August 31, 2018

  • Thought

    I’ve been working on my blog for most of the summer (with help, I’m not a WordPress geek by any stretch of the imagination). My next goal is to automate distribution of posts from the blog to social media.

April 26, 2018

  • Thought

    My old blog posts look almost exactly like my tweets do.

April 9, 2018

  • Thought

    I’ve updated my blog to a new custom WordPress instance. But after four or five moves between platforms, the whole thing feels really crufty. I need to do a good spring cleaning before inviting people over.

July 26, 2009

  • Why Blog?

    One clear result of the rise of Twitter and Facebook is the ever-growing number of abandoned blogs out there.

    Blogs have always had a high abandon rate. It’s “cool” (well it was) to have a blog and it’s dirt simple to start one. Much harder is the task of keeping it fed. Coming up with interesting topics to post about and then adding in images and links to make the “story” feel fleshed out is a lot of work.

    Twitter on the other hand requires less than 140 characters, and if you don’t have time to type 140 characters 3 or 4 times a day, you’ve got bigger problems than your posting schedule.

    For many people blogs are/where a way of pointing at interesting articles. Much of the verbiage beyond the link and maybe some quoted text from the original was just through clearing, filler or “I agree with this” commentary of little value.

    Twitter makes that kind of post seem terribly outdated. If I want to POINT to something now I just post it to Twitter and add a short, (hopefully) pithy reason why I think the link has merit and I’m done.

    That means that “blog posts” now end up feeling like work. They are “longer” and “original”. And that’s a tall order for many of us.

    This blog, my first one, (although it’s lived on Blogger, Movable Type, WordPress and now TypePad) is still what I officially call home online even though I don’t visit very often. My first post was over eight years ago now. In that time I’ve done a fair number of those “long format” posts interspersed with lots of stuff that now seems better suited for other social network channels, particularly Twitter.

    Why blog then?

    I’m not giving up on this blog yet as I figure I WILL have more to say than will fit in 140 characters at some point, but I doubt my close identification with my blog will ever return.

January 30, 2006

  • Every Business Needs A Blog

    I truly believe this — every business must have a blog. Well, to be honest, every business should need a blog — I’m just not sure when we’ll go from “should” to “must”, so get one now and avoid disappointment.

    Way back in 1995 I would tell anyone who’d listen that they had to have a website because eventually everyone would use the web to determine what companies they were going to deal with. As hard as it may be to believe, this was a radical idea at the time and many scoffed. Few would scoff now — can you imagine doing business with any company that had no Internet presence? The next frontier isn’t the dissemination of information via corporate websites — that’s now table stakes. Increasingly businesses will need to convey authority and enter into conversations with their “fan club” (in the Seth Godin sense of the term).

    That’s what blogs do. Mark my words — by 2010 you will not trust any company, politician, pundit, author, or anyone else looking to promote an idea or service if they don’t have a blog. By default, people will assume you have a blog and if you don’t they will say “they must have something to hide”. Agree? Disagree? Are there some companies that will never need a blog?

    Originally published at on January 30, 2006.

October 2, 2005

  • The Blogosphere Is Talking About You Mitch Joel

    Occasional One Degree Guest Contributor Mitch Joel of Twist Image was one of the “participants” in our “One Degree Calling challenge. Our post listed ten Canadian Internet companies with links to their home pages. My goal was to see who was paying attention to the blogosphere and how quickly they would respond if someone “pinged them” with mention and/or link in a blog post. Mitch did well, replying in less than a day (I think that’s great). But he took a bit of exception to my methodology:

    Here’s why One Degree is kind of off. It actually took me no time at all. I get the One Degree RSS feed as soon as they are posted, I just don’t read all of it right away — specifically postings with titles that seem to have little immediate relevance to me or are ambiguous (like One Degree Calling). If you’re into the Blogosphere (like I am), then you’ll have hundreds of feeds (like I do).

