Shocking New Study reveals Internet Users Have 24 Hours per Day

A shocking new study by the Stanford Institute for the Quantitative Study of Society discovers (full study):
time spent on the Internet is time taken away from other activities.
use of the Internet has displaced television watching and a range of other activities. Internet users watch television for one hour and 42 minutes a day, compared with the national average of two hours
an hour of time spent using the Internet reduces face-to-face contact with friends, co-workers and family by 23.5 minutes, lowers the amount of time spent watching television by 10 minutes and shortens sleep by 8.5 minutes
57 percent of Internet use was devoted to communications like e-mail, instant messaging and chat rooms
Of the time devoted to communication, just a sixth was spent staying in touch with family members, significantly less than the time spent on work-related communications and contact with friends
Although the study finds internet users engage in less face to face communication, the study does not appear to address whether internet users have more overall contact with friends and family than noninternet users. I suspect that internet users do have more frequent contact with friends and family than noninternet users. Anyone have data on this?

The NYT's summary of the study is available here (registration required).

More details: Time diary studies published by IT&Society in 2002.

iPod-Centric World? Nah.

Influx envisions an iPod-centric world:
As the wireless phone has played an important role in changing ritual and elements of behavior, what will the iPod and its ilk do for society and business?
Influx clearly discerns in the iPod tea leaves a pattern different from my reading of iPod as hyper-inflated SOV. As a play-only device, the societal impact of portable audio devices is circumscribed: privacy regulation; mood manipulation; entertainment. The societal impact of low-granularity communication devices--e.g., wireless devices such as phones and PDAs--is considerably more substantial.

I believe the over-arching issue is this: how will (does) pervasive content--i.e., any content (images, audio, video, text), available anywhere, at any time--combined with the ability to share that content instantaneously impact society? How does the ever-availability of pervasive content impact:
  • social interaction patterns? and
  • social institutions?
From this perspective, the potential social impact of Apple's iCentric iLandic DEViCES is limited. PodCasting suggests the iCentric Apple world might escape from its iSland. We'll see. Or, will the iPod become yet another disposable device?


Internet Sales Jump 24% over 2003

CNet reports
"Sales of goods on the Internet during the holiday season jumped to $8.8 billion, a 24 percent increase over last year, according to Internet service provider VeriSign.

On the Unintended consequences of Arbitrary Limits

Software failure caused ComAir to cancel all flights just before Christmas, a move that inconvenienced thousands of travelers. Ars Technica reveals the cause was an arbitrary limit incorporated into ComAir's scheduling software:
At the core of the problem was an application created by SBS, a subsidiary of Boeing. What happened on SBS's system is that the massive ice and weather delays necessitated an abnormally high number of crew reassignments which overflowed a hard limit of 32,768 changes per month. The result being that the application either crashed, stopped working, or began acting irrationally. With this critical system out of play, no one knew where send people or where to get crewmembers for new and rescheduled flights. The application crash, on top of weather delays and a lack of glycol to de-ice the planes caused the cancellation of thousands of flights in and out of the Cincinnati airport only days before Christmas.
Ah, the joys of a software dependent world!

On Extending Standards into Nonstandard Domains

Many2Many has this interesting post on how standards might be extended to enable easy transport of ID, Reputation, Content, Applications, and Relationships from one context to another. Sounds like the standardized seeds necessary to build a meta blog.

bloggers without borders: A meta blog?

Hmm ... bloggers without borders looks to be trying to offer individuals a meta-blog; a blog that can integrate elements of their other blogs (e.g., flickr). It will be intresting to see what this spawns.


Our Digito Future?

Is this our digito future?

Santa Uses RFID!

Wal-Mart implements its RFID tag based inventory tracking system Saturday. This system should lower Wal-Mart's inventory tracking costs. With Wal-Mart, lower costs generally translates to lower prices for consumers shopping its retail stores. More here and here.

Wal-Mart's deployment of RFID tags continues to launch some so-called 'privacy advocates' into tongue wagging mode. For example:
But privacy advocates are concerned the technology will open the door to allow retailers to "follow" merchandise from the store shelf into a customer's home.
What Wal-Mart's involvement has done is make this technology real," said Katherine Albrecht, founder and director of Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN), an industry watchdog group. "These corporations using RFID are playing with a dangerous technology. It has the potential to eradicate our privacy.
The biggest concern is that the technology will lead to tracking a consumer's buying habits and that those habits will be shared with other businesses and the government without their permission.
Not to advocate such activity, but these folks are rather late to the issue. Technologies that enable tracking consumer habits has been in place for some time now. RFID tags simply allow consumer tracking to happen at a faster pace. As far as I can tell, these folks don't seem concerned by deployment of similar tracking technology as part of the EZ-Pass toll system.

On other fronts:
  • Sporting events: Several professional football teams are considering installation of Smart System Technologies. preppie system (WSJ, link requires subscription) to speed access to football games.

  • Higher Education: [Co]lleges have introduced the [RFID encoded| cards to allow students access to hostels and monitor their classroom attendance. Students only need to swipe his or her card at a reader to record their attendance. At Pune University's Jayakar library, for instance, members don't return books to a librarian or register the books they borrow at a counter behind which the librarian sits. He or she simply places a smart card on one of the three "readers" or devices in the library and the books are automatically registered in his or her account.

    For added effect, attendance data can be uploaded on the Internet and even accessed by parents.

  • Casinos: "show a keen interest in the technology as a way to track customers from the moment they hit the gaming tables."

  • Even Santa is using RFID!
In that case, Christmas shopping 2005 sould benefit from lower prices made possible by the expading adoption of RFID tracking systems.


Tsunami Video

Not my usual fare, but too important not to highlight: Cheese and Crackers: Tsunami Video: "Tsunami Video"

Do Newspapers Need a New Business Model?

If this is any indication, newspapers needed adapt their business models yesterday:
Free community Web site Craigslist has cost San Francisco Bay Area newspapers up to $65 million in employment advertising revenue, according to a report released Monday.
Given how advanced the disruption is, perhaps it is too late for newspapers that persist with the traditional business model. We'll see.

UPDATE: Barron's steps in:

IN RECENT YEARS, online job site Monster.com has been gobbling up listings from newspapers, once the go-to place for employment ads.

And the beast is still hungry.

After eating newspapers' lunch–the vital classified job listings posted by larger businesses – Monster now wants to grab listings taken out by small and mid-sized businesses seeking to fill blue-collar positions.

"People want to spend dollars where they can get the best employee pool, and a larger and larger percentage of that is on the Internet," says Mark Mahaney, an analyst with American Technology Research.

Is Flat Fee the Digital Media Pricing Strategy of the Future?

Flat Fee is one scenario outlined by Terry Fisher. The Register has this interview with Fischer. Must read.

ReGifting and ReSelling and Charity

Some presents just keep getting given:
Gifts that Keep on Giving: "A poll conducted by survey.com for eBay finds that 64% of US Internet users have given their unwanted gifts to others ('regifted'), while 20% have sold unwanted gifts over the Internet."
I can't help but wonder: wouldn't we all be better off were we to get off the tangible present kick and make charitable donations "in the name of" instead?

Amazon Order Record 2.8 Million Units (32 items per second)

Amazon hit its stride this holiday season (here):
"SEATTLE (AP) - Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) on Monday said sales of consumer electronics surpassed book sales for the first time and was its largest sales category over the Thanksgiving weekend, launching the online retailer's busiest holiday selling season in 10 years.

The company also said it set a single-day sales record during the period with more than 2.8 million units, or 32 items per second, ordered across the globe.
With consumer electronics volume exceeding book volume, Best Buy and Circuit City must be quaking in their boots. Or are they?

Trading Down Brands: Diluting Brand Meaning

There appears to be something in the drinking water at SAAB and BMW:

Yesterday's news paper (yes, I'm a dead tree media reader, too!) carried an article about the new budget priced Subaru Impreza based SAAB 9-2X (here and here. Way to ruin the mystique of the brand ... assuming it wasn't ruined when GM bought the brand.

Now, InfluxInsights comments on the dangers BMW faces with their the budget 1 Series.

Of course Daimler-Chrysler set the in motion the dilution of the Mercedes brand a couple years ago.

Where will this lead? Will it extend the brand in a way that makes it more attractive? I doubt it. Given the unfavorable reviews of these products, I sense that this strategy threatens the core of the brand in a way crippling way; that these examples represent attempts to push product into meanings counter for those for which they stand. Threaten the meaning, weaken the brand story, weaken the brand. This creates further opportunities for Toyota and Honda to move ever further upscale. If they do, I suspect they will persist in their prior wisdom and launch the ultra brands under new nameplates: new meaning, new story.

