Category Archives: Internet

cookie policy

New Cookie Policy

The new cookie policy, as dictated by my doctor, is that I can’t eat any more cookies. Not even the oatmeal raisin cookies that my mother makes that would knock your socks off. And especially not the chocolate chips cookies I get at the market across the street and eat with my morning coffee. No more cookies.

On this website, the only cookies you’ll find are anonymous cookies dropped by Google Analytics for website statistics.

Photograph by Mrs Magic and republished here under a Creative Commons license.

madonna super bowl

Judging By Madonna’s Super Bowl Performance And Twitter, Are You A Crabby Person?

Your reaction to Madonna’s Super Bowl performance, and the kinds of people you follow on Twitter, may hint at whether you’re a positive or negative person. Let me explain.

Watching the wreck that was the Madonna halftime show at the Super Bowl, the first thing I did was reach for my laptop to see what my followers were writing on Twitter. I follow around 330 people, of whom about 50-75 were tweeting about Madonna. Monitoring my stream closely, there wasn’t one positive comment about Madonna’s performance. Not one. Not even a borderline positive comment.

Now check this out: some CEO marketing hack (Mark Ghuneim) from an outfit called Wiredset says that Madonna’s performance had 59% positive, 31% negative, and 11% neutral response on Twitter. How’s that possible?

Am I following very negative people because I’m a negative person (not that there’s anything wrong with that!)? Maybe the people we follow on Twitter does say something about us.

Here are the two Tweets I wrote about Madonna:

Betty White should have done the half time show. #superbowl #nfl

Madonna has chronic fatigue syndrome #superbowl

Did you read any good Madonna take-down tweets?

Without Breaking The Bank, Local Businesses Can Drive Customers Using Discounts via Twitter Lists

This is a proposal for an experiment in Western Massachusetts to start our own “Twitter-pon” list. Most small businesses using Groupon don’t fair well, at the end of the day. But there’s a way around it: start a Twitter list of local businesses that offer discounts directly to customers. Here’s the logic and details:

I don’t get Groupon. Or LivingSocial, or whatever the next location-based couponing site is going to be. And there will be others. Because that business has such a low barrier to entry and the profit margins are so high, if you’ve got $50-100k anyone can do it. It’s not brain surgery.

Try Googling “groupon scam” or “groupon ripoff” and read the stories. They’re not hard to find. For consumers it’s mostly a good deal, but they’re not the ones footing the bill for the discount. It’s the local businesses, often small operations themselves, that have to pay for the discount, pay a fee to Groupon, and pay a tax on the whole thing. Restaurants in particular, because the margins are so tight, seem to suffer when they try Groupon. Ponder this: if the economy was humming along, do you think Groupon ever gets off the ground?

Phone Books, Craigslist, and Twitter

I think about those things a lot, phone books, Craigslist, and Twitter. They’re all different communication tools, but they do have one critical thing in common: they’re communication from individual people that’s aggregated into a whole new thing. What gives the phone book value is not that my friend’s phone number is inside, it’s that nearly everyone has a number inside.

The same can be said for both Craigslist and Twitter: when all the individual communication points are combined, it gives more value to each, in addition to the bunch of posts or tweets (easier to live in a city than an island by yourself).

But there’s a problem, especially with Twitter: while communication can be aggregated by following someone, sometimes that’s both too much and not enough. It’s too much because I don’t want all the communication from someone that has an interesting tweet once a month. BUT I do want that one tweet because it’s a local business and they’ve got a great discount on dry cleaning. See the problem?

The Power of @WMApons, Twitter Lists and #wmapon

There are sites that aggregate discount offer tweets from big businesses (two, here and here), but there’s not a site or tool that slices the number of businesses down even further, creating a group of businesses based on geography that offer discounts or coupons via tweets. Maybe it’s out there, but I haven’t found such a targeted group.

This might blow up in my face, but here’s the idea. I’ve created a new Twitter account called Western Mass Discounts (@WMApons) and along with that a list of the same name. Why do both? People don’t want to muck up their main Twitter feed by following a 100 different local businesses, BUT I think they would follow list of pure local business discounts.

