Friday, March 30, 2007

26 common web site mistakes

From a Google search on "common web site problems", lists of top web design mistakes at Jakob Nielsen's, and the posts of various bloggers, here are some of the more frequently encountered web site errors.

(1) Domain name that does not match company name or product area, or is subdomain of a web farm site for amateurs (e.g., Tripod, Geocities, MySpace).

(2) Insufficient contact information (e.g., absence of company land address, staff email addresses, land phone, VoIP).

(3) Faulty printing parameters (e.g., the right edge of page/text gets chopped off).

(4) No research on audience, thus poor targeting of message.

(5) Poor branding of online presence, and lack of integration with other marketing venues.

(6) Narcissistic ("we are _____, we have _____, we do _____, we're happy to _____, we provide _____, look at our _____, our staff is _____, our mission is _____, our experience is _____, we want _____, our quality is _____") orientation of site, rather than Altruistic: focusing on customer needs with "you" orientation.

(7) Unclear positioning or identity of company.

(8) Slowloading pages, usually due to large graphic files.

(9) Distractions, like automatic audio playing, animated banner ads, and blinking icons.

(10) Wallpaper or tiled backgrounds that look like old web design and make the text harder to read.

(11) Poor quality, non-optimized photos.

(12) Poor SEO (search engine optimization), usually due to frozen content, infrequent updates, shallow content, hard to parse code, absence of incoming links, and lack of keywords.

(13) Frames.

(14) Amateur, ugly, old fashioned, inappropriate design.

(15) No call to action, sales decision, contact form, article-integrated comment thread, or other type of interaction for users on site.

(16) Links with poorly worded labels (e.g., "Ping Station" instead of "Contact Us").

(17) Dated info that makes site look abandoned or very low priority.

(18) Dense body text that should be broken into shorter paragraphs, or have a Read More link to a text continuation page.

(19) Unreliable hosting of site, so it's frequently down for "maintenance" of "technical problems".

(20) Horrible colors.

(21) Link rot (e.g., links to online sources that were mis-typed, or that have changed their URLs, have been deleted, moved to another site, or are no longer public and now require a paid subscription to view).

(22) Shallow content, not enough information or entertainment to be sticky, viral, or memed.

(23) Web disconnect: no links to, or quotes from, or blogrolls of, other relevant sites.

(24) No signs of credibility (e.g., unprofessional design, typos, anonymous, questionable ads, no references to leading authorities and known experts, absence of links to reputable sites for prestige by association).

(25) No attempt to evolve the site, improve the design, give it a fresh look.

(26) Not keeping pace with customer needs for new functionalities (e.g., video, audio, contact options, price quotes, VoIP, web conferencing, reader comments, deep information for product model/brand comparisons and purchasing decisions).

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

12 horrible sales presentation mistakes

I've been to a lot of sales presentations lately, and nearly all of them bore, repulse, or annoy. I mean, I like the people who present and represent, but their scripted, corporate fluff assaults, not so much.

It's kind of funny being a sales person and listening to a sales speech from someone else. You feel almost like a spy. You pay more attention to how the product is being pitched, than to what the product is.

Here are some of the most serious errors we've seen in recent sales presentations by companies trying to sell products and services.

1. Pretending to care about us, but not asking any questions to better understand our business.

2. Making self-centered proclamations like "We're really excited about this new program" or "We're happy to offer you all these bonuses and benefits". Who cares if they are excited or happy? That's totally irrelevant.

3. Vague testimonials from satisfied customers, but no real tangible benefits cited, no direct and proven connection between the product and increased sales, or whatever result is desired from using the product.

4. No interaction between sales presenter and audience, just a pulpit pounding lecture in which sheer force of words, argument, and enthusiasm are expected to get us to open our wallets and give them our cash.

5. Presenting the material from the company's point of view, rather than basing it on the specific needs and interests of the audience.

6. Using a Power Point slide show as visual reinforcement of salient aspects of the speech, when all Power Point does is put people to sleep.

7. Focusing too much on the history, credentials, and technology of the company, with no indication of how the whole mess translates into any benefits to the audience, aside from "benefit from our 30 years experience in the business of blah blah blah" which means nothing.

