Just a brief message to let you know that I am taking a break from blogging until after the end of the month. Blogging is always a pleasure but I just need to recharge the batteries.
An interesting article appeared yesterday in the Jobs section of the Telegraph which unfortunately I cannot link to.
It is written by Stefan Stern and includes an interview with Glen Drury, who is the vice president of Yahoo for northern europe.
Drury is a big believer in what is known as "co-operatition." He explains this "The truth of the internet is that people who you compete with in one channel could be your partners in another channel. We do MSN's search, for example. But we compete as a portal. Therefore it's co-operatition."
Drury is right.
From my perspective, I am already linking up with other people in the blogging, legal and management consultancy world - In certain occasions, we may be competitors but on other occasions we may look to collaborate and pool our resources together.
There is a danger in predicting the future, not least of which with technology issues but sometimes you need to do it.
My prediction is that blogs will explode in numbers when Internet Explorer 7 is released.
As PC Pro writes " Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7 will be distributed as a 'high priority update via Automatic Updates' (AU), according to an announcement made in the IE7 developers' blog.
It says that IE7 will ship in Windows XP in Q4 of this year, shortly followed by AU distribution to all 'genuine Windows customers'."
I have previously posted about why IE7 will lead to mass RSS adoption.
Therefore what I believe you will see is the following unfolding once IE7 can be downloaded:
1 Existing (popular/quality)blogs will have a huge boost to their viewers/subscribers as users of IE7 start subscribing or viewing blogs.
2 The masses will adopt blogging in even bigger numbers than before as they seek to join the blogging party and/or start being concerned about what some blogger is saying about them or their company and accordingly, they want to respond.
I have previously posted about the importance of business models and within the Telegraph today you have two different stories which support this point of view.
First, read this story about the rise of YouTube which is now one of the web's leading sites. As the Telegraph writes "YouTube has sprung from almost nowhere a year ago to become one of the web's hottest properties, mostly by posting user generated clips such as viral internet ads and personal home videos that owe much to You've Been Framed.....YouTube hopes to differentiate itself from pay-to-view or download services like Apple's iTunes by offering the videos free, with revenue provided by advertising. However, the record labels and the company are still working on a business model that will satisfy both parties, and YouTube has had problems with copyright issues."
Please note my emphasis in bold.
Now, consider this other story in the Telegraph by Damian Reece in the Comment Section about digital radio.
"Not only is digital reception better but there's a wider choice of listening, which is a good thing for consumers, but has proved problematic for the broadcasters. More stations means fragmented audiences, which means less advertising revenue. It's one reason why the share prices of radio broadcasters are under pressure. ....However, digital is also a big opportunity. In a fragmenting market strong brands can carve out lucrative niches. Further advances will open other opportunities. It will soon be possible, for instance, to download music from the radio to another music player.....There are revenue opportunities from digital radio but they require a lot more imagination from management than simply collecting those fast disappearing advertising pounds."
And there you have it, if broadcasters wish to make it big in the digital era, they have to re-think their business model just as YouTube is doing.
An excellent law blog which has emerged within the last few months in the UK is Charon QC. Charon is a prolific poster of content, sometimes eccentric but clearly shows a razor sharp mind. It is well worth a look.
Reading his blog has already yielded benefits for me. On his blog roll, Charon refers to the management consultant,Nick Jarrett-Kerr - As a result of this, I called Nick up and we subsequently had a meeting in London.
I am pleased to inform you that Human Law is going to launch a consultancy service related to blogging. I would be very grateful if you could give any comment on the draft service offering below and just to give me some honest feedback. Please note that all advice is being given by an English solicitor.
Level A – Professional input with self help for setting up your blog
Price - £495 plus Vat
Level B – Professional and personal service for setting up your blog
Price - £995 plus Vat
Level C - Full professional and personal service from start to finish
£1995 plus Vat -Payments made over 3 instalments.
Thank you for your help.
To contact me, please make a comment on this post or e-mail me at email@example.com
The recent arrest of a number of suspected bombers of US airlines between London & the United States has posed a number of questions, some of which I will explore now.
