Katherine's Blog

Obsessions: Thin films, writing, small business, and random web flotsam

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February 22, 2002

Sometimes success feels like failure.

When I started this site back in June, I was very careful to plan several potential revenue streams. The high tech industry was in the middle of a deep downturn. I assumed that the consulting side of the business would take a while to bring in significant revenue. I expected to have plenty of time on my hands, which I could devote to either twiddling my thumbs or to marketing and updating the subscriber area. The plan made sense to me and to the various advisors and mentors who looked at it for me.

The first rule of military planning is that no plan survives contact with the enemy. The consulting business got much busier much sooner than I thought, leaving me far too busy to develop the site as a viable subscription product. (But not busy enough to allow me to hire help.) Seven weeks into 2002, that's still true. I am therefore opening the entire site to all readers, for free.

This is a change in business model, but the site editorial policies are unchanged. I'll continue to update the features section on a semi-regular basis. In the near future, readers will be able to request notification when a new feature is published.

From a business perspective, this is good news. Too much work is always better than too little. Revenue and profitability are a good thing. Still, to the part of me that was taught to always finish what you start, it feels like failure.
posted 18:17 |

This is what totalitarianism looks like. It used to be the Afghan Film archive. Part of a photo essay on Afghanistan's re-emerging media.
posted 17:20 |
Andrew McKay has a good discussion of business models for web publishing. The bottom line being that the people who get the most value from a publication should be the ones who pay for it:
"If it's as valuable as a book, you can sell it on its own.
If it's as valuable as a newspaper, you an sell small bits of it to multiple sources to pay for it.
If it's valuable to your business or another enterprise you run, you can use it as a marketing addendum, and should be willing to factor in those costs."

(Link by way of Dave's Picks.)
posted 08:59 |

February 21, 2002

Daniel Pearl's death has been confirmed. In a prepared statement, The Wall Street Journal said:
"His murder is an act of barbarism that makes a mockery of everything Danny's kidnappers claimed to believe in. They claimed to be Pakistani nationalists, but their actions must surely bring shame to all true Pakistani patriots."
posted 23:15 |
Though it's not clear how much actual progress the negotiations between Hynix and Micron are making, rumors and speculation abound. The latest reports have Micron offering $4 billion for the Hynix memory business, but placing as much as half of that in escrow against undisclosed liabilities. (See February 16th's entry for more about the liability issue.) Meanwhile, creditors who have already sunk US$6.6 billion into the troubled company are apparently being asked for another $1.5 billion to support equipment upgrades.

Or maybe not. Other rumors in the Korean press include suggestions that Hynix could survive on its own as memory prices rise, and reports that the Korean government favors an alliance between Samsung and Hynix. (In which Samsung claims to have no interest.)

Almost all of the rumors are coming from the Korean side of the negotiations, suggesting that various stakeholders are using the court of public opinion to build support for their agendas. Micron, which is clearly in a much stronger negotiating position, has had very little to say about the discussions.
posted 10:50 |

February 20, 2002

A lot of articles about weblogs have appeared in the mainstream media lately. Most read like the author had never seen a weblog before his editor decided "Blogs are the hot trend. We've got to say something about them." So the author mentions a few of the more popular blogs, throws in some buzzwords to show he's familiar with the genre, and either declares blogs to be a new form of narcissism, or a radical new evolution of journalism. Five hundred words and done. On to more important issues like the latest news about Britney Spears' navel lint.

But why are blogs the hot trend? What's the appeal, both for the readers and for the site owner? According to Derek M. Powazek, it's all about community. Blogs about what the author had for lunch aren't going to revolutionize journalism. They're the online equivalent of small talk. But small talk is important: it's one of the threads that helps pull communities together.
posted 12:15 |

How long do memes take to spread? I don't know, but I mentioned the Arcata, CA police log in this space on January 31. Today, it was featured on Arts and Letters Daily. I didn't start this one, though. I found the log when a friend emailed the link.
posted 10:59 |
What do anti-globalization activists want, anyway? According to the Financial Times, in a six-part report on the movement, they worry that capitalism has gone too far. Corporate interests, they argue, need to be balanced by the interests of the world's people.
posted 10:38 |
The US Supreme Court agreed to hear the Eldred v. Ashcroft challenge to the Copyright Term Extension Act. The Act extended the term of copyrights by 20 years, to 70 years after the author's death for individuals, and 95 years for corporate authors. Critics argue that the extension, which was applied retroactively to existing works, stifles free expression by breaking the Constitutional balance between the rights of authors and the need for public access to creative works.
posted 08:48 |

February 19, 2002

From the mailbag:
Scientific Systems claims that plasma processes account for 25% of chip manufacturing programs. They make plasma diagnostic tools, and recently announced a new version of their SmartProbe Langmuir probe. The probe measures plasma potential, electron and ion density, and all sorts of other useful plasma characteristics.

Incidentally, the best way to submit an item for inclusion in this section or elsewhere on the site is via email.
posted 10:57 |

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