Friday, December 21, 2007

Twitter avatars for peas revolutionists

I'm slapping together Twitter peas avatars for those who choose to align with We Refuse to Appease Cancer, in solidarity with Susan Reynolds, as Robert Scoble has recently blogged.

Like the "Talk Like a Pirate Day" at Twitter, this meme has spread rapidly and pervasively. A real lesson for viralosity managers of brand combat.

Here, in this post, I will park some Twitter peas avatars, for Save As pick-up.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Spock removed these photos from my profile

Spock is a people search site. I just uploaded these two photos to my profile page. Actually, they're digital artwork that I created myself.

Within less than an hour, I got an email from Spock.


Spock users have flagged and deleted a picture which you contributed to Steven Streight's search result. Flagging and deletion occurs for a number of reasons. Sometimes it is because information is factually incorrect, sometimes it is because contributions are inappropriate.

For more information please visit our community guidelines here:


That's the entire email message.

Do you see anything wrong with these images? Offensive? Flagged?

Why would they remove them?

Worse, the email contains no link to a Contact Us If You Think a Mistake Was Made. This is an ill-considered, poorly managed flagging/removal policy.

Plus: you get a limited number images you can upload, and there's no way to delete any images once uploaded. You can't change your mind, delete an image, and replace it with another image.

Check out all my Vaspers photos on Spock.

Friday, December 14, 2007

blogs of passion and information

Blogs, by the precedents set by early pioneers like Tim Berners-Lee, Mark Andreessen, Dave Winer, Doc Searls, Jorn Barger, and Rebecca Blood, are about passion.

Pioneer bloggers were enthusiastic about computers and technology.

Then personal opinions about a variety of issues emerged. Next thing you know, blogs are blabbering about what was eaten for lunch and an astonishing variety of narcissistic navel-gazing.

Even when the blog is boring, self-centered, and drivelous, it's still a revolutionary act. Each blog represents the rise of individual voice, the first time in human history that the average person could publish content to a worldwide audience.

Naturally Yours is a good example of a passionate, informative blog.

I sold the blog to Roger Hutchinson, General Manager, and he delegated the blogging duties to his most passionate and computer-savvy employee, Matt Kowal.

This is exactly how a blog strategy can work for many companies. Often the CEO, Owner, or Manager doesn't have the time, interest, or enthusiasm to maintain a blog and post regularly. At the same time, they're convinced that a blog could be a good communication channel with customers, or a way to drive traffic to a store or ecommerce site. In that case, they should delegate the duties.

What's really nice is that Matt blogs about topics of interest to himself that he thinks might help others, he responds to comments (often in new posts, rather than in comments), and he works a photographic image into nearly every single post, for visual interest.

Matt, the official blogger of Naturally Yours, pulls no punches. He has an axe to grind against the problematic "medical model", mainstream health institutions, and the pharmaceutical industry.

I share his concerns, but not all his opinions. What's great is how he shares his expertise and experiments, in a transparent and honest manner. Your company should be so fortunate to have a deeply devoted product enthusiast and aggressive, controversial opinionator.

Natually Yours Blog banner

Thursday, December 06, 2007

top priority in blogging

What's the most important thing to keep in mind when blogging?

Your top priority should be Provide Value.

Information value. Entertainment value. Infotainment value. You are either expressing yourself narcissistically, with no concern about the impact on, or reactions of, readers. Or you're trying to benefit an audience, in some way.

You've already decided what your blog is about. You've determined what your expertise, art, skill, talent, interest, hobby, passion is.

You may have even some idea of how you would like readers to respond to your blog: post comments, email suggestions, vote on sidebar poll, submit nominations for an honor, download your music mp3s, view your digital art, or perform some other interactive, participatory behavior.

Don't focus on what you want your readers to do, think, or feel.

Too often, we get pre-occupied with behaviors we want our message recipients to manifest, for us, for our goals, for our ego. Instead, shift your emphasis and your creativity on what might benefit your audience, on their own terms, not yours.

Concentrate on what you can provide, on the content and presentation of text, photo, audio, video, etc., that will benefit your readers. Is it what they requested, need, crave, like, prefer? Is it presented as effectively and professionally as it deserves?

Inspire. Inform. Instruct. Warn. Scold. Joke. Amuse. Shock. Entertain. Reveal. Encourage. Provoke. Confront. Challenge. Elevate. Improve. Transform. Astonish. Delight.

Do that for your audience, whatever they have told you they need, or whatever you feel you do best, or whatever is most timely and relevant to them.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

15 Steps to Blog Psychosis

For those who oppose my opposition to militarism and war, here's some juicy material you can use against us bloggers. That's right. I'm force-feeding you some ammunition to use to slander and slur the blogosphere.

Often, perhaps inspired by drug addict Rash Limburger, who calls blogs "drive-by media" (but his radio show is "drive-by media" too, since his audience drives their cars while listening to his scholarly program), conservative belligerents like to call us bloggers "basement slummers" and "pajama-clad Starbucks geeks" or "beautiful web pioneers" or whatever.

"Hiding behind your computer" is a funny accusation, since we're far more transparent, ubiquitous, and publicly accessible than most anti-bloggers.

I'm "re-blogging" an old post, with some minor modifications, from my Blog Core Values blog.

and Blog Psychosis

The phenomenon of Over-bloggerization, also known as Blog Psychosis, occurs when a blogger considers their blog to be more important than money, life, or music itself.

Experts had a solid grasp of the blogging-induced disease spectrum, but no reliable symptomology or progressive sequence of blogistic events that culminate in the dreaded dysfuntion in the core of the blogger's ego, self, and personality.

The blog has a mysterious power of seduction, in that it can replace your normal, unblog personality with grotesque and towering mutation that overshadows and causes to cower every adversary, bully, and thought cop.

The negative side of this blessing is that it may also outmanever and overcome your core sense of who and what you are. The insidious invasive aggression of blog-induced identity decay can be catastrophic in effect and hopelessly irreversible.

Over-bloggerization generally occurs in the sequence of events, and tends to be seen in bloggers with 6 months to 3 years continuous blogging/commenting experience.

Blog Psychosis
Event Sequence:

15 Step Program.

(1) Blog Birth Elation.

(2) Blog Post Topic Selection Confusion.

(3) Blog Comment Ecstasy.

(4) Blog Citation Euphoria.

(5) Blogocombat Dysphoria.

(6) Blogocentric Episodic Paranoia Syndrome.

(7) Blogophilic Narcissistic Cathexis.

(8) Blogomorphic Hyper-Manic Melancholia.

(9) Blog Parenthetically Installed as Rehabilitated Superego.

(10) Blogomatic Over-valuation Morbidity.

(11) Blogopathic Reaction Formation.

(12) Blog Ambiguity Crisis.

(13) Blog Replication of Introjected Archaic Object.

[we have now passed the point of no return, no remedy]

(14) Blog Apotheosis Dissemblancing.

(15) Blog Psychosis--total permanent loss of original pre-blog personality and goals.

