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Startups don't need to be ruthless

MasterMaq - November 14, 2006 - 6:55pm

Greg Linden asked a very interesting question today: Is ruthlessness the key to success for Web 2.0 startups? He cites examples of Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and others using spam, porn, or other "ruthless" means to become successful. While the idea might be intriguing, I think it is far too simple.

First of all, being "ruthless" is relative, right? What's ruthless to me might not be ruthless to you. More importantly, I'm pretty sure Facebook and the others did a bunch of other things that contributed to their success. Saying they became huge by "spamming Harvard students" makes for an entertaining article, but probably avoids the more boring reality of why they are popular.

Secondly, the idea doesn't hold true in all Web 2.0 startups. As was suggested in the comments on Greg's post, there a bunch of other companies that did not rely on such ruthlessness to make it big - Flickr, del.icio.us, and 37signals, just to name a few.

It's pretty common to hear that you need to be ruthless to succeed in business, but I don't think it's the kind of ruthlessness that Greg is suggesting. Perhaps instead of porn and spam making them ruthless and thus successful, it's working long hours, making sacrifices, cutting costs, and being creative that made them "ruthless" in the pursuit of their ideas.

Greg Linden  
Categories: Attendees, Speaker

A new blog I'm going to read...

Full Circle Associates (Nancy White) - November 14, 2006 - 4:10pm
We Have Always Done It That Way. I followed a link from an email list and started reading. Liked what I saw. Then I saw the authors and I recognized a few... YES! Good folks. Way to go Amy Smith, David Gammel, Jamie Notter, Jeff De Cagna and Mickie Rops. Uh, oh wait a minute. Last post -- August 26th. Sob! Come back to blogging here, y'all!
Categories: Attendees

Inkjet or laser, which printer should I choose?

Larix Consulting - November 14, 2006 - 4:09pm

I have a Lexmark All-In-One printer.  Had it for three years now.  I recently bought a new black ink cartridge for it.  Set me back over $40!  Forty dollars!  That's a lot of cash.  I can take my kids out for a nice lunch on that!  Go to a movie!  No, I have to use it for my printer.  I've been having the internal debate with myself about the merits of continuing this enslavement to Lexmark and their inkjets.  I do have a Brother HL-1440 laser printer that I picked up for $25 ... works pretty well, just needs an new toner cartridge and drum I think.  But for colour printing, I think next round I'm going colour laser.  They are only a few hundred dollars now (for a basic model) and the cost of consumables (on a per page basis) is really low.

Think I'm nuts?  Well DevHardware has a pretty thought provoking article on this topic, give it a read and then see if you think I'm nuts.

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Categories: Attendees

Canadian academics fleeing US servers ... the chilling effect of the Patriot Act

Larix Consulting - November 14, 2006 - 4:03pm

Although I am American by birth and an immigrant to Canada, often I feel much more Canadian than American.  This is one of those times.  This piece on WebProNews chills me.  Canadian researchers have moved there RefWorks services off US soil to Canadian soil for fear of falling under suspicion of the U.S. government via the Patriot Act.

The RefWorks tool permits researchers to manage reference information and citations as they delve into a variety of topics. Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing noted how a subset of researchers have become so concerned at the potential for running afoul of US authorities who may investigate their work that they have been moving their accounts to hardware at the University of Toronto instead of the US server they had been using.
"There's concern among scholars that they could be identified and flagged if they are doing research on sensitive areas (North Korea, terrorism, nuclear weapons)," Doctorow wrote.

It's a sad, sad time when yet again scientific research is chilled or halted due to the politics of one government.  Can't wait for a change down south.

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Categories: Attendees

Ever want to ask me the tough questions about blog metrics? Here's your chance I'm on Conversations with Experts this month!

Larix Consulting - November 14, 2006 - 3:58pm

Last week Denise Wakeman made my week.  She invited me to be on Conversations with Experts and talk about blog metrics and audience measurement (the talk I gave at Blog Business Summit last month).  Here's the interesting bit though, usually the guest expert gives Patsi and Denise a list of primer questions for the chat, well I'm turning this on it's ear ... you submit your questions for me to answer!

