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December 31, 2008

Stuff I learned in 2008

Filed under: random — Rakesh Agrawal @ 4:19 pm

This year I realized how little Stuff matters. For more than four months, almost everything I owned was in a warehouse somewhere. Even when I got it into my place, I spent a good chunk of the year on the road – many miles away from my Stuff.

While unpacking I found many generations of electronics Stuff: more than a half dozen cell phones, three or four generations of MP3 players, two GPS units and miscellaneous gadgets and adapters of all kinds. Some of it is still in its original, unopened blister pack.

Then there’s the clothing Stuff: shoes I thought would look good but have never worn, souvenir T-shirts and clothes I might be able to fit into again if I went back to my high school weight.

And the kitchen Stuff: a breadmaker that hasn’t been used in three moves, an abundance of pots, shot glasses from around the world, promotional mugs, water bottles, etc.

Way more Stuff than you can stuff into a San Francisco apartment.

Stuff is bad. It costs money to buy, transport, store and dispose of. You worry about it getting lost, stolen or damaged. And there’s the environmental impact of Stuff.

I’ve been relatively good this year about acquiring new Stuff:
•    My electronics purchases have been limited to a digital camera and an iPhone.
•    I didn’t buy any souvenirs for myself, despite having traveled more than I have in any other year. (Not counting a couple of Aloha shirts I picked up in Hawaii.)
•    I didn’t buy any physical media such as CDs or DVDs.

I feel like a bad American for speaking out against buying Stuff, especially given the state of the economy. But I’ve been spending money on experiences, which in the end may be better for the economy. Eating at locally owned restaurants and staying in hotels generates more dollars than buying crap made in China.

And there’s the bonus that I get to see my friends.

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December 29, 2008

A tale of two media companies

Filed under: google, hulu, journalism, newspapers, television, video, web 2, web 2.0, YouTube — Rakesh Agrawal @ 1:36 am

You’ve got a competitor with deep pockets, huge brand recognition and a lot of traffic that is interested in your content. What do you do?

Here are two very different approaches:

GateHouse Media is suing The New York Times Co., whose Boston Globe has been linking from its hyperlocal site to stories on GateHouse’s Wicked Local site.

Wicked awesome Hulu is co-opting archrival YouTube’s traffic. If you do a search for Simpsons clips on YouTube, you’re likely to see clips uploaded to YouTube by Hulu. Here’s one I found:

Rather than try to rewrite more than a decade of Web practices (if not copyright law), Hulu is working the system to reach a lot of interested users where they are. It’s a brilliant move and the kind of thinking that is virtually nonexistent within the newspaper industry.

The clip promotes Hulu as the destination for premium content on the Internet. Users have a clear choice: watch excerpts with an annoying Hulu ticker on YouTube or go to hulu.com where they can watch the full video in higher quality without the ticker.

In the short run, this helps Google by providing content for popular queries. In the long run, hulu is the big winner.

More on: hulu, newspapers, YouTube

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