Friday, June 30, 2006

CompuMusik rubber mirrors CD finished

I finished my long-awaited new CD tonight. CompuMusik uses Audacity audio editor/sound creation freeware. Promotion photo above by MaryBeth.

"I Am Passing
Through Rubber Mirrors"


(-1-) I am drifting through wires and air [8:28]

(-2-) I am entering new found land of vapor bodies [17:28]

(-3-) I am passing through rubber mirrors [12:26]

(-4-) I am traveling toward liquid borders [23:04]

TOTAL TIME = 61:32

Email me a P.O. Box or land address, and I'll mail you a FREE copy of this computer music. On archive-quality, scratch resistant Maxell Music Pro CD-R.

"ambient sludge for interplanetary INFOtainment"

3 Tips on Video Blogging

(1) Talking Heads are Boring

Watch two people talk to each other. On a topic you're interested in. How soon do you start to fade out and fall asleep? Within one minute or two? Two? Wow. You've got more stamina than most.

If you want to do a video on a topic, don't show two talking heads.

What do you show, then? EXAMPLES: Show the inventor in his studio, fussing with something. Interview people as they work on a project. Interview me as I compose computer music on Audacity software.

Today, I pretended I was being interviewed, as I finished my new CompuMusik CD "I Am Passing Through Rubber Mirrors". I imagined someone noticing how I kept editing a track, snipping parts off, copy and pasting sections of another track to it, highlighting a portion of a sound path and selecting Echo, Phaser, Delay, Pitch, Speed, Reverse, Fade Out, etc.

This might be interesting if viewers could see close up what I'm doing with the Audacity controls, how I sample sounds with my internet microphone, and how I select Save Project after every single event, so as to not lose my edits. If they could also hear my music playing, music that's already done, plus portions of my edits as I make them.

Still, I'd want to have art images flashing across the video somehow, maybe overlays, images dissolving from one to the other.

There's got to be a way to show the person doing their specialty, the person you're interviewing. Interview a gardener in a garden as they point out various plants and flowers. Interview an artist as they paint a new work. Interview a CEO as he takes you on a tour of the facilities.

Make the video visually interesting, not just informative. This is the big mistake made by most video bloggers and video producers. They think the great informative content will make up for a tiresome delivery.

Technical and commercial videos don't have to be dull. Make yours unpredictable, exciting, entertaining, Other Than normal. You need good content, sure. But too many depend on content alone. Content alone won't get you noticed. You need variety, creativity, innovation, and aggressive marketing promotions.

(2) Show Samples of What
You're Talking About

Have stuff to hold up and show people. Or have a slideshow going on, projected onto a screen above or behind you. If above you, you become a living caption-generator for the images.

Interviewing an author? Show a stack of his books, lifting each one up as you discuss it. Have enlarged photos from the book, or from his own childhood scapbook.

(3) Relevant, Dynamic,
Multiple, Optimized
Background Visuals

For my third tip, let me just quote a comment I posted today at Loren's 1938 Media blog. He has a nice video of him interviewing a guy from an independent film DVD distributor.

vaspers the grate wrote:

I like how you are off to the side Loren, but I wish you could cold do it with exactly half your face visible, looking directly at the camera, with no normal turning toward the guy you’re interviewing.

This way, half your face would be talking, like a half mask, for deconstructionist purposes.

Then, while speaking of “true indie films”, you could have clips of wild scenes from these films, running on monitors in the background. One, two, maybe 12 televisions, showing what the best moments, visually, with sound off, are like.

Free Samples is the way to sell, even in an interview.

This is Vaspers Video adVice #2 of 27. Your CompuMusik CD will be mailed shortly. Just finished “I’m Passing Through Rubber Mirrors” CD today.

Where’s the fire I asked you to use? A white tee shirt in flames, as you unflinchingly wear it to the bitter end, that ought to please Howard and Chartreuse and Doc Searls.

Posted on 30-Jun-06 at 8:15 pm

organic blog growth vs. blog promotion strategy

MaryBeth typed a question to me in a comment, under my post "no web usability problem is irrevelant".

She recently started a new blog, Thrift Barter Buy. She asked me how do to promote a blog so as to get readers.

To help, let me first say, it depends on type of blog, intended audience, and financial or other reward expected, i.e., the objective of blogging.

I have my own system and ideology on Blog Promotion, but I thought I'd check to see what the current blogospheric/web buzz might be on this topic. Perhaps I'd stumble on something I have not thought of, some strategy or policy, some trick or ritual, that might benefit all of us bloggers.

So I went ahead and Googled the phrase "how promote blog". The results were pathetic. Mostly questionable, dubious blogs that I've never heard of, plus some articles, like at The Blog Herald, on monetizing a blog via paid ads. Not much good advice on promoting a new blog.

(This is why I have Swicki custom search engine on my site, see it by scrolling down, in my sidebar to the right. I need to work a lot more on it, but soon it will be a very authoritative search tool for blog topics. Already, it's better than Google for blog topics. Don't get me wrong, I love Google and the free things they have given me, like Blogger and Gmail.)

First we must establish: is blog promotion a reality, is there a guaranteed way to make a blog known, to drive traffic to it? Or is blog promotion a myth, and it all depends on being the first in a category?

Is blog promotion a myth?

Those who follow the Organic Blog Growth Theory say "Yes".

