Archive for the 'publishing + content' Category

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Advertisers and Readers

Angie McKaig again inspires me with “please stop making my eyes hurt“.

Angie underscores the importance of readers to publishers that support their work with advertising, and she also makes clear the importance of good advertising to readers. Advertising and editorial have to work together on the web more than in any other medium, in my opinion, because there are so many alternatives out there for web users.

Great report Angie.

state of the media

If you’re interested in ‘media’ as a business, then I’d suggest you read this:

State of the Media

I’ll post more on it later after I’ve had a chance to read it all…

Full RSS Feed commentary from Angie

Angie McKaig tackles the Full RSS Feed question. I subscribe to Angie’s full feed, and I think her site has a wonderful design.

I subscribe to her full feed because I’d like to read her site whenever it’s updated, and… I really don’t have the capacity or desire to remember to visit her site every day to see if it’s updated, and… I really like to read everything she writes… but often don’t have time to click-thru to her website from my RSS reader, and then go read her site, then return to my RSS reader to read the rest of the feeds I’m subscribed to…

So, I’m very thankful to Angie for offering her entire feed… and, if you need MT templates to offer your readers multiple feeds, you can steal my RSS templates.

I’d also make a plea that more traditional publishers start publishing RSS feeds, and, if they can include advertising in the feeds (to pay for them) go right ahead, just save me time and I’ll read their content more often.

Niche Publishing – Engadget

Niche publishing really isn’t just for Nick Denton anymore… Peter Rojas, the original blogger behind Gizmodo has broken out of that gig to start Engadget… a competitor to Gizmodo.

Denton still has a leg up (first mover advantage we used to call it) on individuals launching one or two focused sites on their own, as he can aggregate his entire Gawker media property audiences if he wants to for an advertiser, or he can sell the advertising piecemeal… but, folks like Rojas can probably make enough money off their sites short-term to support themselves, and long term to build a living that they enjoy.

Best of luck Peter…

Good Reading from February

A few links from the month:

The Internet is Bigger than Cable

Quoting Jeff Jarvis in full (because the information is that important to me:

The Internet is now bigger than cable, according to eMarketer (via MediaPost and LostRemote).

…eMarketer now estimates U.S. household Internet penetration is about 67.9 percent. That compares with a 65.8 percent U.S. household penetration level for cable, according to an eMarketer analysis of Nielsen Media Research and U.S. Census data.
More significantly, Ramsey noted that while cable TV penetration has essentially been flat at about 66 percent of U.S. households, online penetration continues to expand….
ìWow,î said Jes Santoro, vice president-director of integrated media at Earthquake Media, a media shop that buys traditional and online media, upon learning of the online penetration milestone from MediaDailyNews. ìI think it is very significant. But itís symbolic as well.î
ìItís symbolic because it speaks to peopleís media consumption habits,î he explained. ìThink about cable, you kind of have to have it to have it to get TV reception. Itís almost like a utility. But with the Internet, people go out and get it because they want to use the Internet.î
eMarketerís Ramsey agreed, noting that it was similar household penetration milestones that first got cable TV on the map with Madison Avenue during various junctures in cableís history.

Oh, but that’s not the half of it. They’re only counting homes and every single Internet business I know (even Nick Denton’s work-unsafe Fleshbot) sees its prime time at midday, during work, where almost anyone sitting at a desk now has high-speed Internet access.

So the penetration is higher than the numbers above indicate. And the usage is higher.

Internet will get greater mindshare and greater share of the audience’s attention because cable and TV and radio can’t reach them at work, but the Internet can.

Let’s repeat that again: The Internet is bigger than cable TV. And so the Internet should be getting a much bigger share of advertising dollars.

Alas, though… ‘the internet’ is too fragmented to aggregate for media buyers the way cable is aggregated in most markets… Even with cable there are only 300 channels or so for advertisers to split their dollars amongst…

Also see: John Battelle’s SearchBlog and MarketingWonk.

Holovaty on Stealing

Read Adrian Holovaty’s “ service policy: Hypocrisy in action
well written… I agree… Topix just drains traffic from otherwise deserving websites, but then again, it might add traffic to those little websites it steals from… depends on how you look at it.

“10 Common Problems that Dismiss You as an Amateur” Writer

Are you a writer? Or maybe an aspiring writer? Maybe just a blogger that enjoys writing in your spare time? (That last one is me.) Do you have to write for work? Maybe you’re not going to ever be a novelist, but if you write for any reason and you have to persuade people with the written word, then you have to read this article:

Ten Mistakes Writers Don’t See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do)

  1. Repeats
  2. Flat Writing
  3. Empty Adverbs
  4. Phony Dialogue
  5. No-good suffixed
  6. The ‘to-be’ words
  7. Lists
  8. Show, Don’t tell
  9. Awkward Phrasing
  10. Commas

The point to the List above is that even the best writers make these mistakes, but you can’t afford to. The way manuscripts are thrown into the rejection pile on the basis of early mistakes is a crime. Don’t be a victim.

You won’t be sorry if you do. Your readers might be sorry if you don’t.

NAA Connections Day Two

Hmmm… I have mixed feelings about the second day of the NAA Connections meetings… Where should I start?

I guess I’ll start with the fact that the official NAA blog hasn’t been updated to actually reflect anything happening at the conference on Monday. It jumped from Sunday to an advertisement for the Tuesday session. There are any number of reasons for this, but I think a big reason for this is that the whole “we’ll blog the conference” was a good idea, but isn’t really something traditional newspaper people understand, so they haven’t committed to it. For example, they asked people to participate on the blog, but didn’t actually tell anyone the URL or tell them how to add an entry… just a thought. The blog was most likely an addition thrown into the mix at the last minute without any real understanding of how to use it.

