Category Archives: memory

The John Dvorakification of the blogosphere (I’m signing off of Memeorandum)

I’m unsubscribing from Memeorandum.

Reading Dave Winer this morning made me realize I’m just falling down a dark hole. It’s the same hole I was in in the 1990s when I posted about 100,000 items on various newsgroups: in a group the writer is in control, not the reader.

I miss my RSS reading. Reading RSS makes me smarter, not snarkier. Why? Cause I choose who I’m going to read. Pick smart people to read and you’ll get smarter.

Hint, the smartest people in my RSS are usually the least snarky. Why? Cause they could give a f**k about all the traffic.

Why is all the snark going on? Cause everyone wants traffic. Why did I call this the John Dvorakification? Cause he figured out in the 1980s (yes, he’s been at this so long) that if you attack a community (particularly the Apple one) that everyone will get all up in arms and will start talking about the attack. That translates into traffic. Traffic = advertising dollars.

Last night I spent a couple of hours in Second Life and found myself getting smarter again. Why? Cause I was hanging around with smart people and discovering a new world together with them. I was discovering new music in a record store there. I was learning new things. Experiencing new things. And there wasn’t any snark. And no one was begging me for a link. I’m so tired of that.

So, what do I mean by this?

Let’s go look at my feeds. What’s the first post I see? How about this one from Alex Feldstein. He links to images from the Hubble space telescope. S**t. One post and I’m already getting smarter.

Let’s keep going. Bob Lewis teaches me how to deal with a backstabber. Two-for-two. Neither of these got on Memeorandum.

Next. 43 folders has a post on 2 ways to make RSS readers smarter. Hey, you RSS guys paying attention?

Brian Noyes writes that .NET Rocks is talking about data binding and other geeky stuff (and that there’s a new .NET Rocks TV show too). On Memeorandum? Nope.

The Agile Management blog links to Brad Appleton who has great articles on Feature Driven Development and UML in Color Domain Modeling. I’m reading those two now and they are teaching me a lot more than Memeorandum has.

Over on the Software Marketing Resource blog I learn that Krugle is a new source-code search engine and that Windows Marketplace will help software developers market their software.

Andy Lark says that PR legend Harold Burson is blogging. I didn’t see that on Memeorandum either.

John Ludwig praises a football fan’s blog (hint, it’s very geeky). John’s a VC. Listening to VCs typically makes one smarter, if not richer despite the belief that VCs aren’t very smart.

Rob Fahrni, a software developer, has links to the operating manual for the Haunted Mansion at DisneyLand.

Anyway, it’s the little things in life that make you smarter. The little things don’t show up on Memeorandum. They do show up on RSS. Which is why I’m still subscribed to 847 smart people’s feeds.

Sorry Gabe, I’m not gonna look at Memeorandum for at least a week. The Sunday Snark just pushed me over the edge.

Memeorandum, my favorite memetracker, sports new design

Hey, Gabe, love the new design of Memeorandum! I guess that this proves that I actually do read it about 10 times a day.

There are two Memeorandums, by the way:

1) For tech news junkies.
2) For political/current events/major news junkies.

Here’s Gabe’s post about the new design.

So, what does Memeorandum do? It watches the top bloggers in these two worlds and analyzes what we link to. The more bloggers who link to a specific story the higher on Memorandum it goes. Oh, and don’t think it’s simply a tool of the elitist A-list either. If you watch it often you’ll see a lot of new blogs come through that aren’t on anyone’s A list. Why? Well, if we all link to you, you’ll get added to Memeorandum no matter how popular your blog is.
It’s like Google News, but the algorithm depends on thousands of bloggers.

Compare to Tail Rank, Blogniscient, DIGG, Chuquet.

What do you think? Have you started using a memetracker yet? Why or why not? If not, do you visit a news site like Google/Yahoo/MSN’s news pages?

MEMEORANDUM TIP? Visit the “preferences” at the top right of the page and turn everything on. I wish Gabe would just do that by default, but it makes Memeorandum a lot more interesting to me (cause then I can see a lot more headlines).

Blog Herald doesn’t understand why full-text feeds work

For the past couple of months Blog Herald has been subtly attacking me. I thought it was just one of those suckups trying to bait me to link to them but today I saw the real reason for Duncan’s tone: he thinks I don’t want him or anyone else to make money off of content (that link takes you to his post titled: Steve Rubel doesn’t get it: RSS advertising sucks).

He’s wrong about my views, but he’s not the only one (I was forwarded some email from a private mailing list where some of the participants skewered me in the same way that Blog Herald just did but in a more personal way — all because I want full-text feeds).

Ahh, I see Kent Newsome sees through Duncan’s post.

So, let’s get to it: what are my views?

1) That I won’t subscribe to any feed that isn’t full text. Well, except for my brother’s blog.
2) That treating RSS readers well will get you more Web browser readers.
3) That full-text sites will be more profitable because of this than partial-text sites.

So, let’s look at the world of RSS. First, you MUST separate the world into two buckets:

1) The way they are today.
2) The way we want them to be tomorrow.

