The Idea Dude


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Virtual meets reality

I'm thrilled that we are doing something with some really cool guys like Mike Sansone, Chris Cree, Ben Yoskovitz. These folks are not just great bloggers, but they are so active in promoting other blogs, giving their time, energy and blog space without hesitation. As a result, their own reputations have risen with their generosity. I'm excited to be involved and to finally meet some great bloggers face to face, many of whom are part of TheGoodBlogs. While blogs are a great way to reach millions, elections are still won by shaking hands and kissing babies. We sometimes forget the warmth of a human voice, the sincerity of eye contact and a physical presence are intangible relationship builders.

I'm convinced more so than ever that the secret to blog longevity is building a great loyal following. Not just the casual visitor, but strangers who become acquaintances and even friends... first by reading, then commenting and even creating a dialog over email. Blogging is the ultimate one-to-many relationship builder. It is the next generation email newsletter but has the advantages of immediacy, accessibility and brand. I think blogs will continue to mutate to beyond a piece of text for someone to read to a place where true conversations take place. While many may not see social phenomena like MySpace as their cup of tea, it is merely the first generation of social networking but it like Second Life and Facebook are showing that people are attracted to spaces that exude personality regardless of whether you deem it quirky, tasteful or funny. People connect to people, not email address. People connect to bloggers, not blogs.

To check out other SOBcon07 attendees, click on this tag or copy this tag to your blog post. Be part of the conversation.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Thoughts on global conversations

Haydn Shaughnessy is asking for comments on the state of blogging in Ireland. It's already gathered over 42 comments! At TheGoodBlogs, we get blogs from pretty much all over the globe. More so in the US due to the amount of traffic and blogosphere presence. However, we have a good number of non-US bloggers who bring an interesting perspective especially when there is a cultural influence e.g. media, journalism, art etc. I would encourage you to join the conversation by posting about your thoughts of the state of blogging in your country and adding the following tag to the post (hint: click on the tag and it will take you to TheGoodBlogs where you can get the tag code to add to your blog). All the blog posts are linked by the tag in one place, hopefully giving us an international flavour.

Monday, February 19, 2007

LinkedIn a re-emerging trend

I know, LinkedIn has been around for a while. I was one of the early sign-ups. I felt I needed to when some of my business development counterparts were sending me invitations. But for almost 2 years, it's been in a malaise for me. I'm not an active user and I don't scour my network to make new connections. I prefer to do most of my networking face to face. Nevertheless, it's been useful to keep in contact with former peers and teams that I once led. However, in the last 10 days, I've received as many invitations from people I once knew than I have received in the entire previous 12 months. Made me wonder if I had reached some kind of network tipping point, or is LinkedIn doing some kind of aggressive marketing drive.

On a related note, I was prompted to post on this because I saw a similar post on our conversations network at TheGoodBlogs. It's really neat because now anyone can either click on my tag at the bottom of this post or at Notes from A Tool User and find the same conversation. Pretty cool. I hope more TGB members will start finding it useful.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Sweet resurrection

Maybe ordinary miracles do happen. The demise of my Thinkpad reported yesterday took an unexpected turn last night. After taking out the harddrive and giving the machine to a friend who wanted to take it apart, the machine came back to life on its own. Given we are experiencing incredibly low temperatures (sub zero and beyond) in the last couple of days, I can only surmise that the machine was holding an excessive amount of static electricity that prevented it from powering up. While taking out the harddrive, we discharged the static so the machine was operational again. Static electricity causing issues with laptops is not uncommon. That's my theory anyway, it beats the idea that something else may still be seriously wrong with it like a cracked motherboard or a failing component. The irony is, I could have shelved a perfectly good machine. Thanks Alan for taking a look and finding out that it had resurrected itself.

All is well again in the land of The Idea Dude. Now back to TheGoodBlogs after a rather distracting day. Bill Gates can breathe again, for a couple of hours, I was consoling myself with the prospect of acquiring a Macbook bring me full circle since I started out life with an Apple IIe.

Just an ordinary miracle...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Goodbye old friend

My trusty Thinkpad X31 gave up its digital ghost today. After 3 1/2 years of companionship, my little sidekick is no more. Unlike all my other laptops and computers, I've had in the past, this one was kinda special. Truly a workhorse, it accompanied me through 4 startups/gigs, 150+ continental flights, countless airport delays, multi-media projects, business plans, budgets and spreadsheets, high-powered corporate presentations and everything else that would fill a 16 hour day. I guess in a way I took it for granted. How fitting, my day ended with Sarah McLachlan singing "Ordinary Miracle". That little X31 was my ordinary miracle. Tomorrow, I'll find out if I can at least salvage it's little 40GB memory bank.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

What do you want on Valentine's Day?

Today's the day when more electronic cards are sent than any other day. The average man will spend $156 on cards, gifts and dinner.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Roses will once again be the most purchased flower at premium rates. Be different and choose some else like a bird of paradise or an orchid.
  • Chocolates are decadent, rather than buy a big box, go a splurge on a few personally selected truffles in a small well-wrapped gift box.
  • Are you creative and have a little time, hand-make your Valentine card.
  • Want to do something different, book a couple of hours at a spa as a gift followed by flowers as she exits and then whisk her away to a very quiet restaurant with great food.

Here are some no-nos.

  • Plastic flowers, yeah, they'll last but your relationship won't
  • Dinner at MacDonalds, I know they make great fries but the decor is definitely a mood killer
  • Going to a movie, holding hands is cute but you really want to be talking to your date all night long

Cheap gifts that have the most impact!