1 Are we rushing to judgment? Last week I read in the Times the somewhat depressing statistic that of the more than 1,000 arrests under the (UK) Terrorist Act since 9/11, only 158 people have been charged with offences. This has included the bungled raid on a family home in Forest Gate, East London in June. That said, in this new case the US,UK Pakistani governments have all put themselves on the line so if this does not work out, there really is going to be egg on their face.
2 Is the response of the Muslim Community correct? As Janet Daley observes "When a committee of Muslim spokesmen announces that, while it condemns violence etc, it nevertheless finds it somehow understandable that Muslim youth should be so "alienated" by the Government's foreign policy that they become willing recruits to a murderous lunatic sect, their statement is described as a bid for peace rather than a blatant piece of blackmail.....What exactly does it mean, this message of "peace": that you can only be safe if we get the foreign policy we want - otherwise some of us may feel justified in blowing you out of the sky?"
3 Will the government's spin prejudice a fair trial for the accused? As the Telegraph wrote yesterday "John Reid(the Home Secretary) has risked angering Gordon Brown by raising questions about the way the Treasury published the names of 19 of the suspects in the alleged transatlantic bomb plot. ....His implicit criticism of the Chancellor's department is the latest twist in a vicious "blame game" at the top of Government over claims that ministers may have prejudiced potential legal proceedings against the suspects.....The Home Secretary, who himself has been accused of putting future trials of the suspects at risk by claiming that the police had caught the "main players", has denied overstepping the mark in his statements about the arrests. But The Daily Telegraph has learnt that Mr Reid is far less willing to defend Mr Brown's department over its role in identifying the suspects."
4 Can anyone wreak havoc in the world? It took a relatively small number of internet savvy terrorists using cutters and not being that well funded to cause the misery and the humbling of the world's superpower on 9/11. If this new plot is true, it again shows how anyone in the world can be an opponent of us all. In its most extreme form, it gives manifestation to principles outlined by Thomas Friedman namely that the explosion of advanced technologies now means that knowledge pools have been connected all over the world, levelling the playing field as never before so that each of us is potentially an equal or an opponent of the other.
I am grateful to Carolyn Elefant who has made me aware of this post by Larry Bodine. Bodine is the author of his Professional Services Marketing Blog. As Bodine writes regarding Chris Anderson's book The Long Tail:
"[The Long Tail] proves that the day of the full-service, general practice law firm is over. Clients don’t want generalists, whom they see as jacks-of-all-trades, masters-of-none. They want an expert in their particular problem. This is very good news for litigation boutiques, IP firms and speciality practice firms. Clients want the needle in the haystack, the lawyer who knows how to solve their precise problems, and thanks to the Web, clients can find them."
"(F)irms that market themselves as industry experts are “organizing around the market,” and presenting themselves in the way clients buy. It’s time to identify the firm’s high-margin, most profitable practices and start blogs about them. The prime example is Dennis Crouch’s Patently-O blog, which gets 50,000 visitors per week. The blog has brought in Fortune 500 companies and referrals from lawyers he’s never met. He makes a point about writing about client interests, not all the services the firm has to offer."
Another person who I know is reading the Long Tail is the management consultant who deals with law firms, Nick Jarrett-Kerr. We briefly discussed the book when we met at the Law Society building in London recently. Nick made the point that it can be of benefit of a law firm to be a leading player within a declining market.
Interesting stuff. I have just ordered the book on the back of Larry's post and my conversation with Nick.
Within the UK, most of the mainstream press has now woken up to the level of debt within the country. Some of the headlines within the newspapers in the last week have been quite aggressive and it appears we are in an interesting times.
At a personal level, an estate agent friend informed me that he has a mortgage which is 10 times his earnings. Sometimes you have to do what you need to do to get what you want.
Alternatively if things get bad and you cannot pay back your debts, you can always declare yourself bankrupt or take an IVA.
After all thrift, hard work and the willingness to wait are far inferior to the need to consume what you want and when.
Should not the philosophy of our times be “buy now, pay never”?
It is against this background that I was most grateful to take up Dottie DeHart’s offer to review Bill Bonner (with Addison Wiggin's help), Empire of Debt which is a tale of the decline of the United States with a particular focus on the way that Americans run their financial affairs.
According to Bonner and Wiggin, Americans “routinely spend more than they make – and they think they can continue doing so indefinitely. They go to deeper and deeper in debt, believing they will never have to settle up. They buy houses and then mortgage them out-room by room until they have nothing left. They invade foreign countries in the belief that they are spreading freedom and democracy, and depend on lending from Communist China to pay for it.”
