Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The end of the road and the end of my rope?

I've pretty much had it trying to effectively use Yahoo Search Marketing

First, most search engine marketers know that Yahoo did a system upgrade that resulted in major and long-lasting outages and problems over the last two weeks.

Got a long email from Yahoo the other day about the problems they've been having with their paid search system. Nice email. Blah blah "we're growing". Blah blah "we're sorry." Blah blah "making improvements." It took 'em a bit long for my taste to reach out and get personal with their thousands of disgruntled customers, but the email was moderately explanatory and acceptably apologetic. But here's my suggestion. Yahoo included this as their penultimate paragraph:

"We absolutely understand that any system downtime creates difficulties for you and we would like to hear from you. If you have any feedback or comments, please send us an email at" The solicitation of feedback seems like they're following some textbook recommendation that you have to be open to feedback, but really, what can
customers, like me, say, except, "that sucked" and "get it right the next time." And I think they already know that!

Well, a week of being unable to edit listings probably cost me more than time and "difficulty", it probably cost me money. How about a credit? Shall I email them and ask for that and see what kind of response I get?

But today is the capper. Not only are they apparently incapable of executing a system upgrade without major long-lasting problems , but their normal workings aren't exactly easy and reliable. See, they did another set of system "refinements" yesterday. Here's the message they posted:

"In order to continue to make refinements to our systems that will address performance and availability, we will require a five-hour maintenance period, during which time you will not be able to access your account. The maintenance will begin Tuesday at 10:00 p.m. and is scheduled to last through Wednesday at 3:00 a.m. Pacific Time. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."

As you might imagine the system is completely unusable today. I'm trying to set up a new ad campaign, and am now officially giving up after having them lose data, having pages load incorrectly and then being able to get them to reload properly. If I see one more "ServletException" message I'm going to scream.

That's not even to mention the error message I get after a supposedly successful log-in every single day:
"ServletException in:/] javax.servlet.jsp.JspException: An error occurred while evaluating custom action attribute "test" with value "${! Account.clientOnOffEnabled}": An error occurred while getting property "clientOnOffEnabled" from an instance of class com.overture.dtc.databeans.Account (java.lang.NullPointerException"

I have to click away from the summary page and then back to get the page to load properly, and this was before the system "upgrades."

I'd almost like to think it's just me and some dork-move of mine, because I hate to think that a major company like Yahoo can have such a poor product and keep it alive. (Heh, I guess I should think of Microsoft and keep my big mouth shut?)

So tell me, is it just me? Seriously.

Taking a stand or cutting off my nose?

Be patient, I promise this is a post about customer care.

I have been going to the same nail salon for over a decade, getting my nails done by the shop owner. For years it was just my fingernails every two weeks, and then a few years ago I started getting a pedicure every other visit. After 2 decades doing nails the owner got, understandably bored, and started branching out, learning how to facials, waxing and even permanent make-up (which makes me shudder to think of it.)

So eventually I also started to have her do my eyebrows every other visit.

Recapping: steady customer; years of patronage; growing revenue source as time goes by.

The truth is that around the same time the owner started learning new services she got less good at the nails part. She offloaded a bunch of her clients to other women in the shop, but kept my sister and me and a few others because we'd been going so long. Truth is though that she didn't do as good a job anymore. When she went on vacation, and we had our nails done by one of the others we noticed a difference. But after 10 years we weren't going to ask to switch.


Then earlier this year the shop owner decided to stop doing nails altogether, to work fewer hours and to just do the other stuff...including waxing.

Trouble is, my regular appointment has always been on a Saturday, and once the owner wasn't doing nails anymore she began to ask me fairly regularly to switch to another day because of this or that activity she had planned for Saturday.

And lately she just hasn't been there on a Saturday when I came in and was scheduled to have my brows done.

I'm no Frida Kahlo, so it was never a crisis or anything, but I started to feel a little put out.

And as my business has gotten busier and busier, going to get my nails done on a weekday has gotten less and less possible. I mean, running your own business provides flexibility, but there are limits.

So yesterday when I got a call from the salon, which I couldn't take, and saw they left a message, I just knew what the message would be. I called them back and sure enough my new (and better) manicurist said that the owner wouldn't be in to do my brows this Saturday, and could I switch?

And without even thinking I said:

"No. I think it's time for me to find someone else to do my brows. I am tired of constantly changing my appointment for her convenience. I am the customer here."

My manicurist was a little shocked, because I'm usually so accommodating, but I had reached my limit.

Of course now I'm thinking that it's not that much more convenient to find someone totally different in some different location and make a separate trip. So, I'm probably destined to go back to my own erratic and unskilled plucking. But if I'm going to pay $15 for a service I'd like to not be forgotten and shuffled around almost every single time.

So, standing on principle or cutting off my nose to spite my face. (Particularly apt given the whole eyebrow angle, huh?)

Lesson: you can't take even long-time customers for granted. Just like in relationships we don't like to be taken for granted.

CORRECTION: GM matching hurrican relief donations (MADE BY GM EMPLOYEES)

Found via the GM blog of course.

And it's very cool.

Too bad I already donated to both the Red Cross and the Humane Society yesterday.

I'm just disappointed that Apple hasn't responded as quickly as they did to the tsunami last year. I felt good about being their customer when they were the first (and only for quite some time) company to devote their home page to the disaster and relief. I guess the enormity of the "worst natural disaster in American history" hasn't hit them yet?

So, now I'm feeling proud that I have a GM car (my Saturn ION.)

If you have yet to donate, please consider donating via the GM/Red Cross matching program: info here.

CORRECTION: They are matching employee donations only. Which considering their size is still substantial, but not quite what I thought upon first reading the post. Sorry.

Here's the link to the ASPCA relief page too.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Blogger job Description

Earthlink is looking for a blogger.

