Thursday, May 29, 2008

Taking value away from users to try to force a specific action is almost always going to be less desirable than providing people what they want.

Here's a little secret: statistically speaking, no one cares about what you have to offer, show or say. But rather than have me beat you over the head with that statement of fact, I'll let Loren Feldman tell you in this video.

In fact, the collective "they" care so little, "they" aren't even going to bother putting forth the effort to steal your content. Tim O'Reilly told us that in 2002. And while a goodly number of creative people finally took that message to heart in recent years, the vast majority of people are still spending to much time protecting what is rightfully theirs -- when (statistically) nobody cares.

Today this issue came to a head for me (again) in the guise of the full-text vs partial feed debate, so I sent over this classic comment as a stand-in for my arguments. Podcasters who bitch about feed-hijacking are singing the same tune. Funny how the issue of media-serving ownership doesn't seem to bother video producers. And people wonder why YouTube is more popular than any podcast directory. Go figure.

Here's the bottom line: If you are a creative person, you should be primarily concerned with people being able to consume your product. Worrying over how it is consumed or what might happen to it after it is consumed is a clear case of chicken-before-the-egg. Get it out there. Make it easy to find and enjoy. If not... well then you're as crazy as my cousin in Iowa with an irrational and all-consuming fear of sharks. Guess how often I take her call?

The title -- and inspiration -- for this post came from an article on Techdirt last year. Worth the read as it's applicable to much more than the issue of the proper contents of an RSS feed.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Trickle down or ripple effect?

I started my morning with the following tweet:

"Trying to tap into a network of influencers is pointless: it's very hard to know who really has influence and who's just got a big mouth."

That pearl of wisdom comes from Suw Charman in her blog post on Strange Attractor. Like Suw, I've always questioned the idea that if you reach some "key" people in any organization (blogs, podcasts, companies, schools, meetup-aholics) then it will trickle down to the unwashed masses below. That smacks of Reaganomics to me -- been there, done that.

Granted, there is a huge "follower" mentality and echo-chamber effect for some of those groups (you know the ones), but most people won't truly adopt something and incorporate it into their life unless it speaks to them and is useful -- to them. Not just because Brogan (and I loves me some Brogan) said it was cool. It actually has to BE cool and be something that I need to be cool to me.

But I like the ripple effect. It's how I learned about podcasting, Word Press, Twitter... you name it. Sure, I hear about lots of cool stuff from the Top Brass and I've been known to adopt early. But most people aren't watching as closely as I and a handful of others. Let's hear it for the ripple effect.

Props to Thomas for the link!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Getting to zero with a Bacn folder

One of the challenges of being a new media douchbag is that I (and probably you) get inundated with email. Friend requests, shouts, updates, Flicker notices, Netflix confirmations... it's out of control!

The name for all of this... stuff is now "bacn". Think of it as a form of spam, but spam that is residual, somewhat necessary and completely the result of you (read: ME) signing up for one (dozen) too many online services/cool things/time sinks. Rarely is any of it time sensitive. In fact, it's probably cluttering up your inbox and keeping you from getting to that elusive and fleeting ZERO.

So get rid of it. At least, get rid of it from showing in your inbox. Here's how.

If you use Gmail, follow these directions to the letter. If you use something else, figure out the spirit of what I'm saying and modify it to you own system's ability to "filter".

First, go to your overflowing inbox and identify your biggest source of bacn emails. Mine was Facebook, though Good Reads and Digg were coming in a close second. Click the email.

Next to the "Delete" button near the top, you'll see a pull down with the words "More Actions" displayed. Pull that down and choose "Filter messages like these". Gmail is smart enough to fill out some basic information that you may want to filter agains. Take a look to make sure it's got the correct info to recognize bacn versus legit email. You'll notice the list of "captured" mails based on your filter below.

Click Next Step to really get the magic working -- and to keep this crap from flooding your inbox. Select the following check boxes:

  • Skip the inbox (you're so going to like this)
  • Apply the label "bacn"
  • Yes, you'll have to create a new lable for this. You know how.

  • Also apply filter to ## conversations. (That'll make it work right now.)

    I don't recommend marking it read, as leaving it unread allows the Bacn folder to cause a count of unread messages to display, helping you figure out when to go back and check before it asplodes.

    Some people like to Star certain forms of Bacn, depending on the service. Your mileage may vary, but I'd leave it off.

    Now hit Create Filter and watch your inbox shrink. Rinse and repeat as necessary to get your box in a manageable form. And don't feel compelled to clean this box out daily. I get to it about once a month. Yes, that means I often have over 400 pieces of bacn in there. So what? By definition, this stuff isn't time sensitive.

    Give it a shot. Save you some time. And help with your sanity.
  • Saturday, February 2, 2008

    Brain crack

    Meet my friend Brian Shaler. Brian... jumps. Well, he does lots of other cool shit as well. But he's best known (by me anyway) for his jumps.

    Brian fell in to my trap the other day. What's the trap? Simple. I've talked before how I tend to assume that I'm the smartest person in any room I walk into. But occasionally, I discover someone else in the room who is more deserving of that mantle. And when that happens, I tag that person as a friend and do my best to not only get to know him/her, but also work like a dog to find out how that person and I (and perhaps others) can work together to make something hellaciously cool.

    Why? So that I don't develop Brain Crack. I didn't know that's what I was avoiding until Brian told me about it over lunch a week or so ago. Nor did I know that it was a term coined by Ze Frank back in the summer of '06. But hey, I can't be everywhere at once and neither can you. So if you missed it:

    Image from Adam Nollmeyer, the finest photographer I've had the pleasure of meeting. In the market for a pro-photographer? Look no further.

    Thursday, August 30, 2007

    Here's to the crazy ones

    My new favorite quote, attributed to Johnny Appleseed:

    Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things.

    Right on. That's me.

    And by the way: the Johnny Appleseed story you were told as a kid is a whitewashed version. Check out Michael Polan's book The Botany of Desire for the real deal. Fantastic book.

    Sunday, July 29, 2007

    Are you selling what they should be buying?

    I've been reading Joe Marchese's Online Spin for some time now. Very good and very dense information on the changing nature of marketing and advertising -- including what it means to even try to advertise in the digital space. Always good.

    Recently, he posted a piece on targeting. I realize that most of my audience probably couldn't care less about advertising. Hey, if it wasn't how I earned a living, I'd be inclined to agree. But many of my readers are content producers of one size or another. Assuming you fit that bill, this may interest you:

    Targeting and relevancy unlock the potential for QUALITY publishers (from individuals to professional media producers) to sell so much more than the attention of their audience and advertisers in order to build effective targeting strategies, offering so much more than just a demographic mix. But publishers must do a better job of defining what their true value is to advertisers and help advertisers to create greater relevance to the publisher’s content and audience alike.

    It interests the hell out of me. I'm not exactly sure how to apply it in our situation at But that's part of the fun, now isn't it?