February 24, 2015
January 14, 2011
Here we see a very young me (I’m pretty sure I’m four years old) with my sister Karin (who would have been 23).
Don’t we look young and happy and (at least in my case) sun-stroked?
January 10, 2011
I almost forgot to mention that today is the 15th anniversary of schafer.com.
I registered the domain for personal use back in 1996 and it’s had something on it pretty much ever since. It’s been a resume for me, a list of links, a corporate site for while I was self-employeed for many years, and since 2001 it’s had a blog attached to it (my first blog post was July 4th, 2001).
Interestingly enough, and entirely coincidentally, today is also my fourth anniversary on Twitter.
I wonder what the Internet will look like fifteen years from now?
When did you buy your first domain name and what did you do with it when you first started out online?
January 1, 2011
July 26, 2009
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Twitter makes that kind of post seem terribly outdated.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.
February 10, 2008
I really liked the Disqus approach to commenting and, given that this blog runs on TypePad as well, I thought I’d give it a try.
If I did my template manipulation correctly based on Disqus’ very easy-to-grok walkthrough, we should now have a new and improved commenting system here. I’d love it if you could try it out and let me know what you think.
The experience is really enhanced if you add your pic to your Disqus account as it will automatically pop up beside your comment — here and on other Disqus enabled sites.
Feel free to experiment in the comment thread below.
Earlier this week I was quoted in an IT Business article about the possible acquisition of Yahoo! by Microsoft.
Here’s what I had to say:
The two main things going for Yahoo is brand and massive audience, said Ken Schafer, vice-president of product management and marketing for Tucows Inc.
Tucows began as a domain name registrar in the early 1990s but quickly transformed itself into a service and software vendor for Web hosting firms and Internet service providers.
“Yahoo’s problem is it has had a hard time in finding out how to leverage its main assets,” Schafer said. “Yahoo was not able to execute as quickly as people had been hoping it would.”
Schafer said Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo did not come as a surprise, as people in the online marketing industry had been talking about its possibility for years.
“Personally, I hope they manage to pull it off. Competition means innovation, and the more competition, the better.”
I’m not sure that history will prove me out. Right now it looks like Yahoo!’s board is prepared to put up a fight to keep the company out of Steve Balmer’s hands (or at least to make him pay dearly for the honour).
January 2, 2008
(I got a poem from Lucy for Christmas and — with her permission — I’m sharing it here)
Twas the night before Tucows, launched their domains,
Ken Schafer was stirring, simply going insane;
The plans were all there, displayed on his macable,
In hopes that domains, will soon be unhackable;
The macs were all snoozing, with screen savers in sight,
While visions of starbursts, were haunting him all night;
With Ken in his office, and Elliot abroad,
He was checking the URLs that seamed slightly odd,
When out on the roof there arose such a clatter,
Ken sprang from his desk to see what was the matter.
Away to the window he flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the slush, that covered Mowat,
Gave a dinghy appearance to objects below it,
When, what to his wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight cows, instead of reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
Ken knew in a moment it must be St. Click.
More rapid than elephants his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now, Betsy! now, Martha! now, Ilsa and Daisy!
On, Patches! on Ellie! on, Moo Moo and Lazy!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now clop away! clop away! clop away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an awkward, mount to the sky,
So up to the office roof the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of hard drives, and St. Click too.
And then, in a twinkling, he heard on the roof
The stomping and Clacking of each little hoof.
As Ken drew in his hand, and was turning around,
Down the heating vent St. Click came with a bound.
He was dressed all in red, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of hard drives he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a truffle,
And the beard of his chin was as white as his shuffle;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And Ken laughed when he saw him, in spite of himself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave Ken to know he had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the offices; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the heating vent he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!
This is the second Internet/Ken-related poem I’ve been fortunate enough to receive, following my mom’s poem a few years ago.
December 31, 2007
It looks like everything is moving smoothly post migration to Typepad. DNS propagation took longer than I expected but my goals was to have everything in place for the end of the year and it looks like that is the case.
I’m sure I’ll be fiddling more with the look of the site and with tweaking the content, but I’m pretty happy with the results even as they are now.
Let me know if anything looks funny or is broken from your end!
December 26, 2007
I took a few hours this morning to move all the posts I did on the WordPress version of my blog over the last six months to this TypePad version of the blog.
I’m pretty happy with the move (back) to Typepad and I’m looking forward to playing with the site again (something I couldn’t do with WordPress because it really needs to you to understand basic coding to get things looking the way you want).
