The Evolution of Blogging: Back to the Future

We’ve spent a lot of time the last two years updating our company Twitter account, where we share links to interesting stories and quick thoughts.  In the process, over time our blog sort of became a place for long form content only.  We posted short thoughts and links on Twitter and longer stuff on the blog, and that was pretty much the way things went. 

After some reflection, this struck us as kind of dumb.  We were needlessly limiting our blog to long form posts only, and posting a lot of great content to Twitter only, where our regular blog readers wouldn’t see it.

So we’ve decided to tweak our strategy a bit.  Moving forward, we plan to supplement our longer posts with shorter entries consisting of quotes, links and/or videos.  Inspired by the designs of blogging platforms like Tumblr and Posterous, we are using WordPress Asides to differentiate our shorter posts from our longer ones.  We won’t be posting every link or video we post to Twitter to the blog, as posting five or six entries a day here is too much.  Instead, we’ll only post the best stuff from our Twitter feed here.  Follow us on twitter if you want to see everything. 

From reading some blogs, it sounds like others are making the transition from posting essays to posting shorter entries, as if this is a new thing.  It really isn’t.  Our blog started out as a place to post short, quick thoughts and evolved into a spot devoted exclusively to longer post.  So we’re actually reverting back a bit to our original strategy, and the way folks like Kottke, Instapundit, Andrew Sullivan and John Gruber have been blogging for years. 

Jonathan Spalter: Cleveland Rocks & Other Wireless News

Last week, the Senate Commerce Committee unanimously cleared a bill requiring the FCC and the Commerce Department to conduct annual audits of our wireless airwaves. The goal is to create a better, more efficient use of the nation’s radio spectrum.

If you want to know why Congress desperately needs to pass this legislation, take a look at Cleveland, Ohio. Yes, Cleveland.

Last Thursday, the city’s water authority announced plans to install 435,000 wireless meters to monitor water usage. The department acted after seeing the benefits from similar programs in Cincinnati (235,000 wireless readers) and Akron (87,000).

Cleveland’s decision points up one of the biggest trends in wireless service — a development with huge implications for the rest of us. The mobile Internet is exploding. About 74 million Americans will use the mobile Internet this year through either traditional browsers or installed applications and that number will nearly double to 134 million by 2013.

This year’s cavalcade of cool new smartphones is a key driver of this growth. A single high-end smartphone generates more data traffic than 30 traditional cellphones. And a laptop aircard generates more traffic than 450 such cellphones, according to a Cisco study.

But what’s truly remarkable about this Mobile Revolution is how quickly it’s moving beyond consumers. Think Terminator II meets your home appliances. In the coming years, everything from your refrigerator to your air conditioner to your wristwatch will be sending out wireless signals.

Actually, it’s already happening. In several cities, wireless transmitters inside parking meters beam notices that space is available or that the meter time has expired. Wireless systems are now being used for law enforcement (gunfire detection), home security, traffic monitoring (immediate accident reports), and care for persons with such disabilities as Alzheimer’s and autism.

And since Congress is working feverishly to reign in health care costs, consider this: The monthly fee for a home monitoring system is about $100, compared with nursing home care which can run $200 per day.

The Senate bill is part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to expand broadband choice. The idea is that independent agencies would annually review usage and capacity of the spectrum and then recommend how to make more efficient use of these valuable channels.

A similar House bill was introduced but has not yet seen committee action.

Any federal strategy to promote affordable broadband has to include aggressive support for wireless. This effort to improve America’s wireless efficiencies is a key first step.

Jonathan Spalter, chairman of Mobile Future, served as chief information officer at the United States Information Agency during the Clinton administration.


Next New Networks Restructures, Cuts Staff

Online video production studio Next New Networks, which was struggling even before the global financial meltdown, has laid off about 7 staffers, a source told paidContent. A spokesman for the company declined to provide an exact number. The staff shakeup came as part of a wider move to restructure the company into “audience development” and “programming” units.

Those responsibilities were previously aligned together under co-founder Tim Shey, who will now head up the audience development group. Kathleen Grace, who has worked with Next New’s producer team since late 2008, will head the programming group. Release

Last year, the New York-based company lost a high-profile client when left-of-center political news blog Talking Points Memo cut its ties, opting to go it alone for its video distribution.

At the time, NextNew said it would refine its content along autos, fashion and entertainment lines, although it did get briefly into politics when it bought “Obama Girl” creator BarelyPolitical.

Just over a year ago, co-founder Herb Scannell moved out of the CEO seat to become executive chairman. The former vice chairman of MTV Networks (NYSE: VIA) and president of Nickelodeon failed to score a notable hit, which NextNew had been banking on.