I like this job description, I really do. It captures the breadth of skills and tasks that go into creating and maintaining a serious business blog. There's research, strategy, content, customer outreach...not to mention writing skills and technical skills. Now, who really thinks this is only worth $500/month to a company like Earthlink? You can bet it's worth a hell of a lot more.

This description is a good model for those of us providing blogging services. I would add to it that monitoring and metrics are a big part of the job too. Not just what other people are saying, but if they're visiting your blog...and better yet commenting on it or writing posts in response to it. If you say you want to enter the blog culture then you should care about being part of the larger conversation.

At the very least this is good for me because now people will be able to leave their Earthlink complaints on Earthlink's blog, instead of mine! OK, it's only happened a few times, but it's so sad...I hope they don't think I have some in to Earthlink just because I wrote about their blog once :(

Hat tip: Blog Business Summit Blog

I'm hosting this week's Grand Rounds

It's the MedBlogosphere's version of a Carnival, the Carnival of the Caregivers, aka Grand Rounds #49. And I'm proud to host it over at Check it out.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Site of the Week: A new Worker Bees blog

Yesterday I started blogging on a new blog as a co-author: the Blog.

My gracious host is Scott Milener, Browster's C.E.O. Browster is a free downloadable app for IE or Firefox. Browster pre-renders web pages, so when you get a page of search results you can roll your mouse over the various results and get a quick pop-up of the page in question. Over a day's worth of searching and surfing Browster can save you a ton of time that you would normally spend clicking into each page, then clicking back, and clicking in, and clicking back etc. etc. etc.

Now, I'm more of an information shopper, so I find myself using it to scroll through Google search results on various kinds of info I look for every day. But it's also really helpful for big online shoppers...via eBay as an example.

Anyway, I'm going to be blogging about search engine marketing and advertising and general Internet trends over there.

So come on by.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Two new Worker Bees Theatre Discounts

Actually one is a changing discount.

Discount #1: Crowns, the musical with "Hattitude"
TheatreWorks' hit Crowns moved up to the City early this month, and is already extending their run.

The discount is also changing. They are now offering $10 off every ticket for every performance through September 18th.

All the details are here.

Discount #2: 42nd St. Moon presents Cole Porter's Red, Hot & Blue
42nd St. Moon is offering 20% off every seat for every show (excluding Sunday matinees) for its 2005/06 season opener, Red, hot & Blue. Starring Klea Blackhurst, the show opens in four weeks and plays for four weeks.

All the details are here.

But just look at the songs in this show and tell me you don't need to see it: It’s Delovely, Down in the Depths on the 90th Floor, Ridin’ High among others!

One key bit of blogging etiquette

See if you don't agree:

If you write in a post something to the tune of: "so-and-so thinks..." or "such-and-such doesn't think...", then call me crazy you either:

a) extract some quote that shows so-and-so or such-and-such expressing that opinion


b) you link to so-and-so or such-and-such's blog, so people can draw their own conclusions on whether or not you are expressing another person or organization's "thoughts."

Duncan over at BlogHerald does neither in this post where he speaks for the "BlogHer crowd." (I wonder does he think he's citing the thoughts of BlogHer, the organization? Or that he's somehow able to crystallize the thoughts of our large diverse crowd and homogenize them into a single opinion on the topic he's exploring?

But this is par for the course. In an earlier post he somehow managed to define my exposure of what I believe to be the Myth of Meritocracy as a call for segregation.

But at least that time he linked to the post, so people could make their own judgment.

FWIW: my observation is that when people talk about the "A-List" they do happen to only mean and care about the ones in their own space. Thus a political blogger struggling to get an audience is going to be looking at what Kos and Atrios and Instapundit and LGF are doing, and their linking habits. A business and technology-focused blogger is going to have their eyes on Doc and Dave and Robert. So on and so forth.

My joke about the blogosphere is that people always define what makes a blog a "blog" in exactly the way they themselves execute their blogs. I don't grok tagging or trackbacks, so obviously you don't need to implement tagging or trackbacks to have a blog, right? Of course some bloggers don't implement comments, and I'm sure they think a blog doesn't need those to be a blog either.

As to the substance of Duncan's post, I don't see "the demise" of anybody really, unless one equates evolving from being the biggest fish in a teeny tiny pond to being a big fish in a large pond as a demise. I mean I agree with Duncan's basic evolutionary description, but Steve Rubel captures my thoughts when he says: "He's right, but no one should care." Or as I put it the other day:

"Maybe there are tens of thousands of new blogs being added every day, and they might actually supersede the same old thing after a while?"

I mean, let's hope so, right? Or the whole blogosphere will experience a demise!

Oops. I started out with a blogging etiquette tip. But I just broke one of my own. I think it's simply poor blogging etiquette to perpetuate any silly "xxx is dead" memes! And I think I just did.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

When is someone a little too attached to their garbage can?

When they include it in their standard tour of our house when new visitors come over.

Yes, that's my S.O. and his relationship to our garbage can:

He loves this garbage can. I always want to quote Janeane Garafalo in "The Truth About Cats & Dogs" and say, "Love your garbage can; just don't love your garbage can." He shows it to people. He steps on the pedal and invites them to "ooh" and "ahh" as the lid slowly returns to place.

So, why bring this up? Because Steve Rubel has pointed me to a corporate blog even my S.O. could love: the simplyhuman blog, brought to you by the makers of the garbage can my S.O. loves.

The blog is lovely to look at, and actually seems intent on providing useful bits of information. I like it. I think I'll even subscribe to it.

So, my S.O. may love the garbage can for its sleek appearance and cool moves. I love it for its mind.

I'm ready to GoogleTalk...who's game?

So, big shock, Google is introducing GoogleTalk, an IM client that also supports voice.

