:Ben Metcalfe Blog

technoratiscreendump

A random glimpse at Technorati this morning shows I’m ranked exactly #10,000. Anyone care to give me another link to bring me down into quadrouple figures? Please? :)

I still have the same problem as Stowe, with Technorati thinking I have two blogs instead of one: [1], [2].

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Two links for you this morning:

Ewan McIntosh has written the first of a number of posts discussing what else happened at LeWeb3 — ie the conference program.

He starts with an overview of two day’s events and says he intends to write up individual talks/panels over the weekend. Highlight should include danah Boyd, Hossain Derakhshan (the Iranian blogger) and the excellent Hans Rosling (if you haven’t seen GapMinder or his wonderful TED presentation, check it out)

Next up is Mike Butcher, the former Editor of TechCrunchUK who has written an open letter to Mike Arrington, which is worth a read.

Mike calls out a number of legitimate points in his letter, including the role of publisher vs editor and also Mike’s assertion that he fired Sam Sethi because Sethi was promoting his own events on a TechCrunchUK post. On the latter point, it’s very clear that the events Sam was promoting were TechCrunchUK and not his own – which is why this aspect of his firing doesn’t really stand up.

I also understand Mike’s wife is currently undergoing some significant hospital treatment during what has now become an even more turbulent time for the Butcher family. My best wishes to you and your wife, Mike.

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UPDATE: I just rieceived this from Sam:

“just to let you know my blog is alive at typepad. I am not sure why but the account has also been paid and is upto date?”

It looks like whatever happened was a temporary glitch in the system somewhere.


Following on from the news of Sam Sethi’s departure from TechCrunchUK over comments about Loic Le Meur’s organization of the LeWeb3

I’ve just heard from Sam that his Six Apart TypePad account appears to have been removed – rendering him unable to update his personal blog. Six Apart are of course the organizers of the conference and Loic Le Meur is the Executive Vice President & General Manager Europe of the company.

It has not yet been verified with Six Apart that Sethi’s account has indeed been removed/suspended, but it certainly looks that way. Upon entering his normal username and password the system doesn’t appear to recognize his account.

If this is indeed true, that’s a pretty poor show on Six Apart’s count and raises all sorts of issues about impartiality and independence of their publishing platform.

Watch this space.

UPDATE: The latest I have from Jane Anderson (who look after press @ Six Apart) is:

“Sam Sethi’s blog is up, active and not in any sort of suspended state.”

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Sam Sethi, publisher of TechCrunchUK, has just Twittered to say that he’s been fired by Michael Arrington:

“I have been fired by Arrington for not removing the post comments from Loic. I will be looking for work and writing on www.vecosys.com

Sam is referring to a stunning ‘Deja Vucomment left by Six Apart’s Loic Le Meur on the TechCrunchUK blog in which he calls out Sethi as ‘an asshole’. It all seems rather reminiscent of LesBlogs 2005…

Sam went on to follow up Loic’s critical comment by making another post on the TechCrunchUK blog entitled “Putting my money where my mouth is” (UPDATE: this has since been pulled from TechCrunch UK).

In it he announced that TechCrunchUK, which was a sponsor of the LeWeb3 event, would be hosting it’s own round of industry events and workshops during the forthcoming year.

I’m not entirely clear the exact reason for Sethi’s departure. I don’t believe this is simply a moderation issue – especially as Loic’s comment hardly used the most ‘profane’ choice of language at his disposal. One can only speculate that Arrington simply didn’t agree with Sethi’s take on the event, and for that Sethi has had the chop.

No doubt Sam will post more about what has happened over on his personal blog.

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In his debut for the all-new Valleywag, Clay Shirkey calls in a few home truths about SecondLife.

Clay articulates a number of issues I’ve been mulling over for a while – the biggest being Liden Labs less-than-forthcoming approach to their real usage figures.

Everyone knows that SecondLife doesn’t really have 1.5 million users. As Clay puts it:

“Someone who tries a social service once and bails isn’t really a user any more than someone who gets a sample spoon of ice cream and walks out is a customer.”

Of couse, I totally agree with Clay – and the thing that frustrates me is that Linden isn’t playing a level game here…

From their own server metrics, they know exactly how many people are ‘regular users’ – but they are choosing not to release that information. “They’re a private company, why should they?”, you might ask – well because they want the rest of us to invest in their system…

  • Linden have just completed a world tour of digital agencies – trying to get agencies to factor in SecondLife propositions for their clients by demonstrating the ‘opportunities’ within their MetaVerse.
  • Linden encourages those of us who can ‘build things’ to get into SecondLife and start building. Great, but how can I can my virtual items out if I choose to leave SecondLife. And even if I could, what value are they to anyone outside of Linden’s virtual ecosystem?
  • The great SecondLife Land Grab – which has supposedly made the infamous Anshe Chung a virtual millionaire. Clay picks up the legitimacy of such a claim in his post, but the point for me on this one is that serious money is demanded in order to start owning land in SL – which is becoming a bit of a necessity in order to do anything in the system
  • Attention is something we’re all paying when we use SecondLife, and even attention in SecondLife has a value.

So it’s with the above points in mind, I urge Linden to be up front about the true numbers of people using SecondLife. If Linden want SecondLife to become a location of commerce and business then they need to get with the program and give us some detailed statistics – just like any other trading platform would need to do in order to garner customers.

