NMK Forum 2007 – liveblogging from London

Katherine Hannaford Gadget Shows

nmk-logo.jpgToday Tech Digest has been liveblogging straight from the NMK Forum 2007, (New Media Knowledge), which is an annual conference dealing with social media, and the impact it has on the future.

We’ve had live updates on Web 2.0 notables like Jason Calacanis (Mahalo.com), Jem Stone (BBC New Media), Tom Bureau (CNET), Jyri Engeström (Jaiku) and our very own Ashley Norris. The event finished by 6pm, but click over the jump to read the full transcript (you’ll want to start at the bottom, natch).

1755 – And it’s over! Off to talk to everyone who participated in the discussions today, and hopefully grab some photos/videos of people present today. Many thanks to everyone who tuned in today, I hope you gained something useful – I know I certainly did. Many thanks to Katie who helped live-blog for a brief period there whilst I gained the use of my fingers back, and to everyone who spoke today.

1750 – One of the best questions of today is asked by a chap in the audience, who asks ‘if I held a gun to your head, would you choose Facebook or LinkedIn?’ This raises a healthy bout of laughter from everyone, much needed. Key answers include ‘Dopplr’, from Dan Gillmor, and Jason Calacanis claims ‘LinkedIn, if you’re trying to hire someone or find a job’. Mike Butcher, chairman, says ‘both’. Marvellous.

1735 – Kat back again, to wrap things up. People are still droning on, about user-generated content, however things start to get interesting, as Jason Calacanis and Dan Gillmor disagree over something. Let’s kick this baby off, the wine is flowing (even though it’s god-awful), but it’s about time someone had a healthy debate about social tools and user generated content.

1714 – This liveblog is likely to end in a haze of drunkenness since I’m Shiny Media’s resident light weight. Before that happens, and before my battery runs out, just wanted to say a big thank you to Kat for her supreme liveblogging skills (this is Katie, in case you missed that bit earlier) and thanks to all the speakers and question askers, and twitterers, and Jaiku-ers and mobloggers.

1712: 15 minutes of battery life left and 10 minutes left of the conference. I’m not sure my nerves can take it. Currently speaking is Emair Haque from Bubble Generation. Apparently we’re currently “drowning in context”, which sounds frightening.

1710: Jyri is once again bringing a bit of intelligence to proceedings, asking “is there a deep human need” to communicate in this manner. “Microblogging enables us to fulfill our need for attention and conversation”.

1705 – Twitter is the number 1 referrer to Calacanis’s website after Google. There’s a nice titbit for you. Also, he recently employed someone after he tweeted about his need for a designer.

1703 – Jason Calacanis is speaking of his love of Twitter, but saying that he had to turn everyone off as he has so many friends. He always adds everyone on Twitter, because presumably they’d think he was twatter if he didn’t. I just made up that word, but – hey – everyone else is doing it, it’s what Web 2.0 is all about.

1700: Is that the sound of a cork being popped? Yes, the speakers are still at the table and booze is already being handed out. How can liveblogging be done efficiently when there is beer to be had? Currently speaking, we have Jason Calacanis, Jyri, Dan Gillmor, Matt Locke, Emair Haque and Jim Purbrick.

16.58: You can read the Jaiku twittering microblog of this whole thing, here: jaiku.com/channel/nmkf

1643: And we’re rolling very efficiently towards the end. With the final question: can anything disrupt blogs? According to Jyri, the preconditions of a disruptive innovation (am I the only one feeling a bit brain-stretched right now?) are: “simpler” and “cheaper” and “frees from the need to go to an inconvenient place”. I think he means that the only thing that can disrupt a blog is something that’s simpler and cheaper, and which doesn’t *need* a computer and a content management system. Which leads him neatly to his own product, Jaiku – the Twitter-alike which makes blogging even simpler. Nicely done, Jyri!

1651: The laptop battery level is dangerously low, but I’ve just got time to add in this lovely quote “the mass starbucksization of nearly everything”. Who knew there was a word worse than incentivise? Jyri’s point is that coffee has become a throw away consumer product, and microblogging (the likes of Twiter and Jaiku) is doing the same thing to blogs.

