University of Minnesota upgrades to MT 3.16

University of Minnesota’s UThink installation is one of the largest, (if not the largest) Movable Type installations in the academic world. Shane Nackerud, the administrator of their 1,200 blog network, has done yeoman’s work wrassling an earlier version of Movable Type (2.x) to fit his needs and written a number of scripts to help him manage his ever-growing network.

Today, I’m happy to announce that University of Minnesota has formally announced their plans to upgrade to our latest version of Movable Type. I’m really excited to set Shane loose on our latest software and look forward to hearing how he extends it for his community.

Online Media Meet Market

Most writers view advertising as a necessary evil. Working for a weblog software company which makes the tools that many writers are using, I’m always on the lookout for an interactive agency that "gets it" and can provide a bridge for the considerable financial resources of its clients to make its way to my customers’ pockets so they can succeed. In my ideal world, good advertising should compliment good writing and create an experience which can co-exist in a way that adds value to a site.

I regret to say that I didn’t see it on the Ad-Tech trade show floor. As with my previous brush at another online advertising show, it was the usual mosh pit of smartly-dressed Search Engine Optimizers and Ad Network hucksters. There was a group of busty women in tank tops that had "Wanna be on top?" written across their chest running around promising to get your site to the top of the search engine results heap and a firm called Blow Search that promised Search as, "swift as the wind" from their "Super-Meta PPC search engine." It seemed like every other booth featured shot glasses as the giveaway-de-jour. Less a conference on how to create carefully-crafted editorial products and more a carnival on how to hoodwink the blinking masses into buying your product.

Not all was lost though. I did meet up with some folks from Nielsen/Netratings that slipped me their latest white paper, The Rules of Engagement, Online Media’s Missing Link, that introduced the subject of audience measurement in this new world of interactive media. Contributors include Rick Bruner, noted blogger, who has semi-retired from his blog in order to focus on his new role at the soon to be acquired DoubleClick.

The point of the paper is that the old metrics of unique visitors and pageviews may no longer apply to the world of blogs where they are seeing a flattening of growth in online visitors but a sharp increase in the number of pages viewed and time spent on a site.

There is little evidence demonstrating that changes in technology translate into changes in human nature. Technologies come and technologies go, but for as long as media has been consumed, engagement has truly been the sine qua non of success. It is precisely because engagement in the online environment is on the rise that the era of "proving" the efficacy of the online medium is over.

We have seen only the tip of the iceberg in audience fragmentation, and we are all in for a long, bumpy ride. Marketers choosing to cling exclusively to traditional media will miss the mark in two critical areas. First, and most obvious, they will miss opportunities to meet today’s customers where they are spending more and more time. But most important, participating in the online environment today will give marketers a deeper appreciation of how changing media preferences will impact their sales tomorrow.

I’m going to see Esther Dyson’s keynote tomorrow. In the meantime, you can read more on Ad:Tech San Francisco on this blog.

Mary Meeker on Online Advertising

Yesterday I visited the Ad-Tech show here in San Francisco to catch the last 20 minutes of Mary Meeker’s keynote and visit the exhibition hall. Let me first say that Mary’s presentation was fascinating but left me winded. We blew past 50 slides dense with stats and tidbits that raised an eyebrow when I first ran across them in my readings over the past several months but now, when gathered up and presented together, are nothing short of inspirational.

My key takeaway was that with broadband penetration now hitting 25 – 30% in North America, we’re going to start to see even greater adoption of the internet as the alternative delivery format for rich media. As more families experience life with an always on connection (I have an iMac in my living room and the little white window has become a hub of activity throughout the day), they begin to view the internet as a viable alternative to existing delivery methods.

Weblogs replace the letter from friends. Topix replaces your local paper. Weather.com replaces your local TV forecast. RSS feeds replace your local sports wrap-up. The list goes on. Mary’s point was that we’re only just beginning a new adoption phase as it is only when penetration of a new medium hits 25% that the volumes start to make sense for others to follow. Once all these families start hanging out on their always on broadband connections, you’ll see the advertisers follow which will enable more interesting projects which will draw more people online which will draw more advertisers, you get the idea.

More tomorrow on the exhibit hall.

