Scobleizer Weblog

Daily link Friday, October 07, 2005

I'm outta here, off to go to the airport. Posting will be light this weekend. Gonna spend some time with my son, got the geek dinner tomorrow night (I'll post details on that tonight) in San Francisco. I'm working on my new blog site, reading a bunch of books (I've fallen way behind). In fact, I might just take off a week or so to catch up. Got tons of emails and work backed up too.

Anyway, have a great weekend! It's been quite a week!

2:12:20 PM    Mudpit 

Think RSS can only be used to read feeds in something like NewsGator or RSS Bandit or Bloglines? Check out how we used Flickr and RSS at the PDC to drive the plasma screens.

Other videos just loaded? Meet the Mobile Team and see new Tablet PC handwriting recognition features coming in Windows Vista and see the new auxiliary display technology that'll come on some laptops and Tablet PCs next year.

2:07:19 PM    Mudpit 

Google just released a new RSS aggregator: . It's Web based. I subscribed to a couple of feeds. Looks great.

That said, I'm not switching from the NewsGator network. Synchronization of all my RSS clients is more important than having just a cool Web experience.

11:11:46 AM    Mudpit 

Tristan Louis did the math on the Weblogs Inc. deal and figured out what an inbound link is worth. Hmmm, I should have joined Jason's network!

You can use Tristan's work to figure out what your own blog would have been worth if it had been a part of the network.

Just remember, the sum of all the parts is worth far more than just the parts alone. The value is in all the properties together in one place.

9:49:48 AM    Mudpit 

Dan'l Lewin (he was a cofounder of NeXT, a member of the original Mac team, and now works at Microsoft working with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs): Should Microsoft Invest in Startups?

Don Dodge, who is a former exec of several startups, follows up with: Does Microsoft invest, partner or acquire?

9:38:38 AM    Mudpit 

Chris Pirillo wants more information to be available through RSS. Says "There's a reason I'm asking, mind you. A good reason. A really good reason."

I've seen his reason and it is good. MSN Search is in there cause all of its searches are output as RSS.

9:29:47 AM    Mudpit 

Henry Blodget wrote a personal note about his rise and fall as a stock analsyst -- he's one of those analysts who got credit and blame for the Internet stock bubble of the late 1990s and the failure of predicting the bust in the early 2000s. I hope I'm as good at learning from my mistakes in life as he appears to be.

Hey, Henry might not have been a good analyst, but a few more blogs like these and I think he'll be able to start his own blog company and sell it for a few million like Jason Calacanis did. :-)

9:11:26 AM    Mudpit 

Ed Bott notes that I've been using Radio UserLand for four years. Yowza. But that wasn't my first blog. My first blog was on Manilasites. A centralized UserLand service. It was UserLand's competitor to Pyra's Blogger. My first blog was December 15, 2000.

So, I've switched URLs before. Reminds me, I've gotta get going. Actually, there's some evidence that TypePad had OPML capabilities already built in even before I had my little contest. So, I gotta admit, I moved too fast. Sorry, sometimes my fingers get ahead of my brain.

Either way, this gives me a really good opportunity to try out all the engines and let you see what's good and bad about them. I like DABU's interface best, at least on first look, for instance (the way they do categories is much better than the way Radio UserLand does them, for instance -- I'll explain more once I get settled in.

But, don't worry about subscribing yet. Things are still too much in flux. I've had a lot of advice to make sure I get a site with a URL that I control. That's good advice. I'm working with Matt of WordPress on that (and with the TypePad team and with the DABU team).

Change is ahead. It's scary, but it also means fun!

I also didn't realize I had screwed up the comments from all my previous posts. That sucks and I don't think I can fix it. The new site will be a lot better on comments, that's for sure.

3:27:20 AM    Mudpit 

Jamie posts again: Googlepark: The Conclusion?


If you've missed the GooglePark series, here you go:

Scoble goes to Google.

The Inevitable Sequel -- the Plot Sickens.

