|| seamonkeyrodeo ||
| k a r a o k e | m i n d | c o n t r o l |
Thursday, July 28, 2005
I was reminded today that my memory sucks.

I asked Andy Sautins -- raconteur and gentleman about town -- about a project that he's beeen working on for some time, and he pointed out that a few months ago we'd had a fairly long conversation on the very topic about which I was asking. In my defense...I guess...we were both drinking during that initial conversation, but it was nevertheless a little embarassing.

Over the past year or two I've been trying to better manage my tendancy towards absent-mindedness, with some success. I've figured out some of what I need to do to keep more of the importanct active things, both personal and professional, available in my head, and am better about finding tools that I'll actually use to help manage whatever doesn't fit into my head (backpack, anyone?).

Even so, it's irritating to me that I seem to have relatively little available brainspace when I can sit here and -- without having to dig at all -- type out the voiceover from the TV show Renegade:

He was a cop, and good at his job...but he committed the ultimate sin and testified against other cops gone bad -- cops that tried to kill him, but got the woman he loved instead. Now, framed for murder, he prowls the badlands: an outlaw, hunting outlaws...a bounty hunter...a renegade.

That's, like, 250 bytes of storage that I'm apparently never going to be able to reclaim for any other purpose.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Miscellaneous RSS
Three links:

Yahoo opens 360 to outside content
"Is it fair to say that the 'walled garden' concept is finally and officially dead?" Probably not, but we're still seeing pretty astonishingly fast acknowledgement that people's online stuff (and selves) are widely distributed these days, and that people seem to like it that way; that interests me.

Why Yahoo buying Konfabulator is more than just about widgets
I'm a sucker for endlessly amusing resource hog that is dashboard, and am kicking myself that the idea of a "meta-widget" didn't occur to me before reading this.

Google adds RSS reader
See note one.
For those who haven't been following along at home...
When White House spokesman Scott McClellan recently said "The president believes that the manufacturer of a legal product should not be held liable for the criminal misuse of that product by others"...and..."We look at it from a standpoint of stopping lawsuit abuse," he was referring to legal protections for companies that manufacture firearms, not any other cases that have been in the news recently.

Thursday, July 21, 2005
MarketingVOX: An Odd Take on Ajax
MarketingVOX is running a little article entitled "Ajax May Undermine Web Advertising, Analytics Models." Read it, it's...odd.

The focus is a claim that Ajax (referred to in the article as "hodgepodge of JavaScript, Dynamic HTML, and XML") may cause the impressions-based Web advertising sky to fall, by screwing with the metrics used: "Traffic metrics are also affected by the technology, because most sites measure traffic in terms of visitors and pageviews. Though visitor counts are unaffected, [Adaptive Path's Lane] Becker says 'this blows away the page-view metaphor. Click paths have to be measured differently.'"

Weird. Point A, if use of Ajax makes for better user experience, "oh, but if we use it we'll have to re-think how we make money" doesn't seem like an argument with a lot of legs. Point B, it sure seems like the complaint isn't that the tracking of page views will be incorrect in any way, but rather that use of Ajax means that where a site's visitors once had to suffer through three or four page reloads to accomplish a single task they will now have a single page load -- which reduces artificially high pageview "inventory" numbers.

Technology happens, and businesses have to adapt to that technology -- whether the implications are exciting and heavy with low-hanging hundred dollar bills or lose-your-shirt scary.*

* Okay, unless you're the MPAA or RIAA. Then you just pretend that the technology has absolutely no implications whatsoever for your business model, and ask congress to make that fantasy the law of the land.
Monday, July 18, 2005
Online Indentity Management: AlwaysOn
AlwaysOn is apparently planning on launching an online identity sort of service, pulling profile data from other services into the AlwaysOn portal. SiliconBeat notes that the idea has never taken off, despite a number of offerings in the area. The linked post doesn't have much by way of details, but it's worth tossing into the hopper for consideration.

So here's a question: other than the computational overhead, key management complications including fun like designating authoritative servers, complexity for end-users, and some valid concerns about whether it really fits the need all that well, why is it that we don't hear more about people using either public key crypto or its basic architecture as the basis for an online identity management system? While it might not be the right approach, it's not any worse than some of the ideas I've seen tossed out there.

There are already a few different examples of people using public key crypto to create private content on the Web, with client side decryption, and signing data (to authenticate that it came from a particular source) is a reasonable leap to make from there...while it seems like a bit of a stretch to make it all work, so does every other option that I can think of.

And just as a slightly related side note, check out the stealthsurfer drive...while it's focused on anonymity online, one could (or rather "I do") view that as just another perspective on "controlling one's online identity." Going to pick one up to play with...
Blog Bites Woman
Like about 1.7 million other people, I read The New Nanny Diaries Are Online in the NY Times this weekend. Today, I read the response from the nanny in question, posted to the blog in question, and wow -- there's a little bit of a disconnect between the two realities.

Read, and judge for yourselves. It'll be interesting to see what sort of attention (if any) this story gets in the offline world.
Monday, July 11, 2005
Podcasting, Podcatching, Whatever
Mike at Techdirt today posted BBC Takes A Step Towards Broadcatching? Apparently the BBC is taking the step of debuting a new sitcom online, and Mike writes:

The show will go online a week before it actually airs on TV, and then be available to download until a week after the series ends. What's not clear from the announcement, though, is whether they'll offer up any kind of RSS feed or enclosures for this. Also, it's unlikely they'll be using any kind of BitTorrent-like P2P tools to ease their bandwidth needs. However, just the idea of offering up a new television show for download at the same time as it's playing on TV is an intriguing idea.