I really want to make sure your top questions about blog metrics are answered.  To submit a question all you have to do is go over to the post announcing the session and leave a comment!  What could be easier?!?  Don't be shy, please send in your questions.  I will do my best to answer them.  The session is on November 29th at 8:30 PM EST (which is 5:30 PM for yours truly) ... Denise and Patsi will be sending me the questions a few days ahead of time so get yours in early (that way I have more time to think about the answer!).

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Categories: Attendees

What I missed: Mind Camp 3.0 Discovery Slam

Full Circle Associates (Nancy White) - November 14, 2006 - 2:56pm
Due to insane travel, I missed Mind Camp 3.0. I've been a MindCamper since the start and on the org committee, but this fall I was too maxed out. Here is a little taste... Mind Camp 3.0 Discovery Slam Grass Beatbox. I love the eclectic, and the Discovery Slam is a MindCamp haven for it! Tags:
Categories: Attendees

What Live Chat at Presentations Actually Looks Like

Full Circle Associates (Nancy White) - November 14, 2006 - 12:51pm
Friday Dave Cormier and I did a remix of my (now boringly familiar to you, dear blog reader) "8 Competencies" theme. Dave brought in two key pieces: the K-12 education context and his idea of Rhizomatics in learning. Now what was cool was we were the last set of speakers, and the group had a few days to get used to a projected chat "back channel." We strongly encouraged those who WISHED to, to participate. Because it was projected behind us, I'm not sure WE used it productively. But reading the transcript, it looks like some people did. And as expected, some found it distracting and potentially rude to the speakers. I can say, I did not find it rude. :-) But I understand that frustration. That was why we intentionally invited everyone to close their laptops when we did our second session, which was a World Cafe style conversation on taking the learnings from the conference back to the classroom.You can see the slides, the chat transcript and the podcast here --> The Eight Competencies of Online Interaction: What Should We Be Learning and Doing?. [EDIT: The audio on that site is down - alternate here at EdTechTalk.]You can find the whole event evaluation here, including comments and ratings on our sections (the last two - 8 Competencies and Percolatage, which was the World Cafe session.)This is pretty darn tranparent. Without even being there, you can see front channel, back channel and evaluation. Feedback was present in conversation, chat, blog posts, tags, external blog post RSS feeds, flickr feeds and the formal evaluation form.I used to think of most of these tools in terms of conference capture. All of a sudden I'm also seeing them in terms of conference evaluation. I'm not sure what the metrics are, but qualitatively, it offers an interesting slice of insight. But not all voices are represented, so we have a ways to go to get the full picture.Tags: , , ,
Categories: Attendees

Bloggers and Conference Press Passes: The Intricacies of Measuring Influence

Blog Business Summit - November 14, 2006 - 12:42pm

Since we launched our first blogger gathering back in 2004, we've not only had to assess blogger influence metrics for our own events, but for several other companies as well. We recently began assisting the Consumer Electronics Association in their efforts to insure that the best aligned bloggers get in as "press" to their January 2007 CES expo in Las Vegas.

While there is no "blogger" checkbox in the 2007 CES application form, bloggers who apply as press and supply appropriate permalinks to "articles" are being routed to us for evaluation. While it's still early in the process, we've processed several dozen blogger requests and are pleased to report that CEA is very happy with the results of our research.

We know from our conferences and consulting that PR firms worldwide are working hard to cultivate and prioritize bloggers for their clients, so let me share the approach we are taking.

In a nutshell, we are looking for individuals that a typical CES exhibitor would want to have come to their booth. The ultimate blog(ger) would have the following attributes:

a) Lots of eyeballs: A highly trafficked blog
b) Lots of influence: Inbound links, bookmarks, and subscribers aplenty
c) Lots of posts: 1 or more posts daily over a significant period
d) A "real" blog: RSS feeds, Permalinks, compliant code, etc.
e) Highly topical content: a blog or writer who mostly/exclusively writes about the kind of products being displayed at CES.
f) Other intangible assets: Passion and/or significant expertise etc.

