Oh No! Not Another Top Albums of All-Time List

Robert of the Radish at the Y! Music Playlist Blog has developed a formula to once and for all lay those “best of” music lists to rest (until someone re-devises it — which will probably be before I finish this post).

These “best of all time” lists are a favorite distraction of full-time wired types and some of the best fodder for the virtual water cooler. “The Top 20 Albums of All Time (For Real)” list bases its findings not only on sales, which Robert of the Radish claims to be “probably the worst measure we have of an album’s quality”, but on things like staying power value, critical rating value and Grammy Award value (which is, before you sneer, “an industry specific award and … the best reflection we have of how the music business itself feels about an album”).

You would not be surprised, then, that Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, the Beatles’ “White Album” and “Abbey Road”, Nirvana’s “Nevermind” and Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” make the list. You also wouldn’t question Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours”, Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, Prince’s “Purple Rain”, the Eagles’ “Hotel California” or even George Michael’s “Faith” being part of the Top 20. But no Rolling Stones? No Bob Dylan? No rap or hip-hop? And no women, except for the fact that the Fleetwod Mac entry was powered by Stevie Nicks (who’s got a boy’s name, btw).

Robert of the Radish asks you to leave your personal opinions behind, but it seems only die-hard Led Zeppelin fans (4 albums!) and Stevie Wonder himself are going to not challenge this list. Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life” is number one. And, to concur with Robert of the Radish, this 31-year-old disc does have staying power — I just heard it playing in a club in San Francisco’s Mission district last week (before this list came out). And, it made me think, in the old days, if my house was on fire, it would probably be one of the 20 LPs I pulled off the shelf to take with me. By today’ standards, that means in case of fire, double-check that it’s on the iPod.

Are You Cuil?

A new search engine is among us this morning, reports The New York Times.

Cuil (pronounced “Cool”, dig it?) is developed by former Google employees — and because of that cred alone is predicted to have a fighting chance to offer an alternative to Google.

According to the Times, in June 2008 “Google accounted for 61.5 percent of search queries in the United States, while Yahoo held 20.9 percent and Microsoft had 9.2 percent.” As someone who has been using the Internet as a primary research tool for about 15 years now, these are three reliable search engines, no doubt about it, but they leave you feeling like there is more out there…if only you had another couple of reliable sources that could help you find it.

Tom Costello, one of Cuil’s founders says that Cuil has 120 billion Web pages, which makes its search index is “larger than any other.” The company uses a form of data mining to group Web pages by content, which makes the search engine more efficient, and, instead of showing results as short snippets of text and images with links, it displays longer entries and uses more pictures. It also provides tools to help users further refine their queries.

Meanwhile, Google has gone on record wishing Cuil luck and welcoming the competition. Although Google will not disclose the size of its own index, they maintain it remains the largest and warn that claims to huge Web page indexes could result in no more than users being “overwhelmed with a bunch of junk”.

A couple of quick sample searches on Cuil though have left me thinking it has potential to be a pleasant alternative to Google, even if “Kazza Drask Media” does not turn up at all! (Does this make me and my biz “un-Cuil”?) That aside, I will check it out some more this week — and report back.

The Virtual Water Cooler

Working remotely, eyes fixated on computer screen, readily linked to tens or hundreds or perhaps even thousands of colleagues, friends and acquaintances has led to the development of the “virtual water cooler”. This is an online “space” where those in a similar state at any given moment can take a break, poke their head out of their virtual cubicle and walk down the virtual hall for a virtual drink of water and some virtual mindless chit-chat. Typically, the only real movement required here is a click or glance away from what you’re working on to any of the many constant news feed sources blaring headlines like this: “Judge: Girl’s name, Talula Does The Hula, won’t do”.

How can you resist not clicking “read more”?

Apparently New Zealand parents have been taking a little more (or less) than creative license with kids’ names for some time now, having named their children Talula Does the Hula from Hawaii, Number 16 Bus Shelter, Violence and Benson and Hedges (twins). It’s little Talula though, who may be putting a stop to this trend. She’s 9 years old and, while caught up in a custody battle, has pointed out to the judge that her name is embarrassing and she’d prefer to be called “K” instead.

The judge’s decision to give the court guardianship of the child so her name can be legally changed, is spreading over the Internet today. Related links to stories about bizarre names from around the world should take some of the heat off New Zealanders, who have also attempted to name children Fish and Chips, Yeah Detroit, Stallion, Twisty Poi, Keenan Got Lucy and Sex Fruit, but those names were blocked by NZ Births, Deaths and Marriages registration officials.

The AP version of the story on Yahoo! alone has been given an overall 4-star rating by more than 1,800 people since early this morning, but read by lots more. The story has been sent to more than 13,000 colleagues, friends and acquaintances and will likely lead to millions of comments on news sites and blogs — “the virtual water cooler” — around the world.