On Blogs Escalating Trajectory

Are blogs about to go into hyper-growth? Are businesses finally realizing the potential for blogs as a device for connecting with key constituencies?
Fortune asserts: Why There's No Escaping the Blog

Patrick Ruffini wonders, Are We on the Verge of a Dot Blog Boom?

Dan Gillmor tries to stir the blog pot in We the Media.

Hugh Hewitt's just published book Blog: Understanding the Information Reformation That's Changing Your World furthers the trend.
  • I placed a pre-order for Hugh's book with Amazon in early December. Where is it? OTOH, Amazon did ship James Lileks Gallery of Regrettable Food. It should make a memorable anniversary present.

  • Update:
    • January 7 and Amazon still hasn't shipped my copy. What gives?
    • Jan 11: Amazon shows Hugh's book on "ususally ships within 24 hours" status. BUT, no movement on my preorder. Grr.
    • Jan 13: Amazon FINALLY shows in prep for shipping. About time!!
    • Jan 14. Amazon has FINALLY shipped my long ago ordered copy of BLOG. Jeesh! Maybe, just maybe, it will arrive next Tuesday (Jan 18). If so, I'll have time to digest it and incorporate key points into my eCommerce class. I hope.
Could be.


Kodak 2nd in Consumer Digital Imaging Race

Kodak has nudged out Canon for second place in the consumer digital imaging race. Easy to use products has driven Kodak's ascent. Sony continues to hold 1st place. How will displaced Canon respond? the full scoop.

Retire those Kitchen Magnets: IM Parenting is Here

Picking up where my blogging on digito squabbling left off, May Wong offers up several anecdotes about youth social development and parenting in our instant-connection culture. My favorite:
For Rana's mother, Kayla Hanocka, as with many other parents, there's no more leaving notes on refrigerators.

'I just e-mail her,' Kayla Hanocka said, 'or text message her instead.'
Sounds a lot like our household.

Info Tech Promise Unfulfilled in Higher Ed

In 1989 I gave my undergraduate students this assignment: "Log on to your university email account and send me an email in which you describe what you like and don't like about this class." Of the 80 or so undergraduate students I encountered that semester, perhaps two had used email. My intent behind the assignment was for them to experience using email. This predated the ubiquity of the personal computer. Students had to send their from a machine on campus. How things change; how they stay the same.

In 2004 I find myself still seeking ways to entice my students to experience information technologies that will enhance their productivity. All students now rely on cell phones, email, and IM as primary communication channels. Yet, I feel stymied. My ability to further expand use of information technologies to enhance the educational experience is limited by the few number of students that have portable internet-enabled devices. I get frustrated. Mostly, I struggle to figure out how to get my students to leverage the collaboration potential of our information technologies to enhance their class experiences.

My frustrations are not unique. Edward Ayers, an historian and dean, concludes his article
The Academic Culture and the IT Culture: Their Effect on Teaching and Scholarship as follows:
Information technology has not made the impact on higher education—or at least on the core missions of higher education—that it has made on many other aspects of society. We’ve built a great infrastructure that has transformed many social and business aspects of our work and our libraries, but teaching and scholarship have been relatively little touched. I think we’re ready for the next stage: building tools that can be carried into the heart of the academic enterprise. For teaching, we need tools that anyone can pick up, that can be customized, that are quick and adaptable, and that are less expensive in money, time, and commitment. For scholarship, we need to craft forms of scholarly presentation that take advantage of the power of the new media we now possess. For both teaching and scholarship, therefore, we need IT people and academic people to work together more closely than ever before.
Ayres also includes an intriguing table that highlights the core characteristics of information technology competes with the core characteristics of the academy:

Table 1.
Competing Characteristics

Information Technology

The Academy

  • everywhere and nowhere
  • strongly identified with a very specific location
  • brash young industry
  • a self-consciously ancient institution
  • highly unstable
  • the most stable institution across the world
  • new competitors continually emerge
  • impossible to break into top ranks
  • possibility of great profits
  • no possibility of profit at all
  • work performed by anonymous teams
  • centered on scholarly stars
  • obsolescence built in
  • designed to deny obsolescence
  • virtually instant results necessary
  • patience a central virtue
  • designed to be transparent
  • opaque and labyrinth

  • The last two entries speak volumes toward the challenges I experience.

    BlogPulse's 2004 Year in Review

    I'm not big on year-end wrap-ups, but BlogPulse's Year in Review is worth a look.

    Find Music to Match Your Mood

    Artist and album title are the standard search options available when purusing music. Allmusic.com also lets you search music by emotion. So, whatever your mood -- acerbic greasy, rowdy, sardonic -- Allmusic lets you search by emotion. For what other product categories would a "search by emotion" option be helpful?


    Post Christmas Shocker

    FoxNews has posted this shocker: "U.S. Retailers Cut Prices After Christmas" This is newsworthy?

    Digito Squabbling

    Sibling squabbling turned a new corner today. For that, I must thank Santa. I cannot speak for Santa, of course, but I'm guessing his logic went something like this:
    "Hmm ... both Digito Daughters (DDs) include 'my own computer' on their Christmas wish lists. Beyond occational homework needs, I see that AIM is their favorite leisure application. If I give each an IMfree Wireless Instant messenger they've less need their own computers. I bet the digito Parents would appreciate it, too, because the DDs wouldn't be asking for computer time as often. Sounds like a win-win to me!"
    Whatever Santa's logic, each DD received an IMfree for Christmas.

    Working at my computer this morning, all was quiet when an AIM window popped. Youngest DD -- who was downstairs constructing with her Erector Set -- informed me the elder DD was calling her names. Assuming both were downstairs, I replied: "ignore her" Younger DD replied, "she imed me" At which time I realized the elder DD was in her bedroom. I grinned. The girls were out of visual field, yet squabbling. Even better, their squabbling was silent.

    Yep, household social interaction just took a new turn: digito squabbling.

    Search Wars: Google vs. Microsoft

    With Microsoft's recent rollout of their desktop local search tool, the guntlets are off in the Microsoft vs. Google Search War. Technology Review provides an excellent overview and discussion of key strategic issues here. Give it a read.

    Included is this intriguing summary (left) of the quantities of indexed and unindexed content. Google and other search tools have come a long way. Clearly there's still a long way to go.

    IPod SOV: iStill Don't Get iT

    I still don't get iPod's share of voice (SOV). Check this (from Taipei Times):

    My pick for gadget of the year would have to be Apple's iPod and iPod mini. It didn't come out this year, but by the beginning of December more than 9 million iPods were sold and most industry-watchers believed that number was going to far exceed 10 million by Christmas morning. What's more, these sleek devices have sparked a war among electronics manufacturers and rightfully had many of them rethinking the clunky space-junk design of many consumer electronics products. People are willing to pay more for wearable devices that don't look like something of Battlestar Galactica. Soon enough, we won't necessarily pay a premium for elegant design as manufacturers compete for the space in our pockets.

    But the real revolution Apple has created isn't in the way we carry music, but the way we purchase it. Apple announced earlier this month that their iTunes music store customers have now downloaded over 200 million songs (They were at the 150 million-song mark in mid-October!). Some industry watchers have gone so far to say that if the company's star continues rising at its current rate, it may well sell 1 billion songs by the end of next year.

    The company refuses to say how many users iTunes has, but the numbers are still significant. Apple has changed the way we buy music and, for musicians whose catalogs are available for download, significantly reduced the amount of money lost to pirating. My prediction is that, as bit rates gain speed, the next business to move to the Internet will be the neighborhood video store. (Hello, Blockbuster?)

    Apple is generating GIANT SOV. Not only that, this author is attributing to Apple creation of the online music store. Say what? OTOH, I do believe that Blockbuster, like all video rental stores, are enjoying the sunset phase of their concept life cycle. Blockbuster and others must find a way to get into the online video distribution channel. If they don't they're toast.

    See my earlier comments on the iPod: Here and here.


    Christmas in Iraq

    FoxNews has this compelling photo of a Christmas Mass at Chaldean church in southern town of Basra, Iraq.

    Let there be Peace on Earth!


    Global Cooling

    Yep, here 'tis. Further evidence of global cooling: "Snow flurries dust Houston, parts of East and South Texas"

    WalMart.com: The Quiet Giant in On-Line Retailing?

    Google released 2004 Year-End Google Zeitgeist. Most are probably jazzed that Britney beat Paris Hilton in the Popular Query Category. Paris will likely make beating out Britney her top 2005 personal goal. I wish her luck. Personally, I think 2004 revealed way more of Paris than any of us cared to experience.