1640 – Number 5: Charge the publishers, not the spectators. Charge them for extra features if you really must, but make sure they have enough stuff to have fun first. Habbo Hotel tried charging a monthly subscription fee, but it didn’t work. Then they offered it for free, and charged people to furnish their space, and suddenly people were handing over the cash.

1638 – Other notable examples of No 4: Skype handing out an extra headset with every headset you bought. And YouTube vids which offer nothing more than a smile for your friends (the point being it doesn’t have to be cold hard cash or gifts that get people on board).

1635 – Number 4: Turn invitations into gifts. Jyri insists that sending an invite isn’t enough – it has to be a valuable gift that people can give to someone they love. PayPal did this when it gave $10 to every new PalPal subscriber. So far, Jyri has avoided the hideous word “incentivising” for which I truly thank him.

1634 – Number 3: Make the object shareable – make sure you’ve got permalinks, and maybe look at thumnails and widgets and all manner of other clever Web 2.0 things.

1631 – Number 2: Define your verbs. This is all sounding very clever, isn’t it. Jyri’s example is eBay which has “buy” and “sell” very prominently placed on the home page. Other notable examples are “add a dog” (on dogster) and “Silent Sell your Home” (ie, see what someone might offer you if you decide to sell it) which is on a Swedish house sale site.

16.28 Ok, Number 1: Define your object. How quickly can you tell what a website is about – what its focal object is? This is something close to my own heart – why make a website that makes everyone say “huh?” when they go to the homepage? Flickr is currently getting a bit gold star from Jyri for making its “object” very clear.

16.27 Wait for it! 5 key principles for how to build a site around “social objects”

1622 – Jyri’s suggestion is “the sites that fail are the ones who are just social networking sites”. So sites such as LinkedIn, Flickr, etc have gone beyond that and created something that’s “inherently more sustainable”: “The sites that work are built around social objects”. It’s not people connecting to people – people always connect to each other through an “object”. I’m assuming he’s referring to a site like Facebook, which allows you to track “how” you know people.

1619 – Show of hands, who remembers Firefly? How about Six Degrees? Two early social networking sites, the first, with 2 million users, bought by Microsoft, which (according to Jyri) killed it, the second, with 6 million users, a victim of the dotcom bubble. Then, of course, it was Friendster, which remains in the Alexa Top 100, but hasn’t gone anywhere for a while. Jyri’s question to us is, is MySpace yet another Butterfly – like Firefly and Six Degrees?

1614 – Jyri is showing us the Alexa top 100 sites and points out that increasingly, the sites appearing in it are user generated content sites. For example, the New York Times has slowly slid out of the Top 100 to be replaced by the likes of YouTube and other UGC sites.

1612 – I have a strong suspicion that Mike Butcher, chair of today’s event, has a hangover thanks to last night’s schmoozefest. After a slightly surreal intro from Mike (“the icy wastes of Helsinki” anyone?) Jyri takes the stage…

1605 – Hi all, it’s Katie Lee here, standing in for a very square-eyed Kat. Looks like things are running a little late here, so while we continue to enjoy our tea and cookies, please feel free to chat amongst yourselves. Next up: Jyri Engeström from www.jaiku.com gives a keynote speech entitled “The Social Mobile Web.”

1549 – – Short coffee break, coverage will commence at 1605.

1546 – A question is raise about whether people are sick of brands yet. Helen from Beep Marketing mentions that a good brand starts with a good service or product, and that you can’t hide behind your brand or advertising anymore. We are looking for new tricks now, but not hiding behind a big facade or fancy tricks.

1531 – Mike Butcher asks Tristan of the Guardian Unlimited whether advertisers are knocking on their door to advertise online. He mentions Comment Is Free, and how advertising has up until now been quite slow to that site, but it’s starting to trickle in now, as people are waking up and realising just how great and influential the site actually is.

1530 – Emma Goddard of BottleTalk.com, is trying to harness the small or medium wineries who aren’t receiving much notice from supermarkets or retailers, even though they offer high quality. BottleTalk helps by profiling small wineries.

1529 – Helen Keegan of BeepMarketing, mentions how Twitter, Jaiku, and Facebook are on the mobile, and severely important.

1526 – Alfie Dennen claims that Moblog.co.uk helps clients, such as Girls Aloud and other companies who have embraced the website, publicise their brand. There is no way for them to make money directly from the site, it’s simply a means of advertising who they are, and what they do.

