It's always good to see Doc Searls, and I'm glad I had the chance to hang out with him at the recent ISPCON Fall 2006 conference. He's been a friend of Tucows since he first met us as ISPCON years ago, and he's been up to Toronto for a number of visits since then, the most recent one being last year's Christmas holiday party. In fact, it was a blogger get-together that he had during his visit in early 2003 that led to my getting a job here.
Doc's long time friendship with Tucows and Elliot is probably why their ISPCON opening keynote, Internet Service: The Fifth Utility? was more like a listening in on a casual conversation than attending a panel discussion. In their hour-long chat, Doc and Elliot talked about the internet not as a bonus service offered by telcos, but as a utility on par with things like roads, water, waste treatment and electricity. I attended this keynote and made a recording of their chat, which you can hear by downloading the podcast below.
We'd like to express our thanks to Jon Price, Denise Miller and the rest of the people behind ISPCON Fall 2006 for putting on a great conference, and to Doc for driving up to San Jose to take part in the keynote.
The Internet: The Fifth Utility
|File||Tucows Podcasts - Internet Service -- The Fifth Utility.mp3|
|Length||57 minutes, 54 seconds|
|File size||28.9 MB|
Dane Jasper, CEO, Sonic.net
Jonathan Snyder, president, CEO and director, KeyOn Communications
Dan Hoffman, president and CEO, M5 Networks
Rich Bader, president and CEO, EasyStreet Online Services
Moderator: Paul Stapleton, managing director, DH Capital LLC.
The session focused on legal risks of the emerging opportunities for web hosts. While, I appreciate pragmatic legal counsel, the discussion of risk at this session far outweighed the discussion of opportunity. It was a bit of a buzz kill. The information and advice wasn't bad however, especially if you're a web host considering new opportunities.
Here's the recap.
The shift in web hosting services means:
- New contract issues
- Data retention is high risk
- Conduit status may be affected
- Pay attention to intellectual property
There's more detail after the jump.
The Hotshows in Hosting session was an interactive round-table featuring perspective from:
- Christian Dawson, director, corporate development, ServInt Internet Services
- Will Charnock, vice president, technology, EV1 Servers/The Planet
- Christopher Faulkner, founder, president & CEO, C I Host
- Ted Smith, vice president, dedicated hosting, Peer 1 Networks
Moderated the by Candice Rodriguez from Web Host Industry Review, the panel focused largely on how these companies became leaders in web hosting. Lots of inside scoop on how to build a leading hosting business after the jump.
For most of this week, we'll be in Santa Clara, California, where we'll be making our presence known at ISPCON, the premier conference for internet service providers, hosting companies and VOIP providers. We'll be milling about the conferences, manning our booth on the exhibit floor and presenting at three different sessions, one on each day of the conference (which runs from Tuesday, November 7th through Thursday, November 9th).
We'll be blogging from the conference floor, so watch this space for updates!
Where the Conference Is, and How to Get In for Free
As a sponsor of the conference, we've got an unlimited number of free passes to ISPCON for you to download. These passes will admit you to:
- The exhibit hall, where among other things, you'll find our booth. We'll have a number of product managers and our sales team here, who'll be more than happy to demonstrate our internet services.
- Keynotes, including the opening one featuring our very own CEO Elliot Noss and Doc Searls, Internet Service: The Fifth Utility?
- Networking events
- Vendor-sponsored education sessions
If you want a guest pass, click here for the PDF file [816K PDF file]. Print it out and bring it to the conference, where you'll be admitted for free.
In the Exhibit Hall - The Tucows Booth
We've got a booth on the exhibit hall (booth 501), where you can see demonstrations of Tucows' services, talk with us in person, and if you're very lucky, perhaps get your paws on some valuable Tucows swag. Come on down and say hi!
Here's a map of the exhibit hall, showing the location of the Tucows booth:
Tuesday, November 7th, 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. - Internet Service: The Fifth Utility?
Tucows CEO Elliot Noss will be one of the speakers at ISPCON's opening keynote, titled Internet Service: The Fifth Utility?. He'll be presenting with Cluetrain Manifesto co-author, Linux Journal editor and popular blogger Doc Searls. Here's the description of the keynote from the conference schedule:
The telco/cableco duopoly continues to see the Net as gravy on their basic services (and are more motivated to get into each other's business than do anything new with the Internet). Meanwhile, communities, competitors and customers are creating their own bypass while treating the Net as a "fifth utility" alongside water, waste treatment, roads and electric services. To make matters even more interesting, giants like Google and Microsoft are building massive computing clouds to support a shift toward on-demand services.
How is this all going to play out? Will the incumbents succeed in efforts to thwart muni networks? Does access even make sense as a utility? Are there benefits to incumbency other than creating scarcities everywhere they have a choke-hold? Who has the advantage or stands to thrive and survive in a this new utility-based infrastructure model? Where will ISPs, Hosts and WISPs fit in all this? Can you line up behind, alongside or in front of the citizens and elected officials or are you on a collision course? Once the service is deployed, what will it be like, who will use it and how?
Doc and Elliot will discuss the range of issues surrounding how this kind of accessibility to the net changes everything and why it matters to you. From changing patterns of use, new applications, shifting adoption and behavioral habits to altering the landscape of competition while favoring different services, unique models for varied applications and insight on how one should build a business around this redefined service relationship.
Wednesday, November 8th, 4:15 - 5:15 p.m. - What the Web 2.0?
Here's my session: I'll be moderating a panel What the Web 2.0? discussion about Web 2.0 from an ISP and hosting service point of view. Although it's at the end of the day, I think the audience will be awake for this one, as we've got a group of interesting panelists in addition to a scintillating moderator. Here's the description of the event:
You can talk all day long about blogs, tags, MySpace and YouTube without putting a single dollar in your pocket. We're going to spend this hour together doing the exact opposite. First we'll cover the "what and why" of the subject through an overview of the direct and indirect value these big trends represent for ISPs, Hosts and customers. Then, we'll address the "how" of providers and customers alike who are leveraging these technologies out in the wild with some best practices. Finally, the "wow" being the business impact it is having, it's potential, overall customer behavior/usage habits, effects on bandwidth, churn, ARPU, adoption and of course how this all translates into real dollars in your pocket, better customer relationships and unique value in the marketplace.