  • A warm hug
  • A long smile
  • A lingering caress
  • A gentle kiss
  • A loving backrub

What men want on Valentine's?

  • Not to screw up on Valentine's day.

Join the conversation. Add on of these tags to your post and see the conversations unfold at TheGoodBlogs.

Here's a personal meme, I met my wife on a blind date to a Valentine's Dance 25 years ago. That's my best Valentine.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Let's give them something to talk about...

You walk into a room at a large party... Most of the people you don't know. There is a lot of people, deafening noise and liberal amounts of laughter. You wander around until you hear a phrase, a keyword that catches your attention. You join that circle, perhaps listening first and then take the opportunity to chime in, make a comment and introduce yourself. It appears you have a lot in common. When the night is done, you've made a few friends, learnt a couple of things and shared a bit of yourself and your experiences.

Fast forward... You wander into the blogosphere, most of the people you don't know... the rest of the description mirrors what I've described above. You get the picture.

At TheGoodBlogs, we took tagging and trackbacks to another level last week, TheGoodBlogs Conversations. Like other tags, you would tag your blog post with our tag. But the twist is we let you put an extra identifier in the tag (while remaining in compliance with all common tagging practices). The extra identifier makes your general tag a little more unique. Others who specifically want to discuss your post on their blog can add that tag to their post. Unlike trackbacks which take you to a specific post, clicking on TheGoodBlogs conversation tag takes you to a page that has all the threads around that conversation. Search engines and the like can use TheGoodBlogs tags and categorize you appropriately. But because of our conversation id, you'll have a unique page for each conversation at TheGoodBlogs. Each page will carry your post and posts from other bloggers who have opted in to join your conversation by adding your tag.

We think it's pretty neat stuff. I hope all our bloggers will try it. I think they'll find interesting discussions happening in a distributed way with TheGoodBlogs pulling each conversation together. I know they'll make a few friends along the way. Isn't that what building personal communities is all about?

BTW: In the spirit of Valentine's month, we've started a couple of conversations already. Come on, GoodBloggers, make some noise! (err... I mean conversations!)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Give me one reason to stay here...

"..and I'll turn right back around, because I don't want to leave you lonely but you got to make me change my mind" so goes the Tracy Chapman song.

There's a TV show called Restaurant Makeover in which a top designer and a top chef help an ailing restaurant by revamping both the decor and the menu in 6 days. In last night's episode, it was an establishment that began its life as a bar, was briefly successful and then lost its clientele. Twice. The owners lamented that their patrons were fickle, moving on when the novelty of the new bar wore off. They changed the name, and the same thing happened all over again. They then realized they needed a restaurant, or more precisely, good food that made people come back on a regular basis. So what was the 'aha' moment? They needed to give people a reason to return.

Made me think about blog stickiness... There are two ways to measure blog stickiness. Firstly, the ratio of the number of people who return to your blog regularly to the total number of visitors and secondly, the ratio of subscribers to your feed to your daily total of visitors. The first number is harder to figure out because you have to track visitors over a period of time say 1-2 weeks. The second number is easier to come by if you have a service like Sitemeter or TheGoodBlogs and a feed service like Feedburner. What do these numbers tell me? it tells me whether your traffic is seasonal or fickle or whether you have a real network going with engaged readers.

The stickiest blogs have very high feed to total visitor ratios. At TheGoodBlogs, we've seen some with 3 times more feed subscribers than actual visitors. The bloggers are active networkers who constantly look to discover new blogs (and hence new bloggers), comment on other blogs frequently and link without looking for reciprocation. They also look for ways to generate posts that start conversations either asking questions, moderating carnivals or asking for help and/or opinion. Being immersed in blogs 24/7 sort of makes us amateur sociologists. We actually read many of the blogs who are part of our network (although it is becoming increasing difficult due to the sheer number).

What keeps readers coming back isn't intellectual stimulus (for the most part), it is far more vague and emotional. They come back because they chose to create an emotional bond to your blog and your blog persona. Think about why you continue to visit your favorite bookstore, coffee shop or restaurant even when there may be better alternatives. It's probably someone who created an extraordinary user experience whether it was chef who greeted you personally, a fantastic date or just that same friendly face serving your coffee the way you like it without even having to ask. A blog is no different, a reader will leave an emotional piece behind either because you were funny, controversial, love or hate the same things/governments/people or describe a situation or hardship that strikes a familiar cord. It is the idiosyncracies and stuff that makes us scream with anger or laughter that begs us to come back for more.

Newspapers who believe going online will save their futures are naive because their own ethics to be neutral, truthful and balanced means that there is little to choose between them and the next online offering. With all things being relatively equal, loyalty is not a commodity newspapers know how to exploit well because their modus operandi has never been to build relationships one at a time.

So what's your reason for staying???

Friday, February 02, 2007

New sheriff in town or not so new...

Earlier in the week, Michael Dell announced he was returning to take over the helm of Dell once more. Over the years I've watched him build a business from his university dorm into a 60 billion dollar business. In my book, he would be in the Entrepreneur's Hall of Fame alongside the likes of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and anyone who managed to build huge value from essentially nothing over a pretty long period of time. Unlike many 'manager' or 'career' oriented individuals, these folks have continued to stay involved in their businesses in some capacity. I suspect it has very little to do with money. The cynic would say it's ego (would you let a company named after you go down the tube?). For me, I think there is also the pride and passion in making a business work regardless of size or stature. So it would be interesting to see if Michael could turn things around at Dell emulating Steve Jobs at Apple. The next question would be whether Bill Gates would return to do the same for his company.