FryUp: Unmoved by MTRs

A close run thing, mobile termination row, nailing a new business model and more

An electronic run

Are you as surprised as I am how fast the downturn happened? Could technology have something to do with it? It would seem so, if the chairman of the capital markets subcommittee in the US House of Representatives, Paul Kanjorski is to be believed. In the C-SPAN interview (and at about 2:21 in the clip) Kanjorski says there was an electronic run on banks, that saw some US$550 billion being withdrawn in just a couple of hours. Had the US Treasury not intervened with deposit guarantees and more, Kanjorski reckons that around 2pm that day, 5.5 trillion dollars would’ve been withdrawn and the US economy would’ve collapsed. Within a day, the whole world economy would've collapsed. YouTube

Attribution, non-commercial, share alike

Nine Inch Nails is Trent Reznor, who seems to have some cool ideas on how to combine free with selling stuff. In 2007, he released two albums but made them available as free downloads first under the Creative Commons Licence. Despite that, both albums sold extremely well. Just apropos the NZ “copyright infringement” debate… why not look at alternative distribution methods instead of harsh laws that criminalise people unnecessarily? Free albums topping the charts: Nine Inch Nails put Creative Commons in the limelight

Unmoved by mobile termination rates

The mobile termination rates or MTR debacle is continuing, with the various telcos doing their best to wriggle out of regulation by offering commercial undertakings to lower them gradually. High MTRs or the rates telcos charge one another for landing calls on their respective networks are said to be the main reason why NZ end-user mobile calling rates are sky-high. They work as a floor below which customer rates cannot drop, as these obviously can’t be lower than wholesale rates. It’s kind of hard to understand the telcos’ arguments against regulation, but it goes something like this: if the ComCom doesn’t regulate MTRs, and lets the telcos lower the gradually over many years, then the savings will be passed onto customers. If the MTRs are regulated however, the telcos will throw the toys out of the cot and not pass on the savings. Not good enough says TUANZ, and point out that the actual cost of call termination is… close to zero. That would make a bill-and-keep system whereby there are no charges for call termination the right way to go, no? TUANZ calls on ComCom to reject termination undertakings

Espece de conficker

Playing with USB drives isn’t safe, not even for the boys in La Royale. Conficker worm sinks French navy network

Clone wars flare up again

How long can Apple hold out against the attack of the clones? Its landsharks have suffered a small, but important legal setback in the lawsuit against clone maker Psystar, and now some Germans claim Apple’s license isn’t valid in that country. It’s odd to think that both Apple and Microsoft hope that it won’t ever be possible to install Mac OS X on any old Intel PC, legally… German Mac clone maker claims immunity from Apple

XKCD Security

Cartoon: www.xkcd.com

Robert X. Cringely Dead man blogging

Still planning to make millions as a blogger? Don't quit your day job just yet. The era of blogging for bucks may already be over.

Dan Lyons, a journalist better known to geekdom as the Fake Steve Jobs, has declared the blogging industry kaput. It has expired. It is deceased, it is pushing up daisies, it has joined the choir invisible. It has ceased to be.

In short, Lyons is an ex-blogger. He writes:

"For two years I was obsessed with trying to turn a blog into a business. I posted 10 or 20 items a day to my site, The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, rarely taking a break. I blogged from cabs, using my BlackBerry. I blogged in the middle of the night, having awakened with an idea. I rationalised this insane behaviour by telling myself that at the end of this rainbow I would find a huge pot of gold. But reality kept interfering with this fantasy....I walked away feeling burned out and weighing 20 pounds more than when I started. I also came away with a sneaking suspicion that while blogs can do many wonderful things, generating huge amounts of money isn't one of them.

Lyons says during his best month his blog attracted more than 1.5 million visitors — and made a little over $1,000 in ad revenue. Ouch. He assumes that if blogging didn't make him rich, it probably isn't doing it for anybody else.

He's wrong, of course. He's also right. More on that in a minute.

Lyons himself gained a small amount of notoriety last November for calling Yahoo's PR team "lying sacks of [excrement]" on his RealDanLyons blog at Newsweek.com. The reason? They'd assured him Jerry Yang was not poised to bail out of Yahoo's burning fuselage with or without a parachute. Yahoo howled, Lyons' bosses at Newsweek yanked the post, and Real Dan said "C U l8er dudes" to that blogging gig.

Having personally met some of Yahoo's PR team, I can attest to the fact that a) they do not wear sacks, and b) do not appear to be composed of human waste. But I can certainly appreciate the sentiment. It's the flacks' job to lie when their boss/client/evil overlords tell them to. Why Lyons believed them, on the other hand, is a mystery.

Now, The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs blog was a hoot. It's rare to find anyone who has the knack of both doing a dead-on impersonation and being funny, let alone someone writing about tech. I doff my fedora to you, Mr FSJ.

What Real Lyons/Fake Jobs didn't understand is that the best blog doesn't win — or at least, it doesn't win because it's the best. Quality, schmality. It's all about the marketing.

Does McDonalds make the best burgers? Does Starbucks make the best coffee? Does Microsoft make the best operating systems?

No, no, and Hell No.

But they're all brilliant at marketing, even if it sometimes feels like they're ramming this stuff down our throats. It's the same with the blogosphere. Aside from a few sites that got there early and established big audiences quickly, success in the blogging world these days is all about getting the Google gods to smile upon you, sucking up to more established bloggers in the hopes you can slice off some of their traffic, and coaxing the 12-year-olds who control Digg and other social media sites to notice you. Often it's about catering to the lowest common denominator. Do that, get your numbers high enough, and you can still survive and even thrive in the blogging world.

According to the fine folks at Websense, the top 100 websites get 80 percent of all traffic on the Net. That leaves 20% for the rest of the 133 million blogs (per Technorati) and lord knows how many other websites. You do the math.

So Lyons is also right: the vast majority of blogs won't make a dime.

This is why my email inbox is filling up with SEO spam. Every day I get new come-ons offering the secrets to gaming Google and driving traffic to my sites. I've recently started getting spam for social media sites like Digg and StumbleUpon; there's apparently an army of minions out there ready to boost my posts to Digg's front page if I'm willing to pony up some cash.

We're at the end of one era on the blogosphere and the beginning of another. What the new one will be like nobody can say. Will the amateurs fade away and leave the game to people who actually know how to write and report? Or will the marketers complete their coup, leaving the rest of us old journos to scramble for jobs at Wal-Mart?

See you in the beer aisle.

Is blogging truly dead or merely in a persistent vegetative state? Email me direct: cringe (at) infoworld (dot) com.

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Tags paul kanjorskifake steve jobstrent reznorconfickernine inch nailsFryUp

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