Capitalism in the Face of Content

I have often thought about this issue and I think it has even come up on Global Geek Podcast. How are all these lovely looking “Web2.0” websites going to make money? At this present time most of these sites look great, they have minimal advertising; if any. They look a million dollars due to the sleek web design and neat Ajax applications that they are employing. Or to use what has become a social term: these sites look very “Web2.0”. But today I see that this is changing.

Shoutwire is what people would term a “Web2.0” site. It is an on-line community that works a little like Digg in that news stories are submitted by the community and are “shouted” or “liked” by the users. In this way articles get X number of “shouts” which promotes that story up the ladder. I guess that you could say it a form of voting. Users can submit comments and have discussions about the stories as well. Great idea, news that the community decides is important gets promoted and read by more visitors to the site. There is also an RSS feed that you can subscribe to for the front, page much like Digg. The site when I joined was slick, pleasing to the eye and easy to use and it was fun. Although being a new site at the time the community was small. I don’t know how big it is now but if they continue wrecking their “look” they are going to scare people off in droves.

I had not visited Shoutwire for a while and I had some time free so I decided to swing on over to their site. To say that I was appauled is an understament. Sure there were some sort of syndicated adverts along the top, making up part of the header. Fine, a lot of sites have that or something similar. But the wart on the face of beauty was an overly large, flashing, obnoxious, irritating, badly placed advert right in the middle of the submitted article pane, right at the top. Absolutely disgusting.

Shoutwire Screen Shot[Click thumbnail for bigger image] Not only does this make the once slick site look cheap; it was also probably one of the most badly placed ads I have ever seen, but yes, I noticed it. I hated it, I am not even sure that I want to go back and I most probably will not. In addition to that is the fact that the type of advert that the editors (or whoever decides this stuff) have used; just does not look like it belongs on the site. It looks like they were desperate for money so they stuck up whatever they were offered. I don’t care if this type of advertising works, if it was me making these decisions it just would not have happened. It would be like a flashy magazine like Vanity Fair placing ads that you might see in Picture Magazine (Australian soft porn magazine) in the featured story. I am not sure if they realise that is how the selection and placement of advertising comes across or not but I would be interested to find out what other people think. There is another “choice” advert along the right side of the main page but at least it is not in your face. But it is one that I would not have expected to see, it just does not fit with the “flavour” of the site.

That said I have always maintained that these flash sites that we are being spoilt with are going to change and some like Shoutwire for the worse. The services and the nice looking sites, to say nothing of the bandwidth do not come for free. Something has to give here for them to be able to continue to operate and maintain the services that they offer.

We are going to see some things happen. These sites that promote traffic are going to have to decide how they tackle the revenue problem. Decide to fall on their sword and die a dignified death. Or they advertise. The only other alternatives is to charge a subscription to be able to contribute to the site or perhaps to even enter it. They would have to be pretty confident of their product for that to occur. But I can see the advertising thing happening. But please do it with class and good taste, Shoutwire is a great example of what not to do.

One nasty trick that some companies might be considering is that of building a user base that is highly involved and somewhat reliant on what they offer, like Odeo for example, then start to charge people to use it. I am not saying that I have heard that Odeo is considering doing this but I must say that if I would suspect a site for maybe doing it, it would be Odeo. You ask why I hear. Well; what Odeo are doing is transferring heaps of data in the form of podcasts and sent odeo messages to their user base and anyone else that wants to just listen to podcasts. That aspect alone would be costing them a lot of cold hard cash. Up until this point in time I have seen no advertising, except for themselves. But then again they might get their funding from somewhere else I don’t know.

Another site that comes to mind is YouTube, again huge bandwidth, big dollars, huge active user base and to top it off they are as popular as you might be able to get. Are they loosing money? I know they were for a while but they might not be now.

I would pay for both access and use of a site if a few conditions were meet. One is that I would have to rely on the service that they were offering and it would have to be good and reliable. Or alternatively I would have to very much enjoy being a part of that community. Secondly, I would expect that a subscription was payed in lieu of having to put up with Odeo Logoobnoxious advertising. For example, if Odeo said to me that I would have to pay to be able to recieve Odeo messages into my inbox for the podcast, I would agree to it. The reason being is that the service is a great one, it works, it is reliable, it is of high quality. But I would expect this fee to be reasonable as well, I won’t pay through the nose either!

So it remains to be seen if companies and websites will maintain the look and feel of their websites while meeting the need to raise revenue in order for the site to exist. I can see the need for both. But what I do not see the need for is the example of Shoutwire. It will be interesting to see what route these companies take over time as the pressure increases with more competition. Given Shoutwire, I am sure some will opt for cash and capitalism over content. In the meantime I am going to Newsvine, they look like they are doing something right.

