Saturday, December 30, 2006
Blogs aren't normal, they escape from history, flying high above worthless illusions like tradition and unsubscription.
I gaze in wonder at the unmirrored retro-flection: how to show you all that all Blogs are rare and tall?
How seldom seen!
We can walk and wade, form isles and miles, in water and shade, and still not see one.
Up there, on the heaven side, the computer screen of light and wide. There! Did you glimpse it in its glory as it told, heavily, unevenhandedly, its so-called story? The Blog. That's a capital B. Nothing little about it.
For the first time in human history and forgotten mystery, the individual is universal. That's what the Blog is: the universal discovered in the individual, the morsel that contains the meal, the original "no big deal" whose fate's unsealed.
Never before has humanity had the opportunity to rise up in separate psychological atomicity, the kernel becomes the shell and what's outside the shell, the silent majority leaping forward as the smart-mouthed neo-authority!
From the nothingness of each personality, each unstable, mercurial "self"--comes the All, the Everyone, the Voice of the Individual--against the brainwashing of Morbid Stream Media, the morose and gross deception of institutions and broadcast news. The insignificant single soul vs. the domineering irrelevant whole.
Our dreams are sprinkled with equality dust, see it shimmering in the delight?
You must not give up, Blogging one. Your Blog, your indivisible voice, means more than the entire world.
Here's my Christmas Gift and New's Years Cheer for ALL my readers.
This young modern composer has nailed up a mix that will please everyone, I promise with all my hundred hearts.
FREE "M: 1000 Year Mix" by Ergo Phizmiz.
In 6 parts, each part being about 28 minutes long, burn two per CD, a 3 CD set. Phenomenal sound collage musique concrete loops with wet beats. Dream music for sleepwalkers who find their car keys. You'll be hooked after hearing the first part, entitled "009". A true and massive deconstruction of musical styles and epochs, a mishy mashy rambunction of various flavors and eras.
Other Listenings include...
FAUST: "Faust" (1971)/"So Far" (1972) | CABARET VOLTAIRE: "Technology: Western Re-works 1992" | LUNA: "Live" (1999) | VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR: "Pawn Hearts" (1971) | HATFIELD & THE NORTH (1973) | GONG "the history & the mystery" (1964-1988, comp. 2000)
And reading, already as always, my dear departed mystic-analyst-mentor of Philosophemic Mind Science:
JACQUES DERRIDA ( from Writing and Difference, University of Chicago Press, 1978):
"Form fascinates when one no longer has the force to understand force from within itself." (Force and Signification)
"If writing is inaugural, it is not so because it creates, but because of a certain absolute freedom of speech, because of the freedom to bring forth the already-there as a sign of the freedom to augur." (Force and Signification)
This graphic link button goes to my online art gallery in France. I need to upload some new artwork, since I have not done so in over a year I think. I also need to delete some works I no longer like. But here it is...
Thursday, December 28, 2006
How will your customers react to your web site?
Have you ever Googled a word or phrase, then clicked on a link to a web site, and were repulsed by the weirdness or clumsy design of the site? Has a web site ever annoyed or disappointed you? I’m sure we’ve all experienced such things.
No matter how nice, professional, and ethical you are, if your web site looks bad, prospects and customers will form a lower opinion of you. People are increasingly turning to a company’s web site to find out what products and services are available, the price ranges and specifications, staff bios, location, and contact information. So, in many cases, all they will ever know of your company is what they see on your web site.
You really have only one opportunity to make the right impression. If your site has even a few mistakes in it, or broken functionalities, many visitors may never return. Some may even spread negative word of mouth about you.
Here are some of the devouring ghouls lurking in web sites that can ruin the overall impression of trustworthiness and dependability.
Pounce upon and eliminate these pesky monstrosities before they ruin your web site.
1. Amateuritis. Unprofessional design, poorly written content, tiny fonts, confusing organization of content, light colored text on slightly darker background, too many items on the home page that are fighting for attention and should be links to separate pages. Having site registration and login links, with no statement of the benefits of registration.
2. Advertisement Overload. Over-commercialized clutter that prevents visitors from finding relevant information. Ads flashing and bouncing all over the place. Trying too hard to “monetize” a site by burdening it with a bewildering array of distracting ads. Making customers feel like you’re only interested in selling, rather than solving problems and meeting needs. Questionable promotions: “You’re the five millionth site visitor. Claim [by jumping through a million hoops] your huge prize now!” or “Get a $50 gift card by completing our [48 page] survey!”
3. Boundary Blurring. Unclear differentiation between advertisements, opinions, and factual information. Giving voice to paid opinions, in the guise of objective reports. Not revealing that a company provided compensation for a glowing reviews of their products. Not substantiating claims with links to relevant and reputable sites.
4. Bold Balderdasheries. Overly aggressive sales hype. Outrageous claims. Immodest assertions. Exaggerated promises. Lots of exclamation points and bold text, rather than sedate, dignified, moderately stated facts. Using old-fashioned mail order and print media tactics that are ill suited to the more informed and product-comparing, web-savvy customer.
