Australian entrepreneur with FanFooty (alive) and Tinfinger (dead) on his CV. Working on new projects, podcasting weekly at the Coaches Box, and trying not to let microblogging take over this blog.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Podcast with Duncan Riley on OpenID and attention

I recorded a podcast today with TechCrunch writer and Aussie 2.0 kingmaker Duncan Riley as episode #2 of his new TPN show called On The Pod.

I started off with the usual spiel explaining the history of FanFooty and Tinfinger, with a bit of a sideways discussion of Mahalo (awesome review by Rich Skrenta, btw). Then we moved on to talk of turnkey social networking applications, with which I have some experience as a developer because Tai and I are in the middle of integrating the PeopleAggregator app from Marc Canter's startup Broadband Mechanics into Tinfinger.

Then we got on to the meat of the discussion, which centred around online identity, OpenID and what the future holds for privacy in the social networking industry. I threw in some points about attention management software because I think there are significant connections between the future of the two concepts. We talked in passing about Facebook, Spock and Root Markets. Fresh in my mind were the thoughts of a few luminaries: Dave Winer and Brad Fitzpatrick (plus bonus anti-OpenID rant from someone I've never heard of!).

This was the second time I've appeared on The Podcast Network in recent times: I was on episode #268 of Cameron Reilly's show G'Day World to talk international politics late last month. Despite both Duncan and Cameron having confessed to being long-term Liberal voters in the past, they're both top blokes and I enjoyed myself during both shows immensely. Thanks to both!

Meanwhile, the Coaches Box fantasy footy podcast I co-host with Phillip "Molly" Malone is up to episode #16, and talks are ongoing about moving the show to a certain offline format for next Australian rules football season. I never thought I was much of a talker, due to my terrible habits of mumbling and rabbiting on (not to mention I've got a face for radio but a voice for print)... but I'm getting plenty of practice in.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Photo suckers

I have recently removed from my NetVibes page the Thoughts of a Bohemian blog by photography industry exec Paul Melcher, plus the attendant metafeed of photography blogs that Melcher compiled. I had added them a couple of months ago to try to get some idea of where the photography industry is heading, because I was concerned about how to use images of celebrities on Tinfinger.

It has become quite clear through reading Melcher that the photography industry is pretty much screwed. Market leaders like Corbis and Getty are poorly run, glacier-like in their movement, and have no answer to the questions posed about their business models by the Internet. The microstock and royalty-free models have destroyed the margins of most types of photography products, and the cost of picture production has come down so drastically as to make many old models completely unworkable.

Having said that, I was still surprised to see the way newly launched social network white pages clone Spock handles images of celebrities. Take their Chris Judd images page - Chris Judd is one of the most famous Aussie rules players in the game right now. Ignore for the moment that the two pics on the left are not of the Australian Chris Judd. Notice how you can click on each thumbnail image and it expands through the magic of Javascript to show the full-sized original image.

How do the Spock people think they can get away with that? Isn't it a blatant breach of copyright? This is an honest question, I would like to know. I have been jumping through a lot of hoops with Tinfinger trying not to build a system that would give offense to image copyright holders, but am I the sucker in this equation? Is it really a free-for-all with celebrity images now?

It's no wonder that Melcher and his peers are so depressed about the photography industry. I am a journalist by training, so I understand the desire by content creators to be rewarded for their work. Should I abandon my morals and just scrape every image I can get my hands on, or is there a reckoning for the likes of Spock where the photography industry will stand up for its rights and, ultimately, its survival as a commercial concern?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Growing pains

I've been watching the feed of Plentyoffish.com founder Markus Frind for a while now, because he has been the poster child for AdSense-driven Web sites. Frind is the famous US$10,000/day AdSense millionaire who runs the business as a sole proprietor.

Or at least, that's what he has been doing. Now, he has announced that he is going to ditch AdSense and hire his own sales force with a salary budget of US$300,000/month and also hire a bunch of software developers experienced in Microsoft technologies. I guess there is a ceiling of how big a one person show can get, and Markus just hit it.

At a much smaller scale, I'm having some of the same thoughts myself about our FanFooty business. AdSense can be very frustrating, as I have found during August especially. There is a point beyond which a site's traffic gets so high that the revenue difference between AdSense and an alternative sales structure will be so great as to outweigh the extra overhead of time and effort that non-AdSense solutions imply. FanFooty has pretty much hit that point already, with an inventory of three million page impressions per month to play with. The 2008 Aussie rules football season is going to be bigger and better for FanFooty for a number of different reasons, and the AdSense part of the business may have to be sacrificed as part of that transition.

EDIT: but now Markus is saying he's not going to hire for a while! Make your mind up, mate!