Monthly Archives: June 2006

How to make money on the web

According to the New York Times lots of media companies are investing in the web, looking for a business model.

I have a simple question – when folks wonder ‘how do we make money at this?’, why do we instinctively forget the models that have come before that already do?

Amazon.com. Yahoo!, eBay, Craigslist, Google, Salon (I believe in the black).

What is similar about their business models? Do they recognize some essential nature of the web? Any other good examples?

And when we talk about new models for news gathering versus the old, and worry about how in-depth journalism will get financed, is there something related here?

Well, at least I can satisfy my narrow tastes

The Long Tail suggested that it will be within narrow communities of interest where the future of entertainment lies. Jeff Jarvis has long been a proponent of this point of view. With online music it is probably already so (Washington Post). But would you ever think this applied to Beer?

Check out this quote by Scots whisky manufacturer James Thompson in comments at gapingvoid: “We have decided to create a drinks product that will never be made available to large retailers – ever. We don’t need them and we don’t like them that much.”

Technology shortens distance and time between people and the things they desire. Likewise, it enables companies to market to individuals, or small communities, instead of the masses.

Related thread in Slashdot.

Less friends? You too?

Coming from the Washington Post is news of a study that reveals people keep far fewer close friends these days.

I’ve seen this at work in my life and I’ve tried to rationalize it. I thought, possibly my work, and our growing family, were pressures here, but when faced honestly, this was gnawing at me for a long while. It sometimes seems the only friends I have are those who I personally reach out to, and I keep a short list I must admit, but now it seems far fewer confide back. A while ago I tried to meditate on what a friend was, thinking my definition was maybe too narrow. But possibly this is just a sign of the times. Of our increasingly busy and less trusting natures. Our electrons may meet in hyperspace for a while, but our hearts miss each other completely.

Americans are far more socially isolated today than they were two decades ago, and a sharply growing number of people say they have no one in whom they can confide, according to a comprehensive new evaluation of the decline of social ties in the United States.

A quarter of Americans say they have no one with whom they can discuss personal troubles, more than double the number who were similarly isolated in 1985. Overall, the number of people Americans have in their closest circle of confidants has dropped from around three to about two.

The comprehensive new study paints a sobering picture of an increasingly fragmented America, where intimate social ties — once seen as an integral part of daily life and associated with a host of psychological and civic benefits — are shrinking or nonexistent. In bad times, far more people appear to suffer alone.

“That image of people on roofs after Katrina resonates with me, because those people did not know someone with a car,” said Lynn Smith-Lovin, a Duke University sociologist who helped conduct the study. “There really is less of a safety net of close friends and confidants.”

If close social relationships support people in the same way that beams hold up buildings, more and more Americans appear to be dependent on a single beam.

Compared with 1985, nearly 50 percent more people in 2004 reported that their spouse is the only person they can confide in. But if people face trouble in that relationship, or if a spouse falls sick, that means these people have no one to turn to for help, Smith-Lovin said.

“We know these close ties are what people depend on in bad times,” she said. “We’re not saying people are completely isolated. They may have 600 friends on Facebook.com [a popular networking Web site] and e-mail 25 people a day, but they are not discussing matters that are personally important.”

10 years of WashingtonPost.com and Slate

Sometimes the best way to learn of the future is to look at the past. Slate and WashingtonPost.com are now 10 years old. There is much to gleam about where online media is going by looking at where they began, their efforts over the years, and where they are today.

Slate: Michael Kinsley: My History of Slate

WashingtonPost.com: Jay Rosen: Web Users Open the Gates

WashingtonPost.com: Patricia Sullivan: As the Internet Grows Up, the News Industry Is Forever Changed

WashingtonPost.com: Steve Fox: Web Site Starts From a Memo, Gains Millions of Readers

Emptied Bloglines account

On Friday, in a moment of either clarity…or something else… I removed all of my subscriptions from Bloglines. I had grown frustrated with my habit of checking a few times an hour for updates. I’ve mentioned before that Memeorandum is like crack. Well Bloglines is like cigarettes.

One thing I immediately miss is keeping up with my friends across the web. I feel partially disconnected. But at the same time, I’ve found myself more focused.

This isn’t an anti-RSS screed. I’m thinking there is something about Bloglines that, for me, makes it too easy to distract myself from what’s important.

So, what comes next…. hmmmmm….

Some recent posts of mine at Philly Future you maybe interested in

AOL and Yahoo set their guns on Digg, NowPublic, Newsvine (and ummmm… us?)

Teens turning away from email

The inevitable MySpace social networking backlash?

Using Google to mine MySpace for Philadelphia drug users

Link removed at request

Online media has got to cost somebody… right?

“The death of Wikipedia” and “A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy”

Some reactions to the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News sale: one, two.

Happy Father’s Day

I wish I could offer my father some kind of tribute today. Let him know of the great job he did and how much I respect him. But I can’t. I didn’t have one. The guy took off as soon as my mom told him she was pregnant.

This is my first father’s day.

In days past I have offered well wishes to the father of my wife, Richelle, and to my little brother, who in many ways, is someone I look up to, a great dad of two bright, amazing boys.

I hope I follow the examples they’ve set for me.



Today I’d like to offer thanks to all those fathers who stick around and try their best to be a force in their children’s lives.

And to shout out at those who have run from their responsibilities – your children need you.

Senators Evan Bayh and Barack Obama have a piece in the Inquirer on legislation they are proposing that will help those trying to do the right thing and punish those that don’t:

Today, too many men seem to think that fatherhood ends at conception. These men, so many of them still so young, leave mothers to bear the brunt of being both mom and dad, forcing them to face the challenges of raising a child and providing for the family on their own.

These women often perform this role heroically, but the statistics tell us what so many of them already know – that children are better off when their father is also involved.

Children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime. They are nine times more likely to drop out of school, five times more likely to commit suicide, and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, to run away from home, and to become teenage parents themselves.

So the question is: What do we do as a nation to solve this problem? How do we make sure that these boys start acting like men?

First, we will need a change in attitude. We will need to realize that government can’t legislate responsibility – that change can’t come just from Washington. As fathers, we need to teach our boys that having a child doesn’t make you a man – that what makes you a man is having the courage to raise a child.

But what government can do is to make it easier for those who make that courageous choice – and to make it harder for those who avoid it. The legislation we are introducing, called “The Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act,” will provide support for fathers who are trying to do the right thing in making child-support payments by providing them with job training and job opportunities and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit. It also stops penalizing marriage in the tax code, and makes sure that children and mothers, not the government, receive every penny of child support.

At the same time, it cracks down on men who are ignoring their parental responsibilities by increasing child-support enforcement to $4.9 billion over 10 years, a measure that will collect nearly $20 billion in payments that can help raise, nurture and educate children.