Yahoo’s new brand strategy feels all wrong. Repurposing content? What will differentiate this from any other aggregating website?

This is all based on the faux idea that this content is somehow “theirs”, because they “own” Flickr etc. But they don’t (the users do), and it’s not (it’s out there in RSS and other formats). I could duplicate their brand platforms in an afternoon (ok, a few weeks of work perhaps), and so can anyone else. You don’t build a destination on aggregation. Aggregation without value add is not a viable strategy.

Instead, Yahoo should build more tools to let people easily create and aggregate content themselves. I’m pretty sure that this initiative will fade away within a year and will mean more opportunity cost incurred for Yahoo.

Another note on editing interviews: with English interviews, I can increase the playback speed to 1.5, in Spanish interviews (my Spanish isn’t as good), I can’t, I need to play things at speed 1.0 to understand everything.

The 5 smallest countries in the world. Vatican City is the size of a golf course. I always felt one of the reasons the Catolics became so powerful is that they pulled off starting their own country (in 1929, in a deal with Mussolini). What other religion can say that?

Of course, their first pull to power was to act as a multinational and own property worldwide. That tends to make organizations long-lasting (I have this plan for a whole book on why organizations/ideas become long-lasting or not, and the catholic church would be a great case study). But then they pulled of the country. Pay yourself taxes. Make your own laws. Plus, all power in the country is centralized in a dictator (the pope has legislative, executive and judiciary power). It’s brilliant.

Today’s editing tip: the last statement.

While editing the interviews for the Colombia Migration Project, I’ve learnt a few simple things about editing. Even when you simply string a bunch of statements together (the simplest form of editing), the last statement in the interview (the one before the closing credits) has a kind of extra, lingering power, just because it’s the last. I guess because that’s when the new stuff stops, it kind of frames everything that came before. The viewer takes that last statement and reviews everything that came before and perhaps that’s when they store it in their memory, I don’t know. In any case, there’s power there. So if you choose that last bit wisely you can give an extra twist or meaning to the interview.

I plugged in my iPod for the first time in a while and the newest iTunes is really getting better.

Still no links back to podcasters though. Damn Apple!

Sull follows up with his personal history of videoblogging.

I like personal histories. At least there’s not the presumption of being *the* history, it’s just a personal account. And by reading various ones you can kind of make an infered overal history. I encourage others to chime in too.

Drupal follow-up: why I still think Drupal or any generic CMS is dangerous for many startups.

My previous post about Drupal generated a lot of discussion, and it’s Sunday eve with not much else to do so let me clarify why I still think that using Drupal can be dangerous.

There are a few arguments, and I’ll try to be more practical in this case.

First, let’s look at the node system. I start my startup with Drupal, basic content items are nodes. All’s good. I get lots of functionality for free.

Next, I want to do something different with nodes, like, order them in a different way or something. That requires a database change and some extra indexes on the nodes table, say. I can hack Drupal to do this, but now I’ve forked Drupal and my upgrade path.

Forking is almost inevitable. (ps: note that I’m not talking about some plain content site, but a startup that’ll likely require some pretty specific functionality.)

That means no more security fixes. No more upgrading from Drupal, unless I hack the new version too. I’ve lost a main reason to continue to use Drupal – all I’ve gained now is some initial work at the start of the project.

Next, my startup gets more popular and I need to optimize for performance and scalability. Drupal provides a few built-in optimization methods, I try them, they’re not enough perhaps – especially because I now have a hacked Drupal.

So I need to start changing the innards of Drupal. Perhaps the node table needs to be federated. Perhaps the user table needs to be federated. Who knows these things in advance. Drupal does a LOT of stuff, and I probably don’t understand it’s innards as well as I would understand a system that only does what I need that I built myself. I’m in trouble now.

That’s what happens to startups, and that’s why I still consider Drupal dangerous for many startups. I’ve seen it happen again and again.

It’s not the fault of Drupal. It’s the fault of the expectations that it sets (“it’ll be easy”). You really are better off building something lean from scratch, as far as I can tell. Am I wrong?

