Archive for the 'Internet' Category


The end of selfishness

Yochai Benkler’s bold new book,  “puts in his crosshairs a fundamental tenet of modern economics, and this, ultimately, is what lends the book its relevance and gravity.”


Open DNS

The net will be faster, thanks to Open DNS


Churches Turn to ICT & Social Media

MARCH 1, 2011 – Wall Street Journal

Small Tech Gets Religion
Entrepreneurs Find Churches Are a Savvy and Profitable Network to Target


When Jim Elliston, a former nondenominational pastor, decided to start a technology company in 2007, he turned to a customer he knew best—the church—to win initial business.

Mr. Elliston says his firm, Clover Sites Inc., of Newbury Park, Calif., has since sold its website templates and Web-hosting services to more than 4,500 churches in the U.S. He also counts those institutions’ members among his company’s clientele, crediting referrals for providing a steady stream of leads.

He started out promoting his business by placing an ad in a booklet for an annual church-leader conference. From there, he says the business started growing through word of mouth. Some 95% of his business now comes from churches.

“It’s a very connected market,” says Mr. Elliston, who also promotes his business by investing in Google Inc.’s AdWords for search terms such as “church website” and “church Web design.”

Prior to building Clover Sites, Mr. Elliston says he didn’t come across any website-development firms trying to appeal specifically to churches. “We realized there was a huge gap,” he says.

The number of U.S. churches has been growing steadily, while at the same time becoming increasingly tech savvy. There are roughly 350,000 churches in the U.S. today, up 12% from a decade ago, according to Infogroup Inc., an Omaha, Neb., database company. These include some 7,900 mega churches—those whose congregations number at least 2,000 attendees on Sundays.

Small firms that provide an array of services—from audio/visual expertise to website development—are finding that houses of worship can be a lucrative market.

Among them is Clark Inc., which designs and installs audio, video and lighting in Alpharetta, Ga. Regardless of their denomination, churches often refer the company to other churches, says co-founder Houston Clark. “It’s networking above and beyond what we would typically experience in the secular market,” he says.

Brad Weston, owner of Renewed Vision LLC, also in Alpharetta, agrees. “It’s somewhat uncommon for churches to think of another church down the street as a competitor,” says Mr. Weston, who has sold his company’s audio and visual-presentation software to more than 9,000 houses of worship. “It was straight through word of mouth that I got more and more customers.”

Churches are increasingly embracing technology. Many now have websites and social-media profiles, and some rely on audio and video tools to aid congregants seated far from the pulpit.

Germantown United Methodist Church in Germantown, Tenn., uses the services of several small technology providers, says Donna Thurmond, communications director. These include a Web-hosting, information-technology, videography and software company. The church, founded in 1840, has YouTube, Facebook and Twitter profiles. “We prefer to work with a small business if we can,” says Ms. Thurmond, adding that the church has about 1,000 regular attendees on Sundays. “It’s a trust issue and the feeling that we’re talking to the person who’s going to be doing the work and not someone who’s three levels away.”

Barbara Kahn, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, says promoting products or services to a specific demographic is a wise strategy for small businesses. “They don’t have the resources to go broad,” she says. “It’s easier to focus than to try and get everybody.”

By narrowing their efforts this way, small businesses are likely to “develop an expertise,” a rationale that applies to all types of clients, including churches, adds Ms. Kahn. “You can imagine if I do it one time for a church, and there are things I learn, I can apply that knowledge to the next church I work with,” she says.

Targeting houses of worship can be especially effective because these offer the added potential of exposing a business’s offerings to each of their members. Getting a pastor or church leader interested is key, says Mara Einstein, a professor of media studies at Queens College in New York.

“Who better to sell your product or service than the man or woman standing in front of [the congregation] on a weekly basis? It’s someone they have a relationship with, and more importantly, it’s someone they trust,” she says.

To be sure, many churches haven’t been immune to the effects of the recent recession, and even for those that are financially stable, entrepreneurs trying to get a foot in the door may find it difficult if they lack religious affiliations.

And as much as referrals can help businesses, bad work can put their reputations at risk among the congregation.

“Anything that provokes an emotional reaction because it’s done wrong can result in bad word of mouth, particularly when you have groups that value each other’s opinion,” says Ms. Kahn. “People tend to talk more about dissatisfaction than they do satisfaction.


Is Apple Planning on Making TV Sets?

Is Apple Planning on Making TV Sets? Apple Insider

“Apple’s recent investment of $3.9 billion in components is likely for device displays ranging from the iPhone to the 27-inch iMac, and could signal Apple’s intention to build a television set up to 50 inches in size, investment firm Piper Jaffray believes.”

So begins a report by Neil Hughes at Apple Insider.

The article quotes Piper analyst Gene Munster as saying, “While Apple’s commitment to the living room remains a ‘hobby,’ we continue to believe the company will enter the TV market with a full focus, as an all-in-one Apple television could move the needle when connected TVs proliferate,”

The story then says that Munster “estimates that 220 million flat panel TVs will be sold in 2012, and 48 percent of those — or 106 million — will be Internet-connected. He sees Apple potentially selling 1.4 million units in 2012, which would add $2.5 billion in revenue, or 2 percent, to the company’s bottom line.”