Here's the roster of people on the panel:
- Javier Hall, CCO, Userplane
- Kevin Henrikson, Director of Engineering, Zimbra
- Josh Jones, CJO and Co-Founder, DreamHost
- Ivaylo Lenkov, CTO and Founder, SiteKreator
- Dallas Bethune, Co-Founder / CTO, DreamHost
Thursday, November 9th, 12:45 - 1:45 p.m. - 30 Rapid-fire Website Wins, Guaranteed
Many ISPs and Hosts fail to realize the full potential of their own websites and spend little time updating, let alone optimizing them to achieve key business objectives. What's the desired outcome for your site? Serve as a local community portal, a customer extranet for support or webmail, a place to showcase solutions, convert new leads to customers or just tired brochureware for that snazzy $19.95 dial-up? During this fast-paced "no holds barred" session, Internet best practice expert Ken Schafer will guide you through 30 ways to make your site dramatically better and meet key business objectives. Using dozens of examples, we'll provide eye-opening insights into how these Quick Wins and Big Ideas can shape your site and provide an unfair advantage over your competitors. GUARANTEE: If at the end of the session you don't feel you have at least five techniques that will improve YOUR site, Ken will personally assess your site and give you five ways to improve it!
A sizable contingent from Tucows will be making an appearance at ISPCON Fall 2006, the premier conference for internet service providers, wireless providers, VOIP providers and internet businesses. It'll take place from Tuesday, November 7th through Thursday, November 9th, 2006 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California. If you're in the neighbourhood, we'd like to see you, which is why we're handing out these free guest passes!
These guest passes get you free admittance to:
- The exhibit hall, where among other things, you'll find our booth. We'll have a number of product managers here, who'll be more than happy to demonstrate our internet services.
- Keynotes, including the opening one featuring our very own CEO Elliot Noss and Doc Searls, In the Hotseat with Doc: A Fireside Chat
- Networking events
- Vendor-sponsored education sessions
The guest passes also entitle you to register for the conference at a great discount.
There's no limit to the number of guest passes we can hand out. If you'd like one (or several) -- simply click here or the image below to download a PDF of the pass [816K PDF file], print it out and bring it to ISPCON. See you there!
What a week. It's Saturday morning now I'm on my way to the VIP wine tasting - wine dinner excursion. There wasn't room for me to fly to this on the Greenpoint technologies Lear jet, but, I'm flying back tonight on it, so pictures will be take (blogging from a plane!). This is going to be one of the last posts here for me on the Tucows Blog. So if you'd like to keep reading my posts on other (but still related) topics, please come on over to A View from the Isle.
So, how was the conference, you might wonder. I don't go to that many conferences, three or so a year usually, but I have a great affection for BBS as you know. BBS seems to be the conference where I take giant leaps forward in my career. BBS is an interesting conference. There are people coming to learn how to get their business blog going, some to learn how to make their business blog better, others are already bloggers and here to just connect with each other.
While there are always good sessions and some not as good sessions, overall I think the sessions this go round where the best thus far. Being the third BBS, Steve et al have figured out what the range of people are looking for, and this really showed. Besides the two sessions where I was speaking (which were of course spectacular ;-) ), I really like Jason Calacanis' keynote, John Batelle's keynote and the small business blogging sessions. Yes, I liked all the others too, don't feel left out, those where just my favourites. The keynotes where interesting just because John and Jason were interesting to listen to and had interesting insights. Might not 100% agree with 100% of the talk, but it was still entertaining. The small biz blogging session was so tremendously important ... I wish it had been in the larger room and not the smaller side room. SMBs (small to mid-size businesses) can leverage blogs and blogging far easier than large companies and, IMHO, reap larger rewards faster. SMBs are more nibble and can level the playing field versus larger competitors. It is not hard or unheard of (actually it's rather common) for a small biz to lap a large biz on search engines by leveraging blogs.
As the sessions were wrapping up I had a chance to chat with Steve Broback about what BBS07 might look like. One idea thus far is to make it more of a community of business bloggers, therefore people already blogging. Sure there will always people who will still need to get their business blog going, but I have two ideas for that. One is, of course, the pre-conference workshops. I'd make them much more hands on and maybe more like small group classes. Second, might be for newbie bloggers to have a "blogging buddy" a speaker or attendee who is already an established blogger to just keep tabs on them through the conference and offer insight to the new folks.
I think this has been a watershed BBS. It's the third one, business blogging isn't a new concept or something that I think needs a strong arm sell. I think we need to work on refinements and enhancements, but the overall stuff is all set, IMHO.
I'm going to be covering the special post-conference event I was invited to attend on my blog.
Looking into the future is fun. The concept, the vision of what could be ... Liz Lawley, Steve, and Matt are doing a job more akin to herding cats or wrangling talking about this. This isn't bad, in fact it's great. The discussion is out there, it's interesting ... Matt started with referencing Plato's Republic and the "noble lie" about technology and making it easier is better. Matt thinks makes it personal is key.
The information is the key. Is the goal transparent tools? Is the goal a giant place where we actually don't know what we're using, it just works? Would one company control it all?
If they could buy a company:
- Matt: Sun and Amazon
- Liz: Six Apart and Amazon
Search as an Interface ... wow at the command line. We're still at the DOS prompt level here. Waiting for Search 2.0. This is a whole new why to consider this. Search results now are just like type dir or ls -a and getting a list of what's there. Wow.
