Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Another author/guru starts a'blogging

As I'm only about the 3,498th blogger to note, Malcolm Gladwell has started a blog.

Just like when Guy Kawasaki started his blog, I am subscribing, but I am also going to judge it just like any other blog...does it provide value and give me a good reason to clutter up my aggregator with its 371st feed?

I took a while to warm up to Guy's blog. It really did seem to be slick retreads from his books. But over time I have realized that a) since I haven't read all his books, but have enjoyed the one I did read, this is perhaps a bargain for me and b) he seems to be making an honest effort to stay responsive to his readers, who, given their adulation, certainly deserve as much.

Gladwell's blog is different out of the gate. He's using it to amend and correct and muse on recent and slightly-less-recent articles of his. Some of the posts are shorter, more abrupt. In other words, he seems a little less slick, and therefore a little more bloggy.

But there are only about half a dozen posts so far, so like I said: wait and see..hopefully he'll be a consistent and quality addition to the blogosphere.

Where in the world is the Queen Bee?

Is it Blogger Burnout? A strange case of the nothing-to-says?

No, unfortunately, more a strange case of the girl who usually never gets sick getting sick twice this year already.

Of course that alone could be considered a side effect of Blogger Burnout. But I don't think so. My mind is teeming with things to say. I have dozens of interesting sites and blogs bookmarked waiting to be explored and discussed. All my body wants to do, regrettably, is lie down and whimper pitifully.

Of course we Worker Bees actually have work to do outside the boundaries of this blog, and that has had to take priority since last week. Today I'm trying to get back in the swing, blog-wise, but it's already 4:20PM...so I'm not doing too well.

Ah well. Just wanted to raise my head and say "present...just barely."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Those wacky bloggers? Or are they really just canaries in the consumer coal mine?

Meet Gina.

Unless I'm misunderstanding her post she saw in her referrer logs that some marketing company read her blog and probably linked to it in some private report on their site. She got hits from people reading that report and visiting her site, but she herself could not get to the referrer link without a log-in.

This is what Gina thinks of companies "snooping around the web" listening to what bloggers say about products:
Basically, they are in league with advertisers and snoop around the World Wide Web (is it still really supposed to be capitalized anymore?) searching for what us nice, unsuspecting bloggers have to say about products and the like.

Well, let me tell you, Unnamed Jerk Company, I don't know how I got onto your little list, but I want off!

Now, I'm sure some of you out there are thinking: jeez, lighten up lady...don't you wacky bloggers want readers?

But Gina is making a point I try to make to clients all the time: it's not just the quantitative stats about a blogger you should care about...it's the subjective, qualitative nature of the blogger too.

Think I'm ever gonna email Gina with any idea or blog post or anything, even if I read her blog religiously and know it's right up her alley? No, I'm not because she has made her feelings clear...and they need to be respected. It would not matter if she was the number one read blogger on a topic my client's company cares about.

Listening to and participating in the blogosphere means listening even when they say "keep out!"

Susan Mernit's quote of the day is right on...

...and I may send it to every client I have.

Susan's post.

And the quote from a much longer post by Mike Arrington on TechCrunch:
The main thing to remember is that you generally only get one look from the early adopter crowd. There is just too much going on for them to give a flawed company multiple chances to get it right. You either grab their attention, or you lose their attention. If you grab ‘em, everything is easier from then on. If you bore them, you are facing an incredible uphill battle just to get them back to the site. So, basically, don’t blow your first impression.

Now Mike is talking about beta releases of products, but I would apply this same advice to your blog, or in fact any idea you're thinking your favorite guru blogger may be interested in.

Bloggers need stuff to write about, no doubt about it, so most bloggers are happy to hear about cool (and RELEVANT) stuff going on. But they are just as likely to blog about a bad experience or impression as a good one. They are just as likely to warn away as they are to recommend. It's not just that they consider both functions to be a service for their readers. It's that negative posts get people's attention.

Last night at a dinner Jennifer Rice talked about the traffic she got and continues to get from a post she wrote in the heat of the moment entitled I Hate Comcast.

We theorized that a post about hating something is destined to get more traffic, and generate more buzz, than a post about loving something. It's human nature, and bloggers aren't immune to using this fact.

So, what your parents told you is true: you never get a second chance to make a first impression. With your pitch, your product, your post.

Am I trying to stifle spontaneity and speaking from your gut? Nope. But if you are doing business, then the same rules apply to business online in the social media world as anywhere else: be prepared; get it right; think it through...and if you still manage to mis-step? Apologize, fix it and try again.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

My report on the Tech Crunch Meetup/Naked Conversations Launch Party...

...is actually over at The Browster Blog.

