For my next trick

For the past month, I’ve been doing karmic housecleaning, as I’ve related before. From moving my mother-in-law out of our home to changing my relationship with BuzzLogic, the company I cofounded with Todd Parsons back in 2004, it has been a hectic-seeming 40 days or so. I’ve created a lot more time and mental space for new projects. Now, I’m going to focus on my latest startup, Tetriad LLC, which Ramin Firoozye, Len Sellers, Joe Eisner and I started working on last year. What are we doing? We’ll tell you soon. Suffice to say that we have a big customer project underway, so when we start talking it will be about a revenue-earning business.

        <p>BuzzLogic has come a long way since the days when Todd and I worked with Bryan Field-Elliot to create the first blog influence maps that were distributed as &quot;<a href="http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/index.php?p=1182">MyDensity</a> maps&quot; (see right). There's a team in place that will take this product to success, which is more than most entrepreneurs can hope for. I've been lucky to get to know and work with Bob Schettino, Scott Craig, Julia Briggs, Steve Roberts, Thad Eby, among many smart and fun folks who make up the gang over there as we first fleshed out the original ideas, finished our patent and launched the product earlier this month (see below).</p>           <p>Going forward, I have the great good fortune of being able to use BuzzLogic's tools and apply the ideas about what influence analysis can do I've developed over the past several years. I'll be writing much more research here, <a href="http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ratcliffe/">at ZD Net</a> and on the BuzzLogic blog using, among other tools, what we built at BuzzLogic. However, my day-to-day involvement with the company has come to a conclusion and I'll be pleased, if you would like to make contact, to introduce you to the right point of contact at BuzzLogic. My attention is turning to new vistas. <img src="http://www.ratcliffeblog.com/map.gif" alt="BuzzLogic Mapping" width="300" height="221" hspace="2" vspace="2" align="left" /></p>              <p>As usual, I am pursuing a <a href="http://www.ratcliffe.com/DK-9.htm">&quot;portfolio career&quot;</a> approach to my life, piecing together what interests me. After being challenged earlier this year by Dan Farber, editor-in-chief of ZD Net to expand my traffic at my ZD Net blog, I tried writing what I would call &quot;product porn,&quot; the consumerist approach to technology that, frankly, works well driving traffic and therefore dominates most of the tech blogging world. The product porn worked great, almost quadrupling my page views and my monthly check from CNET (ZD Net's parent). </p>           <p>Yet, the fact that the most comments I've ever received on a blog posting—anywhere—came on <a href="http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ratcliffe/?p=276">one of those product porn postings</a>, about the difference between what happens when you Option-click on the Mac OS Desktop and right-click on the Vista desktop, bugs me. Many of the comments were just angry and polarizing (Mac v. PC, the eternal debate about almost nothing, because, as with all products, it is a matter of preferences). I want to write about more important issues. Call me elitist or snobby or stupid, but that's not a debate I want to make a living promoting. There are more important questions before society than which product rocks, sucks or rules. </p>              <p>Technology is changing everything. So, in conjunction with my work with Tetriad, which is exploring how to wire an emerging online society, I am going to begin to publish research on companies and business issues relating to the media, the Net and community journalism/creativity/expression. Fortunately, this provides a continuing reason to dig deeper into the BuzzLogic toolset, too. </p>           <p>There's a different, blog-based model for doing research that hasn't yet been fully developed. I want to explore how that might work. So, I may end up with a research company in the process. What can I say? I like starting and building things.</p>              <p>And I am continuing to take on <a href="http://www.ratcliffe.com/disclosure.htm">advisory companies</a>, primarily early-stage firms who need a sounding board for ideas, strategies and management decisions. If you have a consulting job I wouldn't say &quot;no,&quot; so feel free to ping me. </p>             <p>The karmic housecleaning stage is concluded. I am back. Somehow, I just needed to say that out loud. <br />                  </p>        <!-- #BeginTags --><p class="tags"><a href="http://www.technorati.com/tag/BuzzLogic" rel="tag">BuzzLogic</a>,<a href="http://www.technorati.com/tag/Tetriad" rel="tag">Tetriad</a>,<a href="http://www.technorati.com/tag/ZD Net" rel="tag">ZD Net</a>,<a href="http://www.technorati.com/tag/portfolio career" rel="tag">portfolio career</a>,<a href="http://www.technorati.com/tag/research" rel="tag">research</a></p><!-- #EndTags -->

Testing

,,,

I am testing to see if Adobe Contribute CS3 is really useful as a blog authoring tool. Is it? We shall see.

Let’s see if a picture appears where it should….

Genny cleans up

Nice. It grabbed this photo out of iPhoto and resized it automatically based on the width of the column in Movable Type. Too bad it doesn’t provide rotate image capabilities in the Contribute dialog. I could have opened the file in Photoshop and done it, then inserted.

