Thursday, January 31, 2008

real estate and mortgage blogs



Sub prime corporate crime. The mortgage meltdown. Housing lending crisis. It's a bleak and confusing scene, this real estate and mortgage industry, right now.

Could it be a good time to check out some blogs in this topic area?

I was doing some research for a client, and thought you'd like seeing a list of real estate and mortgage blogs. I don't know how good they are, but they might shed some light on a few things for you, and they seemed like good examples of people blogging in this realm.

Carol's Mortgage Blog
http://carolmortgage.blogspot.com

Inman Blog
http://blog.inman.com/

The Mortgage Skinny
http://www.themortgageskinny.com

Mike's Mortgage Minute
http://www.patagoniafinance.com/mikesmortgageminute.html

Curbed
http://curbed.com/

Rotten Lying Sleazy Realtors
http://rottenlyingsleazyrealtors.com/

Sound Bite Blog
http://soundbiteblog.com

Rain City Guide
http://www.raincityguide.com/

Mortgage Matters
http://www.bankrate.com/nytmarket/news/mortgages/mortgage_update.asp

HOME STAGING, Rants and Ravings
http://realestaging.blogspot.com/

The Mortgage Porter
http://www.mortgageporter.com/

360 Digest
http://www.360digest.com/

The Mortgage Reports
http://www.themortgagereports.com/

Smart Mortgage Advice
http://smartmortgageadvice.wordpress.com/

WSJ Real Estate Journal

http://www.realestatejournal.com/

Real Estate Undressed
http://www.realestateundressed.com/


Let me know what you think. Thanks.


Friday, January 25, 2008

blogocombat vs. email combat



Many times a century, I have tons of people, well, several people, two or three at least, who ask me:

"What's up Vaspers? Why don't you engage in angry email exchanges with those who oppose your ideology or aesthetic theories?"

You can debate people on your own blog, and if the argument seems to go on too long, without adding anything to the core topics of your blog, you can just Delete the entire conversation, like it never happened. There's nothing "sacred" about a blog post or comment. You don't need some obsessive "record" of what you said, and what a troll said, anyway.

Remember: trolls use your blog as a preaching pulpit, to advance their ideas or feelings. Their anonymous comments relieve them, they assume, of any accountability for their statements. Hit and run. Post a comment, then run away like a little sissy boy.

If you don't respond directly to their flames, they'll get really frustrated, and might start sending you emails. That's exactly what you want to lure them into doing, but more on this later. First, you have to understand it's not about winning or losing an argument. It's about the trolls need to attack others, so as to feel better about their own unfortunate suffering and self-inflicted miseries.

Trolls aren't trying to win an argument. They're just bored. Trolls find it fun, and un-threatening to them, to flame other people online, anonymously. Trolls never have their own blog, because they're approval addicts who can't handle any critique of their ideology or tastes.

So forget about winning and losing debates.

Focus, instead, on how their silly comments either do or do not contribute to the core conversation. If other blog readers can benefit from reading the volleys and parries, fine. If it's just the childish remarks of a player-hater, you may decide to force the troll to find some other safe, non-threatening forum for them to *anonymously* express themselves in.

Email is different.

Email can be Forwarded to a troll's employer and that usually ends the whole battle. That's why I advise you to lure them into emailing you. One way to do this is to post their flaming remarks, but not respond to them personally, even when you know who they really are. Just post their comments for a while, and aside from one or two brief statements, avoid getting tangled in long explanations or clarifications.

Here's why the email trap is so effective. If you can get them to email you, especially at your work email address, you'll gain a serious advantage.

Employers frown upon employees, even in their private off-hours time, stalking people in emails, and making insipid accusations, obviously trying to stir up trouble. It's generally not tolerated, and can be grounds for reprimands, demotion, and even termination of employment. Neat, huh?

See? Email combat is too problematic. Angry email exchanges often backfire, and you see your "private" email messages plastered all over the place, and there's nothing you can do about it. Because email is NOT a private communication channel, as some mistakenly believe.

Corporations routinely monitor and read employee emails, so if you send one to someone where they work, you've done a double screw-up. Never answer any emails from trolls who are trying to pick or continue fights. Just speak, if you wish, in general terms about the troll's stalking patterns.

There is a blogospheric forensics that can identify who posted a comment on your blog, but email forensics are even easier. The sender often uses a real email address that can be traced to their business or home address.

Thus, if you avoid email combat, you will not have such problems. Do your discussions on your personal blog, which is under your editorial control. If the cowardly anonymous trolls bitch about "deleting posts" and "losing" an argument, let them.

They're just angry that they don't have your blog to use anymore as their timid little forum. Pray for your enemies and do good to those who can't figure out how to push your buttons or guilt-trip you, for their little troll-mongering lives are not so perfect or exciting, eh? LOL

in Dell hell: blogs and bad buzz



I subscribe to comments for some blog posts. Here's a comment recently posted on my old Twitter buddy Aaron Brazell's Technosailor blog. The post is "From Hell to Heaven", in which Dell is praised for doing some good PR moves.