Luckily we have automated most of the data gathering required to capture and analyze the two dozen plus metrics that give us the full picture of a blog(ger.)

Consider Engadget or Gizmodo. They have all 6 attributes. Most "A listers" have 3 or 4 (what they lack in topicality, they make up for it in other areas.) Notice how a passionate, knowledgeable newbie will be accepted -- we've approved promising bloggers with a PageRank of zero and a non-existent Alexa ranking.

After hosting our own events and discussing "influence" metrics at length with Robert Scoble, Mary Hodder, Jeremy Pepper and many other gurus, we've come to the conclusion that you can't afford to ignore those up-and coming "A", "B", or even "C" listers. Topicality and passion are critical and can transcend page views. Many PR firms don't understand this yet.

More detail on this subject to come. If you are a blogger who is headed to CES, please let us know, as we plan to host a party for bloggers at the show. Just email steve AT blogbusinesssummit DOT com. We'll be mailing all of our conference speakers and attendees as soon as we have booked the venue.

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Categories: Other Conferences

In The Valley This Week

Jeff Sandquist - Microsoft Evangelist - November 14, 2006 - 10:41am

I'll be in Silicon Valley for the next few days meeting with a variety of folks at Microsoft and also attending the Tech Awards.  I have a few openings on my schedule so if you're interested in getting together for a coffee, drop me a line and we'll try and find some time to connect.  (jeffsand at microsoft dot com)

Cheers!

Categories: Attendees

b5media launches a business channel and check out my latest blog--Pimp Your Work!

Larix Consulting - November 14, 2006 - 10:20am
It's been a long (long, long, long) time coming, but today b5media has officially launched its new business channel.  There are some awesome, awesome blogs launched today (this is just a taste of what's to come) here's the list:
Categories: Attendees

b5media launches a business channel and check out my latest blog--Pimp Your Work!

Larix Consulting - November 14, 2006 - 10:20am

It's been a long (long, long, long) time coming, but today b5media has officially launched its new business channel.  There are some awesome, awesome blogs launched today (this is just a taste of what's to come) here's the list:

  • Business & Blogging: blogs for business: how to use them effectively for results.
  • Copyblogger: copy writing secrets
  • Digital Money World: everything you wanted to know e-currency and how it is transforming online commerce.
  • Franchise Pick: secrets and information about franchises
  • Home Biz Notes: the ins and outs of how to start and run a successful home business.
  •  Pimp Your Work: tips, tricks and secrets on how to “pimp your work” from best utilizing technology to how to survive cubicle life.
  • Slacker Manager: everything from review books on management to talk about productivity tips and tricks.

Pimp Your Work is the one I've started with two other uber-cool bloggers Lena West and Scot Herrick.  We're going to be talking about all the things you can do to make your work life better.

Me?  You can probably guess ... software, collaboration tools, working at home ... all the stuff you've been reading here.

And ... we're going to be having a contest soon.  Give us your best work pimps and we'll give your prizes.  Prizes like MindManager, ActiveWords, GyroQ and more!

Stop on by for a visit.  I'll put the coffee on.

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Categories: Attendees

PregTASTIC Podcasts

Full Circle Associates (Nancy White) - November 14, 2006 - 10:02am
Another example of non profit use of audio. The PregTASTIC Podcasts are part of a larger online community for pregnant women sponsored by the March of Dimes. Tags: , ,
Categories: Attendees

FutureSex/LoveSounds

MasterMaq - November 13, 2006 - 8:25pm

Normally when I listen to music, I listen to a playlist I have created, not a specific artist or album. This is primarily because I find there just aren't many albums that are excellent from start to finish, or that I would want to listen to over and over again. Justin Timberlake's new one titled FutureSex/LoveSounds however, is one such album.

I'm completely addicted to this album, and it kind of surprises me. The first time I heard "SexyBack" on the radio, I wasn't that impressed. The song really grew on me though. Same for "My Love". Actually I think you could say that about most of the album - the more you listen to it, the more you'll like it. If I had to pick a least favorite track on the album, I'd say "Chop Me Up" which features Three 6 Mafia (and I don't care for them). My favorites are the title track, "What Goes Around...", and "Pose" which features Snoop Dogg.