    The Popular Consumer Brand Names list drew my eye:
    1. ebay
    2. walmart
    3. mapquest
    4. amazon
    5. home depot
    Two reactions to this list:

    First, am I the only one to find it odd that people search Google for ebay and amazon? Am I missing something here?

    Second, Walmart.com is the quiet giant in online retailing. CNNMoney reports:
    The unit is averaging 8 million visitors a week, up from about 3.5 million visitors at this time last year. It also expects sales to grow faster than the industry average of 25 percent growth over the next three to four years.
    Eight million visitors per week is modest compared to amazon.com, Bezos and crew must have WalMart.com's growth firmly in mind as they chart their future strategy. Relative to Amazon.com, WalMart has the distinct advantage of easier returns plus a more extensive distribution infrastructure. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out. I predict that 2005 will be the year that Amazon.com begins to feel squeezed by WalMart.com. We'll see.

    Gadgets that Deserve a Bronx Cheer

    Fox News weighs in with their take on The Year's Worst Gadgets. The Susi Disk is my fave:
    "Never again will you have to choose between having sushi or having a USB memory drive," according to a Webster advertisement on Dynamism.com, the online mecca for hot Japanese tech imports.

    They're like fake fruit but attachable to a PC's Universal Serial Bus and can be used to store and upload information.

    These discs, which come in variations of shrimp, tuna, salmon and cucumber probably wouldn't have made the list if the site didn't charge Nobu-like prices for the inedible $99 "replicas," or about $81 more than the $18 we found similar non-sushi versions of the drives on Amazon.com.

    Such flash drives, these days, are nothing more than "giveaway status," said Richard Doherty of technology market research firm Envisioneering. "They have lost their value."

    At least Doherty added, "We haven't seen the USB coffee coaster yet." He must have missed the new Hot Cubby USB Cup Warmer, which plugs into a PC's USB port to keep drinks warm.

    Where's Santa? NORAD Knows!

    NORAD's at it again with their live Santa tracking radar> New this year is the Santa Cam (no direct link). This is one of my all time favorite sites.

    On Cats and Homeless: Money and Morals

    HughHewitt reports:
    "two stories about money. One involves the expenditure of $50,000, the other $40,000.

    The former is the amount a Texas woman paid to clone her dead cat. The latter the amount the Diocese of Denver handed out in $20 increments to the homeless of Denver yesterday.

    Is it possible to condemn the latter and praise the former in any system of morals?

    Well put Hugh! You also illustrate beautifully American values in action.

    Self-Esteem: Empty Promises

    The educational community latched onto the self-esteem myth with a vengeance. Unfortunately, the education establishment's mythology surrounding the benefits of enhanced self-esteem is not grounded in the research on appraisal and self-efficacy. In fact the education establishment's self-esteem myth runs counter to the base literature. Roy Baumesiter, and colleagues, published an article in Scientific American that exposes the self-esteem myth:
    Boosting people's sense of self-worth has become a national preoccupation. Yet surprisingly, research shows that such efforts are of little value in fostering academic progress or preventing undesirable behavior. (read the entire article or pretty version)
    Will the education establish respond? Doubtful.

    The self-esteem myth makes so much "common sense," why doesn't self-esteem work? My take is that it ignores the mechanism that gives rise to self-esteem. Self-esteem is a global construct; it is one' s overall opinion of oneself. Just as a nation's average income can mask enormous poverty or wealth, self-esteem can cloud significant personal deficiencies. More useful, given my understanding of the mechanism, is to cultivate esteem at the identity level. An identities are the pieces that -- when combined -- comprise the self.

    Esteem at the identity level results from efficacy in that area. Let me reiterate that: esteem is a consequence of domain-specific efficacy. This suggests that to build esteem requires building domain specific efficacy or competencies. Help kids excel at a sport, music, an academic subject and their esteem in that area will build. The connection between local and global esteem is complex, and not well understood. Yet, building esteem a piece at a time holds promise, and unlike the esteem-myth, has support in the literature.

    Kids Earn an eBay Anti-Christmas

    Three kids discover that Santa rally does check his list for those naughty and nice:
    'Twas the week before Christmas, and chaos did reign. The kiddies were squabbling. Oh, what a pain! Their language was shocking, their demeanor obscene. But to correct them was useless, you know what I mean?

    So to the computer, Dad sprinted so spry. 'There's going to be order, or you'll regret it,' he cried. Then typing and clicking like wee, tiny elves, he summoned up eBay, determined to sell.
    Well I'll be. I predict this brave dad will soon be accused of child abuse for demanding reasonable order in the house.

    Update (12-25-2004): FoxNews updates the story: Now, even the tree's down.


    Flickr: Photo Blog and Social Networking

    I just stumbled across Flickr. It appears to be a hybrid photoblog and social networking tool. Very interesting. Clay Shirky blogs on Flickr as a social force. A tasty excerpt:
    Flickr is nominally asynchronous, but has achieved, at least at ITP, a kind of social near-synchrony. Everyone who’s used email for longer than a month knows the mental calculation of ‘email vs phone’, as in “I need to reschedule a meeting happening N hours from now. Will they check their email, or should I call?” The more email-driven a person is, the lower N can be before email won’t work. This group is so camera-centric and Flickr-obsessed that that N for Flickr is sub 1 hour.
    Read the rest. ITP must be one unique visual-dominant community. Yet, a "sub 1 hr N" for flicker is a fascinating norm. Can this generalize to other social groups?

    No Surprise: More Holiday Shoppers Shop Online

    It is no great surprise that 2004 online holiday shopping exceeds 2003:
    "In the first six weeks of the holiday season, which spans November and December, shoppers spent an estimated $16.7 billion online, according to a report by Goldman Sachs, Nielsen/NetRatings and Harris Interactive. Overall spending was up 28 percent from a year ago, based on survey data.

    'You're seeing spending increase within each gift category as people become more comfortable with online shopping,' said Heather Dougherty, senior analyst with NetRatings, who attributed some of the rise in spending to greater broadband penetration among internet users at home. Merchants also succeeded in drawing former customers to their websites through e-mail promotions, she said.
    Yes, penetration of the online channel continues; expanding in breadth and depth. Key question: What will emerge as the long-run system equilibrium point? Is there an optimal balance between online and offline channels for retail?

    How Not to Bundle

    Annoyance Marketing


    Are Knife-Resistant Dockers in Your Future?

    Japanese schools must be tough environments:
    Protective fibres woven into bulletproof vests for United States troops in Iraq are being put to the test outside the battlefield -- by Japanese schoolchildren.

    Madre, a Japanese security firm, said internet orders in Japan have been trickling in for knife-resistant sweatshirts and windbreakers it makes for children.
    This makes me wonder: will knife-resistant soon crowd the marketplace?

    Hunt from the Comfort of your Office Chair

    Why borrow camo gear when you can access Live-Shot.com from the comfort of your office chair:
    LIVE-SHOT is a new concept. You can challenge yourself and compare your skills to other members with our on-line target shooting. We have developed a system where you can control a pan/tilt/zoom camera and a firearm to shoot at real targets in real time.
    Who knows, Kerry might have won the election had he hunted via Live-Shot, rather than in Ohio. I suppose this is a natural extension of remote internet-enabled surgery. Me? I prefer fresh air and muddy boots.

    Newspaper embraces Blogs: Goes Open Source

    PressThink reports: "With the local blogging scene rapidy coalescing on its own, the local newspaper, led by a blogging boss, decides to act. He wants to remake the site as 'an online community or public square.
    Wow, can you imagine the shape your local paper would take were it to shift from closed- to open-source content? This is a development to watch closely.

    Last Minute Christmas Suggestion: Corporate Fallout Detector

    Need a gift for that person on your list that has everything? Get them a Corporate Fallout Detector. Imagine how much fun shopping will become for them.

    Search that Barks ... well, speaks anyway

    Joining the internet search space is voice results. :
    Called Speegle, it has the look and feel of a normal search engine, with the added feature of being able to read out the results.

    Rather slow when I tried it, but intriguing.

    Smart Mobs Concept Mapped

    Here's a very cool concept map of the ideas tied together in Howard Rheingold's book, Smart Mobs. BTW, Smart Mobs is a must read book.


    Recycling Just Got Easier

    A XML standard just got the nod from the W3C. Recycling content just got easier:
    The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) on Monday recommended XML Inclusions (XInclude) Version 1.0, a specification designed to replace awkward work-arounds for combining XML documents.

    'Inclusion is the ability to reuse content, which lets me take something like a copyright statement and include it on all my company's XML documents,' said Philippe Le Hegaret, the W3C's architecture domain leader. 'Without an inclusion mechanism, you have to copy and paste, and this lets you just reference it.'"