Live Blogging from the Future of Media Summit 2008

Today we are live blogging from the Future of Media Summit 2008 in Silicon Valley at the Computer History Museum.

2:00 pm — Welcome to the Future of Media Summit from Ross Dawson, Chairman of the Future Exploration Network, who encourages live blogging (of course)
2:20 pm — Our table decides to use Nokia for a case study, applying the Future of Media Strategy Tools. This is because Ari works for Nokia and can provide us with lots of interesting insight. Louis takes the notes.
2:35 pm — Someone mentions FriendFeed. Kathy opens an account.
3:00 pm — Each table reports on its case — ours on Nokia, delivered by Mick, is by far the best! (There’s another on Nokia and one on CBS, Facebook and Yahoo!)
3:13 pm — Kathy continues to see where her friends are up to on FriendFeed.
3:27 pm — Case studies done. Waiting for Sydney to join on the video feed. Is there any coffee?
3:48 pm — Good morning, Sydney! The Future of Media Report has 100,000 readers each year. Ross reviews it for attendees now present on both sides of the Pacific.
4:00 pm — Panel discussion: “The Future of TV and Video”. Mark Goldman (Current TV), Mark Antonitis (KNRON-TV), Bruce Meagher (SBS) and Mark Pesce (FutureSt).
4:01 pm — Coffee from Starbucks across the street. My blogging should pick up steam now!
4:16 pm — “Quality of content is the key” today (Mark Antonitis)
4:19 pm — “Good writing, good production values” what makes a YouTube video really successful (Bruce Meagher)
4:22 pm — “TiVo to debut in Australia this week — a bit of yawn” — time-based aggregation vs. salient aggregation (Mark Pesce)
4:25 pm — Your credibility is on the line, “If I keep sending my friend crap, he’ll stop opening my emails”. We are generating our own content streams from many sources.
4:28 pm — Did you know CurrentTV was Al Gore’s idea?
4:31 pm — Revenue models: Local direct advertising, local infomercials (KRON); AdWords (for the Internet) — smaller ads for video
4:38 pm — “Many ways to get content — find the right resources who will enthusiastically and effectively produce content. Enjoyment and uniqueness (brand) of consuming information….lead to ‘world domination’.” Need to have base content + high-quality, unique content. (Mark Antonitis)
4:44 pm — There are three ways we consume information: “Read, listen, watch” — You need to be in all three to survive” to master “world domination” in TV and video (Mark Antonitis)
4:46 pm — Next panel — “Future of Privacy and Personalized Advertising” with Chris Saad (Dataportability.org & Faraday Media), Jenny Williams (Ideagarden), Shannon Clark (Nearness Function) and Jason White (Traffic Marketplace)
4:53 pm — Don’t worry about how much “information” Google has on you — they (and the others) have no idea how to use it. (Chris Saad)
4:55 pm — Targeting ads to your searches (good idea); targeting ads to your social networking (too hyper-optimized) (not a great idea) (Shannon Clark)
5:02 pm — “Achieve a reality where the user not only owns their data, but also has control over it” (Chris Saad)
5:13 pm — “Users do want advertising — as long as it’s timely and relevant” Subscribe to ads, standardized interactions, personal digital assistance (Jenny Williams)
5:15 pm — Customize ads you want to see (“If I’m interested in buying a Ford Explorer, then I can customize a feed to see those ads while online — when I’m tired of looking at those ads, I can stop them.”) (Chris Saad)
5:20 pm — Q&A: Trust and permission? We trust friends more than journalists on TV (explains popularity and rapid rise of social networking) — puts Facebook and MySpace testimonials above other types of online advertising. Differences between targeted ads and spam — if you don’t “solicit” an ad — it is spam.
5:29 pm — Next panel: “Global Media Strategies” — Chris Tolles (Topix), Loic Le Meur (Seesmic), Willie Pang (Yahoo!), Craig Blair (netus)
5:30 pm — Differences in the way different countries consume media?
5:32 pm — English rules (Loic Le Meur) — and he’s French! Most people have not heard of most popular French website Skyblog, because it is in French.
5:36 pm — Subtle differences in way Australians consume media than US (less choice in Oz, view more of page) (Craig Blair)
5:37 pm — Media consumption more local oriented in smaller places. Facebook has very few users in middle American small towns — more local websites are more useful (Chris Tolles)
5:43 pm — Different ways of generating revenue by region? Europe different from US.
5:46 pm — Spain, Italy, Latin countries more into blogging, conversationalists, opinionated — Wikipedia huge in Germany, blogging nearly non-existent. “Try blogging in Switzerland” (Loic Le Meur)
5:49 pm — “Number one rule, try to understand the culture.” (Loic)
5:50 pm — Advertising dollars (online ad dollars) are in US and UK. Subscription based models work better in Asia. (Chris Tolles)
5:54 pm — Ad revenue per online user — #1 UK, #2 Australia, US is #3 (Ross Dawson). Fastest growing advertising markets: US, China, Russia, Brazil, UK (Source: Zenith Optimedia)
6:00 pm — China fastest growing online users (and market). How do US and Australia break into that market? Is it even possible? (Chris Tolles)
7:14 pm — Back from the dinner break; it’s time for the next panel: “Future of Journalism” — Phil Bronstein (Hearst Corp.), Tom Abate (MiniMedia Guy), Robert Scoble (FastCompany.tv), JD Lasica (Ourmedia) and Brian Lott (Burson-Marsteller)
7:16 pm — “Is there a future for journalism?”
7:18 pm — “The answer is ‘I don’t know’ and anyone who tells you they do is not telling the truth. The real question is ‘Who’s going to pay for it?'” (Phil Bronstein)
7:23 pm — “The great de-coupling” in the last 10 years — alternative media forms — “random acts of journalism” — creating media — taking photos, live streaming. (JD Lasica)
7:26 pm — Journalism vs. bloggers. They need each other. Symbiotic relationship. (JD Lasica)
7:27 pm — In the future the journalist will be the editor — he/she will pull all the formats, all the bloggers and comments together to make the story. (Brian Lott)
7:27 pm — Earthquake in China was Twitter’d — Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong — the “new journalist” is a “connector” the one that pulls all this together (Robert Scoble)
7:30 pm — Tom Abate strongly disagrees with above comment — “That’s not journalism!”
7:31 pm — “The bloggers and the Twitterers are beating the pants off the journalists!” (Robert Scoble)
7:39 pm — “Journalism has to be de-coupled from the idea that only ‘trained professionals’ can do it.” (Tom Abate)
7:40 pm — “Blogging is this generation’s wire service….Journalists have a responsibility to make sure these stories check out.” (Brian Lott)
7:46 pm — “Will journalists all be self-employed or working independently in the future?”
7:46 pm — “Journalism could be like ‘FriendFeed’ — someone pulls in the photo from Flickr, the AP report, the SF Chronicle story, etc. and there you have the story.” (Robert Scoble)
7:53 pm — Audio hook up with Sydney journalist panel not working — future topic for “The Future of Media”?
7:56 pm — We can see and hear Sydney again — yay!
8:01 pm — Sydney goes to lunch.
8:04 pm — “Nobody blogs for money.”
8:05 pm — Someone just mentioned Edward R. Murrow — on that note, “Good night, and good luck.”

