google

FailSense and Putting out the FeedBurner Flame

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I thought Google would buy RSS wundercompany Feedburner. I made the prediction on a couple of podcasts with Jeff Molander and his gang and was subsequently called silly or something to that effect.

However, Google did buy FeedBurner, and I thought we would see a revolution in both RSS technology (more mainstream adoption, etc) as well as AdSense and contextual advertising.

Turns out I was wrong about those two. Google continues to sit on FeedBurner without offering much in the way of innovation beyond shutting down the paid premium option and shutting down the popular (and well written) FeedBurner blog, instead sending folks to the AdSense blog.

So, instead of innovating RSS or contextual ad serving, it seems that Google is content with wrapping FeedBurner into an AdSense delivery system and not much else.

Sad.

Especially when you get results like this (from my RSS reader on a post about ice cores):

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Really does make me sad. I thought we were on the verge of something big on the syndicated web. Google keeps disappointing me as it seems to keep going for the chedda and not much else.

BTW, make sure to visit Chedda’s blog. It’s off the chain.

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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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Here it is: Google’s strategy to take over the world. Or at least, this is Google’s plan according to French consulting firm faberNovel, who summarize the Big G’s plot – from YouTube, to the Facebook threat, to competing with Microsoft, to Google’s iron grip on the online advertising market – and much more – in a mere 34 slides.

GeekToMe 6: Freemiums and Netbooks

Affiliate Marketing Legend and all-around geek Todd Crawford and I are back with episode six of our weekly podcast, GeekTo.Me.

We had a ton of fun doing the show and it’s (in my opinion) our best show yet. We definitely keep getting better and better (and geekier and geekier) every week.

So, if you’ve got the stomach for some heavy geek lifting, give it a shot.

The show runs about an hour.

http://www.hipcast.com/playweb?audioid=Pfe44ba46557327b5b5fb78d62425141cbF98QFREYmN9&buffer=5&shape=6&fc=FFFFFF&pc=CCFF33&kc=FFCC33&bc=FFFFFF&brand=1&player=ap24

MP3 File

Show Notes:
Freemium vs Premium
Google with OpenID
Google Notebook, Evernote or BackPack?
Netbooks vs iPhones
Mac Adoption with the Kids
iPhone App Restrictions
Android
Windows 7: Will It Save Microsoft?
Linux Desktops and New Ubuntu
Google Maps on iPhone
Hulu
Mint.com and Stupid web2.0 names
eCommerce is Big in Japan
Todd’s Picks: Fring, Panolab, Classic eBook Reader
Sam’s Picks: Everest, VoteReport

GeekTo.Me 6: Freemiums

Google Levels the Playing Field?

Robert Seidman guest-blogs on social media guru Louis Gray’s blog on the topic of how the Goog has made the playing field of web publishing much more accessible for anyone (rather than just an arena for A-Listers):

louisgray.com: Google Has Leveled the Internet Playing Field: ”
I know a lot in the tech blogging circles will opine on whether Google is good or evil. For now in my mind, Google is still good. It leveled the playing field for us. We have little in the way of expense overhead (almost $0, really) and sure, it may work out that I’ve made about eight cents per hour, but that’s the subject for another blog post. From my perspective, we are allowed to compete, and compete fairly without spending anything on marketing. It’s hard for me to find fault with a system that provides that sort of level playing field.

Organic Google search (including Google News) is our number one traffic source. This leads to a lot of referral traffic from other sites and a good bit of the direct traffic.”

The question of whether or not Google is “evil” or not is about as subjective as any subject you can imagine. For all of its occasional (or sustained) “big-brotherness,” Google does allow for a plethora of voices on topics. The key to ranking well in Google is not to rely too heavily on the mysticism of SEO, but to make good (and easily discoverable) content.

YouTube and Google Account Linkage

Of course YouTube is owned by Google (and continually pwnd by narcissistic 16 year olds judging from the comments) so it makes sense that your Google Account (the one used to login to GMail, GCal, Google Docs, etc) should include YouTube.

But I saw this for the first time this evening when visiting YouTube…

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Did I miss something? Isn’t that new?

And if you’re bored, go watch my awesome Kindle videos onmy YouTube channel. I freaking love that thing.

Buying Links: Good or Bad?

At the https://www.fusionquest.com/cgi-bin/main/hotlinks.cgi?aflt=afc1&client=affsumAffiliate Summit West this year, one of the most talked about moments was the back-and-forth between SEO expert Wil Reynolds and Jason Calacanis during Wil’s session.