5. Premature Contact Burial. No “Contact” page, or it’s hidden somewhere on the site, and difficult to find. Site seems like a one-way, non-interactive broadcast platform. No land phone, no email address, no contact form, no physical address, no discussion forum, no comments enabled: no way to communicate with the company. Makes the site seem kind of “dead” or arrogantly aloof.
6. Anonymous Creator Syndrome. Similar to lack of contact information, but here we have no identity that can be verified. No “About Us” page. No individual’s name, just an unfamiliar company name or logo. Or perhaps a site title that seems relevant, but the site looks like it was constructed from RSS feeds, it’s full of Google ads, and there’s no evidence of any personal, human author behind it. Some legitimate sites obscure who they are, with just a tiny link to organizational information at the very bottom of the page. The company seems impenetrable, a closed alien entity floating in the murky fringes of cyberspace.
7. Discongruent Design. Colors, layout, images, and other visual elements that seem bizarrely inappropriate. A look that is contrary to the actual nature of your business. Like wild colors, childish-looking type fonts, or edgey graphics for a conservative company. Or a boring and bland web site for an artist, online gallery, or art supplies company.
8. Slop Bucketing. Typos, incorrect spellings, grammatical errors, poor text formatting, pseudo-redundant links (links that seem to point to the same information or locations, but actually don’t, e.g. tutorials are in “Resources” and not “Training”). You feel like the web site was thrown together in odd patches and clumps with totally different goals and aesthetic considerations.
9. Isolation Islanding. No credentials, no staff biographies, no bibliographies, no source references, no links to reputable sites. You feel like the site is disconnected, a cul-de-sac, myopically unwilling to acknowledge other sites of relevance. We expect an authoritative site to link to other authoritative sites, thereby showing a wide expertise, association with colleagues, and a sense of web-based community.
10. Imaginary Authority Syndrome. Vague references to unspecified, authorless “research,” “studies,” or “reports.”
11. Ghost Town Trauma. References to dated information, or even “last updated July 2002″ wording that strongly suggests the site was abandoned years ago and is now an “orphan.” While the information may still be valid and relevant, you feel like the company is a fly-by-night entity that no longer exists.
12. Conclusive Rampaging. Text rushes hurriedly, headlong into insupportable iron-clad assertions, instead of carefully and patiently leading from one fact to another.
13. Misguided Misnomerisms. Calling something by the wrong name, using incorrectly or incompletely defined terms, revealing a lack of understanding, while posing as an expert. Like saying “blogs are just digital diaries”. Or referring to tags as “labels”.
14. Linkrot Lollygagging. Hyper-text outbound links lead to unavailable pages or pages with changed URLs. It’s important to check your links and make sure they still work. Even though it’s not your fault if the pages you link to change or vanish, your customers may think you typed the URLs in wrong.
More information and research on how people respond to web design, and enhancing web credibility:
Johns Hopkins University “Evaluating Internet Information“
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
[A reprint of an article I wrote for a web developer intra-net blog.]
It really annoys users when they go to a web site and something isn’t working.
Even when everything else is fine, if that one task they wanted to accomplish is not enabled, “under construction”, or difficult to use, your web site loses value and trustworthiness.
I recently visited an ecommerce, online catalog site that provided money-saving coupons.
Since I planned to physically visit the store during my lunch break, and was just checking the product range, specifications, and prices, I didn’t attempt to order anything online.
This site was professional looking, it provided lots of good information about the products, and it was both well-written and well-organized. In fact, it was one of the best sites I had seen recently.
Since I was interested in the products, in fact, I had a crushing need for them, I was naturally interested in the coupons. I was visiting the site, just prior to physically visiting the store.
I saw a coupon for a product that I considered buying. When I clicked on the product name, I was taken to a page that informed me that the page itself was not redeemable as a discount coupon. I had to click on a coupon activation function, to print out the coupon, and then I could take the print out to the store.
Okay, no problem. Ooops. Nothing happens when I click on “print this coupon”.
So then I see on the home page some wording about how a benefit of registering at the site is the ability to download and print out coupons for in-store use. Okay, still no problem. I registered at the site. It was simple and they didn’t ask very many questions, so it was quick.
Now a registered user of the site, I tried again to print the coupon.
Nothing happened. Apparently, the coupon functionality is not working. Fortunately for the company, this problem didn’t matter very much to me, though it was a tad frustrating and professionally disappointing. I visited the store anyway, and purchased some necessary items.
How about your web site or blog? Are you sure everything is working correctly? Broken functionalities and dysfunctional features are more common than you might realize. With so many web sites out there, most people will never return to one that doesn’t work right.
Be sure to periodically, at least once a month, check all your web site functions, or ask a friend, family member, or employee to do so. Check the links, contact forms, registration process, online coupons, shopping cart, email update subscription sign-up, RSS feeds, embedded video or audio players, and any other interactive features you have on your site.
It’s hard enough to attract traffic to your site, and to convert site visitors to loyal customers. The last thing you want to do is frustrate your web site visitors and lower your credibility.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
"Enjoy free music, listen and use it!" Androvirus: experimental and improvised sound research.
For festivity vpn random vortex channel n.20-DA 17 module 50y3i:
Photo Art Variations by Vaspers the Grate.
