Remember that data center Apple is building in North Carolina? You know the one; valued at $1 billion and widely expected to play a major part in Apple’s future cloud computing initiative? Yeah, that one. Well, it’s nearly finished.
It’s now been eight years since I wrote the first post on the blog version of GigaOM. Up until Dec. 13, 2001, GigaOM was nothing more than a repository for my previously published articles and résumé. But with a little help from Ben Trott, co-creator of Movable Type (and co-founder of Six Apart), I turned GigaOM into a two-way conversation with like-minded people. Eight years later, the tools are different and the stage is larger, but the conversation continues.
Thanks to residual jet lag from my Le Web trip, I woke up in the middle of the night last night and started reflecting on how much things have changed — and how little.
In the early days, the blog was just a blotter to accompany my reporting duties, where I would posted some of the more interesting tidbits that I would pick up on a daily basis. Given that my two employers, Red Herring and Business 2.0, were monthly publications, I started writing news-focused posts in 2005. A surge in traffic followed and a year later, I was working on a business plan for The GigaOM Network. In July 2006, thanks to funding from True Ventures, we officially launched.
My partners in the venture were Katie Fehrenbacher and Liz Gannes. Since then, many more folks have joined us, a few have subsequently left, and in the meantime we have celebrated weddings and babies — and survived at least one major crisis. And our community has grown larger, in particular the number of friends and supporters who have been guiding us on a daily basis, via direct email or public comments.
Let’s talk about how things have changed in past eight years.
When I started blogging, it was a highly personalized and opinion-based medium spearheaded by the likes of Doc Searls and Dave Winer, and one in which links begat links — that was how the conversation unfolded. One added to Anil Dash’s commentary by writing a post of one’s own. Somewhere along the line, however, technology blogging transformed itself into a news machine.
I have come to appreciate the good of this transformation, mostly because we (along with our peers) have started to replace the technology publications from the last generation. Business 2.0 is gone. Red Herring exists somewhere in the back alleys of the web. Wired magazine isn’t nearly as interesting as the Wired.com blogs and their social news web site, Reddit.
But there’s been a downside to this shift, too: A certain uniformity has set in, making one tech blog largely indistinguishable from the next. It’s one of the reasons why we redesigned GigaOM.com. In doing so, we looked to our yesterdays and reconciled them with our tomorrows. As I wrote when we launched the latest version of the site, “What we’ve tried to do is strike a fine balance between what is a blog and what would be an online magazine.” Indeed, we’ve gone back to our roots by linking more to other folks, because “we don’t have a monopoly on ideas, and since our business is based on your attention, it’s our job to make sure that your attention is being put to good use.“ And it is the attention of the community that will separate the successful blogs of tomorrow from the search engine-optimized drivel increasingly being mass-produced by AOL and others.
Such attention will come as the result of deeper, more meaningful relationships with what old media describes as “readers” or “unique visitors.” I dislike both words in this context but especially “readers” because it makes it sound like the folks who read don’t participate. Yet if you read the comments on our blog posts, you’ll get much more value than you would by reading the posts alone. Those “readers” are in fact co-creators by virtue of participating in the conversation. We bloggers need to remind ourselves of that fact; we can’t just view the world in terms of page views.
I don’t fret about the robo-content trend being championed by AOL and others. Michael Arrington writes, “It’s the rise of fast food content that will surely, over time, destroy the mom and pop operations that hand craft their content today.” I disagree. Michael would still get my click, because he would engage with me. The spammier the Internet gets, the more people are going to gravitate towards content they value. Have you seen Demand Media’s line-up? It’s about as interesting as the chassis of a Kia.