Now, how about formatting? Does Contribute do formatting with grace? Indeed, it seems to do it quite nicely.

Finally, what about links? Here’s a link to Adobe’s site. I’ve added some tags, too.

Not bad. Let’s see if it actually posts now that I am ready to publish.

Beat me in three days, I dare you….

Jambaz

There are three days left in the first Jambaz stock prediction contest. I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to the game, which you can participate in daily, because of an illness in my family, but I’m not doing too bad. Currently, I am sixth out of 12 players on my blog and 24th of 94 players globally.

With three days left, join in and see if you can top my score.

I’ve been basing my predictions for movement on upcoming news from the companies in the list. What I found at ON24, the financial news network I used to run, was that any news will move a stock and that tepid news will drive it lower. Apple is generally getting good buzz and creeping upward while Cisco and Google are flat to negative because of lack of news. It’s worked moderately well and I would have done better had I been entering scores for the next day all the last week.

Also, let me know what you think of the game, the widget, and the way the data is presented so I can pass it along to the folks at Jambaz.

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In the midst of Extensive Karmic Housecleaning

I’ve been engaged in one of those passages of time when change and reflection have come to dominate my days. At home and in work me and my family have been through a lot of wrenching transformation, and I can’t say that it is over, yet. But some ideas have become plainly self-evident to me in recent weeks. Here, some notes, none of which have added up to a conclusion about What Comes Next….

I picked up my old paperback copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions, which I’ve had since 1981, and reread after his death last week. He wrote the book near my age, as a way to clear his head for what remained of his life. He comments on the arbitrary and stupid mythology on which the United States built itself, including the All-Seeing Eye atop a pyramid on our money:

Not even the President of the United States knew what that was all about. It was as though the country was saying to its citizens: “In nonsense is strength.

Yesterday, while watching the speculation-as-coverage that was the Virginia Tech Massacre, I was struck by the plaintive mewling of a reporter during the briefings by the school’s administration: “You have to understand that we want human stories. Can’t you give us human stories?”

Likewise, when the CNN anchors who demanded that students calling from the university “paint a picture” of the campus and asked “how it felt today” and whether the students would like to transfer, I was struck by what nonsense we rely on to provide clarity in times of crisis. Facts take time to come out, and human stories emerge through extensive reporting, including the snippets of experience caught by witnesses (I loathe the term “i-reporters” used by CNN), which must be assembled over time to make sense of such terrible and complex events.

It’s the same problem the blogosphere has. Too many opinions passing as fact, way too much promotion posing as reportage, and a general fascination with minutiae rather than the complexities of detailed reports on events. We seek a position before we arrive at a perspective.

Vonnegut, again:

And here, according to Trout, was the reason human beings could not reject ideas because they were bad. “Ideas on Earth were badges of friendship or enmity. Their content did not matter. Friends agreed with friends in order to express friendliness. Enemies disagreed with enemies, in order to express enmity.

I like conflict, because it yields clarity, and I like the people who will engage in a good debate. Virtually all the tools made for social networks today are about easy agreement and convenient enmity, rather than the forging of community.

But I am also tired of nonsensical argument. When I come out of this passage, I will be doing something new with words, ideas, images and stories. But for now, despite all the housecleaning already accomplished, I have much more self-examination and reflection on the world to pursue. So, forgive my continued silence in various venues where you would typically find my blogged words and writing.

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What’s that widget?

You might have noticed the new widget in the right sidebar. It’s a new kind of game from Jambaz, a Luxembourg-based developer I’m helping out with early testing. The idea is simple: Take the wisdom of crowds and turn it into a game.

You see, crowds are not amorphous and homogeneous things, but collections of ideas and leaders. Breaking crowds down into groups that are more familiar with particular topics will yield better insight into business, political and social performance. I think this kind of prediction market competition, which is essentially what any market is, will be useful across a variety of dimensions of analysis.

In this case, you can compete with me by logging in and adding your own daily sentiment about the companies listed. At the end of the “game,” in two weeks, the results will be published and whomever is best at anticipating the performance of the stocks will be recognized.

This kind of mechanism, though simple, can be applied to long-term assessment of the prospects and performance of a company, its products and so forth, not to mention political candidates, policies and their effect on a target population.

I’m looking forward to seeing where Jambaz takes this.

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Wolfowitz’s girlfriend problem

“I made a mistake,” World Bank’s Wolfowitz says – Yahoo! News:

World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz said on Thursday he made “a mistake for which I am sorry” over his handling of the promotion and pay increase of his girlfriend and staffer Shaha Riza.

Yet another example of a Bushie not recognizing that politics is about ethics rather than spoilsmanship. Imagine Bill Clinton had appointed Monica Lewinski to a higher office and given her a promotion.

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