Think of the @WMApons list as a mall full of businesses offering deals. People go to the mall because they’re in the buying mood, and that’s why people would look at the @WMApons list: because they know local business are offering deals there. Remember, living on an island is hard. Better to be in the city or mall where the commerce is happening.

How To Join @WMApons

Making this idea hum like a finely tuned engine is going to possibly require local businesses that want to join @WMApons to create another Twitter account dedicated to ONLY your discount or coupon offers. Why? Because, remember, people want deals. That’s what you want to give them. If you foul-up the list with general tweets about how great business was today, then the perceived value of the list is diminished. The more valuable the list, the greater the number of followers, and the number of potential customers increases. Pretty cool, yeah?

That’s the idea, anyhow. If you have questions or suggestions for tweaks on this experiment, let me know in the comments below. Otherwise, if you’re a local business go follow @WMApons and if you’re a person looking for deals, follow the @WMApons/wmapons list.

Of course, like the phone book, Craigslist, and Twitter, the more people who use @WMApons, the more valuable it becomes.

Photo by eschipul and republished here under a Creative Commons license.

How are you holding back that flood?

How much information can you consume in a day? When your belly is full, can you leave a full plate sitting there, or do you go cold turkey and never look at another post?

In an effort to save the failing mental barricades, today I unsubscribed from the Boing Boing RSS feed. Had to. They left me no choice. Sometimes the information comes down the pipe in such a rush that the spigot has to be turned off.

Over the past 5 days, the wonderful writers at Boing Boing put more than 102 posts in my feed reader. I was surprised at how the content piled up because over 600 posts had just been marked as read, in an effort to get a handle on just how fast they were producing new content.

Boing Boing isn’t the only site I’ve shut out of my daily information smorgasbord. More than 50 other feeds have been pruned because they weren’t either producing enough, or producing too much for me to track. A lot of it’s interesting content, though it doesn’t fit into my life. The priority now is becoming a wonderful writer too, so it’s time to be picky about when I turn on the spigot.

Photo by echobase_2000 and republished here under a Creative Commons license.

How to loose 60 Twitter followers in a matter of minutes

What a drag. I wasn’t trying to spam anyone, market to anyone, or be a pain in the ass; I was just trying to pass along what I thought was a nice story. This experience sort of reminds me of the saying “no good deed goes unpunished”. But more to the point, the lesson to be learned is that using services offering automatic actions on your Twitter account based on keywords is an inexact science. I wrote a Tweet and immediately 60 people (out of roughly 1,000) stopped following me.

Here’s the offending Tweet:
marketing-tweet

It’s a cool story about how this marketing dude helped a homeless man hone his pitch for donations by doing some A/B split testing. Check out the story, I think you’ll like it.

Services like SocialToo (which I subscribe to) gives you the ability to automatically unsubscribe from someone you follow based on defined keywords they might use in Tweets, like “marketing”. But I wasn’t trying to market to anybody! Too bad.

Besides “marketing,” what other keywords would you put on your automatic unfollow blacklist?

Step by step how to use Google Insights to brainstorm writing ideas

I’ve been working on an editorial calendar for a blog that I’ve neglected for a while now, My Weight Loss Struggle. To help brainstorm writing ideas, I took a look at Google Insights, the tool that gives insights into keywords, news stories that correlate to spikes in keyword interest, and geographically where these keyword searches are popular.

Google Insights is a tool most useful to advertisers looking for information about trending interests, but just as easily it can help you discover new writing topics or niches of topics you’re already writing about.

Here’s a step-by-step example of how I discovered some great topics for my weight loss blog.

