Outrage On Internet Over Lion-Killing Shuts Down Dentist's Website And Office, Hammers Him on Yelp, more...

Www flickr com photos psg3 14429454372

There's a communications crisis happening right now on the Internet that should be of interest to anyone involved in PR / marketing / communications. As you are by now probably aware, a Minnesota dentist apparently paid $55,000 to go big game hunting in Zimbabwe and wound up killing a lion named "Cecil" that was popular with locals and tourists. The dentist admitted that he killed the lion and issued a statement expressing his regret.

The outcry globally has been extremely fierce. Consider this:

  • the Yelp page for the dentistry practice is full of all sorts of negative reviews.
  • the company's website was sluggish earlier yesterday (July 29) and has been completely offline since mid-day yesterday.
  • the company's Facebook page seems to have been taken down (perhaps by the company itself?)
  • videos from the company on YouTube are being slammed full of negative comments.

And a great amount of venom has been spewed at the dentist and his company in many other forums all across the Internet. (Ex. over 6,300 comments in a Reddit thread!) As a result, the dentist has now closed his office, putting his staff out of work and referring all his patients to other nearby dentists. Protests are happening at his office - and all over the Internet.

It seems like the company is trying to react on Twitter:

but I am admittedly a bit suspicious because:

  1. The Twitter account misspells "Bluff" with only one F.
  2. The Twitter account seems to have no tweets before yesterday and has only 59 tweets (at the time I write this).

However, I thought I got to that Twitter account from the dentist office's website when I could still get there after first learning about this story yesterday morning. And the account is tweeting out positive things about the company. Which makes me think it is real...

Either way, we are currently seeing a serious level of retribution for this action.

While I personally can't understand why someone would go and kill a lion - and do understand the outrage felt by so many, I do wonder about the scale of the retribution directed at this dentist.

From my own experiences with dentist offices, they typically do involve a number of different people who just work there. All of those employees (plus the patients) - who had nothing to do with the killing of the lion - are affected by the actions of the outraged people across the Internet who are shutting down this business.

As communicators, are you ready for something like this?

If the actions of an employee, or owner in this case, were to generate this level of outrage on the Internet, do you have a plan to cope with it?

And can you implement that plan on Internet speed?

Realizing, of course, that there are very few ways to know if you'd be truly ready to cope, but there are things you can do both technically (ex. have a CDN in front of your website) and from a process point of view (ex. have a plan!).

As Christopher Penn said today in a post inside of Facebook "Mob rule is scary." Indeed it is.

What would you do if your company or organization found itself in the cross-hairs of global outrage?

P.S. You can discuss this in the FIR Podcast Community on Google+.


Photo credit: a cropped version of this photo from Peter Glenday on Flickr. (I don't actually know that it is "Cecil" outside of the fact that it is tagged with that name and was taken in Zimbabwe.)


Ello Releases iOS App And Drops Invitation-only Status To Let Everyone In

Ello ios appToday the team at Ello released an iOS app so that iPhone/iPad users can now very easily add posts and photos into Ello, read Ello posts and interact with people throughout the Ello community.

Co-founder Paul Budnitz wrote about the iOS app and also said that Android and Windows apps will be coming later this year.

You can download the Ello app in Apple's AppStore.

Along with the release of the iOS app is also the news that you no longer need to have an invitation to join Ello. As Budnitz writes:

There was suddenly a ton of press about Ello, but we chose to keep Ello invitation-only, to keep our community from growing too fast. We knew that the best way to create a strong & positive community is to start from friend to friend — and to create features for the artists & creative people that form our core today.

Today, though, the team is ready for growth and is letting anyone in. All you have to do is sign up through the main Ello page ... or though the iOS app.

Anyone can now join Ello.

The challenge Ello has is the same one of all online communities...

how do you become a place that people CHOOSE to spend their time in?

We all have a zillion choices today of different communities and websites in which we can spend our time. How does Ello become one of those for more people?

It's a variation of the "directory dilemma" that I wrote about for messaging apps. As I said there:

People will only use a communication application if the people they want to talk to are using the application.

Ello faces a similar challenge:

People will only use a social network if the people they want to talk to are using the social network.

Be that friends, family, work colleagues, celebrities, services, etc., etc.

If there is interesting content and conversations, people may join in. If not, people will wander off to the next community or site that interests them.

For me... perhaps it's the quirkiness of the monospace font... or the connection to Vermont... or just the fact that I have found a few people who I enjoy following and interacting with... but I'm there on Ello (as "danyork") and will continue to post and interact.

I'm looking forward to using the iOS app to see if that helps make the experience of using Ello that much easier. So far it seems quite nice!

If you gave Ello a try back in the fall when there was all the buzz... why not try it again now? And if you've never tried it, why not do so now?

I'm off to try the app some more...

Related Posts:


The 3 Critical Elements To Getting Your Blog Post Noticed

PJ with bullhorn

What do you need to do to get your blog post noticed? When we are drowning in a sea of content, how can you make your post stand out? How can you maximize the chances that people will actually find your blog post, read it and then hopefully share it?

In the 15 years I've been blogging, I've seen that there are three critical elements that help in getting your post noticed. There are, of course, many other things you can do to improve your posts... but I want to start with three elements that can help get people to follow the link and VIEW your post.

First, though, let's agree that almost everyone today finds your blog post through either of three mechanisms:

  • Search results
  • Social media sharing
  • News aggregators - sites like Reddit, Hacker News, Digg, etc.

Given that, your goal is make your post accessible in a way that supports these three mechanisms and makes people want to choose YOUR link to follow versus all the other ones they see in search results or in social media streams.

Three caveats before I begin:

  • There's a separate discussion we could have about the SEO work you might do to make your post appear in search results... but let's park that discussion and just assume for the moment that your post is visible in search results.
  • Think of what I say below in terms of someone finding your post and then sharing it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, whatever... or on news aggregation sites like Reddit or Hacker News... all they do is drop the URL in. Typically the title "automagically" appears. You want to make it easy for this to "just work" for them.
  • There is no magic silver bullet. These are just suggestions. There are many other factors that can come into play, including just random accidents of timing. But these are tips that can certainly help.

And for the "Too Long; Didn't Read" crowd, here's the quick summary:

  • You need a strong title that someone would click if that was all they saw on a site like Twitter or Reddit.
  • You need a first few sentences that when seen in a "preview" on, say, Facebook, would make someone go "Huh?" and want to learn more.
  • You need a visually compelling image that will draw viewers' eyes to your link versus the other ones.

With that, let's dive into more detail...

1. If You Saw Only Your Title, Would You Click The Link?

The first thing I tell people is simply this:

If you saw this title in your Twitter feed, would YOU click the link to find out more?

If yes, great.

If no, think of a title that WOULD make you click the link. (And in place of "Twitter", it could be any other social network...)

The companion to this question is:

If someone in your target audience saw this title in his/her Twitter feed, would he/she click the link to find out more?

Be harsh on yourself when you are asking this question. A Twitter feed is a FIREHOSE of information being sprayed out at you... in the midst of all of this, would your title cause someone to click the link?

And yes, this is exactly why Upworthy comes up with such cringe-worthy headlines as (and these are all real):

  • She took off her bra and put it over Paul Krugman's face because science.
  • Her Olympic dreams were nearly crushed, until an unlikely coach saved the day.
  • The 4 most ridiculous arguments people use to defend Bill Cosby, presented by Amy Schumer.
and Buzzfeed uses headlines like these:
  • 21 Things That Happen To Everyone Who Wears Makeup
  • This Gay Teen Is Taking The Internet By Storm With Her Feminist Yearbook Quote
  • Can We Talk About How Hot Drake Is In This Instagram Photo?

Mind you... I DON'T RECOMMEND YOU FOLLOW THIS PATTERN! (And in fact, social networks are fighting back against this kind of "click-baiting"!)

But it works.

Ask yourself... didn't you want to click on at least one of those headlines to learn more?

Upworthy, Buzzfeed and all these similar sites understand that the title is what makes people want to click. (And yes, they do A/B testing to try out many different titles for a post before they converge on the one that will work the best... but they have zillions of visitors and can easily do this.)

Now, you also have to have a title that fits in with the kind of style you want to have on your blog. And, going back to "discovery", you want to have a title that has some meaning related to your content.