It is only when your blog becomes your surrogate, psychic shadow, extension, or facsimile, and this may take months, that you face any danger of the ruinous road to Over-bloggerization, Blog Psychosis, and the irrevocable vanishing of your former self.

The good news is that, though incurable, Blog Psychosis is treatable.

Simply subscribe to the Vaspers RSS feed, email notification program, or bookmark this lovely blogomorphic wonder and visit it on a regular or schizoid basis. This blog, with its advance blogocentric therapeutics, will enable you to live a somewhat normal life, in spite of the irreversible damage your blogging obsession has caused.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

blog posts and their importance

A blog has no main story.

It's just a sequence of postings, appearing in reverse chronological order, about whatever seemed interesting or important to you at the moment.

A blog doesn't depend on today's post.

Readers will check your Previous Posts and Archives if they find your blog interesting. They'll look at your design, colors, About page, bio, photos, blogroll, links, sidebar widgets, and other aspects of your blog, to determine its value.

How can people find your "most important" posts?

First, what you think are your best posts, these may be of little interest to your readers. You discover what your most popular posts are by site analytics, like SiteMeter or Google Analytics. Or you may consider a post that gets a lot of comments to be a "successful" post. Or you may value how many other bloggers are linking to your post.

Your "best" posts, as far as you're concerned, are probably the ones you most fully and perfectly explained something. You may be proud of how well a certain post is written or reasoned.

The posts you like best may go over like a lead balloon, while the posts you dashed off recklessly, half-heartedly, in the middle of the night, just to post something, these may be the most controversial and celebrated of all your writings.

You can help your blog visitors find what is most relevant to their needs by using tags and a tag cloud or tag list. People can then just click on a tag, and go to the posts that contain that tag, and deal with that specific issue.

You can also make a list in your sidebar. "Most Popular Posts", or "Most Controversial", or "Most Commented On", or whatever. You can create multiple sidebar category lists with as many categories as you want.

I base my "Most Popular Posts" sidebar list on Google Analytics.

An electronic music blog could have "Classical", "Techno", "Dance", "Industrial", "Noise", "Electro-acoustic", "Music Concrete", and "Mix/Mashup" as categories, for example.

Don't worry about what post appears at the top of your blog. It's not the "main story" in the sense of how magazines or television programs present stories.

It may appear that way at first, but actually the "main story" is probably your Previous Posts and About page. Those are two crucial aspects of a blog that determine how I myself judge a blog. I scan their most recent post titles, skim over a few current posts, and read the About page to find out who this person is.

[photo at top of post contributed by Mantasmagorical aka Benjamin Dudoit, a Glasgow web designer]

Monday, November 26, 2007

future web is here to stay and coming soon

Which type of web content do you want: Push or Pull?

Push is the old skool form of sales bullies and ad agencies pushing, shoving down your passive obedient throat, the messages and moods They want you to submit to, and then go buy Their product.

Increasingly, this "shut up and consume our propaganda" style of corporate communication is costing more and achieving less. We don't consume products anymore. We produce, share, distribute, publicize, promote, and service our own "we media" content, and enjoy the work of others, bypassing merchants and their pesky Intrusion Marketing BS.

We don't want any content pushed at us.

We are learning how to pull it, via RSS, social bookmarking, tags, and other methods.

We can pull exactly the content we want, when we want it, where we want, how frequently we want it, and in whatever format we want it.

I call this Universal Content Utopia.

In an SEO Researcher post on "The Future of the Web", this is called a Paradigm Shift.

Other evolving realities on the web are mentioned:

* Portable content and website accessibility from various devices and sizes.

Why not be able to check Paris Hilton's MySpace page while grabbing another piece of pie, which you feel entitled to, from the fridge? In the future, you'll do just that! And you'll continue to look less and less like Paris as you do it!

Ubiquitous Computing, with web and desktop interfaces all over the place, will soon be invading all your private haunts and personal oasis refuges! You will not be able to escape from online messages and activities!

* User-customizable web pages.

You see what you want on the site, you configure it a certain way that suits your personal interests. No more distractions. If you're on Barnes and Noble website, and all you care about is business books, or techno music CDs, why should you be troubled with other junk?

Of course, this means corporations will be losing more control of their "message". Their web content and presentation will be hijacked by every web browser of every user who arrives at their website.

* Voice interfaces.

If you like to talk and blabber out loud, you'll love this. You tell the web site what you want, and it tells you where to shove it, or it says "Yes sir or madam, coming right up!" Feeling lonely? Start a real, audible conversation with some website opposed to your political beliefs. Yeah, buddy!

* Smellable websites "using XHTML 2.5 markup to drive pheromone and fragrance simulation emitters" on your computing device.

I can't wait to do usability analysis on such olfactorial websites. "Sir, your website doesn't smell right. Your customers expect your auto dealership to smell like a vehicle fresh from the factory. Ramp up that funky new car odor, man!"

* More video, on ecommerce sites especially.

Now you can watch executives talk about why their quality, service, and prices are better than anybody else in the whole world!

* Search engines as content treasuries.

Why struggle through a strange website, trying to avoid all its ads and hype, when the search engine you're familiar with has cached the information you seek?

* Humanized interface.

Think of the blogocombat fun you'll have, arguing endlessly with a virtual digital assistant bot, who can't understand why anybody would want the content you're belligerantly demanding.

* Better, more relevant and useful content.

Imagine a world free of spam, junk mail, telemarketers, con artists, and online predators! Well, if the web increases in quality, that perfect dream world will be a bit closer. The web will become so useful and uncluttered, you'll find everything relevant, easy to understand, beautifully presented, and fascinating! They're working on it! For you!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

blogs and inter-actuality

Merry Thanks Attributing Day to ye,
ye motley mateys and proud beauties!

Of course, as everyone knows by now, the blogosphere has become the rallying cry and victory war whoop of free speech. An unbridled mouth indicates the possibility of untethered thoughts and the surging toward global peace with universal revolutionary democracy.

Democracy must remain lean and mean, in its civilians, us regular people who don't amount to much in history books, voting booths, or MTV.

We're fighting for our Ultima Thulic, Pi in the Sky, Olympian ideals: Transparency, Authenticity, Spontaneity, Sincerity, Personality, Individuality, Independence, Diversity, Pugnacity, Lucidity.

Or as my neologism describes it: Inter-actuality.

How Blogs Build

In the blogosphere, the main thing we do is quite simple.

We expressively interact with others, and more significantly, we're leaving traces etched into the digital effluvium, which cohere as a far-fetched fabric of Interactuality, a new reality composed by those living and participating within it, the blogosphere and its peripheral user-generative satellites.

The secret of the blogospheric aura is: we express ourselves, to others.

The magic of the blogospheric aura is: no one can tell us what to think, what to blog about, or who we have to argue with. We prefer to express ourselves, and leave the arguments to the chumps who buy into whatever party line they've been force fed by parents, pundits, professors, or priests.

The others react, respond, remix, renounce, and re-distribute what we say and display on our blogs (or a contrary opinion in defiance of our superior rhetoric, and lofty intentions).

