When you want to search for something on the Internet, most people go to Google without even thinking about it.
31 posts from May 2009
When you want to search for something on the Internet, most people go to Google without even thinking about it.
A couple weeks ago, I blogged about Boxee's App Dev Challenge in which they are giving away three big screen TVs to the top Boxee apps in three categories. The response to the App Dev Challenge has been great and there are a bunch of cool new apps being built. The winners will be selected on June 23rd.
Today, at the Boxee board meeting, I showed the board La Blogotheque's "Take Away Shows" and we watched part of this video.
While we were watching it, I told Avner, the CEO of Boxee, that I'd love to see a "Take Away Shows App" on Boxee. And in that moment, I thought, "that could be an app dev challenge winner". So if any of you out there are interested in building a Boxee app for the fun of it, I hereby request someone build the Take Away Shows app and I promise that I'll lobby the judges as much as I can legally get away with to help you win.
At midnight eastern sunday night, Fedex will be "taking over" this blog. A "takeover" is an advertising approach where a marketer surrounds a web page with its brand. The Fedex takeover of this blog will run from midnight sunday night to midnight friday night, basically this entire work week.
Hopefully this blog post will run at the same time the takeover happens so all of you will see what I am talking about.
As many of you know, all of the revenue this blog generates goes to charity and this takeover is no different. However, since the idea of the takeover is to "engage" the reader more than a simple banner, I thought we ought to do something equally engaging with the ad revenue.
So, I am using some, but not all of the ad revenue, that comes from this ad campaign to fund 50 Donors Choose gift cards. Each Donors Choose gift card will be for $30. The first 50 readers who click on this link and leave your email address will get one of the $30 gift cards.
You can then use the gift card to donate the $30 to whatever public school project you want to fund at Donors Choose.
I want to thank Fedex for taking over this blog for the week and providing much needed funds for public school teachers and kids. I hope that all of you will engage with both Fedex and Donors Choose this week.
Yesterday afternoon Josh and his friend Harry were hanging out after coming back from playing basketball all morning. They were on the couch in the family room but the TV wasn't on. They had the kitchen laptop on the couch with them and were watching videos on youtube. The Gotham Gal and I looked at them and observed that we were looking at the future of television.
Later, after Gotham (as Howard Lindzon refers to her) and I got back from a wonderful dinner at John Dory we sat in the family room and fired up the mac mini and Boxee on the big screen TV. We had seen a cute film yesterday early evening before dinner called Management and there was a Three Dog Night song in it called Never Been To Spain. So we searched YouTube for Never Been To Spain and watched a few videos of the song, including a 1972 live version by Elvis Presley in Vegas.
That led to an hour and a half of me VJ'ing our way through dozens of great YouTube videos. We watched the New Pornographers do a great live version of Adventures In Solitude (also featured in the Management film). That led naturally to Neko Case doing Letterman and a few other Neko Case live videos.
Then we watched a bunch of old videos of MGMT when they were called Management and were students at Wesleyan.
And from there it was a romp through a bunch of Of Montreal live shows.
And then we ended up at La Blogotheque for about a half dozen of their videos ending with the incredible version of The National's Start A War outside under the stars after a wine soaked dinner in france.
As we headed off to bed, I remarked to the Gotham Gal that we had just participated in the future of television.
The era of distributed profiles is upon us. I've been offering commenting via Facebook Connect for the past couple months (via the disqus comment system that our firm is an investor in).
Although I have not done a serious analysis of the numbers, I think about 20-30% of all comments come from people using their Facebook profile to log in and comment on this blog. That makes total sense; why create a new profile on disqus when you already have a Facebook profile?
Yesterday, Disqus launched a second option for "remote profiles" with their implementation of "sign in with twitter".
Here's how it looks on the Mashable blog:
The nice thing is Twitter sign in uses their OAuth service and is very simple and easy to use. Check it out and let me know what you think (you need to be logged out of disqus to see the Twitter and Facebook options).
I've been thinking and writing a lot about earned media and passed links lately. When I think about the ways that marketers can "earn free media" with passed links, I think about four primary channels; email, blogs, twitter, and facebook. We see that these four channels are, to varying degrees, becoming a significant and growing source of traffic for our portfolio companies and many other web services.
This week I attended my first Donors Choose board meeting. Many of you will be familiar with Donors Choose through the two "bloggers challenges" I've done with this blog. In total, this community has raised almost $40,000 for teachers who want new educational equipment for their classrooms and can't get it from their school systems.
Donors Choose is a web marketplace that allows people like you and me to find teachers with projects we like and support them with a donation of any size. Once the project is funded, Donors Choose buys the equipment and/or supplies directly and sends them to the teacher, bypassing the entire school system. Your donations go directly to teachers and their students which I love.