Anyways, I attended a few sessions today:

Fighting for Recruitment Revenue – This was an hour or so presentation by Mark Mehler and Gerry Crispin, the guys behind CareerXRoads. Great presentation. Probably the most well presented stuff all day. Gerry and Mark presented the results of their latest study on Hiring Practices (which is supposed to be online here, but isn’t according to Safari… actually, it looks like that’s a redirect to a download of a Word Doc) [Press Release] and interjected their thoughts and answered questions from the audience throughout. Great overview of what Gerry and Mark see as ‘leading indicators’ in the hiring space, and some great actionable information for the recruitment space.

Future Focus: Trends that Will Shape Online Real Estate Revenue (not online anywhere that I can find) – Very good panel. Very good.

Panelists were: Bob Birkentall, Tribune Co. Real Estate Strategy Manager, Robert Kempf, Cape Cod Times Internet Business Development Manager, and Dave Coglizer, eBay. The Moderator was Tony Lee, Editor in Chief and General Manager, The Wall Street Journal Online Network.

The panel presented the 10 trends they see shaping the future of the real estate market. They were:

Trend 1: Home Sellers Take Control – Every aspect of sales will be measured and sales channels that don’t produce sales will get eliminated from the marketing and advertising budgets of home sellers. If an advertising channel’s results aren’t tracked and reported, it doesn’t exist.
Trend 2: Expect Significant Growth in New Property Types – Disappearing boundaries will boost demand for vacation homes, recreation land, time-shares and low-management commercial properties. Ebay is already playing in this field.
Trend 3: Online Brokers will Boost Competition, Cut Commissions, and Weaken the “Realtor” Grip – Data is available to all, propelling the growth of discount brokers, For Sale By Owner sites and other low-cost marketing efforts.
Trend 4: Sellers Demand to Receive Their Own “Home Page” – (now this is a cool idea) – Newspaper sites (and every other medium for home sales) will create ‘portals’ for clients’ homes to help speed the sale process.
Trend 5: Auctioning Homes will become a real alternative – Online auctions will solve sales issues for many types of properties and their sellers. (Dave shared with us an annecdote that “50% of all homes sold in Australia are sold through an auction” noting that it’s just part of the culture there and has been for about 20 years).
Trend 6: RETS is here, while VOWs and IDX systems are already old news – With a data standard emerging, transaction information will flow easily and targeted internet marketing will blossom.
Trend 7: E-commerce replaces call centers as online up sells print – Self Service becomes the preferred online client experience and print emerges as a “premium” opportunity for the advertiser.
Trend 8: A la carte systems embrace online – From lawyers to appraisers to inspectors, the entire home sales process will be faster and cheaper on the internet.
Trend 9: The future of the MLS is fuzzy.
Trend 10: Online Real Estate dominance is still up for grabs – The jury remains out on whether newspaper websites can become the online equivalent of print for most home buyers and sellers.

Competing Against New Threats – What a waste of my time… but not because the content and presentation wasn’t useable, mainly because of the fact that the panelists are probably 10 times more technologically savvy than the newspaper business. The panelists were Mark Pincus, co-founder and CEO of Tribe Networks Inc, Mike Downey, director of business development, Overture Services, and Dan Finnigan, executive VP and general manager for Yahoo! HotJobs.

Mark presented well, but I honestly think 95% of the audience had no idea what he was talking about… Mike told us that Overture wasn’t a competitor to local newspapers, but rather that we were a desired partner, and Dan talked, but about what I honestly can’t remember (he wouldn’t speak into his microphone). My favorite quote from Mark was that “newspapers don’t have a chance in local search”. Whether that’s true or not, I couldn’t tell you, but hearing Mark say it at a newspaper conference was funny. I can tell you that newspapers on a national level don’t have a chance to compete with the likes of Google or Yahoo in the local search market, but there’s no telling that someone out there couldn’t build a model that works in their own market. I could see NYTimes Digital putting together something that worked for Boston, or WPNI putting together a solution for D.C. You just never know, ’till it happens.

Overall, this panel wasn’t very useable… The audience didn’t ask any questions, and that’s always a sign of disconnect between the panelists and their topics, and what the audience is looking to hear. I for one would have much rather heard about how newspapers can compete with the likes of online yellow pages (especially considering that Superpages is really expanding into the local online market again) or ways to compete against HotJobs or Monster rather than hearing about how they ‘want to partner with newspapers’. The topic was “competing” and the panel didn’t deliver.

I will say that it was great to meet Mark at, and I’m hoping we’ll be able to talk again soon.

I didn’t attend two sessions because they ran concurrently to the ones I did attend: Ultra-local Content and Services and Ultimate Election Coverage. These two sessions also seemed to focus on content rather than on advertising, and thus I was more interested in the other meetings/presentations I attended.

I’m really looking forward to the “New Online Business Plans from NAA New Media Fellows” presentation on Tuesday and “Registration Revisited”

Sorry this blog report isn’t more full-featured, but it’s been a long day folks… I sure wish the NAA New Media folks were really blogging the conference, but instead they’re showing that ‘newspapers don’t get blogs’ — something I hear all the time from my friends that know blogs…

RSS Feeds Should Contain Full Posts

I firmly believe RSS feeds should contain the full text of an entry and here is a good answer to those of you who might be asking “Why?”.

If you really, really, really want people to see your great web design, youíre flattering yourself; content is king. If you didnít believe that the content is the important part of your site, you wouldnít be providing an RSS feed. Bite the bullet and give us full text.

Stealing or Not?

