Tuesday, September 29, 2009

iPhone App Store blows past 2 billion downloads

With more than 125,000 developers having made 85,000 applications available to over 50 million-plus iPhone/iPod Touch users worldwide and the Chinese market just opening, Apple is effectively rewriting how software developers and vendors do business. The numbers announced by Apple Monday are staggering to even normally reserved analysts, who noted that after a somewhat slower summer buying rate, App Store downloads globally have exceeded more than 10 million a day in much of September. Again, 10 million each day! Launched on my birthday on July 11, 2008, it took nine months to hit 1 billion, and only six more months to hit 2 billion downloads.
The App Store’s success is due in part to the large number of devices downloading them, but the ease with which the apps can be downloaded and the usually affordable price point - often free or costing just a few bucks - encourages purchases.

Sony’s eReader division opens to self-publishers

Sony has announced a partnership with Smashwords and Author Solutions Tuesday to allow any author to upload a book to their eBook Store, giving self-published writers unprecedented access to the ubiquitous point-of-sale marketplace that is the e-reader.

To publish your own book through Smashwords, just upload the manuscript in a specified Microsoft Word format, set a price, and select affiliates: Stanza on iPhone, Aldiko on Androi, Barnes & Nobles’ website, and now the Sony eBook Store. After that, there are no editors, publishers, copyeditors or other gatekeepers to worry about — or, for that matter, to improve your work — just readers.

"It was a dark and stormy night........."

Monday, September 28, 2009

95 Theses - The Market as a Conversation

So valuable that I have lifted it from The Cluetrain Manifesto. You can read it online here.
"A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies."

"Networked markets are beginning to self-organize faster than the companies that have traditionally served them. Thanks to the web, markets are becoming better informed, smarter, and more demanding of qualities missing from most business organizations."

95 Theses

1. Markets are conversations.

2. Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.

3. Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.

4. Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived.

5. People recognize each other as such from the sound of this voice.

6. The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media.

7. Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.

8. In both internetworked markets and among intranetworked employees, people are speaking to each other in a powerful new way.

9. These networked conversations are enabling powerful new forms of social organization and knowledge exchange to emerge.

10. As a result, markets are getting smarter, more informed, more organized. Participation in a networked market changes people fundamentally.

11. People in networked markets have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from vendors. So much for corporate rhetoric about adding value to commoditized products.

12. There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.

13. What's happening to markets is also happening among employees. A metaphysical construct called "The Company" is the only thing standing between the two.

14. Corporations do not speak in the same voice as these new networked conversations. To their intended online audiences, companies sound hollow, flat, literally inhuman.

15. In just a few more years, the current homogenized "voice" of business—the sound of mission statements and brochures—will seem as contrived and artificial as the language of the 18th century French court.

16. Already, companies that speak in the language of the pitch, the dog-and-pony show, are no longer speaking to anyone.

17. Companies that assume online markets are the same markets that used to watch their ads on television are kidding themselves.

18. Companies that don't realize their markets are now networked person-to-person, getting smarter as a result and deeply joined in conversation are missing their best opportunity.

19. Companies can now communicate with their markets directly. If they blow it, it could be their last chance.

20. Companies need to realize their markets are often laughing. At them.

21. Companies need to lighten up and take themselves less seriously. They need to get a sense of humor.

22. Getting a sense of humor does not mean putting some jokes on the corporate web site. Rather, it requires big values, a little humility, straight talk, and a genuine point of view.

23. Companies attempting to "position" themselves need to take a position. Optimally, it should relate to something their market actually cares about.

24. Bombastic boasts—"We are positioned to become the preeminent provider of XYZ"—do not constitute a position.

25. Companies need to come down from their Ivory Towers and talk to the people with whom they hope to create relationships.

26. Public Relations does not relate to the public. Companies are deeply afraid of their markets.

27. By speaking in language that is distant, uninviting, arrogant, they build walls to keep markets at bay.

28. Most marketing programs are based on the fear that the market might see what's really going on inside the company.

29. Elvis said it best: "We can't go on together with suspicious minds."

30. Brand loyalty is the corporate version of going steady, but the breakup is inevitable—and coming fast. Because they are networked, smart markets are able to renegotiate relationships with blinding speed.

