Tag: bloggers

Is Blognation in a meltdown?

Blognation seemed to be a great idea when it launched. Get great bloggers from all over the world, under one banner, pay them well and the advertising money will follow the quality content.

Unfortunately, the money part seems to have proven a little problematic.

One of Blognation’s authors, Oliver Starr wrote an open letter to Blognation’s founder, Sam Sethi, on the Blognation US site today where he claimed none of Blognation’s authors have yet been paid. That post has since been deleted off the Blognation US site.

Oliver Starr has since re-posted the open letter on his own blog.

The allegations Oliver makes against Sam are pretty damning. He says, amongst other things:

You made promises that people took to the bank and then you defaulted on them leaving everyone that trusted you to face the consequences. I am not kidding when I say that there are people on Blognation that probably won’t have a Christmas thanks to believing in you. There are people that are going to be late on car payments and there are people that are going to have to think twice before they go to the dentist because they are out some $10, $20 or even $30,000 dollars of income that they were expecting, for which they HAVE A CONTRACT and for which you have an obligation because you told us that you had the money when in fact you never really did!

He goes on to further add:

that’s a pretty ugly litany of yours up there; lies, more lies, still more lies, exaggerations, evasiveness, manipulation, usury, fraud even – honestly Sam I think there’s a good chance that what you’ve done is actually criminal not just pathological and antisocial – perhaps even psychotic behavior. Sorry to have to recount it – I never would have expected that I would have had to write anything like this to you. It goes to show that you just never know people until you’ve been down the road with them a few miles, huh?

Read the entire post – it is long but extremely well written and worth the time.

I was in touch with Sam over Twitter direct message since this broke and he said he was working on his own response. At time of writing I haven’t come across his response. I tried phoning him but the number I have no longer appears valid.

I spoke to Nicole Simon, Germany’s Blognation editor, and she basically confirmed everything Oliver said and Nicole has her own post on the matter up now too. I tried talking to Conor O’Neill, Ireland’s Blognation editor, for his perspective but failed to get him.

If what Oliver says is true, and given that Nicole backs it up, I have no reason to doubt it is, Sam’s reputation is in shreds. The Blognation brand is also in serious difficulty. No investor will touch Blognation now with Sam still involved unless Sam can come back with a seriously credible explanation for these posts.

If Sam cannot explain adequately the accusations against him, Blognation can still be saved, I believe. There is a value in the group of authors Sam gathered, in the material they have written so far, and the material they may yet write. If someone credible can step in and take ownership of Blognation from Sam then not all is lost and the brand and all the work to-date might be saved.

That is a big “if” though!

UPDATE – Sam Sethi has said he is unable to raise funding and he is closing Blognation. As I mentioned in the piece above, there is still a chance that the brand can be saved if a buyer steps in.

The next great Cork Blogger's dinner

The plates are hardly dry from last night’s great blogger’s dinner and we have another spectacular one planned.

The date is November 28th, time and venue are yet to be decided – mark it in your calendars now!

November 28th is the eve of it@cork’s 2006 Business and Technology conference, so I made sure to invite the speakers who blog to the bloggers dinner, when I was asking them to speak at the conference.

The list of bloggers who have agreed to come to the dinner is impressive:
Hugh MacLeod
Marc Canter
Salim Ismail and
Jeff Nolan

I’m sure we can convince Hugh to bring some of that Stormhoek wine he is always raving about!
Now, I wonder if we can find somebody to sponsor the food as well…

If you plan to come to the dinner, or are interested in sponsoring the event, leave your name in the comments of this post (or send me an email – tom@tomrafteryit.net).

I'm at the IT@Cork conference today

I’m going to be at the IT@Cork Conference today (Wed 30th) – Robert Scoble is Opening the conference with a talk on Business Blogging – I can’t wait.

I’ll be blogging the conference live on the IT@Cork blog and I’ll be recording interviews with delegates and speakers – I will upload those interviews on the IT@Cork blog too.

Later this evening I will be at the geek dinner with Robert Scoble in Proby’s Bistro, Proby’s Quay, Cork – see this Google Map if you are unsure where it is. The dinner is on at 8pm – all bloggers welcome – be sure to register on the wiki.

So, a busy day ahead – hope to see you there.

Shel Israel podcast

The Shel Israel interview went ahead last night, as planned. Shel was great, full of warm humour, interesting insights and relevant anecdotes. below are the questions I asked him and the times in the podcast they were asked:

Shel, what is it about Ireland that appeals to you? – 1:15

You guys wrote Naked Conversations right out there in the open – as you completed each chapter of the book, you published it online – what was it like writing a book as transparently as you guys did with Naked Conversations? – 2:30

Most people have read the book now online, will they buy it? – 5:50

If you were writing another book, would you do it online? – 6:30

Given that very few Irish companies have started blogging yet, why should a company have a blog? – 7:28

What are the advantages of blogging to a business? – 8:40

What advice would you give to business bloggers to help them become become successful – 11:50

Companies can be afraid of being open in their blogs (what if our competitors are reading the blog) and are afraid of what will be said in the comments – how do you deal with these fears? – 15:11