The public posting by Noel from a few days ago about Nick Denton ‘stealing’ his work has taught me some great lessons, and might teach the rest of us a few too. I’ll try to list a few of them here:

1. Free never means free.

It’s become apparent that Noel did some work for free and in good faith, for Nick and his company. He showed that work (and all the raw work behind it) to Nick without promise of payment. Nick used the work that Noel did, without restitution for said work, and now Noel’s mad about it. Nick’s gotten a little bad publicity out of the whole deal, and thus the ‘free’ work that Noel did has ended up costing Nick something, thought how much that bad PR hurts Nick in the long term is anyones guess.

2. Understandings aren’t always understood.

It’s pretty clear that Nick and Noel each had their own ‘understanding’ of what the fair use parameters for Noel’s work was. Both understandings weren’t clear to the other party though. Communication broke down between these two parties, and that’s really sad. Noel has pretty much lost the opportunity for further work with Nick (not that Nick had guaranteed Noel any paying work in the future) and Nick’s lost the faith and readership of a few people that also don’t understand the reality of the miscommunication, but have nonetheless made up their minds about who cheated whom.

3. Blogs opened this conversation up

Not that this will astound anyone, but without weblogs, a few things wouldn’t have happened here: a) Noel wouldn’t have been able to comment this publicly about the deeds involved, b) Nick wouldn’t have been able to comment on his attackers own website for all the world to see, c) I wouldn’t have been able to join the conversation, and d) We all might not have seen this little event transpire.

I used to work for a person that was pretty ruthless in business. He wasn’t all that honest with the people that worked for and with him all the time… he was sort of slimy to say the least. That doesn’t mean he didn’t have the best of intentions, he just wasn’t all that ethical. At the beginning of all of this, I jumped to conclusions and thought for sure Nick Denton was just like my old boss… but…

After reading all of the comments from Nick, Rick, and others, all I’ve decided at this point is that Noel and Nick had a misunderstanding that should likely have been resolved privately. Nick probably handled the situation badly at first, and Noel grew frustrated enough to post a public comment about what had transpired up to that point. The result is a likely impassable situation that no-one wins from.

Any number of more positive outcomes could have presented themselves if both parties had worked a little harder with the other toward a more tenable solution, but it’s almost too late for that.

Big Lesson: If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

I could have followed that lesson when I originally posted about the situation between Noel and Gawker. Some of the other people commenting on this situation probably could have too. Noel could have followed that lesson when he first brought the situation into the open. I’m sure things could have worked out better had the communication lines been more open.

Some Good News: Noel has posted an update saying that “Negotiations are in the works.” Good to hear they’re communicating again.

The Screwing of Noel (and Joe)

First, let me say, I don’t know Nick Denton at all. I also only know Noel Jackson through email (though we’ve emailed a bit for two complete strangers) and I’ve only read some of Joe Clark’s stuff online, here and there.

But, when I read this post by Noel, and then more here on the same topic by Joe, I couldn’t help but feel like Noel and Joe obviously got the royal Denton for Christmas this year. The big question for me is “what can Nick and/or Joe do about what’s happened?”

The best answer I can come up with is “pretty much, nothing.”

Sure, they could likely sue Nick and/or Gawker Media, but that would most likely cost more than it was worth, and they did submit an unsolicited idea to a company… those unsolicited ideas are generally not something an individual can claim much of a pay-off for after giving them to a company, unless those ideas really pay off in the long term for the company that ‘steals’ those ideas.

So, is there a lesson here for the rest of us? I think so:

Don’t give away unsolicited (or solicited) ideas to companies that you may want to work for in the future… It doesn’t pay you enough and not all companies follow “honourable business practices”.

Another lesson (this one for Denton) is that if you are a company that “can’t afford” to compensate someone for their ideas and work properly, don’t use those ideas and/or work… bad PR is worse than no PR.

Heisel: Beyond the click-through

If there is one guy I’d hire based on something I’ve read that he wrote, it’d be Chris Heisel. I’d hire Chris Heisel to be an online advertising sales person, because he gets it. Example:

Heisel: Beyond the click-through.

Well written article about branding and online advertising and its long term effects… The article is a quick read and doesn’t go into too many details, but it touches enough of the online advertising conundrum, that I see everyday in my client’s questions and then decisions, to be worth reading. I’ll hand it out to my sales people tomorrow. Thanks Chris.

Discussion Software – a request

An old friend (former boss of mine, actually) asked me for some advice on web-based discussion software. At first, my friend just asked a simple question:

“Can you recommend some sort of web-based software that I can use for online discussions?”

I’m sure that you’ll agree that that’s a pretty open-ended question, so, before I started pointing him at things like phpBB, UBB, slash, phpnuke, or anything else out there, I asked a few more questions, and narrowed down the basics of a list to start with in his requirements request.

It turns out he’s really looking for a piece of software that will help facilitate the delivery of news and discussion of that news to a local group of people in a community. (Think school-board meeting minutes and the discussion of those minutes, as one possible example.)

We discussed a few more requirements, and I ended up recommending TypePad to him as a starting point in his quest for the perfect solution to a yet undefined need. I haven’t thought of recommending weblog software to anyone yet (and maybe the right people just aren’t asking me) but, as I started analyzing the needs that were being described, the weblog format started making sense.

Any public organization really probably could use the weblog format to make public it’s meeting notes, diagrams and graphics, as well as solicit feedback and faciliate discussion for those interested, but unable to attend public meetings (think: interested parents have to work when school board meetings happen more times than not). I know this isn’t neccessarily a revolutionary thought, but with the extremely low barrier to entry now that TypePad is a shipping solution, I think I’ll end of recommending the weblog format to people more and more… It’s obviously not a million dollar solution, but it’s got the right price-tag on it for organizations that don’t have huge IT/web budgets… and the format isn’t all that different than a printed newsletter, but has so many more benefits… And because there aren’t any technical requirements for setting up a TypePad site, it’s very easy for a public organization to start using one as a discussion and feedback forum.

