Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Taking the disqusion forward

We now have a new commenting system on our blog. It's called Disqus and it has to be among my top 3 tech services of all time. These days, I can't even remember what the other two are.

Anyway, check it out. We use it extensively on WeareIndia as well...for example on the video page, and it rocks.

It's going to replace our blogger commenting system here on.

Freeware- A tale of Maya and the evil CEO

Visually stunning and action packed, Freeware is a 3-D, CG-animated thrill ride through a futuristic world. This sci-fi short follows three cyborgs on a daring race to rescue Maia, an assistant at a powerful IT company, from the grips of its evil CEO.

(All due disclaimers regarding "Evil", "CEO" and "Cyborgs") :)

Too many social networks................

Urgh- was at a bloggers' meet on Sunday(check it out here) and this one guy got on my nerves(and I think I have company).

I called him Twitty Bird(sorry Tweety...!), because he follows a few thousand folks on Twitter. And he also is on Facebook, Orkut, MySpace, and I shudder to think where else.
Now, he seemed like a guy who was out to sell his goods, and so I suppose I see why he'd be on so many networks. So that's fine.

But it occurred to me that there are way too many social networks out there. Waaaaaaaaaaaay tooooooooooooooooo maaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnnnyyyyyyyyyyy. And it's really irritating because you never really know which one's hot and which one isn't, until you either find half your high school on one, or hear that AOL paid $850 MM for another.

So I was thinking, maybe there should be a directory of social networks somewhere. You know...something like:
Find your old friends from school - Facebook
Develop your professional network- LinkedIn
Keep up with your friends' activities on the web- Friendfeed
There could even be more than one in each category, maybe letting users vote for the best ones, sortable by popular features.

When it comes to the social net, there are deep divides between adoption and participation, participation and meaningful interaction, interaction and personal/social utility. Just because you signed up for LinkedIn doesn't mean you'll get a job, and just because you have a lot of friends on Facebook doesn't mean you create meaningful value for the Facebook network. And most importantly, just because a lot of folks hang out on Orkut doesn't mean you need to, as well.

So I'd like to see someone come up with an online version of "Social Networks for Dummies"- an outline of most social networks out there, how to tell what might be useful for you, techniques for sociably deriving benefit from each type of network, and other fun things that might solve the adoption > participation problem.

Just a fleeting thought.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The .TV bust- Follow up thought

Riff says:

Online video watching keeps climbing, but there isn't a proportional rise in revenues. So you now have the eyeballs, and apparently eyeballs = money does not really cut it

Stating that coherent business models for online video have not yet emerged is simplifying it... but I believe it is a lot deeper:
We have not been able to fully tap the depth (and breadth) of interaction that the web brings to video. Each time a user interacts with the content he/she adds a certain, extremely tangible value to that content.

It is that value that has not been leveraged to its full potential.


Succinctly put.

- The mad rush for eyeballs is stupid. Visibility does not imply Revenue.
- Coherent biz models are useless in a disruptive world. What worked yesterday will probably not work tomorrow.
- Edge interaction, more often than not, is hotter than hot, in a lot of good ways. Which all brings us back to Umair Haque, Bubble Generation, and how to change the world by living on the edge.


Enough about the bust. We'll talk about the boom very soon.

The .TV bust

Could it be....could it just be, that for the second time in less than a decade, we are going to see the decline of streaming media as a business?

I need to put together my thoughts on this, but I was talking about this with a friend today, and it's very possible that 2008 will see an implosion in online video.

- YouTube still isn't profitable.
- Brightcove hasn't democratized anything, really, besides offering a lot of infrastructure-as-a-service, at the cost of gold.
- Move Networks claims to solve the buffering problem(isn't that easily done with a Java script selector that selects the appropriate stream based on your bandwidth?).
Feedroom, Maven, Veoh, Grouper, Blinkx, KickApps, thePlatform, etc. etc....there's a huge list.

