Tag Archives: news

Why Rupert Murdoch’s bold bet on The Daily

The Daily was both a bold experiment and doomed from the start. It was bold from the point of view of a major media empire with little or no understanding of the web or mobile, and a lot of other media companies without Rupert Murdoch’s deep pockets were watching it closely to see whether they should jump, and if so how to proceed. But then many of the lessons that could be learned should have been obvious even before The Daily launched: don’t ignore the web, don’t make your content platform-specific (unless it is unique), and don’t put a paywall around something no one has ever seen before.

via gigaom.com

Cheating and deception are at Reddit’s core, founder reveals via @VentureBeat

one other strategy proved crucial to Reddit’s early success, which most people are unaware of: The team submitted a ridiculous amount of content under fake user accounts to give the appearance of popularity. Yes, you read that right. Reddit — a site that values a fair and open democratic process  to determine worthy content and police itself — sleeps soundly on a bed of lies.

“When you would go to Reddit in the early days there would be tons of content,” Huffman said, explaining that the initial Reddit submission page contained only a “URL field” and “Title field” to plug in. Yet when logged in as an admin, a third field appeared that allowed the team to enter a custom user name that would automatically be registered for an account upon hitting submit. The fake user submissions, which were motivated by embarrassment over having an empty site, actually had a positive impact in a few different ways, he said.

via aaaaventurebeat.com


Blaming the tools: Britain proposes a social-media ban

It seems totalitarian states like Egypt and Libya aren’t the only ones struggling with the impact of social media and the desire to muzzle services like Twitter and Facebook. In the wake of the riots in London, the British government says it’s considering shutting down access to social networks — as well as Research In Motion’s BlackBerry messenger service — and is asking the companies involved to help. Prime Minister David Cameron said not only is his government considering banning individuals from using social media if they are suspected of causing disorder, but it has asked Twitter and other providers to take down images and posts that are contributing to “unrest.”

Sure, forcing people to stop using social media to communicate probably means they’ll just shut up. Hostory totally suggests people like to stay unhappy and silent for long periods of time.

RIP Digg.

The lesson from Digg is crucial as Silicon Valley’s ecosystem has made it easier and easier to start a company. It’s that a great product is necessary but not nearly enough. Building a real company is harder, and it takes execution and leadership. Things like a New York-based CEO and a sometimes-distracted co-founder took a toll on Digg in its most pivotal days. As I wrote in my book a year after that cover, startups reflect their founders’ personalities. Back then, Slide was characterized by silent intensity, Facebook was like a messy, pizza-stained dorm room, and Digg? Well, Digg’s offices were empty most evenings.

Check out this fantastic breakdown of Digg’s demise. In many ways, the rise and fall of Digg follows the exact same trajectory as web 2.0 itself, for the same reasons.

Apple Special Event March 2011

Did you miss the Apple press event yesterday? They decided to open up the stream. Check out how healthy Steve looks, how hawt the iPad2 appears, and how PISSED I am that iOS 4.3 won’t be on the Verizon iPhone.

Sup with that, Steve? Fragmentation already?

Edit: I removed the actual embedded video object, because I couldn’t get the autoplay to turn off. It was really annoying.

Jon Stewart, the Advocate, on the 9/11 Health Bill – NYTimes.com

Jon Stewart, the host of the channel’s “The Daily Show,” was outraged last week about Republican efforts to block a bill that would provide more medical care to first responders to the World Trade Center terrorist attack in 2001. He called the Republican filibuster “an outrageous abdication of our responsibility to those who were most heroic on 9/11.”

Mr. Stewart was also angry about the lack of television coverage. “None of the three broadcast networks have mentioned any of this on their evening newscasts for two and a half months,” he said, seemingly trying to shame them into covering the bill. He also contrasted the Fox News Channel’s extensive coverage of the controversy over the wrongly called “9/11 mosque” with its little coverage of the first responders bill.

And it made an impression on the news media. The next day on the Fox News Channel Shepard Smith called the delays “shameful” and asked, “Are we going to leave these American heroes out there to twist in the wind?” He said Mr. Stewart had been “absolutely right” to challenge Congress on the issue.

