Saturday, December 31, 2005

Seth Godin's question-Where's the "None of the Above" option?

Seth Godin doesn't allow comments on his blog, thus suckering us all into tracking back and giving him link love instead. Well I don't care about the trackback, so I'm just going to answer his either/or question:

"Is marketing the art of tricking people into buying stuff they don’t need?

Or is it about spreading ideas that people fall in love with?

Silly wabbit. Where's the third option: none of the above.

I've probably heard most of the silly marketing and sales jokes.

Like: Q. what's the difference between marketers and sales people? A. Marketers know they're lying.

Or that great joke about a newly dead guy who is given the tour of Hell, complete with parties and hot chicks and free-flowing Cristal. He's given the opportunity to choose between Heaven or Hell, and since Heaven looked a little boring what with the long, flowing, non-hot robes, and choir practice and harp lessons, and Hell looked like, well, a hell of a good time...he chooses Hell. He shows up the next day, and is greeted by fire and brimstone and souls wailing in agony. "Hey!" he cries, "this isn't what you showed me yesterday!" "True", comes the reply, "but yesterday you were a prospect. Today you're a customer."

But I digress.

The question as Seth frames it is: are Marketers liars or idea distributors? Or something. I mean I can't figure out exactly what function is encompassed by "spreading" great ideas. Certainly nothing very active. Nothing in there about creating the idea, for example.

Now, Seth may only be talking about one small segment of the Marketing function...and there certainly are many people who only think of Marketing as communications. Coming from a tech product marketing background, I see a bigger picture that includes product management and product marketing and marketing communciations.

As it happens, I've defined Marketing before in this very blog. While I might have waxed more lenghtily about it in the original post, the definition could be boiled down to this:

"Marketing is the only thing standing between your company's strategy and a tactical reality of shoddy product delivered late to a market that doesn't want it, need it or understand it."

Why do I define Marketing in terms of what it helps you avoid? Ah, you'll have to read the original post to understand that.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Toby's got our 2006 wish lists covered

DivaBlogger herself (and BlogHer Team Member) Toby Bloomberg has collected wish lists from her blogging buddies.

Rather than predictions for 2006 or rating the events of 2005 Toby has asked us: What do you want more of and less of in the blogosphere next year?

There are many many of us who seem to want more civility, more well-cited and contextual blogging (rather than blind opinion and links with no descriptions) and more new voices. Better tools and fewer ads too.

Here is my wish list, but please make sure to go read everybody's:

-Research: if you're gonna say it, cite it. Cite something. I don't even know you, don't ask me to just believe you!.
-Useful and user-friendly tools. That work (and I mean with full functionality) on Macs!!!!!
-'Live and let live' attitudes from bloggers of one type toward bloggers of another. If you don't like it you don't have to read it, and you don't have to write one like it.
-That being said, my personal preference is: more context and commentary, less blind linking and "This is cool(but I'm not going to tell you anything else)" blogging.

-Comment spamming and splogging of course!
-Content theft.
-Mirroring of the exact same bias and blindness we see in the non-blog world.
-Advertising real estate that outnumbers actual content real estate.

What are your wishes?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I'm blushing, and my ears are burning

Two nice and surprising nods from some great BlogHers in the last couple of days. So excuse me while I toot my own horn, and then try to point out something else valuable in their posts, so you don't think I'm sending you off merely to read more about me. (But enough about me, what do you think about me?)

First up: Susan Mernit with a look back at 2005. Rather than make predictions for 2006 Susan is reviewing the things that rocked her world during 2005. Susan is never afraid to call it like she sees it, particularly about gender diversity. It's gratifying to see in her comments that a guy actually gets what the big deal is. He give a brief but boffo bottom line explanation of why y'all should care about diverse perspectives being represented in the tech community. Right on Randy, and keep on singing it Sister Susan.

Next up: Another Slammin' Susan, Susan Getgood, provides a year-end grab bag of posts for her readers. Sounds like Susan is with me on my recent calls for people to simply not give their hard-earned dollars to conferences that don't meet their expectations...whether because of homogenous speaker slates or over-commercialized sponsor participation. Right on!

Thanks, Susans, for the kind words...damn nice way to end the year.

Monday, December 26, 2005

You have a discernible effect on me, Dave

This post is just one example of why I love reading Dave Rogers and his blog Groundhog Day.

