US Solider & blogger Major Andrew Olmsted was killed in Iraq yesterday and left a final blog post

I have run across Andrew Olmsted’s blog posts from time to time, and was deeply saddened to see that he lost his life today in Iraq.

Major Andrew Olmsted, who posted a blog since May 2007, was killed in Iraq on Thursday, Jan. 3. Major Olmsted, who had been based at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, began blogging after his unit was sent to Iraq with the mission of helping to train the Iraqi Army. No official details have been released on his death, but reports say that he and a second member of his unit were killed during an enemy ambush in Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad. Olmsted was determined to make a difference in Iraq. “The sooner the Iraqi government doesn’t need U.S. support to provide security for its people, the sooner we will probably be asked to leave.”

What’s incredible is that he wrote a blog post in case he was killed and asked a friend to publish it:

This is an entry I would have preferred not to have published, but there are limits to what we can control in life, and apparently I have passed one of those limits. And so, like G’Kar, I must say here what I would much prefer to say in person. I want to thank hilzoy for putting it up for me. It’s not easy asking anyone to do something for you in the event of your death, and it is a testament to her quality that she didn’t hesitate to accept the charge. As with many bloggers, I have a disgustingly large ego, and so I just couldn’t bear the thought of not being able to have the last word if the need arose.

You can read the full post here.

Time Out New York: Bloggers vs critics

time out new york cover imageA good read in the December 6, 2007 issue of Time Out New York about the roll of bloggers and the intersection with traditional critics. The article starts with “Opinions are like…Now that cranking out a blog is easier than getting a library card, what does this new panoply of voices means for the institution of criticism?”

Q: We’re at this crossroads, where print and online content are intertwined, and no one’s sure how it will all shake out. So, deep breath: What’s the essential question facing the future of criticism?

A: Alex Ross, music critic, The New Yorker; blogger and author, The Rest Is Noise
The growth of online criticism means that the conversation about various art forms is widening. With huge gaps opening in arts coverage in the mainstream media—in classical we’ve seen the almost total disappearance of criticism from national publications—blogs and websites have allowed the conversation to go on. The essential question is whether critics are doing their utmost to make the art come alive for readers.

Link to Time Out article

Congrats to & my thoughts on what it means to be niche has been purchased by amazon today.

I have spent ridiculous amounts of time researching cameras over the years, and I very often found myself coming back to dpreview for the best reviews and detailed analysis.

What jumped out at me while reading the details on techcrunch, was the traffic #. gets 7 million unique vistors a month ! Wow.

If you showed this site to most people and they clicked on a review, like the new casio ex-v7:

Announced back in January at the CES show, the EX-V7 is the latest in a long – and generally successful – range of slim, feature-packed Exilim models from Casio. As well as an impressive set of specifications (CCD shift image stabilization, 7x / 38-266mm equiv. zoom, MPEG movies and a wealth of features) and a super-slim all-metal body (under 21mm thick at its thinnest point) the EX-V7 boasts a new version of Casio’s image processing engine.

I think you could safely bet that most would people would click back and look for a review that is a bit less detailed, and more of a recommendation than a detailed analysis and inspection of the specs.

You could also bet that most people would think of this dpreview site as “niche” and probably not “mainstream”. But is it really niche at that level ? And more importantly, isn’t the takeaway that the way to grow an audience is to actually go super niche ? How many general, high-level camera reviews sites do you really need ? maybe one or two at most. But it’s much easier to envision a camera review site aimed at hobbyists, another for those who cover sports, a third for new parents who want to capture the first ‘swim class’, a fourth for travelers, and on an on.

For comparison sake: at 7M unique users/month dpreview is only 900K visitors/month smaller than the washingtonpost (7.9M) according Neilsen ( we don’t know if the 7M is Neilsen or from logs — but you get the idea ), and is bigger than all entertainment sites except TMZ (7.9M for TMZ, 4.2M for, and 3.2M for E!)

Aggregators of content, search engines, and social networks may gravitate towards a winner take all model ( still not clear, but perhaps ) — but content may in fact be going in the other direction. Dpreview, dogster, drudge, and of course the explosion of UGC/blogs (those who love the mets all read religiously) are proving out this model that people who are passionate about a topic will find like minded people online.

Embrace the niche ! 🙂

All Things Digital has launched

All Things Digital

Tonight we launched !

It’s the new home home of Walt Mossberg (plus his 2 year archive of WSJ columns), Kara Swisher and John Paczkowski (aka ‘Digital Daily’).

The project was an amazing team effort, and it was a pleasure launching this site with such an outstanding collection of people. As Brian Oberkirch summarized so well, is …

powered by WordPress MU as part of the VIP hosting at Automattic. (Yay Barry. Yay Matt.) The wonder kids at Mule Design did their usual magic on the site. Rockstars Alex King and Adam Tow built it out and added the custom fu needed for all the functionality. Raanan Bar-Cohen and Beth Callaghan made it all work.

I’d also like to thank Tony Conrad and Martin Remy @ Sphere for working on the allthingsd Sphere Widget, and Rick Klau and Don Loeb at Feedburner for their help on all things RSS.

There were countless people who assisted from the Dow Jones Online team, such as Christine Mohan , Daniel Bernard, and Pete Kostakis, and they were especially kind to accommodate our 24/7 schedule 🙂 Thank you all …

Great job everyone, now click over and check it out.