Browser battles, it's not who own's the window, it's who owns what's inside the window. In the window is where the business is going on and the outer part doesn't really matter.
Lightweight business model with innovation as the assembly of new and interesting things into things we can really use.
Search rules. The cost of acquisition of paid search is $8.50. A new business model that monetizes the declaration of intent not content. Looking for a car ... search for the model you're looking for and ... well we all know what comes next, the ads. It is because of this focus on search that fueled the explosion of social media. Search is tied to the links and linkages within the media. A symbiosis between what people are looking for and those who can supply the information or the product.
John's keynote gave me a lot of ideas for things I'm going to have to blog about later ... and this post is a tad late because right after John spoke, I actually could share the stage with John and Dave on the SEO panel. Which, has to be the highlight of my time here. Thanks guys for letting me be a part of the panel.
I haven't done a video blog post yet, but for podcasting I'm trying PodcastSpot (disclosure I've known the guys there for a while and as a beta tester I got an upgraded account for free). And guess what! I have been recording, just not mixing and uploading! Well inspired by this talk, I did my mixing, edit (not much, I like the recordings to be pretty raw), and uploading during this session.
Jason and I talking about blogging, stats and other random things at the cocktail party last night (that Parnassus and Bloggers For Hire sponsored).
And ... now it's lunch time. Dave Taylor and I will be at the SEO table ... cause guess what? Dave and I are doing the SEO panel discussion ... I'm actually subbing for John Battelle! How cool is that?
The straight dope from a couple of people who might have heard of in the blogosphere Maryam and Robert Scoble (I only wish Maryam blogged more). The tips and ideas here are real, tried-and-true techniques that will make your blog and blogging.
- Don't bog if you don't want to -- If you aren't passionate (or interested in) what you're writing about ... don't
- Read other blogs
- Pick a niche you can own ... which is getting tougher and tougher to do. For many people, the search box is the address bar. People use one-three word search terms. So ... people are always looking for something, if you content isn't focused, then people will probably miss you. It's like a person searching on a particular day might be looking for info on RSS on the day you're writing about your dog. Okay maybe not that bad, if you've written a lot on the topic they will probably still find you.
- Linking to other blogs is the lifeblood of blogging. If you don't link, it just won't work. Like getting a link from Scoble yesterday (heck getting a link from Scoble anytime) is great. Beyond the traffic a link is an affirmation of your content.
Oooh the A-lister question (I don't think I'm an A-lister. I'd like to be an A-lister, but I don't think I'm there, and might not ever be). Robert says that you can become an A-lister in 20 mins. Dave and I disagreed a bit ... if you get the exclusive, blogable Steve Jobs interview sure you're going to have massive traffic, but you might wind up being a one-hit-wonder. There is a valid point, however, you can be an A-lister in the various niches (btw the word is pronounced neesh not nitch!).
- Thick skin
- Write good headlines ... yeah pithy is cute, but you do need to write descriptive headlines that people will find your post in search engines.
- Use other media ... pictures in posts rock! They catch people's eye. Video? Podcast? Yeah, but humans are pretty visual, so pictures are easiest. Halley recommends Tony Pierce's BusBlog for the pictures of hot women ... usually that don't match the content, but draw you in to read all of the content.
- Have a voice ... write like you talk might be talking with them. I do this ... I am writing this thinking I'm trying to tell you (quickly) about this talk. My better posts when I'm not trying to type at top speed, of course.
- Get outside of the blogosphere. Meaning, have a life and friends who blog in real life. Yes, Lorraine and I are friends with Maryam and Robert and Chris and Ponzi. Really. And the friends I've made blogging are some of my best friends even though I might only see them face to face with them once or twice a year. Go to conferences. Hang out with us. Chat. Sit with us at lunch. Really we won't bite
- Market yourself. Well, yeah. We all love to do this, please read us, please link to us, please subscribe to our feeds. Robert makes the key point ... put your blog on your business card!
- Write well. Grammar, spelling, tone, and your state of mind. Blogging mad or down, etc is a bad idea. Trust me on this. Experiment with different creative writing styles. Make sure your first paragraph makes your point, or is catchy. Even if you have to re-write it when you're "done" with the post.
- Expose yourself. In terms of being vulnerable, be open, let people get into your head. Sometimes, no often, taking a risk once and a while will make your blog much more interesting. Maybe a post once and a while about your life or hobbies
- Help other people blog. Mentor, help, teach just be the kind of person who makes helping part of your blogging
- Engage with commenters. Visit your commenters' blogs, subscribe to them, and leave a comment on their posts. You know that's how you meet great people and learn about a whole new perspective.
- Keep your integrity. If you get it for free, disclose. If you have a vested interest in something tell us. Hey we're human we can handle it. Be true, authentic, be you.
Yeah ... these are the good tips. Do these and yes, you will be on the road to success.
How has YouTube changed marketing, especially for large businesses? The large business, the enterprise (not NCC1701-D), have such different perspectives than other business works.
Tools for enterprise to leverage power of Web 2.0:
- podcasting, IBM is getting into podcasting and video blogging (internally, esp) in a big way
- Wikis, project management, etc (sorry I still don't like wikis).
- Not about the technology
- Not new channels ... huh?
Now that a brand can be created, or destroyed, in moments though online media, it is important to understand it. This is, unfortunately, a rather heavy session for 9AM. Two days of live blogging the conference is taking its toll on my gray matter.
How can I sage and wise about this? Clearly brands matter. Clearly IBM is a huge brand (understatement).
How is IBM changing, more podcasting, more video, but Ben is saying that there are great stories at IBM, but they need great storytellers and people to help. Both things they are having trouble find.
"Large companies want to spend money on this, but don't know where to spend it" -- Ben Edwards
Yesterday most speakers talked about RSS. This morning Scott Niesen from Attensa is showing how the rubber meets the road. I've been using Attensa since Gnomedex. That was the 1.5 beta that then was launched as 2.0 and being given away for free. Right now Attensa is my reader of choice.
