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Michael Gracie

Self-reliance is nobody’s fault but my own

Just over a year ago I installed an OpenID provider on this site, and have been using the URL here ever since to harass and harangue other blogging types (mostly fishy ones).

Unfortunately, several months back I did some behind the scenes changes. They were merely back-office tweaks, since as you all know the theme/style here is already the most artistic, creative…heck downright gorgeous hunk of web design anywhere on the interwebs. Sadly my flair for technicolor wowza does not extend to my left-brain, and OpenID provision went bust.

At first I pointed fingers at Blogger, and took those I regularly denigrate there to task. But after significant amounts of research and tinkering, I now realize that it is the technology within causing the problems.

I make no apologies, primarily because I know certain denizens of the tubes have expressed sighs of relief during this otherwise difficult period. They are undoubtedly thanking me for my ineptitude. But someday near I will make reparations – I vow that the cynical, ill-humored, irritable commentary certain folks have previously accepted while cussing under their breath will resume.

MG signing off (while Alex, Kyle, Jean-Paul and others tremble in their boots)

Does anyone care what you write, or where you write it?

Why a lot of what you read really doesn’t matter:

Fragmentation applies to 100pct of media. We have gotten to the point where it is so easy to publish to the web, that most of it is ignored. When it is not ignored and it garners attention, the attention is usually from those people, the amateur outties, whose only goal is to create volume on the web in hopes of being noticed.

Additionally, I’ve often wondered why people are so willing to syndicate their content across networks they have little control over, and require additional engagement on their part. According to Mr. Cuban’s hypotheses on attention and relevance, it’s amateurish.

But where content, and distribution, are available for free, can the laws of scarcity even be applied anymore?

Reversing the downward trend in fly fishing

A fly fishing geek’s disjointed broad brush perspective

Rods and reels too high priced? Cantankerous farts told one too many newbies how it must be done? Or is A River Runs Through It just last century’s metaphor?

It doesn’t matter which way you cut it, interest in fly fishing has been waning…

Google Trends - fly fishing

…at least as long as perennial search engine Google has been keeping tabs on search trends. Seasonality is quite apparent, and you really couldn’t say that news coverage of the sport is the issue – while there’s a little volatility it has otherwise been fairly steady.

Around the world, South Africans, Americans, and New Zealanders top the charts in fly fishing searches, with the Irish and Brits rounding out the top five.

Fly Fishing Regions

Among cities the US pounces, and the Denver metro area definitely has fish on the brain – Boise, Salt Lake City, and Portland follow.

Fly Fishing Cities

And note, the heaviest concentrations of the search term actually occurred in Montana, followed by Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado, and Alaska – no surprise, but the leader doesn’t have big population centers to garner it a city spot.

Still, the trend is disturbing.  As Matt Dunn noted after working in a fly shop for a while, knowledgeable catalysts can help:

I’m spent several years here exploring local creeks, finding access, finding fish, and now I have to tell every random person that wants to know where it all is. Well, at least where some of it is. This is necessary, of course, because without places to fish, people won’t buy tackle and flies and new Fishpond chest packs. And the more people fish, the more things they will buy. And this is good because, at least from one perspective, the more they fish the more passionate about fishing they will be and the more they will protect fisheries and the better those fisheries will be.

A chain reaction kicks off, and the benefits come on the back end.

The fishing mindset has always been about the top secret hole and the fly I’m not telling you about, and that must change. I think the discussion taking place amongst blogs, combined with information/social networks such as Fish Explorer and The Fin, are a step in the right direction.

What more is needed still escapes me, but it makes sense on all levels (personal, commercial, and environmental) for those of us who love the sport to find it.

male-brown-trout
Put a smile on someone’s face – tell them where the fish are. Ok, start with a hint?

“I didn’t open my browser all weekend” Monday

Cycled and fished instead – not regretting it either

  • Sam Zell “bought a terrible business” – newspapers. I think Zell has it right when he says newspapers have to give customers what they want, not what some internal agenda prescribes. As a result, I admire the man, and hope he doesn’t wind up paying a terrible price.
  • Is Yahoo! manipulating bloggers? Doubtful – such action would create even more of a black purple eye. If anything, it’s more likely a renegade faction within. Then again, blog manipulation (i.e. shutting them down) seems to have found its way into the political process. Quelling discontent, or just one more way of saying blogs are really starting to matter?
  • Should Congress let home prices fall? You’ll get a resounding “yes” out of me – propping up asset classes, particularly right before elections, is a way for politicians to feign working for the better good. Unfortunately, situations generally wind up worse as a result, and history has a way of repeating itself. You’ve been hearing about government’s plans for saving the housing market going on a year now – nothing seems to be sticking, and maybe that is the best possible outcome.
  • And my prediction for the week…

  • Citadel Investment Group will soon make an offer to purchase the country of Iceland. Citadel bought multi-strategy fund Amaranth Advisors when it made bad bets on natural gas. It bought Sowood and portions of E*Trade after their sub-prime dice rolls. Now banking is melting down, and the volcanic island of Iceland is going with it. Why not?