PS: to be clear, if you are creating content sites with a specific set of functionality (forums, user profiles, …), and if you’re not looking to create the next myspace, but instead are looking for something fairly standard, Drupal IS a good choice. It’s flexible enough, fairly scalable and easy to customize. There are a few companies that are doing exactly that (customizing Drupal for clients who needs those kinds of websites) and are doing a great job.

A brief and personal history of videoblogging

Since memory is fickle, and these days, and blogs – not news – are the first draft of history, I wanted to note down my personal history of videoblogging before I forget most of it. I’m going to use my own blog to refresh my memory, and some of the history on the wikipedia entry. Most of this story happens in 2004.

First, Adrian Miles posts his first (known) videoblog entry ever on November 27, 2000, although it’s debatable what really was the first “videoblogging” entry. As with many categories, the category of “videoblogs” doesn’t have a clearly defined boundary.

But let’s start at the beginning.

I came to New York in 2002. I rented a room in Harlem, and I became friends with Jay Dedman. Back then, our conversations were mostly about the future of robots. I moved to Hoboken but we stayed in touch.


I spent a few years working as a consultant, generally a pretty boring time.

In May 2004, me and Jay were walking in Central Park (Jay’s story). Jay was working at MNN, a community television station, and we were talking about his frustrations with that model, and how cool it would be to see videos on the internet. It was a really long and excited conversation, and it got us started.

I had started blogging in the beginning of 2002, and I told Jay about blogging and we talked about whether you could put videos on a blog. We got pretty excited.

So we started to experiment. Jay got a blog (, Jay’s first video post ever), and we tried to put videos on our blogs. We had to learn about encodings, and all that stuff, and we worried a lot about bandwith.

I remember that, when we discovered you could take videos with those little digital photocameras, we were pretty excited.

We also found out that Steve Garfield had started his videoblog in January 2004 – one of the first videoblogs ever – and had declared 2004 the year of the videoblog.

In June, we started the videoblogging mailing list ( Jay insisted on the importance of community, and I proposed the idea of starting a mailing list. I remember Jay saying that mailing lists are for teenage girls. In any case, we started the list, and that’s where the “community” of videobloggers started.

Over the next months and years, Jay was always the one stressing the importance of getting people in one by one, helping out everyone, building community. He was a “connector”, an evangelist for the cause.

What David Winer was for blogging, and Adam Curry for podcasting, Jay was for videoblogging.

I also have to mention Ryanne and Michael, of Freevlog fame, who have also personally been responsible for getting hundreds of videobloggers started, if not more.

In the second half of 2004, the group of videobloggers was still small (slowly growing to a few dozen, then to a few hundred), but we were all very excited and experimenting a lot. We did thing like videobloggingweek – a challenge to post a video every day for a week.

There was a lot of offline community building, videoblogger barbeques, meetups and so on.

I remember Mica told me how she showed videoblogging to Charlene, who then got very excited and spent all night getting her first videopost to work. That’s how it went, people told each other. I was always surprised to see how excited someone would get when they realized they could publish their video in the internet, without needing to ask anyone’s permission.


I have to also mention the podcasters. For the first few years, podcasting was, as far as who was involved in it, on a separate track from videoblogging. We didn’t really talk to each other. Podcasters got a lot more press (especially in 2005), and videobloggers were much more unknown. There was a lot of bickering in the podcasting world, and videobloggers were generally a more fun bunch to be around. Less money involved too. The best think about podcasting was the enclosure element in RSS that they promoted. Videobloggers started to use it too, and this stimulated the emergence of video aggregators.

In December 2004, Kenyatta Cheese made a mockup of a video aggregator (a “vogbrowser”). I thought that looked cool, and spent 3 days coding something together that was the first version of Mefeedia, the first video aggregator.

PS: I always hated the words “vog” and “vlog”, and always fought to use “videoblogging”. “Vlogging”, it just sounds like something you wouldn’t want your mom to know you’re doing.


In January 2005, we organized the first Vloggercon ( I remember Jay saying, “these are the fun days, the early days, enjoy it”. And they were, and we did. We (I just helped with coffee) organized that conference on a budget of about 600 US$ (for coffee, mostly), and it was an incredible success.

