Posts from January 2005

Silence Means …

My friend Steve wanted to know why there was nothing on my blog about the hugely sucessful elections in Iraq yesterday.  Why was I so silent?

John Podhoretz says, "Wow, suddenly it’s so quiet in here you can hear crickets chirping"  in his Vindicated column in the NY Post.

Jeff Jarvis calls the liberals who questioned the war in Iraq eeyeores and its no wonder that those who argued the wisdom of the war in Iraq have gone under cover from the squeals of glee from the right.

I emailed Steve my thoughts and he had the predictable response – incredulance followed by an attempt to convert me to the correct view.

When I saw the pictures of Iraqis voting on the front of the NY Times today along with the news that over 60% turned out to vote, I smiled. I did not think it was actually bad news. People rising up and taking their country’s future into their own hands is never bad news. I thought about taking our kids to vote last fall and I told my them that this was an incredible moment for Iraq and the future of democracy.

It wasn’t until later when I started to read the taunting of Michael Moore, John Kerry, and the rest of the liberals, that my good feelings turned bad.

This election is the first time that the Iraqi people have shown the rest of the world that they actually do want democracy and freedom. I wonder what took them so long. I wonder why they have sat back and watched the insurgency take its toll on their country.

I wonder if freedom for the Iraqis is worth 1400 lives, countless limbs, billions of our tax dollars, and a shattered reputation throughout the world.

I said all of this to Steve, who replied that, "it was specious to speculate what one life, 100 lives, or 1400 lives was worth", and that "The attempt to create an alternative to radical Islam – even at the expense of significant blood and treasure – is not only worth it, but is necessary and unavoidable."  He went on to say that "it’s either thousands of lives now or hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of our kids lives later".

Clearly that is the view of the Bush administration and many of the people in this country, probably the majority given the election results last fall. I respect that and my respect for that is the main cause of my silence until prodded by Steve, Podhoretz, and Jeff.

But it isn’t my view. And one of the reasons I love blogging is that we can all share our views and debate them out in the open.

My view is that we have bigger battles to fight than the one in Iraq.

My view is Iraq’s next door neighbor Iran, the country that was strengthened by the Shiite win in the Iraqi election, is more likely to build something that could do the damage that Steve fears than the Iraqis.

My view is the North Koreans are more dangerous than both.

And yet we haven’t gone in to free either of those countries.

Does our "success" in Iraq mean we must now go do the same in those countries?

Where does this policy of pre-emption stop?

If that makes me an eeyore, so be it.  I am thrilled for the Iraqis. I hope they thank the men and women who lost their lives so they could vote.

And I hope we stop the pre-emptive experiment where it started in Iraq and wait to see how it turns out over the long haul before deciding to try it elsewhere.

Yahoo! vs. Google (continued)

Everybody is watching the heavyweight fight between Yahoo! and Google in the search market.  Sure there are others out there who want to get into the ring, including Microsoft and AOL, but today, these two are the main event.

According to Comscore, one of my portfolio companies, Google’s US market share is 38% and Yahoo! is 35%. So between the two, they own 73% of the US market.  Worldwide, Google is stronger, with 47% to Yahoo!’s 27%, but even worldwide, the two of them capture almost 75% of the market.

As Saul Hansell points out in a piece in today’s New York Times, Yahoo!’s share is growing more quickly, particularly here in the US.

It’s interesting to me because I use Yahoo! (my.yahoo.com to be specific) as my start page, but I use Google as the search field in Firefox, where I do most of my searching.  And I use Google’s desktop search which further drives me toward Google when I do a search.  But for local search, maps, and yellow pages, I always go to Yahoo! because they have by far the best service for that kind of search.

I don’t bother with anyone else on the web for "search".  I am using other stuff a lot more these days, including Bloglines, Feedster, Technorati, and del.icio.us.  As my friend and former colleague Seth Goldstein points out in the Hansell piece, there is a lot of "innovation among smaller sites in using blogs and other methods to associate, or tag, Web pages with information about their content".

It will be interesting to see how Yahoo! and Google incorporate these new developments into what they are doing.

MP3 of the Week

I put Green Day’s American Idiot into heavy rotation on December 2nd last year and it has stayed there since.

I really love this album, every song on it.

Including the last song, called Whatsername. 

A bunch of records I like seem to be ending on a high note these days.  U2’s How To Dismantle ends with Yahweh, my favorite song on that record. Eminem’s Encore ends with Encore which is my favorite song on that record.

And so it is with American Idiot.  Whatsername is a great ending to a great record and its my MP3 of the Week.

Tribe.net (continued)

One of my very first posts on this weblog almost a year and half ago was about the social networking site Tribe.net.

At the time of that post, I had just invested in Tribe, largely because the founder is my friend Mark Pincus who has made something big out of everything he’s started.