This particular post highlights one aspect of his blogging: the poking and prodding of our fondly held delusions. But Dave is not all snark and no substance. He often muses intelligently about language and semantics and marketing and, oh hell, I'll say it, life.

But for today, enjoy his 2006 predictions. Here's the section I'll be keeping in mind as we plan BlogHer:
"I predict there will be more conferences where the same people get together and confer with one another about how wonderful it is to get together and confer with one another, and then blog about how great it was to see everyone.

Repeat the previous paragraph, substituting the term "un-conferences" for "conferences."

Same as above, except substitute the word "camp."

Yeah. Know the feeling. let's try to avoid that.

Speaking of conference advice, another Dave, Dave Winer, waxes somewhat outraged about conferences and sponsorship and commercialism here.

He brings up several salient points.

First being one that has been discussed around the 'sphere lately: who are these conference organizers who want you to show up and speak, but won't even compensate you for your air and hotel?

Second: Speaking slots that are basically "paid for" with sponsorships.

Both of these issues come up again and again. But they only tend to come up amongst two sets of people:

1. People who are regular speakers, but don't work for an affiliated sponsor company, so they are personally hit with conference-going expenses and are sick of it.

2. People who actually really care that conferences become more and more about the same people talking about the same things, because only those people can afford to keep going to conferences with ridiculous asking prices!

I fall into both camps. But there really are a boatload of people who enjoy conferences for their networking and occasional other value, who have no trouble paying for their attendance, either because they have companies or their own way to pay for it, and who don't miss the lack of diverse voices on the dais because they're not really paying attention to what happens on the dais most of the time anyway!

So Dave W. and I are doing something similar: staying home more often. Guess that makes us capitalists who will let the market decide.

Cross Post from Browster: Web 2.0 Developers-I am the dork among geeks!

I wrote a post over on the Browster Blog that I thought Worker Bees readers might also appreciate:

Listen Up Web 2.0 developers: I am the dork among geeks

Basic point: the echo chamber in the blogosphere and in the Silicon Valley tech world is not liberal or conservative, it's The Tech-savvy Echo Chamber. Much as I'm a geek girl wanna-be, I'm really just a bridge type of gal...bridging the gap between geeks and non-geeks.

So, to quote the post: "If you want to deliver an Internet application for mass adoption...I am your canary in the adoption coal mine."

There's much much more (yeah, it's one of those long, rambly posts I sometimes write when I'm in a pseudo-philosophical mood...or when I'm cranky.)

Friday, December 23, 2005

When did this happen?

Back in September I wrote about my geek girl crush, Marissa Mayer and wondered when she was going to be promoted to the Management Team. (It seemed to me that effectively she already was wielding that level of power and bearing that level of responsibility.)

Well, somewhere along the line, and I can't believe I didn't get the memo, it happened.

So congrats to Marissa.

And watch how now the golden girl is getting, um, doubted, to put it kindly, left and right, mostly due to her post-AOL deal comments on the Google blog.

Ah well, that's the cloud to the silver lining.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Because I needed another blog...

OK, it's not really another blog of mine. Who knows if I'll even post there again, but Iw as invited to join this 100 Bloggers experiment. And I did.

And here is the resulting post.

it's not a pretty thing when I let my mind wander, now is it?

Although I am not a mommy...

The MommyBloggers have graciously asked me to participate in their regular game of 20 Blog Questions.

If you've ever wanted to know what I think the most beautiful sight I have ever seen is, or what muscle I flex when I want to intimidate someone, or my personal favorite: What should every man and woman be able to try once in their life?, then head over to and find out the answer to these and a couple more pithy inquiries.

It's not just me, BTW, you can also find out how Jory and SourDuck among many others, answered too.


Technorati: Stop sending my dozens of repeat TSS alerts on my ego-feeds...please?

While everyone else is ooh'ing and ahh'ing over Technorati's new features, which frankly I haven't even had time to go look at, I am going to be the Debbie Downer here.

I may be wrong on timing, but it seems like ever since they announced this big shiny new and improved Technorati I have been getting sent and re-sent and re-sent every Technorati hit on every single watchlist I follow.