I first saw this explicitly stated in The Blog Herald, in a comment. The comment poster questioned "blog promotion" as contradictory. He implied that many bloggers think that efforts to "push" a blog at hoped-for audiences is unnatural. Blog promotions and advertising are alien to the true nature of the blog, so they assert.

According to the Organic Blog Growth Theory, a blog has an internal law, an intrinsic value and authenticity, that governs its ultimate popularity and success. This means, just keep working on your blog, improving, perfecting, adding functions, posting frequently, and with this better mouse trap, the hordes will somehow "sense" the superiority of your writing, and will swarm obediently toward your blog.

As metaphysical as I am, I still don't get it. I think a blog can sit in isolation and never receive a single comment or reader, aside from the random web surfer. Sitting around, dreaming of readers, and waiting for them to drop by...this is delusional. Might as well set up a lemonade stand in the middle of the woods.

If Jesus or Buddha came today, they'd have a blog. But they'd still have to do something to get their blogs known. In the walking and lecturing days of Socrates all the way to the invention of the Gutenberg printing press, word of mouth was enough, coupled with tremendous memorization powers of the people.

Today, our memories are shit. We have rotten attention spans, and unreliable, mis-managed memory skills.

Let's use our imaginations. Pretend with me that famous people from the past arrived here, and let's imagine them starting blogs, which I feel they would do.

So how would Jesus, Socrates, Freud, John Lennon, Marx, Galileo, Hegel, Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Buddha, or Elvis get readers for their blogs? How would any of these dudes get anybody interested in their blogs?

Let's say they start blogs. Maybe some would not, but let's say they did. Would Jesus or Marx or Elvis Presley have an interesting blog? Would it be popular? How popular are their works today?

So, again, assuming they would not be obscure outcasts, how would such popularity superstars write, design, functionalize, and promote their blog?

If you can answer this question, you'll know what you need to do to drive traffic to your blog, and build a stable, though fluctuating, online community of people focused on a technical topic, political ideology, special hobby, unique personality, professional expertise, music tastes, or a product line of a corporation. Or whatever. A blog can be, like a book, about anything.

"I'm no Jesus or Jefferson," you say. "I ain't no Freud or Buddha!" you exclaim.

I never said you were. But I think even they would have to have a methodology for attracting readers to their blogs. How would they do it?

A clue: how did they generate attention when they were alive? How did they get people interested in their books, or the books that would one day be written about them and their sayings?

I leave you to ponder. My brighter students will immediately know what I'm driving at.

What say you? Post a comment and let me know what you think.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

7 secrets of blogocombat

7 secrets of blogocombat
, from the infinite treasury of vaspersian blogocombat experience and insight. Being a whisper-transmission teaching transmitted via VPN on clandestine, esoteric frequency bouncing deflector plates for pure communication satisfaction.

At the very outset, let Vaspers say that he admires anyone who has the guts to firmly advance a theory, fact, or opinion. I respect those who argue against me. 9 out of 10 times, my attackers are highly intelligent, sincere, and well read.

Remember: if you blurted out every single thing you think you "believe", chances are, you'd sound like a raving lunatic to a disinterested third party. I include me and all of us, no matter how educated or trained we are.

Have you not caught yourself saying something, then immediately thinking, "That sure sounds stupid. Why did I say that? Is that really true, in the way I presented it, in such extreme terms?" ??? I sure have, let me tell you. At least once a day, if you ask my wife.

Okay. Let's quit being wimpy chumps -- and start being the super endurance, fast witted, big mouth blogocombat champions we were born to be, why don't we?

To win blogocombat, you must be:


Never take it personally. Argue with a detached tranquility, according to whatever spiritual path you're on. Or with a professional coolness and reserve.

Feel yourself float above the discussion, and look down upon it with a sneer as "mere mortal amusement", then you'll be ready to fight with a smirk and a quirk.


Be funny when you attack. Put yourself down, as you destroy your opponent's position. Say things like, "Your statement reminds me of the joke, where does a 600 pound gorilla sit in a bar? Anywhere he wants."

Remember that others are observing your debate battle, so show off for them by using large doses of sarcasm, irony, and humor.


Keep re-stating your position, from different viewpoints, applications, or aspects. Never defend an opinion or belief, simply keep asserting it as a given fact. Don't even waste time attacking the other side's dogma.

Just persist in proclaiming what to you seems likely to be the Truth, and see if it can withstand opposition and legitimate questions.


Cite the first event, the original text, the primary essence. Use source documents against vanity opinions (ideas defended simply because they think the opinions somehow "belong" to them).

EXAMPLES: If the topic is democracy, quote Thomas Jefferson, Alexis de Toqueville, or Plato. If the topic is the web, quote Tim Berners-Lee. If the topic is web design, quote Jakob Nielsen. If the topic is Christianity, quote the New Testament. If the topic is peace, quote Gandhi. If the topic is militarism, quote Patton. If the question is psychology, quote Freud or Ecclesiastes.


Don't respond to every single point your debate opponent makes. Just zero in on the most interesting, important, or easy point to attack. Make mincemeat of every declaration that is made in opposition to your assertion. But be selective if there are many points and the opponent is going off on tangents.

Let others jump in and state the obvious. Don't feel like the entire burden of proof or logic is on your shoulders alone. Watch others express their ideas, start new arguments within the topic, bring up new angles and facts -- ignoring you, supporting you, or deriding you. Let others jump in and defend you and your opinions.