If I am a developer, how can I see what people are saying about my application/product? – 17:55

What do you see as the benefits of Podcasts/videocasts to businesses? – 23:30

How is a podcast/videocast of use to smaller companies (smaller than Microsoft!)? – 25:25

So blogs/podcasts/videocasts are about humanising companies? – 27:50

You have recently blogged that you are going to start writing about startups – what aspect of startups most interests you? – 32:30

What challenges do startups face today that they didn’t 25 years ago? – 34:30

Brian Greene’s question:
There are 40,000 blogs updates every hour of the day. How am I to read all that? seriously hasn’t blogging just added to the textual data smog that make it easier for government to bury the truth, making facts harder to come by? 37:30

You can listen to the podcast of this discussion here.

New Audible podcasting format – why bother?

I have recently started to take an interest podcasting again – I produced a few podcasts during the summer to dip my toes into podcasting but I had to stop when the soundcard on my PowerBook blew.

Recently, I have recorded a couple of my talks and podcast them with generous help from FrankP and NearFm and even more recently, Robert Scoble has agreed to let me record and podcast an interview I will do with him by phone tomorrow evening.

So I have been following the world of podcasting with increasing interest and was surprised to see a war breaking out there over the weekend!

The war is about what audio format to use in podcasts – traditionally the audio format has been mp3 files but a company called Audible has proposed a new .aa format. According to Mitch Ratcliffe (an Audible consultant), the main advantage of the .aa format seems to be that it is possible to audit how often they have been downloaded – this is, of course, important from a monetisation point of view! However, Mitch rather lost the head (and thereby the argument) when not everyone agreed with him.

As Michael Arrington put it:

Instead of embracing the bloggers that would normally talk about this, Mitch Ratcliffe (an Audible consultant) went on an unmitigated, unprovoked character assasination romp (with follow up attacks) against Dave Winer (â€?he’s willing to stealâ€?), Om Malik and others. This sure is an interesting way to engage the sneezers. As Om puts it, Mitch “goes after the dissenters with a verbal baseball batâ€?…. If you find yourself on the other side of a debate with Dave Winer, Om Malik, Doc Searles, Jeff Jarvis and others, maybe you should rethink your position. Because it is very likely you are wrong.

Doc Searls, Dave Winer, Michael Arrington and others have been mounting a robust defence of mp3’s.

In my own case, I don’t see myself shifting away from mp3s any time soon. As far as I can see from reading about Audible’s new format, you upload your podcasts to Audible’s servers, they convert to .aa and host the podcast there. It is a paid service.

My podcasting is pretty basic – I record the sound, convert to mp3, upload to archive.org (free hosting and bandwidth) and then link to the archive.org file from within my wordpress blog. WordPress recognises the .mp3 file as an audio file and creates the correct enclosures transparently for me so I don’t need to worry about the tech side of the podcasting. How would WordPress deal with .aa files? I have no idea. I suspect, it wouldn’t recognise them as audio and therefore podcast subscribers (listeners) wouldn’t know you had published new podcasts.

I think Audible’s strategy is wrong here – I think they would have been far better served coming up with a mechanism for measuring stats on mp3s rather than coming up with a new proprietary file format. What do you think?

UPDATE:
Post updated after comments from Mitch and Pete informed me that .aa is not a new format – sorry ’bout that guys.

A lynch mob of 20 million?

Technorati recently announced that they are now tracking some 20 million bloggers and the number of bloggers is doubling every 5 months!

Now Forbes Magazine has a cover story titled “Attack of the Blogs” (registration required but thanks to Steve Rubel’s article I found that the bugmenot login/password “forbesdontbug” worked for me).

The article almost comes across as a spoof – indeed if it were not in Forbes magazine, I would have assumed it was a spoof, so outlandish are some of the claims in it. For instance it says:

Web logs are the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective. Their potent allies in this pursuit include Google and Yahoo.

And it goes on to elaborate:

Google and other services operate with government-sanctioned impunity, protected from any liability for anything posted on the blogs they host. Thus they serve up vitriolic “content” without bearing any legal responsibility for ensuring it is fair or accurate; at times they even sell ads alongside the diatribes.

The article’s main thesis seems to hang off the case of one Gregory Halpern who was hounded by a blogger called Timothy Miles. Mr Miles wrote some allegedly defamatory posts about Mr Halpern under a pseudonym and has now fled legal proceedings against him to Slovenia. The salient point here is that the blog was seen as libellous and was taken down and the author had legal proceedings taken against him (from which he fled!).

Dan Gillmor says it best when he says:

Do bloggers sometimes go too far? Of course. But if the best-read bloggers typically did work of the lousy quality shown in the Forbes stories, they’d be pilloried — appropriately so.

As the article itself points out, Microsoft has 2,000 bloggers – does Forbes really believe that Microsoft is partaking in a lynch mob? And what about the other 20 million bloggers? Are we all part of this lynch mob “spewing lies, libel and invective.” to which Forbes refers?

I think Forbes owes bloggers an apology for this lazy reporting and these sweeping generalisations.