Archive for the ‘off topic’ Category

My 11 Blog Lessons

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

A few days ago, Mark Evans wrote a post outlining some of the blog lessons he has learned since he began. I can definitely relate to most. In light of that post, I will now outline some of the lessons I have learned since I began blogging in September 2006.

1. Content is king. This cannot be over-emphasized enough. Always provide quality content for your readers. If you find that you are unable to come up with interesting, pertinent content on a regular basis, post less often. Do not allow the quality of your content to degrade.

2. NEVER take your readers for granted. Your audience is your basis for being. Thank them for their participation, be sure to respond to their e-mails, and never insult their intelligence.

3. Blogging is a huge time commitment. Well, it can be if you post regularly and plan on successfully marketing your blog. Often, new bloggers underestimate the time needed to successfully operate a blog.

4. Become a part of the blogosphere community. This means commenting on other blogs, adding trackbacks to your posts, linking to other blogs via your blogroll, and leveraging community widgets to enhance your blog experience for readers. This will help build your traffic, provide incoming links, and ensure a certain level of exposure for your blog. Furthermore, community participation will also provide valuable networking opportunities with other bloggers, Internet enthusiasts, and company exceutives.

5. Have a goal and a vision when you begin blogging. What is your reason for blogging? Do you want to provide an update for friends and family, or do you want to write articles on a given niche? Everyone has a different reason and underlying motivation for blogging. Money and financial returns should not be a primary motivator, nor should notoriety and fame.

6. Make yourself extremely accessible to readers. By prominently displaying your contact information and allowing easy communication with readers, you will be bridging the gap and creating a more loyal, trustworthy following. Having said that, you must also make a strong effort to reply to comments and e-mails in a prompt, thoughtful manner. 

7. Post on a consistent basis. This doesn’t mean you need to post daily. What it means is that you must post on a consistent basis, whether it be once every two days, weekly, or even monthly. This way, your readers will know when to expect another post and do not become frustrated by an inconsistent posting schedule.

8. Stay on topic. Don’t sway too much from your initial niche and begin posting off topic. This not only disgruntles readers, but also ruins trust and loyalty. Providing high quality content in a given niche will help shape your space in the blogosphere and showcase your expertise.

9. Don’t regurgitate other blogs’ content. Numerous blogs simply choose to paraphrase other blogs or re-write articles in their own words. This provides no value to the reader, as he/she can simply visit the cited location. Every post must provide a unique perspective or view.

10. Don’t be discouraged by stats. It takes time to build a reader base. By posting quality content on a regular basis and participating in the blogosphere community, increased readership is inevitable. Stats can be discouraging at times, but you must stick with your initial vision. Quality and consistency will translate into surprising success.

11. Make design changes every once in awhile. In other words, keep a fresh look. This may mean changes to the overall design, colour schemes, widgets, layout, etc… By making regular changes, you will be providing a fresh look for you and your readers, creating a more enjoyable experience.

What lessons have you learned from blogging? What have been your biggest hurdles and obstacles to overcome? I encourage you to write a list of your own.

Official Read/WriteWeb Writer

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

Read/Write Web logoReaders of MappingTheWeb will now be seeing me elsewhere in the blogosphere from time to time. I have just accepted a part-time writing position at Read/WriteWeb, one of the web’s biggest web 2.0/technology blogs. It is ranked 28th by Technorati out of all blogs and has 80,000+ RSS subscribers.

I will be posting 2+ times per week, starting Friday. I encourage everyone to check out my posts on R/WW, as well as those of the other publishers. The team is led by well-known blogger Richard MacManus and newcomer Josh Catone. The content is very high quality and a pleasure to read.

Having said all this, nothing changes around here. I will still be posting on MappingTheWeb on most weekdays (at least once), as well as the odd time on weekends.

For more information on the position, read this Read/WriteWeb article.

Does YouTube Have The Perfect Interface?

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

YouTube logoThis is a question I seem to keep asking myself. Nearly every video site or portal has copied the YouTube interface in some way, shape, or form. The other day, Mashable compared MySpace TV’s new interface to that of YouTube. The verdict: nearly identical. Add to that the fact that foreign YouTube clones are popping up on a daily basis. Again I ask myself, “Does YouTube have the perfect interface?”…

My answer is no. I don’t believe there is such thing as a ‘perfect interface’. There is always room for improvement. Having said that, interfaces should be judged relative or in reference to other players in the space.

I think there are two main reasons why many are copying the YouTube interface:

1. Familiarity - Users are familiar with the YouTube interface. I would wager that 99%+ of regular Internet users have visited YouTube at some point. In other words, people are familiar with the navigation, layout, player, etc… By re-inventing the wheel and designing a completely new experience, users are subject to a learning curve. For this very reason, it can be a huge advantage to copy an interface that is already well-known and mainstream.

2. Budget - Most small start-ups do not possess a huge R&D budget, nor do they have an entire team of interface designers at their disposal. The cost is unjustifiable so early in the process. YouTube, on the other hand, is a large player and has the backing of Google. Simply put, YouTube now has deep pockets and a large talent pool. This allows the company the opportunity to churn out a high quality interface with much testing and tweaking happening behind the scenes.

I guess the conclusion we can pull from all of this is as follows: though it may seem like a questionable, unethical form of business practice to copy such an interface, the subsequent benefits may be appealing to any site looking to enter a given space. I am not vouching for or against this strategy, but rather outlining the perspective from both sides. There is always an opportunity cost to every decision made. By copying a well-known, understood process or system, you are essentially decreasing the learning curve, facilitating the adoption process, and creating a shorter path to critical mass.