The Umpire Strikes Back.

The Conclusion?

3:08:27 AM    Mudpit 

Rick Segal writes about the new Web 2.0 World Order. Tells us to focus on solutions, rather than religious debates. Oh, the debates are fun too! It helps us all figure out where the new world is good and where it's bad. The browser world is still bad on planes, for instance. Or where you want a really rich experience (sorry, I wish I had Streets and Trips rather than Google Maps or Virtual Earth most of the time).

Hey, Rick, you know, I can't remember the last time IE crashed on me. I use it all day long. But I HAVE had it refresh accidentally in the middle of writing a long post. Oh, that pisses me off! I wish my blog tool autosaved as I was typing. We have so much bandwidth and processor power that's sitting here doing nothing while I type away. Why don't we use it?

So, yes, we can do a lot more, even in the blog world.

2:53:05 AM    Mudpit 

Steven Sinofsky: Bureaucracy. Threat or menace? Either, both, or neither? Or it depends! (Steven is a vice president in charge of the Office team at Microsoft).

Ken Moss: A challenge for Mini-Microsoft (Ken's a general manager on Microsoft's search team).

Mini-Microsoft: Middle Managers, Bureaucracy, and No Birds at Microsoft.

This conversation is probably scaring so many people at other companies away from blogging. Is your company ready for this kind of conversation between an anonymous blogger and executives (and guys seven levels down like me?)

Most aren't.

Me? This is cool, but it's not where the big corporate payoff in blogging is (and there is a payoff for having a Mini-Microsoft -- he's getting read and causing conversations both internally and externally that are very healthy).

No, the big payoff is because now we can have a conversation with customers without having any intermediaries (and, thanks to Google you can find us!). I see evidence internally every day about just how big a deal this is.

By the way, Google's role here should not be understated. See, Microsoft employees have always been out in public. Go over to our newsgroups and watch. I remember meeting tons of Microsoft employees in the CompuServe forums in the early 1990s. But, it wasn't easy to find a specific employee unless you hung out in a group.

Today you can go to Google and search on, say, "OneNote Blog" and you'll find Chris Pratley, who runs the team. This is a HUGE change over the newsgroups of old. (And, yes, Yahoo and MSN work the same way now, but it really was the way that Google assigns relevancy based on linking behavior from other sites that made that possible -- in the old, pre-Google, search world Chris' blog wouldn't be at the top).

That ability to find people on a variety of teams FROM OUTSIDE THE COMPANY is HUGE. Not something to be underestimated. But, if you want that, you gotta put up with the rest of the conversation too. You've gotta take off the control. You've gotta get over your fear.

Oh, and to Steven Sinofsky, wonderful blogging. This inspires me. Bring us more from inside the executive offices! Let's make those transparent too.

2:41:10 AM    Mudpit 

A bunch of geeks are trying to get a geek dinner going in San Francisco on Saturday night. Where? I don't know. Anyone have a good place to recommend? Must be near downtown. Must be affordable. Must be scalable (if more people show up at the last minute we need to be able to accomodate them).

I'm coming. It's open to everyone. 7 p.m. I'll let you know where it'll be at when we figure that out.

1:58:14 AM    Mudpit 

Heh, while I was stuck in traffic on the way home tonight my brother called. We had one of our usual heated conversations -- this time about search engines (he had read my post about PLAYing with search and thought I was nuts for wanting search engines to display stock quotes for terms like PETS, PLAY, etc). He thought I was wrong. I thought he was wrong. That's sorta how it is in the Scoble household (we've been like that ever since we were little kids). But, he blogged the conversation about what search engines should do over on his ComputerWorld blog.

I came up with something that looks like convinced him to come over to my side, though: that we need search engines that understand the role you are in when you're searching.

For instance, let's say you get interested in buying an HDTV (like I am). So you go to the search engines. Here, I'll save you the time. Here's Google for HDTV, here's Yahoo, here's MSN, here's Ask Jeeves.