1519 – The people participating in this panel are Antony Mayfield, Head of Content and media at Spannerworks.com, Helen Keegan, the Founder of BeepMarketing.com, David Evans, Research Director at ContinentalResearch.com, Andy Bell, Founder and MD of MintDigital.com, Emma Goddard, Founder of BottleTalk.com, Alfie Dennen, Founder of Moblog.co.uk, Tristan Leaver, Head of Business Development, at Guardian Unlimited, and Robin Grant, Emerging Media Specialist, at CMW Interactive.com.

1536 – Questions start flying thick and fast from the audience, and someone from the audience asks about brands, and whether they’re relevant anymore. Helen from Beep Marketing claims we’re all brands, every website is a brand. Things are changing, obviously people are going online to access information more and more now, and therefore each brand is strengthening.

1516 – The next panel, revolving around communities, commerce and marketing, is due to start shortly. This panel is described as circulating around the questions ‘how do we market inside the new social media? How can PR companies approach the maddening crowd? What are the pitfalls and the advantages for brands and their agencies?> How is money being made in this new environment?’

1509 – Jann from WebJam comes on, to discuss his service which will ‘shake the world up’, he claims. Publishing, sharing and advertising is all set to change, through the use of WebJam. Similar to Tumblefeed, it grabs a lot of your user-generated content, including RSS feeds, and aggregates your pictures, videos, even eBay usage, into one spot. You can drag and drop easily between browsers, updating automatically.

1507 – BestBefore.tv, a TV studio in a box, according to the spokesperson’s presentation, allows people to take content off the net, and broadcast it live. You can grab your Twitter feeds, Flickr photos, and other media from both online and your hard-drive, and amalgamate it.

1505 – Ack, more technical difficulties, with people struggling to access their Powerpoint presentations. Yawn!

1501 – Everything is going very fast at the moment, apologies for anything which doesn’t appear to make sense – everyone in the audience is as confuddled as I! Reevoo’s spokesperson (again, no introduction, grrrr), jumps up onstage to discuss their service. They work alongside online retailers, such as Dixons, Curry’s, Woolworths, supporting them and helping consumers decide what to buy, and what not to. The reviews are obviously impartial, and they only contact customers who have purchases the product, so they’re legitimate. No fake reviews, no picking and choosing of what should be published, Reevoo ensures it’s trustworthy to the consumer.

1459 – A man from RawFlow comes on to discuss disruption, and what it is. He talks about disruptive technology, which is a technological innovation, product or service which overturns the former model, according to his presentation. He shows us the Selfcast portal which is a communicast, a way to communicate to your audience. The service encompasses several different features, such as email or IMs

1456 – A man from Playtxt, no-one seems to catch his name unfortunately, comes on, and experiences technical difficulties with setting his laptop up to show us a video. Oh noes!

1455 – The next panel opens up, which is called ‘The Disruptors’. A chap from Snipperoo jumps onstage and discusses widgets. The people in this panel are only given two minutes each to speak, which seems incredibly silly to me, as everyone on the panel all come from such interesting sites!

1445 – Nic Brisbourne finishes his speech, and leaves the stage.

1444 – There’s many opportunities to be had online, and lots of ways to make money via the web. The important thing is that you must become ‘increasingly important’ at what you do.

1437 – TV online is set to be huge, Brisbourne claims, and is something which Sky needs to watch out for. Companies that are to become popular in future are aggregators, sites which help you determine what to watch, what’s of high-quality and relevant to your viewing habits. Recommendation engines is a bandwagon to jump on, he thinks, which is something Last.fm does very well I think, as we all know what we like, but we don’t know what else is out there, which we might very well enjoy.

1435 – Moo.com, collaborating with other online sites, such as Flickr, Second Life, etc, is a very interesting business model and one to be admired.

1431 – Atomisation of content online, and monetising in the feed is a big one he says, and the online media needs to learn how to do this better.

1428 – Everyone needs to follow his philosophy of being truthful online.

1426 – We’re only on the cusp of the digital movement he claims, and it’ll be interesting to see how the business models in online companies changes over the years.

1425 – Building the traffic, and then worrying about revenue is the way to do it, Brisbourne claims, which is just what Jason Calacanis spoke of earlier.

