Aug
04
2009
0

You’re working for me now!**

al

I recently came across a interesting statistic:

In the past six months more video has been uploaded to YouTube than all the major networks in the past sixty years.

A particularly astute coworker challenged “Well,what quality is the video content?“. She was right, of course: one of the leading factors behind this statistic was the ability to easily upload iPhone video to YouTube and the site was being inundated by the minutia of daily life, hiding content of any value to the masses. This whole topic has led to proclamations of “The Death of YouTube!”.

Now I have no vested interest in the continued operation of YouTube but this got me thinking about an explanation of how social media can be useful in the face of peoples movies of their dog wearing glasses, tweeting what they are eating or uploading pictures of their bar mitzvah.

Here’s how it works: because content is readily available and plentiful, trying to be an individual in digesting social media is like drinking from the fire hose. What we can control is the people we surround ourselves in the social media space. It is already an ideal place to locate people with like-minded views, similar backgrounds, careers and lifestyles. Once you have this you are 99% of the way to leveraging social media rather than being buried by it.

Here’s how it works: every single person in my sphere of communication shares links, videos, articles and more importantly ideas with me and conversely I share the same with them. Content is already vetted by the fact that it comes from people I trust. Because my network is generally slightly different than anyone else I am able to introduce the new links, videos, articles and ideas to the community.

I say: bring on the content. I will find the quality stuff…because you’re workin’ for me now!

**due to the fact that this article isn’t the least bit funny, I have included random clips from 1989′s representative piece of comedic cinematic genius UHF” featuring Nobel Laureate Weird Al Yankovick. Enjoy!

Jun
10
2009
0

Great news: I don’t care about you!

Don't Be Stupid
In the future you are going to care less, a whole lot less, about the information you know about other people. Imagine 20 years from now searching through all my Twitter, Facebook, email and chat conversations. You may dig up some hilarious dirt, inappropriate comments, and hypocritical statements I have made. In fact, you could likely do that right now. The difference is that when the public record on all of us becomes so long this becomes true for everyone.

You’re in a glass house…and so is everyone else

What everyone should be more concerned about isn’t protecting ourselves from free personal expression. What everyone should be more concerned about is the amount of information we allow institutions to collect and leverage against us. These institutions can take many shapes but the banks are a good example.

Recently it has become glaringly aware that banks are not infallible. They store massive amounts of information on us and do so because we allow them. Take, for example, credit card fraud. We all know it is rampant and we all sleep well at night because we are insured. That insurance is actually buying freedom from accountability for the banks. They routinely cover criminal enterprises by telling consumers they are ‘covered’ so that they can resume business as usual without involving the legal process. What is unfortunately covered up is the amount of information that they have allowed into the public. Sure I lost my social insurance number but I didn’t have to pay for those Ray Bans the thieves bought on eBay.

Just to summarize: we need to stop worrying about pictures on Facebook of coworkers binge drinking or *gasp* using ‘swears’ and start worrying about what the institutions that we allow to drive us to the precipice of financial collapse are doing with the information they are allowed to use.

Apr
30
2009
0

You don’t know Twitter…and neither do I…


Twitter doesn’t know Twitter. Much has been made about Nielsen Online’s recent announcement of 60% drop off rate after a month on Twitter.

Here is the thing about ridiculously simple communication tools: no one knows how they will be used. It is not like Marconi popped on the airwaves in 1901 with a shout out to station sponsor “Abel’s Used Buggies – Just a stones throw from the haberdasher! Where everyday is Edward the VII Day!”.

I liken it to cave men getting a wheel: the whole Clan of the Cave Bear didn’t run out to AutoMart to buy some sweet spinners as soon as the the disc made an appearance around the fire pit. People need time to experiment, leave a concept and return.

Some of the greatest examples of this are how differently people are already using Twitter. Some people follow celebrities and news. It is a great way to drink from the news media fire hose, and I am not being glib. If that is how you use it then you are using it right. Some people use it to maintain customer service presence in the social media space. Perfect! I personally have a list made up of local industry people. They post interesting links, I do likewise and we are all better for it. Fact is: that is not how most people use it and that is OK too.

Twitter has yet to define its place in the communications landscape. The majority of people will leave Twitter for the simple reason that a societal role for them is not clearly defined and they are unwilling to carve one. That is fine, because the early adopters can work it out without them, but don’t ignore the fact that Twitter has the potential to be the catalyst around which social media enacts change on our society.

