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Permanent link to archive for Saturday, November 12, 2005. Saturday, November 12, 2005

Thanks to Lisa Williams for the pointers to two new OPML browsers, Yafbog and Olive.  Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Harvard Law School has an "official" blog for admissions. "This blog is intended to make the admissions process at Harvard Law School more transparent." Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Okay here's something random that's nice about Mac OS X. It has Apache pre-installed, and it's easy to figure out how to use it. Just go to System Preferences, Sharing panel, and turn on the personal web server. It leaves behind a cookie crumb trail for you to follow, and the URLs they give you work. This is something they do well at Apple. Seems they must have a Dept of Cookie Crumbs, maybe even a VP-Cookie Crumbs. Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Cringely: "The documents from Bill Gates and new Microsoft CTO Ray Ozzie were clearly supposed to be leaked." Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Dan Rosensweig: "We read stuff written by people we don't know that's edited by people we don't know." Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Two years ago today Bryan Bell said goodbye to the cactus design for Scripting News. Permanent link to this item in the archive.

If it's not MP3, is it still podcasting? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Yesterday's coverage of the Audible announcement exposed a conversation that was coming, and it boils down to the question in the title of this piece. The answer -- if you're not using MP3, you're probably trying to make podcasting into a replay of previous media.

The thing that makes podcasting special is that it is accessible to everyone, not just companies with huge production budgets. Even the NY Times, stodgy old media conglomerate that it is, noticed this (early too, likely because it wasn't a threat to their business, like blogging was).

By design, podcasting took a poison pill at the very beginning of its life that made it impossible for the corporate types to subvert it without fundamentally changing what it is. That's why I was sure that Audible wasn't doing podcasting.

Basically MP3 can't be rigged up to serve the purpose of advertisers, and that's why I love MP3. And only MP3 provides the portability and compatibility that users depend on. Any other method will force them to jump through hoops that they will resist. If so, then podcasting isn't for the advertisers. They keep insisting that it is, and that we old timers are just resisting the inevitable, but honestly they're wrong -- they should learn a little technology before they tell us how it is. I've taken the time to discuss it with them, and look forward to the post mortem when we look at why what they tried to do didn't work. It's not likely, but maybe then they will have found some new respect for technology.

Google has shown that the text web can be monetized, but maybe only for a little while. That's what I think is going on. They've built a web that historically the Internet undoes. An advertising broker isn't that different from a stock broker, travel agent, a real estate agent, reporters, all the intermediaries and distributors that the Internet has already disintermediated.

Has Google invented a way of negating gravity or are they providing a bridge from a dying way of doing business (intrusive "messages") to a new one, where commercial information flows to people who want it, who welcome it. And podcasting, because it was built on a technology that resists this kind of monetization, may never be harnessed this way, even temporarily.

How's Audible doing? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

AP: Audible Posts 3rd-Qtr Loss of $189,000.

Yesterday I said that podcasting wrecked their business, and perhaps that was a bit over the top. But Mitch Ratcliffe says they're doing great (amazingly citing the AP article linked above as evidence), and I think, in balance that's over the top too.

I think it's pretty obvious that they've got some serious competition from podcasting. They used to be the only way to get the kind of content you can now get through podcasting. NPR used to use them to distribute their stuff, now they go direct. And even if it's not fair, the audio books they sell are also available as free downloads elsewhere.

I spent the better part of last year trying to envision a business built on podcasting, and didn't come up with anything that I believed in. That means inevitably that I don't believe in Audible's business either.

And yes, I had a public argument with Audible's president earlier this year. I was trying to say that I liked their products, even though, because of the DRM (and a disk crash) I had stopped using them. He got angry about that, but as a customer, and I did pay hundreds of dollars to his company, I don't have to embrace his philosophy of authors and publishers. This is the kind of conversation I have with execs at all kinds of companies, and the ones that have long-term staying power listen, they don't argue.

The anatomy of a leak Permanent link to this item in the archive.

There's been some low-grade flaming over the "disruption" memos, leaked here and elsewhere earlier this week. Was Dave being used, unwittingly, as a PR tool? Did Microsoft know that they would leak? Some people didn't even bother asking questions, they claim to know the answers, and they often aren't very flattering to yours truly. So much for the scientific method.

A picture named wallyOfficialSpokesperson.gifFWIW, here's my speculation. If Microsoft ever was so naive as to believe that its founder and CTO could write memos that are distributed widely through the company and not leak outside the company, they surely aren't that naive now. Therefore, they probably review the documents carefully before they are distributed to be sure that they don't contain any truly sensitive info. Remember, they live in a world ruled by Sarbanes-Oxley, shareholder lawsuits, forward-looking statements, etc etc. Did lawyers review Gates' email and Ozzie's memo? Likely. Did the PR people? Of course. It's quite possible that they were treated like State of the Union speeches, with drafts circulating among top management and various people asking that messages be put into the memo for this constituency or that. These are highly polished and thought-through documents.

Further, did you ever stop and think why documents are leaked? Did you think they fell off a Fed Ex truck in front of my house? Come on. Someone or some group of people, inside Microsoft, wanted it to be made public. Why? Well, this is pure speculation, but here goes. It was always intended to be public. The surprise, this time, is that it took so long to leak. It usually doesn't.


Last update: Saturday, November 12, 2005 at 10:29 PM Eastern.

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