11th > March > 2007 Archive

Tucker the f**ker claims blogger book deals are 'easy'

SXSWSXSW The last thing a blogger wants to hear is that it takes talent – or at least hard work – to turn online ramblings into a career. And so SXSW attendees clenched their genitalia when debauched goat boy Tucker Max revealed that few bloggers have the right stuff to merit widespread attention. "The most important thing is having good content," Max said, during a panel session here. "All these people write to me and say, 'I have great content' but it's dog shit." Max discovered that decent blog postings can pay after converting material on his tuckermax.com web site into book form and then ending up with the bestseller "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell." The book and web site document Max's adventures with booze, AstroGlide and older women at law firms, among many other things. The author has transformed into a type of fraternity hero, who proved that vomit on your pants can put food on the table. Unlike many bestsellers, Max did not benefit from a flurry of reviews or a big splash when his book first appeared. "When I say no book reviews, I mean no fucking book reviews," he said, adding that he later got lucky with one review "because my agent was sleeping with some girl at the New York Times." The lack of traditional plugs forced Max to promote his web site and book via the internet. He would create fake e-mail accounts and then bombard entertainment sites and news aggregators with links to his material. "You turn your nose up, but there is a reason that I'm sitting on this panel and you're not," he said. Now, with his first book having been out for more than year, Max still clears close to 2,000 book sales a week – something unheard of for such an old title. Word of mouth and Max's brash marketing techniques continue to help sales. Tucker Max and Groupies The writer has started up a company to help turn other web type people into authors and serves as a type of agent, making contacts for these writers. Max argued that publishers "are starved" for interesting stories. Given such a climate, it's relatively easy to turn your blog dump into a publishable book. "If your stuff is good, it's not hard to sell it." Of course, there's not much good stuff to go around as evidenced by people filling their online diaries with stories about the funny thing their cat did yesterday or how they bought a new pair of pants. Close to 80 per cent of the people in the audience at Max's SXSW panel claimed to have a blog. While almost always boastful, Max admits that his writing is not so hot. He's just able to tell a decent story and spends a great deal of time updating his site with lengthy, lurid tales. Max may have to concentrate on his agent style business moving forward because he's running out of material. He's received a $300,000 advance for a second version of his drunken, sexual exploits – a tome that will contain the stories not ripe enough for the first cut. "People think I am hanging from a chandelier drunk every night," he said. "That was me at twenty-six." Max can only find one day a week now in which to get funky. "I have grown up," he said. "You just change as an artist." ®
Ashlee Vance, 11 Mar 2007

Internet producers bank on Apple TV

SXSWSXSW This will be the year the history books will record as the beginning of the end for the way we watch television. That was the prediction of Jay Adelson, CEO of Digg and internet tech TV outfit Revision3. Preaching to the choir at SXSW, Adelson said internet TV would render niche cable programming moribund once advertisers get their heads around the medium, and there are more appealing ways to get internet video to the living room. At a panel event in Austin, producers of niche internet TV said they are pinning hopes on the next charge of set top boxes, led by Apple TV. Advertising cash follows eyeballs, and Steve Jobs' other 2007 launch will be their turnkey to release programming from its current techie audience, members of the SXSW crowd told The Register. Advertisers are learning the value of small, passionate audiences, even if they are criticised by them. Adelson joked: "My biggest advertiser is Go Daddy, which will touch anything." The domain name registrar has attracted criticism - and millions of dollars in free marketing - for its titillating advertising campaign, which has aired during the Superbowl. The potential iceberg of copyright control still loiters on the horizon. The halfway house approach recently adopted by Viacom, where it insists it hosts all its own content, freezing out YouTubers but offering a proprietary embeddable player, doesn't impress AOL's director of creative development Nicole Carrico, who said: "If your content becomes successful, it's going to exceed your grasp. They're going to have to relax their death grip." Some of the distribution end of the traditional TV market is coming to understand that they may not need the protectionist mentality anymore, Adelson claimed. He said: "Traditional distributors are coming to us with non-exclusive deals. This is new stuff." The message we took away from the discussion was that internet TV has time to take on board the hard lessons still being learned by the music business as it struggles to rid itself of DRM. Despite acknowledgement at the highest levels of record companies that DRM does nothing to protect their revenues, EMI recently canned widely-trailed talks to ditch it. ®
Christopher Williams, 11 Mar 2007
8

Scientists shun Web 2.0

SXSWSXSW Science publishers' efforts to have the research community sup the Web 2.0 Kool-Aid have failed, and scientists have given a resounding thumbs down to a gamut of crowd-tapping initiatives, showgoers at SXSW heard on Saturday. A panel of science web publishers said scientists had consistently shunned wikis, tagging, and social networks, and have even proven reticent to leave comments on web pages. The refusnik stance presents a puzzle in light of arguments in favour of Web 2.0 services which are more compelling for science than for trivia - the biggest web 2.0 market to date. The science game gave the world peer review after all, and scientists have often lauded and contributed to Wikipedia, despite its well-documented eccentricities and flaws. Bio-Med Central boss Matt Cockerill invoked the example of the SWISS-PROT database to illustrate the value scientists could extract from greater online collaboration. The database is the hand-curated gold standard for protein sequence information, but the current backlog of proteins constantly being turned up by automated research techniques would take SWISS-PROT thousands of years to annotate. Convincing the research community to enter the information wiki-style, make the links to other proteins, and document the function would speed matters up considerably. Digg-style bookmarking could work as a short cut to maximising the impact of scientists' work too. The impact factor of research papers has hither to been measured by how many later articles cite them; a painfully slow drip which takes years to build up. The penetration problem seems to stem from the extremely competitive and rigorous funding process. Research projects have to justify every penny and minute spent by their scientists, presenting a catch 22 for web 2.0 as a tool for science. Researchers won't use the tools until they justify their worth, but they are worthless unless researchers use them. It's a conundrum that makes science a notoriously conservative market for publishers. Nature's head of web publishing Timo Hannay confessed that of the firm's myriad Web 2.0 projects, only a couple bring in any revenue. Perhaps their experience with Web 2.0 is not to be so different after all. ®
Christopher Williams, 11 Mar 2007

Intel's anti-trust memos started vanishing from the top

AMD vs IntelAMD vs Intel Intel's top executives have been playing "Hide and Seek the Anti-trust E-mails," according to a fresh set of court documents released over the weekend. Chairman Craig Barrett, CEO Paul Otellini and sales chief Sean Maloney have appeared on a list of Intel employees thought to have deleted emails possibly relevant to AMD's anti-trust lawsuit against its larger rival. The missing emails have thrust a livid state of mind onto AMD's lawyers who have very serious problems with Intel's rather lax document retention policy.
Ashlee Vance, 11 Mar 2007