UPDATE: Via Steven Pearlstein

Since last June, we’ve seen a fairly consistent pattern to the economic mood swings. Every three months or so, there’s a round of bad news about housing, followed by warnings of more bank write-offs and then a string of disappointing corporate earnings reports.

Let’s not forget the government announcements of salvation immediately thereafter. Me thinks Mr. Pearlstein is spot on, and you should read the whole thing.

Does “cleaning house” portend widget backlash?

VCs are doing it. Should you?

It’s pretty obvious by looking at these pages that I don’t have much taste for widgets. Now, it seems, at least one blogging venture capitalist is taking widgets to task – cleaning them out because they slow down page loading time. While I’d like to say I’m a trendsetter, alas it’s really just a matter of having no time and/or patience to find useful, easy to use widgets to slap on the site. The ones I have found that are useful simply take too much time to create and/or maintain.

[singlepic id=358 w=240 h=122 float=left]I would have commented on Mr. Wilson’s blog – maybe snarkily offering the New York venture capitalist my stylesheet – but the comment section didn’t load. I’m now wondering if it too is a widget of some sort.

I’ve cursorily seen a trend towards cleaner blog pages, and web pages in general. Even one of Mr. Wilson’s own investments, Tumblr, is built on the idea of clean, easy to read pages full of content originating from the owner. Yet, widgets seem to be growing and thriving in places like MySpace and Facebook (and yes, I know all the junk on Facebook pages are called “apps” – sorry, but they look like widgets to me).

Is there a shift in the midst – widgets coming off of personal/independent pages…finally finding their rightful place in social networks? Or are widgets beginning to join the ranks of the homeless?

UPDATE: If social network widgets can’t start producing real revenue, extinction may be the foregone conclusion.

Econoblogosphere

Very cool. (h/t to one of “the included”)

Comments are forever

Companies uneasy about online criticism.

Easy solution in the “who’s liable for comments” debate

Techdirt points out the foolish arguments over who is liable for website comments – the website owner or the commenter. The catch here is it is very very difficult to figure out who commenters are (despite what some think). Of course, I suspect a lot of the hubbaloo is about what is posted to blogs (and those who would love to know who the comment posters are), so I have a simple (albeit potentially temporary) solution:

All blog owners turn off all comment capability, and turn on trackback capability (if they haven’t already). Anyone who wants to provide feedback must do so via their own blog (even if they use it only to provide said feedback). That will weed out the trollers anonymous types (at least until some smarty figures out a hack around it). And who knows, those newfangled feedback-only blogs may just generate some revenue for those previously scared of airing their views. They can use AdSense for goodness sake. Sounds like Google might be needing the extra revenue any day now.
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Microsoft should watch their B’s and U’s

msnsvcs.gif
A Chinese blogger wasn’t a very good spokesperson for their government, so Microsoft removed the blog from the MSN Spaces service. If the possibility of censorship doesn’t cause MSN Spaces users to go running for the doors, I don’t know what will (but maybe trashing everyone’s email will help?).

The Redmond crowd desperately wants a foothold in the online world, and screwing up prime services is not the way to do it. If you are going to upset the balance of power, you have to execute with laser precision, something MS has had the luxury of not having to do up until now. And while they are flubbing around, the forces are hitting them from the flanks. Don’t be surprised if people start carrying their blog and email software around on a USB stick, much like they can now do with a free office productivity suite.
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When old isn’t so “old” – and as for the new…

A couple of weeks back I commented that some of the “old” dot-com ideas that CNET shot down might not deserve the slamming they got. The premise was that some of the dot-com failures had merit in one way or another, and not to be surprised if some of the same business models rear their not-so-ugly heads again and make someone a lot of money.

Well, the October ’05 issue of Business 2.0 has an article entitled “Everything Old Is New Again” that suggests much the same thing.
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