So a lot of money went into all this. I think Brightcove and Move stole the show on money raised with about $150mm between both of them. Add $1.6B that went into Google-YouTube. Add $5mm on average for another 50-odd Internet video companies.
Adds up to around $2 billion dollars.

That's what's been pumped into online video so far.
And about 3-odd years have gone by since YouTube became a noun and a verb. And a synonym.

Is the business of online video a myth? Or are we doing something very fundamentally wrong?

I'd say it's probably the latter, and I'm going to spend some time mulling this through.

But I do know this- in any other Internet business, if you had as much activity(500K user accounts, 100 million videos viewed a day), if your site consumed as much bandwidth in a year as the entire Internet did 7 years ago, and if your revenues were still "immaterial", then there'd be lots more introspection going on.
And these wouldn't be very pleasant introspective sessions, I'm sure.

[ to be continued...]

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Yahoo! about to release free analytics suite

Talk about things being long-due!
Or maybe it's never too late.

On a related note, I know the Yahoo! board had a secret meeting last Friday to discuss "things". It's almost Friday, and there's a hush all around.

I wonder what's up.....

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sunday, April 13, 2008

It's inconvenient. But it's the truth.

Al Gore speaks at TED last month, presenting evidence "that the pace of climate change may be even worse than scientists were recently predicting.."

Saturday, April 12, 2008

"The Medium is the Massage"

I am not sure I can say this any differently, or any better, so I'll just quote Marshall McLuhan:

"Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication. The alphabet, for instance, is a technology that is absorbed by the very young child in a completely unconscious manner, by osmosis so to speak.
Words and the meaning of words predispose the child to think and act automatically in certain ways.

The alphabet and print technology fostered and encouraged a fragmenting process, a process of specialism and of detachment.
Electric technology fosters and encourages unification and involvement.

It is impossible to understand social and cultural changes without a knowledge of the workings of media.

The older training of observation has become quite irrelevant in this new time, because it is based on psychological responses and concepts conditioned by the former technology- mechanization. "

..more of this to follow post assimilation.

WeareIndia.TV: Engagement numbers from 11 days in a very private Beta


We just collected stats from our Beta launch, and as always, for shits 'n giggles, decided to do a little study of where we stand after 11 days of pseudo-action, as juxtaposed with other proud members who co-exist in our ecosystem, despite them being playmates of a slightly varied nature.

The prizes, of course, are the same- eyeballs, attention, and revenue- not necessarily in that order.

This is too early to start making determinations, so we won't.

But there you have it..the numbers from our first 11 days of beta launch:
- average time spent on WeareIndia.TV was a whopping 9 minutes, 10 seconds
- average page views/user on WeareIndia.TV was 4.62

On May 1, we launch playlists. Oh, and we get out of private beta as well.
10 days from then, we'll release another version of these numbers.

You will be pleasantly surprised.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

One a day..

Yahoo just announced an interesting tie-up with Major League Baseball "Advanced Media".
On a separate note, its largest shareholder (Capital World Investors) just doubled its stake in Yahoo.

One a it enough to keep the buyers at bay?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The MicroHoo funky chicken dance

The Microsoft-Yahoo dance continues.

Yahoo! will be testing out a partnership w/ Google to display advertisements from Google's AdSense program, on searches made at version only).

Microsoft was quick to retort, that such a move would further consolidate Google's position in the online advertisement marketplace- a statement that was backed up by US Senator Herb Kohl


Yahoo does not want to be bought, and definitely not in this hostile takeover. It would be a shame to see it go thus, and they're doing everything they can to stall. To their credit, they're doing quite a bit. They acquired an analytics firm earlier today, signed on a promising big-name partnership exploration(the biggest name these days, if you will...), and are, after a very long time, showing a hunger(fear?) that can probably get them out of this jam.