I wax on there about the difference between hype and honest excitement...but also the dark side of the bubble this time around, which is the people being left behind.


Saturday, February 18, 2006

Another Tale of Two Customer Service Experiences

All my public whining about Technorati spamming me with massive amounts of duplicate items in my RSS reader every day has gotten response from non-Technorati folks, on and off-blog, but not from Technorati themselves.

This means that either:

a) they don't have ego-feeds and aren't even aware of how they're spamming a user.
b) they know there's a problem, but have no solution, and were taught by their mother: if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.
c) they know they're spamming me, but I'm not important enough to care about.

I'm realizing now that I maybe should have brought this up last night when I was chatting with Tantek from T'rati, but somehow I just don't consider tech support issues to be good small talk.

Let's compare and contrast, shall we, with a problem I had yesterday with my RSS reader, NetNewsWire.

First let's point out: this was a user problem. I accidentally deleted a folder full of feeds. You can read the whole sad tale of how over-multi-tasking has dire consequences for about 70 feeds here. You can also read how within 12 hours Brent Simmons from NetNewsWire had posted a comment with the fix for my problem. And the fix worked, first try. You might also notice that I didn't even link to Net NewsWire in that post, so clearly he's got ego-feeds going for the key word, not just the URL.

Let's point out again: it was my user error they helped me fix, not a case where they are repeatedly spamming me.

Yes, I have met Brent one time at a post-Syndicate cocktail party. Not sure if he even knows that he has met me. He just saw a cry for help and answered it.

So, if you would like to try a desktop RSS aggregator, I can not only recommend NetNewsWire as an applicaiton, but as an entire product, which includes the level of service they provide.

That's the kind of thing that turns a customer into an evangelist!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Guy Kawasaki writes a post just for me!

OK, maybe Guy doesn't know he did, but he did.

In this post Guy addresses that pesky subject: is his blog just a cut-and-paste job from his various book?

I pointed this our last month, mostly in the context that I thought bloggers were exposing themselves as fawning star-f*ckers by lavishing Guy and his blog with all this praise, before he'd written so much as an original thought.

I also said that I would subscribe to guy's blog and hope that it was worth it. It has been, as are his books, well-written and clean. And I gotta give him props for responding to commenters pretty much without fail.

Today, he specifically describes his blogging process, and confirms that he does review his books to pick which concept he feels like exploring that day. But he makes the case that he augments and deconstructs these concepts, benefitting from what he has continued to learn over the years since he wrote whichever book he is pulling from. his explanation makes sense, and makes the case that this content is worth re-visitng with him via blog.

Best of all, it is laced with a dash of humility and honesty when he tells us the following:
I've written eight books since 1987. In those twenty or so years, I've pretty much covered all the topics that I thought were important--or knew anything about. There's no way that I can write a blog with only new topics unless I write a different kind of blog--ie, (a) Guy's rants and raves or (b) Guy acts as your newsbot. Don't hold your breath...I'm not a 6 o'clock news reporter nor Howard Stern. My goal is to write the equivalent of documentaries or feature stories.

OK, I can accept that :)

I'll keep being subscribed.

Please Participate: BlogHer Survey on "Naked" Blogging

No, silly, we're not asking whether or not you blog in your pajamas (or sweats or even naked as a jaybird.) But, rather, more about how you blog about the personal and the professional...and where you draw boundaries (if at all.)

We'll be using the results in a panel we're producing at SXSW Interactive, and subsequently publishing the results at BlogHer.

We could use your help...so please go here and complete the survey if you have about 10 minutes.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ah, perhaps this is why...

My unnamed Technorati buddy is Niall Kennedy, and he has announced he is seeking greener pastures.

Good luck Niall! Good on you for leaving when your passion started "eroding."

Monday, February 13, 2006

Meant to point you to the HP Charity Auction: Bad Blogger, no biscuit

Blog buddy Susan Getgood very kindly points to our Browster Valentine's Day contest today, thus reminding me that I've been a bad blogger and have not pointed to her latest good cause: the HP Charity Auction.

Especially bad because I actually went and checked out the auction (benefiting Habitat for Humanity) and dreamed of buying the photo of Rufus Wainwright or The Police. (Each winning bid comes with a $279 HP PhotoSmart printer, so some of these are even more of a bargain!)

So I'm rectifying this egregious neglect by not only blogging about it now, but by actually placing a bid on good old Rufus!

Because I need not only his autographed photo, but a Rufus Wainwright-autographed printer! (Seriously it says that!)

I feel I have now properly atoned for my bad blogger-dom.

Thank you.

