Well, Om managed to keep turning 40 to himself for a little while — apart from an offhand reference here — but you can’t keep secrets for long in Web 2.0 world, especially when you have a big party with all the beautiful people (Mike “TechCrunch” Arrington, Nick “Valleywag” Douglas and others) at Pier 38 in San Francisco. And especially when someone like Thomas Hawk of Zooomr posts a bunch of party snapshots, including one entitled “GigaStud.” Happy 40th Om. And Valleywag’s Nick Douglas has a great job — he not only gets to go to parties, he gets to crack wise about all the people there.
I’ve kind of been following the brouhaha over Tribe.net founder Mark Pincus and what he wrote about an old classmate, Murry Gunty, and how a 15-year-old decision by the latter seems to have turned into an exercise in old vs. new media. After much back and forth, it turned into an article in the Washington Post, followed by a heartfelt post from Mr. Pincus alleging that the article was unfair to him.
What’s interesting to me is not what Mr. Pincus said about Mr. Gunty, or whether — as Jason Calacanis says — taking shots at old classmates is what blogs are for, etc. I find it interesting that some of the commenters on the Pincus post take him to task for what he did because they think it was wrong to use his real name, since it unnecessarily exposed him to ridicule. Interestingly enough, one of those commenters is Mike Arrington of TechCrunch.com and another is blogger Don Park.
Some people seem to feel that using his name was just “reporting” and is therefore permissible, and that he should be exposed because he’s a cheater (or whatever). I would have to agree with Mike and Don and others though — I don’t think Mark’s point was advanced at all by using a real person’s name, and if anything it detracted from his argument and diverted the conversation away from his main point.
That’s not good journalism, nor is it good blogging. It’s what we in the old media refer to as a “drive-by.”
Not only is PayPerPost — the company that pays bloggers to write about advertisers — still around, but now it has raised a pile of money to boot, from some gullible VCs. Apparently the founders have decided to ignore all the free advice they got last time around about how they should probably require bloggers to disclose their conflict of interest, but then that probably isn’t surprising given what the founders said back when the subject came up.
In what was a strangely convoluted argument that kind of made my head hurt, the PayPerPost blog argued that forcing people to disclose actually made their posts worse because:
they use disclosure as an excuse to create less compelling content. These are people who just think of the service as “payola” and don’t put much effort into their posts. They will meet the minimum requirements but aren’t necessarily interested in the topic they are writing about.
In other words, it made them worse from a marketing point of view. But the hard part for me is that the posts we’re talking about are payola — although the PayPerPost people would obviously like you to think that all those bloggers chose to receive money for things that they were already going to blog about positively anyway because they just love those products so much, gosh darn it.
Yeah right. And obviously, disclosing that you’re getting paid for something will make it seem less authentic, which will make it resonate less with readers (although it might still give them some Google juice, as Scoble points out). That’s why they don’t want to do it. When it gets right down to it, PayPerPost and its advertisers are counting on their ability to pull one over on blog readers, because that’s the only way their idea has even a chance of actually accomplishing anything.
And it does no good to argue, as Dave Winer does, that lots of so-called “journalism” is full of that kind of payola — including tech reviews, sports reporting and travel writing, to name just a few. That doesn’t make it right.
If there’s one thing that unites bloggers, it’s the compulsion to post things at any hour of the day and in virtually any location, whether it’s photos of the smelly guy across the aisle on the subway or a car accident or whatever. And that means blogging from a mobile device of some kind, be it a BlackBerry or a Windows PDA or a Treo or just a regular old Nokia candy bar. But anyone who has tried to do that knows that it is far from easy, even with a well-established site like Textamerica.com.
That’s why Ambient Vector, a Toronto startup run by Sutha Kamal and a bunch of other smart guys, has launched Nakama — a mobile photoblogging service that is a whole lot easier to use than most of the others I’ve come across, although it still has some glitches here and there. There’s lots more info at MobileCrunch.
I should note that I am friends with Sutha and his partner-in-crime David Crow, whom I have gotten to know through Toronto’s blogger and DemoCamp community, and I have even enjoyed nachos and salsa in their spartan little office with the server sitting on the floor in the hallway. And Sutha writes a blog about some of the things his company has been going through for the Globe and Mail’s small business website. So make of all that what you will.
There are other mobile blogging and photo-blogging solutions out there, including one called Mobispine.com and one called Splashblog.com (neither of which I have used), and you can also post photos from a mobile device with Blogger and the mobile version of Typepad that Six Apart launched with Nokia awhile back. There’s also another Toronto startup called Filemobile.com that has a photo component to it, although it also has a lot of other features. But most of the solutions that are out there require you to download and install software.
Nakama (which means “close friend” or “ally” in Japanese) doesn’t require any downloads, and Sutha says it will work on just about any phone or mobile device out there. You can post the photos by sending an SMS message and the software will even call you back to let you record an audio tag, which is attached to the photo. You can quickly and easily see the photos and video clips that your friends have uploaded and leave comments on them, and they can easily see and leave comments on yours.
All in all, it’s a pretty neat service. Two thumbs up to Sutha and the rest of the team.
Maybe it’s just been a slow period for “real” news from the blogosphere over the past few days, or maybe Mark Cuban’s comments about YouTube have stirred up some conflicting views about Web 2.0 and the New Bubble and that sort of thing, but there has certainly been a lot of back and forth about the issue since Megaphone Mark made his “moron” statement.
Fred Wilson of Union Square said he thinks YouTube is one of the best things to happen on the Internet over the past several years, which got a couple of people going — including my friend Rob Hyndman, who took issue with this statement, and got a response from Fred in his comments. Rob also got kind of riled up by Bob Lefsetz’s rant against Cuban, which had that kind of breathless, drunk-guy-with-a-sticky-caps-lock thing to it that Bob does so well, and so Rob helpfully advised him to “put down the bong.”
Unfortunately, there seem to be a whole bunch of tangential — and in many cases ad hominem — arguments getting in the way of this debate. Is Mark Cuban jealous because he wishes he had come up with YouTube? Is Fred Wilson just trying to hype something Web-related because he has a vested interest in another bubble, as Rob suggests in a comment on Fred’s most recent post? Has Bob Lefsetz been spending too much time with his hash-pipe recently? And so on.
To me, there’s a litle bit too much talk about how much YouTube will (or might) be worthl. I couldn’t care less. As was the case with Napster, I’d rather focus on how YouTube is changing (or could change) the old media model, just as Slingbox and other technologies are. And one of the ways it has done so has nothing to do with technology, as Jason Calacanis points out — and has everything to do with distribution. That’s where the real value lies.