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9c (3k image)austria is known to be one of the most competitive markets for mobile communication in europe, at least from a tariff perspective. meanwhile minutes (to all networks) with prepaid phones have hit rock-bottom:

10 €cents at telering, 9 cents at the new discount-market-based service provider yesss, and next tuesday my former employer uboot is expected to announce hot schwarzfunk tariffs, being the country’s eighth provider. just to compare: a prepaid minute offnet in germany costs at least 35c (at tchibo and schwarzfunk) and most cases around 50c.

prices are well below costs, as interconnection fees to my knowledge still cost up to 19.6 cents (to hutchison’s drei) or 13.8 (to telering). now what does keep telering and drei from buying all yesss-sim-cards they can get hold of, buy truckloads of prepaid minutes for 7.5c each (9c minus taxes), put them in their servers, call their own networks and earn up to 12c per minute through ICF? (and – as a positive side effect – ruin their discount-competitors. so there’d even be a business case for mobilkom or t-mobile.)

and it’s all over town: yesss is supposed to go bust in a matter of weeks, according to schedule. with a little help from their competition, i would assume.

update may 4th: schwarzfunk tariffs have now been announced, they’ll be reseller of telering’s twist15. a tough job, given the low-priced competition.


ratzinger_golf (2k image)anyone fancy an old volkswagen? it’s a bargain – current bid on ebay: 2.5 million euros, and still six days to go. i wonder if the lucky buyer is true on his word once the auction closes.

update two minutes later: it’s 10 million now, looking forward to another amusing ebay – law suit. and i like the note beside the current bid saying “minimum price met” :-))

religion is something i’ll never manage to fully understand.. (via futurezone)

update may 5th: car has been sold for 190,000 euros, about 182,000 more than it was worth. lucky guy. the hightest bid came from an ebay user named “golden palace casino”. further comments needed..?


learned a new buzzword today – “intertwingularity“:

people keep pretending they can make things deeply hierarchical, categorizable and sequential when they can’t. everything is deeply intertwingled.


blufftontoday_cover (8k image)a similar model to what i outlined in my post “an approach to communities for newspapers” is being tried out by bluffton today, a local newspaper from a town near savannah, south carolina. steve yelvington, mastermind behind the website, writes on his blog:

we flip the newspaper site model upside down:

  • everyone gets a blog. not just staffers, but everyone in the community.
  • everyone gets a photo gallery.
  • everyone can contribute events to a shared public community calendar.
  • everyone can contribute recipes to a community cookbook.
  • RSS feeds are everywhere — all the blogs collectively, all the blogs individually, classified ad search results and so forth.
  • for people with windows XP, we’re giving away BT reader, a branded, customized RSS application that fully supports podcasting.

the newspaper’s about-page reads:

some of the content you post on blufftontoday.com may find its way into the bluffton today newspaper. by posting here, you grant us permission to do so.

the most exciting newspaper presence on the web that i could find so far – congratulations, steve. of course a local paper like bluffton today has some different rules to follow than a national newspaper – which i was having in mind when drafting my model. however i’m sure there’s a lot we can learn from this south carolinian example.

more on the topic of the future of newspapers:
» dan gilmore: the end of objectivity
» simon waldman: the importance of being permanent
» dan gilmore: where newspapers can start the conversation
» dan gilmore: newspapers: open your archives


email ist immer wieder lustig. die fahrschule ‘schottenring’ in wien antwortet auf ein mail, das ich an die auf der website angegebene adresse schicke, mit:

danke f.d.Mail !
Bitte die Termine mit dem Büro ausmachen.

auf meine verwunderte nachfrage teilt man mir mit:

Büro hat kein E-Mail !
Das Büro hat ein Telefon und ein Fax – auch wenn Sie verwundert sind.
mfG Schottenring – Team

achso, und ich dachte schon.


screen shot how SE clusty.com would look like with genres
the best idea to enhance search experience that i’ve read about in years: clustering search engine results into document genres, by peter merholz from adaptive path. (somehow related to the idea to separate commercial from informational queries i had once ago.)

for further insight on document genres and how they can be useful in information architecture see the talk (pdf!) peter has held at this year’s IA summit. very interesting.

update: link to pdf corrected.


stoppschild (photo taken by jenny w., free to use from www.sxc.hu)

i stumbled across the AI-game “20 questions” some days ago (don’t remember where) and it stayed open in my browser until i today found the time to play. the first question it asked me was: “imagine something that is generally known. is it an animal, a plant, a mineral, something else, or unknown?” after further questions of the type “can you carry it?” the programm responded with: “i assume it’s a stop sign.” hell, it was! i’m impressed.