It appears I am not the only one who likes the album either:

The album became the fastest in 2006 to hit 2X Platinum, making it after only a couple of weeks one of the biggest hits of the year. Timberlake will begin touring in January 2007 to support the album.

It has already set some records too:

The album debuted in the number one position on the Billboard chart, selling 684,000 copies its first week. The album is also the biggest album ever for pre-orders on iTunes, and beat Coldplay's record for the biggest one-week sales of a digital album.

FutureSex/LoveSounds is Justin's second studio album (Justified was released four years ago). All I can say is that I am glad he made it. And if his next album is anything like this one, I hope it comes sooner rather than later!

Wikipedia  
Categories: Attendees, Speaker

links for 2006-11-14

The Last Minute (Duncan Rawlinson) - November 13, 2006 - 8:23pm
  • The Fairest "TheFairest.info is a project to try to find the prettiest image in the world, using voting and some algorithms. Images are user-submitted and user-moderated. This is the internet. You may see something offensive before it gets moderated out." (tags: photography photos)

Learning some tricks of the trade, great blogging tips (and mistakes to avoid)

Larix Consulting - November 13, 2006 - 6:34pm

There are so many posts on how to blog better and what mistakes to avoid.  Yes, most of them say the same things over and over again (which is good, actually—it means I think we've got the basics down pretty well).  Anyway, WebProNews has a nice list of what I consider to be important tips, tricks, and things to avoid ... below with my commentary too

Looks Count. Yes, call me vain, but looks count. You have to be writing some pretty spectacular blog entries for me to keep reading a blog that is supremely ugly, uses a design that breaks in certain browsers, uses a trendy but hard-to-read font face, or uses the "out-of-the-box" blog design with zero customization (if it still says "Just another WordPress blog," you are on shaky ground).

I'm on the fence with this one.  Okay I agree with the "Just another Wordpress blog"  bit, but I think your template doesn't have to be killer to get traffic.  Okay, my personal blog kinda sucks in this regard, but still it's okay and people still read my stuff.  And yes, I long for a snazzier Blogware template.

Don't Hit Me Over the Head with Ads.

Ah, yes ads on blogs.  This storm seems to have blown over on whether it's okay or not, but now some people have gone a little nuts.  Too many ads distract your readers.  I have been to a couple blogs lately where the ads did get in the way of the content.  I thought I had reached the end of the post because of the way the ad was in there ... good thing I kept scrolling!


Use RSS Ads Smartly.

Yeah another hot topic.  Personally I'm not convinced that they even work so I don't bother at all.  I'd think twice before adding them into the mix.

Write Regularly.

This is a huge one.  Three to five posts a week is a minimum.  If you want to really build readers (and links) you have to blog more.  That's just the way it is, sorry.

Ignoring email. Places like FeedBurner make it super easy for people to get posts by email. Many use email, so don't forget that group and think a feed is enough.

Another biggie.  A lot, and I mean most, Internet users/blog readers don't give a rat's backside about RSS readers (assuming they even know what one is).  It's so simple, just put an e-mail subscribe link in ... I did this recently and within a week I have 10 e-mail subscribers.

Lack of About page. Too many blogs fail to tell me who is behind them.

Eh, this is important, but not really a killer.  I don't think my About page is all that noticeable, but my real and for true e-mail address is right there on my blog ... so yes you can use it and I will get the mail.

Failure to control your domain. Don't, DON'T!, put your blog up on someone else's domain.

This is tremendously important.  In fact I was talking to Wayne Hurlbert about this today.  Having a blog with wordpress.com, blogspot.com, typepad.com is great if you're just goofing around, but if you're going to be serious, spend $10 and buy a domain and use it.  Really, you'll be happy in the long run.  And hey if you're going to buy a domain, why not just get a basic hosting package and use Wordpress.  Lots of hosts have this as an easy install option for you.