Remember I have nine blogs and a bunch of clients, not to mention my own ego-feeds, so I hope you can imagine that Technorati is filling up my RSS reader with dozens and dozens of garbage "new items" every hour.

It's driving me insane.

So, first of all: is this just my own personal hell, or are other people experiencing this too? And either way, how can I stop it without disabling all the watchlists I spent so much time setting up?


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

No women in music, entertainment, science, and technology?

Strike that.

Just no "thoughtful, intelligent" women in music, entertainment, science, and technology.

Says who?

Well, say no one out loud or overtly.

But reading Richard Wurman's conference advertisement cum blog post on the HuffPo this morning, what else can one infer?

I'm not going to say anything more on the topic of this "unconscious bias" that leads someone to simply not see a single woman as worth mentioning in his pimping of his conference. I'm not going to do the math for you on what having only half a dozen apparent women speakers out of about 50 comes to.

Instead I'm going to make a couple of recommendations:

Try Liz Phair. This chick gets the future of music and technology as well as anyone. She is releasing podcasts that feature acoustic solo performances from her home studio. She's speaking directly to her fans and cutting out the middle men. Is this the future of the music business for any but the most mainstream artists?

How about Sarah Silverman? She is turning the comedy circuit on its ear by being "one of the guys." Or is she just showing a side of women that no one wants to admit is always there? The reaction to her reminds me of people's somewhat stunned reaction when MommyBloggers get down & dirty and frickin' real.

How about Marissa Meyer, my geek girl crush? Google's Director of Products is everywhere and her fingerprints seem to be on everything. If Google is the major player in the future of the online world, she is, just maybe, the steroids they're juicing their performance with.

All I'm saying, with all due respect, is that I see a hundred options for beefing up your schedule and making the perspective you present a little less homogenized.

And to any conference organizer out there...if you don't have women on your slate because you don't know so many yourself? Ask a woman. She'd be happy to help broaden your horizons.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Carnival of the Capitalists is up at Coyote Blog

Go to the Coyote Blog to see the week's best writing by all of we capitalist tools.

In keeping with the host blog name, the theme is amusingly: "Sponsored by ACME, maker of fine anvils."

They have kindly inked to my recent post: A Tale of two customer service experiences.

Check out the Carnival of the Capitalists.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Let's be fair, Scoble!

When I attended BlogOn in October I was struck by and posted about the "simmering resentment" I felt, directed from corporate and agency PR types toward the bloggers on the dais. At the time I said:
"I felt a simmering resentment rising to the top, as corporate and agency traditional PR-types got tired of being spoken about derisively, dismissively and derogatorily. I agree with the PR person who said they were there to learn, but that it wasn't really very instructive to simply engage in bashing the attempts of companies to dip their toes in the blogging water.

A couple of months later, here's an example of the kind of knee-jerk business blog-cynicism bloggers engage in, coming, ironically, from one of the uber-business-bloggers, Robert Scoble.

He found this Marketing Sherpa article, offering 5 Steps for Corporations Launching Blogs, and his take was:
"Oh, joy, we’re gonna get more committee-run blogs. That’ll be one heck of an exciting corporate blog, for sure! Hey, Mini, do you agree with any of these suggestions? Heheh! Wrong first step, too. The right first step is to read blogs! Funny, I didn’t start blogging by checking with the stakeholders. Or having any goals. In fact, I still don’t really have any goals for my blog."

If Scoble read the abstract of the article he should have seen that it wasn't purporting to be giving a high level 5 steps to launching a quality corporate blog from a content perspective, but rather, quite specifically, 5 Steps to establish a "corporate blogging policy."

Yes, I agree, they needed to name the article better. And I agree that the article gets a little schizophrenic halfway through. Example: when the article talks about establishing goals for the blog, it does so in the context of what that would mean for the blogging policy. However later when the article talks about deciding who can blog, they don't frame it in that same context: how would the choice of blogger impact your blogging policy?

But those two points aside, the article sticks to a very narrow theme: how to define and communicate your company's blogging policies...not how to create a valuable, interesting, authentic corporate blog.

PS-I do think setting goals is very important if the company is going to invest in blogging...whether they're investing $$ or man-hours. I also agree that companies can and should start roaming about the blogosphere to get ideas about what's out there and to start imagining how they could contribute to what's out there. Perhaps Robert as an individual blogger has no goals. If he was running the company, deciding whether to hire a Scoble, he might think about it a little differently. And if I remember correctly he and Shel had some very tangible goals when setting up their book blog (being an author with a book deal is like being a business owner after all.)

