Archive for the 'publishing + content' Category

New WordPress Site – but I’m out of practice

I’ve been blogging since February 2002. At the time, I used PHPNuke to power my first blog: englers.org.

In 2002, I found WordPress, and launched inluminent.com, as a blog that was seperate and distinct from my family blog.

Over the next few years, I had a decent amount of free time, and didn’t have kids, so I could spend a lot of time learning more about WordPress, themes and plugins, keep my PHP skillz honed, etc…

Then I “grew up” and started running departments, divisions, or companies for other people, and got paid really well, but I never got to spend time with WordPress anymore.

Thus, inluminent is still using the “K2″ theme, englers.org is using one of the original themes that shipped with WordPress back in 2002, and StuffGeeksWant is running a theme that’s not very customized… AParatroopersFaith.com at least has ads on it, but the design leaves little to inspire people, because I’ve been so busy with “other stuff”.

So, I’m launching a new site today: AggieCampusology.com for Aggies everywhere to find and hopefully enjoy reading stories from other Aggies about their memories from their student years, or jog their memory about an old Campo they can’t quite remember…

But, I’m stuck on the “themes and plugins” that I should use, and how to customize them.

I’ll have to research those two things pretty well over the next couple of weeks, and maybe even take what I learn and upgrade all of my WordPress sites, to bring them into 2011…

Where should I start?

12 Important U.S. Laws Every Blogger Needs to Know

12 Important U.S. Laws Every Blogger Needs to Know

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Are Spammers Spoofing Your Newsletter?

Neil Schwartzman of Return Path just posted this article: Are Spammers Spoofing Your Newsletter?. If you’re a publisher, and you send out email, definitely read that article… very insightful… and anyone with a domain should go through the trouble of setting up their SPF headers… please.

Blurb

Blurb – great way to produce a slick looking book.

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Running an Ethical Ad Business

Running an Ethical Ad Business – Great post by Angie McKaig, and a good personal story from “the trenches” of a small publisher. Keep at it Angie!

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5 Ways to Building a Better Blog

5 Ways to Building a Better Blog – Good tips if you think you need them.

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CAN-SPAM

My new job deals with email and CAN-SPAM, so I need to become an expert on CAN-SPAM pretty quickly. If you want to read the law, as I do, here’s a link to a page where you can find the actual act, a summary of the law, and here’s another page with a good overview of the law.

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Adsense Tools

Top 10 Adsense Tools – cool overlooked AdSense tools

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ClickTracks – Free Analytics

ClickTracks – free web analytics

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Apple vs. Me

Apple vs. Me – from Jason O’Grady: “This case is not about me, it’s not about Apple and it’s not about the technology industry. It’s about the First Amendment.”

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I love Rocketboom

After spending greater than 5 hours on a plane today, I gotta say this:

I LOVE ROCKETBOOM!

Yes. I do.

I started watching Rocketboom very infrequently about a year ago, then I bought an iPod Video (after losing my iPod nano) and that made it easy to watch videos when I was on the road traveling.

Right now, I’ve got a good 30 episodes of Rocketboom in iTunes that hadn’t been watched as of this morning… but I’ve watched 10 or so of them on my flights… love it, love it, love it. (I really only watch Rocketboom, or listen to podcasts in general for that matter, when I’m on a flight or in the car for longer than 5 minutes – no I don’t drive and watch Rocketboom on my iPod at the same time)

Thanks Amanda and Peter. Keep it up!

Oh, and I loved the TRM advertisements you made… very cool and fun. Think they’d sell me one? Who do I call? I need an ATM for the kitchen… I’ll put it right next to the microwave.

Love it when you use the word “verily” makes me think of Emily Bronte.

Well Designed URLs

Well Designed URLs are Beautiful! – totally agreed.

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Podcast Quality Matters

This morning, I got up at 5:00 a.m. to drive to Dallas to call on two clients. It’s a 3 hour drive from Austin to Dallas, so last night, I made sure the iPod was loaded up with plenty of podcasts so I wouldn’t have to deal with the contant radio station changing that’s required on a cross-country trip of more than about 50 miles.

One of the podcast series I was really interested in listening to was Scott Johnson’s Tech War Stories. Scott, you need to read this feedback. Realize I truly consider Scott one of those guys that I truly like, and none of this is meant to be a personal attack, but Scott, I’m about to quit listening to your podcasts for a few reasons, and that’s really a shame, because I think your content is excellent, but your presentation is killing it.

