22 April 2006

Apropos of my recent trip, an article about how major carriers can't count on loyalty, as customers buy tickets based primarily on price.

Clearly the author of the article doesn't fly much. From this traveler's point of view, it looks like the major carriers are actively trying to chase customers away, with less service for more money.

I fly out to San Francisco several times a year, and for many years I made almost all of those trips on United. I liked United. They had a good schedule, they treated frequent travelers well, they had reasonable prices. But then they eliminated almost all of their coast-to-coast non-stops in favor of transfers through O'Hare. O'Hare ranks near the bottom in on-time performance among major airports, and the first time I transferred through there I got stranded in Chicago overnight. Even without the delay, a transfer is always more time and more hassle. Bye bye United.

So I started flying American. Reasonable schedule, reasonable prices. But the first meal I ate on American was so lukewarm I was afraid to eat it for fear of food poisoning. So was the second. Then they eliminated hot food service in favor of overpriced sandwiches. (Which was actually an improvement, since it encouraged me to stop at a deli on the way to the airport instead.) Then they apparently quit cleaning the planes. On both halves of my recent trip, the plane was filthy. Stinking restrooms, even minutes after takeoff, tray table covered with a grey film of who knows what. Blech. It makes me wonder how well they're maintaining the stuff people can't see.

Hello, Jet Blue?

Posted 11:09 AM

19 April 2006

Hugh at gapingvoid linked to David Sifry at Technorati, who observed that the current rate of growth will bring us to more than 2 billion blogs in three years. This, Hugh suggests, will change the world, and especially the media.

There are a couple of obvious fallacies in the extrapolation. Many people have more than one blog, so number of blogs is different from the number of bloggers. At the other extreme, only 11% of blogs are updated at least once a week. While you can argue about where to draw the line, a blog that doesn't update has exactly the same market impact as any other static web page: greater than zero, but hardly "world changing."

One of the comments to Hugh's post already pointed out the fallacy of the exponential. The bigger anything is, the more difficult it is to sustain exponential growth.

Still, the basic argument holds. One comment to Hugh's post observed that "The idea that X billion blogs will inevitably have massive impact on global communication is far from a foregone conclusion." Huh? Put "printing presses" or "telephones" or "televisions" in that sentence in place of blogs and you'll see what I mean. Every other major advance in communications has had a massive impact, so why won't blogs? (Some might argue that blogs are not a major advance. But what other technology gives individuals the ability to reach a highly targeted global audience?)

Another comment worries that "The only way readers will find out about the small blogs are through links from big and medium blogs, or search engines like Technorati," completely missing the point of the Long Tail, and of blogs in general. The whole point of blogs is that they are not mass media, they are personal media. Everyone who has my business card, everyone who's received an email from me, and everyone who's read one of my comments on another site can find my blog, link to it, tell their friends about it. Strangely enough, that list exactly matches my intended audience. While readers from outside that list are welcome -- they say a stranger is a friend you haven't met yet -- a link from one of the A-listers won't necessarily give me anything but a fat bandwidth bill.

Posted 01:29 AM

Tip of the hat to Synopsys, for podcasting Synopsys IP Radio. I haven't had a chance to listen yet, but being willing to make the effort is a great step. For an industry that prides itself on innovation, the semiconductor business can be remarkably stodgy sometimes.

Posted 12:31 AM

18 April 2006

Today's trivia answer. The Great San Francisco Earthquake took place at precisely 5:13 AM, April 18, 1906.

How do I know this? Because every church or fire bell in San Francisco rang at 5:13 this morning.

Though I'm not a morning person, I can understand doing this once every hundred years. Just don't make it a habit, okay?

I'm in San Francisco in the first place for the Materials Research Society Spring Meeting. Details to follow as I work through my notes.

Posted 11:31 PM


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