I have been a member of Tribe for the past year and a half, but have not been a very active member of the community.

I spent some time there this morning and found that Tribe.net has become something pretty interesting.  What’s cool about Tribe is that its not about dating or business networking or anything in particular.  It’s a social network for all of that and more. So it gets a wide array of activity and I think its more interesting as a result.

I have added a listing of my "tribes" on the lower right column on this blog using something they called Tribecaster. If any of these tribes interest you, join Tribe.net and you can be a member of the tribe too.

Firefox Paradox

A particularly astute reader of this blog has been emailing with me about an issue that results from the emerging popularity of alternative broswers, led by Firefox.

As I’ve posted a couple times, my audience is somewhere between 25% and 35% Firefox users.

And I made the assertion in my most recent post that developers of web sites that don’t work well with Firefox need to do something about that.

So here is the paradox.  Firefox is great for the user because it provides a new open source browser that the community of users can maintain and improve. I use it almost exclusively unless I come across a site that doesn’t work well with it. Then I fall back to IE.

But Firefox is not great for the developers of the websites because now they have to support another platform.  Since the death of Netscape in the late 90s, web site developers have only had to support one browser, IE, and that has made their life so much easier.

That’s not true anymore.  Over 5% of the Internet audience uses Firefox and probably another 1-2% use Safari, Mozilla, and Opera.  And these alternative browsers are all gaining market share against IE.

My reader suggests that he could apply his scant resources to making his web site better for the IE users or he could apply them to making his web site available to the Firefox users, but he may not be able to do both.

And this situation gets worse if we end up with three popular browsers.  What happens if Firefox and Safari each end up splitting the market with IE at 30% each?  And what if Google is really building their own browser based on Mozilla and Firefox.

Then every web developer has to support three or more platforms and that may lead to less innovation on the web as more resources get applied to supporting the browsers instead of pushing the envelope on new functionality.

I don’t think that’s where this is all headed, but its a concern.  My reader and I are interested in what all of you think about this.  So please comment liberally to this post.

Exploding TV (continued)

The front page top story in the New York Times’ Arts and Leisure section this sunday is called Steal This Show.  John Markoff and Lorne Manley do a good job of explaining the emerging "exploding TV" technologies, including bit torrent, mythTV, and videora.

They cover the TV industry’s emerging response which is, typically, to resist the technology instead of embracing it.

But they missed an important part of the exploding TV theme and that is the emergence of content that is being shared and downloaded that comes from the viewers themselves, the "citizens media" as Jarvis has coined it.

Vlogging and video sharing sites are cropping up like crazy and my guess is that the viewers time will be split between new community built content and the holywood produced stuff like the Simpsons and The OC.

Four Fellas (continued)

Hpim1816_1 Well the boys made their debut on the stage last night to a packed house at the LREI Coffee House.

They were the fourth act to go onstage and their introduction brought loud cheers from the friendly crowd.

They’d done all of two rehearsals of their new song, Rock and Roll All Night, but they didn’t seem to be concerned.  And they rocked the house.

Hpim1824

That’s Ben up front singing, Max on guitar, Josh banging the drums, Will in the back on keyboards, and Ethan (their coach and manager) on bass.

I sure hope there will be more gigs as they had a blast and so did we.

Has Been

Hasbeen My first "new music" discovery of the year is William Shatner and Ben Folds’ awesome collaboration called Has Been.

Where do I start? The songs are great, Shatner’s delivery (speaking more than singing) is just classic.  The lyrics are hysterical.  The guests on the record include Joe Jackson, Henry Rollins, Aimee Mann, Lemon Jelly, and Brad Paisly.

This is an immensly listenable record.

The Gotham Gal got turned on to this from her brother.  Thanks Jerry.

My 50 Favorite Albums (continued)

When I first posted that I was going to put this list together, I got a ton of comments. One of the most popular bands in the comments was R.E.M., for obvious reasons.

R.E.M. is one of the great bands of my generation (that being people in their late 30s to early 50s). They put out great records from the early 80s to the mid 90s. They are making an effort at a comeback, but I am not holding my breath.

Automatic Their greatest album and a record that makes it into rotation in our house at least a couple times a month even now is Automatic For The People. It’s not the driving rock and roll that they are most known for, but has their best songwriting on it.

The first four songs and the last three songs are all classics.  And the songs in between are geat too.

So this week Automatic For The People goes onto my Top 50 list.

Four Fellas

I came home from the girls basketball game last night and heard the familiar chords of Kiss’ Rock and Roll All Night out front of the house.

Hpim1801 I went up to Josh’s room and heard them singing/shouting:

You drive us wild, we’ll drive you crazy!

His band, The Four Fellas, were rehearsing for their first gig, which is tonite at the LREI Coffee House.

I can’t wait to see them in action.