Personally I want a world where everyone uses a feed reader and subscribes to their favorite blogs, news sites, etc. But let’s be honest. Such a world is a LONG way from being here. We could go into the reasons, but that’s for another post at another time. Let’s not rathole on this.

Instead, let’s look at how things are TODAY. Today only a very small percentage of people use RSS and RSS News Aggregators. Even if you include the people who don’t have any clue that they are using RSS (like those people who use live.com or MyYahoo to subscribe).

The reason RSS advertising doesn’t work today is:

1) The audiences are too small.
2) The audiences are too geeky and too full of smart people. Hint, those people don’t click on advertisements unless they are very targetted!

Now when I talk with audiences I see two trends: 1) Blog-heavy audiences, like the Northern Voice conference, have about 80% usage of RSS News Aggregators (these audiences do NOT represent the mainstream user). 2) Blog-lite audiences, like Ireland’s IT@Cork conference, only see about 2% RSS usage (these are far more mainstream — in fact, I’d argue that the mainstream user is far less likely to use RSS than that. Heck, if you really want to get mainstream, only about 1/6th of the world’s population even uses a computer).

But, now, how do you get traffic to visit your content? Well, I’ve been studying that too. There are a few ways:

1) Get your content listed on a news site with a lot of flow. Something like Yahoo or Google or MSN’s news page. Not many of us have access to that. With one exception that I’ll note below.
2) Get a journalist with a lot of flow to link to you. When the New York Times links to you you’ll get lots of flow.
3) Get lots of bloggers to link to you. I do get lots of flow when lots of bloggers link to me.
4) Get the memetrackers like Digg, Memeorandum, TailRank, Slashdot etc to link to you.

Yeah, there are probably others, but in terms of buckets of how you get traffic, these are the major ones.

OK, you might be reading my words in an RSS aggregator, right? What happens when you click on a link? It takes you to a Web browser, right?

Ahhh! That’s how you can make money!

Aside, there are at least three ways content owners today make money off of advertising:

1) Show a banner ad when you visit the page (the content owner gets paid everytime you visit that page. For instance, I just went to cnn.com and there’s a banner ad there and they probably got a few cents from my visit.
2) Click-to-pay advertising. You see all those Google ads all over the place? Chris Pirillo’s blog, for instance, has Google ads (so does Blog Herald). These sites only get paid if you actually click on the advertising. For instance, some of the words you click on can be worth up to $60 PER CLICK to Google and other advertising companies (like Mortgages). 
3) Interruptive advertising. News.com uses a lot of these kinds of ads. They are Flash movies that fly over the page, or pop up, or run across the page until you click their close or “skip” buttons. These are also paid by impression, or everytime you load the browser up. 

Anyway, back to traffic. To get it, first you should appease the connectors. Er, the bloggers, the journalists, and the geeks.

You see, when I get together with journalists their RSS usage is WAY WAY WAY higher than the rest of the population. Journalists are like me. They sift through lots of information looking for the gems for their readers. That’s how they build audiences. RSS lets people read about 10 times the amount of content than if you just use a Web browser. That’s why journalists, connectors, bloggers, geeks who care about productivity, etc use RSS. It’s also why advertising in RSS isn’t yet working. These people aren’t good targets for loosely-targetted advertising.

Here’s a question: if you were an advertising company, what advertisement would you put into this post? One for diapers? Digital cameras? RSS aggregators?

Most of the algorithms for advertising would just look at the words I typed. So, now you’ll get ads for all the above. Loosely-targetted. This isn’t like going to a search engine and actively searching for, say, digital camera info, and getting a Nikon advertisement. Geeks, connectors, journalists LIKE that kind of advertising. But we don’t like interruptive styles of advertising. Which is what we get in RSS feeds today.

So, how does anyone make any money?

Well, let’s stay in TODAY’S world. In today’s world you get journalists, geeks, bloggers, connectors, to read your content and link to it. That’ll bring a larger audience to visit your Web page. How do you do that? Serve out full-text RSS. Why? Cause by doing that you treat the connector with the most possible respect and give him/her the easiest way to consume your content and link to it.

Then you put advertising on your page. That could be a banner ad. That could be a Google AdSense block (or Yahoo or MSN’s equivilent). Or you could even be really rude and put a Flash ad interstitial (I’ve seen more and more of this kind of “interruptive” advertising). Or, you could get really creative like Honda did and create advertising people will link to as content itself.

Since only a small percentage of your audience will be using RSS (even if you’re a tech blogger, less than half of your audience will be using RSS on the average day) you’ll make money.

Now, the fear is that the model will go away tomorrow thanks to RSS being built into IE 7, Safari, Firefox, Opera and other browsers. Whoa! Alert, alert, if that happens that means the unwashed masses won’t be seeing your interstitial Flash advertisements anymore, or refreshing your banner ads, or seeing your Google AdSense blocks.

OK, in such a world advertising will have to change. But, let’s be honest, what percentage of people will use RSS in such a world? I’d argue that it’ll be a small percentage for a very long time. My mom just doesn’t read enough sites to care about RSS. I doubt she will until she gets into blogging (which is possible, but I don’t expect it anytime soon).