some weeks ago i have drafted a concept for a future-proof newspaper and how newspaper can make use of the internet as platform for interaction with readers and contributors. now this approach gets support from a surprising side: rupert murdoch, media tycoon who owns 175 newspapers and a range of TV stations, recognizes the challenge newspapers face in the digital age in a speech held in front of the american society of newspaper editors:

what is happening is, in short, a revolution in the way young people are accessing news. they don’t want to rely on the morning paper for their up-to-date information. they don’t want to rely on a god-like figure from above to tell them what’s important. instead, they want their news on demand, when it works for them. they want control over their media, instead of being controlled by it. they want to question, to probe, to offer a different angle. (..) one commentator, jeff jarvis, puts it this way: give the people control of media, they will use it. don’t give people control of media, and you will lose them. in the face of this revolution, however, we’ve been slow to react. we’ve sat by and watched while our newspapers have gradually lost circulation. (..) the trends are against us. fast search engines and targeted advertising as well as editorial, all increase the electronic attractions by a factor of 3 or 4. and at least four billion dollars a year is going into R&D to further improve this process.

more surprisingly the 74-year-old conservative doesn’t only realise the severeness of the situation, he – or his advisers – also recognises some of the opportunities digital media provide newspapers:

properly done, they are an opportunity to actually improve our journalism and expand our reach. (..) [young readers] want to be able to use the information in a larger community – to talk about, to debate, to question, and even to meet the people who think about the world in similar or different ways. our internet versions can (..) provide virtual communities for our readers to be linked to other sources of information, other opinions, other like-minded people. (..) the digital native doesn’t send a letter to the editor anymore. she goes online, and starts a blog. we need to be the destination for those bloggers. we need to encourage readers to think of the web as the place to go to engage our reporters and editors in more extended discussions about the way a particular story was reported or researched or presented. at the same time, we may want to experiment with the concept of using bloggers to supplement our daily coverage of news on the net. to carry this one step further, some digital natives do even more than blog with text – they are blogging with audio, specifically through the rise of podcasting – and to remain fully competitive, some may want to consider providing a place for that as well. (..) we may never become true digital natives, but we can and must begin to assimilate to their culture and way of thinking. it is a monumental, once-in-a-generation opportunity.

as much as i am astonished by the extent of recognition of the situation i still think the proposed actions only scratch the surface. basically murdoch drafts how newspapers should react in order to survive somewhat longer but i’m missing the point that printed newspapers will have to fundamentally rethink their role in news delivery in order to sustainably take a healthy and stable position in media landscape. i’m not sure if my concept of a future-proof newspaper satisfies these claims but it clearly goes further and is more conrete. (murdoch’s speech via telepolis.)


some years ago, when i was head of product development of uboot.com, we conceived a cooperative pricing model for “uboot groups”, a product that for financial reasons unfortunately never went live. we were supported by johannes zeitelberger and simon reitze from leupold & leupold who helped us apply game theory and sociology to draft a model where a fixed group pricing could be freely split up among group members, awarding “sponsors” with social feedback and having freeloaders stand out as motivation momentum for the paying majority.

now i stumble accross this message by the founder of meetup.com:

who pays? the group’s organizer will pay the fee on behalf of the group. while the money initially comes out of the organizer’s pocket, we’re confident that when asked, the group members will reimburse the organizer each and every month. if you’re an organizer, and you’re hesitant to pay, why not talk it over with your group? you’ll be surprised how quickly people will be willing to pay their fair share.

nine dollars?! to some, $9 every month may sound like a lot for an organizer to pay, but remember, it’s a group fee, not per person. if the organizer splits the cost among the members who show up each month, it’s probably $1 – $2 per person.

reading their FAQs it sounds as if their cooperative model was very similar to the one we planned: fixed group pricing, features helping group members to pool money, etc. i’m very curious to see if they succeed with “our” model!

the first thing they are getting right already: an open and straight-forward communication strategy. reminds me of the move “from free to fee” uboot did in 2002, when the times of free web-based SMS were over. our open letter to the community started with “shit happens” in the german version and “all good things come to an end” in the english one. ;-)

update: typos fixed.


absolutely a product for me: sleepsmart, an alarm clock in the form of a headband monitoring your brain waves and waking you up at the ideal moment, when you’re in light sleep. man, i’d pay a truckload for an alarm making me wake up refreshed instead of feeling beat and knackered every morning.. (via telepolis)

Common misspellings: Farnberger, Fahrenberger, Farenberger, Fahnberger, Fahrnleitner, Fahrngruber, Fahrnberg.
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