(Every image began as a regular digital photograph.)
Canadian Electroacoustic Community free CD mp3s. Some of my favorite music is found here. Great ambient electronic soundscapes and vocal experimentation by students and faculty.
"...and that's something that I can see. I've got a million eyes pointed directly at your vision, at your apparition, at your recent decision to be something that is a weird religion to me." --from "Destroy Me" by Str8 Sounds.
Sewerpillars: plaza. 2 electro-noise albums for free from Sewerpillars, whoever they are, at Internet Archives, a great source for free music downloads and many other things.
[Above]: how do you like me now?
DJ C free legal music mp3s, "Bouncement", "Boston", etc.
Woman playing a pianola, see the little pianobot, sitting there at her right? It's playing the piano, while the lady does something or other to the pianola, I guess. Or maybe the pianola is playing the piano, and the lady makes sure it follows the script and doesn't go off on an improvised tangent very often. Anyway, the pianola is a precursor to today's synthesizers and computer music studios.
Friday, December 22, 2006
[My article below first appeared in the intranet blog of a we b des ign company. Reprinted here as an example of how to write a simple company blog post that can attract business while enlightening your audience with a speck of humor.]
The worst mistake you can make with a web site is to let a student or an amateur build one for you.
An ugly, poorly written, or dysfunctional web site will turn customers away from you. You’ll do more harm than good going this route.
We hear it all the time.
You start a business, and quickly realize you need a web site.
Instead of seeking professional help, you decide to turn the project over to a cousin, nephew, former co-worker, or next door neighbor.
Someone who’s “good with computers”. Maybe they’ve even taken a few classes on HTML at the local university. Or someone calling themselves a “marketing expert” claims they can set you up with an online catalog.
You go ahead and let them make you a web site, because the whole internet thing is confusing.
You don’t have time to figure out how to judge one web developer versus another. There are so many web design companies out there. They all seem to be saying the same things. No one’s ever explained to you the difference between an effective web site and one that just looks “nice”.
You wrongly assume that any web site is better than none at all. You hope that simply “being online” will attract web surfers to your site. You assume that just having a web site will get you some new customers.
Sooner or later, the inevitable occurs.
Something goes wrong. The shopping cart quits working. The information becomes outdated. The site doesn’t look as good as a competitor’s site.
You’re paying charges for mysterious services you don’t understand or see. You aren’t getting any orders from the site. The person who made your web site stops answering your emails and won’t respond to your phone messages.
But you can’t get angry. You can’t demand better service. You can’t sue.
Why? Because you goofed up and gave the job to a friend of your sister, or a nephew’s roommate, or a really nice guy who is going through a rough divorce right now.
Since the web builder is a close friend, associate, neighbor, or family member, you feel uncomfortable, almost mean-spirited, when you imagine yourself questioning or complaining about the web work.
You feel like the web site was done as a favor, at what seemed like a greatly reduced price. But in reality, it was a disservice and since it doesn’t work right or look good, you basically just flushed your money down the toilet.
The nephew graduates from college, gets a job, finds a spouse, starts a family, and it’s impossible for them to do any more work on the web site. The neighbor moves to another state. The co-worker you lose track of. Your sister gets a divorce, so your brother-in-law is no longer your brother-in-law.
It’s a messy situation, this handing your web site project over to a well-meaning friend or relative.
And you can drive customers away with a poorly designed site. If a web surfer has a bad experience on your site, they’ll never return, and they’ll spread negative publicity about you. Surely you don’t want to lose customers, or look unprofessional, do you?
Be smart. Invest your budget in a wise manner. Avoid the stress and disappointment of dealing with amateurs.
Get a real professional web developer to do your web site, digital catalog, online reservation system, ecommerce applications, corporate intra-net, or business blog.
Art without ending,
the A train,
I train my million eyes on the hesitancy of the things I see.
Air without beginning,
the Ex Plain,
planetary palmistry, the slap-back city chemistry.
Are without pretending,
all the other nothing muches in silent steganography.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Why take a tripped out cool painted door in an avant garde venue, the Chelsea Hotel in New York, and deaden it, entirely cover it with black paint? It's not the color of the paint -- it's the reverse steganography that bothers me.
To take a non-encrypted message, and strip it of its visibility, eternally eliminating its communication of color, symbol, and design?
The art of the doors, you cancel it, kill it, remove it from all reality, you wipe it out, muddy it up, blot it out: gone! forever! no resurrection possible!
And, to add injury to insult, no photos of the doors were taken, too late to preserve it.
A whole race of art is perishing, being exterminated, final solutioned.
Is it no wonder that Art shuts its doors on us for good?
Black Door Christmas
Because I was unpopular in high school, I vanished into music and poetry. From these sacrificial disciplines, I entered the arts and advertising. Now I slink around, trying to fix things, the universe, and web sites.
We interrupt this blogcast tto [interruption canceled due to script conflicts].
I was born, I read some books and tried a few things, then I started working on web sites.