These companies are trying to create search engine-driven content just as the notion of search is being challenged by discovery engines such as Facebook and Twitter. It’s all part of the ongoing shift on the web that many bloggers, including the super smart Chris Dixon, are already talking about. Late last spring, I outlined how the distribution — and discovery — of Internet content was changing. The web is transitioning from mere interactivity towards a dynamic two-way medium, I argued, and it’s easier to create and publish content than ever before. Most importantly, the web is being disaggregated, the so-called “destination web” becoming a thing of the past. This new, more dynamic web is the best friend of niche publications and blogs that thrive on the “attention” of their community. In a subsequent post a few months later on the evolution of blogging, I pointed out that:
As Twitter has become increasingly ingrained in our everyday lives, its value as as source of information tidbits has become clear. Think of it like that plate of chips and salsa you get before the entree arrives: tasty — spicy, even — but not entirely satisfying. Meanwhile, blogging has become the main course — the source of context. And the evolution into that role has injected new life into the blogosphere.
Indeed, eight years on I find myself re-invigorated by blogging and what it’s come to represent. Here’s to the future!
The Top 10 Posts on GigaOM.com
- 5 Ways to SMS for Free (2007)
- A quick guide to netbooks (2008)
- Forget iPhone, Think Google Phone (2006)
- The Magic behind Magicjack (2007)
- Top Ten most popular MMOs (2007)
- 10 Must have apps to pimp out your Symbian phone (2008)
- The Nokia N95 Review (2007)
- Google, YouTube & Dark Side of Online Video (2006)
- Skype on iPhone, No Seriously. (2007)
- 5 Great & free games you are not playing now. (2007)
As you can see, the list doesn’t include any posts from before 2006 because I wasn’t tracking the data back then. Of the top 10 posts, I wrote four of them -– all circa 2006-2007. I guess I’ve been slacking since then 😉
Craig Barrett, Intel’s (s intc) former chairman and CEO, has offered up some great rules that helped guide his business life. In a profile for The Wall Street Journal, Michael Malone talked to the recently retired Barrett about his work ethics, business philosophies, and working with Intel legends like co-founders Gordon Moore and Bob Noyce and former CEO Andy Grove. If you are an entrepreneur, you might just find “Barrett’s Rules” to be invaluable.
- Invest in hard times. Intel invested heavily in capacity, and when it came out of the downturn, it was able to meet the pent-up demand faster than others.
- Consensus is mostly good. Except when it is not. “There’s a time to let everyone twist the knobs and a time to make a decision,” Barrett says.
- Follow the business, not Wall Street. No arguments about that, though in the case of start-ups, his advice is not to follow the pundits, media and others who are not your customer. “The job of the CEO is not to reward the short-term speculator of your stock, but to do a good job long-term for your shareholders, employees and customers,” he says. Look what happened to the old AT&T, (s T) which paid too much attention to Wall Street.
- When something works, don’t reinvent it, reproduce it. McDonald’s fries, anyone?
- Good competitors matter. “It’s like athletes: To be a great company you need great competitors…It’s what keeps you alive and keeps you honest,” Barrett says.
You should really read the full article, though it seems to be behind the WSJ paid-wall. (Photo courtesy of Intel Corp.)
[show=kentuckyderby size=large]Some sporting events aren’t particularly well-suited for online video distribution. Football has too many stops and starts. A hockey puck is practically invisible on a YouTube screen. But horse racing, with its short run time and breathless action, makes for video that pops no matter the screen size.
So it seems almost natural that the Kentucky Derby would have a YouTube account, but nonetheless it’s gratifying to see that it exists, and has in fact existed since 2006. This meant that immediately after the race on Saturday, there was an official video available for those who had missed it — a video that’s officially viral today, having racked up half a million views since being posted.
And no wonder: The complete race is a tense three minutes of horse-powered excitement. Without the pre-race coverage introducing you to the horses and their jockeys, the context is a bit lacking, but the official commentary makes the action easy to parse. When the announcers declare that 50-to-1-rated Mine That Bird is the upset winner of this year’s Kentucky Derby, beating out the higher-ranked favorites this Saturday to take home $1.4 million in cash, it’s almost as thrilling as seeing it live.