So the BBC isn't yet "podcasting" -- or whatever we want to call it when it's non-audio content -- but Mike's mention of RSS enclosures and BitTorrent as relevant to this sort of distributrion reminded me of a link that was passed to me a few weeks ago: the Azureus BitTorrent client has long had an "RSS Import" plugin. Point the plugin at one of the RSS feeds that lists new torrents, provide it with a regular expression that defines the shows you want to capture and away you go -- new episodes of the shows that you choose are automagically downloaded as soon as they're available.


Oh, and the trend-conscious should note that this is so buzzword-compliant as to be a little frightening...RSS, BitTorrent, and search all at once. Mmmmm.
Friday, July 08, 2005
FeedDemon Subscription Model: Not So Much With the User Joy
Since George Scriban asked, and Nick Bradbury answered, I'll just connect the dots.

In the case of FeedDemon, users apparently still make a pretty clear distinction between the software itself and the services associated with it, and while they're open to a subscription for services, a subscription to keep the software itself working...not so much.
Yahoo RSS Search...and Creative Commons?
Steve Rubel caught a quick glimpse of an apparent Yahoo blog/RSS-focused search offerings. Kinda interesting. Even more interesting? The text from the screenshot that he took:

This Yahoo! Search service finds lorem ipsum doler itum foo bar blah blah blah mktng spiel. While most stuff you find on the web has a full copyright, this search helps you find content published by authors who want you to share or reuse it, under certain conditions [Emphasis mine.]

Sounds to me like they might be checking for feeds that are Creative Commons licensed? Neat.
Friday, July 01, 2005
Microsoft and Claria
Fred Wilson posted today on the Microsoft/Claria reports that have been floating around. It is (as I seem to say about everything) an interesting post that you should go read, and also (as I seem to say about almost everything) one that raises some questions for me.

The first is very minor...Fred writes:

First of all, its a match made in heaven. Two of the most hated companies in the technology world getting together. Sounds right to me.

I don't think it really matters, but that statement started me wondering whether Microsoft is really still one of the top "most hated" companies in tech. I would without question give them the title of "most mistrusted," but that's a pretty different thing from hate. Personally, the last time I'd say that I actually hated Microsoft was when I was rebooting my Windows 98 machine two or three times a day. Anyway, that was just an odd little bell that went off in my head -- the real question is coming up.

Fred also writes:

But Microsoft can take the good stuff that Claria has; its behavioral targeting technology, its relationships with advertisers who understand that behavior is the best targeting technique for many applications, and possibly Claria's data.

The question here is whether Claria's behavioral targeting is really all that good. I'll preface by saying that I have no firsthand knowledge of their technology...the reason for my skepticism here is really based on textual analysis more than anything else. Some of you may want to stop reading now.

A few months ago, a Claria-sponsored article on behavioral targeting appeared on ClickZ. [Read it, please.] The first postulate for my analysis is that Claria would not have had their name linked to an article with which they substantially disagreed.

The article contends that behavioral targeting on the Web should be "reactive" rather than "predictive." I consider this statement to be absurd. Behavioral targeting systems are necessarily both reactive and predictive: by analyzing a data set (i.e. "reacting" to past behavior), the system determines what content can most appropriately be displayed for the individual being analyzed (i.e. "predicting" what that individual will respond well to).

The only way that I can see this distinction making any amount of sense is if one is trying to promote the idea that old-fashioned statistical techniques don't apply to the Web. That is to say: one is promoting the idea that behavioral targeting on the Web should be focused on responding quickly to apparent trends that appear in relatively small amounts of recent clickstream data, rather than modelling, profiling, or any of the other approaches that focus on how an individual's behavior conforms or departs from that of larger groups.

Why would one want to promote that idea? Well, if "behavioral targeting" was quickly becoming one of the buzzwords of the Web, and my technology were geared towards short-term clickstream analysis, I'd sure be pushing the idea that it was time for some new thinking about how behavioral targeting should work.

It makes sense, I think. Back when Claria was Gator, they were all about quick response: replace ad X with ad Y when the user loads a particular site or ad, pop up ad Z when the user visits a certain type of site, and so on. When Benjamin Edelman (Berkman Ctr. for Internet and Society) analyzed the targeting of Gator ads back in 2003, he noted that:

"Testing to date has shown no signs of profile-based targeting of this sort, and tests with different or invalid user IDs and machine IDs yield the same results as tests with the original IDs as set by Gator's installation software. Nonetheless, Gator's marketing materials prominently offer a targeting capability ('... based on past behavior'). This 'past behavior' targeting may reflect profile-based targeting not yet detected by the author. Alternatively, it may refer only to display of an ad as a user leaves a targeted web site (or some number of minutes or clicks after a user leaves that site). Future research may attempt to more fully flesh out Gator's profiling systems by comparing the ads shown to users with divergent browsing histories."

I'm sure that Gator (sorry, "Claria") has been working on profile-based targeting in the last couple of years, but I doubt that it's been their primary focus -- it's difficult and requires a huge amount of time and data, and until recently I don't think that Claria would have had enough clients asking for sophisticated targeting to make the investment worthwhile.

Claria's relationships are definitely valuable, as is their data (to a company that's not afraid to get a little mud on its reputation, at least), but I'm really not sure about the technology. I have a lot more research to do on the folks working in this area, but if it's high-end behavioral targeting technology and knowledge that Microsoft is looking for, I think they'd be well served to explore some other options.

Powered by Blogger