Regardless, Scott is discussing all the benefits of using RSS, keeping up on news, searches (Attensa's built-in search feed wizard is pretty slick, btw), collaboration, delivery.
Since this a free product, I have no qualms recommending it. Yes, I'm friends with guys at Attensa, mostly because I bugged them during the 1.5 beta with product suggestions ... a couple of which made it into 2.0.
In yesterday's small biz blogging session I mentioned the book by Strunk and White (E.B. White, the author of Charlotte's Web) Elements of Style. This really is a must-have book on writing. It's short, organized so you can look up a nuance of grammar, and it is revised often enough to stay current.
This is an Amazon affliate link so you can find and buy it.
Jim and I were both in the making money from your blog talk at Blog Business Summit. While my take was more journalistic, Jim is wondering if the emperor has no clothes, or telling us all "let them eat cake". Jim does have some really valid points. Making good money from Adsense isn't really that easy. Were the speakers leading listeners down a primrose path?
You can Digg the article too ...
Jory, Kevin, Andru, and Stan all small business bloggers. This is a huge thing. Blogs and small business go together like peanut butter and jelly. Of course when you go from just talking about your life, to talking about your work as your life this is a big thing. When money starts coming into play ... then you have to start worrying about the shill question. Can you be bought. Can someone buy a good (or bad) word from you. Andru is addressing this at the moment, and this has been a theme all day. Interesting times. This wasn't talked about last year. This wasn't even talked about three months ago ... at least not the the extent that it is right now.
Content. If you start a personal blog that becomes a work blog, what about the old content, what about the content you might like to write about? I would think about before making your personal blog work ... just start a new work blog. But remember that the two will become intertwined and linked whether you like it or not.
Kevin: Experts sharing content. This is so key. For consultants, lawyers, etc. blogs are, hands down, the way to get noticed and noted in your field as an expert. Kevin was being cited as an expert in law blogs (or blawgs) six weeks into blogging. Yes you read that right. Why? He happened to start blogging in a niche without much (any) competition.
"No how small you may be today ... if you have faith in your idea ... if you have a service you can offer ... you establish a price and can present clearly what you do (note to self ... clarify self ... just what do I do anyway?) ... you can do it." Post, link and write. Steve Rubel's advice ... FLEE
- Find the Internet discussion on your topic
- Listen to the discussion
- Engage in the discussion, link, comment
- Empower people to market for you. Link to your content ... leverage your content ... this is your currency
Stan: "Blog and podcast ... hmm they don't seem like deep sea fisherman to me ..." I think Stan was showing Chris and Ponzi a house, but I'm not sure ... he had asked what they do and was told they were bloggers ... the quote above is classic and so true. What does it mean when our terms seem so alien to most people? Stan, who was Robert and Maryam Scoble's real estate agent. Stan was relating when Robert and Maryam put their house up for sale. OMG, can you imagine?
Revenue models ... advertising? No Okay a little advertising will help pay your hosting fees. But then the question is "would you sell your soul for beer money ... " depends on the beer! But seriously it isn't a small decision you do have to think about the perception of having Adsense on your blog. There isn't a right or wrong per se, but ... ask a blogger. We'll tell you.
Here comes the blog ... a small business that sells wedding favours but also has a community of brides talking about their weddings.
Kevin has made an awesome point ... small companies (law firms are his example) cannot be nimble enough to out blog you to out write you.
Do you have to blog about your business? No, make sure you blog about your industry to show that you are an authority and guru in your industry.
This has been one of the best and informative sessions, well except for mine of course ;-).
Chris and Andru ... Is Adsense the answer? Came in a bit late to the session here (I realized that you dear readers might be more interested in earning money than corporate blogging policies) and it sounds like Adsense did some juggling and people are earning less via Adsnese. Dave Taylor is earning decent money, like $300 a day, on one of his blogs.
Generally we're talking CPM (cost per mill ... thousand) in the dollar-ish range.
In a crowded space, say gadgets, you have to be creative and adding value in your posts. The doing the standard "me too" post or just re-blogging what everyone else has written.
Calacanis is saying (as an audience member) that the cost of entry of blogging and getting to the top is much higher than it was a short time ago. Podcasting and video blogging is an open field.
Success in the blogsphere is related to the amount of work you put it. You hustle, you can succeed and win.
Weblogs Inc moved to a rev share model early on to per post pay. It started low, but now it's about $10 a people. He did go on to say that some bloggers earn more.
What is the cost of blogging like this? How much to you have to blog (read work) to really earn a living. Yeah, think about it (Andru gave this example) ... you earn $20 a month with Adsense. How many hours did you put in?
Verticals that work: HD TVs, mortgages, travel.
Experiment with different easy to implement ad services. I use Text Link Ads and am trying Performancing ads. Of course, I 'm not earning a huge amount, but that's okay at the moment.
The advertising sessions are very interesting. But for me the interesting thing is listening to the folks like Dave Taylor and Jason Calacanis talking about their past and present ad models.
Chris: "Email is still dead" ... RSS and search engine driven traffic to his sites.
RSS advertising. Chris has been doing it since day one is giving it a thumbs up. Okay I have to hear how this is working ... ah he's not talking about Adsense for feeds or Pheedo ... he's talking about selling his own space in the feed. Ah now I get it. That makes sense cause I've tried Adsense for feeds and it was pretty much useless.
Full feeds .. are they dead? Chris does full feeds. Will the aggregator companies start monetizing our content and not share? Or would there be a blogger revolt?
Now are feed readers beyond most folks? Ah a question for another day.
Where do you find bloggers writing about your topic? Well if you're reading this blog you probably know this.
Technorati blog directory search ... focus on authority, subscribe to RSS feeds.
I have to say that while the talk was really good, my brain is a tad full and tired.
