just a little light

I’ve been trying to come to grips with the news coming in about the Indian Ocean Tsunami. It seems so surreal. The pictures I’ve seen show that it was a beautiful day when this thing came lumbering ashore and just rolled over anything in its way. In the same way, here we are in the middle of the holiday season, lights blinking on the tree, while reports of a death toll destined to clear 100,000 souls come in the background. I’m only catching in bits and pieces because this is the time of year that I try to unplug and catch time with the family but it’s clear now that this is a tremendous tragedy of uncomprehending vastness. My sister is in the region (she’s fine) so she must feel it even stronger – what to do? You want to help but showing up now would only mean she’d add her mouth to all the others looking for a bit to eat.

What really brings it home are the pictures of the dead children. As a father, I can imagine the pain that a parent must feel when they must bury their son or daughter. The innocent faces, they look like they are sleeping, it rips my heart to see them, one life cut short, the other left in tatters.

I hope that we can learn from this somehow. That we can pull together and help each other through this time, that the league of nations can set their differences aside, turn away from petty conflict and strife and take care of others in more dire need. We were given the chance to change our thinking after 9/11 shocked the world with the terror that man unleash upon itself, we’ve been given a second chance with this natural disaster.

But some good may even come of that. . . . I heard this morning that the Tamil Tigers have been working with government troops
to bind the wounds of Sri Lanka. That may come to nothing, but at least they’re not killing each other at the moment.

Shadows this dark can cast a powerful light.

– John Perry Barlow

Have a Great Day!

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You know you’re not in New Jersey anymore when even the roadsigns greet you with excitement. Since we’ve been here Izumi and I have marveled how nice people are out here. The checkers at our local supermarket take time to talk to the kids and compare notes on the best way to cook the things we’ve purchased. Fellow shoppers politely pardon themselves as they glide by us in the aisles, idle chatter comes much more easily than it did back East.

Is it the weather or are people just happy to be here?

Battelle on “Sell Side Advertising”

I missed this the first time around but John Battelle’s description of how Overture and Ad Sense have flipped the old publisher-advertiser business relationship around makes sense. He polishes the idea a bit further in the latest issue of the MIT Technology Review:

Imagine that we start with the idea of PPC—that advertisers pay publishers only if their ads are acted upon by readers. Next, imagine that, instead of buying into PPC networks or specific sites, advertisers release their ads onto the Internet.

Because an Internet-based ad is already a little piece of software, it can be tagged with information about its target audience, how much the advertiser is willing to spend to reach that audience (and how much each click will cost), what kind of websites are acceptable or forbidden (such as porn sites), and any number of other attributes. Most important, each ad could communicate with a “home” application that tracks its progress and status.

Once these tagged ads are let loose, publishers could simply copy and paste them into their own websites. Through connections to their home sites, the ads would report which publishers have pasted them where, how many clicks they’ve received, and how much money is left in the advertiser’s bank account. The ad propagates until it runs out of money. If it is working, the advertiser simply fills up the tank with more money.

Why is this model better than the current one? Because publishers know their audiences best. There’s no incentive for publishers to place ads that don’t perform or that offend their readers.

For more on the original conversation, see Ross Mayfield’s post on the Cost per Influence.

Christmas Eve

dsc02591.jpgdsc02593.jpgWe were invited to the Central Baptist Church by Betty, our landlord of two months, while we looked for our house. The service was an hour long. We sang a few hymns and had the lyrics conveniently projected onto the screen behind the pulpit, listened to a short sermon, then watched a short film that explored the historical context of Christ’s birth. Towards the end there was a rousing rendition of Go Light Your World by a member of the choir and our kids couldn’t help but get into it (picutures above). All in all, although we aren’t regular chuch goers, it was very nice to be part of the ceremony and share the occaision.

dsc02598.jpgWe later went to join the congregation over at Betty’s house, the beautifully restored Garrett Mansion, for the traditional post-service chili dinner. The picture to the to the left is from the traditional singing of the Days of Christmas where each family is handed a glass with a day and they then sing their verse. That’s Betty conducting the singing. Thank you Betty for inviting us into your life and sharing your Christmas tradition with us – we had a great time!

