Monthly Archives: June 2007

Raccoon Alert!

I live alone at the edge of a stand of eucalyptus trees in Half Moon Bay. Two nights ago, I heard my dogs bark, and then someone rang my doorbell in the middle of the night. I was afraid to get out of bed and answer the door, because no one visits me in the wee small hours anymore, so I just waited till it all died down and went back to sleep.

When morning came, I looked on the floor at the side of my bed, and there was a very dirty puppy(mine). I thought I had it figured out: Luckily Puppily, my year-old golden retriever, must have gotten out of the yard and gone walking in the forest behind the house, and someone must have returned him to the backyard and rung my bell. He has a propensity to saunter off when you turn your back and do something like grab my Bluetooth headset or Josh’s high school yearbook, take it out to the backyard to chew on it. Then he walks back in the dog door like nothing happened. A day later, we discover the damage.

But when I opened my front door in the morning to go out of the house, there was a new clue: a note from the Sheriff: “We got a complaint about your barking dogs. Please keep them from barking.” So then I figured the Sheriff brought the elusive Luckily, the little self-walker, home. I called the Sheriff’s office to find out what happened, and four transfers later, left the Assistant Sheriff who came to my house a Voicemail apologizing.

All day long, Luckily wouldn’t tell me what happened. And then, glancing into the backyard, I thought I saw it: the hole in the fence he dug for his escape. I have an old, rotted, wood fence, and he had enlarged a small hole created by the cat. I grabbed a piece of plywood from the garage and plugged the hole, rolling a boulder against the wood to keep it in place.

Then I took the filthy puppy to the Dog Wash, plunged him into a bathtub, and washed off the souvenirs of the night before.

Fast forward to the next night. I decided to leave the dog door closed. But in the middle of the night Chauncey, my other dog, got up and ran to the door. Fearing an accident, I opened the dog door. But after everyone ventured briefly outside and came back in, I closed it and went back to bed again.

Once again I was awakened by barking. Both dogs were crazy, and it was just about 6 AM. I walked into the kitchen, and there they were, fending off a huge raccoon. The poor thing was so frightened it looked like a cartoon character as they chased it across the kitchen, into the living room. Luckily Puppily cornered it by the floor lamp, as I ran to get a stick and Chauncey, my adult retriever, barked on in sympathy.

I tried to chase the raccoon out, but the dog door was closed. Apparently, he was in the house when I closed it after the dogs’ last bio break, and now he couldn’t get out. I tried opening the front door, but the puppy kept him cornered by the couch. Chauncey looked a little more tentative, but added his voice to the melee.

After I’m sure everyone on the block was awakened once again, I got Puppily to focus on something besides the trapped raccoon for long enough to let the creature skitter across my hardwood floors and out the back door into the woods.

I doubt he will be visiting us soon. I still wonder who dug the hole under my fence. I plan to sleep all day.

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Virtual Worlds

There’s a shift happening on the Internet right now, and it’s to 3D technology and virtual worlds. Information, education, business and entertainment will all be affected. The panel I’m watching now consists of Doppelganger, a platform for creating a dense, virtual urban experience, Kaneva, a 3D game with a modern day theme; Meez, the tool with which I made my famous Facebook avatar; and The Multiverse. Here the business models involve selling virtual items or sponsor integration, and even platform licensing, rather than out and out advertising.

Cool things about Virtual worlds:
Kaneva has the entire YouTube library integrated into its virtual world.
Doppelganger lets you choreograph the dance moves of your avatar.
Meez allows you to create and export an avatar. Avatar is Sanskrit for appearance of God on earth!
Multiverse is a distributed network for developers of virtual worlds. With it, you can make your own world. You can start your own game company. It’s all open source until you start charging consumers, and then it’s a revenue share. James Cameron’s on their Board of Advisors, and 11,000 development teams have registered to use its technology. It’s a tools business.

Not so cool things about these companies:
You can’t use Kaneva on a Mac.
You have to download software to use Doppelganger.
Meez exports your avatar as an animated .GIf, and to post it on your social network you have to change it to a .Jpg or something else that’s acceptable.
The Multiverse defers its revenue.

The big question here is who is in competition with whom. I really like the idea of exporting your avatar from place to place.

Of course the elephant in the room here is Second Life, and everyone asserts that they are going to be user-friendly as opposed to SL. Meaning an average kid can get on and create. Or even an average adult.

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Chris Pirillo and his Patented Tonsils

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As seen at “Under the Radar.”

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Music

Ahhh…much better. Music applications are more fun than advertising. The Internet, especially social networking sites, have been a great way for independent musicians to get their music out and appreciated. And consumers seem to really want this stuff.

It’s interesting how Facebook has affected the Internet music business. iLike launched with the launch of the Facebook platform, and has been an application for sharing music. It lets you add music to your profile and find your favorite concerts. Somewhat differently, MOG is a platform for music bloggers (there are currently about 600 music blogs). Although it also launched with Facebook, it had to cut off the spigot and re-tune its back end to handle the traffic. It’s more of a trusted source. People meet people through MOG; it allows them to find out who’s most like them musically. But for making money? It’s an advertising-based model.


