Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Interview with NCWIT: Love, passion, beauty and poetry in social media

A couple of weeks ago Lucy Sanders, CEO and Co-Founder of the National Center for Women & Information Technology and NCWIT founding board member Larry Nelson interviewed me about social media, BlogHer and entrepreneurship. it will eventually be on the NCWIT site as part of their series on Entrepreneurial "Heroes", but for now it's posted on the W3W3 network. [Blog post] [MP3]

I'm actually really pleased with the's a pretty comprehensive look at my background and philosophy!

Up until about the 5 minute mark it's about BlogHer, then at the 5 minute mark I launch into my description about why social media, including blogs and Twitter, is so powerful and important. That's where I talk about love, passion, beauty and poetry!

Larry and Lucy asked some interesting questions about what has been "hard", about "balance" and even about the future...and I enjoyed waxing verbose about it all.

The whole interview is about 24 minutes long, so please check it out here.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

BlogHer releases second annual Women and Social Media Study

This morning BlogHer released our second annual Women and Social Media Study, this year working again with Compass Partners and also with iVillage, to take a more granular look at how women are using social media tools...including blogs, message boards and forums, social network sites like Facebook and MySpace and status updating tools like Twitter.

The press release is here (and the headline of course provides a clue about one of the main differences between how we use these tools:
BlogHer Finds Women Online Twice As Likely To Use Blogs Over Social Networking Sites As Trusted Source of Information

The executive summary of the entire Study is here:
2009 Women and Social Media Study by BlogHer, iVillage and Compass Partners

My BlogHer post introducing it is here:
BlogHer Releases Second Annual Women and Social Media Study: It's all about you!

Look forward to everyone's thoughts. Forgive my bias, but I find the data pretty fascinating :)

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Serendipitous alignment: A Twitter Book and "Whuffie Math"

This morning I participated in a fun project Marketing Diva Toby Bloomberg is wrangling: A Twitter book. She is interviewing various social media types about various aspects of the social media space, and asking them to provide their responses in the form of a series of tweets. We interviewees are numbering our tweets and including the hash tag #smgps, and from that she is pulling together the content.

Toby asked me to answer the question: What would make for a good blogger relations program, from the blogger's perspective?

You can find my thread here.

Amongst my tweets, I made the following points I make whenever I speak to any audience of marketers:

  • ElisaC: Forget “A-List”. Find *your* List…30 bloggers who care abt what you do, who write abt what you do & who don’t mind being pitched! 5 #smgps
    about 9 hours ago from TweetDeck · Reply · View Tweet

  • ElisaC: Bloggers make it easier to figure out who they are, yet few marketers bother to invest the time. They’re obsessed with the “A-List” 4 #smgps
    about 9 hours ago from TweetDeck · Reply · View Tweet

I sing this tune all the time. I sing it because back in my consultancy days I heard, pretty much every time, "can you get us covered by Boing Boing? or Dooce?" It's like they visited that completely useless dinosaur, the Technorati Top 100, and decided that was all that mattered.

But it so does not matter.

And then I read a past from BlogBuddy Tara Hunt today, entitled: Whuffie Math.

She is singing my tune with a hilarious story that is also absolutely spot-on, boiling down to this:
So, I could send the book to 20 influential types and probably even get one or two of them to read it. Then blog about it? [snip] So, if I add it up, the sum total of possible blog posts here is 0, which leads to the reach of…0.

However, of those that answered my tweet and asked for a book are actually looking forward to the book. This group is busy, too. Career and lives get in the way, so I probably will see about half of them able to actually get to reading the book in the near future. And, as blog posts fall off from reading, Maybe 5 of them will actually get around to posting something. Say, their collective readers are somewhere around 500 - and that number is really conservative, since most blog posts will see long term hits, even those with a low readership (I will also do my best to drive people to those posts). Adding this column up, I see a sum total of possible ‘eyeballs’ reading about the book being 500.

And from the test earlier, 500 is greater than 0.