So, let's be fair. When each new story comes out about someone being fired for blogging (and I'm not going to stick my toe in those controversial waters today) bloggers clamor that companies need to be overt about their policies otherwise it is simply unjust to punish bloggers. That's what this article is trying to help companies do. Not much else, as far as I can see.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Tale of Two Customer Service Experiences

Recently a friend of mine introduced me to a friend of his who was visiting from Budapest, Hungary, where my friend had lived for several years. They told an amusing story that My American Friend (AF) would always complain that in Hungary one couldn't get good service. He would brag to Visiting Friend (VF) that in America sales people were more helpful and if you asked a question they didn't just respond to the question, they took you there. VF didn't believe him, and frankly I was a little befuddled myself. (Later, I realized this was because I exhibit the traditionally male trait of never asking for directions or help if I can possibly help it, so I really wouldn't know.)

Sure enough during VF's visit they went to both a Safeway and a Target, asked where something was and were led directly there by the salesperson. VF was suitably impressed. AF felt patriotic and proud.

I recently went to a Best Buy on a weekend in search of gifts for the S.O. Now I know there have been a lot of stories, like this one from Business Week, about how Best Buy has tried to re-jigger their store lay-outs to appeal to women shoppers. I don't know about that. I didn't find the lay-out any cleaner or more appealing than before.

What I did find was that their sales people seemed more responsive and more, well, helpful than before. I was up in video game land and asked about a particular console. The sales woman explained they didn't have any, but proceeded to tell me what date they would have more and how they were handling the process. (Since it sounded like it was going to be a first-come, first-served riot, I decided to pass.) After I moved on to asking about my second choice, she started walking me toward the escalator because they were kept downstairs. I wasn't done shopping upstairs, so I let her go and went back to stare mouth agape at the video game selections.

I am somewhat handicapped by the fact that we (meaning my S.O.) own the PS2, the Xbox and the Game Cube. Too much choice. (Much as I complain about the scarcity of vegetarian choices at most restaurants, I must say I am always the first to have decided what to eat!)

Noticing my dazed look, another sales person asked me if I needed help and then proceeded to recommend games, expansion packs, product warranty add-ons etc. But he executed those recommendations sincerely and seamlessly. He steered me away from one more expensive game in favor of another after asking what kind of games the S.O. liked to play. Once he got a sense of the S.O.'s advanced level of video game geekdom, then he mentioned the warranty program...not as a throwaway at checkout, no, he mentioned that the product I was buying had some issues with pixels dying in the screen, and that my S.O. sounded like the type of guy who would be driven crazy by even a single pixel being down, and this way he could get a full-on replacement even way past 30 days if pixels died. (Well, my S.O. did replace his first Nintendo DS because of a single dead pixel, so this was a no-brainer.)

The he took my impending purchases out of my arms and helped me carry them downstairs and walked me all the way through check out. And I am willing to bet I spent quite a bit more money than I would have left to my own devices.

But, here the significant part: I don't feel angry or remorseful that I bought what I did and spent what I did. It was a pleasant, rational buying experience, guided by a relaxed and friendly and knowledgeable sales person. Could I have bought stuff on my own? Definitely. And I hate to say it, but if I had gone to Game Stop I would have been completely on my own.

Speaking of Game Stop. The other night after dinner the S.O. decided to pop his head into a Game Stop and see if they had any Xbox 360s. We knew chances were about nil, so i didn't even get out of the car. We could see into the shop and see there was one other person in the store.

The S.O. came back within seconds, slightly peeved. The entire sequence went something like this:

S.O.: "Do you have any Xbox 360s in stock?"

Sales person: "No."

Pause. Pause. Pause.

OK, that's it, that's all you're getting from that guy. End of conversation. And while I might not have been the one who had the conversation I can tell you that just from hearing about it I'll be steering clear of that store in future. It surprises me to say it, but Best Buy, big huge faceless box store that it is, is doing a better job and deserves our geeky video game business.