Similarly, you want a title this relevant to your content! You don't want people to feel betrayed if they followed a link because of a title - only to find out the text is something completely different.

With those thoughts in mind, the question goes back to - if you saw this title in a social network, would you click the link?

A strong title is critical.

2. Do Your First Sentences Make People Want To Know More?

This is one that people often miss... they come up with a great title but the first sentence is insanely boring.

Remember this...

most social networks and search results SHOW A PREVIEW of your text!

Twitter doesn't... it just shows the title. But Facebook... Google+... LinkedIn... others... all show a preview of the first sentence or two of your text. Search results from Google and other search engines typically show a preview, too.

Yes, there are ways to influence what search engines or social networks show as the preview... but the simplest way is just to write compelling sentences that will intrigue people!

Here's an example from my own Facebook feed that I think works well:

Blog post example

First, the title:

Yet another reason to love Netflix: It's helping to kill reality TV

Yes, okay, so maybe it's a bit inflated, but it got me to pay attention.

But notice the text:

15 years ago, the reality TV craze took off in America and many people assumed that quality television programming was doomed to extinction. The reasons for this were...

Wait.. wait... What are those reasons? How is Netflix killing reality TV?

I WANT TO KNOW!

See how it is sucking me in? (FYI, here's that post if you want to read it.)

Now, there's many ways to do create this introductory text... and yes, there's really an art to it. One simple way is:

Ask questions!

I do this a lot. Perhaps too much... but I've found it works. Here's a recent post of mine:

Danyork questions

Ignoring the fact that I royally screwed up on the title and entered "March" instead of "May" (subsequently fixed, but not before it went out in social media), look at how I began:

Would you like to learn more about what the WSIS+10 Review process is all about? How can you participate in the process if you are not with a government? What is "WSIS" all about anyway — and why should you care? Those questions

Why yes... I would like to know the answers to those questions... let me click on the link and see what the answers are!

Scroll back up and notice the questions I used at the beginning of this post. Did you see them in a preview? Did they perhaps pull you into reading this post?

Questions work.

Think of questions you are answering in your article... put them up in that first paragraph.

Sometimes questions don't work with your text, of course. Here's another example of a recent post I wrote:

Danyork scourge of cancer

Again... a title designed to intrigue people: who was struck by cancer? Was it anyone you knew? What effect will it have on him? (i.e. me)

And then the introductory paragraph:

I haven't written about our journey with cancer for a while because my wife's own journey has been one of the ongoing tedium of Tamoxifen ... another day, another pill... and more fatigue, joint pain and so many more issues. It is, though, unfortunately

What journey with cancer? (for those who don't know about it) What is going on?

The goal is again to get people to FOLLOW THE LINK.

3. Do You Have An Image That Draws Attention To Your Post?

Look back at the three examples I gave you above... all three of them have an image that shows up in the preview. This draws people attention to your post when it shows up in a newsfeed. (There was a study that I can't seem to find right now that showed how much higher of a click-through rate a shared post had if an image was included. But think of your own usage - which links do you click through?)

If the first one about Netflix, there is an image of smiling young actress. I actually have no clue who she is, even after reading the article... but the photo is something visual that will draw people in.

My second example from CircleID isn't the best in my opinion. I mean, it's my standard headshot, so perhaps it helps in the "Gee, he looks serious so maybe I should read this because it's a serious matter" kind of way.

But it's better than NO image.

The third example with the cemetery is again a visually interesting image. It pulls you in.

Now - how do you get an image to use?

I generally get my own images from three sources:

  • Photos I have taken ... or photos that someone else I know has taken and then sent to me with the permission to use the image. This is the easiest and simplest. If it is your photo there's no need to worry about attribution. You can modify it in any way you want. Generally these are the photos I try to get, either myself - or from a colleague or friend who is at an event or something like that.
  • Flickr's Creative Commons-licensed photos - Flickr provides a wonderful service to bloggers by letting people upload photos with a Creative Commons license that allows other people to use the photos under certain conditions. Generally this means that you need to include a link to the photo as a source of attribution. In some cases there might be restrictions on commercial usage, but it varies. Flickr supports a range of CC licenses that you can search on:

    Flickr creative commons

    I used Flickr to find the image I used in this post.

    A companion point is that if you upload photos to Flickr, please do consider putting them under a CC license so that other people can use them like this.

  • Screenshots. I'm a heavy user of Skitch on my Mac and use it pretty much every day for images that I put into blog posts. Sometimes it might be the logo of a website I am writing about... or the logo of an event... or it might be an image from a website ... ... or, as in a case today, I might take a screenshot of a PowerPoint slide where I very quickly created an image to use in a post. :-) There are many other similar tools for Mac and Windows - the key point is that you can rapidly take and then modify/resize an image.

    BE REALLY, REALLY CAREFUL HERE! Just because "it's on the Internet" does NOT mean you can just freely capture an image and use it. There's a whole other post that could be written about image licenses... and many good articles can be found out there. When in doubt, do NOT use an image you capture if you do not know that the person who made the image available would not want you to. For example, I often use event logos freely because typically the event organizers WANT all the publicity they can get... and by using their logo when I write about the event I'm reinforcing their branding and helping spread the word. But some events are very sensitive about what logo gets used and so you need to always check and see if they provide guidance or restrictions.

I know some folks like the image collection at the Internet Archive and there's many other sites. I generally avoid "stock photography" purely because so many other people are often using the same images... but I have sometimes used photos from such sources.

The key point is that you need an image of some type to help draw people to your post.

You do, of course, want to be sure that the image has some relation to the content of your article. The best images are ones that reinforce the message and ideas in the article.

As I Said At The Beginning...

There are many more things you can do to draw attention to your post, but these are three of the critical elements I have found help in getting attention to posts.

But don't trust me...

... think about these three things when you are next scanning down your Facebook feed... or your LinkedIn feed... or Google+ ... or Twitter...

What draws you in?

What makes you click/tap on one link versus another one?

What makes you reshare/retweet a link?

If you think about it, odds are that it will come down to some combination of:

  • the title grabbed your attention; and/or
  • the image grabbed your attention; and
  • the preview text reinforced that following the link would be worthwhile.

And in the end you clicked/tapped the link...

Learn from what drives your behavior!

Comments are definitely welcome... please feel free to leave them below or on social networks where this gets posted.

I look forward to being attracted to your posts! :-)


An audio commentary on this topic is available:


Image credit: Paul Schreiber on Flickr


Celebrating 15 Years of Blogging! Starting with Advogato...

Just keep bloggingFifteen years ago today I did something that I had no clue would transform my life in the years ahead. On May 10, 2000, I was sitting in cavernous basement office of Linuxcare on Townsend Street in San Francisco. It was after 9pm and being a visitor I was just working late. Sitting there, I created an account on a site called Advogato and...
... I started blogging!

Well, in truth it wasn't called "blogging" right then. On Advogato it was called a "diary". The words "weblog", "blog" and "blogging" were still working their way toward becoming the conventions they are today.

Still, it was the start of my journey into what we call "blogging". Oh, I had been writing online for many years before that... after all, I'd first gone online in the mid-1980s. And in fact the reason I was sitting in that office in San Francisco was because of a series of articles on the Linux Gazette site that had brought me to the attention of the Linuxcare founders, who then funded me to help create the Linux Professional Institute (LPI).

But that first post on Advogato was my entry into personal writing on my "own" page and in a form that interacted with others.

15 years later - and THOUSANDS of blog posts across many different sites - and several jobs that came about because of my blogging... it's kind of fun to think back to where it all began.

Look Back At My Blogging Journey

As I look back on that very first entry (still online! (and numbered "0" in typical engineer fashion)) I can notice a few things:

  • It was long, as per usual. (As I note at the end - and it's still true today - "no one has ever praised me for my brevity!")
  • I was working with the CVS version control system. I haven't touched that in many years and now, of course, use git for version control.
  • I had just picked up a paper book about DocBook. I would go on to write and speak about DocBook at many events, and would use DocBook as the source format for all of Linuxcare's documentation in a single-source publishing system. MANY years later in 2011 I would write my "Migrating Apps To IPv6" book for O'Reilly entirely in DocBook.
  • The Cluetrain Manifesto was new! :-)

I love that I included this line in the entry:

I decided to join this experiment... let's see if I actually keep up with it.

