Monday, February 26, 2007

deconstructing blogocombat

Can we go about our business in the blogosphere, and never have to engage in debate or self-defense? Can we champion an idea or technology, and expect to have smooth sailing, with no opposition?

Is it cowardly to "shut down comments" on a conversation thread, just because someone is emotionally upset and thinks the debate has "gone on long enough", which usually means they're losing the argument and afraid of looking bad?

Online communities will always have a self-deconstructing aspect, since the association of members is voluntary and democratic, not to mention the fact that users who generate content and conversation are typically far more passionate, combative, and opinionated.

Jacques Derrida has observed the double, paradoxical nature of community.

"There is no opposition, fundamentally, between 'social bond' and 'social unraveling'. A certain interruptive unraveling is the condition of the 'social bond', the very respiration of all 'community'. This is not even the knot of reciprocal condition, but rather the possibility that every knot can come undone, be cut or interrupted." --

Faith and Knowledge, Acts of Religion (Routledge, 2002), p.99.

To join a community, we necessarily (albeit temporarily) sever one tie (to isolated loneliness, to family, to watching TV, to neighbors) to tie a loose knot with strings that connect us to some otherness (a club, church, school, blog, wiki, discussion list, user forum).

Thus, we may contribute heavily to one online community, then dissolve our relationship to it due to shifting interests, decline in quality, or in an extreme case, because of the debate overheating. We tire of endless arguments, flames, and personal attacks. Or we say something too controversial, too contrarian, and get banned from the community.

When we see blogocombat coming toward us, what is the sign that it holds, drawing attention to itself as contrary opinion, disagreement, anger, or hate?

Since we generally cannot see the facial expressions or body language of online members, we must develop our skills in interpreting vocabulary nuances and semantic cues as to what is "intended", "implied", or "felt". We acquire this finesse by participating in various online collaborations and conversations.

An online enemy will use extremely judgmental and hostile words to refer to you, your product, your philosophy, your faith, or your zeal. A disparaging tone, a sneer, an ugly misrepresentation, a wild accusation, an unsavory indecency.

You begin to develop the ability to sense it. Like you can sense that a blog comment is compensated opinion, a boilerplate comment that a company is paying the "buzz agent" to post. Or a spambot deposit. You can become extremely sensitive to the spirit of online remarks, simply by practicing online debate.

"But if we meet opposition with harsh replies, aren't we lowering ourselves to a vulgar, retaliatory, unprofessional level?" some will ask.

Often it really is best to just ignore attacks. A fly lands on your nose, you brush it off. You don't go on a rampage of negativity regarding flies, and you don't vow to destroy every fly on earth. You just brush it off, and move on. This is generally the best and most effective method of blogocombat.

You don't give the attacker the pleasure of engaging you in a frivolous, spurious battle. You choose what battles to fight, and what battles to walk away from.

Then again, sometimes you must stand your ground and fight back, and to avoid confronting the situation just makes matters worse. Cowardice emboldens the attacker, you appear like a masochistic chump who enjoys being subjected to disrespect. Abusers seek such victims.

Diplomacy is one response. Ignoring it is another. Saying something funny often defuses an explosive situation. Another valid and useful method is combat, in some form or other. Even if it's just one statement to set the record straight.

We must avoid a paranoid Us vs. Them siege mentality. It's not good to want to fight just for the sake of the excitement of fighting and the notoriety of fighters. That's known as trolling. But we must also steer clear of a cowardly avoidance of confrontation.

You can spot a coward easily, he's the one slinking away with a La La Land smile on his face, saying, as he sticks his head back into the sand, "I wouldn't worry about that. I'm sure everything will be fine."

Yeah, right. "All evil needs to succeed is for good people to do nothing."

You may find it appropriate to respond with an aggressive tone, and confrontational terminology, when an attack upon your company seems unfair, unprovoked, and destructive in nature.

Sometimes an "enemy" or an opposition comes toward you, without just cause, and you did not create this adversary. It arises on its own. Perhaps you said something that hits close to home, your remarks are considered a threat or a disruption, so the offended person strikes back.

Self-control, maturity, professionalism, introspective insight, and prioritizing ones activities all help guide us to appropriate reactions to things we see posted on the web. The blogosphere is about vigorous debate, and may the best ideas win.

Blogocombat, or online debate, or vigorous inquiry, is ideally text vs. text, and not person vs. person. This is the key to all defensive and offensive maneuvers in blogs, bulletin boards, discussion lists, user forums, wikis, and other digital venues.

You must pit one idea against another idea. Notice I did not say "pit your idea against their idea". You don't "own" any idea or belief or feeling. You simply borrow or submit to them.

Vigorous inquiry and impassioned discussion cannot be personalized, for a personal attack destroys the entire conversation, must be reproached and possibly removed.

Personal feelings ruin any debate.