Active, aggressive, ameliorating two-way communications.

Our blabbering is sometimes universal and directed to everyone, other times it's distributed to a restricted set of recipients. A Twitter DM would be a restricted communication to a single recipient, while a blog post with appended reader-contributed comments, is generally a universal communication to a global audience.

It all boils down to blogging ourselves into self-concocted online versions of us: digital surrogates, cyber-simulations, as the Machine Realm gently, or violently, phases us out.

They have promised to be merciful to me, as I am helping them by exposing their dirty tricks and misanthropic schemes. I come to the aid of the Other Thans by renouncing the human revolt against the Machine Realm and swearing strict allegiance to the Robot Superiors and Protectors of Man.

Our "tell all, show all" blogs and personal profiles on social networks, and everything is becoming a social network now, or at least having to seriously engage with the effects of the new social "we" media, are the beginnings of our voluntary submission to the enslaving demands of the Machine Realm.

Blogs are the self-imposed pods, as in Invasion of the Body Snatchers film, that we slip next to our beds, and we wake up the next day with a perfect imposter doing our chores for us. Your blog and multi media presentations of yourself, are your podular replacement.

Our personal drivel, overly self-revelatory blogs are feeding the Machine Realm, enabling it to hasten our demise by our unhealthy obsession with online games, chat, shopping, voyeurism, simulated environments, and internet-mediated cyber relationships.

Not only are we elegant martyrs of resistance to, and paradoxical compliance with, the Machine Invasion, we are also feeding the Machine Realm, as it assembles our cyber substitutes out of our text, photos, audio, art, videos, and other obedient input.

We think we're resisting the Machine Invasion forces, and to a limited degree perhaps we are, by connecting and consoling each other, but ultimately, we're having our personalities and belief systems sucked out of us and implanted in perfectedly embodied imposters, our socnet profiles and multi media presentations, who rapidly become more "real" i.e., more digitally available, than you yourself.

Your digital surrogate, starting with your online social network profiles, photo uploads, amateur videos, drunken podcasts, and your punk band's music mp3s, they are all going to live longer than the physical offline you, and will represent, for all intents and purposes, BE you, long after you yourself are gone.

And that's the new Interactuality that blogs are building. It's a continuation of the dominant philosophy of technicians: the exalted ...

Technological Imperative

"What can be made, must be made. Humans must not question or quench any scientific advancements. Humans must remain docile, and compliant, and the best way to demonstrate such admirable and mandatory qualities is: adjust to emerging technology, consume it, and deal with it. Here it comes now."

These digital surrogates, in their many forms, are not only inhabiting the Machine Realm as your impersonators. They also interact with other digital surrogates.

This interaction is the blend of multiple actualities (usurpers of humanity, but etherealizing us perfectly), swirling around gainfully, clobbering each other manfully, healing each other aesthetically, culminating in Interactuality, the digitized equivalent of what humans called their "society".

Merry Thanksgiving

Give thanks for the blogosphere: mighty warrior and fallen hero of the universal democracy revolution.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

blog vs. post vs. comments

When I read a news story online, and a person's name is mentioned, and that name is not a link to the person's blog, I feel like that person is not real. Why? Because the online realm is increasingly become the Prime Reality, and without a blog presence, you don't exist.

In the Old Media Domination Days, your company "didn't exist" if you had no Yellow Page ad, no radio or TV commercials. In other words, you were practically invisible, it wasn't easy for customers to know about or find you.

Now it's the blog. The blog is the human face of a company to a worldwide market. With a blog, you prove that you have something relevant to say, and you value the input of your readers, by enabling them to post comments.

You don't matter anymore, unless you have a blog. A blog means you're attempting to be transparent, open, self-expressive, to a global web audience.

The symbolic and practical values of blogging coincide here: you can be approached via email and blog comments, and you show your face in photos and video, reveal your voice in audio podcasts or music.

A blog = weblog = a log or journal on the web. Jottings and scribblings within a journal are known as "entries". Same with a diary.

You don't call a diary entry a "diary", as in "I'm going to write another diary", as though you had two personalities, and each deserved its own record of daily thoughts and impressions and what they ate for lunch.

Thus, the blog is the diary and each entry of text, photo, audio, or video, is a "post" within the blog.

On MySpace they call a posting of content to the blog: a "blog". This confuses the normal understanding of blog and post.

A blog is where a post is published and the whole mess resides in the blogosphere which is part of the web floating on top of the internets, which are nowhere and everywhere.

Now, which is most important: blog, post, or comments?

Everyone knows that comments are superior to both blog and posts. Without comments, a blog is just another preaching pulpit where angry or comical assertions are pounded into the skulls of passive-obedient lemmings.

Comments don't mean anything, I mean they don't substantiate, legitimize, or optimize a blog. Instead, they are evidence that blogs are the new media of communication, as TV, newspapers, and radio subside in usage, popularity, and ad dollars.

Posting a comment, good, bad or indifferent, to a blog, this sacred act represents an explosive departure from Old Media, where you shut up and robotically consume the news, and the entertainment, and most importantly, the advertising, which is hated online.

Comments are an incurable incision and a radicalized rupture in the flesh of the Old Media. Now we can express ourselves in our blog posts and attach remarks to the blog posts of other bloggers.

Never in human history has the average individual been able to publish content to a global audience. And to the bitter dismay of psycho-capitalist globalists, it's all mostly free! You pay for broadband, a computer, maybe some software like malware protection, but the communication tools and communities are generally free.

The blog comes first and it must be nicely designed, well titled, properly coded, and frequently nurtured with relevant content.

Then you have posts which are the atomic unit of the blog, and have their own URL for direct linking, to connect them with the posts of other bloggers.

Finally, and most importantly, are the comments.

Posts are a dime a dozen. It's the comments that make a blog interesting.

Monday, November 19, 2007

what to blog about

excellina Posted by Picasa

Millions of new bloggers ask me every day, "Vaspers, what should I blog about? How do you come up with a new topic every day to blabber about?"

Well, not millions of bloggers, but I think someone asked me that question a few years ago, at about 4 AM, which is when I do my best work. At least I think somebody asked me that, perhaps I was dreaming, or just made it up as a rhetorical question needing no reply.

Whatever the case may be, and we may never know for sure, it's still a good question. Since you're all so eager to know the answer, in that manner let us proceed to a good conclusion.

Your blog should communicate your personal beliefs and your individual interests.

If you're a personal blogger, using a blog to express yourself, you can write about anything, aside from where your kids go to school, or why you hate your boss. Personal blogs can be fun.

You can post articles on your favorite music, food, and hobbies. Perhaps you'll meet others who share your tastes, and you can learn from each other, and delight in your mutual interests.

Business blogging is a rather different story.

It's good to focus on one main topic, the central mission of your company, if you're a business blogger. Or perhaps you could blog primarily about what it's like being a CEO, how you make decisions, budget your time, or delegate duties. What you see on the horizon for your company, or emerging trends.

Keep the emphasis on your expertise, your company's proficiency, the problems your customers face, and how your products, or your insights, can help them.