Save the Harding Theater

According to David Tornheim, the Harding Theater on Divisadero Street in the Western Addition is in jeopardy again. This beautiful gem is just a few blocks from where I live and was purchased by developers some time ago to tear down and turn into condos. The neighborhood fought hard to save the Harding and a compromise was struck, in which any new development — condos, performance space, a gym — would be designed to keep the majority of the historic structure intact. The word since is that the developers now want to move forward with a plan to tear down the back half of the theater — the most historic part — as part of a “compromise” to “save” the theater and build condos. Besides substantially compromising the historic integrity of the building, this will limit the possible uses for what remains.

Per David’s blog, appropriately titled Save the Harding Theater, it’s believed the developers plan for the front half is for a Walgreens! A hearing with the developers was scheduled for next week, but has been continued to September 25. To find out more about how you can get involved to help save the Harding Theater, visit the aforementioned blog. While there, take a look at some amazing photos by Rebecca McBride, which reveal how the inside of the Harding appears frozen in time and remains remarkably intact.

I Can Haz Cheezeburger


Okay, I found this website while reading VentureBeat, so it was work, sort of…even as it redirected me to ValleyWag. to read more about the website, I Can Haz Cheezeburger. Run by a cat allergic blogger named Ben Huh, ICHC takes submissions of stupid cat pictures with pidgin English written across them and posts them for cat lovers around the world to see. The site pulls a reported 2.2 million page views a day, so if you’re laughing right now you might want to stop and think of an equally idiotic (yet brilliant) way to make your next million!

Immigration Woes for Gay Couples

Whether your 4th of July plans will be festive or low key, please take four-and-half minutes to watch this video. You can read the accompanying news story here. Rita Boyadjian is an American citizen and a successful businesswoman. She is in love and sharing her life with a woman who is from Germany. They have a baby girl. And on July 23 they will be forced into exile because the US government does not recognize their same-sex binational relationship for immigration purposes. That’s right, even though California now recognizes everyone’s freedom to marry, that new law won’t help Rita and her family. But you can — please visit the Out4Immigration website or Facebook page to find out how you can get involved!