FYI: Technorati doesn't care about me

Last December I blogged about a problem I was having with my Technorati ego-feeds. Namely that for some unknown reason certain keyword-based ego-feeds were sending me repeated repeats of cites out in the blogosphere. I mean bunches of cites that I am getting sent to me as new, over and over and over. It only happens on keyword-based feeds, and only with certain posts. And some of the posts are, by now, quite old, so I'm doubting it's that the blogger went back to this 4 month old post and re-edited it, or that they're getting lots of new comments on it.

Since no one responded to my post, either from Technorati or to say that they were experiencing the same phenomenon, I took it up a notch and emailed a buddy who works there. He responded quickly at first, asking for examples of the ego feeds in question. But then he fell silent too. Leaving me for yet another month of suffering under ego-feeds-turned-spam.

I really cannot believe I alone have this problem? Really? Do I?

Ethan's Final Shot: Why Large Corporations Don't Blog

Ethan from the Vision Thing is shutting down his blog and focusing on Vision Monthly, his new e-zine.

Just to make us miss him, his penultimate post is a look at why large companies don't (or won't) blog, taken from his own experiences within a very large company.

His point is that large public companies do things that can be tied to numbers. If you can't tie a blog to revenue, then you're going to be spending a long time explaining its value, and you'll be losing 'em.

I agree that smaller companies have a lot more opportunities to tie blogs directly to revenue. He is right that larger companies already probably have a dozen ways they engage with customers, and blogs may be unlikely to be the point of engagement that pushes someone to invest, purchase, hire etc. Smaller companies, on the other hand, are not out there engaging in every marketing method known to man, and the blog really can become a central and significant point of contact and commerce.

Even for those larger companies for whom the blog is just an added channel without much opportunity to drive tons of revenue, I'd argue that it is no different than the struggles marketing departments went though a decade ago to justify that yes, we really do need a web site. Or that tech support and engineering departments wen through to justify that yes, bug tracking and/or trouble ticket enterprise software solutions would increase customer satisfaction and efficiency.

Not every investment a company makes is tied to dollars directly. I'd venture to say that blogs provide more opportunity to track quantifiable results than many a marketing tactic. More than a press release. More than many aspects of trade show attendance and sponsorship.

Blogs will likely usually be considered part of a marketing/communications budget. And marketers are well used to this aspect of their jobs. Nobody understands or appreciates us...we know that :)

Investing in open source media?

Fortune senior editor David Kirkpatrick has some interesting advice for investors (both individual and venture-oriented):

Take a look at Open Source media.

Well, in particular, take a look at the company that owns Slashdot and its sibling site SourceForge.net. Why does that seem odd? Well, because they both deal in and with open source...open source journalism, open source software...point being they're not selling stuff. The public company that owns these two open source sites also owns an e-commerce site, but Kirkpatrick thinks the value is really in acquiring knowledge about what early adopters are doing. (And, less intangibly, the opportunity to advertise on the sites, and on the millions of emails sent via the sites.)

The only thing I find a bit strange about the article is this paragraph:
SourceForge.net hosts hefty amounts of advertising from the likes of IBM (Research), AMD (Research), Sun (Research) and, surprisingly, Microsoft (Research). Many of those same companies -- including Microsoft -- plus HP (Research) and Tivo (Research) among others, also contribute huge amounts of code to the site to help improve open source projects underway.

My S.O. works for one of the companies that is supposedly "contributing huge amounts of code", and he has mentioned more than once that he and his fellow developers are urged to stay away from open source code, so that there is no potential for incorporating anything from it. (One of the key requirements of open source is that you have to give back to the community enhancements you make to open source projects.)

Anyway, Kirkpatrick is really talking about the opportunity to buy mind share with a very targeted market. It's taking the contextual commerce working so well for Google and seeing how you can apply it to non-search channels. I often notice that every new "Web 2.0" business model seems based on advertising. It's clear our poor eyeballs will become saturated with ad messages every single place we go online. (Not unlike those futuristic billboards in the movie Minority Report.)

If that is the case, and there's no reason it won't or shouldn't be, then the way to win is to get ever more targeted and ever more focused on appropriate niches.

Why market to women, or women online, for example, when you can market specifically to women online who are interested in Food, or Health, or Technology?

Keep digging and digging. And refining and refining. Some day Google Ad Words are going to look hopelessly generalized and off-the-mark.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Client is giving away iPods for Valentine's Day

Contest is running until COB Tuesday only, so get cracking!

My client Browster (I co-author their blog) is running a promotion on KFOG radio this weekend, and I figured they ought together their non-local blog readers in on the action.

They agreed, and thus the Browster Valentine's Day iPod Give-Away was born!

Go here to enter the contest. Use the code: BLOGLOVE. More details here.

There will be a drawing to award 3 iPods by COB on Tuesday Valentine's Day, with winners notified on Wednesday.