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Web Cam Sets You Ablaze!

On Fire WebCam 001If you have a web cam you have to try this. I was reading the RSS today and I never had any idea people were doing this sort of thing, or why…

But it is cool that people are doing this because so far this evening I have set my hand on fire, my whole body and the cat and nobody got hurt.

Grant Skinner has written a Flash 8 demo that interfaces with your web-cam to give special effects based on movement. Anything that moves looks like it is on fire. My web-cam lighting is not that good in the screen shots mainly because it is night time. But it gives you the general idea.On Fire WebCam 002

It has no purpose other than being plain fun and cool. There is also another demo based on movement that makes it look like you are being snowed on, but for that one you need to sit still for a few minutes to get the effect. Still cool fun though.

But remember you need a web-cam and I can think of no better reason not to go out and get one! Anyway they are getting pretty inexpensive now, so you don't have an excuse. Remember to have fun and not to really set the cat or yourself on fire.

On Fire WebCam 003But you can pretend…Brawh haw haw haw…

Grant Skinner's Blog

Podcast Player Found! No Help from LibSyn…

Well I am as happy as a pig in poop! Yesterday I blogged about the LibSyn Player malfunction and the fact that I was not getting any help from Liberated Syndication with the problem. The no help thing has continued, step in the wonderful blogging community.

Big ContactYesterday I recieved a comment on the post that was an answer to my prayers. Rob from New York Mets Baseball Podcast put me onto Big Contact's Feed Player. To say that it is unreal is an understatment. It is feature packed and the main thing is: It Works!

In actual fact this player has more features and more options than the LibSyn did! Features like having a list of previous shows as well as the most recent show to play is great. In addition to that there is the function of being able to see the show notes from the player! There are also instructions on how to "subscribe" to the show… AND Adam has just assisted me to make the player "detach" from the page, allowing visitors to surf the web or work elsewhere and listen to the show. Very cool. There is more but I think you get the picture. Oh and did I mention it is free?

Please head over to the Global Geek Podcast Homepage and check it out, especially if you are looking for a player. There are many other customisable features that podcasters may want to modify to suit their needs and the very fact that you can is another big plus.

Many, many thanks to Rob again and hey Rob I have talked to Sebastian and we are only too happy to plug your show on ours so if you would like to send us a promo we will slot it in. Because that's how the world should work.

Stay on the look out for more changes to the Global Geek Podcast Homepage… woot this is going to good…

Trillian 4: Developers Blog

As people may or may not know. I use Trillian as my instant messenger client. I even payed for the Pro version. The developers have been very, very quiet the last 6 months but now they are offering “tit-bits” on their blog for the faithful.

For people that have never heard of Trillian, it is an IM client that works across all networks. I don’t have all the separate programs running like MSN, Yahoo or ICQ (it also covers Jabba and AOL). I just have one that accesses these networks. So what I do have is an identity for each network and Trillian pulls all these together into one client. The good thing about this is that I do not have to run these separate applications and I am not locked into one network or the other. It has a small footprint and it works well. There are also plug-ins that you can get as well. There is a free version if you want to check it out.

The latest version is version three. For ages now the development team have been very quiet about any further development. The rumblings in the Trillian community have been everything ranging from they are not developing Trillian and they have abandoned the users. To whatever they are working on is going to be so good that we will be blown away. I am not sure what the developers have been doing or what their intentions are. I however do not think that they have abandoned their users. That said one criticism of Cerulean Studios is the fact that they offer very little to reassure the user base that they are working hard in development. They offer a blog entry every couple of months.

The latest is a screen shot of the new version of Trillian. But it is a very lame log in window screen shot. I would have loved to have seen the main screen of Trillian rather than the log in screen! I think this is a bit of a cop out and I think that they could have given users a bit more of a preview.

That said it looks like we might see a new version of Trillian before the end of the year. I know that is a wide projection but Trillian have refused to say when the new version will be out… period. I guess given other companies’ (“Vista”) ability to keep to promised time-lines, you can not disappoint people if you don’t give one!

But hey Trillian dudes give us a bit more than a log in screen!

The other minor thing that they have announced is a name change for version four. That being “Trillian Astra”. Sounds like an Aussie car to me… very funny. That announcement is accompanied by another lame web page… [update: this page now relates to Trillian Astra with previews and Beta testers login – changed from the original time this was posted] …please. I really hope we get more than this “…in the coming weeks”.

Update: Removed dead links and reviewed relevance of links. The reason being is the same links have been used for newer content related to Astra.