I have a background of much disappointment and confusion. Now I inspect and fix web sites.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
had to hack my way into the admin panel. go up to the "www2" and delete the "2" to enter the old blogger home page for my dashboard.
all my blogs, except Eye Sword and Volent Video, have perished, according to the new Blogger Beta dashboard. My many real blogs have seemingly all been roughly and rudely relegated, demoted to figments of a rumored trace called history, a vague unarchivable meme-registry, a pointless pathless retro-memory, a true nothingness that is non-existing in the uncertain middle of the shadow of nowhere, which is itself unhappening at the amorphic vortex of blurred forgetfulness, vanishing rapidly in the past tense and unsunlit loopings of transparencies shimmering facially in the disappearing emptiness void-hole.
According to a review in the Barnes & Noble Music Store, the British progressive art band Caravan was a hippie jazz rock ensemble worth a fresh hearing.
Similar successful prog rock bands were King Crimson, Soft Machine, Van Der Graaf Generator, Jade Warrior, Hatfield & the North, Matching Mole, Brand X, Gentle Giant, Mothers of Invention, Yes, Electric Light Orchestra, Camel, and Gong.
I personally prefer Camel, Hatfield & the North, Van Der Graaf Generator, Soft Machine, and Gong.
To listen to British prog art rock is to take a trip back into the high-polish boots of structured alien soundscapes that segue into fixed harmonic floatings mixed with precision jamming, a mad and tranquil billowing of soft disturbances in even flow, a jumble of archaic and ultra-modern instrumentation, operatic Dada, empty lyrical satire ramblings: very bloggy in overall orientation.
Caravan was one of the more formidable progressive rock acts to come out of England in the 1960s, though they were never much more than a very successful cult band at home, and, apart from a brief moment in 1975, barely a cult band anywhere else in the world.
They only ever charted one album in their first six years of activity, but they made a lot of noise in the English rock press, and their following has been sufficiently loyal and wide to keep their work in print for extended periods during the 1970s, the 1990s, and in the new century.
Caravan grew out of the breakup of the Wilde Flowers, a Canterbury-based group formed in 1964 as an R&B-based outfit with a jazzy-edge.
The Wilde Flowers had a lineup of Brian Hopper on guitar and saxophone, Richard Sinclair on rhythm guitar, Hugh Hopper playing bass, and Robert Wyatt on the drums. Kevin Ayers passed through the lineup as a singer, and Richard Sinclair was succeeded on rhythm guitar by Pye Hastings in 1965. Wyatt subsequently became the lead singer, succeeded by Richard Coughlan on drums. Hugh Hopper left and was replaced by Dave Lawrence then Richard Sinclair, and Dave Sinclair, Richard's cousin, came in on keyboards.
Finally, in 1966, Wyatt and Ayers formed Soft Machine and the Wilde Flowers dissolved.
In the wake of the earlier group's dissolution, Hastings, Richard Sinclair, Dave Sinclair, and Richard Coughlan formed Caravan in January of 1968.
The group stood at first somewhat in the shadow of Soft Machine, which became an immediate favorite on the London club scene and in the press. This worked in Caravan's favor, however, as the press and club owners began taking a long look at them because of the members' previous connections. A gig at the Middle Earth Club in London led to their being spotted by a music publishing executive named Ian Ralfini, which resulted in a publishing deal with Robbins Music and then, by extension, a recording contract with MGM Records on their Verve Records imprint, which the American label was trying to establish in England. Their self-titled debut album was a hybrid of jazz and psychedelia, but also enough of a virtuoso effort to rate as a serious progressive rock album at a time when that genre wasn't yet fully established; along with the the Nice albums on Immediate and The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles & Fripp, it planted the roots of progressive rock.
The Caravan album never sold in serious numbers, and for much of 1968 and early 1969, the members were barely able to survive -- at one point they were literally living in tents. And then, to add insult to injury, the record disappeared as MGM's British operation shut down in late 1968.
[snip -- text deleted]
Suddenly, Caravan was an up-and-coming success on the college concert circuit, even making an appearance on British television's Top of the Pops. With national exposure and a growing audience, the group was at a make-or-break moment in their history.
They rose to the occasion with their second Decca LP, In the Land of Grey and Pink, which showed off a keen melodic sense, a subtly droll wit, and a seductively smooth mix of hard rock, folk, classical, and jazz, intermingled with elements of Tolkien-esque fantasy.
The songs ranged from light, easy-to-absorb pieces such as "Golf Girl" to the quietly majestic "Nine Feet Underground," a 23-minute suite that filled the side of an LP.
One of the hardest-rocking yet musically daring extended pieces to come out of the early progressive rock era, "Nine Feet Underground" didn't seem half as long as its 23 minutes and it was a dazzling showcase for Pye Hastings' searing lead guitar and Dave Sinclair's soaring organ and piano work.
Although few observers realized it at the time, the suite's length pointed up a problem that the group faced fairly consistently -- in contrast to most progressive rock outfits of the era, Caravan was inventive enough to justify extending even the relatively simple songs in their repertory to running times of six or seven minutes, and they were also extremely prolific.
Those two situations meant that they were frequently forced to leave perfectly good songs off their albums and to edit those that they did issue.