I thought about recommending Blogger, but honestly, it doesn’t have anywhere near the feature-set that TypePad has, and that puts TypePad in a completely different ballgame.

End of story (for me at least): My friend is going to sign up for a free TypePad trial sometime soon, and will recommend it as a starting point for the group discussion and feedback model within a public organization.

Yahoo News replaced Google News

Due to the release of Yahoo! News RSS Feeds, I’ve now stopped visiting Google’s News site. Thanks for the pointer Jeremy.

RSS Advertising (or sponsorship) – Part II

Found at MarketingWonk: Feeding Ads Through Feeds

A reader of Lockerknome wrote this:

If RSS just becomes another polluted source of noise, it will be no better than email or the Web are right now. If an RSS feed is going to have ads interspersed with content, itís not saving me time. What made RSS feeds unique was that they gave me what I asked for and nothing was wasted. If all companies are publishing to RSS is advertisement-laden crap, we end up with nothing more than a poorly functioning version of the same thing we have now.

Chris Pirillo answers that the beauty of RSS is that it’s a pull medium (I’m paraphrasing here) and in that it’s a pull medium, it’s too easy for us as users to unsubscribe from the feed if we don’t like it, but I think that’s shirking the issue. What if we really, really like the content, but hate the advertising? What if the advertising becomes too overpowering because of a greedy sales manager at the publishing company for the users? Sure, the publisher will loose readers, but how can the publisher balance advertisements and reader’s needs, wants, and desires?

I’ve long advocated advertising in RSS (though I don’t do it here because I’m too lazy to figure it out, and I have nothing to sell) as long as the advertising is targeted and relevant to the audience of the RSS feed. For example, a website about Sci-fi books might offer one ad in a feed of 10 news items that changes once a week for a new book – that would be targeted and relevant.

Another example might be Gawker offering local New York businesses a weekly sponsorship of their RSS feed only to local businesses that offer something to local readers in New York, and to earn the opportunity to sponsor the feed, those businesses must truly offer something of value to New York readers that will drive traffic to their store: A supermarket offering free milk if you buy $10 of crap at their store, or J&R offering a free CF card if you come buy something at their down-town store on a Saturday where they’re having an HP marketing event… something like that is targeted and relevant and offers value to the reader.

The ad should only show up in the RSS feed as ‘new’ once per week or month, depending on the audience that it’s targeted to reach. And yes, I agree, weekly ‘new’ would probably work best for most advertisers.

Adam Kalsey shows how to put a weekly ad in his SimpleLinks RSS feed that’s produced with MovableType with this article.

Amazon does a good job of offering their content through RSS feeds, and I’d argue that this is a complete feed system that’s truly just advertising as content.

And lastly, Ken Schaefer provides his comments on advertisements in RSS feeds in this post on his weblog.

Blogger Pro to become free again

Translation from the Googlese: Deconstructinng the Blogger Pro announcement Ý

Interesting development. Blogger Pro is going to be a free product… I hope that means good things for the blog world.

Why you should ALWAYS Listen to Marketing Professionals

Well, Andy finally spilled the beans about Up2Speed becoming MarketingWonk. It’s a really funny story, if you’re interested in what’s happening with the old MarketingFix (why we didn’t go back to the original brand, I have no idea).

Read on

Oh, and always listen to marketing professionals because they always know what they’re talking about 😉

What’s in a market?

Here is a great article entitled “Markets” by Doc Searls that really ought to be read by advertisers, marketers and the general public:

There also is a problem with conceiving broadcast service–especially the commercial variety–as a “marketplace”. Its customers and consumers are different populations. The customers of commercial broadcasting are advertisers, not viewers and listeners. In fact, commercial broadcasting mostly is an advertising business. The “content” it distributes is merely bait; the goods sold are the ears and eyeballs of “consumers”. That means commercial broadcasting’s real marketplace is Madison Avenue, not radio and TV dials. As a consumer of commercial broadcast programming, your direct influence is zero because that’s exactly what you pay. There also is a problem with conceiving broadcast service–especially the commercial variety–as a “marketplace”. Its customers and consumers are different populations. The customers of commercial broadcasting are advertisers, not viewers and listeners. In fact, commercial broadcasting mostly is an advertising business. The “content” it distributes is merely bait; the goods sold are the ears and eyeballs of “consumers”. That means commercial broadcasting’s real marketplace is Madison Avenue, not radio and TV dials. As a consumer of commercial broadcast programming, your direct influence is zero because that’s exactly what you pay.

AdWords works, RSS works – Does a demo work?

I saw an ad for Tinderbox on the sidebar of my website as I was re-reading an article I wrote. I clicked the ad and just downloaded the application (again – I played with it once for about 10 minutes before I got tired of it the first time). (So, AdWords has worked so far for Eastgate.)

I’m planning on playing with Tinderbox this weekend as I’ve been thinking I want a good tool to help me organize my thoughts on some long term strategies at the office…

Then, I read that MacWorld just gave Tinderbox 4.5 stars on Mark Bernstein’s weblog, and thought about how coincidental that was… (so RSS worked for Eastgate – I read Mark’s weblog in NetNewsWire)

Google’s AdWords got me to download the app. MacWorld’s rating helps me think about the worth of the product. My playing with it this weekend will help me decide to pay for it. If I do buy it, I’m sure the paltry sum Eastgate paid for the click will more than pay for my buying the application… I’ll follow up with a note on whether or not I pay for the application after I demo it. (Will the demo work?)

