Previous month:
April 2011
Next month:
June 2011

12 posts from May 2011

Want to Track the Chaos and Disruption in Media? Use Mediagazer, the Techmeme for media

Want to keep up with the ongoing disruption in the media business? Want to understand how business models are fundamentally changing? Want to learn about the newest tools that are appearing? Want to just stay up on the latest changes?

For years now, I've been using to stay up on the changes in the tech world, but only recently have I really started to use Techmeme's sister site, Mediagazer:

Like Techmeme, Mediagazer uses a combination of automated tools and human editing to curate the best stories - and the follow-on stories - in one place.


It's a well-done site that helps communicators keep up with the changes that are going on all around us in the media industry. Mediagazer's feed is of course also available on Twitter.

Well worth a look if you haven't seen it...

If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either:

365 Blog Posts In The First 146 Days of 2011....

Yesterday I passed a milestone in writing for 2011... I posted my 365th blog post across my own network of blogs and Voxeo's blogs. Doing the math, that works out to an average of 2.5 blog posts per day for the first 146 days of 2011.

If you go back to the goal I set for myself in January, my aim was for 365 DAYS of blog posts. I missed that actual goal by dropping a day in March and in truth I also didn't post for an entire weekend in April.

Regardless, the average seems to be pretty good! :-)

And admittedly, it was kind of fun to look yesterday at the spreadsheet I've been keeping to track my blogging activity and realize that I was going to pass by the 365 mark.

And now... the writing continues... (this post is actually now my 367th...)

If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either:

It's Official - Tweetdeck Is Now Part of Twitter

The rumors were right... it's official...


Here's hoping that they don't screw it up ... and that our fears turn out to be unfounded...

If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either:

How Fast Do Your Pages Load? Check Your "Site Speed" In Google Analytics

How fast does your website load? How fast do individual pages load? With Google stating that site speed will factor into future search engine result placement, how can you tweak your site to make it load faster?

To help with all of that, Google announced earlier this month a new "Site Speed" report available in Google Analytics. I've enabled it for a number of my sites (it's not on by default) and the results have been quite interesting. Here's a view of the average load speed of my Disruptive Telephony site:


Overall, my pages on the site take about 12 seconds to fully load into a web browser... perhaps because I dynamically load in various RSS feeds into the sidebars. That is the point of the report, though... I can now start digging into WHY pages load slowly. The report also shows the data for each individual page (at least, for pages that have had visitors), letting you dive down into more details.

In fact, you can explore a whole range of details. As Google's blog post notes, this report can help you understand:

  • Content: Which landing pages are slowest?
  • Traffic sources: Which campaigns correspond to faster page loads overall?
  • Visitor: How does page load time vary across geographies?
  • Technology: Does your site load faster or slower for different browsers?

Now, as I mentioned earlier, the Site Speed report is not enabled by default. As explained in this Google support note, you need to tweak your Google Analytics tracking code to start sending a new variable back to Google. Assuming you are using the current asynchronous tracking snippet, you just have to add one line to your tracking code:


After you make that addition, GA will start collecting your speed data from that point forward. Now, you should note that GA only uses a sample of your overall data to generate the reports and statistics... but you can see very clearly in the user interface what the sample size is.

Note that there are two important caveats about this report.

First, the Site Speed report is only visible in the "New version" of Google Analytics. After you login to GA, you probably have to click the "New version" link at the top of the screen to switch:


Once you are in the new version of GA and then select one of your sites, you'll see a "Site Speed" report in the left-hand nav bar:


The second caveat is that this Site Speed report only works in some web browsers per the Google help page:

This report currently supports the following browsers: Chrome, Internet Explorer 9 and previous versions of Internet Explorer with the Google Toolbar installed. More specifically, the Site Speed reports require browsers that support the HTML5 NavigationTiming interface or have the Google Internet Explorer toolbar installed

With those two caveats in mind, I've found the report to be quite a useful view into what is going on within my site. What do you think? Have you enabled this yet? Did it help you understand where you might want to make some changes?

If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either:

More Tweetdeck Acquisition Rumors - Now Led by a CNN Money Report

TweetdeckMore rumors out today that Twitter has acquired Tweetdeck for $40 million USD, this time led not by TechCrunch (although TechCrunch naturally commented) but by CNN Money, followed by a whole host of other sites reporting on the CNN story.

Yet to be seen, of course, is whether or not the deal actually happens. As I wrote back in early May, I'm not thrilled by the idea of a Twitter acquisition of Tweetdeck, primarily because I like the fact that I can use Tweetdeck with NON-Twitter platforms like Facebook... and worry that this might be removed in a Twitter-owned platform.

