Wednesday, January 28, 1998

Silicon Bowl

Then I went bowling! The Silicon Bowl was concurrently going on at the University Lanes. Organized by Aliza Sherman and Cybergrrl, this tournament had teams mixed up with people from Interport, Darwin Digital, Concrete Media, and Yahoo!. Beer and pizza were rolling down thirsty gullets, as the gutter balls speed down the lanes. Gui of Concrete shouted out above the din that "bowling is such da bomb," Parker Stanzione and Lissa Hurchalla ( agreed. Cybergrrl's Kris Britt and Femina Cybrarian were there, as was Yahoo!'s Ari Diamandopoulos. You wouldn't guess 1st time bowler Ben Colas (Darwin Digital) didn't like those great bowling shoes judging from his consecutive strikes. George Decker, Morgan, Shana Hunter, and Renny Gleeson (also of Darwin) bowled some impressive games. I ditched my cheap white wine for a vodka, opted to bowl ala Peg Bundy, and lo! and behold my game started getting better too!

Silicon Alley companies all around are realizeing bowling's harmless fun. Upstairs, unknowing of the tournament was E-Pub's David Becker and Suzanne McNamee.

(Appeared originally in @The Scene in the @NY newsletter)

Columbia House's new offshoot Total E

The rest of the week calmed down for me till this past Wednesday, Jan. 28th. Starting out uptown at the China Club (47th Street) I met with many execs of Columbia House and their new offshoot Total E. Total E promises to be the total entertainment solution for purchasing online. Aggressive waiters passed around barbecued spare ribs, chicken satay, shrimp dumplings, and "Filet Mignon." Pyramids of California roll sushi tempted guests at the bars. Rick Hunt, VP of Electronic Media filled me in on the company and its plans. Rory Cumming (Dir. of Biz Operations) and Colby Hall (formerly of K2 and Spin Online) also elaborated on what many music distributor/retailer companies are trying to do -- sell their wares online.

Noah Yasskin was surrounded by his entourage of beautiful girlfriends. And after meeting Rick Wolter, CEO/Chairman of the Board of Columbia House, we had our photo taken with the eDNA's. These gals, sporting slick violent violet bobs and E T-shirt's were representative of the intuitive search engine on Total E's site.

(Appeared originally in @The Scene in the @NY newsletter)

Thursday, January 22, 1998

Doubleclick Network's party for its International partners

From the WWWAC party a number of us continued to Doubleclick Network's party for its International partners. Set amidst warm pomegranate walls and mammoth red velvet curtains, they once again succeeded in wowing a blaze new media crowd. Ad agency reps and other new media schmoozers are being wined and dined at an accelerated rate. Doubleclick nicely represented their international partners with an international themed party. Flags from represented countries hung from the balcony and vast tracks of regional specific food kept the animals at bay. The food sculptures were even more impressive. An intricately carved pineapple and carrot carved owl perched next to the sausage and peppers, being served up with a smile. Down the table was Watermelon Moses (not Harriet Tubman). Across the room (sans sculpture) was the new media favorite, Sushi Galore, being rolled in front of hungry eyes. The Nerve Mag crew was stationed here, with the exception of Genevieve Field who was back at the office working. Rufus Griscom (Nerve), bubbly Valerie Martinez (Brand Dialogue) and finance Bob Lao (CNNfn) were enjoying the evening with Angelina Kwok (BD).

(Appeared originally in @The Scene in the @NY newsletter)

WWWAC Social Hour

The WWWAC group is getting more social. In response to meeting attendee and member requests I organized the now monthly WWWAC Social Hour. The inaugural event was at the Rodeo Bar on 3rd Ave. and replaces the 2nd meeting of the month (4th Thursday). In attendance was Greg Elin 3.0 who made the trip to the Rodeo Bar Thursday Jan. 22nd on his BMW bike (the same bike he traveled across the country with me in the Alley to Valley Rally). Social butterfly Bonnie Halper, David Blumenstein (, WWWAC Board member Craig Zolan, Steve Introcaso (, Tristan (formerly of Earthweb) also came out to enjoy the free hors d'oeuvres and good times. Long time WWWAC member Hugh Crawford emerged from his new job with ErgoTech CEO Sanford.....

(Appeared originally in @The Scene in the @NY newsletter)

Tuesday, January 20, 1998

Let's Talk Business Network Celebration

Its a wrap! In fact, that's exactly what the Let's Talk Business Network ( was celebrating Jan. 20th. The decor inside Comedy Nation, where the party was held, evoked the feeling of being a gnat trapped in a giant sized set of comedic references and props. The guests however, were far from trivial specs on a wall. LTBN members are a high spirited group of entrepreneurs and business people who want to grow personally and professionally. It's easy to have a good time when larger than bite-sized hors d'oeuvres were being passed around. A bevy of beverages made the creative balloon puppets by magician and insurance broker Michael Chaut even more adorable.