Moral of the story: the experience your customer has today can dictate a lifetime of buying decisions. That's why each one counts.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Carnival of the Vanities #169 up at Multiple Mentality

And MM blogger Josh is my new blog crush because he based the entire Carnival of the Vanities this week around the theme of...drum roll please...Joss Whedon's Firefly.

Sigh. Be still my beating heart (which just goes to prove I'm not a vampire. Wait, wrong Whedon series.)

Josh kindly linked to my post about the recent Backchannel Smackdown.

Anyway, You must read this entire Carnival if for no other reason than to get a pretty good review of the Firefly series from which the movie Serenity was born.


New to blog roll: Presentation Zen

I have been enjoying the blog Presentation Zen for a few weeks now.

Yesterday blogger Garr Reynolds blogged about Harold Pinter's Nobel acceptance speech and how his words about playwrighting related to presentations, and then moved on to work in the Apple 1984 commercial.

Each of Garr's posts is similarly complex, but clearly articulated. And he knows a thing or too about good presentation techniques too.

The above post explains pretty well why we banned PowerPoints at this year's BlogHer. Best decision we ever made.

Key excerpt:

"The "death-by-PowerPoint" approach treats the audience as if they were drones. And if not drones already, at least the presenter can hope with this approach that with enough didactic pitching of data, and ambiguous and superfluous visual material, the audience will become drone-like. In this presentation approach, you subdue the audience, beat them to death. Then in the end when there are few objections, you say that you are successful. You say that your audience got it. Understood it. And agree with it. Look, no objections!"


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

ThirdAge Carnival is up @ the hip & zen pen

Yes, my crazy week of hosting two carnivals comes to an early close, as I just posted this week's ThirdAge Carnival at the hip & zen pen.

Enjoy some fine writing. Some from people you may already know and love, like Yvonne, Jory and Evelyn. One from a guy who comments here every now and then, James, and some you may not be familiar with, like Christine aka Swirly Girl and Marilyn from California Fever.

So enjoy the ride at the ThirdAge Carnival.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Carnival of Computing #6 is up at the Browster Blog

So, one of the two Carnivals I agreed to host this week is under my belt.

Check out the Carnival of Computing.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the ThirdAge Carnival

Friday, December 09, 2005

Backchannel Smackdown continues: Is it really honesty vs. civility?

I've been reminiscing about the days when Tara and I started our little conversation and courteous disagreement about the value of conference backchannels...ah, those were the good old days before a holy war started about Les Blogs, and now in the blogs.

The war started over a conflict between Mena Trott, presenting on civility in blogging, and Ben Metcalfe. You can read their own sides of the story here and here. You can also read the text of her speech here. For the record, not being there I can only offer these general comments on that specific incident:

-Why, exactly, is a blogging conference not the place for a discussion of ethics and civility in blogging? Have to agree with Elizabeth Albrycht that this is as good a place as any to discuss it, and some people's unwillingness to have that conversation reminds me of small children sticking their fingers int heir ears and thinking that therefore whatever is being said isn't really happening. Now, I would argue that a blogging conference doesn't need one "authoritative" figure up there lecturing about civility, but rather a conversation about it, like the one Nancy White is planning to lead at SXSW. But nonetheless the topic is perfectly apropos. (And in fact isn't so different from the Flame, Blame and SHame session we had at BlogHer.)

-If Mena's point was about anonymity helping people avoid accountability, then, although I might not have called the guy an asshole myslef, she certainly stood up and delivered her critique publicly and openly. Likewise all of Ben's "I was shocked, shocked I tell you!" to be called on what he said seems a little bit overdone given his own words were being projected in big huge letters right at the front of the room. Dude, it became public, and you could see it was public. Much as he might have thought Mena was being patronizing in her talk to the crowd, I think it's equally patronizing to think that the speakers should just stand up there like lambs to the slaughter, and have all of these slings and arrows thrown their way, looking all serene like Saint Sebastian or something. [Yes, I just mixed my Christian metaphors. You get 10 points.]

-Side note: exactly what is subversive about the backchannel once it's projected anyway? People's behaviors defintiely change once they know they can be observed by a crowd...some will get more shy; some will become performing monkeys. None of it strikes me as very "authentic."

But the larger issue I'd like to comment on is a theme I've seen running through numerous comments on a number of posts, this being only one example. People cite a false trade-off, "honesty vs civility."