To be fair, I believe Content is King, and crappy presentation can be overcome with killer content usually, but podcasts have come a long way from Dave and Adam’s first Skype based chats of a year ago, and I expect more from my podcasts.

If you’re producing a podcast, realize you’re competing with NPR, ABC, and other really great professionally produced podcasts. You’re also competing with lots of really great non-professional podcasts like BabyTime, which comes off as being pretty professional.

So, here are my pocaster commandments (and no, I don’t produce my own podcast, but I’m an avid consumer):

1. Speak into the microphone. All the time. If you’re recording a ten minute segment: take the ten minutes it takes to record your content, and put the damned microphone in front of your mouth while you’re talking. If you need to take a break, take a break, then come back to the recording. You can use iMovie to do your recording, if you want. It’ll export a video-less MP3, believe it or not.

2. Don’t cough into the microphone or shuffle papers in front of the mic, or set a cup down on the desk, or suck juice through a staw, or slurp the last of your drink… DON’T DO THIS RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE MICROPHONE!

In the car tonight, I was listening to podcast upon podcast and Scott, you’re going to blow my speakers… first it’s low volume from your voice a few times, because the microphone’s too far from your mouth, then, it was cough, cough, really loud, or papers being shuffled right in front of the mic… and I had the volume quite loud.

3. Check the levels on your podcast. Listen to your podcast, at least the first 15 seconds before you publish it. Do this, every time… why? Because you’ll notice the loud blip at the beginning of some of your recordings and you’ll be able to edit it out. You’ll also notice the low-voice volume, and you can fix it. You might even pick up the back ground noise, and decide the recording needs to be redone.

4. Lose the “okay… right?” This is a common public speaking pet peave of mine. Honestly, I’m really proud of you that you don’t say “ummm”, but, after 3 hours of Scott Johnson, I can qualitatively immitate his “okay” and “right?” perfectly… and oh, man, is this not the way you want to sound Scott. Scott’s vocabulary and content will show you how damned fucking smart he is, then he’ll clouds it by interjecting that “okay” every third word for 15-20 second periods at a time.

5, 6, 7, and 8. EDIT THY PODCASTS. Honestly, editing your podcasts will take care of all of these problems, and you’ll come across as soooo much more credible. I’ll go back to “Content is King” and say right now that all of the Tech War Stories podcasts have excellent content… well all of them except that News River Aggregator one (you forgot to plug inluminent Scott ;))… but I digress. I also realize you’re busy, and you’re multi-tasking, and that you’re building a company. I get it. Edit. Edit. Edit. It’ll take you twice as long to do a podcast, because you’ll have to listen to it all again, but that’ll also make them a much much better product.

9. Put some sound proofing in your office. Get something to break up the flat walls around you, and maybe your ceiling, to deaden the slight echos in some of the recording sessions. I actually enjoy the multi-task podcasts you’ve done while driving in the car, or while cooking the family lunch… that shows me your dedication. Do some of that, but then edit it down, and I think you’ll get a much better podcast.

10. Add an intro and outtro. Since you’re going to start editing your podcasts, record a standard intro and outtro for the podcasts. The Intro might include a snippet of your favorite piece of music, with a voice-over introduction. (I’m really tired of hearing how much you hate your radio voice). Get someone else to produce an introduction… it’ll sound better, then just start talking. An outtro idea could be something like a standard “thank you for listening” message with a plug for your URLs: Fuzzyblog.com, Ookles.com, Ookles.wordpress.com, etc… and maybe some other contact information, if you think it’s important for people to be able to contact you right after listening to a podcast (I wanted to call you but had the wrong number in my cell phone while I was driving).

So, don’t take this criticism harshly Scott. Take it as constructive criticism, please.

Overall: Excellent fucking content. Excellent. I’ve learned a hell of a lot from listening to your podcasts. I love the content. I love the long/short formats… you never seem to talk too much or too little, it’s always just right. Take the production up a notch, and I think you’ll really have something you can be proud of when you look back on them in the future.

Anyone else have any tips for Scott?

updated: I have to take a moment to compliment Scott after taking him to task here. It takes big brassy balls to throw your shit out into the wild, and that’s what Scott is doing with his podcast. I applaud him greatly for that… hoping to help him learn… and yes, Scott, you’re the one that said to pick a fight in one of your podcasts so I’m eating your dogfood a little here!

What do newspapers do???