And if you're a blogger and enter your blogger URL, we will give you a shout-out on our blog.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Does a blog without comments smell as sweet?

I know, I know. I gotta find me a new Shakespearean reference.

I know there are those who think that blogs are "conversations", and that, therefore, comments are a must.

That would exclude BoingBoing, Dave Winer, Chris Nolan, Seth Godin, Dave Rogers from Groundhog Day, and now Russell Beattie from being considered bloggers I guess. You can count Russell as a new addition to this list, and he is catching some flak for it.

I've heard one no-comments blogger say that if someone wants a conversation then they can blog about it, and they'll converse via blog post. That's a little cavalier toward the non-blogging blog reader. And that number still stands as about 80% of blog readers. So sure, I think having comments is a good thing. I recommend it to my clients. I have comments enabled on all of my blogs, even the ones that are periodically plagued by comment spam.

Even so, I am not among those who would throw no-comments bloggers off the blogger island. You know why? Because it's a free damn country. You don't like Russell and his bloggy decisions...then quit him. If you find you "just can't quit him", then give in to his bloggy goodness, read him for what it's worth and shut the hell up. My God. Y'all act like he broke up with you via email.

BTW: I might add that the conversation is certainly swirling around Russell's decision, so it looks like he was able to encourage conversation without comments, no?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Today's BlogHer love

Will from the MSNBC blog gives us some:
The new BlogHer site is up. Looks impressive. It's hard to imagine how this won't end up being a force online.

Hugh at SXSW Interactive gives us some:
The number of female panelists at this year's SXSW Interactive Festival (such as Sunday, March 11 Keynote Speaker Heather Armstrong of dooce.com) stands at approximately 120, which is more than double the figure for the 2005 event. Special thanks to all our friends at BlogHer for helping to recruit so many creative and qualified women to SXSW. BlogHer has also helped organize several panels for the 2006 event, including the "We Got Naked, Now What" session on Saturday, March 11. Whether you are male or female, if you are interested in attending this panel, then please spend a few minutes on this online survey about the challenges of mixing personal blogging with business blogging.

And of course I continue to tag every BlogHer post I see in del.icio.us, the good, the bad and the ugly. I'm just glad it's 99% good :)

Two Carnivals hosted by Worker Bees Blogs

Yes I did another crazy thing and signed up to host two carnivals in two days.

First, please visit the Carnival of Healing at the hip & zen pen. The theme is about self-care, and it comes in many forms, from the physical to the mental to the organizational!

The second is the Carnival of Compassion at HealtheyConcerns. This carnival highlight the blogging of patients and caregivers...bloggers who are out there offering information, advice and support to others dealing with similar conditions. It's really quite amazing.

So, these may be off the beaten path for many Worker Bees readers, but they're both full of links to bloggers whoa re well worth a visit.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Wonderful review (and dressing down) of a book I also like and dressed down

Thoroughly enjoyed Scott Rafer's review of Malcolm Gladwell's Blink.

I reviewed the book myself last year.

What's interesting is this:

Both Scott and I enjoyed the read and found interesting take-aways from it.

Both Scott and I were disappointed at some higher level with what is missing from the book.

I was disappointed that the book didn't tie all its clever and compelling anecdotes together in some cohesive way, and didn't offer much guidance for individuals hoping to encourage the positive aspects of snap judgments, while discouraging the more unpleasant aspects.

Scott, on the other hands, is disappointed in two lacks: the lack of actual neuro-biological information on how decisions are made, and the lack of acknowledgment that some of the "blinking" techniques Gladwell lauds can be found in Buddhist teachings and writings.

Gladwell is often dismissed as merely popularizing other people's work and ideas. And I usually defend this as a good: that he is communicating valuable ideas to a wider audience than would get it through their original channels. The question is whether there is some laziness in attribution or in providing sign posts for those of us who want to explore certain of the presented ideas more deeply.

Scott's closing paragraph is pretty harsh:
Was Gladwell’s decision to exclude Buddhism a commercial decision in which intellectual honesty was deemed secondary to book sales? Did the author and his publisher think that including references to a spiritual discipline would make Western readers take the book less seriously or intimidate us in some way? I can’t help but feel that’s the case.

I wouldn't presume to know the answer to Scott's question, but I would like to.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Can't resist: BlogNephew as Worker Bees Mascot

Come on, could he be any cuter:

Mascot-worthy garb courtesy of my Cafe Press store of course.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

This month's Silicon Veggie: Why Vegan?

Yes, this month's column was basically cribbed from a guest post I wrote on Treehugger.com last month.

I explain a bit of vegan philosophy, telling you why vegans oppose even such non-fatal animal uses as wool and silk. And I share that for me it's easier being a vegan outside my body, than in.

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