That's the easy way out. And one in which I don't believe. I am constantly amazed at who actually finds the stuff I blog about them and responds, whether in comments or via email. While I may be critical, even sometimes snarky, I definitely write knowing that the object of my post could read it. And yes, that influences the language I choose because I do see a difference between arguments over ideas vs. clashes over character.

What amazes me is when people can manage to turn disagreements over topics such as blogging, business, PR, technology etc. into flame wars. I mean we're talking business here folks, how can it possibly warrant such personal, vitriolic exchanges? If you think people are idiots or evil because they disagree with you over the best OS or browser or comments policy, then you need to take a step back, take a deep breath and keep it in perspective! Oh, sorry, am I sounding all patronizing? with's my opinion, and I get to share it at will here on my blog ;)

There is nothing about this interaction that does anything but solidify my belief that making the backchannel a front channel by projecting it behind speakers is a bad idea. I agree with Shelley that the backchannel is the outlet for people who are not sufficiently engaged or impressed by what is going on with the conference program. By that definition it makes sense that the backchannel is not going to add to the discussion, but rather detract or diverge. As I've said before, I'm fine with people who are not getting their money's worth out of the content finding a way to channel their mental energies and even frustrations. And then I hope they actually fill out the damn post-conference surveys being brutally honest about what content was good and what wasn't. Seriously when I see some speakers on conference rosters again and again, I just know that no one is telling the organizers what they think about their presentations!

When I go to a conference, however, I sign up after looking at the program offered, and that's what I shell out my cash for. I don't want nor appreciate the sensory input overload of trying to follow the session content (visuals and spoken word) and trying to follow a backchannel. And I shouldn't be forced. (Of course, I'm so old school I still like to take notes on paper while at a conference.)

Finally, If people so object to the hierarchy represented by conferences with "speakers " and "audience", then just stop going to such conferences. That'll send a message more economically powerful and with more civility than snarky critiques delivered in a backchannel.

Lastly, I agree with Tara, in the end, when she says: "The only issue I take is that some people take stuff WAY too seriously."

Updated: Here's one more link on the subject, from someone was there. I agree with everything Shel Israel says in this post.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Wow, this version of blog theft is a new one on me!

I just found the most disturbing case of blog theft yet.

Basically I'm used to finding random posts of mine show up in aggregating blogs. Sometimes they make it quite clear where they've pulled the posts. And almost always, even when there's no textual attribution, the link to the post links back to the actual blog the post was lifted from.

Not this site (whose link I refuse to post for real)

This site is pulling in my posts and fedding all the copy into new posts, thus eliminating the need to link to me at all.

But not only that, my friends, if you scroll down the right hand side bar you will see the Worker Bees Blog listed as a "Contributor." (And yes, there they have a real link to this blog, the only one.)

There's actually a second contributor. I have no idea whether that person knows they're a "contributor", but I can say that they are politically in a very different place from me, so you have my worker bees posts interspersed with posts from this right-winger, all mashed up together. Gee, is this the Web 2.0 everyone is so excited about?

Of course there is no contact infor to be found, so I am at a bit of a loss as to what to do, except email WordPress. Except WordPress really doesn't want to hear from people it seems. Their Contact page is more filled with dire messages about how if you send the wrong email to the wrong address the contents will be "ignored and deleted" than with information about how to really contact them :)


Do you suppose my issue is a "security" issue? Because the only other commincations they're interested in receiving are press inquiries. (And yes, I checked the forums, but didn't really see a topic on content theft and mis-attribution.)

I usually save my sailor mouth for my personal blog, but this one is tempting me sorely.

This month's Silicon Veggie

Chronicling my tragic failure on World Vegan Day in 400 words. Check it out.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Carnival of the Vanities is up at Denali

...and quite a comprehensive view of the blogosphere the Carnival of the Vanities provides!

My favorite new discovery: well, just read this post: I'm a Comment Whore. That's an award-winning eyeball-grabbing post title if I ever heard one...I mean you can't resist clicking htorugh, can you? Well, I couldn't.

They kindly linked to my post here about strategizing to manipulate your posting to get more traffic.

Call for submissions: hosting next week's ThirdAge Carnival

I'll be hosting the ThirdAge Carnival over at the hip & zen pen next week.