Udell on the definition of Blog

Jon Udell hits the mark again. I should be packing up for our big move up to the city (starting from January 3rd we’ll be at 548 4th Street in San Francisco) but got distracted reading an old InfoWorld column where Jon talks about the definition of blogs. A blog is more than the simplistic definition provided by Merriam-Webster. It’s true power comes from the network to which it’s connected.

By way of analogy, consider a dictionary definition of a telephone: “an instrument that converts voice and other sound signals into a form that can be transmitted to remote locations and that receives and reconverts waves into sound signals.” That’s fine if you already know what a telephone network is, but the definition doesn’t work on its own. Just as telephones are meaningful only when connected to the telephone network, so blogs are meaningful only when connected to the blog network.

The Network is the Blog

Spot on.

James Lileks on Old Media

The Daily Peg pulls together some choice zingers from Star Tribune columnist and prolific blogger and ephemera archivist, James Lileks, on the impending implosion of the old media.

Blogs haven’t toppled old media. The foundations of Old Media were rotten already. The new media came along at the right time. Put it this way: you’ve see films of old buildings detonated by precision demolitionists. First you see the puffs of smoke – then the building just hangs there for a second, even though every column that held it up has been severed. We’ve been living in that second for years, waiting for the next frame. Well, here it is. Roll tape. Down she goes. And when the dust settles we will be right back where we were 100 years ago, with dozens of fiercely competitive media outlets throwing elbows to earn your pennies.

Hamako Sushi

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Last night Izumi and I went to Sushi Hamako on Carl Street in San Francisco. Run by a husband & wife team out of the ground floor of an old Victorian a few blocks from Haight-Ashbury, they’ve been putting out great sushi for the past 20 years.

Open from 6:30pm until, “the rice runs out” chef Tetsuya takes great care in selecting his ingredients and makes a trips to Tokyo hand carry things that he cannot source here such as thinly sliced kombu seaweed for his soup stocks. They have built up the business purely on word of mouth – there’s no sign out front and the decor is plain. They now are vistited regularly by those in the know. Iichiro drops by when the Marriners play the Giants and Yo-Yo Ma grabs a post-concert meal once a year when he’s in town for a performance.

dsc02576.jpgI was reading some of the online reviews and see that some folks have complained about their unforgiving attitude. I can see where they would get this feeling. There’s an extreme respect for the food here. Izumi’s friend who introduced us to this place told us of one person who complained because something that was listed on the menu was not available. The chef said that he only serves a fish if it’s fresh, regardless of what’s listed on the menu. An argument ensued after which Tetsuya chased the fellow out the door with Tetsuya’s wife (who takes orders and serves) sprinkling salt across the threshold to purify the place of the bad mojo to the amazement of the other patrons.

dsc02577.jpgI imagine that each day the menu is slightly different, although the Monkfish steamed in sake is a regular favorite. If you show an appreciation for what you are eating (as we did), the chef will begin to pull things out that are not normally offered. Anchovy Paste compote with shaved Uzu grown in San Leandro, handmade shiokara, Belgium chocolate truffles. . .

Sushi Hamako is much like the neighborhood sushi shop back in Japan. Functional decor and a focus on good fish. The only thing missing is are the Yomiuri Giants playing on a TV in the corner.

Sushi Hama-ko
108 Carl St Ste B
San Francisco, CA 94117-3925
Phone: (415) 753-6808

Thank you Mie for looking after the two kids and letting us get out for a long-needed break!

Care Package

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We sent a care package to a friend’s cousin who is on the front lines in Iraq. Ramen noodles, socks, chapstick, note paper and some letters from the kids. We don’t necessarily support the political reasons for the war over there but we do want to show our support in some way and connect with the good people that are over there during the holidays.