Next step is to update DNS to point here to make it all official.
December 20, 2007
I’m thinking about it. I like my WordPress blog well enough but it’s probably more horsepower than I need. 2008 will be (once again) a year where I focus on simplifying and going with what I care about rather than what I “ought to do”.
November 10, 2007
Nestor E. Arellano (the “E” is to avoid him getting confused with all the other Nestor Arellanos out there — sorry Nestor I couldn’t resist) interviewed me on Thursday for an ITBusiness.ca article called “Good Vibes Stem The Tide Of Talent Turnover”.
One of the things I’ve learned as a manager is that my team has to understand why they are doing what they are doing, see challenge in the work, and enjoy the physical act of working (i.e. like the people and environment the work gets done in). If you don’t get those right, it’s very tough to keep anyone engaged. If they’re not engaged, they might stick around if times are tough but given options (as people most definitely are being given right now), they won’t stick around for long.
September 8, 2007
When I started healthyken.com I didn’t think that anyone would really read it, let alone want to comment on the details of my eating habits. Turns out though that folks are reading it and quite a few have commented on the fact that they want to comment. Unfortunately tumblr doesn’t allow for comments and I’m still not sure I want to move my health posts to this “official” blog.
Therefore I’m opening up a comment thread below for anyone who wants to comment on anything they read over at healthyken.com.
Update 2007–12–26: I changed my blogging platform at the end of 2007 and unfortunately one of the things lost in the move were the 23 wonderful comments people had left on this post. Thanks for all the encouragement folks! You know who you are!
August 29, 2007
I decided not to clutter up this (ahem) “official” Ken Schafer Blog with details of my progress on going from Fat F__k to Healthy Ken, but if you are interested in my plan and how I’m doing on it, you can find all the details at healthyken.com.
July 23, 2007
Well, that took much longer than I thought!
Since I sold One Degree a few months ago I’ve been on a blogging sabbatical. My goal has been to reboot the blog I ran at schafer.com from 2001 until 2005 and at the same time bring together a lot of the scraps I’ve left littered around various other blogging outposts since then.
With a little help from James, I’ve managed to get settled in here pretty nicely — once I put my mind to it.
So consider this a “Hello Again World” post!
May 29, 2007
833 days ago I did a “first post” to One Degree — a classic Hello World. 1430 posts, 1351 comments, and 40 plus contributors later it’s time to say goodbye — or maybe more accurately, “see you later” — to One Degree and the community that has grown up around it.
Today I’m announcing that I’ve sold One Degree to my good friend and long-time One Degree Contributor Kate Trgovac.
Since taking the role of VP Product Management and Marketing at Tucows about a year ago I’ve found that my ability to give One Degree the attention it needs to keep it alive and vibrant is increasingly limited.
My goal with One Degree has always been to foster a stronger Internet marketing community in Canada. That’s really the goal I had as a co-founder of AIMS and as a volunteer and teacher for the CMA. To me, it’s always been important that we had a place to share ideas and raise the profile of local success stories. It’s too easy to get caught up in the hype about what’s happening in “The Valley” or New York without realizing all the great successes springing up all around us.
I hope that One Degree had — and will continue to have — a small role in helping Canadians understand the transformational power of the Internet for both business and culture. This is an exciting day for me as I know that Kate is the perfect person to take over the community we’ve created and carry on that mission.
I’ll leave it to Kate and Co. to talk about what may change here at One Degree but I know that this story is just beginning. I’m writing the final sentences of Chapter 1 here but I know we have many chapters to go.
And I plan to drop in occasionally to add my two cents worth so this is by no means a “Goodbye World” post!
Or possibly more accurately titled, “Why I lead the charge on buying One Degree and dragged three other investors kicking and screaming along with me.” (But that’s a pretty long title).
I have been posting on One Degree since the early days and have watched as Ken’s vision for the site took hold and a community began to grow around it. Canadian marketers posted, read, shared their unique POVs and created a body of work that is a valuable resource for new and veteran marketers alike.
When Ken mentioned that he was thinking about selling One Degree, I immediately put up my hand and said, “Me, me, pick me!” I’m a huge fan of what he has built and hated to think that it might disappear from our toolkits, or worse, pass to someone who didn’t have the passion and vision for it.
