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7 posts from October 2005

How We Got Here, by Andy Kessler

I’ve been reading this book for the past few weeks and I finally found the time to read the last few chapters tonight. The subtitle is A Slightly Irreverent History of Technology & Markets, which is an apt description of the book. The major Parts are The Industrial Revolution, Early Capital Markets, Components Needed for Computing, Digital Computers and finally, Modern Capital Markets.

I’ve never been mistaken for a history buff. That probably comes from not paying enough attention in far too many high school classes. Now I pay the price because I find the older I get, the more interested I am in learning about this stuff.  Books like Kessler’s make learning a treat. He’s got a great writing style with just enough humor to reinforce the point but not get in the way. This book is to capital markets and technology what Bill Bryson’s book is to science. They both break down the complex into terms we can all understand.

By the way, although I read the paperback edition, the author is offering free downloads of the book in PDF format.

Google WiFi

Preston Gralla has an interesting point of view on Google’s free WiFi initiative. Although most people (myself included) tend to think of how this is a direct shot at the ISPs, he points out one of the less obvious potential casualties: your local newspaper.

As Gralla puts it:

The key to local newspapers' survival is their ability to get money from small local advertisers… But Google's WiFi service can make that kind of local targeting look crude. It will be able to deliver ads literally on a block-by-block basis.

I definitely hope this sort of service comes to my neighborhood soon. For one reason, I’m sick and tired of paying my local cable company an arm and a leg for broadband service. I’ve thought of switching to one of SBC’s introductory DSL offers, but I figure I’ll probably be paying the same ridiculously high rate again in 12 months.

Don’t get me wrong. I subscribe to the local paper and read it every day and I certainly don’t want to see it disappear. I suppose if this sort of program really starts to impact the local advertising business, Google might have an opportunity to swoop in and take over the newspaper industry. After all, both Google and your local newspaper already earn the bulk of their money from advertising. And, it sure seems like Google is well positioned to expand into many new and different businesses.

No wonder Microsoft is so scared of Google: Microsoft spends a fortune trying to take over your living room with Xbox while Google spends almost nothing as it looks to take over everything else!

“Old” Media and “New” Media

Jon Fine has an excellent column in the 10/17 issue of BusinessWeek. He asks a lot of tough, interesting questions, like:

How far do old-media skills get you with new-media consumers?

Does business sense translate across generations?

If some big old-media (acquisition) deals look bad, are big new-media deals good? Especially if they’re for assets teeming with traffic from the young consumers who allegedly shun old media?

I’ve quickly become a big fan of Fine and his MediaCentric column. If you liked this article, be sure to read his others by doing a quick search of his name on the BusinessWeek website. You'll also want to check out his blog.

Why I Love This Job…

Seeing the results is the best part of the job. That’s why this has been a very fun week. Yesterday I got my advance copy of Sybex’s latest game book, Age of Empires III. We’ve got a boatload of orders for this one and it should be on shelves next week. Kudos to Willem Knibbe for pulling off a miracle by signing and publishing this book in record time.

Although that would normally be enough to completely make my week, I got another great treat today: My galley copy of Robert Scoble’s and Shel Israel’s Naked Conversations hit my desk. I’ve already read a few of the chapters over on their website, but now I can read the whole book from start to finish.  Look for this one in stores in January.