  • First, I did a simple search for “weight loss” to see what came up. This was just some preliminary exploration.
  • I found too much information. I needed more focus. Insights can give you focus using a few different variables; the ones I chose were date (last 12 months), geography (US only), and category (health)
  • Now we’re cooking with gas! Straight away the regional interest section catches my eye. Here are the top 10 states looking for weight loss information using Google search: Alabama, Utah, West Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Idaho, Montana, Louisiana, Wyoming, and Mississippi. There’s something about that group of states that looks familiar.
  • I look up the median household income by state statistic, which gives us a rough idea of how poor or rich people are in different states. Bingo! Using 2008 numbers, here are the 10 poorest states: Mississippi, West Virginia, Arkansas, Kentucky, Alabama, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Tennessee, Montana, and Louisiana. Get this! 6 of the poorest states in the U.S. are also the ones most looking for weight loss information.

You can’t beat having information like that. In this example it was my curiosity that caused the find. Looking at that Google list regional interest states, it seemed like they were poor. My hunch paid off.

google insightsWhat you can do with this information

Write posts! This gives me some great ideas about post topics because I can now picture my audience. There seems to be a group of states down south …

  • what about weight loss tips for people that like southern food? Is that possible?
  • these are poor states, so many posts about eating healthy on a budget
  • recipes that use ingredients often found in southern food
  • what about finding a guest blogger from one of these poorer states?

I’m just getting started. Do you have any ideas to share?

Give Google Insights a try and let me know your results in the comments below.

Top Photo (CC) andymangold

New Google bike maps in Western Mass [#westernma]

Google is working on something cool for cyclists all over the United States: Google map directions for bike riders. They made the announcement as part of the National Bike Summit on March 10th. They’re working with the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy to include bike trails; roads with dedicated bike lanes; and roads that are bike friendly, though they might not have lanes.

Right now, as best as I can tell, the Western Massachusetts map only includes our regional bike trails such as the Manhan trail in Easthampton and the Northampton area trails (see the Friends of Northampton Trails and Greenways for more info). As part of the beta release of these maps, 150 cities were included (more than 12,000 miles of bike trails). Very nice that the Pioneer Valley was included in the beta.

To find the bike map overlay on Google Maps, search for Northampton, then on the map look under “More …”. There you’ll find the option for the bicycling overlay option. And if you have suggestions or problems with the cycling map, look at the bottom of the left side frame for “report a problem”.

Here’s the Google video promo for the service:

What’s buzzing on the Web [list]

Things that buzz seem to be popular on the World Wide Web. I don’t know why; maybe because it’s a funny word to say?

According to WordNet Search, buzz is defined as any of the following:

Noun

  • (n) buzz, bombilation, bombination (sound of rapid vibration) “the buzz of a bumble bee”
  • (n) buzz (a confusion of activity and gossip) “the buzz of excitement was so great that a formal denial was issued”

Verb

  • (v) buzz, bombinate, bombilate (make a buzzing sound) “bees were buzzing around the hive”
  • (v) buzz (fly low) “Planes buzzed the crowds in the square”
  • (v) hum, buzz, seethe (be noisy with activity) “This office is buzzing with activity”
  • (v) buzz (call with a buzzer) “he buzzed the servant”

So, what’s buzzing on the Web?

Help me out, leave a comment and link with more things that are buzzing on the Web.

Photo of Buzz Out Loud co-host Molly Wood. She buzzes. (cc): Wikimedia Commons

7 Most popular Twitter hashtags in #WesternMA

One of the things I love about Twitter is the ability to both broadcast and narrowcast tweets at the same time. Using hashtags (defined) you can target a locale like Western Massachusetts (#WesternMA). I’ve used this technique to help a client with a radio show airing nationwide target communication to those communities.

Every region develops its own vocabulary. Here’s a list of the current most popular hashtags being used in Western Mass. Note: I’m not including any for profit brands or businesses … they can do their own publicity.

Did I miss any? Please include your additions in the comments below.

Other Twitter hashtag, abbreviation, or initialism resources

Look who’s coming to PodCamp — a newcomer interview

Some of the most important purposes of PodCamp events are introducing and educating newcomers to the world of social media. I’m fairly experienced in the world, but I think understanding how people get to PodCamp and what they get from it is interesting. Insights that newbies give us are how PodCamps and education about social media can improve.

After PodCamp Western Mass I put a call out for a newbie to interview about their PodCamp experience. Jennifer Gilbert (@TheatreChick10 on Twitter) agreed to be interviewed about her PodCamp and social media experience. Thanks, Jennifer.