    Social Networking Services Meta List

    thesocialsoftwareweblog offers:
    updated Social Networking Services Meta List. It is broken out into seven eight nine loose categories that will continue to shift. These social networking categories are: business; common interest; dating; face-to-face meeting facilitation; friend; MoSoSo (Mobile Social Software); pet; photo; and ‘edge’ cases or social networking ‘plus’ sites.

    Check them out.

    frontline: the persuaders

    Frontline's the persuaders is now online. You can stream the entire show, or by segments:

    1 | A High Concept Campaign - profile of the brand called 'Song' part one
    2 | Emotional Branding - profile of the brand called 'Song' part two
    3 | “The Times They are A-Changin’” - the trend of seemlessly integrated product placements
    4 | The Science of Selling - how consumer research influences marketing
    5 | Give Us What We Want - the artful language of political persuasion
    6 | The Narrowcasting Future - using lifestyle segmentation data to better tailor marketing messages

    Watch it now!

    RSS in Science Publishing: An Expanding Role

    Hammond, Hannay, and Lund begin their paper thusly:
    RSS is one of a new breed of technologies that is contributing to the ever-expanding dominance of the Web as the pre-eminent, global information medium. It is intimately connected with—though not bound to—social environments such as blogs and wikis, annotation tools such as del.icio.us [1], Flickr [2] and Furl [3], and more recent hybrid utilities such as JotSpot [4], which are reshaping and redefining our view of the Web that has been built up and sustained over the last 10 years and more [n1]. Indeed, Tim Berners-Lee's original conception of the Web [5] was much more of a shared collaboratory than the flat, read-only kaleidoscope that has subsequently emerged: a consumer wonderland, rather than a common cooperative workspace. Where did it all go wrong?

    These new 'disruptive' technologies [n2] are now beginning to challenge the orthodoxy of the traditional website and its primacy in users' minds. The bastion of online publishing is under threat as never before. RSS is the very antithesis of the website. It is not a 'home page' for visitors to call at, but rather it provides a synopsis, or snapshot, of the current state of a website with simple titles and links. While titles and links are the joints that articulate an RSS feed, they can be freely embellished with textual descriptions and richer metadata annotations. Thus said, RSS usually functions as a signal of change on a distant website, but it can more generally be interpreted as a kind of network connector—or glue technology—between disparate applications. Syndication and annotation are the order of the day and are beginning to herald a new immediacy in communications and information provision. This paper describes the growing uptake of RSS within science publishing as seen from Nature Publishing Group's (NPG) [6] perspective.

    Aside from providing a nice overview of RSS syndication technology, they raise a significant issue: what is the future of traditional academic journals? If scholars can syndicate their work to a global network of researchers, and those researchers can comment back on the strengths/weaknesses of that effort, the potential exists for RSS based publishing networks to yield scholarship and research of a caliber higher than the norm. What are the risks? Are the days of conventional academic journals numbered?

    What Michael Jackson and the Cosmetics Industry Have in Common

    What do Michael Jackson and the Cosmetics Industry have in common? Boys!
    Boys have become the new darling of the health and beauty industry, spending an estimated $2.1 billion on shampoo, hair gels, and hair-coloring and other personal-care items last year.
    Excuse me, I need to freshen my mascara.


    Lawmaker Sends Auto-Signed Letter to Rumsfeld

    In chiding Rumsfeld for Auto-Signed Sympathy Letters "lawmakers" are treading some mighty thin ice. Might we ask: "How many constituient letters did you personally sign, Mr./Ms. Lawmaker?" Um, hm. I see.

    Money for Nothing

    Yes, Harriott, it's true. People really do spend big $$$ for nothing.

    People Different from US

    A subtle reminder that tech usage exhibits startling cross-cultural differences. Consider this:
    "As if you needed convincing that the Chinese mobile sector was big, Textually reports that this year 220 Billion SMS's will be sent by its 315 million mobile phone users.

    If my maths is right, that's 700 SMS's a year each."

    I sent maybe 5 text messages this year.

    Broadband Tips to Majority Status

    It's here:
    As of July, there were 63 million people using broadband at home, making up 51 percent of the total U.S. Internet population, according to market research company Nielsen/NetRatings. That's a 47 percent jump from last year, when broadband totaled only 38 percent of all U.S. online households.

    Next issue: When will surging broadband demand will start driving down broadband pricing? It can't happen too soon.

    Borderless Information (and opinion)

    Further evidence that information (and opinion) aren't constrained by political boundaries.


    $1 Billion Award in Spam Lawsuit

    I hate spam, too, but this is startling:
    A federal judge has awarded a Clinton Internet service provider over $1 billion in a lawsuit against companies that used the service provider's equipment to send spam, the Quad-Cities Times reported Saturday.

    My personal domain is inundated with over 2000 pieces of spam per 24 hour period. Outlook 2003's spam filter does an amazingly good job snagging all but about 50 pieces every 24 hours. So, I've good reason to hate spam. $1 Billion verdict? That ought to send some shock waves. Net result? Spammers will do their ill from beyond the boundaries of the US.

    Religion Hater Whine Alert: Bible with the Sunday Paper

    NewsMax.com: Inside Cover Story: "In a move that is sure to upset the anti-Christian faction at the American Civil Liberties Union, subscribers to the Colorado Springs Gazette will find a healthy dose of holiday spirit in their Sunday editions: A Bible, and at no extra charge. "

    Yep, I'm hard pressed to imagine a combination better poised to elicit the ire of the "keep religion out of my life" folks than haveing a bible inflicted on them with their Sunday Papers.

    Test question: Were a sample roll of Charmin or a trial-sized box of Tide included with the paper, would they get upset? Would they claim that users of other toilet papers or laundry detergents were being disrespected? Nah.

    Skin Graft Caution in the Freezer Section

    When getting a askin graft, beware of unintended consequences.

    Octopus cannon vs. Fast Food: Good Eats

    Upset over the opening of a McDonald's restaurant, residents of Sete, France (a beautiful place, btw) protested :
    They "catapulted fresh octopi -- a local delicacy, known here as the 'pouffre' -- towards the town's first McDonalds, which had been set to open on Saturday.

    The crowd held up slogans slamming junk food, dubbed 'malbouffe' in French, as well as work conditions in the fast-food industry.

    Driving home their point, the protestors were serving up traditional Setois dishes -- one of which is the tielle, a fragrant octopus, tomato and onion pie prized by locals and tourists alike.

    Hmm ... flying octopi and free Setois dishes? Sounds like a great show to me.

    Will Camera Phones redefine Paparazzism?

    Poor celebrities--individuals that thrive on massive public awareness--the camera phone is privacy boundaries. What's a paparazzi to do?

    Cultural Anthropology and High Tech: It's about time!

    From the It's About Time file, Smart Mobs reports:
    Ethnographic methods are being applied to friend-finding networks such as Friendster, multi-player online role-playing games such as Everquest and online dating systems,' he explains. And these networks and games are proving useful to social scientists in their academic research. 'Future technologies will in turn be affected by our studies of the way people behave on these networks.'

    This reveals--once again--that technology is useful only to the extent that it connects with social forces.


    On the Tippy significance of Malcolm Gladwell

    It appears that Malcolm Gladwell has tipped from being author of an interesting book to a cultural force. Go Malcolm!

    Retro Insight: Niche Marketing is In (so is argyle)

    Demonstrating a keen sense of the obvious, Wired's editor-in-chief procliams that niche marketing is the future. Hello Chris, like argyle, niche marketing is a thing of the present!

    Don't Buy Patagonia Unless You Need It (Really)

    Patagonia wants you to buy no more than you need. I suppose they hope that Patagonia offers everything you need.

    In-flight broadband is In Your Future

    Yep, the FCC gives a thumbs-up to inflight WiFi and broadband. About time!

    Kids 8-17 See the Future

    The BBC is exploring the future of mobile technologies with kids aged 8-17. Here's what they have to say. Fascinating. A few highlights:
    "They could text telling us about new programmes or information about competitions."

    "Put some programmes on mobiles or the internet."

    "If you forgot to revise for a test at secondary school you could put Revisewise on mobiles."
    (Children from Little Kingshill School, Bucks.)

    "The BBC could use a daily text messaging service for news headlines."
    (age 15, Richmond)

    "I don't like how the news is on in the morning for about three hours. There should be top-ups on your mobile phones about the news and sport."
    (age 10, St Thomas Moore School, Coventry)

    "Maybe there could be a loyalty bonus of certain programmes if you watch every day. Maybe you can send a top up card of £5 or give them 10 free text messages."
    (age 9, St Thomas Moore School, Coventry)

    "Mobile phones are used a lot in films which can make younger children want to use them."
    (age 10, St Thomas Moore School, Coventry)


    Read about Rafael Peralta's last act. You'll feel humbled.