    And a bit later he says:

    If anything, One Degree Calling was a better example of how fast word-of-mouth can spread online as I probably would not have even read a post with a title like that unless someone had specifically told me to. Getting beyond the little One Degree “experiment,” what it made me realize is how much great content is out there, and how much care has to go into making every word count. Especially the call to action — which in this case was the title. If it does not resonate with me, no matter how much I like everything else that has come out of there, I am just ambivalent towards it (maybe One Degree could have done multiple postings for each company, so one could have been titled, “One Degree Calling Twist Image” — that I would have read fast).

    I appreciate Mitch’s feedback and I know he gets this blog stuff more than most in Canada, but I think this shows that our methodology was perfect. My goal was to see who monitors the blogosphere, not who reads our feed.

    I’m happy that Mitch gets our feed (told you he was smart) but I certainly wouldn’t expect him to read everything we post and I certainly didn’t mean to imply that all ten agencies should have round-the-clock monitoring of One Degree in case we mention them in passing.

    What I would expect is that all these agencies have set up multiple ego-searches on their names, their company names, their client’s names, and all the associated URLs using all the blog and feed search tools like Technorati, PubSub, BlogPulse, Google Blog Search, Bloglines, Feedster, etc. The name of the post was intentionally cryptic and intentionally mentioned all agencies at the same time — my goal was to see who would find their company and URL mentioned in an obscure post and respond to that. Since we put all the agency names and URLs in the post and in the feed, it should have been picked up by all the search engines within a few minutes of us sending our pings. So anyone monitoring the blogosphere should have got wind of this the next time they checked their ego feeds.

    I’m okay with people checking these once a day (once an hour may show signs of addiction!) so Mitch’s response-time was perfect, even if it was based on word-of-mouth. In June I mentioned Technorati in a post and within a few hours of the post going live, David Sifry founder and SEO of the blog search firm had added a comment to the post. I’m sure he didn’t know we existed before we posted about his service, but as soon as we did, he was there. That’s what I’d like to see from all Canadian web agencies now, and eventually from all Canadian companies.

    Oh by the way Mitch, I’m posting this 4 hours after you posted and that’s only because you posted at 5:30AM on a Sunday morning! I hope the title of this post got your attention!

    Originally published at on October 2, 2005.

September 28, 2005

  • Solving The Feed Search and Partial Feed Puzzle

    One of the nice things about all this “Web 2.0” stuff is that we get some new problems to solve. Let me outline a problem that’s been bugging me for a while now that was brought top-of-mind by the launch of Google Blog Search a few weeks ago. I’ve also got a possible solution I want to put out there for feedback.

    Here’s the situation:

    1. Ad-supported sites rely on people seeing the ads on their site. That’s how they make money. That’s good.
    2. Feeds allow ad-supported sites to notify past readers (subscribers) that there is new stuff at the site to see (along with the ads that support the content). That’s good.
    3. If an ad-supported site publishes a full feed with all the content, ad-free, they don’t make any money. That’s not good.
    4. If you put the ads in the full feed it kills much of the value of the feed to the subscriber and becomes very hard to measure. That’s not good.

    So a partial feed (while not the preferred choice of subscribers) is the logical compromise. Subscribers are notified of new relevant posts and can easily click-through to see the ad-supported content. A compromise, but a good thing.

    And here’s the problem with that situation:

    1. Feeds (through ping services) also act as notifiers for aggregators and search services. Because this makes it possible for prospective readers to find a publisher’s content, this is good.
    2. But a new class of services only looks at what is in the feed to assess the content. So anything not mentioned in an ad-supported site’s feed is not crawled and therefore not searchable by users. For both publisher and reader, this is a bad thing.
    3. The problem is made worse by the fact that one of the best new services, PubSub only reads feeds, not the full related posts. That’s bad.
    4. But what is really bad is that Google Blog Search is only crawling feed content, not the original posts.

    So the essential problem we’re faced with is you need to produce a full feed so that people who might be interested in your content can find you when using ping-centric search tools. But producing a full feed means that regular readers can avoid ads on your site by viewing your content only in their feed reader.