First, can you give us a little sense of your experience using social media before going to PodCamp Western Mass? And how about since PodCamp?

I have been using Facebook since 2004 and I have been a member of LinkedIn for about a year. I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a bit of a Facebook junkie. I use it to keep in contact with friends, family and co-workers and have also dabbled in a few of its applications, Farmville being my favorite but recently I have gotten bored with it. As for LinkedIn, I had only joined and then did not do much else with it. It wasn’t until just before attending PodCamp that I joined Twitter. Kelly Galanis recommended I make an account prior to attending.

Since PodCamp I have only occasionally used Twitter/TweetDeck. Coincidentally, since PodCamp I have been contacted by one of my long lost college classmates through a LinkedIn message. He is completing his Masters in May and is looking for work. I sent him a message through LinkedIn with recommendations for where to look and who to contact. I also followed up with an old co-worker from an internship I did by old fashion email (the only contact info. I had for her) to see if they were hiring. I ended up sending along this information to my classmate through email (got his email through LinkedIn but it was easier to forward him my co-workers info. through email than having to log back into LinkedIn).

You’re new to Twitter. What brought you to using Twitter and how do you plan on using it?

Kelly Galanis recommended I get an account prior to attending PodCamp. At PodCamp I went to several sessions about Twitter, including about the use of TweetDeck. I haven’t yet found a purpose for its use in my life but I haven’t given up on figuring out how to integrate it into my social networking portfolio, for a lack of a better term.

Can you give us a little breakdown of your experience at PodCamp Western Mass? What did you find most useful? What sessions did you attend? And do you think you’d attend another PodCamp? Were there any people you found particularly compelling?

I attended the Social Networking 101 session, how to efficiently use social media session, a TweetDeck session and the panel discussion session. I found all of the sessions useful. All the presenters were very knowledgeable, and willing to explain everything, no matter how naive the question was (and I had plenty). I will most definitely attend the next PodCamp and I’m looking forward to attending more advanced sessions next time as well. I found Lesley the most compelling. She presented the TweetDeck session as well as being on the panel discussion. It was very interesting to see how social networking can be used so effectively for business purposes. However, I am a civil engineer at a private engineer firm that doesn’t yet utilize any social networking tools but maybe by learning more about social networking an application may arise.

One last question, Jennifer. Social media can be a weird thing, at least to me: it can be a deeply social experience, even though some people never meet each other. PodCamps can break down that barrier, making it easier to meet people you might not otherwise have. How do you think you’ll use social media with people that you know or already see “in real life”?

Right now I use Facebook to keep up with family, friends and co-workers in my social sense and I don’t want it infringe upon my professional life. For professional connections I believe I will end up utilizing LinkedIn. As for Twitter, right the only people I follow or that follow me are from PodCamp. I haven’t inquired with any of my friends, family or co-workers to see if they have Twitter. I’m still not sure how I want to use Twitter in my life.

I’d like say thank you to Kelly and Tom Galanis for telling me about PodCamp!

Who was the master live blogger of the Apple iPad announcement?

I just finished following the live blogging from 3 different sources: MacWorld, the NY Times, and Engadget. Why is this important? Well, if you’re interested in the live blogging of events, this is a good hint at where to look in the future. Until now, I was never sure myself; now I know who’s got their shit together.

First, theoretically MacWorld should have had the best coverage. In the end, they had the worst by a mile. A complete mess. Five minutes into the presentation their internet connection went dead (nobody else had a problem). Because of this, I would assume, they switched from what would have been the best interface to a regular blog page, but there was no auto page reloading and new entries were on the bottom of the page, not the top. A pain in the neck. They had a few images. The text was well written, made better by the fact that they had three people simultaneously live blogging (Jason Snell, Dan Moren and Jonathan Seff). The content was okay (more images, please), the interface made the live blogging useless.

Update: Jason Snell responds in the comments, including a detailed explanation of what happened with their technical issues.

