49% won't use blogs? More amazing is that 51% will...
My friend and colleague Debbie Weil reports that 49% won't use blogs in the next year according to Forrester Research. 49% of whom? Of "interactive marketers", that is, marketing professionals who include the online world in their campaigns and efforts. She's surprised that the figure is so low, but I look at it differently: I'm surprised that it's so high, actually.
Debbie says: "I maintain that blogs are really just next-generation Web sites. Every company will have a blog-like (interactive, two-way) component on their home page a couple of years from now. And the word blog may not be used."
In my eyes, however, there's a fundamental problem in this prediction...
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Is Google becoming Big Brother?
I was recently invited to present a talk to the Rocky Mountain Internet Users Group on Google as Big Brother, with obvious reference to George Orwell's prescient book 1984 and other totalitarian dystopias. The talk was quite interesting - and the research I did beforehand rather troubling - and the 40+ people who attended found it quite informative and thought-provoking. As a result, I am hoping you will also find the minutes of the meeting valuable too...
Introduction (Josh Zapin): "Everyone uses Google about every day, although many don't use their analytical services. Maps, news, and image search are popular. Does Google have too much market power? What did we do before Google?
"There are some other search engines around that no one uses anymore. The numbers for Google are off the charts. 48.8 percent market share and still growing. There were 2.5 billion Google searches in December 2005, and the amount of searching going on is increasing. Google gets 80 million unique visitors per month and they have $125 billion market capitalization. Is this dangerous?
"Google is a window that doesn't just look out onto the Internet, but also looks in. Google records societal trends based on what people are looking for. Gmail is very popular, but context-sensitive ads actually read your email. Google Analytics is a neat package that lets you know what's going on on your website... but is Google using the information it collects from you? Should we be concerned about them becoming a Big Brother?"
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Back from speaking at Ken McCarthy's The System Seminar and...
Now that I'm back in my office, I can be honest here with you, dear reader. When I was invited to speak at Ken McCarthy's internet marketing and business event The System '06, talking about blogging, I was a bit leery. Twenty-five years of being in the research / publishing / consulting side of things has made me both reticent about making money online and about those folk who have figured out how to make money online. My expectation was that the presenters would be selling like mad and that actual useful information from their presentations would be minimal. I mean, everyone wants to sell their stuff, right? So, yeah, I was very curious how it would turn out spending a weekend in Chicago with hundreds of attendees and two dozen world-class internet marketing speakers.
I am delighted to say that I was completely wrong in my expectations and while most everyone who presented offered programs at the end so interested participants could learn more and gain deeper expertise, the presentations themselves were generally quite valuable and very informative.
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How to Find Your Blogging Voice
What writing style will produce the best results on your blog?
If you look at blogging as the digital equivalent of writing a diary, then the answer to my question is easy: you write the way you want to write and to heck with any guidelines or suggestions, and, yes, damn the grammar torpedoes! Who needs results anyway?
If you're reading this, however, odds are good that your interests extend beyond just having a Web site where you can record your own intimate thoughts and experiences. Your weblog, or weblog-to-be, is focused on effective communication; on sharing what you know; on trying to influence people regarding your own ideas, opinions, and perspective; and perhaps on convincing people that your product or service is worth a second look.
Now we're moving into the territory of just plain good writing, and that's something we can spend some time exploring!
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Best Practices in Business Card Design
When I get back to my office after conferences, I invariably have a stack of business cards from people who I met, a stack that I dutifully try to enter into my contact database or at least invite to subscribe to one of my mailing lists. As a result, I get to see a lot of business cards in a typical year, probably thousands of them.
Having just gone through about forty this evening, let me make some observations about what makes a really good business card versus one that I think fails at its dual job of both supplying key contact information and piquing my curiosity or jogging my memory about that person. I realize that you might have different thoughts about the purpose of a business card but I invite you to spend a few minutes leafing through your own stack of cards and ask yourself: what works? Why?
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What's the difference between a blog and a Web site?
In the beginning was HTML, and while it was rather ugly, it was good overall. It allowed anyone with a modicum of skill to create Web sites, producing both good content and attractive presentation of that content. Toss in a few <A HREF> links and you could even weave pages together into a comprehensive site.
The problem was that it was darn tedious, and to this day, it's still fairly tedious to create Web sites, to take the skeleton or template of a page and customize it for a specific page of content, to update the navigational subsystem to ensure that the new page is known, and to maintain now-necessary features like a sitemap.
It's no surprise that more and more sophisticated tools appeared on the scene, starting with FrontPage and self-referential Web-based Web page editors (think homepage builders) and evolving into the powerful Dreamweaver and GoLive expensive commercial solutions for managing Web content.
These tools allow you to create beautiful sites with compelling content, but they don't allow neophytes or non-technical people to maintain content or add new content. And so even with these sophisticated tools, most Web sites are static creations, and most companies view their Web sites as digital brochures. Sure, it might be more sophisticated with a Flash navigational system, or might feature a discussion board or other community involvement element, but it's very rare for a traditional Web site to be updated more frequently than once every month or two.
