Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, January 23, 2021

Is the driver’s seat of a taxicab the ideal perch from which to blog?

It could be, as that angle scored New York Hack’s Melissa Plaut an Associated Press-penned profile on her online exploits as a female taxidriver in the Big Apple.

Funny thing is, she takes a lot of photos during her shifts. Which is a trait she shares with Tim Fasano at Tampa Taxi Shots, the Tampa Bay edition of the bloggin’ cabbie. Is there something so compelling about driving fares around that picture-taking is in order?

I think all these drivers should get together and form a taxi-blog network. There’s got to be at least one of them in every major city. Think of the photoblogging possibilities!

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/23/2006 09:20:26 PM
Category: Bloggin', Florida Livin', New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback

Ever since Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. bought MySpace for $580 million, everyone and his mother has been trying to create the next surefire blogging community site.

A few days ago, I made note of Gather.com, a slight twist on this concept. The latest entrant: BlogExplosion, which is branching out from its traffic-generating roots with BlogCharm, a free blog-hosting community.

For the life of me, I will never understand why this clubhouse approach holds so much appeal, both from endusers and from providers. I can’t deny that it does — with the proof coming from the actions of disaffected MySpacers and Flickr-ers. My investment banking background informs me regarding the current blogging terrain: Highly fragmented, with the audience too diffused for effective advertising and marketing opportunities. But that doesn’t mean that consolidation will work, or that it’ll be beneficial for either content producer or audience.

The Yahoo!-Flickr situation shed some insight on why users develop an attachment:

Small in context, the opposition to the change illustrates the attachment many feel toward their online identities, according to professor Sherry Turkle, director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Initiative on Technology and Self and author of Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet.

“So many of us don’t have a gathering place that feels comfortable and communal,” she said. “For those who found that on Flickr.com, its transformation into a ’service’ on Yahoo is a loss; they are losing something important to them.

“It is a harbinger of the greater sensitivity we need to show in the future as we take more seriously the psychological importance of our digital lives.”

Which is a pretty stupid mindset to adopt. Regardless of how an online community starts and develops, you can safely assume that, if it becomes at all popular, it’s going to morph into a commercial concern. It’s that simple: The more eyeballs it attracts, the more sense it makes to start extracting some money out of it. The demands of scalability alone demand it.

And with these new blogging communities cropping up now, I can’t image how it isn’t more blatant. Allow me to refer back to my outlined steps for how these outfits predictably evolve:

1. They launch amid much hype over attracting groups of enthusiastic, hip, pretty young things

2. They attain a critical mass of a couple hundred thousand members

3. They start to cross-promote and sell ads like crazy, cashing in on what’s assumed to be a captive audience

4. They roll out premium add-ons for nominal fees

5. They get so large and ad-driven that they turn off the very members that flocked to them in the first place, leading to defections and a loss of cool-cache

6. They sputter on, devolving into purely affiliate-marketing/spam-generating subscriber rolls of questionable value

And so on, until a new crop of sites roll out. What I can’t figure out is why people continually buy into them, swallowing the hype about how they’re new and innovative, when they’re far from it. Maybe the average joiner goes into it knowing that it’s got a short shelf life.

The last part especially befuddles me. I know of established bloggers, with their own domains, who felt compelled to “stake out” blogging territory on MySpace, MSN Spaces and other services — as though such a thing were critical. Trust me: It’s not. All it does is add to the online sludge.

The quest continues…

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/23/2006 08:24:50 PM
Category: Bloggin', Business | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Looks like football fever has gotten the best of a few too many advertising execs. Fast on the heels of the BooneOakley-Hadrian’s Wall bet over the Carolina-Chicago NFC divisional playoff game, AdLand reports on another gridiron wager between agency heads.

This time, though, the stakes go beyond just some silly website redirection:

Mike Burns has bet the presidency of his Fort Collins-based agency Burns Marketing Communications for a week.

If the Broncos win, Burns will assume the role of honorary president at Markowitz Communications, a marketing and public relations agency in Pittsburgh. If the Broncos lose, Saul Markowitz takes over at Burns.

The game has been played, and won by the Steelers. So I guess Markowitz began his phony reign at Burns today.

All very amusing, but this second time around represents the limit of my interest. Any more stunt-betting from here on out would obviously smack of a plea for attention.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/23/2006 06:29:50 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Football | Permalink | Feedback

I’m going to have to track down a copy of the Dec. 29/Jan. 12 double issue of Rolling Stone. Because according to the New York Times’ Stuart Elliott and his weekly email newsletter (no web link), it contains an advertorial for Honda’s Civic Hybrid that’s full of grammatical trainwrecks:

The first two pages, featuring Damian (Jr. Gong) Marley, who is one of the sons of Bob, have the real howlers. One sentence says, “The songs on his sophomoric album, ‘Welcome to Jamrock,’ convey a consciousness that touches upon various sides of city life.”

And there is this line: “From composing socially-conscience lyrics to supporting the fuel efficient Honda Civic Hybrid, these musicians are out to make a difference.”

Without even giving it a listen, I have little doubt that Jr. Gong’s second album is, indeed, an immature effort. Nice to see it in writing, intentional or not.

The company’s spin on this:

In this instance, says Nora Haynes, publicity director for Rolling Stone in New York, the contents were provided to the magazine by the record labels whose artists were featured. For Mr. Marley, his label is Universal Records, part of the Universal Music Group division of Vivendi Universal.

Although “the copy went through a standard and detailed approval process,” Ms. Haynes says, “unfortunately on a very rare occasion, something like this occurs.” Rolling Stone is owned by Wenner Media.

Speaking from my magazine experience, I can attest that advertorials are exercises in editorial and proofreading torture. They’re typically cobbled together by sub-literate marketing drones who can’t string more than three words together coherently. Even worst, they’re always, always delivered late. So there’s no time to adequately proof the things. And the kicker: Often, any changes have to be re-approved by the advertorial sponsor, which gums things up even further. End result: Everything is rushed through, mess and all, with fingers crossed.

A pain in the tail all around. The wad of cash these things command are great for a magazine’s bottom line, but hell on editorial integrity. (Oh, stop laughing!)

I have little doubt that Rolling Stone’s editors had to struggle through every inch of the project, and probably caught a couple dozen additional errors aside from the ones that slipped through. (I’m assuming that the piece was actually proofed before Rolling Stone let it go; you never know.)

Of course, the real kicker is that, probably, hardly anyone reading that issue noticed the errors. Which only encourages future sloppiness.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/23/2006 06:00:46 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Publishing | Permalink | Feedback

last dance
Looks like I’ve got one last visit to the St. Pete Times Forum to catch some NHL action! My friend Kirby just scored a couple of tickets to tomorrow night’s Panthers-Lightning game.

Not a bad send-off. I’m looking forward to it.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/23/2006 12:09:03 PM
Category: Hockey, Florida Livin' | Permalink | Feedback (1)

I woke up this morning sweating.

No, it wasn’t because of a nightmare, or anxiousness related to this week’s final move out of Tampa Bay (at least, I don’t think so). Rather, it’s kinda warm on this late January morning in Clearwater: 71 degrees.

The temperature in Manhattan: 39 degrees (but feels like 31).

Since I should be well-used to a sunrise temperature in the seventies after 15 years of it, I’m thinking my brain is sending an early message to my physiology. Good thing — it’s best to adjust to the New York winter as soon as possible.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/23/2006 09:17:37 AM
Category: Weather, Florida Livin', New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback (4)