Nick Denton’s Gawker Media

NYTimes has a nice profile of Nick Denton’s efforts to build a “nanomedia” business:

Mr. Denton’s blogging venture runs on a shoestring. He employs three writers, one for each blog, who “are not paid much.” And he depends almost solely on good buzz for marketing. His tiny advertising budget consists of spending several hundred dollars to buy ads tied to certain keywords on Google’s search engine.

The way Mr. Denton determines the theme of his blogs has less to do with his own personal interests than with the demands of the market, as determined by Google. He relies on Google’s AdSense program, which pays Web sites to publish text ads matched to the pages’ content, for the bulk of his revenue. As a result, he picks blog subjects based on the rate Google pays for clicks on ads in specific topic areas. Among the topics of blogs he plans to start this year are computer gaming, travel and politics.

“The rise of Google’s AdSense and related automatically targeted ad servers really suits narrowly focused blogs,” said Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired magazine. “It provides a way for niche media and niche advertising to find each other, with virtually no human intervention required.”

Mr. Denton is thinking about how to expand the blog market, perhaps by creating product-focused blogs for major marketers. His next big project is a site called Kinja, which is supposed to be the blog of all blogs, compiling the best of Web log writing from thousands of different blogs.

Nick Denton had earlier founded Moreover and First Tueday.

8 Tech Problems

WSJ has a special technology report on “eight problems facing the industry . . . and how it’s trying to solve them”:

Make Software More Reliable: Today, software glitches are mostly a nuisance. But as computers play a larger role in areas such as utilities and transportation, some critics are demanding companies be held legally liable for the quality of their products. Now, Microsoft is stepping up efforts to make its software is more secure.

Manage TV-Channel Clutter: Couch potatoes have a seemingly infinite choice of movies, sporting events, classic TV episodes and other programs available at a click of the remote. But all this variety seems to have brought more confusion than bliss. Here’s what cable and satellite operators are doing to help customers manage the clutter.

Simplify Home Networking: Want to operate a host of electronic appliances, devices and even utilities from a computer? You’re not alone. But the technology behind home networking still falls short in doing more than just sharing broadband Web access.

Keep Hackers Out: For every new security enhancement developed, there seems to be hackers just waiting to flout it. While there’s no silver bullet for stopping hackers in their tracks, there are steps Internet companies can take to better secure the personal information they hold.

Help Baffled Consumers: Even the tech-savvy need a little help sometimes. As gadgets and PCs grow more complex, mystified consumers are turning to independent troubleshooters to come to their homes and save the day.

Lengthen Battery Life: Not long ago, a two-hour laptop battery was sufficient. But as consumers rely more on portable devices, companies are looking beyond lithium-ion batteries and are embracing fuel cells as the best hope for long-lived electronics.

Get Services to Talk to Each Other: Integrating different corporate computer systems can be a costly, time-consuming affair. Now, most companies are using Web services that can be more easily added onto existing programs to help them better communicate.

Safeguard Confidential Information: Sure, corporate networks are frequently under attack by hackers and ne’er-do-wells looking for holes to the inside. But most invasions of privacy really are the result of mistakes, laziness or improper access given to a company’s own employees. Here’s how companies are acting to safeguard personal data.

RSS = Push Locally, Pull Globally

[via McGee] A nice definition of RSS from The Seattle Times in an article by Glenn Fleishman:

Many news sites have adopted RSS as an alternative or replacement for e-mail lists, or listservs, which are more and more frequently the victim of unintended spam filtering. Many lists which send subscribers information in the form of electronic newsletters or messages find themselves temporarily blacklisted or they learn after a mailing that double-digit-percentages of legitimate subscribers never received the message.

That problem is avoided with RSS, because you don’t provide personal details to a Web site you’re following not even an e-mail address or password. Instead, the RSS news aggregator software, which is installed on your computer, regularly checks a special file on a Web site feed to which you’ve subscribed.

RSS could also turn into a killer application for handhelds with wireless and cellular data access. “RSS has the potential to make it easier for users to get access to information anywhere on any device,” said Microsoft’s Denny.

Top 10 Internet Fads has an article on Internet fads. “A fad, for purposes of this article, is an idea or technology which is briefly popular, but can’t outlast its own novelty value. Once people get over the newness of it all, there isn’t really anything special left.” The 10 mentioned in the article:

1. PointCast
2. Anything Sold Online
3. Digital Acronyms (B2C, B2B, B2G, G2C, P2P, etc.)
4. WAP
5. The .sig Virus
6. Digital Personae
7. Thin Clients
8. VoIP (Rounds 1 and 2)
9. Flash Mobs
10. Live Customer Service

It is a trip down memory lane, for those among us who have seen the early days of the Internet. Also, don’t forget to read the comments on the article.

Individual-centric Technology

Dan Gillmor writes:

Take some basic human needs and add the inexorable progress of technological development. You end up with a communications world where the individual is the center of everything.

Radu Popescu-Zeletin, director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems in Berlin, one of the field’s most prominent think tanks, and his colleagues in research labs around the world are more interested in what will happen in the next decade. They don’t know precisely what will emerge from a technological standpoint. But many of them envision what Popescu-Zeletin calls an individual-centric model, “intelligent enough to adapt to the individual, wherever you are — anytime, any place and according to your personal preferences.”

TECH TALK: An Entrepreneurs Attributes: Compass Thinking Charting the Course

When we embark on a journey, the normal course of action is to equip oneself with a map. But what if the terrain one we were going across was uncharted and no maps were available? All one has as a guide then are the stars and ones inner intuitions. This describes the path the entrepreneur needs to traverse. An entrepreneur must learn to travel with a compass, knowing only the general direction.

It is not all that difficult. When one starts, all paths seems to be headed to the destination or to nowhere. This is where the trial-and-error process starts. The entrepreneur needs to start looking around, making short forays, developing a sense of the surroundings, being alert to the environment around. Over time, the entrepreneur will develop the appropriate antennae which will work as the compass for going forward in the right direction.

It is not an easy process, and this is where most enthusiastic travellers fail. The first few steps are always the hardest be it for a child, or for an entrepreneur. But it is these steps that mark the beginning of the journey. Many falter when faced with neighbourhoods which seem to all look the same and no guide posts to help traverse these new worlds. This is the first hurdle that the entrepreneur must cross it needs a mindset change more than anything else.

When I decided to embark on a project with Atanu Dey and others to transform rural India, we had no idea where to go. But as the months have passed (and it has only been six months), the clouds have slowly lifted and the beautiful landscape is becoming clearer. The destination is still far away, but the pathways are becoming visible. We still have to make many choices, but at least we have options now. In retrospect, perhaps the most important decision we made was to begin the journey. In a sense, that is also the hardest decision because it is so much easier to just let the status quo persist.

This is a point I also tell friends who ask me about their desire to become an entrepreneur. Most have been in challenging jobs through their work life, where they were part of a system and machinery which propelled them forward. Days faded to weeks, weeks to months, months to years. One had to do nothing to keep on the treadmill. In most cases, the fear is that of the unknown operating in a world without maps. This is the phobia that one has to conquer if one has to become an entrepreneur. Try it and see the difference. After all, it is the entrepreneur that is the cartographer of this new world which is only in the minds eye.

For inspiration, one needs to look no further than JRR Tolkien and Peter Jackson. Tolkien imagined the world of Middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings to an amazing level of detail. Jackson went ahead and recreated the world on screen with an accuracy which would perhaps have made Tolkien proud. This is the can do it spirit that an entrepreneur needs to have.

Tomorrow: Multitasking

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