Archive for March, 2009

Fri 6 Mar 2009 7:26 am   //   Posted in: Failure, Technology

Friendster 2.0

Facebook is a huge property right now, beloved by millions, worth a fortune, fending off all sorts of acquisition offers, and winning the respect of businesses everywhere. To anyone who buys this hype, I have one word:


The year was 2003. A handful of us hopped onto Friendster and “Friended” each other. We posted our favorite books and movies. We sent each other messages. We self-identified as “Single,” “In a Relationship” or “It’s Complicated.” We posted flattering “Testimonials” of one another. I even used Friendster to find a few dates.

Those were good times. Us and Friendster had a lot of fun. Then, one day quite suddenly, we all got sick of it and moved on. Friendster didn’t. It’s still up there. This morning I logged on and was mortified to see Friendster is still serving up pictures of me and my friends from five or six years ago:

Visiting Friendster is like looking at your high school yearbook. One day, Facebook will be the same way.

But wait, you say. Facebook is way better than Friendster! It has better technology and is a more satisfying social experience.

True. But something will come along that’s better than Facebook. Or, more likely, our computing habits will change in some way we can’t yet predict that will render Facebook less important. We know from watching the Internet develop that nothing stays big forever. When everything is free, users can afford to be fickle.

The only real value of Facebook (and, as part of this same conversation, Twitter) is that lots of people use it, and you can sell advertising to those people. (Even that’s an arguable point – see my post on impressions and revenue).

We the customers should enjoy Facebook and get the most out of it we possibly can. (I use it every day.) But we’re not spending any money on Facebook, or because of Facebook, and that’s a little scary. When the people get bored with Facebook, and we probably will, the company will become as worthless as Friendster. And nobody will miss it.

Thu 5 Mar 2009 7:23 am   //   Posted in: In the news


A year ago, we were obsessed with politics. Remember that? Each day all of us news geeks would check the poll numbers and try to figure out who was going to win which primaries. That storyline is over, and something else had to fill the void

Luckly, just in time, something did: The stock market.

We know there are plenty of investment professionals who reading the stock market for a living. They develop sophisticated algorithms about how markets perform and bet on their computer models, hoping to yield a high return. We also know that these people have no idea what they’re doing. If they did, couldn’t at least one of them have predicted the market would fall 45% in a year?

For us amateurs, following the market* is a lot like politics, with each company being a character with a different storyline. For example, I love checking the chart for AutoZone – up 34% over the last year! Google is fascinating: Will its next earnings report be a total flop? How about banks? Wow! And there’s so much information available about all of these companies. I can imagine how fidgety I’d be if I had a TV at my desk where I could watch CNBC. It’s probably best that I don’t.

* – Note that following the market is not the same as investing. This is edutainment. I never actually buy or sell individual stocks.

Wed 4 Mar 2009 7:50 am   //   Posted in: Hard times, Movies

The economy needs you to watch the Watchmen

“Watchmen” is a tentpole. Some big movies are so important that they’re expected to generate enough money to prop up countless smaller, riskier movies that won’t be as popular. “Watchmen” (which opens Friday, and which I haven’t seen) is so huge and so hyped that it practically has to support an entire media empire.

If “Watchmen” flops, Time For Kids might go out of business. (I’m exaggerating, but only a little.)

Problem is, “Watchmen” looks disappointing. Maybe not a flop on the scale of “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” but quite possibly as bad as “V for Vendetta.” I was excited about the movie about a month ago when I read the comic book and wrote a story about a photo book connected to the film. But for several reasons, my enthusiasm has waned. Part of it was reading the last few pages of the comic and not wishing to see those appallingly violent scenes translated to a big screen. The blame also lies with my short attention span: I can’t stay interested in a movie for more than a couple of days, and a month of pre-opening publicity is three weeks too much. The reviews haven’t helped, though bad reviews alone are not a reason to avoid a movie. Either way, my current sentiment is this: I will probably see “Watchmen,” but if I don’t, oh well. I expect many of you feel the same way.

To this, I say: Buck up! Our economy needs us to spend money! A few million $12 movie tickets are quite possibly the only things standing between 86,000 Time Warner employees and the unemployment line. Go see this mediocre film! Watch the Watchmen – for America!

Tue 3 Mar 2009 8:00 am   //   Posted in: Music, Videos

Just because

I don’t feel like writing another post about the sorry state of things. I feel like watching a kick-ass Weezer video!

Mon 2 Mar 2009 9:50 am   //   Posted in: Mobile update, Weather

Snowy city

Rough commute, but we can handle a little snow.

Mon 2 Mar 2009 9:00 am   //   Posted in: Hard times, Media

Plan B

Everybody who works in media is talking about what to do when there are no more media jobs. Here are some ideas:

  • Teach SAT prep courses. Apparently this pays handsomely and is in high demand. And finally, a chance to show off that we know words like unctuous and ossify.
  • Tend bar. Until recently, this was becoming a very hard job. Bars were starting to employ “mixologists,” who would have a short conversation with a customer and then recommend the perfect $12 cocktail. Well, that’s over! Now all you need to do is uncap $3 bottles of Miller High Life.
  • Health care. Because people keep getting sick. Except none of us are doctors or RNs. Um, can we help out with your web site? Clerical? Janitorial?
  • Count people for the 2010 Census. Then do whatever it is census-takers do nine years out of ten.
  • Open a pie shop. Unfortunately, the pie craze I keep predicting seems less likely now that ABC has canceled “Pushing Daisies.”
  • Dog breeder. People are always willing to spend money on pets. And dogs like doing it! Easy!
  • Be a repo man. Surely a busy industry these days.
  • Porn. We can edit it!