Laugh and do not retaliate in kind when someone attacks you with vulgarity or obscene speech. Wait. Let the admin ban the guy, or issue a stern warning to him.

Others will be evaluating the debate by who acts the least crazy, by who retains dignity.

Use ironic understatement and sincere questions, rather than rash exaggerations and wild accusations.

Avoid "as this, so is that", because most people aren't very good at understanding analogies, parables, poems, allegories, or metaphors. If you say, "it's as easy as falling off a log", most will think only of how falling off a log can hurt, be very embarrassing, and might possibly soil your clothing.


Never call your blogocombat adversary "idiot", "amateur", "stupid", or any other hateful name. Calm down. "We're trying to have a civilization here." - Seinfeld. Be more mature, be dignfied and polite. Out finesse your opponent. Never spin off into a rage or string of expletives. Never attack your debate enemy as a person, race or member of a faith.

Be cool at all times. REMEMBER: your rants and raves are on your permanent internet record. Googling your name or alias can pin all your badmouthing back on your vest. REMEMBER: others are dispassionately reading your textual tirades and those of your opponent. Who will seem more mature, more educated, more refined and self-control?

Take the moral and rational high ground. Stand erect, shoulders thrown back, fists raised in correct fisticuffs form, war face on, eyes drawing a bead on your opponent -- but be a perfect lady or gentlemen as you do it.

People generally side with the self-controlled person over the raving lunatic sincere kook.

Don't have a hissy fit. Don't get all emotional about some dumb debate topic. If you CANNOT or WILL NOT debate it calmly and professionally, then please shut the hell up. Go do something productive or creative, write a whacked out book on the subject, or start a punk band and scream your opinions. Just leave the real ideological blogospheric battles to those more qualified, dignified, and trained.


Your main goal should be not to "win a blogocombat contest", but to discover truth, make friends, and build an online community of loosely knit individuals who like discussing a certain topic, person, belief, or activity.

Love truth first, then people.

If you get it backwards, and love people first, you'll be easily influenced in dubious and highly deceptive manners. You'll be swept away by mob action, thug rule, the oppression of the Powers That Pretend To Be, etc. You'll judge by the popularity and fame of any given entity.

Truth comes first. Truth like, "Gravity kills people who jump out 55th floor office building windows." Or "what comes around, goes around". Or "web sites must be designed for users and their documented, observed needs, not for design awards".

Love truth so much, you are skeptical and cynical about your own most cherished opinions. Think, "I know I believe in net neutrality, but does the other side have any valid arguments in favor of what they want to do?" Or: "I know I believe in democracy, but do I really understand what I mean by that word? Why do so many other systems seem to flourish, both currently and in history?"

Be kind to yourself by not getting too worked up about any topic. Just express yourself firmly and politely, then try to learn about other points of view. Defend your position if you feel you must, but never defend yourself as a person with a right to have any opinion you want. You were born, and you'll die, with that Universal Right to Free Thought, Free Expression, and Free Will Action.

Help others to see whatever it is you think you see more clearly than them.

Never hate your opponent.

FIGHT SMART: the best way to defeat your to convert them to friends!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

online combat at the Audacity discussion list

I want to open the eyes of those who have never seen or engaged in blogocombat.

[EDIT UPDATE: Forgot to mention that this quote is from the Audacity-users discussion group. Audacity is a free audio editing software product from my friends at SourceForge.

This kind of user-base email correspondence community is unique to the online world.

In this case, it's a collective assembly of users of a freeware audio editing, file formating, and sound creation tool. Questions are usually asked: new users tend to ask for help understanding certain features or accomplishing specific tasks.

Complaints, suggestions, and insights into related subjects, like DRM or softsynths, occur. Opinions and reviews abound. Tempers flare. Cautions and chill outs are offered. Most realize that we're trying to have a civilization around here.

But once in a while an explanation turns into a defense which transforms into an aggressive assertion that becomes a pointed barb with a poison tip...

And then, ladies and gentlemen, online combat has begun!

Consider joining an email discussion list. You can learn something, observe hot online battles, takes sides and suffer the spoils of victory--or enjoy the sweet taste of defeat...

and ultimately contribute your dopey point of view to the explorations of the new digital world we're moving into like machine gun lightning.]

Without going through the entire topic thread, I stumbled on this message today. It is a good example of how one person can respond to a seemingly immature jerk.

I'm collecting such examples of online combat, plus posts where bloggers renounce their blog and leave the blogosphere. You like such fare? Then I got you covered, pal. Stay tuned for more.



First off, i am not ON your case.

You appear to be both hostile AND frustrated.

If you read my comments you may notice i was sticking up for you....but i don't think you, in your present mindset , can actually RECOGNIZE such reality.

You have come off as rather rude yourself, and have NOT been clear even in your rather feeble attempts at asking for help...rather than respond with pertinant information regarding your machine environment or what you are actually trying to accomplish, you vent still more hostility and frustration on the people here, many of whom have taken time from their busy and hectic lives to attempt to help.

Your continued response suggests that your issues stem more from your personal life than the actions of anyone on this list; i wish you much peace and healing if this is the case.

Your response was at best extremely childish, at worst even more rude than the presumptions i've read grow from your writings daily.

Audacity is a fairly simple program to master if one takes the time to try to use it, or ask questions. Being asked NOT to send "free emoticon " spam is HARDLY a valid reason to go off. Your life.