8. Assuming you can preach a sales sermon to a drowsy, captive, passive audience, then expect them to take a decisive action from that state of apathy and lethargy.

9. Trying pathetically hard to present the product, without making any effort to find out if the audience and the product would be a good fit.

10. Failing to provide any valuable, relevant, useful educational material that will be treasured by the audience and kept as a constant reminder of the company and generator of good will.

11. Assuming that if they "polish" the superficial aspects of the presentation, and throw enough "information" at an audience, they're bound to get some sales out of it.

12. Asking, at the end of the presentation, if anybody has any questions, after the audience has been clobbered with a boring speech. Questions? The only one that comes to mind is "Where's the nearest exit?"

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

3 beliefs about blogs that make you me

1. We are making our own music, literature, software, widgets, mashups, art, and mind science.

Free from all religions and governments and other domination systems. We share most, if not all, of it, with no charge.

We use our blogs, not as greedy vending machines, not as hype-pumps, not as advertising media, but as free sample zones. Share Economy tables of plenty for all to feast upon. To sell something, first you must give it, or concomitant peripherals, away for FREE.

Tons of FREE stuff will generate the income opportunities.

Here's my Anti-Advertising, Anti-Corporate slogan for my new noise music CD:

"Str8 SOUNDS: Music for the Distant Future CD. Buy yours for FREE today!"

Singing Science Records: free mp3s of science lyrics in music.

If we sell, let it be sluggishly, reluctantly, shyly. Be the opposite of Bully Hardsell Hype Hysteria, Manipulative, Pushy-Approach Salesmanship.

2. There is, and can be, no "new breed of bloggers", until I, the King of Blogocombat, authorize and sanction it, er, them, whatever. Only a tiny few are anywhere close to being the New Super Bloggers that I have envisioned sporadically and authoritatively, since early 2005.

After compiling the results from my A Lister Blog Pro Survey, I had finally locked down all the major secrets to blogging, and proceeded to move on to better things, without publishing the tome, and without sharing a morsel of it, not even to starving blogger wannabes.

New Super Bloggers have highly evolved, multi-media, widget-rich, super-interactive blogs. Plain text bloggers are old fashioned and outmoded already.

If your blog lacks audio podcasts, video embeds, mp3 links, digital art, photos, RSS, tags, comment moderation (NOT captchas!), or link buttons and polls, you are a Low Blogger.

I don't care how good your textual content is. You need to get up and learn something and make your blog progress technologically.

3. Emotions have NO place in blogging. Keep your anger, fear, hate, and gushing adorations at home where they belong, sort of. Never respond to any post or comment with "hurt feelings" or vengeance.

Blogocombat is simply text vs. text, never person vs. person.

Skip the tears and balled fists. The blogosphere doesn't need any more stupid emotions in it. Stick to the facts and opinions that grow out of your head like a cabbage or a crow.

No more tantrums and sensitivity to typed words of attack.

#1 Blogocombat Victory Secret: DO NOT READ the opponent's comments or emails. Persist maniacally in pressing home your main idea, oblivious to all flaming and questions and criticisms, which you simply skim over impatiently.

Keep relentlessly re-stating your point, over and over again, from different angles, in different tones of voice, with different idioms and vocabularies, with different emphasis each time.

The only way to lose is to give up and run away scared.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Writers and Blogs: my speech to Spark

Marcel Proust, role model for my lost novel, "The Dandy of the Drainspouts".

[photo: CK a book club and neo-marketing blogger:]

I walked away from Gorman's Pub with mixed feelings, though generally elated.

I had just spoken to a writers club, known as Spark, led by Julie Gray of Publicity Pro, in the banquet room in the back, about blogs and blogging.

I made some new friends who are of my race and creed: writers. They were attentive. They asked clever questions about monetizing a blog, print vs. online text, and why blogs are revolutionary.

I guess the only downside was this: I was alarmed at what a difficult sell it turned out to be, my attempt to lead them to the path that points to the blogosphere. I am not the path. The path is their own writing passion and devotion. This writing muse or urge is now finding its home within the blog realm, among other online venues.

But the blog!

It really is the king-queen of the new domain, is it not?

