Lynne d Johnson



« October 2007 | Diary | December 2007 »

11.26.07 08:22 PM

Video: One Laptop Per Child - Success or Failure?

From The Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Negroponte's ambitious plan has been derailed, in part, by the power of his idea. For-profit companies threatened by the projected $100 price tag set off at a sprint to develop their own dirt-cheap machines, plunging Mr. Negroponte into unexpected competition against well-known brands such as Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system. [WSJ]

Either way you look at it, good old innovation and competition may just get laptops into the hands of the nation's poorer schoolchildren. In that sense, it seems like the idea was a success.

posted by lynne | | comment () | trackback (0) |

11.21.07 03:40 PM

My Kicks Game Needs Expansion

Nike Collection 2, originally uploaded by lynneluvah.

My kicks game is pretty tight (the accompanying photo is just a small sample of the entire collection, in fact it's just the nikes here) but I really don't know what to get myself for Christmas. Basically, I use every occasion I can to purchase new kicks, and I barely ever get rid of a pair, unless they get busted or I haven't worn them in over a year -- and I don't wear busted kicks. I don't throw them out either, they're either donated to the Salvation Army or given away to a younger family member who's probably been peeping them ever since I first got them.

Any suggestions for what my next pair of kicks should be? Please base your responses on what it looks like my taste might be, and not just what you think is hot. (And really, I know I'll probably get like 1 comment, if any).

The following list is just some possibilities, but of course I don't know every fly kick out there.

Kidrobot: JB Classics Sneaker Black Thought Bubble
Vans: Black/Black Sk8-Hi in Limited Edition Colors
Nike Dunk Luxurious Package
Supra Footwear: Supra Muska Skytop Floral

I'm sort of voting for that Supra Skytop Floral myself.

posted by lynne | | comment () | trackback (0) |

11.21.07 02:21 PM

BlogTalkRadio:, Social Networking, Blogging Ethics, and Race

I really should never allow myself to be interviewed when I'm waaay past sleepy. My recent visit to BlogWorldExpo in Las Vegas to sit on the Blogging Ethics panel brings this latest interview of myself by John C. Havens, VP, Business Development, BlogTalkRadio.

Host Name: LIVE
Show Name: BlogWorld ExpoNov 9 2007 6:07PM
Date / Time: 11/9/2007 6:07:59 PM
Show Length: 15 Minutes
Show Description: Lynne d Johnson from
Keywords: blogtalkradio, Blogworld, FastCompany,, las vegas

posted by lynne | | comment () | trackback (0) |

11.21.07 01:31 PM

Can AOL Black Voices Become the ish?

If you ever read Crain's New York Business, you'd come away with the feeling that there's some sort of love for Tariq Muhammad, the new director of AOL Black Voices. On 11/14, in "AOL director eyes niche," and subsequently on 11/18 in AOL Black Voices pumping up volume," in reference to the 20 million African-American Internet users in the United States, Amanda Fung wrote:

AOL Black Voices attracts only a fraction of those nationwide users. Nevertheless, the site, which had just 2.5 million unique visitors in September, is edging out its major rivals., a social networking site for African-Americans, had 2.2 million, and, the entertainment and news Web site operated by Viacom’s BET Network, had 2.3 million, according to comScore Media Metrix.

And how Mr. Muhammad plans to do this is by becoming the Black CNN (hey, I thought that was rap).

Mr. Muhammad hopes to beef up Black Voices' content, making it an even better source of online news and information for African-Americans. Ideally, he says, Black Voices will be so comprehensive that users will no longer have to go to sites like for news. But he acknowledges that the company has work to do.

But there's not only BP and BET that Mr. Muhammad will have to contend with, a few upstarts are on the rise, looking to fill their own niches in African-American and urban niche communities. (I don't know how African-American became a niche.) For one, we have yet to to see what will come out of IAC's Black initiative, expected to launch January 2008.

IAC plans ethnic website to cater for all U.S. blacks:

"There exists enormous opportunity in today's online landscape to provide blacks with an experience that engages their unique communities through a collective voice," said Johnny Taylor, the business's new chief executive. [BizReport]

According to sources, there's also something [major] on the horizon over at the newly joined venture between Giant Magazine and Radio One. In an initial press release about the acquisition of Giant by Radio One, Alfred C. Liggins, III, Radio One’s CEO and President stated,

“This is a good strategic deal for us. For a limited amount of capital, we have now established a presence in the print media world and should be able to leverage our other media assets in various ways to increase the likelihood of success in what is unquestionably a challenging, but important, business. Furthermore, I am excited to have yet another relevant platform to help us build what we believe can become a significant online business in the not too distant future.” [Giant]

It's so beginning to look a lot like 1999 all over again.