If you use iChat on the Mac, as I do, you can operate GoogleTalk via the Jabber client that comes with iChat.

Google provides easy instructions for a range of clients that can support this here.

Now, I just need someone to talk to.

There my Jabber client, connected, ready, waiting. I just don't know who to add to my buddy list. I don't know people by their gmail addresses. That's what I gotta do, right?

Anybody out there?

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Why CEOs blog

Or at least, why Mark Cuban does.

Somewhere long ago I read that Dallas mavericks owner Mark Cuban started his blog, BlogMaverick so that he would be able to get his word out without relying on the media, who inevitably took only snippets of interviews and conversations, placed them in their own context, and inevitably told only part of what might even be the wrong story.

Today is a case in point.

I wonder if NY Times reporter Andrew Sorkin is happy to have Cuban publish their entire email exchange, followed by a link to the story Sorkin wrote, with Cuban essentially asking people to judge for themselves whether he was fairly represented.

True that this approach would not work for every CEO, but I find myself wondering what would have happened if, for instance, Carly Fiorina had blogged.

Cross-post: Continuing the "Why BlogHer is not passe" theme

From my Personal Blog: Some press coverage of a recent conference shows why it's more than speaker rosters that BlogHers need to take note of.

Foo-Bar: The realities of exclusivity and the personal invading the professional

I've been reading snippets about both FooCamp and BarCamp.

The former is the invite-only O'Reilly event.

The latter a totally open and inclusive (if you happen to be reading the blogs or on the lists of any of the folks involved in throwing BarCamp together, or read folks who are reading those folks) grass-roots event.

Obviously I think BarCamp is a cool idea, and definitely in the spirit of BlogHer. But even word-of-mouth can be limited and exclusive, especially when there is little time between the idea and the execution. This is why many people blogged about how they weren't "invited" to BlogHer...assuming that because they didn't hear about it until afterwards, that they weren't invited. No, they just weren't close enough to the originators to hear about it quickly enough. When you do not do traditional advertising or marketing, then the news will travel out in circles or ripples. Let's face it, some large number of our vibrant MommyBlogging crowd at BlogHer first heard about the conference via Dooce. Had she not been invited to speak would as many of them shown up? Doubtful.

Still BlogHer was open to all, and so is BarCamp...the amount of "exclusivity" reflected in the containment of event information within blogs and wikis is nothing compared to an invitation-only event.

But, as Mary Hodder points out, it is pretty fascinating to see Tim O'Reilly explain the basic criteria for being invited or not invited to FooCamp. Mary correctly identifies that many people are bristling at O'Reilly's notion of a "bozo filter. Someone who has been at a previous FOO camp, and whom we had complaints about for some reason or another, or who has built that kind of reputation on the net. Unfortunately, you probably don’t know who you are, but other people do."

Man, nothing makes people more uncomfortable or unhappy than to feel that they are being judged...and that the criteria is subjective. But if I wanted to create a whole series of posts based on a "The Myth Of..." meme, this one could be called The Myth of Objectivity...and have nothing to do with journalism.

We all know jerks who still manage to get ahead, but when possible people will shun jerks. Whether we are conscious of it or not we all do an internal cost-benefit analysis when deciding who to invite to parties, ask to work on a project with us, recommend to a colleague etc. We do it. I do it. You do it.

I learned this long ago in another lifetime, when I did summer stock theatre. I was part of the team who produced the nightly post-show entertainment down in the bar. The theatre really made all its money in liquor, so they had we poor apprentices performing until the last patron left, cabaret-style. As the summer wore on we did find ourselves programming in more performances, whether solos, duets or group numbers, from the people we, for lack of a better word, liked. We had a short amount of rehearsal time, and were always short on sleep. We stopped being able to or wanting to tolerate the divas, the unreliable, the forgetful, the demanding, the people unable to take direction etc.

I think that experience was the first time I was on the other side of that kind of decision-making process. And I was a little shocked at, and perhaps even disappointed in, myself for not judging purely on talent. But it didn't change the reality that those other factors were part of every decision we made as a team.

Hey, I don't think people should be excluded because they ask tough questions. Because they dare to disagree. I've been in that position too...the person who told the uncomfortable truth. All the being right in the world didn't make my executive team any happier with me.

But every person's tolerance and affinity for such messages will be different. It's galling for it to be so subjective, but it is. When O'Reilly and his team do their pre-conference cost-benefit analysis and apply their bozo filter, they will have different results than some other team of people. And they may be applying theirs to actual attendees, but other teams are doing it to invite back speakers or sponsors or volunteers.

It's great that there are totally open and inclusive events like BarCamp or BlogHer. But we're never going to eradicate the fact that the personal informs the professional.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

BlogHer Field Trip: Women's Equality Day Breakfast

Lisa, Jory and I are taking a little BlogHer field trip next week to attend the Women's Equality Day Breakfast, hosted by the County of Santa Clara Commission on the Status of Women.

The Breakfast is celebrating the 85th Anniversary of the right for women to vote. Dolores Huerta, one of the founders of the United Farm Workers Union, is the keynote speaker.

After the Breakfast, we're going to be working with one of the Breakfast co-chairs on an exciting project (which I can't reveal just yet) which is how we scored the breakfast invite to begin with. It's about BlogHer and the BlogHer community, and will hopefully create a tool for other to use to BlogHer themselves.

Is that cryptic enough for you?

If you're interested in the Breakfast, call 408-792-2323

Site of the Week: hip & zen online store

So you might call this sucking up to a new potential client, but I call it serendipity.

I've been speaking to the dynamic owner of hip & zen. She has a story to tell that's not so different than mine. She was deep in the valley life and just up and left. Spent some time deciding what she wanted to do, and came up with something completely different.

hip & zen is a store for those that think that doing good does not preclude living beautifully. Featuring products that look good, feel luxurious, and often are recycled, handmade, organic or all of the above, hip & zen has an aesthetic I totally love, with an ethos I can get behind.

