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30 posts from June 2006

Alan Meckler Says Social Networking Is Over

Yes, according to this post on Alan’s blog, the social networking phenomenon is over. Huh?! Are you kidding me?! Just because too many entrepreneurs are trying to create a new business plan for this area doesn’t mean the end is near.

My prediction: Social networking sites will continue to evolve and offer far greater services in a year or two than they do now. Just like most industries, 2 or 3 will firmly establish themselves as the leaders and another dozen (or more) will exist on the scraps left behind, with more of a vertical focus. Ultimately though, I see social networking sites as the place to store all your personal information. The key to achieving and maintaining a leadership role in this space won’t be marketing and brand building, but rather creating a rich layer of rights/permissions so that only certain aspects of my personal data store are accessible to other users.

Longer term, this category morphs from a quick way to meet a new business colleague or potential date for Saturday night to one where all your medical information, tax information, etc., is stored. (Yes, the data privacy freaks will have a cow, but they don’t have to participate in this one.) Then, when I need a refill on my allergy medicine, the prescription information is exposed to my preferred online pharmacy for processing. Or, my accountant is easily able to retrieve my tax return from 2003, even though she didn’t create it. The pharmacy can’t get to the tax return and the accountant can’t see the prescription information, but it’s all in one convenient location, easily accessed by web browser, cell phone, etc.

No, social networking isn’t dead. Far from it. Alan just isn’t considering all the opportunities social networking has to become something much more special than it is today. (Unfortunately Alan still hasn’t enabled comments or trackbacks to his blog, so there’s no effective way to tie my comments back to his original post.)


“Content In a Context”

Here’s a very good article which talks generically about content but is very much applicable to book publishing content as well. I’ve pulled some of the more interesting excerpts and added my comments below:

Vignette calls this revolution putting ‘content in a context’, emphasizing the fact that web-based content can be presented in many instances and in many forms, but that it must always be relevant to the person accessing it.

Absolutely. This is very much related to the type of layering approach I’ve been envisioning for a successful e-book platform. In addition to content layering, however, this article points out the need to not only be device independent, but device knowledgeable, so that content is properly delivered most effectively.

We are heading for a situation where successful delivery of multimedia content will become a key business differentiator. The companies that do it well, those that target these new channels effectively, will be the companies that prosper in the future. And it will be those companies that implement content management systems reflecting their unique business model that will benefit most.

Without trying to sound overly pessimistic, I would take this a step further and say that the companies that don’t figure this out are likely to be crushed by those that do. They might own a huge stockpile of content today, but if they don’t catch this next wave that content will become less and less valuable, especially as creators of new content start to view them as “yesterday’s media company.”

However, the way in which this information is presented cannot be the same. Anyone that has had to view content on a mobile device ‘dumped’ from an HTML website will recognize the importance of this.

Amen! Have you ever tried to monitor a baseball game in real time with a cell phone or Blackberry? Mobile ESPN probably does just fine, but I’m not paying a premium for that one!

This is the stage where we can begin to appreciate why some enterprises are not ready to exploit multi-channel content distribution. Whilst they will have undoubtedly considered the need for multi-channel capabilities, they will not have taken away focus from their principle money-making channels, where less-technical customers can use the telephone or even shop at branches. The multi-channel vision may not offer rewards straight away, and some of these channels are still largely unproven.

Hmmmm… Sounds like points I made earlier from Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma.

Whatever happens in the digital evolution there is one constant: we are heading for an explosion in multimedia, multi-channel content on a scale not yet fully realized.

Although it sounds like another one of those overblown predictions from the late 1990’s, I totally agree with this observation.


Clemente, by David Maraniss

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh and have been a Pirates fan all my life. The championship seasons of 1971 and 1979 seem like a hundred years ago, but I still have vivid memories of watching Roberto Clemente patrol right field. He was my favorite player and I still have a scrapbook of his highlights somewhere down in my basement.

Clemente David Maraniss did a fantastic job with this book. Having grown up in the 60’s and 70’s, I read all the accounts of Clemente during some outstanding and less than outstanding seasons. I also read many accounts of the day he died while on a mercy mission to Nicaragua, New Years Eve, 1972. Maraniss left no stone unturned in this one. He covers the entire life of Clemente with great details and quotes from countless teammates. He also offers extensive details of those last few days, including a background on the pilot, flight crew, the plane’s spotty history, etc.

This is a long overdue account of the life of one of the true great men of baseball. In an era when you can’t pick up the paper without reading about the latest player arrest or steroid incident, this is a book that will help you remember why you love the game.


Wildstrom’s Advice for College Freshmen: Go Mac

In this BusinessWeek article by Stephen Wildstrom, he recommends incoming college freshmen buy a Mac rather than a Windows system. He talks about how the Mac OS is a superior platform and that by the time Vista catches up, Apple will have released a new version. Then he talks about hardware options and pricing…

Ah, now he’s stumbled upon one of the key reasons why Apple has always been doomed to a sliver of market share. The cheapest MacBook you can buy retails for $1,099?! Yikes! My daughter is heading off to Purdue this fall (my alma mater, btw) and I just bought her a laptop. I paid all of $699 for a loaded Acer system, including a full Gig of RAM a 100-Gig drive, etc. (Wildstrom mentions how you definitely don’t want to settle for 512Meg of RAM in the Mac systems either, but that’s apparently an upgrade to the already high-priced systems.)

Apple has a cool interface and there are certainly plenty of great applications for their platform. Now that they’ve switched to Intel chips and offer the Boot Camp software to run Windows applications it’s tempting to consider a switch…but anytime I see those high prices I remember why I keep buying new Windows systems every couple of years.