Finally, the article says that Munster, “sees the TV business for Apple growing to 4 billion in revenue in calendar year 2013, and 6 billion in 2014. He said Apple’s component investment, believed to be in displays, could allow Apple to procure screen sizes up to 50 inches.”


How Egypt shut down the Internet

The Washington Posts describes the Egyptian Government Internet Kill Switch.

In a post on the Renesys site from around 7 p.m. Thursday night, the company observed that nearly all of the routes to Egypt were simultaneously withdrawn, starting at about 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time Thursday night and 12:34 a.m. in Egypt. “Approximately 3,500 individual BGP routes were withdrawn,” the company wrote, “leaving no valid paths by which the rest of the world could continue to exchange Internet traffic with Egypt’s service providers.”


The FT’s John Gapper on the merits of iPad-only publishing.

Why the iPad should rival the web

By John Gapper

Published (Financial Times) : December 1 2010 20:14 | Last updated: December 1 2010 20:14

Richard Branson and Rupert Murdoch are entrepreneurs with an admirable record of ignoring conventional wisdom, so it is worth watching when they do the same thing at once.

In this case, they are launching iPad-only publications. Sir Richard bowled into New York on Tuesday to unveil a £1.79 or $2.99 monthly magazine called Project, while Mr Murdoch is about to launch a “newspaper” called The Daily, for which he hopes 800,000 people will pay $1 a week. Both will charge readers in an era when most internet publications are free.

The fact that Mr Murdoch will separate his new daily publication from “the open web” by publishing on the iPad has provoked scepticism and hostility in digital media circles. “Murdoch keeps fighting the internet and the internet keeps on winning,” wrote Mathew Ingram, of the GigaOm technology blog.

This fits into a bigger debate about whether companies are balkanising the web to gain economic leverage. Tim Berners-Lee, the British scientist who invented the World Wide Web, complained in Scientific American about Facebook’s private accumulation of data, and of print publishers’ “disturbing” wish to create closed worlds.

Yet, even leaving business models aside, it is hard to blame them. The truth is that, two decades after Sir Tim pioneered it, the internet has proven a poor medium for publishers who originate a lot of news and information. It has gone further than levelling the playing field between old-style publishers and start-ups – it has given the advantage to low-cost information providers.

This was less clear before the iPad and other tablets came along, but it stares you in the face when you compare the experience of reading a publication with a lot of content on a desktop and a tablet. A regular browser on a computer is good for skimming (“surfing”) among many different news sources, but poor at immersing you in one.

In his book The Shallows, the technology writer Nicholas Carr talked of the internet’s “uniquely rapid-fire mode of collecting and dispersing information” and argued that he was becoming accustomed “to take in information the way the net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles”.

It goes without saying that the internet has great benefits in terms of the amount of information that can now be accessed directly, rather than being mediated by a newspaper or television news show. The idea that anyone could (if he or she chose) read the 250,000 US diplomatic cables soon to be made available by WikiLeaks would have been inconceivable two decades ago.

But there is no such thing as a neutral medium. Just as newspapers, radio and television offered different methods of presenting news and information, with varying degrees of depth, the internet favours some forms of content over others. People tend to skim the home pages of sites rather than delving deeply because browsers work that way.

If you try to dig far into a web publication, the pages often load slowly and it is hard to find your way out again, or even to know where you are within it. ‘The web is an infinite experience. You never have a feeling for what the whole is,” says John Rose, a partner of Boston Consulting Group.

This tends to favour shallow (I mean that technically, rather than as a value judgment) sites with a lot of aggregated material and links, such as Gawker and the Huffington Post, over those weighted towards deep stacks of original content. The line is blurring as upstarts shift towards producing more original material, but the point stands.

The iPad, with its full-screen apps containing a single game or information source changes that, as does the fact that an entire edition can be downloaded at once. This makes it easier to navigate in depth and to know where you are – an experience akin to print.

On a tablet, an edited, in-depth publication has a better chance of competing with the atomised, open-source information flow of the open web. That is what Sir Richard and Mr Murdoch have bet on – that a tablet restores the advantage of depth over breadth.

That may not be enough – many people are happy to live in the world of free, distributed information and will prefer it. “If you think that the day of the editor deciding what you read today is dead then these apps will fall apart,” says Benedict Evans, of Enders Analysis.

My bet is that the two will co-exist, just as new forms of media have always done with existing ones in the past. There is evidence that people are willing to spend far longer – up to 45 minutes in the case of some magazines – with an iPad publication than its website.

Sir Tim would prefer publishers to stick to the rules, and the embedded biases, of the medium he pioneered. But, despite all of the public good the web has brought, that argument has no more moral force than if a print baron insisted on everyone producing newspapers.

If Sir Richard and Mr Murdoch want to offer products in a new medium rather than the old one, let them. It is not as if they have some iron grip over digital distribution. The iPad has a browser and they will be up against many thousands of other apps.

Who knows if either of them will succeed, but someone will find a way to get users and advertisers to pay for in-depth digital content delivered as an edited whole to the iPad. They will be competing with the browser, not fighting the internet. I can’t see anything wrong with that.


Dotcom Queen Trades Wall Street for Silicon Valley

Mary Meeker joins Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.