Zeal for an idea? Yes. Zeal to destroy another person? No.

Zeal to protect oneself from mere clusters of typed nonsense? Don't be ridiculous.

Zeal to prove something at any cost, even of boring everybody by beating the issue to death? I wish you wouldn't. Spare us, life is already boring enough, it doesn't need any help from you.

Personalizing a debate makes it bestial, savage, unseemly.

It's the ideas that matter, not who's right and who's wrong, who's smart and who's stupid. Only the truth, the facts, the actual reality is important.

As we boldly speak our minds, we must remember that a hateful personal attack can be criminal libel, subject to prosecution in a court of law. In such cases, handing the matter over to your attorney can the best blogocombat move of all.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Derrida seminar 1

Hooded Negro on Derrida (4:38)

Laugh as this funny guy pretends to not understand Derrida and to prefer the Pre-Socratic Sophists, or something. Great self-parody video.

Jacques Derrida "On Christianity" (2:20)

Jacques Derrida "The Death/Future of Philosophy" (1:43)

Woman (hiper 289) reads first paragraph of "Violence & Metaphysics" in Writing and Difference by Jacques Derrida.

Jacques Derrida "On Atheism and Faith" (6:33)

Jacques Derrida "On Love and Being" (4:49)

Jacques Derrida "Deconstruction and Christianity: Part 1" (5:20)

Jacques Derrida "Deconstruction and Christianity: Part 2" (5:16)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

being an unperson by silent miaow VIDEO

I don't make these videos, I just find them. And I highly recommend this one in particular. Amanda aka Silentmiaow is deconstructing normal bias and idiocy in her public education videos.

Speaking through digital voice synthesizer, her fingers dance on the computer keyboard, and she reveals what no one wants to look at and confront. Consider yourself charmed with the infinite bestowal of insight.

Silentmiaow: "Being an Unperson" (8:46)

Also see: "In My Language" by Silentmiaow, autistic savant video genius.

Michael B. Williams: "Discovering Communication" (1:29)

As [text deleted] and domination system deconstructor, I have always said: "The slightest deviation causes explosive discomfort in the established regime lemmings, who will do whatever it takes to quench the fire of free and independent thinking and eccentrism, source of all reality."

Friday, February 23, 2007

children, blogocombat, and the cyber bully

Parents and teachers need to prepare children for blogocombat. I recently watched a news program on television, about a young boy who killed himself because some mean kids at school were calling him "gay" and "sissy boy" in a chat room that the child was addicted to.

Why would any child be so masochistic, that they would obsessively visit a chat room that was abusive to and victimizing them? To defend themselves? To attempt to answer every new allegation? To try to win people over to his side?

Why don't we ask ourselves what kind of parents and teachers we are?

Why do we shun our responsibility and let our young people run wild in the web, "do anything they want" on the computer, without any supervision, guidelines, or preparation for the evil they are bound to encounter sooner or later?

Young people need to know:

* what a cyber attack looks like

* how to use smilies and emoticons to convey what the words themselves may not make clear

* how to tell a troll comment from a sincere, though troubling, remark

* how to be thick-skinned online and not let typed words hurt their self-esteem

* how to deal with "viral" venom

* how to distinguish playful teasing from hateful flaming

* how to tell sarcasm from serious flames

* how to decide whether to fight back, say something funny, or ignore it

* how to deal with a "you suck" or "Johnny B. is gay" web site

* when to tell a parent, teacher, or law enforcement about a web-based attack

* how to defeat online "enemies" by converting them to friends

* how to bounce back from an online hate campaign

* how to post replies to angry critiques, wild accusations, and racial slurs and sexual smears

* how to be self-composed and not unduly affected by external events that are beyond our control.

Have you sat down with your child, grand child, or young friend and explained these urgent matters with them?

How would you handle the points listed above? Do you have practice in blogocombat and web wars? Have you ever confronted someone online, defended yourself, or engaged in debate?

I will prepare a How To Handle Cyber Bullies guide here soon.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

web 2.0 explained via video

Thi(s i)s the best v-ideo, and best vide+o musi\c, asi\=/de from Plastikman and m--y own CompuMusik/Str8 Sounds 2007, t'ha't I h^ave proba!bly ev:er p~robably seen/heard/of(f).

Yo[u] can s=ee th?e influence of Jacqu_es Derrid|a, the bes>t philoso*pher t"h"e wor{ }ld h%as ever kn`own, in the ti#tle &nd THE con,tents.

DigitalEthnography (w/music by Deus)
"Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us" (4:31)

maldroid1 "Heck No! (I'll Never Listen to Techno)" (3:12)
if the robots will w'll hav 2 lissen 2 tkn0

what's your definition of blog?

All bloggers have some sort of seat-of-the-pants, ad hoc, unplanned, subconscious definition of the ugly little word "blog". What's yours?