That now said, the theme that I'd like to continue is the RSS is still too geeky. I think I've also written probably way too much on this topic, so I think I'll let it lie.
Now, Mary Hodder talked about and re-enforced many of the things I talked about in Andru and my talk about audience. Essentially when looking at this blogosphere you need to look at the whole group of factors of links, and comments, and number of posts to assess the authority of a blogger. This is especially important when a blogger starts to slam you.
RSS, love it or hate it, it certainly makes my data and information gathering life easier.
Let me take a moment to thank contributing blogger Tris Hussey for doing an excellent job on blogging the Blog Business Summit conference. Tris, you're doing an amazing job -- I salute you with a filet mignon on a flaming sword!
This is a quick note to let you readers know that I've got more posts about the Ajax Experience conference, and that said notes will cover more than just the swag at the conference (cool as it was).
I'd like to thank the organizers for putting on one of the best conferences I've ever attended. I could go on about how good it was, but I thought this photo of a projection visible from the lobby of the conference hotel, the Westin Boston Waterfront, would capture my feelings about the Ajax Experience:
Yes, I finished my talk. Yes it went really well. Thanks to Andru for being a great co-speaker. So, yes someone blogged my talk (and I found it via Technorati ... which ties into the current talk on RSS) ... you can judge for yourself how we did then. Slides? Here's the MindMap version and a PPT export. Enjoy!
Thorny path? Yeah. Minefield? Not so much. But there are some things to know ... and I'm capturing the tips as they come (and I know I've missed a few ... so readers, pls fill in the gaps). Janet, Buzz, and Halley are on stage.
- Send irrelevant material to me to write about.
- Send materials without links to what you want me to write abot
- Send a huge, detailed e-mail for me to read about you want me to write about
- Send my an 8 meg PDF about your product (at least without warning)
Read the blog for about a month to get to know them ... do your homework.
- Tools, RSS aggregator
- Be honest why you're asking for my help
- Remember this, bloggers are people, we do have lives (sometimes even outside of blogging ... which is an odd concept, I'm not sure that it is ;-) ).
- Read the comments on blogs in your topic area too ... you can find smart people who are talking about your topic too
- Build real relationships with bloggers. You have no idea how valuable this can be for you
- Follow your company on the blogosphere so you can find the good and bad stuff ... fast (hint use RSS)
- Be customer sensitive
Jim Turner turned to me just now "This is the best session so far ..." Hmm maybe he write a post ... oh yeah the power cord on his laptop is wonky and he can't fully charge it.
The Blogosphere is free market intelligence and focus group (Dave talked about this too) ... you need to leverage this (see point 6 above under Do's).
In the spirit of Jason Calacanis' keynote, I want to let all you readers know that Tucows sponsored me to come to Blog Business Summit and blog. Why? First, I wouldn't be able to come, even as a speaker, if I didn't get this support. Second, I think Tucows wanted great conference coverage on their blog.
Yes, Blogware has been the sponsor of my blog for about two years. Yes, I will and do tell Ross and Joey what problems there are with Blogware, I do give them the heads up if I'm going to blog it (it's courtesy, not editing).
So, Tucows isn't guiding any of this content. No, I really don't like Typepad (this is no secret), yes I do recommend Blogware as a hosted blog system.
There it is. Ahhh, I feel better now.
Jason Calacanis, love him or hate him, is a poster boy for making money from blogs. Weblogs Inc, now owned by AOL-TimeWarner of course, is one of those storied parts of the blogosphere. I think (I hope) there is going to be a complete recording of this session because the stuff Jason is talking about is cool. Very interesting. Ah he's telling stories because he didn't prepare a presentation ... the truth comes out. Lots of intersections ... Nick Denton and Gawker, MySpace, Mark Cuban, selling to Time.
OMG! The YouTube moment of the day ... Calacanis doing Nick Denton. God I hope it makes it up.
Jason relating about telling AOL, you can't edit bloggers. Social misfits who couldn't make it anywhere else ...
Be an A-list blogger:
- Go to Techememe
- Blog something intelligent about the top story of the day
- Link to and mention all the people who have said something intelligent
- Repeat for 30 days
- Go to a couple conferences a month
- You're an A-list blogger.
The blogosphere is the ultimate meritocracy ... "It's not broken, you suck" (when someone complains that they don't get traffic).
You write, you write well, you post often (that really is the key), leave good comments on blogs ... you will succeed. Yes, this is very true and actually good advice.
Forces of Evil (gee hope I'm not one of them ... don't think I am, am I) ...
I'm not because it's Pay-Per-Post. You take money or stuff and don't disclose it, that's lying. And I totally agree. I do get free software licenses to try. Sometimes I like them, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I like the software, but decide not to use it. You know what? I'll tell you when I do (examples: MindManager ... use love ... would buy, ActiveWords ... used, liked, stopped using it, Propaganda, use, love, would buy, GyroQ, use, really love, would buy).
The whole basis of the arguement, again which I agree with, is that requiring only a good review, requiring non-disclosure, that's wrong. Yes, Dave I know there are shades to all of this, I'm talking about the specifics of above, not all the stuff about are you nicer to the companies your friends and family work for.
YouTube: Maybe they should give some of the money back to the content providers. And I totally agree with that.
Final quote: "Don't let anybody (speaking of advertising) get into the blog post, it's sacred." A perfect ending to an awesome keynote.
Breaking News: Jason Calacanis to podcast for Podtech and give money to send needy kids to good schools
Fast breaking news ...
Jason Calacanis will do CalacanisCast with Podtech sponsored by GoDaddy. They will also get $100,000 a year to put needy kids in the best private school in New York. I might get the details wrong, but this kind of philanthropy ... is awesome.
Now to be fair, Jim Turner turned to me and said "Blog this now" and that's how I got it up first
Is blogging so yesterday? Is something coming down the road that is going to blow it all away?
