The Future of the Internet, According to Web Trendsetters: Page 2

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Real Time Global Conversation

Robert Scoble, who spoke after Chris Anderson, demonstrated that he’s as plugged into the Internet as it’s possible to be. As Anderson spoke, Scoble – managing director of Fast Company TV, and a video blogger – was videoing him (with a cell phone) and streaming it live over the Web.

“You could have left a comment during my video,” he said. Scoble sees the Internet evolving into a global, live, real-time conversation, with video in the forefront of this effort.

He pointed to the example of Tom Dickson, CEO of Blendtec blenders. Dickson launched WillItBlend, a wacky Web-based show in which he throws all kinds of strange objects – like an iPhone or a Chuck Norris action figure – into a blender to see how it “blends.” Web surfers have viewed his videos some 75 million times by last count. (The golf balls video was viewed 3.8 million times, generating 2,500 comments.) He gets readers involved by offering a “suggest stuff to blend” link. A less frivolous example of Web video are those of Gary Vaynerchuk, who Scoble extolled as a leader in the field. Vaynerchuk is the proprietor of New Jersey-based Wine Library. He produces and stars in his own wildly energetic (and a little nutty) low-budget videos about wine, which have gathered an audience of about 80,000 viewers. Vaynerchuk is the prototypical “click and mortar” owner, promoting his product online without spending much money.

“This is the new advertising” Scoble said. “He creates a need you didn’t even know you had.” (That sounds like the old advertising – but it’s much cheaper.)

Scoble noted the success of tech broadcast personality Leo LaPorte, who does a live Internet streaming show from his home. According to Scoble, LaPorte spent $10,000 on a “virtual set” so that it appears as if he’s broadcasting from a studio, when in fact he’s in his living room. He takes calls and fields responses from his chat room, which he converts to audio.

Robert Scoble


Robert Scoble

On an offbeat note, Scoble admitted that he follows a whopping 23,000 people on Twitter. “That means I get a new Twitter message about every second.” (He explained that when he wants to get work done, he needs to shut down his screens.) With Twitter, everyone gets their 15 minutes of fame, though that 15 minutes is more like 1.5 seconds.

He also touted FriendFeed, a social network/broadcast channel that hosts videos, photos and music. “This is a worldwide conversation that’s happening in real time with many different types of media.”

Have Blog will Travel

Noah Schactman, who pens Wired’s Danger Room blog about national defense, said that his blog gets about 1.5 million page views a month – a number to prompt envy in most bloggers. The secret to his success? In addition to breaking serious news and blogging incessantly, "When we do serious journalism, we usually illustrate it with a bikini-clad model in a mudfight," Shactman explained. (Actually, that’s not quite accurate – Danger Room’s graphics are more on topic than that.)

One of the pioneers of blogging, Anil Dash, vice president at Six Apart, spoke about what he called “the ugly co-dependent relationship between blogs and SEO [search engine optimization].” Plenty of bloggers twist themselves into pretzels to include hot keywords, hoping that using popular search terms (even out of context) will give them high ranking in search engines. That’s a mistake, Dash opined. “Just make content that people want.”

Elisa Camahort, co-founder of Blogher – “the community for women who blog” – proved to be the event’s most passionate evangelist for blogging.

Elisa Camahort


Elisa Camahort

“Blogs are now mainstream, addictive and trusted," she said. Regardless of age, once engaged, blogging is a daily part of life. As proof, she claimed that 53 percent of U.S. women online are reading blogs. While that figure seems high, Camahort has earned bragging rights while demonstrating the power of this emerging medium: Her Blogher network scored a sit-down interview with Senator Barack Obama during the primary season. (The video is here.)

One of the event’s most engaging speakers was Steve Rubel, a highly popular blogger and a senior VP for Edelman Digital. Rubel’s key point was that the mass audience is dead. That is, those many advertisers who are pouring mega-bucks into TV ads to the exclusion of the Web are missing something. When you reach only for a mass audience – without including the targeted, measured audience of the Net – you’re not optimizing your ad spend. To illustrate the limitations of the mass audience, he showed a slide of a typical TV audience: two people dozing off on a couch.

Rubel’s blog tends to be quite insightful, and is listed as part of the Datamation Top 100 Tech blogs.


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