My keynote at vloggercon

My keynote at vloggercon is now live. Remembering vloggercon is a bottom-up conference, organized by the community, it’s amazing that for 2 years now it’s the absolutely best archived conference in existence. ALL talks are available online as videos, for both years. And were streamed live. And this is on the cheap!

Download my talk (Quicktime)


I think I’m a hacker-IA. It’s kinda like a mentat-warrior ;) The thing I just realized this morning is this: if you have the ability to create, so you don’t have to hire programmers, you can try out a lot of things.

If your first idea would be the one that works, you could just hire programmers to do it, and still be profitable.

But it’s usually not. Nobody is that smart. Or I haven’t met them.

So to build something cool, you need to change directions a lot, try stuff out, see what works. And to do that, it really, really helps if you can get stuff done yourself.

Mozy Remote Backup: Free. Automatic. Secure.

I am using Mozy Remote Backup, in my long trail of testing backup solutions, this one is working well. Disclaimer: haven’t tried a restore yet.

I use it only for my “business” folder, not my images or music folders.

Every day, it automatically backs up my business folder when I’m away from my computer, and then, and this is the most satisfying bit, when I get back to my computer there’s a “your stuff is backed up!” notice. Aaaahhh. The feeling of satisfaction is very enjoyable!

For future reference, the only Windows text editor I could find that can handle large files like database dumps of 2 gigs and larger is UltraEdit.

Really really slow WordPress query

This query shows up all the time in my slow logs, and I’m just confused about how WP can have such slow queries in it?

FROM wp_posts
WHERE 1 =1
AND post_date_gmt <= '2005-07-07 13:07:51'
post_status = "S"
AND post_status != "w"
GROUP BY wp_posts.ID
ORDER BY post_date DESC
LIMIT 0 , 40

I have a clean WP 2.0.3 install, with no plugings.

The above query regularly takes 100s of seconds to run! Although a regular run when the db is fast seems rather fast (0.0022s). It may be that the query gets slow because of other reasons.

When I run an explain, mysql uses the post_status key, but reports under extra:

Using where; Using temporary; Using filesort

Not so good I believe?

Perhaps comment spam?

IA and coding

Robert Rodriguez: Hollywood hacker – WebJillion: “Robert Rodriguez. Dude made an award-winning movie for $7,000, bucked Hollywood in favor of his own one-man studio at his home in Austin, Texas and overall just really embodies the start-up, bootstrap, whatever-you-want-to-call-it work ethic that I try my best to stay true to.
“… you have to learn how to be technical, because if you can be creative and technical, you’ll be onstoppable … That’s why I started being my own film crew … When you’re self-sufficient, you’re scary. You don’t need anybody.â€?

Even though information architecture is what I’m really good at, I’m spending a lot of time becoming a much better coder these days. And the quote above shows why. If you are can build stuff, without having to hire people, you’re way ahead already. Years of possibilities!

Blip video gets digged, blip “doesn’t break a sweat”

Blip Blog: “We’re holding strong at blip. Our servers are handling the incredible amount of traffic — hundreds of thousands of viewers coming all at once to one video — without breaking a sweat. We aren’t breaking a sweat. The video is up, is up, everyone’s videos are up. We’ve passed the Digg test. Where do we go from here?
P.P.S: I should mention that dealing with the “Digg Effectâ€? did require the application of our high traffic contingency measures. These measures take a few minutes to kick in, but once they kick in they let us scale to the moon.”

loadedpun » Making a case for the personal vlog

loadedpun » Making a case for the personal vlog: “CNN is the latest network station to enter the fray in online video entertainment, offering up six original content shows this week. The three major networks have already added video podcast shows for aggregators such as itunes as well as some cellphones. Will independent web content makers be able to compete with these big budget offerings?

While some content makers have made shows that offer quality entertainment not previously seen in television programming (Ask a Ninja, Ze Frank and Chasing Windmills being among them) many are attempting to follow Rocketboom’s internet success with talk/news shows that mimic the network formats. Time will tell if they can break into a genre now inundated with big names and brands. My opinion? It’s time to get out of the television business and try something different.”

Hear hear.

A very good point. The window for independents to make tv-like videoblogs might be closing as the tv players are jumping in. And that might be a good thing. Videoblogging was never meant to be another television.

My vloggercon keynote: how values get embedded in technology.

I was very honored to be asked to give the vloggercon keynote this year. And even though I was pretty nervous and forgot a few bits (it’s a BIG room!), I was very happy with how the talk came out. It was important. I talked about technology and values, and how now is the time to get it right or mess it up. I think some of it hit home with everyone, in the following days, values in technology (what a social-science geeky concept!) was talked about again and again.

Here’s the speech that I wrote beforehand (not exactly what I said but hey).

The brilliant Truffaut quote that Anne gave me is at the bottom.