You’ll be back. We know. It has already been ‘tweeted’…

Feb
15
2009
0

“Pirate Bay” or “I love everyone equally…except Swedes…filthy Swedes”

A trial starts on Monday for Swedish tracking site The Pirate Bay. For those that are unfamiliar it is the #2 website for downloading illegal copies of High School Musical and socially relevant progressive music, such as Nickleback’s “Something In Her Mouth“. I should say that I use Pirate Bay to make my “stealing” that much easier. I do not delude myself into believing it is anything but stealing, but I am chronically cheap, under-entertained and morally flexible which is a dangerous combination.

To prepare myself for the trial I watched the 2006 documentary “Steal This Film” staring the seemingly simian-groomed Swedish masterminds behind Pirate Bay. They laid out the legal and moral arguement in much the same manner that Kenny Rogers defends his plastic surgeon. The crux of their arguement was that it is legal in Sweden, so the Americans can suck their big fat Ikeas’. They damn the ‘Americans’ for using trade laws to affect their Swedish policy. Indeed: how dare the American government use its power to aid American needs! Wait…what? That is what governments are supposed to do? Oh well, if karma doesn’t get the Pirate Bay guys, then the hallucinated talking spiders eventually will.

I followed this up with “Steal This Film II” which was what version one should have been. Drawing on historians, notable legal minds and noticably light on Swedes, the documentary doesn’t defend the morality of Pirate Bay but addresses the inevitable cultural swing that we cannot change. Essentially a “genie out of the bottle” scenario that is leading to a new online media. It is given many blanket titles but is essentially content for the masses by the masses. There are plenty of communications experts out there, pausing from their navel contemplation and poised to prove to their parents that the years in University were not wasted in vain on an ‘imaginary’ degree, that are currently pontificating on this subject (in between frothing people’s frappachinos). I will leave it to them to tell you the catchphrase for the next decade will be (“…no no, the medium is the message!!!“), but here is my contribution to the discussion:

‘Experience’ is the new commodity. The music industry has adjusted by making us believe that live music shows are worth $100+ per ticket for the colective experience. I think the movie industry is also, with IMAX, the reemergence of 3D and, of course, mega-theaters. All this telling us that the premium is worth the price. The future of commerce is to successfully ‘brand’ your online experience. Make everyone believe that ‘community’ is the future…then sell it to them. Social Media experts are already laying the groundwork for you, by alerting everyone that if you haven’t found your cohort online, then your cohort is likely already on there making fun of you. You are now some cohorts ‘fat kid’.  Sad for you, really.

In summation:

  • Swedes – not well represented in both documentaries or by culinary challenged felt hand puppets
  • File Sharing – Unstoppable…but if the Hindus are right you are totally coming back as one of Paris Hilton’s dogs
  • Music Industry – Will survive providing they can keep The Rolling Stones alive through EPCOT-like animatronics so that they can continue to tour
  • Global Commerce – Not destroyed, merely owned by those who brand ‘cool’ online. And that is where my super-sexy LARPing community will begin its domination: the future is mine.
Feb
01
2009
0

Unemployment is so hot right now…

Unemployment sucks. Though I am not unemployed (knock wood), I have been thinking recently about the effects that the employment crisis is going to have. You can blame the global banking crisis if you want but the fact is that North America was getting fat and the time has come for us to pay the price. Companies are clear-cutting their workforces. It may be cold comfort to those currently unemployed but here are three optimistic points to focus on:

…massive amounts of talented people out onto the streets.

Companies are cutting jobs so fast they are not letting go based on ‘knowledge’ or ‘ability’. They are sending massive amounts of talented people out onto the streets. The good thing about talented people is that most of them have ‘a big idea‘; one of those plans to change the world or build a better mousetrap. Before this crisis these ideas were trapped in corporate complacency but now tens of thousand of great ideas can be released by the truly optimistic and entrepreneurial. The next Larry Page and Sergey Brin (of Google) are currently standing in an unemployment line and thinking how they can ensure this is never going to happen again to them. Believe it.

…unemp-trepreneurs need money for extravagant things like food and shelter.

That leads to the next upside: hunger. If you are running a company who’s business model is “we’ll figure the business model out laterGOOD LUCK. There are alot of touchy-feely companies out there that are about to get some investor smackdowns if they don’t figure out how to monetize in ridiculously swift fashion. They will be standing next to the unwashed masses, their unserviced iPhones and empty fair trade latte cups in hand. The new group of unemp-trepreneurs need money for extravagant things like food and shelter. You can bet every good idea that comes out of this crisis has a business model attached that doesn’t pay off in 10 years, it pays off this month. Investors in shaky markets like these people…alot.

Take that hippie!

Finally, we have the technology, we can rebuild him. Social Networking, collaboration, open source, GNU: before this crisis they were embraced by the granola tree hugging population of the world as a ‘buy the world a Coke‘ style love-in for how super great humanity is. Well they can self love all they want, but they are about to see these tools turned into one of the most unexpectedly efficient ways for business to opperate. I bet that given a laptop and wireless I can get a factory in Taiwan manufacturing my super widget in less than two months and can find enough micro-investors to do it and have online sales before it even arrives stateside. Take that hippie!