I would continue to write there... close to 400 more (typically long!) entries until June 2004 when a 5-6 week site outage (Advogato was at that time one man's labor of love, not a dedicated hosting site!) would see me and a number of other folks move over to LiveJournal. I posted only very rarely on Advogato after that, although a few years ago I set it to pull in and cross-post the feed from my Code.DanYork.com blog.

Starting in 2004 dyork.livejournal.com would become my "personal home" on the web (under the domain-name blog.danyork.com) for a few years until 2008-2009 when I switched to my DanYork.com site I still have today.

Meanwhile, in late 2005 I decided to split off my telecom/VoIP writing and also my PR/marketing/social media writing into focused blogs at:

Those two remain the main places I publish my own personal content, although they are not the primary places I write these days.

Years later I would come to regret splitting those two topics as they would come crashing together and the lines would blur... but at the time, working for Mitel Networks, I wanted a separate place to write about telecom and VoIP.

In 2007 when I was "synergized" out of a job at Mitel after their acquisition of Inter-Tel, it was a couple of blog posts that brought me to the attention of Jonathan Taylor and RJ Auburn who brought me into Voxeo where I had a wonderful four years.

It was amusing... I had been trying for most of 3 years to get Mitel to have a corporate blog, but they were at the time reluctant to engage in the more conversational medium. (They have a blog today, of course.) At Voxeo, within 3 weeks I had a corporate blog portal up and over the years that would grow to a peak of having 20 separate blogs for different people, channels, audiences and products.

I also had the most amusing title I've ever had: "Director of Conversations". (Yes, that was on my business card!)

The deep experience in WordPress would serve me well when I left Voxeo in 2011 to join the Internet Society where I was charged with very rapidly getting a web site online to help accelerate the adoption of key Internet technologies. The result was the Deploy360 Programme, a site where I still write quite frequently today.

It was, in fact, my blogging as well as my speaking that had brought me to the attention of the Internet Society.

My blogging over these many years would also lead to:

  • MANY different speaking presentations at conferences and events around the world.
  • My two latest books (on IPv6 and VoIP security) came about due in part to people finding me due to my writing.
  • Countless other opportunities and conversations.
  • Learning an insane amount (because to write about topics you need to know them!).
  • Getting into podcasting... both audio and video.
  • All sorts of new connections and ideas.
  • Friendships with some great people.

This last one is important... the Internet is ultimately about people... and it is through the sharing of information on sites like blogs that we get to learn more about our shared humanity.

Today

Today, in 2015, I write across so many different places that I had to build a site to aggregate my feeds just so that *I* could keep track of them all! That is:

http://danyork.me/

My main personal sites continue to be Disruptive Telephony, Disruptive Conversations... and also increasingly CircleID. There are a number of others I list here:

http://www.danyork.com/blogs.html

The great part of today is that my regular daytime job is focused around blogging! As I explained back in February my new role at the Internet Society is to look at our content across all our different sites and blogs. As a result I'm writing not only on Deploy360 but also on the main Internet Society blog and other sites we have. (A curious new aspect is that sometimes I am ghost-writing posts for other people, which is something new for me... but that's a good topic for another post...)

Though the role of "content strategist" didn't even remotely exist (at least as a title) fifteen years ago, it's a sign of how far we've come in the distribution of writing / content creation that roles like mine now exist.

A Long Strange Journey

It's fascinating to me to look back and reflect where that action 15 years ago has ultimately taken me... but it also reflects what I've been saying for all these years:

There has never been a better time to tell your own story in your own words through your own channels!

The traditional ways we communicate have been fundamentally disrupted... and the opportunity is there for anyone who can consistently create high quality content that others find helpful.

It's been an amazing 15 years... and I look forward to seeing what happens with what we now often call "content" over the next 15 years!


The Power of SoundCloud As A Podcast Publishing Platform

Podcasting soundcloud 660

Why do I like SoundCloud as a podcast hosting platform? What advantages can SoundCloud offer podcasters? Why should you consider SoundCloud as a place to distribute your podcast?

Last week SoundCloud announced that its podcasting features were now publicly available to everyone [1]. Given that I've been using SoundCloud's podcasting feature in their beta program since May 2012, I want to share some of my reflections on why I think SoundCloud has great potential as a powerful platform for podcast publishing and promotion.

To set the context for my comments below, I started using SoundCloud three years ago to see how it could work for the "rapid creation of audio content". I wanted to just be able to push record in an app and then publish and promote my podcasts. I wanted it to be super easy. The result has been my "The Dan York Report (TDYR)" podcast that I publish now at:

https://soundcloud.com/danyork

From the start it's been an experiment to try out SoundCloud as a platform because I have several other podcasts I'd like to start. So TDYR has been my testbed to try out ideas and tools. I do pay for their SoundCloud Pro Unlimited plan which at $135/year works out to what I consider a reasonable $11.25/month for the hosting of my audio files.

As a result of all of this, here are 10 reasons I find SoundCloud powerful for podcasters.

1. Speed And Simplicity Of Creating And Sharing Podcasts

Here's all I do to create a new podcast episode:

  • Open up an app on my iPhone.
  • Press "Record" and record whatever I want to say.
  • Press "Share to SoundCloud" (or "Upload"), enter in a title and hit the button to start.

Boom!

That's it. The podcast is uploaded to SoundCloud and then shared out via the RSS feed to iTunes and also via social media to Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

That's seriously it.

Super fast creation and sharing/promotion of audio podcasts.

Now, of course, you could make the process more complex if you want to. I record my TDYR episodes as just raw audio without any kind of post-production and without an intro, outro or any other kinds of audio segments. In my case, I want the simplicity and rawness. But the beautiful fact is..

2. Many Applications to Create/Record Podcasts

... there are many, many, MANY applications that yet you create audio and share it up to SoundCloud. Applications are available for iOS, Android, Mac OS/X, Microsoft Windows and many other operating systems. SoundCloud has a whole directory of applications that can be used. Although many of them are for consuming/listening, they do have a whole list for creating/recording. Many of these are targeted at music producers, but many can also work for podcasters.

Because I am aiming for speed, I typically record on my iPhone and find that I'm generally using either:

I've been primarily using Opinion for the past while but recently they rolled out their own podcast hosting (competing with SoundCloud) and now give that preference in the export/sharing part of the app. I'm a bit concerned that they may continue to promote that service and make it harder to publish out to other services. On the other hand, the Hindenburg Field Reporter app doesn't seem to be frequently updated... although that may not be necessary, really. It's a rock solid app!

I've also used AudioCopy, a free app that SoundCloud started recommending when they removed recording from their own SoundCloud app. It's fine, but I like the editing capabilities of the other two apps.

The key point is that there are many choices of apps that will connect and share to SoundCloud.

And, of course, SoundCloud just lets you upload an audio file in a variety of different formats. So you can record your episode using any kind of device or application. I've recorded some episodes using one of my Zoom Handy audio recorders and then just copying the MP3 file from the SD card onto my laptop and uploading to SoundCloud through their web interface.

3. Automatic Sharing Out To Social Media

A great part of the simplicity is that when I post an episode to SoundCloud it gets automagically shared out to whatever services I've configured. I've set up a default configuration and then can override that sharing from the apps during the upload process. The beautiful thing is it supports multiple accounts for Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Google+:

Soundcloud connections

And, as noted below, you can use services like IFTTT to distribute podcasts out to even more sites and social networks!

4. Insanely EASY Embedding of Podcasts

Another huge advantage of SoundCloud is that it is incredibly easy to embed podcasts in a blog post or web page. SoundCloud supports "oEmbed" and so very often all you have to do is drop the URL of your SoundCloud episode into your software and... ta da... that's it! This works great for all my WordPress sites. It also works great in chat clients such as Wire.

If your site/application doesn't support oEmbed (such as TypePad, the site I use for this blog), it's trivial to get a snippet of HTML code that you can then drop into your post (as I will do at the end of this post):

Soundcloud embed

This also works with social networks, too. Drop a URL for a SoundCloud episode into Facebook or Ello, for example, and the embedded player will automagically appear so that people can listen right there in their feeds.

5. Comments At Specific Points In The Podcast

Engaging with listeners is always a critical part of building a community around your podcast. Typically you get comments as replies to the blog post about your podcast or as replies on social media.