Notice how raw, authentic, and frustrated the customer is. Can your business afford to have negative buzz in the blogosphere, which is rapidly becoming the P2P (peer-to-peer), i.e., non-commercial arena of inquiry, opinion, and shopping advice.

Your customers still listen to word of mouth, and they still check the Yellow Pages. But more and more are turning to online forums, micro-blog chat channels (Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, etc.), and blogs for user reports and customer reviews, debates, and complaints.

People are getting pretty good at discerning false WOM (word of mouth), incentivized comments, and company spokespersons pretending to be real, honest customers raving about a product.




Does your company offend customers as this person claims was done?


[QUOTE]


I bought a Dell today and the hard drive failed on the first boot up. Called there tech support and got a person that only gave canned responces. After 30 min. on the phone the guy tell me he could not help me and gave me another number to call . I called and they said it was maybe the hard drive. I needed to buy a hard drive and have it there when the tech got to my home.

I told them I just bought the Dell to hours ago many times. After repeating myself 5 times they said I need to return it to Best Buy were I bought it and go right to the geek squad desk for repair.

Hell I bought a new machine and you would think it would at least boot one time.

After that I got on there chat and was told more or less the same thing. I told the chat guy it was their problem and not Best Buy's. I was told that Best Buys told me about a contract between the two about tech support.

My only comment was, and I repeated myself, was I bought a Dell new and they need to replace it or come to my h!ouse and fix it free, since I would have to drive over a hundred miles for repair......


Tim from Ohio
In Dell Hell


[END QUOTE]




THE SOLUTION?
...


Not counteracting the negative publicity with some "viral" campaign about how great your prices, quality, and service are.

RATHER:
Change the reality of how crappy you treat people, become benevolent and truly care. Prove your corporate fluff hype PR -- and practice what you insolently preach.

Treat customers right, and the blogosphere will sing your praises.

Treat them poorly, and you'll have only yourself to blame for the decline in business, due to trash-talking pajama-clad New Super Bloggers. You know, the kind that have many blogs and many chat channels and many large audiences in a variety of niches and modes.



Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How to get better results from your website

NOTE: Do not be shocked, you worthless trolls, if you see me post a "substantial post" here, while I'm at the office, during [gasp!!!!] Work Hours.

This is simply a quick Copy and Paste job.

I wrote this for my employer's News on his website, and now I throw it up on my "personal" blog, that I "play with", at unexpected hours.



A website should be a living, dynamic, interactive entity. Not a static object that sits there as a mere "web presence".

"Should"? We mean: this is what your customers are demanding. People want all the information they need to solve a problem, or choose a product to enjoy.

What visual impact does your current website have? Does it scream "amateur"? Or sing "classy!" ... ?

Does it look abandoned, dated, half-hearted? Are the colors nice? Is the design professional? Or does it look childish, confused, uncool?

Does everything work? Have you tried clicking all the links lately? What are your traffic and content stats looking like? How many songs are in your mp3 player? Could you add more? How about video? Audio podcasts?

Are your competitors, just a click or two away, doing better with their website than you are? We can help.

It's getting tougher out there, you know. Many businesses are looking to cut expenses and make everything more productive.

A website is no exception. It should work hard too. It's like an employee, an online representitive, a digital salesperson who is promoting your business all year round.

You better make sure you're telling the whole story of (1) what their problem is (2) why you understand it well (3) why your product/service is the best solution for [customer type: moms, busy executives, musicians, or whoever it is that buys your merchandise.] and (4) why they need to buy your product right now, while they're thinking about it.

You must also have a website that meets all the needs of your customers: downloads, uploads, PDFs, PowerPoint slides, white papers, detailed contact form, photo gallery, product comparison charts, model selection guide, whatever they need to make an educated, thus appropriate and pleasing, choice.

You also need traffic at your website.

We tell our website clients to do certain things to boost search engine rankings and drive more qualified, high-conversion traffic to their ecommerce or corporate websites.

One of the hot tips we give out is: update your content frequently, with naturally occurring keywords.

Probably the #1 thing to do to improve your website results is to give it a fresh graphic design with increased functionality and better navigation / usability.

The #2 best improvement to your website would be to start adding fresh content to it, on a more regular or frequent basis.

How can anybody get excited about your company, if your website is antiquated, the same old thing, no sign of life or activity? No new photos, no new press releases, no news, nothing.

Let's polish up your website and make it work harder for your business.

Add fresh content: photos, press releases, news items, testimonials, tutorials, how-to tips, anecdotes, industry developments, improved techniques or materials, and how your company is implementing them -- and what they mean for your customers.

