February in Vancouver

When I was living in Winnipeg or Toronto I used to absolutely detest it when friends from Vancouver would tell me on the phone about a) crocus and b) sailing in February.

Now that I’ve lived in Vancouver for 20 years I feel completely comfortable presenting these two pictures taken while walking the seawall in West Vancouver today…



Matt Mullenweg Keynote at Northern Voice

I’ve just posted the full audio presentation of Matt Mullenweg’s keynote address at Northern Voice in Vancouver this morning.

Matt’s the founder of WordPress, the blogging software that runs this web site and millions of others.

I’ll have a feature interview with Matt in podcast coming in the next few days, but in the meantime, wanted to give everyone a chance to hear his presentation in full.

It’s on my blog at At Large Media.

UPDATE: We’ve been getting a lot of traffic on our Vancouver server for the audio file (yippee) thanks to stumbleupon and Mr. Robert Scoble (thanks RS).

So, if you have any problems with the link above, you can try this version which is on a server in Toronto.


Matt Mullenweg photo by kk+ , Vancouver fashion photographer, used under CC license

Links You Can Use


Instapaper is rapidly turning into one of my favourite new web apps. It’s ridiculously simple – it’s a way of creating bookmarks to articles you’d like to read later.

It works from a simple button in by browser bar. When I’m on a web page I want to look at later, I just click the button to save it.

instapaper read later button

Instead of putting a bookmark in your browser, it creates an entry on a web page for you, and keeps a list in chronological order of the articles you’ve marked to ‘read later’.

instapaper screen grab

But the best thing about it is the list has an RSS feed. I’m using it to share with my colleagues things I’ve been reading and think are worth reading. They simply subscribe to the feed and see new additions I’ve made. Nifty, handy and most important, fast.

If you’re interested in keeping tabs on what I’m reading later, just subscribe to my Instapaper RSS feed: feeds.atlargemedia.com/robertinstapaper

Horray For Bloggywood

It will be interesting to see how quickly the Hollywood writers abandon their heavy web presence now that the WGA strike is over.

The writers created a lot of online content during the strike, meant to get their message across regarding the strike.

united hollywood screen grab

Now that they’re going back to work, and back to big paychecks, it’ll be interesting to see how quickly they drop their love of no pay blogging and quirky videos.

My favourite is still the Woody Allen’s ‘speechless’ video complete with roaring fire.

Can I Really Be Sued for My Opinion?Many bloggers seem either confused or ignorant of libel laws. Not surprising, since the medium has allowed millions of people to become publishers, many of whom have no idea about what is, and what isn’t, ok to publish.

The Citizen Media Law Project at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society provides a lot of useful information – US based of course, but still worth a look for anyone who’s building their online publishing empire without the benefit of lawyer on staff to vet their pieces.

“The guide is intended for use by citizen media creators with or without formal legal training, as well as others with an interest in these issues, and focuses on the wide range of legal issues online publishers are likely to face”

World Record Bloggers

The International Olympic Committee has finally decided to allow athletes to blog during the the Beijing Olympics.

Athletes have long demanded they be allowed to write their blogs….during the Games but the IOC was concerned these could potentially infringe on copyright agreements and private information. In a series of guidelines, the IOC said blogging would be allowed during the Beijing 2008 Olympics as long as individuals writing the journals keep within the IOC format. “The IOC considers blogging… as a legitimate form of personal expression and not a form of journalism,” the IOC said.

More in this story from Reuters, including IOC guidelines like “Blogs should also adhere to the Olympic spirit and be dignified and in good taste.”

I think that probably includes random poking of competitors on Facebook just before a big event.

Lunchtime is Primetime

More and more people are watching American network TV through video streams on their computer. And that’s leading to new primtime viewing in the middle of the day…

The most popular hours for watching network TV video online falls between noon and 2 p.m., and women are nearly twice as likely as men to be watching the video streams, according to a new type of study released Thursday by Nielsen Online.

Women between 18-34 accounted for 22% of the time spent watching video streams available on network TV sites like ABC.com and NBC.com in December, according to VideoCensus, a new syndicated online measurement service from Nielsen that combines research from panels of users and server-based measurement. Men ages 18-34 accounted for 12% of the online TV traffic, the study found.

Full report here and more coverage in MarketingVox.