Most listeners didn't find this out until a wave of Caravan reissues arrived in 2001 with their running times extended 10-25 minutes each by the presence of perfectly good, previously unissued songs and unedited masters of previously released songs.
Keyboard player and singer Dave Sinclair left the group's lineup in 1971, joining his ex-Wilde Flowers bandmate Robert Wyatt in the latter's new group, Matching Mole, and he was succeeded by Stephen Miller of the jazz-based band Delivery, who lasted through one album, Waterloo Lily (1972), moving them in a much more bluesy direction. Friction between the members resulted in Miller's departure and the exit of Richard Sinclair, who subsequently put together Hatfield and the North. When the smoke cleared, Caravan was back as a five-piece which included Geoff Richardson on the electric viola, which added a new and rich timbre to their overall sound. By the time they cut their next album, For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night, Dave Sinclair was back on keyboards. The album was a success, as was its follow-up, Caravan & the New Symphonia, a live 1973 performance accompanied by a full orchestra, released the following year.
[snip -- text deleted]
Their history seemed to have ended, and then in 1990, the original quartet of Pye Hastings, Richard Sinclair, Dave Sinclair, and Richard Coughlan were reunited for what was supposed to be a one-off concert for a television special.
The performance and the sales of an accompanying live album proved so encouraging that Caravan came together once more for a second career.
The group has been back together in one lineup or another ever since, (mostly filled out by ex-members of Camel, among other latter-day personnel), with new recordings emerging steadily. Equally important, someone at English Decca (by then part of Polygram, which became part of MCA) took it upon themselves to raid the vaults in 1999-2000 and prepare vastly expanded reissues of the group's entire Verve/Decca catalogs.
The result was the availability of more Caravan music and more of their classic '60s and '70s recordings than had been in print at any time in their history.
--- Bruce Eder
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
You then make a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors for your button, so that people can use them in a variety of different backgrounds and contexts. Give people of choice of several different designs, some with text only perhaps, others with various art or photos.
You'll want your graphic link button to be attractive, professional, and memorable. It must be pleasing for people to look at, and to add to their sites, as a favor, or as a paid ad.
You may want to use a professional graphic designer to come up with your button. Make this a top priority, dedicate the best talent and sufficient time to get it done right, for you can use the button in a variety of online promotional situations.
Consider asking other people which designs and color combinations they like best. Get a lot of honest feedback, and keep the designs and colors that people praise the most. But don't throw the others away, keep them for future reference.
Companies should use their logo as the identifier image, with the possible addition of "click here" if the audience or market is technically unsophisticated.
Personal bloggers can use a photo, or create a special image, that will act as an ad or visual signature, differentiating your blog from others, a branding tool, the insignia you wish to burn into the public memory.
A photo of you, with your name or the title of your blog.
It's no secret that the secret to blogging success is to meet audience needs with relevant content, interactive functionality, communicative generosity, and human personality.
One of the ways to add human personality to a blog is with photos of the blogger, and the same is true of your graphic link button. A face on that button could help others feel comfortable checking out your blog.
We like to see who it is we're communicating and collaborating with.
The graphic link button: an overlooked marketing tool that anyone can use to add sophisticated flair to the display of links to your site.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
STR8 SOUNDS 2007
"Techna Minima" (61:32)
(1) circuit sissy [radio version] -- (6:03)
(2) circuit sissy [club mix] -- (5:30)
(3) dance in the snow -- (5:52)
(4) pretty flowers of anarchy -- (6:36)
(5) start a new day -- (7:08)
(6) circuit sissy vs. rooibos botzilla -- (3:02)
(7) transient sensory error -- (6:13)
(8) we live in the sky --(8:39)
(9) the future's last day -- (5:05)
(10) circuit sissy [alien rendition] -- (11:46)
mp3s available (email me & I'll send them 2 U 4 FREE):
"circuit sissy [club mix]"
"circuit sissy [radio version]"
"dance in the snow"
"pretty flowers of anarchy"
"start a new day"
"circuit sissy vs. rooibos botzilla"
"transient sensory error"
by Str8 SoundS 2007
From new CD "Techna Minima"
"[Do I need more chemistry? Do I remind myself of me?]
Circuit sissy see: It's the un-centric me. It's upsetting 3 de-visions of you and free from Decision NT when you went there all alone. You want to be a human stone...Circuit sissy, very primitive.
Circuit sissy, nothing's relative, it's all just take and give, in which we live.
We must be more liberal ... in the rock and roll ... for eternity."
* What is a "circuit sissy"? Someone going round and round, like a circle or a circus, stuck in imitating others, instead of being original, someone who has no independent thought patterns, who only likes what's popular and familiar, with no surprises, and no questioning of society or self. The walking talking dead.
Recorded "live" @ Human-to-Mars Transition Studio
Peoria, IL on Dec. 16, 2006
Steven E. Streight: Casio CA-110 Tone Bank Keyboard
Friday, December 15, 2006
Want to be a nobody? It's easy. All the big internet companies are doing it. How? By imitating each other. Adopting a "me too" attitude. A "conform to the competition" strategy. Being like everybody else makes you nobody.