I met famed 1010 AM radio personality and advisory board member Sam Albert (, who "fell in love with the group" about 1 1/2 years ago. His enthusiasm was matched by Alvin Rohrs, of Students In Free Enterprises (, whose organization will be the beneficiary of an LTBN fundraiser in October at Mickey Mantles. Other members I spoke to, including Bruce Cohen (National Alliance of Sales and Mrktg Execs), Randy Rosler (, David Herlands (The Industrial Printers), Michael Volchok (Volchok Consulting), Philip Liebman (M Direct), and Diane Wildowsky (Cold Call Enterprises) all raved about the wonderful speakers and positive community the network provides.

(Appeared originally in @The Scene in the @NY newsletter)

Saturday, January 17, 1998

Indulging the Artist Online and Off

This past week included a few events that indulged the on and offline artist. Saturday, Jan. 17, was the start of The Culture of Interactivity conference at Rockefeller University ( Sponsored in part by The School of Visual Arts, it featured an actual interactive experiment: the audience, divided into groups during one session, assembles in different spaces, each networked to the other.

Meanwhile, later that day in Fair Gotham, audiences were getting interactive with LiAnne Smith, and Neil Furio (Echoids) at CB's Gallery and MUZE's ( Ian McGrath of Anomaly at the Orange Bear. These two Web-nauts remind me that creative expression doesn't stop in one place and pick up in another, it is a continual flow.

(Appeared originally in @The Scene in the @NY newsletter)

Friday, January 16, 1998

AirMedia's Newness

I had a chance to catch up with David Rose, chairman and founder of AirMedia, after his company's presentation at the Computer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Positioned front and center in the Microsoft booth, AirMedia was one of the launch partners for MS's new Palm and Auto PC platforms. Rose reports that people were "oohing and ahhing" over the company's their new mobile Internet antennas. Rose said these gadgets as something half the size of pack of cigarettes that goes on the road with you and pulls in more info even when your computer is off.

AirMedia also announced the expansion of its live broadcasts to PCS and digital cellular carriers, with the launch of the AirMedia Carrier Information Services network. The Philips booth was also graced with AirMedia's Mobile Internet Antenna for the Philips Velo handheld PC. While this product has already been launched, it was the first time many people saw it. Philips joins Compaq and Micron in announcing that they were licensing AirMedia's technology for their handhelds.

(Appeared originally in @The Scene in the @NY newsletter)

Bringing (graffiti) Art Online

Another artist who has successfully brought "real" art to a "virtual" canvas is graffiti and fine artist Dan Witz ( The opening for his most recent works was on Friday, Jan. 16, in a Chelsea galley (and also seen around Williamsburg). There are a plethora of sites about graffiti (including how to remove it), and where you can make your own on the web. It will be interesting to see how this alternative art form finds further expression on the Web.

(Appeared originally in @The Scene in the @NY newsletter)

Movers and Shakers ~ published 1/16/98

Movers and Shakers -- The People of Silicon Alley

* New York New Media Association co-founder Brian Horey is scaling back his activities as a partner with venture firm Lawrence, Smith and Horey to join fund management firm Tontine Partners as general partner. He'll retain portfolio responsibilities for the companies LSH bought into, and will remain an active NYNMA director and plans to act as angel investor to local startups.

* Todd Watson has taken the position of program manager for Internet advertising at IBM. He was formerly a producer with IBM software electronic marketing, and editor of the IBM e-business Web site.

* Robert Michaels, project manager at Weblations, the Web translation company, has moved from Barcelona to New York to be closer to the Silicon Alley market and clients including

* Brian Martin, a veteran graphics art and creative director, has joined THINK New Ideas as created director. He was the formerly the creative head at the Microsoft Network, where he worked on music programming with artists like Phillip Glass, Herbie Hancock, B.B. King, Paula Cole and Graham Nash.

* David Starr has been named to the new position of vice president, broadcast software development for AirMedia. Prior to his promotion, he served as director of development and was responsible for overseeing the development of the network operations center software for the AirMedia Live Internet Broadcast Network.

* Kathleen Sheridan has joined Nicholson|NY as media director and Michael Wexler was named director of research and management for the interactive agency. Sheridan comes over from Wunderman Cato Johnson, where she worked on interactive marketing and media planning efforts for clients including American Express, Apple Computer, AT&T, Novell, Sears, and Xerox.