What do newspapers do???? – Wake up newspapers. This is your wake up call.

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Blogtimize!

Blogtimize! – from Google. Look for mass change on blogs as far as ad placement over the next week or two… here included probably.

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Need Representation?

If you’re building or launching a new website, and want someone to sell the ads for you (that is, to represent your site) you might want to look at this list: ABC’s of ad networks. Not 100% comprehensive by anymeans (there are plenty of niche networks out there like Active Athlete Media and the Travel Ad Network – just two good examples) but it’s a good list to start with.

160 Highest Paying Search Terms

160 Highest Paying Search Terms – good list.

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Deconstructnig the Newspaper

Deconstructnig the Newspaper – yes, yes, and more yes. Newspapers should really think about the way they operate their businesses if they want to be relevant in the next 10 years.

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TexasGigs.com relaunched

this one is for CindyIn case you’re living under a rock, I need to point you to the relaunch of TexasGigs.com as part of Pegasus News. Why is this important you might ask?

Well, because quite honestly TexasGigs has been the most important band/music site in North Texas for the past 2-3 years, and it was really just a great niche weblog run by one woman: Cindy Chafin.

Cindy’s a smart cookie and when my friend Mike Orren started talking to her about putting TexasGigs on the map by making it part of Pegasus News, well, I guess she just couldn’t resist…

The combination of Cindy + Pegasus now makes TexasGigs a full blown music, media, news, and venue site, all catering to Texas and Texas music (that’s not a genre folks, it’s a way of life) that you can use to find who’s playing tonight, where, when and why you should be there, not just Cindy’s top picks (though those are always worth paying attention to!)

I first ‘met’ Cindy back when she linked to inluminent in 2003, and we exchanged a few emails, remarking how we were both really enjoying learning about website marketing, and the like. I also remember something about her owning a really kick ass looking luxury campground that I still need to check out one weekend.

It’s really really nice to see Mike and the rest of the team at Pegasus News powering TexasGigs.com now… and I just love how easy it is to find what’s happening on New Year’s Eve in Dallas. We’ll be there ringing in the New Year, and I can’t decide between Jack Ingram and Kevin Fowler… which one should we try to get tickets to?

Good luck getting that next round of funding Mike… I can’t wait for Pegasus News to lauch in full!

11 Techniques to Increase Page Views on Your Blog

11 Techniques to Increase Page Views on Your Blog

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Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization

Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization

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Newspaper Survival Recipe

A Recipe for Newspaper Survival in the Internet Age – a must read.

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Startup kit

Nick Denton: Startup kit – a good list of stuff that you might need/want if you’re building a start up, but keep in mind that Denton has contacts that got him some of what he got for below list prices… so you might have to shop around for some of the more commercial solutions he recommends…

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Urchin is Free

Google: Start acting like a real business or you’re doomed – I’ve sort of wondered all day what sort of impact Google’s announcement about making Urchin free would have… this is one example of what that reaction looks like… I also think that you have to remember: You get what you pay for. So if free analytics is your bag, don’t go looking for it to do more than give you free analytics…

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Press Paid to Write Good News

Press Paid to Write Good News – This is preposterous. And really, really sad.

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Something Rotten in AdSense

Something Rotten in AdSense

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Budding Film Maker?

Here are a few links to good resources for the budding film maker:

RonDexter.com – no nonsense answers to questions about film making
The Complete EEJIT’S Guide to Film Making
No Budget Video – the making of…
Beginners Guide To Digital Video Production

Seen originally here: http://www.andyt13.com/movies.htm

How to Buy RSS Advertising

How to Buy RSS Advertising: Parts I and II.

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Close to Home

I just spent an hour watching the pilot episode of Close to Home on CBS, and I’ve gotta say “wow!”

The CBS website is sadly lacking in any detail about the show, and future episodes, which is sort of sad, but, the show totally rocks. It’s a crime drama about a new-mom/lawyer and how she deals with the cases that she’s given while also balancing her new-mom status with her profession… which totally appeals to me.

