mesh09 tickets are now on sale

As my mesh conference colleague Mark Evans has already pointed out on his own blog and at the mesh blog, we are trying to get a jump on things a little this year (or rather, next year) by putting mesh ’09 tickets on sale a little earlier. Every year we’ve had people say that they didn’t have enough time to get it into their calendars or to get approval or whatever, so this time we’re giving everyone lots of advance notice 🙂 The dates are April 7th and 8th. We’ll be announcing some of the keynotes and other content soon, and we’re also launching meshjobs, a mesh-based job site where you can list open positions your company might have and take advantage of some of the awesome talent that’s out there in the mesh-o-sphere. We’re having meshU again this year as well, the day before mesh proper, so if you know any developers or technical Web types, let them know that it’s coming, and that tickets for this one-day event should be on sale soon.

Jerry finally steps aside at Yahoo

Why did it take so long? That’s the only question that remains unanswered when it comes to Jerry Yang and his erstwhile leadership of the company he co-founded, at least as far as I’m concerned. It didn’t really make any sense for him to become CEO in the first place — no matter what his defenders have said about him — and he hasn’t shown any real aptitude for either leadership or vision during his time in the executive suite. About all he has done (aided by a board that gives new meaning to the term lacklustre) is to deep-six the only potential deal Yahoo had on the table that made any sense for the company at all, namely the acquisition offer from Microsoft.

For those keeping track at home, Microsoft was offering $31 a share at the time, which valued Yahoo at over $44-billion. Yahoo’s current market capitalization is less than $15-billion, which means almost $30-billion or about 65 per cent of the company’s value has vanished. Obviously, all of that decline can’t be blamed on Jerry, since the global economic meltdown probably had a little to do with it as well. But even before that happened, Yahoo’s stock value had dropped by tens of billions of dollars. About all Jerry and the board could come up with as a strategy was to float a merger deal of some kind with AOL of all places.

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Flash flood: Mom bloggers and Motrin

My kids are too old to carry around in slings — I mostly drive them everywhere now — but I can still sympathize with the mom (and some dad) bloggers who are up in arms about Motrin’s latest marketing campaign, which uses “baby-wearing” as a way of trying to appeal to moms as potential customers. The rationale seems to be that using slings and other baby-carrying paraphernalia is mostly a fad, and causes back and neck pain that requires Motrin. Instead, hundreds of moms are criticizing Motrin on Twitter — where they have helpfully tagged their comments with #motrinmoms — and on dozens of blogs as well.

If you’re one of those who believes that “any publicity is good publicity,” or that getting potential customers “engaged” with your product includes pissing them off, then the Motrin campaign probably seems like a great success. And I’m sure there are those who will argue that the critical Motrin moms are a vocal minority, that they are too easily offended by something that was meant to be humorous, etc. That may even be true. But it’s still a problem for the company — a very modern problem. For better or worse, this kind of social-media “flash flood” of negative PR involving Twitter, blogs and Facebook is becoming more and more commonplace.

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Media geeks: Techmeme is hiring

Are you fascinated not just by the media, but by all the ways in which blogs, Twitter and other forms of “social media” influence the news as it develops over time? Then Techmeme founder Gabe Rivera wants to hear from you. According to this posting on Craigslist (which I found via a Twitter link from Salon founder Scott Rosenberg), he’s looking to hire someone to fill a position that has never really existed before, and one which in many ways could never have existed before the Web came along:

“We’re not sure what to call this position. News Technician? News Analyst? Configuring Editor? The role involves interacting with an automated news-picking computer algorithm, configuring it and prodding it to ensure balanced and comprehensive coverage of important news topic areas. It’s the kind of job that possibly has never existed until 2008 but will become increasingly important in the years ahead.”

Anyone who has followed Techmeme for even a week or two will notice that the links and sub-links on the site are continually shifting over time, rising and falling not just as the importance of the story changes but as the links between the various sub-posts change. How does it work? Only Gabe knows for sure, which drives some people around the bend. I know that I’ve been fascinated with the way Techmeme functions ever since I first laid eyes on it a couple of years ago, and so have many others.

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White House video: what took so long?

So the soon-to-be new U.S. president, Barack Obama, is reportedly going to videotape regular addresses to the American people and upload them to YouTube, as well as to his new social-media portal. All I could think of when I saw the headline from the Washington Post is “What the heck took so long?” It’s not like YouTube just appeared yesterday. It’s become a primary video source for millions of people, particularly young people — and heck, even the Queen has a royal channel with videos that people can watch about the British royal family. And she’s not the only Queen on YouTube (I’m not counting Chris Crocker). Queen Rania of Jordan also has a channel, and she uploads inspirational video messages, including the one I’ve embedded here (she’s also extremely beautiful, which I think is a big plus for a queen). It says a lot about George Bush and his presidency that he couldn’t be bothered to even use a free commuications tool.