The vision.

There’s a vision people have been having for a long time now, and my instance of that vision was something like this: I’m on my couch, and I’m watching the Simpsons, and then I switch to a videoblogger in Colombia who has an interesting show that I like. And that videoblogger has an unmediated, strong voice, they don’t have to ask anyone permission to make this show, it’s not expensive; they do it for the love of it.

It’s a simple vision, and probably some of you have had something like it. We might have eaten similar mushrooms. In any case.

We need tech and culture.

I believe that the way to make this vision happen is a mix of technology and culture.

The technology ecology consists of the internet plus some software and websites, plus some hardware to get things on your TV or device.

We also need a culture (“a set of learned beliefs, values and behaviors the way of life shared by the members of a society.â€?), a culture in which people feel that they can have a voice and an audience. A culture of openness, of unmediated voices.

People have had this vision for a long time, and now, again, we’ve come to a time in history, a window, in which we have a chance to make this happen.

If we don’t make this happen, video on the internet will still happen, the technology is getting there, but without the culture, it will consist of downloading tv-shows for $1.99, and watching funny clips of dogs on skateboards, and that’s scary. Those are the things that BigMedia wants us to do. Those are the things that fit with their values and business models. That’s the stuff that will happen regardless of what we do.

Tech and culture co-evolve.

There’s one point I want to make today.

The technology and the culture of videoblogging co-evolve.

So the practices and believes that you have are shaped in part by the technology that’s available to you, and the technology that’s being created like crazy these days is shaped by the practices and believes you hold.


Beginnings are delicate times, and maybe this is the beginning of an important change in how video, the most powerful medium we know, is used. Video is different from text. It’s emotional. What we watch shouldn’t just be controlled by corporations.

Beginnings are times when you set a direction, and the direction is set by how values are embedded in technology, in business models, in the whole ecosystem.

To put it simply, this is what I think: we have an opportunity here. A dream, a vision. But it might not happen. The technology alone won’t take us there.

Technological determinism

There is an idea that’s called “technological determinismâ€?, which says that a technology, like the internet, will evolve in a certain way, regardless. It’s kind of inconspicuously popular in our thinking, but it is wrong.

Technology will evolve differently depending on the culture and the values that influence it. For example, Japan is not “aheadâ€? of the US in their use of technology, they’ve just chosen a different technological path, with different priorities.

Technology and culture evolve together.

Very practically: if you tell technology creators what you want and don’t want, they’ll adopt some of that. And at the same time, some of the subtle details of the technology that they create will affect the culture that grows around it.

For example: a lot of new video websites are geared towards popular content. They show popular stuff on the homepage. The people who go there are subtly suggested that popularity is what matters. But it’s not what matters to me. Or maybe to you. For me, it’s about real voices. So why not make a website that puts independent voices on the homepage, instead of the most popular content? It’s harder, but doable. But you need to know your values for that.

The startups will listen.

Everyone has something that drives them. The technology creators are mostly interested in cool stuff. And their bosses are mostly interested in making money.

What it comes down to is: you need to tell the technology creators about your values. And they’ll listen to you, because they need you. And then they’ll embed some of those values in the tools.

At some level, the startups know that they need you. They know that each of you is a pioneer. That each of you speaks with the voice of a million future customers. That’s why they do focus groups, and user testing, and just generally try to please you. Because if you don’t use their products, they loose.

That’s an opportunity. You *can* influence the technology, and that technology will in turn influence thousands of future people. Right now, they are listening. Especially startups, they listen hard.

Know your values.

So it’s important to know what your values are, and how they get embedded in the technology. I can’t tell you what your values are, that’s a conversation everyone needs to have with themselves and others.

For me, it’s about voices. Giving people the sense that they have the ability to speak with their own voice, without having to ask permission, or without having to compete for “popularityâ€?, or without the fear that what they say will be taken down, which leads to self censorship. And with the knowledge that others can listen to this, freely. That they don’t need lots of cash or influence to speak.


So how do values get embedded in technology?

Things like RSS are not neutral. They give power to users, and take it away from big companies. Blogs, too, they give you a personal platform that is not censured by anyone, hopefully.

How we categorize things often really matters: ratings are a good example: I think they’re useless. Your highly rated blog may be useless to me, so why add ratings all over the place? Ratings suggest that popularity is what is important, and I don’t agree with that.

Ownership is very important to support real voices. Can someone take my video down? And also, can I make money from my video, or will someone else profit from it? Creative Commons is doing a great job there.

Formats, how portable are they, what can you do with them? Microformats give us an opportunity to easily create metadata that is spread easily. We can email companies about these things, and talk about them publicly. Flash is popular right now for watching video in the browser, but you can’t watch Flash video on your iPod, and it’s problematic for syndication.