The New York Times did a good job, but their coverage might be different than you’d expect. Not a lot of images during the presentation, but the text is expansive and well written. If you like reading about the event, check out the Times live blogging. In terms of the interface, it’s nothing special: a regular blog page that you’ll have to refresh yourself. At least new entries are posted on the top of the Web page. I give them credit for that.

Funniest line from the NY Times coverage:

I’m cutting out all of Mr. Jobs’s “phenomenals” and “amazings” and “incredibles,” folks. Just assume they are there.

Who had the best coverage? Engadget had the best coverage because of the ridiculous number of clear pictures. Their downfall was the the text descriptions, but this is live blogging of a consumer product roll out, so you want the pictures, right? I think so. But there needs to be better technical specification descriptions. Plus, for live blogging, Engadget had the two features that are necessary: sorting most recent updates at the top and auto refreshing of the page.

Funniest line from the Engadget coverage:

“We have a breakthrough deal with AT&T.” Wow. Some serious sharp intakes of breath here.

Did I miss some good live bloggers? Who do you think did the best live blogging of the iPad announcement?

Pope wants priests using social media, but probably not THAT way

Did you know the Catholic church had something called “World Communications Day“? Me neither. Seriously, who would have thought the church was such a proponent of communication when they’ve been pretty much mum about their priests raping boys and girls around the world. Go figure.

[An aside: if you go to the link above you'll find the official message from the Pope about World Communications Day. The message begins thus: "Dear Brothers and Sisters!". Seriously, the Pope is using an exclamation point, which reminds me of the quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald: "An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke."]

Anyhow, Pope Benedict XVI has asked priests to be prolific bloggers and make “make astute use of the unique possibilities offered by modern communications.” I’m guessing that doesn’t include using Craigslist to lure young girls into sex, as recently happened. Somewhat amusingly, the priest was caught up in a FBI sting operation called “Operation Guardian Angel.”

For more information about the Pope’s social media blitz, check out this article on Mashable, and Pope2You, the official Papal social media site that includes links to his YouTube page, iPhone app, and Facebook app.

Interview: Morriss Partee on PodCamp Western Mass

Coming up on February 6, 2010, a camp is taking place … no, not the kind of camp where you take swimming lessons and drink “bug juice“. PodCamp Western Mass is taking place at Westfield State College, where people will get together to talk and learn about all aspects of social media. PodCamps have been happening around the world since 2006, so I thought I would invite Morriss Partee, one of the organizers of PodCamp Western Mass, to discuss the 2010 event.

Morriss, aren’t PodCamps usually held in larger cities? Why have one in Western Mass?

Being a Western Mass resident for most of my life, I know that many folks think of our neighboring large cities, Boston, New York, as where the action is. I’ve always felt that we have amazing talent, people, business, organizations and energy right here in gorgeous Western Mass, and thought it would be great to bring all these folks together.

What was it about the first Western Mass PodCamp that made it worth doing a second time?

My hope in organizing the first one, along with social media pioneers Tish Grier and Jaclyn Stevenson, was to foster connections among all of our Western Mass talent; to bring together social media innovators such as Jason Turcotte, and Christine Pilch, alongside business leaders, programmers, artists, web designers and so forth. It was totally a success in terms of learning and networking in a fun environment. Everyone wanted to do it again, so here we are!

Can you please explain to people who aren’t aware, first, what is this “pod” business, then what about the “camp” part?

It’s a funny name, but the main idea is that this is an unconference where we all contribute and share our social media knowledge with one another. The “pod” comes from podcasting, and the “camp” represents the unconference, or grassroots, approach to the event. We stick with the name because it’s trademarked on behalf of the common good. PodCamp is an offshoot of BarCamp, and here’s the wikipedia info on that term’s origins.

It’s called a PodCamp, but are people only discussing and presenting about podcasting? Can you tell me what kinds of things people will see and learn at PodCamp Western Mass?

