Dave Winer has been writing what may be the web’s longest running blog, and he is credited with inventing RSS. He also wrote a piece of software, Radio Userland, that was one of the first RSS Readers and blogging tools. This probably makes him the father of weblogs, so we’ll add him to our required reading list.

Dave is a technologist and a hacker. He’s often posting about small software projects he’s working on. These days it’s something called FlickrFan. He also posts about politics, baseball and anything else that’s on his mind. His posting style is a little less “article-oriented” then others. That is, his posts are often smaller pieces, without titles, posted frequently through the day.

Please add Scripting News to your RSS reading list.



January 27, 2008

TechCrunch is a news/rumour site that focuses on the action of Web 2.0/technology start-ups and deals. Reading it will give you a sense of all of the action in this space. It will also open you up to a number of amazing new sites, tools, etc.

TechCrunch is also one of the poster-children for blogging for money. By some accounts, Mike Arrington, TechCrunch’s founder and lead blogger, makes over $1mm/year from the site.

Please add TechCrunch to the weekly reading list.

Guy Kawasaki

January 27, 2008

Guy Kawasaki was an evangelist for Apple in their early days. Since then he’s been an early stage VC with his firm, Garage Technology Ventures. Guy is also an author of some books about starting up new technology companies. The Art of the Start is a great book if you’re thinking of starting your own business.

Guy’s full bio is here and his blog is here.

We’ll add the bog to our required reading list. Reading Guy will give you a feel for some of what’s going on in Silicon Valley start-ups, he’ll also teach you how to give better presentations and generally “pitch” an idea.

Chris Anderson wrote The Long Tail in 2006. The book is one of a handful that defines the large changes brought about by the web. It defines the forces at play that have allowed Amazon, iTunes, ebay and others to redefine large industries. We will discuss the Long Tail at length in class.

Wikipedia says the following:

The phrase The Long Tail was, according to Chris Anderson, first coined by himself. The concept drew in part from an influential February 2003 essay by Clay Shirky, “Power Laws, Weblogs and Inequality”, which noted that a relative handful of weblogs have many links going into them but “the long tail” of millions of weblogs may have only a handful of links going into them. Beginning in a series of speeches in early 2004 and culminating with the publication of a Wired magazine article in October 2004, Anderson described the effects of the long tail on current and future business models. Anderson later extended it into the book The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More (2006).

Anderson argued that products that are in low demand or have low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters, if the store or distribution channel is large enough. Anderson cites earlier research by Erik Brynjolfsson, Yu (Jeffrey) Hu, and Michael D. Smith, that showed that a significant portion of Amazon.com’s sales come from obscure books that are not available in brick-and-mortar stores. The Long Tail is a potential market and, as the examples illustrate, the distribution and sales channel opportunities created by the Internet often enable businesses to tap into that market successfully.
An Amazon employee described the Long Tail as follows: “We sold more books today that didn’t sell at all yesterday than we sold today of all the books that did sell yesterday.”

Anderson has explained the term as a reference to the tail of a demand curve.[5] The term has since been rederived from an XY graph that is created when charting popularity to inventory. In the graph shown above, Amazon’s book sales or Netflix’s movie rentals would be represented along the vertical axis, while the book or movie ranks are along the horizontal axis. The total volume of low popularity items exceeds the volume of high popularity items.

Please add his blog to the Required Reading list.

Here is a good post by Jeff Jarvis asking How personal should a blog be? This will give you some sense of why people blog and some of the issues related to that question.

Jeff’s blog is another good one that deals a lot with the culture of blogging. Please add it to the required reading list.

Required Reading, duh!

January 9, 2008

In case it’s not obvious to everyone, please ensure that this weblog is included in your feed reader. In fact, please add both feeds: the one for posts and the one for comments:


Next up on our required weekly reading list is Robert Scoble. Scoble became famous as a Microsoft employee given permission (and in fact hired to) blog on behalf of the company. This was a huge step and a big risk for Microsoft and Scoble handled it well. During his tenure there he became the “authentic” face and voice of Microsoft. In the process he helped define the practice of corporate blogging, uncover the pitfalls and issues, and expose its tremendous benefits. Based on that experience he also co-wrote a book, with Shel Israel, called Naked Conversations.: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers. Naked Conversations is one of the key books defining the culture of blogging and social media.

Scoble is currently out on his own. There are hints that he will be joining Fast Company sometime soon.

His blog is a good source of information on the blogosphere in general. As discussed in class, his latest scrape with Facebook is a good study in some of the issues we will discuss over the course of the semester. Also, Scoble’s blog is a great example of blog-as-community and blog-as-conversations. Many of his posts attract over 100 comments each. When you find a post that’s of interest to you, please be sure to look at the comments, too.

Please add Scoble’s blog to your RSS reader.