And the store features many vegan handbags! Let's just say I would love this shop even if we weren't talking shop.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Excellent, and brief, explanation of why all the "lists" don't help PR-types

Marketing Vox tells it like it is.

But let me wax philosophical first.

All the talk of the Technorati 100 or the Feedster 500 gets so convoluted, lengthy, and contentious, because there are really multiple potential audiences for these lists, and the lists don't really serve any of those audiences perfectly.

Some people just use the lists to surf blogs. They may start with a few of the "top" blogs, follow their links and blog rolls and just ride the wave as far as they can. I don't get people with this surfer mentality; I never have. This is how my S.O. spends hours on the web, and this is why he knows "something about everything" (in quotes because it's one of my standard descriptions of him.) And I mean this is a complimentary way. He really does discover and retain massive amounts of interesting facts by surfing online.

These lists are lovely starting points for such surfers who want to find out something about everything.

If you are a would-be blog reader who has a definite lack of interest in particular subjects it's not quite as useful, because you're left to discover on your own whether the blogs on the list are of interest to you. As Jay Rosen points out about my own Personal Blog, many blogs don't have very descriptive names.

So the lists are a mixed bag for blog surfers. (and that's not even addressing whether using the lists will inevitably trap would-be surfers in an echo chamber and not expose them to new voices.)

But what Marketing Vox is talking about here is a general lack of valuable tools for business-types to find blogs they care about. And particularly B2B types, rather than consumer types. The lists captures those with big audiences and influence...and to get that you have to be writing about something with general consumer interest.

Right now I'm "site-hunting" myself for a client. I'm looking for people talking about financial data and analysis with a fairly limited scope. I don't need people who talk generally about business, or the economy, but rather about investments and banking. And those kind of people aren't going to pop up on lists. (And to pat Mark Cuban on the back: yes, my Technorati key word searches are so filled with splog results that it's hardly worth slogging through.)

All I can do is email some colleagues for suggestions, start with a few blogs and start working through their blog rolls, their links and follow the trail. But at least, unlike most traditional PR firms, I'm pretty familiar with who knows what in the blogosphere...where to look to start finding what I want. I'm better off with my contacts and my bookmarks than with key word searches, to be honest.

But it's tedious, and it's time-consuming, and therefore it's expensive for my client.

There's no point finding it abhorrent that marketing and PR folks want to follow the blogs. A lot of bloggers blog because they have something to say. Don't be bummed that people want to listen to that. There's an opportunity here for someone to make it easier. The Feedster list might at least be broadening our minds about what criteria goes into defining a "top" blog, but it's only part of the answer. The other part is, inevitably, whether the vendors like it or not: going deep, not just broad. Categorization, Indexing etc.

Who will do it (and get there first)?

Cable company hubris...big time trouble

I've written before here and here and here about how much the cable companies do not get either marketing or customer service, but this story takes the cake.

I hope this has some major ramifications for Comcast because it's pretty appalling.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Welcome a new Worker Bees partner: Parachute Special Forces Marketing

I'm pleased to announce a new working relationship with Parachute: Special Force Marketing. As you might guess from their logo and site, they are a PR/Marketing firm that "parachutes in" specialists to deal with various aspects of their clients' businesses. I met Parachute's President Virginia Jamieson earlier this year at the NewComm Forum in Napa. She was a persistent, dogged voice for the non-blogvangelist...keeping us all honest and with our feet o the ground throughout the conference! We've been having a conversation about how blogging impacts companies ever since.

I'm pleased to be part of Parachute's "Special Forces."

Why the A-list can be self-perpetuating

I am cracking up today. Feedster has released their Top 500 thingy.

To be honest, I haven't looked at it; I have no idea how they're compiling it; it's not really my top priority(I know you're shocked given my proclivities.) It could be accurate; it could be not. "Accurate" could have 100 different meanings, depending on the way the list is designed to work.

But what is making my laugh my butt off is the reaction of some people:

"How is it possible that my blog is on the list for August at #56, ahead of Jeff Jarvis, Dave Winer, Robert Scoble and Doc Searls? Something sounds off kilter." - Steve Rubel

"What I find hardest to believe is that NevOn Experimental has a higher ranking in this list than blogs like Silicon Valley Watcher (229), Adrants (254), Nick Bradbury (262), or Jeremy Wright's Ensight (348), to name just four." - Neville Hobson

Oh, the very idea! How could these formerly powerful men not still be the most powerful? We had a pecking could it change? My world is about to slip right off its tether.

I don't know. Maybe some of these people haven't written anything interesting in months, so people don't link to them as much? Maybe some of them are so busy touting themselves that the rest of us have lost the urge to link to them or even visit them?

Or, on a somewhat less snarky note: Maybe there are tens of thousands of new blogs being added every day (per Feedster 500 honoree Dave Sifrey) and they might actually supersede the same old thing after a while?

Or, maybe the list is totally whacked. I honestly have no idea.

But the shock and amazement? That seems divorced from the reality of this ever-expanding and ever-broadening reach of the blogosphere. (And no, I don't hate the's just a word, people.)

Just a teensy bit of arrogance at work here

Mark Cuban is mad about splogs (spam blogs), and he thinks the answer is to threaten to stop indexing Blogger-based blogs over at Ice Rocket, the blog "search tool" he owns. And yes I put that in quotes because despite much trumpeting, I find Ice Rocket even worse about capturing reliable linking data than Technorati!

Gosh, wasn't it last week that a survey came out showing that Blogger-based blogs are not only among the most numerous, but also that they get the most traffic?