31. Networked markets can change suppliers overnight. Networked knowledge workers can change employers over lunch. Your own "downsizing initiatives" taught us to ask the question: "Loyalty? What's that?"

32. Smart markets will find suppliers who speak their own language.

33. Learning to speak with a human voice is not a parlor trick. It can't be "picked up" at some tony conference.

34. To speak with a human voice, companies must share the concerns of their communities.

35. But first, they must belong to a community.

36. Companies must ask themselves where their corporate cultures end.

37. If their cultures end before the community begins, they will have no market.

38. Human communities are based on discourse—on human speech about human concerns.

39. The community of discourse is the market.

40. Companies that do not belong to a community of discourse will die.

41. Companies make a religion of security, but this is largely a red herring. Most are protecting less against competitors than against their own market and workforce.

42. As with networked markets, people are also talking to each other directly inside the company—and not just about rules and regulations, boardroom directives, bottom lines.

43. Such conversations are taking place today on corporate intranets. But only when the conditions are right.

44. Companies typically install intranets top-down to distribute HR policies and other corporate information that workers are doing their best to ignore.

45. Intranets naturally tend to route around boredom. The best are built bottom-up by engaged individuals cooperating to construct something far more valuable: an intranetworked corporate conversation.

46. A healthy intranet organizes workers in many meanings of the word. Its effect is more radical than the agenda of any union.

47. While this scares companies witless, they also depend heavily on open intranets to generate and share critical knowledge. They need to resist the urge to "improve" or control these networked conversations.

48. When corporate intranets are not constrained by fear and legalistic rules, the type of conversation they encourage sounds remarkably like the conversation of the networked marketplace.

49. Org charts worked in an older economy where plans could be fully understood from atop steep management pyramids and detailed work orders could be handed down from on high.

50. Today, the org chart is hyperlinked, not hierarchical. Respect for hands-on knowledge wins over respect for abstract authority.

51. Command-and-control management styles both derive from and reinforce bureaucracy, power tripping and an overall culture of paranoia.

52. Paranoia kills conversation. That's its point. But lack of open conversation kills companies.

53. There are two conversations going on. One inside the company. One with the market.

54. In most cases, neither conversation is going very well. Almost invariably, the cause of failure can be traced to obsolete notions of command and control.

55. As policy, these notions are poisonous. As tools, they are broken. Command and control are met with hostility by intranetworked knowledge workers and generate distrust in internetworked markets.

56. These two conversations want to talk to each other. They are speaking the same language. They recognize each other's voices.

57. Smart companies will get out of the way and help the inevitable to happen sooner.

58. If willingness to get out of the way is taken as a measure of IQ, then very few companies have yet wised up.

59. However subliminally at the moment, millions of people now online perceive companies as little more than quaint legal fictions that are actively preventing these conversations from intersecting.

60. This is suicidal. Markets want to talk to companies.

61. Sadly, the part of the company a networked market wants to talk to is usually hidden behind a smokescreen of hucksterism, of language that rings false—and often is.

62. Markets do not want to talk to flacks and hucksters. They want to participate in the conversations going on behind the corporate firewall.

63. De-cloaking, getting personal: We are those markets. We want to talk to you.

64. We want access to your corporate information, to your plans and strategies, your best thinking, your genuine knowledge. We will not settle for the 4-color brochure, for web sites chock-a-block with eye candy but lacking any substance.

65. We're also the workers who make your companies go. We want to talk to customers directly in our own voices, not in platitudes written into a script.

66. As markets, as workers, both of us are sick to death of getting our information by remote control. Why do we need faceless annual reports and third-hand market research studies to introduce us to each other?

67. As markets, as workers, we wonder why you're not listening. You seem to be speaking a different language.

68. The inflated self-important jargon you sling around—in the press, at your conferences—what's that got to do with us?

69. Maybe you're impressing your investors. Maybe you're impressing Wall Street. You're not impressing us.

70. If you don't impress us, your investors are going to take a bath. Don't they understand this? If they did, they wouldn't let you talk that way.