1424 – The market is going to increase in advertising, with 2 billion pounds spent in online advertising last year in the UK alone.

1422 – Music is the most advanced online, and video and TV are going to go the same way he claims. A lot of the new businesses are getting social aspects, which changes the way advertisers advertise, and investors invest.

1420 – Brisbourne is a venture capitalist, which he admits will cause him to be hated in the room.

1416 – Nic Brisbourne takes to the stage, to open up the next panel. He talks about why it’s digital media which interests him, and not old media, because it’s less easy to get bored, and the scale of opportunity is larger online. You can ‘get bought, and get big’, as his Powerpoint presentation says. From a consumer viewpoint, they’re more interesting.

1415 – Dan Gillmor leaves the stage.

1412 – Obviously once something is posted on the internet, it may follow you your whole life, whether it be an embarassing video on YouTube, or photos on Flickr. Gillmor claims that by learning, often the hard way, with ‘a messy interim period where peoples’ lives are hurt badly’, we can improve. He makes a valid point that in 20 years time, we may very well have a US president whose previous Facebook profile, or YouTube videos, follow them in later life. We will learn to disregard silly stuff in the future, which seems to matter ever so much right now. We need to be more human with each other in regards to things like this, and realise that everyone makes errors.

1410 – Dan Gillmor finishes his lengthy speech, and opens the floor up to questions. Transparency is mentioned, how truth persuades everyone we have something to report on, something to listen to. We simply have to look around and see what other people are doing, to see what’s possible.

1408 – True, citizen journalism, and the many advances in technology, does increase false reports and journalism from seeping through into the mainstream, particularly with the invention of Photoshop. He claims we should just use our initiative and best judgement, really.

1406 – ‘Some ideas of things people could pursue – the power of mobility is all over this room’, no doubt referring to Buddyping.com and Jaiku.com. He claims this user-generated content, on mobiles, not only changes lifes, but can save lifes. RFID, and barcode readers on mobile phones can also change media.

1405 – ‘Anyone in this room can try cool things and have fun with it’, he claims.

1402 – ‘The low cost of failure means that someone with a new idea doesn’t have to convince anyone else to let them try it – there are few institutional barriers between thought and action’, a quote by Clay Shirky, is shown on the screen, as Gillmor talks about open source and how that has changed media, by opening it up to citizens.

1400 – Digital cameras are changing media, and even in the past three years, those changes are evident. Gillmor suggests that what if the people on the airplanes in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, had video cameras, and took film on the planes, how this would’ve affected the media.

1359 – Alfie Dennen, founder of Moblog.co.uk, is grinning as Dan Gillmor shows a photo posted on Moblog.co.uk back in 2004 of the London bombings, which circulated after Dennen posted it on his own personal blog. Again, another example of citizen journalism, and how old media relies on it today.

1357 – A photo taken of the Jakarta bombings in Indonesia, uploaded to Flickr, ‘committed an act of journalism’, probably whether he intended to or not. Such acts are important to maintaining the quality of journalism.

1356 – Tabloids in the US have recognised citizen journalism, and now request images of celebrities from their readers to add to their collection. ‘It’s a recognition of how media is changing’, Gillmor claims.

1355 – An LA newspaper noticed a problem concerning water rates in the city, and the readers gave a terrific response, thus instigating an investigation into this, and then the rates were thus lowered.

1351 – ‘Multimedia Mashups’, something Gillmor claims to love as well, is his next point of topic. A video of The Clash’s ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’, dubbed in Tony Blair’s voice, is mixed with video footage of Blair and Gordon Brown talking to one another, is shown, an example of modern political commentary. Great fun. He asks the question why multimedia mashups aren’t created by journalists, admitting copyright issues plays a big part, yet they should still make an effort.

1350 – One of his students at Berkeley University created a great mashup, which Gillmor claims is something newspapers have never done – and never will.

1349 – Mashups! His powerpoint presentation moves on to one of my favourite subjects, mashups, using the example of real estate mashups on Google Earth as a great form of Web 2.0 technology.