Here’s Wil’s take:

Well the BIG topic – buying links to help boost your SEO rankings, let me say again…if you properly analyze your landscape you can determine if you may or may not need to buy links. If you do, you should buy ones that are actually on GOOD sites – while producing great content is the ideal, you may have to prime the pump a bit with a few strategic bought links. This is an advanced tactic, if you don’t understand what makes a good vs. bad link, don’t buy one!

As you can imagine, Jason was not too supportive of the link buying tactic and has called out Google and SEO’ers many times over the issue (and created a company to combat the problem he sees in search today).

And thanks to the power of the interwebs, you have the chance to see the throw down (not really) between Wil and Jason (or head over to YouTube to see the annotations that Wil has added to the video… they don’t carry over to embeds):

The video also shows why you should be going to the https://www.fusionquest.com/cgi-bin/main/hotlinks.cgi?aflt=afc1&client=affsumAffiliate Summit in Boston this August. Unlike many of the shows I go to, there is both real substance and real discussions that go on during the sessions. This is just a taste of that.

Google Gears and Delicious Now Support Firefox 3

Thanks to Content Robot‘s @danarockel for the tip that Google Gears now works with Firefox 3.

If you’re a big user of Google Docs, Google Reader, Zoho or RememberTheMilk, the Gears integration allows you to work in these apps while offline. Hopefully, we’ll see GMail and Google Calendar integrated with Gears very soon. When that happens, I’m basically 100% in the cloud since I still rely on a few desktop apps for getting work done while on a plane.

If you’re using Firefox 3 (and you should be since it’s much speedier and less of a resource hog), head over to the Google Gears page to grab the update.

If you use Delicious for bookmarks, they’ve also updated their browser plugin to work with Firefox 3. I just installed the new plugin and it’s got a pretty nifty new network feature so that you can see activity from your Delicious contacts and network.

So, if you’re using Delicious, feel free to add me to your network so that we can share bookmarks.

GeekCast 22: Won’t Get Fooled Again

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We (Shawn Collins, Lisa Picarille, Jim Kukral and myself) recorded GeekCast this afternoon and it’s a great show…

GeekCast 22: iPhone 2.0 and It’s Still Useless : GeekCast.fm: “The show kicked off with talk of the iPhone 2.0, and the virtues like 3G speed, as well as the negatives, such as the keyboard, lack of copy/paste, etc.

The rumored ability to capture video didn’t pan out (did RIM start that rumor?), which was a letdown for your loyal GeekCasters.”

This is one of my favorite episodes yet because Jim and I basically come to blows over Zobzee and mandles.

10 Steps to Tracking Your Social Reputation

After my whuffie post last week, I had a number of people ask me how to keep track of their social reputation beyond just doing Google searches on yourself or your company’s name.

First of all (and perhaps most importantly), you have to get an RSS reader (aka feed reader). You don’t have the time yada yada yada, but if you care about your online reputation or who is mentioning you or your company, then you certainly have the time. If you’re on Windows, grab FeedDemon (free). If you’re on a Mac, use NetNewsWire (free). If you’re on Linux, grab Liferea from the depositories. If you want to live “in the cloud” and use a web app, you can’t go wrong with Google Reader.

Got one? OK, next step… actually find places that have the data your’e looking for. Here’s how I do it for myself, CostPerNews, my podcast and Motive Interactive:

1. In your feed reader of choice, create a folder called “Vanity Searches” or “Social Graph.”

2. Grab the “Google Alerts” for all of the terms you need to watch. This is social reputation 101 and chances are you have heard of Google Alerts. However, it’s amazing to me how many online marketers don’t use the service. You can get email. This is delivered by email instead of RSS as well.

3. Google Blog Alerts works similarly to Google Alerts but is a little more comprehensive. There’s some redundancy with Alerts, but it’s still worth watching.

4. Another oldie but goodie is Technorati. While not always up to date or accurate, there’s still some value in watching your brand there. Just put in whatever term or name your watching in the search bar on the upper right and grab the feed on the results page by clicking the RSS button.

— Now that we’ve gotten the foundation out the way, let’s go to the good stuff —

5. Here’s an excellent “Yahoo Pipe” for keywords that monitors news sources from multiple sites such as Digg, Technorati, Yahoo News, PRWeb, and Google News. Just put in whatever term you’re looking to watch, hit “Run Pipe” and then click the RSS button beside “More Options” on the right. This is probably my favorite way to track things on the web.

6. The grandaddy of all Yahoo Pipes for vanity searching is the Social Media Firehose. Works the same way as the keyword pipe above but gives a wide blast of data. It’s valuable, but you have to weed through a lot of duplications. Still recommend.