I hope I haven’t offended anyone or oversimplified the crisis. I am truly sensitive to those who are out of work, having gone through the tech bust in 2000 and become a surprisingly terrible and depressed manual labourer for a few years. I honestly believe what I write above and likely in 6 years I will be having a Nerf gun fight in the halls of your corporate headquarters while you hunt pandas for sport on a remote Chinese island, because you earned it.

Jan
24
2009
0

We all want things…

One of my favourite books is a book called Synthetic Worlds by economist Edward Castronova. From an economists perspective he disects online gaming and its effect on society. I recommend this book to anyone who has any interest in online gaming. In one chapter he is discussing the first successful lawsuit in China where damages were awarded when a persons online inventory of items (virtual swords, armour etc.) were stolen. The game company was also forced to restore the persons account to the pre-theft state. A very interesting legal point of inflection, but it led me this line of thought:

What happens when everything that we ‘want’ (outside of food, water and shelter) exist in a virtual world?

Think about it: most things we have now, we do not need. Video games have led the way but I propose that the concepts that social media are presenting are the next logical extension of this. Recognition, respect, a sense of ownership are all driving factors in the push to a communicatons-heavy and commodity light society.

Everyone is proclaiming historical advertising is dead, that community driven development is the new model for life and that we are “all bigger online” but are we missing the most fundimental shift of all: the things we have been raised and conditioned to want, the very things that pay the salaries of millions and people have died to get are now devalued and my level 7 vorpal sword…or expressing my opinion on pandas sneezing…or plan to make a better blog…is now worth 100 hours of my time on earth and those Nike sneakers are not. Why isn’t this paramount on everyone’s minds? Strange times indeed.

Dec
31
2008
0

Housecleaning…Lipstick on the blog pig

This post is pretty lean, but I wanted to make note of some changes that I have completed and why, before my big weekly post about some topic I have yet to pull from my ass. Some small upgrades I have made to the blog are updating the version of WordPress to 2.7. If you are looking for changes on the front end, don’t bother. All of the big changes are in the back end with administrator’s view of things changing to include a pretty side menu and a few menu changes designed to make the software more legible.

I removed the Google AdSense ad and replaced it in the post with an image. Frankly having it there made me feel dirty, like the time you went out with that lazy eye girl because she had tickets to see the monster trucks, but Truckasaurus was broken that night so you went for second base instead and discovered that mole. That kind of dirty. Anyway, I have removed the taint of commercialism, so any other taint is, sadly, my responsibility. Sorry.

I have activated a built in feature called Akismet. Akismet prevents spam comments on your posts. Sadly it has drastically reduced my comments to those who have me confused with Dan Rather’s radio frequency and the terminally disinterested. To activate Akismet I had to create an account at WordPress.com (not .org, where you can download the blog software itself). In creating the account you are given a unique code to enter in the Akismet configuration to make it ‘go’. It seems to work because Joel Kelly hasn’t posted to my blog since I activated it.

Links: I know I assume too much by allowing you to search out links to the software I talk about in the blog. So I went back through and included some of them for you. Is there anything else I can do for you? Perhaps come to your house and read the blog aloud to you? Maybe express it in frenetic dance to the easy listening rhythms of an Enya track? Jeesh, you are ungrateful…Anyway, having links is purportedly a good way to improve my ranking by looking like a good source of information. The links not being self-referencing (referring to information outside my website) the site is judged to be more useful and less likely to be a scam (make cheques payable to cash or directly to “The Church of Glenentology”).

Finally I  have added a component called TTF Titles that will help me add custom header images to each post. Adding a little visual stimuli to the blog helps keep you, the reader, from becoming comatose or dazzled by the letters by giving you some pictures to look at. I haven’t completed the changes yet, so in the meantime try to focus or open a split screen browser to your Google images search for ‘Priceless‘ images and try to keep up.

I know none of this information is too ground-breaking but you should consider most of it as a building process to creating a quality product. My future posts will display some of the small successes I have tracked through Google Analytics so far, as well as discussion of the addition of items to my subpages, in my case the Portfolio. In the meantime Happy New Year. May your year ahead be filled with nothing better to do but listen to my incoherent ranting.