Plus, what makes the usage model of reading a Web page in an aggregator so different from reading it in a browser window? Why couldn’t Google put the same AdSense block into RSS that it puts next to Chris Pirillo’s content, for instance? Oh, wait, Google is already doing that.

But, that’s also ratholing in an argument that really deserves its own post.

What people who say that full-text RSS hurts their advertising possibilities don’t get is that if you treat connectors, bloggers, journalists better, you’ll get MORE audience to your Web pages, which will get you more advertising hits.

Or am I missing something here? Either way, you can call me all the names you want, but I won’t subscribe to partial text feeds. Yes, I’m more likely to link to Web pages that also serve full-text feeds out. But don’t mistake my demand that my content providers treat me better with some theory that I don’t want them to make money. That simply isn’t true and represents the worst of “stick-your-head-in-the-sand” kind of anti-change thinking. If you want to make money in this new world you are far more likely to do so by working with your best customers to find new ways to build audiences and serve better advertising toward them.

The one exception above? The folks who run Yahoo, MSN, and Microsoft’s main pages are heavy users of RSS. Why? Cause they are paid to find the best content. If they aren’t using RSS aggregators today I’d argue they should be fired. Why? Cause they aren’t being as productive as someone else (I can prove that an editor who reads content in an RSS aggregator is far more productive than someone who only uses a Web browser).

But, what do you think? Are content providers going to gain anything to tell connectors, journalists, bloggers to screw off?

PS: Dave Winer has an interesting post this morning on why formats like RSS 2.0 work.

Tips for joining the A list

I keep getting asked “how do I get more traffic?” Or, “how do I get TechCrunch to notice my blog?”

Quick: go to Technorati and do the brrreeeport search. Now, which headline and opening text grabs you? Makes you wanna click? Hint: we’re all being slammed with hundreds of sites every day. The more interesting you can make your headline, the better. Think about what your headline will look like in the search engines and use every one as an opportunity to grab a little bit of traffic.

Now, look at the 98 brrreeeport results on Technorati. All are on the same topic, right? But some headlines stand out from the noise. Which ones grab your eye? The one that says simply “brrreeeport report?” Or the one that says “brrreeeport beats Mohammad cartoon?” Conflict is a story telling device. Use it in headlines!

Also, notice that Technorati has a way to “claim” a blog and if you do that you’ll get a little picture next to every one of your posts. Posts that have pictures win!

One other fun thing? Brrreeeport is a “top search” on the Technorati home page right now.

Need another tip on how to join the A list?

Here’s another one: be different. What do I mean by that?

Well, Dan Wieringa asked me for some help with his blog. It’s a decently written blog, but it isn’t getting much traffic.

First notice how his blog looks very similar to tons of other blogs? That’s hurting him.

One of TechCrunch’s popularity secrets is that he uses lots of graphics and screen shots. Makes his blog more pleasing to the eye. Sorta the way Technorati looks better than Google’s blog search.

Another thing? Dan’s title tag is boring. You need some personality! Look at Darren Barefoot’s title tag. Lots of personality and gives me some sense of who Darren is. Oh, and his blog’s design sticks out too. Different. Clean. Personal. Who wouldn’t fall in love with that smile? Yeah, WordPress.com makes it hard to change the template right now (Matt Mullenweg promises that’s changing soon, but in the meantime you can get ready by doing the other things — come up with a better title tag, write better headlines, work on finding interesting content that’ll help you stick out of the crowd on search engines and memetrackers.

Another way? Steph Booth taught me this one: tag often. Tag frequently. Tag better. In WordPress.com your categories are also tags. Don’t worry about using too many tags. The more tags you use, the more likely someone will find you in a search engine.

Another tip? Make friends with other bloggers. You know, if 15 z-listers link to you, are you a z-lister, or did you just move up to the m-list? Hint: it doesn’t take that many links to be seen as an “authority” on Technorati. Well, unless you’re Om Malik and then Technorati just thinks you don’t have any authority. Yikes. But, anyway, usually you will get noticed if a few blogs link to you and it’s not hard. Got a good post today? Why don’t you email a few people (one at a time, not in a group) and say “hey, I think you’d enjoy my post today on xxxxxx.” Don’t beg for a link, just show some passion about what you’ve written or posted.

Or, heck, do what I’m doing this week — just say screw it all and go skiing. See ya from the slopes tomorrow!

While I’m slushing at Keystone, Colorado as part of the Bloggy Mountain High trip (yes, my way was paid for, so this link is a sponsored link) why don’t you stick in your own URL and toot your own horn and join the A-List! Or, at minimum, post a good tip for getting noticed!

Megite working on personal memetracker

The folks over at Megite (who are doing a memetracker along the lines of Memeorandum, or TailRank) are working on a personizable memetracker. Here they took my OPML file, fed it into their system, and out comes a special edition of Megite using just my reading sources. Compare this to Memeorandum/Tech or TailRank today and you’ll see it’s more Microsoft-centric and more developer-centric than Memeorandum is.