    And finally, my suggested solution:

    • Create a “Public Partial Feed” that is easily available and conspicuous on your site. Make it so that auto-discovery can find this feed.
    • Make a “Ping-friendly Hidden Full Feed” that is hard to find unintentionally and have that feed sent to ping-centric search tools.

    Is anyone doing this? Are there any issues I’ve missed in using this approach?

    Originally published at on September 28, 2005.

August 30, 2004

  • Posting Is Sparse

    My posting has been, and will probably continue to be sparse over the next few weeks as I work on a few big projects that are all coming to a head in September.

    During this busy time I was lucky enough to be introduced to fellow blogger Tim Grayson. Tim’s feed is now a regular read.

    One of the interesting side-effects of blogging is that you get to do a lot of your small-talk and connecting before having your first meeting. By reading Tim’s blog in advance of our lunch together, I was able to find a bunch of things that we were mutually interested in and (I think) we hit the ground running.

July 24, 2004

  • Thought

    Dave blogged about CNN not understanding what a blog was and offered this image as proof.

    Dave’s confusion about CNN’s intent here is understandable and illustrates a problem with tabbed interfaces.

    The image is from the Election Special page in its default view. The widget Dave was looking at in fact offers two options — send CNN an e-mail or find out more about CNN’s Convention Blog.

    The “Blog” and “E-mail Us” at the top of this widget are supposed to be tabs, and E-mail Us is the default setting. If you click on “Blog” it will offer up this:

    This is very confusing because the tabs don’t look like tabs. In the default view the word “blog” looks like a label and “e-mail us” looks like part of the widget’s copy. Making matters worse, the default position is to the second tab instead of the first.

    Hopefully now that Dave’s flagged the problem CNN can take some time to fix this so that people can actually find the convention blog when it launches July 26th.

    If someone from CNN wants to contact me I’ll be happy to give them a free copy of my Web Best Practices report that covers this among other things.

    (Note: It seems that Dave’s taken down the post as I can’t find it on his site even though it showed up in his feed)

July 22, 2004

  • Thought

    Read and Pass is the blog for Seth Godin’s wonderful new project ChangeThis.

    Funny though, the blog is in chronological order instead of the almost universal reverse chronological order.

    I find it endlessly confusing that the posts are in the “wrong” order and I’d like them to change it right away. I can’t imagine I’m the only one who’s noticed this even though Feedster shows few links to Read and Pass.

    So here is my first “minifesto”:

    All blogs should be in reverse chronological order to avoid needless scrolling and to stick with conventional usage.

  • Thought

    It’s interesting that as soon as I started using Furl I dropped the volume of posts here rapidly. I think this is partly because I often used my blog as a way to keep track of ideas, links, and notes for myself, and incidentally published them for the world. Furl let’s me do the first three without the worry of posting something coherent to others.

    I’ve also noticed that my blogging goes in cycles, partly influenced by how much work I have on my plate, partly by how inspired I am, and probably partly inspired by what is going on in the world. Generally when there is TOO MUCH new stuff and I’m REALLY excited, I tend to blog LESS, undoubtedly because I’m “saving it up” for a great post (that never comes).

November 12, 2003

  • Thought

    Dave Winer seems to be developing the new Scripting News site in real-time. The page is getting slowly modified as Dave blogs his progress and people comment on how he’s doing. Not something I’d recommend to the faint of heart, but interesting to watch.

    Wonder when a nav bar will appear.

October 20, 2003

  • Should Dave Winer Call Google A “Total Asshole Company”?

    Dave Winer said “Google’s directory of weblog tools. None of the tools I wrote made the list… Google, this makes you look like a total asshole company.”

    Google’s Directory is based on DMOZ Open Directory, but filtered through Google’s PageRank so that the most relevant links rise to the top. I don’t think Google has any say about what goes in the Open Directory in the first place. But it does decide what goes in its edited version.