But what's cool about SoundCloud is that you can get replies AT THE POINT IN TIME within your actual podcast. If someone wants to reply to something specific you said, no longer are you trying to get to the point in the episode where you said whatever it was to remember what you said - the comment can be left right at that point of the episode.

Now, this DOES require a SoundCloud account. And so many of your listeners may not want to register for a (free) SoundCloud account just to be able to leave you comments at specific times. But some of your listeners might, and so for them it becomes a great way to build interaction.

6. Open API Makes Integration Easy

SoundCloud understands the power of becoming a platform for developers and they provide rich support through a SoundCloud developer program and much more. One result is the many applications I pointed out in #2 above, but another result is services such as IFTTT (If This, Then That) that allow you to easily set up actions involving SoundCloud. There are many IFTTT "recipes" for SoundCloud that are already available:

Soundcloud ifttt

As the screen capture shows, the integration can go both ways - in or out of SoundCloud. For instance, I had a recipe for a while that would trigger whenever I published an episode to SoundCloud that would post a link out to my App.net account (until I pretty much stopped using App.net). I also plan to set one up that will post to a specific WordPress site every time I publish a new post. Going the opposite direction, you can see that there are recipes that will publish to your SoundCloud account every time you put a file in, say, a Dropbox folder.

Now, IFTTT is just one site. There are many other sites that have their own integration with SoundCloud... all because of this open application programming interface (API).

7. Search and Discovery

SoundCloud as a web site / service is all focused around the consumption and listening to music and audio. Like any social network, people with an account can "follow" you and get all your recent episodes. SoundCloud makes it very easy to search and find episodes. It supports hashtags.

Now obviously this is again using the SoundCloud site, which your listeners may or may not do... but this becomes a way that you can potentially find new users.

8. Downloads

Just as the embedding of a podcast is easy, so is the downloading of a podcast IF you enable people to do so. This is a choice. But if you want to allow people to download an episode, all they need to do is to go to the episode page (an example) and the download button is right there.

9. Spotlight

If you create a good number of episode and want to highlight some of the episodes you think are the most important, SoundCloud lets you put up to 5 sounds in the "Spotlight" area of your SoundCloud profile page. A nice way to help people coming to your site to see what you think are your best or most important episodes

10. Statistics

Typically as a podcaster you want to know how many people are listening, right? As I've written about before and we've talked about over on the FIR podcast, statistics are difficult because you can know how many people downloaded a podcast, but not whether they in listened.

SoundCloud has many statistics and can perhaps obviously give more statistics about user behavior when your podcast episode is played from the SoundCloud site or apps. For regular "RSS downloads", you still do get a good bit of information, although, as mentioned above, it's challenging to know what the stats truly mean. Here's the "RSS downloads" of my last week of TDYR stats:

Stats on SoundCloud

Apparently I'm interesting to people (or someone) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia! Who knew? And then Southbury, CT... (but I have family and friends in that region :-) )

Anyway, a good number of statistics are available

Others...

There are other reasons why podcasters may like the platform. For example, it's great that Creative Commons licensing is available for those who want to allow others to share their audio content under a CC license. There are also monetization options available that I, quite frankly, haven't explored yet (since I don't see TDYR as something that people would want to advertise on). The whole "social network" aspect of SoundCloud can be compelling, too, for building an audience. For example, people can "repost" your episodes and share them out with followers.

I'd note, too, that you don't have to use SoundCloud as your exclusive hosting platform. A friend, Donna Papacosta, primarily hosts her podcast on Libsyn[2] and then also uploads it to her SoundCloud account as an additional distribution channel. C.C. Chapman also posts some of his episodes to his SoundCloud account. So it doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing thing. You can experiment!

Issues

While I'm obviously rather pleased with SoundCloud, there are still a number of issues I would love to see them address:

  • Support for IPv6 - Given the work I do with the Internet Society, I'm looking for hosting platforms that realize that all the new mobile networks and the efforts to bring the next 4 billion people online are going to need to use IPv6 in their networks. YouTube, Facebook and all of Google's properties all work over IPv6. SoundCloud needs to get there, too.
  • Use HTML5 instead of Flash - Similarly, SoundCloud really needs to ditch their Flash player and use HTML5 audio instead. Flash creates so many issues on my various systems. We now have HTML5 audio support in most modern browsers. SoundCloud has had experimental support for HTML5, but they need to move that out of beta, too, and make it the default.
  • Finish the transition to their new website user experience - SoundCloud has been in this strange transition from their "classic" website to the "new" website for a year or more now and it still provides a strange and bizarre user experience. You click some link in your account settings and... ta da... you are back in an old user experience... and then you have to find your way back to the regular "new" view. They need to just finish this up.

Hopefully those are all things they will continue to work on to make the platform even stronger.

Getting Started with Podcasting On SoundCloud

If after reading all this you want to get started with a podcast on SoundCloud, they provide a very simple guide to begin:

http://on.soundcloud.com/creator-guide/podcasting

Basically, you create an account, set up the RSS feed settings, get some app that will upload to SoundCloud... and start publishing!

That's it!

If you are already using SoundCloud, all you should need to do is go into your "Settings" and to the "Content" tab where you will see your RSS feed and can set up any specific fields you want to configure:

Soundcloud content settings

As you can see at the bottom of that image you can configure your defaults for all uploads in terms of the license and whether uploads are automatically in the RSS feed.

Again, the Creator Guide for podcasting has more info.

I was admittedly rather skeptical of SoundCloud in the early years of my experimentation. Their "support" of podcasting in their beta program was pretty weak three years ago and it seemed all they wanted to do was build their own "walled garden of audio" and try to get everyone to come onto their platform.

But with this public launch of "podcasting" (which really amounts to exposing RSS feeds!) they've finally opened up those walls and made it so that you can use the SoundCloud platform for hosting your podcast - giving you all the advantages I've outlined above - but then making your content available to everyone out there to consume in whatever applications and systems they choose.

I look forward to hearing many more podcasts on SoundCloud... including yours! Please do feel free to follow me on SoundCloud as I continue with my experimentation. I'd love to hear from you what you think about all of this, either in the comments here or, of course, on the accompanying audio version (TDYR 243) of this post up on SoundCloud.



[1] For more stories about the launch, see Techmeme and Mediagazer.

[2] In full disclosure I also use Libsyn for hosting some of my podcasts (and have since 2005) and find their services very useful, too.

Photo credit: A merger of a Flickr CC-licensed image from Colleen AF Venable and SoundCloud's logo.


FIR On Technology, Episode 4 - How To Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly

FIR On Technology logoHow do you make your website “mobile-friendly”? Given Google’s impending April 21, 2015, deadline to start using mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor for mobile search results, what can you do both in the short-term and in the longer-term to both provide the best experience for mobile users - and also retain your Google search result ranking?

In this fourth episode of “FIR On Technology” Dan York explains what you need to be thinking about with regard to “responsive design” of your website, outlines some of the resources Google offers to help, and explains several of the options you have to make your site mobile-friendly.  During the episode Dan discusses the following sites:

Get this Podcast:

The music for the intro and outro is “Early Warning” from Mark Knox and is used with his permission.

Sharing Your Comments

FIR Community on Google+Share your comments or questions about this podcast, or suggestions for future podcasts, in the online FIR Podcast Community on Google+.

You can also send us instant voicemail via SpeakPipe, right from the FIR website. Or, call the Comment Line at +1 415 895 2971 (North America), +44 20 3239 9082 (Europe), or Skype:fircomments. You can tweet us: @FIRpodcast. And you can email us at [email protected]. If you wish, you can email your comments, questions and suggestions as MP3 file attachments (max. 3 minutes / 5Mb attachment, please!). We’ll be happy to see how we can include your audio contribution in a show.

To receive all podcasts in the FIR Podcast Network, subscribe to the “everything” RSS feed. To stay informed about occasional FIR events (eg, FIR Live), sign up for FIR Update email news.

NOTE: This podcast announcement was originally posted on the For Immediate Release (FIR) website.


The Tension Between Consumption and Creation of Content (a.k.a. spending time reading Facebook doesn't help with writing)

Facebook newsfeedThere went another hour! I wanted to do some writing tonight but first I sat down and said "I'll just take a quick look at Facebook"... and there I was... an hour later... having learned all about the lives of friends (well, the parts of their lives they want to post about on Facebook), read a bunch of interesting links, and gone off into topic areas that were fascinating - although probably didn't really add anything to the fullness of my life.