From my perspective, I would be less harsh on the American military excursions which may have possessed more noble intentions than has been accredited, but I do share Bonner’s distaste for the economic irresponsibility which is present in the USA.
It is also present within my country.
The problem of economic irresponsibility is compounded by the approach of the banks and lending institutions. The authors state: “Savings and loan businesses might as well have dropped savings from their names. And calling lenders thrifts was practically a lie; the whole industry bent to a new task – to load the consumers with as much debt as possible…But in America, circa 2005, thrift came to be regarded no longer as a virtue but a mental disorder.”
With respect to the US Dollar, as Bonner writes:
“Among the noisy headlines of 2005 was the remarkable information that China- a Third World nation – lends the United States $300 billion per year. Without Chinese support, the dollar would have already collapsed, bond yields would have soared, and the US economy would be in a recession not a depression.”
If the subject of the US Dollar interests you, Warren Buffet’s article for Fortune Magazine about the dollar will at some point be the defining piece regarding the collapse of the dollar when it does happen.
Far from me to gloat about how my poor American cousins are doing.
According to Bonner there are implications for the world economy “The whole world economy advances-apparently-only so long as U.S house prices continue to rise at three to five times nominal inflation and an infinite multiple of household income, which went backward in 2004.”
Bonner does not say a lot about the United Kingdom but what he does say is enough to give cause for concern.
In America, the average house went up 44% in real terms between 1995 & 2005. The increase was even greater in Britain and Australia. Equity withdrawal(borrowing against the increased price of the house) rose to 6% of personal disposable income in the United States but 8% in Britain.
Are our countries living on borrowed time?
If you are looking for a book which has a deferential message about your presidents and your people, you will be disappointed.
Bonner uses humour to support his points and indeed, I found it funny but that may be that is because I am English and we are known for our remarkable(eccentric?) sense of humour.
Some nuggets include:
“When Ronald Wilson Reagan was finally carried off in June 2004, the nation said goodbye with a soft heart and a head that had turned to mush. His obsequies were as full of humbug as a national election. The man deserved better. He should have been carried off by six jolly cowboys and bid farewell by honest drunks.”
Before Republican readers worry and think that this book is a manifesto for a Democrat Presidential candidate, I should point out that Bonner delivers a critique of most of the US Presidents. It does not matter which party the US Presidents belong to. Generally all your presidents are bad. The so called greats, Lincoln, Wilson & Franklin Roosevelt are all pillored.
Nevertheless there is an ideal president and he must possess certain traits. A certain William Henry Harrison fits the bill.
“That is why a president who does nothing is a treasure. William Henry Harrison was a model national leader. Rare in a president, he did what he promised to do. He told voters that he would “under no circumstances” serve more than a single term. He made good on his promise in the most conclusive way. The poor man caught pneumonia giving his inaugural address. He was dead within 31 days of taking the oath of office.”
Even the poor American citizen does not escape Bonner’s wrath.
“They(the American people) would scrap the entire Bill of Rights in less than 24 hours if it meant guaranteed 10 percent annual real estate gains.” And where are we heading?
Is the decline of the United States inevitable?
Perhaps the key point lies not in what Bonner & Wiggin says but the statistical data which is presented in support.
With respect to capital investments around the world you can learn, the UK stands at 16%, USA 17.5% and China 44%.
Personal Savings Rates around the world – USA 1.2%, UK 5.6% and China 25.5%.
And with respect to military spending as a percent of GDP. Unsurprisingly, North Korea tops with 13.04%, United States 3.15% and China with 0.93%.
How will the US Senate react once China starts matching its military clout to its growing economic power?
This book which is a recommended read contains a message for Americans and other countries.
We(Americans and surely by implication, Britons and other indebted countries) must embrace the need for thrift, patience and humility. After all did not these traits help make the USA great in the first place?
It can be purchased at Amazon and other leading booksellers.
Dave Sifry of Technorati has provided his latest state of the blogosphere.
I suggest that you read it yourself and then you can judge whether blogging is just a minor technology or a very significant trend.
Some key facts:
Who needs IE7 to help blogs explode?