Close to HomeFrom the CBS website:

CLOSE TO HOME is a legal drama that tears away the facade of suburbia to reveal that sometimes quiet and tranquil streets can hide the darkest of crimes. Annabeth Chase (Jennifer Finnigan) is a young, aggressive prosecutor with a perfect conviction record who tries the cases that come out of her own neighborhood. Returning to work after having her first child, Annabeth is ready to take on the most difficult cases, fueled by her passion to protect her community and her family. Challenging Annabeth’s legal strategies is her new boss, Maureen Scofield (Kimberly Elise), a no-nonsense lawyer not afraid to push her hard. Leading the team is Steve Sharpe (John Carroll Lynch), who is one of Annabeth’s biggest supporters but is concerned about how her cases will play in the media. Annabeth’s husband, Jack (Christian Kane), is devoted to their family and is a rock for her to lean on when the challenges of her job start to infringe on their home life.

If you enjoy legal dramas, ie. CSI, Cold Case, etc…, and have a new baby in the family, or are expecting one, I’d totally recommend you watch the next episode… I’m programming our DVR to record the series right now. Too bad it has to compete with Boston Legal for viewers… I’d really like to see it succeed in the future.

It definitely hits “close to home” for this family.

Customer Expectations

Jay Small writes about how hard it can be to exceed customer expectations when you’re trying to reset them.

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Google is an advertising company

John Gruber: Google is an advertising company

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Loft News

My friend, Drew Moynihan launched a new website this week: Loftywords.com. Loftywords.com is a website that’ll follow the loft industry and the loft lifestyle as it progresses across the country…

Congrts to Drew in his new endeavor… pretty cool that he’s hanging his own shingle out there again, and I wish him the best of luck.

If you’re interested in the development of the loft industry, as an investor, or a resident, look at Loftywords.com.

Craig’s List … it’s only a matter of time

Newspapers are in for a world of hurt when newspaper readers find out about Craig’s List

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Online Advertising woes

Combine this with this and I think you can start to see a patern. At some level the current non-transparent data collection process is an issue for online advertising market.

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searching through newspapers – online

Performing searches for information today is still a mess. Sure, Google is a great start-point for general information. Yahoo does a great job of giving us search results for commercial queries as well, but pinpointing information about a small company, or the history of a company is generally a tough proposition.

I blame this on the multitude of newspaper companies out there that aren’t listening to their readers needs.

Take this example:

I’m flying to Salt Lake City next week to visit a client… but I’m new to my company, and this relationship, so I don’t have a whole lot of history on this client.

So, I visit their website, to try to learn more about them prior to visiting them. Since they’re a private company, I’m pretty much stuck with reading their Press Releases, which are 95% PR and 5% information. The Press Releases talk about data soft-information… nothing hard about the management of this company, their business needs and goals, or their past success or failures (Contrast that with a public company who at least has to release financial data once a quarter, usually with guidance as well – which can sometimes help you learn more about their business goals in a quick and easy manner).

Strike one.

So, I go to Google and search various different ways to try and find some historical information on this company… I find plenty of references to them online, but in a quick cursory glance (10 – 15 minutes of searching), I don’t find a lot of useful information that anwers my needs.

Strike two.

But, I did find a link to an article that was published by the local newspaper in their city, so I click on that link.

Crap, it’s one of those newspapers that disables pages on their website that are older than 7 days, and moves that content off to an “archive data” provider. So, I’m presented with a “That page has been archived, please search here for that story in our archives” page.

So, I search. And, sure enough there aren’t any articles from the past 7 days with the company name I’m looking for. Then I realize that I just searched through the “free – past 7 days” archive, not through their more extensive paid archive.

So, I search in that search box — and nothing. The search box doesn’t work in Firefox.

Crap, so I fire up Internet Explorer, copy the URL, and search again and I find an except of the story I want to read. Cool, now I’m getting somewhere. I click on that URL. I’m asked to login as a registered user. Ok, I dig it, I’m paying for this article, so I’m happy to register. But, I don’t have a lot of time today, and since I’ve spent 30 minutes at this process already, and I have another meeting in an hour that I really need to prepare for while I eat lunch, I’ll table this until tomorrow, or tonight when I’m at the airport, and we’ll see if I can’t find some more information from a free source, before I go back to paying for the article.

I really wish newspapers did a better job of serving up their valuable content to me through search engines.

What should have happened is that I should have searched Google or Yahoo or whatever, gotten a page that was potentially useful, clicked the link, been told that the article was archived, and that I could pay for access to that article. I should have been able to click on a link from that page that took me straight through the “purchase” process, and to the article I wanted.

I’d pay $5 or $10 for that article (today) if it worked that seamlessly and didn’t take that much time.