I mean, if you're a writer, then you love or feel compelled to write. Right? So why would any writer be sluggish about a free, easy, fast, unfiltered, global communication tool, one that has the distiction of being text-oriented and writer-friendly?

Ah, but just a slight sparkle of insight, an upstream streak of vision ought to mend it and make it okay.

They laughed when I said "blogocombat" and confessed they didn't know what I would mean if I said, "Ping me." They made me explain RSS, which I compared to telephone, email, and web browsers, and told them that in RSS the content comes to you.

I mentioned multi-media in blogs, the embedding of audio podcasts, music mp3s, and video webcasting. I raved about how a blog can contain photos, digital art, and functional widgets like custom search engines, link buttons, online polls, and feedrolls.

"I want to get paid for my writing!" one of the lady writers proclaimed pragmatically.

"Then you must give it away for free to as many people as possible," I replied as I passed out information kits in gleaming Mallarmean white catalog envelopes, representing the blank uninscribed slate that all text derives from and returns to.

They looked, some of them, puzzled but amused.

"I say you must participate in the share economy. You abundantly share your poetry, your satire, your fantasy, your historical insights with others in your field. Help others gain better understanding or more entertaining fictions. This is how you will become known in the digital realm, which is increasingly becoming the only realm that matters and has influence."

I felt I was going a bit far in my techno-evangelism, yet I wanted to turn them into pioneers, if they were willing to explore what is quickly becoming the actual present, evolving from a formerly theoretical future. Compelled by the driving force of this immediate future become flesh and electrons, I continued.

"By giving it away, you will get feedback. Isn't that what we writers crave and need? We hand out some poems, then eagerly pry into their reactions, if any, if they even bothered to read the whole thing.

Problem solved -- by the blog. You can post your writing to your blog, and the whole world can read it. Then you visit the blogs of your colleagues and sites devoted to your field or genre. You politely read what these peers are saying, and you contribute content to the discussion by posting comments. With your blog URL embedded in the comment's byline, they and their readers can click on your name and visit your blog. Then you might receive some comments on what you display in your blog.

Eventually, you get mentioned in their blogs, they link to you, some author quotes you in their book, and publishers seeking writers may start contacting you. You must begin by getting your literature online, in a blog, and enabling readers to email you and post comments. Harsh, negative, but sincere comments can help us improve and reach a wider audience. Nice, supportive comments can be encouraging and can steer us in more popular directions.

I mean, you never know what people will really like. The article or story you spent tons of time on, and polished and perfected it, with lots of links and references to reputable sources, can bomb. Not a single ripple. But then the material you just dashed off half-heartedly, the throw-away post that you published just because you had not put anything new on your blog in a few days, that could be the thing that drives people wild. You wake up the next day, and see 30 comments posted to it, with people debating or praising or complaining about what you wrote in an exhausted and uninspired lethargy.

You just never know what will be popular or successful. But a blog gives you the venue in which to experiment and expose your writing to an information or entertainment-seeking audience.

While some bloggers can make money with ads on their blog, you have to have a blog that gets a lot of traffic, thousands of readers every day, and hope they click on the ads. Your blog has to deal with tech gadgets, politics, celebrities, or some other already popular topic.

Or you could let your readers create all the content, like Post Secret. 100% user-generated content. He just asked people to mail him anonymous postcards that revealed a personal secret that they've never revealed to anyone before.

To ask how to make money with a blog is like asking you to make money as a ham radio operator. Most of them do it for fun, for fellowship with like minded hobbyists, to communicate, and to help others during emergencies and disasters. That's what most blogs are. Acts of love and altruism, fired by a passion for something.

Blogging is a discipline of daily or at least weekly writing. You must force yourself to have something to say almost every day. If you're really passionate about a topic, that won't be a problem. You love talking and writing about the topic, and could go on and on about it.

You have a distinct advantage over most bloggers. You already are writers. Most bloggers are not good writers, but they want to express themselves, meet others online with shared interests, and take advantage of a global platform for their opinions and ideas.

One of you likes Chaucer. So start a blog about Chaucer. Share your insights and opinions about Chaucer. Link to reputable, authoritative Chaucer scholars, foundations, literary societies, publishers, and libraries that are connected to Chaucer. Post comments on the blogs of other Chaucer fans and researchers. Engage in conversations with them. Contribute your findings and viewpoints.

