The Wall Street Journal on Blog Mining and the “Numerati”

by Steve Broback on September 14, 2008

I just posted at the Sentimine site about the WSJ review of the Numerati by Stephen Baker.


How to Tell What Blog Platform a Blogger is Using

by Steve Broback on August 29, 2008

Just tried QuarkBase, works great. Put in the URL, click the “technical” tab and voila, there it is. For years I’ve been viewing the source of a post and then trying to parse what the code is describing. Painful, but it worked.

I was hopeful that the service with the promising name: BuiltWith would do this for me, but IMHO it mostly overwhelms the user with SEO minutiae. It doesn’t actually tell you what the site is “Built With.” It can tell you a site is using WordPress plugins, but never gets around to telling you anywhere (I can find) that it’s built with WordPress.

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Three proven strategies for building your blog authority

by Jason Preston on August 26, 2008

Image under CC license from MacWagen on FlickR.

I learn a lot by example. As Darren Rowse from ProBlogger noted recently, there’s a big difference between the “right” blogging advice and the “real” blogging advice, and it’s important to know the “real” strategies.

“Do as I say, not as I do,” is a great phrase for parenting, but it’s a lousy line for bloggers. If you see a successful blogger telling you to do something they’re not doing, or more importantly to not do something they are doing, red flags should start popping up.

One of the best examples of a successful and authoritative blog that regularly eats its own dog food is Copyblogger. Here are three great strategies for building authority gleaned from careful observation:

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Only three more days to enter CEA’s i-Stage contest

by Jason Preston on August 12, 2008

There are only a few sure-fire ways to get your newest genius product noticed. Maybe the A-list will start writing about you. Get a front page story in the New York Times.

Or you can get a free booth at the Consumer Eletronics Show, the largest new technology convention on earth. We’ve already submitted Sentimine, our unique sentiment tagging system, to the contest.

I recently had the opportunity to ask Joseph Gizzi at CEA about their i-Stage contest, what it’s about, and how the prizes work. Click through for the full interview.

Jason: i-Stage seems geared towards products that haven’t yet been launched. Is the competition open to anything that has already been seen by the public?

Joseph: CEA’s i-stage event is designed to showcase the world’s coolest tech products, whether they be from an entrepreneur in a college dorm, a university lab or an established company. If any person or company has something cool and new to show, they are welcome to show it to the world via i-stage. Greater weight in the judging area will be given to those products that have not been demonstrated anywhere else due to us truly wanting the the cool and new products.

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John Battelle: Beating Google means changing the definition of search

by Jason Preston on July 30, 2008

At the Blog Business Summit in October 2006, John Battelle pointed out that search is in the “command-line” phase of user interfaces. Search is in DOS mode still, and we have yet to reach Windows.

In an interview today on i-media connection he says that the biggest surprise to him in search is that we are still in the same place:

Joe Kutchera: What is the most significant change we’ve seen in search since you wrote “The Search”?

John Battelle: The complete failure of any other company to gain significant share against Google.

Not only has Google continued to dominate search, but search has not really changed much in terms of what it means.

Battelle thinks—and I agree—that Google’s dominance will continue until we reach a point where current search is supplanted with something drastically different in terms of how the user interacts with it:

The big change will be a redefinition of search to a new, more useful result. In other words, the shift from DOS to Windows — that kind of shift, metaphorically, applied to search.

Microsoft is looking the wrong way if they’re only trying to increase the quality of their search results. Google search results show 70% spam and people still use it more than any other engine. It’s not about what you find, it’s about how you find it.


I’m calling it now: Hulu is the future of television

by Jason Preston on July 29, 2008

For an industry that is often criticized on its monopolistic practices and habits of relying on cripplingly intense DRM, the Hollywood studios sure got Hulu right.

I’ve never bought the idea that consumers are “entitled” to free content. That’s crap – creative content costs money and takes time to create, and video especially can be an expensive and risky product to make.

The problem has always been a question of lock-in and user experience. So long as the cost of buying video (or music) is greater than the inconvenience of getting it illegally, people won’t be buying video.

And since people are already paying for their internet connection, you can scratch off trying to get people to subscribe to an extra fee for TV online. So the studios figured correctly that if you made free video widely available in a really great player with limited commercial interruption, people would flock to it.

I logged in to Hulu today to watch Dr. Horrible’s sing-along blog, and I realized that Hulu has taken a swing at one of the bigger problems with embedding and sharing video: sometimes you only want to share a segment.

