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Scripting News, the weblog started in 1997 that bootstrapped the blogging revolution.
Permanent link to archive for Monday, August 07, 2000. Monday, August 07, 2000

Salon covers retail 

Salon: Napster vs the record stores. "Our sales are up 19 percent over last year because of all the publicity," she reports. "You can't open a newspaper or magazine and not see a Napster headline. We've never got so much free advertising. Music is exciting again."

Vin Scelsa 

I talked on the phone with Joel Spolsky this afternoon. We talked about a lot of things, including Radio UserLand, and how it relates to weblogs. The ideas are quite similar. Music chosen by people, the same way weblogs are stories chosen by people.

Joel said that all music on commercial radio in NY is programmed by machines, except for one show. I had to know more. So he sent pointers.

Vin Scelsa has a show on WNEW, a station that's been through all kinds of formats over the years. I remember WNEW very well, and Vin Scelsa, from the late 60s and early 70s. It was the album rock station that became the focal point for the new music of the times in NY.

I asked if Scelsa has a website, Joel said that his fans operate sites where they record all his playlists.

"We gotta work with them!" I said.

PS: Joel's New Year's Resolution: No more News.Com.

Something for everyone 

This section started with a pointer to the patent page in today's NY Times. Then I realized it had been a long time since I had thought about their "free subscription required" cookie. I point to the Times even though they require membership. How do they get me to do that?

Surely they must have had the same kinds of debates that the music industry is having now, but they did it quietly. They give away their content, the stuff they still charge for in print. Quietly, in a NY Timesish way, they have become the authoritative voice in a new medium, as they were in the old.

Perhaps the people who run the Times are more thoughtful, in the sense that they thought more as the world was changing, and when the time came, they made the right call, without dragging their users into a bloody paranoid mess.

This is exactly what AOL could do. Since they understand the online world, presumably, and now own a big chunk of music content, they could make the adjustment on behalf of both their industries.

A Jewish vice-president? 

Reuters: "Presidential candidate Al Gore has picked Senator Joseph Lieberman as his vice presidential running mate, which would make the Connecticut moderate the first Jew to run on a major national ticket, Democratic sources said on Monday."

What do you think? 

What is The Coalition for the Future of Music?

A network effect 

Wow, Doc starts off a topic, I respond, then Jakob Nielsen, then I go again, and now Joel Spolsky has a letter from a guy at Wordsworth. Are we being lured into a barn-raising here? LOL! Could Wordsworth define a new position as the Web-friendly bookseller? Hmmm.

Yesterday's discoveries 

Two old bands whose music I love, but had forgotten. The Hollies and The Lovin Spoonful.

In technology, we got WinAmp working with Radio UserLand; the discovery was that Live365 has a plug-in for WinAmp that streams out what you play to up to 365 other people.

So amateur radio stations, like amateur websites are here. It looks like Scripting News as a radio station is just days away, instead of months. Gotta love the Internet.

Welcome back 

Reminder to self when the radio station is up and running, mix equal parts of KD Lang and John Sebastian for an interesting contrast. Smooth melancholy moodiness combined with Welcome Back Kotter. Nice mix.

Yeah we tease him a lot 

What is

Welcome back, to that same old place that you laughed about. Who'd thought they'd lead you right back where we need you. Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.

It has nothing to do with UI 

Jakob Nielsen has a theory why Doc sells books through Amazon and not through Wordsworth.

I have my own theory, well actually, it's the Positioning theory. In every market there's a ladder. A number one, two, and three, and everyone else. Number one and two make all the money. Number three is barely hanging in there. Everyone else is coming and going all the time.

It goes without saying that in Books-on-the-Web, Amazon is number one. Number two is probably Barnes & Noble. Borders is number three. Wordsworth, who I had never heard of, is in the clutter, in the noise, not on the ladder at all, as far as I know. In other words, Amazon is Coke, B&N is Pepsi. What about Fatbrain? They're the uncola. They've acknowledged the ladder by not trying to be on it. What exactly their ladder is called is something of a mystery to me.

The reason it's this way is due to the way the human mind works. The ladder is in our minds. It doesn't matter if Amazon's software is better, even if it was worse, we'd think it was better. When I stopped buying from Amazon, I stopped buying books on the Internet, not on principle, I believe the others wouldn't rip me off. I'm just lazy. And I'm a product of Positioning.

Further, I think I was getting ready to stop buying from Amazon even before the patent mess started. Why? Because they violated the prime directive of Positioning. They owned the top of the hill in books-on-the-Web, and then commited the cardinal sin, Line Extension. That confuses my mind. Would I go to a bookstore to buy a refrigerator? Not in this lifetime.

To Jakob, it's not all about user interface. We're in a larger context here. Stop everything and read the Ries & Trout book. It's old, but the human species is even older.

More on Amazon 

For me Amazon shot itself in the head when they attacked Barnes & Noble with The Patent. B&N owned the top of the hill in cerebral book stores, not books on the Web. I grew up in NY where B&N was big, big, big, and I was a big book reader as a kid.

But as a Web guy, it would never have occurred to me to buy books on the Web from Barnes & Noble.

I liked Amazon! I used to root for them the way I rooted for the Mets. Go Web! Go Amazon. Same thing. Spending money at the Amazon site, to me, was like voting for the Web.

Until they became dirty, then they flipped around, like Daryl Strawberry. There's nothing worse than a brand you trusted that then proves they're no better than the other guys.

Today's song 

KD Lang: My Last Cigarette.


Last update: Monday, August 07, 2000 at 6:32 PM Eastern.

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