Microsoft has a point, but it's somewhat moot, because for every little thing Yahoo pulls off, it is able to convince its shareholders that Microsoft needs to name a better price, to compensate for the growth potential being created. So if I were Yahoo, I'd be pulling off a lot of things, every day, through the end of the month, and just before the Microsoft deadline, present my shareholders with a case that outlines a going-it-alone strategy.


From a shareholder standpoint, a huge price for Yahoo is not something that Microsoft shareholders want to bear, short term. There are estimates pointing to the downturn in MSFT stock that would happen if Microsoft were to go up even by $3/share. Moreover, it's not like the Yahoo stock acquired in the process would pay off their losses. And finally, the long-term benefits of the MSFT-YHOO merger are in the loooooooonnnnggg term- not something that shareholders(particularly the large institutional ones that hold shares in both MSFT and YHOO) want to wait out for.


All the same, Yahoo is either playing with a great hand(and they either get a huge payout from MSFT, or they get MSFT to walk away), or they're fighting to death(and we see the boring proxy battle).
The "worsening economic conditions" would make it harder for Microsoft to go very high...or so I think.

These next 3 weeks should be very interesting.

Does anyone *actually* know when the two weeks of AdSense testing for Yahoo begins?? What happens if the AdSense tests are in progress, and uncle Ballmer's deadline expires? Does he extend it to watch the next step for Yahoo + Google? Does he start the proxy battle knowing that he might lose(shareholders might love the 16% savings/16% revenue increase from a Yahoo-Google partnership..).

Good stuff...

Our publishers can now be syndicated

Good news: We just added RSS feeds for each publisher.
It's accessible via the "Subscribe via RSS" button, on each publishers channel page.
So head on over to the site, click through to your favorite publishers channel page, click on the "Subscribe via RSS" button, and be notified whenever there is a new video added to the channel!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Here's another prediction...

Microsoft is making a mess of the Yahoo acquisition.

I see the substance coming from Yahoo, and bully-ish(but empty)threats from Microsoft.

Here's what we know is going to happen:
- either Microsoft will make the most expensive mistake in the history of the company, or,
- take one of the biggest stock plunges it's ever taken.

I put my money(and prayers) on the big downwards plunge. It would be a perfect complement to the Bear Stearns implosion. It needs to happen. Because you can't EVER buy strategy. You develop it.

Microsoft, the maker of personal computing software for over two decades, cannot hope to turn into an Internet advertising business in 3 months. There is such a thing as inertia. And it cannot be stopped with hysteria.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Fred Wilsons thoughts on Online Video

There is a huge discussion going on at Fred Wilson's blog, about why online video is a tough, tough game right now.

There's actually a lot said in the comments themselves, so take away from it what you can.

Friday, April 4, 2008

It can be tamed!

For those of you using the Google Custom Search engine to search your site, you might run into the problem of not seeing any search results show up. I believe this happens if you're using the iFrame approach.

Please don't ask me why, but to get the results to show up, all you need to do is add the following line of code to your search form:

    <input type="hidden" name="cof" value="FORID:11" />

And that's it. Your search results should show up promptly thereafter.

Strange are the ways of 'good'.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Dear Umair,

Thank you for bringing to us a vision of a discontinuous future.

Yes, there is much debate about how valid your thoughts are, and if they are actually relevant. The good news, to me, is that there's a debate.
I enjoy all sides of a conversation, and I sense that you do too.

I flunked economics in high school(repeatedly), but you made economics very exciting(and relevant) for me. I think The Economics of New Media is gold, and the Strategy/Economics of Peer Production is like warm apple pie. I find nothing in them that's hard to understand, and your masterful approach at articulating the economics of new media makes you a fucking genius, in my eyes.

Before I ran into BubbleGen, I was at the Center for New Media, and at the Arts, Technology and Culture colloquium at Berkeley. We did a lot of work looking at how new forms of communication are reshaping our lives, and changing our culture of interaction. I spent all of 3 years working for some brilliant minds- folks who were exploring the depth and breadth of pervasive media.