Bonus: Interview with Tariq Muhammad, Director of AOL Black Voices [BlackWeb2.0]

posted by lynne | | comment () | trackback (0) |

11.19.07 08:03 PM

From 360hiphop to GlobalGrind, BlockSavvy, and DanceJam

After last week's "BusinessWeek Puff Piece on Hip Hop 2.0" and Reuters "Famous names back music on social media Web sites," about new social media sites like the Russell Simmons backed GlobalGrind, the Damon Dash backed BlockSavvy, and the MC Hammer backed DanceJam, I thought it was high time I dig into the archives.

While the BW article is nothing more than gratuitous press, as Clyde Smith of ProHipHop mentions. The Reuters piece has a little more meat to it, though it does take the obvious (read easy) angle of tying all of these social networks together under one united African-American/hip-hop umbrella (and no offense to Yinka on this, we go back like gin and juice and I have maaaad respect for his reporting chops).

Anyway, here are the historic timepieces, originally published on Jason Calacanis' Digital Music Weekly and Silicon Alley Reporter back in 2000.

I'm wondering now how much of the same business models are repeating themselves -- at least in the nature of their USP (unique selling proposition).

Let me know how much any of this sounds familiar...

Keeping It Real: Hip-hop Mogul Russell Simmons Set to Launch
by Lynne d Johnson

In hip-hop culture, it's all about authenticity. Is it real? So, it would only follow suit that when hip-hop aficionados go online, they'll gravitate toward the websites that authentically represent hip-hop culture. At least that's what hiphop mogul Russell Simmons and his executive team at his new-media venture,, are hoping.

Set to go live later this month, 360HipHop is being touted as the ultimate destination point on the Web for all things hip-hop. And that's exactly what Selwyn Seyfu Hinds, the company's chief creative officer and former editor of The Source magazine, hopes will set 360HipHop apart from the slew of urban oriented portals and content-commerce-community sites popping up all over Net. "We are hip-hop, plain and simple," Hinds says. "The way we defined ourselves, from the very beginning, was as the entry point for hip-hop on the Web. We're not beating around the bush. Everyone else is defining their sites differently," he adds.

Another edge 360HipHop may have over its competitors is Simmons' 20-year career as hip-hop entrepreneur. To those who should know (but don't), Simmons is the founder of Def Jam, the hip-hop record label that launched the careers of the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, LL Cool J, and Run D.M.C. He later turned Def Jam to film, coproducing Krush Groove and producing Eddie Murphy's Nutty Professor. His clothing line, Phat Farm, is one of the fastestgrowing urban apparel companies--sales totaled $69 million last year and they are projected to total $150 million this year, according to Simmons.

Simmons has garnered a reputation for having a Midas touch, yet critics contend that he has his hands in too many pots. Not every project he's touched has been successful. The film Gridlock'd, starring Tupac Shakur, and Abel Ferrara's art-house vampire flick The Addiction both flopped. He also lent his name to One World magazine and the Warner Studios-produced One World Music Beat, two projects that never really took off. Earlier this year, competitor Urban Box Office, founded by deceased former Motown executive George Jackson, formed a strategic alliance with Oneworld Media, the company behind the magazine and TV show.

Record of success or not, investors--including Sony, Seagram, actor Will Smith, model Tyra Banks, and rappers Method Man and Red Man-- have all banked $7 million into the project. And a reported $7 million to $10 million is coming soon from another private round of financing from the executive team, including Simmons. "Hip-hop has become the vernacular for an entire generation of music fans. We have not pigeonholed ourselves as another music site. It's a hip-hop lifestyle site," says Rick Holzman, 360HipHop COO and former VP, general manager for "It's primarily a content site, and we have a strong editorial group." Many of the editors are émigrés from hip-hop magazines known for their street cred, such as Vibe, The Source, and Rap Pages.

Simmons says he wants the site to be the most credible voice for the hip-hop community. "We want to be Rolling Stone, not Tiger Beat," he says. His plan is to leverage the site as a brand maker or breaker. 360HipHop's editorial voice will critically assess the fashion and entertainment industries, as well as the politicians. The site will join Rock The Vote in sponsoring Rap The Vote 2000, aimed at getting the hip-hop community into the voting booths.