PodCamp was originally about podcasting, but the name stuck even as people became more interested in all facets of social media. We’ll determine most of the sessions the morning of the event, but tracks and subjects that are shaping up include: Social Media 101, blogging tips & techniques, video blogging, journalism/citizen journalism, social media in higher ed, and programming social apps. But anyone who has social media info to share or a session they want to learn more about, are welcome to submit it, and if there is interest, we’ll put it on the agenda!

Who do you think would most interested in PodCamp Western Mass?

Anyone interested in learning more about social media, including business people, educators, artists, programmers, designers, writers, PR people, and marketing professionals.

I’ve gone to a couple of PodCamps, including the first one, 2006 Boston. The one aspect that surprised me the most was the community spirit among people interested in social media. I think social media has sort of an unsocial reputation — these people can only communicate via the Internet — and that actual face-to-face communication is awkward. But that’s not true! At least not in my experience. Can you tell me about some of your good experiences at PodCamps?

I missed the first PodCamp Boston, but attended numbers two and three, and yes, the community spirit is wonderful. I think that’s part of the reason why PodCamp is such a great and important event– we interact with each other from a distance via computer screen all the time– but there’s no substitute for actually being the same room. I’m thrilled that Western Mass has “grown up” in the online social media space– there are many fantastic people who made friendships at last year’s inaugural PodCamp WesternMass, and I can’t wait to make many more friendships this time around! Including, that I hopefully get to meet you f2f for the first time, Bill!

Thanks for taking the time, Morriss. Hope to see you on February 6th.

PodCamp Western Mass has more information, plus you can register for the event. Of course, they have a Facebook page?

Have you ever been to a PodCamp, Western Mass or otherwise? Have a good story?

The worst top 10 lists

I’m sick of it. From now on I’ll be boycotting any “top” list when the content is spread over multiple pages, just for the sake of increasing page views. Because, that’s what it’s all about folks: getting you to view more pages on a site.

Creating lists on Web sites is a popular and proven trope; people love to read lists, no matter if they’re baseless or not. Lists are fun! Take a look at the search results for “top 10″ and “top 7″ (for some reason 7 is an effective number if you want more reader response).

Never mind the fact that you’re probably not any likelier to click on the ad on page 5 of the list. It’s all about increasing the page views so that Web sites can impress advertisers.

Let’s look at the numbers. If 100 people click on all 10 pages of a top 10 list, that’s 1,000 page views, opposed to just 100 if the list was on one page. Apparently the extra bandwidth charges still make this tactic profitable. Maybe bandwidth is too cheap?

What are your favorite examples of the worst top 10 lists?

Here’s How I’m Doing a Better Job Getting My Followers To Read My Tweets

One of the hardest things about communicating on the Web is trying to both be effective (and affective!) and not annoy people taking the time interact with your content. If someone is interested enough to read your blog posts or tweets, watch your video, or listen to your podcasts, you shouldn’t annoy them. Corporations and their marketing messages already bother people too much; you don’t want your communication lumped into the pile of corporate spam.

So, here’s what you can accomplish by repeating some  tweets and how to prevent your readers from being annoyed.

As your list of followers grows, especially beyond people you actually know, I think it’s safe to assume that people won’t read every one of your tweets. People’s Twittering habits are highly variable, but one thing is safe to assume: tweet reading is not comprehensive. You’ll never get all your tweets read by all your followers, but you can increase readership by repeating a tweet a few hours apart.

By repeating a tweet in the morning then the next day evening, you’re likely to catch people with different tweet consumption habits. For the obsesive folks monitoring their streams 24/7, repeating tweets aren’t likely to surprise those folks. Of course, you can only repeat tweets that aren’t time sensitive.

It probably isn’t necessary to repeat every tweet; not everything you write has the same value, therefore why potentailly make a nusance of yourself? Recently I repeated a tweet that caused a negative response, pointing out a problem: I probably repeated a tweet not worth the effort. Here’s the tweet I repeated:

Probably telling you something you already know, but the best wood fired oven bread in #westernma is Hungry Ghost Bread http://ow.ly/Pmdh

I may be very passionate about this bread and the bakery, but by repeating  the tweet multiple times, it made me seem like a shill, even though I wasn’t getting paid for the promotion.