    Guy Repellent: The Symbolic Power of Possessions

    Yep, nothing like a scary hex sign to keep unwanted guys away.

    Longevity: The Elvis Standard

    While reading this morning about the sale of Elvis' estate for $100 million (here and here) it dawned on me: "Hey, I've outlived Elvis!" A minor benchmark, granted. But, I'll take it.


    Little Miss Matched

    NPR ran a publicity piece this morning on Little Miss Matched; a company striving to create a market for socks that don't match. I suppose mismatched socks nicely complement your Life is Good t-shirt.

    Burning question: Why purchase mismatched socks? I do a fine job mismatching socks on my own?


    iSociety - In detail

    I need to find time to read this report. Here's the overview:
    Social capital analysts have debated the implications of the Internet for some years now. But this debate has recently been joined from the opposite side, as software experts and developers are showing an increased desire to understand and improve social networks, both offline and online.This report introduces some of the core ideas of this new unified debate, and outlines possible directions for the future.

    The full report is available for d/l (pdf format).

    Media Fragmentation Round-Up

    If you are seeking a round-up piece on media fragmentation, here 'tis.

    Expolosive Product Failure

    The newest Wonderbra has a problem: it keeps EXPLODING. Quick to grasp the impact of this product failure, Playtex was prompt to issue a warning:
    “The centre area can break, causing the bra to split open. This can occur on first use but may fail after a number of uses.”
    That warning reveals more about Playtex's product quality than the "Wonderbra Clearly Daring" reveals of its wearer. At risk of being a prude, it would seem less hassle to go unsupported.

    Blockbuster Eliminates "Late Fees." Right.

    The WSJ reports (link requires WSJonline account):
    Blockbuster announced Tuesday it will continue to set due dates, with one week for games and two days or one week for movies. But the company will give customers a one-week grace period at no additional charge, starting on New Year's Day.

    Renters who want to keep movies or games longer can buy the products, less the rental fee. Or, Blockbuster says customers can return products within 30 days for credit to their accounts, with a restocking fee.
    Oh, this is too rich
    • First, Blockbuster's blood-sucking late fees is THE reason we ran our Blockbuster cards through the shredder. I'm sure I'm not alone here. What iced my cake was when I returned a video 15 mins past the due time. Sigh.
    • Second, it is clear that Blockbuster is actually extending the default lending time that applies before additional rental (i.e., late) fees kick in.
    • Third, while technically banishing "late fees" Blockbuster has instituted a "restocking fee." "Hmm ...., " I can see hear the management gears churning: "... if we eliminate "late fee" and use "restocking fee" maybe no one will notice that we haven't really eliminated 'late fees.'" Um, yeah.
    • Fourth, Blockbuster is transitioning to a subscription model. I suspect this shift is part of an attempt to wean customers off of a la cart rental to subscription priced lending. Blockbuster is fighting off competition by subscription price video lending services from NetFlix, Amazon.com, and Wal-Mart. From another quarter, Time-Warner Cable, ComCast, and other cable TV services are rapidly expanding distribution of their video on demand services. Why battle the ice and snow to drive to the nearest Blockbuster store when the movie of your whim is available as close as the remote in your hand?
    The real question: How much longer will Blockbuster, and other video rental stores, survive?

    Verizon Bids For Sprint?

    This is getting VERY interesting:
    Yesterday, Verizon made an official bid for Sprint in secret. Today, it isn't a secret, so we can report on it. From the limited information available, Verizon, facing a double threat of a Nextel/Sprint merger and a New Cingular, received approval from Vodaphone (who owns a 45% share of Verizon Wireless) to attempt to merge with Sprint.

    The combined company would face a tough approval process, having a combined customer base of 65 million. Sources inside Verizon cite a need for a more robust network and Sprint's unified billing and customer service systems as reasons besides increased competition.
    Hmm ... SpriZon? As I have direct experience as a customer of both Sprint and Verizon, Sprint's customer support systems (software ... not necessarily the poeple) are vastly superior to Verizon's online account support systems. Heck, while "upgrading" their systems, Verizon thought nothing of denying me access to online account management for approximately two months. To aggravate matters, the "upgraded" system wasn't noticeably better than the original effort.

    Update: FoxNews reports (you decide): Verizon Reportedly Not Planning to Bid for Sprint.

    Short People: Don't Shop Here

    Shades of Randy Newman come to mind. I wonder how carefully management thought this through:
    LONDON (AFP) - The news that shoppers are not only getting wider but also taller has prompted a British supermarket chain to replace its entire fleet of trolleys.

    Sainsbury's 280,000 new trolleys will have higher handles to suit its taller customers.

    The current trolleys have a handle 40 inches (102 centimetres) from the ground, while the new model, due to arrive in stores over the next five years, will have raised sections reaching a height of 45 inches (114 centimetres).

    'Tall people need to have higher handles to be able to push a fully laden trolley ergonomically, so we've tailored the new model to take this into account,' said Sainsbury's Fiona Eden.
    Designing "trolleys" for the upper tail of the distribution makes sense if you are a Big & Tall store, but folks of all sizes shop a supermarket.

    Cats and Dog Food

    Help me with this: Starting about a month ago, our two cats stopped eating their cat food and have switched exclusively to eating dry dog food. What gives? Cody, our golden retriever, is rather perplexed by competing for food with the cats. I'm perplexed, too. Go figure.

    Thirst Alert ... Not

    Another entry for the Gifts I Can Do Without (GICDW) category: Thirst Alert: a pet water bowl that illuminates when empty. OK, let me see if I get this: If I'm close enough to see the lights; I'm close enough to the bowl to see that it is empty. So .... help me here ...

    Wired's 30 Gifts for under $30

    Leave it to Wired to assemble this cool list of 30 under $30.

    WiFi Disruption spreads to the Cellular Arena

    Jesse Drucker on WiFi Disruption (link requires WSJonline subscription):
    Last month, Japan's largest cellular carrier, NTT DoCoMo, started selling a cellphone that looks like any other. Most of the time, the phone, made by NEC, works like any other, too: When its owner is out and about, it uses standard cellular technology to transmit calls.

    But if its owner is sitting at a desk in an office configured for the phone, the calls instead travel via the high-speed wireless technology known as Wi-Fi, and then over the Internet, using the voice-over-Internet calling protocol.

    Why does any of this matter? Each minute of wireless calling over Wi-Fi is a minute of calling not made over a cellular network. That has the potential to shake up the world of cellular calling.

    And so it goes ... another market creatively disrupted.

    AudioBooks: Then and Now

    Here's a nice history of audio books. Now, if only libraries would start offering audiobook downloads and the price of audio books would com down. Currently an audiobook download from Audible.com is priced higher than the price of a hardback edition (shipping included) from Amazon.com. I suppose that reflects a convenience premium. Sigh.

    Google Kicks Library Value Chain Disruption into Full Swing

    Google is rapidly expanding the volume of digitized and searchable the book content. This is a boon for book publishers, as it will connect readers with titles otherwise unknown or unknowable to them. This also reveals how deep disruption of the publishing and lending industry value chains has progressed. That publishers are working with Google to move their digitized book content online is encouraging. The enhanced access to relevant content is good news for readers and scholars. This attitude bodes well for the future of book publishing. Would that the music industry have been so forward thinking.

    I predict the value of libraries will increase if more indiviuals have awareness of their holdings.

    Update: WSJonline (registration required)

    Update: More from ResourceShelf.


    Open Source Ads?

    It is argued that the web is a great leveler; enabling the little Davids to yield power enough to quake a Golith. iPod owners on both ends of the satisfaction spectrum -- dissatisfied and (presumably) satisfied -- have applied their creative talents to create extremely compelling professional quality ads. Is the "professional" ad agency soon to be an endangered species? Might advertising soon go open source?

    Wither Boxing Gandhis?

    The Boxing Gandhis released two albums: Their wonderful, self titled, 1994 album, followed two years later by Howard, an album I have not heard. Given the strength of their debut album, I can't help but wonder: Wither the Boxing Gandhis?

    Trends for 2005?

    Red Herring offers up their Top 10 Trends for 2005. I select four for comment:
    • From speed races to duels. Moore’s Law is challenged as the chip industry changes tactics to avoid a meltdown. Balderdash! Me thinks RH has been seduced by Intel. Sure, Intel is shifting emphasis in their marketing away from clock speed. Intel also seems to be nudging computer users toward processors more compatible with their applications. I don't believe that should be interpreted to suggest that Intel is pulling away from raw horsepower. I believe Intel's product development will continue to climb Moore's curve. If they don't, AMD, and others, will eat their shirts. My guess is that this is a fake Intel intends to (hopefully) toss AMD off guard. I doubt AMD will take the bait.