You tell a better story, and show a better product, on your website, and you'll be way ahead of your competitors.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

blogs and anonymous bullies



Cowards love blogs, because they think they can verbally attack someone, and get away with it. All they have to do is submit a comment form, wait for moderation to filter out spambots, and voila! A hopefully hurtful comment! On the worldwide web!

"Now everybody will see my clever, injurious remark, and join my side, in hating this rotten blogger!" they naively assume, since they don't understand debate or the web or computers.

They think they've made a strategic strike at the heart of some pajama clad Starbucks blogger. Or some poverty-stricken geek lurking in a basement, eating cold pizza and burying posts on Digg.

Anonymous bullies think a person's blog is a vulnerability they can exploit, like computer viruses that attempt to take advantage of enterprise system holes and home user PCs. But what is really vulnerable is the bully's stupidity, now on display for the world to see.

They are too cowardly to start a blog and be on the receiving end of negative, harsh comments. They can't take, what in their mind is, "such abuse". Just words typed into the digital effluvium, that's all any post or comment or email is. Evaporating as it appears, jejune and demurraged into infinite desuetude.

Still, they post an angry comment, then run away. They call you a "liberal" or a "tree hugger", then they dash off to play darts in some dive where they strut around like some Luddite tough guy. Real bad ass, eh?

"Hiding behind a computer" is a common accusation made by the invisible, anonymous bullies. It's probably the stupidest remark of all trolling, since we are Becoming Vivid, not hiding, not invisible, not cowering in a corner. We Are Transparency Itself, the new model of authenticity and power. Watch out: we might Dan Ratherize you.

Anonymous trolling is easy. It takes no brains, no courage, no patriotism.

Just jealousy of someone who is heavily present all over the internet. Just envy and bitterness, plus a big glob of hatred for those who think differently. Who think independently of "authority", "leadership", and the World Trade Organization (WTO) as they push us into a North American Union and destroy the sovereignty of the United States of America.

I specialize in what I call "blogocombat". I don't refer to violence or brutality, but an aggressive force of reason and metaphysical insight that smashes the frozen rhetoric of zealous zombies.

Though I was born in the world's most secret and secretive U.S. Army fort, which is Ft. Knox, Kentucky, and brought into this world by a colonel, I have grave misgivings about our Eternal War exploits, and how we never want to leave a country once we've bombed (on false pretenses and lies) and occcupied it.

Though I was raised in a military family, nobody should actually enjoy or relish any kind of combat. Online discussion, even heated debate is always good. Trash talking and needling each other is excellant. I learn more from negative remarks, that are based on logic, than flattering praise, no matter how genuine and correct it is.

Ever hear cowards say, "Well, if you mean *constructive* criticism, then I agree with you."

Listen: NO. I do NOT mean "constructive criticism", which cowards define as evaluations that are gentle, happy, nice, soft, sensitive, all that wishy washy shit that immature individuals cling to.

No, to hell with "constructive criticism".

I prefer to hear your most vile, hateful, ugly attack, so long as I'm the only target, and you refrain from hate speech directed at:

gays, blacks, women, animals, insects, labor unions, environmentalists, radicals, activists, anarchists, liberals, socialists, Freudian analysts, poat-Freudian analysts, linguists, musicians, tennis players, computer technicians, hair stylists, librarians, business magazine publishers, usability analysts, taxi drivers, waiters, waitresses, film makers, poets, deconstructionists, cigarette smokers, punk rockers, tattooed people, people with several heads, people who can fly just by thinking about it, people who eat food that you're not familiar with, persons with disabilities, house pets, wildlife creatures, interstellar lifeforms, advanced alien intelligences, robots, any kind of mechanical device, machines, servo-mechanisms, tech gadgets, organic farmers, motorcycle club members, carpenters, university professors, roofers, carpet cutters, fabric designers, pastry chefs, foot villagers, garbage disposal workers, abstract expressionists, computer programmers, IT department heads, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons, Catholics, Jains, Hindus, Seiks, Whirling Dervishes, Swedenborgians, and other persons and groups who are not "you", or are not in "your group".



Thank you!

Friday, January 18, 2008

blogging, Foucault, thinking




Blogging is a special form of thinking...but thinking is not necessarily what you think it is.


According to Michael Foucault, in "Polemics, Politics, and Problematizations, an interview conducted by Paul Rabinow in 1984, thought is the mental ability to detach self from action, to critique your own behavior.

This stepping back, lurching aside, swerving from parallels, discoincidence, non-congruence, is thought. Thought is rebellion against tradition, habit, status quo. Thought questions the unquestioned. Thought persecutes counter-productive nonsense and detrimental whim.

Blogging is a type of thought, a jagged glance that cuts its way into topics, a piercing lance stabbing into the meat of controversy and confrontation.