1338 – Dan starts by discussing blogging and podcasting, running through several key blogs such as PlaceBlogger, and mentions how journalism has evolved, and what it now means. Everything from random snapshots from citizens is now being called ‘journalism’, and a Professor De Long, at Berkeley University who has a blog on Economics, is that the same thing? He argues it’s all part of media, and that it all matters. He also uses the example that when Steve Jobs (of Apple fame) wanted to talk about DRM, he put it up on Apple’s blog, and then phoned The New York Times, which is an interesting angle. Online media is ‘freaking out’ old media, but he argues that web 2.0 technology is a huge boost to journalism at the moment.

1335 – Dan Gillmor, author of ‘Citizen Journalism and The Future’ takes to the stage.

1224 – We’re breaking for lunch, and will resume at 1.30pm.

1221 – A question is asked about whether European start-ups are complacent, in comparison to the US, but then on one respect, we’re very idealistic, but not necessarily intelligently so, in terms of revenue. Someone makes the point that the punishment for failure is huge here, more so than in the US, and that that does deter people.

1214 – Jason Calacanis asks a question, and says that if he were a UK entrepreneur, he would move to the US, where the old media is more open to start-ups. He feels the UK is too cynical, and that the UK does not support ‘the big, crazy dreamers’. He does admit, sure, the UK won’t see as many spectacular crashing and burning, but then we won’t see Google, Yahoo!, YouTube etc.

1206 – Jemima Gibbons claims that social networking will definitely move to the mobile, and that she’s seen the business plans for many companies, and they all focus on collecting data about their users, and selling it on. She doesn’t like this, and believes the users are savvy enough to realise when this happens, and that it will never work.

1204 – Someone in the audience makes the comment that all these start-ups are funded by advertising, and asks what will happen when all the money for advertising runs out. People on the panel think there’ll always be money, that it’ll never run out.

1201 – Someone in the audience from Jiglu asks whether there’s enough capital in the UK to fund all the various start-ups. Justin Davies of Buddyping claims it’s very different here than in the US, that US investors are more risky, wanting to gamble a bit, whereas UK investors don’t take many risks, and analyse everything, such as the CEO’s education and background, so it’s very hard to find funding here in the UK.

1200 – Mike asks Philip Wilkinson of CrowdStorm about the various US start-ups which are crowding on their territory, such as WhatNext. He claims there’s enough space for them all, particularly on either side of the Atlantic.

1157 – Mike asks whether for UK social networking start-ups, if their biggest fear is whether US start-ups will spring into place and take over their niche environment. Paul Carr of Friday Cities says it does worry him, but he claims ‘we’ll just have to kiss their asses’.

1155 – Mike Butcher, chairman of the Forum, asks whether people are getting tired and bored of social networking. Paul Carr says the day people get bored of finding out about the city they live in, is a very sad day indeed. Friday Cities apparently had a huge crisis, when they realised most of their members were white middle class members of society, but then said the sad fact is, that these are the people sat infront of computers all day. He does believe however that mobile social-networking services will change this however, and target other people.

1154 – Walid Al Saqqaf of Trusted Places disagrees also, claiming that many of his readers come from different cultures and different classes.

1152 – Several people on the panel disagree with Jemima, and claim that other sectors of society are waking up to social networks, mostly through Facebook. Paul Carr claims he’s being added on Facebook by friends who are barely computer-literate, and how this initially was surprising.

1150 – Jemima Gibbons claims that social networking sites are made up predominantly of white, middle-class males, and this needs to change, that other areas of society need to be targeted.

1145 – Everyone on the panel introduces themselves, we have Walid Al Saqqaf, of TrustedPlaces.com (which just received investment of £500,000), Philips Wilkinson of CrowdStorm.com, Jemima Gibbons of Interactiveknowhow.co.uk, Justin Davies of Buddyping.com (a mobile social networking site, I met him last night and the company seems fab – I’m very keen to start using this service!), Evan Semple, a consultant, and Paul Carr of FridayCities.com (a site for Londoners, about London – great social networking site, I urge you to join up, us Shinies love it).

1140 – The next panel starts, focussing on the upstarts, whether social media has long legs to match its long tail. The blurb for this is ‘Are we at the start of something that will be around for years to come or will the wave of social networking fizzle out when advertising revenues hit a dip? Why are some still skeptical about the life-span of the current hype? Can social media even cure real social ills and act as a balance against traditional media?’

1117 – Coffee break, we’ll resume at 11.35am.