Here's this week's Carnival, so you can get a sense of the breadth of topics appropriate for this Carnival. Basically it's a Carnival for people dealing with life issues, and focuses on those of us past the age of 40. Life issues can mean a lot of things: health and wellness, life balance, work and career, sex and relationships.

So if you've got something to say, submit it to me and then visit the ThirdAge Carnival at the hip & zen pen next Tuesday.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Backchannel Boredom

Tara is at Les Blogs 2.0 and giving us little snapshots of the IRC conversation going on in the background during the conference.

Although Tara claims that "...the IRC conversation was tres interesting", I have to say that the snapshots she provided only confirmed my existing opinion: have a backchannel, but for God's sake don't project them behind the speakers. (I might also add that I might not have the same definition of "interesting" as Tara.") Seriously I don't think it says much for the program content if a chat about the WIFI being down and the need for more coffee is more fun than listening to the speakers! And I sure hope to avoid spending the hundreds and hundreds of dollars it typically costs to fly somewhere, stay in a hotel and pay a conference fee only to essentially IM with my buddies.

I'm clearly an old-school Web 1.0 fuddy duddy or something.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Newsweek & Technorati: one more way to manipulate your traffic, I suppose

I know that the Newsweek/Technorati partnership is several months old. Frankly I never gave it much thought. Until today, when I noticed a bunch of referrers to this blog coming from the Newsweek site and discovered that I was listed as a blog commenting on a recent Newsweek article. Truth be told, I was commenting on another blogger's comments on the Newsweek article, but let's let that be our little secret, m'kay?

It seems to me that if all one cared about was traffic, one should do the following things:

1. Go blog about every Newsweek article
2. Go check out what is on the front page of Memeorandum and write a post linking to those posts.
3. Find other similar well-trafficked sites that automate links and do the same.

I'm sure there are folks that do exactly that. If we go by Mr. Snitch's description of the 7 styles of blogging, and how they impact traffic, these folks would fall under "Meme-du-jour" bloggers. It's tempting isn't it? You've written some fabulous, lengthy post...brilliant analysis of a trend or deal or marketing effort (we're not talking about me now, this is compeltely hypothetical) and you tell yourself: oh this is far too deep and complex and non-sound-bite-y to get mainstream blogosphere play. The blogosphere likes their posts short and sweet (and preferably snarky about some promiment blogger or journalist or politico or technical guru.) Why don't I write a couple of meme-du-jour posts to drive a little traffic over here, and hope that people also find my brilliant regular writing?

So, is anyone out there brave enough to admit they strategize their blogging in exactly this way? I don't. But maybe I should? Because I don't think there's a single thing wrong with doing that. We all have to choose from hundreds of intersting things to write about every day. Why not write about the things that will get you traffic? I mean, say something original and pithy about those things, by all means, but why should the subject's very popularity forestall your writing about it?

Oh, that pesky little echo chamber issue? Or, the fact that one's motivation for that kind of blogging, so hungry for traffic stats, is likely driven by wanting ad click-thrus on one's site?

Well, so what? If you can find something new to say on a topic, more power to you. If you can't it's unlikely even this kind of meme-du-jour blogging will get you much sustained traffic improvement. And I assume no one puts ads on their blogs because they look so darn pretty. Nothing wrong, again, with having a revenue plan.

But I'm really curious: does anyone out there make this their blogging plan? And if so, have they found it to provide sustained improvement to their traffic? And if so, has this delivered them any benefits over and above higher traffic?

It seems like there are ever more ways to, dare I say it, artificially increase traffic. And yet, I hear the judgement in my own use of the word "artificially" and wonder why I have a tendency to look down on such efforts. So I hope those of you appalled by the very line of inquiry this post puts forth can give me a good reason you are so.

[On a complete and total side note: it occurred to me this morning to wonder whether Newsweek vs. Time is like Coke vs. Pepsi or Crest vs. Colgate. When I was growing up my mom got Newsweek, bought Coke products, and we used Crest toothpaste. I'm still a Coke girl. Until I switched to Tom's of Maine after becoming a vegetarian I was still a Crest girl. And when I pick up a newsmagazine in the airport book store I still reach for Newsweek. Anyone else relate to that at all?]

Friday, December 02, 2005

Not offended by the Geek Gorgeous Calendar...just some people's comments about it


"Come on …. what are the odds they work in Technology… despite what their bio says!"

