Ernie caught Santa in a candid post-Xmas pose.
Esthr Dyson's Flickr photo stream.
Accordion Guy: "Those of you who have a bit of clown phobia may not want to watch these videos."
I had to cancel my trip to Podcastercon on January 7. A sponsor is doing something fairly commercial with the help of the organizers. As I explained below, the line between commercial and non-commercial is very simple and clear, you can't be almost non-commercial and not open the door for everyone to promote their products. I can't pay my way cross-country, about $2000, to be pitched, and to help draw people to the pitches. I should have seen this coming, but I didn't. I'm sorry if you booked the trip because I was going to be there. I still think a fully non-commercial podcasting conference would be a useful event, but I doubt if we'll ever see one.
I don't know who this person is, but I really admire her directness and courage. We need more women to stand up for men, because we sure don't have the ability to stand up for ourselves. Of course I'm going to get flamed for saying this, and pointing to it, but who cares. Happy holidays!
Rene Blodgett: "Like calculators, VCRs, cell phones, TiVos, and iPods, will we all be saying How did we live without our Nav system two years from now?" Yes.
Paul Ashby: Songbird aims to do what iTunes can't.
Om Malik on blog plagiarism.
Mike Arrington: "People have a tendency to try and see both sides of an issue. So when someone steals content from you, others are going to ask if you handled yourself properly in dealing with it."
Rex Hammock is accumulating a list of US airports with free wifi. We rarely hear about airports with no wifi, a vanishing breed. New Orleans is one of those.
Ask anyone who was at the three BloggerCons, it's hard to keep commercialism out of non-commercial technology conferences. Once you open the door, even a bit, for one vendor, they all want equal time, and they're entitled to it. Imho, you have to draw a hard line, a firm NO when it comes to promoting products. Otherwise you get a commercial conference.
When I sought sponsorship for the first BloggerCon, I was told that I would have to let the sponsors have speaking slots, in the main conference, and I would not be allowed to tell the audience that they had paid for the slots. I tried to compromise and said they could speak at lunch, but not in the main conference. I got no takers. So I said no. This was before we had the unconference concept, after that, for the second BloggerCon, we didn't even ask for sponsorship.
By the time of the third BloggerCon, at Stanford in November of last year, the idea was so well established that we got the sponsorship on our terms, which were "We'll find an appropriate way to thank you." No speaking slots, no logos on the website, no banners in the auditorium, just a thank you note on the website, and a personal thanks in the opening remarks, and in the closing remarks, and two rounds of applause. I think the participants appreciated this much more than they would had we given them advertising time in the conference-proper. They know when something is a commercial, even when you don't say so. It only makes the sponsor look dirty, and makes the conference itself dirty.
Now the paid-for speaking slots thing happens all the time, everywhere you go, it's the norm in tech conferences. It may be the norm for all conferences, since I don't go to many conferences anymore, largely because of this. And a lot of other people are staying home too, which feeds a spiral of commercialism, because now that fewer people are paying the conference fees, the promoters rely more heavily on sponsorship, so the conferences become more commercial, so more people stay home, and on and on.
Now, occasionally I agree to participate in a commercial conference, if it's in an interesting place, or a different community, or at a time when I want to get out of town. But I only do it if they pick up the tab for my travel (business class or better) and hotel stay. I never pay out of pocket for these things. That was the problem with the Syndicate conference in NY in May, this was one of the more whored-out conferences, and I was one of their key attractions, and they wouldn't cover my expenses. Why should I pay out of my pocket for companies to promote their products to me and others, while the promoter pockets huge profits? Hey if I'm going to be a whore, you have to pay me, and pay me well. There's nothing more pathetic than a pimp or a john who thinks they should get it for free.
People who pay out of their own pocket to come to a commercial conference and don't have a product to promote, feel like they're being ripped off, and they're right, they are being ripped off. If the conference is commercial, you should get in for free, and your expenses should be covered. In Silicon Valley, they look the other way, because it's presumed that there are enough people who can afford to pay and look at commercials that they can fill a room this way. It's why the conferences are so mind-numbingly boring, because the kind of people who pay to go to listen to commercials are people with no ideas, no passion, nothing to contribute other than their money. Every conversation has a business model. Every person you meet has something to sell you. Where's the fun in that?
Tech companies seem to feel it's their god-given right to make money at every venue, even when they don't pay for it, apparently. Well, I held the line at BloggerCon, and by the time we got to the third one, we got the sponsorship money without having to take it up the butt. This was because I had a very tough rule about commercialism, even tougher than Harvard required. I really don't like commercials to creep into conferences that are focused on the people, not the companies. Imho, it spoils the fun.
Paul Thurrot: "The fact that Posen's post is so long should alarm people. I think it proves that Winer has a point."
Of course I have a point. I've been using iPods for three years. These are not casual comments by a newbie. I've also used competitive products, and know it doesn't have to be this way. (They're not perfect either.)
The problem with the iPod is, of course, DRM. Some people say it's not Apple's fault, and they're probably right. But Apple is still the vendor, it's their name on the product. If something came along that was as nice as an iPod without the glitchy UI, it's Apple that's going to look bad, imho.
BTW, the "imho" part is something most of my detractors leave off, as they say some pretty personally insulting things about me (they often leave off their real names too). That should factor into your thinking. If the people promoting an idea say nasty things about people who differ with them, and if they have to take their swipes anonymously, they must not have a lot to say that's substantial, and they clearly aren't willing to stand behind their own thinking.
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