We shall see, eh?

Meanwhile, I did enjoy this tweet from Twitter's PR team...

If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either:

Fun with 404 Pages - The Example

Earlier this week we at Voxeo launched, a new service where developers can use a super simple REST API to send and receive SMS messages for only 1 cent per message (you can read the various SMSified blog posts to learn more). One of the fun hidden features of the new site, to me, was the 404 page (click the image to see it in all its glory):


I've always enjoyed it when companies have a "fun" 404 page when you land somewhere on their site... and so its great to be at one of those companies, now ;-)

If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either:

Clueing a User In: Why is this Verisign Webinar Signup Form a FAIL?

Anyone else see what is fundamentally broken with this form and the resulting validation error dialog box?


Don't do this! Make it very clear to users exactly what information is and is not required.

UPDATE: (a few hours later) Verisign let me know via a tweet that they had fixed this ... and would be more careful with their asterisks in the future ;-) Good to see that they were monitoring Twitter ...

If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either:

The Facebook/Burson-Marsteller Debacle, Google - and the World War For (Our) Information

“There’s a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it’s not about who’s got the most bullets. It’s about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think… it’s all about the information!”
- Cosmo in “Sneakers” (1992)

I could only reflect on this quote as the news exploded last week that Facebook had hired PR firm Burson-Marsteller to spread negative stories about Google, and then continued in almost Keystone Kops-fashion with both Facebook and B-M competing to see who could throw the other under the bus the fastest... complete with silly aspects like Burson-Marsteller deleting posts from their Facebook page (they have stopped doing that, as is obvious from their page now).

In the midst of all this there was the predictable outrage from so many in the PR / communications industry, with statements about clear violations of ethics and so much more. Neville Hobson provides a solid summary over on his blog along with some recommendations for B-M.

My only real thought through it all was...

is anyone REALLY surprised?

If anything, my surprise was only that the Burson-Marsteller employees were amateur enough that they got caught!

The War

The reality is that the quote that Ben Kingsley's character Cosmo said to his friend Martin (Robert Redford) almost 20 years ago is if anything only MORE true today.

There's a war out there.

A war for our eyeballs.

A war for our attention.

A war for our dollars.

... and we're not talking petty cash... we're talking billions of dollars.. maybe trillions.

Take a look at what you do every day. Take a look at the tools you use. Where's your email? Where's your blog hosted? Where do post status updates and connect with friends? Where do you post your photos? What do you use to write documents? What do you use to find your way from one place to another?

Odds are that for almost all of you reading this, the answer is...

the Cloud.


Somewhere... on someone's servers... on someone's service.

Even for documents... Google Apps, now Microsoft's Office 365, and more and more and more...

We are evolving into the Cloud.

And therein lies the war.

The war is about who controls the information... it's about "what we see and hear, how we work, what we think".

It's about who actually runs the "cloud"... who controls the servers where the data actually resides. It's about who owns the plumbing down underneath.

It's also about who controls how we access the "cloud"... who controls the tools we use... the interfaces we use... the services we use... even the bandwidth we use...

It's a world war...

It's THE war that will define our future... and whether that future will be in the hands of closed, proprietary "walled gardens" controlled by a few corporations - or whether we will have a more open Internet where we all have more choice and control.

Oh, yes, and it's a war for BILLIONS of dollars...

In That Context...

The other reality is that this Burson-Marsteller "kerfuffle" between Facebook and Google is only a minor skirmish in the larger war.

The battles are playing out all around us... online with Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Twitter, Microsoft and everyone else who would like to be in that game... in the mobile sphere with Apple, Google (Android), Microsoft and everyone else... in the underlying plumbing with the telco/mobile carriers (AT&T, Verizon, a zillion others), the cable providers (Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, a zillion others), the other ISPs, the other wireless providers, Google, and everyone else...

... and in so many other facets of our lives. Pick an area... and there's a battle going on as part of this larger war.

In that context, the fact that Facebook engaged a company like Burson-Marsteller to spread rumors and stir up negative publicity against an opponent is not at all surprising.

For many engaged in this war, they live by a simple premise:

The ends justify the means.

And with that world-view, such quaint views as "ethics" don't matter. All that matters is...


By any means.

Was what Burson-Marsteller and Facebook did sleazy and unethical by the standards most of us hold?


Will Burson-Marsteller's actions once again hurt those of us who take pride in the PR / communications industry and would like it to be viewed more positively?


Will those of us who do abide by a code of ethics in our PR / communications efforts once again have to endure having our reputation tarnished by those who don't?