I paid $4 to have a librarian at the Houston library find a copy of my father’s obituary from 1989 in their microfiche, make a copy of it, and mail it to me. She said she’d try to find it, when I placed the order over the phone with her, and if she didn’t find it she’d call me back to ask more questions about where it might be found (I knew the date of publication and the page it was printed on from the Houston Chronicle’s archive search – they don’t have those old papers available online today). She also said if she couldn’t find it, there’d be no charge. Why can’t I do that online? Her attention to my needs and service quality was worth much more than $4 (I called a week later and donated $100 to their charity support fund because I was so pleased with her service).

Ugh… Searching for information on newspaper’s websites is still a pain today (it’s 2005 people – get with the program). And this one newspaper’s website is the norm, not the exception. I wish they’d all do a better job of it.

Google AdSense TOS changes

A good run down of the latest Google AdSense TOS changes.

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Communication Nation

Communication Nation from the founder of XPlane. Gotta spend more time reading this latter.

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AGAR – Amazon Replacement Ads for Adsense

Wanna make sure that an add shows up on your site when Google’s Adsense can’t deliver an ad? Want it to look similar, and deliver results for you?

Use AGAR.

Cool.

It’s RadioTime

Prompted by my buddy Josh’s latest lament on the failings of Podcasting (and radio in Austin, for him), I figured I’d write up my feelings about Podcasting, and a cool little tool I’ve found that I think will help my iPod serve me better.

I too don’t really listen to many Podcasts for very long, primarily because most of them are pretty shodily produced.

I’ve tried listening to the ones that I think will hold my interest, but I can’t get past the poor recording quality or the utter lack of a script for the personalities creating the podcast. It just doesn’t cut it.

There are three podcasts that I subscribe to, that I haven’t deleted:

CNN’s Marketplace Update
The World’s Technology Podcast with Clark Boyd (from NPR)
On the Media (from NPR)

I also just subscribed to the President’s Weekly Radio Address (because I never listen to the radio on Sundays, and think that it’d be interesting to listen to).

As you can see, I like to listen to really well produced podcasts, primarily, with the goal of learning something new. I’d love to also listen to new comedy oriented podcasts, if I had the time to investigate them to find the good ones.

In the meantime, I’m left waiting for a podcast of some of my favoriate radio programs, like “A Prairie Home Companion” which doesn’t offer a podcast, or paying for Rush Limbaugh’s podcast (which seems more than a little silly to me).

Or am I?

Enter RadioTime. RadioTime is a little application that runs on your computer (Mac or PC) that records internet audio streams for you, turns them into MP3s, and puts them in iTunes, ready to be snyced with your iPod.

Just yesterday, I captured 3 hours of Rush Limbaugh, that I’m listening to right now. This Sunday, I’ll get my first A Prarie Home Companion podcast. I’m loving it. While this isn’t “Podcasting” perse, my iPod just got a whole lot more useful.

Hat tip to Mike Orren for pointing the way to RadioTime for me.

updated on 8/21: Just bought my first year’s subscription to RadioTime… loving it so far.

SimpleViewer

I found an opensource/free flash based image viewer application today that I totally dig:

SimpleViewer

I may use it to build a few special galleries in the future instead of PhotoStack, which powers my main photo gallery needs at englers.org.

The Long Tail…

I’ve read a lot about the long tail, but nothing as well written on the revenue opportunities of the long tail, as this piece written by Omar Tawakol.

These couple of comments:

“The trick is that their business models allow them to make money on the diversity of interests by aggregating sales, not by averaging out interests.”

and

“The same dynamic works for the benefit of publishers. Publishers would make just as much money selling their top few audience segments as they would if they could aggregate many of their niche segments.”

Are pretty enlightening. I didn’t think about it, but he’s write. A lot of the success of some of the biggest online-only operations is due to their ability to serve all users needs and interests by aggregating those interests instead of averaging out those interests…

Multiple Google AdSense ads on a page

Anyone know how to get multiple Google ads on one page to display properly?

update: Ok, nevermind, I figured it out. I had a problem with my PHP code that was causing more than 3 Adsense ads to be written to the page, so I fixed that, then waited a few minutes to see the code take hold… all is good now.

Yes, I’ve added more Google Adsense ads to the pages, hopefully to drive a little more revenue.

I used to earn around $150/month from this site, but since I moved servers and changed my url schema, that’s gone way down… like 1/3 of that or so, so in the mean-time (while Google recrawls the site I guess) I’ve added more ads to the pages… Shouldn’t affect regular readers too much, as the new ads are further down on the page, but new readers, or people coming in from search engines will have more ads presented to them… hopefully driving more revenue for me in the short-term.

