Dispatches From Blogistan

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the book
Dispatches From Blogistan
by suzanne stefanac
peachpit/new riders
voices that matter series
shipping now
> amazon
> barnes & noble
from the book
> table of contents
> chapter 2 history of open discourse
> chapter 6 history of journalism
> 10 blog design tips
> what is this long tail?
> trackback demystified
> blog ethics primer
> glossary
> resource hotlinks


> cory doctorow

> farai chideya

> bruce sterling

> denise caruso

> craig newmark

> jamais cascio

> laura lemay

> christian crumlish

> jon lebkowsky

file: money

amazon adding product wikis
11.26.05 @ 12:53:56 pacific

Wow. I just read over on the Micro Persuasion blog that Amazon seems to be experimenting with user-editable wikis for product listings. If true, the trick will be in convincing individuals that adding information to product wikis is worth it. If enough do, however, this could seriously change the way many of us make future purchase decisions.

I would imagine that a lot of product managers are quaking in their boots at the idea. Certainly there is the danger that competitors may sabotage each other’s wikis, planting rumors and probing at weak points, but the bigger issue willl revolve around user input. Suddenly complaint desks will sit out in the open for all the world to see. Diplomacy, transparency, and a thick skin may turn out to be much more important qualifications for the job than a PhD in spin.

Too bad the wikis won’t be in place in time for holiday shopping. I’d very much appreciate hearing from other customers that the interface on the camera I’m thinking of sending my mother is too complicated. Like all wikis, however, it will take some time and a great deal of input before the database is truly useful and reliable. Maybe they’ll be ready when I buy her that home gene-splicer next year.

make money from blogs
10.26.05 @ 12:24:10 pacific

With the number of blogs continuing to climb (Technorati currently reports 21.1 million blogs), more and more bloggers are wondering if there isn’t some way to make all that hard work pay. Once again, Darren Rouse of ProBlogger comes through, this time from his deathbed. In an post titled How Bloggers Make Money from Blogs, he details several varieties of advertising, sponsorship, affiliate programs, digital assets, blog network gigs, non-blog writing, donations, selling your blog, merchandising, and consulting. If the topic is of any interest, this is the best round-up I’ve seen. Even with a high fever, Mr. Rouse knows whereof he speaks, having reported a six figure income from blogging last year. Not all of us can aspire to the same rich trove, but it helps if you at least know where the potential lies.

blogs ca$hing in
10.7.05 @ 03:43:21 pacific

Yesterday, PaidContent.org broke the story that the somewhat moribund AOL had purchased Jason Calacanis’ Weblogs, Inc. Network (WIN) for $25m (or more, reports vary). With annual revenues at more than a million dollars, WIN is home to Engadget, Autoblog, Italian charms and more than 80 other lifestyle and consumer sites. The purchase is the largest blog content buy so far. (Some would argue that this distinction belongs to the New York Times and its purchase of About.com with its blog-like components for $410m by earlier this year.) The purchase of blog pioneer Dave Winer’s similarly named weblogs.com on the same day by Verisign for $4.3m further validates blogging as an entrepreneurial enterprise.

Blogs are abuzz with speculation about what AOL (and their own overlords at Time Warner) intend for WIN. Some believe AOL’s assertion that the network will be treated as a “wholly-owned, stand-alone subsidiary” with “full editorial control and independence.” Others point to AOL’s history of cordoning off content.

David Kline, a veteran journalist at BlogRevolt.com provides some real-world context in a post titled Blogging Business Gets Real.

Over on Corante, Dana Blankenhorn points out that “$25 million is less than the cost of a single good magazine title.”

The always astute Darren Rowse over at ProBlogger quotes from email sent from WIN to one of their bloggers saying, among other things, that “AOL are moving to an ad based model which fits with WIN.” That makes sense. Even AOL has come round to understanding that the walled garden is so last century.

Ad Pulp chides the New York Times for the Grey Lady’s poor reporting of the buy, largely the result of misunderstandings about blogs (calling all blogs “online diaries” and stating that WIN publishes “1000 blogs a week,” rather than 1000 posts, for instance.) Oops!

Meanwhile, rumors ran amuck that Nick Denton’s own Gawker network was to be sold to NewsCorp. Denton is quoted in the Washington Post as writing, “The whole point about blogs is that they’re not part of big media. Consolidation defeats the purpose. It’s way too early. Like a decade too early.”

google’s bid to patent rss ads
08.1.05 @ 08:38:43 pacific

Patents were first written into law to protect inventors. As far back as 1474, the city state of Venice decreed that individuals could register their inventions to protect against infringement. Today most governments provide some form of patent protection, but increasingly there is disgruntlement about the breadth of some of the patents being granted. Most aren’t as spurious as an actual patent for a sealed crustless sandwich, but news yesterday that Google had filed an application for “embedding advertisements in syndicated content” raised a few hackles. Dennis Kennedy over at the Corante site and Chad Dickerson at InfoWorld both note that they had written about the possibility of embedding ads in RSS feeds long before Google’s 2003 filing. This will be an interesting case to watch.