These resultsets are TOTALLY UNSATISFYING. Here's why. I already know what HDTV is. I saw it the other night at Chris Pirillo's house. So, now I know what it is, I know I want one.

But the engine doesn't ask me what role I'm in. None of them do. We need a new search engine that understand that different people will come to an engine seeking different kinds of things. Some who are looking for HDTV probably are writing reports and need to know how it works. Some are probably wondering about the HD DVD vs. BlueRay debate. Some might have just heard it's the hottest thing and are wondering what it is.

But I'm in a different role. I want to buy one.

So, let's just focus in on Google since that's the hot search engine of the moment. First link: an introduction. I don't need that. I already had an introduction. Second link: how HDTV works. I don't care. Next. Third link: an info site about stations and some product comparisons. Hmmm, maybe useful later, but I'm looking for something else right now. Fourth link: Huh? I'm not ready to buy yet. I wanna know what's available. It predicted I was in a different role. Fifth link: a magazine site. OK, it's clear the search engine isn't going to give me what I want, so I'll probably go off and read that site for an hour and come back. Sixth link: an ATI card? I'll have to put that on my gift list too. Seventh link: HDTV Buyer site. News and info. Another site I'll have to go and check out later. And on and on it goes.

What WAS I looking for? When you first get interested in something, what's the first thing you need to know? All the choices that are available, damn it!

Where's the link to "manufacturers of HDTV?" Sony. Toshiba. Dell. Gateway. Samsung. Panasonic. So on. They aren't there (well, except for the ads -- hey, do search engines have an economic disincentive to keep you in the wrong role so you'll click on the ads? Hmmmm.).

So, what COULD the engine do? Well, first of all, if you could watch, say, millions of users, you'd be able to see that a lot of people visit the manufacturers sites and you'd be able to see that a lot of people go to a few pages on those sites with the words "HDTV." You'd be able to build a model of those sites, and be able to, if you invested the dev time and the processor power, to bring back something at the top of the page that had something like: see all the major manufacturers of HDTV sets.

We know this can be done. Why? Cause Google did it for Seattle Hotels. Here's the Google result for Seattle Hotels. They make a nice little list of all the hotels available and even give you one of those Google Maps. MSN Search has the exact same thing. Yahoo goes even further. They have pictures and ratings!!

So, why can't they do this for HDTVs? Of course they can. It just hasn't gotten onto the dev list of any of the major engines yet. Yet.

Oh, Yahoo Shopping has something like this but they screw it all up. Again, I'm not in the role of buying yet. I'm in the role of LOOKING. So, why can't I get a list like this one on Yahoo Shopping, but with features, reviews, AND LINKS TO THE MANUFACTURER'S OWN SITE????

Not to mention that if you search for HDTVs (plural) on Yahoo you get a sports cafe. Huh?

Google doesn't have that kind of noise. Neither does MSN.

Building good search engines is hard.

Believe it or not, but folks from all three of the big search companies are watching here (particularly my coworkers at MSN).

What would you like to see them do differently?

Oh, Ask Jeeves and Clusty gets really close with the bar along the right side (here's a search on Ask Jeeves for HDTVs and the same search on Clusty). If they had a list of manufacturer's of HDTVs there, they would have nailed it.

One more 'oh': I can just hear some of you saying "why didn't you search on 'HDTV manufacturers'?" OK, smartypants. Go do the search for that and tell me, did you find Sony, Toshiba, Panasonic, JVC, Samsung, Gateway, Dell, or other manufacturers? I did that search on all three of the major engines and didn't.

Hey, everyone who thinks this search thing is done and doesn't need more work is fooling themselves. It's looking a lot like 1997 when everyone thought search was done.

1:40:29 AM    Mudpit 

Staci Kramer of gets the first interview with Dave Winer after the sale of was revealed: Details Starting to Emerge; Price Tag $2.3 million.

Turns out Michael Arrington was the lawyer behind the deal. He writes on the TechCrunch blog (which is most excellent, by the way, particularly this week covering all the Web 2.0 news).