Marketwatch Bought

Big news in the web world folks:

Dow Jones to buy MarketWatch for $520M

“Joining Dow Jones is a great next step for MarketWatch,” Larry Kramer, chairman and chief executive officer of MarketWatch, said in a statement. “Being part of one of theŻmost respected media conglomerates in the world gives us a terrific platform to grow our business and compete with the largest media companies. By combining Dow Jones’ legendary brands, infrastructure and valuable strategic alliances with MarketWatch’s award-winning newsroom and comprehensive suite of business and analytical tools, this transaction supports our mission to be the market leader in licensed and advertising supported financial news and information.”

Peter R. Kann, chairman and CEO of Dow Jones, said, “We welcome our new MarketWatch colleagues with great admiration for the success they have achieved and high anticipation of what we can achieve together to benefit our readers and our customers.”

Dow Jones historically has not been focused on the ad-sales supported Internet business. Its major assets include the Wall Street Journal and the subscription Web site WSJ.com, Barron’s magazine and Barron’s online, the Dow Jones Newswires and Ottaway Community Newspapers.

Glad to hear that Dow Jones won the bidding… it’s a perfect match, in my opinion. I hope they can integrate WSJ.com and Marketwatch.com well.

Defining Yield Management

At the office, I’m having to define “Yield Management” as a business model.

I found a few good resources on the web by searching Google, and this Google Answer was a big help.

I found a lot of different definintions, and this is the simplest one I could find:

Yield Management is extracting the maximum amount of revenue from a fixed quantity of perishable goods and/or services.

These other definitions weren’t bad, and I want to remember them as well:

Yield Management – A pricing model that aims to maximize the yield to the seller by charging buyers different prices according to the value they place on the purchase. Also known as Value Pricing. This is common in airline ticket pricing as business travelers have less elastic demand for tickets than leisure travelers and hence will pay higher prices for the same ticket.

Yield Management – Based on real-time demand forecasting by market micro-segment and an optimization model, Yield Management (also known as “Revenue Management” or “Real-time pricing”) is an economic technique to calculate the best pricing policy for optimizing profits generated by the sale of a product or service, based on real-time modeling and forecasting of demand behavior per market micro-segment.

Academic Definition:
“systems & procedures to maximize results from the sale of a product or service in more or less fixed supply whose revenue producing ability diminishes with time.” Dr. Warren Lieberman of Veritech Solutions Inc.

Conceptual Definition:
“Revenue Management is the art and science of predicting real-time customer demand at the micromarket level and optmizing the price and availability of products.” — Robert G. Cross, Author of “Revenue Management – Hard-Core Tactics for Market Domination”

Simple Definition:
Revenue Management means selling the right advertising space to the right advertiser at the right time for the right price and the right length of time.

In my mind, yield management is an important concept in sales of a limited inventory of products, and should be practiced if you sell anything that’s limited in availability. Others, such as American Airlines, have proved that yield management can greatly contribute to the bottom line of an organization. (Yield management earned them $1.4 Billion between 1989 and 1991) when they pioneered the technology.

Yield management techniques in pricing online advertising space can greatly increase the profits of online publishers by creativing demand, sustaining value, and growing profit, if applied correctly.

Where’d BugMeNot.com Go?

Has anyone seen BugMeNot.com? Adrian wrote about it a month ago, so I know I’m not dreaming that it existed. I even used it to get into a few registration-only websites, but it totally disappeared a couple of days ago, and now looks like this:

Any thoughts on what’s up?

RSS Feed Overload

I’ve got a lot of RSS feeds (518) in NetNewsWire. I’ve got so many RSS feeds in NNW that it’s made reading RSS feeds unbearable lately… you see, I only open NNW once a day (usually around 10:00 at night) and try to read all of my feeds before I doze off at night… but, I’ve got so many feeds in NNW right now, that it’s just not fun anymore, and I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by all of the stuff I have to read each night.

It’s gotten so bad that I’m just not reading most of the stuff anymore, just skimming the headlines and skipping ahead to the next feed, ad nauseum…

I’ve stayed subscribed to a lot of RSS feeds because I guess I’ve felt that I might miss something if I don’t keep them in my aggregator, that I might miss something… but this past week, I realized that there’s no reason to have 1900 unread items in your aggregator, if you’re never going to actually read them.

