Tag Archives: blogs

Guy Kawasaki – Exclusive Interview with NowPublic

Below is a transcript of an interview that I recently conducted with Guy Kawasaki. It was great to hear his fascinating perspective on the state of the news business — and to learn more about his latest projects. If you haven’t checked out Alltop yet, I strongly encourage that you do.

This article was first published on NowPublic.com

NowPublic recently had the chance to catch up with Guy Kawasaki, a leading venture capitalist with Garage Technology Ventures, former Apple evangelist, and a highly respected web entrepreneur and blogger.

We spoke to Kawasaki about his most recent ventures, Alltop.com – a single page, news aggregation site, Truemors.com – a citizen journalism-styled, news sharing and storytelling site, and his thoughts on the future of news

NowPublic: Can you give us a bit of background of what motivated you to create Alltop?

Kawasaki: First, philosophically, there’s so much great information on the web, but it’s very hard for most people to find it. Google finds ten million matches for every topic. RSS is a big help, but only if you understand what RSS is, how to use it, and where to find the feeds. Also, there is the initial problem of finding sites and blogs that are worth aggregating at all. So we do all of this for people and provide an “online magazine rack” for people. Second, we noticed how much traffic popurls was sending Truemors, so we figured there must be something to aggregations. Theoretically, once we have topics set up, all we need to do is make sure the servers are running. How cool is that?

NP: What other new categories are you working on?

Kawasaki: We’re adding four to five topics a week. Since Books and Art, we’ve added Crafts, Beauty, China, and Virtual. At some point we could have every topic in the universe, but then we’d just be another Google. Which, come to think of it, wouldn’t be so bad.

NP: Who do you bring in to help determine which sites will be aggregated for each category?

Kawasaki: The story of how we pick topics and what goes into topics is very interesting. I’m not a big believer in the wisdom of crowds. However, within crowds there’s usually a handful of people who really live and breath a topic and want to share their knowledge. The single best way I have found to tap these folks is Twitter. I get suggestions for new topics all the time on Twitter. We implement most of them. In fact, the people who suggest topics usually already have a great list of feeds. Without Twitter, Alltop would not be nearly what it is today. I dare say that I get more value out of Twitter than anyone on the planet.

NP: Are you personally a fan of highly-customizable feed readers and websites?

Kawasaki: I’m not. High levels of personalization and customization is for the uppermost 1% of the Internet. The state of the art of RSS feeds is much too troublesome for most people. With customizable feed readers and websites, you can do almost everything we do for you with Alltop. The issue is whether it’s worth the trouble for most people to find a feed reader or customizable site, find the sites and blogs that interest you, find the feeds of those sites and blogs, and then set up the feed reader or customizable site.

NP: How do see the relationship evolving between “curated” (editorialized) and automated content?

Kawasaki: There is no right and wrong or good and bad. There’s only what works for you. We are closer to Mahalo and Wikipedia in that the selection of topics and feeds within a topic are highly subjective, unautomated, and not crowd sourced. Our topics and feeds are “crafted” not automated. In your terms, Alltop is the automation of curation. Or, you can think of Alltop as the anti-social media site. Your contributors might find topics like Science.alltop.com and Design.alltop.com excellent sources for stories for NowPublic because we are checking hundreds of sources every ten minutes. Many of these sources are far off the beaten path, and their stories should reach more people.

NP: With Truemors, which is an open access, news sharing, and storytelling site, what has your experience been like working with participatory media (so-called ‘citizen journalism’)?

Kawasaki: Truemors was wide open, but it’s not anymore. We found that a handful of “truemorists” that we know and gave accounts to yields a much higher quality selection of news. Anyone can still post, but if you’re not a truemorist, the posting is held until someone on our side approves it manually. Truemors is effectively trying to “curate” news from hundreds of sources and provide “NPR for your eyes” in the sense of eclectic human interest news.

NP: You’ve also enabled the public to be able to post stories to Truemors in a variety of ways. People can phone, text, or email stories, but they can also add breaking news updates through the “Twitter News Network”. What kind of impact are microblogging applications, like Twitter, having on news?

Kawasaki: When the dust settled, the posting method that worked is via the web. Very few people used any of the cool methods we were so proud of. And now with truemorists holding the keys, it’s virtually exclusively web postings other than the Twitter News Network. Having said this with regard to Truemors specifically, Twitter can have an enormous impact on news. One particularly good example is Newmediajim who is an NBC cameraman who’s flying around with the president on Air Force One.