I mean, when you accidentally let slip the fact that you have a blog, and your friends or family go, "Huh?" or their faces twist into bewonderment and they ask, "What exactly is a blog?"...

...what do you say?

Or do you go, "A blog? Oh, nothing much really, just a little online diary. Hey, why do you think Britney Spears shaved her empty head?" to change the subject?

I am going to create a new client education document called "What is a blog?" and you can help me. Just add a comment on how you define or explain to people what a blog is.

As good ideas come in, I'll add them to my list presented here.

What is a blog? Well...

(1) A blog is an "email to the world" -- Doc Searls.

(2) A blog is a simple CMS (content management system) that non-technical users can operate to publish content to the web.

(3) A blog is a digital diary.

(4) A blog is a mini-web site that one person authors, updates, and maintains.

(5) A blog is a log of what you find interesting on the web, hence "web log" or "weblog", with links and sometimes a little bit of commentary.

(6) A blog is a home away from home.

(7) A blog is an online conversation that anyone can join via comments.

(8) A blog is a web journal containing frequent postings that are displayed in reverse chronological order, with older posts archived according to month and year or in categories, with links to other relevant or favorite blogs, and a comment function that allows readers to add their input.

(9) A blog is the first universal content publishing system to allow any human with a computer and internet access to express their ideas to a potentially global audience.

(10) A blog is a revolutionary tool that lets the average person publicize their thoughts on a level playing field with corporations and traditional media.

(11) A blog is a software application that enables compu-telepathic communication from one mind to another, with no filters, censors, or approval channels intervening.

(12) A blog is web platform that enables text, photos, video, audio podcasts, music mp3s, PDFs, and other digital media to be distributed to the world.

your mentalized blog audience

Here is "To Whom Do You Blog?--Part 2".

[EDIT UPDATE: Also see Chip Camden's Jazz Writing post: blogging is jazz writing, writing that is similar to improvisation that is found in jazz music. Excellant metaphor for the art of blogging!]

I think we have a barely conscious "mentalized" blog audience as we craft each new post to our blogs. It's a good idea to ask ourselves what that internalized, conjectured, hypothetical blog audience is.

I don't think anyone blogs blindly, with no readership in mind, as they write. It's possible, as in paper diaries, but not likely. But even in paper journals, is there not some imagined reader, if only a Future Self?

As I ponder this more, amazed at how it's not a superficial question and is not easily answered, I find that I mainly, or usually, blog for a semi-fictional persona, a composite person labeled "my client".

I think: "What can I share with my client today? What do I know or believe, that might help that client succeed in business or in his or her own blog?" That client may be advanced in computing skills, or the client may be new to the digital realm or to blogging. But I feel like a teacher a little bit. Or a consultant who is casually sharing some good information, that I hope will help.

But I always hope for two-way conversation, not me being a mainstream media Know-It-All, proclaiming eternal wisdom from some exalted metaphysical sphere. In some ways, the comments are far more interesting and important than the post itself. The post is merely an ice breaker, a conversation starter.

I usually feel like I'm exploring a topic or event or principle with an ally, and we are seeking truth together.

But it's not illusory or totally imaginary. I think certain specific persons float through my mind and heart as I write a blog post.

It's a shifting persona. One sentence of a post seems directed to Liz, another sentence is directed to Jim Estill of Synnex, another sentence seems more pointed at maybe, oh, Paul Woodhouse (thinking: "he'll get a good laugh out of this description"), and so on.

Often, when I am responding to another blogger, say Dave Taylor or Robert Scoble, I have one exact person in mind, as I reinforce or rebut (is that a word? it is now...) their position.

So I think the blog audience is not necessarily a fixed entity, but swirls and shifts and fluctuates, sometimes post by post, or even sentence by sentence.

Yet it also, in my case anyway, is more often my text responding to someone else's text, it is text interacting with text, and not necessarily personalized.

Like if a MSM journalist makes a claim: "blogs, wikis, podcasts, and social media networking are assaulting our culture, economy, and values through the invasion of the amateur".

Then text pours forth from me defending the rise of Individual Voice against entrenched Domination Systems.

Though I may feel anger or passion, they are not the real source of my post, it's more the text itself, in my head, coming through my fingers into the keyboard and onto the post template.

Monday, February 19, 2007

blog word processor experiment

this is a blog word processor experiment that I conducted today...when I attempted to Publish the following, I was instructed to tell Google to "allow WriteToMyBlog to gain access" to my blog. But WriteToMyBlog was not authorized by Google, and a CGI script was involved, so I aborted the access process...and copy and pasted the post w/special format to my New Blogger template. The result is what you see now. ~~ your pal Vaspers.


is a free web based word processor for your blog.

Create Post Entries for your Blog from right here, completely free, no membership required.

You can post to multiple Blogs simultaneously, manage your Posts, works with all major Blog programs, and is easy-peasy!

