Slikstr – These Guys Rule

About Slikstr

Best business plan I’ve seen yet. User generated content? Hah! How about a User-Generated Company. These guys are fully engaged and have totally figured out social media marketing with an ongoing naked conversation inside of Second Life no less, where we, the users, can have a say in operations. Look for these guys to be on stage at next year’s Web 2.0 Forum.

“With the overwhelming interest in user generated content, Slikstr has taken a more integrative approach to the “wisdom of crowds” and created a company where the users themselves will be involved in the day to day operation of the business from the outset. They have posted their business plan online to allow users easy access to fundamental decisions and they have announced that they will be hosting meetings in Second Life where users will be able to voice their opinions to the companies management team. Corporate decisions made in these meetings will be binding and treated with the same respect that any directive handed down from a company’s Board of Directors would be.”

Here comes your 19th nervous breakdown — Bubble 2.0

Silicon Valley Start-Ups Awash in Dollars, Again – New York Times

Martin Nisenholtz at the Times posts on Facebook that this isn’t going to end well. Damn right, welcome to Bubble 2.0 and its gonna be ugly when the music stops. Facebook at $15 billion? Google valued higher than IBM with eight times less revenue (actually that’s more than I thought they had). Get it while the getting is good. We’ve seen this before and the housing implosion is only going to accelerate it. Nice thoughts on the 20th anniversary of the Crash of 87.

“I have to say I giggled,” Mr. O’Kelley, 30, said of the deal that earned him millions. He has since left Right Media and is starting another company. “There is no way we quadrupled the value of the company in six months.”The trend is described as a return to madness (by skeptics) or as a rational approach to unlimited opportunities presented by the Internet (by true believers). Greed, fear and a desperate rush to pick the next big winner are all adding fuel to the fire that is Silicon Valley’s resurgence.

“There’s definitely a lot of betting going on, and it’s not rational,” said Tim O’Reilly, a technology conference promoter and book publisher.

Rob O’Regan on the same story

The First Clambake

Study: Early humans threw clambakes –

Thanks to Cousin Tom for the clamming content. I need to post about middens sometime soon, clamshell trash heaps that allegedly litter the Cape Cod shoreline. College roomie John Hoopes, professor of such things at U. Kansas, may be able to shed some light from his time in Costa Rica.

“This means humans were eating seafood about 40,000 years earlier than previously thought. And this is the earliest record of humans eating something other than what they caught or gathered on the land, Marean said. Most of what Marean found were the remnants of brown mussels, but he also found black mussels, small saltwater clams, sea snails and even a barnacle that indicates whale blubber or skin was brought into the cave.

Marean figured the early people, probably women, had to trudge two to three miles to where the mussels, clams and snails were harvested and to bring them back to the cave. Then they put them over hot rocks to cook. When the food was done, the shells popped open in a process similar to modern-day mussel-steaming, but without the pot.

Marean and colleagues tried out that ancient cooking technique in a kind of archaeological test kitchen.

“We’ve prepped them the same way,” Marean said in telephone interview from South Africa. “They’re a little less moist (than modern steamed mussels). They definitely lose some moisture.””

Burn me once — how to handle a crashing website

In the fall of 1999 disappeared for four days. It went dark, kaput, a victim of too much PR and traffic pointed at it by AOL and the annual list of the 400 Richest Americans, a server platform built on the cheap with the wrong technology, and a tech team completely frozen in the headlights.

I lived those four sleepless days in agony — we were pre-IPO, talking to bankers, getting a ton of scrutiny with a new CEO aboard — and boom, goodbye web site. Was it a memory leak (I love how everything eventually gets blamed on a memory leak!)? Was it an issue with concurrent connections? The ad server? I made the tough call on the fourth day to literally start over and relaunch, building back content and functions as time went by.

Danzz Dance -- Flickr

Those were dark times for me, for our ISP, and for our tech team. I learned a lot about technology disaster recovery and crisis management and today it came in handy.

Another site failing (not, going down as “Service Unavailable” when we could least afford it to fall down. This time it took 30 minutes for me and one very smart guy on my team to decide to fire the ISP, move to a new host (thanks to Mark Cahill at Vario for the suggestions), get the coders to start debugging and have the DNS repointed. No more diagnostics. No more waiting for a service ticket to get opened, to get escalated, for serves to get rebooted, for this fix and that fix.

Screw it. Punt to a new box, learn the lesson never to host at the old ISP again, and never get a hosting relationship where your techs and sysadmins don’t have 100% God status.


On turning 21

My eldest turned 21 today. He reached his “majority,” that milestone in the law whereby he can enter into a binding contract, buy a bottle of tequila, get married without permission …

I’m stunned to be the parent of an adult. All trite comments and cliches about “they grow up so fast” and “they’ll be driving before you know it” apply. I can’t believe it was 21 years ago, as the Red Sox tilted at another failed World Series and his poor mother endured 24 hours of labor, that he came into this world, freaking us out as the world’s most important biology experiment.

