Monthly Archives: June 2008

How is technology changing the world of Washington D.C.?

Jesse Lee blogging in WordPress

When I walked into the Speaker of the House’s press room and saw a staff member (Jesse Lee, Senior New Media Advisor for Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi) typing a blog into WordPress, I knew the world had changed (I remarked that I knew that Matt Mullenweg, founder of Automattic which makes WordPress, was a smart guy from the first time I met him). That’s Jesse on this post typing into his WordPress-run blog.

When I was talking with Senator Tom Coburn and he didn’t flinch when we turned on our live cameras during our interview, I knew the world had changed.

When I pulled out my cell phone like a tourist and no one looked at me like I was a dork, I knew the world had changed.

When I was talking with Representative Tim Ryan and he was talking about debating his fellow Congressmen via Twitter, I knew the world had changed. (Here’s his Twitter account).

When I visited the Senate Chambers and saw laptops on the floor, I knew the world had changed.

When I was talking with Representative John Culberson and he talked about showing President Bush Twitter and Qik (and getting shut down by the Secret Service), (Part I, Part II, Andrew Feinberg filmed the whole thing with his camera here). I knew the world had changed. Plus he ambushed a TMZ video crew this afternoon.

Some things that haven’t changed?

1. The President, today, was shown Qik and Twitter by Congressman John Culberson. Here’s his Qik account. Here’s his Twitter account. Culberson said he was amazed by the technology and almost agreed to do the first Qik interview from the Oval Office, but that the Secret Service jumped in and said that that was a no-no. His Twitter message from the Oval Office is the first from the White House that Culberson knows about.

2. The press room at the Senate was fairly old school. Laptops and cell phones are not allowed into Senate chambers. Culberson, in his interview with us, told us that he was going to break rules and bring his cell phone into some congressional hearings and film them so his constituency can see what goes on.

3. Culberson had not yet seen FriendFeed, but said that he’d been shown Summize (live Twitter search engine)┬áby Erica O’Grady. He promised me he’d try FriendFeed.

At one point I looked at my son, Patrick, who is helping me out on this trip, and wondered just how much the world would change in his lifetime?

Tomorrow more questions and answers as we do even more interviews.

Visit NYC & Washington D.C. with us

Tonight my 14-year-old son, Rocky (my producer), and I leave SFO to start what is bound to be one of the most interesting weeks in our lives. One thing we’re going to try to do is bring you along whenever possible. Before I get to that, though, I can’t say thank you enough to Andrew Feinberg of Capitol Valley.net and Washington Internet Daily enough for getting us into see some really interesting people. He, and his team, have been doing all sorts of work with us for months to make this trip happen and he’s been doing it for free without any expectation of anything in return. Unbelieveable guy and team and all of us at FastCompany greatly appreciate his partnership.

Here’s where to follow me:

1. On my Qik channel. I’ll do frequent live Qik videos. I’ll try to Twitter when interesting ones are about to start.
2. On my Twitter feed. I frequently Twitter from the road about what we’re doing and experiencing, plus I can answer your questions there.
3. On my FriendFeed. Even better place to talk with me. My Twitters, photos, and other things, show up on FriendFeed within minutes of me doing them and this is the best place to talk with me. I probably spend 80% of my time there, so watch this to see the best stuff.
4. Another important feed to watch is my “Likes” feed on FriendFeed. This is totally different than #3 and is YOUR stuff that I’ve “Liked.” If you want to see if there’s some value to FriendFeed this is a good place to lurk and it’s where I track the top news items.
5. On my Flickr feed I’ll post photos. My Nokia phones can get photos up within seconds of me taking them.
6. I’ll be participating in the chat room on my Kyte.tv channel — the chat room there is better because it stays up permanently and I can participate in it via text, audio, or video.
7. Rocky Barbanica, my producer, has a Twitter feed too, and so does Andrew Feinberg.

I probably won’t write many blogs here until I get back. We’re just way too busy. Check out our schedule.