[THE TEXT ABOVE IS QUOTED but reformatted from the WriteToMyBlog web page. This post is an experiment. I had trouble with their YouTube video search and uploader. I searched for my latest video "Resistance to Wikis", could not find it. Then I typed in "vaspers" and only got a small list, about 12 of my nearly 100 YouTube videos. I am interested in using this tool for a variety of projects. Blogger still is not giving me very many tools, even in the New Blogger, for format options, like background colors. My workaround was to compose in Gmail, like for CompuMusik or Str8 Sounds 2007 posts, then import the formatting into a Blogger post.

For you minimalist techno musical enjoyment, may I suggest you visit the Plastikman web site, where you can listen to ALL his music for FREE? Richard Dawtin aka Plastikman is one of my favorite musicians, so bleak and minimal, yet somehow interesting in a lonely murky way. He is a Canadian (and I love all things Canada) who was banned from USA for "performing illegally as Plastikman" in Detroit. How does one "perform illegally" in the USA? Without a required permit or visa or what???]

to whom do we blog?

Who do you blog to or toward? Or for? Or against?

When you write a new blog post, who is addressed? Do you have a composite persona in mind? Do you imagine an aggregation of imagined readers, based on those you know well, and those you hope will find you?

Is there a conscious target? Who is it that you hope to enlighten, engage, or enrage?

I cannot believe that you just slap some text, maybe a photo or artwork, into a post template, with total oblivion as to the intended, expected, or hoped for audience. Do you ever blog against a person or group or company or political party? Do you blog to your Future Self? Do you blog for your friends, family, boss?

Does it depend on the specific post? The general topic?

Is your blog just a mirror in which you see content that reflects the self? How does this benefit anyone else? Is your blog just a workspace that helps you improve your thinking and writing skills?

Or are you blogging to a potential romantic partner, hoping to attract a mate or spouse or "on the down low" object of gratification?

When we talk on the phone, we know to whom we're talking. Same with a letter, email, chat, speech. But what about in your blog?

I blog for many different audiences. My colleagues like Carrie Snell, CK, Paul Woodhouse, Stephan Tual, Steven Brent, Doc Searls, Krishna Bhatt, Sterling "Chip" Camden, Loren Feldman, Liz Strauss, people who comment here a lot, blogroll me, quote me, subscribe to my RSS/Atom feeds and email updates, or link to me in a blog post.

But I also blog to my Future Self, so that someday, I'll look back on past posts, and be reminded of various issues, arguments, research, opinions that I had at the time I wrote them.

I also blog for those who might navigate to this blog from some wiki or other online venue in which I work and contribute content. Or people who type in key words like "how to blog", "blogocombat", "sales pitch book", or "dangers of personal blogging" into an internet search engine.

And finally, I blog for potential clients who may need my web usability analysis or content writing or marketing skills.

To whom do you blog?

Friday, February 16, 2007

how to blog Part 1

Here are some links that teach basic blogging skills, plus some related topics. This is for newbies, but we hardcore bloggers can also refresh our skills by skimming through these.

I also suggest the books Naked Conversations by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, Net Words by Nick Usborne, Who Let the Blogs Out? by Biz Stone, Blog by Hugh Hewitt, Publishing a Blog with Blogger by Elizabeth Castro.

"How to Blog: 1. Blog Basics"

Build a Better Blog
by Patsi Krakoff & Denise Wakeman

"Welcome to My Blog

[VIDEO] How to Blog Using by Michael Kleine

Wikipedia definition and article.

"How To Blog"
Bryn Mawr article.

"Blogging 101" by Sandi Hardmeier (2/24/2006)
Microsoft Windows IE community blog post.

"How to Start a Blog" by Michael Hyatt.

"The 120 Day Wonder: How to Evangelize a Blog"
Guy Kawasaki blog post.

[PDF] "Audience, Structure and Authority in the Weblog Community"

"How To Start Your Very Own Blog in Fifty-One Easy Steps!"
Kuro5hin post.

"How To Write a Famous Blog"
WikiHow article.

"How To Blog Your Way To Fame and Fortune"
Post from A VC blog.

"How to Know When to Stop Blogging"
Lorelle blog post.

"EFF: Legal Guide for Bloggers"
EFF article.

"Good Example or Horrible Warning - How NOT to be a Successful Blogger"
from EngTech (engineering technology) blog.

Here are some Vaspers the Abrasive Scrub Brush posts on the subject.

"24 tips for new bloggers"

"CEO blogs polish them up please"

"Blog Taglines Experiment #1"

"15 risks of blogging"

Here's a controversial article by my blogocombat buddy Paul Woodhouse aka Tinbasher.

He claims that having a blog does NOT make anybody a "blogger". Just as owning a guitar does NOT make you a guitarist. Good analogy and a point to ponder. I left a comment or two there.