As a media architect, I was lucky enough to have been able to touch upon a number of these projects, in many different roles. You know...a lot of the people I worked with, they were "out there" as well. They were doing things that took matters beyond the usual realm of conversation. One of the first things I worked on was the Oxygen Flute- an installation where we fitted plants with CO2 sensors, connected the sensors to a PC+ speakers, monitored the varying CO2 vs O2 levels in the room as people walked in 'n out, and played back a flute-ish musical note for each (+/-) variation in gaseous levels in the room.

It was "out there". But as I learned many projects later, Greg(my favorite boss of all-time BTW) was bridging a gap between environment and perception........using a medium that is new, reactive, accurate within reason, and ubiquitous. It was a state of mind that I had never imagined before, and while it was "out there" for me at one point of time, I was "in it" before I knew it. It's just how you choose to attune your mindset...your point of view.

I look at your work from a similar perspective. In talking so much about the edge, you have to be a little "out there", else you couldn't be saying what you're saying. Moreover, as I've whined on my blog(and yours) quite often- people are so used to talking about issues that are core, that they find it hard to grasp the concept of a decentralized, fragmented edge.

Now that you've just sounded the trumpet, it might be useful for you to drill very deep into the core, and work your way outwards to the edge. And yes, this would HAVE TO BE a collaborative effort within your blog community. No way you're going to pull this off on your own.

I have a little Chevron process [which probably needs to be modified...I flunked business classes too... ] that outlines different considerations for a company in business.

Recently, you've generated a fair bit of discussion on the issues of distribution and branding. And over the last year, I've seen BubbleGen touch upon each of the other points, in varying degrees.
If you were to talk about each of these issues, in the context of each industry that need re-shaping, then you're probably talking about a Haquepedia. If you're into that, then be my guest.

I'd say, aim small...miss small. Some of your readers just pointed out that one of the loveliest things about BubbleGen is that it raises questions, and if you're listening closely enough, you can contextualize the answers to your own industry/profession/game. Other readers have pointed out that it'd be nice if you could jump in from time to time in the comments(a little more often than you do), and help tweak 'em to suit the overall objective.
Haquespertise is the way to go. Critically analyze the reason for being, the constraints for growth, and charting a sustainable path to the future.

1) First, I would take an honest look at each of the above, and put them into the context of how the definitions of each have changed.

For example:
- Understanding oligarchic approaches vis-a-vis the above process, using case studies, drawing parallels, and what have you. Why is a company established in 1952 not the same as a company established in 2003?
- What were our big problems in 1952? In 1972? In 2002? And what do we expect our problems to be in 2020?
- Should marketing text books get thrown out the door? We learned of the 4 Ps, and now there are many more than 4. Isn't it dangerous to teach MBA students stuff that's at least irrelevant/incomplete by 3-5 years?

the list goes on.....

2) Next, I'd be thinking about re-shaping the above processes so they're more elastic than they currently are. One of the fundamental barriers to growth/evolution, is the unwillingness of the system to change. It's convenient for us to blame "the system" as being this high 'n mighty being that controls how we operate, but the reality is that it's our system, and we build it how we want to build it.
So instead of going for the Constitution+Amendment approach(please refer Article Eleventy Nine), I think we need to give some thought to Structure 2.0. How do you build a structure that's elastic enough to account for next-gen problems(visible and perceived) in the above 10-fold context?

3) This is the part that I'm fuzzy on. I think we all are. What is this discontinuous future that we're after? It can't be perfect, so what deficiencies can we expect then? What will be our inefficiencies? And unless we're going to build us a perfect world, who will suffer? Or at least, who's not going to win? What will change? What will remain incomplete, but be better than before?


That's my long answer to "what would help the most". If we're talking about big changes, then we need to be thorough in our goal-seek, candid in our introspection, realistic about the outcomes, agile in our approach, and incredibly collaborative in our method.

