Rob O’Regan on InfoWorld

Magnosticism
“I will never have as much fun as I did in the PC Week newsroom during the late ’80s and early ’90s. It’s too bad that the leaders of great publications like PC Week and InfoWorld let new competition (CNet), new media (the Web) and a paryalyzing unwillingness to embrace new publishing models pull the rug out from underneath them. The writing was on the wall for print rags like InfoWorld long ago; look for others to follow.”

Amen. I am tempted to disagree with the “never have as much fun” part — Forbes.com in 1995 did that for me. But Rob is dead on, PC Week vs. InfoWorld was a classic war between newspapers.

InfoWorld ceasing print publication?

So says Sam Whitmore at his MediaSurvey [registration required], where the homepage headline says:

“InfoWorld to Fold its Print Edition
Online is now king. The announcement is due Monday.”

No details available, and I’m too lazy to phone Sam to find out on a blustery Sunday, but if true, it’s not a big surprise, nor, does it mean anything especially dire or negative about the ongoing strength of the InfoWorld franchise online. I was at IDG two years ago, I knew its managers and editors, and the plan at IDG was to go hard in the direction of online at all possible velocity. Print is superfluous — only a delivery medium, nothing more — and seeing the cessation of one delivery medium for an emphasis on another is more a nostalgic thing than anything else, but I concede, a big piece of news nevertheless.

Jim Forbes, an ex-InfoWorld reporter and former colleague of mine at PC Week, delivers a great paean to one of the greatest names in tech journalism, home to legends such as John Markoff, former McKinsey-colleague Paul Freiberger, John Dvorak, Stewart Alsop …

“InfoWorld, which is owned by IDG, has a storied history. In its more than 20-year life, this magazine has been the launchpad for several notable computer journalists including Stewart Alsop, Maggie Canon, John Dvorak, Jonathan Sacks, Ziff Brother’s Investment counselor Michael Miller, PBS’ Mark Stephens (who left InfoWorld with the name of the magazine’s fictional field editor and gossip columnist, Robert Cringely) as well as New York Times technology journalists Laurie Flynn and John Markoff.”

In February IDG’s Colin Crawford, who coordinates the company’s online strategy, wrote these prescient words:

“In the US, our online revenue now accounts for over 35% of our total US publishing revenues. Next year, for many brands online revenues will be greater than print revenues, if fact they already are at some of our key brands and by 2009 – approximately 50% of IDG’s US revenues will come from online.

To drive this change and to focus on online revenue we’ve changed the business mission of our organization away from print. Going forward IDG Communications will define itself as a web centric information company complemented by expos, events and print publications.

The brutal reality that we’re facing today is the costly process of dismantling and replacing legacy operations and cultures and business models with ones with new and yet to be fully proven business models. However, we face greater risks if we don’t transform our organization and take some chances.”

Malfunctions on the wheel of pain

Sunday morning erg piece was marred by a USB failure between the erg and RowPro — the software I use to log my meters and plan the workouts — so it was a straight up old-school, use-the-erg-monitor piece, but …

My iPod Nano was frozen and wouldn’t play, which meant for 19 minutes and 18.6 seconds I had to listen to the flywheel fan inhale and exhale along with my desperate wheezing. Afraid to get on a scale, but now able to handle over 20 minutes of sub 1:58 pace which is a good thing indeed. My lungs are opening up and my VO2 max is improving judging from my heart rate which is trending down into the high-150s.

Clamming Strategies

Today was an extreme tide — a spring tide I believe — so there was but one thing to do and that was clam.

March clamming is clean clamming — the water is clear, the nitrogen levels are low, the danger from red tide, fecal coliform, hepatitis, vibro and any other alimentary tract threatening clam induced illness is next to nil. It is also open clamming, meaning the department of natural resources hasn’t closed the back waters yet and its open season until May 1 for those spots that are off limits in the summer.

The old saw about only eating clams in a month with an “R” in it, is pretty much a good rule of thumb. I’ll clam into June, but July and August, even September clams … I pass.

This isn’t because of any recent threat to the clams, or any degradation in water quality, it’s just warm water clams don’t seem to taste as well as the cold water kind.

With new clam licenses in hand, and my son Fisher in his first pair of waders, we launched the boat and put-putted across the harbor to the island where we saw a baby harbor seal sunning itself on the beach. Well meaning people sometimes call the dog catcher or the ASPCA to say such beached seals are in distress, but usually they are not, and are just a new thing for people to deal with since they had all but vanished from our beaches before the passage of the marine mammal protection act. Trying to “help” a beached baby seal is evidently a very dumb idea, as the suckers are complete ingrates and will try to take your fingers off.