    • The death of distance. VoIP, WiFi, Cellular Modems, etc. have decreased geographic distance to approximately zero. The more pressing challenge I see is figuring out how geographically proximate individuals can better leverage these technologies. For example, an increasing number of students come to my classes equipped with WiFi enabled laptops and handhelds. How to effectively leverage and integrate the capabilities of these devices into the classroom experience is the key question.

    • Where is that file?As the storage capacity of personal computers has expanded, innovators see a business opportunity in searching the final frontier – your desktop. YES! Ah, desktop search is here. Now. Google Desktop Search is -- despite cries from privacy obcessives -- an outstanding tool The ability to simultaneously search Outlook, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and AIM transcript files, and the web, with results delivered in the classic Google style is delightfully empowering. Highly recommended. In fact, download it NOW. (Speaking of search, check out A9. Although A9 is a web only search tool, it is extremely helpful.)

    • The U.S takes a 3G thrashing. The next generation in cellular could leave the U.S. even further behind. Nope. For whatever the reasons, the US cell user just wants voice connectivity. Many in the US don't want all those fancy gizmos that 3G can make possible. I believe the lack of a common standard in the US for wireless networks is a much bigger obstacle to the evolution of wireless here in the Colonies.

    Lap Pillow: A Gift I Can Do Without

    Um, well, once the ArmPillow hit the scene, it was inevitable that additional BodyPartPillows would surface. Sure 'nuff, here comes the lap pillow:
    "The 'lap pillow', shaped like the bottom half of a kneeling woman, is selling for about 9,429 yen ($90), the French news agency AFP reported.
    'Single men find this soothing,' said Mitsuo Takahashi of the manufacturer Trane KK.

    He told AFP that the Hizamakura, or lap pillow, fulfilled a primal need.

    'From the time people were kids, people have laid their heads on their mothers' laps to get their ears cleaned,' he said. 'This is made to be quite close to the real thing.'
    Um, yeah. Sure.

    OK, so . . . Lap Pillow meet ArmPillow. Any predictions re. what body part will be pillowed next?


    Is IPTV our (near) Future?

    The TV market space in the process of disruption. How long before IPTV is the primary form in which we obtain A/V programming? Wired offers this:
    TV over Internet protocol - IPTV - will transform couch-cruising into an on-demand experience. For the Internet, it will mean broadband at speeds 10, 100, or even 1,000 times faster than today's DSL or cable. Online games would be startlingly realistic; the idea of channels would seem hopelessly archaic. Why not indeed?

    So far, the answer has been inertia. But competition is a powerful stimulus. For years, DirecTV and EchoStar have been adding subscribers far faster than cable, so cable companies want something satellite can't match. At the same time, voice over IP is enabling cable operators to poach phone customers from telcos. Combine VoIP, truly high-speed broadband, and totally on-demand TV - and you've got such a compelling proposition that the Bell companies figure the only way to survive is to do likewise.

    Read the rest.

    Digital Camera Buyers Guide

    A digital camera is on the shopping or wish list of many this Christmas season. Here are some tips to help you along:

    Digital Point & Shoot Camera. The digital point & shoot cameras on the market today are excellent. Look for a camera with a minimum of 3.2 mega piexel resolution. This will provide excellent 4x6 prints. More mega pixels give you more freedom to play with your pictures and make larger prints.

    Memory card. You'll want at least one extra memory card. Youll want a memory card no smaller than 512MB, preferably 1GB. Make sure the memory card is the correct format (CompactFlash, Secure Digital, Memory Stick, or xD).

    Card Reader. A card reader is the most convenient way to transfer images from a memory card to your computer. Most card readers connect to the computer via a USB port. I recently purchased a 5-in-1 card reader for about $30. 5-in-1 means it can read 5 different types of memory cards. Just make sure the card reader accepts the memory card format used by the camera. All digital cameras ship with a cord that connects the camera to a USB port on the computer. While that approach works, it tends to be a bit clunky.

    Extra battery. An extra battery provides extended shooting and peace of mind. Consumer Reports' has battery life data for digital cameras on their web site. The newer Olympi digi-cams exhibit about 400 shots per charge. That number assumes the display screen is off and limited flash use. Shooting video will drain the battery faster, too. My experience is that a single charge should get you through most of Christmas day.

    Prints from your digital files. Rarely do I have the time or patience anymore to produce prints on my photo-quality Epson printer. Services such as www.Ofoto.com, www.Shutterfly.com, or even Wal-Mart do an excellent job. You upload images to these services, order prints, and they land in your mail box within 3-5 days. Most Wal-Mart stores are now have a kiosk equipped with a digital card reader that allows you to order prints to be made right there on their one-hour mini-lab equipment.

    Organizing photos on your computer. All new digi-cams include software. Some of it is excellent. Some leaves much to be desired. Adobe Album Starter Edition is an excellent (free) tool for organizing photos on your computer. acdsee 7 provides the extra organizational horsepower needed for my extensive photo library.

    Archiving Digital Photos. Files stored on a computer's hard drive are vulnerable to catastrophe. Develop an archival habit. Burning image files onto CD is one inexpensive approach. An external hard drive is another, perhaps more convenient, way to archive your image files.

    Most of all: Have Fun!


    Keep that Laptop off your Lap ... Nevermind

    Gentlemen: Keep that laptop of your lap. OTOH, there have been similar hysterical claims about tight underwear and cycling.

    OTOH: Nevermind.

    Take Now,Pay Later: The Romanian Way to Shop?

    Is this how Romanian's shop?

    Marks and Spencer Clues In

    Finally! A retailer gets a clue and realizes that keeping non-shopping companions content is good for business. Now if Old Navy would follow a similar path to make shopping there with my girls a bearable experience:
    Marks and Spencer, the venerable British department store chain, said Wednesday it was creating playpens for men in six of its stores, fully equipped with everything to keep the guys entertained for hours.

    The lads will be able to settle back in sofas and watch a selection of films and TV programmes such as 'The Best of Monty Python' and 'Football's Greatest Ever Matches'.

    Each area will also boast a Scalextric slot-car racing set, remote-control quad bikes and walkie-talkies.
    What's not to like?


    Disrupting the Music Industry

    Here's a great summary of how the music industry disruption is about complete.

    Good Phishing

    Among the thousand or so uninvited emails that flood my in-box daily, hundreds are phishing expeditions. Although I don't inventory them, the number seems to keep escalating. This study reveals that my experience is not uncommon:
    The number of phishing attacks launched each month has increased nearly 10-fold this year, tech security company MessageLabs said Monday.

    The company, which has intercepted almost 20 million phishing e-mails throughout 2004, said in its annual report that the number of phishing attacks has soared from 337,050 in January to 4.5 million in November. The rate rose most sharply between June and July--from 264,254 to 2.5 million--which could be due to the widespread use of zombie networks.

    In September 2003, the U.K.-based company intercepted just 279 phishing emails.

    Oh, I long for the good old days of 2003!

    Are Explorer Users More Gullible?

    There are a variety of interpretations of these findings
    Internet Explorer users are at least four times as likely to click on Web ads than Firefox users, a German advertising technology company said last week.

    The company, Adtech, found that during October and November, only 0.11 percent of Firefox users ever clicked on an ad, compared with around 0.5 percent of IE users. The percentage of IE users clicking on ads varied depending on which version of the browser was being used, the company said: from 0.44 percent of version 6.x users to 0.53 percent of version 5.5 users. The survey was based on 1,000 Web sites in Europe that use Adtech's ad server.

    I suppose the most begnin explanation is that Firefox's user base is concentrated among the tech savvy. Hence, no great surprise here.

    WSJ.com - Electronic Ways to Pay Eclipse Checks in Number

    Electronic payment systems are now mainstream:
    WSJ.com - Electronic Ways to Pay Eclipse Checks in Number: "The number of payments Americans make by debit-card and other electronic transactions has, for the first time, exceeded those made by check.

    According to a study by the Federal Reserve, the majority of noncash payments made in the U.S. are now done electronically. Electronic payment transactions include those made with credit and debit cards.

    The total number of electronic payment transactions reached 44.5 billion last year, the study said. Checks were still the single largest noncash payment type in 2003, however, with the total number at 36.7 billion. That compares with 30.6 billion electronic payments and 41.9 billion checks paid in 2000, the last year for which the Fed has similar data.