I don't think Web 2.0 means anything. It's just a step forward. There will be a Web 78.0, assuming the inconvenient truths don't hit us first. Yes, 2.0 is a giant leap for man-kind, but it's just a milestone, and I think we should be thinking strategy in terms of vision, not milestones.

It's ridiculously easy.

Unboxed. Wildfired.

Gigya + Unbox integration complete. Time taken: 4 minutes + CSS editing time(5 minutes, if you must know).

The outcome is that anyone who wants to take this widget and share it on their blog, social net profile, etc., now can.

Just get to our Login page, and check out the buttons right under the Amazon Unbox widget.

With a single click, you can now take this widget, and post it on any of these web sites. And if you're web savvy, just grab the code("Or Copy Code"), and post it wherever you like.

We're going to switch the listings on the Unbox widget from time to time.

Currently, it's set to show you videos in reverse release date order(oldest first).
Why? For shits and giggles, of course!



We just added in the Amazon Unbox Video widget on our login page.

Seeing as we don't have all the interesting logged in features available yet, we thought it might be nice to offset the gloom caused by "Uh..sorryyyy....login is restricted....".

The good news is that you can preview the videos, rent them for as low as 99 cents, buy them for downloading, or buy the DVDs, all via this little widget.

We're trying to complement this with Gigya, so more on that as soon as we figure it out!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Countdown to launch: 5......4......3......2......

If you didn't catch this already...

Hello! Welcome to the Beta launch of WeareIndia.TV

What you can expect. This will be an entertainment destination, but you won’t find your usual flavor of Bollywood or Hollywood entertainment. You will see films made by hard-working, self-motivated, extremely talented, and enthusiastic film-makers.

What you should know. We will be adding in a lot more content over the next 45 days. This is a platform for non-mainstream film. Most of it from India, some of it from elsewhere. We have received a near-overwhelming response; and the only times we’ve turned someone down is because the content seemed more amateurish, than professionally produced. Not anyone can upload on here, so we’re having to work very hard to manage the content screening and ingestion process.

What we believe. Is it really fair to brand this content ‘non-mainstream’? Probably not. If we have learned anything from the spate of video sharing web sites out there, including YouTube, it is this: non-mainstream is niche. Niche is appealing. Appeal is personal. And on the Internet, if you can make things personal for each member of your audience, you’re one jump ahead of the bread line.

Feedback. Please tell us what you like about the site(and the content), send us feedback( and help us get this ready for the world outside. You might(and in a strange way, we hope you do) see bugs. Pretty please, with sugar on top, tell us about them, before you tell others about the site. Seriously, this is for-your-eyes-only thus far.

Finally. We’re not too hot about rolling out features without user feedback. Web 2.0 sites are in a perpetual state of beta, so we will gradually add in a foray of exciting features to enhance the WeareIndia.TV experience. What you will see on here is about 40% of our planned feature set for the next 3 months.
The site will be live as soon as we figure out this ONE bug that is totally getting on all our nerves. We expect this to happen at some point today(our chief technology officer just passed out from fatigue after 28 hours on the trot, so I’m waiting for him to be awake enough to grab a few more cans of Red Bull, before we get cracking again).

The fine print:

- WeareIndia.TV is targeted at users with a high speed broadband connection. Ahem…real broadband = 500 kbps upwards. So if you’re in India, then complaints about accessibility ought to go to the DoT, not to us.

- There’s a neat bookmarking tool on the site right now. It lets you bookmark the site on any of your favorite tagging/bookmarking sites. Or you could just CTRL+D it.

- We’re not particularly IE-friendly. We deal with browsers from a very technical point of view, and to put it real polite: IE sucks. But it’s a free world, so use the browser you prefer. If you ask us, we recommend Firefox.

- Finally, like all good netizens, we have a blog. It lives on Blogger ( If you happen to find interest in what we say on there, then we’ve left an email subscription option for you on WeareIndia.