7. While you’re at Yahoo Pipes, grab the “Twitter Reply Sniffer.” Basically, this is a way for you to stay aware of anyone that @’s you in Twitter (you’re not on Twitter? Geez). Put in the terms or names you’d like to keep track of and you’ll get a custom URL. You then have the option to receive new alerts via Google, email, phone or RSS. Click on that orange RSS button called “more options” over on the right and add it to your “Social Graph” folder in your feed reader when the prompt comes up. Presto.

8. If your company might have some mentions on YouTube, you can track user tags and mentions using this YouTube tag Pipe. Not useful for everyone, but still good to have in the old feed reader.

9. Along those same lines, you can’t go wrong with Summize. Instead of just monitoring @’s on Twitter, Summize notifies you anytime a term you specify is mentioned. Grab the RSS feed on the right and add it into your feed reader. Highly valuable.

10. FriendFeed is becoming a great way to keep track of how others perceive you in the social media space because it is one big aggregation ball of goo. However, you can make some sense of out that with FriendFeed’s nifty search feature. Just put in whatever you’re keeping track of and grab the RSS from the page (should be in the URL address bar). Add that to your feed reader for sure.

If you follow those 10 steps, you should have a pretty good grip on what people are saying about you on the social web from Twitter to FriendFeed to blogs to Digg to YouTube. My “social graph” folder in my feed reader is increasingly becoming the first place I go in the mornings for news just to see if there’s anything going on that I’ve missed or to see if there are any conversations I can have with fans, friends, foes or potential evangelists.

Hope this helps!

Twhirl and FriendFeed Room Sharing Coming Soon?

Twhirl (recently acquired by Seesmic) is the most interesting of the Twitter desktop apps. I’ve never been a big fan as I relied heavily on Twitter’s GTalk integration to get real time updates and use Track via XMPP.

However, for FriendFeed, Twhirl rocks.

So, I found this note from Seesmic’s Loic Le Meur interesting…


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I’ve been playing with FriendFeed’s Room feature in the Affiliate Marketing Room. It’s fairly nifty and should only get better.

Loic mentioned on a Gillmor Gang podcast a few weeks ago that Twhirl is working on a feature to allow for XMPP to flow through its service in Twitter as well. If that happens, I might be using Twhirl a great deal more.

What’s Your Whuffie?

One of the things I put at the top of the priorities list during my first week at Motive Interactive was to make sure we owned our online reputation in terms of subscribing to the various vanity feeds (Technorati, Twitter Track (still down at the moment), Google Alerts, Yahoo Pipes for YouTube and Flickr tags, etc) as well as making sure we popped up with favorable items when you search for “Motive Interactive” on Google.

It’s common sense, but SO many marketers and networks overlook this very foundational step in their reputation and brand management.

For instance, if you search “sam harrelson” on Google, my web activity (all of it really favorable) dominates up to the very last listing on page 10 when another Sam Harrelson from Washington State shows up as a part of a political donation site (ironically enough, he donated $1500 in ’05 to a House race in New Jersey… the home state of my political arch-nemesis, Shawn Collins). You have to go to page 26 to find another Sam Harrelson mentioned.

But the key is that your rankings look interesting, unique and relate to your mission in life/work/career/whatever. Video, audio and pics are essential for that.

That’s not a huge deal since people rarely get to page 26, but if you are trying to build your company or personal brand and grow a positive reputation, you surely need to make sure you are ranking well for your own name since going to Google has become the new indicator of “Whuffie.”

Just something to keep in mind and yet another reason to get involved in the social web.

Google’s Friend Connect and Long Tail Marketing

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This is interesting. Basically, sometime tonight you’ll be able to grab a snippet of code and install it on your site/blog allowing you to combine that site with your activities in various social networks…

Google Press Center: News Announcement: “Websites that are not social networks may still want to be social — and now they can be, easily. With Google Friend Connect (see http://www.google.com/friendconnect following this evening’s Campfire One), any website owner can add a snippet of code to his or her site and get social features up and running immediately without programming — picking and choosing from built-in functionality like user registration, invitations, members gallery, message posting, and reviews, as well as third-party applications built by the OpenSocial developer community.”

Here are some of the more “long tail” implications of Friend Connect:

“Google Friend Connect is about helping the ‘long tail’ of sites become more social,” said David Glazer, a director of engineering at Google. “Many sites aren’t explicitly social and don’t necessarily want to be social networks, but they still benefit from letting their visitors interact with each other. That used to be hard. Fortunately, there’s an emerging wave of social standards — OpenID, OAuth, OpenSocial, and the data access APIs published by Facebook, Google, MySpace, and others. Google Friend Connect builds on these standards to let people easily connect with their friends, wherever they are on the web, making ‘any app, any site, any friends’ a reality.”

And here are the immediate benefits possible:

Without requiring coding experience, Google Friend Connect gives site owners a way to attract and engage more people by giving visitors a way to connect with friends on their websites.

Drive traffic: people who discover interesting sites can bring their friends with them, and can opt-in to publish their activities on those sites back into their social network, attracting even more visitors.

Increase engagement: access to friends and OpenSocial applications provides more interesting content and richer social experiences.

Less work: any site can have social components without hiring a programming team or becoming a social network.

I see this as the culmination of the widget craze that swept the online world in 2007 and a way to start bringing in tangible benefits for website owners and bloggers. In other words, the more efficient back-and-forth between social networks and sites/blogs will only increase traffic and exposure for both (if the person behind them is interesting, relevant or adds something to the viewers’ lives).

AdSense for Custom Search

Interesting news from Mountain View today regarding AdSense and Custom Search:

Inside AdSense: AdSense for search now powered by Custom Search: “We’re happy to let you know that AdSense for search is now powered by Custom Search. If you’ve used Custom Search Engine (CSE) before, you know that Custom Search offers advanced customization options to help improve the accuracy of your search results and tailor them to what users are looking for. With the integration of Custom Search into AdSense for search, you can take advantage of CSE’s most popular features without having to leave your AdSense account.”

And here’s a video for the textually challenged short attention spanners (I digg Matt’s sweater, btw):

This is pretty big news for product blogs and sites that rely on niche keywords for traffic. I’ll be experimenting with this today on my new NASCAR blog (yeehaw as Marky Zarc would say).

Marketing to Little Brothers and Sisters

Ever get scared that the marketing paradigm we operate within is just feeding a much bigger machine that isn’t a fan of human freedom?

I do.

Looking forward to reading Cory Doctorow’s new book:

Little Brother: “If you love freedom, if you think the human condition is dignified by privacy, by the right to be left alone, by the right to explore your weird ideas provided you don’t hurt others, then you have common cause with the kids whose web-browsers and cell phones are being used to lock them up and follow them around.

This book is meant to be part of the conversation about what an information society means: does it mean total control, or unheard-of liberty? It’s not just a noun, it’s a verb, it’s something you do.”

When I hear online (and offline) marketers talking about social media as a “channel,” my radar goes off. I suspect it will be even worse after I finish the book.

Am I creating a more freedom filled world technology wise for my daughter?

What do you think?

Cloud Computing IS the Future (Not the Web OS)

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I talk a good deal about cloud computing. If you listen to the GeekCast podcast, you might here me arguing with Shawn Collins over our cloud-based future and how it will be a reality as soon as variables, such as ubiquitous highspeed internet connections are available and accessible here in the US as well as the continued maturation of “cloud” based web apps such as GMail or Google Docs, are made more reliable.

I also talked with Andrew Wee about the cloud computing issue on his latest Friday Podcast and how I thought cloud computing was not only the future here in the West but also presented an amazing opportunity for more “developing” societies to leverage and improve increasingly complex web apps using cheaper and thinner computer machinery.

In other words, I’m a major proponent of cloud computing and see our futures there. However, I have to disagree strongly with this new post from Mashable…

The Web OS. It’s Coming, Just Not Too Soon.: “I’ll offer up my own prediction here that cloud-based operating systems will advance and grow to become popular, mainstream options for computer users in less than a decade’s time. Yes, 10 years from now, I imagine a portion of both the corporate and consumer populace will be logging on straight to the World Wide Web, without need for Windows Vista or Windows 7 or whathaveyou. If wireless broadband is to become a far-reaching utility and relatively inexpensive commodity – which I think it very well might, if telecoms really know what’s good for them – then there really will be no need for much of the public to continue to straddle the offline-online divide. The paradigm will shift. It is already doing so to large degree.”

My basic argument with this premise that we’ll be operating on a “Web OS” is that there’s no need for such a platform or system. In a decade’s time, the web will be omnipresent on our mobile devices, our HDTV’s, our AppleTV’s/DVR’s/TiVO’s/PS5’s as well as our more traditional web terminals that we have traditionally associated with desktops. However, we won’t need a web OS.

Web apps that work on our mobile devices, entertainment devices and more traditional computing machines will be OS agnostic and the browser will slowly but surely be the main “program” needed on a “computer.” Welcome to the fracturing.

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