I guess people keep visiting all those splogs that have completely overrun Blogger making it worthless to index? Is that the conclusion to be drawn then? If it is, then I guess blogvangelists better stop using that stupid "more people visit than" metric they like to toss around to validate the blogosphere. Come to think of it, they should stop using that anyway, but I digress.

I know it's Cuban's M.O. to be brash. But this is just arrogant and stupid. Find another way to fix it guys. And yes, Google should be ashamed that they've done so little to improve the tool they purchased. Agreed.

But you're really not threatening Google here. You're threatening a bunch of bloggers, big and small. And they have no control over this problem.

Did you hear the one about...

Happy customers are good for business?

I will say but this: Duh.

Also: Derrrr.

Also: No doy.

Also: I refuse to even link to the damn thing.

[Haven't said "no doy" since I was about 10...suddenly I feel young and sprightly!]

Sunday, August 14, 2005

When Comments Become Posts

When I'm about to leave a comment that exceeds three paragraphs I know it's time to just write a post. See, I'm a blogger, I can do that (unlike the vast majority of people who read blogs, but do not blog themselves.

The post in question is this one by BlogHer speaker, Barb Dybwad.

Although Barb admits briefly that all the controversy and discussion around the Technorati Top 100 is "...distantly, it’s about having your voice heard" she generally doesn't get why people care. That Web 2.0 is precisely about the long tail and cutting out the middle man of mainstream media and reaching directly to the people you want to reach.

Barb's perspective is one held in common by most of the people who, in vocal numbers at BlogHer, told us all to make our own list of what matters and to stop caring about these tools like Technorati or any other "popularity" metric.

And I feel I must, as the lonely standard bearer of people who do care, try to explain a bit about why I a) care in the first place, but more importantly why b) even if these tools are only for we shallow few who do care, then they should at least operate as promised and deliver believable results.

I think most people will grant you that linking leads to traffic. Whether you keep that traffic is all up to you and whether they find your site worthwhile once they land there, but linking helps get more people there.

Sure, there are many bloggers who don't need or want large audiences, and they probably can't imagine what the fuss is about.I don't blame them. And I will step right up and say that if I care about traffic or rank on my Personal Blog it is nothing more than ego (this despite the fact that said personal blog is how I got my column at the Metro and how I got pegged to write the blog for the Santa Clara County Democratic Party.)

But there are also bloggers who want to, for example, persuade...really would you write a political blog if you didn't want to persuade? And if you passionately believe in your cause don't you want to persuade as many people as possible? I know I do. That is why I care.

And if you're marketing your business to people who *aren't* bloggers, then sure it'd be great to reach those 100 "right" readers, but marketing is a numbers game, and you really will have to reach some large number to find the "right" ones. That's just how it works. And sure, you can find and email other bloggers in your area directly, but remember, [CORRECTED] only 1 in 5 blog readers is a blogger. The majority are not.

Not only that, but if you're in a business where those people who are deemed to be "authoritative" or "well-regarded" receive offers to speak or write or otherwise pontificate on their subject matter, and if said opportunities inevitably lead to wonderful networking opportunities and actual business (and I believe such opportunities often do) then your livelihood will be enhanced by getting yourself added to the list of authorities. That is why I care.

So even if you leave ego out of it, there are plenty of reasons to care about being noticed, being read, being linked to and being well-ranked.

So, that's what make it so aggravating when the tools that purport to do this are inconsistent at best, exclusionary at worst. Over at our BlogHer site we have a blog roll that is automatically maintained via Bloglines. As far as I can tell Technorati is not capturing these blog roll links in its count. As all the BlogHers import this blog roll to their blog to form a community and to help lift that community up and lend it greater exposure, sure we're achieving the community part of the goal, but that's it. And why? Hopefully not because Bloglines could be considered competitive in some of its feature set.

Probably not, probably it's an oversight or some technical issue. Hell, there was a while there when Technorati wouldn't capture any Blog Roll links from blogs published via iBlog a blogging tool exclusively for Macs.

Meanwhile, people consider this an authoritative tool. People like Steve Rubel advise people/companies to partially judge a blogger's "credibility" by checking their Technorati rank.

So, yeah, I care.

Along with realizing that every bit of advice Barb gives is wise and should be followed, I also believe I have to care about today's tools and how well they work...for my own business, and for my clients.

Yi-Tan call info for this Monday

Like I said earlier this week, Yi-Tan is having us back to talk more BlogHer goodness.

This time the talk turns to MommyBloggers, Daddy Bloggers and male vs. female communications. And Lisa, Jory, Nancy White and I will be joined by two of our vibrant BlogHer MommyBloggers, Mindy Roberts and Jenn Satterwhite.

Personally I think MommyBlogging is the "chick lit" of blogging. As soon as you write about your kids you get this label attached to you...and isn't it meant to be marginalizing? Some MommyBloggers think so, while other say, "screw what it's mean to be...let's claim the title proudly!"

The official Yi-Tan Invite
Yi-Tan Tech Community Call #46 - BlogHer Afterthoughts, Part 2 - 1:30pm EDT, Monday August 15, 2005

This Monday, we'll focus on "Mommyblogging," a term some moms who blog find demeaning and others have adopted wholeheartedly (see our page on Monikers That Flipped and add your own). To cover Mommyblogging and the places it takes us, two new guests - Jenn Satterwhite and Mindy Roberts will join last week's guests, Elisa Camahort, Lisa Stone, Jory Des Jardins and Nancy White. I'll be back moderating. Together, we'll ponder:

-Is Mommyblogging a fad, a tiny niche in the blogosphere or something bigger?
-What does it mean for the future of marketing?
-What does all this say about the man/woman divide? Is there one? If so, what does it do to markets? to conversations? to decisions?

And yes, there are Daddybloggers.