Meanwhile, the total number of words I'd written was...

zero.

There is this fundamental tension between consuming content and creating content.

It has nothing directly to do with the Internet, of course. Long before the Internet it was easy to be distracted from writing by TV, radio, books... or just conversations with friends and family, or projects around the house or office.

Distractions have always been numerous... the Internet just does what it does best by removing the middlemen and making it even easier to be distracted.

My friend Donna Papacosta once posted an image on Facebook that I printed out and taped up on my window frame right at eye level that said simply this:

Writing is
3% talent
and
97% not getting distracted
by the Internet

I see that every day when I sit in my home office, with the ever-present reminder that the key word is:

FOCUS

and the need to do that.

Two years ago I wrote a post that took the rather draconian line of "Every Minute You Spend Consuming Content Is A Minute You Are Not Creating Content".

That is, of course, very true. But there is the reality that sometimes we NEED to consume content. Sometimes it is because we are researching something we want to write about. Sometimes it is just simply that we want to relax... that we need to give our minds a break.

I've come to appreciate over many years that there is strong value in stepping away from the creation of content to give yourself a break... and often when you then return to the creating you return refreshed and renewed. Reading a good book or seeing a movie or reading good articles online can often lead to new lines of writing or thinking. There is value in staying up with what friends are doing - and sharing what you are doing.

The trick is trying to find the balance. There is a natural tension between time spent on consumption vs creation. Too much consumption leaves little time for creation. Too much creation can leave you without the benefits of some consumption.

Somewhere in between lies the point we need to achieve.

I don't have the answer... each day I'm trying to find that balance. Some nights like tonight I don't do so well... other days I do.

Focus.

Balance.


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Some Quick Thoughts On Periscope, Meerkat And The Era of Simple Livestreaming

Periscope 1Unless you've been offline or ignoring social media for the past couple of weeks you've no doubt seen the dueling "livestreaming wars" between the iOS applications Meerkat and Periscope. Perhaps you've viewed some of the streams... or broadcast some yourself.

Given that I do live streaming as part of my employment, I'm fascinated by these new and emerging apps. They also remind me of what Qik tried to do back in the mid-2000s before Skype bought Qik in 2011 and promptly shut the service down. (Only to have Qik re-emerge recently as a different kind of mobile messaging service from Skype.)

I've been playing with both Meerkat and Periscope and offer a few quick thoughts based on my own experience. I will be exploring these apps more... but want to record some comments for today's For Immediate Release podcast episode and want to use this post as a basis for that report.

The beauty of both of these apps is that it makes it absolutely TRIVIAL for someone to start live streaming. Just login with Twitter and press the a button to start broadcasting live to the world!!!

Here are some thoughts about both apps and then some thoughts on this larger new era of simple live streaming.

Periscope

Periscope was purchased by Twitter and apparently had the app in development for quite some time. Things I like:

  • Polished user interface.
  • The "hearts" that you can give to "like" something are fun.
  • The replay capability is useful... although it seems the stored videos are only available for something like 24 hours.

Things I am not as excited about:

  • The comments appear and then disappear... and there seems to be no way I could find to go back and see them again, without replaying the video. Given that in a couple of trials I was driving with my iPhone on my dashboard, I could NOT read the comments while driving.
  • No horizontal orientation... you have to hold the phone in a vertical orientation. Yes, you can turn the phone sideways and hold it horizontally, but all the comments and hearts still come in the vertical orientation.
  • Several people viewing my live streams indicated they had connection issues.

Meerkat

Meerkat was out before Periscope and captured a great amount of attention at SXSW and recent conferences. Things I like:

  • Comments are scrollable within the stream. You can read them later (during the time of the stream).
  • You can hold the camera horizontally.
  • Comments can be out onto Twitter.
  • You can answer comments by text within the app (although is this really important? I'm not sure).
  • So far no connection issues for me... but I've seen others have issues.

Things I am not as excited about:

  • Comments are gone after the stream.
  • No replay capability.

Changing Our Expectation Around Privacy

I think there is a larger societal question we need to be thinking about - that person walking down the street holding a phone up can be streaming everything they see live out onto the public Internet?

Intellectual Property

To that point... there are a whole host of intellectual property issues that I think we as a society will need to address. Nothing whatsoever technically prevents someone from streaming a concert or any presentation live. There are many artists and speakers who charge for their events and don't want them live streamed.

Cost

People in the mobile telecommunications companies have to be loving this - here are ways that people will generate a great amount of mobile data very quickly! Unless people have "unlimited" telecom data plans, they are going to be running up some good-sized costs. Great for the telcos... not so great for the producers. However, any event with "free" WiFi around could easily attract a good number of streams.

Bandwidth

All of these live video streams will create some interesting additional pressures on the Internet's infrastructure. Particularly in situations where there is "asymmetrical" connections, i.e. you have a faster download than upload speed. The streaming out of events could create a much larger requirement for upload speeds than there has been before.

Digital Divide

All of which feeds into a question about the "digital divide". The Internet users who are in regions with good Internet connectivity will be both able to produce/broadcast and also able to consume all these live streams. What about people in other parts of the world where bandwidth is much more limited? How will they be able to participate in this new era of live streaming?

Similarly, these Periscope and Meerket apps are right now only available on Apple's iOS platform... what if you can't afford an iPhone?

Ephemeral Moments and FOMO

One of the interesting elements of Meerkat is that once the stream is gone... it's gone. It's ephemeral like Snapchat... it's there... it's gone. You have to be there to see it and participate.

This leads to the "Fear Of Missing Out" (FOMO) and the "need" to be part of that.

Periscope allows replays, which changes it a bit. Now it's a recording available for some time. I'm not sure which is better.

[Side note: I don't know how truly "ephemeral" either Meerkat or Periscope is... the streams have to go through some server out there and the server could easily record any and all streams.]

Rich Interaction

What I did find very cool about using both Periscope and Meerkat was the rich interaction I could have with the audience. They were able to leave comments that I could react to right within the stream itself. They were able to guide the conversation... asking questions that I then answered.

In several cases friends I knew joined into my live streams. In one case this meant I switched to speaking German because I knew a German friend was watching. In another I switched the camera to view myself so that a friend I hadn't seen in a few years could see what I look like today.

It was great in so many ways to have this rich interaction during a stream. I'm looking forward to trying this out in some events in the future.

Final Thoughts...

... I'm very intrigued by these new applications. They make live streaming so incredibly simple and easy for anyone to do. I think we do have some of these larger societal issues and conventions to think through... but our era of ubiquitous live streaming is definitely upon us.

I see great potential for these apps in live streaming of events... for citizen journalism... breaking news... bearing witness to unfolding events... marketing/webinar types of events... indie musicians and artists... tutorials...

The reality of course is that we'll also see a lot of incredibly mundane and boring live streams. We'll probably see a good deal of porn. We'll see other ways to abuse live streams that will appall us. That's what always happens with any new service.

I will continue testing the apps. I want to see what else they can do. I want to explore more of the technical aspects - things such as their actual bandwidth usage. I want to know if any of them work over IPv6. (Sadly, expecting them NOT to do so.) I want to understand how secure they are.

So I'll be writing more... as I have time to do so.

Meanwhile, these are just some initial thoughts.

What do you think? Are you experimenting with either Periscope or Meerkat? Or some other similar app?

P.S. See also "Periscope and live video are changing the internet forever", a good take on how these apps are already changing live news...


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Keeping The Web Open: Dave Winer's "Radically Silo-Free" MyWord Editor

silosDave Winer is at it again. The creator of some of the original blogging software back in the early 2000s and one of the creators of RSS released last week his "radically silo-free" blogging editor MyWord Editor (MWE) with this purpose:

A shot in the arm for the open web. A way for JavaScript developers to collaborate on a new fun project. A way to escape from the silos that threaten to turn us into commercial robots, consumers and promoters, when we aspire to be thinkers and doers.

Think of it as bringing the ease and beauty of writing of Medium... without being locked into Medium's platform. (Or at least... I would say that is the aspiration... Dave's MWE is still in development.)