I cannot understand why any writer would avoid the blogosphere. It's a writer's paradise and prison, for once you start, you must train yourself to keep it up, to not abandon it for any reason, to perpetuate the blog for its own sake and for the love of your readers.

The discipline of blogging, and the concomitant comments you receive from readers, will improve your thinking, researching, writing, editing, graphic design, and editing skills. You are in total control. You are writer, editor, publisher, and marketing expert. You have the freedom and responsibility for the entire production and distribution of your material.

I urge you all to seriously consider starting a blog tonight. It's free and all it takes is about 5 minutes at most to start one.

The blog represents the first time in human history that any individual can have a voice on a level playing field with government, religion, and corporations. One blogger can start an investigation, provide an answer, or provoke an uprising that domination systems cannot control.

Blogs are ideal for any writer, and the blogosphere is where every writer must be."

A blog is "an email to the world" -- Doc Searls, co-author of seminal web revolution book, The Cluetrain Manifesto.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

creating strong blog personality

You're the "the _______ that ________".

Fill in the first blank with who you are, what you do, what type of person you seem to be. Fill in the second blank with something special about you. Something that might even seem incongruent or absurd, when connected with the first fact about you.

The math teacher who's also a mountain climber and an author of children's stories. The soldier who writes poetry.

The marketing director who's an amateur astronomer.

The CEO who was the first civilian in outer space.

The homeless man who has a brilliant self-promotion idea that will soon be the next internet craze.

You're the rock musician that loves camping and hunting (Ted Nugent). The artist who manufactured art and publicity in a "factory" (Andy Warhol).

The sheetmetal manufacturer who makes stainless steel bedframes and headboards (Tinbasher).

The sensitive soul who blogs until it hurts, until a troll bites their ankle with a harsh critique, until the cops find incriminating statements in a transparent hysterical post.

You, the visionary CEO, the pioneering entrepreneur, the risk-seeking adventurer, the ingenious stay-at-home mom, unemployed college grad who's paying off a student loan through clever refactoring of beta technology and eBay mash-ups.

You must be the [your title] who is also [some other related or irrelevant quality, hobby, passion, interest that you talk about or should talk about on your blog].

Nick Usborne, in his remarkable book Net Words: Creating Powerful Online Copy, says early on that you either present a strong, memorable, superior online persona...or remain forgotten, obscure and lonely.

He says we must be different, in some way, somehow, so unique and assertive, that we break through the boredom barrier and burn a strong imprint in the reader's mind.

Usbourne emphasizes how a wishy washy, overly tolerant, confrontation-phobic, plain vanilla mediocrity has zero chance of surviving in the rough and tumble world of the web.

Blogospheric conditions can suddenly, spontaneously erupt with more turbulence and viral controversy than most other channels, especially considering the instant communication-distribution tools of comments, email, and RSS.

A seemingly lacklustre, tossed-off, dead tired, half-hearted, right-before-you-fall-into-bed blog post can abruptly, without warning, explode into a bedlam of contrarian fireworks, old guard hysteria, clueless onlookers, and volcanic combatants.

You could be a blogger who just happens to also be an anthropology graduate student, who sometimes explains a choice concept of Levi-Strauss, Konrad Lorenz, or Margaret Mead.

I'm the blogger who analyzes web sites for usability, makes noise music, and sometimes quotes Jacques Derrida. That's about it. I don't know what else to say. That's my entire bio, though it could be slightly and boringly expanded upon.

What makes you "you"? What else do you do besides blog? Anything? What makes you memorable, special, distinct? What differentiates you from the other 50 million blogs out there?

When you no longer exist here on earth, what will be depleted from the universe, what hole will you tear in the cosmos when you go?

It's often, once a person dies, expressed as an "always", as in: "He always took his dogs with him wherever he went" or "She was always confronting things in society that needed reform".

Whatever it is that makes you special, sprinkle it into your blog more often.

This is how you develop and display a strong blog personality, or blog persona. The words need to point at something other than themselves (your text) or other words (reader's comments, trackbacks, links, and emails).