Please keep it to yourself if you can't be constructive. Complain to all; this list is driven by the people on it. What respect have you shown here?

You ask a half-baked question, rephrase it the same way virtually, and then get pissy about it? Talk about ego driven and uppity. It's a shame that you don't take the time to learn some civility and tact; it could get you far in life.

I have seen your type before, sadly, and it's a shame to see folks percieve such non-existant persecution.

Finally, your comments about porn are both insulting and bigotted, and completely unwaranted by you for ANY reason, and you should be ashamed indicting the good people on this list, including the females, with such babble.

You will NOT be missed for these behaviours one bit.

I humbly suggest you get the fuck over yourself.

Good day; and good riddance.

[signature name deleted]


For the record, I agree with the guy lecturing Lauren. Audacity is super simple and easy, and while I've only begun to explore it, it does everything I need for my computer music composition and recording. The effects are terrific. The sound path is easy to control and modify, with cut and paste technique.

I love Audacity. It's probably the best software I've ever tested. But it crashes sometimes, when I try to add effects to a sound path sector in, usually, the last audio track created. That is very frustrating, but I just keep loading it into my Firefox browser, and go at it again.

Vaspers family summer 2006

Three females and a male in the topsy turvy world of the family of Vaspers the Grate.

"Mr. Cookie" and "Cardinals Star" in their playground Humvee.

The marina where we feed the ducks and geese.

Vaspers the Grate at marina.

Mrs. Vaspers on sun deck.

Mrs. Vaspers smiling in blue.

Mrs. Vaspers inspecting a new circle garden, with river rocks and home-made fence, in backyard.

The two guys in the ape disguises went to people's houses, knocked on the door, went inside, watched a movie, left, without ever saying a word. No one knew who it was. This happened in a small rural town of Sheffield or Neponset or Bradford or whatever.

The CD of my CompuMusik album entitled "Assorted Sound Confusions".

"Mr. Cookie" riding an ornamental lion to experience the concrete sensation of triumphalism over rialtoism.

Checking on the boys.

shoegaze band The London Apartments

This is some of the softest rock ever made by man and machine.

The London Apartments

So soft and fragile, it almost floats away on a fairy cloud. Incredibly soothing and gentle music, with whisper singing. The exact opposite of heavy metal, the absurdist extreme of "nearly dead rock", perfect for flower garden, cemetary, and bone cellar.

The London Apartments
"Dialogue of One" EP (See CD cover photo above).

I really was taken away by the songs "Teeth" and "Circuit". They have addictive melodic hooks embedded within them. The minimalist, nihilist drum machines remind me of early Camouflage Danse projects.

The London Apartments
"Put a Jacket On" virtual 7"

More great songs for your contemplative, relaxed listening pleasure. Shut up, sit down, lie back, fade away, and float into these lovely melody clouds, where voice is no privileged realm, is barely audible, and seems, in my reveries, to be coming from the instruments, and not a human...

but how did these machines become so painfully emotive and full of dreary longing?

Vaspers iTunes Playlist:

(1) Teeth
(2) Circuit
(3) Put a Jacket On
(4) Streetlights are Soldiers
(5) Streets in Autumn
(6) Song 25
(7) Next Year
(8) It Is Never Goodbye

These FREE online mp3s are an EP and a Virtual 7", that, when combined, make a nice album. I want more. I want it ALL. For as long as it continues. The London Apartments. Let your several selves be [gently] blown away.

This band has a blog, so you can run over there and interact with them via comments and email. Tell them Vaspers sent you, but be nice, or I'll slop bucket you with special effects, i.e., blogoclobber your punk butt.

The London Apartments
"On Your Own" (6:33)

The London Apartments (live)
"December Was Spent Inside" (8:29)

ecommerce error: table input hidden and encrypted

Here's a rare post, in which the hero, Vaspers, transparently discloses a deficiency, a shortcoming, a confusion about a web object.

I refer to my inability to Copy with my Firefox browser the text on this page:

Misc. Books and Press

I love the promotion text on this page.

The phrase "self-deprecating humor" caught my eye.

Click on that link above and read the promotion copy. Makes me want to buy the book, and I probably will soon. It talks about how they selected the Best Blog Writing, not by number of comments, link popularity, A Listing, or high traffic criteria. They selected the best material, by judging it from high editorial style standards. If "self-deprecating humor" was a standard, this should be a pretty good book.

But my zeal and enthusiasm were soon quenched.

I was unable to Copy and Paste this clever and intriguing promotion text into my blog post here, with all the proper credits and link.

When I went to View Source for this page in my Firefox tool bar, the code indicated: table input hidden and encrypted. Table input hidden? Hidden from the web browser, but displaying on my computer screen, this promotion text.

Why? Why encrypt the product promotion text? See, a really smart ecommerce entrepreneur will realize that a clever description of his amazing product's benefits to users...this is very Quotable Text!

Wake up and smell the coffin. The coffin of your competitors. You now know something they don't know, because chances are, I haven't taught them this lesson. I'm teaching it to you.

EXAMPLE: In the realm of web images, Randy Primm liked my Vaspers the Grate sidebar button "Blog. Beauty. Brains. Bold." He liked it so much, he now displays this clickable promotion button on his Reality Frame blog sidebar. Result: his readers can easily visit my site, and may be attracted by the nice image button.