We dug our limit in quahogs (pronounced “co-hawgs”) with rakes, then hand dug our limit in steamers (aka, “soft-shelled” clams). Fisher was good with the bull rake, and took a turn with my Ribb rake, the best clam rake on the planet. We focused on cherrystones and littlenecks (referring to the relative size of the quahogs) for eating raw on the half-shell and broiling into Clams Casino. If I had been in a chowder mood then we would have focused on … chowder clams — big quahogs that generally see their shells turned into ashtrays. Extra-large steamers are known as “chokers.”

We then went to the super-secret wild oyster spot. This is a very big deal as oysters are delicacies (Cotuit oysters are world renowned, and indeed, are considered the best there are by true gourmands) and wild oysters, as opposed to farmed ones, are very, very hard to find. But we found them. Lots of them. Getting to them was a challenge as the extra-low tide exposed the extra-treacherous mud. This is Fisher reenacting the quicksand scene from Wages of Fear.

As we left, I had to take a picture of my favorite piece of rich people insanity, the security camera disguised as a bird house..

So … Clams Casino, cherrystones, and oysters on the half-shell tonight. Fried clams tomorrow night after the steamers have had a night to “de-sand” themselves.

Over-engineered

Dan Goodman at Ogilvy — the interactive guru — made a statement today during a discussion about metrics and optimization that made me stop, think hard, and then ask him to back up.

“Don’t over-engineer things,” he said.

As the interactive marketing guy for the company that makes the best-engineered PCs, who is often the only non-engineer in most meetings; the guy who only passed algebra II because the teacher was his coach, who sat at a dinner last night in NYC and listened to the inimitable Uncle Fester from this blog’s comments tell my eldest son that his father “was a serious math retard …”

For me to hear an A-team interactive marketing guy tell me not to be over-weening in online advertising, behavioral targeting, multivariate testing, A|B analysis, demographic segmentation, continuous improvement`cycles, dashboards, NPV, E-to-R ….

Well, it made my day to hear someone throw a bucket of cold water and basically say, there’s so far you can take it.
The maddening thing about web marketing is it represents a collision of the logical precision of information technology with the creative chaos of media. Maddening because in theory one should be able to measure and improve with a high degree of precision. But in practice no one has enough, time, money or talent to get to the Valhalla vision that in theory, you know is possible.

As T.S. Eliot wrote in The Hollow Men:

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

That’s what keeps me grinding away in the online medium — the idea, the promise, the illusion that if you do it all just right, it will all start to swing along on its own. Integrating metrics with a content management system and an ad server, building a neat little closed system that sort of self-optimizes …..

The reality is fouled up insertion orders, weird metric tagging, site errors, and that big unknown … user behavior. Yet, I suspect every online operator — from the service providers, the agencies, the publishers, the bloggers, the vloggers, the podcasters — will, if caught in the right optimistic mood, express an idealistic hope that online media is the most perfectable medium ever known.

Association backs floating bags for aquaculture – UPDATE OPINION – The Barnstable Patriot – Cape Cod & Islands

Guest Commentary: Association backs floating bags for aquaculture – UPDATE OPINION – The Barnstable Patriot – Cape Cod & Islands

In the clam department, The Barnstable Patriot has a rebuttal by the president of the Massachusetts Aquaculture Association, Scott Mullin, to Three Bays and the anti-oyster bag forces.

I am trending towards a pro-bag position based on nitrogen reduction. Oysters are excellent de-nitrifiers. I also respect the navigation risk — being an in-shore sculler I stand a higher risk of running into a field of bags than most — but being made aware that there were bag systems used in Cotuit last summer, and not remembering their location, I can’t say they were an issue for me directly. I don’t know. More thought and study required on my part.

“In addition, the nursery systems provide positive ecosystems services in the form of removing nitrogen from the overlying waters. The consumed nitrogen, in the form of phytoplankton, is either incorporated into oyster tissue and harvested or is transitioned to the benthos where it is converted to a form that is unavailable for biological activity, i.e. a non-eutrophic form. In many areas of the country, large public programs, e.g. in Chesapeake Bay, and more locally in Mashpee, are focused on expanding oyster populations to counter the eutrophic conditions resulting from nutrient run-off from land-based sources. In the Three Bays area, local shellfish farmers are taking care of this program for you, at no cost to the public.”

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