Yes. Exactly. Read her whole post. I obviously only excerpted a small, valuable chunk, but there are more valuable chunks to be read. And I agree with them all.

Today our philosophies serendipitously aligned!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Quick links: Other smart folks on the whole AP/WSJ "bloggers and Google are parasites" kerfuffle

I already shared my own rant about the short-sightedness the traditioanl media has been showing of late. But far be it from me to not share the love with some other fine rants on the same topic:

Erick Schonfeld of Tech Crunch wrote this right-to-the-point post: That Whining Sound You Hear Is The Death Wheeze Of Newspapers.

Favorite excerpt:
The worst part about their whining is that it is completely hypocritical. While newspaper chiefs are complaining in public about Google, their editorial departments are sprouting blogs and their technology departments are using every SEO trick in the book to make sure their articles show up in Google searches and Google News.

Erick also points us to another awesome post from Danny Sullivan of Search Engineland: Google's Love For Newspapers & How Little They Appreciate It.

Favorite excerpt:
Perhaps all the papers should get together like Anthony Moor of the Dallas Morning News suggests in the same article:

"I wish newspapers could act together to negotiate better terms with companies like Google. Better yet, what would happen if we all turned our sites off to search engines for a week? By creating scarcity, we might finally get fair value for the work we do."

Please do this, Anthony. Please get all your newspaper colleagues to agree to a national "Just say no to Google" week. I beg you, please do it. Then I can see if these things I think will happen do happen:

  • Papers go "oh shit," we really get a lot of traffic from Google for free, and we actually do earn something off those page views
  • Papers go "oh shit," turns out people can find news from other sources
  • Papers go "oh shit," being out of Google didn't magically solve all our other problems overnight, but now we have no one else to blame.
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    Saturday, April 11, 2009

    So simple *who* can use it?

    Have to stop and applaud Stacey Higginbotham's post for GigaOm entitled Let’s Stop Confusing Moms With Technology-Fearing Simpletons.

    Arguments in the comments aside on whether this is referring to gender, generation or time impoverishment, I hear this facile question along the lines of "is it simple enough that your mom could use it?" all the time. I, most of the time, shout out from my seat "Or your dad?" Most people ignore the crazy lady when she dares to speak from the audience like that.

    I think it's a combination of gender and age stereotyping, personally. When someone says this, they're typically thinking about their mom, not the fact that they themselves or their peers could be moms.

    But even this kind of age stereotyping needs to stop. While premier elderblogger Ronni Bennett might be surprised that numbers of boomer and older blog readers and writers aren't even higher, both the latest Pew report and BlogHer's own benchmark study from last year indicate that the over-45 crowd is adopting new communications and media technology very nicely, thank you.

    So, yes, let's put this old saw to rest.

    If you mean that your hardware, software or online app has handled accessibility issues well, so your friends with visual impairments or less-than nimble hands or other similar physical challenges can use it with no problem...just say so.

    If you mean that you have created a tool that doesn't require intimate knowledge of HTML, CSS, PHP or other languages or technologies that people of all ages know nothing about...just say so.

    If you mean that your tool or product has measurable value for someone whose life and livelihood does not require them to be online or even on a computer all day...just say so.

    Just don't talk about my momma!

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    Thursday, April 09, 2009

    Are the folks who run the AP and WSJ stupid, or just irrationally blinded by fear?

    ...or do they believe that old saw that "any press is good press", even press that makes you look hopelessly out of touch?

    The latest in kerfuffle comes as various honchos from a couple of mainstream media sources say they are "mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore" that news "aggregator sites" are linking to them without compensating them.

    Those aggregator sites include Google News and TechMeme.

    Now, both Google and Techmeme are capable of defending themselves:

    Gabe Rivera quite rightly states:

    "All successful Web publishers want their content quoted and linked," Rivera wrote in an e-mail to CNET News. "The benefits are clear. Some prefer that the quotes remain short...these are precisely the kind that Google and Techmeme use. So for AP and News Corp. to discourage quoting is a clue that they don't really get the Web and are in danger of shooting themselves in the foot."