Get more skillful at it. Learn more about it. Try new things with it. Read difficult books on the subject and eventually become an expert, with published articles and speaking engagements. Take the most extreme edge innovation in your field -- and push it way farther than anyone could possibly expect. Put a new twist on an aspect of your industry or product that seems least likely to ever be glamorous or interesting.

If your life is boring, if you crave attention from others, but have little to offer them except mundane drivel, it's your own fault. Make yourself more interesting, then blog about it. Peace.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

self and other in blogging

What separates self from other in blogging? If you know exactly who you are, you won't care what others say about you.

"The stranger is infinitely other because by his essence no enrichment of his profile can give me the subjective face of his experience from his perspective, such as he has lived it. Never will this experience be given to me originally, like everything that is...proper to me." -- Jacques Derrida, Violence and Metaphysics, Writing and Difference (University of Chicago Press, 1978), p. 124.

"What other means is phenomenality as disappearance.", ibid, p. 129.

"The ego cannot not be itself even when it ventures out toward the other, nor could it venture forth with this impossibility, which thus 'marks the innate tragedy of the ego, the fact that it is riveted to its own being' (EE), according to Levinas's strong statement. And above all, marks the fact that the ego knows this. This knowledge is the first discourse and first word of eschatology; it is that which permits separation and speaking to the other. It is not a knowledge among others, but is knowledge itself." -- ibid, p. 131.

"...without this 'letting be' of an existent (Other) as something existing outside me in the essence of what it is (first in its alterity), no ethics would be possible". -- ibid, p. 138.

The secret to increasing your invulnerability is to see the text only, without regarding any "person" authoring, dictating, or transcribing it. You see words alone. You respond with words alone. No emotion. No vengeance. No offense and no defense. Just context-relevant contributions.

Remove the "my" from "my opinion" and what do you have? Now you're ready to do battle. Let the attacks serve merely to help you refine your presentation of the truth as you've experienced it.

Self is completely unconnected to the other, especially when they're flaming you. Their hateful words simply appear on a page. End of story. You're not obligated to make those critical harshings a part of your psyche. You may disallow them entrance to your reveries.

If you respond as a human, one person to another person, you're bound to get hurt or inflict pain on someone else. If you just place a string of words into a thread, letting the ideas combat each other via textual dynamics, nobody gets injured.

Self is not in text. Self must be removed from the scene, even as other floats upward and out of view.

As I type these words, there is a maniac teenager yelling at the back door of the house across from my attic office. He's waving a huge black handgun in the air, shouting something about "...and I'm serious!"

He was banging on some rubber garbage cans for about an hour prior to running around with the pistol. I attempt to capture his photo with my web cam, cursing its lousy resolution at a distance. I should call the cops, but I think I'll wait and see.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith and morbid stream media

Like most Americans, I have a deep distrust of the MSM. While there are some channels and news anchors that I admire, most of it is pure garbage, lies, and slop. The scum of the MSM is what I call the Morbid Stream Media.

Anna Nicole Smith for example. A completely forgotten nobody. Until she died. But what is displayed and discussed? Her money, her drugs, and her sleazy sperm donors.

Everybody knows why Smith's body was rotting away, torn between the Bahamas and the USA. Everybody understands very clearly why there is total chaos going on. We all have keen insight into why Anna Nicole Smith was hooked on Dilaudid, Prexige, Dalmane, Methadone, Soma, and all the other evil pharmaceutical crap.

When I broke my back, a herniated disk in my lower spine, I had excruciating pain. But when a doctor stuck an epidural steroid injection needle into my spine (a bizarre discomfort, hard to imagine if you've never experienced the ordeal, pregnant women know what I mean), and he botched it clumsily, so that it slipped and hit my sciatic nerve, I then had hyper-mega-mind-boggling super-pain.

All they would give me is Vicodin ES, then changed it to Darvocet.

Why was Smith on all these massively powerful drugs?

She was cursed.

She had to take all those narcotics and sedatives because it was the only way she could avoid her guilty conscience about her greed, vulgarity, and perversions.

She married that old feller, and gleefully danced off with millions, wobbling wickedly with her fake body. And now her dead corpse, her children, her lovers, her everything is under a colossal curse.