Over a couple of martinis, I managed to convince a few other folks, who also hold One Degree in high regard, to come along with me for the ride. They are:
- SpinGlobe headed by Sean Howard of Craphammer.ca fame — SpinGlobe is our design and technical team plus Sean will continue to write articles for us.
- Daniel Ponech, User Experience Architect extraordinaire — Daniel is heading up our business development including site sponsorships, event & job listings and other partnership opportunities.
- Rosemary Rowe, Copywriter and Content Maven — Rosemary will be point on content and contributor wrangling, ensuring we’re readable, coherent, and well-indexed as well as creating some of our new features.
It’s kind of a different mix, but we’re hoping to shake things up a bit. Ken will continue to contribute his wisdom and insight to One Degree. Arieh, who has been for many of you the day-to-day voice and contact of One Degree leaves us as Associate Editor but will continue to offer his valued perspective as a contributor as well. Ken and Arieh — thank you so much for all that you have done for One Degree!
So today, officially, One Degree becomes a reinvent! Communications publication. Look for some tweaks, enhancements, changes, and hiccoughs over the next few months as we wrap our heads around what we’ve taken on and start to get a better understanding of what the community wants and needs.
I would be thrilled to receive any feedback you have; we will be conducting a survey in the next few weeks, but personal notes are always welcome. You can reach me via the contact page or at kate[at]onedegree[dot]ca.
Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on May 29, 2007.
February 11, 2007
I’ve long been a proponent of a “go big or go home” approach to display advertising. Last week I realized we weren’t practicing what I preached here at One Degree. When we announced our Whole Site Sponsorship package a while ago we offered leaderboards at the top and bottom of all pages and a “big box” ad mid-page on longer posts. That “big box” is 336×280 pixels — i.e. the standard IAB Large Rectangle. Now my goal in offering sponsorships on One Degree was for sponsors to “own the site” for the month they sponsor. In hindsight, I think going with the biggest IAB size was overly limiting. Therefore, I’ve created a new Ad Unit I’m calling the Big Assed Ad Unit — 500X500 pixels and up to 100K in file size. Big Assed Ads! Woot! I asked this month’s sponsor Cornerstone if they’d like to give it a try and they jumped at the chance. Here’s what it looks like:
I’m not suggesting others take on this size (although it wouldn’t bother me) but I think it makes sense given the way One Degree is built and the goals of our sponsors.
Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on February 11, 2007.
June 26, 2006
Last week “One Degree contributor”, “blogger”, and “Twist Image President” Mitch Joel was nice enough to interview me for “Six Pixels of Separation”— his latest incarnation as a podcaster. The podcast covers a bunch of interesting topics including “CaseCamp” and “Second Life”. My interview is about 15 minutes long and covers some of my thinking about One Degree and Internet marketing in general.
Mitch Joel was nice enough to invite me as a guest on his new “New Marketing” podcast, Six Pixels of Separation. Episode Six of the show features me, Joseph Jaffe, and Neville Hobson. Here’s a bit more about the podcast and a link to the podcast itself in case you’d like to learn a little more about what’s behind One Degree and my thoughts on new marketing in general…
Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on June 26, 2006.
March 31, 2006
If you look to your right, and down the page a bit you’ll notice something called “sidebar”. That’s all the links I find around the web that I want to share with you. I’m doing this by posting a sub-feed from my del.icio.us account so that the whole thing is seemless seamless. Ooh, seemless seamless. Sweet.
Between then and last year about now I blogged on a semi-regular basis and managed to get about 430 posts online during that time.
Then I started One Degree and for all intents and purposes stopped my personal blog. Slowly the old schafer.com was falling apart as more of my attention went to One Degree. Finally I couldn’t take it anymore and I ripped the site down and replaced it with some minimalistic pages about me and what I do. But because my blog still used Blogger software for the back end it was just too much to contemplate a total overhaul given my infrequent posting.
Now that I’ve joined Tucows I really want to move schafer.com away from being a business site towards being my personal site.
So, here’s how I’m hoping it will work out:
- Here — Stuff about me, personal observations, asides, family and life stuff, capturing ideas, working through problems in public, etc.
- There — One Degree is a group effort focussed entirely on Internet marketing, particularly in Canada, so most of my writing on that topic will be done over there.
My guess is I’ll also be running a Tucows blog of some sort — I can’t imagine I wouldn’t — but you’ll have to wait to find out more about that.
Any thoughts on the mix of “official” and “personal” blogging?