Use descriptive titles and descriptions. Even if you send out a full feed, plenty of people will either summarize your posts with only titles or tiles and descriptions. Make sure what you provide is compelling, to encourage clickthrough

Lord this is so, so important.  Unless you're the likes of Scoble or Doc Searles, you can't get away with a non-descriptive, cheeky title.  Heck even though I know Robert if it's a busy day and his title doesn't grab me, I'm not going to click, simple as that.  Make sure your title (note this one as an example) gives people a really good idea of what the post is about.  While you're at it, make sure the first sentence if not the first paragraph gives readers a good idea about the post.  I see about 3-4 lines of a post, plus the title in my reader, if you can't grab me in that space, I'm not going to click.  Frankly, I don't think I'm alone either.

There you have it.  Some good tips and things to avoid, plus my own thoughts thrown in for good measure.  Fine, for those of you reading this and are yawning because you know it all ... great ... pass it on to a newbie blogger.  They'll appreciate it, I'm sure.

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Categories: Attendees

Catch up on some great blog posts ... just let Easton do all the work!

Larix Consulting - November 13, 2006 - 6:01pm

Easton Ellsworth posted 50, yes 50, links to post that he considers great in the last little while.  Yeah, one of my posts is in there (flattery will get you links) ... but there are some other awesome ones by other folks near and dear to me too ...

Okay and this is my contribution on his list—Tris Hussey on what to do when someone steals your blog content.

Lots there to read.  If you can't find at least one new or cool article to read, you're not trying hard enough!

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Categories: Attendees

Why You Should Host Your Own Business Blog

Blog Business Summit - November 13, 2006 - 4:44pm

I’m not going to get into whether Wordpress.com is right or wrong to take drastic steps to curb commercial content on their hosted service. It’s their right to exercise any terms of service they want. And that’s a problem for business bloggers.

When Steve was researching the book, he looked into every single hosted service out there. Guess what? They all reserve the right to shut down your blog any time they want for any reason at all.

I think it should be business blogging tip #1: host your own blog!

Categories: Other Conferences

Listen to podcasts on your cell phone? Um, no thanks.

Larix Consulting - November 13, 2006 - 2:20pm

I don't get this.  Two services launched recently, Podlinez and Fonpods, as announced by Techcrunch, that allow people to listen to podcasts on their cell phones.  Maybe I'm just behind the times, but I don't understand why you'd want to do this.  Given the commercials I see on TV, using up one's cell phone minutes is a big issue.  So why would you want to use up more minutes just to listen to something that you can download as an MP3 and listen to on your phone's MP3 player (since that seems to be the hot new feature) or normal MP3 player?  If someone calls during a podcast you're going to have to ignore it and hope they leave a voicemail or switch to it and miss the rest of the podcast.  Just doesn't seem like an efficient system to me.

So tell me, am I missing something here?

Hat tip to Lifehacker.

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Categories: Attendees

Can a PDF late edition save newspapers?

Larix Consulting - November 13, 2006 - 1:33pm

Mark Evans (formerly of the National Post and now VP Ops of b5media ... and a friend of mine) wrote about a new service (?) offered by the Ottawa Citizen to allow commuters (and others I supposed) to download and print a rush-hour news day wrap up edition of the paper in PDF format (this follows on the heals of a similar offering by the Toronto Star).

Mark is skeptical of whether this will actually work or be used.  I have to agree with him.  I don't think I'd print out something that I could just get from my RSS feeds and if I did use it, I'd likely just try to read it on my PDA instead of wasting more paper.

Sure, it's an interesting idea, but I wonder if there is a better technological solution.  If what I see on CPAC (the Canadian version of CSPAN) is any indication, I'm betting that there are a ton of people with Blackberries and other PDAs in Ottawa.  Why not develop a nice application for those platforms?  Something that would appeal to info-junkies and not force them to carry something else around (like paper).  I'm sure RIM would be into that.

I'm all for newspapers trying to stay relevant, and I agree with Mark (from a previous TalkingTech episode) that newspapers need to get more into analysis than reporting the news.  Information moves so fast that by the time I've picked up the paper, I know the news, what I want to know is what is means.

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Categories: Attendees
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