Sad thing is that MacWorld doesn’t have an RSS feed (that I know of), and I don’t subscribe… and I’ll likely not read the article about Tinderbox on their site unless Mark links to it from his blog when they post it online… (RSS isn’t working for MacWorld)

Email Publishing is Dead

I just read this article about Email publishing, and have to agree with Chris Pirillo’s thoughts:

If the world was a perfect place, e-mail publishing would still be a viable model for getting the word out. But marketers and morons (two groups that are far from mutually exclusive) have flooded the space with noise. So now, instead of spending our time on crafting quality content, we waste it with endless bickering. We now have to fight with ISPs, begging them to let our messages pass through without being filtered or flagged. We have to go out of our way to educate anti-spam solutions on our product to make sure we don’t get blacklisted. We have to explain to our subscribers how someone between here and there is possibly blocking the transmission, possibly troubleshooting their software, trying to figure out if there’s a utility that’s keeping them from receiving the stuff they asked for. Ugh.

And I have to agree that any publisher worth his salary is starting to try and learn how to earn money using RSS. [via John Robb]

Retooling the URL: The Steps

In case you didn’t notice, I finally did a little housekeeping with my URL structure (after writing about it many, many times). Thanks in large part to a bunch of articles I’ve read recently about URLs, and an excellent conversion tutorial from Olivier Travers (which is where almost all of my tricks came from), I’m pleased to announce that my site now has a much better URL structure (in my mind), but it didn’t come without a lot of work.

The premise was to create a cookie-crumb trail URL scheme so that anyone could read a story:

and by deleting the directory (or crawling up the directory structure), they could read all of the stories for that day:

or month:

or, that if they wanted to they could browse the category archives more easily:
though I still need to build the master category page that should reside at

After reading this article against file extensions on the web, I also didn’t want people to have to know that I was using PHP, though I don’t mind them knowing, so I really wanted everything to look like it was sitting in a directory (even if it’s really a file, or it’s really sitting in its own directory). It should be transparent to the user, and still Google friendly, and user friendly… so:

Here are the steps I used to get my URLs straight, and not lose any traffic from old links, or search engines (GoogleJuice) that haven’t updated their links (stolen largely from Olivier and improved in a few places)

1. With the individual entry path still set at <$MTEntryTitle dirify=”1″$>, replaced the individual entry template to:

$NewUrl = "<$MTArchiveDate format="%Y/%m/%d/"$><$MTEntryTitle dirify="1"$>/";
$NewUrl = "" . $NewUrl;
header("HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently");
header("Location: $NewUrl");

This is so that all of the old inbound links will get redirected to the proper place which will be created in a few steps.

2. Rebuilt individual entries. (This took a bit of time, but not too long. As Olivier’s example states, at this point, old links aren’t working anymore, but we’ll fix that in a few steps)

3. Changed the individual entry path (in MT’s archiving settings) to:
<$MTArchiveDate format="%Y/%m/%d/"$><$MTEntryTitle dirify="1"$>.php

Note: This is different than Olivier’s approach, as I didn’t want to have a whole lot of individual directories to maintain in the filesystem, but rather one directory per day in each month containing however many posts were created that day.

Also changed the daily archive’s entry path:
<$MTArchiveDate format="%Y/%m/%d/index.php"$>

the monthly archive’s path:
<$MTArchiveDate format="%Y/%m/index.php"$>

and the category archive’s path:
categories/<$MTCategoryLabel dirify="1"$>.php

4. Replaced the individual entry template with my old template.

5. Rebuilt individual entries. (At this point, old links almost work again because the redirects set up in step 1 now point to directories much like the files created in step 5, but not quite… I’ll fix that in a minute with a mod_rewrite trick I learned… read on.)

6. Added the following lines to my .htaccess file to redirect monthly and category archives pages which were easy to handle through regexp thanks to their previous structure.

Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule weblog/archives/200([0-9])_([0-9])([0-9])_(.*)(\.php)$$1/$2$3/$4 [R=301]
RewriteRule weblog/archives/200([0-9])_(.*)(\.php)$$1/$2/ [R=301]
RewriteRule weblog/archives/cat_(.*)(\.php)$$1/ [R=301,L]

(formating note: each line in the .htaccess file starts with “RewriteRule”, ie. there aren’t any breaks in the code when it’s in the real file on the server)

7. Added the following rule (taken from Keith’s “no extensions” entry) so that category pages (which are technically category_name.php) can be delivered as directories (among other page types)

RewriteRule ^([^.]+[^/])$ $1/ [R=permanent,L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME}\.php -f
RewriteRule ^(.+[^/]) $1.php

8. Added some code to all of the internal links (depending on which type there were that replaced the ‘.php’ or ‘index.php’ with ‘/’ (as appropriate) so that all links on the site go to the correct place:

<?php echo str_replace("index.php","","<$MTArchiveLink$>"); ?>
<?php echo str_replace(".php","/","<$MTEntryLink$>"); ?>

Oh, and if you’re looking for a decent mod_rewrite primer, here’s one at Kuro5hin.

One last thing, Olivier, since you’re stuck on IIS as your dev platform of choice, you’re probably going to be looking ISAPI_rewrite which I pointed to back in November of ’02.

Seven Deadly Sins of Web Writing

The Seven Deadly Sins of Web Writing. Good Points:

Deadly sin number 1: I think I’m God
Deadly sin number 2: I go on and on and on …
Deadly sin number 3: I canít spell and Iíve awful grammar
Deadly sin number 4: Iím locked in a print view of the world
Deadly sin number 5: Iím not very good at writing headings
Deadly sin number 6: Actually, I donít think content is very important
Deadly sin number 7: Don’t have seven points if there’s only six …

[via John Porcaro]

Fast Company Weblog


Another Potential Essential

Fast Company has started a blog. I had heard a rumor that they were working on this. It has been online since Monday and I like it so far. A number of different people from the magazine are contributing.

