RizWords Weekly Roundup

I’m going to try to highlight a few things from the show this week that I think warrant further discussion. This may or may not become a regular feature. We’ll see how you guys like it.

gPhone
Do I really need to say more about this? Check Episode 116 of RizWords (you may need to subscribe to the feed to listen). Also read these two posts. The second one contains links to other interesting coverage. Or just Google gPhone. Everyone’s got an opinion now.

Two Unfortunate Investments (originals: here and here).
On Thursday we talked about VC put into startups Veveo.TV and Wis.dm. Both Art and I puzzled over the amount of money flowing into these two losers.

Wis.dm is basically an expanded form of the comments features on every website on the web, but tries to be the newest Web 2.0 to pull wisdom from the crowds. On Wednesday and Friday, I inaccurately referenced from memory the anecdote of Sir Francis Galton, who was from the 19th century, not the 17th, as I said. The anecdote itself was properly related, though, which can be found in his Wikipedia entry:

[T]he crowd at a county fair accurately guessed the butchered or the “slaughtered and dressed” weight of an ox when their individual guesses were averaged (the average was closer to the ox’s true butchered weight than the estimates of most crowd members, and also closer than any of the separate estimates made by cattle experts).

The example by which the term is defined dictates that yes or no questions aren’t going to be the type of questions that the crowd displays it’s wisdom, and I can’t think of many other instances where a comment form is worth $9 Million in development time. My question: “Where’s the beef?”

Similarly, Veveo is a puzzling investment, weighing in at between $14-28 Million. Veveo promises to index videos, making them searchable. Their big selling point? An autocomplete feature.

As we mentioned on the show, we sincerely hope these aren’t signs of the end times (in terms of our current tech boom cycle). I certainly remember similarly stupid investments last time around. Either there are some highly charismatic PR folks at these firms, or there are some highly stupid investors over at the VC firms of Matrix Partners, North Bridge Venture Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, OmniCapital Group. I’m not familiar with the staffs of any of the companies (the startups nor the VC firms), so I really couldn’t say. The type of money these firms are doling out though (North Bridge Venture Partners in particular), it’s worth coming up with some worthless ideas, getting a Web2.0 design job done, and trying to get a zillion in VC.

I’m game, anyone wanna join me?

Digg’s Very Prominent New Media Failure
A front page story over at Digg.com Friday morning was a something we covered on Episode 120: Homophobia Inc: Message of Hate Raises Hundreds of Millions of Dollars.

The type of story we love more than most others at RizWords is a story exposing Old Media screw-ups. What we hate is when a prominent New Media source like Kevin Rose’s Digg promotes to the front page a piece of pseudo-journalism full of not only factually incorrect but borderline libelous content.

The piece prints falsehoods that could be discounted by doing only cursory research, alleging that the non-profits Christian Broadcasting Network, Focus on the Family, and Family Research Council devote the entirety of their organisations’ energy into anti-gay agenda. Give those sites a cursory glance. Clearly they have other focus than just talking about their moral take on homosexuality (which, by the way, is a far cry from being hate-speech or homophobic).

Art and I both attempted to comment dissenting views on the forms, and within seconds, both our comments were buried.

My point being, the failure isn’t the blogosphere. There will always be moronic drivel in the blogosphere. The failure is in Kevin’s algorithm. The tripe was promoted to the front page before the Digg count reached 100. For better or for worse, Digg is a major New Media news source. If they want to avoid the fate of Dan Rather and CBS News, they should look at changing the system before more people realized how game-able Digg is.

Facebook: You Can’t Look The Other Way Anymore
I did a blog post on the business side of the Facebook API, which has been covered on the show several times. The type of money trading in this space can’t be ignored, and neither can the ease of entry. This week, not only was it revealed that Facebook wanted to get serious about good applications, but it was also revealed that Bill Gates is a Facebook user, as well as many other prominent Microsoft executives.

This isn’t surprising to those of us who listen to Ken or Scoble, but with news like this coming out, it is getting hard to keep up thinking of reasons to stick around that ol’ trailer park… especially in light of the way they like to beat up on the tenants.

That’s about all the news that’s fit to discuss. Any questions? Comment or email!

/rizzn

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