So, this week, I’ll be cleaning out RSS feeds that I’m no longer reading… this will likely include a lot of the “a-list” bloggers that I just don’t feel like I connect with directly.

I do however have a solution that’ll make sure I don’t miss out on anything that should interest me from those folks: I’ve set up a good 10 or so keyword search feeds from Feedster.com, so, if something does get posted by one of the blogs or other RSS feeds I currently have subscribed, I won’t miss anything after I unsubscribe from those feeds. I’m also staying subscribed to Scoble’s aggregator-feed, as he’ll likely catch the important stuff for me. (Thanks Robert, in advance for that feed).

Hopefully, this simplification of my RSS feeds will help me slowly return to more regular postings of my own.

Coolest Header I’ve Seen on a ‘News Site’

This is the coolest web page header design on a ‘news’ website I’ve seen in a long time.

On this page, and doubtless on the rest of the International Herald Tribune web pages, they have this really cool header that is the whole header at the top of the page, but becomes just the useful part (the navigational part — minus the ads) as you scroll down the page.

Just wanted to point out that I think it’s a very cool design.

Quoteblogs follow up

For those not following this issue: I called Scoble’s quoteblog theft. He responded here. Comments followed on his site and mine, and a few other places.

For me, this discussion about full-post quoting on a weblog/aggregator isn’t really about copyright and legality, though I can easily see how the argument can get pushed that way. For me, the argument against full-post quoteblogs is more about ‘the right thing’ to do, just because it’s the right thing to do.

While I never called Robert Scoble’s experimental quoteblog illegal (see Josh Legard’s weblog), I did call it theft. I guess that I inferred it’s illegal, but I should point out that I’m not a lawyer, nor am I personally interested in figuring out what is ‘fair use’ or what is legal with respect to copyright laws. There are plenty of people out there smarter than I am on that subject. I just think that full-post quoteblogs are a bad thing to do, if they’re publicly accessible or spidered by search engines. So, to clarify my position:

I’m against publicly accessible aggregators that post full quotes of the original source material.

That’s what I’m against. Period.

Why?

Russell Beattie does a fantastic job of pointing out the Google connection to quoteblogs that I failed to mention in my first post on this topic. Googlejuice is shared by links. Readers on the web are shared by links. Posting a full-quote of a source, even with attribution and a link, is not sharing… it’s stealing and then trying to smooth it over with a link. Robert saw this point too, and I’m glad Russ pointed it out.

Some of Scoble’s readers agree, some don’t.

Russ also points out another offender: stargeek.com. (I just sent them an email asking them to pull my content off their site too Russ.)

I too get a good amount of posts stolen by stargeek (A lot of people do). Case in point. Stargeek is a commercial website (or at least it has advertising on it, thus it is more commercial than a personal site like Scoble’s Quoteblog). I think it’s utterly wrong for a quasi-commercial venture to repurpose content that they aren’t paying for. It would never fly if stargeek republished magazine articles or other content that someone else had to make a living off of.

Topix is an aggregator, but they don’t re-publish full articles. News.google.com is an aggregator, but they don’t re-publish full articles. Yahoo has a news aggregator service, and they pay for the content they re-publish.

Another reason that I’m against quoteblogs, is because I generally update my weblog posts shortly after I post them to make them clearer, or perhaps to add more links or fix spelling errors after the first time I post them (It’ll probably happen to this post). For example, Scoble has an older version of the post (not by more than an hour or so), than the one I want publicly available. Not much of the actual content is different, but I did fix some spelling mistakes (practice vs. proctice in the first sentence) and add a link or two, and change a few words just for readabilty and clarity’s sake. Should Robery pull the original version down and put up the corrected/current/accurate version?

Sadly, my accusations make Robert want to stop doing his quoteblog, most likely due to legal concerns, which wasn’t my intent. My intent was to get him to change the way he was doing it… to get him to think about posting excerpts instead of full posts on his publicly accessible aggregator…

And, the coolest thing about this whole discussion?

Robert can (soon) continue to point out really cool things to read in a manner that works with his particular workflow, by using an updated version of Kunal’s excellent OutlookMT plugin, so that I can continue to read “the best of Scoble” as one of his commenters called it.

My suggestion to everyone: Follow Scoble’s lead… he’s leading you down the right path…

(Robert, you’ve got my permission to re-post this entire post if you see fit)

And lastly, thanks to Jonathan Greene for bringing this discussion up.