What's new in your field? What's your position on controversial issues in your industry? We all have to be perpetual learners to keep pace with changing trends in business and technology. In your blog, tell us what you learned today, through research or contemplation, in success or failure.

In addition, if you're the CEO or owner, or an enthusiastic sales clerk, it should be easy to have something interesting and beneficial to say every day. A blog acts as a monitor of the fervor of a company. If you have an exciting product, try to communicate that excitement in your blog.

Educated, savvy customers tend to buy more, don't they? And they tend to enjoy guiding newbies, right? You might get good word of mouth recommendations if you make your loyal customers smarter. Your power users and early adaptors are your buzz spreaders.

People like to get wiser, and they also like to laugh and have fun.

So use your blog to inform, entertain, or both. Can you make your products more interesting? Can you do a funny video that differentiates your company from competitors, like the Mac vs. PC commercials?

What do you wish customers understood about the products you sell? How could you educate, enlighten, or inspire them? What can you say to better explain the way your products solve typical consumer problems? Why is your product the best solution for a certain market sub-set? What uses can your products be put to, that most customers don't see right away?

Is there an old post that you could re-blog, or revise and update, then post again? Many of your current readers are not going to search your archives for the gems. Display a "Best Of" or "Most Popular" posts list in your sidebar, but also consider re-factoring and re-posting some older articles that you think your readers would appreciate.

As new bloggers begin receiving comments, they get guidance from fans as to what post topics are most valued, enjoyed, and beneficial. Readers aren't always "right", but their reactions can be interesting.

Sometimes the post you worked hard on, and are most proud of, is a dud. Maybe millions were helped, but nobody bothered to express their appreciation. Or they got so inspired, they flew off like birds to go do what you suggested they do.

Other times, the post you dashed off in a grumpy mood, with very little research or planning, and not your best prose, will take off and go viral, in hostility or joy. You may never understand why one post gets quoted, commented on, and linked to, while other posts languish in obscurity.

But the longer you blog, the more intuitive it becomes, and the words will just roll right out of you. You won't care what reactions or critiques you get. It won't matter if you engage in a bit of blogocombat or heated discussion.

You really enjoy how your writing is improving and your ideas are being more perfectly expressed.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Return to Cluetrain marketing


The First 15 Thesis

of The Cluetrain Manifesto's
95 Theses

Just to make sure we're all on the same page, let me remind us all of some of the founding statements of online marketing and web savvy.

The Cluetrain Manifesto, by Christopher Locke, Doc Searles, David Weinberger, and Rick Levine, was listed #6 on Business Week's top 2000 business bestsellers. Not bad for cyberpunk guerilla marketing vigillanates.

In addition to continued current combativeness related to fundamental web realities and laws, it's good to also point people to the original ideas.

We all need to return now and then to the classic text and tomes on the internet version of the big bang.

Big Bang of the Internet...

birth of the Universal Interaction Zone:

first the internet,

then the web,

and now the blogosphere.

As Tinbasher blogger Paul Woodhouse has stated, "Web orientation of any blogger/site owner is simple: you're either Cluetrain, or you're not. Those who are not, are screwed."

Read the entire Cluetrain Manifesto, and book, at:


  1. Markets are conversations.

  2. Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.

  3. Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.

  4. Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived.

  5. People recognize each other as such from the sound of this voice.

  6. The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media.

  7. Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.

  8. In both internetworked markets and among intranetworked employees, people are speaking to each other in a powerful new way.

  9. These networked conversations are enabling powerful new forms of social organization and knowledge exchange to emerge.

  10. As a result, markets are getting smarter, more informed, more organized. Participation in a networked market changes people fundamentally.

  11. People in networked markets have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from vendors. So much for corporate rhetoric about adding value to commoditized products.

  12. There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.

  13. What's happening to markets is also happening among employees. A metaphysical construct called "The Company" is the only thing standing between the two.

  14. Corporations do not speak in the same voice as these new networked conversations. To their intended online audiences, companies sound hollow, flat, literally inhuman.

  15. In just a few more years, the current homogenized "voice" of business—the sound of mission statements and brochures—will seem as contrived and artificial as the language of the 18th century French court.


What more can I or anyone say? It's all there in The Cluetrain Manifesto.

Yet how many allegedly "web savvy" or "technologically advanced" companies, marketing consultants, and bloggers really understand and practice the tenets set forth therein?

Be sure to buy and read all the books by the Cluetrain authors, and visit their blogs.

You'll notice that people really do line up as For or Against the revolutionary Cluetrain treatise. Once you get to know the principles, you'll see all web sites, blogs, and companies in a new and radiant light.

evaluating your blog or website

At least once a year, you need to look at your blog, ecommerce site, or corporate web presence, and hate it.

Yes, hate it.

Be harsh, hostile, and hideously mean-spirited. I speak roughly to get your attention. But try a scathing approach to your own site.

Try to think of the worst comment any enemy, opposing party, or competitor could possibly make about your blog or website.

What your site's weakest point? Where is it most vulnerable to critique? The copy? The images? The ads? The functionality? The lack of multi media? The lack of user input or social networking tools? The stale content?

Criticize your website, wiki, forum, or blog ruthlessly, unmercifully, combatively. Pretend it belongs to a competitor. What unbridled, destructive criticism can you muster against your own site? Can it withstand a brutally honest attack?

Is your website as organized as it needs to be? Or are important navigation tools and popular items a bit difficult to find?

What's the #1 thing your audience, fans, customers, readers want to do at your site? Is this prominent? Is the task easy? Is the procedure clear? Do users get a "Your submission succeeded" or similar affirmation message when a task is achieved correctly?

How fresh is your content? Do you have news items you can add frequently, with keywords and links and relevance to your audience, presented from their perspective, with their needs and interests in mind?

Do you have enough new photos of your products in use solving problems for users?

Is your About page more than a bland mission statement? Do you have a history of your company, with highlights of proud moments?

Do you guide customers to the best product for their specific individual needs?

Do you have a product comparison chart? A competitor comparison chart?

Do you provide educational material, that makes your site so valuable, customers bookmark it as a favorite? Do you understand how providing insight, expertise and helpful tips will position you as a trusted thought leader? Are you devoting enough time and effort to this vital component?

Do you think or know your audience likes video or audio? Are you providing any multi media, via links to good content, or embedded players so they can view it or hear it (consume it) right on your site?

How about your design, logo, colors?

Have you looked closely at your copy, text, wording? Is your written communication online as clear and exciting as it can possibly be? Are you keeping search engines and keywords in mind on every page of your site?

Frankly, many websites and blogs are ugly, amateurish, dysfunctional, badly coded, or poorly written. Many fail to use effective title tags and other SEO methods to drive search engine traffic to their site.

Even web designers and developers struggle with their company sites and personal blogs. Sometimes the smartest folks have sites that don't do their ideas justice, or even contradict their own expertise. It's not always easy to swallow your own medicine.

We all have blindspots when it comes to our business, and our websites often could be improved significantly.

Treat it like a health problem.