But as the Morbid Stream Media ghoulishly revels in all the disgrace, damage, and disaster, we bloggers know what's really going on. We are being robbed again. Cheated. Ripped off. They are neglecting the Real News, to pummel us with boring stupidity.

Welcome to hell, Anna Nicole Smith.

As Bill Clinton taught the children that oral sex is not really sex, and now 6th graders have sex with a perverted teacher present, and as George Bush taught children it's okay to go to war based on a lie about Weapons of Mass Destruction... Smith is opening the door to increased prescription drug abuse.

America is now ripe for spiritual revolution.

Teach your children well. Their hell will be your hades.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

blogging is a revolutionary act

I don't know how long it will last, since it's a revolutionary act. Blogging is. It escapes the control of mental regimentation. It lurks in the lousy part of our mind that wants us to express itself. It creeps around in backgrounds and deserted lots that are also lost. Blogging does. It sparks the notion that minds are keen to separate from the herd of lemmings gleefully leaping into doom.

Blogs are born to attack. Blogs are not the province of La La Landers who are sure, unseemly and secure in their cowardice, that everything's fine and everyone's nice. Bloggers don't put up with such tripe. We see and we say. And it hurts. We injure, damage, and destroy various objects of our disgust: immoral deceptions, political arrogance, religious insanity, secular idiocy, mediated confusions.

The humble, lowly little blog, the ugly word that sounds sick to begin with, is changing us from passive spectators and obedient consuming machines, into mouthy advocates of disturbance and turmoil, i.e., change, progress.

For the first time in human history, the individual has a global and unedited voice. This is a universal anarchy of communication, long overdue. For the first time, anyone can express any thought, idea, opinion, belief, and link to others, forming associations, that governments and religions can't prohibit.

Dissent flourishes here. Thought Controllers hate it. Brainwashing bullies fear the blogosphere and the arguments we whip up. We playfully rip our fellow bloggers to shreds, then shake hands, admiring each other's gusto in serious blogocombat. Debate makes us smarter as we expose our ideas to attack and see if they can take it. No one can monopolize the blogosphere. No one can subvert it. Its self-policing dynamics set it free from criticism.

Those who are not initiated into its secrets wrongfully assume that it's harmless fun and destined to fade like a flash. They can't see the pitfalls we've placed strategically in the fabric of unscissored states and crushed conditions.

The blog is just a metaphor for free thinking, free expression, free dissent. The blogosphere is just a symbol of how we are all connected, if we just woke up and realized this glorious truth.

It is the disgusting work of Domination Systems to divide us into Sunni vs. Shia, black vs. white, atheist vs. religious, materialist vs. spiritual, Democrat vs. Republican, doers vs. thinkers, sellers vs. shoppers, teachers vs. students, liberal vs. conservative, North vs. South, Army vs. Marines, celebrities vs. photo-journalists, corporations vs. consumers, CEOs vs. employees, straight vs. gay, man vs. woman, our country vs. their country.

When we use blogs and blog comments to interact and learn about each other, we begin to understand, and, if not love, at least appreciate to some degree. We see through the atrocious lie that hate and violence and war can solve anything. When we take the "vs." out of the equation, we subtract the burden the separates us.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Vaspers listed on RSS Ray

I'm pleased to announce that Vaspers the Grate has been listed with RSS Ray's Quality Business Providers, under "Blog Consultants". There were only 38 companies listed, so the honor is extra special.

What is the RSS Ray Show?


“Online Marketing with RSS Ray” is a weekly internet talk radio show that brings world-class online marketing experts to listeners for business success.

Topics include online marketing, blogging, podcasting, videocasting, RSS plus social networking.

“Online Marketing with RSS Ray” is carried live each Wednesday at 1:00pm Eastern on, a station with over 1.3 million monthly listeners. programming is simulcast on the Sirius Radio Network, and podcast copies of “Online Marketing with RSS Ray” or any other program are available via RSS Feed or most major podcast libraries (iTunes and others).


I will continue to make this blog a rich, relevant resource for bloggers, technicians, business entrepreneurs, and web designers.

Thanks, Ray, for linking to me via this prestigious list! I am now reciprocating by linking to you, and by posting your ad, a clickable link button, to my sidebar display.

