|February 28, 2005||Today is tomorrow. It happened.|
"In some ways, it feels like we have been doing this for as long as we can remember, but in other ways, it feels like we are still at the beginning."
--Yahoo! founder David Filo on Yahoo!'s upcoming 10th birthday
This Wednesday the company I work for is turning ten years old, and they are throwing a big party for everyone. You are invited too. Well, sort of. Yahoo! will be giving everyone who visits yahoo.com on Wednesday a special free treat. Hint: it's edible, creamy and deelicious. And also hopefully you are not vegan or lactose intolerant. That is the good part.
The less good part is that the band they have hired to play for us is Sugar Ray. You may remember Sugar Ray from mid-1990s songs with ear-wormy choruses such as (for the love of God, now is the time to divert your eyes from this web page before these malicious songs get caught in your head!) as "I just wanna fly" and "Every morning there's a halo hanging from the corner of my girlfriend's four-post bed." (And to think that I thought their singer Mark McGrath had retired from the band to become the co-host of "extra". Apparently no such luck!)
Before you go thinking that I'm un ungrateful bee-otch, please take note that I am very excited for my company's birthday party. For one thing, there will almost certainly be lots of free beer. For another thing, I am also celebrating my own 10 years of working on the web. While it's true that I don't have very much love stored away for Sugar Ray, perhaps it is just because Yahoo! has set the bar so high with some of their past band choices, such as hiring the flaming lips to play at our holiday party in 2003.
This is what yahoo.com looked like in 1995. Even before that (as Esther posted in her blog back in 2002) you might remember visiting Yahoo! circa 1994 before the site was actually located at yahoo.com, back when you got to Yahoo! by typing in "http://www.stanford.edu/~someguysname/html/personal/webdirectory/yahoo or something like that." This is what yahoo.com looked like in 1996.
The past 10 years working on the web have kept me experiencing a continuous deja vu. Anyone who has been a web writer, editor or producer since 1995 or 1996 certainly must feel somewhat akin to Bill Murray's character in the 1993 movie "Groundhog Day."
For instance, when reading this Christian Science monitor article about Yahoo!'s new media plans in Santa Monica last week, I was struck by the initial thrill about these exciting plans and these exciting times, but a few moments later I had a strong sense of deja vu. Hadn't I already lived in this exciting time? Hadn't I already heard *these* exciting plans? Ah yes, I had. Reading this article brought me back to the spring of 2000, when I worked at Scour.com in Beverly Hills and we had partners like AtomFilms and iFilm and Stephen Spielberg's Dreamworks-backed pop.com was set to launch with an offering of Internet-only programming. This time (five years later) we have seen that the world (well, the U.S. at least) is finally ready for consuming entertainment content on their computers. This time, I am convinced that this stuff can actually be successful. My conviction is so strong that I am leaving San Francisco to move down to Los Angeles again to give it another try.
One of my blog posts from March 2000 -- five years ago -- contains links to some of the sites that were virally hot at that time --from JesusDance to Radiskull and Devil Doll and "Superfriends, Whassup." (As an aside, I still say "whassap!" way too much, and my boyfriend has accused my diction of being overly influenced of the internet circa 2000.) Yes, all of your favorites are probably listed, but, be warned, that many of them have *gasp* disappeared from the internet and haven't left a forwarding address. I'm reminded of a sign I saw at Burning Man in 1999. It said "Warning: You are temporary." And you know, if you are an internet website, you are even extra temporary.
Before being sued out of existence by the RIAA in late 2000, Scour had planned to morph into a legal for-pay music download service very similar to what Apple is doing quite successfully today with iTunes. JibJab -- whose animated shorts we used to feature on Scour -- now has a promotion deal with Yahoo! and has gotten mentioned on national TV for their "This Land" political short. Speaking of TV, it used to be only short weekly special-interest TV shows (such as CBS-Eyemark's "Wild Wild Web" which Allyson and I worked for in 1998) focused on web-stuff. Now on CNN, and MSNBC, every other word out of many reporters mouths seem to be "blogs" and "the blogsphere." Yeah, the time is right for branded media content on the web. We just really need to get things right this time. I, for one, know that I have learned so much about what works and what doesn't on the web over the past 10 years. And there is a lot that doesn't work. "Convergence" (between the web and TV) was the hot buzz word in 1998 and it's still the hot buzz word. "Blog" was the hot buzz word in 2000 and it's still the hot buzz word. I'm just thankful that no one uses the phrase "Internet Superhighway" anymore. That one was annoying.
In February 2002, just before I started working at Yahoo, I wrote to Allyson on our She, Said, She Said blog:
Monthly 'zines? Yeah, done it. In 1996 I was publishing a monthly e-zine, ROAR, for Monster.com in addition to building corporate recruiting sites and hand-coding them in HTML.
Community websites? Done that too. In 1997 I was hiring and managing a staff of writers and building CollegeBeat a daily community website for college students (of course, the site's URL is now a porn directory). Luckily, thanks to the Internet Way-Back machine, you can still see the site in all of its former glory and unique web design by moi. For instance, check this out. The design was quite wacky. But alas, that was where I learned all about .ASPs and how to manage writers.
Broadband convergence sites? Check. In 1998, as you recall, we were at WildWeb err Getwild.com which looked like this and later like this and they were sending you on tour with John Mellencamp and me to Burning Man 1999 to write articles.