Jeremy Pepper, Jeanette Gibson (Cisco), John Starweather (Microsoft) having a panel on what we should be watching on the horizon. I'm having the feeling that this audience isn't quite ready for looking at what's next, when they are still grappling with what's now.
And the questions being asked, bear this out.
The best question I've heard is what metrics can be used to determine ROB ...
Let's have a quick wrap up of my posts from yesterday (Workshop day):
- Opening sponsored blog
- Dave Taylor's Keynote
- Blog Advantage
- Setting up your first blog
- Writing your blog (ghostwriting and editors)
- Podcasting and video
- Law, blogs, and bloggers
The pre-conference workshop days are interesting for the new bloggers (and that's the audience). There is so, so much for people to absorb in just one day. The whole soup to nuts of getting a blog going. Today? Today is where the rubber hits the road (and I hit the stage).
Putting stickers on your laptop is (was?) a hip thing to do. About 90%+ of the back of my laptop is covered (some are either going to get covered or removed this conference, I fear). While I think it's very cool, the average person doesn't get it, I fear. Sitting here in the lounge area I get a lot of long stares. Since I figure they aren't looking at me ... it must be my Web 2.0 cluttered laptop.
Ah well the price of esoteric coolness, I guess.
Tags: laptop stickers
In this article, I continue with my look at the dot-com-bubble-esque swag and prizes being given away by the organizers and vendors at the Ajax Experience conference. If you haven't seen part 1 in this series, it's here.
Helmi, who bill themselves as "the only open source Ajax-based RIA development platform" were giving away the fanciest pens at the conference. The Helmi pens house a green LED, which gives off an eerie glow through their transparent barrels.
Also present in the exhibit hall were Google, whose booth was essentially a recruiting booth. Instead of literature about their APIs or developer-centric events like the Summer of Code, they had half a dozen different pamphlets about job opportunities for Java back-end coders, UI and rich internet application developers and researchers.
Swag-wise, these were their offerings:
- Google gum: Haven't tried it yet.
- Google pen: This one was pretty popular.
- Google key fob: Optimizes searches for your house keys.
- Google post-it notes: Handy for reminders, comes with subtle recruiting ad.
- Google notepad: With lenticular cover that shows a different image depending on your viewing angle.
I asked if they were giving away the heated toilet seats for which their offices are now famous. They would've come handy in the Boston Westin Waterfront's aggressively air-conditioned conference rooms.
Apparently, if you asked really nicely, the folks at the Google booth had some of their coveted long- and short-sleeved t-shirts to give away as well.
Video is more linkable, but audio is more portable. "What kind of story to have to tell ... or show." --Scoble. This determines the format. Funny think, I love doing podcasts (even though my podcasting rig is kinda hosed at the moment) I don't listen to them! Strange, huh?
No matter what you talk about ... you have to make it interesting.
There is a paucity of standard tags and ways of letting people know what the podcast and videos are actually about.
How do we podcast? Ah that's where the fun begins. I really like the microphone and my laptop model. I had the the iRiver and external microphone thing going, but it seems to be failing me. Regardless, it is really easy. Andru did a little sample using his Mac, Garageband, and Hipcast. On the PC I suggest Audacity (free) or Propaganda (pay, but worth it ... even though I won a free license). The question of Skype recording came up, oddly enough none of the speakers do this, but Scott and I do. He uses Pamela, I use HotRecorder.
How often? Something predictable. Be consistent (oops, that is my problem. I tend to forget for a couple weeks).
Video, where do you put it? Services, your service YouTube ... you post, they own. This is an important question for all these topics, doesn't matter if it's a blog post, podcast , or video.
Wow. I think the non-geeks in the audience brains' have exploded all over the room. Oh well.
Buzz Bruggeman, Kevin O'Keefe, and Phil Mann are talking about the law and blogging. What are your copyright rights (you have them automatically, btw ... you write it, it's yours), when you get the letter from a lawyer (talking to a lawyer might be a good idea). We had a copyright problem on Business Blog Consulting ... how did we handling it? A little FeedBurner tweaking and e-mailing the blog owner, but to no avail. Is it worth sending a legal letter to Turkey? Probably not.
Buzz, Phil, and Kevin are sharp dudes on this. The only problem is that this really important session is coming at the end of the day. I think there is a lot brain-deadness going on here. I think including myself. What's next today? We have a speaker and VIP dinner tonight. When we get back to the hotel, it's going to be the day wrap up post.
First thought ... maybe doing small breakout sessions for hands on stuff inter mixed with these theory sessions.
Maybe I'll suggest that to Steve.
Today might very well be called the Dave Taylor does blogging show. That's okay though, I like Dave, I don't always agree with him, but I like him. I thought that this session would be hard to write a post about. I mean how many was can I tell you about how to write for your blog. But a little discussion got going about ghostwriting and editing of blogs. Dave thinks it's all okay. Others in the audience are pretty against the whole thing. I was against the whole thing, but I see Dave's point. If you have a business blog and you don't write well, how does that look? What if you just had someone proof a post to make sure it sounds good? Yeah I think that might be okay. This is a post that I hope to get a lot of comments on.
I need to cogitate on this some, because I have a new perspective that I need to work through.
So, why a blog? Three good reasons:
- Simpler to create than a "traditional" website (and it is since I've created tons of them)
- It is so much easier to change a blog around than a website.
- Search engines love blogs because all the posts are pages, all the pages are linked, and this creates a resource of content and links to other websites (psst, if you haven't figured it out, you need to link to people when you blog)
Sure, Steve's talk was a "preaching to the choir" for me, but he did a great job of it.
Tags: blog advantage
Umm, tough one to blog here. Dave and Steve are showing how to set up a blog with Typepad. Personally, and this isn't just because this is a Blogware-powered blog or that Blogware sponsors my blog, I don't like Typepad. Never have. I don't like the page rebuild thing making template changes. I don't like the process you need to go through to make changes. So sue me. Blogware, even with its pros and cons, I think is better.