March 24, 2006
This is a slightly awkward but, given my role as Publisher and Contributing Editor of One Degree and “background in the industry” it does seem appropriate that One Degree break this story. Pardon me going all Michael Bolton and talking in the third person.
“Dave Woroch”, VP Sales & Marketing for “Tucows Inc.” today announced via an e-mail to all Tucows staff that industry veteran and Publisher of One Degree Ken Schafer is joining Tucows as Vice President Marketing effective April 3rd. Tucows provides “Internet services” and “download libraries” through a global distribution network of 6,000 service providers. This distribution network primarily consists of web hosting companies, ISP (Internet Service Providers) and other Internet-related service companies. These companies use Tucows’ provisioned services to offer solutions to their customers: enterprises, small and medium businesses and consumers. Tucows is an accredited registrar with ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) and earns most of its revenue from domain name registration services plus hosted email, spam and virus protection, “Blogware”, website building tools, the Platypus Billing System and digital certificates.
While Ken will be winding down his eight-year-old Internet consulting practice at the end of this month, One Degree will (okay, should) be unaffected by Ken’s new role at Tucows.
Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on March 24, 2006.
March 15, 2006
One Degree’s tagline is “where Canadian Internet Marketers gather” and Ken Schafer (One Degree’s publisher, contributing editor and recognized Internet marketing authority) has certainly pulled together an impressive roster of industry experts to share their knowledge on the gamut of Internet Marketing activities. The blog is updated daily, features Canadian-specific examples and covers topics as wide-ranging as affiliate programs, public relations and viral marketing. We consistently find the postings both thought-provoking and informative — definitely RSS or subscription worthy.
Stop. We’re blushing. You had us at “impressive roster”. I don’t think we’ve ever been called “subscription-worthy” but we’ll take that as a high compliment in these days of overloaded inboxes. Of course, as soon as webnames.ca published this we fell off the wagon and didn’t publish for the better part of a week!
Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on March 15, 2006.
February 9, 2006
Ah, the things you find in your web stats. We started getting some traffic from a new site yesterday and in checking out the link I found Ogilvy BlogFeeds.
Here’s how Ogilvy characterizes the site:
The Ogilvy PR BlogFeeds are our feeds from some of the most influential blogs out there. The ones we’re reading every day. Visit any of the categories below to get a snapshot view of all the headlines. Pick and choose blogs to add to your own personal RSS feed aggregator — or just bookmark these pages to always get the latest headlines from blogs relevant to you.
I was honoured to see that they had this to say about One Degree:
This collaborative blog brings together thinking from numerous contributors in the Canadian Online Marketing industry. The blog covers and interesting range of topics and offers a great non-US perspective.
It was also nice to see that they included us up there with other blogging luminaries like Seth Godin, MarketingVox, John Battelle, and Duct Tape Marketing among others. Good company!
Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on February 9, 2006.
January 12, 2006
I have been invited to speak to the Council of Communications Directors for the ministries of the Ontario Government tomorrow morning. The topic is “The Big Six For ’06 — The Six Big Internet Trends In 2006″.
Here’s the list I’m working from:
- Search Marketing
- Moving Beyond Text
I’ve only got one hour to cover all this which means it will be a whirlwind tour of these key themes impacting all businesses using the Net today. My goal is really to snap their heads back and make them focus on how the Net — and our ideas about what is important online — are changing. Feedback on the list and how it impacts government would be appreciated.
Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on January 12, 2006.
December 8, 2005
To follow on from my “Getting Clients Involved In Less” post, I thought I’d share what I’ve done with my corporate site at “schafer.com”.
My site has gone through many changes in the just under 10 years I’ve been running it (the site will be into double digits in January). It shrinks and expands in direct proportion to the clarity I have around what I’m offering my clients. Usually, when I introduce a new service or change what I’m doing, I end up adding more to the site to make sure people understand the new stuff we’re offering.
But after a while, I realize that most of what I was saying didn’t really matter and could be done away with. Then the site starts to shrink again. A few weeks ago I launched a new version of the site — probably the sparest iteration since our “hello world” page a decade ago. It’s four pages long. The logo is the only image on the site. Nothing dynamic, web 2.0, Flash-enabled, or even particularly exciting.
I like it — but then again I’m already sold on my services so maybe I’m not the stereotypical site visitor we should be building for! I guess I have a bit of a concern that this might be too much less — that I’ve taken out something that a new prospect would expect to see — that I’ve created a disconnect that will cause potential clients to pause and think twice about using our services.