When you click to embed a Hulu video, they let you crop the embed video to whatever segment you want. Think that one-liner was the most hilarious thing ever? No problem – share just those 10 seconds.

Brilliant. I see a bright future for Hulu.


Blogging is a marketing tool more often than it is a business itself

by Jason Preston on July 14, 2008

The search for the holy grail of targeted advertising is still on. Veoh just recently announced that they’re going to start letting advertisers target video and display ads based on their users’ viewing habit.

Blogging and other web 2.0 and social media platforms are now maturing to the point where businesses are really starting to look for the business model. Nick O’Neill talks about how many blogs are turning to events or maybe even newsletters for revenue.

I think that moving to a place where consumers will pay for premium content is not unreasonable. Freemium should work as a content business model.

But I have maintained for a while that the best way to use blogging in a business atmosphere is as an architecture and a marketing tool, not a business in and of itself. If you were doing a direct mail campaign, you would not expect to make money from the mail. You expect to make money from the sales that it would generate.

Blogging is the same way. Most businesses should not expect to make money by selling ads or sponsorships or t-shirts on their blogs. They should use blog architecture to make their web sites dynamic and search-friendly. They should use the blog as a marketing tool to drive interest and sales in their primary product.

That is where I think businesses will get the most use out of blogging.


WordPress Drives Site Called “Key Data Source” For Big Sur Fires

by Steve Broback on July 9, 2008

Although they do refer to it as a “blog” in the article, the Wall Street Journal headline In Big Sur, Web Site Run by Resident Is Key Data Source exemplifies the trend we predicted back in 2005 when we said that blogs will be the Web “sites” of the future.

“The Web site and blog are run by Lisa Goettel, a temporarily homeless Web designer whose move to a new Big Sur house about 150 miles south of San Francisco was derailed by the wildfire, which was 18% contained Tuesday. Ms. Goettel runs the site out of a coffee shop with free wireless Internet in Carmel-By-The-Sea, about 25 miles north of Big Sur. She depends on five residents and businesspeople who remain in Big Sur — defying mandatory evacuation orders — for on-scene reports.

The site has become a must-read for Big Sur residents, the media and even fire officials. It routinely scoops fire officials and newspapers. The site also provides displaced residents a space to find temporary employment or shelter. The blog has already received 73,000 hits since it went up on July 3.”

And it’s no surprise that the blog is driven by WordPress, our favorite blogging engine for this type of site. We’re converting more and more traditional client “sites” to WordPress these days…


Business to business blogging drops from 2006 to 2007

by Jason Preston on July 7, 2008

A recent Forrester report shows B2B blog adoption dropping off sharply from 2006 to 2007, and it predicts a continued drop in 2008.

Why? MediaPost shares:

“The gap between blog hype and reality widened in 2007,” said Laura Ramos, Forrester analyst and chief author of the report. “After counting 36 companies that started promoting corporate blogs on their Web sites in 2006, the number of B2B firms starting up blogs dropped sharply to 19 in 2007.”

One of the big problems with blogging is that it’s too easy. Twenty seconds on and you can start posting to the world at large without having to talk to a single person in the IT department.

But there’s a big difference between simply blogging and blogging well, and that’s why businesses aren’t necessarily seeing the kinds of results that blogging hype has promised them.

To be fair, hype is hype, and there was a lot of it in 2006 (although the trend still points upward). I can understand why some companies who haven’t seen ridiculous upswings could think they’ve been had.

There really is value to be gained form blogging, but it’s all about the kinds of conversations you start and the relationships you build, not it how well you can, in the approximate words of Eminem, “get up on the mic and spit it.”


Are you in the publishing business?

by Jason Preston on July 1, 2008

For ages and ages “publishing” has meant going to a whole lot of expense to get something distributed to a large number of people.

If you look at things on a large enough scale, it goes like this:

First, if you wanted to share information with someone, you had to see them and talk to them.

Then, you could write it down and give it to them. They could write it again or simply pass the original document on.

Then someone figured out how to make identical copies of an original item without actually re-making the original.

Then we separated information from its physical form, and freed it from the laws of physics entirely. Suddenly getting information from point A to a place where every other person in the world can see it is easier than cooking dinner.

Often, this is called blogging. If you’re a company and you’re blogging, are you in the publishing business? Are you competing with your local newspapers and TV stations to get your customers valuable information in your space?

If you’re not, you’d better think about starting. Publishing is so cheap, there’s no reason not to be doing it.


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