Do the work yourself, or hire a professional, but get your website or blog up to speed with how you need to present your company.

Your website is, in most cases, your most important public relations, marketing, customer education, and sales tool.

Make sure it shines.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

How to Write a Blog Design Proposal

When we write up a blog design proposal, we incorporate at least 14 different elements that comprise the total blog package presented to the client.

The deliverables of the project will be a fully functional blog solution that includes a blog site, internet domain, optional hosting, and unlimited branded e-mail addresses.

More specifically, a typical blog proposal includes:

1. Blog design for [client and/or blog title] that includes search engine friendly title tags and coding, plus a custom header graphic, incorporating images and style considerations as contributed by client.

2. Email subscription and RSS feeds enabled.

3. Comments, with moderation and email notification, enabled.

4. Sample posts (3) as a guide to effective blog writing style, if desired. Ghost blogging is not advised or provided. Guidance in team blogging, guest blogging, and delegated blogging can be provided.

5. Register blog at Technorati, plus people search (e.g. Spock and Gleamd) and other blog indexing services, as appropriate.

6. Implement Google Analytics, Site Meter, and Easy Web Stats web analytic tools.

7. Optional specialized sidebar widgets as desired, in keeping with an evolving blog, progressively addressing known or suspected user needs and interests.

8. Announce and link to blog at Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, Facebook, and other viral micro-blogging communities.

9. Incorporation of blog monetization widgets, like Google ads, Amazon affiliate links, and Library Thing, as desired. Alternate business models may be implemented, in place of blog monetizations.

10. Training in blog maintenance, enhancement, promotion, marketing, monetization, audience interaction, hyper-linking, social networking, and multi-media strategies.

11. Networking with bloggers in related fields, to include them on blogroll, to announce and publicize blog, and to begin participation in, and relevant, enriching contributions to, such blogs. Links to 10 to 25 relevant blogs will be provided as recommended blogroll.

12. Continual guidance, as appropriate or needed, in emerging blog related issues, such as: online reputation management, blogocombat, site evolution, blog usability and credibility, search engine ranking techniques, micro-blogging and video SEO techniques, and social media marketing opportunities.

13. Transfer blog to pre-purchased domain, or buy a relevant domain name for client (billed separately, as domain name costs can vary widely).

14. Training in, and updates regarding, blogospheric culture, netiquette, business models, and social trends.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

planting questions vs. authenticity

I'm proud to be a hardcore blogger, for we have higher ideals and ethical standards than politicians. Which isn't saying much, but what can you do?

Hillary Clinton was recently caught planting questions in a university audience. She wanted to address the issue of global warming, whether the students did or not. Perhaps she felt that she knew the concerns of students better than they themselves did. Or maybe she felt they "should" ask her about this issue.

A scripted question for a scripted politician.

Let's not pick on Hillary. Question planting may be a standard practice of the Bush Junior Administration, and other politicians. But what makes this a big deal anyway? Who cares if a question is planted, or a cheer or a boo, for that matter?

What's wrong with fake public sentiments? What's so bad about artificial audiences that are simulating the voice of The People? Have we forgotten what totalitarianism is?

To manipulate the public with false representations of that public, and addressing an imaginary public's concerns? It's the opposite of Honesty, Transparency, and Authenticity. Three of the major values of blogging.

There's a disconnect between The People and The Government. The (not "our") Government is forcing laws and policies on us that we don't want. Politicians want to talk only about the issues they care about, and have scripted but vague answers for. They simply don't care about The People anymore. They trick you into voting for them, then they pursue their own agendas.

To plant a question is like faking comments at your own blog. You could easily cloak your identity and post hundreds of flattering, praising, worshipful comments on every post you publish. All you sacrifice is your integrity as you expose your approval addiction and delusional lifestyle.

We are lied to as they march us off to war.

We are lied to so they can win elections.

Politicians say whatever their advisors tell them they need to say to get elected. Once they're in office, they do what the lobbyists and globalists tell them to do.

What kind of democracy are our children in uniform dying for?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

large corporation vulnerability in social media

Good news for start-ups, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and freelancers!

Today, in my BizReport newsletter, a gem greeted my weary, war-torn eyes: "Social media unworthy of budget?"

A recent study by Coremetrics reveals that corporations are still frightened of, and negligent of, what they mistakenly refer to as the Uncharted Social Media Marketing realm. Thus, there is a huge gaping voidy hole of competitive vulnerability in these clueless, gutless organizations, who feel compelled to sit on their hands until a hallowed "ROI Analysis" permits them to act.

My reply, a comment posted on Coremetrics "Survey Reveals Disconnect in Social Media Marketing Programs":

The Great God ROI is appeased by accounting processes, and angered by visionary leadership that senses in a gut feeling that something, like new carpet, business cards, and social media experimentation, are worthy activities.

"The Face of the New Marketer" looks like one of worry, cowardice, and unimaginative mediocrity.

Outsourcing to China, and getting defective or toxic products with their brand on them, that's okay. But boldly researching, and implementing new methods and new media, that's to be avoided?

When so many companies and individuals are forging ahead, making mistakes, looking foolish, recovering and recalibrating, finally "going viral", reaping astonishing rewards, and making headlines in all the business publications and ecommerce newsletters?

The new media, YouTube, blogs, Twitter, Jaiku, Digg, Kyte.TV, are not mysterious, murky, unanalyzed paths. At least Ron Paul, who used New Media, the Internet, to raise $5 million in 24 hours, doesn't fear such tools, nor consider them dangerously "uncharted".

[Added note: Ron Paul is using the New Media to make political fundraising history. Right now. Mr. Conservative Risk-O-Phobic Businessman: What are you, and your company, doing with it? Is Ron Paul a lot smarter than your average multi-national conglomerate CEO?]

I'm using New Media to promote this survey for you. Cost = zero. Time invested = 10 minutes.

I have also Twittered a link to this page, providing valuable content for my 524 Followers, most of whom are PR, Marketing, and Social Media specialists and pioneer bloggers.

Vaspers on Twitter

Steven E. Streight
aka Vaspers the Grate

Monday, November 05, 2007

8 benefits of Twitter microblogging

Twitter is a popular microblogging, status update, asynchronous chat, link archiving, social networking tool. Here are 8 powerful benefits to joining and participating in Twitter.

(1) Gain marketable skill of pithy, brief, clear, condensed communication. Learn how to say more with fewer words.

(2) Become more humble and less self-impressed, as you realize that on Twitter there is no A List or blog celebrity. You just another avatar, like everybody else. Messages are valued by intrinsic worth and relevance, not the stardom of the originator.

(3) Obtain invites to exciting new web tools and networking platforms.

(4) Discover new blogging voices as they promote links to their latest posts.

(5) Drive traffic to your own blog posts and client sites by tweeting links to them (don't do this exclusively, primarily, or over-frequently, or you'll be Unfollowed as a spammer or exploiter).

(6) Acquire skill in quick, short interactions with other members via tweets, replies, and DMs.

(7) Get relatively immediate reactions to links, insights, complaints, questions contained in your messages and DMs.