Check it out at

Already added to my blogroll and my aggregator (RDF feed is here) and it’s MT powered. Ben and Mena are sure doing a great job getting businesses to use MT. has a RSS Feed

Here’s a feed I’ve been looking forward to for a long time: RSS 2.0 Feed [via]

Amazon RSS Feeds Could Be Dangerous

I read an article today about Amazon’s new RSS feeds, and quickly moved to investigate the PR. I added a bunch of feeds to NetNewsWire. I’m thinking this could be dangerous (feel free to grab these feeds for your own use):

I’m excited to see a company introduce RSS feeds for the public in a revenue generating environment. It’s only a matter of time before other companies catch on. To me, the importance of Amazon introducing RSS feeds for products isn’t really that big of a deal for News Aggregator software, but rather for how super easy it would be to add these feeds to web sites.

Amazon will make money with this one.

Keep Clicking

12 days into my test of Google’s AdSense program, and I’m happy to report that according to the latest report, I’m looking at a payable of about $52.00 … keep this up, and my server costs should be covered by months end…

The beauty of this advertising program is that I haven’t clicked an ad yet, so someone that’s reading the ads is actually interested enough to click, or you guys are all just nice enough to want to help pay for this site through your clicks.

I hope the advertisers are getting something out of the clicks too… that would suck if the AdSense program really turned out to be a flop for Google because too many people didn’t convert on the clicks that are being generated all around the internet through this program…

Only time will tell, until then, keep clicking if the ads interest you.

Added Google AdSense and why

Following John Gruber’s lead… shit… I can’t follow his lead…. If you want to know why I’ve added Google AdSense ads to inluminent/weblog read his post on independence as it’s an eloquently written piece.

News website business models

First Monday’s Business models of news Web sites: A survey of empirical trends and expert opinion, by Frederick Schiff, is a fantastic read for anyone looking at revenue models on the internet, specifically of the major content producers out there in media land.

Googlebot writing

If you’re interested in writing web pages that are friendly to the Googlebot, read this post I just posted at Up2Speed.

URL syntax/usage/implementation run-down

Noel Jackson wrote a good piece about URL syntax, that I think every budding web architect should read.

As the saying goes in the field of real estate – Location, location, location. In the web development business the same applies, except location isn’t the only thing you need to pay close attention to. Location however, is key to creating a highly navigable and user-friendly site.

I’d also point out to you dear readers, that Keith Devens has documented his struggle with a smart URL schema pretty well on his weblog and in his Wiki.

Next, you should head over to Simon Wilson’s weblog for these posts: URI Design Resources, Smart Scripted URLs, Sensible URLs with PHP, and URLs matter, which will point you to Jeremy Zawodny’s post URLs matter, alot.

Jon Udell’s Web namespace design: de facto standards is a good quick read on the subject, as is the discussion over at webword.

And never forget Brent’s Law of CMS URLs:

The more expensive the CMS, the crappier the URLs.

And lastly, URLs as UI, from Jakob Nielsen gives these basic guidelines:

  • a domain name that is easy to remember and easy to spell
  • short URLs
  • easy-to-type URLs
  • URLs that visualize the site structure
  • URLs that are “hackable” to allow users to move to higher levels of the information architecture by hacking off the end of the URL
  • persistent URLs that don’t change

In principle, users should not need to know about URLs which are a machine-level addressing scheme. In practice, users often go to websites or individual pages through mechanisms that involve exposure to raw URLs:

  • people guess the domain name of sites they have not visited before: if possible, secure the name of your company and main brands as domain names
  • even when people have been to a site before, they will often try to guess or remember the site name instead of using a bookmark or history list: have memorable domain names that are easy to spell
  • the social interface to the Web relies on email when users want to recommend Web pages to each other, and email is the second-most common way users get to new sites (search engines being the most common): make sure that all URLs on your site are less than 78 characters long so that they will not wrap across a line feed
  • shorter URLs are better since people often type them manually
  • do not use MiXeD case text in URLs since people can’t remember the difference between upper-case and lower-case characters: all-lowercase URLs are usually preferred (domain names are less of a problem since they are case-insensitive – usability would increase if webservers would ignore case in resolving URLs)
  • use a spelling-checking webserver to minimize the damage caused by the inevitable typos

All of this is of great interest to me because my own company’s URL schemes make absolutely no sense to me, and no one in the content development side of our business can give me a real reason for why our URLs are so stupid.

Getting the most out of Google

Fantastic article here about getting more than you’re used to out of Google. Examples like:

Using the * with a pipe and quotes:

“Google has * my life” | “Google * my life”

Quick read too. [via JD]

Quick Links: 6 June

For the past week I’ve been pretty busy… here are a few things I’ve read recently and needed to blogmark:

MT Medic [via Pat Berry]

Interesting graph on SARS

Let’s Make a Cell-Phone Deal – I’ve done this. It works. More from ArsTechnica.

Working with Forms in PHP, Part 1 and Part 2. Great information on PHP and forms handling.

Great tutorial on Cookies and PHP.

Famous Fonts [via]

Upsell More [from XPlane]

Closing the Sale [from XPlane]

Increasing Customer Loyalty [from Xplane]

The Anatomy of a Style Sheet (brought to you at 37,000 feet courtesy of Net News Wire Pro’s caching of RDF feeds – Thanks Brent) Looks like a great start to a useful CSS tutorial… and something I can really use the help on learning.