That's good news for start-ups, entrepreneurs, and small companies. The big guys are going crazy, stupid, idiotic...rapidly dumbed down to eventual oblivion.
John Hagel III, co-author of the classic Net Gain book, is scolding Yahoo, Google, Amazon, and other internet giants for imitating the old business models that are now dead: the silly conglomerate mentality.
We HATE conglomerate asshats. We love niche companies. We actively seek the unique, eccentric, unusual, individualistic products and companies. The internet enables us to search the global commerce realm to find exact, customized, non-generic products.
Does Xerox makes cars and candy? Does Coca-Cola make guitars and shoes? Does IBM make cigarettes and chicken restaurants? Of course not. Starbucks can make ice cream, because coffee flavored ice cream is a good idea. But you'll never see Kentucky Fried Chicken ice cream, or Sony brand bread.
Brand extension is, generally, nothing but confusion, lack of focus, marketing suicide. Convergence is a curse.
But the internet giants are either greedy, arrogant, or plain stupid.
"Internet Strategy" by John Hagel III is a masterful analysis of the growing trend to try to "be all things to all people". It's so good, please bear with me in quoting a huge chunk of his blog post.
Faster movement is dangerous if you have no sense of direction.
It just means you do more things more quickly, spreading that peanut butter even more thinly. To paraphrase an old quote by Casey Stengel: “if you don’t know where you are going, you will never get there.”
And let’s not just single out Yahoo. I have a growing sense that all the major Internet players – Google, MSN, Amazon, Ebay and AOL – have lost their sense of direction and differentiation.
Rather than carving out and rapidly enhancing areas of distinctive advantage, these major players appear to be leaping like lemmings into the red ocean. Here are some of the red flags that give me cause for concern:
* Rather than helping people to connect more effectively with resources across the Web, they all seem increasingly focused on aggregating their own resources.
* They are becoming more and more obsessed with advertising revenue and risk losing focus on what is required to add more value to users. Advertising revenue is a dangerous narcotic – it shifts you more and more into a vendor mindset rather than a user mindset.
* They are investing large sums of money on infrastructure, further diverting time and attention away from development of new services for users (infrastructure services like Amazon’s EC2 and S3 are a very different business).
* They seem to be looking more and more at each other and trying to replicate each other’s services rather than focusing on the user and trying to be truly innovative in terms of new services.
Now, this growing homogenization of the leadership ranks might be understandable if the Internet were a maturing business arena.
Given the rapid and sustained pace of innovation in the underlying technology, the rapid growth of usage, the continuing shift of spending to the Internet and the proliferation of new businesses created on the Internet, I find it hard to characterize this space as “maturing” – my sense is that it is still in its infancy.
Some observers have even begun to hail the emergence of “Internet conglomerates” as the wave of the future. Looking from the outside in, one can make explicit the assumptions that seem to be driving the investments, business initiatives and strategies of these leaders.
These assumptions seem to converge on this view of the future: leading companies will be vertically integrated and horizontally integrated, offering a broad range of their own resources to users who will “settle” into their spaces. Certainly, the strategies of these companies seem to assume that Internet conglomerates are the wave of the future. Is this really the way the Internet will evolve as a business platform?
As I have written in Harvard Business Review, I believe that a quite different future will unfold, marked by a distinctive process of unbundling and re-bundling of firms. This perspective suggests that all the Internet leaders confront the same difficult choices that more traditional companies also face.
Over time, will these companies choose to be customer relationship businesses, product innovation and commercialization businesses or infrastructure management businesses? None of the Internet leaders appear prepared to confront these choices yet.
Of course, there’s another interpretation of the initiatives pursued by the Internet leaders.
They may be explicitly avoiding any view of the future and instead spreading their bets across many initiatives in the hope that some of these bets will pay off while others will prove to be dead-ends. Nick Carr refers to this as the spaghetti strategy – “throw a lot of stuff against the wall and see what sticks.”
As uncertainty increases, this has become the preferred “strategy” of many companies, not just in the Internet sphere.
While strategy used to be viewed as the discipline of making choices, this approach proudly rejects the need to make any choices. It is a particularly seductive approach for large companies with lots of resources.
And yet this approach stands in sharp contrast to the strategies that enabled the Internet leaders to carve out their leadership positions in the first place.
Unlike the thousands of other dot.com start-ups that embraced hustle as strategy and speed without direction, the founders of these companies started with a very clear, even though high-level, long-term destination in mind.
It helped them to make difficult choices in the near-term and to launch waves of initiatives that cumulatively built very large and successful businesses. It has stood them very well in the first decade of their business.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
I just lost the dearest friend and sweetest human being I've ever known.
EDIT UPDATE: Memphis Democrat newspaper report on Gabe's death.
NOTE: I have no idea why he was
More than a brother, more than merely a "best friend", more than is possible to convey, I loved this guy so much my heart is a mess right now. I learned a lot from him about being interested in other people. No one could possibly replace him, and although he had a million problems and sorrows of his own, you never saw it. He was always happy, cheerful, helpful, and gave to other people, whether it was money, sympathy, or comedy, in an extremely generous manner.