71. Your tired notions of "the market" make our eyes glaze over. We don't recognize ourselves in your projections—perhaps because we know we're already elsewhere.

72. We like this new marketplace much better. In fact, we are creating it.

73. You're invited, but it's our world. Take your shoes off at the door. If you want to barter with us, get down off that camel!

74. We are immune to advertising. Just forget it.

75. If you want us to talk to you, tell us something. Make it something interesting for a change.

76. We've got some ideas for you too: some new tools we need, some better service. Stuff we'd be willing to pay for. Got a minute?

77. You're too busy "doing business" to answer our email? Oh gosh, sorry, gee, we'll come back later. Maybe.

78. You want us to pay? We want you to pay attention.

79. We want you to drop your trip, come out of your neurotic self-involvement, join the party.

80. Don't worry, you can still make money. That is, as long as it's not the only thing on your mind.

81. Have you noticed that, in itself, money is kind of one-dimensional and boring? What else can we talk about?

82. Your product broke. Why? We'd like to ask the guy who made it. Your corporate strategy makes no sense. We'd like to have a chat with your CEO. What do you mean she's not in?

83. We want you to take 50 million of us as seriously as you take one reporter from The Wall Street Journal.

84. We know some people from your company. They're pretty cool online. Do you have any more like that you're hiding? Can they come out and play?

85. When we have questions we turn to each other for answers. If you didn't have such a tight rein on "your people" maybe they'd be among the people we'd turn to.

86. When we're not busy being your "target market," many of us are your people. We'd rather be talking to friends online than watching the clock. That would get your name around better than your entire million dollar web site. But you tell us speaking to the market is Marketing's job.

87. We'd like it if you got what's going on here. That'd be real nice. But it would be a big mistake to think we're holding our breath.

88. We have better things to do than worry about whether you'll change in time to get our business. Business is only a part of our lives. It seems to be all of yours. Think about it: who needs whom?

89. We have real power and we know it. If you don't quite see the light, some other outfit will come along that's more attentive, more interesting, more fun to play with.

90. Even at its worst, our newfound conversation is more interesting than most trade shows, more entertaining than any TV sitcom, and certainly more true-to-life than the corporate web sites we've been seeing.

91. Our allegiance is to ourselves—our friends, our new allies and acquaintances, even our sparring partners. Companies that have no part in this world, also have no future.

92. Companies are spending billions of dollars on Y2K. Why can't they hear this market timebomb ticking? The stakes are even higher.

93. We're both inside companies and outside them. The boundaries that separate our conversations look like the Berlin Wall today, but they're really just an annoyance. We know they're coming down. We're going to work from both sides to take them down.

94. To traditional corporations, networked conversations may appear confused, may sound confusing. But we are organizing faster than they are. We have better tools, more new ideas, no rules to slow us down.

95. We are waking up and linking to each other. We are watching. But we are not waiting.

Copyright © 1999 Levine, Locke, Searls & Weinberger - used with permission.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Beautiful bookstore from a grand church

The above is a former Dominican church that was converted into a new retail location for bookseller Selexyz Dominicanen. The architecture firm was Merkx+Girod.

From Design Top News (more pics at the jump):
The store demanded 1,200 sq m of commercial area where only 750 were available.

The initial idea of the client to install a second floor within the church was rejected by the designers, because this would completely destroy the spatial qualities of the church. The solution was found in the creation of a monumental walk-in bookcase spanning several floors and situated a-symmetrically in the church. In doing so the left side of the church remained empty while on the other side customers are lead upstairs in the three- storey ‘Bookflat.’

The ground floor gives room to several different book displays, information desks, magazine-stands and cash registers, all made of standard sheet materials in different colours and surfaces.

Which sounds better: Vinyl or MP3?

