Archive for January, 2007

The Venice Project - Now in BETA

Monday, January 8th, 2007

The Venice Project logoI just received an early morning e-mail from The Venice Project crew. It’s official. The stealth start-up is now in BETA mode and testing can begin.

As mentioned a million times already, this new venture is backed by the same guys who brought us KaZaa and Skype. In this case, third time doesn’t need to be a charm when you’ve already struck big on your first two endeavours. Nonetheless, expect big things from this infant project that promises to “completely revolutionise television. Combining the best features of TV with the powerful social features of the internet, The Venice Project will give TV viewers, advertisers and content owners more choice, control and creativity than ever before”.

Sounds ambitious, but I have no doubt that if anyone can pull this off, it’s these chaps.

The BETA e-mail goes on to say:

“Today, we’re inviting you to take a sneak preview of our work and take part in The Venice Project’s first beta testing phase. This is a private, invitation-only beta test and the software is still in the early stages, but we would greatly value your opinions. We hope you’ll participate actively by giving us your feedback on everything from bugs to performance issues and suggestions for new features.”

With this BETA release, it appears as though the company is following a gMail-esque type word-of-mouth marketing campaign. In other words, they are offering a certain few a limited number of ‘invitations’ in an attempt to create an exclusivity buzz. This is out-dated and unoriginal.

Before I make a premature analysis of the program, I am going to take the time to immerse myself with its features and functionality. Stay tuned for an upcoming post.

In the meantime, here are some pages of interest that you do not need BETA or log-in credentials to view:


UPDATE: As requested by a reader, please inform me if you would like an invite when I receive tokens. Do so by dropping me a comment to let me know.


Viral Distribution for Your Blog

Friday, January 5th, 2007

Do you want maximum exposure for your blog? Do you want others to market it? Do you want to reach the widest possible audience?

I know this sounds like a 4am infomercial, but I’m simply outlining the goals, aspirations, MuseStorm logoand hopes of many bloggers. Now, thanks to MuseStorm, these challenges have been overcome and distributing your content is easier than ever.

Bloggers, or anyone with an RSS feed for that matter, can set-up an account and instantly create a distributable widget that others can embed. The company proclaims that they will ‘widgetize’ your feed.

Widgets are customizable by colour and type, with some restrictions.

The coolest part of the whole system is the back-end analytics. Anyone who distributes the widget can then log into the MuseStorm portal and get an in-depth look at the evolution and success (or failure) of the campaign. The three main categories of analytics include:

  • Widget impressions
  • Domains
  • Click-throughs

In other words, these categories essentially tell you a) how many impressions your content widget has received, b) which domains are producing the impressions, and c) the total amount of click-throughs to your blog or site. Very cool.

The product is currently in BETA, but I received an invite from the company so I’m going to test it out. If you would like to embed Mapping The Web content on your blog or site, please read the ‘Note’ at the bottom of this post. 

Here is a sample screenshot of how the widget may look:

NOTE: Anyone that wants to embed Mapping The Web content on their site can find the HTML code here.

Link Baiting States the Obvious

Thursday, January 4th, 2007

Over the past couple months, I’ve heard the term ‘link baiting’ used more and more frequently. I understand what the term means. What I don’t understand is why it hadn’t been coined already. In addition, it is my opinion that a term is not needed for the concept.

Wikipedia defines a link bait as “any content or feature within a website that somehow baits viewers to place links to it from other websites”. Ummm…

Now in my opinion, all content or features within a website should only be placed on that site if the publisher or author deems the quality and relevance as worthy. In other words, I truly believe ALL content placed on a given website should be ‘link bait’ if the site’s success is dependent upon the publisher. Websites with user-generated content may be an exception to this rule.

To me, it just makes sense. It’s inherent. I am not going to post an article, or video, or photo, unless I truly believe readers are interested in that matter and may want to link to it. I do NOT think that we need a term for such a notion.

The idea of baiting someone to link to your site is ridiculous. If someone likes what you have, they will link to it. The term is slimy and it sounds like trickery.