So ... some of the considerations they are talking about that are generally important are:
- choosing the name of your blog
- choosing the URL of the blog
For both of these, think keywords. Think search engines. For the URL I highly recommend using your domain (like blog.larixconsulting.com or blog.qumana.com) for your blog. Blogware makes this supremely easy, and much easier that Typepad. I've done it on both, and Blogware wins hands down.
Navigation on the right is better ... so two column right is better than two column left. Wow this is actually cool. I've always gone for three columns (nav, content, nav) ... now maybe I'll go for content, nav, nav. Awesome tip Dave!
Back during the days of the dot-com bubble, the quality and quantity of swag available at conferences was nothing short of amazing; I'd often have to buy a cheap duffel bag in order to haul the promotional booty, which I then gave as gifts to my co-workers. Here at the Ajax Experience, I'm feeling deja vu -- while the "exhibit hall" outside the sessions is occupied by only a handful of vendors, the swag and prizes available from both them and the conference organizers is impressive.
One big surprise is AOL's table. Ever since The September That Never Ended, AOL has had a pretty bad rep among the developer set. In the meantime, other "portal" players -- Google, MSN and Yahoo! as well as portal-like entities such as Amazon and eBay -- have been boosting both traffic and developer love by becoming programmable by providing APIs, through which specialized sites and mash-ups can be built. What, you might ask, is AOL doing here?
It turns out that they're here to woo the developer community and promote their developer site, dev.aol.com and their APIs and encouraging developers to use AOL services for their mash-ups. They've been surprising a lot of developers (myself included) by opening their pitch with "Did you know that MapQuest is an AOL property?"
They realize that they're late to the party, so they've gone to some trouble to make sure that their swag is good. They've created a series of "mash-up" t-shirts, like the "Geek" one I'm showing in the photo below:
There are 6 shirts in the set. They're called "mash-up" shirts because you and your friends can wear different ones and rearrange yourselves -- that's the "mash-up" -- to form cute nerdy catchphrases. They've been very popular; people have been lining up for them here. Here's the set:
Some of these shirts may seem weird out of context: "Garden" will make people think you're into horticulture, and wearing the "unwalled" may convince people that you're either homeless or have poor impulse control.
Also on their table: USB cable extension cords, developer-friendly stickers (I found the Unix-hacker-friendly
chmod 777 aol sticker amusing), quick reference sheets and a postcard announcing a contest for the best mash-up using AOL APIs. They've also included an AOL-branded sprial-bound notebook in the knapsack given to every attendee (I'll cover the knapsack's contents in a later entry).
AOL's going to have a long, tough climb towards respectability, but they seem to be working hard at it.
Dave focused his keynote on his concept of "findability". Findability is, in a nutshell, is making sure people find you and not your competitor when searching.
Because this is the Blog Business Summit Dave highlights how well blogs do as authoritative sources on topics. Now, authority is an interesting concept here. Dave, Jim Turner and I were talking about authority when Dave finished and I came up with the term of computational authority. Computational authority is when Google ranks your content about any topic highly because according to Google your site has "authority".
Dave could be stepping into dangerous ground when he said ... a blog is just a tool. I'd call him out on this, but I agree with him. A blog is just a publishing tool. The act of blogging is the act of writing.
While he said that there are things that you should do (like comments, replying to comments, etc) but you don't have to to be considered a blog. Okay we can let the flaming begin.
Dave did touch on the whole pay-per-post debate. That's going to be a fun debate for later.
The sponsored blog. While you might think these are a controversial no-no, in reality they are a great way to get your business blog going with less pain and effort. Steve and Teresa went through two case studies, InFlightHQ (which was started right after BBS05 I (January) and the new blog Big Business Jet (which I am contributing to as well).
A sponsored blog is a great choice for a company that might not have the technical resources to blog or have an existing in-house blogger or if are in an industry where blogging directly might not be a good idea (pharma maybe).
Steve and Teresa had a pretty short session, it is 8 AM after all, and went through the benefits like increased Google Pagerank, search engine listings, and maybe best of all, getting your company associated with expert opinion on your industry.
Personally I'm a big fan of the sponsored blog. It can be mocked up for a client relatively quickly, set up quickly from the prototype. Hiring a few bloggers and techies to do this will cost you some up front money, but it will pay off.
Maybe I'm getting old, but trying to catch all the interesting stuff at the Ajax Experience conference feels like running a marathon. The conference is packed with sessions and other activities; days 1 and 2 each have 12 or more hours in their schedule. Here's my first report, covering the opening keynote.
After a nice breakfast -- kudos to the organizers for going above and beyond the standard "continental" and throwing in some eggs, sausages, bacon and home fries -- the conference began in earnest with a quick "welcome" keynote by the Ajaxians, Ben Galbraith and Dion Almaer.
I imagine that for the organizers of a conference, doing a keynote has got to be physically trying. They usually have had very little sleep the night before, what with the last-minute preparations and things that always arise before the start of a conference. As a result, opening speeches by conference organizers are fairly lackluster -- but this one wasn't! Instead, we got a lively, funny, well-rehearsed start to the conference.
In addition to the typical bits of information about the conference, Ben and Dion gave an Ajax "state of the union address", in which they shared their thoughts about the current state of Ajax.
"Everything old is new again," they said. It's true -- the technical prerequisites for Ajax have been around since Microsoft introduced XHR (that's the popular shorthand for XMLHttpRequest, the browser technology that makes Ajax possible) into Internet Explorer in 1997. Being a browser-specific feature, it wasn't used by many developers. Even when XHR was finally implemented in Mozilla-based browsers in 2002, it wasn't one of the features that was touted inthe press release. We'll have to assign bonus cool points to Brent Ashley, who figured out that there might be some very interesting uses for XHR before the wave of applications like GMail, Google Maps and Oddpost led Jesse James Garrett to coin the buzzword after which this conference is named.