The MyWord Editor code is available as open source on Github at:

Dave calls it "radical" for this reason:

These days blogging tools try to lock you into their business model, and lock other developers out. I have the freedom to do what I want, so I decided to take the exact opposite approach. I don't want to lock people in and make them dependent on me. Instead, I want to learn from thinkers and writers and developers. I want to engage with other minds. Making money, at this stage of my career, is not so interesting to me. I'd much rather make ideas, and new working relationships, and friends.

He goes on to explain why MWE is “silo-free”:

  1. There's an open API that connects the in-browser app to the server. So you can replace the app. Or the server. Or both.

  2. Because there's an open API, you can build anything you want at either end. You're not limited by my vision of what's possible. Let a thousand flowers bloom.

  3. The app is provided in source, MIT license. So there are no secrets. And you can use my source as the starting point for your own editor.

  4. The server is provided in source, MIT license. No secrets, etc./p>

  5. The app has a command that downloads all your content in JSON, so you can move your data from one server to another, at any time. If any instance removes this command, alarms should ring out all over the land. It's your content, ladies and gentlemen, not theirs.

  6. Of course every MyWord user has a great full-featured RSS 2.0 feed. We love RSS and it feeds us and we feed it, it's doing great, and anyone who disses it is a mean rotten silo-lover.

He followed this with another post explaining more:

and then he further expressed his view that WordPress is also silo-free... but there is also a need for a better and simpler user experience:

where he made this statement:

Blogging is frozen

There haven't been new features in blogging in a long time. Where's the excitement? It looks to me like there's been no effort made to factor the user interface, to simplify and group functionality so the first-time user isn't confronted with the full feature set, left on his or her own to figure out where to go to create a new post or edit an existing one. Blogging platforms can be both easier and more powerful, I know because I've made blogging platforms that were

You can read more about this at http://myword.io/ ... and you can play with a hosted version yourself at:

(Yes, of course, I had to try it out.) It uses Twitter as an identity provider right now... but of course the code is open source so someone could hack away and look to use a different identity provider.

As someone who has been gravely concerned about "lock in" and the need for us to have control over our own content (think back to my posts about Known And The Indie Web), I am pleased to see this entry into the range of tools we can use for sites. Yes, I do most of my own work in WordPress these days... but I also very much understand Dave's notion that we need simpler tools with an easy user experience.

As I have the time I definitely intend to check out MWE and set up my own instance of it. I'm glad Dave is out there building tools like this... let's see where it goes!

What do you think?

Image credit: Doc Searls on Flickr


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FriendFeed Finally Fades... Farewell!

FriendfeedFarewell, FriendFeed! Goodbye! Ever since Facebook acquired Friendfeed back in 2009 we wondered what its fate would be... now we know. This past Monday, March 9. 2015, the FriendFeed team posted a simple note that said in part:
We wanted to let you know that FriendFeed will be shutting down soon. We've been maintaining the service since we joined Facebook five years ago, but the number of people using FriendFeed has been steadily declining and the community is now just a fraction of what it once was. Given this, we've decided that it's time to start winding things down.

Beginning today, we will no longer accept new signups. You will be able to view your posts, messages, and photos until April 9th. On April 9th, we'll be shutting down FriendFeed and it will no longer be available.

I saw some reminiscing on Hacker News and within FriendFeed itself... but I think we all knew this day was coming.

Before today I hadn't logged into the site for quite a long time. I only have recent content posted there due to the fact that TypePad is still set to post articles (such as this one) over to FriendFeed. But for most of us the conversations left the site... off to other venues and places. (But I've seen that there are still some very strong communities that have been thriving within FriendFeed to this day.)

FriendFeed was remarkable to me at the time for it's ability to aggregate feeds of all sorts of different services into one place. For quite some time http://friendfeed.com/danyork was the link I gave people to find "all of my writing in one place". Sometime after the Facebook acquisition I realized it may not be around and so I wound up building my own aggregation site - http://danyork.me/ - but it was FriendFeed that first brought that idea to me.

It was also a great place for group discussions. For quite some time it was the home of the For Immediate Release (FIR) podcast listener community and we would all discuss episodes and other topics there. That's all moved to the FIR Community on Google+ ... which hopefully will last a bit longer! :-)

The Wikipedia entry on FriendFeed has some good background. It was a great service back in its prime!

Farewell, FriendFeed!

P.S. If you'd like to export your data out of FriendFeed, there is a script available from Claudio Cicali on Github that may help.


An audio commentary is available:


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Google Says Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly By April 21 - Or Drop In Search Results

Mobile friendly testIs your website "mobile-friendly"? Does it display nicely on a mobile device such as an iPhone, iPad, Android or other smart phone? If not, you have until April 21 to make it mobile-friendly... or you will suffer a drop in Google search results!

In a February 26 post on Google's Webmaster Central Blog, Google very clearly indicated their direction (my emphasis added):

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

Google does not often clearly state what signals it uses for ranking search results... but here they are.

Get "mobile-friendly" ... or drop in search ranking for mobile searches!

This last point is important - they say the mobile-friendly status will be used as a ranking status for mobile searches. I interpret this to mean that if your site is not mobile-friendly you might still rank highly in searches from regular computers/laptops/desktops, but your ranking would decrease in searches from mobile devices.

However, given how many people are now using mobile devices to access the Internet... and how that trend continues to increase over time... NOT having a mobile-friendly site is going to impact people being able to get to your site.

UPDATE: I also recorded an audio podcast, "FIR On Technology, Episode 4 - How To Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly" about this topic. More information and links can be found on that page.

Tools To Help

To help with the transition to a mobile-friendly web, Google has provided several tools. First, they have a "Mobile-Friendly Test" tool at:

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

It will analyze your site and tell you if you are "mobile-friendly" in Google's view (which is presumably what they will use in the ranking signals).

Second, Google has a guide to creating mobile-friendly websites at:

https://developers.google.com/webmasters/mobile-sites/get-started/

A key section here is:

where they explain options you have to make your site mobile-friendly.

Moving To A New Theme

In some cases, such as this Disruptive Conversations site that is still hosted on TypePad, my only choice is to move to a new "theme" that uses "responsive design". I've already done this with danyork.com, but haven't yet done that here (but I will before April 21). This can be a larger process if you want to continue to use your existing style and design.

With other content management systems (CMSs) such as WordPress, Drupal and Joomla, you can also move to mobile-friendly themes as there are many available. When I've been creating new sites on WordPress in the past year or two I've made sure that all the themes I've been using have had "responsive design" as one of their attributes.

Using A Plugin

With some of the CMSs, there may be plugins that can help you make your site mobile-friendly without changing the theme. For instance, with WordPress, there are two that I've used to make sites mobile-friendly:

Both of those plugins essentially provide a responsive-design theme that gets used for your site when a mobile device connects to your site. You may not have all the design capabilities that you would have in having your main theme be responsive (in terms of having the mobile theme look like your main theme), but these plugins provide a quick way to get your site to be "mobile-friendly".

Other CMSs may have similar plugins, modules or extensions - you need to check with your CMS. Google's guide has links to help you get started.

Other Options

If you don't use a CMS or your CMS doesn't offer mobile-friendly themes or plugins... well... you may want to consider moving to a CMS that offers such capabilities (although that can be a huge task). Or you can read up on the principles of "responsive design" and see what you can apply to your website.

Getting To A Mobile-Friendly Web

The end result out of all of this will be a mobile-friendly web... and as all the millions and billions of new users come on to the Internet odds are pretty good that they will be using mobile devices, so the good news is that your content will be readily accessible on all those devices.

The bad news is that you may have some work to do between now and April 21 if you haven't already made your site mobile-friendly. (Well, assuming you care about ranking highly in Google search results - but if you are reading this site you probably do!)

If you've needed a deadline to make this happen... here it is!

Get mobile-friendly by April 21... or watch your Google search ranking drop!


An audio commentary on this topic is available:


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Suggestions For An Editorial Calendar Tool/Service? (For Content Strategy)

Editorial calendarWhat kind of tools or services have you found most useful for maintaining an "editorial calendar" for the content creation your organization does? What have you found helps you best plan out your content strategy?

For the last 3.5 years at the Internet Society, I've been using the insanely awesome EditFlow plugin for WordPress to plan out the content we've been creating on our Deploy360 website. EditFlow is an amazing amount of awesomeness bundled into one plugin... and if you use WordPress and aren't yet using EditFlow, I'd strongly recommend you check it out!

