links for 2007-12-25

links for 2007-12-23

links for 2007-12-22

links for 2007-12-21

Vegetative State

Zesmerelda, via Flickr (CC license)
Oh, this looks very familiar…

Forwarded to me by Tom Vilot

Last night, my friend came to visit and we were talking and I said to her, “I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug.’

She got up, unplugged my computer, and threw out my wine.

Hey! I resemble that remark! 🙂

links for 2007-12-20

How and why to get started with blogging: The REAL answer

afkatws, via Flickr (CC license)
Don’t just start blogging. Spend some time scoping things out first.

Almost daily, people e-mail me to ask me for advice about their online-media careers. I just got such an inquiry this morning. It started out pretty typically:

“I found your Contentious.com recently. I’m very interested in online writing as a career. Can you tell me something about it? How do you start, etc.”

OK, after I explained that I needed his question to be more specific so I could offer a meaningful answer, he offered a bit more detail: He’s about to graduate with a sociology degree, likes writing, and wants to combine those skills to earn a living. Still an overly generic inquiry — but since it’s a basic question many people have, here’s my honest answer:

Don’t assume in advance that being a writer (in any medium) is your ultimate career goal. Often, media is merely a means to an end — I guess that’s why they call it “media,” since it’s usually “in between” real stuff happening.

In my experience, it’s more useful to pay attention to what’s really going on, what people really want or need, and what you really have to offer, than to assume you already know what you “should” be doing. You can’t really be in business by yourself, since business is about the exchange of value. Who are you going to trade with, and what do they need?

Increasingly, participating in online, conversational, and social media (from blogs and forums to Twitter and Second Life) can help nearly anyone find their niche and their path. Because ultimately, these forms of media are about PEOPLE (especially binding communities) — not technology.

On the practical side, here’s the advice I offered this reader…

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links for 2007-12-19

Social Media Up, Porn Down? Hmmmmm….

I was just watching the first episode of Buzzlogic Vino Diaries, a pretty good vidcast where people get together in a wine bar to talk about social media. Just my speed on both counts!

Here, Buzzlogic‘s Valerie Combs talks with Bill Tancer of Hitwise about several intriguing online-media topics — over a fine glass of tempranillo. (Oh, I’m sooooo missing Barcelona again…)

Toward the end, Tancer makes an interesting observation:

“We’ve been tracking social networks as a category — and at the same time I’ve been trying to explain why the adult category has been on a steady decline. Two years ago, business to adult sites comprised about 16% of all internet visits here in the US. As of last week, that’s dropped to about 10% — so quite a steep decline.

“One day, one of my analysts decided to juxtapose those two charts, and put them together on one chart. …We did an analysis and found there’s a perfect negative correlation.

“So we then decided to dive into the demographics of visitors to these porn sites. What we found is that the 18-24-year-olds are disappearing from the adult traffic. And yet 18-24-year olds have been increasing in social networks. So we don’t have a lot of evidence, but we think there is a tradeoff happening.”

I’m not kidding, watch it for yourself. Enjoy!

(Thanks to Jeremiah Owyang for recommending this vidcast, via Twitter.)

Stupid Strategic Commenting v. Smart Engagement

Maggiejumps, via Flickr (CC license)
Clumsiness makes for cute fountains, but horrid blog comments.

One of my most popular posts is: Stategic commenting: No blog is an island. It’s popular for a reason. Lots of people want to learn how to attractive more positive attention through conversational media (including, but not limited to, weblogs). That’s fine. Some of those people are marketers, PR professionals, or business owners. That’s fine, too.

Lately, though, I’ve noticed a disappointing tendency for marketers, PR people, and business people to attempt strategic commenting in a hamhanded and rather thoughtless fashion that’s bound to backfire.

Basically, these people search for blog posts that mention their company, industry, competitors, client, or employer and comment on those posts saying little more than “And speaking of X, we’re great, check us out!”

I hate to break it to those folks, but almost always this commenting approach does NOT constitute a constructive addition to a public conversation. It’s borderline spam, and therefore it reflects poorly on anyone who practices this approach.

Strategic commenting is primarily about contributing value to conversations; not blindly trying to co-opt conversations for your own benefit. If you don’t really know how to comment constructively, then it’s best not to try to use blog commenting to build your business.

Need an example? Here’s a bit of the bad, and the good…

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