Michael Foucault explained this concept of "thought" as a "problematizing force", an energy that transforms the familiar into an unknown, the common into the extraordinary, the dull into the bizarre.

[QUOTE]

For a long time, I have been trying to see if it would be possible to describe the history of thought as distinct both from the history of ideas (by which I mean the analysis of systems of representation) and from the history of mentalities (by which I mean the analysis of attitudes and types of action [schémas de comportement]).

It seemed to me there was one element that was capable of describing the history of thought—this was what one could call the problems or, more exactly, problematizations.

What distinguishes thought is that it is something quite different from the set of representations that underlies a certain behavior; it is also quite different from the domain of attitudes that can determine this behavior.

Thought is not what inhabits a certain conduct and gives it its meaning; rather, it is what allows one to step back from this way of acting or reacting, to present it to oneself as an object of thought and to question it as to its meaning, its conditions, and its goals.

Thought is freedom in relation to what one does, the motion by which one detaches from it, establishes it as an object, and reflects on it as a problem.

To say that the study of thought is the analysis of a freedom does not mean one is dealing with a formal system that has reference only to itself.

Actually, for a domain of action, a behavior, to enter the field of thought, it is necessary for a certain number of factors to have made it uncertain, to have made it lose its familiarity, or to have provoked a certain number of difficulties around it.

These elements result from social, economic, or political processes. But here, their only role is that of instigation. They can exist and perform their action for a very long time, before there is effective problematization by thought.

And when thought intervenes, it doesn’t assume a unique form that is the direct result or the necessary expression of these difficulties; it is an original or specific response—often taking many forms, sometimes even contradictory in its different aspects—to these difficulties, which are defined for it by a situation or a context, and which hold true as a possible question.

To one single set of difficulties, several responses can be made. And most of the time different responses actually are proposed. But what must be understood is what makes them simultaneously possible: it is the point in which their simultaneity is rooted; it is the soil that can nourish them all in their diversity and sometimes in spite of their contradictions.

To the different difficulties encountered by the practice regarding mental illness in the eighteen century, diverse solutions were proposed: Tuke’s and Pinel’s are examples.

In the same way, a whole group of solutions was proposed for the difficulties encountered in the second half of the eighteenth century by penal practice. Or again, to take a very remote example, the diverse schools of philosophy of the Hellenistic period proposed different solutions to the difficulties of traditional sexual ethics.

But the work of a history of thought would be to rediscover at the root of these diverse solutions the general form of problematization that has made them possible—even in their very opposition; or what has made possible the transformation of the difficulties and obstacles of a practice into a general problem for which one proposes diverse practical solutions.

It is problematization that responds to these difficulties, but by doing something quite other than expressing them or manifesting them: in connection with them, it develops the conditions in which possible responses can be given; it defines the elements that will constitute what the different solutions attempt to respond to.

This development of a given into a question, this transformation of a group of obstacles and difficulties into problems to which the diverse solutions will attempt to produce a response, this is what constitutes the point of problematization and the specific work of thought.

It is clear how far one is from an analysis in terms of deconstruction (any confusion between these two methods would be unwise).

Rather, it is a question of a movement of critical analysis in which one tries to see how the different solutions to a problem have been constructed; but also how these different solutions result from a specific form of problematization.

And it then appears that any new solution which might be added to the others would arise from current problematization, modifying only several of the postulates or principles on which one bases the responses that one gives.

The work of philosophical and historical reflection is put back into the field of the work of thought only on condition that one clearly grasps problematization not as an arrangement of representations, but as a work of thought.

[END QUOTE]

This seems to be blogging at its best, a refined form of Foucaultian thinking:

radically analyzing power structures, subtle dominations, war, politics, web design, progress, democracy, violence, environmental policies, technology, blogosphere, family, belief systems, self.

To understand self as a series of problems, and not unmodifiable habit cluster, is to be enlightened. From that spot of light, we blog.

While I like much of Foucault, and I read his Madness and Civilization book long ago, it bugs me when he says:


[QUOTE]

It is clear how far one is from an analysis in terms of deconstruction (any confusion between these two methods would be unwise).

[UNQUOTE]


And then Foucault proceeds to describe a methodology that is indeed similar in all respects to a Jacques Derrida treatment, i.e., a full-blown deconstructive analysis.

It's funny how a thinker can disavow a contemporary while at the same time using tools that this disavowed other, this peer and co-laborer instigated.


blogs, web stats, and KPIs


Today, let's look quit being so corny. I suggest we roll up our sleeves and look briefly at blogs, site statistics, and key performance indicators (KPIs). This will be a quick introduction, perfect for new bloggers, to the role and methodology of blog evaluation.

Your happiness with your blog, in spite of anonymous flamers and jealous trolls (who envy you because you have the courage to speak your mind and distribute your radical thoughts all over the world via the internet), is the greatest factor in judging a blog.