TODAY: A BBQ with my dad and brother and our family. We take the red-eye to New York tonight at about 10 p.m.
SUNDAY: A free day in NYC. The Personal Democracy Forum is throwing a dinner in the evening, which we’ll attend.
MONDAY: We’re attending the Personal Democracy Forum and I’m on a panel where we’ll be talking about the Live Web (of which you are getting a great demo of above). The panel is at 2 p.m. Eastern Time. I’m sure we’ll Twitter and Qik and Kyte that a bit. After the panel we’ll take the train to Washington DC.
TUESDAY: Most of these interviews will be 15 minutes and we’ll be literally running from one interview to the next. I am not sure which ones I’ll be able to Qik, but we’ll try to Qik at least some of them:

WEDNESDAY:

THURSDAY:

  • Still being planned out. Possible tour of White House. Also will probably play tourist and see the Newseum and other museums. Jim Long, NBC Camera person at the White house, and famous Twitterer, is working on something, but hasn’t been firmed up yet.

Whew!

Anyway, please come along and we’ll try to get you to participate. If you have any specific questions for any of these people, please leave them here and we’ll read them during our interviews.

Why YouTube is going long-form

It’s funny, I have always been a believer in long form video. Heck, today I put up a 30 minute video with the hottest mobile social network’s CEO (Bluepulse).

But why is YouTube going longform, which is what Silicon Alley Insider just reported?

Easy: it’s much tougher to monetize short videos of, say, kids doing skateboard tricks, than it is to put some ads into a long video like the ones I do at FastCompany.tv.

Advertisers also will pay a lot higher rates for those long-form ads.

Why?

Because someone who’ll watch a 30-minute video is HIGHLY ENGAGED. They are far more likely to become a customer than someone who just watches a two-minute entertaining video.

Here’s why: long videos are a filter. Only the most passionate and most interested people online will watch such a video. Those who aren’t interested wouldn’t even consider watching a long video.

Think about the video I just put up. I bet that out of the tens of thousands of people who read this post over the next day or so that only 5% will be interested in the topic of mobile social networks.

But, if you ARE interested enough in mobile social networks to spend 30 minutes to learn more, think about what that says and the liklihood that such a viewer will be responsive to advertisments, especially ones that are contextual. Imagine that another company building something for mobile users, like Brightkite, put an ad in that video. If you spent 30 minutes interested in mobile social networks, wouldn’t you spend 15 seconds hearing about a new mobile tool that’d add onto Bluepulse? You sure would (at least in aggregate).

But, what kind of audience would show up on a skateboarding video? How likely would they be interested in hearing about Brightkite? Not nearly as much.

So, as an advertiser, which one would you rather spend money on?

Longform wins and wins big.

Oh, and don’t even start thinking about the buying process. If you do, you’ll see why Gary Vaynerchuk is the most brilliant marketer out there right now for starting Wine Library TV. I’m going to do a whole post soon just on what Gary is getting that even Google and Facebook aren’t getting.

Oh #2. Mark Cuban basically just posted the same thing I did, but comes at it from a different angle.

A Silicon Valley-Washington DC conversation

Several months ago Andrew Feinberg, founder of the Capitol Valley.net blog, laid down a challenge to me and other tech bloggers: why don’t we ever come to Washington D.C. to get the politicians’ view of the tech industry?

After all, politicians have huge control over our industry.

They can decide things concerning network neutrality, taxation, whether universities get funded so that our industry will have a constant stream of new potential new employees, immigration (one tech-industry CEO recently told me his company is losing its best R&D talent which we educated here, but then are forced to go back home due to immigration laws), wireless bandwidth allocation, and much much more.

These are issues that the “shiny new thing chasers” like me don’t often talk about cause, well, they require doing homework and building partnerships and, well, going to Washington DC. Most of the geeks I hang out with don’t like hanging out with politicians. They would rather watch an hour-long-PowerPoint presentation on some boring enterprise-focused technology than hang out with politicians.

But I saw value in Andrew’s plea. He was right that we need a new conversation about technology and politics, particularly because there will be a regime change in Washington DC in January (even McCain would bring a different approach to the tech industry than Bush had).