Linking. It really annoys me that iTunes doesn’t link you back to the site where the video was created.

Businessmodels are under our review too. You want me to make a video for you for the chance to make 500$? And sign away all rights? I don’t think so.

Those are just a few examples of how our values can help shape the technology and marketplace. And once we do that, in turn, the technology and the marketplace will shape the actions and values of millions to come after us.

And we can call out companies. Say, kudos to Google for adopting mediaRSS, a format created by rival Yahoo. Kudos to Yahoo for adding a “video blogâ€? category to their new video site. When a company does something in a market this young, they’ll listen to what we have to say.

We don’t have to be a mob. We can be intelligent about it. I’m not saying, crucify companies. Just email them about the values they are embedding in their technologies. Blog about it.

The thing to realize is: these companies are scared of us. They depend on us. They need us, and we don’t need them. So now is the time to really push for our values, stand up every day and say what we believe. This way, we’ll influence the technologies, and this in turn will influence the millions that will come after us.


So let me say it one more time: The technology and the culture of videoblogging co-evolve. And we have an opportunity, now, to embed values in the technology that will in turn influence millions of people down the line.

This window of opportunity will close in a few years, or less. We can choose: 10 years down the line, a world full of skating dogs, and 1.99$ Simpsons downloads. Or, all that, AND a world of independent voices using this medium. Now is the time to stand up for our values.

Finally, remember that vision? People have been having it. We have a chance to make it happen now. I would like to read something by Francois Truffaut, published in Arts magazine, May 1957, 49 years ago. Thanks to Anne Walk for this one.

â€?The film of tomorrow appears to me as even more personal than an individual and autobiographical novel, like a confession, or a diary. The young filmmakers will express themselves in the first person and will relate what has happened to them: it may be the story of their first love or their most recent; of their political awakening; the story of a trip, a sickness, their military service, their marriage, their last vacation…and it will be enjoyable because it will be true and new…The film of tomorrow will not be directed by civil servants of the camera, but by artists for whom shooting a film constitutes a wonderful and thrilling adventure. The film of tomorrow will resemble the person who made it, and the number of spectators will be proportional to the number of friends the director has. The film of tomorrow will be an act of love.â€?

Thank you.

Vloggercon: Where everyone’s the media | CNET

Vloggercon: Where everyone’s the media | CNET “The sold-out conference, which has attracted more than 350 people from around the globe, kicked off Saturday with a speech from video blogging, or “vlogging” pioneer Peter Van Dijck.

Van Dijck described his vision of a future in which you can sit on your sofa watching “The Simpsons” and then switch the channel to an uncensored video blog from China. But it won’t get there, he said, unless people encourage models that aren’t based on popularity.
Click here to Play

Video: A spotlight on Vloggercon 2006
CNET’s Michelle Meyers delves into the world of video blogging.

We don’t want it where “everyone is just watching funny stuff and downloading TV shows,” Van Dijck said. “I think we can do more.”

That’s right!


At the Undertheradar conference, I had 6 minutes to show off Mefeedia, but I made the obvious mistake and didn’t explain the core features (subscribing to feeds) well. The Google guy in the jury did say something like that he liked the design (undesign) the best of the sites presented, so that was fun ;)

Mysql brain teaser: a simple query checks all rows

I’ve seen this in many queries on many tables that take this form. It baffles me. Are you good enough at mysql to figure this brainteaser out? Coz I’m (still) not.

FROM `video`
LIMIT 0 , 30

(id is the primary key, it might also be another index, makes no difference in this case.)

With an explain, I get:
key: primary (this is used to order it)
rows: 309973 (mysql estimates it needs to go over *all* the rows in the table).

So if I interpret this correctly, mysql needs to go over all rows for this query? That’s crazytalk!

Any ideas? Maybe mysql doesn’t *really* go over all those rows, it just thinks it needs to? I don’t know anymore…

Why Google is actually right with this excel/word stuff

A lot of bloggers are saying the excel/word replacment strategy of Google must have some secret purpose. Not. They forget about 1 simple thing.

First, of course, the majority of people who use excel and word don’t need any advanced features.

What they do need is an easy way to store everything in one place. Office hasn’t solved that problem. Almost every small organization I talk to has an unsatisfactory, frustrating solution to where they keep their files. Mostly stuff just gets emailed around a lot.

That is the problem GoogleOffice can solve in 1 stroke. A basic Word and Excel is enough. And if it’s stored in 1 place (no more duplicates! No more version control nightmares. No sotware to by and install.), that’s enough motivation for 50% of all Office users to switch in the next 5 years.

Central storage, no software to install, basic features. And of course compatibility with Office.

It’s really that simple. Which small group with limited means would *not* adopt this? I know all of the ones I know would. It’s cheap. It’s easy to maintain. And it solves a *real* problem that they *all* struggle with right now.