Many user interface specialists have eschewed web development in favour of building so-called "fat clients" because of the severe constraints imposed by working within the browser. These constraints had a silver lining; Ben and Dion pointed to a quote by Marissa Mayer (Google's VP of Search Products and User Experience) in BusinessWeek:
Creativity is often misunderstood. People often think of it in terms of artistic work -- unbridled, unguided effort that leads to beautiful effect. If you look deeper, however, you'll find that some of the most inspiring art forms -- haikus, sonatas, religious paintings -- are fraught with constraints. They're beautiful because creativity triumphed over the rules. Constraints shape and focus problems, and provide clear challenges to overcome as well as inspiration. Creativity, in fact, thrives best when constrained.
As for whether our current constraints will be loosened, Ben and Dion don't think that will happen any time soon. Although IE7 fixes some problems, it runs only on Windows XP and later versions of Windows; Ben and Dion said that "IE6 will always be with us". There are some interesting developments with SVG and Canvas, but these have only been implemented in Firefox and Safari. As for things like Flash or Microsoft's "Flash-killer", WPF/E, time will tell.
Stressing that the Ajax Experience is about the User Experience, Ben and Dion talked about the introduction of a design track to the conference and also encouraged people to attend the accessibility presentations.
It was a well-done opening keynote, and it set the stage for a very busy, very informative day 1 at the Ajax Experience. Well done, guys.
My friend Amy Gahran is doing an actual conference blog and has some great tips for how to use a blog for a conference. When I started to write this post I was reminded of Josh Hallet's post on how to actually to conference blog. Since there will only be one of me, I think I'll just have to do my best at covering as much as I can.
Here are Amy's 10 tips for using a conference blog:
10 WAYS TO USE A CONFERENCE BLOG:
You can follow the SEJ conference on the unofficial conference blog.
- Covering conference sessions and events,
- Personal impressions and observations.
- Handouts and online resources.
- Extending discussion.
- Personal tales.
- Video and audio.
- Tracking coverage.
- Setting the stage for in-person discussion.
- Followup. ?
Tags: conference blogging
I didn't know quite how to sum this up in the title, but with a little more space in the post I can do better. Blog Business Summit starts on Wednesday, the fun actually starts on Tuesday when a bunch of us speakers and folks are going out to dinner together (always a blog-able moment or two there). As I'm covering the conference next week, I'd like to know what kind of posts you'd like to see. When I conference blog I typically write three kinds of posts. First is the live post. I write and post and update as the talk goes on. Might be interesting if you want to hang out on this blog and refresh every couple of minutes. The second is writing during the whole talk, but not posting until the talk is done. The third is the end of the day wrap up post. Something that recaps the whole day and maybe finds a common thread or two in the whole day. Whether you like it or not you're getting the third kind. That's just part of good conference blogging. For each session ... I'm leaning towards the second type, unless there is some amazing breaking news that I just want to scoop before anyone else.
How's that sound to you?
From Sunday afternoon until Wednesday night, I'll be reporting from The Ajax Experience in Boston, the premier gathering of developers interested in building Ajax-ified web applications.
Take a look at the conference schedule. Content-wise, it's pretty meaty (six tracks!) and seems to offer something for Ajax developers of all levels. It's also pretty intense, with Monday's and Tuesday's sessions running until 6:45 and evening panel discussions running until 9 p.m.. I don't think I've seen a schedule this hardcore since the Ruby on Rails conference back in June.
Over the next couple of days, I'll be posting my general impressions and detailed notes and photos from the sessions I attend. I'll also be incorporating my notes into an internal training session at Tucows.
I have to tip my hat to Brent Ashley, local developer and longtime friend of Tucows. He's a presenter at the conference and as such, was entitled to two freebie passes, one of which he gave to me. He'll be doing a talk on alternate transport mechanisms, which I will attend.
After the jump, I've got a table of the sessions I'm considering attending. If you've got any suggestions or recommendations, let me know what you think in the comments.
I don't think I have my own category yet, but I'm Tris Hussey and I will be covering the Blog Business Summit next week for the Tucows blog. So while Joey and crew will be at other conferences of cool-geekiness, I'll be in lovely Seattle covering all the sessions I can (there are some dual track sessions) and recording some podcasts as well with speakers and attendees. I myself am I speaker and will be talking about audience measurement and RSS metrics. I'm certainly going to make it interesting, in my usual style ... Joey has heard me speak so he can vouch for me.
Blog Business Summit was the first of its kind—a conference geared towards the business blogger. Those already doing it to those who want to get started. The speakers at next week's conference (the third BBS) are the cream of the crop. Some of the best minds on the blogosphere like Dave Taylor, Robert Scoble, Tara Hunt, Jason Calcanis and others. There is still time to register if you want to go ... and if you're interested in business blogging, you really should think about it. For the first time I'll be at the pre-conference workshops on blogging (covering those for your too) ... and those should be just awesome. Oh and I'll probably sneak in some pictures and posts from dinners and such. Why? Because that's where the really good discussions happen.
Your next question will be then, just who is this guy. I've been a blogger for over two years now (seems like forever) and my primary blog (sponsored by Blogware, btw) is A View from the Isle where I cover news about tech, the blogosphere, and other stuff that I feel like writing about. Now, being a blogger I couldn't just stop there. I write for several other blogs including:
- The Qumana blog (Qumana is my primary employer)
- Qumana Investor Blog
- Business Blog Consulting
- Blog Business Summit
- The Homely Scientist (one of my B5media blogs)
- PimpYourWork (a B5 blog I write with three other folks ... it's not officially launched, so it doesn't have a spiffy B5 template, but the content is still great)
- Daddy Wears Slippers to Work. The blog for the book I'm writing about telework.
I think that about does it. Yes, all those blogs do keep me rather busy.