* Wexler had been manager of marketing analysis for the Strategic Interactive Group in Boston. He was cofounder in Chapel Hill, NC of PC Doctors, a consulting company.

* Sue Black and Arun Bordoloi have been named chief financial officer and senior account manager, respectively, at Razorfish. Black joins Razorfish following two years as Chief Financial Officer of TBWA Chiat/Day New York. Bordoloi joins Razorfish following three years as a manager at Deloitte
& Touche Consulting Group.

Thursday, January 15, 1998

Stacy Horn's new book launch "Cyberville..."

Stacy Horn's new book "Cyberville: Clicks, Culture, and the Creation of an Online Town" may one of Silicon Alley's best examples of people integrating their success with the Web off-line and vice versa. Horn built up Echo ( into a thriving virtual community on and off-line since the late '80s. And now her book tells all about it. Other Echoids and ITPers had their books on display at NYU's ITP space at 721 Broadway on Thursday, Jan. 15th. Dr. Cleo Odzer's book on "Virtual Spaces: Sex & The Cyber Citizen" and Townsend Davis' "Weary Feet, Rested Souls: A guided history of the Civil Rights Movement" were just two. Author Stephen Levy ("Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution"), EFF lawyer Mike Godwin (book coming out in the spring) and James Sanders (writer and co-host of Echo's New York Conference) all came "to show their support for Stacy." Stacy looked calm and collected with a beautiful upswept hairdo, showing brains and beauty can co-exist peacefully. As the evening was winding down Randall Rothenberg commented "it's a testament of the quality of people in attendance (about 200 guests) that they didn't leave when the booze (4 magnums of wine) was gone.

(Appeared originally in @The Scene in the @NY newsletter)

Friday, January 09, 1998

Clay Shirky's Animator's Ball

One of the most overlooked creative and business segments in Silicon Alley is animation, and that's something Clay Shirky is working to change. He's the guy behind the Animator's Ball, slated for March 5 in New York City. I chatted with Shirky at the last World Wide Web Artists Consortium meeting and at Emily Davidow's comfy BeHome headquarters two days later and got an enthusiastic description of his plans for organizing the animation community.

Shirky has registered his company, AniFest Destiny, as a not-for-profit to produce the Ball, stating in its manifesto that the company: "is dedicated to the proposition that the Internet is a good medium for distributing and displaying animation. They will seek out animation and animators working in non-traditional formats and bring them into contact with each other and
with their potential audience."

Sounds great -- a room full of animators in the real world, exchanging ideas, especially those related to using the Internet as a way to distribute or display animation. "Our overall goal is to increase the quality of animation available over the Web without regard to its immediate commercial applications," says Shirky.

Animators are invited to contribute animations for display during the party which will continue to live on the Web site. The party aims to highlight the depth and breadth of animation work currently going on, and to introduce animators to each other, new work, the experts, and to new tools and formats. Clay hopes this event will "focus future communications within and between this community."

(Appeared originally in @The Scene in the @NY newsletter)

Friday, January 02, 1998

New Year Floods in Flatiron District Damage Some Shops

Like a scene from "Volcano," the cheesy disaster flick in which downtown LA is swallowed whole by the Labrea Tar Pits, a part of Silicon Alley seemed to fall into the earth last week. I'm referring, of course, to the explosions and floods in the Flatiron District. Quite a few businesses felt the brunt of not being able to get in their building with ease, not allowed to leave (for a decent meal no less!), not to mention maintain a level of operability.

The guys at Social Science ( desperately waved white sheets out their office windows on Jan. 2, after being forced to a lunch of tuna and white bread. Oh my! And while Flatiron Partners, iVillage, Digital Exchange, and Digital City Studio had no problems other than not being able to get to Eureka Joe's for some caffeine, CKS Site Specific lost its T1 lines for a couple of days -- mainly because Bell Atlantic had more pressing problems in the area.

One vignette with a bit more drama is the story of Tanya Aleksa and Ken Schaffer (, who was described in "The New Yorker" as an engineer, inventor, rock-star manager and Sovietologist, offered details on this scoop. Ms. Aleksa is a determined, dynamic, young woman who moved to New York from Moscow two years ago with not more than a few kopecks. She now runs a successful ISP that serves businesses with dedicated services and more than a thousand individuals with dial-up. is located yards away from the broken water main and subsequent gas explosion. Needless to say, their T1s, business phones, electric, and water "got broke."