Why would I seek to somehow "protect" this image, by using hidden values or encryption? To prevent people from voluntarily advertising me, for free? Make any sense at all to anyone out there? I didn't think so.

Wise up. Promote your blog by making it easy for users to Copy and Paste your promotional text and images into their blogs.

And by providing FREE stuff constantly. I'm talking especially to ecommerce sites, but all blogs should strive to do this. Surely you have something to share with your readers, huh? FREE advice, anecdotes, experiences, how to tips, photos, gardening facts, games, philosophical insights, shopping secrets, retail savvy, corporate culture analysis, recipes, poems, cartoons...right?

You are productive, aren't you? If not, learn how. It's fun to be creative in many different realms. My realms that I explore personally are web usability analysis, blogocombat, digital art, computer noise music, deconstruction philosophy, IT consulting, and organic gardening.

If you have published a book, you absolutely need to provide some FREE samples. Choice, and I do mean provocative, brilliant, and unique, excerpts. Entire chapters, the best chapters in the book. Put your best foot forward, soldier! Marketing really is War. (Al Ries & Jack Trout)

Music mp3s downloads--an EXAMPLE

You can, right now, provide your blog readers with tons of FREE, legal music mp3s.

If you don't have your own original music you made yourself, you can go to IODA (Independent Online Distributors Alliance), and register for an abundance of FREE music mp3s, of a wide variety of musical styles, I'm searching for Arabic Ambient Chill today, and post them to your blog.

I'll post one here, as an example for you.

[give me a few minutes, return later to see the IODA mp3 link here]

Here's "Mr. Anonymous" and "Good Vibe" by Mr. Anonymous. I love it when a band has a song about itself. Nuclear Forehead has a song called "Nuclear Forehead", for another example. Rare, but cool. And this song is a reggae/hip hop/acoustic folk song. Lilting, happy summer music: "My name is Anonymous, to you I'm invisible, but inside it's unanimous: I'm always incredible! ...I'm never gonna bring you down, never gonna waste your time, give me one chance and I'll make it worth your while..."

Good lyrical triumphalism.

Mr. Anonymous

Mr. Anonymous

Mr. Anonymous
KAB America


Mr. Anonymous

Mr. Anonymous

Mr. Anonymous
KAB America


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

6 more Camouflage Danse mp3s

Camouflage Danse (1983-89), me and Bennett Theissen (vocals) formed this art band, we played in New York for a few years.

So, here are some more of our songs, as FREE mp3 downloads:

(1) "Blue Tuesday" (live at Gas, NYC) [3:21]

Our imitation New Order song, based loosely and remotely on their "Blue Monday" song. I'm on synthesizer. flange phase guitar.

(2) "The Magic Sword" (live at WGAF, NYC) [4:07]

Close to a real "song", this was our seedy bar period, but the joint was only right around the corner from where me and Bennett lived, on First Avenue and 13th Street, East Village, NYC. I play high-note screech guitar.

(3) "Dead Cats for Judy" (live at Gas, NYC) [2:06]

Short intro to a work that was performed at Gas, a gas station in NYC that had been converted to a night club, with huge industrial sculptures on gigantic springs, that bounced around, up and down, when you pushed them.

(4) "CTI" (live at Gas, NYC) [3:32]

The best song from that Gas performance. I'm on synthesizer.

(5) "Rimbaud & Me" (live at NoSeNo, NYC) [5:40]

Noisey, messy intro to "Poodles of Hell" which is possibly the most violent vocal performance in rock history. What this sluggish, flangey warm up produces is quite barbaric and rare. The analog delay screams in the next song are truly spine-tingling. I'm playing a Casio keyboard through a series of effects pedals. R. Dee Lloyd is on Synsonics drum pads.

(6) "Poodles of Hell" (live at NoSeNo, NYC) [3:04]

Pure punk electro minimalism, accompanied by the shock value of the most violent vocal performance in rock history. You have never heard anything quite like this. Bennett does all the vocals in Camouflage Danse, and here he lifts off into space.

* * * + + * + + * * *

Please let me know if these all download okay and sound good.


CEOs should be teaching us about blogs

Many in the corporate world ask: "What is a blog? Is it?" The important thing, from a deconstructionist viewpoint, is the phrase "Is it?" that is tagging along.

You see, they actually know what a blog is. They've seen their kids' MySpace site. They've seen a competitor's CEO or employee blog. They're familiar with how General Motors, Microsoft (especially Robert Scoble), MacDonalds, and HP have been experimenting with blogs. And they've read the MSM blog-related articles in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Business Week, and Fortune.

What more do your clients need to know?

Why do they persist in acting so stupid and clueless about blogs?

Sure, I know. Each situtation is different, a blog marketing strategy must be tailor-made, customized for each client. Of course. But the client should show up with some blog savvy on his plate to begin with.

Do you struggle to explain the benefits of business cards, cell phones, or ecommerce sites?

Then what the hell is so "mysterious" about blogs? That's what I don't get. Your freaking teenage daughter understands blogging, Mr./Ms. CEO. So now...what is your problem?

As John C. Dvorak has stated recently, in PC Magazine of June 27, 2006 (p. 124):

"It's amusing to watch a person moralizing from a multi-million dollar yacht about stealing intellectual property to a guy making minumum wage."

In a similar manner, it's funny to hear marketing bloggers try to coax brilliant CEOs to "try blogging".