Who’s On First

It’s getting hard to tell the players without a program.

In the UK, the Gaurdian newspaper group has a Head of Audio.

Huh ?

Not only that, but he’s taking on the BBC in morning news.

The new daily morning news podcast service launched this week by the Guardian is the only commercial radio news alternative to the BBC, according to the paper’s head of audio.

Matt Wells said: “I thought it would be worth seeing if it would possible to do a good daily show to a good professional standards and put it out first thing in the morning.”

Wells said it was designed for “people who are otherwise dissatisfied with what they get in the morning.”

“There is no serious commercial news at that time in the morning – you’re stuck with the BBC…Since the demise of the Channel News morning report there is nothing at all. We thought it would be having a go ourselves.”

full story in the Press Gazette

Connecting Music Buyers with Music Creators


I’ve just finished a new podcast for the At Large Media site. It’s a piece with Michael Redman, the president of MyMusicSource.com.

What he and his partners have done is create a place where producers of films, tv shows, commercials and others who need to license music, can find songs they can license for their productions.

It’s a classic case of disintermediation and what’s really great about it is that everybody wins.

You can hear the podcast at the At Large Media web site.

When Copies Are Free


We’ve watched record labels struggle, and fail, in attempts at finding ways of stopping wide scale copying and distribution of music. For years they’ve tried everything from copy protection to lawsuits, as a means of keeping people from making digital copies.

Nothing they’ve done has worked.

Yet, in a relatively short period of time, Apple created an enormously successful online music distribution model. Think about it. Where every single record label failed, Apple succeeded.

One of reasons they did was because they understand the digital economy.

In a recent article, writer Kevin Kelly identifies one of the key challenges of the digital economy.

When copies are free,
you need to sell things which can not be copied

Kelly then goes on to suggest eight categories of value that you buy when you are paying for something that could be free…

Eight uncopyable values. I call them “generatives.” A generative value is a quality or attribute that must be generated, grown, cultivated, nurtured. A generative thing can not be copied, cloned, faked, replicated, counterfeited, or reproduced. It is generated uniquely, in place, over time. In the digital arena, generative qualities add value to free copies, and therefore are something that can be sold.

His article should be a must-read for every executive at every ‘traditional’ media organization in the world. Whether you agree on Kelly’s eight categories or not, you can’t argue with him when he says,

once anything that can be copied is brought into contact with internet, it will be copied, and those copies never leave. Even a dog knows you can’t erase something once it’s flowed on the internet.”

This week, we see two examples of traditional publishers struggling to find their route through the challenges of the digital economy.

Random House has decided to try to sell something that can be copied. They’ve announced that they will be experimenting with selling books chapter by chapter online.

Meanwhile, Harper Collins is taking a different approach. They’ll be posting books free on the web

The idea is to give readers the opportunity to sample the books online in the same way that prospective buyers can flip through books in a bookstore. “It’s like taking the shrink wrap off a book,” said Jane Friedman, chief executive of HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide. “The best way to sell books is to have the consumer be able to read some of that content.”

Of the two approached, the Harper Collins strategy makes more sense. In their case, the ‘generatives’ at play include patronage, accessibility, authenticity and findability.

This last generative may be one of the most important for book and magazine publishers.

Take the case of writer Charles Sheehan-Miles.

He’s giving away electronic versions of his book Republic. In fact, he’s encouraging you to make a copy, send it to your friends, do anything you want with it, except sell it. Sure, but who’s Charles Sheehan-Miles anyway ? Which is his point exactly…

The biggest challenge most authors face isn’t online piracy. It’s not people out there diabolically copying their works and distributing them for free. In fact most authors (including yours truly) suffer from a different problem entirely — no one has ever heard of them. After all, literally hundreds of thousands of new titles come out every year, and only a few hundred writers in the entire United States (if that many) actually live off their books full time. So, by giving away the book, I hope more people actually read it.

The book, the one you can buy, is currently #2 on the Amazon.com Sci-Fi/Alt-History list.

And yet, for content distributors, the most frightening thing in the world is to adopt new channels, even as they watch the old ones erode. Many of the alternatives are unproven. Worse, some haven’t yet been invented.
Those who live and breathe the digital economy know that success lies in pushing through the uncertainty. After all, the risks of the unknown are overwhelmed by the certainty “when copies are free, you need to sell things which can not be copied”.

