minimums or parameters. Over time, offer blogs to strong voices in the readership and expert community. Run it for 90 days and compile a baseline for traffic. Then develop a rate card. Price it low to get local advertisers aboard.

Resist all advice to buy a professional CMS, a professional metrics system, and for heavens sake avoid a page view model. Measure success by engagement, not click-throughs.

That’s what I would do.

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