Some of the site's more noteworthy features include a virtual subway station where the walls are lined with ecommerce opportunities. The subway will allow users to submit graffiti pieces, and when the train becomes eight-cars full it will be retired and a new train will emerge to take its place. Users won't be able to make the train run whenever they want to. They'll have to wait on the platform and adhere to 360HipHop's schedule. Another interactive feature will allow users to trade rhymes in a battle.

Ola Kudo, who is in charge of in-house design, is most proud of the site's use of the iPix technology. With this technology, a camera shoots at 180-degree angles on a swivel tripod. The images are then stitched together on the the site, enabling users to navigate around the image as if they were the camera itself. Kudo plans to use iPix for fashion shoots and videos, and as users click around, e-commerce opportunities and editorial will pop up. According to Simmons and Hinds, all of these goodies have been tested for the 56k user, so whether the average Internet user has broadband access should not be a factor.

Building an Urban Portal 101: Surveying the Urban/Hip-Hop Space
by Lynne d Johnson

Doesn't anybody get it? The Web is not a TV or cable network, magazine, or record label. Nor can broadband content be appreciated by the average 56K user. Yet, most players who recently moved into the African-American and urban landscape with music-based content plays seem to be operating without regard for those basic maxims--and they're suffering because of it.

The space is becoming increasingly overcrowded, and capital is burning up fast. Pink slips and severance packages abound. Sites have missed their launch dates, and others have launched poorly. There has to be a better way to do business--to monetize the Net, so to speak.

Several players are placing their bets on the conglomeration model. The well-financed Urban Box Office got its start with that premise, but has yet to break out of the pack (or to prove that the model will be profitable). Time Warner-backed has yet to launch, but it's already reportedly restructuring its game plan.

Still, miracles can happen. When announced earlier this week its plan to acquire Russell Simmons', it became the talk of the industry--both positively and negatively. If the deal is inked, the question remains: What makes this deal's offerings any different than those of, or, or, for that matter?

It could be the numbers. According to a 1999 Forrester research report, the online African-American market is growing 44 percent a year--the fastest growth rate of any ethnic minority., cited as the highest-trafficked African-American site on the Internet, according to Media Metrix and Nielsen/Net Ratings, has garnered a huge portion of that growth rate in its unique visitors., a subsidiary of Black Entertainment Television parent company BET Holdings II, is backed by $35 million in funding, and maintains partnerships with Microsoft, Liberty Digital, News Corporation, and USA Networks.

While the success--in numbers--of has yet to be documented, Simmons' plan--with or without this deal--is to leverage his relationships in the music and fashion industries to make the site successful. He's already managed major coups in the recording and fashion industries with the success of record label Def Jam and fashion line Phat Farm. Since launching, the site has pulled in an estimated $15 million in financing from private investors including Tyra Banks, Will Smith, Sony, and Universal.

If the two companies merge, they'll automatically expand their reach. Observed Executive Director Omar Wasow: "Moving into the urban market is smart for, because increasingly they are both a black brand and a multiracial youth brand. Currently BET stands for black content, but their music video programming reaches an urban market, and acquiring allows them to extend their TV success to the Web. Still, neither site has a proven business model and, besides ad sales, there are no obvious economies of scale, so enormous challenges remain."

Adam Kidron, CEO of Urban Box Office, said he suspects that a shortage of capital in the space catalyzed the acquisition discussions. Industry insiders report that UBO is currently in talks with, a hip-hop site, for a similar deal.

Still Kidron feels no pressure from the BET/ deal. "Hip-hop is only a small part of what we do," he said. "We've been consolidated from the beginning. That's our business. We have 12 companies already. It's not going to change the way we do business."

"Everyone is learning and burning," said one veteran of the urban/hop-hop scene, known around the Net as Vladtheimpaler. "The music-drive set is waking up," he noted, adding, "You need to create an interactive experience based upon community. The biggest mistake all the ones partnering up are making is that e-commerce is going to make up for burning VC investments. Until they learn to define their audience, thinking on a global scale and not locally--it just isn't going to work."