Often, he was dead broke a day after his payday, due at least partially, to helping less fortunate friends, who may not have necessarily deserved any help, but there you go. A sincerely caring person, sort of a Christ figure in his compassion, his selflessness, the joy he brought to everyone around him -- and in his tragic end -- his morality, generosity, and tender kindness and loyalty were not of this world. Not even close.
He was in a league of his own.
I have other very dear and precious friends, but this guy was so pure in his devotion, we never once argued or got angry at each other. We made films together, chased girls together, talked a lot about life and people, and we lived together at about 4 or 5 different times and places.
He enjoyed Bombay Saphire gin and Michelob beer, smoked Kool cigarettes, and loved to drop by just to talk and hang out. He constantly played Sade and Anita Baker music, and also loved techno, soul, and alternative rock.
He the most loyal friend you could ever imagine.
I am massively devastated.
Gabe Kish supported me for about 5 years when I broke my back, could not get workman's comp, and had no insurance. He paid rent, bought food, tossed me packs of cigarettes, and kept my spirits up during the most difficult time of my life. All I could do for him was try to advise him, encourage him to be less self-destructive, to avoid people who were bad influences, and to be a bit more self-aware. Of course, I was no expert on any of this.
Gabor Ivan Kish, of Yugoslavian descent on his father's side, blessed this poor ravaged planet from 1968 to 2006.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Can the rough and tumble world of the blogosphere last much longer?
What could destroy it? What do YOU see as the biggest threat to the existence of the blogosphere as we know it now?
I'm not cynical or paranoid, if that's what you good and smart readers may be thinking. I'm just concerned. We love this new, revolutionary communication tool. Blogs are far more radical a tool than many of us fully realize. We write a post, publish it to the web, and gaze at it with love and admiration. But some folks are murdered or imprisoned for writing the types of things we in the Free World post to our blogs.
I see the biggest threat being Paid Enthusiast, PayPerPost, Word of Mouth Marketing Association, and other incentivized comments.
Ever since WOMMA, PayPerPost, and their rotten ilk raised their ugly, greedy, Business As Usual heads, we bloggers have to be very careful about endorsing, praising, or even criticizing any brand, company, or product.
If we praise or condemn something, we may be accused, or privately thought of, as being paid to do it.
Think about this.
The blogosphere is NOT a billboard for greedy companies to spread their lying shit all over. Sure, there are good, noble, honest companies who want to spread the word about their products in every venue they can. I'm very much into ecommerce and online marketing, but there are rules and limits.
We use the blogs, forums, and other venues online to advise each other. If I say I like Audacity audio editor from SourceForge, a FREE open source tool, you should know that nobody pays me to say that.
If we all start accepting payment, products, or other compensation, nobody will trust us anymore...and the blogosphere will become just another advertising medium. Look at what happened to radio, television, mail, telephones: lying commercials, junk mail, telemarketing.
You cannot call yourself "high integrity" or "moral and ethical", then turn around and exploit or pervert the Trust Web that we have created, and self-policed, in the blogosphere. And I think WOMMA and PayPerPost and other similar "let's pay bloggers to do our bidding" are ruining the very fabric and essence of the blogosphere. They must be stopped. I have a plan.
What say you?
Sunday, December 10, 2006
EDIT UPDATE: I have gotten numerous requests, so I'm trying to send out the mp3s as fast as I can, basically spending all Sunday grinding out the email attachments. If you got only a few tracks, be patient. Everyone will get everything eventually. Promise.
Here are the music mp3s, FREE and legal, I can send to anyone who emails me a request. Liz Strauss got pummeled with them this morning, and she is not in any worse shape for it, I don't think.
More will be available later, as I use iTunes to convert tracks to mp3s, then drag them to my desktop. Band mate Bennett Theissen walked me through the process late last night using Google Chat. Thanks BT! He also plays my CompuMusik ambient sludge on his Chillroom show on Killradio.
CompuMusik = my current computer music project
Str8 Sounds Sex Destruction = my solo project from 1988 to 1999
Camouflage Danse = me and Bennett NYC art rock band 1983 to 1989
FREE Legal Music mp3s:
(1) CompuMusik "glory glory"
(2) CompuMusik "unsilencing the sounds"
(3) CompuMusik "un doigt de de lait (a drop of milk)"
(4) Str8 Sounds "every job is a curse/mr. pleasure"
(5) Str8 Sounds "audio gloom/why is nature so weird?"
(6) Str8 Sounds "destroy me/i dare you to destroy"
(7) Str8 Sounds "hideous to society/anxiety"
(8) Camouflage Danse "the magic sword"
(9) Camouflage Danse "poodles of hell"
(10) Camouflage Danse "blue tuesday"
(11) Camouflage Danse "a box of tissues"
(12) Caoumouflage Danse "We Wait"
(13) Camouflage Danse "Knickerbocker Boys"
(14) Camouflage Danse "CTI"
Gmail limits me to 10 MB file attachments, but larger files can be sent using YouSendIt and other large file temporary upload services (where you have a brief time period in which to grab them by invite, usually a week).