Will will see more of these kind of sleazy actions, perhaps not from Burson-Marsteller but from other firms?


... but odds are that others will look to cover their tracks more and not get caught.

There's a war out there, my friends, a world war...

If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either:

How To Use Flickr's Advanced Search To Add Creative Commons-Licensed Photos To Your Blog Posts

Gamma Ray Gun
I love to add photos to blog posts. Choosing the right image can add to the feeling of the post... or can help emphasize the point of a post. Sometimes, they can just help visually break up what would otherwise be a big wall of text.

When you want to use a photo for your blog post, though, you can't just go grab any random image off the Internet.


As a photographer myself, I'm very acutely aware of this. I don't generally mind my photos being used by others, but I don't, for instance, want someone to take a photo of mine and start making money off of it.

So I pay close attention to the license associated with the photograph. And if there isn't a license on the photograph, 99% of the time I will move on and find some other photo to use. Occasionally I may find one I really want to use and so I may contact the person who posted the photo.

For blog posts, I typically use Flickr to find images, and through the Flickr Advanced Search I can nicely find photos that are licensed under one of the Creative Commons licenses. Here is what I do...

1. Go To Flickr Advanced Search

First step is to go to Flickr's Advanced Search at:

I use the site so much that I have created a button on my bookmarks bar in my browser so that it is always available.

2. Enter My Search Term

So yes, this is sort of "DUH!", but it is a step in the process...


There are obviously other options you can use to further filter your search.

3. Choose to Search ONLY Creative Commons-licensed Photos

Now here's the trick... scroll down to almost the end of the Advanced Search page and find the Creative Commons area:


Check off the box as I've done in the photo to only search for photos with Creative Commons licenses (see Flickr's explanation).

Now, for my own blogs, which do not run any kind of advertising and in my mind are "non-commercial", that's generally all I do. However, when I am searching for photos to use for one of Voxeo's blogs I go the extra step to check off "Find content to use commercially":


I may not need to do that... I mean, I'm not using the photos in a printed Voxeo marketing piece, or as part of a direct sales effort or email blast. But in the spirit of the license, Voxeo is a commercial company, and so I'd prefer to just keep it simple and find photos where the photographer is okay with someone using his or her photos in a commercial setting.

I also don't generally modify the photos, or use them in a collage or other work, so I don't typically check off that second checkbox... but it's there if you do make modifications to photos.

With the relevant checkboxes checked, you can just hit "Search" and start looking at the resulting photos...

4. Continue Searching

After you have gone to the Advanced Search page once and initiated a search, notice the Search box at the top of the results page:


You now do NOT have to return to the Advance Search page and instead can just enter new search terms in the search box and you will find more Creative Commons-licensed content.

All in all I've found this a very smooth way to work and am very pleased that Flickr offers us this option.

5. Attribute The Image In Your Post

Week 52/52

Flickr credit: kirstea

Once you've found your image and inserted it in your blog post, the remaining task you need to do is to actually go ahead and attribute the image to the photographer.


All of the Creative Commons licenses require attribution, so if you use a CC license, you need to give credit back to the licensor of that image.

Now... HOW you attribute the image is usually left up to you. But not always...

IMPORTANT: Sometimes photographers will have very specific instructions about how they want the attribution. They may want you to use a certain name (like their professional name) or link back to a specific web address. You need to look in the description of a photo on Flickr to see if there are specific instructions.

Without specific instructions (which is probably 99% of the time), I generally just link back to the Flickr page for the photo. For me personally, most of the time I only have a single photo in my blog post, and so I just put a link at the bottom of the post like the one you see at the bottom of this post.

If I am using multiple photos, I might then have a list at the bottom, or I might do what I've done with the small photo in this section and put the credit directly under the image. A few little <div> tags can make that easily work. (You can look at the HTML source of this page to see what I've done.)

I used to do that for all the images I used, but then I found that because I put the image first in my post, the "credit" text was showing up first in the description for the page in Google search results... which didn't make much sense. So I've chosen to move the link to the end of the page.

I also use the Flickr HTML code to insert the photo (rather than using a screen capture of the photo), which means that someone clicking on the photo itself will be taken directly to the Flickr page of the photographer.

This is how I would want people to link to my photos... so that's how I do it.

You can put the attribution text and link wherever makes the most sense for you and your site and text. The key is just that you DO include the attribution somewhere.

With all that... you should be in business with adding Creative Commons-licensed photos to your blog posts!

NOTE: To make this simple for me, I've added a couple of macros to MarsEdit, the blog editor I use, so that I can just easily drop in the code into my post that has the image attribution text or link. It may be something to consider if you have a blog editor you use.