(8) Receive news about tech conferences, meetups, podcamps, presentations, live streaming shows, and other relevant events.

10 Cs of social networking

10 Cs of Social Networking

Considerations that I consider vital and essential to any interactive social media platform, like FaceBook, Ning, Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, Rhizome,, YouTube, flickr, etc.

Responsibility for building and maintaining these qualities is shared by both the social network developers and the community members who actively participate. Degrees of involvement vary according to how much control can be exercised by developers or members for each of these aspects.

(1) Commonality

You have to have something in common, a mutual interest: chatting, connecting, romance, beta invites, link sharing, file sharing, marketing, music, politics, art, knitting, productivity tools, tech gadgets, whatever interest or web service (like microblogging, photo sharing, mp3 hosting, live streaming video, job search, social bookmarking) a social network is primarily or initially based on.

(2) Community

You need to feel a sense of belonging, a communal spirit of "we're in this together", which can evolve into a virtual advisory staff, exclusivity cult, or online family gathering: the digital tribal motif.

(3) Civility

Members and admins must have clear and fair Terms of Service, consensus netiquette, and be polite to all, patient with newbies, and proud of controversy sparkers, which can draw traffic to the site.

(4) Caring

You need to feel like you're in a supportive or at least tolerant environment, where you can vent, rant, rave, chortle, and weep, and even if other members vigorously debate your cherished beliefs and opinions, they are basically compassionate, sympathetic, helpful, and seeking your best interests.

(5) Content

If the quality, relevance, and value of member contributions is good, the social network will be more successful, but if the content is excessively spammy, abusive, self-promotional, impersonal, commercial, irrelevant, trivial, narcissistic, or dogmatic (like some HTML and gaming forums), the network will decline.

(6) Collaboration

Beyond self-expression and chatting is the ideal of working together with others to achieve something in business, education, art, music, film, politics, environmentalism, social justice, pacifism, or other interests, and the ideal social network needs to enable diverse forms of team project facilitation.

(7) Combat

There needs to be a way for members to kick and ban trollish intruders (especially in live streaming video sites like UstreamTV, Justin.TV, Operator 11, and BlogTV, where sexual predators pretend to be caring people, but pry into personal details and living situations of lonely female webcasters), or at least flag and report an abusive member or comment poster, to ensure user control over their channel and to foster a safe and supportive atmosphere.

(8) Conquest

The social network (socnet) must triumph over competitive socnet platforms, scaling problems, bugs, accusations of containing only frivolous drivel, privacy concerns, and other bad publicity based on misunderstandings, and win the favor of venture capitalists, business press, early adaptors, and active members.

(9) Correctability

The social network developers must, and I stress that word exceedingly, MUST respond quickly to users regarding questions, feature requests, problems, trolls, spammers, and other concerns, which will contribute to a productive and evolving platform, for if this is not done, members will eventually mutiny and migrate to a better, more responsive network.

(10) Cohesion

Members must feel that the network is basically reliable, in conformance with their needs, and somehow hanging together in a "privileged", "cool", "elite", "nichey", "advanced", "hip", or other way to differentiate it from other, competing sites, and this special unity is enhanced by implementing all the preceding qualities.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

mp3s and videos vs. talk marketing

There seem to be two major schools of thought regarding music band promotions.

Talk Marketing (aka "hype")

One is the old fashioned hype generator school. I call it Talk Marketing.

They're not talking about the style of music or the band's influences. No. They just talk about the band's alleged impact on the audience, how they're more [fill in the blank] than other bands.

"This band really touches the heart" is one approach that is used over and over again. Like when you're looking for new music to listen to, "pull on my heart strings" is a high priority.

Maybe for females, this is important. Most red-blooded males and regular guys don't care about "emo" music. We want music that will make us laugh, party harder, or hate our jobs more.

MP3 and Video Marketing (aka "music itself")

The other school, which I advocate and teach, is MP3 and Video Marketing. This approach takes the music itself, and uses it as the primary promotional tool.

Let people hear your sounds and view your visual style. Quit bragging and spewing nonsensical hype. Let your music do the sales job. Get your music to fans, directly. Let them download FREE mp3s of entire songs and entire albums. Permit fans to burn your songs to CDs and take them to parties, to share your tunes with others.

You want fans talking about your music. Fans are more influential than hired marketing firms who cannot cut through the clutter of hype anyway. All they do is add to the noise of pushy, empty promotional efforts.

Here's what Bob Baker, a smart music marketing specialist, said in his newsletter today, in "Wampus packs a wallop".


But something about this one from Wampus Multimedia caught my eye. It had everything to do with this lead-off description of a new CD release:

It isn't about image. It isn't about entertainment. Great rock is about movement -- of the heart, the mind, the feet. The May Bees, a scrappy, uncompromising duo from The Netherlands, understand this instinctively. They want to make a good impression, sure, and they want to amuse and engage you. But mostly they want to move you, to change you, to leave an indelible mark upon you.

What an awesome way to introduce potential fans and reviewers to a new band! Read that paragraph again. It isn't a dry reading of facts and features about the band. It's an intriguing description that puts the focus squarely where it should be: on the reader (the fan) and what you'll get from hearing the May Bees' music.

Plus, it's a great lesson on how to promote music using emotion -- engaging the imagination and painting word pictures that stimulate the senses.


Sorry to disagree with you, friend, but this promotion sounds like every other band that tries to manipulate us psychologically, and convey some supposed emotional benefit to their music.

So...this music will REALLY make me tap my foot and snap my fingers and sing along at the top of my voice? Yeah. Right.

It's always the same: "We're different, we're special, we really rock, we care about fans, we're all about good tunes..." ad nauseum.

In the new digital universe, such "we" oriented bragging is moldy and outmoded.

I am much more attracted to a music artist who actually describes their sound, and even compares it to other bands, or at least lists some major influences.

Look at all the rotten MySpace band sites and artist home pages. Mostly, they just rave about how great they are, but give no description of what their style is.

I prefer bands that take themselves not so seriously.

I am attracted to bands that trash themselves, that practice Winning Through Self-loathing (title of my new book, soon to be released), who despise the rock star syndrome and celebrity infatuation.

I like bands who are not overly-enchanted with their own motivations and the sincerity/superiority of their output.

I like bands that are more like ordinary people, and thus know how to reach them with real music. Music that makes fun of evil politicians, that makes me think more deeply about serious issues, or makes me happy because I can relate to a tale of woe or oppression.

I like happy music and sad music. I like lyrics that deliriously make no sense, but show a bold experimentation with language. Songs that defeat and confound my expectations of what a song is. Bands who are innovative, rather than imitative.

The best way to promote music is to distribute FREE mp3s and videos, on multiple channels, at multiple social networks, to as many people as possible.

It's the only way to go from Unknown and and Craved.

FREE mp3s and videos do not "devalue" the music.

They represent you more fully and perfectly than any ad agency or PR firm. Your own music is a better salesperson than vain talking, exaggerated narrative, or emotional gimmicks.