Or to hear corporate executives, supposed to be Masters of Business Communications, confess confusedly, "I'm not sure I understand exactly what a blog is, and how it can benefit my company. Could you please provide me with 59 Reasons Why My Company Should Have a Presence in the Blogosphere?"

It's the CEOs who should be teaching us, not us them.

What a crazy, bizarro, mixed-up, tripped-out, upside-down world we live in!

"From the mouths of babes...a voice crying in the wilderness...marvels from the margins!"

Monday, June 26, 2006

explanation of blogs: the Blog Hammer strikes now

Kami of Overtone Communications is asking other bloggers, and we all think we're "experts" and "blogologists" if we've been blogging for 6 months or more (me? over 25 months now), questions.

"Corporate Blogging 101: What You Said"

Blog Hammers 4 Sale

Soon, I'll also be selling genuine, authentic, signed and sealed Blog Hammers...

that you can use to nail clients to the walls of the blogosphere, pound in the salient points, and hammer home the foundational planks of blogging and those sharp, stickery blog core values. All you'll need to do is supply the aggressive mental muscle. The Blog Hammer will do the rest for you. Guaranteed.

I posted a comment that was a bit strident about "just do it yourself, Mr. / Ms. CEO" and I feared that my many "you"s might be mistakenly thought to be critique of Kami or her project.

So I just added this comment to more fully explain my position about detached, safe and comfortable, uncommitted, non-participatory studies of the blogosphere, frequently conducted by universities and ad agencies.

My main point is that surveys and anecdotal evidence are not the way to truly grasp the Blog Revolution.

I say forget the blogology, skip the timid analysis, and just jump on in.

The water's fine. Temperature-wise. Try to pretend not to be nauseatingly repulsed by the sewage that has seeped in at certain hot spots of our terrain. Focus on the Olympian leaders, the A Listers and obscure genius bloggers who have something important to say, and know how to cleverly, memorably say it.

Without censors or editors or publishers or committees or filters.

"What is a blog?" they ask poignantly.

As far as the corporate clueless, yeah right. Those who still scratch their heads about the "mysterious" blog?

They also pretend they still "don't get" customer relationship marketing, Deming's Continual Improvement mandates, IT control and audit systems, intranet abuse, the New Share Economy, Net Neutrality, or viral email campaigns.

It's hard to convert a reclusive CEO or a secretive company to candid, open, vulnerable, authentic 2 way conversation via a blog. But this is what users expect from a blog. Not corporate press releases delivered by a cartoon moose, but a real communique from a real personality.

Blogger Authenticity is achieved by spontaneous writing. By leaving in a few rough edges, a few typos, a few snarly replies. By revealing a few things about your hobbies, tastes, and interests. By sharing fascinating facts about processes and systems at your company, in a lively, anecdotal narrative.

Practice transparency, controversy, integrity, responsivity, customer a real live blog. You'll learn more than just blogging in the process. You'll gain competitive edge by connecting with real live customers.

Quit pondering. Jump in.

My new comment at Kami's blog:

You know we have clients and inquirers who are clueless about blogs. Even when we keep hammering home the main points.

I shamefully retreat into "digital diary" or "online journal" to oversimplify the issue of blogging.

How can one then proceed to blogonomics, sidebar enhancements, Blogosphere 4.0, blogocombat, blogodiplomacy, blog core values, comment spam, blogrolls, RSS, blogoid objects, blog scorching, blog culture, blog psychosis, over-bloggification syndrome, vampire blogs, pseudo/ghost blogs, and reciprocal commenting?

In most cases, we can't.

We just build a blog for them, show them how to maintain and wield it, and hope for the best, and return to our own and try to set a good example.

V[a=9sp/erSTH[|]e/GRa,!~~t!~~E | Homepage | 06.26.06 - 12:11 pm | #

no web usability problem is irrelevant

Jumping into the end of the commentary, where I have painful observations and strong personal opinions, we encounter Dave Taylor examining some Jakob Nielsen proclamations.

[PHOTO Above and Below "rubber mirrors" images by: MaryBeth, "desert".]

"Jakob Nielsen on web usability problems. Again."


Violating Web-wide conventions

Ah, that would be the usability version of the blog police knocking on my door, wouldn't it? Web-wide conventions aren't conventions at all and there are plenty of sites that seem to focus on explicitly violating all of these design guidelines. So do those sites comprise the "conventions", or do the sites that match the expectations Jakob and his UI compatriots have comprise the conventions?

Score: irrelevant. Conventions are made to be broken, not followed.

Vaporous content and empty hype

I know exactly what sites you're talking about and yes, I agree 100% that if you aren't adding to the value of the Web, if you aren't producing content, you're adding to the noise, and while I wouldn't say that's a usability problem, per se, it's sure a plague on the Internet today. In fact, some of my best friends' Web sites...

Score: spot on again!

Dense content and unscannable text

Now, finally, we get into a true user interface and usability issue, and here Jakob is right on the mark again. There are few sites that wouldn't be easier to read and understand if there was a bit more "white space" and a bit less information density, allowing you to absorb the content quicker and more accurately.

Score: third one's the charm.

In conclusion, while it's an interesting exercise to consider the eight Problems That Haven't Changed, it's mostly a bunch of irrelevant complaints that fly in the face of how people are actually using the Web.