It is already known that the Google algorithm is based of back-links (or linkbacks). This concept makes sense, as is the case with a published academic paper. The more people that cite the article, the more important and influential the content.

Coining a term such as link baiting is redundant and simply adds ambiguity to the new web landscape.

Why Music Piracy is Good for Music

Thursday, January 4th, 2007

It is widely-knowned that the RIAA is a strong advocate against music piracy. After all, this all-star organization “works to protect intellectual property rights worldwide and the First Amendment rights of artists”. Lightly translated, they want to make as much money as possible. As they say, everybody wants a piece of the pie. And if you can’t get a big enough piece, then sue others to achieve your desired level of greed.

Although artists such as Metallica curse at the Internet downloading phenomenon, others embrace this medium. Many cult/indie groups owe their success almost entirely to the web. It just wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. The combination of a unique music approach and viral distribution overcompensate for a lack of marketing dollars.

Time to jump into the space capsule and cruise back to the 60s and 70s…

During this time, there was no such thing as a music video. There was TV, but no music video channels like MTV or VH1, so to speak. Then along came MTV in 1982 and video did indeed kill the radio star.

All of a sudden, your popularity didn’t necessarily depend of your music quality, lyrics, voice, or song-writing ability, but rather on aesthetics and looks. In other words, if you were ‘hot’ but your music sucked, you still had a chance to make it big. This created a void. The less-than-beautiful, talented musicians were being suppressed to make way for the more aesthetically-pleasing amateurs. Although I am speaking in generalities, this definitely was and is the case.

Now let’s swing back to today. Once again, the shift should in theory turn back to the music itself. If nearly all artists succumb to illegal downloads, no-one makes money. But if the music is actually good, many people are willing to pay for future albums, songs, or even concert tickets, in support of the artist and their endeavours. On the contrary, artists who churn out mass-marketed pop crap will not attract the same following. Many fans will attend the concerts to see the performer, but music sales will languish as listeners continue to download as no-one actually values the music quality. Moreover, the demographic of these artists is teenagers, who simply don’t buy music.

This may mean that the future of record companies is in jeopardy. I say: cut out the middleman who does nothing but market inflated garbage with raunchy videos and ridiculously cheesy beats. This would put more money in the hands of the artist (assuming they’re good) and eliminate bad quality music from seeping into the mainstream. And forget the idea that record companies market artists. Leave this up to the Internet. It has proven time and time again, that viral distribution and word-of-mouth marketing DO work… and quickly.

My belief is that the quality musicians will rise to the top and continue to produce music, while the manufactured pop artists will eventually fade into oblivion… well, after they try to flog a clothing line… and maybe a reality show.

SEO Tip #2 - Images and Graphics

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

As part of an ongoing series of SEO posts, I present the second article…

Many SEO specialists believe that graphics only play a small role in SEO. I disagree with this view. My belief is that this assumption is wrong and naive.

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of graphics and SEO is ALT tags - for obvious reasons. Well-described ALT tags are definitely an important and integral part of a well-designed SEO strategy. They are a great way to increase the keyword density ratio of a page while maintaining the theme of the page.

However, many people overlook another important aspect of graphics.

Graphics are a great place to insert marketing messages in text form. That way, the content on the page remains ‘well-described’, but you are able to convey quirky, enticing messages to potential customers and users.

For example, suppose you operate a travel website. Now suppose your theme of the page is ‘mexican hotel’, or whatever it may be. But let’s say you want to use the tagline ‘Get away and relax’. If you inject that tagline into a header or page title, all of a sudden your page theme becomes inconsistent and less relevant.

The way to avoid this yet still display the tagline in a prominent way, while keeping a consistent, relevant theme, is to insert the text into a graphic. This guarantees the best of both worlds.

Nevertheless, ensure that you still use ALT tags to describe your images. But do place marketing messages and catchy slogans in graphics and always be sure to remain consistent with the theme(s) of the page.

For more information, view: Strategic Use of Images in SEO.