1116 – Ashley Norris asks Tom Bureau of CNet about their business model, and whether they’d change it, how they gain money. Tom claims their model works very well for them, and they wouldn’t change it at all.

1114 – Someone in the audience asks about money, and how it’s been an issue up until now, how user interactivity incentivises the company. Ashley Norris answers the question, how advertising on sites gains revenue for social media sites, and obviously the more page impressions you gain, the more money you make. One of the key things for Shiny Media, he claims, is that we’re offering an educated opinion, and we’re opening the discussion up to our readers, and this can be viewed by the amount of comments our blogs attract.

1111 – Someone in the audience asks whether there needs to be more responsibility with social media, such as moderating comments on the BBC website, and uses GameSpot and YouTube as an example – how all the comments clog up the comments field, with their fanboyism, thus lowering the quality of user generated content. I bet Jason Calcanis is nodding his head right now!

1109 – Kevin Anderson, blogs editor at the Guardian claims that we need to stop focussing on making big names blog, and that instead we should choose bloggers more carefully – choose journalists that actually suit the work, and want to engage with the readers. He holds up Jemima Kiss, Bobbie Jonson and Roy Greenslade as great examples of journalists who merge the gap between blogging and old media journalism, however admits the media needs to get over it’s obsession with getting their big star attractions online, and keep them where they’re best.

1107 – Someone on the panel claims we do need better journalists, and we need to pay them better, which makes sense. Media needs to find a business model which works, and obviously if they invest in great journalists, they’ll receive great journalism.

1105 – Someone in the audience asks whether user generated content is just a cheap way of journalism, and whether online media should just invest in high-quality, professional journalists to do the work instead. Meg Pickard of the Guardian Unlimited claims one size doesn’t fit all.

1103 – Mike Butcher opens up the possibility of audience interaction, and Tyler, Jason Calacanis’s PA, says that he’s very impressed with this Forum, and he hasn’t seen something so reasonable and intelligent being discussed in the States at all.

1100 – Jem Stone of BBC gets all riled up and defensive, and claims that they are just unaware, that they honestly are ignorant and just don’t know about the online media. Ashley Norris claims this isn’t good enough, that journalists should try and be informed on all topics, especially with the internet being so important and influential at the moment. I agree – how can a journalist be ignorant towards the internet, and social media? Mike Butcher calls Ashley Norris ‘Tony Blair’, obviously referring to Blair’s recent harsh stance on old media, and positive attitude towards online media.

1056 – Mike Butcher mentions XFM, and how they’re starting to rely on user-generated content, and how mainstream media is trying to embrace it. Ashley Norris claims we’re a long way away from mainstream media fully embracing it, as they’re snobbish, and have grown up with old-school values, and don’t appreciate users’ thoughts as yet. From the point of view of the blogosphere, he claims there’s no respect from old media to new media – Daily Mail never link to Shiny Media, and that even the BBC are very unaware of the British online media, and need to start giving respect to British blogs. They need to wake up and realise that there are people out there who possibly have better opinions, and are more informed, that old school media journalists.

1053 – I just checked Jason Calacanis’s Twitter feed, he is tweeting happily away, and just gave everyone the link to Mahalo Greenhouse – http://greenhouse.mahalo.com . It’s live, it’s been announced, get to it, everyone!

1052 – Jeff Revoy of Yahoo! mentions how from a media perspective, social-networking sites such as Del.Icio.Us, Flickr, YouTube etc are not trends, they’re here to stay, and here to learn from.

1051 – Mike asks Tom Bureau about CNet, and how everyone is wanting to have a voice on the internet. Tom claims that CNet “brings in high-value, knowledge users, solicate them to contribute the best high-quality content they can, and make sure that the bar is high”. Using social-networking tools around the site, along with professional journalism, is what works he thinks. Trust is very important, and that CNet works very hard to keep peoples’ trust, and how they understand the value of their readers and users.

1045 – Mike Butcher, who is chairing the event, asks Paul Pod, of TIOTI.com about user-generated content, particularly video. He talks about the many layers in their company, and how they simply provide the platform to the people, and how they don’t want to get involved to the point where they’re creating another BBC website.

1042 – Jem Stone of the BBC does admit that the BBC have failed to involve people, and can learn a lot from social media, and learn to harness YouTube, Flickr etc’s technology.