Modern web users are considerably more sophisticated than they were a decade ago, and I fear that Jakob and his colleagues are simply demonstrating that they are further and further out of the mainstream of designers and Web site producers.

But that's just me. What do you think about his eight problems? Are they all problems? And what other problems do you see with the usability of the Web that haven't been mentioned here?


Dave, I take web usability seriously, for if a web page is dysfunctional, it screams, "Inept. Stupid. Irrelevant." Thus, it's not Jakob Nielsen's "rules" that are out of step with designers, it's designers who are out of touch with users. And their hard to use sites are the proof that they're Narcissistic Designers, rather than Altruistic Designers.

Bad designers makes sites that they like. Good designers makes sites that users like. It's that simple. All web professionals can be classed as For or Against optimized web usability. To demote usability to a secondary spot, under design anarchy, is a mistake.

Usability is first, with First Fast Visual Impression paving the road to user interaction. Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab has proven that most users will bail out of a page, even before it has fully loaded in the browser, if it looks inappropriate. If a business site looks like a cartoon, or if a rock music site looks like a business site. Or if a site looks amateurish, sleazy, or hard to read because of colors, animations, or type size.

Usability Analysis is the champion of the average user, the new user, and the intended user. Not the seasoned, super geek, technical user. Those of us who have above average computing skills often forget that newbies may not know the work-arounds we come up with when at a dysfunctional page.

For example, and this is just common sense, Copying the text you entered into a blog comment box, prior to clicking Submit Comment. That way, if the blog comment function is broken, or your comment contains a word that's blacklisted by a spam filter, you still have those 35 brilliant paragraphs of boring argument you just spent a half hour composing.

Then you can either try posting the comment again, by Pasteing it in to the box, or you can use the text of the commment as the basis of a new post on your own blog. I've done this a few times myself. My writing at other people's blogs is often better than it is here, since I'm a guest in someone's home page.

Web Designers and Developers have problems with sites, too. Not just newbies.

My fear is that web designers are laughing at new user errors, and patting themselves on the back for being so "advanced".

But I see the discussion lists questions web designers and developers ask. I am in contact with the many problems they have in constructing and maintaining sites. The web esoterica seems truly infinite.

To explain away persistent web usability problems can be of no service to us. It only makes the bad designers a bit more smug and self-assured, thus imprisoned in professional mediocrity and myopic anarchy.

I just attended what was probably my 30th session of a web development committee meeting of a certain client.

I keep seeing many things I want to do to the web site, but it's not web designers who are getting in the way. We are the designers. What causes most of our headaches is Content Management Systems (CMS) that are still oriented to static, non-interactive, non-scalable web sites, so-called "online presences", the ghost towns of the internet.

My comment at Dave's post:

I agree with Jakob Nielsen, that all these are still web usability problems, and that designers still persist in making these violations.

There are many other problems, link files that don't upload, RSS vampire blogs, broken forms, no upfront Contact or About page, blogs with few or no external links to substantiating credible info sources, obsessive boring exhibitionism in the blogosphere, and CMS that is still oriented to static sites and fixed positioning, column widths, etc.

While you have downplayed some of these web problems, I leave it to others to proclaim the darker side of these seemingly "irrelevant" problems.

We more geeky types take our skills for granted. Every day I use a work-around to overcome some dyfunctional web page. New users would be trapped, lost, and drowning in despair.

--vaspers the grate

Sunday, June 25, 2006

CompuMusik rubber mirrors CD

I'm serendiptitiously working on the next CompuMusik CD, entitled "I Am Passing Through Rubber Mirrors". The title track, clocking in at 10:00, is finished.

Deliberately choosing an obscure, tiny, unknown net label, I have contacted Molokini Records (Stars in Coma is a good band on this net label) in Sweden. We shall see if their dream is to distribute Camouflage Danse music mp3s to an international audience of audiophiles.

Want to hear Gameboy inspired electronica? Check out "The Gameboy Singles 2002" by Nullsleep.

I have joined the Independent Online Distribution Alliance (IODA). This membership enables me to share with my readers a wide range of FREE music mp3s. It's a Share Economy concept (free samples of the artist's music) to encourage you to buy entire albums from the net labels. I completely endorse their business model.

I continue to be amazed by Her Highness and an even more recent discovery: The Uberkids.

From The Uberkids "Remixes Debut EP" page:

For this debut remix release the Uberkids, Rebekah and Noah Simon, secreted themselves in their studio and created a collection of specially-recorded loops and samples, which they then supplied over the internet to several members of the Skylab Operations family (such as I Am Robot And Proud, Headphone Science, Sweet Trip, .Tape, and of course, Phasmid) with specific instructions that the remixers could do anything they wanted with the samples as long as they did not turn them into anything scary or demonic sounding.

The results of these joint endeavors are presented below for your listening pleasure.

The Uberkids are presently working on a new collaborative effort with their father, Phasmid, who enjoys releases on Skylab Operations, Piehead Records, and many others.

When not writing and recording music, the U-Kids like to spend their time playing house and fighting with each other.

It's weird to think this great progressive music was made by some little brats.

The Uberkids is radiometered, omni-dimensional dance-groove, with little children's voices. Avant Dance Music. Good sweet breeze summer lemonade sipping music, as the butterflies flutter by.