Image credit: tk_five_0 on Flickr

Why I Am NOT Thrilled About Twitter Buying TweetDeck...

Oh, Tweetdeck, say it isn't so... rumors have been swirling for months and now appear to be confirmed by TechCrunch that Twitter will be acquiring TweetDeck for $40-50 million USD. A zillion other sites have written about this in the 21 hours since TechCrunch posted their piece (well, all the ones that weren't engaging in the feeding frenzy about Osama Bin Laden), but here's my view:
I fear for my TweetDeck!

You see, TweetDeck has become far more for me than simply a "Twitter client". It is more my "social media command console". When I'm in my home office I have it running on a large iMac screen, complete with all my various Twitter lists, Twitter searches, Facebook updates and so much more:


As you can perhaps see at the very bottom of that screenshot, I have a ton of columns in TweetDeck, lining up with various searches, lists, for different accounts. I've arranged the columns so I can easily move back and forth to scan what is going on with various areas of interest or for different accounts. It works great. Sure, it's an Adobe AIR client, so it naturally sucks up more CPU and memory than I'd like... but the convenience and power of the app make it such that I'll live with the drain on my system and hope that maybe some day AIR will suck less.

When I'm on the road, TweetDeck is fired up on my laptop providing me a mobile command center. I was even using it for a while on my iPad... although there were too many crashes and I actually tried out the "official" Twitter client for the iPad... and have admittedly come to like that client on the iPad.

Part of TweetDeck's strength is its support for multiple accounts. I'm currently using it to manage:

  • 5 Twitter accounts
  • 1 Facebook account (my own)
  • 1 Facebook page

The beauty of TweetDeck is that you can so easily post out to multiple accounts... or retweet from multiple accounts. If I post something to one account and then want to retweet it from other accounts, it is a simple matter of clicking the "retweet" icon for a tweet and then clicking the buttons associated with the accounts I want to retweet from. I've yet to find a Twitter client that rocks the multiple account feature better than TweetDeck.

Ditto the support for the "classic" retweet (that you could edit) and the "new" retweet (that is a pointer to the tweet). TweetDeck gives you the option to choose between the two approaches and, if you don't set the choice in your options, you get this box each time you retweet, giving you the flexibility to choose right then what kind of retweet you want to do:


I love it! It works perfectly for me.

Add to this the ease at spawning new searches... viewing profiles... launching new columns on hashtags.... and on and on...

It is, indeed, my social media command center.

So Why The Fear of Twitter?

So why my fear? I mean, on one level this is great for the TweetDeck gang... kudos to them for making a product strong enough to be acquired! (And I mean that, seriously... they are great folks there!)

But that strength is my concern... I worry that:

1. TWITTER WILL KILL TWEETDECK - Twitter already has an "official" Twitter client, at least on Mac OS X. Why does it need a second? If, as the TechCrunch article suggests, this is a purely defensive move by Twitter, will they truly invest in keeping TweetDeck alive and improving?

2. TWITTER WILL STRIP THE NON-TWITTER FEATURES FROM TWEETDECK - Note that I said above that TweetDeck is my "social media command center", not my "Twitter command center". One of the great aspects of TweetDeck is that it also lets me bring in my Facebook status updates, my LinkedIn updates, my FourSquare updates and, if I cared, updates from MySpace and Google Buzz. I've come to really only use the Facebook updates... but it's excellent to have both together in the same client. Particularly in that I can post to both using the single client.

Why should Twitter keep all this non-Twitter functionality in the client when all they really care about is.. well... Twitter?

Sure, they might not immediately remove it, but will engineers really spend time improving or fixing the non-Twitter features? When they have so many Twitter-related improvements to fix? I have to question how long the answer would be "yes".

3. THE THREAT TO THE LARGER TWITTER ECOSYSTEM - On a more macro level, I worry about the acquisition of TweetDeck putting even more of a chill on third-party development than is already there. Twitter is at a point where they really have to choose between being an "open" platform or being an entire solution or service. They certainly seem to want to be more of the entire solution... and further client consolidation is only going to drive that.

And we, as users very definitely lose if there is not a broader ecosystem.

In the end...

Ultimately it may be that TweetDeck needs this acquisition. I don't know their finances or what they are trying to do. It may be that this is their best path to growth.

And maybe my fears will be unfounded and Twitter will let TweetDeck thrive and grow as the multi-service command center that it is.

And maybe the rumors of the acquisition may be completely unfounded...

It just does cause me to be concerned.

What about you? Do the rumors concern you? What concerns you most about a potential acquisition of TweetDeck by Twitter?

If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either: