Twitter

So long and thanks for all the fish, Twitter.

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“Say hello to a brand new Twitter. The company is planning to introduce an algorithmic timeline as soon as next week, BuzzFeed News has learned. The timeline will reorder tweets based on what Twitter’s algorithm thinks people most want to see, a departure from the current feed’s reverse chronological order.”

Source: Twitter To Introduce Algorithmic Timeline As Soon As Next Week – BuzzFeed News

Welp, there goes Twitter.

Sigh.

Ugh.

Damn.

Evidently, there’s talk of an opt-out, but we’ll see.

Internet’s Action and Reaction Loop

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I’m archiving this snippet and article to revisit in 2020… I wonder if we’ll look back on 2015 as a “tipping point” of the internet as we knew it?

The Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace by John Perry Barlow in 1996 does seem like a long ago dream.

Perhaps immediacy is not a democratizing state of being for modern humans? Literalism is the enemy of imagination, after all.

The Internet’s Loop of Action and Reaction Is Worsening – The New York Times: “Hear me out. If you’ve logged on to Twitter and Facebook in the waning weeks of 2015, you’ve surely noticed that the Internet now seems to be on constant boil. Your social feed has always been loud, shrill, reflexive and ugly, but this year everything has been turned up to 11. The Islamic State’s use of the Internet is perhaps only the most dangerous manifestation of what, this year, became an inescapable fact of online life: The extremists of all stripes are ascendant, and just about everywhere you look, much of the Internet is terrible.”

Twitter’s Target

I started using Twitter in mid 2006, so I’m a little biased… but I still have many expectations and hopes for the platform that I don’t for Facebook, Instagram etc.

Twitter stands(or, it could if it were to become developer friendly again) at the fulcrum point between traditional social networks and the future of online social interaction (messaging platforms) with its following, rather than friending, structure and the ability to send direct messages baked into the architecture.

Now it’s Dorsey’s responsibility to perform a Steve Jobs-esque “second act” in which he returns to the company and rights the ship and steer it away from being perceived or imagined as an “enticing takeover target” …

“The microblogging site’s co-founder and chairman, Jack Dorsey, will replace him temporarily. Although the number of monthly active users topped 300m in the first quarter, growth has been slowing; revenue of $436m, though up 74% year-on-year, was less than expected. Twitter, a relative minnow in today’s tech sea, as the above interactive shows, looks an enticing takeover target.”

Source: Leaving the nest | The Economist

Now you can donate to a political candidate through a tweet. Why aren’t churches using this?

We’ve teamed up with Square to enable anyone in the US to make a donation directly to a US candidate through a Tweet, starting today. This is the fastest, easiest way to make an online donation, and the most effective way for campaigns to execute tailored digital fundraising, in real time, on the platform where Americans are already talking about the 2016 election and the issues they are passionate about.

Source: Political donations, now through a Tweet | Twitter Blogs

I wonder if this will get any coverage during tomorrow night’s Republican Presidential Debate?

Regardless, you can also send me money at my “cashtag” if you’d like to test the system: $samharrelson.

But seriously… why don’t more churches and non-profits use this??

 

Twitter Rolls Out Great New Analytics Update

Twitter quietly rolled out a huge and needed update to its developing analytics offering for businesses using its ad system to promote tweets and accounts.

Google obviously rules the roost when it comes to advertising on the web, but as Google continues to try and find its own footing with the Hummingbird update to better encompass mobile user experience (which is an important and growing traffic segment, of course), Twitter really has a chance to grab and keep substantial traffic when it comes to mobile users. According to Twitter, there are 230 million users of their services globally, and 76% access Twitter on a mobile device. Unlike Facebook, Twitter has a real chance to be a dagger in Google’s side given its focus on the mobile experience.

If it can better deliver ads and messaging to those users, there’s a real income source for Twitter to be had.

By offering companies the ability to segment down to the mobile OS and device versions along with location, this could be a big deal for Twitter over the long haul.

BTW If you’re not reading the Twitter Advertising Blog, you’re missing out.

Previously, we offered advertisers the ability to reach our highly mobile users by targeting only their operating system. Today we’re announcing greater flexibility to this targeting capability: Now all advertisers can segment audiences on iOS and Android by operating system version, specific device, and WiFi connectivity. And we’re also introducing granular reporting analytics for these targeting types across all campaigns.

via Enhanced mobile targeting by device, OS version, wifi | Twitter Blogs.

Twitter Learns from Pinterest

While tools like Storify have been doing something similar to this, Twitter’s newly unveiled custom timelines feature could be incredibly popular (and valuable for your business):

Starting today, we are introducing the ability to create custom timelines in TweetDeck. Custom timelines, which were just announced, are a new type of timeline that you control by selecting the Tweets you want to include.

via Twitter Announces Custom Timelines For Hashtags Or Topics On Tweetdeck, Launching API Too.

For instance, here’s a quick curated timeline I just put together:

!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?’http’:’https’;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+”://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js”;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,”script”,”twitter-wjs”);

Why are these important and not just another random Twitter feature that only a few power users will use?

Think of this as the ability to “pin” Tweets into curated lists as you would do with images around certain topics on Pinterest. While you can do something like that by favoriting tweets (something I love to do), being able to assemble tweets in a non-timed based manner and more focused on certain hashtags or topics is exactly what Twitter needed to compete with other social services.

It looks like Twitter learned a great deal from Pinterest here and this is going to be popular with live sports events and reality shows like The Voice (pictured above). Your business could benefit.

Twitter Hashtags and Crisis Management

One thing that’s frequently seen in 2013 is some form of crisis that begins on and manifests itself across social media platforms. The folks at Social Media Today have some great tips for using hashtags effectively during times of crisis (even though they have a typo in their post title, evidently):

Use a Twitter Hashtags in a Crisis | Social Media Today: “One given in an incident: if you use social media, people will use your hashtag and @username as a source of getting the info they need. A hashtag in a crisis will become a sort of customer service channel. Be sure you have dedicated staff monitoring your social media channels and responding to  legitimate requests for information.”

How to Expire Contest or Coupon Related Tweets

If you use Twitter for anything marketing related, you’ll occasionally bump into the need to delete or expire a tweet (or series of tweets depending on the campaign).

Here’s a nifty tool that helps solve that problem:

A former Twitter engineer has released an app that lets you schedule your tweets to be deleted. Enable Spirit for Twitter and append a hashtag like #1m, #2h, or #3d, and your tweet will disappear after the specified timeframe. It’s introducing even more ephemerality to a service that’s already heavily focused on the moment.

via Add an expiration date to your tweets using a simple hashtag | The Verge.

I’m Quitting Marketing

I stumbled into the affiliate marketing world years ago.

I’m walking out of it today.

My experiences in the affiliate marketing world have been incredibly positive when it comes to interpersonal relationships. However, it’s time for me to move on. I’m not happy.

Why am I not happy?

Mainly because I don’t like the way online marketing continues to debase the human factor of interaction in attempts to “monetize” and find cracks in the sidewalks to plant sour seeds.

It’s not you, it’s me.

I’m just not interested in the day-to-day minutia of being a marketing professional anymore. I’m sure I’ll always keep up with the main trends and I’ll certainly keep up with the space in terms of how it affects social media, etc.

But these questions just don’t turn me on anymore…

“Why doesn’t tinyurl allow for better cookie tracking so that I can make affiliate sales from Twitter links?”

“Why does Google punish me for selling links when TechCrunch does the same thing?”

“How much should I invest in my StumbleUpon account in order to drive 1,000 pageviews a day?”

“Can you help me tweak my Twitter account so that I can drive sales thru my landing page?”

“How can I get more fans to join my (self-created) Facebook page?”

“Who do I need to pay to add outbound links to the affiliate marketing page on Wikipedia?”

“Is FriendFeed worth it? Yeah, I know you say it’s neat for finding out information and learning about new things, but will it make me money?”

And It is these sorts of things that have slowly driven a wedge between my own idealism and (what I see as) the current trajectory of online marketing. Beyond a growing distaste around such issues, I generally find myself on the wrong side of the fence for effective marketing. And I’ve been on all sides of that online marketing fence… publisher, affiliate, CPA network, email marketer, agency, vendor, OPM, and God knows whatever else… I’m coming to grips with my own realization that it’s not for me.

For me, the expectations have never met the promises. These days, I’m only feeling more alienated. As a result, I’m choosing to opt-out rather than becoming a constant nay-sayer or voice of doom and gloom.

To quote Lennon, “I don’t want to spoil the party, so I’ll go.”

On top of all that, I just don’t see myself as an “online” or even “affiliate” marketer anymore. I’m not saying I’ve grown beyond those labels. I just don’t feel that those pairs of socks go with my outfits now.

PLEASE do not get me wrong. I respect, admire and love so many people in the affiliate and online marketing space (and will continue to do so, of course). This is not a personal affront to anyone in the space or the space itself, but more of a realization that I have to move on.

As a result, I’ll be shutting down CostPerNews (or (fire) selling it if someone is interested) and doing my posting over on my personal site.

I’m also going to be working on the podcast network I’m developing (Thinking.fm) around issues I am excited about these days (science, religion, Nascar, parenting, tech, politics… the site is still being developed, so excuse the mess… will be up and going by February). I’m really excited about those sites.

And hopefully, the gang will still allow me to take part in GeekCast even though I’m turning in my affiliate hard card. I hope so (check out the site redesign, btw).

I’m also doing more work in the non-profit world (Hunger Initiative) and continuing my journey towards whatever end awaits me at seminary.

Yes, of course it is my hyperbole than anything to say I’m “quitting” marketing since we are all marketers in whatever we do. I should rephrase that and say “I’m quitting the professional guise of being an online marketer.” There, that feels better.

Two and a half years ago, I wrote this and my career only exploded afterwards:

So, with these realizations and my own skewed since of lefty politics and social views I’m embarking on a mission to do better… to make things good… to connect people to good things they might not have known about… to form community… and to use my skills to leave the internet a better place than it was when I found it (way back in the Prodigy Bulletin Board days).

Lofty goals often mean periods of worry, anxiety and joblessness in terms of “career” but sticking to my flower-guns has got to be a better policy than being miserable knowing that I’m not using my full potential.

So, who knows what’s next, but it will be shiny, rusty, exciting, boring, profitable, unprofitable and creative. I will make this work (whatever in the hell this is).

So, who knows what’s next? I will make it work. I will make it worthwhile.

Thank you all so much for the incredible dedication of readership as well as the inspiration you’ve provided me in the comments and emails.

Here’s to a new beginning and learning from the past.

Google Has Fumbled FeedBurner’s Real Time Opportunity

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Earlier this week, I lamented on Google’s poor handling of FeedBurner since acquiring the service.

Instead of capitalizing on FeedBurner’s large amount of inertia and kind feelings towards the service from the influence-sphere of bloggers, Google has relegated FeedBurner to the back shelf of its growing collection of dolls and toys.

In a post about the coming possibilities of a “ping economy” (attention economy?), Steve Gillmor points out the growing latency (ie impotency) of FeedBurner and how Google has mis-handled RSS notifications within Google Reader in general:

The Realtime Ping Server: “Whatever the case, and whether or not we’re correctly implementing a ping or not, the notion that blog posts are effectively removed from a realtime audience which is increasingly dominant is mindbogglingly stupid. Some even suggest there are competitive reasons for this lack of a strategy, but I can’t quite construct a convincing rationale for it to date. However, I will throw out the apparent fact that Google makes much more from Web pages than they do from RSS pages.

Inevitably, FriendFeed will roll out Track, and so will Twitter in short order, perhaps even sooner than FriendFeed’s smaller team can prioritize it. Until then, we will continue to model our Twitter cloud in FriendFeed constructs, make do with a lack of filtering tools to constrain the friend-of-a-friend overspill, and look to other players (Microsoft in particular) to compete directly with Feedburner at the RSS routing layer. There is no reason why RSS can’t be an effective protocol at the realtime layer, and FriendFeed’s growing arsenal of features is both a roadmap and a toolkit for the transition.

Note: I am publishing this post at 3:31PM Pacific time.

Update: 5:01PM No RSS.

Update: 5:52PM Still broken.”

Such a shame. FeedBurner could have taken blogging and pinging to the 2.0 level with more instantaneous notifications of updates. Instead, Google placed more “relevant” ads on our feeds and moved on.

Nothing to see there (except the ads, of course).

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Phishing Scam Targets (Dumb) Twitter Users Opening DM’ed Links

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It had to happen sooner than later:

Phishing Scam Spreading on Twitter | Chris Pirillo: “A few minutes ago, I received a direct message from one of my twitter followers:

“hey! check out this funny blog about you… jannawalitax . blogspot . com”

DO NOT VISIT the URL in question. It will redirect you immediately to a suspicious domain
: twitter . access-logins . com – notice the subdomain? “

Twitter needs to deploy a trusted login system for 3rd party apps instead of relying on users to always input their usernames/passwords. Soon.

Oh, and don’t open DM links from people you don’t know. Why in the world would someone do that?? Did we not all learn our lesson from email? Sigh.

Maybe this will cause more people to slash-and-burn the people they are following to actual people they know and/or trust (like I did last month) rather than binging on thousands of follows.

[Updated: This comment on Chris’ post is the voice of reason in the Twitter wilderness:

Best way to avoid these kind of situation is to not ‘follow’ everyone! Its just pointless as there is no way you can ‘really follow’ every single one of them..It just causes an information overload and makes this ‘useful service’ not so useful anymore..

If you are not following that person, he shouldn’t be able to send you a DM….Right? So if you follow people carefully, you can actually control how much ’spam’ you get.

Following everyone is like ..giving away your home address to everyone you meet so that they can send you Junk.

Preach it, Saad Kamal.]

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My Experiment With Digital Nomadicism

I’m technically on family holiday vacation this week, holed up in a lovely cabin in the mountains north of Asheville.

We have wifi here, but I decided to opt for the Touch and my Blackberry (and Kindle of course) over lugging up the Macbook Pro. I’m actually writing this on the Touch with the fantastic WordPress app. Honestly, it’s pretty smooth and I need to do this more frequently.

What I’ve realized this week is that I can do most everything that I do on my laptop with just the Touch and the Blackberry. Tweeting, reading feeds in Google Rader, answering email, playing in Facebook, and now blogging are almost more enjoyable on the Touch over the laptop.

But what about “business stuff” like checking stats, reading and writing Docs and spreadsheets or FTP’ing into sites? All are (easily) doable and smooth in this sort of a mobile scenario. Actually, I’m really enjoying stretching myself and learning the new skill of mobile aptitude.

Of course, much of the content I create and consume is based in cloud computing rather than relying on a desktop. I make heavy use of all the Google apps. When I have needed a doc, I just access it in either Dropbox or on drop.io since I keep things sync’d on those places anyway. It’s worked out well.

So, my grand experiment in digital nomadicism is going surprisingly well. I could easily see myself just bringing the Touch and Blackberry to Affiliate Summit this month and leaving the Macbook home. 8 of my text books for the coming semester are in the Kindle, so my load for school will def be the Touch (Bible software apps are tremendous), blackberry and Kindle.

Digital nomadicism isn’t for everyone, of course. I unabashedly rely on web and cloud apps over desktop bound software and I’m not tied to an enterprise infrastructure that requires any special software. But a lighter load in a new year is always a good thing!

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Tweetree

I’m not always a big fan of 3rd party Twitter apps (beyond the desktop apps) as most are still either pretty rudimentary or focused more on ego-stroking than anything else.

However, this is pretty darn nifty (especially if you use the Twitter web page more than anything else):

Tweetree puts your Twitter stream in a tree so you can see the posts people are replying to in context. It also pulls in lots of external content like twitpic photos, youtube videos and more, so that you can see them right in your stream without having to click through every link your friends post. See what twitterers are saying about us!

Check it out here: http://tweetree.com/samharrelson

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Fallacy of Twitter Authority Based on Followers

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Michael Arrington backing up Loic Le Meur’s call for something akin to a Twitter PageRank algorithm with authority based on the number of followers:

Should Twitter Add Authority-based Search?: “I’m with him on this. Most of the time I just want to read everything people are writing about a topic to more or less take the temperature of the masses on whatever I’m researching. But sometimes it would be nice to hear what just the top users are saying on a particular topic, too, since so many more people hear their message.”

I have 3,000 or something followers but I think this is a terrible idea with the following logic:

1) Pagerank sucks (now) for blogs and isn’t a true measure of a blog’s worth, value or credibility.

2) Even then, Twitter is not blogging. Ranking people according to something as transient and flimsy as the number of followers is a worse idea than ranking blogs according to their number of inbound links. Oh, and imagine the gamers.

3) Twitter is a not only a micro-presence platform, it’s a micro-community platform. What purpose would such a “follower algorithm” serve?

Some (most) of my favorite and most “valuable” people I follow on Twitter have under 1k followers. Calling them less credible or their tweets less substantive based solely on the number of followers is silly.

4) I agree with Arrington that it is nice to hear what “top users are saying on a particular topic” rather than crowdsurfing. However, there are already great tools for that. It’s called the follow function combined with RSS or Summize or Yahoo Pipes or Google Alerts, etc. The “top user” on a particular topic such as Hebrew Bible or some niche realm that I’m interested in is not necessarily going to have thousands of followers.

The best metric here is individual intuition and discernment.

5) This isn’t an argument for “wisdom of the crowds” or the “power of the conversation” etc. I’m not a big fan of that mentality, either. Those types of 2006-esque arguments are annoying at best.

Instead, my point is that it would incredibly difficult to institute something like a “worth quotient” on all users of Twitter (even more so than blogging). Putting something like a rank or worth based on the (easily gamed) number of followers a person has makes it even worse.

There Has to Be a Better Way

Don’t get me wrong, If Arrington or Le Meur or Twitter could come up with a ranking or worth algorithm based on something inventive and truly reflective of value, I’d be all for it. If Twitter could put together something revolutionary for determining authority akin to PageRank back in the ’90’s, I’d be the person yelling the loudest from the mountaintop for adoption.

However, this ain’t it.

This seems more like A-Listers grasping at straws to me.

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Of Course There Is a Social Media Backlash Coming

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There is an interesting discussions among the early adopters last night into today on the topic of blogging and FriendFeed that has spilled out into the rest of “social media.”

Scoble kicked things off last night when he asked (on FriendFeed) if he had harmed his blog by investing so much time there.

Michael Arrington of TechCrunch gives perhaps the pithiest but most accurate response on that thread:

HELL YES YOU HARMED YOUR BLOG THIS YEAR.

So the question becomes, is there a backlash coming from the early adopter influencer crowd towards the rising tide of noise on platforms such as Twitter or FriendFeed or even Facebook? Sure, they are great for “conversaton” but does it do harm to contribute too much content there and not enough on your blog?

Steve Rubel chimes in with an interesting point:

Micro Persuasion: Andy Beal on Investing in Social Media Spaces: “Could a backlash be coming? Maybe if Twitter builds an ad revenue model and shares it with the audience they can stem the tide. Interesting notes about how Pownce is no longer with us and how some invested time there. The same could be said for Jaiku perhaps since Google has done nothing with it since they bought it.”

The answer is that there is no answer (how Zen of me).

Each case of social media usage vs blog usage is an intensely personal thing. Sure, there are marketers that see social media as “the next gold mine” (duh…talked some about that fallacy last year), but there are many of us that see these platforms for what they are… tools. They aren’t gold mines or “platforms to be leveraged.” They are communication tools. Sure, use them for data, trend watching, tracking, etc… but at the end of the day, know where you hang your hat.

Of course there is a social media backlash coming amongst the influencers, the tech savvy and the people that realize in a down economy you have to focus on what is most important to your company, your ideas or your “brand” (I’m beginning to loathe that term even more than I used to).