Niklas Zennstrom is a Genius

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

A limited number of first-time entrepreneurs hit it big and sell their company for millions. Some might call this luck. Less frequently is an entrepreneur able to replicate this feat and sell a second company for a considerable amount. Almost never is one able to do this for a third time. At this point, luck cannot be taken into consideration - a formula has been established.

Niklas Zennstrom co-founded both KaZaA and Skype, two wildly popular Internet successes. He’s on his way to a third success - maybe his biggest yet - with Joost.

A great article was published by BBC the other day. It profiled the mindset and thought process of Zennstrom. This Swedish genius is THE disrupter among disruptive technology disrupters. He identifies an industry with problems and short-comings, then launches a company in an all-out attack. In particular, he has a keen interest in the Internet communication and media areas, as all of his disrupters have spawned from these realms. Here is a simple breakdown:

  • Music - KaZaA
  • Telephone - Skype
  • TV - Joost

What’s next? Something in the radio industry - along the lines of or Pandora?

On a side note, his luck with five-letter company names is almost uncanny. Superstition? Strategy? Coincidence? Only Zennstrom really knows.

One thing is for sure. Zennstrom likes being in a position of power. He likes disrupting. Some might call him the shit-disturber of the online world. He is quoted as saying:

“For me, a disruptive technology is only worthwhile if it gives people something they didn’t have or couldn’t do before.”

His motivation and determination are inspirational. He conquers one area, then moves on to another - methodically and systematically. His quest to make things “faster, lighter, or cheaper” is a main driver and source of energy. His never-ending search for the next ‘big thing’ has never been centered around a given product or area, but rather a mentality. Simply put, he wants to give regular consumers a better way of doing something they’re already doing. Thus, he is not looking to re-invent the wheel - just expand upon it.


Hottest Web 2.0 Start-Ups So Far in 2007

Monday, June 18th, 2007

Here is MY list of the hottest web 2.0 start-ups we’ve seen so far in 2007. Keep in mind that this is my opinion only. Factors that were taken into account include user base growth, buzz and hype generated, as well as awareness within the blogosphere and tech community.

Though a start-up may have launched prior to 2007, widespread brand awareness and growth must have come since the start of this year. Having said that, let’s see the list…

10. Clicky - This gem is web analytics 2.0 at its best. Clicky combines a clean interface and a user-friendly experience to revolutionize web analytics. These guys are not re-inventing the wheel, but rather filling a void. Growth of the service has been phenomenal thus far, with many high profile sites implementing the tool.

9. Spock - Dubbed the ‘people search engine’, Spock promises to change the way we search for people in the future. Search result pages are specifically designed to provide personal information and details. Much buzz was generated around this darling when it landed an abnormally large ‘A’ round of financing.

8. Mahalo - “Thank you” in Hawaiian or Jason Calcanis’ human-powered search engine. Mahalo only launched in the past couple weeks, but the human-edited search results are accumulating. Many questions the use of a non-algorithm-based engine. In any case, J-Cal and Sequoia always attract a crowd regardless of the endeavour.

7. Jaxtr - Call me from my social network profile. This is the basis for Jaxtr. The company has combined buzz words, such as VOIP, widget, and social media, with a stellar executive team to form a potentially ground-breaking product. The idea is interesting. We will have to wait and see whether it goes mainstream. 

6. Babelgum - This Joost competitor is very new to the scene. Babelgum’s ranking is based mostly on the hype and buzz to date. Lots of people are talking about the company. But will they be able to compete with Joost?

5. Virb - Hype, hype, hype… I’ve been hearing about this project for quite some time. I’m not sure what’s so ingenious or revolutionary about it. Virb provides a place to put all your stuff (i.e. photos, videos, blogs) in one place. Sounds like a spin on a social network. Maybe I’m missing something. The interface is cool though. In any case, it has grown quickly and I’ve heard nothing but good things.

4. iLike - This social music discovery network has grown in leaps and bounds. A majority of iLike’s success must be attributed to the opening of the Facebook platform. It reminds me of Pandora, but with a social network aspect latched on. The company has experienced explosive growth very recently.

3. MyBlogLog - This little widget helped pave the way for one of the quickest exit strategies I have ever seen. Quickly snapped up by Yahoo, MyBlogLog (or the blog social network, as it has come to be known) continues to grow by way of its viral nature. I think the founders should thank TechCrunch (most notably) for prominently displaying the widget, therefore inducing a viral spread. Everybody copies the trend-setter.

2. Joost - Not much needs to be said about Joost. The KaZaa/Skype boys are back at it, in yet another attempt to disrupt the communication industry with an online medium. The first two wild successes have fueled huge amounts of buzz and press for this third offering, and so far it hasn’t disappointed.

1. Twitter - Twitter is HOT. Hell, Twitter is the definition of hot. Everyone and their dog seems to be “twittering” nowadays. The concept is so simple, but more importantly, the execution was flawless. Now everyone is either trying to integrate or copy the company. Congratulations to those Twits. Because of them, I now know what EVERYBODY is doing right now.


  • Powerset - natural-language search engine (yet to launch).
  • - real-time site stat reporting.

Older NOTABLE web 2.0 contenders who have made a real run in 2007:

Remember… the list is only my opinion. I encourage you to add your thoughts and companies below. If you feel my list is completely out of whack, blog your own top 10 list.