    Let’s compare:

    Google’s Computers > Internet > On the Web > Weblogs > Tools > Publishers

    Open Directory’s Computers > Internet > On the Web > Weblogs > Tools > Publishers

    Sure enough, Radio.Userland is in the Open Directory and not in Google’s. Furthermore, Blogger is number 1 on Google, but listed alphabetically in Open Directory. And Google only lists 37 links while Open Directory lists 52.

    So maybe Dave has a point.

    How does Google decide what gets in its directories? They use PageRank. So maybe Dave’s problem is that his corporate web site gets far fewer links than Blogger.

    Since we can’t see PageRank directly, let’s take a look at what Alexa says:

    It seems that Radio Userland doesn’t appear in the Google directory because it shouldn’t. Blogger’s 3 month average page rank on Alexa is 714. Radio Userland’s is 7,885. If the site was more popular I’m sure it would rate a link in this directory (note that Movable Type is number two in the Google Directory, reflecting it’s rank at 6672 over the last 3 months — once again, according to Alexa.)

    Doing a comparison of Google’s link count for Blogger, Movable Type, and Userland we see:

    Movable: 116,000

    Blogger: 62,500

    Userland: 33,500

    Of course PageRank combines number of links with quality of those links to determine page rank, so it may be that Blogger has better quality links. That may explain why Blogger outranks Movable despite the larger number of inbound links.

    In any case, I don’t see any reason Dave should be calling Google a “Total Asshole Company”.

October 18, 2003

October 17, 2003

  • Blogger = Moderator: The Ultimate Solution To Comment Spam?

    Great post on “Comment Spam” at Weblogging for Poets:

    “Most of all, though, we should push back any time someone even remotely mentions ‘blacklist’ and ‘weblog’, or ‘blacklist’ and ‘internet’ in one breath. Always. These words, they don’t go together.”

    I’ve been doing a lot of work in (legitimate) e-mail marketing for the last 7 years and it is incredibly frustrating to see honest e-mail lists getting blacklisted for arbitrary, unchallengeable reasons. And equally frustrating that willing subscribers do not receive messages they are expecting because someone upstream has decided a block of IP addresses aren’t worth bothering about.

    I also remember days and nights (including Christmas and New Years) logging in to the Sony Music Online BBS back in 1994 as we fought an unending war with the kids posting trash all over the discussion boards. So I’ve come to appreciate the need for the unsung heroics of moderators.

    It seems to me that comment-enabled blog owners need to think of their blogs more as communities or discussion boards and their role as being a moderator. Most moderators quickly realize that truly open systems are unworkable because there is no check against anonymous abuse.

    IP banning is one way to check that anonymous abuse, but a flawed one, as Shelley discusses in her post.

    So serious consideration must be given to one of two options:

    1. Pre-post Registration by commenters

    2. Pre-post Comment Approval by moderators

    While many may argue both of these go against the intent of open dialogue and limit the speed at which ideas flow, these solutions are undoubtedly the price we will have to pay to get a signal-to-noise ratio that is acceptable.

    Believe me, after spending a few years babysitting tweens who spend all non-school hours posting “ sucks” on your discussion board, you don’t want to have unfettered access to your space!

    Of course, the other option (which I’m currently using) is not allowing comments on the blog, but rather encouraging others to blog responses and link back.

September 25, 2003

  • Thought

    Always On: The Blogger Revolt!:

    “The bottom line as I see it is the original blogging community represents the early-adopters of a movement that will eventually radicalize the entire media industry. Some time off in the future, if major media brands do not open up their content to more participation, readers will just not trust them, and they will go elsewhere.”

    Anthony Perkins faces his critics and makes a good case that Always On can work, whatever it is.

September 21, 2003

  • Thought

    There is of course much talk in the US about blogging politicians. Ontario is having an election October 2, 2003 and I was a bit disheartened to see how Dalton McGinty, leader of the opposition Liberal party, is blogging on “Dalton’s blog”

    Here is a stirring excerpt from one of the four posts since the blog went live in May:

    “Most nights, there’s a rally. Tonight, there was a dose of reality.

