Bubble 2.0 Watch: Boom, Boom, Out Go the Lights

web20Adam Lashinsky has an article in Fortune (and online at CNN) today about the “new Net boom,” and how to invest in it without getting burned (again). If I’d written this article, it would have had a word count of 1: don’t.

The article makes some good points, however, and, thankfully, is more concerned with the Ciscos and the Googles than the Facebooks and the 13,451 or so online calendars.

It begins by correctly pointing out that when Bubble 1.0 burst, the internet kept on being the internet and has become more and more integral to our lives:

You don’t need us to tell you that today the Net is fulfilling many of the visions its wild-eyed prophets were preaching about just a few years ago. All the impossibly cool applications that seemed so elusive in the late 1990s–Internet phone calls, (legal) downloadable music and movies, high-speed web access on cellphones, online bill paying–are a taken-for-granted part of daily life.

Plus, many more people have broadband internet access now, making the pool of application users bigger than before.

It even addresses (kind of) my greater fool/IPOs in the making concern:

We know what you’re thinking right about now: If there’s a boom underway, then the Wall Street crowd must be fixing to sell us something. After all, we’ve been down this path before. But the investing landscape is very different this time.

In sum, the article says that new reporting requirements and the lower price of net stocks will work to prevent a bunch of silly IPOs.

Maybe. But as soon as the greater fools start believing the the lesser fools are nosing around on the net stock aisle, I suspect there will be plenty of products brought to market. They are working on the supply and waiting on the demand.

Before I invest in any meaningful way in any new net companies I need to see a business plan based on selling something other than ads and an exit strategy other than the hope of getting bought.

Too much of the new net world is being built on top of advertising revenue. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again.

Advertising cannot support the weight of all these so called businesses for the medium or long term.

If you don’t agree with this, just wait. And watch.

Digg in a Hole

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I have talked about Digg before, and I am very impressed with the technology behind the site. I’ve also said before that I don’t use Digg very much because I don’t like the “news by contest” format. In other words, I don’t really want the content presented to me to be based on votes received by a bunch of people whose interests may or may not be compatible with mine.

Part of the problem is the potential for people to vote stories to the top of the list based on factors other than merit. I have no reason to believe that ballot stuffing is a problem at Digg. But logic and human nature has always told me that it could be.

Today brings a post at Forever Geek that may have uncovered some irregularities in the voting process. The story was fairly even-handed and while I don’t reach any firm conclusions from the data presented, I do find it troubling that Forever Geek was apparently banned from Digg as a result of the post.

I missed it at the time, but David Johnston at Real Tech News posted about a similar issue back in December.

I don’t know if people are monkeying around with the Digg process or not, but banning someone for posting objective data and raising the question is not good PR.

It’s bad PR and it makes you look guilty, whether you are or not.

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Earthquakes, Hurricanes and the Math Thing

Doc Searls has a thoughtful and scary post today on earthquakes.

Today is the 100th anniversary of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.

Thankfully, I’ve never experienced an earthquake. But Hurricanes are a constant worry here along the Texas coast and I have stood outside my house more than once in the yellowish glow of a bad storm and listened for the train-like sound of a tornado.

I remember the very first Sim City game. I didn’t like the natural disasters, so I turned them off. Unfortunately, you can’t do that in real life.

I hope we are spared another hurricane and I hope California is spared another earthquake. But as Doc points out, the math is not in either of our favor.

All Aboard the Bubble Train

With every new funding of the latest high school science project turned business, more and more people start talking about Bubble 2.0.

I have been talking about it for a while, as have Steve Rubel and others.

Today, Mark Evans jumps onboard the bubble train:

The signs of doom are increasingly evident – VCs are scrambling to get a stake in start-ups with limited track records; valuations in the M&A market are climbing, and 20-something entrepreneurs are being seen as cool and credible again.

As I have said so many times before, these folks aren’t doing the start-up thing as a hobby any more once serious money gets involved. No, they are trying to make a lot of money.

Money that is sitting in our pocketbooks, mutual funds and brokerage accounts.

Mark cites a San Francisco Chronicle story as a sign that it’s time to head for the hills. More and more use of the term IPO means it’s time to take our money with us.

Web 2.0 Wars: Quarter-Finals Round Two

The Web 2.0 Wars season has come to an end. The list of winners and playoff brackets were posted the other day.

Here’s how the playoffs will work. After taking a look at my prior commentary about each application, I’ll revisit each application and see what, if anything, is new. I’ll add an update for each contestant and pick the winner.

We are now in the quarter-finals and have already had Round 1. It’s time for the second round in the quarter-finals.

Here are the contestants for the second quarter-final round:

Last.fm
iKarma
Memeorandum
AllPeers
Riya

Last.fm is a very impressive social network focused on music. It has streaming music based on what you like and what those who like what you like like. I have used it extensively and, along with Pandora and Vault Radio, it forms the basis of my internet music listening experience.

iKarma is a feedback and self described reputation and feedback system. Think of it as eBay feedback for the whole internet. There still isn’t much feedback content. Neat idea, but it needs more people to input more feedback and I’m just not sure that’s going to happen.

Memeorandum is the king of the memetrackers. I’ve talked about it a ton, and it is one of the first sites I read every day. It is probably the most useful web site on the internet when it comes to finding tech-related news.

AllPeers is is a Firefox extension based on a bittorent application that allows groups of buddies to share files.

Riya is a photo sharing service with a twist. It has face and text recognition capability that help you identify and name your photos. Though I am not as blown away as others by the face recognition features, it is a well designed photo sharing service in its own right.

And the Winner of the second quarter-final round is:

In a battle between Last.fm and Memeorandum, I have to give the edge to Memeorandum based on how often I use it. Unlike last round, when YouTube edged out TailRank due to its penetration into the non-tech population, none of this week’s contestants have that kind of penetration.

Memeorandum moves to the Final Four.

Dave Wallace on Tablet PC's

Dave Wallace (Dave the Lifekludger) takes a detailed look at a Sahara Tablet PC and details how it can be configured for use by people with disabilities. Dave is an IT Coordinator, podcaster and blogger, who happens to be a C4 quadriplegic.

Dave was able to configure his tablet to put a lot of computing power in a small space, as the photos comparing his regular computer and his Tablet PC will attest.

The handwriting (Dave uses a mouthstick) recognition application seems to work well for Dave. Actually, it works better for him that it does for me. He had less success with the voice recognition application- I’ve never had any success with voice recognition software and gave up trying a year or so ago. Voice recognition sounds great in theory. But I’ve never been able to make it work reliably.

All in all, the Tablet PC worked pretty well for Dave. As with anything, there are compromises to make (size vs screen space, etc.), but the Tablet PC was much more configurable disability-wise than I would have predicted.

In a Comment to Dave’s post, mobile guru James Kendrick mentions that there is a Sahara Tablet with a touch screen. That might be an even better solution.

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Dwight's Favorite Tech Blogs

Dwight Silverman of the Houston Chronicle is doing a series on his favorite web sites. He calls it his Fave6, and lists his six favorite web sites in various categories.

This weekend he did tech blogs, and I am honored to be one of the six along with Ed Bott, Steve Rubel, the Sunbelt Blog, Om Malik and Guy Kawasaki.

Obviously, Dwight can’t pick his own blog, but his TechBlog would certainly be on anyone else’s list of favorite tech blogs, including mine.

Thanks for including me Dwight. I really appreciate it.