But here's the thing - in my new role within the Internet Society looking at content strategy across all our different sites and channels, I need a tool that lets our team plan:

  • content across several different websites we maintain
  • content on external websites (ex. CircleID)
  • content in social channels
  • different types of content (ex. blog posts, articles, videos)

Unfortunately I can't easily do this within WordPress. Yes, I could create a dummy "site" on a WordPress server and then use EditFlow as a tracking tool... but that would be a bit of the proverbial square-peg-in-round-hole.

Here's what I love about EditFlow and use on a daily basis:

  • Convenient calendar view - with filters - I can just go into Dashboard -> Calendar and I've immediately go a view into everything we've published and everything we have planned. I can filter the view to see only items based on:
    • Status (ex. published, draft, idea)
    • Category (topic)
    • Author
    • Post type (ex. blog post, resource page)
  • Drag-and-drop re-ordering - One of the single biggest features we'll use is the ability to just drag unpublished content around in the calendar view. When we have our weekly editorial calendar meetings, we will look at what is being planned and just move things around if we need to do. Super simple and easy.
  • Fast creation of new ideas - In those meetings as we talk about what content we want to create, we can just click a "+" button and add a new story idea directly into the calendar interface. (In the background it creates a draft WordPress post scheduled for the relevant day.)
  • Easy deletion of content - Similarly, if we decide to cancel an idea, we can just trash it from the calendar.
  • Story Budget - EditFlow also has another view that it calls the "Story Budget" where I can easily see over a given time period how many pieces of content were created for any given category. On a site where we write about many different topics, this is an easy way to see how balanced we are across the different topics. Similar to the calendar view there are many ways to filter the view.

    Storybudget

  • Multi-user - EditFlow works well because we can give access to as many people as we want (and you can control who has access) - they just need to have an account on our WordPress server. Our team simply logs into the server from wherever they are in the world and we walk through what we have planned for the week. After we move items or create new items, people need to refresh their browser view - but that's it. It works really, really well.

Now, we don't even use the editorial comments, editorial metadata, notifications and user groups that are part of EditFlow. Our Deploy360 team is small enough (4 people) that we haven't yet really needed those capabilities.

But now I'm looking for something with those kind of capabilities that can be used by our larger Communications team and also other people across the organization. I'm NOT necessarily looking for something that will connect to our various publishing platforms. I'm okay if there is simply a way to check off that an item has been published.

Any suggestions or ideas? Some searching around online has shown me DivvyHQ, which is a hosted service that looks from the YouTube videos like it will meet many of what I've listed above. (Not sure about the "categories"... but I think that may fit into their "calendars".)

Other suggestions for hosted services? Suggestions for software we'd host ourselves?

(Thanks in advance - and I'll plan to summarize what I learn in a future post.)


View a discussion on this topic at:


Suggestions So Far


UPDATE: I'd also love it if the service/tool had some of the kinds of content creation statistics I wrote about desiring earlier.


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Changing My Role At The Internet Society - Content Strategy Across All Areas

Internet Society LogoMonday will represent a big change for me at the Internet Society. Effective on that day I will be moving out of the Technology area into the Communications team with a broader charter to help in the creation of content - and a strategy for that content - across all the areas in which the Internet Society works. I'll still be doing a great bit of writing about technology topics, but I'll now be doing more related to public policy, development (of Internet access) and other topics.

I'm excited about the new role!

It's only 3.5 years ago that I joined the Internet Society in September 2011. To understand why I joined "ISOC", as it is know by some, you need to go back and read my post about the big change then, but essentially, it came down to this:

I believe we are at a critical point where we have before us a choice of futures for the Internet - and we as a society need to understand those choices... and choose wisely!

3.5 years later I believe that even MORE firmly than I did then.

We need to fight for the open Internet! We need to make the right choices that will allow our children to have the "Internet of opportunity" that we've had the privilege of having... and we've got quite a struggle ahead!

Over the past 3.5 years my focus within the Internet Society has been primarily on the Deploy360 Programme, our project to accelerate the deployment and usage of critical Internet technologies such as IPv6, DNSSEC, TLS, and more. It's been an awesome opportunity. I built out the Deploy360 website ... set up all the WordPress-based systems so that we could rapidly create and distribute content... wrote probably 1,000 pieces of content... recorded videos and audio segments... spoke at our ION conferences all over the world... attended IETF and ICANN meetings... and met some of the most amazing and passionate people I've ever encountered!

Along the way, I've wound up doing a great bit of work with DNSSEC, aiming to help make the Domain Name System (DNS) more secure - and I'll actually be continuing all of this "DNSSEC coordination" work on into my new role.

As part of the Deployment and Operationalization (DO) Team, we've been out there telling the story of how these technologies and standards can make the Internet work better, be faster and be more secure. It's hard to know exactly how much impact we've had... but we've received a good number of messages from people thanking us for helping them. It's been great to see!

And it's been great to wake up each morning working for an organization with a very clear mission.

Along the way we've had a lot of conversations internally about how the Internet Society needs to tell its story better. We're a large organization with over 60,000 member and over 100 chapters spread out around the world. We don't have a huge staff (about 90 people globally) but we have a large community and ecosystem of volunteers and members. We have a lot of different parts and pieces (and hey, you can join, too)... and we've been working on a great number of activities around the world.

In 2015, we're aiming to focus a bit more - and to get better as an organization at telling our story and helping people understand the work we do and the challenges that we as a society and world face.

As part of that, we have a new head of our communications team, James Wood, to whom I'll now be reporting, and we have a great bit of other changes underway. It's an exciting time!

Effectively what I'll be doing is expanding my content creation beyond just the technology side of Internet Society work to also write about topics such as public policy - in fact I've already started that with posts such as my one about the fundamental tension between security and privacy and the series of posts I wrote from ICANN 52.

More than just writing, though, I'll be working with authors across our organization to have a better strategy so that we are consistently creating quality content and maximizing the distribution. We produce a lot of content... so this will be a challenging, but interesting, role!

I'll also be working on ensuring we as the Internet Society have on voice on new and emerging topics... being a bit more "forward-looking" than we've been in the past. (Which ties in nicely with my whole "view of the crow's nest" orientation).

And, as I mentioned, I'll still be focused around accelerating DNSSEC deployment around the world... so I'll still have a foot deep in the technology realm!

Content strategy, technology, writing, forward-looking thinking... all in the service of ensuring the Internet remains open for innovation and opportunity!

It's really a dream for me... the opportunity to be even more of a voice for the open Internet... and I'm looking forward to making it happen!

That's the news from here... and I do have to end with thanking my current manager of the DO Team, Chris Grundemann, and also Olaf Kolkmann, our Chief Internet Technology Officer (CITO), both of whom have been incredibly supportive of me moving into this new role. It's been great working for them - and now the good news is that I'll still be working with them!

P.S. And in truth, while the role officially starts on Monday, I'm actually going to be preparing for and then speaking at the NTEN conference in Austin, TX, next week (about our choice of Internet futures!)... and so the new role really won't get underway until the following week!


An audio commentary is also available at:


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WordPress iOS App Now Has WYSIWIG Visual Editor

Writing blog posts for a WordPress site on an iPad or iPhone just got a whole lot easier! Or... at least, a whole lot prettier! With the new version 4.8 out this week, Automattic included a new visual editor that can give the "what you see is what you get (WYSIWIG)" experience:

Wordpress 4 8 wysiwig

Here is what it looked like before the change on my iPad - basically, it was just a raw HTML editor:

WordPress ios app before upgrade

There was a preview mode that would let you see what it was going to look like, but all the writing was in HTML. No big deal if you are a long-time HTML coder like me... but probably not the most fun for newer writers - and the HTML markup is also distracting.

Here is what the new post-upgrade view is:

WP iOS app after upgrade

A much nicer view - and also some of the commonly-used features are more accessible. There's also the "HTML" button for those who want to get into the actual HTML code.

The WordPress.com blog post about the new iOS version gets into a few of the other features that the new app has. I do like the updates to the navigation. I haven't yet worked with the new image settings, but look forward to doing so.

Anyway, if you haven't yet upgraded the WordPress app on your iOS device, you may want to do so... and if you haven't tried the app in a while you may want to give it a new try.