    With the campaign ads on the air now, reporters ask me if the attack ads bother me.

    What I heard today, in Sarnia and Wallaceburg and Walkerton, bothered me a lot more.”

    (via BonaSource’s excellent user experience review of the three major party sites.)

September 14, 2003

  • Seth and I Do The Technorati Dance

    Seth Godin was nice enough to drop by this page a few days ago.

    How do I know? FeedDemon and Technorati.

    I subscribe to Seth’s Blog and read his feed using FeedDemon. Seth most likely subscribes to an RSS Feed from Technorati that tells him whenever someone posts something pointing to his site.

    A few days ago I posted about Seth and just below it I provided some perspective on RSS as a marketing tool. When Seth followed my link to see what I said about him, he read my RSS post and pointed his readers to my post:

    “It’s a tricky topic, but I’m going to start taking us through it over the next few weeks. Ken Schafer’s Blog is way ahead of me.”

    And so Seth and I complete the Technorati two-step as I (one of Seth’s humble readers) am told to go visit my own site.

    Note that, unlike a mailing list, I can’t “see” that Seth came and I don’t know if he has now subscribed to my RSS feed because you don’t get a subscriber list when you publish RSS. The only way I’ll know if Seth does subscribe is if he responds, say to the “Don’t Call It RSS” post below.

    BUT, what are the chances that Seth would have subscribed to my newsletter had I posted my thoughts in that format instead?

September 10, 2003

  • No More Blogger Pro

    I just got an e-mail from Evan Williams:

    Hi there. Evan Williams here, co-founder of Pyra/Blogger.

    I wanted to give you a heads-up about something we’re announcing shortly: We’re no longer offering Blogger Pro as a separate product and we’re folding most of the features into regular (free) Blogger.

    It’s sad but true. (Except it’s not really that sad.)

    Don’t worry — nothing you paid for is going away. And while you won’t be charged, your subscription is still valid. You will continue to have access to features like RSS and post-via-email that are still not in the free version. You’ll also have priority support from our expanded team and new support system: .

    More importantly, I want to stress that we couldn’t have gotten to where we are today without you. Pro subscribers helped keep us going as a struggling start-up, when servers and bandwidth were at an extreme premium. We wanted to keep basic Blogger free, but we needed to start charging in order to keep the lights on. So we built new things that would appeal to some Blogger users (namely, you).

    Thanks to supportive people like yourself, this plan allowed us to grow and build a better service — and, eventually, get us to much more stable ground. We’re eternally grateful, and I hope you were happy with the relationship, as well.

    Today, as you may know, Blogger’s situation is much different.

    For one thing, we’re part of Google. (If you missed that announcement, check the FAQ).

    Google has lots of computers and bandwidth. And Google believes blogs are important and good for the web.

    This is a good thing.

    So we’re in the fortunate position of being able to give back to our users. Specifically, we want give all of you who paid for Pro, a Blogger hoodie as a way of saying thanks. Just go to [url] by October 1, 2003 to claim yours.

    We feel this move will be good for all Blogger users, and we’re excited about the many new things we have in the pipeline. Stay tuned.

    Thanks again,


    That’s got to be one of the nicest e-mail messages I’ve received. In fact, when I started using blogger, I loved it so much I felt compelled to sign up for the Pro version specifically so that those guys would get a bit of cash to keep the thing going. Being thanked felt really good.

September 2, 2003

  • Thought

    Great response by Ross Mayfield to a Jimmy Guterman article in B2 on blogs:

    “I believe what Jimmy is saying is that there isn’t a consumer market for blogging and that it isn’t essential for businesses to address it. The problem is we are at the very beginning of a technology adoption lifecycle. Some serious companies have forecasted this market to grow and made their bets accordingly. Every time a journalist tries to wrap themselves around the existing market, what’s visible are early adopters. What stands out are the leaders in using blogs for publishing, who benefit from preferential attachment as the earliest entrants. And if you take the innovator dialogue too seriously it looks like a one-ring circus.”