But let's go beyond your own satisfaction, and look at how a blog is to be analyzed.

First, your blog must not only please you and your boss (if you're a corporate blogger). It must meet the needs of your audience or customers. If you suspect they would like some sort of video, or at least links to video, on your blog, you had better figure out a way to deliver it.

YouTube and webcams are extremely popular.

People want a human presence on your website, and that probably means photos, audio podcasts, and/or video. Experiment. Fail. Learn. Get smarter and more popular than your competitors by exploring the many options available for blogs and conventional websites today.

Your blog's mission statement should be: to understand and serve the needs of my readers. Period. Oh, well, okay. A little bit of self-absorbed or marketing-oriented blather and parading around...but please, not too much!

Sure, you have to accomplish something for your employer or your own business or whatever. Can't we do this, while keeping audience needs the top priority? You'll have more qualified traffic, more apt to click on relevant ads and actually convert to sales.

With a foundation of (1) blog mission AND (2) audience satisfaction factors...let's proceed right to the heart of blog performance and evaluation.

When you start a new blog, always add tracking and link code for a web stats tool, like SiteMeter, GoStats, and Google Analytics. These tools will give you mission-critical, course-correcting information on how your blog is doing.

Remember though: the #1 criteria of blog evaluation is self-reflexive. How blogging impacts you, your life, your skills in thinking, debating, conflict resolution, writing, and research. That's the main thing, the primary result of blogging.

After that comes the joy of self-expression, a well-turned phrase, a blogocombat triumph, and the acquisition of an online community of shared interests. Still later comes the so-called ROI (Return on Investment), which is really, since blog design, functionality, and hosting can be totally free, your ROT (Return on Time).

Blogs are cheap. Your big, uncomfortable, burdensome investment is the time you spend tweaking, posting, revising, commenting, and moderating your blog. Not to mention reading and posting comments on other blogs, which is the #1 key to generating loyal, relevant traffic to your blog.

What web stats are the most important?

It depends on your goals for the blog, but what I look at are the Top Content, Referring Sites, Locations, and Daily Visitors.

Your blog's key performance indicators (KPI) will be based on the strategy of your blog model and the results you wish to see. A blog is basically a livingroom where you talk to friends about shared interests.

That alone can drive traffic to your associated ecommerce or corporate site, if you link to it.

Blogs can generate good will and enable you to present your company or industry's side of a controversial issue that's making headlines in the news, for example. There are many intangible, unmeasurable, but entirely real and vital benefits of business and personal blogging.

Ads are put on blogs, but there is a danger of appearing to be delivering content just to drive traffic to ads. Too many ads will convey a less professional tone, and to excess will drive people away from a website.

Top Content -- Which posts are most popular with your readers. You might be shocked. Make a sidebar display of Most Popular Posts, linking to your top 10 or 20, and watch those posts skyrocket in traffic. People like seeing what other people thought was good or interesting. Make sure you have permanent, placed ads in those posts, if you "monetize" your blog, which I don't.

Referring Sites ("referrals") -- What websites people came from to land on your blog. Go post comments at those referring blogs, and watch traffic soar from that already hot spot.

Locations -- What countries people live in, who came to your blog. International flavor is easy on the internet. Again, you will probably be shocked at what countries are looking at your blog.

Daily Visitors -- Mine goes up when I post comments at other blogs, and down when I spend too much time on Twitter, Pownce, Jaiku, MySpaceMusic, and other addictive sites.

Another element of analysis is Average Time Spent on your blog. But that must be clearly understood. Please take a moment to read "A Word About Averages".

At first, if you have a lot of posts, people will spend maybe 3 to 6 minutes on your blog, checking out your audio, photos, About Me page, video, previous posts, and reader comments.

But as time goes on, your regular loyal fans will spend less time, bringing down the average, as they simply read today's post, and skip the rest, which is already familiar to them.

To Be Continued.....

Stay tuned! Thanks. Email me any questions you have, or post a comment.



My famous Banana Taco, best of both worlds.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Twitter vs. MySpaceMusic


Since I deleted my Twitter account, vast realms of time have appeared unto me, not entirely unlike some sempiternal, mystical vision. The hours and effort I used to pour into Twitter, is now being poured into MySpaceMusic.

I feel that my time spent in MySpaceMusic is more productive, no offense meant, than the large amounts of time I spent hammering out random barbs, links, and insights in Twitter. I'm, I'd guess one might say, happier, if that makes any sense in such a messed up world and nation.

While many technical people were in my Twitter friends community, and I shared and learned much, it's a lot more fun and productive, for me as a musician, to be on MySpaceMusic. I am discovering many new bands, and hearing much that pleases or inspires me.

On Twitter, I had common ground with my approximately 700 Followers who subscribed to my messages, but that ground was always fluctuating, common on this point, in conflict on another. We traded opinions, political feelings (I say "feelings" instead of "ideas", because all politics and government is unnatural and irrational), musical tastes, mp3 finds, video recommendations, software news, and such, only about 5% of the communications were relevant to me.