    The increasing popularity of debit cards helped drive the growth of electronic payments. According to the study, debit-card transactions were the fastest-growing type of electronic payment, with an estimated average annual growth rate of about 24% from 2000 to 2003.

    The number of checks declined at an average annual rate of 4.3% from 2000 to 2003, while electronic forms of payment grew at an average rate of 13%. The Federal Reserve expects the decline in checks to continue, predicting that the number of credit- and debit-card transactions could each exceed the number of checks by the end of the decade.

    Interesting stuff. Another example of disruptive innovation in action.

    Thickburgers and Wimpy Chairs on the QM2

    From the Any Publicity is Good Publicity File:
    Hardee's Monster Thickburger stirs press:
    Just a day after the Monster's rollout Nov. 15, Jay Leno quipped on "The Tonight Show" that the megaburger "actually comes in a little cardboard box shaped like a coffin." On David Letterman's "Late Show," an actor playing the chief of Hardee's corporate parent, CKE Restaurants Inc., in a sketch clutched his chest, then keeled over when asked of any health risks of a burger that size.

    Media outlets from Japan, Spain, England, France and Australia have reported about the Monster.

    "I don't think any of us anticipated anything like the media uproar we've seen," says Andy Puzder, the real president and CEO of California-based CKE.

    Andy must be beside himself with joy!

    In related news:
    DOZENS of seats on the world's most luxurious cruise liner have collapsed under the weight of obese American passengers.

    The chairs -- on the Queen Mary 2 -- are being replaced or repaired.

    The seating is mainly in the bar and restaurant areas.

    Alstom Chantiers, the French company that provided the liner with all its fixtures and fittings, claimed many of the chairs had buckled under the weight of larger passengers.

    "There are some things that need to be changed or replaced," said a spokesman. "For instance, there are some problems with the chairs because some of our passengers are heavier than we imagined.

    "It's not an English problem, it's probably more American."

    An unnamed former member of the ship's crew said: "We do have many large passengers on the QM2. Most of the passengers are American.

    "And we do have 10 restaurants on the ship, so if they are big when they get on, they tend to be bigger when they get off.

    Rather than making fun of their guests, I suggest they work harder to ensure their comfort and safety.


    Shawn Fanning's Back ... maybe

    Shawn Fanning is back in the headlines stiving to offer a p2p solution that appeases concerns of copyright holders and music lovers. Will Snocap provide the magic bullet? Can Shawn get affected parties to even talk? We'll see. Here's Red Herring's take.

    Bill Bennett on the tectonic Shift in News Distribution

    Bill Bennett offers this commentary on the techtonic shift that occurred in news distribution during the 2004 Presidential election:
    I am writing of the Internet combined with talk-radio.

    New Websites with different news and opinion sources emerged over the past few years, sites with names like Powerline, Littlegreenfootballs, HughHewitt.com, and The Corner. They are run by attorneys, professors, former attorneys, former professors, journalists, scholars, and smart, seemingly ordinary citizens, uncrowned by tenure committees, major networks, or print newspapers. And the Dan Rathers of the world had no idea what they were or what their power could do. Many elites are just now beginning to pay attention.

    We are just beginning to feel the full ramifications of this transition.

    Artists & Musicians Benefit from the Internet

    Pew Internet just released results from a survey of the internet's impact on artists and musicians :
    Across the board, among those who are both successful and struggling, the artists and musicians we surveyed are more likely to say that the internet has made it possible for them to make more money from their art than they are to say it has made it harder to protect their work from piracy or unlawful use.

    Perhaps the RIAA will begin to explore ways to embrace file sharing within a viable business model rather than treat its best customers as criminals.


    Pattern Recognition Nabs Thieves

    This is a superb application of info tech to address a societal problem: A team at DePaul has applied a neural-net based pattern recognition system to analyze analyze crime report data:
    Developed by computer scientists Tom Muscarello and Kamal Dahbur at DePaul University in Chicago, the system uses pattern-recognition software to link related crimes that may have taken place in widely separated areas whose police forces may rarely be in close contact.

    Called the Classification System for Serial Criminal Patterns (CSSCP), the system sifts through all the case records available to it, assigning numerical values to different aspects of each crime, such as the kind of offence, the perpetrator’s sex, height and age, and the type of weapon or getaway vehicle used. From these figures it builds a crime description profile. A neural network program then uses this to seek out crimes with similar profiles.

    How Liberals Vote

    There is considerable media coverage of accusations of vote fraud in the 2004 presidential elections (example). The post-election vote fraud have flowed from the left. Cognitive baseline affords one explanation: the left was cheating, so they firmly believe that the right had to have been cheating, too. The left just can't figure out how the right cheated. And that bugs them. This is, nonsense, of course. But a committed core of the left cling to this view.

    The 2004 Weblog Awards are, in the overall scheme of things, no big deal. That fact makes it all the more revealing that the Daily Kos--a weblog popular for espousing the views of the left--has resorted to automated vote fraud in an attempt to cook the vote.

    The 2004 Weblog Awards manager has responded thus:
    Thanks to members of Daily Kos publishing automated voting code we've had to enforce strict IP checking for the polls. I had hoped that people would be able to conduct themselves in a civilized manner, but apparently that was too much to ask. Once the code got into circulation many of the sites nominated for Best Overall Blog got "help" by automated bots designed to continuously vote.

    Those sites have been blocked permanently from accessing this site, but there's no way to stop future attacks short of limiting each IP address to one vote every 24 hours. Unfortunately this will affect AOL users and those behind corporate firewalls. The denizens of Daily Kos have left me no alternative.

    More from Captain's Quarters, LGF, and PowerLine.

    So, the next time you read an article about vote fraud, be skeptical and wonder if it is an offensive strategy intended to divert attention from investigation of the accusers fraudulent activities. What a sad, pitiful state of affairs.

    Is Manufacturing Cool a Tepid Idea?

    Is it possible to manufacture cool? I think not, but some do:
    Advertisers are devoting larger budgets to these Web hybrids of entertainment and marketing, hoping to convince consumers they offer not just a product, but also the elusive element of cool.

    Professional WOM Documented The Hidden (in Plain Sight) Persuaders

    WOM (word of mouth) as a promotional tool and a profession are described well in this NYT Magazine article (link requires free registration with nytimes.com).


    The iGen Comes of Age

    Yep, the iGen--the first generation to grow up with the internet running at utility level--is now mature and in full swing. This Article provides a nice overview of the iGen.

    Humor: The First Cell Phone

    Here 'tis the first cell phone:

    eBooks: Dead or ...?

    eBooks, despite the promise, continue to linger in the shadows. Lack of inexpensive and technologically compelling reader hardware is one obstacle. Lack of titles in digital format is a second. Pricing of digital titles is a third. Amazon.com's price frequently charges more for digital than dead tree editions of many titles. Consumer habits present yet another obstacle.

    Here's a nice roundup of what's percolating on the digital book front.

    Free eBooks: eReader.com is running a free download promotion. Each day of December 2004 a different eBook is available for download at no cost. Stop by daily to collect all 31.

    BBC Discovers Alien Species: Republicans

    Yep, Republicans are now a certified alien species. My proof? Consider that the BBC is conducting an ethnographic investigation of a Republican family. This, of course, only confirms and reflects the inherent bias of the BBC. Consider this:
    'All of Britain and the whole of Europe was really stunned by the election and Bush winning,' said BBC News World Affairs Correspondent Humphrey Hawksley. 'What we wanted to do was come to America and try to find out what had happened. How can we be so different?'

    The BBC wanted to talk to typical Republicans and find out where their core values came from.

    The folks at the BBC appear unaware that Tony Blair, their own prime minister, is George Bush's greatest supporter. Go figure. Perhaps the BBC ought to consider a similar investigation of the typical Britan.

    New Media Power: Verifiable Content Rules

    HughHewitt offers timely perspective on the rising power of the new media and the decline of the old:
    I asked Wallace if Rush Limbaugh's deep dislike for McCain would be a problem for the Senator, and Wallace laughed off the idea of Rush being a problem for McCain dismissively.