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How To Turn Off Sounds In The Facebook iPhone / iPad App

Do you want to turn off / disable the sounds that Facebook just added to the latest version of their iOS app for iPhone and iPad? If you are like me and find these kind of sounds associated with actions (such as "keyboard clicks") annoying, here's what you need to do.

1. Go Into The Settings Inside The App - First you need to tap on "More" in the lower right corner of the app and then tap on "Settings":

Facebook ios settings

2. Go Into "Sounds" - Next tap on "Sounds":

Facebook ios sounds setting

3. Turn Off "In-App Sound" - Finally, just tap the slider to turn off the sounds.

Facebook in app sound

Now, maybe you like these kind of sounds... but I personally don't. I'm the guy who turns off "keyboard clicks" because I do NOT want to hear a sound whenever I tap a key.

I don't want aural feedback.

Some of you may... and that's fine. I don't.

Someone at Facebook seemed to think that we all wanted this and so they added it in to one of the recent releases and... ta da... as soon as we updated the Facebook app on our iPhone or iPad we started getting clicks and swishes and other sounds.

This points to one of the larger issues with our new world of mobile "apps":

We are at the mercy of whatever the app developer wants to do.

If this were a browser-based "app" (a set of web pages), we could typically configure the browser to not play any sounds - and then all web pages would be subject to the settings in the web browser.

But we've left that land where the web browser serves as our window to content. Instead we have custom-designed apps where we have to figure out where the settings are in each of the different apps.

For instance, when the sounds first started in the Facebook app, I went into the generic "Settings" app in iOS to try to find out how to turn them off. I looked under:

  • Facebook
  • Sounds
  • Notifications

and couldn't any settings in any of those places to turn it off. Only then did I tap on the "More" inside the Facebook app to see if there were any settings there.

Now... the good news is that at least Facebook gave us a control to turn the sounds off! They didn't have to and could have just made that a mandated part of the app.

But that's back to the point... for the convenience and simplicity of using a mobile app, we've surrendered control to the whims of the application developers.

I'm personally not really thrilled about that evolution of the mobile Internet, but it's hard to see how we walk back to a different path...


An audio commentary on this topic is also available:


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Anyone Else Having TweetDeck Not Show Search Results?

Anyone having trouble with TweetDeck not showing results for some columns? Today 5 of my 12 columns are failing to load with this error:

No recent Tweets.
New Tweets will appear here.

You can see part of what I'm seeing here:

TweetDeck NorecentTweets

They are all columns that are configured to show search results for certain terms. They've been working wonderfully until last night when I opened up TweetDeck on a home computer (an iMac) after being away for a week. I've tried:

  • Closing and restarting the application (multiple times).
  • Changing the search query to trigger a reload of the column.

Nothing works... and I know there are new tweets to show for some terms, in part because I can see them in other working columns... and in part because I have sent out tweets using the search terms.

TweetDeck's Twitter account shows some issues with logging in, but that works fine for me. Tweetdeck is working fine for sending tweets, sending direct messages and for some of my searches... but just not for others.

I've tweeted TweetDeck asking about this, but not heard anything yet, so I'm just curious if others are experiencing anything like this.

Anyone?

P.S. And yes, I know there are now many other tools... but I've been a TweetDeck user since its very early days and have my searches and systems that, until today, have worked wonderfully for me.


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Is It Finally Time To Dump Feedburner? All Subscriptions Go To Zero...

Is it finally time to suck it up and dump Google's Feedburner for RSS feeds?

The writing has been on the wall for quite a long time that Google doesn't really care about Feedburner. There haven't been any substantive updates to the service in years and in fact they've removed services and integrations.

Tonight Dave Delaney posted an update to Facebook that let us know that Feedburner's stats were now showing 0 subscribers for all his feeds. I logged in and sure enough...

My Feeds

I can't find any mention of an outage or issue on Google's pages... and so we have no clue whether this is a temporary transient outage - or whether this is a sign of a further decline in Feedburner's service.

I'm one who has continued using Feedburner for most of my sites, in part just out of sheer inertia (i.e. having many other things I want to do that take higher priority to fixing things that aren't broken) but also because I've liked the service provided by Feedburner, particularly around statistics. I've tried other services (although not in the last year) and hadn't really found anything that gave as good a view into who is probably reading your feed.

Obviously I can just start promoting the raw RSS feeds that are the ones I added to Feedburner... but they don't give a sense of how many subscribers they may be.

But if the statistics are no longer working, then perhaps there is no longer a reason to stay at Feedburner... and so maybe I do have to actually make the time to make the move.

What do you all think? If you used to use Feedburner and don't, what are you using as a replacement?


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FIR On Technology Episode 3 - Understanding Markdown

Firontechnology 300What is the Markdown language all about? How is it being used on sites like Ello, Github and in the Jetpack plugin for WordPress? Why should communicators and others involved in PR or marketing careabout Markdown? How can it help more rapidly create content for the web?

Those are all questions I sought to answer in episode 3 of FIR On Technology with Dan York that I published last Friday. The podcast is now available for listening directly on the FIR website or in iTunes or the podcast RSS feeds.

On the episode web page I also provided a list of links for people wanting to know more about Markdown, which I'm reprinting here: 

I've found using Markdown to be extremely helpful in rapid content creation. I've naturally been using it on Ello (where I also wrote about this FIR On Technology episode) and on Github, but I'm also starting to use it for some posts on a couple of my WordPress sites courtesy of the Jetpack plugin. As I note in the episode, Markdown is not something necessarily new... after all it first came out in 2004... but it has seemed to attract more interest in recent years.

One point I forgot to make in the episode is that Markdown is not the only "lightweight markup language" out there. There are definitely other similar languages, each with their own take on how to make markup simple. An example I've used on several sites in the past is Textile. However, my interest these days has been in Markdown, and there seems to be a good bit of momentum behind the language... and so hence this podcast.

Anyway... I hope you find it useful and helpful. If you do, or if you have other comments or ideas or suggestions about Markdown, please do leave a comment here - or over in the FIR Podcast Community on Google+.

Enjoy!


P.S. I also recorded a The Dan York Report episode providing a preview of this FIR On Technology episode:


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Internet Society Job Opening: Senior Manager, Media Relations

Internet society isoc 300x149We're hiring! The Internet Society, my employer, is hiring for a range of positions, but the one I want to highlight here is the "Senior Manager, Media Relations". As the job posting states:

The Senior Manager Media Relations will be responsible for developing and executing public relations programs to increase the visibility and thought leadership of the Internet Society in the media.. The media relations strategy aligns with the organization’s priorities and is focused on programs and initiatives in the areas of Internet policy, technology, development, and education.

This new role will report to the Director of Media and Communications, be part of the Communications Team, and have a broad purview with many opportunities for visibility and impact. The candidate will collaborate with senior management, subject matter experts, and Regional Bureau Directors around the world. This position will be located in the Internet Society office either in Reston, Virginia USA or Geneva, Switzerland.

I can't speak highly enough about what the mission of the Internet Society means to me - and how critically important this time is right now in the evolution of the Internet. Back in 2011 I wrote about why joining the staff of the Internet Society was important to me - and 3.5 years later those reasons are still as important today as they were then... if not even more so! We've got an aggressive set of activities planned for 2015 - and we need people to help turn that action plan into reality.

We need people to join us to help tell the story of why the choices we make today for the Internet matter - and what we all as individuals and as organizations can do. In this particular position we're seeking someone who can help with connections out to the media around the world.

If you have a background in public relations / media relations, this is your chance to join a mission-based organization focused on ensuring that the Internet remains open for everyone around the world.

I love waking up fired up to go out there and help in whatever small way I can... you can join us!

PLEASE NOTE: I am personally not involved in the hiring for this position... the way to submit your information for consideration is at the bottom of the position posting.


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WordPress Seeking Feedback About "Community Hub" - Fill Out The Poll Today

Wordpress orgWhat would you like in a "community hub" website that would help local WordPress groups? What would you like to see for helping publicize events? Connecting groups to each other?

If you are involved with a local WordPress group, or would like to start one, the team behind the "Make WordPress Community" effort would like your feedback on what should be part of a community hub web portal. They'd like you to fill out this quick survey:

http://wordpressdotorg.polldaddy.com/s/community-hub-voting

The poll closes at 00:00 29th January 2015. (Not sure the timezone... so I'd err on filling it out sooner than later.)


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