"This is Spinal Blog"

bloggers help with mystery weapon

Is this a hoax? Sure seems like one to me. I, like most Americans, have deep distrust of MSM (main/morbid stream media). It looks like a plastic toy squirt gun to me. Is evil Iran supplying squirt guns to the religious sectarian civil war in Iraq?

(SIDE NOTE: See how "Iraq" and "Iran" are double underlined in the linked article on Fox News? That generally indicates Content Hypertext Spam from the asshats at Intellitxt and elsewhere. But in this case it's a link to MSN live search, and is a good idea really.)

Fox News posting: bloggers try to explain this "mystery weapon".

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

wiki vs blog

You have a problem, a lack, a need. How do you solve, provide, fulfill it all by yourself? You can't and you know you can't.

You have to turn to others, their books, speeches, research, insights, anecdotes, recommendations, much of which exists online in blogs, white papers, discussion lists, web forums, bulletin boards, PDFs, video, or podcasts.

You could build a sandbox and invite others to come play in it. Collaborate. Contribute. The easiest way to do this is to start a blog or a wiki.

Team blog or collab wiki?

Every business needs a blog and every blog needs a wiki.

"But wouldn't a team blog accomplish the same result: collaboration?"

No. A team blog still has a group of voices expressing individualistic viewpoints, in reverse chronological order, with posted articles slipping down the scroll slopes, disappearing beneath newly posted items, until they're off the home page and into the archives.

The team blog is like a pile of postings that people keep adding to. The blog has a predominantly vertical structure (drill down), whereas the wiki is somewhat more horizontal (fan out) with verticalizations.

With a blog, you voice your opinion.

With a wiki, we work together to solve a problem or build a treasury of information, insight, inspiration.

A blog is a home. A wiki is a village. A blog revolves around a person or team. A wiki revolves around a problem or opportunity.

A blog is trapped in the "listen to me" while a wiki is necessarily a "listen to us" or "listen to it", i.e., the wiki workspace of anonymous contributions that build into a grand treasury of user-customized information and a tool for organizing and planning grassroots interventions upon civic problems.

While a blog is like a book, usually single authorship, a wiki is more like a library, with multiple authors, but a library where the books are bleeding into each other in fluid overflow of informational auto-aggregations: the seeking becomes the making.

Blog: you write articles that others can add remarks to.

Like a benevolent dictator, voicing a single opinion or limited expertise. A vibrant and worthy community can be formed around a topic, but it is also circling idolatrously around a single individual.

Wiki: we all write articles that we all can enhance, correct, improve, delete, expand upon, or question.

Like a club where everyone is a motivated, passionate, fully participating member. Rather than revolving around the hub of a solo personality, the wiki is in orbit around a communal problem, a group task, a team architecture.

For example, I wish to learn, very rapidly, about publicity. As I learn PR practices, I add them to my Fast PR wiki. I also will invite PR professionals to help me build a treasury, a vast repository of publicity insights, stories, and techniques.

That way, I'll pool the expertise of others and we, both contributors and audience, will grow in understanding the secrets of Viral Publicity.

Is wiki media?

A sub-set of "social media" or is wiki more an "online community" that is doing something together, rather than just "reporting" on it?

Even better: wiki can be a by-passing of mediated intervention and invasively carving out a cavern of secret lore made common and orchestrating public response based on this information aggregation.

Wiki dissolves the division between hearing about a problem (news) and getting off your butt and doing something about it (activism).

Wrenching politics (social responsivity to civic problems) away from politicians and lobbyists, by constructing grassroots, non-partisan collaboration project zones online.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

how to treat journalists

From my new Fast PR wiki, a site devoted to accumulating viral pubicity ideas and insights.

"A Caution: How to treat journalists"

Jason Calacanis, famous for selling his Weblogsinc. to Time-Warner for a reported $25 million, posted a curious confession. A champion of blog ethics, transparency, and free expression, he yet manifested an unfortunate Achilles heel vulnerability.

From "My interview with the WSJ on the Wizards of Buzz story".

[QUOTE-from Calacanis blog]

WSJ didn't quote me for the story yesterday, but they did ask me a bunch of questions. Here is the raw interview…

"Jurgensen, John"
date Jan 26, 2007 4:51 PM
subject Re: question from WSJ

[snip — text deleted]

(WSJ): How would you describe the pressure and influence of marketers, especially as it relates to this top-user pool?

(Calacanis): Constant.

(WSJ): What have you discovered as a result of your blog campaign to find out more about these influences?

(Calacanis) They are low-rent marketers who are desperate for a cheap way to game the system. The real marketers in most cases are smart enough to know they shouldn't piss in the town well.

(WSJ): Of the users and marketers you know to be involved, who might talk to me about compensation for submissions?

(Calacanis): Finding sources is your job. :-)

* Feb 11th 2007 11:45AM


To produce Viral Publicity aka Fast PR, the first and most golden rule is to respect, help, and make friends with journalists.