So, next week me and the crew from FastCompany.tv is headed to New York for a day to attend the Personal Democracy Forum. Andrew will do some interviews there with me and I’ll be on a panel discussion.

Then on Tuesday we’re headed to Washington DC. Right now we’re tentatively speaking to four congressmen/women including Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the house.

My agenda for the week?

1. Learn about pending or upcoming legislation that will affect the technology industry.
2. Start a dialog between tech journalists and politician’s staffs, so we will have better understanding of what they are thinking and will have a chance to get our audiences feedback on potential legislation.
3. Hear how the regime change (er, Presidential election) will affect what they are thinking and what executives at technology companies should be aware of going into 2009.
4. Listen and bring you into conversations. I hope to do some Qik videos while there, and have some discussions on Twitter and FriendFeed.

Andrew also has us scheduled to interview a few key members of the FCC and we’re still working on our schedules to fit in some other fun stuff.

Plus, on Wednesday night we’re hosting a party which is open to all — wow, 122 are already signed up on the Facebook page for the party. We’re hosting Gary Vaynerchuk, the web superstar behind Wine Library TV and owner of one of the biggest wine stores in the world, along with a few other surprises.

Anyway, I really want to thank Andrew Feinberg. He did all the heavy lifting on this week and it should be an amazing week. He has my deepest respect and can’t wait to see what conversations start.

We’ll publish our calendars as we get them firmed up. Unfortunately in the world of politics even the best planned out calendar can instantly change due to world events, so we probably won’t know for sure we’ll get interviews with specific people until it happens.

Anyway, anything you’d like us to look into while we’re there? Leave suggestions on the comments here.

3,003 “Likes”

Over on FriendFeed, which I joined in March, I’ve been quite busy. I’ve moved a bunch of my blogging time and Google Reader time over to it. How does that time translate? Well, into a few things:

1. Comments. (Those are items I’ve commented on — 1,893 so far)
2. Likes. (Those are items I’ve liked — 3,003 so far)

A few minutes ago I just passed 3,000 “Likes.”

What is a “Like?” First of all, you can’t like your own stuff. So, if you check out my like page you’ll see everyone ELSE’s stuff that I liked. I read through rivers of noise and anything that rises above that aggregate I click “Like” on. It’s my way to signal to you that something is worth checking out. I guess these things are the “news, not the noise.”

Likes, though, are sort of magic on FriendFeed. Here’s why.

Let’s say you only have one friend on FriendFeed: me.

Well, by my liking other people you’ll see THEIR posts along with mine. FriendFeed shows you those as “Friend of a Friend” items. That means that people’s first experiences on FriendFeed are a lot better than they’d otherwise be. And minimizes my own noisiness because you won’t just see my items, but you’ll see the dozens or hundreds of things I like every day there too.

I can’t wait until I can pull things out of the database that have tons of likes and show you those. That’s where the real value is in FriendFeed but I can’t do that yet. When that happens we’ll have the ability to really build our own pages with stuff that we care about that’s vetted by other people first.

I feel a lot of responsibility to only like good things since I have 13,000+ people following me on FriendFeed already.

One reason why I do a lot more “Likes” than Google Reader Sharing lately (which is pretty close to the same thing). Because I can “Like” an item on my iPhone without waiting for a new page to render. FriendFeed is the first iPhone-compatible-sharing-system I’ve gotten on. It’s amazing how much I read on my iPhone thanks to FriendFeed now. Google Reader on iPhone really sucks comparatively.

Also, FriendFeed is far better because I can “Like” Twitter messages that don’t come into Google Reader. If you’re on Twitter please sign up for FriendFeed and add your feed so I can “Like” your items too.

Firefox down

Everyone is trying to get into download Firefox 3.0 (the release of Firefox 3.0 is the hot story of the day on TechMeme). Unfortunately most of us over on FriendFeed (which is where I hang out now most of the day) can’t get to the servers. I can’t either. Will keep trying.

In other news, Twitter is still up!

Of course this blog post caused an interesting conversation over on Firefox to break out, along with links to all the download places if you want to keep trying. UPDATE: Success! (Using the direct links).