Although there seemed to be a lot of promise in the video aggregation business two years ago, even with advertising in the space still expected to maintain healthy growth, there are simply too many companies and attention from viewers is spread pretty thin. Many of NextNew’s rivals, like online video studio Generate, have put a heavy focus on offering additional services like talent management. Since it launched in early 2007, NextNew has raised roughly $23 million in funding from Goldman Sachs; Spark Capital; Saban Capital; Velocity Interactive Group (now Fuse Capital); and Bob Pittman. Former Velocity partner and current News Corp (NYSE: NWS) digital head Jon Miller previously held a seat on the company’s board; that has since been transfered to his erstwhile Fuse partner Ross Levinsohn.


Rick Sanchez Meets With The ‘Wisest Of All Latina Women’ (VIDEO)

On the third day of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing, the ‘Wise Latina’ meme pressed on. On CNN, Rick Sanchez even went to talk to some of these magical creatures. As Wolf Blitzer put it: “Rick Sanchez is joining us now from Florida where there are a lot of wise Latina women… RIck have you had a chance to meet some of them?” Rick had in fact, met the “wisest of all Latina women”… his mother.


Lance Armstrong Vlogs Along the Tour de France

Last year during Tour de France time, we looked at all the ways one could follow the 21-day bicycle race, but one perspective was notably absent — that of the actual cyclists competing. And who better to represent them than a mid-comeback Lance Armstrong?

Racing to spread the LiveStrong brand, Armstrong, with the Astana team, today crossed the halfway mark of the 2,141-mile journey, a journey Armstrong and his support staff have been meticulously documenting across multiple platforms (check out the Facebook page to find out what’s for breakfast!). I’ve known that Armstrong was comfortable in front of a camera ever since his cameo in the film Dodgeball, and in this first-ever race-vlogging experiment, he doesn’t disappoint. The access is intimate without feeling overexposed, and the set-ups never get tired; Armstrong speaks to his fans from the bus, from his hotel room — even from his bike.

Plus, there’s the occasional special guest star! A goateed Robin Williams at one point both bares his heart surgery scar and relentlessly mocks Armstrong’s socks, and before Stage 4, Ben Stiller tries to give Armstrong a “break”. (That may have actually paid off, given that the Astana team came in first that day.)

These random moments from the trail are a lot more engaging, honestly, than the field contributions documenting the race, especially for a non-cycling fan: The main attraction of this series is Armstrong unplugged, and the best videos reflect that. His wrap-up from the end of Stage 9 is a bit intense, as he talks about the loss of one of his teammates in 1995 during the same stage, which meant that this was “an emotional day” (especially if you didn’t know that a few people have DIED during this thing).

Since being founded in 1997, the LiveStrong foundation has evolved way beyond wristbands to become a hub for all sorts of cancer-fighting causes (a recent example would be their new partnership with #blamedrewscancer Twitter campaign). Given that this series is being produced under the LiveStrong banner, you might ask how vigorously the brand is being promoted, but while Armstrong is definitely engaging with his community (his vlogs tend to end with a shout-out to those working on various projects and fundraisers), the focus is on the race and his progress. Which is great, because that’s what Armstrong does best — inspire us with his strength and success.



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Microsoft Stores Coming In The Fall—”Right Next Door” To Apple Stores

Get ready for side-by-side Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) stores. Microsoft COO Kevin Turner told an audience at the company’s Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans Wednesday that “we are going to have some retail stores that are opened up right next door to Apple stores this fall.” Microsoft said in February that it would launch a chain of stores, although the company did not detail either a timeline for their opening or say where they would be located. The fall debut makes sense, considering that Microsoft’s next operating system, Windows 7, will be generally available in late October. Also, that’s roughly when the company expects to release its latest Windows Mobile 6.5 smartphones. The stores are an attempt by Microsoft to deepen its engagement with customers. Over at ZDNet, Mary Jo Foley notes that they will be “more showcases than actual retail outlets.”

During his remarks, Turner emphasized that the company was stepping up its offensive against Apple. “We’re just going to keep running them and running them and running them,” he said. Turner noted with pride that two weeks ago Apple’s legal department called Microsoft demanding that Microsoft pull ads that compare the cost of PCs with comparable Macs because Apple had lowered some prices since the ads were rolled out. “It was the single greatest phone call … that I’ve ever taken in business,” he said. Turner argued that the phone call was a sign that the ads were working (Note to Turner: That may be a leap of faith.)


Pizza Hut First Pizza Chain to Launch iPhone App


CHICAGO (AdAge.com) — Now a dropped call might not keep you from ordering that pizza. "The Hut," better known as Pizza Hut, launched a free iPhone application today that offers mobile ordering and games to play while you wait for that delivery. It's the first such application in the pizza category, where first-to-market bragging rights have become a big deal.