Shows and Information about blogging for bloggers

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Interview with Michael Pilling on wikis

Michael Pilling is the wiki specialist for Wikinomics. We work together on the Wikinomics site, which is a wiki platform that is facilitating the collaborative creation of the last chapter of the book, called "The Wiki Playbook".

Michael feels that wikis will not appeal to pop culture. Will wikis remain the province of professional and corporate collaborations, or will average people feel an altruistic urge, and seek to work as a team, relatively anonymously, on egoless projects?

Here is our email interview.

> VASPERS: Are wikis media?

MICHAEL PILLING: A funny question, because it makes you wonder what mediawiki is supposed to mean.

Honestly, I would say no. They are events, rather than objects, a party that you only ever view as a series of still photos, but a party nonetheless.

As someone who manages a public wiki, I do not think of myself as a publisher, but rather as a meeting facilitator. Publication implies a premeditated action -- and that is not what really happens in a wiki.

> VASPERS: Is there a wiki or wiki application that is close to being another MySpace, YouTube, or Digg, in terms of viral velocity, mass awareness, and pervasive public usage?

MICHAEL PILLING: Apart from Wikipedia, which is in a class by itself, I'm not aware of any other wikis that are a "cultural phenomenon".

Wikis and similar technologies are still in their infancy - - and it is also not a tool that embraces or is easily embraced by pop culture.

In its pure form, wiki is an environment where you are basically stripped of your personality, your socio-econmic status, and your personal space. All wiki wants is your brainpower.

> VASPERS: What is the future of wiki, how are wikis evolving?

MICHAEL PILLING: I think that "Wiki" might possibly disappear by the merit of being ubiquitous.

Microsoft and Google are moving heavily into online collaboration, and they have to call it something else besides wiki - because wikis are heavily associated with open source software, and honesty the open source software is far better than anything that the has been developed as proprietary code - so they will brand it as simply "collaboration."

The essence of wiki is a document posted on the web with widely shared read-write access.

It's not a technology really, its just a permission setting.

Wiki as a technology just proved a point that there was some use to such a permission setting. The most sophisticated wiki software in the future will probably track changes to individual characters in real time and will be a standard feature in all word processors. That's just geeky stuff though.

The real question is how many command and control systems in our society will be replaced by smart mobs - we don't need any improvements to the technology for that to happen, just a wee little paradigm shift.

> VASPERS: What wiki mashups exist, or could exist?

MICHAEL PILLING: There are more varieties of wiki out there than you will ever want to know. As software, its just not that complicated. Wiki can be integrated into pretty much anything.

> VASPERS: What is the greatest obstacle to wiki adaptation by business?

MICHAEL PILLING: Do you really want to publish this?

If I was a manager who had suspicions that most of the people who worked for me were smarter than I was, I would make it a number one priority to stamp out anything remotely like a wiki in my workplace.

If I was a CEO that was paid 100x the salary of a regular employee, I would stick to blogging.

If I was a majority shareholder, on the other hand - I think I would be very excited about reducing meeting times by 50%, employee training costs by 50%, and putting a firewall between your company and the kind of colossal screwups that can happen when the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing.

Wikis are the great levelers of intelligence - you can't hide behind jargon or buzzwords or rhetoric - to make a lasting edit in a public wiki you have to add knowlege. A wiki makes it easier for groups to make good decisions precisely because it makes it hard for individuals to control information.

Wikis for business will start as peer collaboration tools first, and then the wiki way will tend to encourage a little more free information sharing within the larger company.

> VASPERS: Are wikis good platforms for multimedia, i.e., are wikis incorporating podcasts, video, photo galleries, or are they generally more conducive to text?

MICHAEL PILLING: If you mean are there Wiki CMS systems that you can plug audio and video into, yes many.

If you mean can we apply the wiki way to multimedia - yes it is being done. Right now, in Second Life you can "wiki" 3-D objects. However, in highly creative applications, there is less immediate utility because mass collaboration is much more likely to be simply mass chaos if you aren't trying to name all the Presidents of the US, or some other activity where there is one more or less right answer.

> VASPERS: What is your vision for your Open Politics wiki?