NP: By opening up more and more distribution channels for content, we’re faced with an increasingly overwhelming onslaught of information. How do you personally navigate this ocean of infinite choice?

Kawasaki: Here’s a funny story. I use NetNewswire to keep track of all the feeds in Alltop. At one point, I had more than 3,000 feeds; these feeds generated 20,000 stories per day. Now I get my news from several Alltop topics like Mac.alltop.com and Socialmedia.alltop.com as well as paper pubs like the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury, and Wall Street Journal.

NP: In the world of social media, there has been a web 2.0 trend toward “hyperlocal” and “hyperpersonal” news, how do you see Alltop and Truemors fitting into that spectrum?

Kawasaki: I suppose at some point Alltop and Truemors can get hyperlocal. Right now, the closest that we come to this is China.alltop.com which isn’t that local, I guess. But it will come down to the numbers: Is a hyperlocal topic so local that no one wants to advertise on it. Or, if we’re lucky, maybe because it’s hyperlocal, advertisers will find it attractive. All of this is TBD.

NP: Do you see a future beyond advertising and sponsored content for Web 2.0 companies?

Kawasaki: Just like other Web 2.0 companies, we’re making it up as we go combined with a large dose of wishful thinking. Alas, in my most hallucinatory fantasies, I see selling “sponsored feed” positions at the top of Alltop topics ala Google’s sponsored links. Now that would be something.

NP: And finally, in the spirit of your “top ten” keynote format, what do you see as being the top ten biggest changes and challenges ahead in how we consume news and information?

Kawasaki: You’re kidding me, right? I just answered ten questions, and now you’re asking one question that needs ten answers. Do you think I only give press interviews all day long?

To Tumblog or not to Tumblog?

Culturite on Tumblr

I spent most of this morning attempting to customize my Tumblr theme over at the ol’ Culturite Tumblog and, ultimately, couldn’t decide whether or not I should continue to blog here on my WordPress site.

I like the easy of posting to Tumblr – but I love the versatility of WordPress, and they keep making great additions and modifications to the blogging UI and functionality.

Having multiple blogs is kind of like having multiple email addresses (which I do), and I always forget which account I created for a specific purpose, so I end up not updating or using any of them .

That said, these days I spend most of my daily blogging time writing news stories for NowPublic — so perhaps I should just consider doing some cross-posting. Oh wait. I did. And I couldn’t get my NP posts to be sent over here to WordPress. Hrm.

The tum/blog saga continues. Any suggestions?

The Best ‘Best of’ Lists of 2007

Without further ado, here’s a quick compilation of some of the most interesting ‘Best of 2007′ lists I’ve come across during the frantic media recap of ‘What Was in 07′, before the manic, mad dash to xmas seasonal insanity, and the consequent post-holiday crash into 2008:

  1. Best of 2007 Lists (the definitive meta-list by Fimoculous)
  2. Master List of Online “Best of 2007″ Music Lists (a meta-music list by LargeheartedBoy)
  3. Updates to the Master List of Online “Best of 2007″ Music Lists (updates to #2 by LargeheartedBoy)
  4. 40 Best Raps of 2007 (top hip-hop tracks by CocaineBlunts)
  5. 15 Best Candies of 2007 (delish sugar treats by CandyAddict)
  6. 50 Best Websites of 2007 (multiple categories list by Time & – oh look – who’s a top news site?)
  7. 30 Best Albums of 2007 (top rated by the critics and aggregated by Metacritic)
  8. 25 Best Careers of 2007 (so choose wisely, my friends, by BizTech)
  9. Most Hated Companies of 2007 (the most widely & heavily criticized, by BloggingStocks)
  10. 100 Best Products of 2007 (because there can never be enough products, a list by PC World)
  11. 22 Best Music Videos (some silly choices by MusicForKidsWhoCan’tReadGood)
  12. 25 Best Books of the Year (fiction, non-fiction and more by Publishers Weekly)
  13. 100 Best Films of 2007 (a mix of new and re-releases by TimesOnline)
  14. 18 Best American Hospitals of 2007 (a incredibly paradoxical list by USNews)
  15. Best Global Brands of 2007 (aka the biggest brands in the world, by Interbrand)
  16. Best of NYC 2007 (best of the Big Apple, by the VillageVoice)
  17. Best Biblical Books of 2007 (a “completely objective” book list by BiblicalFoundations)
  18. America’s Best Restroom of 2007 (congrats to Jungle Jim’s, by ABR)
  19. Best Parks of 2007 (for the adventure seekers, by National Geographic)
  20. Best Industrial Design Products of 2007 (with slick imagery by RedDot)
  21. Top 10 Depression Blogs of 2007 (a useful, if sombre, list by PsychCentral)
  22. 2007 China Best Call Centre (the best operators ‘who will be with you shortly’ by CallCentres)
  23. Top 100 Luxury Blogs of 2007 (an elite assortment by International Listings)
  24. Best of What’s New in 2007 (products, inventions, and gadgetry compiled by PopularScience)
  25. Top 60 Japanese Buzzwords of 2007 (vernacular awesomeness by PinkTentacle)