John Meyer of Newform Research has computed the effective bitrates of all the major audio media, from wax cylinder to MP3. While a poorly-encoded MP3 sounds terrible, and a high-end system playing the vinyl or acetate for which it was designed sounds amazingly good, there is a broad spectrum of quality and accuracy between those two extremes. The chart below lays out the pure numbers, but there is a lot of subjectivity that goes into our personal assessment of what sounds good and what does not. Offered for enlightenment:

Click to Enlarge

Rep. Grijalva secures amendment to include ‘libraries’ in student aid bill

This is a bit of encouraging news amongst much that is not:
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (AZ-7) has introduced an amendment to pending legislation that would include “community college libraries” in the bill text of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009 (H.R. 3221).

Introduced by Rep. George Miller (CA-7), H.R. 3221 would establish two new competitive grant programs providing states and junior and community colleges the opportunity to apply for funds to launch initiatives to improve graduation and employment-related outcomes.

The original bill language did not explicitly include community college libraries as potential recipients of the grants, which the ALA believes is essential for highlighting the important role libraries play in preparing students to successfully obtain and retain employment and for encouraging community colleges pursuing the grants to invest in their libraries and the services and resources they offer.

“This is a great bill that will help those students and communities that depend on the community college library for assistance with entering and staying in the workforce,” Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the ALA Washington Office, said.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Job Voyager

Very cool job generator, showing trends over time of reported occupations in the Unites State Labor Force and how they have changed over the years. It's interesting to see the different percentages of males and females within these occupations.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Google Books on Demand

Google, through their Google Books, is partnering with Books on Demand to make available the more than two million out of copyright books they have scanned over the last seven years. In an interesting twist for the online search engine, they will now offer the scanned books back in print. Using the Expresso Book Machine patrons can have their own perfect bound paperback copy in less than ten minutes. Although the machine itself costs $100,000, the material cost for each copy is around three dollars.

In another ironic twist, the private Harvard Bookstore will begin offering this service on September 29th so that people who can not visit the Harvard Library can buy many of the same books nearby at the bookstore. Harvard partner shipped with Google in December 2004, offering their extensive holdings to Google scanners.

While people, from knitters finding lost heirloom designs to teachers helping subsistence farmers in Africa using old but still relevant techniques, are finding useful information it is unlikely that many new books will be added to the public domain. Because Congress modified the copyright law in 1999, most new books will not be available in the public domain for many decades.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Meet the new pres, same as the old pres.

President Obama supports extending Section 215 of the "Patriot" act, the section beloved by librarians nationwide. Section 215 undermines much of the patron privacy that librarians have protected for centuries by allowing the FBI to "request" library records and gagging the librarian from informing anyone that such a "request" was made. Section 215 was set to expire in December, but our new president is requesting that this part of the "Patriot" act be extended.

As the ALA stated when the original "Patriot" act was enacted.

Libraries provide a place to exercise intellectual freedom: a free and open exchange of knowledge and information where individuals may exercise freedom of inquiry as well as a right to privacy in regards to information sought. Privacy is essential to the exercise of free speech, free thought, and free association; and, in a library, the subject of users' interests should not be examined or scrutinized by others.

ALA considers that sections of the USA PATRIOT ACT are a present danger to the constitutional rights and privacy rights of library users.

The President promised to bring us "Change We Can Believe In" and to "revise the PATRIOT act to give law enforcement the tools it needs without jeopardizing the rights and ideas of all Americans", Section 215 must just be one of those tools.

Survery of the current state of Newspaper Media

A recent New York Review of Books artcile, http://www.nybooks.com/articles/23050, provides an excellent survery of the current state of the Newspaper Media. It maintains that, surprisingly, a main reason for the decline of print subscriptions has been the availability of free versions of newspapers on the web. The article also discusses the non-profit news sites, and the growing trend of newspapers to begin charging for online content.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

$148 for near space photos

Aerial photography using balloons has been around for decades, but probably no photographs have been taken from so high for so little. Three MIT students spent $148 to get their digital camera into near space, altitude 17.5 miles/28 km. The camera took more than 4,000 photographs, even catching the balloon popping, before the returning to earth, 20 miles from the launch site.