(cross posted at the At Large Media blog)

Quatchi Sitting on my Facebook

Right along with the ads for Better Abs (talk about targeted advertising), finding Old High School Friends, and the George Bush IQ Challenge – what do I find today ?


I don’t care what anybody says, I think Quatchi is cute (that is Quatchi, isn’t it ?) Besides, I just like saying it:

Quatchi. Quatchi. Quatchi.

Heck, why pay Facebook, they can advertise here for free.


It would sound good with some of that old school reverb…
Quatchi-eee eee eee . Quatchi-eee ee eeee. Quatchi-ee eeee eeeeeeee

Garmin GPS Phone answers "Dude Where's My Car?"

My favourite GPS maker has unveiled its new GPS-touchscreen-phone.

It would be great if they did a ruggedized version for boaters as well…


The nüvifone is an innovative mobile phone that has a wide range of advanced yet easy-to-use features. The all touchscreen device is the first of its kind to integrate premium 3.5G mobile phone capability with an internet browser, data connectivity, personal messaging, and personal navigation functions in one device. When powered on, the 3.5-inch touchscreen display reveals three primary icons — “Call,” “Search,” and “View Map” which allow the user to effortlessly master the nüvifone’s functions.

For the ultimate in safety, the “Where am I?” feature lets users touch the screen at any time to display the exact latitude and longitude coordinates, the nearest address and intersection, and the closest hospitals, police stations and gas stations. The nüvifone also helps drivers find their car in an unfamiliar spot or crowded parking lot by automatically marking the position in which it was last removed from the vehicle mount.

More information and screens of the new phone at the Garmin web site.

Sadly, if the Canadian carriers’ snail-like take up of the iPhone is any example, we can probably expect to see the nüvifone roll out here sometime after the Vancouver Olympics. Hopefully I’m wrong.

DJ Lights Station on Fire – Literally


They take their playlists seriously down south.

An Austin Texas man has been charged with arson after allegedly lighting a community radio station on fire…

Paul Webster Feinstein, 24, has been charged with second-degree felony arson for the Jan. 5 fire that caused $300,000 damage to the studios of 91.7 FM KOOP. He faces from two to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted.

Feinstein told investigators that he was “very unhappy” about the changes to his playlist, said Austin Fire Department Battalion Chief Greg Nye. The songs were intended for an Internet broadcast that occurs when the station is off the air.

The story, in Firehouse.com goes on to say that this was the 3rd fire at the station in recent years. The 2 previous had been accidents, but this arson was discovered by a specially trained dog who ‘sniffed out’ the presence of gasoline at the scene.

What Happens When Microsoft Becomes Your Daddy?

Microsoft’s 44.6 billion dollar bid to buy Yahoo is obviously big news today.

It’s a reminder of how quickly things can change when the core business in based on bytes, not bricks.

In the case of Flickr, it creates a very interesting situation – we’ll see how it plays out. The issue here isn’t money or size, it’s credibility and image.

Flickr is a photo sharing site, and a darling of the Web 2.0 crowd. There are other, more popular photo sharing sites, but among other things, Flickr provides an open API . And that means people have found lots of creative ways to plug into the Flickr functionality in ways that suits them best. Flickr’s approach has always been making it easy for users to share their photos, and to plug into that sharing framework in any way they want.

Personally, I love Flickr. It’s very good at what it does, it’s free, it was originally built in Vancouver, and it has kept true to its community roots.

A few years ago, Flickr was purchased by Yahoo . If the Microsoft deal goes through, Flickr will be a Microsoft property.

And if there’s one thing about those web 2.0 people – they almost all detest Microsoft,. You could write volumes about why they do.

So what happens now ? Will Flickr fans shun it ? They certainly didn’t when it was purchased by Yahoo – a company that also has its detractors.

Ultimately, the community (one that has uploaded 2 billion photos to Flickr) is in the driver’s seat.

Flickr and other community sites aren’t ‘the town square’.

They’re the people in the square – and they’re free to go where they please.


Update: Wired.com has an article on rumblings in the Flickr community about the possibility of the MS acquisition.  Laughing Squid also covers.


(cross posted to Robert’s At Large Media blog)