Tonight we talked about the Sox as they went down 2 to 4 in Game 3 of the ACLS. He’s more of a fan that I ever was, pulling me along with him back into that New England obsession that I vowed never to invest time in again after Buckner fumbled the ball. I’ve loved to embellish his birth story by telling him he popped into this world at the exact instant that the poor gimpy first baseman made his epic error, but that isn’t true, that happened ten days later, when he was home with his mother and me, a human pupae.

It sounds better my way.

He blogs about the movies at

This is one of his namesakes (the other is T.S. Eliot), the greatest maritime historian, Samuel Eliot Morison.

Happy birthday Eliot!

What to do with an old laptop? Ubuntu it.

Prior to Lenovo I used to carry around, as my personal PC, a little sub-notebook from Fujitsu called a Lifebook P2120 that was recommended to me by Ben Lipman for a single compelling reason — it was one of the few laptops out there with a trackpoint instead of the dreaded touchpad.

I liked the machine — it had more than 10 hours of battery life with the modular CD/DVD replaced with a big Li-Ion battery — it could play DVDs decently, had optical and S-Video ports, and was, for the time, pretty ahead of the curve in terms of features.

It’s fatal flaw was the Transmeta Crusoe processor which was woefully anemic and made some tasks nearly impossible. But — the machine served me well and yesterday, seeing it look lonely, I pulled it out and configured it with Ubuntu.

Well, it looks good,but I can’t a wireless connection to the house network and when I go looking for help, I find stuff like this:

“Here’s some more information in case anyone has the time to help me:

ckblackm@ckblackm-laptop:~$ ifconfig -a
eth0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 00:E0:00:C1:2B:4D
inet addr: Bcast: Mask:
inet6 addr: fe80::2e0:ff:fec1:2b4d/64 Scope:Link
RX packets:3036 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:1605 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
RX bytes:2227825 (2.1 MiB) TX bytes:258169 (252.1 KiB)
Interrupt:9 Base address:0x8800

lo Link encap:Local Loopback
inet addr: Mask:
inet6 addr: ::1/128 Scope:Host
RX packets:6 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:6 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:0
RX bytes:300 (300.0 b) TX bytes:300 (300.0 b)

wlan0 Link encap:Ethernet HWaddr 00:00:00:00:00:00
RX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:0 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:1000
RX bytes:0 (0.0 b) TX bytes:0 (0.0 b)
Interrupt:9 Memory:dfa0a000-dfa0b000

If I don’t use the -a flag for ifconfig… wlan0 doesn’t show up.”

Okay. Sure. This is why desktop linux for consumers is a gleam in somebody’s eye. I’m sure I could call Canonical and seek some help, but want to bet if I was to take this into the Geek Squad I’d come away empty-handed?

I’d put this sort of stuff in the category of hobbyist Tinkering. But it sure is a lot of fun to make an old notebook sing again.

The measured digital spend – investing internally

Interesting article in the business section of the Sunday New York Times (10.14.07) about the acceleration in advertising budgets away from traditional advertising — TV, radio, print — and even away from “traditional” interactive — banners, skyscrapers, search and viral to more experiential and immersible experiences which the writer, Louise Story, extends to social networking.

“Last year, Nike spent just 33 percent of its $678 million United States advertising budget on ads with television networks and other traditional media companies. That’s down from 55 percent 10 years ago, according to the trade publication Advertising Age.

“We’re not in the business of keeping the media companies alive,” Mr. Edwards says he tells many media executives. “We’re in the business of connecting with consumers.”

Mr. Edwards may be more blunt than most. But many large marketers are taking huge chunks of money out of their budgets for traditional media and using the funds to develop new, more direct interactions with consumers — not only on the Internet, but also through in-person events.”

Fine, this is not news. Money is moving from mass media to new media and accelerating. I get that. Digital should be at the heart of every marketing campaign, etc. etc. What is interesting and underscored in the Times piece is the shift not from traditional to digital, but from media to non-media.

“True, Nike increased its spending on traditional media in the United States by 3 percent from 2003 to 2006, to $220.5 million. But in the same period, it increased its nonmedia ad spending 33 percent, to $457.9 million, according to the Advertising Age data.

Behind the shift is a fundamental change in Nike’s view of the role of advertising. No longer are ads primarily meant to grab a person’s attention while they’re trying to do something else — like reading an article. Nike executives say that much of the company’s future advertising spending will take the form of services for consumers, like workout advice, online communities and local sports competitions.”

Here’s the payoff from the piece. The shift is not from traditional to digital, it’s from public media to “internal” media. In essence, marketers, particularly consumer packaged goods, are plowing their dollars into themselves. BudTV. Nike’s exercise tools. Their own communities, their own social networks. Their SecondLife islands.

“Digital media spending is doubling every year at many big companies, industry data indicate. But the research firm Outsell found this year that 58 percent of marketers’ online spending went to their own Web sites, rather than to paid ads. More than two million people visited Nike-owned Web sites in July, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.”

Repeat that number — 58% — that’s right, way more than half of the digital spend is being invested internally, not via agencies, not via media planners, not being behaviorally targetted, but on internal plays. As someone accustomed to regarding a corporate strategy as little more than an IT investment managed by some designers, that blows me away.

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