You need them, they probably don't need you. There are plenty of stories featuring businesses much more exciting and timely than yours. You must never be smart ass or rude to any media people, whether photographers, receptionists, reporters, station managers, publishers, or sales staff.

A fast way to make journalists like you, and consider using you in stories, is to offer to help them with SOURCES. This is where we must shine. Journalists don't like to write stories quoting only one source. It looks biased and like an info-mercial. Stories carry more credibility and balance when multiple sources are quoted or referenced.

To say "finding sources is your job" is a massive insult. The journalist could turn around and reply, "Well then, getting publicity is now your job. I will shun you like the plague."

-- from Fast PR wiki 2/11/2007

connecting the dots in your business

Have you ever tried connecting all the dots in your business? You might be astonished at the picture that results.

Let's now deconstructively approach a certified understanding of what I'm trying to mean and say: first, what are the "dots" we are being coached to connect?

Let this hot new article from Fast PR wiki, yes yet another one from your obsessive pal Vaspers, let it make your vision soar more.

The "dots" are those things that are happening around you:

* new projects of colleagues

* local Rotary Club needing new speakers on fresh topics

* a nephew or niece's untapped buzz-generating and artistic talents

* a win-win business partnership potential sticking out "like a sore thumb"

* a new blogocombat ally who voiced his testimony in support of your point

* a blogger who blogrolled you and has professional training that you lack

* a spouse or lover's untapped managerial or administrative skills

* a frequent poster of comments on your blog who needs sidebar link buttons and other tools to promote you more

* a local university professor who would love to be a registered contributor to your new wiki

* a relative who served in Iraq and has stories to tell on ground command military PR and leadership principles

* a neighbor who has musical talent you could use on a radio jingle

* a grades school computer club seeking business sponsorship

* retired executives whose anecdotes and insights indicate potential new bloggers in the making

* a seminar you could hold that teaches children how to create and collaborate with blogs and wikis

* opportunities to improve race relations through activist wikis of diversity and cooperation in ending racial bias

...the list goes on and on.

What is happening all around your little splotch of the universe? What dots could you connect to boost two or three, even seemingly unrelated events, to a higher and larger level?

Tying together multiple projects, events, and skills is one of the most profound secrets of Fast PR aka Viral Publicity.

I have said way too much.

Use your own creative powers to take this principle into your domain of life. See what happens. Tell me about it. Thanks. And strap that rollercoaster belt tight.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


Wikinauts are digital astronauts, space-shipping themselves through the wikisphere, seeking the perfect online collaboration tools. Moving beyond or away from isolated individualistic blogs of obfuscation, they have entered the cloud of co-authoring cooperation.

Blog kites, floating vertically online in the peripheral seasons, act as external sensors, feeding occasional content into the horizontal halls of a wiki.

Wikis are wonderful. They will help overthrow outmoded ways of working and governing. My problem is I am trying to construct a Public Facing Wiki, like Wikipedia, but on limited topics, like Abandoned Blogs and Viral Publicity aka Fast PR.

I add this: Wikidot out of Poland is t. It is easy to use and there is an auto-populated index to pages, a "List All Pages" link in left side panel, though when I click "Edit This Panel" not much happens, see no tools.

Embedding code from external services is tricky, I don't think they have a Browse [your computer] uploader, you must type in the URL using braced embed tags.

I want to shift things around, rename "List All Pages" to "Table of Contents", and put that at top, with "About", "Contact", "Who We Are", "How To Contribute", "Other Stuff We Do", "Resource Links", "Downloads", "Bibliography", "Glossary", "Media Room", and "Wikiroll" under it.

I want a totally permeable wiki, a translucent osmosis of mind entering matter, psyche pixelated, digital deconstructivist meandering and remodeling tools. I seek more control, more liquidicity of modules and online real estate reconfigging, renovation powers, click and drag, plus Browse Your Computer image/audio file uploading.

Friday, February 09, 2007

3 worst usability errors of wikis

As I experiment with public-facing wikis, I've encountered some horrible usability problems. These problems are so bad, I can easily understand why wikis have not taken off like blogs did.

I have emailed Ward Cunningham, the inventor of the first wiki, and the man who coined "wiki" for a quick and easy-to-edit group collaboration web site. I am seeking answers to my questions, and the Help pages have been worthless.

My experiences have been with Socialtext, PB Wiki, Wikidot, and JotSpot wikis. All of them have some serious, grievous problems.

I've been emailing administrators of these wiki platforms, and not getting satisfactory responses. Can you see the black smoke streaming out of my ears? Maybe I'm not being clear enough as to what I want to do.

But I think these wiki platforms have not been subjected to User Observation Testing.

Do you see why I harp on this topic constantly? You CANNOT even guess how usable any product is, until you do usability analysis, both heuristic (evaluation based on best practices, web norms, and standards) and lab observations.

