Thursday, March 22, 2007

Discussion Creation Among Bloggers - LinkedIn, Blogging and Discussion Groups

I've been participating in a Yahoo Group that are users of LinkedIn and who are Bloggers:

It's an interesting group of folks from diverse backgrounds. It's also been interesting to see the interaction of tools involved - Social Networking, Blogging and a Discussion Group.

It seems that four different models of "discussion creation" have occurred:

  • Organice Discussion - someone posts something interesting, lots of bloggers post on the topic, distributed discussion ensues.
  • Tag Memes - Someone posts a question and "Tags" five people to give their response. See Five Things Meme as an example.
  • Blog Hub - A central blog provides a place where the topic is raised and comments are collected and bloggers post. See Supporting New Managers and What Would You Do to Support New Managers? as an example.
  • Discussion Group Hub - questions/topics are raised via the discussion group and can go out into the blog world to get a more diverse audience - which is now happening with this group.

I'm not sure which of these make sense in what case. Certainly it suggests that there's need for something more than MyBlogLog, Explode, CoComment, etc. to help bloggers and blog readers with comments.

But this still leaves me with lots of questions about the interplay between these tools, so I'd ask people who author a blog, use LinkedIn (or other social networking), and participate in discussion groups, how do you use these tools.

How do you use LinkedIn?

How do you use Discussion Groups?

What's the interaction between them?

I'll be curious to see the response from the group. Actually, what I'd love to see are some responses via blog posts from different folks in the group:

Bill Austin -Famous Quotes 2007 Weblog Awards
Alister Cameron -
Dennis McDonald -
Jason Alba -
Ben Yoskovitz -
Ben -

My answers...

Where I use LinkedIn:

* I definitely use LinkedIn for Specific Requests - Ex. Open Source Business Models, speakers for Web 2.0 event I did last fall.

* LinkedIn has been great to keep track of people I know and their current contact information. I regularly do wine tastings here in Los Angeles with some interesting folks I know. LinkedIn has been my primary tool for keeping track of who to invite.

* I definitely check people out using LinkedIn. It's a great way to get a background on folks.

* I've not found that much use for LinkedIn to help my blogging, but I'm starting to think about this. Maybe this meme will help.

Where I use the Discussion Group:

* I've not been very active in the discussion group on particular topics. However, it definitely has served as a hub. This suggests that something more than MyBlogLog is needed to create hubs from groups of bloggers. That's probably the value of this group.


* Not much right now between LinkedIn and my blog. Certainly my LinkedIn profile provides a better public profile for me. Otherwise, I've not seen much.

* I'm constantly frustrated by conversations that take place in discussion groups that can't cross the border into the blog world. And, I don't like to copy and paste.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Kevin Federline Search Engine

Just saw a post - Sleep with a pop star, get your own branded search engine. - talking about Prodege's Search with Kevin Site - I actually think this is a pretty innovative model. Take a look at other sites:

But the overall idea is to provide branded search in order to get merchandise from your artist, star, etc. It also works well for non-profit groups:

It's a relatively new concept, but it likely has legs.

(Disclosure: we helped build the system that is behind these.)

Realistic Entrprenuer's Guide to Venture Capital

Seth's guide is worth reading - The realistic entrepreneur's guide to venture capital

Time Rich, Time Poor and Apple

Jeremy Liew at Lightspeed Venture Partners has an interesting post: Time Rich or Time Poor? In it he separates web consumers into: Time Rich (more time than money) and Time Poor (more money than time). He tells us:
If you’re starting a new internet company, its important to know who your audience is, and to make sure that you don’t let your own experience and that of other Time Poor people guide you wrong.

This is an interesting concept and not something I've seen articulated this way. What's interesting is that I've been seeing opportunities to use social marketing for businesses that typically target Time Poor audiences. Does this mean that they'll have lower response rates? It's certainly something to keep in mind.

I also read - The Difference Between Apple and Microsoft Marketing that tells us:
Apple's marketing is designed for Time Poor buyers, while Microsoft's is
designed for Time Rich buyers.

I would agree that Apple's product design would suggest that it aims at Time Poor buyers. However, the ubiquity of the iPod including use by many folks who certainly would fall in the Time Rich category (lots of time to play with music) suggests that their product and marketing appeals to both segments. Doesn't this call into question the central concept of Time Rich and Time Poor and the importance of making a choice prior to product design which audience you are going after?