Balance your own enthusiasm with what your followers will be interested in, because even though most people won’t read all your tweets, you don’t want to continuously annoy people that are interested in everything you write. Balance!

What kinds of tweets would you repeat?

5 strategies to build enthusiasm in your organization for blogging

blogging enthusiasm I’m working with a small educational institution, helping them develop a blog that covers their specialized approach to educating students. It’s a great project; worthwhile, their blog could be a hub for writing and resources that I haven’t seen on the Web.

There’s one problem (so far!): finding and motivating regular contributors among the ranks of their institution. As part of my work for the school, I’ve brainstormed 5 ways they can get dedicated contributors on board:

  1. Don’t ask someone broadly, “can you write a post?”, instead ask them “can you write about X?” Ask them to write about their expertise or passion. That way people will give you better work and will enjoy it more. Set them up for success.
  2. Approach people and be ready to answer every “No” they could possibly have.
  3. First approach people that will both be likely to give you a “yes” and be advocates for your project. In every organization there are leaders, if not in position then by personality. Get the pied pipers on board first.
  4. Give the best support you can to your contributors. Develop a tip list for your contributors that will help them write posts: headline ideas, topic brainstorming ideas, and post format ideas. All of this together answers the statement, I don’t know how to write a blog post.
  5. Develop a good “elevator pitch”. It can be a very effective tool. One thing to be aware of: this term is often used around the business world, but there is no reason the techniques can’t be used in any number of settings. The idea is to deliver a summary of your blog in 30 seconds, in such a way that the pitchee then asks you to talk more about the project. Because you’ve created interest about your project, they’ll want to know more.

I’m sure there are other effective ways to get contributors to your blog on board. How have you done it?

Shovel ready Web design projects

Warning: Politician Ahead!!!
Creative Commons License photo credit: The Rocketeer

Talking to a potential client this week and assessing the two different Web design projects he wanted to do, I suggested first working on a nice, basic redesign of his main business site. That site was in desperate need of a design (it doesn’t currently have a design to re-design!), and as I told him, his business site was “shovel ready” for a Web designer to start work, while his other projects would require me to wait for him to write some content and collect assets.

In terms of any economic stimulus package here in the States, we’ve heard a lot about the federal government looking to fund “shovel ready” projects, so what the hell was I trying to say to my client about his site being shovel ready for a new Web design?

While his current site is a mess in terms of design and usability, I can also recognize that the site has a bunch of great content—text and some images—that just needs to be shaped with a nice Web design. I wouldn’t have to wait for him to write any content; it’s all there!

That’s shovel ready for a Web designer: all the content is waiting, just agree on the list of deliver-ables, and the project is good to go. I’ve found many potential clients aren’t ready for a designer to step in because they don’t have their content together, and some even think me writing the content is part of the package. Give me a shovel ready Web site any day!

Transparancy at whitehouse.gov – look at the robots file

Does this mean more transparancy in our government, the fact that the Obama administration has a one line exclusion for the robots file? What, you don’t remember the infinite robots file Bush had? The robots file, which tells search engines what files or directorys not to index (meaning you would never find that information in search engines), was about 2400 lines under the Bush administration.

Let the searching begin!

Cuil is not cool

cuil screen grab of a search for bill weye

cuil screen grab of a search for bill weye

I didn’t find Cuil cool at all. After reading about this new search engine from alumni from Google, I thought I would take Cuil for a spin by searching for my name, Bill Weye. Well, you can see a screen grab of the search results to the right.

The first thing you’ll notice in these search results are the images. How do they get there? Who knows . . . you would think that Cuil has some cool technology to find an image of me, which it places along side the result for my website, which you’re reading, but that image isn’t me! It doesn’t even look like me. And as for those other images, I don’t know anything about them. They don’t make any sense to me.

Besides the images, the search results are pretty much shit. They’ve got some spam blog that steals my content as one of their top results. In no way do their results come close to searching Google, or Yahoo! for me. Which one is better, Google or Yahoo!? I’d say they’re about the same; the resutls are a little different, but either one works pretty well.