For now, let's just wait and see if the BET/ deal really comes about in the next couple of weeks, and whether or not it makes a difference. If new-media pundit Douglas Rushkoff is right, and content isn't king, then everyone really has a lot of waking up and rethinking to do.

posted by lynne | | comment () | trackback (0) |

11.19.07 01:10 PM

Hack iPhone to Hear Remote Conversations

Ohhh, so this is why the government and military doesn't let you take cell phones into top-secret areas.

read more | digg story

tags technorati :

posted by lynne | | comment () | trackback (0) |

11.09.07 02:29 PM

Jay-Z VS Steve Jobs

Ok, I know the heading sensationalizes this a lot more than it should, but the story is that Jay-Z refuses to sell his American Gangster on iTunes because he doesn't want the album diced up into singles and only wants it to be enjoyed as a complete album. Amazon is making the album available as a digital download, and many consumers report purchasing the actual physical CD. Should iTunes let Jay-Z sell American Gangster as a complete album? Should Jay-Z lighten up and agree to sell singles? What's really going to matter in the end -- will not being on iTunes hurt Jay-Z's sales? [Fast Company Now]

posted by lynne | | comment () | trackback (0) |

11.06.07 08:38 PM

Prince Goes Copyright Crazy, Oprah Loves YouTube, Radiohead Fans are Deadbeats

Prince is banning all fan sites from displaying any instances of his likeness among other things. Sounds to me like he's a bit too cautious about protecting critique of his artistry. [Digital Media Wire; SoulBounce]

Oprah has claimed her own YouTube channel and even disabled sharing features, so you have to go to YouTube to watch. She even had the YouTube founders on her show, and has also now become guest editor of the featured list on YouTube. YouTube already has huge numbers, but imagine how much more they'll get after this partnership. [ViralBlog]

Granted I was a fan of Radiohead's new distribution policy. Let the fans download the music for however much they wanted to spend on it. Did I think it would be a success? Somewhat. At least I knew it would slow down some of the P2P sharing and rapidshare and torrent downloads. It looks like it hasn't been a good look for the band though. According to stats from ComScore, "Only 38% of visitors to the site paid for the album in the first twenty nine days since its release and of those the majority paid less than £2." If you're having a problem with math, this means that most of the people who downloaded the album, downloaded it for free. [Gigwise]

posted by lynne | | comment () | trackback (0) |

11.06.07 07:50 PM

Salt N Pepa's Here and on VH1


I wouldn't say that I'm addicted to The Salt-N-Pepa show on VH1, though I do have my DVR set to tape every episode. What's been interesting about VH1 and its reality shows has been the ability to cast artists (music, film, TV) from a time not so long ago, that resonates (and deeply I might add) with the 30 and over set.

For years, it's been no secret that VH1 is like MTV's older sibling, but it wasn't until recently that I really realized that Viacom had gotten this concept right. Though I'm still unclear where Gotti's Way fits into the scheme of things. Coverage of his legal woes notwithstanding, I do believe that Flavor Flav, Salt-N-Pepa, Bret Michael, Scott Baio, Hulk Hogan, and Christopher Knight all carry much more cultural cachet than Irv Gotti. People know who Ja Rule is, but Irv Gotti, uh, not so much. And if 50 Cent's trip to Estonia (recorded for the MTV Life & Rhymes show) showed us anything, it was that even Ja Rule isn't even all that globally known.

Anyway, as far as last night's episode of Salt N Pepa, well, I am starting to wonder what Spinderella's purpose really is. How she compared herself to Jam Master Jay was very off base. How can you compare those two extremely different levels of contribution? Should Spin return for another episode, I guess we'll see how that all plays out.

[Salt-N-Pepa Image: Photographs from "The Breaks: Stylin' and Profilin' 1982-1990" by Janette Beckman (Photo Gallery on]

posted by lynne | | comment () | trackback (0) |

11.05.07 12:09 PM

BlogWorldExpo Here I Come

Join Me at Blog World Expo I'll be in Las Vegas for BlogWorld this week, speaking on the panel "Blogging Ethics." Amy Gahran is the moderator. About the panel, Amy writes:

"I plan to challenge the panel with some real and hypothetical ethical quandaries faced by bloggers and hear what they’d do in response — and why. This should allow us to explore the unique ethical considerations of their respective communities. Where do they overlap and diverge?

Panelists include:
Josh Lasser
Christopher Calicott
Gray Dancer
Charlotte-Anne Lucas
Lynne d Johnson
Toby Bloomberg

posted by lynne | | comment () | trackback (0) |

11.02.07 12:14 PM

Video: Jay-Z On Nas' Nigga

MTV says Jay is calling Nas' choice misguided. I'm not sure I know what Jay is saying. He's not bringing his point home as far as I'm concerned. He's trying to say that this album won't deflate the use or meaning of the word.