Stewart becomes a legitimate political advocate, and Fox news commends him for it? What’s going on here?

iOS 4.3 To Launch In Mid-December With App Subscriptions

News Corp. has spent the last three months assembling a newsroom that will soon be about 100 staffers strong. The Daily will launch in beta mode sometime around Christmas, and will be introduced to the public on the iPad and other tablet devices in early 2011. It is expected to cost 99 cents a week, or about $4.25 a month. It will come out — as the name suggests — seven days a week. The operation is currently working out of the 26th floor of the News Corp. Building on Sixth Avenue in a space that looks like a veritable construction zone. The staff’s permanent home will be on the ninth floor, and they’ll move down once it’s ready.

Together with details revealed by Fox Business and WWDMedia, the Guardian reported The Daily was the result of a “collaboration that has been secretly under development in New York for several months” between Steve Jobs and Rupert Murdoch. We speculated that Apple’s involvement in the project might be the first step towards the implementation of iTunes recurring subscriptions for apps.What’s really interesting is the role Apple and iOS are going to play: recurring subscriptions for newspapers might be implemented on a server-side level, on iTunes’ backend, but Gruber speculated they may also require an iOS update to support subscription billing APIs. It is possible that News Corp’s engineers and developers have already been provided these APIs, but it’s important to specify that, according to the rumors, Apple isn’t building an “iNewstand”: instead, it’s a brand new recurring subscription for App Store apps. The Daily will likely be the first app to support it, and this should be announced with a media event.

Hopefully 4.3 will make my iPhone 3G usable again – 4.2 has left it only slightly less crippled than 4.1. Hopefully Apple will collaborate with some non-evil corporations as well.

At least it appears the platform they’re developing will be available to multiple parties in the long run, as opposed to a provider-specific implementation as some very early rumors suggested.  I still believe it’s in Apple’s best interests to approach as many parties as possible with this, though; a News Corp and Apple partnership, for an exclusive and proprietary content and production chain from start to finish, certainly has the distinct whiff of a megamonopoly trust violation to it. Allowing Hollywood to own the studios, and the theaters – thus the entire production chain – didn’t work out very well for them.  Sure, News Corp and Apple are obviously independently owned – but the very fact that Apple is giving them this exclusive access aligns their business interests a little too closely.

More to the point – isn’t Apple missing an enormous business opportunity by not including a few other content pushers here, alongside News Corp?  Do you think they’re making the right call?

Google & Verizon Propose Enforceable Net Neutrality

I love it when the mainstream media gets whiff of closed-door meetings, creates a story out of their worst fears, then finds out the meeting was convened to discuss the exact opposite of the reported story. I love it, except when I believe the “Rumor News” and start to distrust Google.

Sorry Google; don’t be evil to me!

Massive Censorship Of Digg Uncovered

A group of influential conservative members of the behemoth social media site Digg.com have just been caught red-handed in a widespread campaign of censorship, having multiple accounts, upvote padding, and deliberately trying to ban progressives. An undercover investigation has exposed this effort, which has been in action for more than one year.

One bury brigade in particular is a conservative group that has become so organized and influential that they are able to bury over 90% of the articles by certain users and websites submitted within 1-3 hours, regardless of subject material. Literally thousands of stories have already been artificially removed from Digg due to this group. When a story is buried, it is removed from the upcoming section (where it is usually at for ~24 hours) and cannot reach the front page, so by doing this, this one group is removing the ability of the community as a whole to judge the merits or interest of these stories on their own (in essence: censoring content). This group is known as the Digg “Patriots”.

As much as I love the distributed network of news sources and aggregators I rely on, like Digg, I’ve always been wary of their hidden algorithms and the possibility of ‘gaming’ the results. My first reaction was, “well, this throws any semblance of impartiality out the window” – but really, is this all that different from how pundits and lobbyists have gamed the major news sources for the last 50 years?

In either case, it’s clear that shifting the curation and editorial power directly into the hands of the users necessarily complicates my relationship with that news even further. As millions migrate to these new, largely unpoliced news sites, these coalitions, conspiracies, and collaborators will become even more pervasive and influential.