    Of course key phrase is "successful Web publishers". Do some of these complainers qualify?

    Meanwhile Google takes a legalistic approach in their blog:
    In the U.S., the doctrine of fair use enshrined in the US Copyright Act allows us to show snippets and links. The fair use doctrine protects transformative uses of content, such as indexing to make it easier to find [pdf]. Even though the Copyright Act does not grant a copyright owner a veto over such uses, it is our policy to allow any rightsholder, in this case newspaper or wire service, to remove their content from our index -- all they have to do is ask us or implement simple technical standards such as robots.txt or metatags.

    Not to mention that they can track exactly how many millions of clicks per month they send to newspaper and other contact sites.

    What really bugs me about the out-of-touch statements from the folks at AP and WSJ is that they purport to understand the motivations of the user, whether casual reader or blogger. But I've seen no data (unlike Google and its billion clicks to content sites a month).

    The WSJ's Robert Thomson states:
    "Google encourages promiscuity -- and shamelessly so -- and therefore a significant proportion of their users don't necessarily associate that content with the creator."

    Where is your data Mr Thomson?

    Because this promiscuous user is actually quite well aware of where I click and who is responsible for the content. And I would probably never read your content if I wasn't directed to it by Google or Techmeme or other blogs, etc. How's that surviving via subscriptions thing going? Not so good, right...because you can't get enough people to subscribe to pay your bills. Do you think if you remove your content from these so-called aggregator sites all those people who click to you via those sites will magically realize they can't live without you and subscribe? Or pay for your site's content?

    Think. Again.

    And ask the NY Times how NY Times Select went for them.

    You can complain about how we've been "socialised" -- wrongly you believe -- that content should be free, or you can fix your model without penalizing sites that are more likely helping you than hurting you.

    Meanwhile, this is what the chairman of the AP thinks about me, the blogger:

    "We can no longer stand by and watch others walk off with our work under misguided legal theories. We are mad as hell, and we are not going to take it any more."

    "Misguided legal theories". Would that be fair use to which he is referring?

    Of course, this isn't the first time the AP has talked big about cracking down about linking and excerpting. The same thing went on last June...targeting bloggers, not "aggregators". You can read how well that went on this BlogHer post by Kim Pearson. I love this part of her smart report:
    One of the ironies of this entire dispute is that AP is a cooperative that pools and shares content by members, in addition to the content it generates for its subscribers. In other words, even though it was created when the telegraph was the high-tech means of news distribution, it functions in ways that are analogous to sites such as Drudge Retort and even group blog sites such as BlogHer. Not only that, but in the 19th century, the AP fought it's own version of the net neutrality battle -- it had to fight Western Union for the right to have its own telegraph wires. Now, as AP sees its business model threatened by the rise of social media, it is flailing to find ways of ensuring its survival.

    Back then a lot of bloggers, including me, said Well, I guess I won't be linking to AP stories at all anymore. Who wants to have to keep track of exactly how many words are OK if even 40 words is considered too much? Who wants to give them link love if they don't appreciate the love?

    Mainstream media folks don't seem to get one very important thing: Bloggers don't hate you, we love you. We are very well aware that you are wonderful information resources for us. We also enjoy having your reports act as catalyst for our personal commentary. We link link link to you like nobody's business. You think we don't realize that, of course we do.

    Take away your traffic from Google and blogs...what would you be left with? I'm sorry if you aren't monetizing that traffic, but that isn't actually my fault as a blogger, nor as a reader.

    And you cannot stem the flood of people abandoning paper for bits, if that's your hope. Now that your user is online...and believe me, we's your job to figure out how to run your business in this new reality.

    You simply aren't going to be able to turn back that clock.

    So, you got your PR. You probably got your bump in traffic.

    Now, what are you going to do with it?

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