Monday, November 29, 2004

IT Conversations Business Model

Doug Kaye of IT Conversations asked for some feedback on a business model for his site. Here’s a copy of my suggestions:

I personally find the variety of conferences available throughout the world incredibly interesting and would love to have the money and time to go to them. IT Conversations has presented a bunch of audio from conferences such as Bloggercon, Pop!Tech, Supernova, JavaOne etc. These audio presentations have allowed me to be exposed to the ideas presented at these conferences, without incurring the cost and time overhead of being there. The ability to virtually attend these conference/events could be used as a basis for the IT Conversations business model.

My business model suggestions as as follows:

  • Combine the audio/video presentations for a conference or event as a package.

  • Make the package as much of an “experience” as practical without the person attending the conference/event at the time. The “experience” should try to reproduce the feel of the conference for e.g. pictures/videos of the physical conference physical area, interviews with attendees between sessions etc.

  • Charge for access to a conference/event package. Nothing ridiculous, say $10 to $50 depending on the event and the amount of content associated with it. It needs to be a no-brainer for someone interested in the content of a conference. I can’t stand an event organizer offering access to event audio/video content for many hundreds of dollars.

  • Many conferences re-occur on a yearly basis. Make the content for a previous year freely available a number of months before the next conference. This keeps up the free content availability for new listeners/viewers and may help with interest in this year’s conference.

  • Sell sponsorship for conference content and display the sponsor company’s info on the conference/event’s web intro page. If the sponsorship is sufficient, make the content freely available.

  • If needed, recompence the conference organizers with a percentage of the income from sales of a conference’s content.

  • Conferences often need to record the audio/video of their event for their own purposes. IT Conversations could provide this service for a fee. The advantage to the conference/event organizers would be to pass on that responsibility to someone else. IT Conversations could be built up as a brand that records conferences/events with integrity i.e. with zero commercial spin. By keeping with this approach, IT Conversations builds up a trust with its audience, which in turn represents value to purchasers of conference/event services.

  • You still need to have a significant amount of free and worthwhile content to attract a new audience. The free content needs to include current/recent content. Having only archived old content as free would discourage new listeners/viewers. Keep series such as a The Gilmor Gang, The Law And IT, Memory Lane etc. as free content. I don’t believe people would want to pay for access to these regular shows. If these regular shows requires income for their content, then a sponsorship spot within the show itself is one way to go that is not too complicated organizationally.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Tabbed Browsing

Tabbed browsing in Firefox is way useful. Take this post from Sam Gentile:

 “First this one with this, and then him. Now only if we can have this one go too.

I didn’t have a clue what he was referring to at the very first fraction of a second glance, so a quick “Open Link in New Tab” was selected for each link. It was easy then to quickly select the tabs to view the content and do that while the pages in the tabs were loading. There are still some sites that don’t render or work well with Firefox. This begs the question of what would happen if IE came out with tabbed browsing. I’d probably use IE more just for the convenience of not having to start another browser when coming across a site that doesn’t render quite right. The other areas that Firefox beats IE easily is the web page search user interface and download handling. In retrospect, you’ve got to ask why Microsoft paid so little attention to enhancing IE functionality this millenia? Its such a strategic functionality area.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Whitepages Search

I had another one of those "aren't web searches amazing" moments today. In the process of trying to find the phone number of a school, I eventually gave up on and used the browser search bar. An appropriate link came up straight away. The web search picked my mispelling, which was why the white pages search was failing. Just amazing. I'm using Firefox 1.0 in combo with the A9 search toolbar. Very nice combination but I'm still not that comfortable with a company knowing all the pages I go to. Will see how I go over the coming months. There was an opinion I read/listened to (can't remember where) that the next generation won't be nearly as cagey about personal information being available to organizations. My gut feel is that this is true... until some organizations step over the line and people get "burnt" in some way. Once trust is lost, it takes long time to gain it back.

Friday, November 05, 2004

VB.NET Refactoring Cut

Sam Gentile is not happy about the cutting of most of the refactoring functionality out of VS.NET 2005. I tend to stay on the C# side of the fence - just because that's the syntax I'm most familiar with and not because I think it's the one true way. So the VB.NET announcement doesn't really affect me. Regardless, the post got me thinking of the way Microsoft release Visual Studio in the .NET era. It seems to be a "big bang" approach after which you don't get any updates or service packs until the next major release. For example, where does "Check for Updates" get you with VS2003? There are certainly bugs in VS2003 that could have been fixed or minor functionality extensions that could have been added to keep developers happy in the drought between major releases.

So back to the VB.NET refactoring, why can't Microsoft have minor releases of Visual Studio 2005 that fixes faults that are found and adds the modules "that got left behind" like the full VB.NET Refactoring support.