Michael writes: "...this is a game-changing event for the blogosphere."

1:07:46 AM    Mudpit 

Interesting BusinessWeek article on the fight that's going on in the industry over HD DVD formats. If you haven't been following this one, it's interesting. I have friends involved inside Microsoft and the stories are fascinating. I wish I could share some of them with you, but for now this BusinessWeek article will have to do (it's not very positive toward Microsoft's position, either).

Some things worth pointing out from this article, though. BlueRay's technical claim is that they can do higher capacity discs. The problem is that claim is at least partly smoke and mirrors. I've learned not to believe in smoke and mirrors claims (remember how I got burned believing Longhorn would ship this year?) Be careful whenever a company or a group tells you it'll do something but then can't demonstrate it.

Another piece is that the Xbox 360 won't have an HD DVD when it ships (from either camp). I've spent a bit of time with the Xbox team lately. They said they couldn't get enough volume before Christmas on a drive. They wouldn't tell me which one they are going with, though, saying they are still considering their options for future products. An add-on drive could easily be added, though, to the new Xbox.

Also, watch what happens with the DRM on both standards. The folks I talked to at Microsoft feel strongly that you should have fair use rights to the videos you get on future media. Translation, we want to make sure you can plug in an HD DVD in your future Media Center on one machine, like up in my office, and then watch it on another machine somewhere else in your home (or on your Xbox 360). Or, like my Slingbox lets me watch TV anywhere I'm connected to my home TV via the Internet. BlueRay's DRM seemed to prevent that kind of usage.

Also, we want to make sure you can copy a DVD to a portable device so you can watch that movie elsewhere, like on our portable media centers. It'll be real interesting to see what Apple does when it brings out a video iPod.

But, it looks like this fight is just getting going and is becoming more interesting no matter which side of the fence you're on.

One other thing: why don't we just get rid of the idea that we need media altogether? I regularly deliver, on Channel 9, 1GB-long videos with only a few complaints. I'm sure that in a few years folks will be able to download 10GB files without any problems at all. The Media Center already has the ability to download huge video files in the middle of the night through RSS.

I think my bet is gonna be against either of these formats. Maybe Microsoft should have invested in BitTorrent?

What do you think?

1:01:54 AM    Mudpit 

Yahoo just released a whitepaper on RSS usage and came out with a publisher's guide to RSS too (both are on their guide to RSS page).

Of the big three companies (Google/Microsoft/Yahoo) Yahoo is definitely getting RSS the best.

I believe, in fact, that real soon now this will start to turn their usage model upward. Translation: they are going to gain market share in the search space. Now, where is that market share going to come from? Well, 85% of the referers last month to Channel 9 came from Google.

It's suprising to me that the big companies still aren't taking RSS totally seriously. Yeah, Microsoft is putting RSS all over the place. Yeah, you can spit out MSN Searches via RSS. Which, actually, is pretty advanced and interesting. But Yahoo is going further.

The marketplace still hasn't rewarded Yahoo for this. I'm pretty sure it will. As Dean Hachamovitch over on the Internet Explorer team says, first there was Browse. Then there was Search. Now there's "subscribe." Yahoo ruled in the Browse age. Google ruled in the Search age. Now who'll rule in the Subscribe age?

That's the big question and right now Yahoo is out front.

Key findings in the Yahoo RSS report? Not many people are aware of RSS. Even fewer use RSS. But, those who use it are in an ultra valuable demographic (educated, affluent, young, and all that).

Translation: lots of opportunity to add value in this Subscribe world. The market is ahead of us, not behind us.

12:43:04 AM    Mudpit 

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© Copyright 2005
Robert Scoble
My cell phone: 425-205-1921
Are you with the press?
Last updated:
11/27/2005; 1:45:40 PM.

Robert Scoble works at Microsoft (title: technical evangelist). Everything here, though, is his personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. No warranties or other guarantees will be offered as to the quality of the opinions or anything else offered here.

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