Of course, only 5% of my messages were relevant to my audience, depending on what their interests were at any given moment. So I'm not disrespecting any of my loyal and enthusiastic Followers. It's fun being a cult leader.

Seriously though, Twitter, even with a carefully assembled Follower community, is mostly shotgun. You scatter your random thoughts, strong beliefs, and discombobulating questions to an audience, and, due to the rushing river of brevities that flows at high velocity, the persons who could benefit, or help you most, may not be "on Twitter" to catch you message in real-time.

If you've used Twitter, or any other micro-blogging, status update, socnet application, you don't need me to elaborate on all the pros and cons.

It can be addictive, time-consuming, and conducive to emotional outbursts, that can be cause remorse and self-loathing later on. Everybody spills their guts in short 140 character blasts, and the ease and simplicity of it makes it verge on being stream of consciousness in a clinical, psychoanalytic sense: the deeper, censored self leaks out, quite a bit.

I saw myself tangle with Confederate flag worshippers, Business-As-Enronishly-Usual weirdos, North Korean sex vamp trolls (the Amanda Chapel hoax), and Paid Opinions Are Valid opportunists, and many others.

I also started, or strengthened, relationships with some of the brightest minds in the business:
Evelyn Rodriguez,
BL Ochman,
Liz Strauss,
Valeria Maltoni,
Guy Kawasaki,
Seth Godin,
Eric Rice
GeoSteph
Ann Miller (AnnOhio)
NewMediaJim (Jim Long, NBC)
Matt Searles (electronic musician)


(I'll add more as I check my Jaiku re-stream for all the names, and I will list most of you, eventually.)


I miss all you folks, bitterly, in fact. I resent the fact that I felt I needed to make a move. But I'm obsessive sometimes, and I decided, if I was going to be obsessive about my participation in a social network, I needed to get a lot more bang for my buck.

I also was moving more heavily into the music side of my work.

Rather than debate web technology and political topics, I decided to promote my music. This is a positive development. Yet, I'm losing. I'm losing my constant contact with marketing professionals and software innovators.

Perhaps I can resurrect this by way of Pownce and Jaiku, getting back into those communities, which I abandoned in favor of Twitter. For now, I'm updating here in Vaspers and also on my music page, which I hype too much.

;^)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

get smarter, look younger, with the yellow diet



The Yellow Diet is making me healthier, smarter, and more likeable. Thanks to my lieutenants who cater to my every need, for bringing this astonishing, revolutionary healing system to my attention. I saw it in the Other Thans newsletter, but I unfortunately, due to a sore neck from over-computing, forgot to implement the methods they commanded us to adopt.

I started the systematic yellowization of all nutritional input on January 10, 2008. That's the same day I started my new Str8 Sounds Therabusive Noise Carnival site on MySpaceMusic.

Within 5 days, I have acquired 236 profile views, hundreds of hits on my videos, and over 160 Friends, mostly my professional peers, other musical artists I mean, including many of the bands I have admired for many years.

That's quite an accomplishment for a new band site that nobody, on MySpaceMusic that is, had ever heard of before.

I attribute this significantly rapid rise in popularity to The Yellow Diet more than to my musical talents, if I actually have any, which is a matter of heated debate on one or two blogs, or will be soon if all goes well.



Str8 Sounds holding banana taco

Have you join the Other Thans yet? If you've been receiving their secret newsletter, you already know all about the miracles that are occurring for average people who commit to The Yellow Diet.




During the initiation ritual that forms the base of one's devotion to The Yellow Diet, I was impressed with all the many food items they said were available in a naturally occuring yellow color (foods that've been artificially colored yellow are strictly forbidden).

Today's lovely yellow dinner consisted of one corn muffin, one Bit o' Honey candy, a banana taco, and a small handful of popcorn. I had lemonade to drink (not shown in picture).

They explained that spectrum lab analysis establishes the presence of certain enzymes and coagulatives in yellow foods and beverages that intensify the complexity and speed of your mental processing of information and insight. This yellowification of diet quickly makes you you vastly superior metaphysically to full color palette eaters.

Here's proof of the age reversal rays emanating saffronly from the yellow foods.

That top picture, up at the top of this post, where I look all old and everything, was taken when I started The Yellow Diet, on January 10, like I already said. Why do you force me to keep explaining everything over and over again to you?

Anyway, in the photo below, certainly speaking: I look like I'm 28 again, eh? But the photo below was taken tomorrow!!!




Monday, January 14, 2008

MySpaceMusic bands with FREE mp3 downloads






Most bands provide music you can listen to on a player, but few allow fans to download and save their songs. It's the old fashioned "charge for every fart the artist produces" mentality.