LL Cool J was also asked about it, and he was quite eloquent with his opinion. LL calls it a good marketing strategy.

I'm still reserving my opinion until I can formulate it entirely. Considering that it's not mainly black people who'll purchase this album, I do have some concerns. On another hand though, I get Nas' point.

tags technorati :

posted by lynne | | comment () | trackback (0) |

11.02.07 11:59 AM

Video: Amy Winehouse - Back To Black (Drugged & Live)

The poor child don't (purposely not doesn't) even know her own lyrics anymore. I love me some Amy Winehouse, but this drug thing has really got to stop. See for yourself.

The video of Amy Winehouse druggedly (or is it drunkenly) slurring her words during MTV Europe Awards taping seems to have been issued a cease and desist. But thanks to Rolling Stone Rock & Roll Daily, we now have the YouTube version.

posted by lynne | | comment () | trackback (0) |

11.01.07 09:59 PM

Martin Luther King III on Blogging, the Media and the Jena 6 Protests

Video of Martin Luther King III talking about the role that African American bloggers and media outlets, particularly urban radio stations, played in raising the profile of the Jena 6 defendants, leading to the massive protests that took place last month in Jena, LA.

read more | digg story

posted by lynne | | comment () | trackback (0) |

11.01.07 09:45 PM

The Day In Review: OpenSocial Bigger and Better Than Facebook?

Let's see, there's so much talk over the past few days about OpenSocial that it's making my head spin. I'll try to come back and make some sense of all of this very soon. But already with MySpace, Bebo, Ning, and Newsgator on board (just to name a few) this is going to be really big. But what exactly is it all? A few links I provide below share screenshots and graphs, but that's only half the story. It's a bit dizzying indeed. It's all about an open API, sharing of apps across sites, and more. The same developers who built apps that made Facebook so popular will all soon be cozying up to Google.

  • OpenSocial - What a Difference a Day Makes
    Today Google made its official announcement (NYTimes coverage) of the networks that have joined their OpenSocial initiative. By adding sites not yet named in Tuesday's NYTimes piece, namely the addition of MySpace, we have a completely different picture of the combined OpenSocial sites compared to Facebook. By popular requests here's an updated chart:
  • Details Revealed: Google OpenSocial To Launch Thursday
    The new project, called OpenSocial (URL will go live on Thursday), goes well beyond what we’ve previously reported. It is a set of common APIs that application developers can use to create applications that work on any social networks (called “hosts”) that choose to participate.
  • MySpace Joins Google’s OpenSocial
    Until today. MySpace and Google announced that the largest social network in the world will be joining the developing initiative by the largest search engine in the world. Google has said that over the past year, they’ve been secretly working on with MySpace to include them in the OpenSocial.
  • NewsGator Joins OpenSocial
    NewsGator was quick to take advantage of the new developer’s platform OpenSocial to create an application for Google’s new partners in the social networking space. Named “Didja Hear!?” this app will let you share and discuss multimedia images and video content. The premise of Didja Hear will basically organize and distribute video and image content between you and your friends.
  • Open Social: screencast and screenshots
    In yesterday's post, I described the new Open Social API, sponsored by Google and supported by a wide range of Internet companies including my company Ning.
  • Charlene Li comes clean on OpenSocial leak
    Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li now claims that she was the source of the New York Times scoop about Google's OpenSocial program, something we alluded to in a post yesterday about a quote from Li being scrubbed from the Times story.
  • Google to open Orkut OpenSocial developer sandbox tonight
    The campfire is burning tonight on the Google campus as the company prepares to launch a Orkut sandbox for working with the OpenSocial APIs. Developers will be able register, get the docs and try out their code on the Orkut “container.” Other containers, such as Ning, MySpace and others, will become available based on schedules set by those companies. “Ning is ready to go,” said co-founder Marc Andreessen. “We are waiting for the APIs to stabalize.”

Powered by ScribeFire.

posted by lynne | | comment () | trackback (0) |

11.01.07 06:33 PM

Update: EMI Digital Album Market Share Up Again

Coolfer music and industry blog shows that a clear digital music strategy could help save some record labels. There's a chart of CD sales vs digital sales by label as well.

read more | digg story

tags technorati :

posted by lynne | | comment () | trackback (0) |


This weblog is powered by Movable Type 3.3 and licensed under a Creative Commons License.