Dec
11
2008
0

Don’t be like me, ever…

IF YOU DO THIS YOU ARE MAKING PEOPLE HATE YOU–>google adwords

Google AdSense sounds great in theory: Toss up some ads and convert all your hits to real cash. Well, it doesn’t work unless you have about 10,000 viewers a day. And if you do, it is time to turn off your webcam before your mother catches you, and to begin talking to targeted advertisers. I could go into a rant about how frequent readers of blogs are offended by advertisements, or how it diminishes credibility…blaa, blaa corporate shill…blaa, blaa, pretentious assumption your ideas are financially worthy…etc. but I will leave that to your local teenager / social activist / vegan, as the case may be. Fact is AdSense makes virtually no money.

An example I have is when I added advertisements to my thriving video game community (~16,000 hits per month). I took a long time placing the ads in tastefull locations and styling them to match the theme. Then I sat back and waited for the fortune to roll in. And waited, and waited.

Herein lies the tale, and both advertisers and fortune-seekers pay heed: no one clicks on ads. Think about the last time you clicked an ad (other than that one that has pictures of ‘Single Women in [your town here]‘. we all clicked on that…). Of the 16,000 hits per month I received 31 ad clicks. This was after announcing to everyone that the money was going to pay for site maintenance. For those trying to do the math that makes 0.2% success. With those stunning numbers I received about $85 for 250 clicks. That is ~$0.34 per click. It is a tough way to make a living when the ads are often offensive to the senses to begin with. On top of that you only get a cheque in $100 denominations so my il-gotten gains have been in limbo for months.

In summation, when you are thinking of using AdSense, punch yourself in the face…and click on my ads…

Written by Glenmore in: SEO/SEM | Tags: , , ,
Dec
09
2008
0

iLame: serving the iPhone community, of which I am not a member

Today’s small update was to add a component called MobilePress. This will allow me to custom-render the blog for iPhones, Smartphones and other small devices. Unfortunately, being a luddite and not having a cell phone (they are for suckers) or a data plan, I will have to test by stealing the phones of the unaware.

Another nice side perk is that the website can now be crawled by Google for mobile content. because the mobile web search world is smaller I will automatically have a higher ranking for those members of society who feel their value in it is determined by a device that keeps them tethered to the capitalist machine that is causing the collective stifling of personal freedom while sucking the very lifeblood from our values system. Also, I can’t afford one.

Written by Glenmore in: Blog | Tags: , , ,
Dec
06
2008
0

Wasting my money, so you don’t have to…

Google AdWords feels to me like a cross between hiring a hooker, and sitting down to do your taxes: it leaves you feeling dirty and when you start out, you are not sure if someone is going to show up and steal your wallet afterwards…what a terrible analogy, but I am going to try to work with it. One of the many perks that almost everyone recieves with a hosting package but never uses is a Google AdWords coupon “$25 AdWord coupon! That means my site is, like, free!”  AdWords is Google’s revenue stream for sucking the lifeblood from small advertisers, allowing people targeted links, like the ones on the right side of any Google search, based on the words a person searches for. These are paid for on a per-impression (i.e. the ad is displayed) and per click (i.e. someone clicked your link) basis.

Like showing up at a timeshare presentation because the girl that invited you was hot, I signed up for the “free” promotion. First off, I had to pay a $10 “setup fee”, which is about as classy as “shipping and handling” on eBay. Ah well, what is sacrificing $10 to buy new friends. My old ones were all complainers anyway. I created a small ad, with “Halifax Web Developer” as the keyword. I dismissed the idea of “Girl-on-girl Website Design” and “Brittney Spears Flash Animation” and picked ones that would potentially further the goals of my blog. In setting up my account I had to set a maximum monthly amount I was willing to spend to buy my new friends (reminds me of the bullies in junior high…but I digress). I chose the lowest maximum at $30 and chose the option to pay them at the end of the month, because likely no one will find my blog via this method and I am not really selling anything. In fact, you should be paying me, you bunch of savages… 

All kidding aside: if I had a legit business, this would be a huge way for me to drive traffic because most people can’t get on the elusive “first search page” on Google and must buy impressions however they can. The optimizations for AdWords are actually very interesting: you ‘buy’ keywords by bidding on them. Essentially this means more common terms like “books” and “computers” are extremely expensive per impression, but something like “Halifax Bookshop” would be quite reasonable. Spending time thinking about what users might search for to specifically target you is a good investment in time. Regionalizing, or being specific as to your product, are good ways to find the balance from targeted search terms and cost effectiveness.

On a more speculative level, I think that in actually giving Google money in this way, it is like paying tribute to a volcano god in hopes that he won’t take your virgin…wait, where was I…my point is that Google’s search rankings algorithm are a secret black box. I hope by forming as many relationships with them and jumping through as many hoops for them I can, they will release the cure for cancer that they have been hoarding for years, or at least up my ranking.

Written by Glenmore in: SEO/SEM | Tags: , , , ,