An IRC Chat will be available during the call, here.

Date: Monday, August 15, 2005
Time: 10:30 PDT, 1:30 EDT
Primary Dial-in Number:
1-800-615-2900 (Toll Free in USA and Canada)
1-661-705-2005 (for callers outside the USA and Canada)

Participant Access Code: 778778

Wiki goodness at

Please feel free to forward this note to people you think would be interested in these calls.

Blogger Wanted: Cheap & Easy

A friend recently sent me this Craig's List job posting: Blogger Wanted. She naturally figured I'd know someone who would be interested.

I might, but upon reviewing the description I'm not so sure I want to propagate such a job.

What's that? how can I say such a thing, professional blogger that I am?

Well, this one sounds like the kind of professional job I don't want to take on. See this company is seeking "creative web surfers/bloggers to help spread the word throughout various discussion forums about our innovative gadgets." And what I want to know is: are these creative folks going to be allowed, nay, encouraged, to mention their affiliation with the company who has hired them?

If the answer is "yes", then OK I can deal with that. In fact I perform similar functions for my clients. But if the answer is "no", as I suspect it might be, then let me give you a heads-up. You will be found out. And you will be flamed big time when you are. And I would not risk my reputation in that way.

Just my $.02.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Site of the Week:

BlogHer attendee Ping created a tasty little hack that reverses gender references on web sites. It's called, and I chose it for my site of the week this morning.

I've just noticed that the page is, see the massive traffic my Site of the Week designation drives to sites...they just can't handle it!

But seriously folks, I hope they get the server up again soon because it's a fun site to play with.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Yi-Tan again? Don't mind if I do.

Our Yi-Tan call last week was fun. Lisa, Jory and I went round robin with our thoughts on BlogHer.

And I guess they liked it because they asked us back for more.

Only this time the focus won't be on us and our reasons for doing BlogHer and our thoughts on how it went, we're going to bring in some volunteers and attendees. I won't reveal the guests until Jerry sends out the official invite, but it should be a good time :)

Here's more on these calls.

Excellent response to "Blogging is risky" argument

Oh the Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt! Oh, the Humanity!

Sorry for the drama, but really I expected to hear such cries, or at the very least "the sky is falling" after Jeff Clavier pointed me toward this piece on why one shouldn't blog as a professional (target audience: VCs/entrpreneurs.)

Irony alert: Of course this piece is published in, wait for it, a blog.

Luckily Jeff pointed me toward this as part of his very able and articulate rebuttal to all the Blogging FUD on display.

You know people, including business people, can find myriad ways to shoot themselves in the foot. They can do this with blogging, no doubt. But they somehow managed to do it way before blogging became their channel.

Here's my case in point for the day: George Gilder.

5 years ago he bestowed heaping praise on a company for which I worked, and our stock soared. You don't even want to know how high it went while I was not vested, and how low it had sunk again by the time I vested. Not to mention how low it eventually went rendering those ten of thousands of options that were going to make me rich completely worthless. (Me an many others, yes I know.) Gilder touted that company and several others...none of which turned out to be long-term good picks, most of which became short term good picks based on his newsletter (yes, a newsletter, much like a blog only slightly different channel.)

Gilder then went off the radar screen for a while, for a few years actually. Smart move. But now I've noticed he's back, baby. He's a new darling on AlwaysOn...again making bold predictions about the future of, in this case, television. Somehow he survived the horror of being "publicly wrong."

People will shoot themselves in the foot; they'll be wrong. They've done it before, and they will continue to do it with or without blogging in the future.

It's just a tool people, use it wisely.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Nobody puts Baby in a corner!

That title is a bit of an in-joke for me and my sister, as it's one of our stock phrases (and comes from the movie Dirty Dancing in case you are 80s pop culture-illiterate.) But it also illustrates my conflicting feelings about some recent developments in the ongoing discussions about blogs and metrics.

It all started Monday morning when pal Deb Schultz from SixApart let me know that they were the co-sponsors of a new survey of the blog landscape...focused on reader behavior.

The methodology has been much discussed (and maligned by some) but I'm no statistician, so that's not up my alley. Rick Bruner tries to address the major questions about methodology here.

Several people pointed out to me that in categorizing blogs, the survey indicated that blogs authored by women were the 4th most popular category of blogs read, behind political blogs, "hipster"/lifestyle blogs and technical blogs. And wasn't I, wearing my BlogHer hat, pleased about that?

This led to an interesting discussion between Dana from Pheedo (a man, and in the interest of disclosure, Pheedo is the creator of the Pheedo BlogHer ad network and will donate a portion of their ad revenues to BlogHer), Toby from Diva Marketing (a woman) and me.

Side note: Isn't it kind of funny that in this particular conversation one person was often taken as a woman because of his name, and the other often taken as a man because of her name? I thought so anyway.

-Dana thinks that the fact that women-authored blogs are the 4th largest group read is very validating to BlogHer's mission.

-I say, well, actually, I am not a huge proponent of a bunch of separate lists based on demographics, but rather BlogHer's ultimate mission is to get women's blogs better integrated into lists of authoritative voices by subject matter or topic or style etc. For example, talk came up during the conference of creating a BlogHer 100 as an alternative to the Technorati 100, and that has almost no appeal to me, personally. It would inevitably become as useless as any other broad Top 100 list (IMHO.)

Another side note: I was watching the show Master Blasters with the S.O. the other night (yes, I do make sacrifices for the relationship, who says I don't?) and one of the people on the challenging team was a woman, who they cited for holding the "woman's record for high altitude rocket launches", and the S.O. and I wondered briefly why women would have their own category for such a thing.

But I digress. back to our conversation...

-Dana, cringing in hopes that we don't think he's a "stupid guy" for asking, asks me if that means I don't buy into the philosophy of, say, Tom Peters, who thinks that marketing to women is what it's all about now.