Throughout New Year's weekend, Tanya and her cohorts cajoled police, fire and the New York City Office of Emergency Management officials with such charm, wit, and persistence that Monday morning, accompanied by three flood-light bearing police officers, her team climbed eight flights of stairs to remove six servers.

At the same time, Octet combed the town to make arrangements to temporarily house its servers, not with its upstream provider -- which bailed (sorry for the bad pun) during the emergency) -- but with a compassionate fellow-ISP, Thanks to intercom's Daniel Herschlag, Octet was back up hours after the start of the first business day following the Fifth Avenue Armageddon. While Octet web hosting, co-located servers, shell and mail services are up "business as usual," however, dial-up remains down.

What will happen to Octet's dial-up customers until Con Edison, Bell Atlantic and the City's Office of Emergency Management put Fifth Avenue back together? What ISP would be willing to offer Tanya's customers temporary public dial-up access while, and thus make Octet's heroic restoration of services a home run? Perhaps it's time for a little Silicon Alley "coopetition," eh?

(Appeared originally in @The Scene in the @NY newsletter)

Thursday, January 01, 1998

New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year everyone! Crisp air and cold red cheeks are signals of the excitement in the air and the thrill of that one day a year we're all allowed to start anew and make fresh promises. I, for one, have never really made resolutions till this year. And I'm starting off with an aggressive list: schedule my time better, eat right, exercise, remember people's names better, and give my web audience a column each week that packs a well written punch!

Thus, I'm attempting for the first one to recount the past year and project my hopes for the new year via some favorite holiday songs. Please forgive the alternate lyrics.

The 12 Days of Christmas

On the 12th Day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
Twelve servers serving
Eleven hackers hacking
Ten content providers piping
Nine ad reps a schmoozing
Eight designers designing
Seven e-commerce solutions
Six web authoring tools
Five new jobs
Four shops that closed
Three new clients
Two Internet accounts and
An Intel pentium machine

Auld Web Design

Should old programmers be forgot
and never brought to mind,
Should software launches be for naught
and days of Web design.

For auld Web design my dear,
for auld Web design.
We'll curse at buggy Java-ware
For auld Web design.

Where push technology bit the dust
The Active Desktop, Pointcast thyne
iFusion's capital vanished thus
As all push will in time.

For auld Web design my dear,
for auld Web design.
Our browsers crash without a care
For auld Web design.

Community was the buzzword when
'97 dawned in time.
The VCs' money came and went
But chat made naught a dime.

For auld Web design my dear,
for auld Web design.
Challenge Redmond if you dare
For auld Web design.

And now e-commerce leads the way,
if the hype you still believe.
But the bottom line will not be swayed
Leaving Jupiter bereaved.

For auld Web design my dear,
for auld Web design.
Netscape's losing market share
For auld Web design.

In Silicon Alley we make our way,
selling content that doesn't bomb.
But agency profits still flow away
To the giant Omnicom.

For auld Web design my dear,
for auld Web design.
The trade mags give you vaporware
For auld Web design.

If in selling ads you do believe
Your revenue exceeds a smidge
We've got a sale that's marked "must see"
It's called the Brooklyn Bridge.

For auld Web design my dear,
for auld Web design.
Best '98 wishes we hereby share
For auld Web design.

(Appeared originally in @The Scene in the @NY newsletter)

New Year's Creative Start

Earlier in the week I had the pleasure of spending New Year's Day with Ken Schaffer, his wife Alla Kliouka (who has won Russia's Oscar for "Best Actress" two years in a row) and some friends. There, I met Dimitri Strizhov, editor-in-chief of Profile Magazine and a prolific painter, who most recently financed and remastered the first western recording of Boris Grebenshikov's album since his debut album for Columbia Records in 1989. You may recall reading about Grebenshikov in the January 1998 issue of Wired magazine. While he is not very well known yet in the U.S., Wired writes his status in Russia is that of an icon, with the popularity of Elvis and the political influence of Jesse Helms. Schaffer was the executive producer of Grebenshikov's first album in the states which was produced by Dave Stewart of Eurythmics, and featured Annie Lennox and Chrissie Hynde on Backup Vocals. The album has a No. 5 single, "Radio Silence."

The new album was produced at Bearsville Studios in Woodstock. Unlike "Radio Silence," which Boris wrote in extraordinary English (which he learned in Leningrad by listening to The Beatles on a covert Short-wave receiver) this album is all in Russian, with members of The Band. After listening to this exquisite album we all watched the Christmas episode of South Park and laughed till it hurt. In fact, one of our group laughed so hard he had to be carted away by 911, but that's another story . . .

(Appeared originally in @The Scene in the @NY newsletter)