One has to wonder why they haven’t already, and whether they really are as low as the 10,000 daily average Clay offers.

I continue to use and enjoy SecondLife. I feel there is a lot of insight to into some of the future usage patterns and opportunities of such an online community might afford us, not to mention some UI and technical skills gained from building and scripting 3D objects.

But I’m still concerned that SecondLife could become the sacrificial lamb that trailblazed the technology and usage patterns, but was ultimately overtaken by more agile players who watched from the sidelines and learned from their mistakes.

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For sometime I’ve been toying with an ad network idea that would essentially allow people to sell space on their laptop to advertisers. Like what sticker-schwag vendors hope you’ll do for them for free, but this time with a payment.

Leah Culver independently went and did exactly what I was thinking about, and seems to have been quite successful. The heart of her implementation was laser etching logos onto the front of her MacBookPro, which is a nice way of doing it if you have a shiny surface like an Apple laptop.

My idea didn’t initially include laser etching, however I can see instances where it might be successful.

With this in mind, I was quite excited to hear that Phil Torrone (editor of Make:) is launching a laser etching service. This obviously fills in one part of the jigsaw as to how one could get this idea off the ground.

Interestingly Phil is launching his business around an open-source model. Once it is established Phil and his business partner will release details of how they set up the business – everything from spreadsheets through to templates for the laser.

Best of luck guys!

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Sarita just left the following comment:

“And responses are MODERATED? If you were that offended by the comment, just reject it! Just because someone annoys you doesn’t mean you have to try to smear them, much less expose them.”

So why do I have comment moderation on this blog?

Well, this blog seems to attract a level of comment spam far above the blogs of many of my friends, colleagues and peers (even ones with higher Technorati rank or Google PageRank).

A quick peek through Akismet, the excellent anti-comment-spam module in WordPress, shows that it is currently zapping a comment spam every 7 minutes. It’s not uncommon to have 10 or 20 comment spam attempts in the space of a few minutes.

With the above volume in mind, it’s perhaps not surprising that a fair amount manages to sneak it’s way past the security measures I have enabled – of which Akismet is just one of many. For example:

SGML. Girl spanking free pictures

(link removed)

This is why I continue to have first-comment moderation active on this blog.

(…which means the first time you leave a comment with a new email address, it must be green-flagged by me before it is published to the blog. Any future comments under that same email address are automatically published, of course.)

I would so really like to be able to turn this off – but at this time it’s just not possible with the amount of spam.

Akismet is such a great tool – but it needs to get a little better before I’ll trust it 100% for my comments.

In the meantime, let me be absolutely clear with my moderation policy:

I only dump comments that are spam or totally off-topic to the original subject. I do not remove comments that are critical of me, in case people think that’s why I have moderation on. Check out [1] [2] [3] for examples of that!

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Finger to the politicians

LeWeb3 concluded a few hours ago, and by most all accounts people who attended are very unhappy at the decision to drop technology speakers (at the last minute) for appearences by French presidential candidates.

Tom Raftery writes:

“…the conference was completely hijacked and changed from a conference about new web technologies into a presidential campaign for the next French election. Two of the candidates, Nikolas Sarkozy and François Bayrou were parachuted in to the conference schedule at the last minute, displacing other speakers.”

There didn’t seem to be much of a backchannel at LeWeb this year, partly due to the lack of stable Wifi (blame Orange) and the overly-corporate feel to this year’s conference.

However that didn’t stop a couple of guys, with sentiment dear to my heart, calling bullshit on Nikolas Sarkozy via the finger-channel (see above).

The decision to bring in the two candidates last minute – and allow them to address the conference in French – is surprising considering LeWeb’s earlier boast that the majority of the attendees were not from France.

I was already very surprised when the organizers changed the focus of the conference from blogging over to general ‘internet technology’. It certainly removed any value for me to go over to Paris to listen to people talk about general internet technology, when I am living in the thick of it here in San Francisco.

If LeWeb had remained LesBlogs, it might have been a different story, although last year’s conference was hardly packed with insights and revelations either.

When people write:

“Personally, I feel the conference has had the life sucked out of it by the egoism and ambition of certain individuals running the show…” (Graham Holliday)

… and even your sponsors write:

“the event feels like it has run its course… Le Web 4 will be a hard sell, certainly as far as I am concerned” (Sam Sethi on TechCrunchUK, a sponsor of the event)

…maybe it’s time to call it a day on Le Conférences A La Six Apart?

Which is a great shame, because Europe needs a good internet conference. EuroOSCon and XTech are for the geekier crowd and mobile conferences in London are obviously very niche. LiFT and Reboot are excellent, but remain small to maintain a very different vibe (for me they are gatherings and not conferences as such – something I would attend personally rather than on behalf of a company).

All of which makes me want to think more with Chris Pirillo the idea of holding “Gnomedex London”, maybe as a simulcast if people would be receptive to the time difference… Gnomedex is exactly what Europe needs, and frankly is exactly what LeWeb could have been if only it hadn’t lost it’s course…

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Just a quick post to say hi to everyone at Le Web 3 (formerly Les Blogs) in Paris – and to wish Loic and his team all the very best.

Sorry I can’t be there, but hope it goes well for you all. I’ll snark monitor the back channel if anyone dares cares to point me to it!

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Zooomr has announced it is to relaunch at the start of next year – in 25 languages and with the opportunity to monetize your photography. Cool

power to unite

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