August 20, 2003

  • Thought

    This is interesting.

    The Guardian will be publishing a column in the “real” (print) newspaper from Jason Staines, who posted some comments to their blogged items. From comment poster to columnist in a few short days:

    “Eilan (aka Jason Staines), who has contributed to our discussion here on weblogs over the last week, agreed to pen this week’s Second Sight column in the newspaper. We thought he did a much better job of proposing a downside to the blogosphere than many of the higher-profile critics who have been having a go of late.”

    The comments that got him the gig are here.

    Update: Here is the column he did for the print and online version of the Guardian.

July 31, 2003

  • Thought

    Fascinating post on GlennLog called “Hating”.

    While the post is really about a war Dave Winer is having with a user, I wanted to note Glenn’s central theme regarding the imminent end of privacy (my words not his):

    “This kind of permanence has set in on the Web in a way that only a small percentage of people understand. Post to Usenet — ever? It’s there, forever. Post a Web page for a few months? Google has an archive, and if it’s up long enough, so does The Internet Archive, which, with a few keystrokes, brings up the history of every page they’ve archived at a given URL.”

July 18, 2003

June 20, 2003

  • Thought

    Dave Winer is documenting “what makes a weblog a weblog?”

    “Rather than saying ‘I know it when I see it’ I wanted to list all the known features of weblog software, but more important, get to the heart of what a weblog is, and how a weblog is different from a Wiki, or a news site managed with software like Vignette or Interwoven.”

January 27, 2003

  • Thought

    Interesting to note that Jupiter Research has set up a weblog area for their analysts to pontificate in real-time.

    Considering that Jupiter makes it’s living selling in-depth reports by these analysts, I see this as a very smart move. The analysts can add insights into the overall blog culture, picking up links and being included in blog-rolls. This will help a lot more people see that they know what they’re talking about (hopefully) and therefore build an audience for the paid research.

    I think this is a good example of the business use of blogs by content-heavy companies.

September 10, 2002

  • Thought

    I rather sheepishly did something today in the AIMS ADL that I don’t normally do — point people to my own site.

    In general I’ve preferred to keep my personal opinions out of my moderation of the ADL as much as is possible (which is not entirely of course). But I included a post about blogs in this issue and I felt that my blog was a good example because it IS NOT the perfect blog. I don’t get to it nearly as much as I should to make it a really vibrant and living thing. And I don’t feel I’ve found a definitive “voice” for it (although you may hear it when you read my /opinions).

    In any case, if you got here from the ADL, thanks for following my humble link. And if you didn’t get here from the ADL, here are the links I provided in my post:

    Articles on Weblogs

    Weblog Examples:

    Glenn Fleishman



    Dan Bricklin

    AIMS Newsblog

    For those of you now hooked, you can read Chapter 8 (Weblogs in Business) from the book “We Blog” here:

    My questions to the ADLerati out there:

    Do you Weblog? If so, why? Business or personal?

    Do you see business advantages to Weblogs?

    Do weblogs replace or supplement other communications?

August 24, 2002

  • Thought

    Many people focus on the personal and journalistic uses of blogs. But they are also very useful for companies to use to enhance (or establish) communications between themselves and their customers.

    A great example of the power of weblogs in business is Oddblog by Oddpost.

    Oddpost itself is an amazing company that I’ve mentioned before, but I found that I loved them even more after finding their idiosyncratic blog, which on the face of it tells you about bug fixes, but in reality, if the personification of their brand.


July 31, 2002

  • Thought

    O’Reilly Network’s article “What We’re Doing When We Blog” by Meg Hourihan is a great overview of what makes Weblogging different from having a personal home page. I appreciate people who are getting back to “deep thoughts” about what we are doing online. It seemed over the last few years that new ideas and analysis of them had fallen out of fashion.

    My guess is this will be a heavily linked to article (I found the article via Davenet)