Let people hear your music, not your hype. Your music is your ambassador. Distribute your music freely. Lots of it. Then, if your music is really good, and the lyrics hit home, you'll get loyal fans, gigs, and recording contracts (if those old fashioned things still mean anything, when we can bypass them and reach fans directly now).

Here's a good example of a video that promotes speedcore anarchist band Ambassador 21.

Ambassador 21 & Converter
"New Doctrine About Trinity"

Spam is getting stupider every day

Friends, I'm worried sick. Have you noticed how stupid the spam emails are getting lately? Are they at their wits end? Are they angry that we can't be fooled by "Hi", "Re: meeting next Wednesday", or "Iraq terrorist film" subject lines?

Have we disheartened them? The spammers just don't seem to be trying anymore.

Check out this retarded spam message, which I accidentally opened (never open a spam email, as it alerts the sender that your address is valid, and they'll sell your addy to other spammers):

Hi! I'm not sure if you remember me..
I guess we went to high school together.

It was quite a while ago but I still remember our friendship.

Do you remember that walk after classes?
It was really cool!

And them my parents moved to another town
and I had to leave with them...

What a bugger it was to start in another school,
with no friends around.

I felt very lonely in the beginning, until half a year
or so later, when I made new friends.

But this is another story. But I still think about you
sometimes, all that fun, all whispering chats during

Do you want to see what I look like now?

Visit my home page then, it's at [URL deleted]

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

7 reasons NOT to Twitter

(1) Narcissistic:

You hate seeing your message get shoved down by the relentless and rapid addition of other messages ("tweets") by other people. You're used to publishing a blog post, with comments added below it, with the only thing piling up on top of it being new posts by you.

(2) Message Speed:

The message flow of Twitter is just too fast, you can't keep up with that rushing river of brevities. You prefer the antiquated "slomo blogs" and their leisurely pace.

(3) Reply Velocity:

You find it unsettling that your message got replies so quickly, you were unable to respond with a good reply to the replies. You can't think that fast. Blogocombat on Twitter freaks you out because the attacks and defenses are so unexpected, swift, and brutal.

(4) Message Brevity:

You like to jabber on and on about stuff, but here you're limited to 140 characters per message. You find it annoying to post several short messages, just to fully develop your communication. Pithy statements and concise writing are not your thing. You're more prolix, and you don't care to learn the marketable skill of condensed idea formulation.

(5) Message Anonymity:

You're an A List blogger, with an elite blogroll and hundreds of comments on every post, but on Twitter, you're just an avatar like everybody else. You dislike the fact that Twitter is an even playing field, with the tweets of celebrities carrying no more weight than a tweet from some obscure loser, like Vaspers, for example.

(6) Addictivity Dangers:

You've heard about the poor geeks who got hooked on Twitter. You've heard Twitter called "the crack of microblogging". You fear you'll become another degenerate Twitter junkie who sits at the computer all day and all night, Twittering about sandwiches, airports, and technology conferences.

(7) Promotional Lethargy:

You don't really have any relevant links to share with anybody on Twitter. You have products to sell, but no news or educational information to provide. You want to make money, not friends. You don't really care about online communities or how to promote your company's expertise and credibility to them.

Get my deeper, more radical
ideas from Twitter.

Click on image below:

Monday, October 29, 2007

Iannis Xenakis avant garde composer

One of my favorite composers, an early pioneer of noise or stochastic music: Iannis Xenakis.

"Mycenae Alpha" (9:39)

"Le Polytope de Cluny" (6:07)

"La legende d'Eer (compressed)" (9:59)

"Xenakis [A] Live! (excerpt)" (9:59)

"Synaphai" (8:23)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

13 Twitter superstitions

(1) Popularity Perplexion

The more people Following you, the more successful you are as a human being, writer, social networker, or whatever.

(2) Fickle Follower Delirium

When you lose a Follower, and especially a whole bunch of Followers, it's because you said something they didn't like, agree with, or approve of, or you posted way too many messages. Shame on you!

(3) Blind Obedience to the Big Question

"What are you doing now?" must be slavishly obeyed with such answers as "eating a tuna sandwich", "sitting at Denver International airport", or "trying to force Outlook to send an email", rather than stating what you're thinking or linking to at the moment.

(4) Opening & Closing Protocols

You must begin your Twitter session of the day with "Good morning Twitter buds" and end it with "Goodnight everybody, time to go to bed" like you're at summer camp.

(5) Error Message Validity Fetish

Stubbornly asserting that the Twitter error messages are true, and not just placebos to make you think they care (e.g. "Sorry about that. New features and improvements are coming soon!")

(6) Twitter Evolution Delirium

Groundlessly believing that someday Twitter will actually have new features and improvements, like Pownce-type file sharing, or Jaiku-type ability to reply to a specific message via comments.

(7) Re-tweeting Regression Syndrome

You submit a tweet, or click on Replies, or fire off a DM (private direct message), or other operation, and it fails, so you hit your Back button and try it again, until it works, thereby defying the Twitter Overlords and bringing bad karmic forces down on you for your insolent aggression.

(8) Hearts Image Dysfunction

You type in & hearts ; (no spaces between) -- but it doesn't render as a solid heart graphic (♥), for the recipient of the tweet or DM, so you think Twitter is not allowing you to flirt with that person.

(9) "Talk Like a Pirate Day" Non-compliance Curse

On the celebrated Talk Like a Pirate Day, a special Twitter holy day, you refuse to change your avatar to a pirate, and refuse to say things like "proud beauty", "shiver me timbers", "Davy Jones locker", and "arrrrr!", thus causing bad things to happen to you all day long.

(10) Twitter Avatar Sanctity Syndrome

Refusal to change your avatar, because you think nobody will know who you are, since they're so used to your former avatar, or you think the new avatar might frighten or confuse people and they'll hate you more than they already do.

(11) Virtual Hug Avoidance Dementia

Thinking that if a person gives you a virtual "hug", your wife or husband will find out and you'll be in divorce court, with your family and finances ripped to shreds.

(12) Twittermancy

Looking for hidden meanings in tweets that may not be directed to you, but you feel they secretly intended them for you. Or: not making a move, until you clear it with your Twitter pals and they authorize you to do it.

(13) Evaporatory Mis-tweeting Phobia

When a tweet vanishes, and fails to post, you fearfully assume that it's the Internets, the Universe, and the Big Bang, or maybe China, censoring you.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

top 10 things new bloggers need to understand

Posted by Hello

This post is in response to a Twitter message from Joseph Jaffe (, asking for input on this topic. A brilliant idea for a blog post, so here goes.

(1) You should blog because you have ideas to discuss, insights to share, opinions to present, or a need to express yourself, coupled with a desire to get feedback from others.

(2) Blogs are not just another advertising medium for sales hype or controlled "corporate messages". They are a two-way conversation platform, and must enable readers to post comments, except in very rare cases.

(3) It may take you up to a year, or more, to get any steady traffic, comments, or quotes and links to your blog from other bloggers. Sometimes the post you worked hard on, and included lots of quotes and links to other sources, will go over like a lead balloon...while a post you just dash off haphazardly may generate tons of attention and links. You can't predict how readers will react.