Automating iPhoto 2 with AppleScript

Power Keys in Jaguar

Common Style Mistakes, Part 1

Papers written by Googlers

So Much for Economic Principle :: Apple Computer’s persistence defies the law of increasing returns.

A article on software development and the business side of it: Risky Business part 1, and part 2

Digital Editions of Newspapers

I just read JD’s version of his latest OJR article.

JD’s got some great information there about uptake of digital editions, as well as great information about how other company’s are using them. Good info. Also, it’s interesting to see the author’s draft of the article, and the final edited version side-by-side. Thanks JD.

Follow Up to “PageRank is Dead”

While my last post about Jeremy’s “PageRank is Dead” article shows that I think Jeremy’s correct, you’ve got to also admit that Dell’s gotta be pissed that a search for dell lattitude 610 brings up a post I wrote as the top search result…

Kind of funny.

Maybe PageRank isn’t totally dead…

PageRank is indeed Dead

Props to Jeremy for his PageRank is Dead post. I’d agree, page rankings in Google seem quite odd now… sorry I missed it while on vacation.

How to cite a blog

the MLA entry on citing web stuff [via Vertical Hold]

Definitely nice to know I can now cite websites.

WSJ Customer Service is Good

I wrote about my problems trying to sign up with the WSJ online using Safari a few days ago… Just wanted to post a quick follow up.

I’d emailed them saying that Safari wasn’t working with their subscription process, and I gave them my phone number, asking them to call me so I can subscribe.

Here it is, noon, the first business day after I emailed them, and I just got off the phone with a nice guy named Steven who was able to sign me up painlessly (well, except for the $80 or so it cost) over the phone.

Thanks WSJ, you’re setting the standard for publishers online, as I’d expect.

WSJ doesn’t accept subscriptions from Safari

I tried to give the WSJ $80 tonight, and their subscription forms wouldn’t work with Safari… I might try to subscribe to the online version again in the future, but not anytime soon. I sent them an email to call me so I can give them my credit card and requested login/password over the phone… we’ll see if they call.

Yahoo Search Beta

I haven’t run this one by Jeremy, but I’m assuming this is a legitimate example of Yahoo’s new search engine look and feel. Pretty snazzy if you ask me.

Google News is Stiff

Olivier asks a great question: How comes hasn’t created a special ‘news on Iraq’ section on it’s own?

Wrong in the News

Why is it that when a news website is caught red handed they shove it under the carpet, instead of listing it on their ‘corrections’ page? Newspapers do it… why don’t we do it on the web?

Information about writing and website optimization from Andy King

Adrian Holovaty just published an Interview with Web optimization expert Andy King in which she asks Andy a great set of questions that deal with website optimization for news sites specifically, which would also help weblog writers. Here’s some of what I gained from the interview:

“67.5% of us are still plugging away at 56Kbps or less” (See this report: Bandwidth Report)

Writing compelling headlines and decks, or “blurbs” as we call them, is an art form in itself. At WebReference we used to see who could “out-blurb” each other in one or two sentences. The folks at are especially good at this. I always look forward to seeing what they come up with next.

for all bloggers and journalists I would recommend two books: “Hot Text: Web Writing that Works” and “Wired Style.” They’re both excellent reads and will improve your writing for the Web.

Great little tidbits.

Coca-cola’s Gauntlet

Steven Heyer, president and COO of Coca-cola, probably the world most known advertising brand, has thrown down a gauntlet:

So how does Madison meet Vine? What’s the intersection?

It’s not the property, the TV show, the movie, the music or the brand. It’s why, where, and how we bring them together. And it is, as ever, about the consumer, all glued together by a powerful idea.

It’s the insight about people’s passions and the connections we create — naturally and uniquely – between them and the equity in our brands. Cultural icons in brand context. Important events tied to important brands… with an important reason why.

So what does that mean to you? Read the whole speech before you comment…

Playing with MOJO Mail

lovely dressI’ve downloaded and have installed MOJO Mail for possible use with MarketingFix. Steve Hall (the co-founder behind AdRants) recommended it as a quick easy free way to host a mailing list (we’re looking for a good commercial solution, but haven’t decided who to go with yet). It looks pretty good, but also is definitely a free solution. I’ve already had to go into the PERL script to play with things because the documentation is lacking or non-existant.

I’m also looking for a good primer on HTML email and what tags are supported and what’s not supported (man I wish I had my HTML manuals with me — they’re still in storage). I’ve found a little helpful information online, but not much:

Florentine Design has a good tutorial on HTML Email as well as a great list of resources.

George Dillon gives us

and I also found this article discouraging the use of HTML in email.

A readability study from Wilson covering fonts to use in email.

TemplateKit sells HTML email templates… which is kind of cool.

Anyways, I’m still not satisfied that I know enough about HTML email templating to write a good CSS styled email… I might just resort back to <font> tags and tables to get the email the way we want it looking, but that’s a lot of work too…

The Ten Commandments of Online Media

Jimmy hits the nail on the head with “The Ten Commandments of Online Media”:

1. Thou shalt not rely on press releases.

2. Thou shalt check facts.

3. Thou shalt seek out new stories not being covered elsewhere.

4. Thou shalt speak frequently to a wide variety of informed sources who aren’t the usual suspects.

5. Thou shalt search out and quote people who don’t have a financial interest in the story.

6. Thou shalt write brief, informative, provocative leads.

7. Thou shalt provide context, both qualitatively and quantitatively.

8. Thou shalt not commit cliches or lazy writing.

9. Thou shalt not forget who thine audience is.

10. Thou shalt make thine own decision about what the most important part of the story is, not simply agree with conventional wisdom.