-I spend some time crafting a lengthy response to Dana, but in the meantime Toby chimes in with the exact, succinct point I was trying to make:

"I think there's a difference in a market segmentation strategy and positioning women as credible authority figures e.g., in this case - authors/bloggers." - Toby Bloomberg

Exactly so.

I was only planning to be far more verbose and indeed couldn't resist expounding further:

The difference is "directional." When it comes to sending messages to women, a marketer would be crazy not to consider women, in general, a hot category. (They make or influence a huge majority of consumer purchases in this country.) And much as it can cause a kerfuffle to suggest there are differences based on gender, a marketer would also be crazy not to look at data, if it exists, about women and how they communicate and how the absorb info etc.

Depending on their marketing strategies they are eventually going to have to dig a little deeper or segment their approach a little more distinctly. But unless we're talking one-to-one approaches they're going to have to do some lumping of women together, and they're going to have to hope that their message appeals to a broad enough spectrum of women that it far outnumbers the minority who will feel offended or annoyed by the approach.

But when we're talking about what's coming from women...well, you don't have to wonder about what that particular woman is about...she presenting it to you. And then I think she should be stacked up against all the people outputting the same kind of stuff.

As Toby pointed out to me, I should clearly go for by-the-word payment :)

I would never advocate putting women, bloggers or otherwise, in their own "special" corner. I want to help them get to the center of the room. How do you do that?

Now that's BlogHer's real mission: education, community-building and exposure!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Carnival of the Capitalists is up

I just started submitting to this Carnival. (I know, I know...what a slacker.)

This week I submitted my Myth of Meritocracy post (and this week's host explains that of course networking and community building matter to blog traffic...why do you think he volunteered to host the damn thing?!)

Enjoy the rampant capitalism!

Reasonable examination of blog search tools

There are so many excellent posts being written about how blogs get found and which blogs float to the top.

Some are highly analytical (even if "not rigorous to be called findings") like those by danah boyd and Mary Hodder. Some are more anecdotal, but still have plenty to add to the conversation, like Seth Finkelstein and Shelley Powers.

And all of this talk and tempest around some relatively new companies and their tools makes me wonder why people don't get as up in arms about discussing the algorithms behind general Internet search tools. Oh yes, people occasionally compare their positions on Google vs. MSN vs. Yahoo search, but there's little accusation associated with those comparisons.

Why is that?

Because although all general search tools also use links and relevancy to rank their results, there are some key things the general search tools don't do:

1. They don't amp your results if you agree to put little ads for them in every post (which is what I basically consider Technorati tags to be.)

2. They don't require you to constantly ping them to ensure you get proper rankings. They consider it their job to find you and in fact discourage methods of "gaming" the system.

3. Most important: they don't provide an accounting of the links they are using to calculate their rankings.

Why is this last one important...because it removes the incentive to link to sites simply to get their attention and potential links back. Look, from a publisher's perspective it's great to see who's linking to you. Understood. But it also encourages people to link to the "top" blogs because a) they hope to be noticed by said blogs and b) when someone looks at the top blogs, they can see who's linking to them, and the linker will be on that list...and therefore might hope to be noticed that way too, even if said top blog doesn't link back to them.

The point of counting links is to calculate relevancy. But the results are distorted because the very transparency of the web of linking in the blog community encourages dishonest linking patterns. [On that note, and only half satirically: I have to say that probably the greatest service Robert Scoble has ever done the blogging community is to stop pulling over into his link-blog every single reference ever made to his name.]

I know it's heretical to make any argument for opacity in the blog environment, but a little more of it might lead to more authenticity in our blogging, and in the search tools for blogs.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

BlogHer Goes Yi-Tan

OK, I didn't know what that meant either, but as founder Jerry Michalski explains, Yi-Tan is an invented phrase in Mandarin Chinese meaning, "Conversations about Change."

Jerry sponsors and moderates a weekly call for whoever is interested in discussing change, in all its various forms.

Tomorrow Lisa, Jory and I are the subjects of the weekly call, and the guest moderator will be BlogHer Board member and great friend, Nancy White.

The topic: BlogHer. How it came together. What we learned. What it means (which sounds a bit cosmic, no?)

The three discussion topics I proposed were:
Solidarity vs. Separatism
The Spirit of "Do-ocracy"
The principles of effective management that guided us (feminine or otherwise!)

Nancy has more details on how to join on her blog.

Please do.

Friday, August 05, 2005

BlogHer Backlash? No way! BlogHer Continuation!

I cracked up when I saw this little blurb on c|net entitled BlogHer Backlash.

I cracked up because the title is designed to be sensationalistic and get noticed...which it likely will (want traffic much?), but also because the debate going on post-BlogHer is exactly the same debate that went on at BlogHer.

Only now people have moved beyond anything that was actually said at BlogHer and are taking it to new places, new levels.

Come on, it's awesome!

That whole room was filled with people who believed very different things about the blogosphere. The fact that we were able to air all those opinions out and agree to disagree, mostly respectfully, has people convinced it was some lock-step crowd of Stepford bloggers off to create their own Amazonian paradise.

I do just like to continue to point out two things:

1. There were no invitations required to register for BlogHer (seems to be a weird misconception out here.)

2. The first hour of the day may have been the lively debate, but the next 8 hours were filled with exchanges of ideas, technical education, networking and, oh yeah, a kick-ass time being had by all. bring on the "backlash", to me that's just keeping the party going!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

This month's Veggie articles

Wherein I pay tribute to BlogHer partner Lisa Stone and use a pre-BlogHer lunchtime conversation as the starting point for this month's musings.

Here's the shorter Silicon Valley edition version

And the longer Santa Cruz version

Outing plagiarism

Yes, it was a bit of a thrill to be quoted front and center on the Chron on Saturday.