Bleeding-edge technology? I was swimming in it. In 1999, I was at Scour (which looked like this minus the broken graphics and then like this) working on peer-to-peer music sharing technology and launching a "technology freedom center" after we got sued by the RIAA and the MPAA.
It's like in the past five years, everything's gone so far, so fast that now nothing in the online world even looks remotely interesting to me.
What has Poprocks.com looked like over the past 10 years:
posted by Jess Barron @ 2:02 PM
|February 18, 2005||Disappearing is Easy, It's Coming Back That's Hard|
I took a long-awaited, much-needed highly-anticipated 6-day vacation last week from my job and from the internets, and I can't get (caught back) up! Yes, the rumors are all true, I have returned from visiting my mother and her boyfriend on St. Thomas in the Caribbean. Mindy flew down from NYC to take a vacation with us, so we got to catch up as well. Mindy was just informed that she has been accepted into Carnegie Mellon's Technology and Public Policy Master's program, so I am wicked proud of her. She also posted her photos of our trip, and mine are -- as usual -- yet to come.
(Dedicated She Said, She Said radio listeners are well aware that I have spent many Friday nights on-air cajoling Matt and/or mayor Gavin Newsom to take me out on a Valentine's date.) Well, Wednesday night Matt was escorting a blonde pony-tailed gal who looked a tad too "Marina" for the show's crowd. Matt!? How could you?! I feel so dissed and betrayed!
posted by Jess Barron @ 11:09 AM
|February 3, 2005||Things Go Glimmering|
I'm sitting in Miami airport in front of the American Airlines Admirals Club. They have a wi-fi hotspot for all of my internet needs. To bad there isn't a A/C outlet around here...
The Poynter seminar ended quickly with everyone wheeling their luggage and disbursing across the country and world in a matter of minutes.
"This was better than Burning Man!" I exclaimed to Howard at the end. To anyone who knows me -- that is a pretty high compliment. You know how I feel about Burning Man. What I mean by that is -- during my past five years attending that art festival in the Nevada desert, I've met some of the smartest, most interesting people -- who are all doing creative, amazing things with their lives. And we have the best conversations. That's exactlly what Poynter was like. Everyone had so much to say, and none of it was mundane or filler. It was the kind of stuff that gets me interested and excited. It reminded me of some of the lines from F. Scott Fitsgerald's short story "Absolution" (that I often quote and like to write about):
I only wish I could have talked to everyone more... It seemed to go by so quickly. I could have talked with those people forever, I think. Or just listened, which you know for me is unusual. *wink*
My team (the content team) created a blog to continue our discussions online, and I hope people will go and post there...
I'm going tell all the editors at Yahoo! about Poynter. And yes, there *are* editors at Yahoo! who program a good portion of the news. Actual human editors. Unlike at Google. And I think this is a good thing. Here, watch them as they worked on covering the U.S. Presidential Election in November 2004.
I'm off to St. Thomas right now to visit my mom for a few days. (Funny because I just visited my dad who recently retired to North Port, Florida). My mom spends the winter in St. Thomas with her boyfriend, Richard, the Italian Rodney Dangerfield. Mindy is flying down from NYC to visit too. Since I worked over the Christmas holidays, I'm really ready for a few days break. I'll be offline until next Friday.
This means, I won't be hosting my radio show this Friday night. Carion Boy and Mrs. Lachey will be hosting it for me. I taught them how to use the mixing board and studio equipment, so hopefully it'll go pretty well. So, listen online (6-8p.m. PST Friday night) and let me know how they do.
posted by Jess Barron @ 10:36 AM
|February 1, 2005||Mob(blog)ing with Da Dogg Pound|
Today Matt and Robin presented their infamous "EPIC 2014" flash movie that predicts how Google will replace the mass media in ten years. If you haven't seen it, you should check it out. I'm not saying it's perfect, but it's certainly thought-provoking
Thomas Brew (executive editor of MSNBC.com), Neil McIntosh (assistant editor of The Guardian), and Ruth Gersh (director of online services for the Associated Press) spoke in response to the EPIC vision.
Thomas raised the issue of blogs as echo chambers offering little exposure to stories beyond niche interests. This often comes up in conversations between August and me. It's a favorite catch phrase with a lot of folks, and it's at least partially correct about blogs. Thomas also made the excellent point that his ability to produce and aquire content has far outstripped his ability to consume content. "At MSNBC we publish a novel every day," he said. "And there's no way everyone can read it all."
Ruth asked the audience to build a collaborative "thing" with Legos and then she called it "Newster" and put it on a pedestal at the front of the room.
Dan Gillmor responded that "blog posts are replacing the letter home we used to write." He also offered a new twist on Warhol's 15 minutes of fame: "Everyone will be famous for 15 people."
The content manifesto group met again and Theresa and I suggested that our presentation take the form of a blog and/or wiki. Here's a link to what we've published so far.
Theresa and I got in to see Snoop Dogg at Jannus Landing, a cute small 1,000 person outdoor venue down the block from our hotel. All devoted poprocks readers know that "Gin & Juice" is pretty much my favorite song ever. Or my favorite karaoke song ever, at least.
posted by Jess Barron @ 10:59 PM