Anyway, this post is not about Donors Choose, it's about earned media and passed links. At the Donors Choose board meeting this week, we learned that a siginificant and increasing amount of Donors Choose traffic (and donations) come from earned media and passed links. While this is not surprising, it's very exciting to me.
It's pretty obvious how Donors Choose incents people to tweet and share their donations and pet projects on Facebook. I did just that this morning. But incenting people to blog about Donors Choose is harder. The bloggers challenge that they do every October is great. But its not "scalable".
One "scalable" way to make this happen is to distribute all the fundable projects out onto the web via RSS and an API. Donors Choose has done that. A service called Social Actions has taken that data and made it available to others, including our portfolio company Zemanta. So now, the almost 30,000 bloggers who use Zemanta will see good causes recommended to them when they post about things that are relevant to those causes. With one click on the Zemanta toolbar, a "passed link" to that cause is inserted directly into the post.
To highlight this new partnership, Zemanta is running a contest this month called "Blogging For A Cause." Anytime you write a blog post and mention your favorite non-profit, you should include this code snippet at the end of your post:
[This blog post is part of Zemanta's "<a href="http://www.zemanta.com/bloggingforacause/">Blogging For a Cause</a>" campaign to raise awareness and funds for worthy causes that bloggers care about.]
That's all Zemanta needs to find your post and track it. The 5 non-profit organizations that get the most bloggers to endorse them will get to split $6,000, funded by Zemanta and Weber Shandwick. Zemanta is looking for others to join the sponsorship group and increase the prize.
You can write about as many non-profits as you want, but they will count one only one per blog post.
Since this post is about Donors Choose, as well as a bunch of other stuff, it should count as one vote for Donors Choose. The contest runs until June 6th. I hope all of you bloggers out there take the time in the next couple weeks to blog about a cause you like and include the code snippet. That's all you have to do to be counted.
This blog post is part of Zemanta's "Blogging For a Cause" campaign to raise awareness and funds for worthy causes that bloggers care about.
The WSJ gave its journalists some rules about conduct in social media this week according to Editor and Publisher.
Most of them are good common sense rules for everyone using social media. But there are several that I think are wrong and should be rethought. Here are four "rules" that I think should be reconsidered and why.
Consult your editor before "connecting" to or "friending" any reporting
contacts who may need to be treated as confidential sources. Openly
"friending" sources is akin to publicly publishing your Rolodex.
>> Most journalists are going to have hundreds to thousands of "friends" in social media. And that is how it should be. We are all putting our rolodexes out there into the public domain. That's one of the trades you make with social media. You publish your social graph in return for getting the power that comes from doing that. And it is not going to be clear who your sources were on a particular story from a list of hundreds to thousands of "friends".
* Let our coverage speak for itself, and don't detail how an article was reported, written or edited.
>> This is a conversational medium. It's not the old world where the reporting was done behind closed doors. The most powerful reporting I see in social media is evolutionary, conversational, and done out in the open.
* Don't discuss articles that haven't been published, meetings you've attended or plan to attend with staff or sources, or interviews that you've conducted.
>> I get great value from talking about investments I plan to make. The feedback and comments I get from those posts informs the investment decision and how we plan to manage the investment once we've made it. The same approach is being used by the most forward thinking journalists. As I said in the previous comment, reporting that is evolutionary, conversational, and done out in the open is often the most powerful way to report. Clearly there are times when it cannot and should not be used, but to say "never do this" is very wrong.
* Business and pleasure should not be mixed on services like Twitter. Common sense should prevail, but if you are in doubt about the appropriateness of a Tweet or posting, discuss it with your editor before sending.
>> This is dead wrong. The friendships and relationships you build on social media build your network and provide the context for reporting opportunities in the future. I learned this early on via this blog. By being myself, talking about things other than work, I built a community of "friends" here at AVC who have helped me on so many ways I can't even begin to enumerate them. Social media is all about mixing personal and business. Those who do it best win.
Union Square Ventures is a true partnership and I am fortunate to work with some very bright people. My founding partner Brad Burnham is in many ways the complete opposite of me. And the story of our two hacking education posts is a great example of how we work.
Two months ago, we convened a fantastic group of educators, entrepreneurs, and researchers to talk about "hacking education". I blogged about the event on the subway home that night.
Two months later, Brad has posted the definitive take on the event on the Union Square Ventures blog.
I'm all about expediency and the moment. Brad is thoughtful, takes his time, and gets it right. And he really nailed it with his hacking education post.
If you really want to drill down into the event, you can also read the transcript which is online here.
This is an important topic and I am sure you'll be hearing more from us on it.
Here's the final version of the Disruption talk I'm giving at Google today.
I want to thank everyone who provided feedback, criticisms, and suggestions in the comments to my first version of this.
In many ways, this is our presentation because so many of the ideas expressed in here come from the discussions that go on in this community. I am sure many of you will see your contributions resident in the talk.