For additional comments and posts also check out: NowPublic.com

Beatblogging & the Success of the Network

This is very interesting…I wrote a post last week about how we should emphasize curating instead of creating – relating to user-generated content. This morning I found this: http://www.buzzmachine.com/2007/11/12/glam-the-success-of-the-network/

The post is by Jeff Jarvis who is widely respected and hugely influential technology writer/blogger & journalism professor. About 7-8 paragraphs down he writes: “So Glam is a content network. But they don’t create all the content. They curate it. So we should curate more as we create less. That’s another way to say what I’ve said other ways: Do what we do best and link to the rest. Also: We need to gather more and produce less, so we also need to encourage others to produce more so we can gather it.”

I wholeheartedly agree and wonder if next-gen UGC will move toward model of User-Generated Curating – tools that enable users to selectively cull and repurpose the good stuff they’ve found elsewhere online.

Jarvis also directed me to Jay Rosen‘s latest project: Beatblogging.org – “a collaboration between 13 news organizations from around the country and NewAssignment.Net, to figure out how journalists can use social networks to improve beat reporting”.

I think there is some real value in exploring their model: gather a group of contributors around a specific ‘beat’ (topic/channel) and leverage that network to generate targeted stories and reporting. I’m curious to see how it will work for them and to see if and how it could be applied elsewhere.

Citizen Curators vs. Creators

As the evolution of web 2.0, social networks, user-generated content, and ‘citizen media’ continues, I’ve shifted my focus from thinking of the ‘user as creator’ toward what I think is a far more viable and sustainable model for engaging users and communities: as citizen curators.

The work of the curator, as Antony Mayfield from Open points out in his excellent post on “Creators and Curators” within the context of the marketing industry, is to bring together content from diverse sources — to research, organize, and select it. Few people (let alone paid and respected bloggers) have the time to post daily, long-winded and high-minded philosophical diatribes on the inherently narcissistic pursuit of bettering one’s Technorati ranking and the like. Just look at the massive growth in microblogging and Twittering, since its debut at last year’s SXSW, for further evidence. Not only is time being spliced into ever smaller increments, so too is the time allotted for content creation.

It’s far easier to post a link to an article, Flickr photo, or YouTube video that you’ve stumbled upon, than it is to actually create a new and unique piece of content. Sites like Twitter and the slightly more evolved blogging platform Tumblr.com acknowledge this shift in attention and have responded with a simple architecture to grab content from around the web and repurpose it on one’s own site with a few snappy editorial comments added for good measure.

Indeed, the percentage of users who actively contribute to Wikipedia, YouTube, and every other UGC site you can think of, pale in comparison to the number of users who actively curate content from these sites by linking to, highlighting, quoting, and commenting items they find compelling, entertaining, or worth discussing.

I believe that users would rather curate from the existing and infinitely expanding universe of available content, rather than take the time to write, research, and create their own unique works. This is not to say that there aren’t, and won’t be, those for whom the act of creation will remain important and ritualistic, but rather to suggest that we should be creating sites, widgets, and applications that enable and facilitate the user experience of curating content.

At heart, this provides a simple means for users to demonstrate and be recognized for their knowledge, expertise, status, and time spent sorting through the endless of ocean of information, products, and fascinating detours that comprise the internet. Rather than simply exercising our ability to add to the webnoise and informationchaos, let’s try being selective for a change.