They plan to post step by step instructions at the "Project Icarus" website, so you to can take high altitude photos for cheap.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Free Library of Philadelphia

Chilling news from the Free Library of Philadelphia:
We deeply regret to inform you that without the necessary budgetary legislation by the State Legislature in Harrisburg, the City of Philadelphia will not have the funds to operate our neighborhood branch libraries, regional libraries, or the Parkway Central Library after October 2, 2009.

Frequently asked questions about the closings here

time waster

This post from Wondermark is about mapping a perfect route. The juxtaposition of contemporary problems and text with Victorian Era illustrations can be entertaining. Perhaps this speaks to excessive planning-to-plan instead of simply getting on with the task at hand.

Friday, September 11, 2009

How many orphans?

Personanondata has this interesting post about the number of "orphans and orphan titles" in the Google Book Search Settlement. Estimate? 580,388. The post has a detailed description of how this number was reached.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

New Tag Map for News Stories

Slate is now offering News Dots: displaying dots that represent news items on the web. The dots get larger as the news subjects are cited more often, and each dot is connected to other dots to show how the news stories are connected to one another. When you click the dot, you are given a list of articles to your right. You can access these articles by clicking on the citation.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Cushing Academy's strange idea

Ted Striphas, the author of the book and the blog The Late Age of Print reports today on Cushing Academy's decision to dispense with their printed books — more than 20,000 volumes in all — and switch over entirely to digital media resources. "To fill the void once occupied by its collection of printed books, Cushing is spending about a half-million dollars on large, flat-screen data displays, laptop hookups, Amazon Kindles, Sony Readers — oh, and a $12,000 cappuccino machine." They see books as outdated -like scrolls before books! Read the whole article and also this post about the beautiful cover for book, The Late Age of Print.

On vacation for 2 weeks

Perhaps some of my fellow bloggers will post while I am away. Returning on September 21.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

iPhone 3G and 3G S to get MMS on September 25

AT&T posted the following comments on its Facebook page:
An Update on iPhone MMS for our Mobility Customers

We know many of our iPhone customers are eager for an update on our rollout schedule for Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS). We’ve been working for the past several months to prepare our systems and network to ensure the best possible experience with MMS when it launches – and that launch date is: September 25 for iPhone 3G and 3GS customers. MMS will be enabled through a software update on that day.

We know that iPhone users will embrace MMS. The unique capabilities and high usage of the iPhone’s multimedia capabilities required us to work on our network MMS architecture to carry the expected record volumes of MMS traffic and ensure an excellent experience from Day One. We appreciate your patience as we work toward that end.

We’re riding the leading edge of smartphone growth that’s resulted in an explosion of traffic over the AT&T network. Wireless use on our network has grown an average of 350 percent year-over-year for the past two years, and is projected to continue at a rapid pace in 2009 and beyond. The volume of smartphone data traffic the AT&T network is handling is unmatched in the wireless industry. We want you to know that we’re working relentlessly to innovate and invest in our network to anticipate this growth in usage and to stay ahead of the anticipated growth in data demand, new devices and applications for years to come.

A better moustrap - or in this case, a better bookmark.

Cool concept and allegedly produced by Propaganda, though I see no mention of it on their very annoying site.

Found at OhGizmo. More pics at the jump.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Fascinating photos of cell tower "trees"

I remember the first time I saw one of these. It was from a boat in the middle of Lake Burton in north Georgia and I remember it seeming at once oddly out of place and comfortingly familiar. Now I look for them all over and find them in the most conspicuously inconspicuous places. Offered not in judgment, just interest. Here is a link to a gallery so you can learn to see them, too.

idthis: Human powered identification of anything or anyone.

See something (or someone?!) you don't recognize? Wouldn't it be cool to upload a pic and have a team of experts examine your find, and post the best answer to your query? Well, that is what you get with idthis.

From the site:
Just snap a photo of something you’d like identified (like a breed of dog, a type of car, that weird gelatinous blob sitting on your plate, or even that celebrity sitting next to you that you can’t remember their name, etc…) and then send it to be identified.