This is a particularly sticky situation because our primary services are helping people make “their Internet strategy smarter” and “their website better”. So if I’ve done a bad job on my own site, I’m not going to get a lot of clients. So here is the issue. I think this site is a fine example of getting the job done with less, which I feel is a critical skill these days. But will clients — who probably haven’t thought about the benefits of simplicity — look at this the same way I do? Or will they see it as an underdeveloped site where they were expecting brilliance?
Your feedback on the site is welcome. Take a look at “schafer.com” and let me know — did I take minimalism too far?
Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on December 8, 2005.
May 17, 2005
Seth Godin’s latest ebook is called “KNOCK KNOCK, Seth Godin’s Incomplete Guide to Building a Web Site That Works”. For less than ten bucks it is most definitely the deal of the day. Go, buy it now.
In the “CMA E-marketing Certificate course” I teach here in Toronto we use Michael Porter’s Harvard Business Review article “The Internet and Strategy” as the centerpiece of our discussions around using the Internet as a business tool. While reviewing the article this semester it struck me that Michael Porter’s article and Seth’s “Purple Cow” are saying exactly the same thing in two entirely different ways. Some people will like Porter’s theory-heavy bschool way of learning this stuff and others will enjoy Seth’s no-holds-barred, over-the-top analogies and colorful metaphors. (Personally, I like both) But the essence of the message is the same — you need to be remarkable in many ways in order to have an advantage these days. The Internet can play a key part in that, but it generally is not the whole story.
With KNOCK KNOCK, Seth is taking stuff User Experience experts (“myself included”) have been saying for a long time. But he manages to boil it down into plain English directions that will make sense to those that don’t eat, sleep, and breathe all things Internet. And I commend him for that. (And yes the title of this post is what I meant to type. Think about it.)
Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on May 17, 2005.
April 19, 2005
I haven’t been posting much over the last few months and most likely it will continue that way.
Three reasons for this:
1. Business is great! I’ve got more clients already this year than this time last year, and last year was our biggest to date. It’s great to be busy but it does cut into much needed blogging time. This seems to be a trend.
2. I’m cheating on myself! I’ve set up a side project called One Degree (where Canadian online professionals gather) and most of my time and attention have gone to the care and feeding of that site. If you are looking for regular posts from me, go there.
3. I’m spoiled! One Degree is built using Movable Type and it is so nice having a full-fledged blogging system in place. This site uses Blogger and has since launch, but the service is so limited that I have outgrown it. At some point this site will be redone using Movable Type, but that will have to wait for a while as I attend to these other burning issues.
March 29, 2005
“AIMS” has just announced the inaugural event in their Think Tank Series will be on April 27, 2005.
This is an interesting new twist for AIMS as it is a premium breakfast event.
Network with your colleagues and hear what the CEO’s of two leading Global Internet Services firms are seeing on the internet horizon. Our panelists include Mark Kingdon, CEO of “Organic” (from New York) and Canada’s own Gurval Caer, CEO of “Blast Radius”. The session will be moderated by Ken Schafer, President of “Schafer Group”:(and past-president of AIMS) [ed. — and your humble author].
The AIMS Think Tank Series is a breakfast series that brings together Internet thought leaders to discuss the trends, innovations, and technologies that Canadian Internet and Marketing executives need to know. This series is for Directors, VPs and above.
You can get “more event details and register” for this event now.
Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on March 29, 2005.
March 14, 2005
I’m at “SXSW” this week, enjoying the warm weather and (relatively) interesting sessions. I’m still not really used to people in the audience having their laptops open surfing the web wirelessly. It looks like more of a distraction than a benefit and most people seem to use it to check their e-mail and visit the blogs of the panel participants when bored. This, of course, leads to some unavoidable voyeurism as it is pretty much impossible not to look at a neighbor’s screen as they surf.
During the “Blogging Showdown” panel this morning, I noticed that an attendee from “Blogger” was checking an application called “Caribou”. The logo and interface were clearly Google, looking much like a Gmail clone. There was a small “alpha” under the Caribou logo, but other than that I couldn’t really make anything out before the laptop was closed.
So, what is Google Caribou?
Well, after some initial excitement that I had a scoop on a Google RSS reader or something like that, I find that (“in all likelihood”) Caribou was the pre-beta name for Gmail. Still, it seems odd that an online version of an alpha release is still available. Is it possible that Google is recycling the name and using it for internal alpha versions of Gmail upgrades?
Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on March 14, 2005.