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Use Powerpoint to enhance your presentation, not cripple it
I'm not the first person to point out that Microsoft's mainstay meeting and presentation application Powerpoint is usually anathema to any sort of useful communication, and that most speakers rely on it as a crutch rather than a memory jog, but I just got back from a three day marketing conference and was really struck by how most of the presenters were still falling into BPS (Boring Powerpoint Syndrome).
You know what I'm talking about if you ever go to meetings or attend any sort of workshop or conference. These are the folk that use plain white backgrounds for their slides and cram ten to fifteen bullet points on each slide, each bullet point a full sentence.
Nothing as succinct as "China: Up 15%" but "Our sales in the Pan-Asian region are up 15% over the same period in 2005, according to market research firm AsiaReportInc".
And yet, I'm also convinced that Powerpoint can be used very effectively and be a real asset to a meeting or presentation. But only if you understand the basic benefit of Powerpoint in the first place...
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Silicon Graphics files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
It's another harbinger of the end of the first major wave of computing companies in the Internet business: today long-time graphics darling Silicon Graphics threw in the proverbial towel, filing for bankruptcy. First HP struggles and jettison's Fiorini after the disastrous Compaq acquisition, then Sun Microsystems wakes up and breaths a sigh of collective relief after long-time cross-eyed navigator Scott McNealy finally steps down from his position at the helm.
But Silicon Graphics. Ah, SGI, I knew you back when, when you were the coolest hardware company in Silicon Valley, when just seeing your logo inspired people towards hardware lust in an era when there wasn't much exciting happening in the world of Unix and workstations, when the X Window System and its crummy UI was the state-of-the-art (except at Xerox PARC, but no-one ever listened to PARC scientists until some curious folk from Cupertino wandered in one day).
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The Surprising Similarities Between Blogging and Hula Dancing
I just got back from two weeks in Hawaii, relaxing, playing on the beach, snorkeling, and generally enjoying one of the least "American" and most beautiful of these United States. By sheer luck, it turned out that the Merrie Monarch Festival was also taking place on the Big Island of Hawaii while we were there.
The Merrie Monarch festival is the premier hula dancing competition in the world and there were dancers and enthusiasts who flew in from around the globe to participate. Hawaiians are generally darn proud of their cultural heritage, of which hula is an important aspect, and there was a lot of talk about hula dancing because of the Festival. It was extraordinarily interesting for someone focused on business communications.
Photograph © 2006 by the Merrie Monarch Festival.
Here's what you didn't know about hula dancing: it's all about storytelling and there are often two different stories being told simultaneously, one through the movement of the dancer or dancers, and another through the song being sung / chanted. It's not just Hawaiian girls wiggling their hips, it's actually a powerful method of reinforcing specific cultural values, of conveying part of the oral history of Hawaii and telling a good story.
As the Festival organizers put it, "Hula and its accompanying chants recorded Hawaiian genealogy, mythology, and prayers of the heart and mind. The hula was the means by which the culture, history, stories and almost every aspect of Hawaiian life was expressed and passed down through generations."
Contrast that with what a savvy blogger -- particularly a business blogger -- is trying to accomplish when he or she fires up an editor and starts typing...
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Why you should join me in Chicago for the System Seminar
I speak at a lot of difference conferences and am almost always pleased with both the quality of other speakers and the production of the events. Some are mostly fun, but other events are educational not just for the attendees, but for us faculty and speakers too, and the top of my list for most educational this year is undoubtedly The System Seminar, coming up in just a few weeks in Chicago, Illinois.
It's an Internet Marketing conference and I'll be candid: it's expensive. But the lineup of speakers is just amazing and being able to spend three days with everyone there will undoubtedly change people's lives, help them move onto new, better professional tracks, and significantly boost their income.
Registration just jumped up to $5000/seat (bring a pal and it'll be less expensive) as we're getting closer to the event, but you can get a distinct sense of how valuable the event is going to be by learning that there are less than 30 seats left, out of 300!
Don't wait: sign up now!
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Unabashedly geeky article: Linux on an iPod
The following is the beginning of a feature story published in this month's issue of Linux Journal. As one person has already told me, it's definitely "geeky, but fun." so read on ...
The concept's great: what would it be like to have a pocket-size device that I could plug in to just about any Macintosh and by simply rebooting the computer be running a full-blown Linux installation? There are oodles of Linux OSes for Intel architectures, of course, but the Mac, until very recently, has been built around the Motorola architecture, so the number of choices are rather fewer.
One of the few Linux OSes for the PowerPC is called Yellow Dog, from Terra Soft Corp.. It costs about $60 US for the install CDs and documentation or $30 US for the "geek edition" (that's just the install CDs), or you can download it for free from the Web site.
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