Related: BlogHerald: What do you do when other bloggers steal from you?

Quoteblogs vs. Linkblogs

A few days ago, Jonathan Greene asked about ‘quoting’ as a standard practice. I don’t like the practice of quoting entire posts in a weblog, because it turns the original author’s post into someone else’s post, without any work or effort.

Quoteblogs = Theft

I consider full post quoting without quotes tantamount to theft. Weblogs that do this henceforth shall be knows as Quoteblogs.

I first encountered full post quoting on Don Strickland’s weblog a long time ago (can’t find a good old reference post though). My first reaction to the full quote of one of my posts was thinking that DWS stole my post… lock, stock and barrel. I didn’t know much about weblogging then, and still don’t know Don through more than a few emails (though we both live in Austin and should meet up somewhere down the road). I don’t consider Don a thief, but, in general do feel as if quoting entire articles or posts on the web, even with attribution, is somewhat analogous to theft.

I feel like whole post quoting without commenting is theft because, the original author is potentially left with less readers, and for people new to reading weblogs, they’re left with a sense of ‘who wrote this’.

To be fair to Don, he doesn’t normally lift posts in full, but he does do it. Every once and a while he does the more responsible thing and quotes a small portion of a weblog post and points the reader back to the original source.

Robert Scoble has a quoteblog where he normally lifts entire posts from other weblogs and emails he’s received. The problem with this practice is that the reader might miss the connection between what’s being posted on Scoble’s quoteblog and the original author. Also, Scoble is not giving the original author the benefit of sending readers to the original weblog (or commercial website for that matter).

Could you see me posting a full quote of great articles like this one from decafinated or this article from the NYTimes on my weblog without commenting on them and only with a small attribution at the bottom as a responsible thing to do?

Scoble’s has pointed out before that we should link to people, not to steal from people. Quoting on a ‘aggregator blog’ as Scoble calls his Quoteblog is a good practice for indivudals and teams as a knowledge management feature, but should not be publicly accessible, if that’s what it’s used for, as the end effect is theft.

Responsible Quoting

Doug, over at the SBB, commented on my last post that he sees a place for quoting in weblogs, and I completely agree with him. I quote things all the time, but, I always try to keep my quoting as minimal as possible, and to comment on the thing I’m writing about, so as to add my perspective to the thing I’m quoting and linking to for my audience.

Doug does quoting well on his weblog. This, to me is the best practice to follow, when webloggers want to quote and point to another post or article that they feel should be read by the blogger’s audience.

I feel like established webloggers have a responsibility to set the ‘best practices’ for others that will surely follow in the weblogging world. In that respect, I think Scoble and Don have failed, at times, in the past to responsibly quote posts.

Linkblogs

Linkblogs are the responsible way to point readers to interesting things to read, and are what I’d like to see become the way that responsible bloggers start sending traffic to other writers, especially when they want to link to things, but don’t have time to write full posts, or think of snarky comments to add to something they’d like to quote.

I’ve started my own linkblog, as an example, and am using Movable Type to do it. It’s just another weblog on my standard MT install. I’ve set up the body entry to hold the URL of what I’m linking to, and the Excerpt entry to by my snarky comment on that URL, if I have one. As usual, I’m providing my linkblog templates for free to anyone that wants to steal this idea and the templates.

A real benefit (in my mind) to my readers is that my linkblog is searchable, just like my weblog: search inluminent for ‘coloring’.

In Review

Public Quoteblogs are bad. Examples: Scoble’s Quoteblog

Responsible quoting is good. Example: Small Business Blog, Paul Beard.

Linkblogs are great instead of Quoteblogs. Examples:

Mark’s b-links
Jeremy Zawodny’s linkblog
Here’s a good one from Erik.
And lastly, del.icio.us, is nothing but linkblogs.

Also…

Angie McKaig solves her need to link to others for her readers with her “Assorted Sweets” posts [example].
Decafbad does this with his Quicklinks posts.

Quoting Question

Jonathan Greene asks a good question here:

To Quote or Not to Quote

I’ll respond to his question at some point (not enough time in the day folks) but if you’d like to comment on the question, I think it’d be interesting to see what the rest of the blog community thinks about this question. Also, I don’t technically have a copyright on this blog, and I’m guilty of copying things verbatim (case in point) from other sources when they’re obviously not original works, but in your opinion, what’s the right thing to do here?