Friday, March 16, 2007

F2F Still Matters

Kathy Sierra has a great post today: Face-to-Face Trumps Twitter, Blogs, Podcasts, Video... and she provides this picture: It shows that while we slowly approach real-time, realistic virtual conversations, it still isn't quite the same thing as being there.

As an aside, I personally question that view. In the long run - 25 years - we will all be walking around with devices that attempt to make in-person as good as doing it via online. Online you will have an incredibly realistic experience (think how good virtual actors are these days - add 3D - presence based audio - first person shooters). And because you are online, you will have access to all sorts of information about the people, what their interests are - it will be easily captured. The challenge will be getting people used to this - hence the 25 years.

But for now, Kathy expresses something quite true:
The point is, face-to-face still matters. And in fact all our globally-connecting-social-networking tools are making face-to-face more, not less desirable. Thanks to the tools y'all are building, we now have more far-flung friends--including people we've never met f2f--than ever before. We now have more people we want to connect with in the human world, often after years of electronic-only contact.
Kathy suggests that we should really be working to:
Get people together in the real world.
I completely agree with her, but I've found it to be really difficult to:
  • Meet People within a given Geography Online who share passion around Technology, Start-ups, etc.
  • Find avenues to network with these folks.

So, what I've ended up doing is planning our own events (wine tasting) and just inviting people who I know are interesting. We've done one so far, and it's great. Kathy's on the money on this one.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

8 Ways the Internet has Changed Software Marketing

Great post - 8 Ways The Internet Changed Software Marketing - is an interesting take on how different it is these days to market software. Good stuff.

Monday, March 12, 2007

MyShape Article - Analyst Misses the Point

The NY Times did a piece today on MyShape, a start-up in Pasadena - Log in Your Measurements, and the Clothes May Fit.

I had to laugh when an analyst with Forrester said in the article -
As impressive as these results may be, myShape’s approach will probably fail to gain a mass audience unless the company can somehow simplify the measuring process, said Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst with Forrester Research. “They’re probably a little ahead of their time,” she said.

Having worked on eHarmony where the intake is 2 hours and was completely counter to the prevailing trend, I think the analyst missed the point. Clothes are very personal and it's really a pain to find stuff that's going to look good on you.

Maybe it's because I'm 6'6", but I think most clothes shopping really stinks and when was the last time that a sales person was actually helpful. I really think MyShape has a great concept.

With the growth of choices, it becomes harder to make decisions. Having help narrowing choices is what it's going to be about going forward.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Map of VC Investments

Found this Map of 2006 VC Investments post. Some very interesting graphics including this heat map:

Very cool visualization tool!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Open Source Business Model

A recent spate of posts on the challenges of running an open source business is interesting (Tosh, Siemens, Downes, Tosh 2) and quite heated as one of the founders of elgg - a social networking platform aimed at the educational space - Dave Tosh laments -

Elgg is the most popular white label social networking platform in the world powering over 2000 networks. However, Elgg could power 100,000 networks and it would make no difference - there is no revenue stream as we give everything away under a GPL license.
I understand his frustration. You create something that has value and gets traction and yet you've created it in a way that the software is considered "free." Thus, you may starve working on your labor of love.

However, there are lots of companies that are making money from open source and freemium models. A friend of mine has a company that builds open source applications in spaces that are a bit less innovative than Elgg, but they do very well financially through the packaging and support models. One of his companies - Gluecode - was sold to IBM for a pretty good price. There are quite a few other Software Development Companies in Southern California working on open source and/or freemium business models.

Common revenue streams are consulting, training, support, customization, upgraded versions for corporate applications, etc. The fact that Dave says that there's "no revenue stream" and that he's getting good traction suggests he must be missing something.

The discussions on the posts are quite interesting - and heated. Luckily Harold Jarche pointed us to other discussion on open source models.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Entreprenuer Network

Great post by Ben Kuo - The Importance of the “Network” to Entrepreneurs -

the informal connections between people in the technology industry here who have a vested interest in helping entrepreneurs take their companies to the next level. Whether that’s pointing new entrepreneurs in the right direction–toward an attorney, an angel, or venture capitalist–or whether it’s helping a small company grow bigger–there’s a lot of people “behind the scenes” working to help entrepreneurs succeed.

That's right on the money. What I mentioned in Events and Networking in Los Angeles was that it's somewhat hard in LA to count on networking events to build networks. The articles I cited there around finding co-founders suggests that Ben is on the money.

Ben asks for help finding the people who would be good for entreprenuers to know. No small task Ben. I'm still trying to figure it out.