And that’s where I’m going to end this part of the story. It’s the most interesting part.

In 2005, the Starting Of Companies started in the videoblogging world, iTunes and YouTube came along, was started, and things generally became more commercial and perhaps less fun. The pioneering days were over. In 2006, vloggercon felt a lot more commercial, although the organizers did their best.

Apart from some video projects (, I haven’t been a very active videoblogger on my personal blog.
I spend about 2 years working on Mefeedia, but I got tired of it and sold it in January 2007.

(Remember that memory is fickle, so please correct me in the comments.)

Josh Kinberg writes: Just want to add a little to your history… Kenyatta’s VlogBrowser
was based on my implementation if ViPodder as a desktop based aggregator and video playlist manager (first created with Applescript
and then later as a command-line Perl script — it was initially based on Adam Curry’s “iPodder” script). This became the basis for FireAnt, and Kenyatta’s implementation came after a discussion with him over the merits of desktop based aggregation vs. web-based aggregation. Truthfully, I would say that ViPodder is the first video aggregator.

I feel sad but I won’t go to the excellent IA Summit this year. Two reasons:

1. It’s in Vegas, and I have an intense dislike for Vegas.

2. It’s in Vegas, which means on the west coast, and I’ll be in Europe, so the jetlag would have me messed up for about a whole week, and that includes during the conference. No good.

A letter from Guantanamo:

“I would rather die than stay here forever, and I have tried to
commit suicide many times. The purpose of Guantanamo is to destroy
people, and I have been destroyed. I am hopeless because our voices are
not heard from the depths of the detention center.

If I die,
please remember that there was a human being named Jumah at Guantanamo
whose beliefs, dignity and humanity were abused. Please remember that
there are hundreds of detainees at Guantanamo suffering the same
misfortune. They have not been charged with any crimes. They have not
been accused of taking any action against the United States.”

As posted on the videoblogging mailing list, I’ve sold mefeedia:

“We’ve decided to turn over the reins of to Frank Sinton.

Frank is planning to keep it running as the best place to find
videoblogs, focused on independent videoblogs, and he’s putting more
resources into it. And of course he’ll respect all user agreements
(ie. he won’t spam your emails and such, he’ll respect CC licenses,
…). I’ve talked to him and I believe he’s got all the right motives.
He’s on this list, you can ask him your questions :)

I made the decision because I just didn’t have the time and money
(those servers cost $) to keep mefeedia going. It had grown way beyond
my expectations, it’s been getting lots of pageviews and attention and
I just can’t support that anymore. Frank is looking to invest more
time and $ in mefeedia so rather than let it die a slow death due to
lack of attention, so we thought that was a good thing.

Meanwhile, I have to thank Devlon Duthie and Mike Meiser for all their
incredible work to make mefeedia what it is today, and for all the
support we’ve gotten from y’all in the past 2 years!

Let me know if you have any questions!

Here’s a word from Frank:

“Hello to everyone in the vlogosphere. First of all, thank you Peter
and Devlon (and the many others involved) for creating such a great
tool for videobloggers. Your hard work and support for Mefeedia shows.
As far as plans for Mefeedia, i was actually looking for your input on
seeing what you would like to see! Please use this group, email me
 or join our mefeedia users group: All comments,
suggestions, and questions are welcome.”

Longtail: “Yesterday in Las Vegas I spent a great afternoon at the headquarters of Zappos,
which is the Amazon of shoes. They have what may be the largest
in-warehouse inventory in the world–750,000 unique products, amounting
to more than 1.5m pairs of shoes in the Kentucky distribution center
(needless to say, this is a great Long Tail retail example, although
I’ll save that analysis for a later post). Having just read David Weinberger’s great new book, after which this post is named, one of the things that struck me most about Zappos was the way it organizes its massive warehouse. It doesn’t. The shoes are placed randomly on the shelves.”

OK, why do Digg’s links in their RSS feed link to the digg page, not to the linked article page? That’s just dumb.

Health-care in the US is incredibly broken. A good article: “Most Americans are unaware that the United States is the only country
in the developed world that doesn’t already have a fundamentally
public–that is, tax-supported–health care system.”