Archive for the ‘off topic’ Category

Why You SHOULDN’T Start a Blog?

Tuesday, January 9th, 2007

Blog iconI have read numerous books, articles, and posts stating why every person and company should have a blog. Obviously, I’m a huge advocate of blogs, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. I think they have a tremendous number of advantages and they’re a great way to get your message heard. However, every blog needs an underlying strategy and focus. Preparation and planning is key. There must be strong reasoning as to why anyone or any company would launch a blog. This vital communication tool cannot be abused or taken for granted.

I know there are many people out there thinking of starting a blog. Some may even be reading this post. Well, here are some things to consider before making the plunge. Here are the reasons you shouldn’t start a blog:

  • Fame and glory: If you have dreams and aspirations of becoming a top blogger known around the world, then you’ve got your priorities in the wrong place. The purpose of a blog isn’t to fulfill your personal needs, but rather the satisfaction of your readers. Therefore, write for them, not yourself. Blogging is a ‘journey’; becoming a top blogger is the ‘destination’. If you concentrate on the journey, the destination will take care of itself.
  • Regurgitate content: If you simply plan on re-publishing others’ content in your own words, don’t bother. Para-phrasing cannot carry a blog. With every post, you should be providing a unique voice and perspective. Re-hashing news and unoriginal content does not constitute the basis for a blog.
  • Personal diary: Ok, first let me re-phrase this. Don’t start a personal blog/diary if you want to acquire a large reader base. If you are simply looking to reach out to friends and family, then by all means do so. But… to be quite honest, if you want to generate a considerable amount of traffic, then do not blog about your personal life and your daily happenings. Nobody really cares. I am being truthful, rather than rude. Posting to a personal blog is like having baby pictures. Only you really care… and maybe a couple of friends and family members. But anyone who doesn’t know you will have a hard time relating. Instead, choose a niche topic that people can relate to on some level. The only people who can write a personal blog and gain massive readership are celebrities. Mark Cuban and Seth Godin are good examples, although even they blog mostly about universal topics.
  • Financial rewards: If you intend on making a lot of money with a blog (at least initially), then you will be unpleasantly surprised. Even some of the more popular blogs that display ads will only gross a couple hundred dollars a month. But don’t plan on even making that much for awhile. Monetary compensation should be considered a bonus.
  • Corporate marketing: Although a blog is a great place to discuss product features and announce news, do not cloud your messages with corporate hype. Blog readers are not naive individuals. They will instantly sniff out ill-intentioned material filled with marketing messages. Creating this type of content is not in your best interest. Injecting some level of optimism and enthusiasm is acceptable, but there is a fine line. Provide an objective perspective wherever possible.

Just some food for thought… 

Personally, I blog because I want to provide a new perspective on web trends and technology. Receiving feedback regarding how a blog post changed someone’s perception on a given topic or helped them in some way is what brings a smile to my face.

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.

What To Look For In 2007?

Friday, December 29th, 2006

As the new year approaches, the blogosphere and tech world has entered a lull over the past week. I expect that next week will bring about exciting launches and interesting news, especially with CES only a week away.

From a more general perspective, what am I predicting for 2007?

  • Expanded use of wikis and user-collaboration tools to increase productivity.
  • Niche social networks continue to pop up and attract small, but loyal followings.
  • Vertical search engines prosper.
  • VOIP becomes the standard for landlines.
  • Proliferation of blogs throughout corporate landscape, as more organizations embrace this new form of media.
  • RSS becomes ‘more’ mainstream, not widespread just yet.
  • New ad medium to potentially thwart the overrated/click-fraud burdened Google AdWords system?
  • More widget-ized services for maximum exposure and distribution.
  • Google web browser?

Sounds good? Or not? Let me know your thoughts…

Ode to Web 2.0

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006


Twas’ the days after Christmas,

And all through the house,

Not a peripheral plugged in,

Well maybe a mouse.


I checked out the headlines,

On Reddit and Digg,

Downed more rum and egg nog,

And ate like a pig.


I called a few friends,

Cheaply using Skype,

Scorned at ‘web 3.0′,

Ignoring the hype.


I laughed at some vids,

on YouTube and Revver,

Signed up at PayPerPost,

Not once, no way, never.


Expanding my knowledge,

I read at Wikipedia,

Then check out travel deals,

At LastMinute and Expedia.


I log in to post,

Using this tool WordPress,

My Feedburner stats,

Are anyone’s guess.


I read some new feeds,

As I’m in Bloglines,

And check out my visitors,

On MyBlogLog some time.


Then hit up Technorati,

And Craigslist and Flickr,

As I scurry the new web,

Firefox is much quicker.


My poetry skills,

Are useless at best,

I hope you enjoyed this,

And forever God bless.


PS. I know the syllable counts don’t match. I just figured a fun, casual poem might bring about some Christmas cheer.

The Best Design? Ugly Design…

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

What design elements do I hate most on websites? Flash intros, heavy graphics, scrolling text, tiled backgrounds, centered alignment, and the list goes on. Nowadays, so many websites ‘overdo’ the experience and clutter the page in an attempt to captivate the user. In many cases, this approach is counter-productive. The user suffers from a bad experience, exits the site, and never returns. Time to rethink the strategy.

A new form of design, ugly design, is becoming a mainstream technique. What is ugly design? It’s a website that isn’t overly attractive or appealing to the eye, but serves a very useful purpose and is easy to navigate.

The following is a list of companies that are considered to use ‘ugly design’:

  • Craigslist
  • Wikipedia
  • Google
  • PlentyOfFish
  • MySpace

Sites that make use of ugly design are also usually quick-to-load, uncluttered, low on fancy fonts and colours, and optimized for search engine crawling. The URL structure tends to be simple in many cases as well.

I think that this tactic in itself can be considered a marketing strategy, as well as a competitive advantage - although I’m sure many would disagree with me.

Back in the late 80’s, Tim Berners-Lee’s had a vision. It was called the semantic web - a landscape full of links. This vision came to be known as the World Wide Web. However, at some point between then and now, the web became disorderly with graphics and cluttered design.

But now we’re seeing a resurgence of the old. Ugly design is what the web was meant to be. I guess that’s why it’s so useful and  effective. It just makes sense… and works.