Gee thanks, Om. Now we know that you really don't think a smart geeky woman can be attractive. Or is it that you don't think an attractive woman would want to use her brains? Not sure.

The Calendar itself? Doesn't bother me. Free country. Bodies are nothing to be ashamed of. Bring on the male Geek Gorgeous version etc. etc. etc.

The Calendar exhibits a sense of humor about its subject. Om, who I'm sure was also trying to be funny, misses the mark with this Geek Girl! (No claims to be gorgeous, sorry.)

This month's extended Vegging Out column

As always the Santa Cruz edition of the Metro publishes a lenghtier version of my Silicon Veggie column from the Silicon Valley edition.

For some reason this month there was a 4-week gap between the SV and SC editions publishing, meaning my advice for Santa Cruzians on holiday dining and travel did not get to them before Thanksgiving :(

Nonetheless, here it is.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Susan Mernit mis-quoted in her own comments section!

Susan writes a post about the recent SF Weekly profile of Craig Newmark.

Susan praises the article, but says it should be of interest to anyone interested in the role of media, since women are compeltely absent from the article. Here let me quote her:

"...a must read for anyone interest [sic] in [snip] and--surprise!--the role of women in new media--as in why are they missing in action in a 10,000 word story like this one?

Yep, one interesting side note here, not the focus of this terrific story--is that every single person mentioned or quoted in it--except for Craig's unnamed girlfriend--is male.

(Susan sez: And what do you make of that? Anyone still wondering why Blogher was so special? I smell the new boys club... or unthinking writers...)

So can anyone tell me why the journalist who wrote the column makes the following comment:

"Sadly, you are right. Few media critics and leaders of the citizen journalism movement are women."


Go ahead, read Susan's post yourself. Tell me where she said such a thing for this reporter to "agree" with?

There's a name for that kind of sneakiness. It's not the old "straw man argument", but there has got to be a name for saying, "Oh, you're so right that xxx" when the person never said that at all.


Whose job is it anyway?

The heat is being turned up on conference organizers, and it's not just me (although I admit to stirring the pot.)

I want to address the most common reason given by organizers for the make-up of their speaker list: we put out a call for submissions, and the women, or the minorities, or the conservatives, or whoever, did not submit.

So let me speak for one moment not as a conference speaker (who admittedly doesn't get around to submitting to every conference I could), nor as a conference organizer (who certainly sympathizes with you that conference programming is hard), but as a conference-goer...who has yet to figure out the magic way to get everyone to let me come to their conferences for free:

Cry me a river, people!

Whether you are a for-profit or a non-profit event, you are asking me to pay money to attend your event. You are positioning your event as presenting the best, the brightest, the most comprehensive content on whatever your subject matter area is. As an audience member I am telling you that I no longer am willing to pony up to be presented a homogenous perspective.

It is the organizer's job to line up the program its audience wants and will benefit from...whether those submissions come knocking on your door or not. If your content is really dictated only by who submits to you, whether that give you a full programming plate or not, then I hope you're charging a conference fee commensurate with that effort, or alternatively I hope you're not positioning your event as the last word on a topic, but merely the words that were kind enough to fall into your lap.

There's no sense getting upset that people are giving you feedback on the job you're doing. And there's no sense blaming either your prospective attendees (read: customers) or some non-specific people for not submitting. Your prospective attendees don't care if it's hard, or if you have to hunt.

Here's a painful example, just so you know I really do understand. (For another example, see this post.) BlogHer got some critical feedback about our technical sessions. Not enough. Some people wanted more advanced material. Some people wanted more hands-on instruction. People wanted more. Sure, we put out a call for feedback/proposals for the kind of technical instruction people wanted way before the conference. Sure there were even 10 modules of Room of Your Own sessions...where anyone was welcome to plan the session they wanted to see happen. But we believe the feedback is valid, and it's our job to fix it. This year we will make more effort to reach out to highly technical women we know and improve our technical program.

You may, on the other hand, feel that that the folks voicing complaints about your panel make-up are just lone voices in the wilderness, and that it won't impact the success of your event. Fair enough. So, own it. Just don't tell me you have no control over your content. As someone you're asking to shell out hundreds of dollars for your event...I don't want to hear it. As far as I'm concerned: that's your job.

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