The Derby’s YouTube account also archives notable races from its 135-year history, as well as videos capturing the culture that’s sprung up around the event. Read More about Kentucky Derby Races Its Replay Onto YouTube
If Sergey Brin applied for an engineering position at Google today, would he pass the requisite phone screening? Don’t be so sure: While he might look good on paper, he’d probably have to brush up on his Python programming skills first. Even if he passed, would it tell his potential employer anything useful about the value he could bring to the company?
Most engineers are familiar with the initial phone interview: a short, technical interview prepared by the prospective employer, and used to verify that the programmer meets the minimum technical qualifications of the job. Lots of employers think these screenings are a quick way to weed out bad engineers, but personally, I refuse to do them. Here are three reasons those looking to hire the best engineers should reconsider the “phone screen” interview altogether and jump right to a full-length phone or in-person interview: Read More about Looking to Hire an Engineer? 3 Reasons to Forgo the Phone Screening
Walt Disney used to say, “We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies.” It’s good to see that ethos is still alive and well at Walt Disney Co. (s DIS). When a bunch of Wall Street analysts and toy retailers expressed doubts about the financial potential of Disney’s new Pixar movie, Up, CEO Robert A. Iger told The New York Times:
We seek to make great films first. If a great film gives birth to a franchise, we are the first company to leverage such success. A check-the-boxes approach to creativity is more likely to result in blandness and failure.
Well said. It is easy to fall prey to a “check the boxes” approach and veer away from the core beliefs and values of your company. If that happens, you’re left with forgettable products that lack vision.
Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer and founder of Amazon (s AMZN), is a proponent of a Japanese philosophy called kaizen — which loosely translated means continuous improvement. As part of this belief, he has been working alongside folks at his company’s distribution centers in Lexington, Ky., perhaps to find out what else can he do to make Amazon better. This news was widely covered in blogs. What caught my eye was the comments in response to Saul Hansell’s piece in The New York Times blog.
Some of them pointed out the difference between Bezos and Bailout CEOs, who are good at offering excuses. Or others, like Auto Industry executives, who are often compared to lazy, brainless lumps. As someone points out, the bailout money is going to companies that are big, not necessarily the best. The best companies wouldn’t need to be bailed out because they would be good at what they do. Part of running a good company is knowing how each little part works and recognizing the importance of every person who contributes to the effort. Bezos clearly gets that. The bailout CEOs don’t.
Photo courtesy of Etech via Flickr
One of the key sales criteria in the enterprise application space -– and one of the greatest development challenges -– is the ability to scale. At TimeTrade Systems we have met that challenge, creating a successful business selling SaaS-based applications that enable very large organizations and businesses to schedule and manage millions of appointments.
So, when we saw an opportunity to leverage our technology and deep scheduling knowledge to help individual web workers, it was a no-brainer. From a development standpoint, we’d already solved the scalability problem, and we felt designing a web-based personal appointment scheduler should be easy – and tailor-made for viral distribution. Through the process of designing, supporting and marketing TimeDriver, a Web-enabled personal scheduling solution, we’ve learned some interesting lessons. Here are our recommendations for any company looking at similar opportunities for growth. Read More about 6 Tips for Taking an Enterprise Company to the Masses
Increasingly, geeky pasttimes are seeping into the mainstream. Like creatures in a Neil Gaiman story, the boundary between the dimension of the fantastical and the land of the normal is blurring. And with that blur, faithful adaptations of heroes and villains have made the leap to the world of movies.
That means that in addition to Spider-Man, regular folk are suddenly familiar with the likes of Dr. Manhattan, Coraline and Hellboy. What’s more, graphic novels are showing up on our iPhone screens. Scrollmotion’s latest app, Daniel X, brings to us the adventures of a teenage alien hunter with a vivid imagination. Read More about App Review: Daniel X — Clichéd Alien Hunters Don’t Come Cheap