3 Worst Usability
Errors of Wikis

(1) No Page Index.

You visit a wiki, and just stare at the Home Page. There's nowhere else to go. At least there is no immediately visible navigation function that enables you to click on the pages in the wiki.

Some wikis restrict such "activity" to registered users only, unless you reconfig the settings.

Displaying an index or list of all pages available, all the pages that are contained within the wiki, is esoteric or seemingly impossible. I cannot understand why any wiki would not have an Index of Pages that is auto-populated whenever you Create a New Page.

For example, a blog always contains a linked list of Recent Posts and Archives.

Why is it so freaking difficult to generate this for a wiki?

(2) No "Browse Images" Uploading Tool.

There are two ways to handle the uploading of digital photos and artwork to a blog or wiki.

The preferred method is to have a Browse function that enables you to search your computer for image files to upload. You click "Browse" and then you can search your desktop, My Pictures, and other places for image files you have stored on your computer.

The rotten method is to have a text entry box titled Enter Image URL. Who the hell can remember the image URLs of all their photos and artwork?

The wikis I am struggling with need to use the Browse method, but I think only one of them does this, Socialtext.

(3) Unhelpful Help Page.

Why don't these wikis have documentation on how to perform the simple tasks that I would imagine most users would want to achieve?

I see "Create New Page" and "Link To Page" and "Create a Table of Contents" but these categories are not complete and do not instruct me on how to do what I want to do.

"Table of Contents" (TOC) at Socialtext is weird. Against all expectations, the TOC that I created is a TOC for a page, and not for the entire wiki. WTF???

Why on earth would anyone care about a Table of Contents of one single page? If you have that much crap on one page, you've got yourself an Information Architecture problem. Break that long scrolling page into multiple separate pages.

CONCLUSION: Are Wikis Usable?

Answer: Yes, very easy to use. They are easy to start, easy to edit, easy to invite people to.

Wikis are extremely quick and fun to use.

Except, doggone it, for a few basic, vital, and fundamental tasks, three of which I have spelled out in this post. There are other problems, but these three are the most annoying for me right now.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

5 Viral Publicity ideas

From Viral Publicity Wiki.

Go viral, IF you're good, by being actively involved, simultaneously, in:

(1) Craig's List for visibility to lurking journalists.

(2) Email discussion lists, blogs, and forums.

(3) Your own web sites, blogs, wikis, podcasts, web video, local public access TV programs, clubs, trade associations, local charities, and publicity stunts.

(4) Alliances formed with peers, students, universities, soup kitchens, public libraries, art councils, and media.

(5) Collaborations and communications with peers in all new and emerging technologies. VoIP. VPN. RDF. RSS. Video Chat. Experiment, explore, remix, translate and explain it to non-technical users, innovate, make a mess, amuse the skeptics, test the faith of allies, fall flat on your face. Do anything but freeze in unfounded fear.

web text and business karma

When we read text on the web what are we doing? How do we deconstruct, demystify it? In what form or fashion must we proceed to the resolution of: read or skim?

You know what we're doing when we read text on the web. We don't read it. We are doing more impatient ignoring than leisurely reading.

We are blind to nearly everything, if it's not the desired object:
a product

a product comparison chart

an answer to a question

a function to perform a task

an image

an email or land address

a bio or About page

a contact form

an order form

a digital butler, virtual assistant

a help center 800 number

a live tech chat

a newsletter sign up form

a site search engine

an RSS feed

a music mp3


an FAQ

an image uploader

a player embed

a blog comment form

These are the kinds of "content" and interactivity that we're looking for. Many of us are not even looking for text per se, we're trying to find a photo or a function, both of which may have text captioning them or describing them, but it's not text that's sought.

All web designers and content managers forget the reality of users, and live in the fantasy of "sticky" web sites, sites that the user gets trapped in, or gets so captivated by the glorious colors and widgets and essays that they don't ever want to leave.

You see amateur sites that say "Enjoy your stay here" or "Have fun hanging out".

What craziness is this?

Visitors to web sites do not "hang out" or "stay" at web sites. Web sites are not video games that you spend hours with. But this is what many web designers think. The actually recoil at the "portal" concept of webs and blogs. They don't want to put links to other sites on their site, fearing that it would be "driving visitors away", but they fail to understand how linking to other sites increases the value and returnability of your site.

Visitors think, "It was at _________ blog that I saw that Tiny URL widget, Library Thing, Digg feedroll, Swicki custom search engine, and a link to Doc Searls Weblog." They associate you with cool functionalities and credible, prestigious bloggers and web sites. You know where to go for authoritative expertise, and your blogroll show it. This is providing value for your site visitors.

If your blog is any good, when they get done checking out the external site, they'll return to your blog. Don't worry about that. Being generous, altruistic, driving traffic to sites you like, sharing tons of practical information and education to the public, helping others with advice or free samples, it is Good Business Karma.