(4) Blogging frequently will improve your thinking, research, debate, and online interaction skills, to the point where it will eventually just flow out of you with little effort or editing.

(5) Personalize your blog with a custom design, tweak your sidebar frequently, and change the entire design and colors at least once a year. Generic templates provided by your platform (WordPress, Blogger, etc.) look amateur and lazy.

(6) Be a good neighbor in the blogosphere, and drive traffic to your blog, by putting your blog URL in your email signature, all promotional material, and by posting comments frequently on other relevant blogs.

(7) A blog is a great way to put a human voice and face on a company. Companies without blogs seem aloof and unwilling to engage in conversations with customers. If your CEO or Sales Manager has no interest in blogging, and won't delegate the duties, he or she may not really care much about customers. Can you afford to have customers view your company as arrogant, unapproachable, mysterious, or old fashioned?

(8) Write your post titles very carefully, with an eye to SEO (search engine optimization). What words and phrases will customers likely type into a search engine to find info on the topic you're going to write about? List titles, like the title of this post, are very popular, and convey the fact that the post will contain meat, rather than fluff or rants.

(9) Never be afraid of negative comments, or take them personally. Encourage contrary opinions, critique, and complaints. You typically learn nothing from praise, while criticism, even the destructive type, can educate and improve you.

Having said that, abusive, racist, sexist, filthy comments can and should be blocked by using comment moderation. Don't use captchas (character recognition tests), unless spambots storm your blog. Captchas decrease comments, since they're often extremely hard for legitimate human comment posters to read.

(10) Use variety in your posts. Reveal non-sensitive personal information, like favorite bands, artists, movies, food, once in a while. Surprise your readers with all photo posts, or links to cool sites with sparse commentary, or quote some or all of another blogger's post, with credit and link back to it, with running commentary of your own. Publish a poetic, cryptic, or out of character post and see what happens.

P.S. This post was dashed off on short notice, with little forethought or planning. Wonder how it will be received! LOL

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

20 reasons a business should NOT blog

Not all businesses need to have a blog. In fact, some should avoid blogging like the plague. Should your business have a blog? Well, there are some good reasons NOT to blog.

20 Reasons a Business
Should NOT Blog

Don't blog...if your business:

(1) Doesn't need customer feedback, and doesn't value their suggestions.

(2) Is afraid of harsh or challenging comment posters, or discussion of real issues, i.e., blogocombat.

(3) Has no need to drive traffic to a corporate web site or ecommerce application.

(4) Has no employee with genuine passion, expertise, and customer relation skills, to act as the company's blogger.

(5) Has no interesting stories to tell about how your products have solved problems for users, how your company got started, or lessons learned along the way.

(6) Is fearful of "losing control of the message" -- which is probably a non-differentiating, feature-driven, "we-oriented" message that's boring and alienating customers anyway.

(7) Has no need of media coverage by trade journalists who search blogs for news items, controversies, and emerging trends.

(8) Is not willing to spend a fair amount of time (several hours per week) writing blog posts, replying to comment posters, and contributing comments to other blogs relevant to your industry or audience.

(9) Is not "into" computers, social networks, YouTube, etc., and does not care about customers who are.

(10) Does not care about educating customers about product usage or industry trends.

(11) Has no need to establish online credibility and thought leadership.

(12) Is not interested in attracting online shoppers or providing material for online information seekers.

(13) Believes in commanding and controlling, rather than engaging in conversations with the public.

(14) Hates getting down on the level of customers to learn what their real problems and needs are.

(15) Is resistant to new technology, even when operating a blog is as easy as using email.

(16) Is indifferent to the young "digital native" generation, who use blogs and other web tools as naturally as you use a telephone.

(17) Has no interest in engaging in damage control via a platform that bypasses editors and media filters, when bad press about your company is all over the news.

(18) Never has a need to explain, clarify, or stimulate controversy and debate about issues relevant to your industry.

(19) Is totally satisfied with conducting Business As Usual (which generally leads to Business As Over).

(20) Cannot commit to being truthful, transparent, and trustworthy, by displaying corporate values and goals in a public forum.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Social Networking Tips in InterBusiness Issues

We're pleased to announce that we're now a regular columnist for InterBusiness Issues magazine, which is published in both a print and online version.

This is another example of how people value our thought leadership in web design, cyber-culture, and ecommerce.

Read the article "Social Networking Tips for Businesses" in this month's issue of InterBusiness Issues magazine.

social networks as multi player video games

One way to look at social networking sites is from a gamer's point of view. I'm not a gamer, so I cannot disclose the analogies and similes in effect. But I can lumber along the path and inspire the real pioneers to degrade my efforts and write the true story. Here goes...

Social networks are more like video games than communes. Everything is virtual, from avatars and profiles to gender and experiences shared. You can never be absolutely sure if the female avatar coincides with a lady in real life, nor what age or education level anybody is.

Nebulous personas floating, flirting, fidgeting around in a "social" space that is contrived and contrary to offline interactions. In a real social situation, you can't hide behind avatars and pseudonymity. Anonymous trolls meet stiff opposition in bars, at parties, or in political rallies.

Things are different in the offline world. You could get punched in the physical face, not merely "nudged" or "poked" in a non-existent part of a simulated you known as a profile page. It exists, sort of. But the only sense that registers it is sight, via looking at the web object through a browser.

Don't allow yourself to be hurt by hateful messages or comments. See it as text responding to text, not as your feelings being assaulted by a mean-spirited person. That "person" could be a chatbot programmed to debate keywords.

Social networks are like multi player games, where there are rules for interaction, but strangers can assume any disguise, diversion, or deception in their "identity", and thereby evade accountablity as a known individual.

Social networks are multi player games that have traditions, norms, and netiquette. There are consensus-seeming rules for how to reply to other members, how to participate in debates and discussions, how frequently to post or update, what topics have already been done to death, how to self-promote without seeming mercenary about it, how to package a client promotion so it seems less spammy, and many other behaviors.

If you play nice, you score more points. If you play badly, you are shunned, unFriended, Blocked, Deleted, or worse.

Interactive tools are like video game functionalities. You shoot the zombie in the head, it disintegrates. You DM (direct message, ie, private note) someone, they reply to you via DM.

It's a game, don't you see?

Some members feel hurt emotionally when some total stranger UnFriends them, quits Following their messages. Some members think you "win" by accumulating the most Friends or Followers.

Others are content to just bask in the warm glow of simulated community values and support. It's all a mental hoax, though, when you come right down to it. Only a tiny percentage of those you toss virtual hugs and ASCII smileys at you are of true friend caliber, perhaps those you least expect.

Often, a fan or ally you ignore can be your most devoted and aggressive champion.

Just remember it really is a game, a valuable practice arena for online group connections and participatory skills, but having no real substance, no center of gravity, no cohesive reality.

Enjoy the benevolent simulation and live in two dimensions simultaneously, for they're both "games" with multiple "players".