1039 – One chap, can’t see who it is, announces he is creating a comprehensive map of art across the UK, with the help of moblog.co.uk

1035 – Nico Macdonald, Principal of Spy.co.uk takes the helm first, and claims that old media needs to take a more objective and rational viewpoint on issues to gain peoples’ trust. This makes me think of Blair’s latest attack on old media, and how he wants to create an external ombudsman to control their bias.

1032 – Jeff Revoy, VP of Seach and Social Media at Yahoo! Europe mentions when he joined Yahoo! five years ago, he never would’ve dreamed he would be on a panel discussing ‘the old Guard’ – he claims this is obvious of just how far the internet has come, and the importance in comparison to print media.

1029 – The eight people in the first panel introduce themselves. They are Jem Stone, of BBC New Media, Tom Bureau, the Managing Director for CNet UK, Meg Pickard the head of Editorial Development at Guardian Unlimited, Adam Gee the New Media Commissioner, Factual at Channel 4 Television, Paul Pod the Co-Founder of Tape It Off The Internet, Ashley Norris, CEO of Shiny Media (the weblog publishing company which owns Tech Digest, this here blog – and my boss!), Nico Macdonald the Principal of Spy.co.uk, and Jeff Revoy the VP of Search and Social Media at Yahoo! Europe.

1024 – He found the employees on CraigsList.com and through word of mouth. Based in Santa Monica, a city he claims is full of unemployed people due to their desires to work in the film or music industry, he allows them time off to attend film auditions etc., and that no matter how much money an SEO or company could offer them to sway the search results, the work benefits and conditions outweigh them immensely.

1023 – Jason is renowned for his brilliant work conditions, and he claims that the people working for Mahalo.com get free lunch, health benefits, can work flexible hours, and get great money. They all love their jobs, and he has told them all if they ever accept bribes when writing search results, they will be fired instantly.

1020 – A question is asked about bias, and if the search entry is powered by humans, then surely some of the search results will be bias. He uses the example of abortion – if that particular guide writing that search entry is against abortion, they might place a link for adoption in the top place. This is a great question, and I can see it might be a problem – I guess Jason Calacanis will just have to be very sure he employs people who are as unbias as possible, who have the greater goal of Mahalo.com’s success in the forefront of their mind.

1019 – Jason’s philosophy is get to scale, and then you can’t help but earn money. He learnt that at AOL, and said that when you’re successful, you will see the money roll in.

1015 – A question is asked about Mahalo.com’s business model, and how they can afford to pay people for submitted search entries. They have private backing, Sequoia Capital (who invested in Yahoo! and Google), and are confident that it will work. It will be unveiled first in the US, then rolled out throughout the world. They have enough money to pay people for search entries for five years apparently, and aren’t concerned with earning money in the first two years – they’ll tackle that after the two years are up.

1014 – Jason Calacanis finishes his speech, and questions start regarding Mahalo.com. Everyone seems to be really excited about Mahalo Greenhouse, and I’m willing to bet several are already drafting their first submitted search entries as we speak.

1010 – Jason says that Greenhouse should be open now, and that people can start earning money straight away. If, however, you are one crazy kid and don’t want to accept money for your submitted search results, then you can choose to donate the money to Wikipedia. When I spoke to Jason last night, he admitted to me his love and adoration of Wikipedia, and how much he admires what they’ve done for the internet. Mahalo.com has earmarked US$250,000 to donate to Wikipedia of their own money, and hope that people will choose to donate their money to Wikipedia if they’re uncomfortable with accepting the money themselves.

1008 – He says that they will favour people who are active on social networking sites, and people who are professionals in their chosen field. People who contribute to Wikipedia, and build their entries, or participate on Digg.com or StumbleUpon, will receive preferential treatment. Yessss! I’m in then!

1005 – Jason announces Mahalo.com’s Greenhouse, which he revealed to me last night. Pay attention kids, it’s amazing. Basically anyone – you included – can help build Mahalo.com’s search results. He admits the hugest criticism of Mahalo.com has been that there’s only about 5,000 search results so far, and how he wants – nay, needs – to increase the amount of search results. With 40 ‘guides’ (people who work for Mahalo.com full-time, creating search results), it’s impossible to create every search entry, which is why he’s calling upon the general public to submit search results to Mahalo.com. And why would you want to do so? Well, for every search result they accept, they’ll pay you US$10 – $15. Wowsers. It’s certainly enough to make a living from, he said last night, and also admitted it could be the new way to make money online – the new blogging.