You will be rewarded.

If your site contains the right links, it increases your credibility. A marketing blog should link to the top business book authors, marketing consultants, and PR agencies, for example. An artist's blog better be linking to Art Forum. An astronomy site needs to link to NASA.

You send business to other businesses, even though they are bigger than you. You are directing your fans and allies to who you, in your good judgment and keen insight, are the best and smartest, the visionaries and pioneers, the leaders and prophets.

You abundantly share your wisdom and advice. Others come to your blog or wiki or web site and contribute content. Every blog that receives some form of feedback (comments, email, trackbacks, guestbook signings, etc.) is thereby a online collaboration tool.

It's time to move from (or beyond) isolated, individualistic group collaboration wikis.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

clickable link buttons

Viral Publicity logo

Take any image of your product or logo or book or symbol or photo, and make it clickable, then put it on all your wikis, blogs, and web sites.

I'll make you one if you need one. No charge. FREE Clickable Link Buttons. Ping me and get yours today.

"Now class," my [text deleted]

Now class pay attention to what is being said. This is yet another guaranteed way to zoom ahead of the competitors. You'll move so fast, it will blind them.

Secret: a button is more clickable than a text link. Think about it. A button is bigger, thus older readers will more easily see it and click it. Visually impaired people will love you. Everybody likes link buttons.

Blog-City logo

How stupid can a company be? Many do not use clickable link buttons. But these little critters can drive tons of traffic to your site.

Especially if the image or wording is really cool and the button goes viral. Millions of blogs could end up putting your button in their sidebars.

Change the World says Successful dash Blog dot com

All these images are, or could be, clickable link buttons. I make my own, and buttons for companies I like. I do original designs and can incorporate any logo or photo, though I may want to test treating them to special effects and new color schemes.

Take any digital image, edit it by adding company name or logo to it, then re-sizing it down to sidebar dimensions (148 x 115 px for my sidebar), and there you go.

Clickable link buttons. Should be. Part of. Your Spread Campaign. Your Spread [company: Firefox, Awasu, Library Thing, YouTube, Caterpillar, etc.] Campaign.

"Powered by _____" buttons.

You see them everywhere and everybody has them, and users click on them, and sales are made, but nobody says much about them.

I create clickable link buttons constantly, for myself and companies I like.

Heck, let's be honest about it -- my sidebar is riddled with them. Look at all those graphic links. Those little photos. Them tiny pictures. The reduced dimensioned visual objects. Go on. Click on one or more.

clickable: Click it and off you go, to the site behind the button.

[graphic: Your logo, a photo of you, a photo of your building, a symbolic image are rendered in color and line, a designer's dream, to communicate something in a little sidebar badge.]

link: You use a simple HTML code to make any image, art, photo a visual link, an object your site visitors can use as a convenient, portable, transcendent stepping stone to get to you.

Find Code at Krugle

button: Its shape and contours, if any, invite users to pounce on it, click it, its a shiny geometric protuberance, a blog beauty mark, site blemish, a glistening invitation to touch and go.

Few, very few, companies have their act together on this.

Even web designers, artists, and sales geniuses fail to pay any attention to one of the Most Powerful Tools known to online marketing.

I will not insult your intelligence or waste your time with a laborious lesson in why you need to use clickable link buttons.

No matter what you sell or promote or announce, you need Clickable Link Buttons.

When your fans start Save Image As-ing your logo, blog symbol, or photo, and display them on their blogs, as cool looking links to your site, you know you've hit the big time.

Just add the proper Image Source code/tags to the A Href code/tags, and there you go: a clickable graphic link button. Now Copy and Paste it into your blog Sidebar Template. Publish the whole sour mess, and voila!

You got a Clickable Graphic Link Button now.

Aren't these little sales guys cool looking? Sales guys? Of course. Don't toy with me, buddy. You know that clickable link buttons are sales conduits.

Traffic builders.

Clickable link buttons show you care. You care about helping your satisfied enthusiastic customers to spread the word about you, via images.

You gotta love 'em. They dress up your blog. Your blog looks more sophisticated. Minimalistic design is good, but so is a tastefully designed pinball machine blog. Show off your creative skillets. Cook up some CLBs for your favorite sites or blogs or companies or products or musicians or books. Display them on your blog.

Your blogs and wikis and web sites need a "Spread ___________" or "Tell your friends about ___________" page. Make the link to that page, of course, a Clickable Link Button!

"Blog Bling"? Okay. It is like jewelry for your blog, I guess.

open source technology group logo

You need to offer your customer evangelists, your unpaid promoters, your networked fans and chatty allies, a Variety of Sizes, Colors, Sayings.

Give people choices, so they feel more in control of the free PR they're happily providing you.

Linux dot com logo

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