Here are some that abstain from such archaic, self-defeating, anti-promotional protectionism.

These bands know that free music is the key to getting new fans, blogospheric buzz, and customer loyalty. Free music hooks them, then they may be willing to pay for unfree music later, if they develop a craving for your sounds and a collector's mentality.

To search for any band, just go to MySpaceMusic, type in the names, click the dropdown menu to "Music", click on Search, and voila~!


The Kick Me's (several tracks across different album sites: start here, then scroll down to their Friends, for their sites.)

Monks from Mars

Telepathik Friend

Magical Forest

Lazy Magnet

The Spirit Cabinet

No Picasso

Free Diamonds

Mike Bruno Nighty-Night Ghost Choir


Sailboat!



music marketing with MySpaceMusic



So many interesting bands, even Panic Rock, Chimp Rock, and Surrealist Artrock!




Bromp Treb aka Fat Worm of Error aka Anthropophagous Rex?

Perhaps the most obscure, bizarre, and creative band that ever arose out of Massachusetts! Millions of young musicians are probably attempting to imitate them, right now, as we speak! Get your FREE Bromp Treb and ilk mp3s!




Above: The Skabs video and rehearsal studio. Guitar player is like lightning on them strings!



Promote your band with: (1) free song downloads (2) free videos (3) free photos (4) ... and words (if absolutely necessary). Like I've said many times before, give fans stuff to listen to and watch. Music lovers usually don't like to read a lot, especially when it's generic, typical, boring hype.


Blogging is communication.

If you feel you have something to say, say it. If you don't, try quoting someone else, and adding your unique commentary on it. Find something to discuss, in the blogosphere, or in a book. It could be a new angle of your own on a familiar topic, or your contrarian opinion on a current controversy.

Advertising and marketing were about you being what the corporations wanted you to be: a consumer eternally devoted to their products. Just shut up and listen to the message. Don't bother telling us anything -- we only want to hear how many products you want to buy today.

Blogging is the polar opposite.

As a blogger, you praise or trash a product, based on YOU, not them.

You say what you think about the product. The loving adorational accolades may gush out of you like a choir boy singing Amazing Grace for the first time. Or the angry venom may pour from your post like so much liquid lava out of a volcano that got out of the wrong side of the bed, with bad bed hair to boot.

Since I like various types of music, I often post about bands I've discovered, especially and almost exclusively, if they provide a lot of free mp3s and videos for fans to watch, save to an iTunes playlist, burn to CD, hand out to friends, and thereby distribute the music for increased buzz and popularity.

It's fun to post photos of CD covers and live performances of the music bands you like. By adding links to their websites or MySpace pages, you help them. You might even receive a comment on your blog, or an email, from a band member.

Right now, I'm having second thoughts about MySpace. I actually like the MySpaceMusic platform. It's working quite well, as I test it and use it to promote my free music. By adding bands that I like, and have influenced me, I communicate my musical tastes to the world. And I help promote these bands and musicians.

When I select the "Top 10 Friends" to display in The Str8 Sounds MySpaceMusic home page, my goal is to show respect to major influences, and to enhance my own reputation by showing off the cool artists that may actually have visited my site, and consequently added me as their Friend, based on my sounds.

That "Top 10 Friends" list is very important for the marketing of your own music, as I've just explained. I currently (1-14-2008) display Beastie Boys, partly due to the widespread name recognition, and partly due to my love of their aesthetic, comedy music, and their new instrumental album "The Mix-Up".

I have a problem with the 6 song limit on the MySpaceMusic player. I want my fans to have tons of free music. So I added my Ning mp3 player (at New Reformed Insane Blog Media Network) to my "Sounds Like" module.

Result: fans can listen to, and download, 6 Str8 Sounds songs on the MySpaceMusic player, plus another 43 songs on the Ning player, for a current total of 49 songs!

MySpaceMusic player has a great feature though: it accepts both mp3 and the new mp4 (m4a) audio files of iTunes ("Convert Selection to AAC"), while Ning does not.

So, I'm looking for a good audio file converter, to convert the m4as to mp3s, which I can then upload to my Ning player.

Anyway, then I added a MySpaceMusic slide show of Str8 Sounds and Vaspers-related art, CD covers, show posters, promos, etc. above the Ning music player. I did this so people have something to watch while they listen to the wretched, tortured tunes.

I carefully arrange my images so as to communicate a subtle marketing message: Str8 Sounds is prolific, active, triumphant. Str8 Sounds is something people like. Str8 Sounds has professional products. Str8 Sounds is nice entertainment for both the unwashed masses and the squeaky clean elites!

Music videos are also being uploaded.

Bromp Treb vs. The Mountain Emult (2:24)



Warnings:

(1) Don't junk up your MySpaceMusic site with huge, long scrolling photos that are also so wide, the break the browser window, requiring it to create a horizontal scroll bar.

