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    Twitter makes that kind of post seem terribly outdated.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.

September 27, 2005

  • One Degree Calling

    When I took iStudio to task for not having a feed, iStudio fixed the problem and let me know via a comment at One Degree within an hour of the post going live.

    This morning I started wondering if any of the other web shops and interactive agencies in Canada are paying attention to the blogosphere. The scientist in me figured an experiment was in order.

    So, here is a list of ten randomly selected Canadian interactive shops. Let’s see how long it takes them to spot their company name and URL and add a comment to let us all know they found this contest they didn’t even know they were participating in. I’ll update the post with “time to reply” updates as they find us.

    Results To Date:

    To Be Heard From:

    • Blast Radius
    • Critical Mass
    • Devlin
    • Henderson bas
    • Indusblue
    • N5R
    • Note to our competitors: To make sure comments are legit, e-mail me from your work e-mail so I know the comment is really from the company and not from a “passionate customer” helping you out! Note to those reading our feed: To make sure those monitoring feeds instead of blogs have a fair chance I’m posting the whole post rather than an excerpt this time.

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on September 27, 2005.

August 22, 2005

  • Will Feeds Kill Newsletters Within A Year?

    I certainly hope so. Otherwise “this Globe & Mail article” (paid access only now) will make Chris Pirillo and me look a bit silly.

    (Interestingly enough, two years later, Tessa Wegert who interviewed us for the Globe article is writing for One Degree.)

    Here’s a snippet:

    What does RSS mean to the content-rich e-newsletter industry?

    About three months ago, Ken Schafer, president of the Toronto-based Internet consultancy Schafer Group and a founder of The Association for Internet Marketing and Sales (AIMS), simultaneously launched an e-newsletter and added an RSS feed to his company’s blog. Though it’s difficult to determine exactly how many RSS users subscribe to a feed — marketers cite this as one of the few limitations of the system — he estimates that there are about 10 times as many people viewing his feed as the e-newsletter.

    Mr. Schafer credits the concept behind RSS with the popularity of the program among his subscribers. ‘[RSS] feeds give the control back to the reader.’ As Internet content publishers, both Mr. Pirillo and Mr. Schafer believe that RSS could replace the need for e-newsletters. ‘It gives us everything we wanted from e-mail newsletters, and everything spam has taken away,’ Mr. Schafer says. ‘I would be surprised if in three years there are any e-newsletters left.’

    Well Chris (and the rest of you), do you think we’ll see the demise of e-mail newsletters (not all e-mail) in the near future?

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on August 22, 2005.

April 17, 2004

  • LinkedIn Etiquette

    Lately I’ve been getting more requests through LinkedIn and I started thinking about how a whole new etiquette is needed to deal with the issues that arise.

    Here are some thoughts around sending requests through others via LinkedIn.

    1. Don’t try to send a request more than two degrees away. Because all the people linking you and the recipient have to pass the message forward, you are counting on links that are too weak to really sustain a request. Better to find another route to the person than have the request die on the vine within LinkedIn.

    2. Always consider what value there is for the recipient to respond. Lots of request are of the “buy something from me” or “help me get a job” form. These won’t work. To establish a relationship with a new contact you need to offer them something that clearly has benefit for them not you. Start to extend your network by offering free tips, free services, suggesting stuff, or just sending them a compliment on some press/product/site, etc. Think of it as making a new friend not a sales pitch. And since LinkedIn gives members the ability to broadly suggest what they want to hear about you should never send messages outside of what they have asked to receive.

    3. Don’t ask the recipient to link to you, that’s for friends and this person by definition is not a friend. Ask them to allow you to contact them directly. Too many people try to build their link count instead of really connecting with people. One exception of course is when you are reconnecting with someone you already know but you don’t have a current e-mail address for them.

    4. Find the right person to connect with. Don’t assume that everyone at company X is involved in their core product. See that you have the right person to connect to first so you don’t waste your connector’s and the recipient’s time because you didn’t do your homework.

    5. You can now find the best path to your recipient if there are multiple connectors, so choose wisely. Choose the shortest path but also the one that appears to have the closest bond and the one you have not already overtaxed with past requests.

    6. Don’t overwhelm any of your connectors. Don’t send more than one request through a particular connector in a week. If you are doing more than that you should be sending them a gift of some sort for the work they are doing on your behalf.

    7. Thank the connector and let them know what happened after they forwarded on a request. Then they’ll be more likely to forward your next request.

March 22, 2004

  • 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).

October 18, 2003

October 9, 2003

July 25, 2003

  • Thought

    Wired News: Web Cliques Too Cool for School:

    “A clique has several mandatory structural elements, which include About, Rules, Members and Codes sections. In general, a clique will clearly define its topic. Its rules section lays out the governing principles of the page, and its membership section lists links to many on-topic sites. In the codes section, small graphical or text-based buttons that link back to the original clique are presented for all member sites to post on their pages.”

July 17, 2003

  • Thought

    Wired News: Making Friendsters in High Places:

    “Friendster, the popular social-networking service that cleverly assimilates real-life social groups into a large virtual network, just keeps getting bigger.

    The service, which opened to the public in March and is still in beta, will hit 1 million users this week, and is expanding at a rate of 20 percent a week, according to the company.”

July 5, 2003

  • Writing Social Software is Hard

    The always insightful Clay Shirky has posted a very long (almost 10,000 word) essay called “A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy”:

    “Writing social software is hard. And, as I said, the act of writing social software is more like the work of an economist or a political scientist. And the act of hosting social software, the relationship of someone who hosts it is more like a relationship of landlords to tenants than owners to boxes in a warehouse.

    The people using your software, even if you own it and pay for it, have rights and will behave as if they have rights. And if you abrogate those rights, you’ll hear about it very quickly.”

    Shirky gives a great overview of the issues that face all “online communities”, regardless of platform or technology used. After giving historical context by discussing the work of WR Brion, he provides “three things to accept” and “four things to design for”:


    1. You cannot separate technical and social issues.

    2. Members are different from users.

    3. The core group has rights that trump individual users.


    1. Create “handles” (identities) that users can invest in.

    2. Create a way for there to be “members in good standing”.

    3. Create barriers to participation. (The group is the user, not the individual and creating barriers ensures that the group gets better signal-to-noise and this is better than maximizing individual ease of use.)

    4. Find a way to spare the group from scale.

    While the essay may be a bit long and theoretical for the casual reader, I recommend the article strongly for anyone interested in online group interaction. Learn from the mistakes of others! As Shirky points out:

    “Now, this story has been written many times. It’s actually frustrating to see how many times it’s been written. You’d hope that at some point that someone would write it down, and they often do, but what then doesn’t happen is other people don’t read it.

    The most charitable description of this repeated pattern is “learning from experience.” But learning from experience is the worst possible way to learn something. Learning from experience is one up from remembering. That’s not great. The best way to learn something is when someone else figures it out and tells you: “Don’t go in that swamp. There are alligators in there.”

    Learning from experience about the alligators is lousy, compared to learning from reading, say. There hasn’t been, unfortunately, in this arena, a lot of learning from reading. And so, lessons from Lucasfilms’ Habitat, written in 1990, reads a lot like Rose Stone’s description of Communitree from 1978.

    This pattern has happened over and over and over again.”