What can Fred teach us about video?

According to at least one account, the big star of the NewTeeVee Live conference — put on by the gang at GigaOm — wasn’t the CEO of Hulu, or the head of Netflix, or even alterna-star Xeni Jardin of Boing Boing. It was 15-year-old video artist Lucas Cruikshank, otherwise known simply as “Fred.” Lucas was a bored teen somewhere in Nebraska when he decided to parody some of the self-obsessed video bloggers on YouTube and came up with the persona of Fred, a hyperactive pre-teen who speaks in an incredibly annoying, squeaky voice. He is a bona fide YouTube superstar.

While musicians and comedians with years of training and talent are desperately trying to get more views for their videos on YouTube, the phenomenon known as Fred records a video of himself leaning into the camera and making faces while sounding like one of the Chipmunks and gets more than a million views. The video I’ve embedded here has more than 11 million, and that’s after less than four months. His latest video has only been up for a day — a single day — and already has more than 400,000 views, and the one before that (two weeks old) has 2 million. His is the most subscribed channel on YouTube and has more than 125 million views in total. Next up: product placement and celebrity cameos.

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Brea Grant: Actress, social-media pioneer

Okay, maybe calling actress Brea Grant a social-media pioneer is a little strong. On the other hand, pretty much everyone and their aunt goes around calling themselves a social-media “expert” or “guru,” and I think Brea has as much claim to the term pioneer as anyone, at least in the acting world. She may not be a household name — except perhaps for fans of the TV show Heroes, where she plays Daphne Millbrook, the “Speedster” character — but she is doing her best to use social media to her advantage. And the best part is that she is doing it herself (with the help of a Web-savvy college friend) rather than having PR people do it for her.

Brea has a great website and blog, and she is also active on Twitter. She’s not the only actor from Heroes to start Twittering, either — Greg Grunberg, who plays the mind-reader Matt Parkman on the show, also has an account (where he spends a lot of time talking about his all-star band, the Band From TV, which includes Grunberg on drums, Teri Hatcher from Desperate Housewives on vocals and child star Brad Savage on bass). Brea has also been giving interviews to more than just the usual Entertainment Tonight type of outlets, including one with social-media guru Chris Brogan, in which she talks about the difficulties of being a public figure online, and even one with a home-made TV show called Bradman TV.

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Denton: Everyone into the bomb shelter

Listening to Gawker Media overlord Nick Denton’s predictions for the coming online-media apocalypse, I’m reminded of the story about the boy who cried wolf. That said, however, it’s worth remembering one thing about that story: In the end, there actually was a wolf. And as he describes in a post on his personal blog, complete with scary charts and graphs about projected advertising demand, Nick is convinced more than ever that there is a wolf at the door — and a pretty damn big one at that. How does a 40-per-cent drop in online-advertising revenue sound?

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GigaOm: Another place to find me

Eagle-eyed readers looking closely at this blog post at GigaOm about Chris Anderson’s Long Tail theory might notice that it has my name on it. That’s because my friend Om Malik, the genius behind the ever-expanding network, asked me awhile back if I would be interested in writing posts for him from time to time, and naturally I said yes. I have a huge amount of respect for Om, and what he and his team have built — and are continuing to build — at GigaOm, and I am looking forward to working with them all. I’m not giving up this blog, by any means; I will continue to write here as much or more than I always did, but will also be writing occasionally for GigaOm. If you have any story ideas or suggestions for future posts, feel free to drop me a line at mathew (at)

YouTube: The hits just keep on coming

Just yesterday, it was Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer that signed a deal with YouTube, allowing the video site to run full-length versions of movies (although the initial selection was somewhat less than stellar). Today, the site announced a deal with Freemantle Productions, the creators of the American Idol reality-show franchise, that will see the production company create a channel for all of its existing shows, but also a new channel for exclusive content that it will create specifically for YouTube.

Soon, YouTube will be carrying ad-supported TV shows from CBS, clips from LionsGate movies with pre-rolls and post-rolls, full-length movies from MGM and exclusive content from one of the world’s leading reality-show producers. Not bad for a site that started with video clips of funny cats and skateboard pratfalls, and is still considered by some to be a kind of trailer-park ghetto of video (yes, Mark Cuban, we’re looking at you). With adding plenty of mainstream content too, the competition in online video definitely seems to be heating up.