MICHAEL PILLING: It has been to date, an interesting and worthy experiment. The object is fairly simple: mass collaboration on public policy, enabling smart mobs to perform the legislative function of government. It's a harder collaboration problem than writing encyclopedias, but still quite doable. (As opposed to writing novels -- which is a harder one.)

> VASPERS: How could my client, who just started an institute on ethical government leadership, use a wiki?

MICHAEL PILLING: Most government bureaucracies could make excellent use of wikis both internally as a management tool, and as an interface for public consultation. We should talk more about his specific requirements.

> VASPERS: Do you see the relatively anonymous altruism and participatory teamwork of wikis as usurping the myopic narcissism of blogging?

MICHAEL PILLING: I think that people will probably continue blogging at least as much as they are now, but in the future they will wiki much more at work.

Blogs are where we can brainstorm and play with new ideas that can then be hammered into shape by others in a wiki. It's the emailing and discussion boards and especially the list-serves that need to be put out of their misery.


Vaspers interview on Web 2.0 for local TV

Who: Steven E. Streight aka Vaspers the Grate.

What: Local TV interview.

Which: WEEK-TV, an NBC affiliate.

Where: Peoria, Illinois.

When: Tonight during the 9:00 PM news program on cable channel 11 or "My 59".

They want me to talk about Web 2.0, wikis, and the future of the web.

Watch Out: They also want me to return and discuss Web 2.0 as it relates to the upcoming elections.

And...a big fat fairytale hug to CK

...for hearing me complain like a wuss that I never saw any Al or Laura Ries marketing books at my local Barnes & Noble, and sending me a copy of what I really craved: The Origin of Brands by Al and Laura Ries (Harper Business/Harper Collins, 2004).

Blogs under attack from Storm Worm

Urgent Warning from ZDNet.

"Storm Worm Variant Targets Blogs, Bulletin Boards"

A variant of the Trojan horse attacks known as Storm Worm emerged Monday, targeting people who post blogs and notices to bulletin boards.

Storm Worm emerged in January and raged across the globe in the form of e-mails with attachments that, when opened, loaded malicious software onto victims' PCs, commandeering the machines so they could be used for further attacks.

The new Storm Worm variant attacks the machines of unsuspecting users when they open an e-mail attachment, click on a malicious e-mail link or visit a malicious site, said Dmitri Alperovitch, principal research scientist at Secure Computing.

But the twist comes when these people later post blogs or bulletin board notices. The software will insert into each of their postings a link to a malicious Web site, said Alperovitch, who rates the threat as "high."

"We haven't seen the Web channel used before," he said. "In the past, we've seen malicious links distributed to people in a user's address book and made to look like it's an instant message coming from them."

The danger in this most recent case, he added, is that the user is actually posting a legitimate blog or bulletin board notice, unaware that a malicious link has been slipped into the text of the posting.

Now this from Secure Computing.


Blogs, bulletin boards and webmail are now being spammed with messages to visit a website to view "fun" videos.

Secure Computing has discovered a website containing a variant of the Storm worm. The worm installs a component on a user's machine that analyzes all network traffic via a layered service provider (LSP) integration and dynamically modifies blog comments, discussion posts and webmail-based emails as they are being posted by the user to include a link to the malicious code, thereby propagating itself to other victims.

"This signifies a new trend in malware that is spread through blogs, message boards and web-based email," said Dmitri Alperovitch, Principal Research Scientist, Secure Computing. "And this threat is particularly insidious in that anti-virus detection doesn't always work.

This threat utilizes server polymorphism, which means that it is continuously being repackaged to make the binary appear different to signature-based anti-virus solutions." With the executable file being changed continuously, it easily sneaks below the radar of the leading anti-virus programs, which are largely signature-based.

Viruses, worms, Trojans and other malware have traditionally been distributed through users' email address books, and made to look like messages coming from them.

With this threat, we begin to see the addition of a Web attack component to traditional email based malware," said Alperovitch. "Secure Computing has already seen evidence of the malware propagating through messaging forums, such as Men's Health magazine, as well as thousands of blog sites," he said.

Appliances utilizing Secure Computing's TrustedSource(TM) global reputation system and proactive malware detection are already protected from this type of malware activity.

SOURCE Secure Computing Corporation 02/28/2007

Web site:

0329 02/28/2007 14:29 EST