So, if you ever wondered what Vaspers music might sound like, but were too frightened to request a full album CD of the sludgey mess, I cordially invite you to torture your musical taste buds with this bizarre or pleasantly eccentric material.
Email me your request today, while you're thinking about it. Don't be shy. Take a leap into the unknown.
steven [dot] streight [at] gmail [dot] com
Thursday, December 07, 2006
EDIT UPDATE 1: I'll bring a digital camera next time so we can upload some photos of our meeting.
EDIT UPDATE 2: Scoble has some great advice on how to increase traffic and comments for your blog, Peorians. I have the honor of posting the first comment to this thread. "Help a San Jose Mercury News Columnist Blog".
I just want to say my wife and I had a great time at the bi-monthly Peoria Blogger Bash tonight. The gathering was organized and publicized by noteworthy journalist blogger Peoria Pundit aka Billy Dennis. We met at one of my favorite restaurant-bars: Castle Patio Inn.
Castle Patio Inn is famous for quaint cozy atmosphere and a terrific garlic cheese spread, which is provided FREE, with Ritz crackers, to every patron every day. This is another example of the Share Economy. As far as I'm concerned, any bar that doesn't provide free food (nuts, hot wings, pizza, tacos, etc.) is not worth a crap. The snacks get people to drink more, to stay longer, so it's no loss really.
Anyway, it was nice. This was the first Peoria Blog Bash that I had ever attended, but I suggested a Peoria Bloggers Conference to Bill Dennis about a year ago. I had suggested the Pere Marquette as a possible meeting place.
So...why should you meet with fellow bloggers in your home town?
Because: we are pioneers in the truest sense of that word.
Blogs represent a revolution.
For the first time in human history, every person is able to express him or herself to a global audience, with no filters, censors, or editors (with the exception of horrible Red Communist China, jerkbag Iran, idiot North Korea, disgusting Syria, and other sickening repressive, mind-control regimes).
This has never happened before now. The internet, web, and blogosphere have turned the entire world upside down, even more than the Gutenberg printing press, or any other media. So we should gaze in awe at other bloggers, we are like outer space astronauts, exploring unknown realms of communication.
Blogonauts is what we are. There. Yet another in my boring, endless stream of neologisms.
Get together with your local bloggers. Show some unity. Inspire and amuse each other. Help newer bloggers to understand the subtle and rigorous discipline and best practices of blogging.
Sure, some of you bloggers of Peoria may have waged blogocombat against each other over certain issues. But I hear that the Peoria Blogger Bash meetings are generally civil and polite, allowing for differences of opinion, which is what democracy and free expression are all about.
I didn't quite catch the names of all the bloggers, or their blogs, but here are just a few of the blogs (most of them are Blogspot blogs, God love 'em) that were represented:
Chef Kevin's Culinary Rants & Raves
The Peoria Chronicle
Peoria County Politics
It Just Slays Me
...and your pal, Vaspers the Grate.
I want to invite all the Peoria Blog Revolutionists to our home sometime soon for a more intimate gathering, to really dig into some blogging issues and personal sharing. It's a family, a Blogger Family and we have brother and sister bloggers all over the world, and in outer space via the InterPlaNet (interplanetary internet).
Here's that video I talked about at the Peoria Blogger Bash tonight.
Overman: "Male Restroom Etiquette" (9:36)
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
This seems like a nice way to promote a web site, especially an ecommerce site: Referral Blast. Satisfied customers tend to like to tell their friends about stuff. I use the YouTube referral tool when I find cool music videos there. What do you think? I found Referral Blast when I typed "interstitial ad" into Google SE. Referral Blast has a "Marketing Dictionary" site, another clever and harmless way to promote a site.
Even though my pal Pud, of F'd Companies book is doing them, I must part ways with him and warn you to not use interstitial advertising. They tend to really piss people off. I hate them, especially those flying wombat ads that zoom at you unexpectedly as you navigate from one web page to another.
Yesterday at work, I got an email from Elizabeth Green (tiny URL = http://tinyurl.com/sdbr9), who writes the Paper Trail column for US News & World Report magazine. She asked me if she could interview me for their special annual issue "50 Ways To Improve Your Life".
Elizabeth said she read my Corporate Blog Revolution, my WordPress blog, and wanted to ask me about, er, corporate blogging and why blogging is a "revolution".
So we talked by phone last night about business blogs, CEO blogs, how to evaluate a blog, blogging discipline, blogocombat, and the "blog residue" (that quality that is generated within the blogger as a result of blogging: increased self confidence and improved skills in debate, research, networking, online community building, etc.).
I like public speaking and interviews. I never use prepared speeches and if I use any notes at all, it's just a scrap of paper with two or three sentences jotted down. I've always felt that if you're passionate about, and devoted to, something, it ought to be easy to talk about it spontaneously.
Isn't it easy to talk about your favorite music band, your boyfriend, your favorite restaurant, your favorite web site or blog? Do you need notes or prepared sermons? I think not.
Anyway, talking about blogs is sort of like writing a post for your blog. It's not that much different, except you can't edit speech.
I don't know what will make it into the publication, but hopefully I honored the blogosphere and inspired the bloggers by what I said.