ReverbNation
is different; it is focussed on the artists. Because the economics of the music business have changed, a band has to get rid of its record label. The new model is to go direct. But then how do you market? Radio has gone as a means of marketing music, so ReverbNation helps artists push their content out and collect, manage, and talk to fans.

Behind this model is the assumption that every band has a hundred fans, many of whom are rabid and will spread the word. ReverbNation aggregates and extends the fans of the band. But more interesting: the founder is one of the sellers of DoubleClick, and this is his third venture-backed company.

Last company: SpliceMedia.com, the place for finding, making, and sharing free music on the web. They have the only real time sequencer and audio engine on the web. It corrects for the latency that’s built into flash, which lets them do real time synthesizing and virtual effects.

The music business consists of a small number of highly driven core creators who create an inventory of new sounds. Then there’s a larger group of casual creators who do a lot of remixing. This creates an inventory that can be used by people who use music in presentations and slide shows.
There are 26,000 people on their beta site. The top .2% have created an inventory of 14 songs a month. The next 20% of splicers and consumers create 25,000 songs a year. There have been 460,000 songs downloaded.

All the songs are community policed right now and adhere to a Creative Commons License.

I love what’s happening to the music business, and I loved hearing that there were parallels to the iStockphoto concept. This seems to me a much better way to monetize than the video people were sharing in the last panel.

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Live blogging from the Dealmaker Forum

Ugh. I’m sorry I went to the advertising panel of this conference! We “users” could be awash in advertising before, after, and during our online videos if the presenters at the Dealmaker Media Under the Radar Conference have anything to say. Advertising is coming to online video almost before online video comes to the masses. And companies are wildly trying to figure out 1)how to serve it up; 2)how to get consumers to watch it; 3)how to help brand managers and marketers reach new generations of consumers.

Both Adap.TV and Scanscout have their eye on video as a means of delivering advertising to viewers. However, they will have problems with consumers avoiding their advertising, as the technology to do this already exists, much as Tivo does on TV.

XLNTads, yet another company, is a platform for creating ads to brand specifications. For a large advertiser, this is a huge boon:

A network of 500 videographers will join for both recognition and money. Brand sponsors can post a creative brief, and then look at different kinds of solutions for their brand challenges. The videographers access the brands creative assets, create solutions, and the advertiser gets to look at them and choose. The ads are posted for the ad agencies or brand marketers to see. Every submission that a brand advertiser receives from XLNT ads belongs to the brand. The winning submission receives $20,000 for his or her ad. This is a lot less than the $385,000 an agency or a brand marketer pay for a 30-second spot.

The brand advertiser will pay $25k a month to belong. The company will be supported by the brand owners. This is quite a beautiful dream–a congruence of user-generated content and savings for the brand marketers.

But the videographers will suffer, won’t they? They will get paid less for their very creative work than the prevailing norms of agencies. The brand owner will look at 500 ideas, file 499 away in their minds without paying, and pay outlet-store rates for the winner.

Let’s see: I’m a videographer. If the brand marketers still control the messaging, why would you want to produce an ad Why would you want to be in the position of permanently participaing in a design competition? This model puts the content generator into a position of permanent submissiveness.

Same old problem. Owner of the IP suffers.

Last company in this advertising model: YuMe networks. It’s pronounced You-Me, and is Japanese for “monetizing the dream>’ Rafe Needleman, who is moderating this panel, tells them they need another name if no one knows how to pronounce theirs đŸ™‚

But they have the most promising long term business model in the room. They are dynamically producing ads for any kind of video and inserting ads into downloaded movies, events, etc. They have attacked the areas of live events, BitTorrent, and anything else users are watching video with. They are a connecting point between content and advertisers in p2p, mobile, and online. They’re serving ads on multiple platforms while waiting to see what will happen next.

I think I will go to a panel on music, next. It won’t be as distasteful to me as these new methods of cluttering our minds with MORE advertising. Seems like every time a content provider finds a new medium, and advertiser wants to “monetize” it for him.

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Hardaway.com is live!

After months of design and struggle, Hardaway.com is finally live! It’s the site for our “family business”, which was mine but is now hers as I spend most of my time with Stealthmode Partners. She has done a fantastic job designing and conceptualizing both what she does for clients and how she demonstrates it on the site, and telling the story of how she came to be who she is in her own version of the business. She’s a brand strategist in the Bay Area, and a damned good one. I am so proud of her, and of the site. Suggest you follow the link to Chelsea’s story, at least, because it’s a glimpse into the unconventional thinking that makes for a great creative person. Am I prejudiced? Of course.

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Fandango Customer Service

I tried posting this using KyteTv, but it shortened three minutes of video to twelve seconds, so I had to delete it and go back to good old You Tube. More about that later, but here’s the real video about my Fandango experience. Or maybe it’s my “Sicko” sneak preview experience. Notice how bright my dining room is in Half Moon Bay today. It’s sunny.

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