My brother alerted me with his usual understatement, in an email that its entirety mind you..."I assume you know you're on the front page of the Chronicle this morning?" End of email.

Um, no. Thanks for the deets, bro.

Anyway, following all the post-BlogHer buzz has alerted me to the fact that it's not just lazy bloggers using RSS aggregation to basically "steal" content based on dubious keyword relevancy. No lazy blogger can steal form the big boys too.

I mentioned it to JD Lasica and Evelyn Rodriguez Sunday night, sent them two links to illustrate my point on Monday morning, and before I could say "boo", JD was outing them. Phrase used first here.

Don't cry for them, Argentina. I believe both are probably old enough to know better!

The Myth of Meritocracy

As I've been reading the literally hundreds of posts written in the aftermath of BlogHer, I've been struck by something.

Of the people who actually attended the event, the overall feedback has been tremendously positive. Do some people have constructive feedback for next time? Sure. OK, we know the WiFi was overloaded (more on how future organizers using TechMart should fix that.) We also heard that it was just too much packed into too little time. People hated having to choose sessions, and hated having to leave the sessions they were in. Of course, that's the negative outcome of a positive thing: great conference content, but still it's something to try and figure out.

I have yet to see one person who was actually at the event complain that we spent too much time discussing rankings and popularity and Technorati and A-Lists. Yes, the Debate that started the day for one hour dealt with the game of getting visibility and extending your influence...and BTW: the vast majority of people who stood up and spoke told the rest of us not to care about it. I felt in the minority that I do care, because I feel it's part of my business to care.

The rest of the day was spent learning new ways to improve our blogs, both technically and creatively, spent discussing new ideas and perhaps best of all, spent connecting face to face with other bloggers. And in the conference's aftermath it's been exciting to see people compile and post their "Post-BlogHer To-do Lists." These lists are filled with technical enhancements to be added, vows to improve and focus their blog's content and relationships to be maintained.

What is interesting is that a good bit of the feedback coming from those who were not there is about the whole "Play by the rules or change the game" session. If you read only the posts of those not in attendance you would come away thinking that was the focus of the conference.

And you will find something else: a lot of people who repeat the meme (distilled by me of course): "If you write it (well), they will come." Or, in another words, the blogosphere is a meritocracy. I find myself both amused and bemused by such a statement. What world are people living in?

I have worked in several industries in my checkered past, and I have yet to work in one, blogosphere included, where it was only the best and brightest who rose to the top while the less talented and less skilled were kept back. This was true when I was in the arts; it was true in high tech; it's true in blogging.

There is always some combination of skill, luck, timing, relationships and networking, personal charm etc. that contributes to a person's rise or fall. The Peter Principle is an old concept, which lives today. It's not inherently good or evil that qualities other than talent help a person succeed or fail. But it does explain how that doofus became your boss or how that brilliant person always gets passed over. And the blog world is no different as far as I can see. Does no one else see the irony in people dissing the content quality of the most widely read blogs, while still linking to them and clamoring to be properly accounted for on them? Does no one else know a fantastic writer who toils in obscurity? Are there no Van Gogh bloggers out there?

Now, I can understand why people who are already at the top would love to believe they got there on pure merit. And I can understand why other people would also like to believe talent will win in the end. Believe me, I did my time living in New York being a starving artist...I really really wanted to believe it was a meritocracy. Because you have some measure of control over your own output right?

But when I see and hear someone like Tom Foremski, an extremely bright and sophisticated man, utter the meritocracy line I find myself really shocked. It sounds so naive. And I'm also a little taken aback when he declines to enumerate how many female bloggers he reads because he doesn't think of the blogs he reads as gendered.

It just sounds disingenuous. You can say "on the Internet no one knows you're a dog" but come on, how many people really fake their gender online? I've met in person many bloggers, "popular" and not. None's gender took me by surprise. Blogs do have that whole ethos of authenticity, and gender is as much a part of that as anything else. More pointedly: how many men pretend to be not men? I've known women who de-gender their blogs to be, in their words "taken more seriously." Love to find a man who thinks it would be beneficial to do the same.

My point is that in the real world many factors contribute to one's success and failure. If you care about amplifying your voice, extending your reach, persuading the masses to share your political opinions, then trying to improve in all of those areas is smart. And why people are so threatened that we dared to talk about it is another post altogether. Suffice to say that if you want to have anything that really resembles a meritocracy, then you better thoroughly examine and, if necessary, pull down, those who would present themselves as superior authorities.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I've been remiss, but here is my first BlogHer story

I don't know how Jory did it: how did she, while on a trip to Boston no less, already write a wonderful, lengthy post about BlogHer? Don't tell me it's cause she had a 6-hour flight. I stopped even taking my laptop out on flights it was so annoying to try to work in Coach. (hmmm, did she fly business class? A-Hah!)

I still can't crystallize my thoughts on BlogHer. I've commented on a few other people's posts over on my personal blog. But haven't generated much in the way of pith or depth or any other 'th.'

BUt here is one story from the day that stuck with me, which I posted over at my 42nd St. Moon blog. Read it and you will see why.

A new Worker Bees theatre discount

TheatreWorks is offering $35 tickets for its hit gospel musical Crowns, which has extended its run and moved up to the Marines Memorial Theatre in San Francisco.

The show is now running, and the discount is good for every performance (excluding Saturday nights) through August 14th. The $35 price represents up to 60% off regular prices.

The discount code is 'HATSOFF' and is good for buying online, on the phone, or via walk-up. MOre details and links to more info can be found here.

I saw the show back when it played its original run at TheatreWorks, and my review is here. There are some mega-talented people up on tha stage. Don't miss the chance tos ee them for a really reasonable price.

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