An IT Conversations Update

(Hear the MP3 version.)


  • Email Announcements. As those of you on the email list can see, I’m sticking with the weekly announcements for now, and I’m using simple text-only messages rather than HTML. The feedback on that issue was overwhelmingly one sided. I received nearly 200 email messages this time, and virtually everyone said that they either preferred text to HTML or that it didn’t matter one way or another. So text it will be. And I’m sorry I can’t reply to all your great messages with words of support and encouragement. There are just too many. What a great problem to have!
  • Google Groups – An Experiment. I’m about to try another experiment with the email list. I want to see if Google Groups, which is now in beta, works as well as or better than the current system. If it does, I think Google Groups will be much simpler to maintain since it’s easier for users to manage their own options. So for next week I plan to upload the entire email list to Google. According to their claims, the email addresses should remain confidential and you shouldn’t receive any spam from Google or its partners. But before I run the test I want to find out if anyone out there knows of a reason I shouldn’t do this. If you think it’s a bad idea, send email to me at Don’t send a message if it’s okay with you; I’ll take silence as consent to run the test in this case. But if you see a problem with using Google Groups for email announcements — particularly a privacy problem — let me know.
  • RSS Feeds. And still on the topic of email, many listeners have pointed out that RSS is a superior alternative to email. This makes me wonder whether they realize that IT Conversations has over 100 different RSS feeds. I agree that RSS is better in many ways than email, so if you don’t already know about the feeds and all the variations including enclosures and topic-based feeds, take a look at the Podcast/RSS page.
  • Feedburner. And while I’m on the subject of RSS, I’m trying yet another experiment. If you currently subscribe to one of the site-wide “Everything” feeds, you may have noticed that your feed now comes through Feedburner. This is a new service that helps track RSS subscriptions so that I can attract sponsors and underwriters by giving them independently compiled statistics. I’m about to switch all of the IT Conversations feeds to Feedburner, so please let me know immediately if you’ve had any RSS problems in the past week.

New Programs This Week

  • The Gillmor Gang (rated 3.3). Now Google’s VP of Engineering, Adam Bosworth joined The Gang last Friday with his vision for the future of search architecture. Adam points out that today’s databases are built on the relational model, but most of today’s queries are not. They’re looking for keyword precision, location and semantic context — not a textual or numeric match. The relational model works when both the data and the queries can be anticipated, but in today’s world, neither are typically known in advance. This is one of the more popular Gillmor Gang shows, and I recommend it for anyone interested in the future and technology of databases and the Internet.
  • Andy Ihnatko – Tales from the Crypt (rated 3.2). A regular columnist for Macintosh magazines, Andy describes himself as America’s 42nd Most-Beloved Industry Figure. In this session from the Mac OS X Conference, Andy presents unique examples of creative genius from the past. He then turns his sights to the future and look at collaboration technologies that are flowing our way. Because as we all know, business health requires that you always drink upstream from the herd. A good program for those interested in the Macintosh world.
  • John Doerr at at Web 2.0 (rated 2.9). John is one of the most prolific venture capitalists in the world, and his most recent — and most spectacular — success is Google, which he backed in 1999 despite significant skepticism among other VCs. Asked at the time why he would back a search company with no proven business model, John responded: “With this kind of traffic, we’ll figure it out.” Seems they did. In conversation with John Heilemann, who has been jousting onstage with Doerr for nearly a decade now. John is always an interesting guy, even if you’re not into the VC world.
  • Gian Fulgoni – Broadband Internet & Consumer Behavior (rated 2.8) Ever wondered what the research companies know that you don’t? Gian Fulgoni, chairman and co-founder of comScore Networks, presents “Research Examining the Impact of Broadband and Internet Tenure on Consumer Behavior.” From the Web 2.0 Conference. In general, the new-company announcements like this one are rated below average by our listeners.
  • A Dinner Conversations with Mark Cuban (rated 4.0). On the other hand, although he’s a serial entrepreneur, Mark Cuban’s conversation with John Heilemann at Web 2.0 is very entertaining. After Mark made a billion or so selling his company to Yahoo! during the height of the Web 1.0 craze, he decided to buy a basketball team. Fortunately, he bought the Mavericks, a team whose name suits his style: brash, out there, and unconventional. Now he’s back in the media business with HDNet.
  • Dan Gillmor on Memory Lane (to new to rate). It’s too early to quote the stats on this one, but Dan is always popular on IT Conversations. In this edition of Memory Lane, Halley Suitt interviews Dan, the nationally known columnist for The San Jose Mercury News who recently left the paper to pursue a new venture in citizen journalism. Dan is the author of the book We The Media: Grassroots Journalism By The People, For The People, which was published in 2004 by O’Reilly. His new venture, Grassroots Media, has everyone talking and visiting his new blog, where he’s got a great discussion going on about blogging and journalism.
  • Evan Ratliff. This week on Tech Nation Dr. Moira Gunn speaks with Evan Ratliff, author of SAFE: The Race to Protect Ourselves in a Newly Dangerous World. They talk about making America safe — or at least the issues which underlie it.
  • Moira also speaks with with geographer and social scientist Barbara Heinzen. With a background in geography and cultural dynamics, her focus is uncertainty – how do we make decisions when we can’t possibly know the answers we need.
  • In the BioTech Nation segment, Moira interviews Dr. Wim Jongen, professor and researcher, at Wageningen University, The Netherlands, about the design of new foods and food products – the goals and the challenges.
  • And from the archives, here’s one of my personal favorite programs from the IT Conversations archives: Dan Geer: The Shrinking Security Perimeter (rated 3.8). Dan has a long-term view of information security, and has codified some of his thinking in a white paper entitled The Shrinking Perimeter — Making the Case for Data Level Risk Management. Dan is best known as the guy who was fired for co-authoring a report, Cyber Insecurity, suggesting the security risks posed by the monoculture caused by Microsoft’s dominance of the software industry. I recommend this one for everyone; it’s truly one of my favorite interviews with an absolutely brilliant guy.

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