    I disagreed with Wallace then as did many e-mailers that quickly weighed in. My guess is that television bigs still don't understand the sort of awesome focus and political muscle that Rush and to lesser extents other talkers bring to elections, especially with the new power of the blogs adding to, providing ammunition for, and refining that mass market of talk radio. McCain, Rudy Guiliani, Senator Bill Frist etc all have to develop a new media strategy now, one that recognizes the relationships with Sunday morning anchors and shows does indeed matter, but perhaps not nearly as much as the relationship with Rush, Hannity, and other talkers as well as Powerline, Instapundit, The Corner's mob and Geraghty, LGF, INDCJournal etc. The Democratic primaries of '04 were almost indifferent to new media because new media doesn't connect with those voters on anywhere near the same scale as it does with center-right electorate. The would-be presidents ought to be quizzing the newly elected senators about new media, as well as everyone who managed the process at Bush-Cheney '04. The serious '08 players, for example, should be courting Patrick Ruffini the way Notre Dame is hunting for a head coach. [Aside: Other candidates/consultants and news organizations ought to be trying to tie up the blogging talent of Ed Morrisey, Matt Margolis, any of the RedState gents, Wizbang boys, Polipundit people or Slantpoint. Some bloggers are clearly not for hire, but others might be, and it is a skills set crucial for politics on a going forward basis.]

    And John McCain ought to have Rush over for a dinner or two. Chris Wallace may not know it, but a whole lot of Iowa and New Hampshire voters turn into Rush every day, and that's a feud everyone would be better off seeing end.

    This has nothing to do with whether you like--or even respect--Rush. Nor does this have anything to do with your political orientation. The tectonic shift in the power structure that determines the sources of "news" impacts everyone. While this transition is most evident in the political sphere, other domains such as product marketing are impacted, too.

    The impact of "new media" isn't simply a numbers game in the sense that the perspective with the greatest number of supporting blogs, websites, email lists, etc. , prevails. Through the 2004 presidential election, a greater number of new media resources were advocating Kerry than Bush. The difference is that the new media supporting the conservative perspective generally, and Bush specifically, was simply more effective at impacting the beliefs, attitudes, and behavior of the voting population.

    Why are the new media more powerful? I believe it is because the news they report is "open source." Once a blogger posts a news item, it is immediately vetted by the readers. If the post is inaccurate, readers will point out the inaccuracy. A new media source that consistently produces news that doesn't survive the vetting process will lose readers. The main stream broadcast media has the unfettered ability to distribute as news whatever they choose without such vetting. The result? New media, like open source software, affords a more stable and reliable information source.


    Web Stores as Equalizers

    Web Stores appear to be equalizers:
    The results of a recent consumer survey conducted by Hostway Corp. indicate that most people will buy online from small operations, as well as large, well-known companies. The study of 2,500 consumers found that more than 75% of people who shop online do not think company size is a factor in a rewarding customer experience. Only15% of respondents prefer large companies online.

    Other findings: Nearly nine of 10 survey takers buy products online. Of that group, 94% percent said they are satisfied or very satisfied with their overall experience. What matters most? Security, privacy, price, ease of use, and the availability of desired products and services.
    This is encouraging news for all with an idea and a desire to make it a reality.

    Mobile Marketing ... ready for launch ... maybe?

    Is mobile marketing poised to take-off?:
    There's an interesting article on Mobile Marketing by David Fuller at Commpiled.com. Despite the problems of the industry, he claims, 2005 is poised to be the year that Mobile Marketing finally takes off. This is backed by Gartner - but don't forget they want to sell reports and saying it won't take off, won't sell any.

    Computer and Internet Use: Roundup

    Here's a nice round-up of stats on computer and internet use.


    Ten Most (Un)Wanted Design Bugs

    Here's a great list of the Ten Most (Un)Wanted Design Bugs. Many of these candidates have persisted for more than 30 years.

    Topic Maps: The Next Big Thing in Search?

    Will topic maps be the next big thing in information search:
    Databases and search engines provide instantaneous access to endless information about anyone or anything, but the search results often include as many misses as hits. To generate more-relevant answers, organizations including the federal government are using topic maps to index their data.

    Topic maps are smart indices that improve search capabilities by categorizing terms based on their relationships with other things. For example, William Shakespeare is a topic that would be mapped to essays about him, his plays and his famous quotes.

    This sounds like a variation on semantic (meaning) based clustering. Sure sounds handy!

    IE Share Drops Below 90% Firefox Gains

    Firefox Gains, IE Looses, User Share:
    Tallies released last week by Dutch Web traffic analyst OneStat.com showed that IE had dipped below the 90 percent market share mark for the first time in years, confirming a downward trend seen in other surveys released since millions of Web surfers started trying out Firefox. OneStat's survey indicated that Firefox has picked up what market share IE has lost.
    I've been using Firefox for several months now. It is a solid performer. Recommended.

    The Internet as a No-Weenie Zone

    Glenn Reynolds sets Bill O'Reilly straight::
    Bill O'Reilly still doesn't understand that the Internet is a no-weenie zone. Apparently, even journalists who (at best) recklessly report stories based on unchecked fake documents are too important to be criticized by the 'little people' on the Internet.
    O'Reilly's attempt to justify Dan Rather's behavior is baffling, at minimum. At best, this defense of Rather affords an interesting portal into the standards by which O'Reilly desires to be held accountable.


    Target Now A Target Needs Salvation

    In banishing Salvation Army bell ringers from its stores this holiday season, Target has become a target for justified criticism. Most retail stores, Target included, rake in approximately 2/3 of their annual revenue between Thanksgiving and Christmas. As more than one commentator has pointed out, in booting the Salvation Army, Target is biting the hand that feeds it.

    Here's a sampling of well Targeted commentary:

    Hugh Hewitt observes:

    UPDATE: Carol Platt Liebau blogged on Target as Scrooge more than a week ago. Wagonboy blogged on it tonight. And I am told that by tomorrow, www.dontshoptarget.com will be up and running. Here is another take on the effects of the target decision. It isn't just lost donations:

    Fred Barnes on The Beltway Boys and Kate O'Beirne on The Capital
    Gang both "knocked Target tonight for exiling the Salvation Army. There's still time to change your mind, Mr. Ulrich.

    Try this Google News Search for recent articles on the Salvation Army backlash.

    I think Target made an expensive decision that will have lingering consequences.

    Update: The MSM have entered the Target hunt.


    Digital Music Diffusion ... The CD will be with us for a while linger

    The Register reports
    But still a healthy sum to share among the likes of Apple's iTunes, Napster, Virgin Digital, Wal-Mart, Tesco and co., surely? Well, not quite. That figure represents not only sales of digital downloads and subscription revenue, but CDs purchased from Amazon and co.
    Digital downloads will account for half of the total - $3.1bn.
    That amounts to 7.7 per cent of total music sales, leaving CD, DVD and their successor physical formats taking 92.3 per cent of the market.
    Those figures look to a market five years off. Closer to today - next year, in fact - sales of digital downloads will total $422.7m, more than double the $179.5m that will be spent this year, IMG reckons. Subscription revenue in 2004 will total $103.7m, the researcher estimates, rising to $191.7m next year. For the two methods of delivery, those figures represent growth of 135.5 per cent and 84.9 per cent, so clearly IMG believes that punters will increasingly prefer one-off downloads over tethered subscription packages.

    The numbers cited in this article strike me as overly pessimistic toward digital downloading. Given that digital photography gained traction in the marketplace quicker than Kodak and other photo giants expected, I anticipate digital music will follow a similarly rapid ascent.

    Holiday Shoppers Skip the Lines and Shop the Net

    CNN Reports:
    NEW YORK, Nov 26 (Reuters) - More U.S. 'Black Friday' shoppers were turning to the Internet for discounts this year to avoid long lines and crowded parking lots as the holiday shopping season got underway after Thanksgiving.

    Online retailers reported steady or surging traffic on Friday and with the strong start were poised to grow sales by 20 or 30 percent this season compared with a year ago.

    Yep, the Web is now a full-fledged alternative channel. Retailers ignore it at their peril.

    US Exit Poll Data Confirms Net Suspicions ... or not

    The release of complete exit poll data for the 2004 US presidential election has wags like this and this are peering into the discrepancy between exit poll data and actual poll and perceiving scandal (at the extreme) or anomaly:

    I've a lot of respect for Lessig. His work in the copyright arena is thought provoking. Unfortunately, a keen understanding of copyright law doesn't translate to survey sample research. The creative presentation of the sampling discrepancy -- arrayed as it is, creates the illusion of some mysterious invisible hand at work. I believe the graph reveals little more than normal sample bias. If so, sampling bias is indeed on display here, this bar chart displays nothing unusual or untoward; just the artifact of random errors doing their thing to "bias" the estimate. That's why we call it an estimate, after all. End of mystery.

    That said, it may be interesting to obtain similar data from past presidential elections and create similar displays. My hunch is that the observed patterns will be fairly consistent. Sure, the states will likely change places, but that's what one would expect from an analysis of sampling error ... unless, one could identify a factor that introduces systematic bias into the estimates.

    Are these estimates outside what one would expect statistically? A question that could be answered definitively.

    Again, exit poll data are estimates and should be regarded with all the cautions they are thus due.