I am You as You are Me

Matthew Haughey says all this fuss over the Mainstream Media is meaningless when so many bloggers are now on TV and magazine publishers are now blogging. We are all the media and the line that defines mainstream has gotten so fuzzy as to be meaningless.

Amen to that brother.

She Passed!

dsc03284.jpgIzumi’s had a bit of a struggle with getting her California Driver’s License and I don’t blame her. In order to transfer her license from New Jersey, she needed to pass a written test which is hard enough in English. While multiple choice, many of the possible answers are written in a twisted grammatical form that make it challenging for a native speaker but pure hell for a non-native. The questions are also devilishly obscure and sometimes defy logic.

Q: When on a hill, without a curb, which way do you turn your tires?
A : To the right.

So if you’re brake fails, now your car will swing out INTO traffic? Go figure. . .

In order to give herself a fighting chance, Izumi chose to take the test in Japanese. Unfortunately, that didn’t make it any easier as there was no Japanese booklet to study and their translations left something to be desired. On top of this, Izumi’s got one of the worst cases of test-phobia I’ve ever seen (she actually breaks out in a cold sweat) so you can appreciate the dilemma. She had failed twice so you can imagine the tension as well as we went in on Friday morning for her third try.

I took her to the DMV while Tyler was in school and played with Julia while mommy labored over her test. We made up little cheers and whispered them quietly in the corner (“Go! Go! Mommy!”) hoping that the positive vibes would boost her confidence. We were crestfallen when the scores came back and she had again failed by missing seven questions when you need six to pass.

On the way home, as we reviewed which questions she had missed, Izumi noticed that one of the questions was marked incorrectly as a miss when in fact she had marked the correct answer. She had pointed this out to the woman scoring her answers but she was distracted and had somehow missed it (see picture above).

I pulled a quick U-turn and floored it back to the DMV hoping to catch the lady that graded her test before she went out on lunch break. Luck was on our side because not only did we catch her, she remembered that Izumi had pointed out the proper answer and now the “-7” became a “-6”. When I confirmed that Izumi passed, I couldn’t contain myself and caused a minor disturbance by shooting my arms straight in the air and shouting “YESSS!”

The Kennedy household is a couple of notches less tense now that the test is behind us and we’ve ticked off another hurdle to becoming Californians.

Seth Goldstein on discovering something you didn’t even know you were looking for

In part three of his five part piece on Media Futures, Majestic Research co-founder and former Entrepreneur in Residence at Flatiron Partners, Seth Goldstein comments on the development of the Web API.

As of 2005, the Internet has replaced the desktop PC as the primary platform for APIs. Unlike Microsoft and the desktop, however, nobody controls the web as a platform; although certain companies do oversee enormous pools of user data and have the opportunity to direct such traffic as they see fit.

He goes on to list several examples of traditional websites (Amazon, Google, EBay, etc) publishing an open API to yield secondary applications developed by the general public. He goes on to call the web-based API, put into the hands of the developing public,

the hinge between the algorithm that processes raw human meta data and the moment of alchemy that occurs when you discover something you didn’t even know you were looking for, courtesy of some people that you didn’t even know that you knew.

It’s John Battelle’s Database of Intentions set free by a collection of vendors & search engines which open up their data so that it can be collated and analyzed in new and exciting ways.

Blogs on the cover of BusinessWeek

It’s going to be another busy week – BusinessWeek has a lengthy cover story on why companies need to pay attention to blogs.

Go ahead and
bellyache about blogs. But you cannot afford to close your eyes to
them, because they’re simply the most explosive outbreak in the
information world since the Internet itself. And they’re going to shake
up just about every business — including yours. It doesn’t matter
whether you’re shipping paper clips, pork bellies, or videos of Britney
in a bikini, blogs are a phenomenon that you cannot ignore, postpone,
or delegate. Given the changes barreling down upon us, blogs are not a
business elective. They’re a prerequisite.

At the same time BusinessWeek Online launched five new blogs (powered by Movable Type) at Blogspotting.net

Artwork

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There is a difference in each of our kids’ artwork. Julia, the younger one, draws with determination to express an emotion. The drawing on the left is Julia’s and although she says that it’s a dragon, it bears a striking resemblence to her mother.

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Tyler is older and is much more detailed in his drawings. The picture on the right is his and you can see that he is using color and detail to explain a story. This one is of a dragon as well and takes place in the desert.