Download the mp3 "The Pedal Makes This One Sound Different" and I think you'll be hooked on a feeling. A summery, happy feeling.

web site stats: visitor count and country share

Bloggers need to pay attention to their audience, what they say, who they are, and where they come from.

[Photo: "Israel Surreal" by S. Streight 2006, my first submission to my digital art gallery site in France in about a year.]

Your blog is not just a digital mirror for you to comb your hair in. Your blog is not just some platform for vainglorious exhibitionism, where you prance around like the darling of the blogosphere. We probably don't care what you had for lunch today, okay? We're not that bored with our own lives. Not yet anyway. I hope.

Your blog is a communication channel and web link hub.

You must chatter a while, then shut the hell up and listen to what your readers have to say. Next, if you want to be a popular and effective blogger, you must reply quickly to the comments they post. Try to respond personally to each comment, even if all you can say is "Thanks. That's a good point. Your contribution to this [topic name, like: Net Neutrality] conversation is valued." or whatever.

You must also check your stats. SiteMeter has been providing web site statistics for all the cool sites, for many years now. There are many other providers of vital data about your site visitors, their location, entry and exit pages, average number of visitors per day, referer links (the web sites your visitors where at right before they clicked over to your site), average time spent on your site by a visitor, and much more.

Smart bloggers check their stats frequently, but not obsessively. It's easy to draw incorrect conclusions from raw data. The most important thing to remember about site data: it has nothing to do with you personally.

If your visitor numbers drop from an average of 130 per day, to only 69, what's wrong? Nothing. Or maybe Everything. It depends.

Falling numbers of visitors can mean:

* you pissed off a lot of readers

* you speak Truth that people do not have ears to hear

* you present opinions that are different from what your readers think

* you express art, photography, or music mp3s that are too far ahead of their time

* you are too smart for your readers, so they can't understand your blog

* you are an asshat who likes to bitch, whine, complain, self-loathe, criticize, and demand attention and approval from everyone...and you drove your readers crazy with boredom and disgust

* you have no focus, your content was too scattered and chaotic, not enough depth to satisfy, or the fans of one topic had to wait too long for the next post on that topic

* you never post comments at anybody else's blog, so now you're being shunned and abandoned: via digital Karma.

My visitors are becoming less American and more International.

Vaspers the Grate
Country Share according to SiteMeter
early June 2006

NOTE: I wrote a few things about Avant Israeli music mp3s, and about my heroes Chenard Walcker and his buddy Roy "Chicky" Arad, who make music in Tel Aviv, Israel. Now look at how the reaction was instant and pervasive.

(See new Country Share chart below, compare it to the one above.)

Israeli readers percentage has, due to my posts about Israeli music (including Her Highness and The Unnecessary Revolution), zoomed to #2, after USA readership. Wow! I just wish I could do the same for Antarctica. I want to be the the Most Popular Blogologist/Web Analyst/Computer Musician in the continent of Antarctica. I like hostile alien wintery landscapes.

How about you? What country do you feel like infiltrating in a nice, mutually beneficial manner? Go for it, dude! Why not? Just be ethical, tolerant, apolitical, peace-making, creative, controversial, and compassionate. That's all I ask.

Your blog can have global impact, even if in a supposedly "small" way. You never know what huge influence may be just one reader, but will change the entire world someday!

Now look at the most recent VtG SiteMeter Country Share chart below, and see with your own two eyes how little Israel jumped from 1% of my a whopping 19% in a few days.

Think of what this might mean for your business, music, or ecommerce blog.

I know many more secrets of blog marketing and nation influencing via the internet. Email me for more information:

steven [dot] streight [at] gmail [dot] com

Vaspers the Grate
Country Share according to SiteMeter
late June 2006

People, when you post a YouTube, Google Video, 1938 Media, MoBuzz, or other video at your site, be sure to Title it, Credit the Artist, and provide the Temporaal Duration (Time) of the file (song).

Roy "Chicky" Arad & Chenard Walcker
I Vanunu (2:54)

Saturday, June 24, 2006

FREE mp3 "O SimSim" by Camouflage Danse

Here's another music mp3 file of Camouflage Danse.

I've also added it to the main Camouflage Danse mp3 download page, as displayed in my sidebar.

A mystical, middle eastern, south asian jam called "O SimSim", in which snake charmers play hallucinatory flutes, effluvial horns, and exotic strings, while Bennett explains how music operates in the mind, and how we're using sound to alter the personalities of our audience members.

In this piece, we hear the osmosis of electronic and traditional cultures, as they pass in and out of each other, through the core of the song.

Bennett "talk-sings": "Now that I've got your attention, I'm going to rhapsodize a little . You've got to understand that as things do sequentially abbreviate, we can only hope to affect your mind in direct proportion to what you put into listening to this...[a ritualistic cigarette lighter (?), something something (?)] these sounds are [blurted out?] to you to accommodate what happens to you in your life as you listen to this." -- "O SimSim"

"O SimSim" by Camouflage Danse


Chorus + Pit Musicians


I'm experimenting with this mp3 promotion/file sharing network IODA Promonet (beta), upon suggestion by Chris Ritke of 49 Media. You may see an mp3 download link appearing here. If I can get one to work correctly.

La Ghriba: La Kahena Remixed

La Ghriba: La Kahena Remixed

Cheb I Sabbah
Six Degrees Travel Series

A Ballad For Many

A Ballad For Many

Bang on a Can & Don Byron
Cantaloupe Music