1004 – Jason Calacanis demonstrates Ask.com’s huge reliance on sponsored links, and how there aren’t that many on Mahalo.com

1001 – He then shows the same example of a search entry, ‘Paris Hotels’, on Mahalo.com, and we can see the top search results – Lonely Planet, The New York Times, and other relevant search results. I must say – I’m impressed. I’ve used Mahalo.com a fair bit over the last two weeks, and have found it to be of such high quality, I honestly would urge everyone to use it.

1000 – Mahalo.com is a ‘human-powered search engine’, which aims to literally cut through all the mess and bullshit on most search engines (he brings up an example of a Google search entry, ‘Paris Hotels’, and shows just how many sponsored links there are which appear, and how the top search results aren’t of high quality of all, and wouldn’t help people to find the information they desire.

959 – Jason then shows a slideshow of peoples reactions after using Mahalo.com – it’s clean, it’s easy to use, and someone even said that Google should be embarassed after seeing Mahalo.com

957 – He shows a slideshow of several internet users’ feedback regarding Google and other search engines, all demonstrating just why he created Mahalo.com. Key problems seem to be quality, that people can’t find quality search results.

955 – Jason Calacanis mentions how he flooded several internet sites with fake memos and rumours, such as Gawker Media’s ValleyWag, which he actually used to his advantage to build hype around his new search engine, Mahalo.com

954 – How to avoid doing evil things in new mediums – ‘the mum test’ – would you do this to your own family, let her read a fake blog, for example. Jason Calacanis basically wants people to stop doing evil acts on the internet, treat others as you would like to be treated, basically. Karma. It’s good stuff, people.

950 – Jason Calacanis mentions Pay Per Post, HP, and Bumfight, who are several examples of companies ‘polluting’ the internet, ie, paying people to tattoo HP’s logo on their foreheads. Quite embarassing, as he calls out Edelman PR who created a fake blog from a WalMart employee, when there are several Edelman people in the audience. Another example I can think of is Sony’s huge PR disaster in the All I Want For Christmas Is A PSP fake-blog.

948 – Jason asks how many people in the audience are bloggers, and more than half raise their hands. He claims the blogosphere is dying, and that several companies, such as Microsoft, are helping do so, through such acts as sending bloggers free laptops, thus buying their publicity.

945 – ‘Slimy, smarmy guys in cheap bad suits’, he claims, ‘trick Google’s algorithim’, and Mahalo.com, his new search engine unveiled two weeks ago, aims to increase the quality of the internet and search results

941 – Jason Calacanis talks about internet pollution, and how SEOs are clogging up the internet, and search engine optimisation is ‘cluttering’ the net. He thinks they’re evil, and how 5% of the information on the internet is actually any good, the remaining 95% is evil, and in some times, dangerous.

940 – Jason mentions his ‘fatblogging’, and how he has lost many pounds, also how a group of people have banded together on the internet to record their weight loss. He is looking good, I must admit, and at 36 years of age, I think he’s at an ideal weight! We don’t want a size zero Calacanis!

938 – Jason mentions he has a ‘major announcement’ about Mahalo.com, which he is very proud to unveil today at the NMK Forum. It’s actually his first time in London! I spoke to him about this last night at the pub, and I must say it’s extremely exciting news regarding a way of incentivising people to help increase the popularity of Mahalo.com – big news, people, big news!

936 – Mike Butcher introduces Jason Calacanis, CEO of new search engine Mahalo.com, and former CEO of Weblogs Inc., who publish popular gadget blog Engadget.

934 – Mike mentions that there’s an NMK Forum Jaiku account which everyone can access, at jaiku.com/channel/mnkf

932 – Mike Butcher, the NMK Forum chair, talks about the theme of today’s Forum, mainly being social media, and where it will be heading in the future, and impact on traditional media.

930 – Stephen Whaley takes to stage at LSO church, Old Street, and introduces several of the key speakers at today’s NMK Forum conference.

By Katherine Hannaford | June 13th, 2007