(2) Don't put so much on in that it takes forever to download.

(3) Don't use background colors or images that make your site difficult, if not impossible, to read.


Try my product? It's, as usual, FREE.


More tips will be coming soon.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

arrow of truth in blogging



There is an Arrow of Truth in blogging. Let me tell you very slowly and meticulously about one tiny part of it.

An elite ethnomethodologist's dream is rapidly coming true in the blogosphere.

Heck, the simple act of reading this makes you a part of it, whether you like it or not. By reading and especially by transcending mere lurking and being a big boy or girl and POSTING COMMENTS, from rancid outrage to divine benedictions, you become a rebel against the Domination Systems that include the mainstream media, military establishment, and Enronish corporate culture (WTO).

By reading, commenting, quoting, and linking to blogs, you are slapping the joystick out of the hands of corporate planners. You sink your teeth into the premium steak of mistaken identities playing full field with amazonic grace.

Sinister outcreepings, moving sideways down the lane, hope to sneak and fit in, but their anonymous/pseudonymic gestures only blind them further to the revolution shaking under their feet and especially: over their heads.

Approval addicts don't last long in the rough and tumble world of the blogs o' fear. You must be a man of iron or a woman of steel to brave the blows, to launch a blog and watch it sail the sometimes stormy seas like a holy pirate on steroid stews.

You watch the turbulent debates, how trained professionals regress to infantile stages of development, citing long passages of law or medicine or software design, only to bash each other's brains out in introductory and closing remarks.

"I referenced the document I was quoting. Must I now read it aloud to you? Are you capable of thinking outside the propaganda you've been brainwashed by?" is the kind of professionalist blogocombat I used to just dream about, but rarely encounter.

Welcome to the blogos fear: intelligensia slurs, highly educated insult-stabbing, and country club ball-crunching. And it's all happening IN "THE BLOGS" (as the MSM callously calls us).

To referee and mediate a bloodbath blogocombat scene is pure joy in conflict resolution theory and sensitivity tweaking. I heartily applaud all bloggers who keep blogging, in the face of traffic dearths, troll invasions, blogocombat kill zones, and ads not clicking.

You, blogger, you persevere through obscurity, misunderstanding, and typer's cramp.

Ha ha ha.

Sorry. Not laughing at you, per se. I'm in stitches with chuckling from the thought of those who use blog comments to attack blogs, blogging, "hiding behind a computer" (actually, the reverse is true: we are vividly transparent and public THROUGH or VIA the computer!), blogospheric reality, blogger triumphalism, and such things of that nature.




Friday, January 11, 2008

web sites are for customers, not just companies



"I don't need a website. Word of mouth is what brings in most of my business."

This is not a customer-oriented attitude. It's the old fashioned "we" mentality of Web 1.0 and Business As Usual, which often results in Business As Over.

Websites are for customers, not just companies. What your company wants to achieve with a website is only half of the strategy. You must also focus on what users, customers, fans need and want.


"All we want to do is provide some online information about our company."

This is a waste of time. Nobody cares about your company. People care about their problems and desires. If your company and website don't make the solutions and fulfillments front and center, you'll lose tons of business. Caring competitors are just a few clicks away on the web.

Your website shouldn't be about you.

Nor should it be about your company, your miracle products, your great customer service, competitive prices, and superior quality. Nobody is persuaded by corporate fluff and vague bragging anymore.

Your website should be about specific customer needs, interests, and behaviors. When you look at your website do you see yourself? Then it's an online vanity mirror. But if you look at your website and see solutions to problems, fulfillments of needs, or enhancements of a lifestyle, then you're on the right track.

Let's take a specific type of business as an example: music.

Music websites are among the worst.

Most of them still don't get it. Nobody goes to a music band site to read a pile of hype about how great the musicians are and how terrific their music is.

Music lovers go to musician websites to (1) hear and download music (2) to see photos of the band (3) to watch music videos (4) to discover where they're playing in upcoming months (4) to learn about and buy products.

Lengthy descriptions work for books, but not bands.

Yet many musician sites are (1) ugly (2) unreadable due to poor design (3) dysfunctional (e.g., mp3s that have expired and no longer work) and (4) don't let fans hear or download their music.

How about your site?

Do you really know what customers and fans want to do at your website or blog? Do you provide the information, photos, video, audio, and other features that make visiting your site a satisfying experience?

Or do you just use your website for your own limited purposes?

Is it a good idea to ignore customer needs? To not care what competitors are doing for customers on their sites? To think the website can be just a "presence" on the web, rather than a service to users?

When was the last time a "web presence" ever sold you anything? Probably never. A website must be more than just a thing that sits there with your logo, product list, phone number, and address on it.

What is your website doing for your audience?

Websites can be warm, inviting, personally-fulfilling experiences. In what ways could your website be more useful, delightful, and memorable?