As Andy Beal points out, we “own” our blogs in the sense that we (unless we are using wordpress.com or Blogger, etc) write the content, pay for the hosting and are in charge of their upkeep. It’s great to play in the Twitter commons, but it’s nice to have a place to lay our heads when it gets dark. And the economy is dark now.

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retweetradar Offers ReTweeting Some Redemption

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I hate “retweets.”

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past 3 months, you might not be aware of the scourge of a phenomenon sweeping the twittersphere lately… the retweet.

Basically, when someone says anything you find amusing, you include the syntax “R/T” and copy their tweet. Boom. A retweet. In all of its ugliness. My favorite Twitter desktop application, TweetDeck, makes retweeting insanely easy, helping to spread the plague like hungry fleas riding the back of diseased rats. You get my point.

My reasons for hating retweets are varied, so I’ll get into that in another post. But for those of us who loathe these unholy creatures of digital bits, there’s some redeeming value since they do point to trends (albeit not always quality or valuable trends). However, if you’re looking at Twitter, or social media in general, from a 20,000 foot point of view and trying to glean insights, there is some data to be had here.

A nifty new app built on the Google App Engine allows you to see some of the trends being retweeted:

retweetradar – Finding trends in the mountains of information ‘retweet’ed on Twitter.: “retweetradar is a sister site of http://spy.appspot.com your social media ‘spy’, listen to the social media conversation on any term from Twitter to FriendFeed, Flickr to Blogs and more… watch it all in near real time.”

I’m really falling for the Google App Engine. I need to do more exploration there. As a footnote, Scott Jangro has set up a blog there to fool around with the django and Python language native to the platform, so go check that out.

So, even though retweets are the new antichrist, there’s some atonement for them since they do point us to a measurable function of what might be trending hot in terms of a very niche community(ies).

Personally, I’d rather just put a stake through their tiny digital hearts.

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Geek Dads @Home

I’m doing a new weekly podcast with Joe Magennis and Daniel Clark that combines the experience of a “stay-at-home-dad” with “geeky stuff.”

It’s a pretty fascinating intersection of topics.

Happy Birthday Ian Clark | Geek Dads @Home: “The premise of our podcast revolves around three dads working from home while we provide day care for our kids. We will share our insights on the tools that allow us to function in this set up, but more importantly the podcast gives us a record in our own voices of the experiences of raising our children. The hope is that some time in the future, when they can best appreciate it, our kids will subscribe to this RSS feed and hear their dad’s perspectives on their lives growing up ….”

Here’s the mp3 or click the link above to listen to the stream (and subscribe…iTunes subscription should be available soon as well).

And let us know what you think, if you don’t mind.

Blog Comments Suck

I agree with Scoble here on the “broken” nature of blog commenting on the social web (especially when you have a blog that deals directly with social media):

Scobleizer — Tech geek blogger » Blog Archive Why blogging comments suck «: “How do you fix this? Not easily. I wish there were a system where I could tell my readers when a comment came in that deserves a lot more attention than the others. Also, I wish we could see the social network of the people commenting (I’d love to have their Facebook, Twitter, FriendFeed networks show up linked into their comment somehow and also have warnings when people leave me comments that have a huge amount of social capital, like Gary does).”

Comments have been a frustrating part of keeping this blog going since 2006. Things were great when this was a “small” blog with just a few subscribers, but with time and growth, spammers, spam queues, etc quickly get out of hand.

This isn’t just because of spam. Actually, spam is the least of my frustrations (it blows, but dealing with spam is like going to the dentist…you can avoid both, but your teeth will fall out). As Robert says, it is completely ridiculous that comments from all over the web aren’t better aggregated into our blogs. If we’re going to run these things and put out content that elicits responses on a number of platforms, it is reasonable to assume that there would be a way to keep everything at least organized on the originating blog itself.

When I installed Disqus in Fall of ’07, I prayed that a solution had been found. Things are getting better between Disqus and Intense Debate, but commenting is still a painful thorn in the side of any blogger.

I’d love just to close comments here and shift everyone to use FriendFeed as a place to discuss the contents here. Alas, not everyone is on FriendFeed. I’m still considering it, though. Late adopters and luddites be damned.