One More Attack on the Mac Web for an RSS Feed

Jennifer Love HewittI’ve been accused of attacking the Macintosh Web for not offering full RSS feeds with my last 4 or 5 posts on RSS.

That wasn’t my intention. My intention is to get the conversation about full RSS feeds out in the open instead of behind closed doors. Some of the people that have been participating in the conversation have some great ideas… and I hope that the Mac Web Publisher’s sit up and listen (or at least comment on why they can’t do what’s being asked of them in public).

That being said, I’d like to make a public plea for a few more Macintosh sites to add RSS feeds, or better their current feeds:

MacDesktops – the best place for Macintosh Desktops. I’d like to see category feeds, or at the least the last 20 desktops in a feed. I’m thinking that this one site probably has the best opportunity to garner some support for these feeds offered through a subscription program. It’d be damned cool.

MacUpdate – This site’s got some great sponsors and I think they could generate a little bit more income from their RSS readers, if they offered their sponsors the ability to sponsor an RSS feed… I envision seeing more content in the feed that they currently offer like “related software links” and possibly “user reviews of software” or at least links to them in the feeds.

SmallDog – SmallDog is the best damned online Mac retailer (and probably the best in Vermont too) I’ve ever worked with. I’d love to see them offer their price list, or perhaps a top 20 items, or maybe even a 20 new products list via RSS. The coolest thing about that would be that even the websites that they sponsor could cull that data, reformat it and present it online somewhere even if people didn’t get into subscribing to their RSS feed as individuals. Actually… I think the best thing they could offer today would be an RSS feed of the current Today’s Featured Value. That would be cool.

For more reading on the subject of RSS, I’d like to point you here, and some of these posts.

Join the conversation…

Found: Jimmy Guterman’s weblog

I really enjoyed reading Guterman back when he was writing for the Industry Standard. So, I typed in and lo and behold, I found that Jimmy’s got a weblog.

Too cool Jimmy.

After you click thru to his weblog, go on to read his latest article for Business2.0:

Don’t Scare ‘Em, But Tell the Truth

It’s good stuff too.

More complete RSS feed discussion

Jon Gales joins the RSS discussion here.

Welcome to the discussion Jon. In response to Jon’s reference to an email from one of the MacMinute staff members, that thanked Jon for standing up for MacMinute, I’d like to point out that I’m not against MacMinute… I just chose them as my target for this discussion about full RSS feeds because I really enjoy reading MacMinute over any other general Mac news site. It’s better than all the others, and doesn’t have any of the fluff but has all of the substance.

That being said, there are others providing better RSS feeds:




Just to name a few.

I’d really like to see a full RSS feed from MacMinute, possibly with an advertisement from a good commodity provider who’s prices change often like RamJet* (my favorite place to buy Ram, btw). It’d be a natural, and would truly be targeted to the Mac geeks out there that acutally use RSS feeds (who are more likely to buy Ram when its cheap just because its cheap).

Think outside the box publishers. RSS is what the ‘web’ was back in 1995 or so… and, I think Stan’s the only publisher to really come out of the 90’s ahead, so I’d expect him to do it again… Get ahead of the curve.

I applaud their addition of some copy to the MacMinute homepage in their current RSS feed, but I also get enough news from myapplemenu to not need to ever visit their page again, except to perhaps read some of the conversations hitting their forums every once and a while.

I haven’t sent Stan a personal email about this matter, nor do I think I need to. I know that the MacMinute staff is reading what I write every once and a while, as is the MacWorld/MacCentral staff. One of them will do it before the other, and then the other will follow… such is the Macintosh Publishing world.

I look forward to picking the first provider as my prefered provider in the near future and hope you do as well.

Oh, and btw, that screen-scraped feed that was provided by was broken last time I checked it (as it should be — I don’t agree with scraping in principle) … something tells me MacMinute would rather waste time breaking screen-scraped feeds than embracing the idea and doing it themselves. Which is sort of funny to me.

This will hopefully be my last post on this topic, unless I post to announce that there is a real MacMinute provided complete RSS feed with advertising in it soon. (But I’ll likely find that out from myapplemenu.)

*disclaimer: I consider the RamJet folks very good friends, so I’m biased I’m sure, but I’ve also never been disappointed with my purchases from them and I’ve spent well over $1000 with them over the years, I’m sure.

Some Data on RSS Readers

Here’s a quick snippet of what I’m seeing on the two sites I run with RSS feeds:

About 38% of all ‘visits’ to MarketingFix are produced by people using RSS Aggregator software.

About 52% of all ‘visits’ to inluminent/weblog come from people using RSS Aggregators.

Traffic from RSS Aggregators seems to stay fairly consistent thoughout the day, whereas true browser based traffic wans in the late evening and doesn’t pick up again until the morning.

“Unique Visitors” from RSS readers seems to be around 18% on MarketingFix and about 22% on inluminent/weblog.

“Page Views” from RSS readers seems to be about 8% on Marketingfix and about 10% on inluminent/weblog.

A visit is any ‘session’ that includes a hit in the log files within at least 20 minutes of each other. I assume that the higher percentage of visits for RSS readers is because most RSS aggregators only update their feeds every 30 minutes by default, that that can be lower.

A Unique Visitor is a unique IP address, and isn’t really a useful number for me anymore… shit I’m three or four different IP addresses every day on my own, so I figure some of the rest of you are as well to. It’s just a traffic number that I keep an eye on, but don’t put a whole lof of faith in.

A Page View is a request for a file of type php, html, rdf, shtml, or other standard non-image document. Since page view % is fairly low, I don’t see that RSS reader would take away a lot of my browser based traffic, if I were selling advertising.